I am a London-based Digital PR/Social Media/SEO Consultant, music producer/anorak, deep sea diver, avid cyclist, worldwide traveller and football-loving technology bod! This page functions as a kind of online scrapbook/resource featuring my favourite blog posts and news items as well as my own personal reviews and recommendations in the worlds of music, sport, travel and technology!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

The War Remanants Museum and good times with the ex-pats!

Today, I woke up around 11am and wondered where the hell I was? My vision was slightly blurred, hair all over the place and I still had the taste of purely-cut local Vietnamese whiskey on my breath. I was still wearing my jeans from the last three days and all I could see was some shitty Vietnanese version of the X Factor on the tele, two fans blaring at me at full-force, endless traffic horns beeping and some guy chanting 'Waaaaaaaahhh, Kahhhhhhhhhhh' next door. I did wonder what that meant...for about...10 seconds..and was going to say to him 'who you calling a wanker?' but soon jumped in the shower and was out of the door to meet another friend of mine Dave who's a 34 year old American guy I met in London a few summer's ago on a night out. Another very funny guy, Dave is from Colorado and got a job teaching English in Saigon after breaking up with his Canadian fiance several months ago and deciding to fly the nest and take a long extended break from the States..i.e..as he likes to say, 'Never go back!". He also now has a Phillipino girlfriend.

He used to work as a financial planner in New York for about 5 years but jacked it in to go travelling and has since learnt fluid French and Italian. He also now meditates and has a small pony tail. Soon I reckon he'll become a buddhist and buy a pet monkey. Infact, I'm certain he will. It's at that point that he starts to receive no more phone calls from me.

We went to a local market stall to shoot the breeze, eat some pork and noodles (for 70p a bowl!), drink some nice cold ice tea and then head off to the 'War Remnants Museum' in District 3 which he was keen to see.

Although I've obviously never been directly affected by the Vietnam war, the older I get the more interested I am in discovering why the great wars of the world occured and try to understand the mindlessness of successive governments around the world....er...as well as being a huge fan of Nam war movies such as Platoon, Apocolypse Now, Full Metal Jacket..etc..the list goes on..so yeah, I just fancied shooting an AK47 if I could get my hands on one..shallow I know

The War Remanants Museum was opened to the public for the first time in 1975.

In its role as the unique Museum in Vietnam to systematically study, collect, preserve and display exhibits on war crimes and aftermaths foreign aggressive forces caused for Vietnamese people.

It nowadays houses 8 permanent thematic exhibitions including a detailed Vietnam War tour which I found really interesting yet shocking and sad.

Dave soon shot off to meet his girlfriend so I hitched a ride to see Saigon river as the sun went down...one of the things that struck me was the sheer amount of traffic on the roads at 4.30pm in the afternoon! So many people appear out of work in this town. I also spoke at great length to a local old man of 55 about the war and his personally opinions..my own little piece of (limited) citizen journalism...having been a soldier for the Saigon army during French/American rule, he had a few things to say to camera which I'll try my best to upload in the next few days once I find a computer that'll pick up my phone.

  In evening I hooked up with Adam again and we went to the local food market where we ate fresh scallops with Vietnamese seafood noodles and fried frog with this special chilkli/lemon sauce all for about a fiver and I would confidently say that if you bought the equivalent in London, it would probably wouldn't taste half as fresh or delicious - and also would have costed in the region of 35-40 quid.

  We then headed into a central distrcit where we hooked up with some of Adam's teacher buddies; Steve, a 32-year old ex-trader from Northampton and Rob, a 6ft 5 Ozzie ex-rocker who had lived in Vietnam for close to twenty years and looked like Henry Rollin's doppleganger.

  This time two years ago, Steve was on a 100k+ salary working in the City for a top bank before being laid off. This ultimately led to problems with his fiance and after being unemployed for close to four months, he saw an advert online about a Business teaching job in Saigon so decided to apply as he fancied a change of scenrary anmd had no ties in London apart from his girlfriend.

  He had no formal teaching qualifications but managed to fluke to the telephone interview due to his knowledge of finance and online trading which he promised he could teach his students if given the job...plus he's a good talker so will always do well in life.

