Monday, August 31, 2009

Rice for sell

Ten years ago I'd ha e said rice is rice but after that in Asia I know
now that there's great, good and Terrible rice- and all in between.
Usually the mire it costs the better it is. Prices reflected here.
Moto exhaust no extra charge.

Correction about neighborhood sign

I said in earlier post that no one ever looks at these signs but me. I
was proven wrong. This man was copying them. I guess he's not able to
access the blog here either.

HIV in the news a lot

Signs like this have been around a while, along with drug and driving
signs. But read in paper that they are supposedly going to start
teaching women how to prevent HIV infection as well. I've heard there
is no sex-Ed in Vietnam so hopefully there will be a change. AIDS is
on the rise in a sad sad way. Apparently Vietnam has a very high
abortion rate as well. Would have never guessed.

National day coming up and that means...

...that the flags are coming out.

My old fave Lao dish found in Saigon

In Lao this front dish is called Mi Gawp and here it's called Mi Xao
Don. Lung had the chicken curry in the back.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pharmacy helmets

I thought I posted this one before but since I can't access blogger in
Vietnam at the moment I can't check further than the 25 posts that
download into my iPhone.

In short, this is a typical pharmacy full of all kinds of drugs. You
don't usually need a doctors prescription to get what you need,
because the pharmacists are qualified to prescribe if necessary it
seems. And you don't need to wear you bike helmet or your pajama
bottoms to get served but it apparently doesn't hurt either.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Coffee served another way

I prefer this way of serving coffee. The silver cup has hot water in
it and keeps the milk warm, as well as the coffee that's in the inner

A typical huge house

I pass this house everyday down our street. I guess it's about the
same size as ours but this one really shows it's mass towering over
the one in front.

Melting away in Saigon

This has been on the table for about 30 seconds and it's already

My best Saigon photo yet

I've always wanted to get a photo of soMeone getting their ears
cleaned but I never imagined I'd be able to combine that shot with a
facial. This guy was totally prepping himself for a hot date. First he
had his hair all up in clips and was having his forehead shaved. Then
the haicutter laid him back and covered his face in some sort of mud
mask gunk. After that he laid this mask over the gunk and got to work
on the ears. Notice all the tools! After I took this photo he gave me
the peace sign, which I was too slow to capture. Nice guys. I like
this place. This is the same shop where I get my haircut. See next post.

Hair cut

Getting my haircut and the local guy around the corner from my old
house. Charges 20,000 dongers. I've been going to him for over a year
now, whenever I'm in town. The guy in the cubbyhole off the sidewalk
near our new pad charges less but he always has a line waiting on the
sidewalk. And plus the one time he was free when I was ready to get a
chop chop he was too busy playing Chinese chess, so I just left. My
regular guy has a northern accent. So many z's were coming out his
mouth he could pass for French. The only part I really understood was
that he liked my iPhone, and since he didn't make a lot of money he
wanted me to either give him mine or buy one for him. The other part
of the conversation I understood was that he's worked here cutting
hair for 10 years. Everyone says they come here for work, but I've got
to guess there are haircutting jobs up in Hanoi as well. Maybe it's
just easier here to open your own place? Oh, one more note for the
memory bank, he always smiles when I walk by and gives me a thumbs up.
Today he shook my hand about 3 times. And he has one really long thumb
nail almost same length as the thumb itself.

Lunch at my fave veggie shop

Fake pork, fake chicken, tofu and green beans with rice and a side
bitter melon soup for less than a buck. So yummy and healthy. I think
it actually tastes better than chicken. The pork isn't quite the same
but pretty darn good nonetheless.

The evils of socialism

So far the only thing I've seen that is truly socialist about Vietnam
these days is the cheap medical care. Pharmacies are all over the
place and you can get pretty much whatever you need for a pittance;
hence everyone can afford to get well to some extent. Tetnus shots at
the local hospital ate less than $1, for example. Guessing they are
so cheap because they are subsidized by the government. I cut my heal
on a rusted gate backing up the motorbike today and went to the
pharmacy. They sold me this gauze and a bottle of iodine for 6000
dong, or 30 cents. Why don't we use iodine in the us? It's the
ultimate fixer upper for scratches, and deep wounds. It's never failed

Saigon home security

No one seems to have alarms on their homes here. Instead they have
dogs. If they don't have dogs they have lots of barbed wire. And if
they have on or both they still have a huge metal gate with spikes at
the top and a complex lock inside the gate that can only be accessed
by a small hole. This photo is of a neighboring house. Why such
measures? What about the cops? Seems no one trusts the cops here and
if they do come by it's to get money (if you're a foreigner or making
any money out of your home shop).

