Showing posts with label Vietnam. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vietnam. Show all posts

Monday, December 24, 2018

Second Floor Cafe Views in Zhongshan, Hengyang, and Ho Chi Minh City

My view from a cafe in Zhongshan this afternoon:

Similar to when I looked outside from a cafe in Hengyang, Hunan, one afternoon four years ago . . .

. . . the experience reminded me of looking out another 2nd floor window at a cafe in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, one morning five years ago.

As in Hengyang, the unexpected connection provided much to ponder.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

More on Foods with Durian

Durian hawker in Hanoi, Vietnam
Durian hawker in Hanoi, Vietnam, five years ago

In response to my first taste of durian pizza and my stated preference for plain durian, a reader in the U.S., a country were I doubt most people could even identify the fruit, shared his own durian-related preferences:
For what it's worth, my first exposure to durian was in ice cream. I didn’t like it. I also tried durian muffins — also not so good. I then discovered that I do quite like plain durian — so long as we’re outside and the smell can dissipate.
I had previously wondered whether treats such as a durian ice cream could be a way for more people to gain an appreciation of durian. The reader's experience made me question that, though the unenjoyable treats may have primed him for a more pleasurable first experience eating plain durian. Perhaps if he revisits the muffins he may now have a different impression. It is also worth noting that people can have strong preferences for a specific durian variety, of which there are many. There are so many variables to consider, but at least the reader's story has a happy ending. He may be heartened to learn I ate the strong-smelling durian pizza outside.

As planned, I ate the leftover durian pizza at room temperature (inside) for breakfast. I must say, it was a great way to start the day. I now see durian pizza in a new light and am wondering if I could get a durian pizza delivered in the early morning — with extra durian, of course.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Second Floor Views in Hengyang and Ho Chi Minh City

My view from a cafe in Hengyang this afternoon:

view outside from a 2nd floor Bont Cafe in Hengyang

As I looked outside and pondered a variety of topics, a view I had from another 2nd floor cafe one morning last year in Ho Chi Minh City came to mind:

view outside from a 2nd floor cafe in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Like experiences I had in Alabama, Mississippi, and Seoul, the unexpected connection provided me more to ponder.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cross-Cultural Fun for Kids

Sometimes the differences matter most. Sometimes the similarities matter most.

a barefoot girl with a with box over the top of her body playing on a a sidewalk in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
A girl I saw playing earlier this year in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

boy with a box over the top of his body and a barfeoot girl playing on a pedestrian street in Zhuhai, China
A boy and girl I saw playing recently in Zhuhai, China

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Artichoke Juice in Vietnam

Yesterday's post about the localized flavors of Lay's potato chips in China reminded me of a potatory experience I had in Vietnam a few months ago. While I perused an upscale supermarket in Ho Chi Minh City, one of the drinks for sale caught my attention.

bottles of Vietnamese Vfresh artichoke juice

I'm a fan of artichokes, but I had never considered seeking out artichoke juice. Of course, I bought a bottle. It tasted just like what you'd expect artichoke juice to taste like -- artichokes -- and had the viscosity of apple juice. Since I like a variety of vegetable juices and herbal drinks, I could imagine it might grow on me, even though I had mixed feelings about it during my first experience.

A couple of regions in Vietnam are known for growing artichokes, although some artichoke farmers have recently switched to growing flowers instead. And not only are artichokes used for tea, but they are also included in some local Vietnamese dishes. Unfortunately, I never came across any of them, so see here for someone else's enthusiastic report of eating artichokes in Dalat, Vietnam.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sitting on the Street in Ho Chi Minh City

The next few days will be especially busy for me so I expect any posts will be light. Still, I have enough time for another scene from Vietnam.

food hawker sitting on a tiny stool on the street as a car passes by

The low stool, the advertisements for Oreo and HTC, the mix of patterns on the hawker's clothes, and the various vehicles all caused more than a few neurons in my brain to change their firing patterns. Feel free to ponder the photo and see what your own neurons do.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Still Weaving

In an earlier post, I wrote about what once provided me an incredible online experience, the "Recommend items" feature in Google Reader. Yesterday, in his post "Finale for now on Google's Self-Inflicted Trust Problem", James Fallows shared several opinions, including my own, about the potential fallout from Google shutting down its RSS reader service. I will soon follow up on what I wrote to Fallows, particularly about the claim that Google has hurt its reputation as the ultimate organizer of all the world's information.

