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

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bag Snatching in Mui Ne

Uhg. I just heard a report that last night some thieves drove up on a motorbike and tried to steal bags from someone arriving on the 1am bus in front of Saigon-Mui Ne Resort. Thank God the victim fought back and knocked the motorbike over. Someone then ran the thieves off, who abandoned the motorbike and ran away on foot. The motorbike was turned over to police today. The question is, will the police actually do anything about the crime?

What is Mui Ne becoming? Why do we have to become like the very worst of Saigon and Nha Trang? Why don't people care?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Socialist Art

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bia Hoi

Read the Wall Street Journal Article Here

Very informative article about Bia Hoi vs the onslaught of foreign beers. Bia Hoi is definitely a very good bargain, although vendors are caught from time to time, and noted in the Vietnamese "state-run" media (as opposed to the American "state-run" media) adding formaldehyde in small quantities as a preservative. I'm afraid the prime beer-drinking age extends far beyond the 20-40 range mentioned in the article--in fact I'd wager teenagers and 50-somethings consume much more than the latter group in Vietnam.

I just saw an amusing ad for Miller Beer here (as well as some banner ads at a shopping center), declaring that "Miller is American Time." I guess this is a twist on their old slogan, "It's Miller Time," and trying to play on the idea that Vietnamese often think anything American always has to be better... Oddly though, alcohol can't be mentioned on cable TV in Vietnam. Every time Discovery Travel and Living has a segment on alcohol for example (whether it be an episode of Globe Trekker, Samantha Brown, Hanoi's own Bobby Chinn, or Anthony Bourdain) there's suddenly 10 minutes of rainbow bars on the screen.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Movie "Editing" in Vietnam

Brining the subject back to Vietnam...

I'm in Saigon at the moment to, among other things, making a movie run at the cinema. The cinemas in Vietnam have vastly improved over the last 5 years. We now have screens with audio systems and seating that rival those in the USA. We have access to movies at the same time as the USA too (most of the time), although distribution has been delayed a few times (Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith being a good examples) due to silly Vietnamese ideas about lucky and "auspicious dates."

I'm almost embarrassed to admit I did go see GI Joe. The juvenility of the movie was just a little above Power Rangers, I'm sorry to say... but it still was entertaining. The poorly-translated Vietnamese subtitles aside (as well as overlooking the fact that the censors didn't allow certain catch-words to be translated into Vietnamese, regardless of context). It was annoying to see all hatchet-job editing the local censors did to remove "objectionable" violence. I remember at least 3 scenes that jumped awkwardly in the middle of dialogue and action, to a resolution which no longer made sense. Further surprising was the next movie I saw, "The Proposal" with Sandra Bullock. I enjoyed the movie quite a bit, but was rather surprised to see so much skin in a couple of scenes--and more-so that the local censors apparently found it unobjectionable and declined to edit. I'm really curious what the standard is in using to edit films.

I suppose it's not as bad as the way Discovery Travel and Living gets "edited" in Vietnam. Every time there is a travel or cuisine show with a segment on alcohol, the screen immediately switches to rainbow bars until it is over.

Monday, September 7, 2009

New Book on the Shelves

One of my latest books to hit the shelves this week is the new "World's Greatest Cities," published by Time Out in the UK. I wrote the Hanoi entry. Click on the image above to order your copy from Amazon.

I'm currently negotiating book #15. More details in the future...