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Clusterfuck Bollocks

by noreply@blogger.com (Down and Out Of Sài Gòn) @ Down and Out Of Sài Gòn

Don't get James Howard Kunstler talking about 9/11 conspiracy theories. He should stick to Peak Oil and financial meltdowns, where he can be amusingly snarky. And for god's sake, don't bring up Arabs: they seem to be his personal untermensch.

From a strategic point-of-view, 9/11 required a severe punitive response against the people responsible (casualties were higher than the attack on Pearl Harbor, 1941). That meant against an Arab people. Since the act was not perpetrated by any Arab nation per se, this left the US in a quandary. And of course, it begs the question: why was such a response even required?

Yes, and since Irish people are behind all the IRA bombings in the world, the appropriate response is to re-annex Ireland.

Jim: the problem is that what you are talking about isn't strategy at all - it's madness. Apocalypse Now 'Are my methods unsound?' - 'I don't see a method at all, sir' lunacy. It's also collective punishment, which is not ethical nor desirable or (in this case) that effective. "Severe punitive response against the people responsible" - I have no problem with that, if you actually choose the actual people responsible (like Osama bin Laden), rather than the people responsible (Arabs). And if you are going to blame a multi-million ethnic group for the work of a score or so of dead hijackers, you're a fucking loon.

Why can't more war commentators be like the War Nerd, who talks about war so jovially, yet makes so much sense? The opposite is the rule - polemicists who take themselves so seriously, and with little sense to show for it.

A Journey Through Madagascar: Notes on the Privilege of Travel

by NomadicMatt @ Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

We travelers are a lucky bunch. It's easy to forget just how privileged we are to be able to travel the world. The truth is, most people rarely even leave their own country, let alone visit destinations all over the globe. My recent visit to Madagascar reminded me that it's important to keep this perspective in mind, and to give back to organizations that help the places we visit.

The post A Journey Through Madagascar: Notes on the Privilege of Travel appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Sunk Cost

by noreply@blogger.com (Down and Out Of Sài Gòn) @ Down and Out Of Sài Gòn

A workmate had been given a Palm Tungsten E2 care of some corporate give-away. As he didn't want it, he emailed everyone to sell it at a discount - $200 AUD or so. I was curious - I'd never owned a PDA before, and I wondered what the fuss was about - so I emailed it back. I had some vague idea that I could note down ideas for my moribund blog on the train or bus home. As I was the only one to express an interest in it, he popped around, dropped it off, and then went on holiday. I didn't pay, but I agreed to, and will - despite what I am about to write.

Let this be a lesson to me: impulsivity is a disorder - especially impulsive buying. I am not impressed with the Palm. It has Bluetooth, but I don't use Bluetooth. It has no phone capability as far as Australian networks are concerned. The sole game - Solitaire - isn't even as good at the Windows version; I can't take card off the destination pile. There's no way of teaching the machine to recognise my handwriting, so the Graffiti handwriting software is no good for me. There's a PVC cover for the screen, but it has the aroma of car seats in an open carpark during a tropical summer's midday; some of the additives are unhealthily volatile.

The thing that shits me is that it doesn't handle Unicode very well, and that's the real deal-breaker for me. Most OS do these days - Linux does, Windows does, and so MacOS does. It's a sign that the designers didn't think about their client base very well - many of whom are multilingual. It's not a matter of internationalising the thing so it can handle English or Russian or Vietnamese - its a matter of making the product being able to handle all three (and others) at the same time. To do it properly, you need Unicode; otherwise you're buggering around with incompatible character sets that break when you send a message to someone else.

Well, I've got the thing, I opened the box, I played around with it, and I have to pay. It would be churlish to return otherwise. The only bright thing is that I could use the machine to learn about embedded programming, but I don't think I'll use the machine for much else.

Travelling the World as an Introvert: How I Coped

by Guest Author @ South East Asia Backpacker

What difficulties might one face when travelling the world as an introvert? One traveller describes her personal experiences on a world trip and how at first, she ignored her needs and tried to be someone that she's not. Introversion is something that affects many people and in spite of the obvious challenges, this article proves that it is possible to fully enjoy travel as an introvert, you just need to listen to yourself...

The post Travelling the World as an Introvert: How I Coped appeared first on South East Asia Backpacker.

25 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE TRAVELING IN THAILAND

by Steven @ The Hungry Suitcase

Thailand, with over 26 million foreign entries in 2016, can be a very touristic place to visit. By some accounts, 20% of the Thai GDP is based on tourism (worldwide nations average about 10%). Thailand is often an entry point for all of Asia, a constant revolving door of tourists on short or extended trips. We’re writing this article to help you avoid getting your hand caught in that often dangerous door.

Thailand is a country that can live up to its high expectations and reputation. It really can be paradise. On the other hand, it can be a disappointing place filled with drunken pub crawlers, tourist scams, empty promises and subpar made-for-tourists versions of local dishes. Pad thai made with instant noodles? You’ll find it all over Phuket and Koh Samui. If you venture past the tourists districts, the food ... Read More »

The post 25 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE TRAVELING IN THAILAND appeared first on The Hungry Suitcase.

Ha Giang Loop, Vietnam: A Biker’s Guide

by Guest Author @ South East Asia Backpacker

Layer upon layer of blue-green mountains reaching out as far as the eye can see; jagged black rocks jutting out of the hazy green landscape and sheer cliffs descending dramatically from the edge of narrow mountain roads — these are just some of the views you will encounter during the 320-kilometer Hà Giang motorbike loop, located in the extreme north of Vietnam.

The post Ha Giang Loop, Vietnam: A Biker’s Guide appeared first on South East Asia Backpacker.

The Rex Hotel

by admin @ Ho Chi Minh City Highlights - maps

10 Tips For Budding Travel Photographers

by Guest Author @ South East Asia Backpacker

In response to requests throughout my trip for picture-taking and gear tips, I’ve compiled a list of insights that have helped me improve my photography related experiences throughout the past two months.

The post 10 Tips For Budding Travel Photographers appeared first on South East Asia Backpacker.

6 (Non-Millennial) Solo Female Travelers Share Their Travel Wisdom

by NomadicMatt @ Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

Solo female travel isn't just for millennials! In this column, Kristin Addis introduces us to some older solo female travelers who are following their dreams to see the world. These women come from all backgrounds and all walks of life, proving it's never too late to start traveling.

The post 6 (Non-Millennial) Solo Female Travelers Share Their Travel Wisdom appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

How to Visit Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park

by Julie @ Earth Trekkers

Death Valley National Park is filled with unusual spots to visit and the Racetrack Playa may be one of the most bizarre. This is the place to see those mysterious sailing stones…the large rocks that somehow glide over this dry, muddy surface, leaving imprinted trails behind them. This is not a spot you can just visit on a whim. Getting ...

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The post How to Visit Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park appeared first on Earth Trekkers.

