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

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Complaints from a Tourist in Mui Ne

I received this complaint today, which I'm sorry to say isn't so unusual about establishments around the country:

"I recently spent 3 days at Romana Resort & Spa and was sadly disappointed. The staff were very friendly which was nice but they were not trained and many things in the resort didn't work. Before we went there we enquired about wifi and we were advised they had wifi in the room but, of course that was a sham as it didn't work. The same lame Vietnamese excuse was given to us - "We have a problem with wifi in the room but we have at reception or in the restaurant. The restaurant didn't work and at reception we had to continually ask to connect. Our aircon continually turned itself off through the night (no it was not on a timer) and it was hot and when we left we asked for a car to take us to the highway to meet the bus from Sinh Cafe (never ride with them again) but the car mysteriously became unavailable at the time we were about to leave, even though it sat idle for hours before. There is a sign at the highway which says the resort is 700 metres away but it is actually 1.4 kilometres. When we came to Mui Ne with Sinh Cafe bus we were told they would deliver us to our resort but instead they dropped us at the highway in the middle of the day and we had to walk there. Later, when we booked out, Sinh Cafe said they would call us and say when the bus left their depot so we would know when to go to the highway but of course they didn't, (more Vietnamese lies) but luckily I had anticipated their incompetence and went there in time.More typical Vietnamese lies (service). In a nutshell, I will never stay at Romana again and I will never travel on Sinh Cafe buses again. I am very tired of Vietnamese liars and as a tourist, I will always tell others about the lack of service here and advise anyone to go elsewhere instead. Vietnam does not deserve tourists dollars. KW"

What's your reaction?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Where Parrots Come From

It's unfortunately common to see wild birds for sale all over Vietnam (and Southeast Asia for that matter). It's for this reason that one can go walking in the countryside or out in the jungle for the afternoon without hearing a single bird peep.

I always assumed that the birds caught for sale as pets (or to eat) were captured deliberately and specifically for that purpose alone. I discovered on a recent expedition however, that this is not always the case. The farmers above netted a flock of parrots that were eating (actually devastating) his corn crop in northern Binh Thuan Province.

It was unpleasant to see these poor beautiful and intelligent creatures stuffed into a tiny box, or even worse, crammed head first into soda cans with the ends tied shut. The farmer would eventually stuff all 15 parrots that he caught into soft drink cans, bend the end shut, and take them into town to sell to a bird dealer, at $1 each.

That bird dealer will then put them in these more attractive cages, mount them on a motorbike, and travel around the district, selling them on street corners, such as in front of the People's Committee Building and the Phan Thiet water tower. All of this is very illegal of course, but unfortunately is a regular affair.

So, next time you are tempted to buy a new pet  bird, please consider this; where these birds come from and how they are treated. Wouldn't you rather see them on your hike through the forest than in a tiny cage?

Also, this points to a different strategy that conservationists need to consider. Rather than always going after the bird sellers, we should also invest resources in how we can assist farmers in growing their crops while keeping these birds away, without resorting to trapping them. We can eliminate the bird sellers but if the birds are still a problem for the farmer, then they may just kill them and/or eat them rather than selling them.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

This Blog is Blocked in Vietnam

I've identified 2 Vietnam service providers that are blocking this blog. One is:

ISP: VietNam Post and Telecom Corporation
Organization: Vietnam Telecom National (VTN)
Connection: Broadband
Assignment: Static
Proxy: None Detected
City: Hanoi
Region: Dac Lac
Country: Vietnam

The other is:

ISP: Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications (VNPT)
Organization: Cong ty Dich vu Vien Thong GPC

If you live in Vietnam and CAN see this blog, please visit and let me know what your ISP info is so I can narrow down what's going on.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mexico's Communist Party Leader Visits Binh Thuan

Apparently yesterday Alberto Anaya, chairman of Mexico's communist Labor Party visited Binh Thuan Province to inspect dragon fruit plantations. Dragon fruit are native to Mexico and Central/South America. Funny I didn't even know Mexico had a communist/Maoist political party. Read more on the visit HERE.