Friday, August 28, 2009

National day is coming up

It's almost National Day, when independence was declared from the
French / Japanese after WW2- i think. The sign says: The communist
government is victorious forever and ever.

Never put TP in toilet bowl

The source of much angst in Asia surely comes from foreigners tossing
their TP into the toiletbowl instead of the watebasket. I know it
sounds weird and stinky but most toilet systems aren't heavyduty
enough to handle your TP.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Total fear of sun

This is the proper way to protect from
the sun. Forget sunblock. Forget that it's 99 degrees outside and 99
percent humidity. Just remember that this will keep your skin light,
the goal of every Saigon woman.

Corn on a street

Linh says everyone is posting photos of food the days and since Ive
read catch 22 I know that if everyone is doing it I'd be a fool not
to. So here's my food photo: corn being steamed on the go. It doesn't
compare to the corn in Mexico but puts the corn in China to shame.

My Dung

This could be perceived as a little childish but in reality every
American wants to know what this means. My is pronounced Meee and
means America. Dung is pronounced Yoooong and is probably someones
name. Or maybe it means nothing at all.

Video games or Internet?

You'd think everyone was surfing the net in this computer den down the
street, but most are just playing video games.

Neon church

A post further down has this church during daylight hours, but it's
more impressive at night.

Best face masks in town

These face masks should be a bit better than the cloth ones, and they
have a replaceable filter. For $3-5 it's probably a good idea. In fact
everyone should probably be required by law to wear them here. I read
that Saigon and Hanoi have pollution rankings off the chart. Something
like 5 times what is acceptable.

Fruit drink stand

Like most fruit drink stands this one has its fruits all lined up
nicely. This is where I got my rau ma, mentioned in the next few posts.

Rau Ma again

I haven't been too impressed with the fruit and veggie drinks on this
part of town, until I had this Rau Ma. Just the right amount of sugar
I guess. I'll still never understand how anyone thinks it tastes like
potatoes. Twice the price I pay in GoVap. 50 cents a glass. If
everything is so cheap in GoVap why move to Le van sy? Because we
thought it would be quieter. Is it? Ummm, a little.

The Xoi cart and all it's pleasures

The Xoi in the next post came from this lady and her cart. She
complimented me on my terrible language skills and the proceeded to
charge me twice what I normally pay in GoVap. I guess she was
overcharging me but maybe it's the neighborhood, closer to town
everything seems to cost more. Since it was $1 for two I could go on
making excuses for her all day long.

Dessert- the best ever

I hadn't seen xoi in this part of town yet, so when I saw the cart
rolling by I called out and ran over to the street. It's sticky rice
and sugar with coconut milk spilled all over.

New sporty wear

Haven't seen anyone wearing this getup yet and in the liklihood that I
never will, I took a photo of it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

If you thought people in the US were lazy

The bike in ge previous post was parked next to the table in this
photo. The driver (blue shirt) put his lid on it and drove it across
the alley to the paper stand in the photo where you see him looking at
the newspaper. It's about 20 feet away. He actually turned on his bike
and drove it there, turned off the motor and started reading the paper.

Fancy bike

Check out the detail on this bike and pay attention to it's location
in proximity to my spot at the coffee shop. The look at the next
(previous) post.

Coal delivery service

Everything can be delivered on a motorbike of some sort in Saigon.
Refrigerator? No problem. Watertanks?no problem. Rocks? Trees?
Children? No problem. Coal too.

The correct way to make left turns into oncoming traffic

Notice the headon, group left turn. Just goes to show that whoever is
in front has the right of way. But cars have more annoying horns, and
they use them like nobodys business. Hence the high percentage of

Clever facemask finally arrives

It looks like big scary teeth.

Recycling is huge in Vietnam

They even do something with styrofoam, something that just goes to
landfills in the US.

Monday, August 24, 2009

View of a busy foodcart

Not sure why this guy is so busy while the lady next to him (see next
post) isn't. But it's usually because one is better than the other.
And maybe his light is better?

View from a food stand

It's dark out and she's waiting for customers on the busy sidewalk
where motorbikes call home.

Naked baby posters are popular

The guy holding the posters walks around town trying to make a sale.
His cover posters were two naked babies, one spreading his legs. I
asked Linh who would buy something like that and then a man having
coffee waived the gentlmam over, to have a laugh I guessed. After
examining the naked baby a while, he asked to see some more and then
settled on the original one. I guess the salesman k ows what sells in
Saigon. I just wish I knew why. Linh says it's probably just because
they think it's cute. And again I want to know why anyone would want a
poster of a naked baby with his weenie out, no matter how cute it is.
A little help here?

