Censorship in China – thanks to Leo Laporte

2 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Night two in the new apartment. Ants and heat are two serious problems I have to resolve.
11:21pm via Facebook
flickr (feed #3)
Shared 20 photos.
12:37am via Flickr

2 events

flickr (feed #3)
Shared 40 photos.
12:51pm via Flickr
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen No power every Wed from 8am to 3pm, rehabilitation price and every Sat from 3pm to midnight. What the!!!???
1:50am via Facebook

2 events

flickr (feed #3)
Shared 40 photos.
12:51pm via Flickr
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen No power every Wed from 8am to 3pm, rehabilitation price and every Sat from 3pm to midnight. What the!!!???
1:50am via Facebook

1 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Finally in the new apartment. Got issues, click but could be worse. Here’s a pic. http://flic.kr/p/6AEaGK.
10:22pm via Facebook

2 events

flickr (feed #3)
Shared 40 photos.
12:51pm via Flickr
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen No power every Wed from 8am to 3pm, rehabilitation price and every Sat from 3pm to midnight. What the!!!???
1:50am via Facebook

1 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Finally in the new apartment. Got issues, click but could be worse. Here’s a pic. http://flic.kr/p/6AEaGK.
10:22pm via Facebook

I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, dysentery and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, caries doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, viagra here health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, viagra here health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I noticed that the daily digest from Flickr, order
Facebook and other social networking sites hasn't been updating since July 2nd.
So those of you only looking at Channel Steve will have missed a few things.  If you haven't seen it yet, help
there is a mini-Lifestream on the right, towards the bottom of this blog.  There is also a menu tab, "Lifestream" up the top.

In the meantime, I'll keep harassing the plug-in manufacturer to get the bug fixed.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, viagra here health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I noticed that the daily digest from Flickr, order
Facebook and other social networking sites hasn't been updating since July 2nd.
So those of you only looking at Channel Steve will have missed a few things.  If you haven't seen it yet, help
there is a mini-Lifestream on the right, towards the bottom of this blog.  There is also a menu tab, "Lifestream" up the top.

In the meantime, I'll keep harassing the plug-in manufacturer to get the bug fixed.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, viagra here health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I noticed that the daily digest from Flickr, order
Facebook and other social networking sites hasn't been updating since July 2nd.
So those of you only looking at Channel Steve will have missed a few things.  If you haven't seen it yet, help
there is a mini-Lifestream on the right, towards the bottom of this blog.  There is also a menu tab, "Lifestream" up the top.

In the meantime, I'll keep harassing the plug-in manufacturer to get the bug fixed.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

I've got a little extra time this week, ambulance
so I'm going to try to blog a little more than usual.
I've covered off many of the things I needed to do to settle in here, patient and my work schedule is getting a little more regular.  I still have to get a bike licence, but there's not too much more on my must do list.

I had to ride home in rain and heavy cross-winds for the first time today – an activity that is understandably quite dangerous even without a road covered with people like ants at a picnic. Interestingly enough I felt safer than I normally do as all the other riders were trying to be careful for a change. It's amazing how many accidents you see each week, all caused by people not thinking about what they're doing, what laws they're breaking, and that it usually hurts when you get into an accident.
This is the view of the street below my apartment after I arrived home. Yeah, it looks just like a normal, wet Melbourne night, but you try riding a scooter on it!  They don't have hazard signs on bridges here like they do on the Westgate when the wind gets up.

3716189495_1e12af311d_o.jpg

I've had two minor prangs, but neither resulted in damage to anyone, and both were because the other person was running a red light or riding on the wrong side of the road – neither of which is enough to cause an accident, because many people do that, but both appeared from behind stationary cars. I lost a rear mirror, but that was easy enough to put back on.

I'm getting better at riding as each day goes by, and I've already had a comment from one of the Vietnamese teachers who got a lift with me to dinner one night that I am a better rider than most locals.  That might not be a good thing, though…what do they say? When in Rome, do as the Romans do?

Bought a hot water heater today so I can finally start having hot showers tomorrow. I get to remove it and take it with me when I leave, so it's not a total waste of money.  I don't think cold showers can get you clean, so it will be so nice to be clean again after nearly 3 weeks of less than effective showers (no, I don't smell!).

Had my first hair cut today as well, and about time! Your hair, fingernails and beard all grow about three times as fast here as they do back home. Don't ask me why, I haven't researched that yet. The "Uon Toc" (literal translation is "perm") I entered is a place recommended by a local, and I am glad I took the recommendation – excellent cut by a really nice guy with a young son who sat with me and chatted in English all the while (translating back to his Dad regularly). It was completed with a long (30 minutes) shampoo and head and neck massage which felt great. All of that for VND60,000 (less than $5).

Last night I ate street food after midnight (After school we usually wind down with a drink, a meal, and chat until quite late, as most of us don't work until the next evening), and it cost me VND30000 for 3 main meals (2 for me, the other I shouted my friend) and a coke. Oh oh oh! Before I forget! I was drinking with three travelers last week – 1 Aussie, 1 American & 1 Czech – and they mentioned that Coke means the white powder stuff over here.  I didn't believe them, but right on time a guy came up to me at my sidewalk table and offered me sunglasses, cigarettes, marijuana and coke! In Vietnam!!!  Not wanting to be either dispatched by firing squad, or have my mind altered any more than it already is, I gracefully declined.  But there's a first!!!

So, back to my meal last night.  That's just over $2 for filling meals for both myself and another, and it was delicious. Of course, much of the food I eat costs a lot more than that, as I have been eating at more established places and usually drink a couple of beers each time (safer than water). But the beer is around 80 cents. Most of my meals have been extravagant to date, costing me around $6-$10 for the lot. I will start to get more fussy about paying less for food as I get more comfortable with the city.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for a catch-up with an Aussie mate who just bought a bar in Cambodia. Got to press Send on this thing.

See ya

PS – Lots of photos on Flickr if you haven't already figured that out. Go look at the Travel, Asia collection and view the ASIA III – Saigon set.  I don't post many here at the moment because it's too much effort – easier just to upload to Flickr. Just keep watching Channel Steve and/or Facebook for notifications of Flickr updates. At the moment the Channel Steve digests don't seem to be working, but I hope to get that fixed soon.  And I have about three weeks of photos yet to be uploaded, including some from my Philippines adventures.

PPS – Not trying to scare anyone, but a bus cleaned up a guy and his kid outside my apartment yesterday morning. Kid survived, as the dad threw him to the side before the impact. Dad didn't.  Don't worry, I pay VND300,000 to cops in lieu of being hit by buses (read one of my previous posts). I also don't ride like an idiot.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, viagra here health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I noticed that the daily digest from Flickr, order
Facebook and other social networking sites hasn't been updating since July 2nd.
So those of you only looking at Channel Steve will have missed a few things.  If you haven't seen it yet, help
there is a mini-Lifestream on the right, towards the bottom of this blog.  There is also a menu tab, "Lifestream" up the top.

In the meantime, I'll keep harassing the plug-in manufacturer to get the bug fixed.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

I've got a little extra time this week, ambulance
so I'm going to try to blog a little more than usual.
I've covered off many of the things I needed to do to settle in here, patient and my work schedule is getting a little more regular.  I still have to get a bike licence, but there's not too much more on my must do list.

I had to ride home in rain and heavy cross-winds for the first time today – an activity that is understandably quite dangerous even without a road covered with people like ants at a picnic. Interestingly enough I felt safer than I normally do as all the other riders were trying to be careful for a change. It's amazing how many accidents you see each week, all caused by people not thinking about what they're doing, what laws they're breaking, and that it usually hurts when you get into an accident.
This is the view of the street below my apartment after I arrived home. Yeah, it looks just like a normal, wet Melbourne night, but you try riding a scooter on it!  They don't have hazard signs on bridges here like they do on the Westgate when the wind gets up.

3716189495_1e12af311d_o.jpg

I've had two minor prangs, but neither resulted in damage to anyone, and both were because the other person was running a red light or riding on the wrong side of the road – neither of which is enough to cause an accident, because many people do that, but both appeared from behind stationary cars. I lost a rear mirror, but that was easy enough to put back on.

I'm getting better at riding as each day goes by, and I've already had a comment from one of the Vietnamese teachers who got a lift with me to dinner one night that I am a better rider than most locals.  That might not be a good thing, though…what do they say? When in Rome, do as the Romans do?

Bought a hot water heater today so I can finally start having hot showers tomorrow. I get to remove it and take it with me when I leave, so it's not a total waste of money.  I don't think cold showers can get you clean, so it will be so nice to be clean again after nearly 3 weeks of less than effective showers (no, I don't smell!).

Had my first hair cut today as well, and about time! Your hair, fingernails and beard all grow about three times as fast here as they do back home. Don't ask me why, I haven't researched that yet. The "Uon Toc" (literal translation is "perm") I entered is a place recommended by a local, and I am glad I took the recommendation – excellent cut by a really nice guy with a young son who sat with me and chatted in English all the while (translating back to his Dad regularly). It was completed with a long (30 minutes) shampoo and head and neck massage which felt great. All of that for VND60,000 (less than $5).

Last night I ate street food after midnight (After school we usually wind down with a drink, a meal, and chat until quite late, as most of us don't work until the next evening), and it cost me VND30000 for 3 main meals (2 for me, the other I shouted my friend) and a coke. Oh oh oh! Before I forget! I was drinking with three travelers last week – 1 Aussie, 1 American & 1 Czech – and they mentioned that Coke means the white powder stuff over here.  I didn't believe them, but right on time a guy came up to me at my sidewalk table and offered me sunglasses, cigarettes, marijuana and coke! In Vietnam!!!  Not wanting to be either dispatched by firing squad, or have my mind altered any more than it already is, I gracefully declined.  But there's a first!!!

So, back to my meal last night.  That's just over $2 for filling meals for both myself and another, and it was delicious. Of course, much of the food I eat costs a lot more than that, as I have been eating at more established places and usually drink a couple of beers each time (safer than water). But the beer is around 80 cents. Most of my meals have been extravagant to date, costing me around $6-$10 for the lot. I will start to get more fussy about paying less for food as I get more comfortable with the city.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for a catch-up with an Aussie mate who just bought a bar in Cambodia. Got to press Send on this thing.

See ya

PS – Lots of photos on Flickr if you haven't already figured that out. Go look at the Travel, Asia collection and view the ASIA III – Saigon set.  I don't post many here at the moment because it's too much effort – easier just to upload to Flickr. Just keep watching Channel Steve and/or Facebook for notifications of Flickr updates. At the moment the Channel Steve digests don't seem to be working, but I hope to get that fixed soon.  And I have about three weeks of photos yet to be uploaded, including some from my Philippines adventures.

PPS – Not trying to scare anyone, but a bus cleaned up a guy and his kid outside my apartment yesterday morning. Kid survived, as the dad threw him to the side before the impact. Dad didn't.  Don't worry, I pay VND300,000 to cops in lieu of being hit by buses (read one of my previous posts). I also don't ride like an idiot.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

I've got a little extra time this week, ambulance
so I'm going to try to blog a little more than usual.
I've covered off many of the things I needed to do to settle in here, patient and my work schedule is getting a little more regular.  I still have to get a bike licence, but there's not too much more on my must do list.

I had to ride home in rain and heavy cross-winds for the first time today – an activity that is understandably quite dangerous even without a road covered with people like ants at a picnic. Interestingly enough I felt safer than I normally do as all the other riders were trying to be careful for a change. It's amazing how many accidents you see each week, all caused by people not thinking about what they're doing, what laws they're breaking, and that it usually hurts when you get into an accident.
This is the view of the street below my apartment after I arrived home. Yeah, it looks just like a normal, wet Melbourne night, but you try riding a scooter on it!  They don't have hazard signs on bridges here like they do on the Westgate when the wind gets up.

3716189495_1e12af311d_o.jpg

I've had two minor prangs, but neither resulted in damage to anyone, and both were because the other person was running a red light or riding on the wrong side of the road – neither of which is enough to cause an accident, because many people do that, but both appeared from behind stationary cars. I lost a rear mirror, but that was easy enough to put back on.

I'm getting better at riding as each day goes by, and I've already had a comment from one of the Vietnamese teachers who got a lift with me to dinner one night that I am a better rider than most locals.  That might not be a good thing, though…what do they say? When in Rome, do as the Romans do?

Bought a hot water heater today so I can finally start having hot showers tomorrow. I get to remove it and take it with me when I leave, so it's not a total waste of money.  I don't think cold showers can get you clean, so it will be so nice to be clean again after nearly 3 weeks of less than effective showers (no, I don't smell!).

Had my first hair cut today as well, and about time! Your hair, fingernails and beard all grow about three times as fast here as they do back home. Don't ask me why, I haven't researched that yet. The "Uon Toc" (literal translation is "perm") I entered is a place recommended by a local, and I am glad I took the recommendation – excellent cut by a really nice guy with a young son who sat with me and chatted in English all the while (translating back to his Dad regularly). It was completed with a long (30 minutes) shampoo and head and neck massage which felt great. All of that for VND60,000 (less than $5).

Last night I ate street food after midnight (After school we usually wind down with a drink, a meal, and chat until quite late, as most of us don't work until the next evening), and it cost me VND30000 for 3 main meals (2 for me, the other I shouted my friend) and a coke. Oh oh oh! Before I forget! I was drinking with three travelers last week – 1 Aussie, 1 American & 1 Czech – and they mentioned that Coke means the white powder stuff over here.  I didn't believe them, but right on time a guy came up to me at my sidewalk table and offered me sunglasses, cigarettes, marijuana and coke! In Vietnam!!!  Not wanting to be either dispatched by firing squad, or have my mind altered any more than it already is, I gracefully declined.  But there's a first!!!

So, back to my meal last night.  That's just over $2 for filling meals for both myself and another, and it was delicious. Of course, much of the food I eat costs a lot more than that, as I have been eating at more established places and usually drink a couple of beers each time (safer than water). But the beer is around 80 cents. Most of my meals have been extravagant to date, costing me around $6-$10 for the lot. I will start to get more fussy about paying less for food as I get more comfortable with the city.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for a catch-up with an Aussie mate who just bought a bar in Cambodia. Got to press Send on this thing.

See ya

PS – Lots of photos on Flickr if you haven't already figured that out. Go look at the Travel, Asia collection and view the ASIA III – Saigon set.  I don't post many here at the moment because it's too much effort – easier just to upload to Flickr. Just keep watching Channel Steve and/or Facebook for notifications of Flickr updates. At the moment the Channel Steve digests don't seem to be working, but I hope to get that fixed soon.  And I have about three weeks of photos yet to be uploaded, including some from my Philippines adventures.

PPS – Not trying to scare anyone, but a bus cleaned up a guy and his kid outside my apartment yesterday morning. Kid survived, as the dad threw him to the side before the impact. Dad didn't.  Don't worry, I pay VND300,000 to cops in lieu of being hit by buses (read one of my previous posts). I also don't ride like an idiot.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

Ah, medicine
the joys of social networking.

It seems my cop story only appeared as a Facebook or Twitter update, allergy
and didn't transfer across to Channel Steve.
So those of you who read my last update may not understand the reference to paying VND300, doctor 000 to the cops.

Here's the story:

I was pulled over on the way to work by cream-wearing, creamy dessert-eating men in uniform.  The chosen one wanted to know if I spoke Vietnamese, and when I said no rolled his eyes. Instead of letting me go he persisted, as perhaps he could sense the weight of my foreign wallet.
At first it was – "licence". I thought I could get away with showing my Aussie one. No dice, but he did accept that I was in the process of obtaining one (so I said). Then it was "papers" – meaning insurance and registration. My rental bike comes with original insurance papers, but a photocopy of the rego because the owner won't give the original to me.  Fair enough, I think. But not to the cop. He started using body language that I read as "well, what are we going to do about this terrible crime then?" I had heard that they can impound your bike for just about anything, so I called the owner who didn't answer the phone. Next step, call one of my local translators. I gave the phone to the cop and after a couple of minutes received it back.  The message – "you crossed into the car lane and have to pay VND300,000".

As a matter of fact, I didn't realise there was such a thing as a car lane, and I did cross into it momentarily to avoid being crushed by a bus that was out for my blood.  I wasn't expecting the fine to be that large, but I guess inflation has hit everywhere. So I paid the 300 to a cop that clearly DOES receive enough salary (plus bonuses) judging by his uniform size, and got ready to go.  He then said and did one more thing:
"First time?"
"Yep", I reply.
He shakes my hand and smiles.

Grrrrr…..  Corruption is not my favourite noun, even if it does reduce court clutter and is cheaper than an Australian traffic ticket.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, viagra here health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I noticed that the daily digest from Flickr, order
Facebook and other social networking sites hasn't been updating since July 2nd.
So those of you only looking at Channel Steve will have missed a few things.  If you haven't seen it yet, help
there is a mini-Lifestream on the right, towards the bottom of this blog.  There is also a menu tab, "Lifestream" up the top.

In the meantime, I'll keep harassing the plug-in manufacturer to get the bug fixed.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

I've got a little extra time this week, ambulance
so I'm going to try to blog a little more than usual.
I've covered off many of the things I needed to do to settle in here, patient and my work schedule is getting a little more regular.  I still have to get a bike licence, but there's not too much more on my must do list.

I had to ride home in rain and heavy cross-winds for the first time today – an activity that is understandably quite dangerous even without a road covered with people like ants at a picnic. Interestingly enough I felt safer than I normally do as all the other riders were trying to be careful for a change. It's amazing how many accidents you see each week, all caused by people not thinking about what they're doing, what laws they're breaking, and that it usually hurts when you get into an accident.
This is the view of the street below my apartment after I arrived home. Yeah, it looks just like a normal, wet Melbourne night, but you try riding a scooter on it!  They don't have hazard signs on bridges here like they do on the Westgate when the wind gets up.

3716189495_1e12af311d_o.jpg

I've had two minor prangs, but neither resulted in damage to anyone, and both were because the other person was running a red light or riding on the wrong side of the road – neither of which is enough to cause an accident, because many people do that, but both appeared from behind stationary cars. I lost a rear mirror, but that was easy enough to put back on.

I'm getting better at riding as each day goes by, and I've already had a comment from one of the Vietnamese teachers who got a lift with me to dinner one night that I am a better rider than most locals.  That might not be a good thing, though…what do they say? When in Rome, do as the Romans do?

Bought a hot water heater today so I can finally start having hot showers tomorrow. I get to remove it and take it with me when I leave, so it's not a total waste of money.  I don't think cold showers can get you clean, so it will be so nice to be clean again after nearly 3 weeks of less than effective showers (no, I don't smell!).

Had my first hair cut today as well, and about time! Your hair, fingernails and beard all grow about three times as fast here as they do back home. Don't ask me why, I haven't researched that yet. The "Uon Toc" (literal translation is "perm") I entered is a place recommended by a local, and I am glad I took the recommendation – excellent cut by a really nice guy with a young son who sat with me and chatted in English all the while (translating back to his Dad regularly). It was completed with a long (30 minutes) shampoo and head and neck massage which felt great. All of that for VND60,000 (less than $5).

Last night I ate street food after midnight (After school we usually wind down with a drink, a meal, and chat until quite late, as most of us don't work until the next evening), and it cost me VND30000 for 3 main meals (2 for me, the other I shouted my friend) and a coke. Oh oh oh! Before I forget! I was drinking with three travelers last week – 1 Aussie, 1 American & 1 Czech – and they mentioned that Coke means the white powder stuff over here.  I didn't believe them, but right on time a guy came up to me at my sidewalk table and offered me sunglasses, cigarettes, marijuana and coke! In Vietnam!!!  Not wanting to be either dispatched by firing squad, or have my mind altered any more than it already is, I gracefully declined.  But there's a first!!!

So, back to my meal last night.  That's just over $2 for filling meals for both myself and another, and it was delicious. Of course, much of the food I eat costs a lot more than that, as I have been eating at more established places and usually drink a couple of beers each time (safer than water). But the beer is around 80 cents. Most of my meals have been extravagant to date, costing me around $6-$10 for the lot. I will start to get more fussy about paying less for food as I get more comfortable with the city.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for a catch-up with an Aussie mate who just bought a bar in Cambodia. Got to press Send on this thing.

See ya

PS – Lots of photos on Flickr if you haven't already figured that out. Go look at the Travel, Asia collection and view the ASIA III – Saigon set.  I don't post many here at the moment because it's too much effort – easier just to upload to Flickr. Just keep watching Channel Steve and/or Facebook for notifications of Flickr updates. At the moment the Channel Steve digests don't seem to be working, but I hope to get that fixed soon.  And I have about three weeks of photos yet to be uploaded, including some from my Philippines adventures.

PPS – Not trying to scare anyone, but a bus cleaned up a guy and his kid outside my apartment yesterday morning. Kid survived, as the dad threw him to the side before the impact. Dad didn't.  Don't worry, I pay VND300,000 to cops in lieu of being hit by buses (read one of my previous posts). I also don't ride like an idiot.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

I've got a little extra time this week, ambulance
so I'm going to try to blog a little more than usual.
I've covered off many of the things I needed to do to settle in here, patient and my work schedule is getting a little more regular.  I still have to get a bike licence, but there's not too much more on my must do list.

I had to ride home in rain and heavy cross-winds for the first time today – an activity that is understandably quite dangerous even without a road covered with people like ants at a picnic. Interestingly enough I felt safer than I normally do as all the other riders were trying to be careful for a change. It's amazing how many accidents you see each week, all caused by people not thinking about what they're doing, what laws they're breaking, and that it usually hurts when you get into an accident.
This is the view of the street below my apartment after I arrived home. Yeah, it looks just like a normal, wet Melbourne night, but you try riding a scooter on it!  They don't have hazard signs on bridges here like they do on the Westgate when the wind gets up.

3716189495_1e12af311d_o.jpg

I've had two minor prangs, but neither resulted in damage to anyone, and both were because the other person was running a red light or riding on the wrong side of the road – neither of which is enough to cause an accident, because many people do that, but both appeared from behind stationary cars. I lost a rear mirror, but that was easy enough to put back on.

I'm getting better at riding as each day goes by, and I've already had a comment from one of the Vietnamese teachers who got a lift with me to dinner one night that I am a better rider than most locals.  That might not be a good thing, though…what do they say? When in Rome, do as the Romans do?

Bought a hot water heater today so I can finally start having hot showers tomorrow. I get to remove it and take it with me when I leave, so it's not a total waste of money.  I don't think cold showers can get you clean, so it will be so nice to be clean again after nearly 3 weeks of less than effective showers (no, I don't smell!).

Had my first hair cut today as well, and about time! Your hair, fingernails and beard all grow about three times as fast here as they do back home. Don't ask me why, I haven't researched that yet. The "Uon Toc" (literal translation is "perm") I entered is a place recommended by a local, and I am glad I took the recommendation – excellent cut by a really nice guy with a young son who sat with me and chatted in English all the while (translating back to his Dad regularly). It was completed with a long (30 minutes) shampoo and head and neck massage which felt great. All of that for VND60,000 (less than $5).