  So he arrived in Saigon and after 3 days of winging it, two of his students complained to the head of the school saying that they couldn't quite understand his thick 'Norfhampton' accent and he was soon down-graded to teaching kids basic English in the place of a young 24-year old American 'spring break' college girl. It turns out that in schools across Vietnam these days, the younger generation have bought into the 'American drean' (despite their parents fighting against them during the war) and all want to become film stars..a dramatic turn-around in attitude in a mere 30 years..

  He was deeply offended and thought about taking his case to the British Embassy but soon realised that he had an easy 8-4pm job that required hardly any effort and no moderation so he's stuck it out for a year on a very good salary and wants to stay longer...

  After way too many whiskey's he explained the art of online trading and the future of Vietnam before moving onto another bar with Rob and Adam until 3am..

  I got his number and we're gonna head to a club with them on NYE where he's going to introduce me to an Aussie mate of his who runs an international advertising firm in Vietnam...I managed to squeeze in some Hue Beef Noodles and hit the sack at 4am


Interestingly, Rob said he couldn't believe it when his travel agent told him a couple of months ago that his visa extension for a year had been rejected after living and teaching in Saigon for over 10 years!


He asked why, but received no coherent answer.


Many expats who have been caught unawares by an “abrupt change” in visa renewal regulations are angry and upset about receiving no advance notice or explanation.

The latest immigration rules allow foreigners without a work permit to extend their visa twice for three months each. At the end of the six months, they will have to leave Vietnam.


Posted via email from Jeremy Lloyd Travel Diaries

Monday, 28 December 2009

London to Saigon

After a near 20-hour journey from London via Doha I arrived in Ho Chi Mingh at 7pm. I spent most of the first of half of my outward journey sitting next to Laura, a lovely 30-year-old English teacher from Winchester who works at one of the top universities in Bangkok and has lived in Thailand for nearly two years. I had planned to just sit back and listen to 3 classic Led Zepplin albums but that wasn't to be..

We talked at great lengths about the political climate and culture in Thailand, some of her students (who include Thaksin Sinawatra's son), high society Thai life, the problems with the UK as well as our shared love for diving and travelling and she kindly offered me advice about the best places to visit in Vietnam as well as providing me with her mates mobile number who runs a diving school down South for a killer deal.

We arrived at Doha, sank a few beers...some more beers and then ended up blagging our way into the airport member's lounge and sleeping on a couple of couches in the bar area before being offered a free shower and breakfast the next day. Cheeky but it had to be done as I was feeling as scuzzy as hell..:) Laura soon boarded her connecting flight to Bangkok and I dashed (along with this mentalist Russian couple) to my departure gate to Ho Chi Mingh..

After a further 7 hour flight, a few hours kip, watching an insightful Les Paul documentary about the invention of the electric guitar and multi-track tape recording and the disturbingly brilliant District 9, I touched down in Saigon, changed my clothes and flagged down a taxi with a Korean businessman who was also heading into the region of De Tham.

Upon arrival, I immediately found myself spun-out from the jetlag, the interesting culture shock, the comforting yet overwhelming heat as well as the electrifying pace of the city. Having been to Thailand several times before, Saigon seems like a cleaner, more upmarket and civilised version of Bangkok; so much buzz and life on the surface, with the obvious darker undercurrents of poverty and corruption bubbling under the surface. Buildings, parks, even roads were glowed by New Year lights and flowers i.e orchids, roses, marigolds etc. Christmas was still being celebrated and there was an international food festival and carnival in the centre of city which seemed to attract thousands of revellers..like Nottintg Hill carnival on acid - except without the booty bass and gangstas.

I hopped out and ordered a cold Saigon beer (for around 70p) at the Buffalo Bar on the corner of De Tham while I waited for an old friend to come and meet me after he finished work as arranged. Adam is a well-established international English teacher who's taught all over the world including Thailand, Italy, Japan and the UK. We met at University while working in a market research centre and have remained friends ever since. He's been in Saigon for four months now and managed to book me a room in his Na Thram guesthouse for a very cheap rate. We checked in, had a quick shower and then headed out into town where we caught up with the Premiership football scores, ate some pizza and had a few whiskeys at some local bars before heading back around 1am.

