Thursday, September 28, 2006

It happened again, but better this time!

Karen and I decide to go for a drink with some colleagues from the Vietnam News, and the place we ended up was the very same Red Mask bar where the lights went out during our last visit. We had been there for a little while this time when it happened again. Lights out! The steel gate slides closed and we get the " Shhhhhhhhhhh, police!" from the staff.
This time it was a little more exciting. A police truck pulls up out front with the lights flashing. Five or six uniformed, Vietnamese police officers milling about out front. They stand at the door, hands cupped to their face, trying to see in through the treated glass of the front doors. Then to our surprise a batton shoots through the gate and hits the latch of the gate. The metal door slides open and the police burst through the door with flashlights in hand blowing whistles. There were about two dozen foreigners in the joint that night, and the police herded us out in to the street. Of course, nothing happened to us. We were free to travel half a block down the street to a bar that had done their civic duty and bribed the police. There, we were able to finish the bottles of beer from the Red Mask in peace and lumination.
The moral of this story..... ALWAYS BRIBE YOUR LOCAL AUTHORITIES!!

The absolute best part was when the police tried to leave and their truck wouldn't start. They had to get local street people to push their truck away. Totally emasculating, eh?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Situation So Far...

We have been in Vietnam for almost a week. We have both been offered jobs at Vietnam News as Editors. We start Monday. I am looking forward to the break from teaching English, but I know we can both make a lot more money as teachers so we may not stay long at the newspaper. We are still living in the Hotel as it is not as easy to find apartments here as it was in Taiwan. Taiwan had a wonderful resource in The Tainan Bulletin. Vietnam has no such resource, so it is mostly Cafe bulletin boards and word of mouth.
I am including a few pictures here, but we havn't taken many shots. Over the coming weeks we will be sure to capture some of the scenes that we find strange and beautiful here. I will write another blog about our first day at Vietnam News.
Until then,

Click the link to MySpace at the bottom of any blog to view a video of local traffic

(Our 12$ Hotel Room)

(Some Hanging Swine)

(The Lake by our Hotel)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Darkhorse Lost at Sea & Lights out for Whiteys

We went to a local Western bar called the Red Mask last night. I played pool for drinks on the most banged up pool table in existance. The felt was mostly duct tape and the table was warped in three different places. It was also at a slight angle. It was kind of like playing mini golf on a pool table. We met lots of foreigners last night and heard some great stories.
One such story is a guy from Taipei who had been living in Taiwan for five years. He was dubbed the Darkhorse by his friends for his appreciation of Ladyboys in Thailand. The news just rolled in that Darkhorse, taking a ferry to avoid customs, as he was bringing in some illegal cargo, went overboard and was declared by the Japanese Coast Guard to be lost at sea. While the Japanese have lost all hope, the Westerners that knew him believe he is alive and well clinging to a rock somewhere in the straigt between Japan and Taiwan.
The moral of the story is never count out the Ladyboy loving Darkhorse.
The real excitement happened shortly after 1am when the Vietnam police rolled by with a flood light. To our surprise, the power went out and a heavy steel door dropped down over the entrance, trapping us inside. I immediately, for whatever reason, thought of The Lost Boys, and was anticipating the staff to turn into vampires and devour us all. It was explained to me that these clubs were not allowed to be open after 12:00 unless they pay a hefty bribe to the police. So this club has lookouts posted on the street and they signal the arrival of the police and the place shuts down in seconds with all the patrons sitting quietly inside, in the pitch black, drink in hand, waiting for the coast to clear and the lights and music to come back on. It was a unique experience and definately one I am glad we had.
Talk to you soon,

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Gooooood Morning Vietnaaaam!

Here we are. We said to ourselves. Hanoi, Vietnam. How do you like them apples? Well, I like 'em just fine. This place is amazing. It is like Mexico for Australians and Kiwis. There are a ton of foriegners here but most seem to be tourists. We ran in to a problem at the Taiwan airport that ended up costing us quite a few dollars, so we find ourselves a lot lighter financially than we had expected. Luckily, for us, everything here is the kind of cheap that makes you think you are halucinating or dreaming. We sit down in nice restaurants and eat huge meals, drink beer or whatever and have dessert. The kind of meals you would pay more than one hundred dollars for in Canada, we are paying 4-6 dollars. It is 1 dollar for a cab pretty much anywhere in the city. We are staying at a hotel for 12 dollars a night. This 12 dollar hotel consists of a double bed, satalite tv, mini-fridge and of course AC. The room is clean and there are no bugs.
From what we've seen on the streets, t-shirts, shorts and pants are a measly 2-4 dollars. We got new sim cards for our phones, without showing a lick of ID. In Taiwan, getting a sim card was like applying for a small business loan. The sim cards were 5 dollars and they came with ten dollars worth of minutes.
The temperature is the same as Taiwan, but there is a consistant breeze that makes it pleasant. The one downside is the constant harrassment by peddlers selling everything from books, hats, lighters, fruit and "Mareeewana". Everything they are selling is, of course, "werry cheepy" and they don't accept "no" for an answer unless you get rude about it.
I heard my first "A numbah 1 ok" and almost busted a gut laughing. One thing that is really cool, and I may actually purchase is a Vietnam War, American issue zippo. There were hundreds of thousands of these things left here during the war and there are peddlers on the street selling them. I don't know if they are authentic or not, but who cares?
I am in an internet cafe right now, and I will try and update frequently during our first few weeks here, as it is the most exciting time.
For those of you still reading, I thank you for your interest, and hope you keep tuning in.
Until next time,

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Back on the Scene. Crispy and Clean.(somewhat)

It has been a while, dear readers, since we have posted on our misadventures in Taiwan. Although there are numerous reasons for our negligence, it is inexcusable to go this long without adding something.
I will start with our trip back to Canada. It was wonderful to see all of our family and friends again. We got to see Tom and Katies baby girl Elle, the wonderful sandy beaches of NB and NS, as well as Joe and Kelly's new band play a couple of times. We hung out in Raddie Dave's basement and Larry and Sarah's new apartment. (New to us, I believe they have moved again since our visit) But most importantly, we got to spend some time with our parents and my beautiful little girl. It was a great time and we look forward to being able to do it again sometime in the distant future.
Since we've been back, there have been some changes. We have decided to move out of Taiwan and on to Vietnam. We will be occupying the area that Mr. Shaw is soon departing from in Hanoi. Thanks to his time and effort I believe the transition will be as comfortable as possible. Thank-you Johnny, you are a true friend and gentleman.
We, of course, have been quite busy packing up our belongings(that which we will take) and selling off the rest. Our apartment has already been spoken for, but we still have a motorcycle,scooter, and a computer to sell.
And, speaking of motorcycles...Karen and I got in to our first accidents in Taiwan!! The absolute best part is, we crashed in to each other! Karen is a little bruised and sore, but nothing serious. I suffered the same as her but with a little extra trauma thrown in to my right arm. All things considered it could have been much worse.( An idiot on a scooter cut Karen off, I was following a little too closely and when she slammed on her breaks and went sideways, I didn't have enough room to stop and we collided.)
In closing, I would like to say, that although the Merlins will no longer officially Taiwanon, we will be tearing up vietnam in the near future so goodbye Merlinstaiwanon and Good Morning Vietnam!!!!