Escape Hunt Experience Ho Chi Minh City

by admin @ Ho Chi Minh City Highlights - maps

Eat, Stray, Love: Eating Your Way Through Ubud, Bali: A Self-Guided Food Walking Tour

by Guest Author @ South East Asia Backpacker

If you’re looking to experience Ubud beyond the Monkey Forest, this self-guided food walking tour takes you off the beaten path into serene rice fields with quaint cafes and tasty treats dotted all along the way!

The post Eat, Stray, Love: Eating Your Way Through Ubud, Bali: A Self-Guided Food Walking Tour appeared first on South East Asia Backpacker.

That Newfangled Google Street View

by noreply@blogger.com (Down and Out Of Sài Gòn) @ Down and Out Of Sài Gòn


Corner Barkly and Stuart Highways, Northern Territory

This is the new Google "Street View" as applied to Australia. One day of publicity gone, and already the variety of our pictures exceeds that of the United States. Over there, they've limited themselves to a paltry few cities, and even big ones like Washington, D.C. are excepted. I suppose security theatre is to blame. 

Google Australia may have started with the cities, but they've gone one better with photographing all major highways - from the cities through the bush and into the centre of the outback. They may not have succeeded, but one can see the lines of blue stretching from sea to shining sea when zoomed out all the way. 

Yes, I may have concerns with privacy and terrorism, but they can wait until tomorrow. For now - hats off.

My Mom Says This Blog is Boring

by NomadicMatt @ Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

Last month, my mom told me she thought this blog was boring. “Where’s all the fun stuff? I want to see more photos of you traveling. I don’t care about these other updates.” “Mom, I live in Austin now. You know I’m not on the road that much,” I replied. “I know but still….I want […]

The post My Mom Says This Blog is Boring appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Remember, remember, the 4th of November...

by noreply@blogger.com (Down and Out Of Sài Gòn) @ Down and Out Of Sài Gòn

Yes. Obama's going to win. Random guess: 350 electoral votes and 58 senators to the Democrats. Damn - I'm fascinated by the election - refreshing the browser every couple of minutes, and trying to chase down another link or two. Stop it. I tell myself. Most people are sleeping, and only two little hamlets in New Hampshire have got to vote . That's not literally true - there's been a lot of pre-poll and postal voting throughout the U.S. of A. But I still have to tell myself: stop chasing news that doesn't exist. Get some sleep. Hell, it's your wedding anniversary tomorrow - an early rise is in order. The results will be available soon enough.

So rather than procrastination and wasting time, I turn to writing to get my thoughts and emotions in order. What do my feelings tell me? Quiet relief - even contentment at the certainty of the outcome. No moments of ecstasy, no "Hallelujahs!" nor "Praise the Lord!", not even quiet weeping (common, I hear) at the sheer utter history inherent in the outcome. Perhaps a little wet-eyed when I heard that Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, had passed away on election eve. But that's just empathy; it would hurt, especially as she was as much surrogate mother as grandmother.

But at the end of the day, there have been other events in my life of greater priority and immediate import. My wife's surgery for endometriosis and other gynecological problems last Monday. (Successful, for now.) Australia's not-quite-a-perhaps-we-avoided-the-worst-of-a-full recession, at a time where I'm thinking "I should find a better job". My dissatisfaction with being a requirements analyst - a job work out what is required of software, when I feel could get paid more for writing the software itself. Finding that it's not so easy to get a programming job when you haven't done it for six years. Oh, fuck it - stop whinging - at least I have a job. I'm not in debt. I can even save a little. I can afford some magnanimity.

Good luck, Obama and good luck America. You're going to need every bit of it.

SURVIVING BORACAY ALONE

by Steven @ The Hungry Suitcase

In March of 2012, I was nearly finished with a 3-week journey moving west through the Visayas region of The Philippines. Visayas is famous for beach and diving destinations. I have never been very interested in beaches, so I was focused on the cities of Cebu, Dumaguete, Bacolod, Iloilo and Kalibo. I did, however, have a beach destination as my final stop before flying out of the country. That beach was the most famous beach in all of The Philippines- Boracay. I was all by my sad self during these weeks in the Philippines. I’d met people here and there along the way, but I didn’t join a backpacker caravan or fall in love. So, how is it traveling to Boracay alone, anyway?

Often beach destinations entice travelers of impossibly clear turquoise waters bookended by eternal sunrises and sunsets. So often, ... Read More »

The post SURVIVING BORACAY ALONE appeared first on The Hungry Suitcase.

Connecting you to the local experience – My day out with Inspitrip

by Sharyn @ Ho Chi Minh City Highlights

Well, I haven’t been out on a trip for quite a while. (I think the last one was with Saigon Treasure Hunt) The main reason is, I’ve been totally flat out writing and editing the second edition of my book...

The post Connecting you to the local experience – My day out with Inspitrip appeared first on Ho Chi Minh City Highlights.

8 of the Best Cafes in Hanoi

by Bill @ The Hungry Suitcase

The big cities in Vietnam have a cafe culture that is virtually unknown to the rest of the world. Don’t expect a Chemex of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe with hints of blueberry and strawberry or an Aeropressed Kenyan. You might be able to locate one eventually, but not before tripping over scores of cafes serving up tumblers of coffee so dark it looks like used motor oil and smells like the most intense mocha you’ve ever had. It’s no secret that we love Vietnamese coffee and as a follow up to our very popular Saigon cafes list, we offer a list of some of our favorites in the northern capital city. Also be sure to check out our handy guide to ordering coffee in Vietnam.

So, in the event that you can’t find this guy rolling around town, keep scrolling and we’ve got ... Read More »

The post 8 of the Best Cafes in Hanoi appeared first on The Hungry Suitcase.

5 Days in London: The Ultimate London Itinerary

by Julie @ Earth Trekkers

There’s just something about London. With its iconic skyline, trendy neighborhoods, world-class museums, and long list of popular attractions, London is a city that every traveler should visit. We put together this 5-day London itinerary to help you have the best experience here. About this London Itinerary In general, I grouped sites together based on their location in order to ...

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Iraq: it's not the battles - it's the goals

by noreply@blogger.com (Down and Out Of Sài Gòn) @ Down and Out Of Sài Gòn

'Who Won Iraq's "Decisive" Battle?', asks Gary "War Nerd" Brecher, and answers: 

What happened in Iraq this week was a beautiful lesson in the weird laws of guerrilla warfare. Unfortunately, it was the Americans who got schooled. Even now, people at my office are saying, “We won, right? Sadr told his men to give up, right?”

Wrong. Sadr won big. Iran won even bigger. Maliki, Petraeus and Cheney lost.

For people raised on stories of conventional war, where both sides fight all-out until one side loses and gives up, what happened in Iraq this past week makes no sense at all.

Read it all, as they say - it's one of his best. It's hard to say that the Iraqi Army won, with troops defecting or refusing to fight, and dragging the Americans (and the British I hear) as unwillingly props. And then four farcical days later, Sadr calls for a ceasefire, and looks gracious doing so. No doubt he's going to milk everything he can out of the incident election season this year.

