Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Crosstown Traffic (Click me to go to movie)

We took a ride around the madness that is the day before TET. Click the link above to see a short movie. Also, leave a comment on the blog below and tell me what you think of the dog issue.

Crosstown Traffic

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

In Vietnam, Man's best friend is best fried....and then smothered in onions.

This is a call to all people still reading up on us from time to time. I am running a poll to find out whether or not I should eat Dog while I am in Vietnam. Karen has simply refused to even entertain the idea of dawg eatin, but I am still on the fence. I want to experience different cultural things while I am here, however, I have been licked in the face by dogs and have had dogs excited to see me come home from work/school. I know meat is meat and all that, and it is just a western hangup, but it is one that is deeply rooted psychologically. I fear that at the time, if or when I decide to take that step and sit down at a table in a dog restaurant and the plate is put before me, with a sizzling shelty, el dante doberman, baked lassie, steamed beagle, spicey sheppard or marinated mutt. I may just spear a piece with my fork and embark on a battle with my own conscience, mouth gaping awaiting the morsel, but unable to deliver the cargo to it's destination.
So I leave it up to you fine people, our family, friends or even the complete strangers who have taken to reading our blog from time to time. Leave a comment and say your piece.... To eat dog or not to eat dog....that is the question.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Show us your TET!! The Vietnam Show part 2

As we are heading into TET, there are many changes taking place in the city that we are observing. The first and most noticeable is traffic. It is like Charlie is all hopped up on caffeine pills and Ritalin. They are riding around banging in to each other, oblivious to all time and space, most of them hanging on to small orange trees or some other kind of plant life obscuring their vision. It is truly amazing to watch a Hanoi Sandwich( three people on a scooter) driving down the street with the person in the middle cradling a six foot tree in his arms. Unfortunately there are no pictures of this just yet.
The streets have turned in to one large market with every single person selling the same things. They are all selling pots,carvings and orange trees. I am sure there is some significance to this that I am both unaware of, and uninterested in.
TET is like Christmas, New Years, Easter and Thanksgiving all rolled in to one two week holiday. Charlie spends a week hammered drunk and celebrating the new year. We were told it is best to stay off the streets during this time of the year, if at all possible. One good aspect is that the city dwellers, for the most part, all come from rural areas and leave to go back to those rural areas for a few days, essentially turning Hanoi in to a ghost town. We are eagerly anticipating the peace and quiet such a mass departure will bring.
I mentioned the "Lifters" in an earlier blog, and now I have some more to introduce. The "Squatter" is a person who can squat on the side of the road for hours at a time, seemingly unaffected by discomfort or cramping. Squatting is done alone or in groups and can take place anywhere and at anytime. There is also no age or gender discrimination with squatters as I have seen squatting by infants as well as men and woman older than dirt. The position is the same for all squatters. It is like sitting only the bottom or bum, if you will, is not actually touching the ground it merely hovers a few inches above. The thighs and knees are pressed against the chest and the arms are wrapped around the legs. If it is at all possible, it is even more uncomfortable looking than it sounds. Many activities are enjoyed by the "squatters" while in this position, such as smoking, playing board games, eating or drinking tea.
Another humorous discover is, as mentioned above, the "Hanoi Sandwich" and the "Hanoi Clubhouse". These I have named specifically for the amount of dangly little bastards able to fit on to one scooter seat. The sandwich is three and the clubhouse is four. Only full grown adults count for the sandwich and the clubhouse,as children are generally stuffed in any available free space. I have seen as many as six people on a single scooter, but that included three children clinging to the sandwich. I refer to them as fries. It is my new mission to acquire photos of this phenomenon for those of you still reading this from time to time, as it should be seen to be believed.
Signing off,

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Were an American/Canadian/Vietnamese Band!!

After a hiatus of almost two years, I am back behind a bass again, playing in a band called Jerry Garcia. It is an interesting mix of two Americans, three Vietnamese and little ol’ me. I was a little rusty starting out, but after our second practice I am feeling more comfortable. The singer owns a bar called R&R bar ( here is his website ) and it is our second home here in Hanoi. Great greasy western food and lots of character. There is a Friday night jam at the bar on Fridays (obviously) and an open mic on Saturday that allows anyone to come up and play a tune. It isn’t Raddie Dave or Scary Larry, but any port in a storm, as they say.
For the tunes it is originals and old 70’s rock covers. Quite fun to play.
In other news, the massive holiday of TET is coming up and we have a week off of work to do with what we will. We are considering Na Trang to sit on the beach for a week. If we do not do that we have also received some nice offers from some students to eat with them at their homes in celebration of the mighty TET holiday.
Sorry for the long time between posts, but we are kind of settling in to a routine now and until we do something new, there is not a whole lot to write about.
Until next time,