Last night I ate street food after midnight (After school we usually wind down with a drink, a meal, and chat until quite late, as most of us don't work until the next evening), and it cost me VND30000 for 3 main meals (2 for me, the other I shouted my friend) and a coke. Oh oh oh! Before I forget! I was drinking with three travelers last week – 1 Aussie, 1 American & 1 Czech – and they mentioned that Coke means the white powder stuff over here.  I didn't believe them, but right on time a guy came up to me at my sidewalk table and offered me sunglasses, cigarettes, marijuana and coke! In Vietnam!!!  Not wanting to be either dispatched by firing squad, or have my mind altered any more than it already is, I gracefully declined.  But there's a first!!!

So, back to my meal last night.  That's just over $2 for filling meals for both myself and another, and it was delicious. Of course, much of the food I eat costs a lot more than that, as I have been eating at more established places and usually drink a couple of beers each time (safer than water). But the beer is around 80 cents. Most of my meals have been extravagant to date, costing me around $6-$10 for the lot. I will start to get more fussy about paying less for food as I get more comfortable with the city.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for a catch-up with an Aussie mate who just bought a bar in Cambodia. Got to press Send on this thing.

See ya

PS – Lots of photos on Flickr if you haven't already figured that out. Go look at the Travel, Asia collection and view the ASIA III – Saigon set.  I don't post many here at the moment because it's too much effort – easier just to upload to Flickr. Just keep watching Channel Steve and/or Facebook for notifications of Flickr updates. At the moment the Channel Steve digests don't seem to be working, but I hope to get that fixed soon.  And I have about three weeks of photos yet to be uploaded, including some from my Philippines adventures.

PPS – Not trying to scare anyone, but a bus cleaned up a guy and his kid outside my apartment yesterday morning. Kid survived, as the dad threw him to the side before the impact. Dad didn't.  Don't worry, I pay VND300,000 to cops in lieu of being hit by buses (read one of my previous posts). I also don't ride like an idiot.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

Ah, medicine
the joys of social networking.

It seems my cop story only appeared as a Facebook or Twitter update, allergy
and didn't transfer across to Channel Steve.
So those of you who read my last update may not understand the reference to paying VND300, doctor 000 to the cops.

Here's the story:

I was pulled over on the way to work by cream-wearing, creamy dessert-eating men in uniform.  The chosen one wanted to know if I spoke Vietnamese, and when I said no rolled his eyes. Instead of letting me go he persisted, as perhaps he could sense the weight of my foreign wallet.
At first it was – "licence". I thought I could get away with showing my Aussie one. No dice, but he did accept that I was in the process of obtaining one (so I said). Then it was "papers" – meaning insurance and registration. My rental bike comes with original insurance papers, but a photocopy of the rego because the owner won't give the original to me.  Fair enough, I think. But not to the cop. He started using body language that I read as "well, what are we going to do about this terrible crime then?" I had heard that they can impound your bike for just about anything, so I called the owner who didn't answer the phone. Next step, call one of my local translators. I gave the phone to the cop and after a couple of minutes received it back.  The message – "you crossed into the car lane and have to pay VND300,000".

As a matter of fact, I didn't realise there was such a thing as a car lane, and I did cross into it momentarily to avoid being crushed by a bus that was out for my blood.  I wasn't expecting the fine to be that large, but I guess inflation has hit everywhere. So I paid the 300 to a cop that clearly DOES receive enough salary (plus bonuses) judging by his uniform size, and got ready to go.  He then said and did one more thing:
"First time?"
"Yep", I reply.
He shakes my hand and smiles.

Grrrrr…..  Corruption is not my favourite noun, even if it does reduce court clutter and is cheaper than an Australian traffic ticket.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

2 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Negotiated strong cross-winds, health care wet stuff from the sky & suicidal locals to ride home in one piece. Phew!
flickr (feed #3)

I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, viagra here health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I noticed that the daily digest from Flickr, order
Facebook and other social networking sites hasn't been updating since July 2nd.
So those of you only looking at Channel Steve will have missed a few things.  If you haven't seen it yet, help
there is a mini-Lifestream on the right, towards the bottom of this blog.  There is also a menu tab, "Lifestream" up the top.

In the meantime, I'll keep harassing the plug-in manufacturer to get the bug fixed.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

I've got a little extra time this week, ambulance
so I'm going to try to blog a little more than usual.
I've covered off many of the things I needed to do to settle in here, patient and my work schedule is getting a little more regular.  I still have to get a bike licence, but there's not too much more on my must do list.

I had to ride home in rain and heavy cross-winds for the first time today – an activity that is understandably quite dangerous even without a road covered with people like ants at a picnic. Interestingly enough I felt safer than I normally do as all the other riders were trying to be careful for a change. It's amazing how many accidents you see each week, all caused by people not thinking about what they're doing, what laws they're breaking, and that it usually hurts when you get into an accident.
This is the view of the street below my apartment after I arrived home. Yeah, it looks just like a normal, wet Melbourne night, but you try riding a scooter on it!  They don't have hazard signs on bridges here like they do on the Westgate when the wind gets up.

3716189495_1e12af311d_o.jpg

I've had two minor prangs, but neither resulted in damage to anyone, and both were because the other person was running a red light or riding on the wrong side of the road – neither of which is enough to cause an accident, because many people do that, but both appeared from behind stationary cars. I lost a rear mirror, but that was easy enough to put back on.

I'm getting better at riding as each day goes by, and I've already had a comment from one of the Vietnamese teachers who got a lift with me to dinner one night that I am a better rider than most locals.  That might not be a good thing, though…what do they say? When in Rome, do as the Romans do?

Bought a hot water heater today so I can finally start having hot showers tomorrow. I get to remove it and take it with me when I leave, so it's not a total waste of money.  I don't think cold showers can get you clean, so it will be so nice to be clean again after nearly 3 weeks of less than effective showers (no, I don't smell!).

Had my first hair cut today as well, and about time! Your hair, fingernails and beard all grow about three times as fast here as they do back home. Don't ask me why, I haven't researched that yet. The "Uon Toc" (literal translation is "perm") I entered is a place recommended by a local, and I am glad I took the recommendation – excellent cut by a really nice guy with a young son who sat with me and chatted in English all the while (translating back to his Dad regularly). It was completed with a long (30 minutes) shampoo and head and neck massage which felt great. All of that for VND60,000 (less than $5).

Last night I ate street food after midnight (After school we usually wind down with a drink, a meal, and chat until quite late, as most of us don't work until the next evening), and it cost me VND30000 for 3 main meals (2 for me, the other I shouted my friend) and a coke. Oh oh oh! Before I forget! I was drinking with three travelers last week – 1 Aussie, 1 American & 1 Czech – and they mentioned that Coke means the white powder stuff over here.  I didn't believe them, but right on time a guy came up to me at my sidewalk table and offered me sunglasses, cigarettes, marijuana and coke! In Vietnam!!!  Not wanting to be either dispatched by firing squad, or have my mind altered any more than it already is, I gracefully declined.  But there's a first!!!

So, back to my meal last night.  That's just over $2 for filling meals for both myself and another, and it was delicious. Of course, much of the food I eat costs a lot more than that, as I have been eating at more established places and usually drink a couple of beers each time (safer than water). But the beer is around 80 cents. Most of my meals have been extravagant to date, costing me around $6-$10 for the lot. I will start to get more fussy about paying less for food as I get more comfortable with the city.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for a catch-up with an Aussie mate who just bought a bar in Cambodia. Got to press Send on this thing.

See ya

PS – Lots of photos on Flickr if you haven't already figured that out. Go look at the Travel, Asia collection and view the ASIA III – Saigon set.  I don't post many here at the moment because it's too much effort – easier just to upload to Flickr. Just keep watching Channel Steve and/or Facebook for notifications of Flickr updates. At the moment the Channel Steve digests don't seem to be working, but I hope to get that fixed soon.  And I have about three weeks of photos yet to be uploaded, including some from my Philippines adventures.

PPS – Not trying to scare anyone, but a bus cleaned up a guy and his kid outside my apartment yesterday morning. Kid survived, as the dad threw him to the side before the impact. Dad didn't.  Don't worry, I pay VND300,000 to cops in lieu of being hit by buses (read one of my previous posts). I also don't ride like an idiot.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

I've got a little extra time this week, ambulance
so I'm going to try to blog a little more than usual.
I've covered off many of the things I needed to do to settle in here, patient and my work schedule is getting a little more regular.  I still have to get a bike licence, but there's not too much more on my must do list.

I had to ride home in rain and heavy cross-winds for the first time today – an activity that is understandably quite dangerous even without a road covered with people like ants at a picnic. Interestingly enough I felt safer than I normally do as all the other riders were trying to be careful for a change. It's amazing how many accidents you see each week, all caused by people not thinking about what they're doing, what laws they're breaking, and that it usually hurts when you get into an accident.
This is the view of the street below my apartment after I arrived home. Yeah, it looks just like a normal, wet Melbourne night, but you try riding a scooter on it!  They don't have hazard signs on bridges here like they do on the Westgate when the wind gets up.

3716189495_1e12af311d_o.jpg

I've had two minor prangs, but neither resulted in damage to anyone, and both were because the other person was running a red light or riding on the wrong side of the road – neither of which is enough to cause an accident, because many people do that, but both appeared from behind stationary cars. I lost a rear mirror, but that was easy enough to put back on.

I'm getting better at riding as each day goes by, and I've already had a comment from one of the Vietnamese teachers who got a lift with me to dinner one night that I am a better rider than most locals.  That might not be a good thing, though…what do they say? When in Rome, do as the Romans do?

Bought a hot water heater today so I can finally start having hot showers tomorrow. I get to remove it and take it with me when I leave, so it's not a total waste of money.  I don't think cold showers can get you clean, so it will be so nice to be clean again after nearly 3 weeks of less than effective showers (no, I don't smell!).

Had my first hair cut today as well, and about time! Your hair, fingernails and beard all grow about three times as fast here as they do back home. Don't ask me why, I haven't researched that yet. The "Uon Toc" (literal translation is "perm") I entered is a place recommended by a local, and I am glad I took the recommendation – excellent cut by a really nice guy with a young son who sat with me and chatted in English all the while (translating back to his Dad regularly). It was completed with a long (30 minutes) shampoo and head and neck massage which felt great. All of that for VND60,000 (less than $5).

Last night I ate street food after midnight (After school we usually wind down with a drink, a meal, and chat until quite late, as most of us don't work until the next evening), and it cost me VND30000 for 3 main meals (2 for me, the other I shouted my friend) and a coke. Oh oh oh! Before I forget! I was drinking with three travelers last week – 1 Aussie, 1 American & 1 Czech – and they mentioned that Coke means the white powder stuff over here.  I didn't believe them, but right on time a guy came up to me at my sidewalk table and offered me sunglasses, cigarettes, marijuana and coke! In Vietnam!!!  Not wanting to be either dispatched by firing squad, or have my mind altered any more than it already is, I gracefully declined.  But there's a first!!!

So, back to my meal last night.  That's just over $2 for filling meals for both myself and another, and it was delicious. Of course, much of the food I eat costs a lot more than that, as I have been eating at more established places and usually drink a couple of beers each time (safer than water). But the beer is around 80 cents. Most of my meals have been extravagant to date, costing me around $6-$10 for the lot. I will start to get more fussy about paying less for food as I get more comfortable with the city.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for a catch-up with an Aussie mate who just bought a bar in Cambodia. Got to press Send on this thing.

See ya

PS – Lots of photos on Flickr if you haven't already figured that out. Go look at the Travel, Asia collection and view the ASIA III – Saigon set.  I don't post many here at the moment because it's too much effort – easier just to upload to Flickr. Just keep watching Channel Steve and/or Facebook for notifications of Flickr updates. At the moment the Channel Steve digests don't seem to be working, but I hope to get that fixed soon.  And I have about three weeks of photos yet to be uploaded, including some from my Philippines adventures.

PPS – Not trying to scare anyone, but a bus cleaned up a guy and his kid outside my apartment yesterday morning. Kid survived, as the dad threw him to the side before the impact. Dad didn't.  Don't worry, I pay VND300,000 to cops in lieu of being hit by buses (read one of my previous posts). I also don't ride like an idiot.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

Ah, medicine
the joys of social networking.

It seems my cop story only appeared as a Facebook or Twitter update, allergy
and didn't transfer across to Channel Steve.
So those of you who read my last update may not understand the reference to paying VND300, doctor 000 to the cops.

Here's the story:

I was pulled over on the way to work by cream-wearing, creamy dessert-eating men in uniform.  The chosen one wanted to know if I spoke Vietnamese, and when I said no rolled his eyes. Instead of letting me go he persisted, as perhaps he could sense the weight of my foreign wallet.
At first it was – "licence". I thought I could get away with showing my Aussie one. No dice, but he did accept that I was in the process of obtaining one (so I said). Then it was "papers" – meaning insurance and registration. My rental bike comes with original insurance papers, but a photocopy of the rego because the owner won't give the original to me.  Fair enough, I think. But not to the cop. He started using body language that I read as "well, what are we going to do about this terrible crime then?" I had heard that they can impound your bike for just about anything, so I called the owner who didn't answer the phone. Next step, call one of my local translators. I gave the phone to the cop and after a couple of minutes received it back.  The message – "you crossed into the car lane and have to pay VND300,000".

As a matter of fact, I didn't realise there was such a thing as a car lane, and I did cross into it momentarily to avoid being crushed by a bus that was out for my blood.  I wasn't expecting the fine to be that large, but I guess inflation has hit everywhere. So I paid the 300 to a cop that clearly DOES receive enough salary (plus bonuses) judging by his uniform size, and got ready to go.  He then said and did one more thing:
"First time?"
"Yep", I reply.
He shakes my hand and smiles.

Grrrrr…..  Corruption is not my favourite noun, even if it does reduce court clutter and is cheaper than an Australian traffic ticket.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

2 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Negotiated strong cross-winds, health care wet stuff from the sky & suicidal locals to ride home in one piece. Phew!
flickr (feed #3)

I'm getting a God-like complex.  In fact, healing a local (who happens to be rather Catholic by the way) has even begun to call me God occasionally.  This freaks me out just a little bit, abortion but there is a reason for it.

To begin with we shall discuss my telepathic ability to influence electronic media around me.
Please refer to resource file number one: ABBA – So Long.

I wasn't aware that ABBA was singing about a Vietnamese sea snail eaten as a delicacy until I sat down at one of my favourite street restaurants after work one night.  I was perusing the menu and noticed "So Long" in bold letters. Conversationaly I told the waitress (who, like nearly all waitresses in these places, uses her job to obtain free English lessons) that this is one of my favourite ABBA songs. She hadn't heard of ABBA, which no longer surprises me given that many young Vietnamese haven't even heard a rock song before.
I ordered something else once she explained what it was – hey, I eat snails, but just didn't feel like it tonight.
Whilst waiting for my order to arrive I watched an entertaining local reality show, where aspiring actors are competing to be signed. This episode was teaching them how to show emotions effectively by asking them to perform a meaningful dance to a previously unheard song, illustrating their given theme.
Suddenly I sat bolt upright when I heard the opening strains of So Long wafting on the wind. I thought my mind was playing tricks on me until I realised that they were actually dancing to that song on the show!  Now, you must remember that we're not talking Mumma Mia or Dancing Queen here. So Long is not a commonly played piece, no matter how much better I think it is to much of their catalog, and certainly not one that any Vietnamese would have heard before.  I spent the rest of my meal shaking my head at just how much power my mind is building up.

Last night I was drinking with an Aussie mate heading off to Cambodia to run his newly-purchased bar. I asked him about the current theme of this bar, and his response was "Very Rolling Stones". No more than 20 seconds passed when suddenly a track from Mick Jagger's latest solo album began to play in the bar.  See, it would have been too easy to just throw Satisfaction on the playlist. I wanted to impress with something a little more eclectic and obscure.

Let's now move to some more compelling evidence. Please refer to resource file number two: Crowded House – Weather With You.

As some of you already know, I traveled through 7 Asian countries in 53 days last year, followed by a revisit to two of them for another 5 weeks or so. Both times were during the monsoon season.  I experienced three days of rain for the entire trip as I recall, none of which was travel-stopping or fun-reducing.  In some cases, approaching typhoons would sense my presence and change direction to skirt around me.  I began to think this actually had something to do with my actual physical presence in these countries.
My recent visit to the Philippines went perfectly for the diving component, and only rained during the times when I was grumpy or not happy about leaving a place I was enjoying so much.   I modified my self-analysis accordingly.
Last week one of the teachers was complaining that the weather in Saigon was really weird for this time of year. He wished it would rain as it is supposed to during the wet season. I asked why, as the rain makes things wet and uncomfortable for commuters.  His response was that it would cool the city down.  It was then that I had to apologise, as my presence is the obvious reason for this change in the weather.

The edge of a typhoon seems to have hit my apartment. I hope it goes away in the next two hours as I have to go to work tonight. Let's test out my God-like capabilities…

So Long by Abba   (1102 KB)
Listen on posterous

Weather With You by Crowded House/Paul Hester/Tim Finn   (527 KB)
Listen on posterous

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, viagra here health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I noticed that the daily digest from Flickr, order
Facebook and other social networking sites hasn't been updating since July 2nd.
So those of you only looking at Channel Steve will have missed a few things.  If you haven't seen it yet, help
there is a mini-Lifestream on the right, towards the bottom of this blog.  There is also a menu tab, "Lifestream" up the top.

In the meantime, I'll keep harassing the plug-in manufacturer to get the bug fixed.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

I've got a little extra time this week, ambulance
so I'm going to try to blog a little more than usual.
I've covered off many of the things I needed to do to settle in here, patient and my work schedule is getting a little more regular.  I still have to get a bike licence, but there's not too much more on my must do list.

I had to ride home in rain and heavy cross-winds for the first time today – an activity that is understandably quite dangerous even without a road covered with people like ants at a picnic. Interestingly enough I felt safer than I normally do as all the other riders were trying to be careful for a change. It's amazing how many accidents you see each week, all caused by people not thinking about what they're doing, what laws they're breaking, and that it usually hurts when you get into an accident.
This is the view of the street below my apartment after I arrived home. Yeah, it looks just like a normal, wet Melbourne night, but you try riding a scooter on it!  They don't have hazard signs on bridges here like they do on the Westgate when the wind gets up.

3716189495_1e12af311d_o.jpg

I've had two minor prangs, but neither resulted in damage to anyone, and both were because the other person was running a red light or riding on the wrong side of the road – neither of which is enough to cause an accident, because many people do that, but both appeared from behind stationary cars. I lost a rear mirror, but that was easy enough to put back on.

I'm getting better at riding as each day goes by, and I've already had a comment from one of the Vietnamese teachers who got a lift with me to dinner one night that I am a better rider than most locals.  That might not be a good thing, though…what do they say? When in Rome, do as the Romans do?

Bought a hot water heater today so I can finally start having hot showers tomorrow. I get to remove it and take it with me when I leave, so it's not a total waste of money.  I don't think cold showers can get you clean, so it will be so nice to be clean again after nearly 3 weeks of less than effective showers (no, I don't smell!).

Had my first hair cut today as well, and about time! Your hair, fingernails and beard all grow about three times as fast here as they do back home. Don't ask me why, I haven't researched that yet. The "Uon Toc" (literal translation is "perm") I entered is a place recommended by a local, and I am glad I took the recommendation – excellent cut by a really nice guy with a young son who sat with me and chatted in English all the while (translating back to his Dad regularly). It was completed with a long (30 minutes) shampoo and head and neck massage which felt great. All of that for VND60,000 (less than $5).

Last night I ate street food after midnight (After school we usually wind down with a drink, a meal, and chat until quite late, as most of us don't work until the next evening), and it cost me VND30000 for 3 main meals (2 for me, the other I shouted my friend) and a coke. Oh oh oh! Before I forget! I was drinking with three travelers last week – 1 Aussie, 1 American & 1 Czech – and they mentioned that Coke means the white powder stuff over here.  I didn't believe them, but right on time a guy came up to me at my sidewalk table and offered me sunglasses, cigarettes, marijuana and coke! In Vietnam!!!  Not wanting to be either dispatched by firing squad, or have my mind altered any more than it already is, I gracefully declined.  But there's a first!!!

So, back to my meal last night.  That's just over $2 for filling meals for both myself and another, and it was delicious. Of course, much of the food I eat costs a lot more than that, as I have been eating at more established places and usually drink a couple of beers each time (safer than water). But the beer is around 80 cents. Most of my meals have been extravagant to date, costing me around $6-$10 for the lot. I will start to get more fussy about paying less for food as I get more comfortable with the city.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for a catch-up with an Aussie mate who just bought a bar in Cambodia. Got to press Send on this thing.

See ya

PS – Lots of photos on Flickr if you haven't already figured that out. Go look at the Travel, Asia collection and view the ASIA III – Saigon set.  I don't post many here at the moment because it's too much effort – easier just to upload to Flickr. Just keep watching Channel Steve and/or Facebook for notifications of Flickr updates. At the moment the Channel Steve digests don't seem to be working, but I hope to get that fixed soon.  And I have about three weeks of photos yet to be uploaded, including some from my Philippines adventures.

PPS – Not trying to scare anyone, but a bus cleaned up a guy and his kid outside my apartment yesterday morning. Kid survived, as the dad threw him to the side before the impact. Dad didn't.  Don't worry, I pay VND300,000 to cops in lieu of being hit by buses (read one of my previous posts). I also don't ride like an idiot.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

I've got a little extra time this week, ambulance
so I'm going to try to blog a little more than usual.
I've covered off many of the things I needed to do to settle in here, patient and my work schedule is getting a little more regular.  I still have to get a bike licence, but there's not too much more on my must do list.

I had to ride home in rain and heavy cross-winds for the first time today – an activity that is understandably quite dangerous even without a road covered with people like ants at a picnic. Interestingly enough I felt safer than I normally do as all the other riders were trying to be careful for a change. It's amazing how many accidents you see each week, all caused by people not thinking about what they're doing, what laws they're breaking, and that it usually hurts when you get into an accident.
This is the view of the street below my apartment after I arrived home. Yeah, it looks just like a normal, wet Melbourne night, but you try riding a scooter on it!  They don't have hazard signs on bridges here like they do on the Westgate when the wind gets up.

3716189495_1e12af311d_o.jpg

I've had two minor prangs, but neither resulted in damage to anyone, and both were because the other person was running a red light or riding on the wrong side of the road – neither of which is enough to cause an accident, because many people do that, but both appeared from behind stationary cars. I lost a rear mirror, but that was easy enough to put back on.

I'm getting better at riding as each day goes by, and I've already had a comment from one of the Vietnamese teachers who got a lift with me to dinner one night that I am a better rider than most locals.  That might not be a good thing, though…what do they say? When in Rome, do as the Romans do?

