Thursday, January 31, 2008

King of Mũi Né

Yesterday, Wind Chimes Kite Surfing School held the third annual King of Mũi Né kiting contest. This is a kite surfing contest where only locals are allowed to compete. The judges are made up from the top surfers from a number of schools along the beach and were from a variety of European countries.

Part way through the competition the silver surfer showed up for some photo opportunities. Kin, who is always a kidder, tried to get him to drink a beer. His alien superskin rejected the inferior beverage. Apparently he only feeds off of light.

The competition came down to Phong and Kin. Both did some amazing stunts, including behind the back handle passes and flips at about 10 meters above the water. In the end Kin won the competition. Pretty impressive, especially after drinking a few Saigon Beers. Maybe they should sponsor him.

Friday, January 25, 2008

One Million Đồng

So just for fun, I decided to take a picture of one million Vietnamese Đồng, worth about $60. Here you can see 10 bills, each worth Một Trăm Nghìn (100,000) Đồng each.

If you click on the image, you can see the original full resolution image. A few things to note. There is a small transparent window to the right of the bill's face. You can also see that the number one hundred thousand is written using a decimal point (100.000 not 100,000). This is the way they do it in France, so perhaps this notation is left over from the French colonial days. I have heard that these modern bills are actually printed in Australia. Currently this style of bill is what you normally receive, but it's not uncommon to get the older style bills which are much simpler, having no transparent parts and printed on what seems to be almost normal paper.

Bún Bò Xu: Ngọn

The folks who brought us Xu have opened a pair of new noodle shops called Bún Bò Xu. Think of these as upscale Bún Bò Huế restaurants. Yesterday we tried the one at 4A Trần Hưng Đạo, across the street from the Nguyen Kim electronics store. The food was very good. We both got the deluxe version of their Bún Bò Huế soup, with pig trotter. When I asked about pig trotter, I was told that the menu had a mistake. Even so, I'm not sure what pig trotter amounts to, but I'm guessing it's pigs foot. They were happy hold the bones, as I'm not a big fan of chewing joints. It was great very good. We also had yummy fruit shakes, which are a great way to balance the spicy soup.

We also loved the decor. It's very California modern. My friend Carey calls this LA Vietnamese. In this case it might be Sydney Vietnamese, as the owners have their foreign roots in Australia. At any rate it's lovely. We even got the name of the lighting store where they bought the light fixtures.

The staff was very friendly. I would recommend you give this place a try, especially if you're a fan of Bún Bò Huế but don't want to brave the street food.

// Near Nguyen Kim Electronics
4A Trần Hưng Đạo, Q1 HCMC
T: +84 8 821 5813

// Near KFC, across from Park Hyatt
28 Cao Bá Quát, Q1 HCMC
T: +84 8 822 1539

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Open Coffee Saigon January 24th

Join us at Highlands Cafe in Saigon Centre tomorrow (Thursday) at 6pm of Open Coffee Saigon. This is a group of folks who are interested in discussing startups.

Tomorrow's ad hoc topic of discussion: web hosting. Do you have a web hosting provider that you love (or hate) in Vietnam? Come and tell us about it.

My favorite in the US is Rackmounted. Drop by and I'll tell you why. :-)

For more on the spirit of Open Coffee, see this post.

Monday, January 21, 2008

No AOL Video for Vietnam

Recently I ran across this entertaining video where Alec Baldwin promotes AOL Video. Since I used to work for AOL's Truveo, I found it particularly entertaining. (Especially the reference to Kevin Conroy at the beginning.) The sad part is that AOL doesn't allow Internet users in Vietnam (and probably most of the world outside of the US) from viewing this video. I understand that AOL can't make all that great Hulu content available outside the US because it's not their content. Certainly an ad for AOL itself shouldn't have geographic limits!

Don't get me wrong, I loved working for AOL and I think Truveo found a great home within AOL. This is just an example of how geographic rights just don't make sense in a the modern world. By enforcing an old media geolocation mentality, AOL is shooting itself in the foot.

Here's the video on Daily Motion:

Here's the AOL hosted version that won't play from Vietnam.

Let me know if you can play it from other countries. I'm curious if it's just blocked in Vietnam or other places as well.

BTW, ran across the video here. It triggered a Google Alert that I have set for Randy Falco, the CEO of AOL.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Cobra: It's what's for dinner

Back on my first trip to Vietnam we had a little adventure on our last day. We went shopping for Cobra so we could have snake stew for dinner. I recently found the video tape and had it digitized. It took me a few hours to upload from Vietnam, I hope you enjoy it.

Note the first part is pretty innocuous and entertaining. Towards the end it covers a little Cobra bloodletting, so you may not want to watch the entire thing. Especially, if you don't want to see a beating snake hart outside of the snake.

Supposedly drinking the snake blood gives you strength. Uncle mixed it with alcohol; I suspect it was XO. In my case, I came down with a miserable cold the next day. So much for the magical powers of cobra cocktails.

If you want to download this video to view offline in Miro, click here:
Miro Video Player

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Millions of Dongs for McBurgertown

Funny that the Family Guy show mentions Asian businessmen and millions of Dong.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

iPhones in Saigon

I'm the owner of a spanking new iPhone. Gotta love a market economy! (Thanks for the tip, Kevin.)

If you're in Ho Chi Minh City and looking for an iPhone that will work with the local carriers, drop by Tin Tuc Dien Thoi at 683 Tien Thanh in Quan 10. They have hardware unlocked phones, including TurboSIM hacks. The scary thing about TurboSIM is that they have to slice off the corner of your SIM card. Ok, maybe this is a drawback to the prepaid plans. I believe that if you hose your SIM you loose your funds.

They claim that they may be able to fix my poor dropped iPhone in the meantime. I'm going to drop it off and see what they can do. If they can fix it, the wife will have a nice new toy as well.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Don't drop that iPhone!

One of the features I love about the iPhone is how easy it is to setup alarms. I have one set for 6am Monday through Friday as we need to get up that early to start our day. Since you can set the day of the week, no more rude awakenings on the weekends like we used to have.

Living in Vietnam, we also have power outages a few times a month. No problem for the iPhone, that alarm will still ring if the power is off.

It also has a useful countdown timer, great for naps. I'm still getting over jet lag so I set the timer for 30 minutes yesterday. I woke up feeling groggy, grabbed my iPhone and promptly dropped it on the floor. I've done this a few times, with no ill effect. This time the SIM card popped out slightly. Without thinking I pushed it back in. The screen said no service, no surprise. I restarted the phone and it came back with the dreaded Connect to iTunes screen. I did that and revived it partially. The Home button just doesn't work anymore, it occasionally makes weird clicking sounds, and it runs very hot at times.

Time to go shopping for a new phone. :-)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Back to the Open Coffee

Now that I'm back in town, I'll be dropping by the open coffee tonight.

If you're interested in startups, drop by the Saigon Open Coffee, Highlands Cafe, Saigon Center at 6pm tonight.

Hope to see some familiar faces there.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

View from the lift

We're back in Saigon after a great trip to the US.

In the photo below you can see our house from the lift here in Teton
Village. The lift near our place was opened after a good day of
fresh snow. I can say that I officially skied out. I didn't ski in
since I could never find open runs leading back to the house, at
least no runs that I was willing to take.

The first night it was 14 degrees F below zero! The next day was a
reasonable 30 degrees, which was actually a bit too warm.

We also made it to NYC for Christmas. Our apartment there is on Times Square, where they were already gearing up for New Years Eve!