I'm still working on that post, though, so in the meantime, here is a scene from a busy intersection today in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam:

motorbikes crisscrossing each other at a busy intersection in Ho Chi Minh City

More later.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Faces on the Wall

What I saw on a wall bordering a sidewalk in Vietnam:

painting of a woman in a nón lá (leaf hat) on a wall in Ho Chi Minh City

colorful paintings of the faces of two women on a wall in Ho Chi Minh City

More faces from Ho Chi Minh City are on the way.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Partial Yet Telling Story: The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Two days ago, March 16, was the 45th anniversary of the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam. In commentary about the republishing of an important story in LIFE magazine, Ben Cosgrove revisited the horrific tragedy:
Two simple syllables, My Lai (pronounced “me lie”), are today a reminder of what America lost in the jungles of Vietnam: namely, any claim to moral high ground in a war often defined by those back home as a battle between right and wrong. For the Vietnamese, meanwhile, the March 1968 massacre in the tiny village of My Lai is just one among numerous instances of rape, torture and murder committed by troops — Americans, South Vietnamese, Viet Cong and others — in the course of that long, divisive war...

On March 16, 1968, hundreds (various estimates range between 347 and 504) of elderly people, women, children and infants were murdered by more than 20 members of “Charlie” Company, United States’ 1st Battalion 20th Infantry Regiment. Some of the women were raped before being killed. After this mass slaughter, only one man, Second Lt. William Calley, was convicted of any crime. (He was found guilty in March 1971 of the premeditated murder of 22 Vietnamese civilians, but served just three-and-a-half years under house arrest at Fort Benning, Georgia.)
In another recent article deserving attention, David Taylor for BBC News reported on tapes revealing important context for some of the decisions made in the U.S. during the Vietnam War:
Declassified tapes of President Lyndon Johnson's telephone calls provide a fresh insight into his world. Among the revelations - he planned a dramatic entry into the 1968 Democratic Convention to re-join the presidential race. And he caught Richard Nixon sabotaging the Vietnam peace talks... but said nothing.
Both of the articles were especially poignant for me not just because I'm in Vietnam at the moment, but also because they reminded me of a visit earlier this month to the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. The museum is undoubtedly a one-sided portrayal of the brutalities committed during the Vietnam War -- something reflected in the name of the museum's earliest incarnation, Exhibition House for U.S. and Puppet Crimes. I am not going to wade into debates about whether all of the claims made there are accurate, whether certain displays are better described as history or propaganda, and whether some photos are unfairly not representative. Regardless of these issues, the museum effectively communicates at least some of the inhumanity and hypocrisy which occurred during Vietnam War. I also found it notable that several displays highlighted the opposition to the war found even within the U.S., and most of the English text did not contain the same style and degree of rhetoric I have often seen at similar museums in China.

I will share some photos of what I saw there and also share some thoughts about one display which particularly caught my attention. Like the museum itself, the following will not necessarily be a fully representative overview.

Poster with the English text, "'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.' (The U.S. Declaration of Independence adopted on July 4, 1776).
First display in a room labeled "Aggression War Crimes"

man viewing war photos

next to a photo of victims of a napalm bomb English text reading "'My solution to the problem would be to tell them (the North Vietnamese) frankly that they've got to draw in their horns..., or we're going to bomb them back into the Stone Age'. Curtis Lemay, Commander of the Strategic Air Command, U.S. Air Force Chief of staff, 25 November 1965)."
English caption to the photograph: "Little Phan Thi Kim Phuc burned by U.S. napalm bomb (Trang Bang, Tay Ninh Province in 1972)."

woman looking at war photos

woman looking at photos of children with deformities.
In an exhibit about the effects of chemical weapons such as agent orange

English caption: "Dan Jordan's family: he was officially acknowledged as an agent orange victim. His son has congenital deformations on his hands. Jordan and other veterans took the lead in the class action against chemical companies that settled with $180 million in 1983."

poster reading "'Yet we were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why.' Rober S. McNamara, former U.S. Defense Secretary, confessed error in his memoirs 'In retrospect - The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam'."
Smaller English text: "Robert S. McNamara, former U.S. Defense Secretary, confessed error in his memoirs 'In Retrospect -- The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam'"

various medals with a plaque reading "To the people of a united Vietnam: I was wrong. I am sorry."
English caption: "These are some rewards to a U.S. Veteran for his service in Vietnam. The medals were offered to the War Remnants Museum on June 1, 1990 as protest against the Vietnam War. From William Brown, Sgt. 173rd Airborne Brigade, 503rd Infantry.

two young people being photographed in front of a U.S. tank
An outdoors exhibit area

At one moment during my visit to the museum I was reminded of a painting by Cambodian Vann Nath which I saw several years ago at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia:

drawing of man with a covered face tied down and having water poured on his face

Vann Nath was one of only seven prisoners who left the Khmer Rouge's S-21 "security prison" at Tuol Sleng alive. The above painting was amongst many others, all of which Van Nath drew to depict acts of torture committed at the prison. The act in the painting sure looked like water boarding -- a point not lost on a reader of Andrew Sullivan's The Dish.