Bought a hot water heater today so I can finally start having hot showers tomorrow. I get to remove it and take it with me when I leave, so it's not a total waste of money.  I don't think cold showers can get you clean, so it will be so nice to be clean again after nearly 3 weeks of less than effective showers (no, I don't smell!).

Had my first hair cut today as well, and about time! Your hair, fingernails and beard all grow about three times as fast here as they do back home. Don't ask me why, I haven't researched that yet. The "Uon Toc" (literal translation is "perm") I entered is a place recommended by a local, and I am glad I took the recommendation – excellent cut by a really nice guy with a young son who sat with me and chatted in English all the while (translating back to his Dad regularly). It was completed with a long (30 minutes) shampoo and head and neck massage which felt great. All of that for VND60,000 (less than $5).

Last night I ate street food after midnight (After school we usually wind down with a drink, a meal, and chat until quite late, as most of us don't work until the next evening), and it cost me VND30000 for 3 main meals (2 for me, the other I shouted my friend) and a coke. Oh oh oh! Before I forget! I was drinking with three travelers last week – 1 Aussie, 1 American & 1 Czech – and they mentioned that Coke means the white powder stuff over here.  I didn't believe them, but right on time a guy came up to me at my sidewalk table and offered me sunglasses, cigarettes, marijuana and coke! In Vietnam!!!  Not wanting to be either dispatched by firing squad, or have my mind altered any more than it already is, I gracefully declined.  But there's a first!!!

So, back to my meal last night.  That's just over $2 for filling meals for both myself and another, and it was delicious. Of course, much of the food I eat costs a lot more than that, as I have been eating at more established places and usually drink a couple of beers each time (safer than water). But the beer is around 80 cents. Most of my meals have been extravagant to date, costing me around $6-$10 for the lot. I will start to get more fussy about paying less for food as I get more comfortable with the city.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for a catch-up with an Aussie mate who just bought a bar in Cambodia. Got to press Send on this thing.

See ya

PS – Lots of photos on Flickr if you haven't already figured that out. Go look at the Travel, Asia collection and view the ASIA III – Saigon set.  I don't post many here at the moment because it's too much effort – easier just to upload to Flickr. Just keep watching Channel Steve and/or Facebook for notifications of Flickr updates. At the moment the Channel Steve digests don't seem to be working, but I hope to get that fixed soon.  And I have about three weeks of photos yet to be uploaded, including some from my Philippines adventures.

PPS – Not trying to scare anyone, but a bus cleaned up a guy and his kid outside my apartment yesterday morning. Kid survived, as the dad threw him to the side before the impact. Dad didn't.  Don't worry, I pay VND300,000 to cops in lieu of being hit by buses (read one of my previous posts). I also don't ride like an idiot.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

Ah, medicine
the joys of social networking.

It seems my cop story only appeared as a Facebook or Twitter update, allergy
and didn't transfer across to Channel Steve.
So those of you who read my last update may not understand the reference to paying VND300, doctor 000 to the cops.

Here's the story:

I was pulled over on the way to work by cream-wearing, creamy dessert-eating men in uniform.  The chosen one wanted to know if I spoke Vietnamese, and when I said no rolled his eyes. Instead of letting me go he persisted, as perhaps he could sense the weight of my foreign wallet.
At first it was – "licence". I thought I could get away with showing my Aussie one. No dice, but he did accept that I was in the process of obtaining one (so I said). Then it was "papers" – meaning insurance and registration. My rental bike comes with original insurance papers, but a photocopy of the rego because the owner won't give the original to me.  Fair enough, I think. But not to the cop. He started using body language that I read as "well, what are we going to do about this terrible crime then?" I had heard that they can impound your bike for just about anything, so I called the owner who didn't answer the phone. Next step, call one of my local translators. I gave the phone to the cop and after a couple of minutes received it back.  The message – "you crossed into the car lane and have to pay VND300,000".

As a matter of fact, I didn't realise there was such a thing as a car lane, and I did cross into it momentarily to avoid being crushed by a bus that was out for my blood.  I wasn't expecting the fine to be that large, but I guess inflation has hit everywhere. So I paid the 300 to a cop that clearly DOES receive enough salary (plus bonuses) judging by his uniform size, and got ready to go.  He then said and did one more thing:
"First time?"
"Yep", I reply.
He shakes my hand and smiles.

Grrrrr…..  Corruption is not my favourite noun, even if it does reduce court clutter and is cheaper than an Australian traffic ticket.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

2 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Negotiated strong cross-winds, health care wet stuff from the sky & suicidal locals to ride home in one piece. Phew!
flickr (feed #3)

I'm getting a God-like complex.  In fact, healing a local (who happens to be rather Catholic by the way) has even begun to call me God occasionally.  This freaks me out just a little bit, abortion but there is a reason for it.

To begin with we shall discuss my telepathic ability to influence electronic media around me.
Please refer to resource file number one: ABBA – So Long.

I wasn't aware that ABBA was singing about a Vietnamese sea snail eaten as a delicacy until I sat down at one of my favourite street restaurants after work one night.  I was perusing the menu and noticed "So Long" in bold letters. Conversationaly I told the waitress (who, like nearly all waitresses in these places, uses her job to obtain free English lessons) that this is one of my favourite ABBA songs. She hadn't heard of ABBA, which no longer surprises me given that many young Vietnamese haven't even heard a rock song before.
I ordered something else once she explained what it was – hey, I eat snails, but just didn't feel like it tonight.
Whilst waiting for my order to arrive I watched an entertaining local reality show, where aspiring actors are competing to be signed. This episode was teaching them how to show emotions effectively by asking them to perform a meaningful dance to a previously unheard song, illustrating their given theme.
Suddenly I sat bolt upright when I heard the opening strains of So Long wafting on the wind. I thought my mind was playing tricks on me until I realised that they were actually dancing to that song on the show!  Now, you must remember that we're not talking Mumma Mia or Dancing Queen here. So Long is not a commonly played piece, no matter how much better I think it is to much of their catalog, and certainly not one that any Vietnamese would have heard before.  I spent the rest of my meal shaking my head at just how much power my mind is building up.

Last night I was drinking with an Aussie mate heading off to Cambodia to run his newly-purchased bar. I asked him about the current theme of this bar, and his response was "Very Rolling Stones". No more than 20 seconds passed when suddenly a track from Mick Jagger's latest solo album began to play in the bar.  See, it would have been too easy to just throw Satisfaction on the playlist. I wanted to impress with something a little more eclectic and obscure.

Let's now move to some more compelling evidence. Please refer to resource file number two: Crowded House – Weather With You.

As some of you already know, I traveled through 7 Asian countries in 53 days last year, followed by a revisit to two of them for another 5 weeks or so. Both times were during the monsoon season.  I experienced three days of rain for the entire trip as I recall, none of which was travel-stopping or fun-reducing.  In some cases, approaching typhoons would sense my presence and change direction to skirt around me.  I began to think this actually had something to do with my actual physical presence in these countries.
My recent visit to the Philippines went perfectly for the diving component, and only rained during the times when I was grumpy or not happy about leaving a place I was enjoying so much.   I modified my self-analysis accordingly.
Last week one of the teachers was complaining that the weather in Saigon was really weird for this time of year. He wished it would rain as it is supposed to during the wet season. I asked why, as the rain makes things wet and uncomfortable for commuters.  His response was that it would cool the city down.  It was then that I had to apologise, as my presence is the obvious reason for this change in the weather.

The edge of a typhoon seems to have hit my apartment. I hope it goes away in the next two hours as I have to go to work tonight. Let's test out my God-like capabilities…

So Long by Abba   (1102 KB)
Listen on posterous

Weather With You by Crowded House/Paul Hester/Tim Finn   (527 KB)
Listen on posterous

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

I begin my back-track blogging exercise with a couple of photos from one day in Manila.
Last time I was here I really didn’t get to see much of the city as I was either sick, pulmonologist diving or traveling.
This time I tried to see just a little bit more.

I stayed at the A Venue Hotel Suites right in the middle of Makati, which is the business district and centre of Manila.

View Larger Map

3720189484_04a867cb4a_o.jpg

This is a sneaky building shot taken from one of the shopping centres in mid-Makati.  I say sneaky because I was told immediately afterwards that I am not allowed to take photos here.  Didn’t stop the Harlem Globetrotters guy a couple of days earlier. I still don’t understand what logic is behind the ban on city photography anywhere in the world. I doubt the legislators do either.

Nearby is a Jollibee, probably the most common fast food store in the Philippines, and dwarfing the neighbouring McDonalds. Jollibee is also common in Malaysia, and it’s starting to appear in Vietnam. In my experience so far (lunch in Angeles, Philippines) their service is remarkable, and the food is good.  One thing about service in the Philippines, it starts with the security guards who double as car park attendants and door greeters. Even if they’re carrying a large gun, they still sport a warm smile and a genuine welcoming “Good morning, sir”, “Thank you for coming, sir”.

3647883052_74005b70fd_o.jpg

3720116250_3170ca801e_o.jpg

Chicken Joy, or “Happy Chicken” as I like to call it, is the stock product here, but they do sell many other regional menu items.

Salcedo Market was a breakfast/lunch stop on Saturday.
Full of great-smelling local food mixed with representations from other countries and cultures, this was a delight to walk through. I was really hungry, but didn’t want to commit to any one dish until I’d seen the lot.

3647076669_df7d03a580_o.jpg

These Piyaya are sweet, bread-based concoctions that taste sarap (delicious) even days afterwards.

3647884114_776d711f96_o.jpg

All the food groups are represented at this market. This girl is sorting and presenting what I call prawns, but are possible referred to as lobster over here.

3647884394_6529d8aba0_o.jpg

The colour of the yolk in these salted eggs does not thrill me, but I’ve since tried a Vietnamese version of this, and it’s not as bad as it looks.

3720189602_3fbb261bdc_o.jpg

Heading back out of Manila, on the way to the airport to fly to Puerto Princesca (port for the Tubbataha diving trip), we had a little bingle. A bus decided that it was going to start moving forward because the traffic lights some way ahead had turned green, even though nobody else had started moving yet.  The boot of our sedan copped a noisy tap that sounded and looked from the inside to be a lot worse than it actually was. The driver said his foot slipped, and having looked closely at the bus, I think he needs to buy shoes with more grip.
My dive buddy, Joepi, by this time was near the end of her tether, having already experienced a couple of other minor accidents in the days and weeks beforehand. Personally, I don’t understand why these little altercations don’t happen to most people daily in this crazy city.

Check out the entire Manila slideshow at Flickr.  Click on each photo to see more information about that image.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hrdrck/sets/72157619824708686/show/

Still to come – much more Manila and an updated Flickr slideshow. Stay tuned.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, viagra here health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I noticed that the daily digest from Flickr, order
Facebook and other social networking sites hasn't been updating since July 2nd.
So those of you only looking at Channel Steve will have missed a few things.  If you haven't seen it yet, help
there is a mini-Lifestream on the right, towards the bottom of this blog.  There is also a menu tab, "Lifestream" up the top.

In the meantime, I'll keep harassing the plug-in manufacturer to get the bug fixed.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

I've got a little extra time this week, ambulance
so I'm going to try to blog a little more than usual.
I've covered off many of the things I needed to do to settle in here, patient and my work schedule is getting a little more regular.  I still have to get a bike licence, but there's not too much more on my must do list.

I had to ride home in rain and heavy cross-winds for the first time today – an activity that is understandably quite dangerous even without a road covered with people like ants at a picnic. Interestingly enough I felt safer than I normally do as all the other riders were trying to be careful for a change. It's amazing how many accidents you see each week, all caused by people not thinking about what they're doing, what laws they're breaking, and that it usually hurts when you get into an accident.
This is the view of the street below my apartment after I arrived home. Yeah, it looks just like a normal, wet Melbourne night, but you try riding a scooter on it!  They don't have hazard signs on bridges here like they do on the Westgate when the wind gets up.

3716189495_1e12af311d_o.jpg

I've had two minor prangs, but neither resulted in damage to anyone, and both were because the other person was running a red light or riding on the wrong side of the road – neither of which is enough to cause an accident, because many people do that, but both appeared from behind stationary cars. I lost a rear mirror, but that was easy enough to put back on.

I'm getting better at riding as each day goes by, and I've already had a comment from one of the Vietnamese teachers who got a lift with me to dinner one night that I am a better rider than most locals.  That might not be a good thing, though…what do they say? When in Rome, do as the Romans do?

Bought a hot water heater today so I can finally start having hot showers tomorrow. I get to remove it and take it with me when I leave, so it's not a total waste of money.  I don't think cold showers can get you clean, so it will be so nice to be clean again after nearly 3 weeks of less than effective showers (no, I don't smell!).

Had my first hair cut today as well, and about time! Your hair, fingernails and beard all grow about three times as fast here as they do back home. Don't ask me why, I haven't researched that yet. The "Uon Toc" (literal translation is "perm") I entered is a place recommended by a local, and I am glad I took the recommendation – excellent cut by a really nice guy with a young son who sat with me and chatted in English all the while (translating back to his Dad regularly). It was completed with a long (30 minutes) shampoo and head and neck massage which felt great. All of that for VND60,000 (less than $5).

Last night I ate street food after midnight (After school we usually wind down with a drink, a meal, and chat until quite late, as most of us don't work until the next evening), and it cost me VND30000 for 3 main meals (2 for me, the other I shouted my friend) and a coke. Oh oh oh! Before I forget! I was drinking with three travelers last week – 1 Aussie, 1 American & 1 Czech – and they mentioned that Coke means the white powder stuff over here.  I didn't believe them, but right on time a guy came up to me at my sidewalk table and offered me sunglasses, cigarettes, marijuana and coke! In Vietnam!!!  Not wanting to be either dispatched by firing squad, or have my mind altered any more than it already is, I gracefully declined.  But there's a first!!!

So, back to my meal last night.  That's just over $2 for filling meals for both myself and another, and it was delicious. Of course, much of the food I eat costs a lot more than that, as I have been eating at more established places and usually drink a couple of beers each time (safer than water). But the beer is around 80 cents. Most of my meals have been extravagant to date, costing me around $6-$10 for the lot. I will start to get more fussy about paying less for food as I get more comfortable with the city.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for a catch-up with an Aussie mate who just bought a bar in Cambodia. Got to press Send on this thing.

See ya

PS – Lots of photos on Flickr if you haven't already figured that out. Go look at the Travel, Asia collection and view the ASIA III – Saigon set.  I don't post many here at the moment because it's too much effort – easier just to upload to Flickr. Just keep watching Channel Steve and/or Facebook for notifications of Flickr updates. At the moment the Channel Steve digests don't seem to be working, but I hope to get that fixed soon.  And I have about three weeks of photos yet to be uploaded, including some from my Philippines adventures.

PPS – Not trying to scare anyone, but a bus cleaned up a guy and his kid outside my apartment yesterday morning. Kid survived, as the dad threw him to the side before the impact. Dad didn't.  Don't worry, I pay VND300,000 to cops in lieu of being hit by buses (read one of my previous posts). I also don't ride like an idiot.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

I've got a little extra time this week, ambulance
so I'm going to try to blog a little more than usual.
I've covered off many of the things I needed to do to settle in here, patient and my work schedule is getting a little more regular.  I still have to get a bike licence, but there's not too much more on my must do list.

I had to ride home in rain and heavy cross-winds for the first time today – an activity that is understandably quite dangerous even without a road covered with people like ants at a picnic. Interestingly enough I felt safer than I normally do as all the other riders were trying to be careful for a change. It's amazing how many accidents you see each week, all caused by people not thinking about what they're doing, what laws they're breaking, and that it usually hurts when you get into an accident.
This is the view of the street below my apartment after I arrived home. Yeah, it looks just like a normal, wet Melbourne night, but you try riding a scooter on it!  They don't have hazard signs on bridges here like they do on the Westgate when the wind gets up.

3716189495_1e12af311d_o.jpg

I've had two minor prangs, but neither resulted in damage to anyone, and both were because the other person was running a red light or riding on the wrong side of the road – neither of which is enough to cause an accident, because many people do that, but both appeared from behind stationary cars. I lost a rear mirror, but that was easy enough to put back on.

I'm getting better at riding as each day goes by, and I've already had a comment from one of the Vietnamese teachers who got a lift with me to dinner one night that I am a better rider than most locals.  That might not be a good thing, though…what do they say? When in Rome, do as the Romans do?

Bought a hot water heater today so I can finally start having hot showers tomorrow. I get to remove it and take it with me when I leave, so it's not a total waste of money.  I don't think cold showers can get you clean, so it will be so nice to be clean again after nearly 3 weeks of less than effective showers (no, I don't smell!).

Had my first hair cut today as well, and about time! Your hair, fingernails and beard all grow about three times as fast here as they do back home. Don't ask me why, I haven't researched that yet. The "Uon Toc" (literal translation is "perm") I entered is a place recommended by a local, and I am glad I took the recommendation – excellent cut by a really nice guy with a young son who sat with me and chatted in English all the while (translating back to his Dad regularly). It was completed with a long (30 minutes) shampoo and head and neck massage which felt great. All of that for VND60,000 (less than $5).

Last night I ate street food after midnight (After school we usually wind down with a drink, a meal, and chat until quite late, as most of us don't work until the next evening), and it cost me VND30000 for 3 main meals (2 for me, the other I shouted my friend) and a coke. Oh oh oh! Before I forget! I was drinking with three travelers last week – 1 Aussie, 1 American & 1 Czech – and they mentioned that Coke means the white powder stuff over here.  I didn't believe them, but right on time a guy came up to me at my sidewalk table and offered me sunglasses, cigarettes, marijuana and coke! In Vietnam!!!  Not wanting to be either dispatched by firing squad, or have my mind altered any more than it already is, I gracefully declined.  But there's a first!!!

So, back to my meal last night.  That's just over $2 for filling meals for both myself and another, and it was delicious. Of course, much of the food I eat costs a lot more than that, as I have been eating at more established places and usually drink a couple of beers each time (safer than water). But the beer is around 80 cents. Most of my meals have been extravagant to date, costing me around $6-$10 for the lot. I will start to get more fussy about paying less for food as I get more comfortable with the city.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for a catch-up with an Aussie mate who just bought a bar in Cambodia. Got to press Send on this thing.

See ya

PS – Lots of photos on Flickr if you haven't already figured that out. Go look at the Travel, Asia collection and view the ASIA III – Saigon set.  I don't post many here at the moment because it's too much effort – easier just to upload to Flickr. Just keep watching Channel Steve and/or Facebook for notifications of Flickr updates. At the moment the Channel Steve digests don't seem to be working, but I hope to get that fixed soon.  And I have about three weeks of photos yet to be uploaded, including some from my Philippines adventures.

PPS – Not trying to scare anyone, but a bus cleaned up a guy and his kid outside my apartment yesterday morning. Kid survived, as the dad threw him to the side before the impact. Dad didn't.  Don't worry, I pay VND300,000 to cops in lieu of being hit by buses (read one of my previous posts). I also don't ride like an idiot.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

Ah, medicine
the joys of social networking.

It seems my cop story only appeared as a Facebook or Twitter update, allergy
and didn't transfer across to Channel Steve.
So those of you who read my last update may not understand the reference to paying VND300, doctor 000 to the cops.

Here's the story:

I was pulled over on the way to work by cream-wearing, creamy dessert-eating men in uniform.  The chosen one wanted to know if I spoke Vietnamese, and when I said no rolled his eyes. Instead of letting me go he persisted, as perhaps he could sense the weight of my foreign wallet.
At first it was – "licence". I thought I could get away with showing my Aussie one. No dice, but he did accept that I was in the process of obtaining one (so I said). Then it was "papers" – meaning insurance and registration. My rental bike comes with original insurance papers, but a photocopy of the rego because the owner won't give the original to me.  Fair enough, I think. But not to the cop. He started using body language that I read as "well, what are we going to do about this terrible crime then?" I had heard that they can impound your bike for just about anything, so I called the owner who didn't answer the phone. Next step, call one of my local translators. I gave the phone to the cop and after a couple of minutes received it back.  The message – "you crossed into the car lane and have to pay VND300,000".

As a matter of fact, I didn't realise there was such a thing as a car lane, and I did cross into it momentarily to avoid being crushed by a bus that was out for my blood.  I wasn't expecting the fine to be that large, but I guess inflation has hit everywhere. So I paid the 300 to a cop that clearly DOES receive enough salary (plus bonuses) judging by his uniform size, and got ready to go.  He then said and did one more thing:
"First time?"
"Yep", I reply.
He shakes my hand and smiles.

Grrrrr…..  Corruption is not my favourite noun, even if it does reduce court clutter and is cheaper than an Australian traffic ticket.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

2 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Negotiated strong cross-winds, health care wet stuff from the sky & suicidal locals to ride home in one piece. Phew!
flickr (feed #3)

I'm getting a God-like complex.  In fact, healing a local (who happens to be rather Catholic by the way) has even begun to call me God occasionally.  This freaks me out just a little bit, abortion but there is a reason for it.

To begin with we shall discuss my telepathic ability to influence electronic media around me.
Please refer to resource file number one: ABBA – So Long.

I wasn't aware that ABBA was singing about a Vietnamese sea snail eaten as a delicacy until I sat down at one of my favourite street restaurants after work one night.  I was perusing the menu and noticed "So Long" in bold letters. Conversationaly I told the waitress (who, like nearly all waitresses in these places, uses her job to obtain free English lessons) that this is one of my favourite ABBA songs. She hadn't heard of ABBA, which no longer surprises me given that many young Vietnamese haven't even heard a rock song before.
I ordered something else once she explained what it was – hey, I eat snails, but just didn't feel like it tonight.
Whilst waiting for my order to arrive I watched an entertaining local reality show, where aspiring actors are competing to be signed. This episode was teaching them how to show emotions effectively by asking them to perform a meaningful dance to a previously unheard song, illustrating their given theme.
Suddenly I sat bolt upright when I heard the opening strains of So Long wafting on the wind. I thought my mind was playing tricks on me until I realised that they were actually dancing to that song on the show!  Now, you must remember that we're not talking Mumma Mia or Dancing Queen here. So Long is not a commonly played piece, no matter how much better I think it is to much of their catalog, and certainly not one that any Vietnamese would have heard before.  I spent the rest of my meal shaking my head at just how much power my mind is building up.

Last night I was drinking with an Aussie mate heading off to Cambodia to run his newly-purchased bar. I asked him about the current theme of this bar, and his response was "Very Rolling Stones". No more than 20 seconds passed when suddenly a track from Mick Jagger's latest solo album began to play in the bar.  See, it would have been too easy to just throw Satisfaction on the playlist. I wanted to impress with something a little more eclectic and obscure.

Let's now move to some more compelling evidence. Please refer to resource file number two: Crowded House – Weather With You.

