Oh yes

Trip Start Feb 10, 2014
Trip End Mar 08, 2014

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Saturday, March 8, 2014

8 March 2014

Oh yes!

When leaving a place I usually look back and like to reflect on the things I have learned or noticed. The difference between one's homeland (s) are often vast but over time when you get used to the sights, sounds and smell of a place seem to ebb away. So what are the obvious differences? I suppose it depends on your interests somewhat. Architecture shapes a city, so I guess just about everyone is interested in some degree of architecture. My other interest, having been involved in sales and marketing most of my life, is commerce and how this is done.


I mentioned during a previous blog, the oversupply of traders. It seems that people start a business without any research and just open up shop next to someone else doing the very same thing. Yesterday I visited the large covered market again and took some pictures. The amount of traders all having and doing the same thing is staggering and consequently not many people seem to do much business. See the pictures


The buildings blocks in the cities and towns are small and I suppose expensive. For its size they don’t seem to have height restrictions like we do. When walking through the narrow alleys of Hanoi and Saigon you can see right inside the houses which are as wide as two doors (which are usually wide open) The downstairs room often measure no more than 3 x 4 meters and has stairs in one corner and cooking in another, a few chairs or bed/sofa  and a TV. This could be a 6 or 8 story building with similar rooms above, I have no idea if different families live on each floor. The designs range from very simple to magnificent as you can in the pictures.

Eddies house

Things are happening at Eddie’s house- As said a million dollar view. Eddie estimates that he can build the house for around $US 30.000. Some pic’s he supplied via Face book.

The Nicest People

On the 15 of Feb. I wrote a story about a girl I met and invited me for diner and my misconception that this was a bit strange. Before departing I  thanked her and said that I had a problem with the fact that she did not allow me to pay for the meal- She answered that as she had invited me that she should be the one to pay but…she continue, if you wish you can contact me and we can have another meal and you can payfor it then.. On entering Saigon I send her a text message . As she was very busy with a monthly report she could not make it. "Call me when you get back from Phu Quoc" she said.  Ok Friday night she fronted on her large scooter and zipped me through the city to a very nice place where she recommended having “rice in a clay pot”. An interesting dish prepared in a closed up pot which is later smashed in the middle of the restaurant. Out of the pot appeared a disc shaped crunchy rice ball .The head waiter smashes the pot and  flings the disk shaped rice clump across the restaurant several tables away and is caught by the waiter standing next to my table. Very entertaining and it made a very nice meal. The young lady, her name is Phuong (Fu-Wong) is 25 or 26 years old. Babies born in Vietnam are considered 1 year old when they are born. Phuong knows what she wants.  She speaks excellent English and is already a Sales manager for the company she works for.  We finished the night with drinking fruit shake in a nearby road stall after which she drove me back to my hotel.   I said goodbye  and said that I hope to meet her again when I return to Saigon. It was late Friday night and the next day I was going to Singapore and home again to Brisbane

The Nicest People part 2

The next day
 I had a painting made from a picture I use on face book(me on my BMW R1150GS). A bit vain? Perhaps , but I like it. I collected it from the shop early in the morning but by now time started to run out. The airport is not that far away but it can take up to an hour to get there in a taxi. So there I was waiting at the check-in  counter.
  I see a man in front of me holding his pasport in his hand-

Pasport !!! SSh&%&&%t!

 My passport!... the receptionist  in my hotel had not hand  me back my passport!! . A good thing that since I missed a plane or two I now make sure I always get to an airport early… Best not to panic. I walked back to a nearby cafeteria and sat down quickly thinking about the choice of actions open to me.

1/ Doing a round trip by taxi? ,  not an option – I would miss my plane. 

2/ Put my baggage in storage and take a motorcycle taxi…?  I can be back here in an hour and just make it, or perhaps not.

3? I think about motorcycles taxis, then scooters and then … Phuong!  I get on my mobile and said hello Phuong it is me, Richard… I really really really, need your help. I told her the story. “Not a problem”, she said, I go to your hotel, pick up your passport and bring it to the airport.

35 minutes later she calls and ask me to walk over to the domestic terminal as scooters are not allowed at the International terminal ramps.  I knew she would refuse money for petrol (pro rata the Vietnamese people pay around than $10 per liter -) I handed her the box of chocolate I purchased at the terminal. Wow that was close. Nice to have made a new friend who came to my rescue. Not only did she bring my passport she also handed me a pack of excellent Vietnamese coffee. 

Vietnam, a beautiful country with great people, and so easy to make lasting friendships. You should try it one day!

Thanks again Phuong!!

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ted wesselius on

Mooi verhaal jongen ! Voor mij ook zeer herkenbaar; inclusief de Ben Tanh market. Het veel te grote aanbod......... ja, aan nadenken over USP's komen velen niet toe. Een kwestie van mind set, financiële middelen en cultuur. We hebben het er nog wel 's over.
Ps Je bent teruggevlogen over het gebied waar die Malaysian Airlines boeing een paar dagen geleden compleet verdween......

Ab Brielle on

Ja Richard, ik zou morgen wel willen, maar er is ook nog zoveel meer te zien in de wereld. Dat zijn moeilijke keuzes en dan zijn er nog de factoren tijd en geld. Time is running out and Out of money was ik al, dus lees ik gewoon jou verhalen. Veel goedkoper en ook erg leuk om te doen. Bedankt weer voor deze mooie serie Blogs en foto's. Keep in touch en laat weten wat je gaat doen aub.

Anh Wu on

Nice blog, Richard. I think there was a typo. Petrol in Vietnam is 1.2$US/litre (25,000 VN Dongs), not 10$US as displayed?

Let us know next time you are in Hanoi so we can sit for a real Vietnamese coffee. Over your last two returns we didn't have time for that.

richard.wolters on

Re: $10 per liter
Petrol is indeed about $1.20 US per liter but the Vietnamese average income is only around $225 per month. With there petrol price is is LIKE we are paying $10 per liter. Just think of it: How many liters of petrol can we buy for our months salary compared the the Vietnamese. This is one of the reasons they all ride small scooters and once out of the city there is very little traffic. Bikes are used for commuting or as work horses, not items to ride just for pleasure.

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