Apr 07 2012

Getting VND in Saigon

Published by under Money & costs

The currency of Vietnam, known as dong or VND, is non-convertible, meaning, in short, it’s a little tricky. Outside the country it’s hard to get a hold of and almost unusable; inside the country, it’s the preferred method of payment, especially off the beaten path. It used to be that US dollars were accepted throughout … read the full post

Apr 03 2012

Getting from Hanoi to Ha Giang

Published by under Transport

Last week I was fortunate enough to be able to join a team of doctors going to Ha Giang (in northwest Vietnam) to carry out surgeries on children from the mountain, supported by Child Surgeries Vietnam and HIWC. Not only was this an amazing trip from the point of view of the surgeries but it … read the full post

Mar 31 2012

Hanoi street food: Bo bittet

Published by under Food

It’s been a favourite of mine since I first came to Hanoi, so goodness knows why it’s taken me so long to write about bo bittet. It’s true that I don’t eat it too often — it’s hardly the healthiest of options — but having had a recent relapse at the weekend I was reminded … read the full post

Mar 30 2012

Clips on Hanoi

Recently, Hanoi Grapevine alerted me to the YouTube launch and initial success of rap song and associated video Oi Gioi Oi. The tongue-in-cheek song and video by Hanoi Sessions features EP rapping about those things in Hanoi that make you say “Oi gioi oi” — an expression that can be used to express surprise, annoyance … read the full post

Mar 29 2012

Saigon motorbike driving tips: Dealing with police

Published by under Health & safety

Traffic in HCMC is ridiculous: it’s noisy, congested and totally awesome to navigate. To look at the traffic from the outside it would most certainly seem chaotic; people driving on the sidewalk, almost no regard for traffic lights, people swerving around people at whatever speed they desire. It’s so crazy that most people would be … read the full post

Mar 24 2012

Loss, theft and police in Vietnam

Published by under Health & safety

I’ve been through the theft part twice while travelling. I had cash stolen out of my bag in China — they sliced it open while it was by my feet on a bus — and a camera and iPod stolen from my baggage on a flight (yes, I know I shouldn’t have packed valuables in … read the full post

Mar 24 2012

Saigon’s Tomb of Le Van Duyet

Lately I’ve been talking about a few of the more popular pagodas in Saigon. All of these temples are revered places of worship where people actively go to pray and ask for guidance. Each one has had something unique: turtles, incense, or being the oldest temple in town. One thing that they all have in … read the full post

Mar 21 2012

Hanoi people: The Consular Officer

Published by under Hanoi people

Nalini Sadai started work for Britain’s Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) 10 years ago. She started off in London and then, in 2007, moved to Jamaica as Vice-Consul. She’s now the Consular Regional Operations Manager for Vietnam and Burma. I met with her to discuss her consular work and to find out what advice and help … read the full post

Mar 21 2012

Saigon ice cream

Published by under Food

It’s usually pretty warm in Saigon — even the early mornings of December and January rarely dip below 20 degrees Celsius — but the last couple of weeks here have been hot! We’re only in March; things are going to get even hotter over the next month. If you’re walking around the city when it’s … read the full post

Mar 17 2012

Shopping in Saigon

Published by under Shopping

Saigon offers plenty of great reasons to visit: every corner you turn on the street can lead you to great food, there are some cool pagodas and theme parks, and it’s a great spot to start a new adventure into other parts of the country. Decent shopping can also be done in my city — … read the full post

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