As some of you already know, I traveled through 7 Asian countries in 53 days last year, followed by a revisit to two of them for another 5 weeks or so. Both times were during the monsoon season.  I experienced three days of rain for the entire trip as I recall, none of which was travel-stopping or fun-reducing.  In some cases, approaching typhoons would sense my presence and change direction to skirt around me.  I began to think this actually had something to do with my actual physical presence in these countries.
My recent visit to the Philippines went perfectly for the diving component, and only rained during the times when I was grumpy or not happy about leaving a place I was enjoying so much.   I modified my self-analysis accordingly.
Last week one of the teachers was complaining that the weather in Saigon was really weird for this time of year. He wished it would rain as it is supposed to during the wet season. I asked why, as the rain makes things wet and uncomfortable for commuters.  His response was that it would cool the city down.  It was then that I had to apologise, as my presence is the obvious reason for this change in the weather.

The edge of a typhoon seems to have hit my apartment. I hope it goes away in the next two hours as I have to go to work tonight. Let's test out my God-like capabilities…

So Long by Abba   (1102 KB)
Listen on posterous

Weather With You by Crowded House/Paul Hester/Tim Finn   (527 KB)
Listen on posterous

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

I begin my back-track blogging exercise with a couple of photos from one day in Manila.
Last time I was here I really didn’t get to see much of the city as I was either sick, pulmonologist diving or traveling.
This time I tried to see just a little bit more.

I stayed at the A Venue Hotel Suites right in the middle of Makati, which is the business district and centre of Manila.

View Larger Map

3720189484_04a867cb4a_o.jpg

This is a sneaky building shot taken from one of the shopping centres in mid-Makati.  I say sneaky because I was told immediately afterwards that I am not allowed to take photos here.  Didn’t stop the Harlem Globetrotters guy a couple of days earlier. I still don’t understand what logic is behind the ban on city photography anywhere in the world. I doubt the legislators do either.

Nearby is a Jollibee, probably the most common fast food store in the Philippines, and dwarfing the neighbouring McDonalds. Jollibee is also common in Malaysia, and it’s starting to appear in Vietnam. In my experience so far (lunch in Angeles, Philippines) their service is remarkable, and the food is good.  One thing about service in the Philippines, it starts with the security guards who double as car park attendants and door greeters. Even if they’re carrying a large gun, they still sport a warm smile and a genuine welcoming “Good morning, sir”, “Thank you for coming, sir”.

3647883052_74005b70fd_o.jpg

3720116250_3170ca801e_o.jpg

Chicken Joy, or “Happy Chicken” as I like to call it, is the stock product here, but they do sell many other regional menu items.

Salcedo Market was a breakfast/lunch stop on Saturday.
Full of great-smelling local food mixed with representations from other countries and cultures, this was a delight to walk through. I was really hungry, but didn’t want to commit to any one dish until I’d seen the lot.

3647076669_df7d03a580_o.jpg

These Piyaya are sweet, bread-based concoctions that taste sarap (delicious) even days afterwards.

3647884114_776d711f96_o.jpg

All the food groups are represented at this market. This girl is sorting and presenting what I call prawns, but are possible referred to as lobster over here.

3647884394_6529d8aba0_o.jpg

The colour of the yolk in these salted eggs does not thrill me, but I’ve since tried a Vietnamese version of this, and it’s not as bad as it looks.

3720189602_3fbb261bdc_o.jpg

Heading back out of Manila, on the way to the airport to fly to Puerto Princesca (port for the Tubbataha diving trip), we had a little bingle. A bus decided that it was going to start moving forward because the traffic lights some way ahead had turned green, even though nobody else had started moving yet.  The boot of our sedan copped a noisy tap that sounded and looked from the inside to be a lot worse than it actually was. The driver said his foot slipped, and having looked closely at the bus, I think he needs to buy shoes with more grip.
My dive buddy, Joepi, by this time was near the end of her tether, having already experienced a couple of other minor accidents in the days and weeks beforehand. Personally, I don’t understand why these little altercations don’t happen to most people daily in this crazy city.

Check out the entire Manila slideshow at Flickr.  Click on each photo to see more information about that image.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hrdrck/sets/72157619824708686/show/

Still to come – much more Manila and an updated Flickr slideshow. Stay tuned.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

I thought it might be wise to let you know that if you subscribe by email, epilepsy you should still click to go directly to the site to read my posts. The reasons for this are as follows:

1. Some of the media I attach (songs, approved photos etc) will not appear in the emails, check so you’re missing out on some cool stuff.

2. My blog statistics will not update to reflect that you have read the post.

3. You can’t comment on what you are reading if you are not actually reading it on the site.

Any questions?

Ta.
I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, viagra here health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I noticed that the daily digest from Flickr, order
Facebook and other social networking sites hasn't been updating since July 2nd.
So those of you only looking at Channel Steve will have missed a few things.  If you haven't seen it yet, help
there is a mini-Lifestream on the right, towards the bottom of this blog.  There is also a menu tab, "Lifestream" up the top.

In the meantime, I'll keep harassing the plug-in manufacturer to get the bug fixed.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

I've got a little extra time this week, ambulance
so I'm going to try to blog a little more than usual.
I've covered off many of the things I needed to do to settle in here, patient and my work schedule is getting a little more regular.  I still have to get a bike licence, but there's not too much more on my must do list.

I had to ride home in rain and heavy cross-winds for the first time today – an activity that is understandably quite dangerous even without a road covered with people like ants at a picnic. Interestingly enough I felt safer than I normally do as all the other riders were trying to be careful for a change. It's amazing how many accidents you see each week, all caused by people not thinking about what they're doing, what laws they're breaking, and that it usually hurts when you get into an accident.
This is the view of the street below my apartment after I arrived home. Yeah, it looks just like a normal, wet Melbourne night, but you try riding a scooter on it!  They don't have hazard signs on bridges here like they do on the Westgate when the wind gets up.

3716189495_1e12af311d_o.jpg

I've had two minor prangs, but neither resulted in damage to anyone, and both were because the other person was running a red light or riding on the wrong side of the road – neither of which is enough to cause an accident, because many people do that, but both appeared from behind stationary cars. I lost a rear mirror, but that was easy enough to put back on.

I'm getting better at riding as each day goes by, and I've already had a comment from one of the Vietnamese teachers who got a lift with me to dinner one night that I am a better rider than most locals.  That might not be a good thing, though…what do they say? When in Rome, do as the Romans do?

Bought a hot water heater today so I can finally start having hot showers tomorrow. I get to remove it and take it with me when I leave, so it's not a total waste of money.  I don't think cold showers can get you clean, so it will be so nice to be clean again after nearly 3 weeks of less than effective showers (no, I don't smell!).

Had my first hair cut today as well, and about time! Your hair, fingernails and beard all grow about three times as fast here as they do back home. Don't ask me why, I haven't researched that yet. The "Uon Toc" (literal translation is "perm") I entered is a place recommended by a local, and I am glad I took the recommendation – excellent cut by a really nice guy with a young son who sat with me and chatted in English all the while (translating back to his Dad regularly). It was completed with a long (30 minutes) shampoo and head and neck massage which felt great. All of that for VND60,000 (less than $5).

Last night I ate street food after midnight (After school we usually wind down with a drink, a meal, and chat until quite late, as most of us don't work until the next evening), and it cost me VND30000 for 3 main meals (2 for me, the other I shouted my friend) and a coke. Oh oh oh! Before I forget! I was drinking with three travelers last week – 1 Aussie, 1 American & 1 Czech – and they mentioned that Coke means the white powder stuff over here.  I didn't believe them, but right on time a guy came up to me at my sidewalk table and offered me sunglasses, cigarettes, marijuana and coke! In Vietnam!!!  Not wanting to be either dispatched by firing squad, or have my mind altered any more than it already is, I gracefully declined.  But there's a first!!!

So, back to my meal last night.  That's just over $2 for filling meals for both myself and another, and it was delicious. Of course, much of the food I eat costs a lot more than that, as I have been eating at more established places and usually drink a couple of beers each time (safer than water). But the beer is around 80 cents. Most of my meals have been extravagant to date, costing me around $6-$10 for the lot. I will start to get more fussy about paying less for food as I get more comfortable with the city.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for a catch-up with an Aussie mate who just bought a bar in Cambodia. Got to press Send on this thing.

See ya

PS – Lots of photos on Flickr if you haven't already figured that out. Go look at the Travel, Asia collection and view the ASIA III – Saigon set.  I don't post many here at the moment because it's too much effort – easier just to upload to Flickr. Just keep watching Channel Steve and/or Facebook for notifications of Flickr updates. At the moment the Channel Steve digests don't seem to be working, but I hope to get that fixed soon.  And I have about three weeks of photos yet to be uploaded, including some from my Philippines adventures.

PPS – Not trying to scare anyone, but a bus cleaned up a guy and his kid outside my apartment yesterday morning. Kid survived, as the dad threw him to the side before the impact. Dad didn't.  Don't worry, I pay VND300,000 to cops in lieu of being hit by buses (read one of my previous posts). I also don't ride like an idiot.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

I've got a little extra time this week, ambulance
so I'm going to try to blog a little more than usual.
I've covered off many of the things I needed to do to settle in here, patient and my work schedule is getting a little more regular.  I still have to get a bike licence, but there's not too much more on my must do list.

I had to ride home in rain and heavy cross-winds for the first time today – an activity that is understandably quite dangerous even without a road covered with people like ants at a picnic. Interestingly enough I felt safer than I normally do as all the other riders were trying to be careful for a change. It's amazing how many accidents you see each week, all caused by people not thinking about what they're doing, what laws they're breaking, and that it usually hurts when you get into an accident.
This is the view of the street below my apartment after I arrived home. Yeah, it looks just like a normal, wet Melbourne night, but you try riding a scooter on it!  They don't have hazard signs on bridges here like they do on the Westgate when the wind gets up.

3716189495_1e12af311d_o.jpg

I've had two minor prangs, but neither resulted in damage to anyone, and both were because the other person was running a red light or riding on the wrong side of the road – neither of which is enough to cause an accident, because many people do that, but both appeared from behind stationary cars. I lost a rear mirror, but that was easy enough to put back on.

I'm getting better at riding as each day goes by, and I've already had a comment from one of the Vietnamese teachers who got a lift with me to dinner one night that I am a better rider than most locals.  That might not be a good thing, though…what do they say? When in Rome, do as the Romans do?

Bought a hot water heater today so I can finally start having hot showers tomorrow. I get to remove it and take it with me when I leave, so it's not a total waste of money.  I don't think cold showers can get you clean, so it will be so nice to be clean again after nearly 3 weeks of less than effective showers (no, I don't smell!).

Had my first hair cut today as well, and about time! Your hair, fingernails and beard all grow about three times as fast here as they do back home. Don't ask me why, I haven't researched that yet. The "Uon Toc" (literal translation is "perm") I entered is a place recommended by a local, and I am glad I took the recommendation – excellent cut by a really nice guy with a young son who sat with me and chatted in English all the while (translating back to his Dad regularly). It was completed with a long (30 minutes) shampoo and head and neck massage which felt great. All of that for VND60,000 (less than $5).

Last night I ate street food after midnight (After school we usually wind down with a drink, a meal, and chat until quite late, as most of us don't work until the next evening), and it cost me VND30000 for 3 main meals (2 for me, the other I shouted my friend) and a coke. Oh oh oh! Before I forget! I was drinking with three travelers last week – 1 Aussie, 1 American & 1 Czech – and they mentioned that Coke means the white powder stuff over here.  I didn't believe them, but right on time a guy came up to me at my sidewalk table and offered me sunglasses, cigarettes, marijuana and coke! In Vietnam!!!  Not wanting to be either dispatched by firing squad, or have my mind altered any more than it already is, I gracefully declined.  But there's a first!!!

So, back to my meal last night.  That's just over $2 for filling meals for both myself and another, and it was delicious. Of course, much of the food I eat costs a lot more than that, as I have been eating at more established places and usually drink a couple of beers each time (safer than water). But the beer is around 80 cents. Most of my meals have been extravagant to date, costing me around $6-$10 for the lot. I will start to get more fussy about paying less for food as I get more comfortable with the city.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for a catch-up with an Aussie mate who just bought a bar in Cambodia. Got to press Send on this thing.

See ya

PS – Lots of photos on Flickr if you haven't already figured that out. Go look at the Travel, Asia collection and view the ASIA III – Saigon set.  I don't post many here at the moment because it's too much effort – easier just to upload to Flickr. Just keep watching Channel Steve and/or Facebook for notifications of Flickr updates. At the moment the Channel Steve digests don't seem to be working, but I hope to get that fixed soon.  And I have about three weeks of photos yet to be uploaded, including some from my Philippines adventures.

PPS – Not trying to scare anyone, but a bus cleaned up a guy and his kid outside my apartment yesterday morning. Kid survived, as the dad threw him to the side before the impact. Dad didn't.  Don't worry, I pay VND300,000 to cops in lieu of being hit by buses (read one of my previous posts). I also don't ride like an idiot.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

Ah, medicine
the joys of social networking.

It seems my cop story only appeared as a Facebook or Twitter update, allergy
and didn't transfer across to Channel Steve.
So those of you who read my last update may not understand the reference to paying VND300, doctor 000 to the cops.

Here's the story:

I was pulled over on the way to work by cream-wearing, creamy dessert-eating men in uniform.  The chosen one wanted to know if I spoke Vietnamese, and when I said no rolled his eyes. Instead of letting me go he persisted, as perhaps he could sense the weight of my foreign wallet.
At first it was – "licence". I thought I could get away with showing my Aussie one. No dice, but he did accept that I was in the process of obtaining one (so I said). Then it was "papers" – meaning insurance and registration. My rental bike comes with original insurance papers, but a photocopy of the rego because the owner won't give the original to me.  Fair enough, I think. But not to the cop. He started using body language that I read as "well, what are we going to do about this terrible crime then?" I had heard that they can impound your bike for just about anything, so I called the owner who didn't answer the phone. Next step, call one of my local translators. I gave the phone to the cop and after a couple of minutes received it back.  The message – "you crossed into the car lane and have to pay VND300,000".

As a matter of fact, I didn't realise there was such a thing as a car lane, and I did cross into it momentarily to avoid being crushed by a bus that was out for my blood.  I wasn't expecting the fine to be that large, but I guess inflation has hit everywhere. So I paid the 300 to a cop that clearly DOES receive enough salary (plus bonuses) judging by his uniform size, and got ready to go.  He then said and did one more thing:
"First time?"
"Yep", I reply.
He shakes my hand and smiles.

Grrrrr…..  Corruption is not my favourite noun, even if it does reduce court clutter and is cheaper than an Australian traffic ticket.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

2 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Negotiated strong cross-winds, health care wet stuff from the sky & suicidal locals to ride home in one piece. Phew!
flickr (feed #3)

I'm getting a God-like complex.  In fact, healing a local (who happens to be rather Catholic by the way) has even begun to call me God occasionally.  This freaks me out just a little bit, abortion but there is a reason for it.

To begin with we shall discuss my telepathic ability to influence electronic media around me.
Please refer to resource file number one: ABBA – So Long.

I wasn't aware that ABBA was singing about a Vietnamese sea snail eaten as a delicacy until I sat down at one of my favourite street restaurants after work one night.  I was perusing the menu and noticed "So Long" in bold letters. Conversationaly I told the waitress (who, like nearly all waitresses in these places, uses her job to obtain free English lessons) that this is one of my favourite ABBA songs. She hadn't heard of ABBA, which no longer surprises me given that many young Vietnamese haven't even heard a rock song before.
I ordered something else once she explained what it was – hey, I eat snails, but just didn't feel like it tonight.
Whilst waiting for my order to arrive I watched an entertaining local reality show, where aspiring actors are competing to be signed. This episode was teaching them how to show emotions effectively by asking them to perform a meaningful dance to a previously unheard song, illustrating their given theme.
Suddenly I sat bolt upright when I heard the opening strains of So Long wafting on the wind. I thought my mind was playing tricks on me until I realised that they were actually dancing to that song on the show!  Now, you must remember that we're not talking Mumma Mia or Dancing Queen here. So Long is not a commonly played piece, no matter how much better I think it is to much of their catalog, and certainly not one that any Vietnamese would have heard before.  I spent the rest of my meal shaking my head at just how much power my mind is building up.

Last night I was drinking with an Aussie mate heading off to Cambodia to run his newly-purchased bar. I asked him about the current theme of this bar, and his response was "Very Rolling Stones". No more than 20 seconds passed when suddenly a track from Mick Jagger's latest solo album began to play in the bar.  See, it would have been too easy to just throw Satisfaction on the playlist. I wanted to impress with something a little more eclectic and obscure.

Let's now move to some more compelling evidence. Please refer to resource file number two: Crowded House – Weather With You.

As some of you already know, I traveled through 7 Asian countries in 53 days last year, followed by a revisit to two of them for another 5 weeks or so. Both times were during the monsoon season.  I experienced three days of rain for the entire trip as I recall, none of which was travel-stopping or fun-reducing.  In some cases, approaching typhoons would sense my presence and change direction to skirt around me.  I began to think this actually had something to do with my actual physical presence in these countries.
My recent visit to the Philippines went perfectly for the diving component, and only rained during the times when I was grumpy or not happy about leaving a place I was enjoying so much.   I modified my self-analysis accordingly.
Last week one of the teachers was complaining that the weather in Saigon was really weird for this time of year. He wished it would rain as it is supposed to during the wet season. I asked why, as the rain makes things wet and uncomfortable for commuters.  His response was that it would cool the city down.  It was then that I had to apologise, as my presence is the obvious reason for this change in the weather.

The edge of a typhoon seems to have hit my apartment. I hope it goes away in the next two hours as I have to go to work tonight. Let's test out my God-like capabilities…

So Long by Abba   (1102 KB)
Listen on posterous

Weather With You by Crowded House/Paul Hester/Tim Finn   (527 KB)
Listen on posterous

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

I begin my back-track blogging exercise with a couple of photos from one day in Manila.
Last time I was here I really didn’t get to see much of the city as I was either sick, pulmonologist diving or traveling.
This time I tried to see just a little bit more.

I stayed at the A Venue Hotel Suites right in the middle of Makati, which is the business district and centre of Manila.

View Larger Map

3720189484_04a867cb4a_o.jpg

This is a sneaky building shot taken from one of the shopping centres in mid-Makati.  I say sneaky because I was told immediately afterwards that I am not allowed to take photos here.  Didn’t stop the Harlem Globetrotters guy a couple of days earlier. I still don’t understand what logic is behind the ban on city photography anywhere in the world. I doubt the legislators do either.

Nearby is a Jollibee, probably the most common fast food store in the Philippines, and dwarfing the neighbouring McDonalds. Jollibee is also common in Malaysia, and it’s starting to appear in Vietnam. In my experience so far (lunch in Angeles, Philippines) their service is remarkable, and the food is good.  One thing about service in the Philippines, it starts with the security guards who double as car park attendants and door greeters. Even if they’re carrying a large gun, they still sport a warm smile and a genuine welcoming “Good morning, sir”, “Thank you for coming, sir”.

3647883052_74005b70fd_o.jpg

3720116250_3170ca801e_o.jpg

Chicken Joy, or “Happy Chicken” as I like to call it, is the stock product here, but they do sell many other regional menu items.

Salcedo Market was a breakfast/lunch stop on Saturday.
Full of great-smelling local food mixed with representations from other countries and cultures, this was a delight to walk through. I was really hungry, but didn’t want to commit to any one dish until I’d seen the lot.

3647076669_df7d03a580_o.jpg

These Piyaya are sweet, bread-based concoctions that taste sarap (delicious) even days afterwards.

3647884114_776d711f96_o.jpg

All the food groups are represented at this market. This girl is sorting and presenting what I call prawns, but are possible referred to as lobster over here.

3647884394_6529d8aba0_o.jpg

The colour of the yolk in these salted eggs does not thrill me, but I’ve since tried a Vietnamese version of this, and it’s not as bad as it looks.

3720189602_3fbb261bdc_o.jpg

Heading back out of Manila, on the way to the airport to fly to Puerto Princesca (port for the Tubbataha diving trip), we had a little bingle. A bus decided that it was going to start moving forward because the traffic lights some way ahead had turned green, even though nobody else had started moving yet.  The boot of our sedan copped a noisy tap that sounded and looked from the inside to be a lot worse than it actually was. The driver said his foot slipped, and having looked closely at the bus, I think he needs to buy shoes with more grip.
My dive buddy, Joepi, by this time was near the end of her tether, having already experienced a couple of other minor accidents in the days and weeks beforehand. Personally, I don’t understand why these little altercations don’t happen to most people daily in this crazy city.

Check out the entire Manila slideshow at Flickr.  Click on each photo to see more information about that image.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hrdrck/sets/72157619824708686/show/

Still to come – much more Manila and an updated Flickr slideshow. Stay tuned.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

I thought it might be wise to let you know that if you subscribe by email, epilepsy you should still click to go directly to the site to read my posts. The reasons for this are as follows:

1. Some of the media I attach (songs, approved photos etc) will not appear in the emails, check so you’re missing out on some cool stuff.

2. My blog statistics will not update to reflect that you have read the post.

3. You can’t comment on what you are reading if you are not actually reading it on the site.

Any questions?

Ta.
I thought it might be wise to let you know that if you subscribe by email, epilepsy you should still click to go directly to the site to read my posts. The reasons for this are as follows:

1. Some of the media I attach (songs, approved photos etc) will not appear in the emails, check so you’re missing out on some cool stuff.

2. My blog statistics will not update to reflect that you have read the post.

3. You can’t comment on what you are reading if you are not actually reading it on the site.

Any questions?

Ta.
I begin my back-track blogging exercise with a couple of photos from one day in Manila.
Last time I was here I really didn't get to see much of the city as I was either sick, esophagitis
diving or traveling.
This time I tried to see just a little bit more.

I stayed at the A Venue Hotel Suites right in the middle of Makati, buy cialis
which is the business district and centre of Manila.

View Larger Map

3720189484_04a867cb4a_o.jpg

This is a sneaky building shot taken from one of the shopping centres in mid-Makati.  I say sneaky because I was told immediately afterwards that I am not allowed to take photos here.  Didn't stop the Harlem Globetrotters guy a couple of days earlier. I still don't understand what logic is behind the ban on city photography anywhere in the world. I doubt the legislators do either.

Nearby is a Jollibee, probably the most common fast food store in the Philippines, and dwarfing the neighbouring McDonalds. Jollibee is also common in Malaysia, and it's starting to appear in Vietnam. In my experience so far (lunch in Angeles, Philippines) their service is remarkable, and the food is good.  One thing about service in the Philippines, it starts with the security guards who double as car park attendants and door greeters. Even if they're carrying a large gun, they still sport a warm smile and a genuine welcoming "Good morning, sir", "Thank you for coming, sir".

3647883052_74005b70fd_o.jpg

3720116250_3170ca801e_o.jpg

Chicken Joy, or "Happy Chicken" as I like to call it, is the stock product here, but they do sell many other regional menu items.