The usual happened - as you'd expect with a bustling 3rd world country such as Vietnam. We got appraoched by all many of hookers, drug dealers offering 'gogaine' and 'marrywaana' but due to our Grade A diversion skills and some of Adam's local mates, they all soon left us alone. Looking forward to tomorrow where a trip to the Chien Tranh War Museum is in order...

Posted via email from Jeremy Lloyd Travel Diaries

Sunday, 27 December 2009


This is the first time I've attempted to go long-haul and back to the UK on my New Zealand passport alone - other than to the Southern Hemisphere and back. I thought it'd be interesting to see how easy it really is in today's climate...

After a fairly lengthy conversation with passport control just now, it turns out than any Antipodean entering the UK from abroad, automotically gets issued with a 6 month UK visa but apparently its 'open to negotiation' as to whether I will need one or not upon showing my birth certificate and proof of residency. According to the Jamaican guy I spoke to, he said that a lot of the time, if you just show your address or birth certificate, they'll let you through permanently without the need for a 6-month visa...no questions asked..

If this really is the case and the majority of illegal immigrants realise this, there must be an unprecedented level of foreigners entering the UK using similar methods...with forged proof of address and fake birth certificates..very easy to forge..

After all this however, the irony will probably be that I'll have to go via Belfast or some such place...fingers crossed I won't have to...

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Posted via email from tekkedup's posterous

Follow my Posturous Blog around Vietnam

My trip around Vietnam

Howdy Folks,

As many of you may know, I'm currently taking a 3 week soujourn around Vietnam to visit some friends, follow the Vietnam war trail and well, generally drink cheap beer, eat amazing and exotic food, dive in some of the most spectacular waters on the planet, get a killer (lobster-like) tan and escape the grim realities of freezing and miserable Jan/Feb London life before heading back to the digital marketing/social media world of geekdom that I inhabit these days. What I've decided to do, rather that limit my experiences to the comfort of my own mind, is to document my travels on a (semi) regular basis through a new blogging platform called Posturous that I thought I'd try out... I'll try my best to upload photos and input general blog entries at http://tekkedup.posterous.com/ for you all to read if your interested. To start, I thought I'd provide you with a background on Vietnam:

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu was one of most elegant women of the 20th century.In the 1950s and 1960s,she was first lady of South Vietnam. She was born in 1924 in Hanoi,Vietnam.In fact, she was compared with ladies such as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (former first lady of the United States), Dewi Sukarno (ex-first lady of Indonesia), Grace Kelly ( former princess of Monaco) and Eva Duarte de Peron (former first lady of Argentina).In the 1960s, Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu popularized the traditional Vietnamese "ao dai" (long dress). She currently resides in France, where she is writing her autobiography.She speaks fluent English, Vietnamese and French.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Vietnam is the home to Historic City of Hue-one of the ancient wonders of the world. During the Nguyen dynasty (1802-1945), Hue was the capital of Vietnam. More than 10 palaces in Hue provide some of the best remaining examples of Vietnamese architecture in Asia. It is the monument that best symbolizes Vietnam. Hue has been recognised as a World Cultural Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Hieu Ngan Tran is one of the Vietnam´s best known and well-loved athletes. She is a taekwondo athlete who competed in the women´s featherweight category at the 2000 Olympic Games and won the silver medal. The silver medal for Vietnam was the first ever won by that country in Olympic competition.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Vietnam is famous for its hospitality, and the average visitor will have no difficulty in adapting to local traditions.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...The Vietnamese film industry has been honoured at film festival and award ceremonies around the world. The prizes attained include the Golden Lion for best film awarded by the Venice International Film to Anh Hung Tran´s Cyclo (1995) ; the Jury Prize awarded by the Sundance Film Festival to Tony Bui´s Three Seasons (1999); and the Grand Jury Prize awarded by the Pusan International Film Festival to Luu Hynh´s The White Silk Dress Press (1999).