Some people seem to be of the "Peace offers are for Losers" persuasion. If they think that way, fine. But do real losers get to keep their weapons? The Mahdi Army did. After all, it's not about the battles, it's the goals. One of Sadr's main ones is to get the Americans out of Iraq. The last few days have moved him a lot closer to grabbing power off Maliki. Once then, I have no idea. But I feel he'd rather order the Yanks out than shoot them out.

It's not that I trust the guy - I don't - I have little tolerance for fundamentalists. I would rather have me an Iraqi Olaf Palme or Nelson Mandela, but they don't exist. Given this, Sadr is probably what we're looking at Iraqi leader a couple of years down the track, and (woo-hoo!) sitting on a lot of untapped oil as well. We'll have to deal with the man. But at least he's no Saddam (I hope), more liberal than the ibn Saud family (not fucking hard), gets along with the Sunnis (unlike the other Shi'ite groups), and might even come out looking better than Bhutto. After all, he never capped his brother, did he?

November Mariano Neris II Australia Tour

by Latin Dance Calendar @ Latin Dance Calendar

There is no secret here!… Mariano is a Mambo Master!!! His passion for On2 has taken him literally around the globe!!! Either it be himself performing or his World famous Mambo Revelation teams, Mariano always makes sure to leave EVERYTHING on the DANCE FLOOR for the delight of the spectators. Mariano’s expertise in dance ranges...

The post November Mariano Neris II Australia Tour appeared first on Latin Dance Calendar.

SIEM REAP’S 10 BEST BARS: CLASSY, HIDDEN DIVES JUST OUTSIDE OF ANGKOR

by Steven @ The Hungry Suitcase

Every year I find myself in Siem Reap, Cambodia for a week. It’s inevitable, and always enjoyable.

Angkor Wat is, along with Bagan in Myanmar, one of the two most spectacular temple sites in Asia, if not the world. I’ve come back again and again with friends, or by myself. Although lately I barely spend time in the temples of Angkor Wat, I love the cafe and bar scene of nearby Siem Reap, a charming little French colonial town adjacent to Angkor that now serves as the tourist-amenity center of the region. Though a tourist town, it’s far from a tourist trap. There is something about the clear blue sky, slow clouds and that long twilight that I love here. And, there’s the drinks.

Pub Street is famous here. It is the center of Siem Reap and the fulcrum of activity in ... Read More »

The post SIEM REAP’S 10 BEST BARS: CLASSY, HIDDEN DIVES JUST OUTSIDE OF ANGKOR appeared first on The Hungry Suitcase.

It's the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning.

by noreply@blogger.com (Down And Out Of Sài Gòn) @ Down and Out Of Sài Gòn

Here's how things stand.

Rudd won the election. Woo. Yay.

Howard lost Bennelong. Double Woo.

Andrew Bartlett lost the Senate. Boo.

Johnson won in Ryan. Hiss.

Humphreys won in the ACT Senate. Ho-hum. That means that there's going to be Liberal-held Senate until sometime next year... in opposition to Labor.

All in all - 83 to 85 for Labor. A reasonable majority. I wanted more, but mum said I should be satisfied with what happened.

The sad thing is that dad wasn't around to see it. He died of melanoma nearly two months ago. He wanted Howard gone. He would have been happy. And I'm sad he wasn't there to see it. But he was able to tell me about peak oil well before most other people.

People are writing off the Liberals' chance of getting back in power. Two terms - possibly three or four, if they don't disintegrate first. I'm not so sanguine. Petrol production has peaked, which means less petrol for more consumers. This means higher petrol prices. Australia will be looking at $2/litre in a year - perhaps in six months. Rudd might have won the election, but I think his battles have just started. Signing Kyoto is the easiest part.

Silverland Sakyo Hotel and Spa

by admin @ Ho Chi Minh City Highlights - maps

I hate Yahoo! Chat

by noreply@blogger.com (Down and Out Of Sài Gòn) @ Down and Out Of Sài Gòn

I hate it. I despise it. I loathe it. To me, it is a pest. But it lets my wife keep in touch with friends and family in Việt Nam. She can type with them. She can even speak with them, and without paying Telstra or VNPT a single cent. So it stays on the family computer, as there's only the one. But I don't like it running when I use it. Most software runs in the background when minimized, and never disturbs the user except in emergencies. Yahoo! Chat is designed to distract and grab attention, even if the user has other ideas. I think it is not an accidental bug, but a deliberate feature - the same feature possessed by a lot of malware.

Last night illustrates my scorn. Yahoo! Chat was running, as my wife wanted to get a reference from one of her friends. She was speaking on the headset, so the keyboard was free for me to write. It was a nice moment of domestic bliss - husband and wife using the computer in tandem without getting in the way of each other. I'd made a few notes, but hadn't got to the point of turning them into sentences.

Then 5 of her friends tried to chat with her at once. I was in the middle of a word, and BLAM! there was Yahoo on top of my writing showing someone's message! I clicked minimise, returned to my application, got out two more characters and WHAM! another message from someone else! I tried to return to the same word (the fundamental unit of language - not the application), and before I had even typed out a character ZAAM! Yahoo was back again! Think of 5 ADHD-inflicted children crying for your attention. Letting users embed sound effects in messages makes things worse. One of them displayed this insistent woman whining "Alôôôôô". My train of concentration was derailed, and writer's block was in da house. I was angry.

The biggest problem with Yahoo! Chat is that it grabs the focus off other applications running on the same computer. As the article says:

In computing, the focus indicates the component of the graphical user interface which is currently selected to receive input.

Selected - one hopes - by the user. Not some rogue program. Which leads to a further issue - anger. I get really furious when Yahoo! steals the focus. The people trying to chat with my wife are interrupting what I am doing, even if they aren't aware of this. It makes me want to type "fuck off" back at them. I don't. It's rude, and they're the friends of my wife, and most are nice. They don't deserve to be abused by me, and my wife certainly doesn't need me using her nick to do so.

I have to live with the program - close it down when I can, and (if my wife needs it on), avoid work when it's open. Perhaps TweakUI can stop Yahoo! stealing focus. Perhaps not. And did I mention I hate Yahoo! Chat?

5 of SAIGON’S BEST HIDDEN COCKTAIL BARS

by Steven @ The Hungry Suitcase

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is a place of surprises, much of them elusive to first-time visitors with just a few days on the ground. Though a bit challenging at first, Ho Chi Minh City eventually became our favorite city in the world and a base for many of our adventures in the Southeast Asian region. It’s also a pretty great place to go out and grab a drink, whether it’s a Monday or Saturday, Saigon’s music venues, breathtaking rooftop bars, and tiny neighborhood spots are buzzing.

Unlike the more world famous, easy-to-find spots of Bangkok and Shanghai, Saigon is a city of tight neighborhoods which unveil themselves only to those intrepid enough to explore the tiniest, faintest lines on the map. Saigon doesn’t have a Times Square or Pudong. It’s a megacity comprised of small, distinct districts and alleys. Perch ... Read More »

The post 5 of SAIGON’S BEST HIDDEN COCKTAIL BARS appeared first on The Hungry Suitcase.