Aerial photo of two people in one raincoat on a moto

Another rain shot from the 9th floor patio. Notice that this is a
photo of two people under one raincoat. And there may well be a third
child in the middle.

When it rains, it's raincoat time

Not only is it raincoat time, but it's the best tine to be on the bike
because there's less traffic and it's about 20 degrees cooler. This
photo us from the 9th floor patio.

Churches everywhere

With such a large number of Catholic Vietnamese I guess I should have
expected a church down the street, but a church in a house down the
street I did not. Heard church bells Sunday.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Breakfast yellow noodles and pork

Today over breakfast we wondered how it's determined how far a vendors
tables can go and who they rent from. My guess it's determined by the
rental agreement and that is likely with the building they border. Or
the local mob. At night most have electric light because they get
electricity from the house or cafe next too them, so my guess is
that's all a part if the deal. Will have to ask.

50+ year death anniversary in a row

Grand father died when linhs mom was 8 and they've been
"commemorating" ever since in the traditional Vietnamese way: a huge
meal for family and a few friends. And they do this for all of the
dead from what I can tell. Will the grand children carry on the
tradition? That is yet to be determined. But it's always good to have
an excuse to eat well.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Romantic outdoor dinner

Had hieu thieu mi (another noodle soup) this evening down the street.
The bright light is a motorbike cruising by.

Circle K and competition

Unlike the US where you might find a convenience store on each block
selling the exact same things for about the same price, and there are
two in the game; in Saigon there are 3 such competitors right next to
each other- the only real factors that differentiate them being their
name, power of a/c and cleanliness of their bathrooms, if they have
bathrooms. And CK does have a bathroom, and a very cool AC. I'm
guessing it's going to put a lot of competitors out of business.

Circle K helmet in Saigon

Circle K has opened a few 7-11 type convenience stores in Saigon. For
those who aren't familiar, it's a Texas chain (that's what I heard).
But unlike stores in the US they are selling their own brand of
helmet. $6. Fashion statment? Hmmm

Wonderfish of Vietnam

Saw this bizarre fish sitting in a tank at the restaurant where we had
dimsum for brunch. It's not really a Vietnamese wonderfish. I just
made that up so you'd look at it. Wicked huh? Looks kind of human, and
upset at that.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Breakfast chicken noodle soup again

In an earlier post I have the noodles; this time it's the stand and
the noodle soup maker. He was very friendly and gave us the front Ron
where we watched him cut apart one of the chickens resting on the
shelf in front of us with their throats cut out. His coworker helped
seat us and asked if we wanted anything to drink. As usual each stand
does only one thing, so he called our order over to the lady in the
drink stand across the street and she delivered it over. We paid him
for everything and he paid the drink lady. It's all very efficient and
enjoyable. Come to think of it, I think this is the only stand nearby
that men work.

1.5 billion Lottery

After all this time commenting that no one ever seems to buy the
lottery tickets that the old ladies sell, I decided to buy two. Even
though the odds are as slim as those that say I'll check the winning
number, I paid 10,000 for each ticket after choosing the luckiest
numbers I could find. Honestly I just wanted to use the tickets for
bookmarks that could be worth 1.5 billion dong. Is that almost $100k?
Too many zeros to juggle there so I'll leave that up to you.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Chinese Temple

Saigon has every kind of religious denomination, including this
humongous Chinese Buddhist temple. When we walked in the lady asked if
we wanted to pray or just look. We were the latter, lookers, so she
sent us upstairs. Inside there are a few large golden buddhas and
outside there is a large polluted river that stinks. Oh Lordy does it
stink. From the balcony we saw a Thai temple on the other side of the

Dinner with a view

Tried the noodles from the cool, old cart in an earlier post. The guy
serving could use some people skills. Linh asked for sliced pork and
he said "what do you think this is?" She said, "that's not sliced
pork. That's minced." I guess the man's wife saw where this was going
and said "the sliced pork is here." So we grabbed this seat
overlooking Le Van Sy and took in an avocado smoothy as well. The
noodles weren't too good, but they do have a cool stand, and a great

Climate change poster

Down the street on the way to lunch I saw this sign in one of the
neighborhood notice cages. It pictures several things to do, including
stopping the use of plastic bags. When that happens, I will truly
believe in the ability for a way of life to change. Here, the plastic
bag is something akin to an arm or leg. They are used just as freqently.