Saturday, June 24, 2006

Tokyo - photos

Very nice posh place, the Park Hyatt is! Weather is cloudy so I can't even see Mt. Fuji... I have a lot of work to catch up on, so I think I'll spend some my Sunday doing that... might as well do it in luxury!!

Got a coffee in a machine at the airport that was so confusing to use! Also then threw the cup away afterwards, and there was an option in the waste for "Pet Bottles" - what the hell are those?

Took the train to Omote-Sando and saw some bizarre girls dressed up like S&M Animé. They were total posers, so I took a few pictures but then got bored as I'm sure they were of me. Walked through a park to to Meiji-jingu, the main shrine of Japan. Pretty but exactly like the one Andy and I saw earlier this year, so I just moved on... I could not believe how HUGE the park was though, quiet too, and it is in central Tokyo. Amazing. Then hit this cute area totally by accident, lots of windy streets going up and down hills with bakeries and eateries... then off to enjoy my luxury at the Park Hyatt.

Home tomorrow! Yeah!

Ho Chi Minh City - photos

What an interesting day.

A few things to note before I forget: I've seen more older people with severed limbs here than in any city; I was told by a young Vietnamese boy "Honey, I love you"; older women really DO wear pointy straw hats here; pollution from all the mopeds is terrible; the Viet currency has the funniest name in the world - it is called the Dong; I am the only blond in the entire country right now; I look so foreign, locals just hound me to sell anything to the point that I am tired of going out and fighting it anymore.

I walked to Reunification Palace which is the seat of government and is also a museum in some ways kept exactly unchanged since the Vietnam War. Strangely, the areas still used by the President are also unchanged since the war - meaning very bad condition and very bad taste. Look at the photos - one room actually has a stuffed leopard and a chandelier in it amongst 70s carpet.

Most interesting was going to the roof and seeing a helicopeter there from the war; also interesting was the bunker in the basement, kept as a museum used just as during the war. The ending was very interesting - a museum of pictures and mementos about Vietnam's occupation by the French, the American war and subsequent victory by the Communists. What was most interesting was not that it wasn't factual, and in some ways very fair, but also very slanted anti-American; there was not a single positive comment about the American war. I'm fascinated and will likely want to read more about it politically (rather then the 1.5 million movies on the battles).

Then went shopping, including buying a linen print of communist propoganda. This was truly a fascinating store, much of it so anti-American that it actually made me feel bad; curiously, some other Americans were in there as well looking to buy a print, but they said exactly as I felt: "Well, we're not going to buy any war posters." There were many that showed USAF planes burning and crashing from the sky, some posters showing South Vietnamese soldiers tied up on a post and being shot. Fascinating. I ended up getting something not quite so harsh but still rather Bolshevik. Very cool.

I have so much crap to take home! I look forward to sleeping tonight and just relaxing in Tokyo tomorrow; I think I will just stay at the hotel, relax and other than go for a walk just work in my room. A lot of catching up to do!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Ho Chi Minh City

I've fallen in love with this place!

The people here are so nice, the service level is just astounding. Everyone smiles... the city is bustling with so many people, it is amazing. The food is great and of course it is incredibly cheap!
An oddity: I tried to place a call today to Switzerland, but apparently it is illegal to call there from Vietnam. A strange political fallout from a communist country? I thought Switzerland was neutral...

Had a 90-minute Thai Massage here, feel great. The Park Hyatt Saigon is just truly amazing, extremely luxurious in a city where you just would never expect it.

All day shopping and relaxing tomorrow, then off to Tokyo at midnight!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Wow, what a place.

In the first ten minutes of arrival I experienced more culture than I had in 3 days in Sinagpore... the airport arrival outside of the baggage claim was filled with more people than I have seen at any third-world airport, but unlike the chaos that usually ensues, it was eerily controlled - no screaming babies or people asking for taxis, rather, just 3,000 people looking at us hoping we were their loved on/associate/friend/potential ride/whatever...

As we drove down the streets, what really struck me was how at there were almost no cars, but about 300 mopeds at each stoplight. Intersections filled with mopeds, one guy was carrying a shell of a computer between his legs while driving it. Along the streets, it looked like lots of little colourful buildings similar to Mexico City without the grafitti - but in front hanging from the telephone poles were not only a few cables but hundreds of them, as if the growth to commerce has been so fast they haven't had time to put the cables underground.

The drive to the hotel was past Reunification Square - a park with a museum holding two tanks from the Vietnam war, with big red flags and building sized posters of crowds of happy people.

The hotel itself is stunningly gorgeous, a throw back in time. When you enter you feel like you just walked into 1948 Saigon. Gorgeous potted palms, huge shuttered french paned windows and a grand piano adorn the lobby.... the male employees in white banded shirts and black slacks, women all in long black robes, both uniforms perfectly pressed and hair clean and kept back. Rooms are just stunning, old simplicity...

Had dinner in an open air local restaurant, with a tree in it. The outdoor edges were covered with a sail underwhich were the kitchens... freshest vegetables I have ever had, we had to make our own spring roles by hand... neat. Cheap as hell.

But now I am just exhausted so going to sleep...

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Oh, the joys of webcams!

Setting up the webcam has been hilarious... when I go to the computer the dogs are invariably in the room locked up. It is funny to look in and spy on them when Andrew is not there... generally they are bored waiting for someone to come home, but my favorite is to knock on the desk and shout out "who is it?" They run around barking acting like someone is there and it was just me playing a game with them from Singapore!

The amazing thing is to see Jake will bark when he hears me walk around or talk on the phone here in Singapore. His ears are so good he can tell it is me and he barks thinking I'm home . Whenever I mute the speaker, he is quiet. Truly amazing.

My last day here... yesterday after going to breakfast I went shopping... my God I spent a lot of money. My credit card got security halted and I could not clear it until 11pm last night because of the time difference. How frustrating! I really was spending a lot of money!

Today it is raining a bit... I am off to Ho Chi Minh City for a conference, so I have to pack and run soon. Danielle and Mark are coming over to the house so while they have a beer they will go on the Webcam and say HI to me in Singapore where I will be having coffee... a party 6,000 miles away and I'll be a part of it! Too cool!

Friday, June 16, 2006


I'm always surprised how busy it is here... like New York, tons of people everywhere... and they just shop shop shop. That's ME tomorrow.... I so badly need some new clothes, I am going to spend lots of money. But luckily it is the shopping sales - "The Great Singapore Sale" is from 26 May - 23 June and I'm in the middle of it!

So tomorrow will be just to take it easy... nice, given how hot and humid it is. It is 82 degrees - feels like 92 - and it is almost 10pm! Crazy...

off to bed!