Salceda Market was a breakfast/lunch stop on Saturday.
Full of great-smelling local food mixed with representations from other countries and cultures, this was a delight to walk through. I was really hungry, but didn't want to commit to any one dish until I'd seen the lot.
 
3647076669_df7d03a580_o.jpg

These Piyaya are sweet, bread-based concoctions that taste sarap (delicious) even days afterwards.

3647884114_776d711f96_o.jpg

All the food groups are represented at this market. This girl is sorting and presenting what I call prawns, but are possible referred to as lobster over here.

3647884394_6529d8aba0_o.jpg

The colour of the yolk in these salted eggs does not thrill me, but I've since tried a Vietnamese version of this, and it's not as bad as it looks.

3720189602_3fbb261bdc_o.jpg

Heading back out of Manila, on the way to the airport to fly to Puerto Princesca (port for the Tubbataha diving trip), we had a little bingle. A bus decided that it was going to start moving forward because the traffic lights some way ahead had turned green, even though nobody else had started moving yet.  The boot of our sedan copped a noisy tap that sounded and looked from the inside to be a lot worse than it actually was. The driver said his foot slipped, and having looked closely at the bus, I think he needs to buy shoes with more grip.
My dive buddy, Joepi, by this time was near the end of her tether, having already experienced a couple of other minor accidents in the days and weeks beforehand. Personally, I don't understand why these little altercations don't happen to most people daily in this crazy city.

Check out the entire Manila slideshow at Flickr.  Click on each photo to see more information about that image.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hrdrck/sets/72157619824708686/show/

Still to come – much more Manila and an updated Flickr slideshow. Stay tuned.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, viagra here health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I noticed that the daily digest from Flickr, order
Facebook and other social networking sites hasn't been updating since July 2nd.
So those of you only looking at Channel Steve will have missed a few things.  If you haven't seen it yet, help
there is a mini-Lifestream on the right, towards the bottom of this blog.  There is also a menu tab, "Lifestream" up the top.

In the meantime, I'll keep harassing the plug-in manufacturer to get the bug fixed.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

I've got a little extra time this week, ambulance
so I'm going to try to blog a little more than usual.
I've covered off many of the things I needed to do to settle in here, patient and my work schedule is getting a little more regular.  I still have to get a bike licence, but there's not too much more on my must do list.

I had to ride home in rain and heavy cross-winds for the first time today – an activity that is understandably quite dangerous even without a road covered with people like ants at a picnic. Interestingly enough I felt safer than I normally do as all the other riders were trying to be careful for a change. It's amazing how many accidents you see each week, all caused by people not thinking about what they're doing, what laws they're breaking, and that it usually hurts when you get into an accident.
This is the view of the street below my apartment after I arrived home. Yeah, it looks just like a normal, wet Melbourne night, but you try riding a scooter on it!  They don't have hazard signs on bridges here like they do on the Westgate when the wind gets up.

3716189495_1e12af311d_o.jpg

I've had two minor prangs, but neither resulted in damage to anyone, and both were because the other person was running a red light or riding on the wrong side of the road – neither of which is enough to cause an accident, because many people do that, but both appeared from behind stationary cars. I lost a rear mirror, but that was easy enough to put back on.

I'm getting better at riding as each day goes by, and I've already had a comment from one of the Vietnamese teachers who got a lift with me to dinner one night that I am a better rider than most locals.  That might not be a good thing, though…what do they say? When in Rome, do as the Romans do?

Bought a hot water heater today so I can finally start having hot showers tomorrow. I get to remove it and take it with me when I leave, so it's not a total waste of money.  I don't think cold showers can get you clean, so it will be so nice to be clean again after nearly 3 weeks of less than effective showers (no, I don't smell!).

Had my first hair cut today as well, and about time! Your hair, fingernails and beard all grow about three times as fast here as they do back home. Don't ask me why, I haven't researched that yet. The "Uon Toc" (literal translation is "perm") I entered is a place recommended by a local, and I am glad I took the recommendation – excellent cut by a really nice guy with a young son who sat with me and chatted in English all the while (translating back to his Dad regularly). It was completed with a long (30 minutes) shampoo and head and neck massage which felt great. All of that for VND60,000 (less than $5).

Last night I ate street food after midnight (After school we usually wind down with a drink, a meal, and chat until quite late, as most of us don't work until the next evening), and it cost me VND30000 for 3 main meals (2 for me, the other I shouted my friend) and a coke. Oh oh oh! Before I forget! I was drinking with three travelers last week – 1 Aussie, 1 American & 1 Czech – and they mentioned that Coke means the white powder stuff over here.  I didn't believe them, but right on time a guy came up to me at my sidewalk table and offered me sunglasses, cigarettes, marijuana and coke! In Vietnam!!!  Not wanting to be either dispatched by firing squad, or have my mind altered any more than it already is, I gracefully declined.  But there's a first!!!

So, back to my meal last night.  That's just over $2 for filling meals for both myself and another, and it was delicious. Of course, much of the food I eat costs a lot more than that, as I have been eating at more established places and usually drink a couple of beers each time (safer than water). But the beer is around 80 cents. Most of my meals have been extravagant to date, costing me around $6-$10 for the lot. I will start to get more fussy about paying less for food as I get more comfortable with the city.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for a catch-up with an Aussie mate who just bought a bar in Cambodia. Got to press Send on this thing.

See ya

PS – Lots of photos on Flickr if you haven't already figured that out. Go look at the Travel, Asia collection and view the ASIA III – Saigon set.  I don't post many here at the moment because it's too much effort – easier just to upload to Flickr. Just keep watching Channel Steve and/or Facebook for notifications of Flickr updates. At the moment the Channel Steve digests don't seem to be working, but I hope to get that fixed soon.  And I have about three weeks of photos yet to be uploaded, including some from my Philippines adventures.

PPS – Not trying to scare anyone, but a bus cleaned up a guy and his kid outside my apartment yesterday morning. Kid survived, as the dad threw him to the side before the impact. Dad didn't.  Don't worry, I pay VND300,000 to cops in lieu of being hit by buses (read one of my previous posts). I also don't ride like an idiot.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

I've got a little extra time this week, ambulance
so I'm going to try to blog a little more than usual.
I've covered off many of the things I needed to do to settle in here, patient and my work schedule is getting a little more regular.  I still have to get a bike licence, but there's not too much more on my must do list.

I had to ride home in rain and heavy cross-winds for the first time today – an activity that is understandably quite dangerous even without a road covered with people like ants at a picnic. Interestingly enough I felt safer than I normally do as all the other riders were trying to be careful for a change. It's amazing how many accidents you see each week, all caused by people not thinking about what they're doing, what laws they're breaking, and that it usually hurts when you get into an accident.
This is the view of the street below my apartment after I arrived home. Yeah, it looks just like a normal, wet Melbourne night, but you try riding a scooter on it!  They don't have hazard signs on bridges here like they do on the Westgate when the wind gets up.

3716189495_1e12af311d_o.jpg

I've had two minor prangs, but neither resulted in damage to anyone, and both were because the other person was running a red light or riding on the wrong side of the road – neither of which is enough to cause an accident, because many people do that, but both appeared from behind stationary cars. I lost a rear mirror, but that was easy enough to put back on.

I'm getting better at riding as each day goes by, and I've already had a comment from one of the Vietnamese teachers who got a lift with me to dinner one night that I am a better rider than most locals.  That might not be a good thing, though…what do they say? When in Rome, do as the Romans do?

Bought a hot water heater today so I can finally start having hot showers tomorrow. I get to remove it and take it with me when I leave, so it's not a total waste of money.  I don't think cold showers can get you clean, so it will be so nice to be clean again after nearly 3 weeks of less than effective showers (no, I don't smell!).

Had my first hair cut today as well, and about time! Your hair, fingernails and beard all grow about three times as fast here as they do back home. Don't ask me why, I haven't researched that yet. The "Uon Toc" (literal translation is "perm") I entered is a place recommended by a local, and I am glad I took the recommendation – excellent cut by a really nice guy with a young son who sat with me and chatted in English all the while (translating back to his Dad regularly). It was completed with a long (30 minutes) shampoo and head and neck massage which felt great. All of that for VND60,000 (less than $5).

Last night I ate street food after midnight (After school we usually wind down with a drink, a meal, and chat until quite late, as most of us don't work until the next evening), and it cost me VND30000 for 3 main meals (2 for me, the other I shouted my friend) and a coke. Oh oh oh! Before I forget! I was drinking with three travelers last week – 1 Aussie, 1 American & 1 Czech – and they mentioned that Coke means the white powder stuff over here.  I didn't believe them, but right on time a guy came up to me at my sidewalk table and offered me sunglasses, cigarettes, marijuana and coke! In Vietnam!!!  Not wanting to be either dispatched by firing squad, or have my mind altered any more than it already is, I gracefully declined.  But there's a first!!!

So, back to my meal last night.  That's just over $2 for filling meals for both myself and another, and it was delicious. Of course, much of the food I eat costs a lot more than that, as I have been eating at more established places and usually drink a couple of beers each time (safer than water). But the beer is around 80 cents. Most of my meals have been extravagant to date, costing me around $6-$10 for the lot. I will start to get more fussy about paying less for food as I get more comfortable with the city.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for a catch-up with an Aussie mate who just bought a bar in Cambodia. Got to press Send on this thing.

See ya

PS – Lots of photos on Flickr if you haven't already figured that out. Go look at the Travel, Asia collection and view the ASIA III – Saigon set.  I don't post many here at the moment because it's too much effort – easier just to upload to Flickr. Just keep watching Channel Steve and/or Facebook for notifications of Flickr updates. At the moment the Channel Steve digests don't seem to be working, but I hope to get that fixed soon.  And I have about three weeks of photos yet to be uploaded, including some from my Philippines adventures.

PPS – Not trying to scare anyone, but a bus cleaned up a guy and his kid outside my apartment yesterday morning. Kid survived, as the dad threw him to the side before the impact. Dad didn't.  Don't worry, I pay VND300,000 to cops in lieu of being hit by buses (read one of my previous posts). I also don't ride like an idiot.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

Ah, medicine
the joys of social networking.

It seems my cop story only appeared as a Facebook or Twitter update, allergy
and didn't transfer across to Channel Steve.
So those of you who read my last update may not understand the reference to paying VND300, doctor 000 to the cops.

Here's the story:

I was pulled over on the way to work by cream-wearing, creamy dessert-eating men in uniform.  The chosen one wanted to know if I spoke Vietnamese, and when I said no rolled his eyes. Instead of letting me go he persisted, as perhaps he could sense the weight of my foreign wallet.
At first it was – "licence". I thought I could get away with showing my Aussie one. No dice, but he did accept that I was in the process of obtaining one (so I said). Then it was "papers" – meaning insurance and registration. My rental bike comes with original insurance papers, but a photocopy of the rego because the owner won't give the original to me.  Fair enough, I think. But not to the cop. He started using body language that I read as "well, what are we going to do about this terrible crime then?" I had heard that they can impound your bike for just about anything, so I called the owner who didn't answer the phone. Next step, call one of my local translators. I gave the phone to the cop and after a couple of minutes received it back.  The message – "you crossed into the car lane and have to pay VND300,000".

As a matter of fact, I didn't realise there was such a thing as a car lane, and I did cross into it momentarily to avoid being crushed by a bus that was out for my blood.  I wasn't expecting the fine to be that large, but I guess inflation has hit everywhere. So I paid the 300 to a cop that clearly DOES receive enough salary (plus bonuses) judging by his uniform size, and got ready to go.  He then said and did one more thing:
"First time?"
"Yep", I reply.
He shakes my hand and smiles.

Grrrrr…..  Corruption is not my favourite noun, even if it does reduce court clutter and is cheaper than an Australian traffic ticket.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

2 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Negotiated strong cross-winds, health care wet stuff from the sky & suicidal locals to ride home in one piece. Phew!
flickr (feed #3)

I'm getting a God-like complex.  In fact, healing a local (who happens to be rather Catholic by the way) has even begun to call me God occasionally.  This freaks me out just a little bit, abortion but there is a reason for it.

To begin with we shall discuss my telepathic ability to influence electronic media around me.
Please refer to resource file number one: ABBA – So Long.

I wasn't aware that ABBA was singing about a Vietnamese sea snail eaten as a delicacy until I sat down at one of my favourite street restaurants after work one night.  I was perusing the menu and noticed "So Long" in bold letters. Conversationaly I told the waitress (who, like nearly all waitresses in these places, uses her job to obtain free English lessons) that this is one of my favourite ABBA songs. She hadn't heard of ABBA, which no longer surprises me given that many young Vietnamese haven't even heard a rock song before.
I ordered something else once she explained what it was – hey, I eat snails, but just didn't feel like it tonight.
Whilst waiting for my order to arrive I watched an entertaining local reality show, where aspiring actors are competing to be signed. This episode was teaching them how to show emotions effectively by asking them to perform a meaningful dance to a previously unheard song, illustrating their given theme.
Suddenly I sat bolt upright when I heard the opening strains of So Long wafting on the wind. I thought my mind was playing tricks on me until I realised that they were actually dancing to that song on the show!  Now, you must remember that we're not talking Mumma Mia or Dancing Queen here. So Long is not a commonly played piece, no matter how much better I think it is to much of their catalog, and certainly not one that any Vietnamese would have heard before.  I spent the rest of my meal shaking my head at just how much power my mind is building up.

Last night I was drinking with an Aussie mate heading off to Cambodia to run his newly-purchased bar. I asked him about the current theme of this bar, and his response was "Very Rolling Stones". No more than 20 seconds passed when suddenly a track from Mick Jagger's latest solo album began to play in the bar.  See, it would have been too easy to just throw Satisfaction on the playlist. I wanted to impress with something a little more eclectic and obscure.

Let's now move to some more compelling evidence. Please refer to resource file number two: Crowded House – Weather With You.

As some of you already know, I traveled through 7 Asian countries in 53 days last year, followed by a revisit to two of them for another 5 weeks or so. Both times were during the monsoon season.  I experienced three days of rain for the entire trip as I recall, none of which was travel-stopping or fun-reducing.  In some cases, approaching typhoons would sense my presence and change direction to skirt around me.  I began to think this actually had something to do with my actual physical presence in these countries.
My recent visit to the Philippines went perfectly for the diving component, and only rained during the times when I was grumpy or not happy about leaving a place I was enjoying so much.   I modified my self-analysis accordingly.
Last week one of the teachers was complaining that the weather in Saigon was really weird for this time of year. He wished it would rain as it is supposed to during the wet season. I asked why, as the rain makes things wet and uncomfortable for commuters.  His response was that it would cool the city down.  It was then that I had to apologise, as my presence is the obvious reason for this change in the weather.

The edge of a typhoon seems to have hit my apartment. I hope it goes away in the next two hours as I have to go to work tonight. Let's test out my God-like capabilities…

So Long by Abba   (1102 KB)
Listen on posterous

Weather With You by Crowded House/Paul Hester/Tim Finn   (527 KB)
Listen on posterous

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

I begin my back-track blogging exercise with a couple of photos from one day in Manila.
Last time I was here I really didn’t get to see much of the city as I was either sick, pulmonologist diving or traveling.
This time I tried to see just a little bit more.

I stayed at the A Venue Hotel Suites right in the middle of Makati, which is the business district and centre of Manila.

View Larger Map

3720189484_04a867cb4a_o.jpg

This is a sneaky building shot taken from one of the shopping centres in mid-Makati.  I say sneaky because I was told immediately afterwards that I am not allowed to take photos here.  Didn’t stop the Harlem Globetrotters guy a couple of days earlier. I still don’t understand what logic is behind the ban on city photography anywhere in the world. I doubt the legislators do either.

Nearby is a Jollibee, probably the most common fast food store in the Philippines, and dwarfing the neighbouring McDonalds. Jollibee is also common in Malaysia, and it’s starting to appear in Vietnam. In my experience so far (lunch in Angeles, Philippines) their service is remarkable, and the food is good.  One thing about service in the Philippines, it starts with the security guards who double as car park attendants and door greeters. Even if they’re carrying a large gun, they still sport a warm smile and a genuine welcoming “Good morning, sir”, “Thank you for coming, sir”.

3647883052_74005b70fd_o.jpg

3720116250_3170ca801e_o.jpg

Chicken Joy, or “Happy Chicken” as I like to call it, is the stock product here, but they do sell many other regional menu items.

Salcedo Market was a breakfast/lunch stop on Saturday.
Full of great-smelling local food mixed with representations from other countries and cultures, this was a delight to walk through. I was really hungry, but didn’t want to commit to any one dish until I’d seen the lot.

3647076669_df7d03a580_o.jpg

These Piyaya are sweet, bread-based concoctions that taste sarap (delicious) even days afterwards.

3647884114_776d711f96_o.jpg

All the food groups are represented at this market. This girl is sorting and presenting what I call prawns, but are possible referred to as lobster over here.

3647884394_6529d8aba0_o.jpg

The colour of the yolk in these salted eggs does not thrill me, but I’ve since tried a Vietnamese version of this, and it’s not as bad as it looks.

3720189602_3fbb261bdc_o.jpg

Heading back out of Manila, on the way to the airport to fly to Puerto Princesca (port for the Tubbataha diving trip), we had a little bingle. A bus decided that it was going to start moving forward because the traffic lights some way ahead had turned green, even though nobody else had started moving yet.  The boot of our sedan copped a noisy tap that sounded and looked from the inside to be a lot worse than it actually was. The driver said his foot slipped, and having looked closely at the bus, I think he needs to buy shoes with more grip.
My dive buddy, Joepi, by this time was near the end of her tether, having already experienced a couple of other minor accidents in the days and weeks beforehand. Personally, I don’t understand why these little altercations don’t happen to most people daily in this crazy city.

Check out the entire Manila slideshow at Flickr.  Click on each photo to see more information about that image.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hrdrck/sets/72157619824708686/show/

Still to come – much more Manila and an updated Flickr slideshow. Stay tuned.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

I thought it might be wise to let you know that if you subscribe by email, epilepsy you should still click to go directly to the site to read my posts. The reasons for this are as follows:

1. Some of the media I attach (songs, approved photos etc) will not appear in the emails, check so you’re missing out on some cool stuff.

2. My blog statistics will not update to reflect that you have read the post.

3. You can’t comment on what you are reading if you are not actually reading it on the site.

Any questions?

Ta.
I thought it might be wise to let you know that if you subscribe by email, epilepsy you should still click to go directly to the site to read my posts. The reasons for this are as follows:

1. Some of the media I attach (songs, approved photos etc) will not appear in the emails, check so you’re missing out on some cool stuff.

2. My blog statistics will not update to reflect that you have read the post.

3. You can’t comment on what you are reading if you are not actually reading it on the site.

Any questions?

Ta.
I begin my back-track blogging exercise with a couple of photos from one day in Manila.
Last time I was here I really didn't get to see much of the city as I was either sick, esophagitis
diving or traveling.
This time I tried to see just a little bit more.

I stayed at the A Venue Hotel Suites right in the middle of Makati, buy cialis
which is the business district and centre of Manila.

View Larger Map

3720189484_04a867cb4a_o.jpg

This is a sneaky building shot taken from one of the shopping centres in mid-Makati.  I say sneaky because I was told immediately afterwards that I am not allowed to take photos here.  Didn't stop the Harlem Globetrotters guy a couple of days earlier. I still don't understand what logic is behind the ban on city photography anywhere in the world. I doubt the legislators do either.

Nearby is a Jollibee, probably the most common fast food store in the Philippines, and dwarfing the neighbouring McDonalds. Jollibee is also common in Malaysia, and it's starting to appear in Vietnam. In my experience so far (lunch in Angeles, Philippines) their service is remarkable, and the food is good.  One thing about service in the Philippines, it starts with the security guards who double as car park attendants and door greeters. Even if they're carrying a large gun, they still sport a warm smile and a genuine welcoming "Good morning, sir", "Thank you for coming, sir".

3647883052_74005b70fd_o.jpg

3720116250_3170ca801e_o.jpg

Chicken Joy, or "Happy Chicken" as I like to call it, is the stock product here, but they do sell many other regional menu items.

Salceda Market was a breakfast/lunch stop on Saturday.
Full of great-smelling local food mixed with representations from other countries and cultures, this was a delight to walk through. I was really hungry, but didn't want to commit to any one dish until I'd seen the lot.
 
3647076669_df7d03a580_o.jpg

These Piyaya are sweet, bread-based concoctions that taste sarap (delicious) even days afterwards.

3647884114_776d711f96_o.jpg

All the food groups are represented at this market. This girl is sorting and presenting what I call prawns, but are possible referred to as lobster over here.

3647884394_6529d8aba0_o.jpg

The colour of the yolk in these salted eggs does not thrill me, but I've since tried a Vietnamese version of this, and it's not as bad as it looks.

3720189602_3fbb261bdc_o.jpg

Heading back out of Manila, on the way to the airport to fly to Puerto Princesca (port for the Tubbataha diving trip), we had a little bingle. A bus decided that it was going to start moving forward because the traffic lights some way ahead had turned green, even though nobody else had started moving yet.  The boot of our sedan copped a noisy tap that sounded and looked from the inside to be a lot worse than it actually was. The driver said his foot slipped, and having looked closely at the bus, I think he needs to buy shoes with more grip.
My dive buddy, Joepi, by this time was near the end of her tether, having already experienced a couple of other minor accidents in the days and weeks beforehand. Personally, I don't understand why these little altercations don't happen to most people daily in this crazy city.

Check out the entire Manila slideshow at Flickr.  Click on each photo to see more information about that image.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hrdrck/sets/72157619824708686/show/

Still to come – much more Manila and an updated Flickr slideshow. Stay tuned.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

10 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Yay, pharm I finally have hot water!
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Fev should win two Goal of the Year awards. It’s unfair we have to choose between both.
flickr (feed #3)
Shared 11 photos.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen I miss spreadable butter, more about but Viet peanut butter & raspberry jam are both good.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen There are two small bats playing chasy around my apartment balcony. It’s still light here so they are easy to see.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Became an authentic Vietnamese today. Took a leak by the side of the road.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Is there any particular reason you people don’t bother commenting on my blog? I think I’m starting to understand why I left the country.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen I glanced out the bedroom door and thought I left a light on in the loungeroom, clinic but then I realised it was daylight. Eek!
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen I don’t think Gerund is a good name for a child.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Hungry, no microwave, very little food, no time. Pasta saves the day. Pasta for President.

I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, viagra here health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I noticed that the daily digest from Flickr, order
Facebook and other social networking sites hasn't been updating since July 2nd.
So those of you only looking at Channel Steve will have missed a few things.  If you haven't seen it yet, help
there is a mini-Lifestream on the right, towards the bottom of this blog.  There is also a menu tab, "Lifestream" up the top.

