Monday, June 9, 2008

Kite Board Box

On my last trip back to the US I decided to take back my kite surfing equipment. The kite itself is pretty small so that wasn't a problem. However, my board is 138cm so it's too long to fit into my large suitcase. I could probably have just carried it on the plane, but that would have been a pain.

I asked around and found out that there is a place that specializes in making boxes for things. These guys have a shop places strategically across from the post office at 53D Nguyen Du Street in District 1.

Having learned the Vietnamese Way, I took my board across town on my motorbike. My first problem was how to carry the darn thing on the bike. I tried putting it between my legs and in front of my chest, but it was too tall and I couldn't see very well to drive. I then decided to put it across the seat and just sit on the board with it sticking out on both sides of the bike. To minimize the protrusions, I tried to angle the board so it was at about 45 degrees rather than 90 degrees from the centerline of the bike. This made me a little lopsided but I eventually made it. I'm sure I was quite a sight driving around with a big yellow kite board sticking out from each side of my motorbike.

As I approached the shop, they immediately recognized a potential customer and waved me in. One of the guys grabbed my board and assessed it. He went back and pulled out two different grades of cardboard. I chose the thicker one for 100,000 VND (about $8). I swear it took him less than 5 minutes to fashion a box. When he was finished, the board slipped into the box without a hitch.

Now I had an even bigger problem of getting home with this even bigger and more awkward load. I couldn't sit on it anymore since it was now a few inches thick. I tried to convince one of the guys to come with me. This is the way a real Vietnamese guy would do it. He would have his friend on the back of the bike holding the thing while he drove. Failing that, the guys decided they could make a harness for me. With some red nylon string, they fashioned a nice little harness around the box with loops for my arms. With their help I slung the box onto my back like a backpack and scooted off down the road.

On the way home a storm was starting to blow in and the winds were picking up. I'm lucky a gust of wind didn't catch me the wrong way and toss me onto the road. In the end, I made it home with no problems.

The box held up well. Except for a little skepticism from the US Customs Officer at SFO, it made it to back to my garage unscathed.

This is another great example of things that just work well in Vietnam. In the US this box would probably have cost me three times as much and taken a day. In Saigon, it was done in 5 minutes for $8. Sweet.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Computerized Street Maps, On the Street!

I was surprised to see a computerized street map on CMT8 the other day. It's amazing that they put computers out in these little bus shelter looking structures. I've only seen one. I didn't have time to try it out, but I'm impressed it exists at all.

Here is another advantage of a well behaved society. If you had one of these on the street in New York City or San Francisco, I'm guessing it would be destroyed or ravaged for parts very quickly. Hopefully this will last a while on the street here. I'll have to go by later this week and take another look.

LeFruit Triathlon Raises $600 for Myanmar

The folks at Viet Adventure didn't waste any time passing the funds on to the Myanmar relief effort. The race was just last weekend. It was a great race and a good cause. Thanks to the organizers!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Destination Clubs

Just saw this article in USA Today covering Destination Clubs. We've been members of Quintess for a few years now. (Actually we joined Dreamcatcher Resorts, which merged with Quintesss). We've been extremely happy with DCR/Quintess. The idea here is that for less than the cost of a decent second home you can have access to amazing homes around the world.

I love to be able to pop in on my brother in NYC or take the kids to Maui for October break and have a fantastic place to hang out while there. They don't yet have any place in Vietnam but it seems to be on the list of potential destinations.

Disclaimer: We're investors in DCR and Quintess.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Saigon Centre

Auxillery building of the Museum of HCMC with Saigon Centre in the

Note the 1960. A lot has happened here since then.