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Madame Nguyen Thi Binh became the first female vice president of Vietnam in 1992. She became head of the Vietnamese women´s movement in the 1960s and 1970s.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Like its Thai cousin, Vietnam is world-famous for its traditional cuisine. At Paris´s top restaurants, visitors can savor the true taste of Vietnamese cuisine.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Vietnam has long been famous for its magnificent temples and palaces.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Vietnam has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the Third World.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...The development of traditional Vietnamese sports is vital to the preservation of Vietnamese culture. Takraw, or kick volleyball, is a traditional sport in Vietnam. In this sport, a ball is passed from player to player by hitting it with the head and feet. Takraw also is widely played in Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...The bio-diversity of Vietnam is one of its greatest riches.The country has six world´s biosphere reserves: Can Gio Mangrove Forest, Cat Ba, Cat Tien, Kien Giang, Red River Delta, and Western Nghe An.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...The United States of America recognizes Vietnam as an independent country since 1995. In 1996, president Bill Clinton appointed Douglas Peterson to serve as United States ambassador to Vietnam.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Vietnam is world-famous for its animal wildlife. This wildlife -which includes elephants, buffaloes, tigers, monkeys, rhinoceroses, snakes and turtles- attracts thousands of tourists to Vietnam each year.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Vietnam maintains diplomatic relations with 140 countries in the world, including France, China, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Canada, South Korea, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Russia and Malaysia.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Ha Long Bay is generally considered to be the most beautiful scenery in the whole of Vietnam. It consist of 1,969 islands and islets situated in the Gulf of Tonkin. This zone is known for its spectacular seascape of limestone pillars. It is one of the most popular spots in Asia. Ha Long Bay has been recognized as a World Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Vietnam joined the United Nations in 1977.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam. It is the most important economic, industrial and cultural center in the country.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...The best-known Vietnamese works of art the thousands of pagodas found throughout the country.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...The education has received increased emphasis in Vietnam since the country became independent in 1976. Certainly, Vietnam has greatly increased the number of schools in response to demands for educational opportunities by the people.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...In 2000, Bill Clinton,who was president of the United States (1993-2001), was given a hero´s welcome in Vietnam as he became the first American president to visit the Asian country.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...The "ao dai" is the most popular national costume in Vietnam.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Vietnam is one of the ten member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Hanoi is well known for its famous restaurants. Some of the restaurants are built along the Red river to provide diners with a riverside view of Hanoi´s sunset.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Vietnam hosted delegates from 21 contries at the 2006 APEC Summit.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...The Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is a World Heritage Site in Vietnam.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...AmeliaVega, Miss Universe 2003,went to Hanoi to attend the 2003 Miss Vietnam pageant.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Vietnam competed at the modern Olympic Games for the first time at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...The 11th Taekwondo World Championship was held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, in June 2001.

DID YOU KNOW THAT....Like Carlos Noriega (Peru), Abdul Ahad Mohmad (Afghanistan), Jugdermedidiyn Gurragcha (Mongolia) and Salman al-Saud (Saudi Arabia), Pham Tuan was one of the best astronauts in the Third World. He was the first Vietnamese astronaut and the first Asian in space. Pham Tuan flew aboard the shuttle Soyuz-37 in July 1980. He was in space for more than 7 days. Pham Tuan was given a hero´s welcome when he returned to country after completing its historic orbital space flight.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Vietnam is one of the best-watered areas in Southeast Asia. Five main rivers flow eastward across the country. They are Mekong, Red Can, Srepok and Black.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Hanoi hosted the Fifth Asia-Europe Summit Meeting (ASEM) in 2004.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Vietnam has rich mineral deposits (oil, coal, gas, manganese, bauxite and phosphates), large forests, and good farm.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...The Scent of Green Papaya was the first great Vietnamese movie of the 20th century. This film was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Category at the 1993 Academy Awards. The movie enjoyed the highest-grossing opening in Vietnam film history.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Vietnam has eight idols:Anh Hung Tran (film director), Pham Tuan (astronaut), Thuy Tran (modeling agent), Nguyen Thi Phoung (ecologist), Hieu Ngan Tan (sportswoman), Madame Ngo Dinh Nho (former first lady of Vietnam), Tony Bui (film maker) and Nguyen Thi Binh (vice president of Vietnam).