In the meantime, I'll keep harassing the plug-in manufacturer to get the bug fixed.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

I've got a little extra time this week, ambulance
so I'm going to try to blog a little more than usual.
I've covered off many of the things I needed to do to settle in here, patient and my work schedule is getting a little more regular.  I still have to get a bike licence, but there's not too much more on my must do list.

I had to ride home in rain and heavy cross-winds for the first time today – an activity that is understandably quite dangerous even without a road covered with people like ants at a picnic. Interestingly enough I felt safer than I normally do as all the other riders were trying to be careful for a change. It's amazing how many accidents you see each week, all caused by people not thinking about what they're doing, what laws they're breaking, and that it usually hurts when you get into an accident.
This is the view of the street below my apartment after I arrived home. Yeah, it looks just like a normal, wet Melbourne night, but you try riding a scooter on it!  They don't have hazard signs on bridges here like they do on the Westgate when the wind gets up.

3716189495_1e12af311d_o.jpg

I've had two minor prangs, but neither resulted in damage to anyone, and both were because the other person was running a red light or riding on the wrong side of the road – neither of which is enough to cause an accident, because many people do that, but both appeared from behind stationary cars. I lost a rear mirror, but that was easy enough to put back on.

I'm getting better at riding as each day goes by, and I've already had a comment from one of the Vietnamese teachers who got a lift with me to dinner one night that I am a better rider than most locals.  That might not be a good thing, though…what do they say? When in Rome, do as the Romans do?

Bought a hot water heater today so I can finally start having hot showers tomorrow. I get to remove it and take it with me when I leave, so it's not a total waste of money.  I don't think cold showers can get you clean, so it will be so nice to be clean again after nearly 3 weeks of less than effective showers (no, I don't smell!).

Had my first hair cut today as well, and about time! Your hair, fingernails and beard all grow about three times as fast here as they do back home. Don't ask me why, I haven't researched that yet. The "Uon Toc" (literal translation is "perm") I entered is a place recommended by a local, and I am glad I took the recommendation – excellent cut by a really nice guy with a young son who sat with me and chatted in English all the while (translating back to his Dad regularly). It was completed with a long (30 minutes) shampoo and head and neck massage which felt great. All of that for VND60,000 (less than $5).

Last night I ate street food after midnight (After school we usually wind down with a drink, a meal, and chat until quite late, as most of us don't work until the next evening), and it cost me VND30000 for 3 main meals (2 for me, the other I shouted my friend) and a coke. Oh oh oh! Before I forget! I was drinking with three travelers last week – 1 Aussie, 1 American & 1 Czech – and they mentioned that Coke means the white powder stuff over here.  I didn't believe them, but right on time a guy came up to me at my sidewalk table and offered me sunglasses, cigarettes, marijuana and coke! In Vietnam!!!  Not wanting to be either dispatched by firing squad, or have my mind altered any more than it already is, I gracefully declined.  But there's a first!!!

So, back to my meal last night.  That's just over $2 for filling meals for both myself and another, and it was delicious. Of course, much of the food I eat costs a lot more than that, as I have been eating at more established places and usually drink a couple of beers each time (safer than water). But the beer is around 80 cents. Most of my meals have been extravagant to date, costing me around $6-$10 for the lot. I will start to get more fussy about paying less for food as I get more comfortable with the city.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for a catch-up with an Aussie mate who just bought a bar in Cambodia. Got to press Send on this thing.

See ya

PS – Lots of photos on Flickr if you haven't already figured that out. Go look at the Travel, Asia collection and view the ASIA III – Saigon set.  I don't post many here at the moment because it's too much effort – easier just to upload to Flickr. Just keep watching Channel Steve and/or Facebook for notifications of Flickr updates. At the moment the Channel Steve digests don't seem to be working, but I hope to get that fixed soon.  And I have about three weeks of photos yet to be uploaded, including some from my Philippines adventures.

PPS – Not trying to scare anyone, but a bus cleaned up a guy and his kid outside my apartment yesterday morning. Kid survived, as the dad threw him to the side before the impact. Dad didn't.  Don't worry, I pay VND300,000 to cops in lieu of being hit by buses (read one of my previous posts). I also don't ride like an idiot.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

I've got a little extra time this week, ambulance
so I'm going to try to blog a little more than usual.
I've covered off many of the things I needed to do to settle in here, patient and my work schedule is getting a little more regular.  I still have to get a bike licence, but there's not too much more on my must do list.

I had to ride home in rain and heavy cross-winds for the first time today – an activity that is understandably quite dangerous even without a road covered with people like ants at a picnic. Interestingly enough I felt safer than I normally do as all the other riders were trying to be careful for a change. It's amazing how many accidents you see each week, all caused by people not thinking about what they're doing, what laws they're breaking, and that it usually hurts when you get into an accident.
This is the view of the street below my apartment after I arrived home. Yeah, it looks just like a normal, wet Melbourne night, but you try riding a scooter on it!  They don't have hazard signs on bridges here like they do on the Westgate when the wind gets up.

3716189495_1e12af311d_o.jpg

I've had two minor prangs, but neither resulted in damage to anyone, and both were because the other person was running a red light or riding on the wrong side of the road – neither of which is enough to cause an accident, because many people do that, but both appeared from behind stationary cars. I lost a rear mirror, but that was easy enough to put back on.

I'm getting better at riding as each day goes by, and I've already had a comment from one of the Vietnamese teachers who got a lift with me to dinner one night that I am a better rider than most locals.  That might not be a good thing, though…what do they say? When in Rome, do as the Romans do?

Bought a hot water heater today so I can finally start having hot showers tomorrow. I get to remove it and take it with me when I leave, so it's not a total waste of money.  I don't think cold showers can get you clean, so it will be so nice to be clean again after nearly 3 weeks of less than effective showers (no, I don't smell!).

Had my first hair cut today as well, and about time! Your hair, fingernails and beard all grow about three times as fast here as they do back home. Don't ask me why, I haven't researched that yet. The "Uon Toc" (literal translation is "perm") I entered is a place recommended by a local, and I am glad I took the recommendation – excellent cut by a really nice guy with a young son who sat with me and chatted in English all the while (translating back to his Dad regularly). It was completed with a long (30 minutes) shampoo and head and neck massage which felt great. All of that for VND60,000 (less than $5).

Last night I ate street food after midnight (After school we usually wind down with a drink, a meal, and chat until quite late, as most of us don't work until the next evening), and it cost me VND30000 for 3 main meals (2 for me, the other I shouted my friend) and a coke. Oh oh oh! Before I forget! I was drinking with three travelers last week – 1 Aussie, 1 American & 1 Czech – and they mentioned that Coke means the white powder stuff over here.  I didn't believe them, but right on time a guy came up to me at my sidewalk table and offered me sunglasses, cigarettes, marijuana and coke! In Vietnam!!!  Not wanting to be either dispatched by firing squad, or have my mind altered any more than it already is, I gracefully declined.  But there's a first!!!

So, back to my meal last night.  That's just over $2 for filling meals for both myself and another, and it was delicious. Of course, much of the food I eat costs a lot more than that, as I have been eating at more established places and usually drink a couple of beers each time (safer than water). But the beer is around 80 cents. Most of my meals have been extravagant to date, costing me around $6-$10 for the lot. I will start to get more fussy about paying less for food as I get more comfortable with the city.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for a catch-up with an Aussie mate who just bought a bar in Cambodia. Got to press Send on this thing.

See ya

PS – Lots of photos on Flickr if you haven't already figured that out. Go look at the Travel, Asia collection and view the ASIA III – Saigon set.  I don't post many here at the moment because it's too much effort – easier just to upload to Flickr. Just keep watching Channel Steve and/or Facebook for notifications of Flickr updates. At the moment the Channel Steve digests don't seem to be working, but I hope to get that fixed soon.  And I have about three weeks of photos yet to be uploaded, including some from my Philippines adventures.

PPS – Not trying to scare anyone, but a bus cleaned up a guy and his kid outside my apartment yesterday morning. Kid survived, as the dad threw him to the side before the impact. Dad didn't.  Don't worry, I pay VND300,000 to cops in lieu of being hit by buses (read one of my previous posts). I also don't ride like an idiot.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

Ah, medicine
the joys of social networking.

It seems my cop story only appeared as a Facebook or Twitter update, allergy
and didn't transfer across to Channel Steve.
So those of you who read my last update may not understand the reference to paying VND300, doctor 000 to the cops.

Here's the story:

I was pulled over on the way to work by cream-wearing, creamy dessert-eating men in uniform.  The chosen one wanted to know if I spoke Vietnamese, and when I said no rolled his eyes. Instead of letting me go he persisted, as perhaps he could sense the weight of my foreign wallet.
At first it was – "licence". I thought I could get away with showing my Aussie one. No dice, but he did accept that I was in the process of obtaining one (so I said). Then it was "papers" – meaning insurance and registration. My rental bike comes with original insurance papers, but a photocopy of the rego because the owner won't give the original to me.  Fair enough, I think. But not to the cop. He started using body language that I read as "well, what are we going to do about this terrible crime then?" I had heard that they can impound your bike for just about anything, so I called the owner who didn't answer the phone. Next step, call one of my local translators. I gave the phone to the cop and after a couple of minutes received it back.  The message – "you crossed into the car lane and have to pay VND300,000".

As a matter of fact, I didn't realise there was such a thing as a car lane, and I did cross into it momentarily to avoid being crushed by a bus that was out for my blood.  I wasn't expecting the fine to be that large, but I guess inflation has hit everywhere. So I paid the 300 to a cop that clearly DOES receive enough salary (plus bonuses) judging by his uniform size, and got ready to go.  He then said and did one more thing:
"First time?"
"Yep", I reply.
He shakes my hand and smiles.

Grrrrr…..  Corruption is not my favourite noun, even if it does reduce court clutter and is cheaper than an Australian traffic ticket.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

2 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Negotiated strong cross-winds, health care wet stuff from the sky & suicidal locals to ride home in one piece. Phew!
flickr (feed #3)

I'm getting a God-like complex.  In fact, healing a local (who happens to be rather Catholic by the way) has even begun to call me God occasionally.  This freaks me out just a little bit, abortion but there is a reason for it.

To begin with we shall discuss my telepathic ability to influence electronic media around me.
Please refer to resource file number one: ABBA – So Long.

I wasn't aware that ABBA was singing about a Vietnamese sea snail eaten as a delicacy until I sat down at one of my favourite street restaurants after work one night.  I was perusing the menu and noticed "So Long" in bold letters. Conversationaly I told the waitress (who, like nearly all waitresses in these places, uses her job to obtain free English lessons) that this is one of my favourite ABBA songs. She hadn't heard of ABBA, which no longer surprises me given that many young Vietnamese haven't even heard a rock song before.
I ordered something else once she explained what it was – hey, I eat snails, but just didn't feel like it tonight.
Whilst waiting for my order to arrive I watched an entertaining local reality show, where aspiring actors are competing to be signed. This episode was teaching them how to show emotions effectively by asking them to perform a meaningful dance to a previously unheard song, illustrating their given theme.
Suddenly I sat bolt upright when I heard the opening strains of So Long wafting on the wind. I thought my mind was playing tricks on me until I realised that they were actually dancing to that song on the show!  Now, you must remember that we're not talking Mumma Mia or Dancing Queen here. So Long is not a commonly played piece, no matter how much better I think it is to much of their catalog, and certainly not one that any Vietnamese would have heard before.  I spent the rest of my meal shaking my head at just how much power my mind is building up.

Last night I was drinking with an Aussie mate heading off to Cambodia to run his newly-purchased bar. I asked him about the current theme of this bar, and his response was "Very Rolling Stones". No more than 20 seconds passed when suddenly a track from Mick Jagger's latest solo album began to play in the bar.  See, it would have been too easy to just throw Satisfaction on the playlist. I wanted to impress with something a little more eclectic and obscure.

Let's now move to some more compelling evidence. Please refer to resource file number two: Crowded House – Weather With You.

As some of you already know, I traveled through 7 Asian countries in 53 days last year, followed by a revisit to two of them for another 5 weeks or so. Both times were during the monsoon season.  I experienced three days of rain for the entire trip as I recall, none of which was travel-stopping or fun-reducing.  In some cases, approaching typhoons would sense my presence and change direction to skirt around me.  I began to think this actually had something to do with my actual physical presence in these countries.
My recent visit to the Philippines went perfectly for the diving component, and only rained during the times when I was grumpy or not happy about leaving a place I was enjoying so much.   I modified my self-analysis accordingly.
Last week one of the teachers was complaining that the weather in Saigon was really weird for this time of year. He wished it would rain as it is supposed to during the wet season. I asked why, as the rain makes things wet and uncomfortable for commuters.  His response was that it would cool the city down.  It was then that I had to apologise, as my presence is the obvious reason for this change in the weather.

The edge of a typhoon seems to have hit my apartment. I hope it goes away in the next two hours as I have to go to work tonight. Let's test out my God-like capabilities…

So Long by Abba   (1102 KB)
Listen on posterous

Weather With You by Crowded House/Paul Hester/Tim Finn   (527 KB)
Listen on posterous

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

I begin my back-track blogging exercise with a couple of photos from one day in Manila.
Last time I was here I really didn’t get to see much of the city as I was either sick, pulmonologist diving or traveling.
This time I tried to see just a little bit more.

I stayed at the A Venue Hotel Suites right in the middle of Makati, which is the business district and centre of Manila.

View Larger Map

3720189484_04a867cb4a_o.jpg

This is a sneaky building shot taken from one of the shopping centres in mid-Makati.  I say sneaky because I was told immediately afterwards that I am not allowed to take photos here.  Didn’t stop the Harlem Globetrotters guy a couple of days earlier. I still don’t understand what logic is behind the ban on city photography anywhere in the world. I doubt the legislators do either.

Nearby is a Jollibee, probably the most common fast food store in the Philippines, and dwarfing the neighbouring McDonalds. Jollibee is also common in Malaysia, and it’s starting to appear in Vietnam. In my experience so far (lunch in Angeles, Philippines) their service is remarkable, and the food is good.  One thing about service in the Philippines, it starts with the security guards who double as car park attendants and door greeters. Even if they’re carrying a large gun, they still sport a warm smile and a genuine welcoming “Good morning, sir”, “Thank you for coming, sir”.

3647883052_74005b70fd_o.jpg

3720116250_3170ca801e_o.jpg

Chicken Joy, or “Happy Chicken” as I like to call it, is the stock product here, but they do sell many other regional menu items.

Salcedo Market was a breakfast/lunch stop on Saturday.
Full of great-smelling local food mixed with representations from other countries and cultures, this was a delight to walk through. I was really hungry, but didn’t want to commit to any one dish until I’d seen the lot.

3647076669_df7d03a580_o.jpg

These Piyaya are sweet, bread-based concoctions that taste sarap (delicious) even days afterwards.

3647884114_776d711f96_o.jpg

All the food groups are represented at this market. This girl is sorting and presenting what I call prawns, but are possible referred to as lobster over here.

3647884394_6529d8aba0_o.jpg

The colour of the yolk in these salted eggs does not thrill me, but I’ve since tried a Vietnamese version of this, and it’s not as bad as it looks.

3720189602_3fbb261bdc_o.jpg

Heading back out of Manila, on the way to the airport to fly to Puerto Princesca (port for the Tubbataha diving trip), we had a little bingle. A bus decided that it was going to start moving forward because the traffic lights some way ahead had turned green, even though nobody else had started moving yet.  The boot of our sedan copped a noisy tap that sounded and looked from the inside to be a lot worse than it actually was. The driver said his foot slipped, and having looked closely at the bus, I think he needs to buy shoes with more grip.
My dive buddy, Joepi, by this time was near the end of her tether, having already experienced a couple of other minor accidents in the days and weeks beforehand. Personally, I don’t understand why these little altercations don’t happen to most people daily in this crazy city.

Check out the entire Manila slideshow at Flickr.  Click on each photo to see more information about that image.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hrdrck/sets/72157619824708686/show/

Still to come – much more Manila and an updated Flickr slideshow. Stay tuned.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

I thought it might be wise to let you know that if you subscribe by email, epilepsy you should still click to go directly to the site to read my posts. The reasons for this are as follows:

1. Some of the media I attach (songs, approved photos etc) will not appear in the emails, check so you’re missing out on some cool stuff.

2. My blog statistics will not update to reflect that you have read the post.

3. You can’t comment on what you are reading if you are not actually reading it on the site.

Any questions?

Ta.
I thought it might be wise to let you know that if you subscribe by email, epilepsy you should still click to go directly to the site to read my posts. The reasons for this are as follows:

1. Some of the media I attach (songs, approved photos etc) will not appear in the emails, check so you’re missing out on some cool stuff.

2. My blog statistics will not update to reflect that you have read the post.

3. You can’t comment on what you are reading if you are not actually reading it on the site.

Any questions?

Ta.
I begin my back-track blogging exercise with a couple of photos from one day in Manila.
Last time I was here I really didn't get to see much of the city as I was either sick, esophagitis
diving or traveling.
This time I tried to see just a little bit more.

I stayed at the A Venue Hotel Suites right in the middle of Makati, buy cialis
which is the business district and centre of Manila.

View Larger Map

3720189484_04a867cb4a_o.jpg

This is a sneaky building shot taken from one of the shopping centres in mid-Makati.  I say sneaky because I was told immediately afterwards that I am not allowed to take photos here.  Didn't stop the Harlem Globetrotters guy a couple of days earlier. I still don't understand what logic is behind the ban on city photography anywhere in the world. I doubt the legislators do either.

Nearby is a Jollibee, probably the most common fast food store in the Philippines, and dwarfing the neighbouring McDonalds. Jollibee is also common in Malaysia, and it's starting to appear in Vietnam. In my experience so far (lunch in Angeles, Philippines) their service is remarkable, and the food is good.  One thing about service in the Philippines, it starts with the security guards who double as car park attendants and door greeters. Even if they're carrying a large gun, they still sport a warm smile and a genuine welcoming "Good morning, sir", "Thank you for coming, sir".

3647883052_74005b70fd_o.jpg

3720116250_3170ca801e_o.jpg

Chicken Joy, or "Happy Chicken" as I like to call it, is the stock product here, but they do sell many other regional menu items.

Salceda Market was a breakfast/lunch stop on Saturday.
Full of great-smelling local food mixed with representations from other countries and cultures, this was a delight to walk through. I was really hungry, but didn't want to commit to any one dish until I'd seen the lot.
 
3647076669_df7d03a580_o.jpg

These Piyaya are sweet, bread-based concoctions that taste sarap (delicious) even days afterwards.

3647884114_776d711f96_o.jpg

All the food groups are represented at this market. This girl is sorting and presenting what I call prawns, but are possible referred to as lobster over here.

3647884394_6529d8aba0_o.jpg

The colour of the yolk in these salted eggs does not thrill me, but I've since tried a Vietnamese version of this, and it's not as bad as it looks.

3720189602_3fbb261bdc_o.jpg

Heading back out of Manila, on the way to the airport to fly to Puerto Princesca (port for the Tubbataha diving trip), we had a little bingle. A bus decided that it was going to start moving forward because the traffic lights some way ahead had turned green, even though nobody else had started moving yet.  The boot of our sedan copped a noisy tap that sounded and looked from the inside to be a lot worse than it actually was. The driver said his foot slipped, and having looked closely at the bus, I think he needs to buy shoes with more grip.
My dive buddy, Joepi, by this time was near the end of her tether, having already experienced a couple of other minor accidents in the days and weeks beforehand. Personally, I don't understand why these little altercations don't happen to most people daily in this crazy city.

Check out the entire Manila slideshow at Flickr.  Click on each photo to see more information about that image.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hrdrck/sets/72157619824708686/show/

Still to come – much more Manila and an updated Flickr slideshow. Stay tuned.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

10 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Yay, pharm I finally have hot water!
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Fev should win two Goal of the Year awards. It’s unfair we have to choose between both.
flickr (feed #3)
Shared 11 photos.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen I miss spreadable butter, more about but Viet peanut butter & raspberry jam are both good.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen There are two small bats playing chasy around my apartment balcony. It’s still light here so they are easy to see.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Became an authentic Vietnamese today. Took a leak by the side of the road.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Is there any particular reason you people don’t bother commenting on my blog? I think I’m starting to understand why I left the country.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen I glanced out the bedroom door and thought I left a light on in the loungeroom, clinic but then I realised it was daylight. Eek!
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen I don’t think Gerund is a good name for a child.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Hungry, no microwave, very little food, no time. Pasta saves the day. Pasta for President.

3 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Nearly squished a rat with my bike.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Thanks for all your comments on the blog, syphilis and the survey responses – NOT! Seems it would be faster to individually ring my handful of regular readers rather than type things in. Grrrr!!! Bunch of apathetic, more about lazy Australians.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen And the rest of you don’t get off the hook either.

I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, viagra here health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I noticed that the daily digest from Flickr, order
Facebook and other social networking sites hasn't been updating since July 2nd.
So those of you only looking at Channel Steve will have missed a few things.  If you haven't seen it yet, help
there is a mini-Lifestream on the right, towards the bottom of this blog.  There is also a menu tab, "Lifestream" up the top.

In the meantime, I'll keep harassing the plug-in manufacturer to get the bug fixed.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

I've got a little extra time this week, ambulance
so I'm going to try to blog a little more than usual.
I've covered off many of the things I needed to do to settle in here, patient and my work schedule is getting a little more regular.  I still have to get a bike licence, but there's not too much more on my must do list.

I had to ride home in rain and heavy cross-winds for the first time today – an activity that is understandably quite dangerous even without a road covered with people like ants at a picnic. Interestingly enough I felt safer than I normally do as all the other riders were trying to be careful for a change. It's amazing how many accidents you see each week, all caused by people not thinking about what they're doing, what laws they're breaking, and that it usually hurts when you get into an accident.
This is the view of the street below my apartment after I arrived home. Yeah, it looks just like a normal, wet Melbourne night, but you try riding a scooter on it!  They don't have hazard signs on bridges here like they do on the Westgate when the wind gets up.

3716189495_1e12af311d_o.jpg

I've had two minor prangs, but neither resulted in damage to anyone, and both were because the other person was running a red light or riding on the wrong side of the road – neither of which is enough to cause an accident, because many people do that, but both appeared from behind stationary cars. I lost a rear mirror, but that was easy enough to put back on.

I'm getting better at riding as each day goes by, and I've already had a comment from one of the Vietnamese teachers who got a lift with me to dinner one night that I am a better rider than most locals.  That might not be a good thing, though…what do they say? When in Rome, do as the Romans do?

Bought a hot water heater today so I can finally start having hot showers tomorrow. I get to remove it and take it with me when I leave, so it's not a total waste of money.  I don't think cold showers can get you clean, so it will be so nice to be clean again after nearly 3 weeks of less than effective showers (no, I don't smell!).