What I'm watching: Scotch Mist

by noreply@blogger.com (Down and Out Of Sài Gòn) @ Down and Out Of Sài Gòn

It's a little film of every song off Radiohead's In Rainbows. You can watch it too.

Living Lagom in Sweden: An Interview With Lola Akerstrom

by NomadicMatt @ Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

Lagom is the key to unlocking the Swedish psyche, and it governs all aspect of Swedish society. In this interview, Lola A. Åkerström talks about why lagom is about more than just balance, and what it's like to assimilate into life in Sweden as a writer and photographer.

The post Living Lagom in Sweden: An Interview With Lola Akerstrom appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Alien Ramirez

by Latin Dance Calendar @ Latin Dance Calendar

If you’ve ever seen Alien Ramirez dance you’ll know how truly unique her style is. The Cuban born Alien is taking the Bachata and salsa world by storm with her sexy routines and very unique style of dancing she brings. Here are just a few Championships won by Alien in the last few years: 2010...

The post Alien Ramirez appeared first on Latin Dance Calendar.

5 Day Berlin Itinerary

by Julie @ Earth Trekkers

If you are planning a trip to Berlin, you should know that there is a lot more to see here than just the Berlin Wall and the Brandenburg Gate. Berlin is the largest city in Germany and one of the largest cities in the European Union. It’s a diverse city filled with world-class museums, beautiful squares to wander through, and ...

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10 THINGS I CAN’T TRAVEL WITHOUT

by Steven @ The Hungry Suitcase

Recently I’ve taken a four-month break off of travel to settle into a comfortable life in a quiet town. It’s been nice, mostly.

I do miss packing and unpacking the bags. I miss tossing away ripped up socks, giving away paperback books, and moving what’s left of my big shampoo into a small little shampoo thingy.

Some things are essential to have packed and ready to grab when I’m on the road. I will not include the obvious things like a camera, computer, passport, etc. These following are the little home run hitters that are easy to forget about, but always needed:

1. DENTAL FLOSS

I like to eat. I like to eat meat. I like eating late. My teeth are spaced fairly far apart from laughing too much. Stuff gets in there and I need to get it out. I’ve often been wandering ... Read More »

The post 10 THINGS I CAN’T TRAVEL WITHOUT appeared first on The Hungry Suitcase.

The Secret Sauce Behind Scott’s Cheap Flights

by NomadicMatt @ Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

Scott Keyes turned a simple newsletter into a popular travel hacking site, Scott's Cheap Flights. In this interview, Scott tells us how he and his worldwide team find cheap flights using a combination of manpower and knowledge of industry trends. Every flight is hand-searched!

The post The Secret Sauce Behind Scott’s Cheap Flights appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

27 Hours… Hanoi to Luang Prabang: The Worst Bus Journey in SE Asia?

by Guest Author @ South East Asia Backpacker

Have you done the 24+ hour bus journey from Hanoi, Vietnam to Luang Prabang, Laos? Or Vice Versa? Feared by backpackers all across Southeast Asia - is this journey as bad as they say it is? Read this and decide whether you want to book a flight instead!

The post 27 Hours… Hanoi to Luang Prabang: The Worst Bus Journey in SE Asia? appeared first on South East Asia Backpacker.

Christina's Saigon

by admin @ Ho Chi Minh City Highlights - maps

Two Fun, Short Hikes to do at Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas

by Julie @ Earth Trekkers

Just 30 minutes from downtown Las Vegas is Red Rock Canyon, an outdoor playground for hikers, families, and outdoor adventurers. Go mountain biking, rock climbing, explore the hiking trails, and enjoy the view on the scenic drive through the park. If you want to escape the bright, neon lights and all-you-can-eat food buffets for a little outdoor adventure, Red Rock ...

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5 Reasons Why Death Valley Should be the Next National Park You Visit

by Julie @ Earth Trekkers

When you think of Death Valley, what is the first thing that comes to mind? A barren desert landscape, crawling with scorpions and rattlesnakes? Yes, you can find that here, but there is so much more to Death Valley than a forbidding desert landscape. We spent several days touring the park and fell in love with this place. Out of ...

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Wondrous Words

by noreply@blogger.com (Jackie Mc Guinness) @ JUNK BOAT TRAVELS

Wondrous Words is hosted at Bermuda Onion's blog.


January 2018 - Toronto ON

I haven't joined Wondrous Words in forever!! But I do think of it often when I see new words and I always read Bermuda Onions posts.

I read this in a post by a fellow blogger and had to look it up. Now I need an opportunity to use it!

A lagniappe (/ˈlænjæp/ LAN-yap or /lænˈjæp/ lan-YAP) is "a small gift given a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase" (such as a 13th doughnut on purchase of a dozen), or more broadly, "something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure."

The word entered English from the Louisiana French adapting a Quechua word brought in to New Orleans by the Spanish Creoles. It derived from the South American Spanish phrase la yapa or ñapa (referring to a free extra item, usually a very cheap one).


Quoits in The Disappearance of Esme Lennox

Quoits (koits, kwoits, kwaits) is a traditional game which involves the throwing of metal, rope or rubber rings over a set distance, usually to land over or near a spike (sometimes called a hob, mott or pin).

Reading BBC.com
Ben Stokes: England cricketer charged with affray
An instance of fighting in a public place that disturbs the peace.

Definitions from Wikipedia

Hiking Mosaic Canyon in Death Valley

by Julie @ Earth Trekkers

Mosaic Canyon is a fun hike to do in Death Valley. There is just enough rock scrambling and navigating through obstacles to keep things interesting. Mosaic Canyon narrows and widens several times throughout the hike so the views are always changing. This tends to be one of the more popular hikes in Death Valley, so be prepared to share the ...

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Blue River Hotel 3

by admin @ Ho Chi Minh City Highlights - maps

Insider’s View. Episode 7 – Jean Ngo (The Expat Shop)

by Sharyn @ Ho Chi Minh City Highlights

Editor’s Note: Episode 7 of Insider’s view comes from Jean Ngo, owner of “The Expat Shop.” Jean is yet another visitor who fell in love with this crazy city while on holidays and returned to make Saigon her home. As...

The post Insider’s View. Episode 7 – Jean Ngo (The Expat Shop) appeared first on Ho Chi Minh City Highlights.

Exploring the Valley of Fire near Las Vegas, Nevada

by Julie @ Earth Trekkers

The Valley of Fire is a brilliant, colorful spot located in Nevada, just one hour from Las Vegas. Filled with panoramic vistas, hiking trails, petroglyphs, and stunning red and pink rock formations, the Valley of Fire makes an excellent day trip from Vegas. What is the Valley of Fire? The Valley of Fire is a state park located 50 miles ...