And here is the photo I saw in Vietnam that caused me to think about Nath's painting:

man with a cloth covered face being held down by U.S. military members

The English caption for the photo:
"They decide on a water torture. A rag is placed over the man's face and water is poured on it, making breathing impossible". Members of the 1st Air cavalry use water torture on a prisoner 1968.
It was another chilling reminder of a torture method recently used by the U.S.

I'm glad I visited the War Remnants Museum. So much in the museum deserves consideration for what it says about America's past actions or about Vietnam today. Although the museum suggested to me that Vietnam has yet to fully come to terms with its own past, as an American I was most focused on what it indicated about my own country. In a later post, based on my own experiences I will partially address a related question I have been asked, often indirectly, by Americans who have not been to Vietnam: What are Vietnamese attitudes towards Americans today?

Finally, as I wrote this post at a small cafe in Ho Chi Minh City, a friendly Vietnamese waitress with whom I have had several pleasant conversations peered over my shoulder and looked at the above photo. After a few moments of silence, with a sadness in her voice she slowly said, "My country."

I glanced back at the photo and replied, "Mine too."

Saturday, March 16, 2013

An Even More Edacious and Potatory Post

Some readers may feel most of my posts including "edacious and potatory views" are missing a key detail: the food or drink that accompanied the view. I'm not sure if I have suitable photos for all of the examples. I'll leave sorting that out for another day (maybe). Instead, I will start afresh and share the view from where I had a late lunch today in Ho Chi Minh City:

view from a restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City

And here is what I ate and drank:

I hope this was sufficiently edacious and potatory.

And now for a few notes:

1. Not only was the previous post a chance to revisit some old scenes, but it proved to be a learning experience as well. I find it curious that the words "edacious" and "potatory" capture such seemingly common and useful concepts, yet neither were familiar to me (and I suspect to most readers) and I couldn't find any other suitable single-word options. My use of the word "edacious" is even considered "archaic". I would appreciate hearing any insights readers may have about these two wonderful words.

2. Readers who follow this blog through an RSS reader may have been puzzled by a post titled "Riverside View in Kampot, Cambodia". While working on the previous post, Blogger provided a strange error message when I tried adding a location tag. After I recovered, I discovered the post had been prematurely published. I'll avoid getting into all the technical details, but when recovering from an accidental publishing, simply deleting a post doesn't necessarily remove it from RSS readers. I think this is something which could be better addressed by blogging platforms (and possibly RSS readers as well), but that's another issue. Anyways, the easiest thing for me to do was to "update" the post with an empty content area and then delete it from my blog.

So if you saw a blank post titled "Riverside View in Kampot, Cambodia", no worries. If you saw that post and it included some content, congratulations--you probably had an inside look at the early stages of a post's creation. Now please feel free to discard it at the nearest incinerator.


3. Returning to the word-usage theme, I can say with no small pride that I was recently offered compensation for a pun I wrote. Especially with the recent online debate about people being asked to write for free, I found it a most encouraging sign. I eagerly look forward to my next trip to Beijing so I can collect my beer from Anthony Tao. Maybe Señor Tao can offer me some tips on how to drink it while wearing a face mask. With his experience in Beijing, he should have a leg up on me.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Edacious and Potatory Views

While pondering today's earlier post of my view from a cafe in Ho Chi Minh City, I recalled taking photographs under similar conditions in China such as: where I relaxed with several glasses of green tea at Chuan Shipo Lake in Changsha, Hunan province; a restaurant in historic Xizhou, Yunnan province; a restaurant where I watched a donkey pulling a cart in Zhaotong, Yunnan province; where I enjoyed lunches in Sujiawei, Guangdong province, and Ganzhou, Jiangxi province; where I imbibed a bottle of British organic cider in Lamma Island, Hong Kong.

The previous links lead to a variety of views, and I wouldn't be surprised if I have posted other photos that fit this theme as well. Each in its own way feels special to me and prompts numerous related memories. I will avoid deeper reflection on what they mean to me. There may be some of that in coming months. Instead, I will share another photo from my recent travels outside of China:

second story view of a river and mountains in Kampot, Cambodia
The view from my seat at a restaurant in Kampot, Cambodia

That's all for today. Explore the above links for more scenes. It's time for me to have a late night meal and drink. Maybe my attention will be captured by yet another view.