DID YOU KNOW THAT...More than 20 million people in Vietnam ride a bicycle.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Vietnam has an area about 1 per cent as large as that of the United States.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Le Duc Tho was a diplomat who always worked for a unified Vietnam. He was born on October 14, 1911, in Phan Dinh Khai,Vietnam. Certainly, Le Duc Tho worked with Henry Kissinger (secretary of state of the United States) to end Vietnam war, and in 1973 the two men were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The award citation said, "On January 23 of this year a ceasefire agreement was concluded between the United States and the Vietnamese Democratic Republic.At its meeting on October 16 the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Storting decided to award the Peace Prize for the 1973 to Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, the two chief negotiators who succeeded in arranging the ceasefire after negotiating for nearly four years..."

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Vietnam has been chosen to host the 2008 Miss Universe. Vietnam won the right to host the 2008 Miss Universe by one vote over Japan.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...President George W.Bush became the first U.S. president to visit Vietnam in the 21st century.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Vietnam is about 8 times the size of Switzerland.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Vietnam competed at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha,Qatar. It finished 19th in the medal count, with 23 (3 gold), trailing China, South Korea, Japan, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Iran, Uzbekistan, India, Qatar, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Bahrein, Hong Kong, North Korea, Kuwait and Philippines.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...Vietnam is famous for its beautiful beaches along the Pacific Ocean: Bai Chay, Tran Phu, Nha Trang,China Beach,Mui Ne Beach,Hon Chong Beach and Bai Tam.

DID YOU KNOW THAT...The 7th Summit of the Francophonie was held in Hanoi,Vietnam

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Ho Chi Minh Trail Vietnam, from soldier's road to tourist highway

Ho Chi Minh Trail Vietnam, from soldier's road to tourist highway: "

HO CHI MINH HIGHWAY, Vietnam — If relentless American bombing didn't get him, it would take a North Vietnamese soldier as long as six months to make the grueling trek down the jungled Ho Chi Minh Trail. Today, you speed along the same route at 60 mph, past peaceful hamlets and stunning mountain scenery. The trail, which played an important role in the Vietnam War, has been added to itineraries of the country's booming tourist industry. Promoters cash in on its history, landmarks and the novelty of being able to motor, bike or even walk down the length of the country in the footsteps of bygone communist guerrillas.

Women on bicycles make their way along a section of the newly built Ho Chi Minh highway near Vinh,Vietnam. David Longstreath, AP

Many sections of the old trail, actually a 9,940-mile web of tracks, roads and waterways, have been reclaimed by tropical growth. But a main artery has now become the Ho Chi Minh National Highway, probably the country's best and the largest public works project since Vietnam War ended 30 years ago.

The highway, more than 745 miles of which are already open to traffic, begins at the gates of Hanoi, the capital, and ends at the doorsteps of Ho Chi Minh City, which was known as Saigon when it was the former capital of South Vietnam.

In between, the route passes battlefields like Khe Sanh and the Ia Drang Valley, skirts tribal villages of the rugged Central Highlands and offers easy access to some of the country's top attractions — the ancient royal seat of Hue, the picturesque trading port of Hoi An and South China Sea beaches.

We began a recent car journey in the newly rebuilt city of Vinh, along one of the trail's main branches. Here in 'Vietnam's Dresden,' every building but one was obliterated by U.S. bombing, which attempted to stop the flow of foreign military aid through the city's port. American pilots also suffered their greatest losses of the war over its skies.

Nearby, in the rice-farming village of Kim Lien, is the humble hut where Vietnam's revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh was born and a museum dedicated to his turbulent life. Given Ho's standing as a national icon, the village draws an average of 1.5 million domestic visitors and a smattering of foreigners each year.

It was on one of Ho's birthdays, on May 9, 1959, that construction of the trail began with the establishment of Military Transport Division 559, made up of 440 young men and women. Over the next 16 years, the trail, which also wound through neighboring Laos and Cambodia, carried more than a million North Vietnamese soldiers and vast quantities of supplies to battlefields in South Vietnam despite ferocious American air strikes.

'There are some who argue that American victory would have followed the cutting of The Trail,' writes John Prados in 'The Blood Road.' 'The Trail undeniably lay at the heart of the war. For the Vietnamese of the North the Ho Chi Minh Trail embodied the aspirations of a people ... hiking it became the central experience for a generation.'