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Macro Madness - Copying without Formatting in Word

by noreply@blogger.com (Down and Out Of Sài Gòn) @ Down and Out Of Sài Gòn

Microsoft are an institution of this age. How could it survive otherwise with such buggy products? People use Office because most other people use Office, and it is harder to "collaborate" from some other suite of products. Office is not too large to fail - nothing is - but without some Bear Stearns loss of liquidity, it is not going to disappear overnight. Instead, there is the slow decline in market share to competitors such as Google and OpenOffice, and the loss of revenue to piracy. It can't come soon enough for me - as long as the upstarts have learnt from MS's mistakes.

The biggest problem of all is featuritis - packing new features into the product so that customers upgrade to new version. Because Microsoft did (and still does not, for all that I know) ask what the customers want, the customers get a lot of unwanted additions. Remember the dancing Paperclip? Of course you do. Then there's the automatic formatting, and the one hundred and one permutations of AutoCorrect.

Because of Microsoft's top-down approach to its base, they also miss the obvious. For example, paste without formatting. It's obvious - people want to cut some text from somewhere but without the formatting crud. The source may use bullets or numbers or odd fonts or different colours. The destination uses the standard Word styles. All the fancy styling is undesired. But by using the standard Paste function, that's what the destination gets.

Microsoft does let the customer do this, but they don't make it easy. Rather than provide a nice one-click menu item or a shortcut key, the user has to choose Edit → Paste Special from the menu, and then choose the "Unformatted Unicode Text" option. It's ok if you do it once or twice. Unfortunately, my job involves updating old software requirements documents, and that includes updating the content to a new style. Doing these actions 100+ times a day was becoming a strain.

So I wrote these macros, and then gave them shortcut keys for quicker use. (I chose Alt+U and Alt+C, but others can make their own.) Add them to your Normal.Dot or whereever else you want.

The PasteUnicode is the simplest - it just pastes without formatting. The CopyUnicode is a stranger beast. One of the snafus of Word is how it copies bullets and numbering - it "thinks" the user wants the number in the numbering or the bullet in the bulleting. When copying from sources, I found it was better to make the text "plain", copy, and then undo the operation. That's what the macro does. It's a kludge, and I'm not happy with it, but at least the macro alerts you if there are problems. Use with care - preferably when the source is read-only.

Sub PasteUnicode()
'
' PasteUnicode Macro
' Macro written 8/03/2008 by DaOOSG
' Free for distribution.
Selection.PasteAndFormat (wdFormatPlainText)
End Sub

Sub CopyUnicode()
'
' CopyUnicode Macro
' Macro written 18/07/2008 by DaOOSG
' Free for distribution.
Selection.Style = ActiveDocument.Styles("Normal")
Selection.Copy
If ActiveDocument.Undo = False Then
MsgBox ("Undo was unsuccessful")
End If
End Sub

Any feedback is appreciated. Cheers.

The 5 Best Night Markets in Taipei

by Bill @ The Hungry Suitcase

Taipei is inarguably one of the top street food cities in the world. Taiwan is known as the land of snacks: they have literally invented and re-invented genre after genre of snack food over the years. From pearl tea to fried chicken, the Taiwanese are all about inventing and perfecting the ultimate snack foods. Think Chinese-influenced foods created with the ingenuity and dedication to perfection that (you would think) only the Japanese would bring. While Taipei isn’t quite as famous with local Taiwanese as Tainan for their snack culture, they’ve got it covered and will most likely be your first stop in Taiwan. The sheer volume of street food options available alone are enough but, matched with the quality and price of the food available on the streets, it’s pretty much unbeatable. The catch with Taipei street food though, is ... Read More »

The post The 5 Best Night Markets in Taipei appeared first on The Hungry Suitcase.

Saigon Zoo & Botanical Gardens

by admin @ Ho Chi Minh City Highlights - maps

Google Street View in Việt Nam?

by noreply@blogger.com (Down and Out Of Sài Gòn) @ Down and Out Of Sài Gòn

Perhaps that's a premature question to ask at this time. Only four countries have Google Street View now, with Australia possessing the best coverage of them all. (Even Canada misses out, and that's a surprise. Located next door to the U.S., it's generally the second stop for new ideas and tech coming from there.) I know Google Street View would be mostly popular in Việt Nam. My wife told her friends about it, and they want one too. Mostly popular. But I see a few issues in the way.

If Google Street View comes to South-East Asia, it's likely to hit Singapore first, because it is small and thus easily mappable - and also prosperous. Then bordering Malaysia, which is a little less prosperous but shares a border and English - then Thailand. All three of these countries have excellent coverages under Google Maps, with Thailand's being utterly superb - it displays place names in the original Thai with their transliteration underneath. Both are represented well in Map View and Satellite View - all countries are displayed in the latter, but it's the fortunate few that have city streets shown in the former.)

Alas, Google's coverage of Việt Nam is lousy. It's not that it limits itself to showing highways, and misses city streets - let along missing the common hẻm - the alleys in which most people live. I expect the granularity - the detail - to improve in time, and the company has to start somewhere. What gets my goat is that Google makes mistakes with the place names they've written. There's an attempt to get the tone markers right (to its credit), but either misses a few or gets the letters in the wrong order. For example, Biên Hoà (a satellite city of Sài Gòn) is rendered as "Bein Hoa". It's like they got their information from an old encyclopedia. I can complain to them (and I will), but I also take it as a sign of how important Google considers the country. Not very.

Having said this, do I need to mention the paranoia of the Vietnamese government - the one who would be certain to nix any deal? I doubt they'd like foreign companies taking detailed pictures of their roads - no matter how pure their intentions are. It's not just the military angle, although Street View allows the United States China foreign governments to case the place without even visiting. It's the vested interests of the local party hacks that are endangered. Imagine if Street View could show roads as they really were? Not a nice yellow line on the map, but potholes and rubble where streets should be? And that the same people who were in charge of maintenance are suspected of embezzling the budget blind? I know these people are quite vicious when their interests, livelihoods, or lives are threatened.

Street View won't stand a chance.

Saigon Central Post Office

by admin @ Ho Chi Minh City Highlights - maps

Two Days in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Two Days in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam


Earth Trekkers

Best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City, aka Saigon: tour the Cu Chu Tunnels, shoot an AK-47, War Remnants Museum, motorbike tours, and food tours.

Li'l C - Big Shoe Lady

by admin @ Ho Chi Minh City Highlights - maps

Favorite Photos, Favorite Moments of 2017

by Julie @ Earth Trekkers

Just like that, another year comes to an end. As we get ready to flip the calendar over into 2018, it’s nice to look back and reflect on the past year. For us, 2017 was all about balancing work and school and sports with as much travel as possible. It was a hectic year, but we all think that, don’t ...

Read More

The post Favorite Photos, Favorite Moments of 2017 appeared first on Earth Trekkers.

Cyber Monday: All Books and Courses Up to 50% Off!

by NomadicMatt @ Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

This Cyber Monday, all of my books and courses are up to 60% off! If you've ever thought about learning to blog, improving your writing or photography, or wanted to become a travel vlogger then you'll definitely want to check out this sale! There is something for everyone, but the sale won't last so don't wait!