Had my first hair cut today as well, and about time! Your hair, fingernails and beard all grow about three times as fast here as they do back home. Don't ask me why, I haven't researched that yet. The "Uon Toc" (literal translation is "perm") I entered is a place recommended by a local, and I am glad I took the recommendation – excellent cut by a really nice guy with a young son who sat with me and chatted in English all the while (translating back to his Dad regularly). It was completed with a long (30 minutes) shampoo and head and neck massage which felt great. All of that for VND60,000 (less than $5).

Last night I ate street food after midnight (After school we usually wind down with a drink, a meal, and chat until quite late, as most of us don't work until the next evening), and it cost me VND30000 for 3 main meals (2 for me, the other I shouted my friend) and a coke. Oh oh oh! Before I forget! I was drinking with three travelers last week – 1 Aussie, 1 American & 1 Czech – and they mentioned that Coke means the white powder stuff over here.  I didn't believe them, but right on time a guy came up to me at my sidewalk table and offered me sunglasses, cigarettes, marijuana and coke! In Vietnam!!!  Not wanting to be either dispatched by firing squad, or have my mind altered any more than it already is, I gracefully declined.  But there's a first!!!

So, back to my meal last night.  That's just over $2 for filling meals for both myself and another, and it was delicious. Of course, much of the food I eat costs a lot more than that, as I have been eating at more established places and usually drink a couple of beers each time (safer than water). But the beer is around 80 cents. Most of my meals have been extravagant to date, costing me around $6-$10 for the lot. I will start to get more fussy about paying less for food as I get more comfortable with the city.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for a catch-up with an Aussie mate who just bought a bar in Cambodia. Got to press Send on this thing.

See ya

PS – Lots of photos on Flickr if you haven't already figured that out. Go look at the Travel, Asia collection and view the ASIA III – Saigon set.  I don't post many here at the moment because it's too much effort – easier just to upload to Flickr. Just keep watching Channel Steve and/or Facebook for notifications of Flickr updates. At the moment the Channel Steve digests don't seem to be working, but I hope to get that fixed soon.  And I have about three weeks of photos yet to be uploaded, including some from my Philippines adventures.

PPS – Not trying to scare anyone, but a bus cleaned up a guy and his kid outside my apartment yesterday morning. Kid survived, as the dad threw him to the side before the impact. Dad didn't.  Don't worry, I pay VND300,000 to cops in lieu of being hit by buses (read one of my previous posts). I also don't ride like an idiot.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

I've got a little extra time this week, ambulance
so I'm going to try to blog a little more than usual.
I've covered off many of the things I needed to do to settle in here, patient and my work schedule is getting a little more regular.  I still have to get a bike licence, but there's not too much more on my must do list.

I had to ride home in rain and heavy cross-winds for the first time today – an activity that is understandably quite dangerous even without a road covered with people like ants at a picnic. Interestingly enough I felt safer than I normally do as all the other riders were trying to be careful for a change. It's amazing how many accidents you see each week, all caused by people not thinking about what they're doing, what laws they're breaking, and that it usually hurts when you get into an accident.
This is the view of the street below my apartment after I arrived home. Yeah, it looks just like a normal, wet Melbourne night, but you try riding a scooter on it!  They don't have hazard signs on bridges here like they do on the Westgate when the wind gets up.

3716189495_1e12af311d_o.jpg

I've had two minor prangs, but neither resulted in damage to anyone, and both were because the other person was running a red light or riding on the wrong side of the road – neither of which is enough to cause an accident, because many people do that, but both appeared from behind stationary cars. I lost a rear mirror, but that was easy enough to put back on.

I'm getting better at riding as each day goes by, and I've already had a comment from one of the Vietnamese teachers who got a lift with me to dinner one night that I am a better rider than most locals.  That might not be a good thing, though…what do they say? When in Rome, do as the Romans do?

Bought a hot water heater today so I can finally start having hot showers tomorrow. I get to remove it and take it with me when I leave, so it's not a total waste of money.  I don't think cold showers can get you clean, so it will be so nice to be clean again after nearly 3 weeks of less than effective showers (no, I don't smell!).

Had my first hair cut today as well, and about time! Your hair, fingernails and beard all grow about three times as fast here as they do back home. Don't ask me why, I haven't researched that yet. The "Uon Toc" (literal translation is "perm") I entered is a place recommended by a local, and I am glad I took the recommendation – excellent cut by a really nice guy with a young son who sat with me and chatted in English all the while (translating back to his Dad regularly). It was completed with a long (30 minutes) shampoo and head and neck massage which felt great. All of that for VND60,000 (less than $5).

Last night I ate street food after midnight (After school we usually wind down with a drink, a meal, and chat until quite late, as most of us don't work until the next evening), and it cost me VND30000 for 3 main meals (2 for me, the other I shouted my friend) and a coke. Oh oh oh! Before I forget! I was drinking with three travelers last week – 1 Aussie, 1 American & 1 Czech – and they mentioned that Coke means the white powder stuff over here.  I didn't believe them, but right on time a guy came up to me at my sidewalk table and offered me sunglasses, cigarettes, marijuana and coke! In Vietnam!!!  Not wanting to be either dispatched by firing squad, or have my mind altered any more than it already is, I gracefully declined.  But there's a first!!!

So, back to my meal last night.  That's just over $2 for filling meals for both myself and another, and it was delicious. Of course, much of the food I eat costs a lot more than that, as I have been eating at more established places and usually drink a couple of beers each time (safer than water). But the beer is around 80 cents. Most of my meals have been extravagant to date, costing me around $6-$10 for the lot. I will start to get more fussy about paying less for food as I get more comfortable with the city.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for a catch-up with an Aussie mate who just bought a bar in Cambodia. Got to press Send on this thing.

See ya

PS – Lots of photos on Flickr if you haven't already figured that out. Go look at the Travel, Asia collection and view the ASIA III – Saigon set.  I don't post many here at the moment because it's too much effort – easier just to upload to Flickr. Just keep watching Channel Steve and/or Facebook for notifications of Flickr updates. At the moment the Channel Steve digests don't seem to be working, but I hope to get that fixed soon.  And I have about three weeks of photos yet to be uploaded, including some from my Philippines adventures.

PPS – Not trying to scare anyone, but a bus cleaned up a guy and his kid outside my apartment yesterday morning. Kid survived, as the dad threw him to the side before the impact. Dad didn't.  Don't worry, I pay VND300,000 to cops in lieu of being hit by buses (read one of my previous posts). I also don't ride like an idiot.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

Ah, medicine
the joys of social networking.

It seems my cop story only appeared as a Facebook or Twitter update, allergy
and didn't transfer across to Channel Steve.
So those of you who read my last update may not understand the reference to paying VND300, doctor 000 to the cops.

Here's the story:

I was pulled over on the way to work by cream-wearing, creamy dessert-eating men in uniform.  The chosen one wanted to know if I spoke Vietnamese, and when I said no rolled his eyes. Instead of letting me go he persisted, as perhaps he could sense the weight of my foreign wallet.
At first it was – "licence". I thought I could get away with showing my Aussie one. No dice, but he did accept that I was in the process of obtaining one (so I said). Then it was "papers" – meaning insurance and registration. My rental bike comes with original insurance papers, but a photocopy of the rego because the owner won't give the original to me.  Fair enough, I think. But not to the cop. He started using body language that I read as "well, what are we going to do about this terrible crime then?" I had heard that they can impound your bike for just about anything, so I called the owner who didn't answer the phone. Next step, call one of my local translators. I gave the phone to the cop and after a couple of minutes received it back.  The message – "you crossed into the car lane and have to pay VND300,000".

As a matter of fact, I didn't realise there was such a thing as a car lane, and I did cross into it momentarily to avoid being crushed by a bus that was out for my blood.  I wasn't expecting the fine to be that large, but I guess inflation has hit everywhere. So I paid the 300 to a cop that clearly DOES receive enough salary (plus bonuses) judging by his uniform size, and got ready to go.  He then said and did one more thing:
"First time?"
"Yep", I reply.
He shakes my hand and smiles.

Grrrrr…..  Corruption is not my favourite noun, even if it does reduce court clutter and is cheaper than an Australian traffic ticket.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

2 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Negotiated strong cross-winds, health care wet stuff from the sky & suicidal locals to ride home in one piece. Phew!
flickr (feed #3)

I'm getting a God-like complex.  In fact, healing a local (who happens to be rather Catholic by the way) has even begun to call me God occasionally.  This freaks me out just a little bit, abortion but there is a reason for it.

To begin with we shall discuss my telepathic ability to influence electronic media around me.
Please refer to resource file number one: ABBA – So Long.

I wasn't aware that ABBA was singing about a Vietnamese sea snail eaten as a delicacy until I sat down at one of my favourite street restaurants after work one night.  I was perusing the menu and noticed "So Long" in bold letters. Conversationaly I told the waitress (who, like nearly all waitresses in these places, uses her job to obtain free English lessons) that this is one of my favourite ABBA songs. She hadn't heard of ABBA, which no longer surprises me given that many young Vietnamese haven't even heard a rock song before.
I ordered something else once she explained what it was – hey, I eat snails, but just didn't feel like it tonight.
Whilst waiting for my order to arrive I watched an entertaining local reality show, where aspiring actors are competing to be signed. This episode was teaching them how to show emotions effectively by asking them to perform a meaningful dance to a previously unheard song, illustrating their given theme.
Suddenly I sat bolt upright when I heard the opening strains of So Long wafting on the wind. I thought my mind was playing tricks on me until I realised that they were actually dancing to that song on the show!  Now, you must remember that we're not talking Mumma Mia or Dancing Queen here. So Long is not a commonly played piece, no matter how much better I think it is to much of their catalog, and certainly not one that any Vietnamese would have heard before.  I spent the rest of my meal shaking my head at just how much power my mind is building up.

Last night I was drinking with an Aussie mate heading off to Cambodia to run his newly-purchased bar. I asked him about the current theme of this bar, and his response was "Very Rolling Stones". No more than 20 seconds passed when suddenly a track from Mick Jagger's latest solo album began to play in the bar.  See, it would have been too easy to just throw Satisfaction on the playlist. I wanted to impress with something a little more eclectic and obscure.

Let's now move to some more compelling evidence. Please refer to resource file number two: Crowded House – Weather With You.

As some of you already know, I traveled through 7 Asian countries in 53 days last year, followed by a revisit to two of them for another 5 weeks or so. Both times were during the monsoon season.  I experienced three days of rain for the entire trip as I recall, none of which was travel-stopping or fun-reducing.  In some cases, approaching typhoons would sense my presence and change direction to skirt around me.  I began to think this actually had something to do with my actual physical presence in these countries.
My recent visit to the Philippines went perfectly for the diving component, and only rained during the times when I was grumpy or not happy about leaving a place I was enjoying so much.   I modified my self-analysis accordingly.
Last week one of the teachers was complaining that the weather in Saigon was really weird for this time of year. He wished it would rain as it is supposed to during the wet season. I asked why, as the rain makes things wet and uncomfortable for commuters.  His response was that it would cool the city down.  It was then that I had to apologise, as my presence is the obvious reason for this change in the weather.

The edge of a typhoon seems to have hit my apartment. I hope it goes away in the next two hours as I have to go to work tonight. Let's test out my God-like capabilities…

So Long by Abba   (1102 KB)
Listen on posterous

Weather With You by Crowded House/Paul Hester/Tim Finn   (527 KB)
Listen on posterous

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

I begin my back-track blogging exercise with a couple of photos from one day in Manila.
Last time I was here I really didn’t get to see much of the city as I was either sick, pulmonologist diving or traveling.
This time I tried to see just a little bit more.

I stayed at the A Venue Hotel Suites right in the middle of Makati, which is the business district and centre of Manila.

View Larger Map

3720189484_04a867cb4a_o.jpg

This is a sneaky building shot taken from one of the shopping centres in mid-Makati.  I say sneaky because I was told immediately afterwards that I am not allowed to take photos here.  Didn’t stop the Harlem Globetrotters guy a couple of days earlier. I still don’t understand what logic is behind the ban on city photography anywhere in the world. I doubt the legislators do either.

Nearby is a Jollibee, probably the most common fast food store in the Philippines, and dwarfing the neighbouring McDonalds. Jollibee is also common in Malaysia, and it’s starting to appear in Vietnam. In my experience so far (lunch in Angeles, Philippines) their service is remarkable, and the food is good.  One thing about service in the Philippines, it starts with the security guards who double as car park attendants and door greeters. Even if they’re carrying a large gun, they still sport a warm smile and a genuine welcoming “Good morning, sir”, “Thank you for coming, sir”.

3647883052_74005b70fd_o.jpg

3720116250_3170ca801e_o.jpg

Chicken Joy, or “Happy Chicken” as I like to call it, is the stock product here, but they do sell many other regional menu items.

Salcedo Market was a breakfast/lunch stop on Saturday.
Full of great-smelling local food mixed with representations from other countries and cultures, this was a delight to walk through. I was really hungry, but didn’t want to commit to any one dish until I’d seen the lot.

3647076669_df7d03a580_o.jpg

These Piyaya are sweet, bread-based concoctions that taste sarap (delicious) even days afterwards.

3647884114_776d711f96_o.jpg

All the food groups are represented at this market. This girl is sorting and presenting what I call prawns, but are possible referred to as lobster over here.

3647884394_6529d8aba0_o.jpg

The colour of the yolk in these salted eggs does not thrill me, but I’ve since tried a Vietnamese version of this, and it’s not as bad as it looks.

3720189602_3fbb261bdc_o.jpg

Heading back out of Manila, on the way to the airport to fly to Puerto Princesca (port for the Tubbataha diving trip), we had a little bingle. A bus decided that it was going to start moving forward because the traffic lights some way ahead had turned green, even though nobody else had started moving yet.  The boot of our sedan copped a noisy tap that sounded and looked from the inside to be a lot worse than it actually was. The driver said his foot slipped, and having looked closely at the bus, I think he needs to buy shoes with more grip.
My dive buddy, Joepi, by this time was near the end of her tether, having already experienced a couple of other minor accidents in the days and weeks beforehand. Personally, I don’t understand why these little altercations don’t happen to most people daily in this crazy city.

Check out the entire Manila slideshow at Flickr.  Click on each photo to see more information about that image.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hrdrck/sets/72157619824708686/show/

Still to come – much more Manila and an updated Flickr slideshow. Stay tuned.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

I thought it might be wise to let you know that if you subscribe by email, epilepsy you should still click to go directly to the site to read my posts. The reasons for this are as follows:

1. Some of the media I attach (songs, approved photos etc) will not appear in the emails, check so you’re missing out on some cool stuff.

2. My blog statistics will not update to reflect that you have read the post.

3. You can’t comment on what you are reading if you are not actually reading it on the site.

Any questions?

Ta.
I thought it might be wise to let you know that if you subscribe by email, epilepsy you should still click to go directly to the site to read my posts. The reasons for this are as follows:

1. Some of the media I attach (songs, approved photos etc) will not appear in the emails, check so you’re missing out on some cool stuff.

2. My blog statistics will not update to reflect that you have read the post.

3. You can’t comment on what you are reading if you are not actually reading it on the site.

Any questions?

Ta.
I begin my back-track blogging exercise with a couple of photos from one day in Manila.
Last time I was here I really didn't get to see much of the city as I was either sick, esophagitis
diving or traveling.
This time I tried to see just a little bit more.

I stayed at the A Venue Hotel Suites right in the middle of Makati, buy cialis
which is the business district and centre of Manila.

View Larger Map

3720189484_04a867cb4a_o.jpg

This is a sneaky building shot taken from one of the shopping centres in mid-Makati.  I say sneaky because I was told immediately afterwards that I am not allowed to take photos here.  Didn't stop the Harlem Globetrotters guy a couple of days earlier. I still don't understand what logic is behind the ban on city photography anywhere in the world. I doubt the legislators do either.

Nearby is a Jollibee, probably the most common fast food store in the Philippines, and dwarfing the neighbouring McDonalds. Jollibee is also common in Malaysia, and it's starting to appear in Vietnam. In my experience so far (lunch in Angeles, Philippines) their service is remarkable, and the food is good.  One thing about service in the Philippines, it starts with the security guards who double as car park attendants and door greeters. Even if they're carrying a large gun, they still sport a warm smile and a genuine welcoming "Good morning, sir", "Thank you for coming, sir".

3647883052_74005b70fd_o.jpg

3720116250_3170ca801e_o.jpg

Chicken Joy, or "Happy Chicken" as I like to call it, is the stock product here, but they do sell many other regional menu items.

Salceda Market was a breakfast/lunch stop on Saturday.
Full of great-smelling local food mixed with representations from other countries and cultures, this was a delight to walk through. I was really hungry, but didn't want to commit to any one dish until I'd seen the lot.
 
3647076669_df7d03a580_o.jpg

These Piyaya are sweet, bread-based concoctions that taste sarap (delicious) even days afterwards.

3647884114_776d711f96_o.jpg

All the food groups are represented at this market. This girl is sorting and presenting what I call prawns, but are possible referred to as lobster over here.

3647884394_6529d8aba0_o.jpg

The colour of the yolk in these salted eggs does not thrill me, but I've since tried a Vietnamese version of this, and it's not as bad as it looks.

3720189602_3fbb261bdc_o.jpg

Heading back out of Manila, on the way to the airport to fly to Puerto Princesca (port for the Tubbataha diving trip), we had a little bingle. A bus decided that it was going to start moving forward because the traffic lights some way ahead had turned green, even though nobody else had started moving yet.  The boot of our sedan copped a noisy tap that sounded and looked from the inside to be a lot worse than it actually was. The driver said his foot slipped, and having looked closely at the bus, I think he needs to buy shoes with more grip.
My dive buddy, Joepi, by this time was near the end of her tether, having already experienced a couple of other minor accidents in the days and weeks beforehand. Personally, I don't understand why these little altercations don't happen to most people daily in this crazy city.

Check out the entire Manila slideshow at Flickr.  Click on each photo to see more information about that image.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hrdrck/sets/72157619824708686/show/

Still to come – much more Manila and an updated Flickr slideshow. Stay tuned.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

10 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Yay, pharm I finally have hot water!
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Fev should win two Goal of the Year awards. It’s unfair we have to choose between both.
flickr (feed #3)
Shared 11 photos.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen I miss spreadable butter, more about but Viet peanut butter & raspberry jam are both good.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen There are two small bats playing chasy around my apartment balcony. It’s still light here so they are easy to see.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Became an authentic Vietnamese today. Took a leak by the side of the road.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Is there any particular reason you people don’t bother commenting on my blog? I think I’m starting to understand why I left the country.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen I glanced out the bedroom door and thought I left a light on in the loungeroom, clinic but then I realised it was daylight. Eek!
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen I don’t think Gerund is a good name for a child.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Hungry, no microwave, very little food, no time. Pasta saves the day. Pasta for President.

3 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Nearly squished a rat with my bike.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Thanks for all your comments on the blog, syphilis and the survey responses – NOT! Seems it would be faster to individually ring my handful of regular readers rather than type things in. Grrrr!!! Bunch of apathetic, more about lazy Australians.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen And the rest of you don’t get off the hook either.

Dead or just sleeping?

I think I saw a dead man today.

Traveling back home on a wet night from District 5, malady I took a wrong turn (there are nightly road-works that change what streets are open, approved closed or just plain impassable). Whilst slowly cruising down Nguyen Tri Phuong, looking for my bridge across into District 8, I noticed a man lying on his back on the road.  Standing over him was another man, in front of a taxi with parking lights on.  No other people were around (an unusual thing itself in the middle of HCMC) and there seemed to be no fuss or bother accompanying this body on the road.
I didn’t stop to investigate, but his body was not moving and he seemed to have a sign of sorts on his chest.  My immediate thoughts were that he’d been hit by the taxi.

I didn’t stop to investigate. It’s never a good idea for a foreigner to stop and help locals here – if something goes wrong you can quickly become a scapegoat.  It’s entirely possible he may have simply been very drunk and decided the road was as good a place to sleep as anywhere, or perhaps he fell, hit his head and was unconscious.  I’ve seen both happen already. Just yesterday I rode past a couple of guys on the road, nursing their wounds and pride in front of a gathering small crowd. This on another wet road on the highway towards my place.  So why didn’t this guy have a gathering crowd?

The sign bugged me a bit. Was it really a sign, or did I just imagine that?  Was it a body from earlier that had been marked by police for later documentation or removal (is that even possible?). Maybe it had just happened, and I mistook a slogan on a t-shirt for a sign.  Why was there no fuss and bother? I just don’t know the answers, but the view sent a very brief feeling of mild nausea into my gut as my mind worked through the possibilities. I stopped further up the road to check my map and gather my thoughts, and soon realised it was time to move on as I was creating attention.

Throwing up to make space.

On a less dramatic, but strangely more impactful note, I was eating dinner at a busy street cafe a couple of nights ago when one of a group of four guys turned towards me and promptly threw up.  I immediately recoiled and moved further away on my tiny chair, whilst trying very hard not to look obviously disgusted by the man. I didn’t want his group to decide they didn’t appreciate my reactions.  The man turned back towards his mates, picked his beer up and continued to chat as if nothing had happened.
Ten minutes later he repeated the vomiting exercise, this time more accurately depositing the results into a nearby beer crate, then turned back once more to continue the conversation.

Disgusting.  I couldn’t finish my meal so paid up and went home.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, viagra here health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I’m very interested in knowing how readers of blogs feel about the process, health care and particularly how you choose to access those you read. I’m so curious that I decided to offer a survey to find out more.

It’s very quick, doesn’t ask any private information and is hopefully fun to complete. Please help me out by taking the survey when you can.

Click Here to participate in the survey

Thanks in advance.
I noticed that the daily digest from Flickr, order
Facebook and other social networking sites hasn't been updating since July 2nd.
So those of you only looking at Channel Steve will have missed a few things.  If you haven't seen it yet, help
there is a mini-Lifestream on the right, towards the bottom of this blog.  There is also a menu tab, "Lifestream" up the top.

In the meantime, I'll keep harassing the plug-in manufacturer to get the bug fixed.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

I've got a little extra time this week, ambulance
so I'm going to try to blog a little more than usual.
I've covered off many of the things I needed to do to settle in here, patient and my work schedule is getting a little more regular.  I still have to get a bike licence, but there's not too much more on my must do list.

I had to ride home in rain and heavy cross-winds for the first time today – an activity that is understandably quite dangerous even without a road covered with people like ants at a picnic. Interestingly enough I felt safer than I normally do as all the other riders were trying to be careful for a change. It's amazing how many accidents you see each week, all caused by people not thinking about what they're doing, what laws they're breaking, and that it usually hurts when you get into an accident.
This is the view of the street below my apartment after I arrived home. Yeah, it looks just like a normal, wet Melbourne night, but you try riding a scooter on it!  They don't have hazard signs on bridges here like they do on the Westgate when the wind gets up.

3716189495_1e12af311d_o.jpg

I've had two minor prangs, but neither resulted in damage to anyone, and both were because the other person was running a red light or riding on the wrong side of the road – neither of which is enough to cause an accident, because many people do that, but both appeared from behind stationary cars. I lost a rear mirror, but that was easy enough to put back on.

