Thursday, April 24, 2008

Beach at the Ritz

Great day here in Half Moon Bay. Note the American style warning sign.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Made it to Emory University, where I'm giving a talk today. This
picture shows Dobbs Hall, where I lived freshman year.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Caltrain 4th and King

I took Caltrain into the city today. I was surprised by all the advertising around the station. It's practically covered in Jamba Juice ads. This is not the kind of thing you see in Vietnam. Maybe that's why it struck me as so odd.

Monday, April 14, 2008

California Drivers

We got nailed on 101 South today. I'm not sure why, but all of the sudden another driver slammed into us. Our car did a 180 and came to a stop on the side of the road. Another 10 feet and we would have taken out a road sign. Luckily nobody was hurt.

This is the second time in six months that I've been hit on 101. After living in Saigon I was thinking of getting a motorcycle when we move back. Now I'm thinking that this is a bad idea.

Mountain Biking in Belmont

I'm back in the US for a bit. About 10 minutes on my bike and I can be in Hidden Canyon Park. This is a really amazing collection of mountain biking trails. It's a park in the City of Belmont, California. Living in flat Saigon has really put a dent in my mountain biking skills. I've been twice since we returned but I can't handle the hills nearly as well as last time I went biking here.

They have done a great job improving the trails. Note the buried truck at one of the switch-backs. There is a new footbridge over the creek at that point.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Gossip and 17 Bar

We had a little outing on Saturday night and I have to admit, it was my first experience with Vietnamese clubbing. We started at 17 Bar, which was nice but strange. It's a cowboy themed bar and the live band starts around 9pm. The waitresses tried to push the whiskey, which seems apropos for a cowboy bar. I was hoping for some red wine, but failing that I tried the margarita, which was tiny, even by Vietnamese standards. Sadly I switched to beer after the attempt to be different. On the plus side, the waitresses were quite flirtatious, which amused my wife who was sitting next to me.

One of the best things about 17 is that they have decent free popcorn. This is a good move, as it keeps you drinking the beer. At one point they fired up a grill outside and were giving away grilled sugarcane shrimp. It was quite tasty. Like the popcorn, the shrimp was free.

At around 9pm the band started. The consensus around my table was that the female singers were lipsynching the Alanis songs. The male singer, who was obviously not lipsysncing, mutilated Hotel California. We decided it was time to leave.

We tried to go to another club (Mayhem?) which was closed. We ended up at Gossip. This place had a constant stream of clubers arriving when we got there. The cover was 120,000 VND which got you a free beer or soda on the inside. The dance music was so loud that it wasn't really possible to talk. Here the waitresses again were pushing the whiskey. About half the tables had a full bottle or two of something. Again, I was disappointed by the wine selection: none. I opted for my free soda: Pepsi, no Coke. After an hour or so of nodding our heads to pounding music we decided that we had had enough excitement for the night. We did sample the fried food selection. The calamari and shrimp wasn't bad, but I shouldn't be eating that crap anyway. I don't know what I was thinking.

One amusing note. I noticed that in the men's room, they have a selection of combs and even a toothbrush in case you want to primp. I couldn't resist taking a picture (see below). I would have to be pretty drunk to use a shared toothbrush.

My advice for going out, eat dinner first. Head out early if you want to actually talk. Don't forget the earplugs.

Friday, April 4, 2008

HCMC Apple Store

When looking for some office furniture along Nguyen Thi Minh Khai in District 3 I ran across this sign saying iPhone Coming Soon. It turns out it was a good advertisement. We later returned to the store to buy a new MacBook for my daughter. I don't know if they are selling iPhones yet, but I think they may carry MacBook Air laptops...

Here's a picture of the storefront. Note all the crazy utility wires running down the street.

KTC Apple Store
384 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai
District 3

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Everyone In The Future Eats Dippin' Dots

Ok, here's a professional parody article. I guess I'm not as good as I thought at writing parody. Funny.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Landlord Eats Tenant's Dog

In growing tensions between landlords and tenants due to rising rents in and around HCMC, some landlords are taking intimidation to an entirely new level. In an incident recently reported by VietnamNet Bridge, local landlord Mrs. Quyen admits to killing, cooking, and eating her tenant's dog Fluffy. "I knew it was their pet," claims Mrs. Quyen. "I losing much money, must eat somehow," said Mrs. Quyen in her defense. "Dog have not much meat anyway. I still hungry," she added.

Mrs. Quyen and her tenant Mr. Willard have been at odds for several months now over their rental agreement. Two years ago Mr. Willard signed a five year lease on the District 2 villa owned by Mrs. Quyen, paying $2,000 USD per month for the property. Mrs. Quyen claims the property today would rent for more than $6,000 USD, maybe more. "I not take dollars next time," claims Mrs. Quyen. "American peso no good. I price rent in Euro now," said Mrs. Queyen. Even given the recent rebound in the dollar, many Vietnamese landlords now prefer to price their properties in the more highly valued euro.

Mr. Willard and his family, still mourning the loss of Fluffy, are stunned at this latest tactic designed to scare them out of the house. According to Mr. Willard, Mrs. Quyen is constantly driving by the rented house in her black Mercedes Benz, shouting obscenities in English, Vietnamese, and (strangely) Portuguese.

Mr. Willard claims he and his family will not be intimidated into moving out of the house until the end of 2010 when their lease is up. He says they may even buy a new and more sinewy dog to replace Fluffy.

Happy April Fools' Day!

Vietnamese Mobile Carriers

Who's your favorite mobile carrier here in Vietnam? Here's a list of the ones I know about. Am I missing any?