A Second Floor View in Ho Chi Minh City

My view from a cafe in Ho Chi Minh City around 8 a.m. this morning.

busy street with cars and many motorbikes

The Vietnamese coffee was good too.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Friday, March 8, 2013

Views from the Bitexco Financial Tower

I realize people who follow me on Twitter may have noticed me recently commenting about being in a city definitely not in Cambodia, the subject of numerous recent posts here. To avoid any confusion, I'll provide an update on my location.

Although I was having an incredible experience in Cambodia, it was time to move on. So after about 7 hours on a bus and marveling at the immigration processes at an international border, I found myself here:

view of Bitexco Financial Tower

Later I went to the top of the tall building on the left side--the Bitexco Financial Tower. Looking back at the traffic circle where I was earlier standing, I saw this:

view from Bitexco financial tower

And since I went all the way up there, here is some of what I saw walking around the inside of the building in a clockwise direction:

view from Bitexco financial tower

view from Bitexco financial tower

view from Bitexco financial tower

view from Bitexco financial tower

For those who can't identify the location, I will spare you the suspense. I am now in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. In smany ways, it is quite a contrast from Phnom Penh. And the above views might contrast with what many foreigners first picture when they think about Vietnam.

And now a brief word about my plans for future posts. I have a backlog of things I want to share about Malaysia and Cambodia. And posts about Vietnam are planned too. But as some recent posts may suggest, I have been pining to return to some China-related topics. In short, upcoming posts may jump around a bit.

No more views from tall buildings for a while though.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Vietnam, meet Mahler and the Backstreet Boys

In Hanoi you can listen to a Vietnamese premiere of music by Gustav Mahler:

Or to the Backstreet Boys:

I wonder if there is anyone who attends both...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Google Hotel in Vietnam

Recently, I arrived in Hue, Vietnam - the former imperial capital of the Nguyễn Dynasty.  I was excited to explore both its rich historical sites and its delicious local food.  However, something else also caught my attention.  Yesterday, while I was walking down a street I noticed this sign:

Google Hotel sign

I had never heard of a Google Hotel, so I walked around the corner to see if it really existed.  Indeed, not far away I found the Google Hotel:

Google Hotel in Hue Vietnam

Later that night, I discovered the hotel appeared to have its own web site -- of course, it's the Google Hotel!  I was particularly intrigued to find that under "Our services" they listed "Nerd water" as a drink for sale.

Well, I knew I had to try some nerd water so I stopped by the next day.  The menu was a bit different from the online version.  The drinks page is here:

Google Hotel menu drinks page

Instead of "nerd water" they had "nerd bird can".  I wasn't totally sure I wanted a nerd bird can so I ordered this instead:

Festival Beer

After a few sips of the decent 50 cent local beer I asked the Google Hotel staff about the nerd bird can.  They insisted it was very healthy so I decided to give it a try.  Out came this:

White Fungus Bird's Nest Drink

It actually had a good taste.  I don't know how to describe it other than that it was completely not like how I'd expect a white fungus bird's nest drink to taste.  Or nerd water.  Regardless, "bird's nest" appears to be a much better English translation for the Vietnamese listings on their menus.  The people I spoke to weren't aware of the meaning of "nerd".  Maybe someone else had a sense of humor...

After finishing the drinks, I took a look around the lobby and saw this:

Google Hotel's clocks for different cities around the world

All those clocks for different cities around the world and no Mountain View clock?  I suspect Google Headquarters would not be pleased.

At least they were providing free internet:

Google Hotel's computers at entrance

They were also selling Google Hotel raincoats & hats for less than $1 each:

Google Hotel's raincoats and hats for sale

I finally asked why they named their hotel the "Google Hotel".  One replied, "It's a good name!"  Indeed it is.  After some further questioning they pointed to a lady, who I assumed was the manager or owner, and said she really liked Google so she decided to use its name.

That was the end of my visit to the Google Hotel.  I saw no point in staying longer since there weren't any free meals.

Just one more thing...  If you visit the Google Hotel web site you can find this at the bottom of the pages:
"Copy right @ 2010 by Googlee Hotel"
That's priceless.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Vietnam Scenes: Hanoi

I've already commented on Hanoi's wonderful beer, food, art and "tiger mothers" so now I'd like to share some city scenes in Hanoi.

Furniture stores

There are many narrow buildings in Hanoi.  They are a result of an old tax based on the width of buildings.