At Dong Loc, 18 miles south of Vinh, we stopped at one of many memorials to the thousands who didn't complete that hike — a hillside shrine with the tombs of 10 women, aged 17 to 24, killed in bombing raids. Joss sticks, flowers and the articles of female youth — pink combs and little round mirrors — lay on each of the last resting places.

'School children come here every day. It's important in educating the young about the sacrifices of the old generation,' said Dau Van Coi, secretary of the local youth union guiding visitors to what was once a major trail junction. Exhibiting no hostility to American visitors, he noted that U.S. warplanes dropped more than three bombs per 10 square feet on the area.

Farther down the trail, at the Highway 9 National Cemetery, bemedaled veteran Nguyen Kim Tien searched for fallen comrades among the 10,000 headstones. An elderly woman and her daughter wept before three of them — those of the older woman's father, husband and a close relative.

Although it's still a trail of tears three decades after the guns fell silent, Ho's road looks decidedly to the future.

'We cut through the Truong Son jungles for national salvation. Now we cut through the Truong Son jungles for national industrialization and modernization,' said former Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet when the 10-year project began in 2000.

The government says the highway will stimulate the economy in some of Vietnam's poorest, most remote regions, relieve congestion on the only other north-south road, National Highway 1, and increase tourism revenue. Besides conventional tours, several companies offer mountain biking along sections of the trail and expeditions on Russian-made Minsk motorcycles out of the 1950s.

However, the highway has sparked domestic and international criticism that it will lead to further decimation of Vietnam's already disappearing forests, attract a flood of migrants into ethnic minority regions from the crowded coast and disturb wildlife at several protected areas. The Switzerland-based World Wide Fund for Nature has criticized the project as 'the single largest long-term threat to biodiversity in Vietnam.'

So far, little of the officially hoped-for development is evident. In central Vietnam, one drives for long stretches meeting just the occasional Soviet-era truck, decrepit tractor or water buffalo-drawn cart as the highway winds through valleys flanked by spectacular limestone cliffs.

At some places like the A Shau valley town of A Luoi, just a few shacks and farm houses when seen five years ago, a mini-boom is clearly afoot. There's a bustling market selling baskets of fruit, Japanese watches and delicious French bread, and newly built houses abound.

From the highway, which expands to four lanes as it runs through the crossroads town, Dong Ap Bia looms in the hazy distance. American soldiers called it Hamburger Hill because of the number of lives ground up in the 1969 battle on its ridges.

Almost all traces of American presence in A Luoi have vanished. Only the old people can point out the helicopter landing field, now a school playground with a decrepit merry-go round featuring three little airplanes. The laughing youngsters who crowd around the foreign visitors know nothing of the war.

By Denis D. Gray, Associated Press RELATED ITEMS Ho Chi Minh Trail Tours: http://www.ridehochiminhtrail.com Active Travel Vietnam offers motorcycle tours that last seven to 18 days; www.activetravelvietnam.com.

