The never-ending adventures of a travel writer in Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bear's Blog: Antarctica...

OK, I know it's not about Vietnam, but I think Bear Grylls is really cool--and I hope one day soon he might consider doing an adventure out here in the Binh Thuan Desert between Phan Thiet and Phan Rang. His latest injury sounds quite awful. Lets pray he heals quickly.

Bear's Blog: Antarctica...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Forest Star Fruit

Trai Khe Rung or Forest Star Fruit (in contrast to the yellow or green star fruit cultivated, and usually eaten sour with banh cuon) is an edible fruit that grows wild in Vietnam, especially along shady roadsides. The red petals are the only edible parts (and very sour), which surround a seed pod. Kids love them, and sometimes moms make che (a sweet soup or porridge) with them at home.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

More Christmas in Phan Thiet

Below are more Christmas photos from the Catholic neighborhood of Thanh Hai in Phan Thiet.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Displays in Phan Thiet

Thanh Hai is a Catholic neighborhood just east of Phan Thiet City center, and west of the 2 bridges in the neighborhood of Phu Hai. Thanh Hai is a strong community--one I'm told the authorities are not fond of, due to the association of Catholics with the former American presence. At Christmas the entire neighborhood is lit up with lights, giant Christmas stars, banners and life-size animatronic manger scenes. It is an amazing sight, and rivals anything back home in the USA. If you are in town, be sure to come see it before Christmas day, when the decorations begin to be removed.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kingfisher at the Sailing Club Mui Ne

White-breasted Kingfisher, Halccyon snyrnensis, rescued at the Sailing Club, Mui Ne. Photo by Scott Soothill.

A Few Christmas Photos from Mui Ne

This last shot is the hotel under construction at Sea Links with a tree-like display on top.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

More of Saigon Christmas Spirit.

I wish these had more aesthetic than narrative value but I was in a hurry while in Saigon so there wasn't much time to refine my photo-taking opportunities.

Diamond Plaza Photo Ops

More Diamond Plaza Photo Ops

More Diamond Plaza Photo Ops

2 Viet Santas and 1 Viet Con

Le Loi St Decorations

Notre Dame Cathedral

Looks like a set-up for an upcoming show at Le Loi and Pham Ngu Lao

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pandanus Christmas Promotion

Pandanus is offering a special Christmas promotion for accommodations and holiday dinner and breakfast. Click below for more information.

If you are already staying in the area and would just like to come for dinner, the cost is USD $40.00.

Job Wanted: Restaurant or Hotel

Met a nice guy here this weekend by the name of Tommy Sevens. He's looking for a job here in Mui Ne and already has previous hotel and restaurant experience. If you have an opening at your location, please have a look at his resume posted here and here.

Note to Mui Ne Hotels and Restaurants

Please, please, please... train your receptionist, when they answer the phone, to say "Hello, this is Hotel/Restaurant X, My name is Y, How may I help you?" or something similar that at least announces where or what you are.

There is nothing more frustrating to me as a guidebook writer (or customer) who often calls businesses, to spend several minutes on the phone just trying to figure out whether I have called the right number or not, while your receptionist grunts, groans and mumbles inaudibly.

Please, don't let your staff get away with just saying "hello" or grunt like most do when they answer your phone. And further, put your BEST english speaker on your phones. But if you don't employ someone who can speak English, at least find someone who can speak Vietnamese clearly. Lets put our best foot forward and show some professionalism for our international guests.

This is not an isolated problem--most hotels and restaurants in Vietnam suffer this problem, and Mui Ne is no different.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sea Links Develops

Sea Links has an open house for its members and the press from Saigon on December 12. Would be nice to be invited so I can cover it in this blog... hint... hint...

To prepare for the event, they have repaired and upgraded the roads around the corner of their property. The road hugs the rocky coastline and dunes (and incidentally is the site of numerous fatal accidents due to the treacherousness of the curves in the road). The alterations look nice, and it's great because since it is a public stretch of road, the public benefits from the upgrade (Thank You Sea Links and Rang Dong!) It looks like a nice promenade is being shaped along the beach. My only hope there is that the beachside will remain open to the public, as it always has been, once the changes are completed.

My only other request, if I may be so bold... Sea Links, (or Mr. Rang Dong), while you are in the midst of the road upgrade, could you donate a few speed bumps to help fight the traffic and speeding problems in Mui Ne?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sky Publishing

Below are photos of the new Vietnam guide by Sky Publishing (based in Hong Kong). I contributed photos for Mui Ne and Phan Thiet.

This is my second Vietnam guide to be published this year (I am a contributing author to ThingsAsian Press' "To Vietnam With Love," which was published this summer).

In 2009 watch for my other books, including Insight Guides Vietnam, Berlitz Pocket Guide to Vietnam, Thomas Cook's Travellers Vietnam, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides Vietnam, and ThingsAsian Press' To Cambodia With Love. My involvements range from co-author and co-photographer to updater/researcher.

Saigon Has Christmas Spirit

WAR on Con Dao