The post Cyber Monday: All Books and Courses Up to 50% Off! appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

10 Cool Travel Spots to Visit in 2018

by Julie @ Earth Trekkers

Are you looking for cool travel spots to visit? How about somewhere different than the ultra-popular Paris, London, New York City, or even Iceland? Sure, those are all amazing, but if you are looking for a place that is a little more unique, we have some ideas for you. This is not an “off-the-beaten-path” list nor is it a “best ...

Read More

The post 10 Cool Travel Spots to Visit in 2018 appeared first on Earth Trekkers.

Latin Dancing in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne

by Latin Dance Calendar @ Latin Dance Calendar

What is more picturesque than dancing Latin style near the beach and as summer approaches may the lessons and social dancing move its way down to Altona Pier and foreshore under a summer moon. From the 1st September, Altona has embraced Salsa and Bachata dancing in Altona. Celebrar A Vida’s focus is to bring Latin...

The post Latin Dancing in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne appeared first on Latin Dance Calendar.

Insider’s View Episode 8 – Fiona Briers

by Sharyn @ Ho Chi Minh City Highlights

Episode 8 of Insider’s View comes from Fiona Briers who runs the brilliant Bright Solutions in Vietnam. The work they do to empower women and produce gorgeous handicrafts is fabulous. She’s been here almost 9 years so I’d say she...

The post Insider’s View Episode 8 – Fiona Briers appeared first on Ho Chi Minh City Highlights.

JHESUS APONTE – MELBOURNE TOUR 2014

by Scott Smith @ Latin Dance Calendar

Jhesus Aponte has been surrounded by dance his entire life and has taken the talent he was born with to the greatest heights with every intention of continuing his ascension to even taller peaks. An internationally renowned dancer and choreographer When Friday, November 14, 2014 Where Melbourne, Victoria, Australia More information https://www.facebook.com/events/1475234776087438/ Event Description Biography....

The post JHESUS APONTE – MELBOURNE TOUR 2014 appeared first on Latin Dance Calendar.

Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide - Southeast Asia Backpacker Magazine

Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide - Southeast Asia Backpacker Magazine


South East Asia Backpacker

Known by locals by its former name, Saigon, the largest city in Vietnam became Ho Chi Minh City in 1976 following the country's victory over the French...

***MUNDO Style – KIZOMBA MONDAYS***

by Latin Dance Calendar @ Latin Dance Calendar

When? Every Monday Where? 456 Nicholson St, North Fitzroy, Melbourne View this event Description Join Kizomba MUNDO Mondays with one of the most certified Kizomba teachers in Melbourne, MUNDO Style’s Lukas Enciso. Lukas will be delivering high quality kizomba teaching now with a NEW syllabus, NEW time table and a NEW location in Fitzroy. “Doing...

The post ***MUNDO Style – KIZOMBA MONDAYS*** appeared first on Latin Dance Calendar.

Can You Travel Hong Kong on a Backpacker Budget?

by Guest Author @ South East Asia Backpacker

Over all, Hong Kong cost us around HKD$3,500 for two people for three nights. Solo travellers might find themselves spending a little less than this. It’s a beautiful city with so much to offer, and its often overlooked by backpackers. We wholeheartedly believe that anyone who doesn’t visit here is missing the opportunity to see a different side to China, unlike anywhere else.

The post Can You Travel Hong Kong on a Backpacker Budget? appeared first on South East Asia Backpacker.

Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide

Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide


Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

A comprehensive budget travel guide to the city of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam with tips and advice on things to do, see, ways to save money, and cost information.

Visiting Saigon During TET – 2017

by Sharyn @ Ho Chi Minh City Highlights

TET or Lunar New Year occurs at the end of January in 2017. The lead up to the Year of the Rooster will be very festive, but during the actual holiday period, the atmosphere around the country will change completely. The...

The post Visiting Saigon During TET – 2017 appeared first on Ho Chi Minh City Highlights.

25 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT SAIGON (HO CHI MINH CITY) - The Hungry Suitcase

25 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT SAIGON (HO CHI MINH CITY) - The Hungry Suitcase


The Hungry Suitcase

When someone embraces a person they love, it manifests on the brain a mappable sensation of electricity that can actually be seen on an MRI scan. Love affects the brain in the same way that stimulants such as alcohol or drugs affect our physiology and physchology. Love, like whiskey, is addictive. And cities, like love, can cause us to be irrational and abandon our plans and direction to return back again and again.There are many cities I love, but there are only two cities in the world that I just can’t quit.They are both sweltering delta cities with a French colonial history. One is at the mouth of the Mississippi and the other at the mouth of the Mekong. This week, I returned to my favorite place in Asia. How do I love thee? I count (and photograph) the ways. 25. ... Read More »

How to Use Your Social Network to Travel the World

by NomadicMatt @ Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

Celinne da Costa spent a year traveling the world and relying on the kindness of strangers to host her. She stayed with 70+ strangers in 17 countries across four continents. In this interview, Celinne tells us how she did it all, with surprisingly very few hiccups along the way.

The post How to Use Your Social Network to Travel the World appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Benazir Bhutto (nee Corleone)

by noreply@blogger.com (Down And Out Of Sài Gòn) @ Down and Out Of Sài Gòn

I hoisted this from Dsquared's comments at Crooked Timber:

By the way, here’s the cut out and keep collection of Benazir Bhutto editorials and blog posts:

1. Bla bla bla martyr, bla bla loved country, tragedy, father, bla.
2. Bla bla corruption, bla bla western puppet, bla bla popular uprising bla.
3. Bla bla stability, bla bla “strongman”, bla bla Russia bla.
4. Bla bla democracy, Islam, woman, bla bla.

The amount of boilerplate know-nothing crap flying around on the radio yesterday was nothing short of embarrassing. People at think tanks really ought to learn how to say “no, I don’t really know enough to comment” when the opportunity to hear their own voice comes up.

Uncle Kvetch adds number 6:

Dsquared, we’ve got an addendum to your list over on this side of the pond:

6. Bla bla, country 90% of Americans couldn’t locate on a globe, bla bla, what does this mean for the Iowa caucuses bla?

Initially, there was no number 5. Fortunately, Vivian filled the gap with the always timely:

Not to mention: BLA!! BLAH!! Al Qaida! Blah!
bleh.

That's why I'm putting only two thoughts of my own on this event - any more, and I'm just wanking around. I'll leave thinking to those who know something, such as these articles linked from the same Crooked Timber thread. 

  • Juan Cole tells us about the riots running in Pakistan sparked by her assassination
  • Daughter of the West - Tariq Ali. That's a fair history of Ms. Bhutto, but it was written before her death. He doesn't accuse her of complicity in the death of her brother, Mir Murtaza Bhutto, outside his house in 1996. He just lays out the facts in damning detail.
  • That explains why the most angry piece of them all is provided by Mir's daughter (and her niece) Fatima Bhutto. It was also written before the shooting, so I'm not going to accuse her of speaking ill of the dead. The title is Aunt Benazir's False Promises:

And I am suspicious of her talk of ensuring peace. My father [Mir Murtaza Bhutto, brother of Benazir] was a member of Parliament and a vocal critic of his sister's politics. He was killed outside our home in 1996 in a carefully planned police assassination while she was prime minister. There were 70 to 100 policemen at the scene, all the streetlights had been shut off and the roads were cordoned off. Six men were killed with my father. They were shot at point-blank range, suffered multiple bullet wounds and were left to bleed on the streets.