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Christmas in Vietnam

Christmas in Vietnam: "In Vietnam, Christmas was celebrated joyously with people thronging city roads right from Christmas Eve, which is often more important than Christmas Day! Christmas is one of the four most important festivals of the Vietnamese year, including the birthday of Buddha, the New Year and the Mid-autumn Festival. Although the Christians observed the religious rituals of Christmas.
Christmas in Vietnam
Traditional Vietnamese religions are Buddhism and the Chinese philosophies of Taoism and Confucianism. However, during French rule, many people became Christians, that occupy 8 to 10 percent of whose population. This is because the Vietnamese are a fun-loving, sociable people and the various Vietnam festivals and events are actually occasions for them to a gala time, all together. Christmas in Vietnam is a grand party. History Of Christmas In Vietnam Christmas in Vietnam has had a tumultuous history. The Catholics are a minority in Vietnam but they used to celebrate Christmas in Vietnam quite in peace right from the days of the French rule. That is until the Communists took over political power in 1975. The church-state relations soured during that time and the Catholics were relegated to celebrating Jesus’s birthday in privacy.
Christmas tree at Fortuna Hotel (Hanoi,Vietnam)
Since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, church-state relations have not always been smooth. However, they have been improving since the introduction of economic reforms in the late 1980s. Liberalist policies adopted since the 1980s saw Vietnam warming up to western influences and ideals and Christmas in Vietnam came back triumphantly. Now Christmas is one of the major festivals in Vietnam, celebrated with much fanfare by all religious communities. Phat Diem Cathedral in Ninh Binh Province is considered the spiritual home for the seven million Catholics who live in Vietnam, a predominantly Buddhist nation. Hundreds of Catholics gather for Christmas Eve Mass in the northern city of Phat Diem. Children staged a nativity play to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ - or Kito, as he is known in Vietnamese -- in front of the city's cathedral, built in 1891. Christmas In Vietnam Christmas in Vietnam is a huge event, especially in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and the Vietnamese Christmas celebrations here are like any other city in the western world. The Christians in Vietnam attend a Midnight mass on Christmas Eve and return home to a sumptuous Christmas dinner. The Christmas dinner usually consists of chicken soup while wealthier people eat turkey and Christmas pudding. On Christmas Eve, Vietnamese people in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, especially young people, like to go into the city centre, where there is a Catholic Cathedral. The streets are crowded with people on Christmas Eve and in the city centre cars are not allowed for the night. People celebrate by throwing confetti, taking pictures and enjoying the Christmas decorations and lights of big hotels and department stores. Lots of cafes and restaurants are open for people to enjoy a snack! Vietnam used to be part of the French Empire and there are still French influences in the Christmas traditions. Many Catholic churches have a big nativity crib scene or 'creche' with nearly life size statues of Mary, Joesph, baby Jesus, the shepherds and animals. In some areas of Ho Chi Minh City, usually in Catholic parishes, people have big crib scenes in front of their houses and decorate the whole street, turning it into a Christmas area! These are popular for people to visit and look at the scenes. Also like in France, the special Christmas Eve meal is called 'reveillon' and has a 'bûche de Noël' (a chocolate cake in the shape of a log) for desert. Vietnamese people like to give presents of food and at Christmas a bûche de Noël is a popular gift. Other Christmas presents are not very common, although some young people like to exchange Christmas cards. The Yuletide spirit of giving and sharing has been embraced with an earnest by the Vietnamese. Generous as they are, the Vietnamese give out gifts and presents in plenty during the Christmas celebrations in Vietnam. However, the children are more keen to have their stockings and shoes stuffed in with goodies from Santa’s bulging sack. The European customs of Santa Claus and the Christmas tree were popular and children would leave their shoes out on Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas in Vietnamese is “Chúc Mừng Giáng Sinh”! Source: Vietnam-beauty Recommendation for Christmas in Vietnam: Family adventure tours in Vietnam Short Excursions in Indochina
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Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Dubstep THE documentary

Dubstep THE documentary: "banner Ever wondered what the dubstep scene in Belgium looks like from the inside? Are you curious about who our own dubstep dj's and producers are? And you wonder how they are working? Or you just want to check nice imagery of the countless dubstep parties Belgium had to offer in the year 2009. Then you should definitely go and see dBstep the documentary!"

Monday, 21 December 2009

Left vs Right

Left vs Right: "

A concept-map exploring the Left vs Right political spectrum. A collaboration between David McCandless and information artist Stefanie Posavec, taken from my book The Visual Miscellaneum (out Nov 10th).

Of course, the political spectrum is not quite so polarised. Actually, it’s more of a diamond shape, apparently. But this is how it’s mostly presented via the media – left wing vs. right wing, liberal vs. conservative, Labour vs Tory. And perhaps in our minds too…

Well, certainly in my mind. Researching this showed me that, despite my inevitable journalistic lean to the ‘left’, I am actually a bit more ‘right’ than I suspected.

This kind of visual approach to mapping concepts really excites me. I like the way it coaxes me to entertain two apparently contradictory value systems at the same time. Or, in other words, I like the way it f**ks with my head.

I’ve got a few more of these coming from my book. They do a similar act of mind-flossing. Stay tuned.

Oh and if there’s enough demand, we’re going to do a signed, limited edition poster run of this image before Christmas. Email informationisbeautiful [at] gmail [dot] com if you’re interested

design notes

The original design concept was “something like a rosette”. But Stefanie did an amazing job taking it way further.

