Posts Tagged ‘Vietnam’
The last year we have been travelling a lot. We have visited Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, The Netherlands and Spain and even managed to stay a few months in our home country Denmark as well. In that time things have been crazy busy (but then again – everybody seems busy these days to a point where it doesn’t mean anything to say you’re busy).
Travelling takes a lot of time, but we have also found time to start up our own business, Monzoom, doing consultant work for a couple of Danish companies (e.g. internationally known Danish toy company known for “blocks” – you know who I mean, right?) and we have found time to make our first product xiive. I’m really scratching my own itch with xiive – it’s a social media filtering site with special emphasis on how much a topic is mentioned (seen over time) and comparing these numbers with those of other topics.
There are already many such sites, but the special thing about xiive is that we did not follow the traditional model of letting the user choose x topics (usually 3) to track in private. We have chosen instead to make all the data public so it can be shared, embedded, compared and discussed.
We are currently in private beta, and I can’t wait to show the site to the world. You can sign up for an invite here if you want, but I have to warn you – we don’t really like those “viral” beta invite sites, so you will not get in front of the line by inviting your friends. We think you should only call on your social network if you really mean it and not to get special treatment.
Today we launched a new landing page and I think it is quite the improvement, but you be the judge of that. Here is the old landing page and the new landing page:
Right now we sit in a hotel apartment in Bangkok (no flood in sight here, but some areas are badly hit). We have just been in southern Thailand for a month and we are going to stay in Bangkok for a month and then go home to Denmark for Christmas.
Life is good!
Saigon in southern Vietnam is a very different from Hanoi in the northern parts of Vietnam. Where Hanoi is busy, smelly og too crowded, Saigon is busy, much cleaner and with space on the sidewalk for people walking (but occasionally also for people on motorbikes, so watch out).
We stayed at a great hotel in the center of town called Le Duy. We quickly found a restaurant street thanks to our Lonely planet iPhone app for Saigon; Ho Chi Minh City Guide. What a useful app! It really helped us a lot. It has a “near by”-function that shows you where you are and how far away points of interest like landmarks, shopping and restaurants are. Very useful.
Our first trip out of our hotel room to find some food, was a great success for the food but we did get caught in the rain. What we didn’t know was that the rain is a daily event in this city – we bought umbrellas the next day and brought them with us for the rest of our stay. The daily rain is not really a problem if you come prepared except for the wet shoes – they don’t dry up before the next shower.
On our second night in Saigon we went to find a good restaurant, but they were all full, noisy and not very cosy, so it was quite difficult. Then we stumbled on an Indian restaurant that was completely dark and looked really good with lots of candles and no noise. It was empty and looked closed but the staff was outside trying to get people in, so we decided to try it out. When we were reading through the menu at candlelight we realised that there was a power blackout going on. Fortunately the kitchen didn’t need power to make great food – we could see the high flames coming from the small kitchen in the back of the restaurant. It ended up being a nice experience though at one point the waiter tried to create a little ambiance by playing music from his mobile phone. That seemed a bit surreal.
Saigon is a beautiful city especially the many cloud formations. This photo is one of my favorites (and yes, we did play a little with the colors):
The biggest difference between the Saigon and Hanoi is the traffic. I have already described the traffic in Hanoi and what a nightmare it is. The traffic in Saigon is much easier to handle because it is more structured and because there is room for pedestrians on the sidewalk instead of forcing them out on the street. Well, the traffic is still pretty bad but we learned a lot about handling it in Hanoi. The trick is to just walk, keep a steady pace, be predictable and use the pedestrian crossings where ever you can find one.
We truly loved Saigon and I think it is a place I could live. Other people seems to think so too because we met a lot of expats. The food is great, the traffic seems ok, the weather is great when it is not raining, everything is very cheap and the people seem friendly enough. It is possible to live in this city using very little money and I actually felt a little bad about paying so little for great things like backpacks, drinks and food. We didn’t have many days in Saigon, but that’s ok, because I know we are coming back one day.
First of all: I’m not really the backpacking type. The reality is that I’m going travelling for what right now looks like a year, but as my husband says: “Don’t put an end date on it. It will just confuse people if we decide to come back after 3 months or 3 years.” And he’s probably right.
Secondly, I’m too old for budget backpacking and cheap hotels. I like a comfy bed and running hot water IN my hotel room. I like to dress up to go out in the evening and I can’t live without WiFi and my computer. I’m probably a “medium” budget traveller: no 5 star hotels for me unless they are really cheap, but I’ll prefer a 3 star minimum and I love swimming pools.
We have decided to tour a bit of Asia with stops in Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia and maybe more but we really like the thought of just “winging it” as we go along, so nothing is set in stone. We need to keep expenses at about 3500 USD/20000 DKK a month to be able to stay for 12 months, that is if we do not produce anything of value as we go along. (The plan is to code up some of our own projects, that we have been neglecting and if some of those projects produce an income that would allow us to tweak the budget. Of course this blog is also a very small source of income through Google Ads.)
So… what to pack for such a trip? I found inspiration in this video:
As Nick mentions:
A security pouch, passport, copy of passport, credit card, cash, comfy shoes, clothes (in his case mens clothes), underwear, a first aid kit, medicine, sun screen, sun hat, a flashlight (head lamp), an iPod, travel alarm clock, light towel, rain jacket, rain poncho for you AND backpack, water bottle, a backpack with a day bag, camera and sunglasses.
As a girl (geek) and a more luxury traveller I will also bring:
3 dresses and a skirt,
duct tape (and I really think Nick forgot this or maybe it is in his first aid kit),
a computer (and all the computer cords that comes with that),
a computer sleeve,
an extension cord,
an external hard drive,
an external computer battery possibly with solar panel,
my idea book (long story),
makeup and other beauty products (in DK the chemical levels are closely monitored and regulated – I don’t know if that is true for products bought in Asia).
But I will leave (with a heavy heart) at my parents house:
my wedding ring and all my real gold and diamond jewelry that I can’t bear see lost or stolen,
All my other shoes and clothes,
my library of great books and
all gadgets, computers and consoles not fit for travelling.
Of course there is probably a few things on my list that I could buy during my travels instead of packing them, but these are the things I like to have with me from day one. Can you help me tweak this list? What have I forgotten? What would you leave out if you were taking this trip?