I'm getting better at riding as each day goes by, and I've already had a comment from one of the Vietnamese teachers who got a lift with me to dinner one night that I am a better rider than most locals.  That might not be a good thing, though…what do they say? When in Rome, do as the Romans do?

Bought a hot water heater today so I can finally start having hot showers tomorrow. I get to remove it and take it with me when I leave, so it's not a total waste of money.  I don't think cold showers can get you clean, so it will be so nice to be clean again after nearly 3 weeks of less than effective showers (no, I don't smell!).

Had my first hair cut today as well, and about time! Your hair, fingernails and beard all grow about three times as fast here as they do back home. Don't ask me why, I haven't researched that yet. The "Uon Toc" (literal translation is "perm") I entered is a place recommended by a local, and I am glad I took the recommendation – excellent cut by a really nice guy with a young son who sat with me and chatted in English all the while (translating back to his Dad regularly). It was completed with a long (30 minutes) shampoo and head and neck massage which felt great. All of that for VND60,000 (less than $5).

Last night I ate street food after midnight (After school we usually wind down with a drink, a meal, and chat until quite late, as most of us don't work until the next evening), and it cost me VND30000 for 3 main meals (2 for me, the other I shouted my friend) and a coke. Oh oh oh! Before I forget! I was drinking with three travelers last week – 1 Aussie, 1 American & 1 Czech – and they mentioned that Coke means the white powder stuff over here.  I didn't believe them, but right on time a guy came up to me at my sidewalk table and offered me sunglasses, cigarettes, marijuana and coke! In Vietnam!!!  Not wanting to be either dispatched by firing squad, or have my mind altered any more than it already is, I gracefully declined.  But there's a first!!!

So, back to my meal last night.  That's just over $2 for filling meals for both myself and another, and it was delicious. Of course, much of the food I eat costs a lot more than that, as I have been eating at more established places and usually drink a couple of beers each time (safer than water). But the beer is around 80 cents. Most of my meals have been extravagant to date, costing me around $6-$10 for the lot. I will start to get more fussy about paying less for food as I get more comfortable with the city.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for a catch-up with an Aussie mate who just bought a bar in Cambodia. Got to press Send on this thing.

See ya

PS – Lots of photos on Flickr if you haven't already figured that out. Go look at the Travel, Asia collection and view the ASIA III – Saigon set.  I don't post many here at the moment because it's too much effort – easier just to upload to Flickr. Just keep watching Channel Steve and/or Facebook for notifications of Flickr updates. At the moment the Channel Steve digests don't seem to be working, but I hope to get that fixed soon.  And I have about three weeks of photos yet to be uploaded, including some from my Philippines adventures.

PPS – Not trying to scare anyone, but a bus cleaned up a guy and his kid outside my apartment yesterday morning. Kid survived, as the dad threw him to the side before the impact. Dad didn't.  Don't worry, I pay VND300,000 to cops in lieu of being hit by buses (read one of my previous posts). I also don't ride like an idiot.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

5 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Two bike accidents so far. Both other’s fault. Both – I win. :-).
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Where’s my cleaner! I set my alarm to be awake when she comes and she doesn’t! I can’t even call her as she speaks no English.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Brain is fried after first review. Kids love me, pill adults not so kind. The opposite of what I expected. Weird.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Would really appreciate it if you’d all head over to channelsteve.com and participate in the blog survey. Thanks.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Carlton looks like they’ll make the 8, but my cleaner won’t.

I've got a little extra time this week, ambulance
so I'm going to try to blog a little more than usual.
I've covered off many of the things I needed to do to settle in here, patient and my work schedule is getting a little more regular.  I still have to get a bike licence, but there's not too much more on my must do list.

I had to ride home in rain and heavy cross-winds for the first time today – an activity that is understandably quite dangerous even without a road covered with people like ants at a picnic. Interestingly enough I felt safer than I normally do as all the other riders were trying to be careful for a change. It's amazing how many accidents you see each week, all caused by people not thinking about what they're doing, what laws they're breaking, and that it usually hurts when you get into an accident.
This is the view of the street below my apartment after I arrived home. Yeah, it looks just like a normal, wet Melbourne night, but you try riding a scooter on it!  They don't have hazard signs on bridges here like they do on the Westgate when the wind gets up.

3716189495_1e12af311d_o.jpg

I've had two minor prangs, but neither resulted in damage to anyone, and both were because the other person was running a red light or riding on the wrong side of the road – neither of which is enough to cause an accident, because many people do that, but both appeared from behind stationary cars. I lost a rear mirror, but that was easy enough to put back on.

I'm getting better at riding as each day goes by, and I've already had a comment from one of the Vietnamese teachers who got a lift with me to dinner one night that I am a better rider than most locals.  That might not be a good thing, though…what do they say? When in Rome, do as the Romans do?

Bought a hot water heater today so I can finally start having hot showers tomorrow. I get to remove it and take it with me when I leave, so it's not a total waste of money.  I don't think cold showers can get you clean, so it will be so nice to be clean again after nearly 3 weeks of less than effective showers (no, I don't smell!).

Had my first hair cut today as well, and about time! Your hair, fingernails and beard all grow about three times as fast here as they do back home. Don't ask me why, I haven't researched that yet. The "Uon Toc" (literal translation is "perm") I entered is a place recommended by a local, and I am glad I took the recommendation – excellent cut by a really nice guy with a young son who sat with me and chatted in English all the while (translating back to his Dad regularly). It was completed with a long (30 minutes) shampoo and head and neck massage which felt great. All of that for VND60,000 (less than $5).

Last night I ate street food after midnight (After school we usually wind down with a drink, a meal, and chat until quite late, as most of us don't work until the next evening), and it cost me VND30000 for 3 main meals (2 for me, the other I shouted my friend) and a coke. Oh oh oh! Before I forget! I was drinking with three travelers last week – 1 Aussie, 1 American & 1 Czech – and they mentioned that Coke means the white powder stuff over here.  I didn't believe them, but right on time a guy came up to me at my sidewalk table and offered me sunglasses, cigarettes, marijuana and coke! In Vietnam!!!  Not wanting to be either dispatched by firing squad, or have my mind altered any more than it already is, I gracefully declined.  But there's a first!!!

So, back to my meal last night.  That's just over $2 for filling meals for both myself and another, and it was delicious. Of course, much of the food I eat costs a lot more than that, as I have been eating at more established places and usually drink a couple of beers each time (safer than water). But the beer is around 80 cents. Most of my meals have been extravagant to date, costing me around $6-$10 for the lot. I will start to get more fussy about paying less for food as I get more comfortable with the city.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for a catch-up with an Aussie mate who just bought a bar in Cambodia. Got to press Send on this thing.

See ya

PS – Lots of photos on Flickr if you haven't already figured that out. Go look at the Travel, Asia collection and view the ASIA III – Saigon set.  I don't post many here at the moment because it's too much effort – easier just to upload to Flickr. Just keep watching Channel Steve and/or Facebook for notifications of Flickr updates. At the moment the Channel Steve digests don't seem to be working, but I hope to get that fixed soon.  And I have about three weeks of photos yet to be uploaded, including some from my Philippines adventures.

PPS – Not trying to scare anyone, but a bus cleaned up a guy and his kid outside my apartment yesterday morning. Kid survived, as the dad threw him to the side before the impact. Dad didn't.  Don't worry, I pay VND300,000 to cops in lieu of being hit by buses (read one of my previous posts). I also don't ride like an idiot.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

Ah, medicine
the joys of social networking.

It seems my cop story only appeared as a Facebook or Twitter update, allergy
and didn't transfer across to Channel Steve.
So those of you who read my last update may not understand the reference to paying VND300, doctor 000 to the cops.

Here's the story:

I was pulled over on the way to work by cream-wearing, creamy dessert-eating men in uniform.  The chosen one wanted to know if I spoke Vietnamese, and when I said no rolled his eyes. Instead of letting me go he persisted, as perhaps he could sense the weight of my foreign wallet.
At first it was – "licence". I thought I could get away with showing my Aussie one. No dice, but he did accept that I was in the process of obtaining one (so I said). Then it was "papers" – meaning insurance and registration. My rental bike comes with original insurance papers, but a photocopy of the rego because the owner won't give the original to me.  Fair enough, I think. But not to the cop. He started using body language that I read as "well, what are we going to do about this terrible crime then?" I had heard that they can impound your bike for just about anything, so I called the owner who didn't answer the phone. Next step, call one of my local translators. I gave the phone to the cop and after a couple of minutes received it back.  The message – "you crossed into the car lane and have to pay VND300,000".

As a matter of fact, I didn't realise there was such a thing as a car lane, and I did cross into it momentarily to avoid being crushed by a bus that was out for my blood.  I wasn't expecting the fine to be that large, but I guess inflation has hit everywhere. So I paid the 300 to a cop that clearly DOES receive enough salary (plus bonuses) judging by his uniform size, and got ready to go.  He then said and did one more thing:
"First time?"
"Yep", I reply.
He shakes my hand and smiles.

Grrrrr…..  Corruption is not my favourite noun, even if it does reduce court clutter and is cheaper than an Australian traffic ticket.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

2 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Negotiated strong cross-winds, health care wet stuff from the sky & suicidal locals to ride home in one piece. Phew!
flickr (feed #3)

I'm getting a God-like complex.  In fact, healing a local (who happens to be rather Catholic by the way) has even begun to call me God occasionally.  This freaks me out just a little bit, abortion but there is a reason for it.

To begin with we shall discuss my telepathic ability to influence electronic media around me.
Please refer to resource file number one: ABBA – So Long.

I wasn't aware that ABBA was singing about a Vietnamese sea snail eaten as a delicacy until I sat down at one of my favourite street restaurants after work one night.  I was perusing the menu and noticed "So Long" in bold letters. Conversationaly I told the waitress (who, like nearly all waitresses in these places, uses her job to obtain free English lessons) that this is one of my favourite ABBA songs. She hadn't heard of ABBA, which no longer surprises me given that many young Vietnamese haven't even heard a rock song before.
I ordered something else once she explained what it was – hey, I eat snails, but just didn't feel like it tonight.
Whilst waiting for my order to arrive I watched an entertaining local reality show, where aspiring actors are competing to be signed. This episode was teaching them how to show emotions effectively by asking them to perform a meaningful dance to a previously unheard song, illustrating their given theme.
Suddenly I sat bolt upright when I heard the opening strains of So Long wafting on the wind. I thought my mind was playing tricks on me until I realised that they were actually dancing to that song on the show!  Now, you must remember that we're not talking Mumma Mia or Dancing Queen here. So Long is not a commonly played piece, no matter how much better I think it is to much of their catalog, and certainly not one that any Vietnamese would have heard before.  I spent the rest of my meal shaking my head at just how much power my mind is building up.

Last night I was drinking with an Aussie mate heading off to Cambodia to run his newly-purchased bar. I asked him about the current theme of this bar, and his response was "Very Rolling Stones". No more than 20 seconds passed when suddenly a track from Mick Jagger's latest solo album began to play in the bar.  See, it would have been too easy to just throw Satisfaction on the playlist. I wanted to impress with something a little more eclectic and obscure.

Let's now move to some more compelling evidence. Please refer to resource file number two: Crowded House – Weather With You.

As some of you already know, I traveled through 7 Asian countries in 53 days last year, followed by a revisit to two of them for another 5 weeks or so. Both times were during the monsoon season.  I experienced three days of rain for the entire trip as I recall, none of which was travel-stopping or fun-reducing.  In some cases, approaching typhoons would sense my presence and change direction to skirt around me.  I began to think this actually had something to do with my actual physical presence in these countries.
My recent visit to the Philippines went perfectly for the diving component, and only rained during the times when I was grumpy or not happy about leaving a place I was enjoying so much.   I modified my self-analysis accordingly.
Last week one of the teachers was complaining that the weather in Saigon was really weird for this time of year. He wished it would rain as it is supposed to during the wet season. I asked why, as the rain makes things wet and uncomfortable for commuters.  His response was that it would cool the city down.  It was then that I had to apologise, as my presence is the obvious reason for this change in the weather.

The edge of a typhoon seems to have hit my apartment. I hope it goes away in the next two hours as I have to go to work tonight. Let's test out my God-like capabilities…

So Long by Abba   (1102 KB)
Listen on posterous

Weather With You by Crowded House/Paul Hester/Tim Finn   (527 KB)
Listen on posterous

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

I begin my back-track blogging exercise with a couple of photos from one day in Manila.
Last time I was here I really didn’t get to see much of the city as I was either sick, pulmonologist diving or traveling.
This time I tried to see just a little bit more.

I stayed at the A Venue Hotel Suites right in the middle of Makati, which is the business district and centre of Manila.

View Larger Map

3720189484_04a867cb4a_o.jpg

This is a sneaky building shot taken from one of the shopping centres in mid-Makati.  I say sneaky because I was told immediately afterwards that I am not allowed to take photos here.  Didn’t stop the Harlem Globetrotters guy a couple of days earlier. I still don’t understand what logic is behind the ban on city photography anywhere in the world. I doubt the legislators do either.

Nearby is a Jollibee, probably the most common fast food store in the Philippines, and dwarfing the neighbouring McDonalds. Jollibee is also common in Malaysia, and it’s starting to appear in Vietnam. In my experience so far (lunch in Angeles, Philippines) their service is remarkable, and the food is good.  One thing about service in the Philippines, it starts with the security guards who double as car park attendants and door greeters. Even if they’re carrying a large gun, they still sport a warm smile and a genuine welcoming “Good morning, sir”, “Thank you for coming, sir”.

3647883052_74005b70fd_o.jpg

3720116250_3170ca801e_o.jpg

Chicken Joy, or “Happy Chicken” as I like to call it, is the stock product here, but they do sell many other regional menu items.

Salcedo Market was a breakfast/lunch stop on Saturday.
Full of great-smelling local food mixed with representations from other countries and cultures, this was a delight to walk through. I was really hungry, but didn’t want to commit to any one dish until I’d seen the lot.

3647076669_df7d03a580_o.jpg

These Piyaya are sweet, bread-based concoctions that taste sarap (delicious) even days afterwards.

3647884114_776d711f96_o.jpg

All the food groups are represented at this market. This girl is sorting and presenting what I call prawns, but are possible referred to as lobster over here.

3647884394_6529d8aba0_o.jpg

The colour of the yolk in these salted eggs does not thrill me, but I’ve since tried a Vietnamese version of this, and it’s not as bad as it looks.

3720189602_3fbb261bdc_o.jpg

Heading back out of Manila, on the way to the airport to fly to Puerto Princesca (port for the Tubbataha diving trip), we had a little bingle. A bus decided that it was going to start moving forward because the traffic lights some way ahead had turned green, even though nobody else had started moving yet.  The boot of our sedan copped a noisy tap that sounded and looked from the inside to be a lot worse than it actually was. The driver said his foot slipped, and having looked closely at the bus, I think he needs to buy shoes with more grip.
My dive buddy, Joepi, by this time was near the end of her tether, having already experienced a couple of other minor accidents in the days and weeks beforehand. Personally, I don’t understand why these little altercations don’t happen to most people daily in this crazy city.

Check out the entire Manila slideshow at Flickr.  Click on each photo to see more information about that image.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hrdrck/sets/72157619824708686/show/

Still to come – much more Manila and an updated Flickr slideshow. Stay tuned.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

I thought it might be wise to let you know that if you subscribe by email, epilepsy you should still click to go directly to the site to read my posts. The reasons for this are as follows:

1. Some of the media I attach (songs, approved photos etc) will not appear in the emails, check so you’re missing out on some cool stuff.

2. My blog statistics will not update to reflect that you have read the post.

3. You can’t comment on what you are reading if you are not actually reading it on the site.

Any questions?

Ta.
I thought it might be wise to let you know that if you subscribe by email, epilepsy you should still click to go directly to the site to read my posts. The reasons for this are as follows:

1. Some of the media I attach (songs, approved photos etc) will not appear in the emails, check so you’re missing out on some cool stuff.

2. My blog statistics will not update to reflect that you have read the post.

3. You can’t comment on what you are reading if you are not actually reading it on the site.

Any questions?

Ta.
I begin my back-track blogging exercise with a couple of photos from one day in Manila.
Last time I was here I really didn't get to see much of the city as I was either sick, esophagitis
diving or traveling.
This time I tried to see just a little bit more.

I stayed at the A Venue Hotel Suites right in the middle of Makati, buy cialis
which is the business district and centre of Manila.

View Larger Map

3720189484_04a867cb4a_o.jpg

This is a sneaky building shot taken from one of the shopping centres in mid-Makati.  I say sneaky because I was told immediately afterwards that I am not allowed to take photos here.  Didn't stop the Harlem Globetrotters guy a couple of days earlier. I still don't understand what logic is behind the ban on city photography anywhere in the world. I doubt the legislators do either.

Nearby is a Jollibee, probably the most common fast food store in the Philippines, and dwarfing the neighbouring McDonalds. Jollibee is also common in Malaysia, and it's starting to appear in Vietnam. In my experience so far (lunch in Angeles, Philippines) their service is remarkable, and the food is good.  One thing about service in the Philippines, it starts with the security guards who double as car park attendants and door greeters. Even if they're carrying a large gun, they still sport a warm smile and a genuine welcoming "Good morning, sir", "Thank you for coming, sir".

3647883052_74005b70fd_o.jpg

3720116250_3170ca801e_o.jpg

Chicken Joy, or "Happy Chicken" as I like to call it, is the stock product here, but they do sell many other regional menu items.

Salceda Market was a breakfast/lunch stop on Saturday.
Full of great-smelling local food mixed with representations from other countries and cultures, this was a delight to walk through. I was really hungry, but didn't want to commit to any one dish until I'd seen the lot.
 
3647076669_df7d03a580_o.jpg

These Piyaya are sweet, bread-based concoctions that taste sarap (delicious) even days afterwards.

3647884114_776d711f96_o.jpg

All the food groups are represented at this market. This girl is sorting and presenting what I call prawns, but are possible referred to as lobster over here.

3647884394_6529d8aba0_o.jpg

The colour of the yolk in these salted eggs does not thrill me, but I've since tried a Vietnamese version of this, and it's not as bad as it looks.

3720189602_3fbb261bdc_o.jpg

Heading back out of Manila, on the way to the airport to fly to Puerto Princesca (port for the Tubbataha diving trip), we had a little bingle. A bus decided that it was going to start moving forward because the traffic lights some way ahead had turned green, even though nobody else had started moving yet.  The boot of our sedan copped a noisy tap that sounded and looked from the inside to be a lot worse than it actually was. The driver said his foot slipped, and having looked closely at the bus, I think he needs to buy shoes with more grip.
My dive buddy, Joepi, by this time was near the end of her tether, having already experienced a couple of other minor accidents in the days and weeks beforehand. Personally, I don't understand why these little altercations don't happen to most people daily in this crazy city.

Check out the entire Manila slideshow at Flickr.  Click on each photo to see more information about that image.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hrdrck/sets/72157619824708686/show/

Still to come – much more Manila and an updated Flickr slideshow. Stay tuned.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

10 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Yay, pharm I finally have hot water!
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Fev should win two Goal of the Year awards. It’s unfair we have to choose between both.
flickr (feed #3)
Shared 11 photos.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen I miss spreadable butter, more about but Viet peanut butter & raspberry jam are both good.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen There are two small bats playing chasy around my apartment balcony. It’s still light here so they are easy to see.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Became an authentic Vietnamese today. Took a leak by the side of the road.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Is there any particular reason you people don’t bother commenting on my blog? I think I’m starting to understand why I left the country.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen I glanced out the bedroom door and thought I left a light on in the loungeroom, clinic but then I realised it was daylight. Eek!
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen I don’t think Gerund is a good name for a child.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Hungry, no microwave, very little food, no time. Pasta saves the day. Pasta for President.

3 events

facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Nearly squished a rat with my bike.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen Thanks for all your comments on the blog, syphilis and the survey responses – NOT! Seems it would be faster to individually ring my handful of regular readers rather than type things in. Grrrr!!! Bunch of apathetic, more about lazy Australians.
facebook (feed #2)
Stephen And the rest of you don’t get off the hook either.

Dead or just sleeping?

I think I saw a dead man today.

Traveling back home on a wet night from District 5, malady I took a wrong turn (there are nightly road-works that change what streets are open, approved closed or just plain impassable). Whilst slowly cruising down Nguyen Tri Phuong, looking for my bridge across into District 8, I noticed a man lying on his back on the road.  Standing over him was another man, in front of a taxi with parking lights on.  No other people were around (an unusual thing itself in the middle of HCMC) and there seemed to be no fuss or bother accompanying this body on the road.
I didn’t stop to investigate, but his body was not moving and he seemed to have a sign of sorts on his chest.  My immediate thoughts were that he’d been hit by the taxi.

I didn’t stop to investigate. It’s never a good idea for a foreigner to stop and help locals here – if something goes wrong you can quickly become a scapegoat.  It’s entirely possible he may have simply been very drunk and decided the road was as good a place to sleep as anywhere, or perhaps he fell, hit his head and was unconscious.  I’ve seen both happen already. Just yesterday I rode past a couple of guys on the road, nursing their wounds and pride in front of a gathering small crowd. This on another wet road on the highway towards my place.  So why didn’t this guy have a gathering crowd?

The sign bugged me a bit. Was it really a sign, or did I just imagine that?  Was it a body from earlier that had been marked by police for later documentation or removal (is that even possible?). Maybe it had just happened, and I mistook a slogan on a t-shirt for a sign.  Why was there no fuss and bother? I just don’t know the answers, but the view sent a very brief feeling of mild nausea into my gut as my mind worked through the possibilities. I stopped further up the road to check my map and gather my thoughts, and soon realised it was time to move on as I was creating attention.

Throwing up to make space.

On a less dramatic, but strangely more impactful note, I was eating dinner at a busy street cafe a couple of nights ago when one of a group of four guys turned towards me and promptly threw up.  I immediately recoiled and moved further away on my tiny chair, whilst trying very hard not to look obviously disgusted by the man. I didn’t want his group to decide they didn’t appreciate my reactions.  The man turned back towards his mates, picked his beer up and continued to chat as if nothing had happened.
Ten minutes later he repeated the vomiting exercise, this time more accurately depositing the results into a nearby beer crate, then turned back once more to continue the conversation.

Disgusting.  I couldn’t finish my meal so paid up and went home.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

Listen!

For those who asked me why I chose not to teach in China given that it is a lot easier to find work, page and they can sometimes offer better remuneration packages, purchase there are two main reasons.

One is that I haven’t been there before so don’t feel comfortable with the country.

Leo Laporte’s Audioboo is the second and main reason I chose not to go there.


Are you reading this as an email?
Please click on Channel Steve to view the full post, disease including multimedia.
You don’t want to miss anything special, do you?

Thanks

Posted via web from RockPortrait in Vietnam