My father was Benazir's younger brother. To this day, her role in his assassination has never been adequately answered, although the tribunal convened after his death under the leadership of three respected judges concluded that it could not have taken place without approval from a "much higher" political authority.

My first thought about this story: that's cold, and not in a "cool" hip-hop way. Colder than Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II.

My second thought - arising from the first - is that it looks like she was a really horrible woman. Corruption is one thing, but fraticide is really not on.

And the winner is….

by NomadicMatt @ Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

I received thousands of submissions for my round the world contest, and I enjoyed reading every single one of them. Unfortunately, there can only be one winner. Today, I'm very excited to announce the official winner of the round the world contest! The journey begins next month.

The post And the winner is…. appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Mekong Delta

Mekong Delta


Trip by Skyscanner

Check out Mekong Delta's reviews, photos and more on Skyscanner

‘A STOP AT WILLOUGHBY’: THE TWILIGHT ZONE EPISODE THAT EXPLORES OUR NEED TO TRAVEL

by Steven @ The Hungry Suitcase

“a place around the bend where he could jump off”

Created during a time (1959-1964) when American television seemed eerily clean and domestic, The Twilight Zone challenged viewers to examine a possibility of uncertainty beyond the comforts and assumptions of contemporary life. It was my favorite thing on TV. One episode in particular always stuck with me- A Stop at Willoughby. It brings up questions. How could such a ‘successful’ man working in a New York tower and living in an upscale suburb be so miserable? Why would he dream of escaping to a sleepy village where the streets have no name and the children wear overalls and go fishing?

A STOP AT WILLOUGHBY is the story of an advertising executive named Gart. Gart feels endless pressure from his pugnacious boss and his minion-like coworkers at his New York City office during ... Read More »

The post ‘A STOP AT WILLOUGHBY’: THE TWILIGHT ZONE EPISODE THAT EXPLORES OUR NEED TO TRAVEL appeared first on The Hungry Suitcase.

How to Order Coffee in Vietnam Like a Local

by Bill @ The Hungry Suitcase

Vietnam is a country that runs on coffee. There is a cafe on just about every block in Saigon and Hanoi and they’re packed most of the day with a mix of locals leisurely sipping away enjoying the day and others grabbing a quick fix on their way to wherever they’re headed. The cafe culture in Saigon is why it’s one of our favorite cities in the world. To see the list of our favorite Saigon cafes, check out our post on it.

Coffee is brewed differently in Vietnam. It’s sort of a mix between the French press and pourover methods and despite producing great coffee, it’s surprisingly “low tech”. You won’t see any chem-lab looking siphons or giant blown-glass drip towers. Coffee is brewed in a little metal filter called a “phin”. Grounds go in, water goes in, and coffee ... Read More »

The post How to Order Coffee in Vietnam Like a Local appeared first on The Hungry Suitcase.

Welfare Bastardry

by noreply@blogger.com (Down and Out Of Sài Gòn) @ Down and Out Of Sài Gòn

Rudd defends 'hardline' benefits plan

Families face losing their welfare for three months if their children continually skip school, under legislation to be introduced to Federal Parliament this week.

Under the Federal Government's proposed scheme, regular school attendance will become a condition for receiving all welfare except the Family Tax Benefit.

If the legislation is passed a pilot scheme at eight schools will begin next year.

"Hardline?" I call it punitive. It won't prevent truancy in families who are rich enough not to need welfare - it's easier to skip school when both parents are at work. It won't help those unemployed who are dedicated to giving a better life for their kids. What it will do is penalise those families who are dysfunctional enough to be affected by the scheme. They may not be that many, but they exist. And if the parent(s) are that fucked up, then they probably don't get the crude cause and effect reasoning ("truancy implies no welfare") behind the plan. Given that, their kids probably need all the money they receive from the dole. Even if much of it is lost at the bottleshop or goes up mom and/or dad's arm, some of it may spill out into food and textbooks and uniforms. Cut off the cash, and you're going to have a lot more kids hungry in class. Unfortunately, empty stomachs are a poor way to motivate children to concentrate on their studies. From this, a small problem (truancy) is aggravated, as kids feel even worse at school. Their studies decline. They get picked on by richer kids for torn and worn uniforms (with mum and dad less able to afford to fix the things). Given the conditions, do you blame them for escaping school?

The only bright note in the plan is that it is a trial. Howard would haven't even bothered to experiment - he'd implement the scheme everywhere and le the chips fall where they may. But governments have a bad habit of ignoring bad experiences. I expect Rudd to pronounce it a success even if children are literally starving as a result.

Howard may be gone, but his authoritarian heavy-handedness lives on. Let Jarvis explain:

Thanks to Wombo for passing on the YouTube on this
Larvatus Prodeo thread.

Last Post

by noreply@blogger.com (Down and Out Of Sài Gòn) @ Down and Out Of Sài Gòn

This is the last post at this site - at least for the foreseeable future. I have decided to decamp from Blogger and set up my old domain. That place is also called Down and Out Of Sài Gòn, and comes with its own blog.

I doubt few people are reading this site after nearly a year of inactivity. But to those happy few who wish to read anything more by or about myself, please visit the new site. Cheers.

As of 18th of February, 2016, I have let the old domain http://www.downandoutofsaigon.net/ expire. I now lurk at a site under my own name: Peter Murphy, and it also comes with its own blog.

NV Tours - 179, Phạm Ngũ Lão, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh

NV Tours - 179, Phạm Ngũ Lão, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh


DiaChiSo

Diachiso.vn là cổng thông tin tìm kiếm dịch vụ chất lượng nhất Việt Nam. Diachiso.vn cung cấp hàng trăm nghìn địa điểm dịch vụ và thẻ ưu đãi cho cộng đồng Việt Nam, Khám phá không gian dịch vụ bằng công nghệ tour ảo 360.

I don't generally call someone a "racist" on first encounter...

by noreply@blogger.com (Down and Out Of Sài Gòn) @ Down and Out Of Sài Gòn

But I'll make an exception to the author of Countenance Blog.

After all, this is someone who tagged 474 of his own posts Black Crime, yet forgot to provide "White Crime" as a category. Or even "Crime".

And anecdotes concerning (white) men who attack others with chainsaws? They get put in the plain ol' "Missouri" pile, buddy.

Bonsai Saigon River Cruise – Resurrection!

by Sharyn @ Ho Chi Minh City Highlights

Bonsai is Back!!! It’s my great pleasure to announce that as of April 2017, Bonsai Dinner Cruises has a brand new boat, “The Bonsai Legacy,” and is re-open for business. I often get queries from my readers about which night...