(I’ll be doing a ‘Great Visualizers’ piece on her in the future. But you can see some of her work here: itsbeenreal.co.uk. My particular favourite are her literary organisms. Truly beautiful and very informational. Yum.)

There are two versions with different colours: a US and a World version. This is because the US and Switzerland are the only countries in the world where red = right wing and blue = left wing. Grrr!


Four Infographic Morsels 3

Four Infographic Morsels 3: "

Earth In Space Volume Of Living Space On Earth Thanks to Steve Haddock for that one. Apparently this map is secreted on Google Earth somewhere. Can anybody find a link for it? Thanks!

And on a similar theme – the undiscovered country, Antarctica, grokkable for size.

The Size Of Antarctica (Apols. I lost the original link for this image. If anyone knows where it comes from, please let me know so I can credit)

Mark Coleran – Visual Design for Film An “INCOMING EMAIL” alert in 200 point text suddenly flies across your monitor. Only the movies eh? This talented dude, Mark Coleran, is responsible for many movie infographical displays. Normally you only see them fleetingly reflected in Denziel Washington’s anxious glasses. But today they are in unveiled in their full glory for a long, proper look.

Mark Coleran - Visual Design for Film

Why Are Europeans White Skinned? North Europeans are the palest humans in the world. Why? Here’s a clue: Blame Alpen. Explore this fascinating theory and nice story on skin colour.

Why Are Europeans White Skinned?

(Thanks to Peter Ayres) Knol, “Google’s Wikipedia”, rules BTW.

Mind Mapping A Mind Map Lunchbreath’s amusing dig at Mind Mapping (which I personally find rubbish)

Mind Mapping A Mind Map

There’s a bunch more hand-drawn infographical goodness on LunchBreath’s Flickr Stream.

Hmmm, strangely map themed this time. If you’re still hungry for more infographical morsels, check out the last selection.

In the meantime, if you come across any visual delights, please send them through.


Thursday, 17 December 2009

Sketch things.

Sketch things.: "- - I was pretty happy with the sketch of the girl on the left, the other is a little un-stylised. The title is like a reallly badly translated film poster, like if I tried to translate Japanese without knowing the the structure of the language, which I don't. - - Lost in the space funk! - -

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Interesting news and cool stuff I've spotted this week

I haven't had much of a chance to sit back and absorb my RSS feeds this week due to constantly being out at various bashes here, there and everywhere but here's some interesting snippets of social media-related news that thought I’d share:

Not sure if any of you manage or maintain a Wordpress blog and Twitter feed for your clients but if so, this is well worth a read:


One trend in digital we should all try to avoid in 2010:


A free ‘To Do’ list app:


Two new free tools I’ve just discovered for finding the traffic of a popular website (and comparing it to another site) by entering the URL into compete.com . Or quantcast . This data is far more accurate than the charts Alexa and other free tools offer.

Daily summaries of your friends’/clients’ Twitter posts:


Five Free Facebook Tools to Enhance Your Social Media Campaign:


Nice post on Google real-time search:


4 Functions of Social Media:


M & S Christmas rant:


Post on content:


An average day on the internet:


Some thoughts on Tiger Woods from an old colleague:


Tied to the Noughties:


Cool/interesting/creative stuff to watch :






Grifters - opens at Lazarides this week

Grifters - opens at Lazarides this week: "

Just when we thought street art was dead the buildings of the city are once again adorned with work worthy of getting on a tube just to go and have a look at. There's plenty of it too courtesy of artists involved in the Lazarides 'Grifters' exhibition which opens in Rathbone Place later this week. Lazinc.com and Wallkandy's Flickr stream are the places to watch to find out locations and see the best pictures of the artists in action. On Tuesday I took a copy of Laz's published locations and set off around town in the freezing weather to see what I could find. Pictures below:

Paul Insect in Southwick Mews, Paddington

Vhils in Oval Road, Camden

Invader in Charlotte Road, Shoreditch

Mode 2 in Rathbone Place, off Oxford Street

Charlie Isoe, Kean Road, Holborn