Showing posts from March, 2019


I paused a moment in front of the image below. A collage of more than a hundred good men (I didn't spot a woman...) who died doing their job. I paused to think. And it occurred to me that the difference between a glorious military campaign full of valour and courage and a pitiful battlefield full of gore and misery is the work of these guys. Generals and politicians can spin a war whatever way suits them. But for as long as there is a combat photographer in the field, the truth will out. I salute them. In a figurative sense, not militaristic.

The War Remnants Museum and the Independence Palace are among the first stops for most visitors to Saigon. Am I ok calling it Saigon? Technically, the correct parlance is Ho Chi Minh City. But it's still commonly referred to as Saigon by the natives. The airport code is still SGN. And Saigon is so much less of a mouthful. Easier to type too. There's an obvious reason behind the name change - the events in late April 1975, nearly 45 y…

The Bitexco Tower

The Bitexco Tower, 68 storeys tall, was completed in 2010. It was the tallest building in Vietnam for a year before being surpassed. It's currently the fifth tallest. The deck that sticks out hosts a viewing platform and a helipad. And it makes for a great shot when stood at the bottom looking up.

Vietnam - Timeless Charm

There are a lot of shops in Vietnam selling artwork. A lot. In Saigon, Hoi An and Hanoi, you can't walk for more than a few minutes without passing a gallery. Or ten. The artwork comes in every size and colour, but only one price - unaffordable. Of course, that last one is subjective, but it applies to me. But for those on a budget, there is an alternative - the Propoganda Poster shops. There are plenty of them about too. The posters are all of a communist bent, of course, with lots of different slogans. None of which I understood. But a lot of them are decent pieces of artwork, and we bought one, which will be duly framed and hung in the kitchen.
The slogans Vietnam is pushing today are aimed at the tourist. The key one is Vietnam - Timeless Charm. What do you think? I'm not blown away myself. They could do better, and I have a suggestion. Vietnam - Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy. It rhymes and is factually accurate, which is what all good slogans should be about. Also, there are …

Why Vietnam?

Alas, our holiday is over and we have returned to the land of toil and turmoil. How best can I describe our two weeks in the Far East? Perhaps I should start at the beginning, with a question I was asked on day one and several times more. Sometimes by tourists, but usually by tour guides and hotel staff. Why Vietnam? It's a fair question, I guess. There are numerous other countries we could have chosen to visit. I was often tempted to answer the question with the cliched return question - why not Vietnam? But besides being a slightly churlish and unfriendly answer, I had quickly gathered why they were asking. Tourism is still relatively new to Vietnam. Where did all these people come from? And why?

Over much of the last century, the Vietnamese have put rather a lot of time and effort into violently repelling 'visitors' to their country. Inviting people in and making them feel at home is something of a novel concept. Happily, the quality of visitor entering Vietnam has …

The Switch

The DNS settings have been changed. The CNAME entry amended. Wordpress Nameserver records deleted. My personal domain no longer points to my Wordpress blog and is now settled in here at its new home, Blogger. 
You should now be able to add the feed from this blog to the RSS reader or blogroll of your choice. This post will self destruct in seven days.

Great Expectations

I'd never expected to be a multi-millionaire. Yet here I am, rolling in filthy lucre. I didn't need to work my fingers to the bone, invent the latest big thing nor did I rely on six lucky numbers coming up in a lottery draw. I simply strolled into my local Eurochange, handed over my debit card, and walked out with nearly thirty million Vietnamese Dong. Fifteen million for me, fifteen million for Mrs P. Fifteen million is the maximum that one is allowed to take into Vietnam.  Silly though it is, don't we all get a little kick out receiving wads of foreign notes, even though they look like they've just come out of a Monopoly set? But this post isn't really about any expectations I might have of turning my rags into riches. And anyway, I long ago settled for simply being financially solvent.
You may have guessed that Mrs P and I will shortly be off to Vietnam. Where else would we spend the Dong?  We will spend two weeks there, travelling from Saigon in the tropical s…