The post Bonsai Saigon River Cruise – Resurrection! appeared first on Ho Chi Minh City Highlights.

Starbucked

by noreply@blogger.com (Down and Out Of Sài Gòn) @ Down and Out Of Sài Gòn

Announcement to Customers 29th July 2008

Starbucks has been a part of the Australian market since 2000. There are currently 84 Starbucks locations throughout the country, including Brisbane, Canberra, Gold Coast, Melbourne, South Australia, Sydney, and Tasmania. 23 stores will remain open in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and surrounding areas to serve customers in those communities. The list of stores that are scheduled for closure will appear on this site by 5pm July 31st after all affected stores partners (employees) have been personally notified.

Losing nearly three quarters of their stores isn't the worst of it. It sounds like Starbucks is abandoning whole cities. If the company has to flee the Gold Coast - one of Australia's most famous tourist destinations - they're in worse shape than I thought.

I've had my doubts about Starbucks succeeding in Australia. There were, and are too many alternatives - from the small cosy places and fancy cafés to existing chains like Coffee Club and Gloria Jeans. The coffee is better elsewhere, there's more room to sit (or cuddle or seduce), and meals are available as well. The competition also have better aesthetics, while Starbucks expect their customers to order their coffees like they order their Big Macs and their KFC. As for the produt: my first and last impression of their brew (sipped in 2001 in Salt Lake City) was that it was coffee-flavoured froth. I haven't tasted it since then.

It's the staff who get my sympathy. From The Age:

Several former Melbourne employees, mainly aged in their teens to early 20s, said after a meeting at Little Bourke Street's Mantra Hotel, that they were shocked by the sudden nature of the announcement.

One former employee of the Lygon Street store in Carlton said he was upset former employees had been given less than a week's notice despite Starbucks making the decision to close the store two weeks ago.

"All the stores were just cannibalising each other, all the bigger stores were just taking money from the smaller ones," Ilias, 22, said.

Perhaps I'm not reading the press release correctly. Let me put on my amateur MBA hat. The sensible thing now would be to reduce the number of stores - I know Starbucks is cash-strapped in the States, and they're cutting back there. But I would try to keep at least one restaurant in each of the CBDs, and spread the rest around. It seems a little extreme that they can't make a profit from one single franchise in Adelaide or Perth (both +1 million cities).

The sensible thing would be to spread themselves widely, concentrate on one or two stores in the city centres, and if possible spread (or re-spread) to the suburbs. Instead they've been engaging in Darwinian selection with their franchises - crowding hem together, and letting them fight each other. That seems to be the Starbucks business model - I've heard it happen in the States, and in the U.K. Alas, the result is not the survival of the fittest, but the malnourishment of the population. No wonder the company is failing, and leading to massive retrechments. The soon-to-be-unemployed have my sympathy, but the management can go Starbuck themselves.

“What’s So Great About Vietnam?” One Backpacker Explains All…

by Guest Author @ South East Asia Backpacker

A whistle-stop guide through Vietnam as a backpacker! Includes tips on the wackiest and most fun activities, the local grub not to be missed, where to stay... from glitzy backpacker resort to rustic homestay... plus transport info! Vietnam is a beautiful, wildly varied country with tons to offer, and us backpackers need to soak its magic up before it becomes too touristy...

The post “What’s So Great About Vietnam?” One Backpacker Explains All… appeared first on South East Asia Backpacker.

LIVE LIKE A LOCAL: RENT A SHORT-TERM APARTMENT WHILE TRAVELING

by Steven @ The Hungry Suitcase

If you want to experience the true life of a place, experience it like a local: get an apartment in a true neighborhood. Wake up to the sounds of street vendors and garbage trucks. Be recognized with a smile by your local noodle-slinger.

If a city strikes your fancy, rent an apartment for a month and stick around for awhile.

Another advantage of worldwide Internet networking is that it allows us to exchange short-term apartments without going through an agent or company. Check the New York City craigslist sublet page and you’ll find plenty of Parisians happy to exchange their Left Bank apartment for a little temporary stepping stone on the Upper West Side. Though apartment exchanges are rare in Asia, there are plenty of expats and locals alike who will be vacating their adobe and happy to have someone trustworthy in ... Read More »

The post LIVE LIKE A LOCAL: RENT A SHORT-TERM APARTMENT WHILE TRAVELING appeared first on The Hungry Suitcase.

Salsa Solo Australia & International 2014

by Scott Smith @ Latin Dance Calendar

From 20 – 23 November 2014 Brisbane will be host to Salsa Solo Australia & International. The event includes a weekend full of exciting activities, including competitions, workshops, master classes, shows, parties, social dancing and more. For more information visit: http://www.salsasolo.com.au/

The post Salsa Solo Australia & International 2014 appeared first on Latin Dance Calendar.

Reconciliation via bad arithmetic

by noreply@blogger.com (Down and Out Of Sài Gòn) @ Down and Out Of Sài Gòn

From 52 to 48 with Love is three or so pages that shows Democratic voters (the 52) patch up things with their Republican counterparts (the 48) by holding up pieces of paper. The idea is to let the Red Staters know that they're not going to be ignored or mocked in the future. Examples are "Let's vow to be gentler, kinder and more understanding together", "one nation indivisible US", "dear 48, I will listen to you", and (eeewww) "dear 48, you complete me."

The spirit is admirable, but why do the page owners have to fib? It's really 53 versus 46, when you round to the nearest number. Is the extra 2 there to make the Republicans feel good about themselves? If so, it's a futile gesture; this kind of white lie inspires contempt from the "spite" voters. And why is there no reconciliation shown for the other 1 - the Libertarians and Greens? They deserve it more.

My message to the 48 46? No hard feelings, but what the fuck were you thinking? That's about as much as they deserve.

Hoa Vien Brauhaus

by admin @ Ho Chi Minh City Highlights - maps

Lost in Chiang Mai: A Personal View of How the City Has Changed in 5 Years

by Nikki Scott @ South East Asia Backpacker

Have you ever revisited a place only to find it completely transformed? This is how I felt recently upon revisiting Chiang Mai after being away from the city for five years. Chiang Mai had been the home for the SEA Backpacker Office and was personally my home for the best part of three years. During […]

The post Lost in Chiang Mai: A Personal View of How the City Has Changed in 5 Years appeared first on South East Asia Backpacker.

Ho Chi Minh Museum

by admin @ Ho Chi Minh City Highlights - maps

DIY Guide to Halong Bay: Dodge the Crowds & Get More Bang For Your Dong!

by Guest Author @ South East Asia Backpacker

If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, chances are that the UNESCO World Heritage site of Halong Bay is on your itinerary… and so it should be! Made up of around 2000 limestone islands, Halong Bay is just a stone’s throw away from Hanoi. A few clicks on your favourite search engine will suffice to understand […]

The post DIY Guide to Halong Bay: Dodge the Crowds & Get More Bang For Your Dong! appeared first on South East Asia Backpacker.

Pho Binh Noodle Shop

by admin @ Ho Chi Minh City Highlights - maps

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