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Guy checks single can of beer after airline won’t let him fly with it

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Airlines have been total dicks lately. Beating the shit out of a doctor and dragging him off the plane because they overbooked the flight. Thwacking a mom in the head with her own baby’s stroller. Killing a giant, adorable bunny stored in the cargo bay. And now, refusing to let a man bring his beer on the plane.

According to News AU
According to News AU

“The passenger was travelling to Perth on Qantas flight QF777 and was determined that his Emu Export lager would be coming with him.

The single can was transported with the rest of the luggage bound for Perth.

The beer was tagged and sent off to be loaded onto the plane with the rest of the baggage, which the Melbourne ground staff happily did — but not until they had snapped a few pictures of the unusual check-in item.”

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Sure, the beer will be shaken to shit and skunked due to the drastic temperature changes in the cargo bay. And sure, he could have easily bought a beer on the plane or at the airport he landed at. But that’s not the point. This man stared in the face of tyranny and prohibition and said try me, motherfucker. He didn’t just crack open this warm, shaken one for the boys. He cracked it open for the doctor who was dragged off the plane. For the mother who got clocked with her infant’s stroller. For Simon the giant rabbit. And for everyone who’s been overcharged or overbooked.

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I’ll raise one to that.

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Vietnamese Nitpicks

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All those tiny, hard to ignore, incommodious, pestiferous, vexatious actions that people commit in Vietnam stay in your mind long after the event – like earworms, hard to forget – and keep coming back and horribly haunting.

Bugbears are for most of us are personal, where you put your toothbrush, body odors – all those ‘I hate when people… (do something)’ moments that trip up your day. The stuff that sometimes gets you called ‘small-minded’.

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Here’s an example; I go to my morning coffee shop early around sixish only to find two Vietnamese motorbikes parked diagonally next to the front steps. This covers the space of four motorbikes and prevents me parking my bike facing the street so I can make a quick, smooth getaway. It’s the same two guys each time, sniggering and pointing at me as I enter muttering insults at them.

I hate the parking inconsideration towards others however the parking area is not crowded at that time in the morning so from their point of view; so what?

Have I become a nit-picking, picayune, vile jaded expat? Possibly…

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But what can I do? Start an argument and end up in a fight? Escalate the problem? Attempt revenge? I had many ideas about the last one!

One of my more far-out bear-bugs is when confronted with a jumbled pile of shoes blocking the pathway into a restaurant. This used to annoy me in that way mosquitos don’t give up trying to land on your arm – it’s out of my control. I would gingerly step over this Vietnamese version of Trump’s wall but these days I tromp, stomp and stamp my way over the mess without a second thought about the gunk I leave on unsuspecting patron’s shoes. Block my way? Serves you right!

When Vietnamese refuse to stop hammering on stuff after 9:00 pm, I go a bit feral. Stomping up to them, I shout all the swear words I know they don’t understand in English while tapping the invisible watch on my wrist. They do the Jazz hands, I step a foot closer, and they get it that I’m serious and mutter in English, ‘ok, ok’. Sometimes it works.

A friend of mine moved to Da Nang only to be confronted by near-constant noise surrounding him and he’s now scouting out a new domicile. Around my place I can have up to four sources of seriously demented noise. Wearing headphones and closing the front doors reduce the noise like tissue paper. Where’s the freckin’ shark with a laser, when you need one?

Another aggravation is getting my food at the local restaurant but waiting a few minutes for my cutlery or even worse, salt and pepper. These days I just stroll into the kitchen or behind the bar and get them myself. I love the startled looks on the staff. Late with my beer – I’ll grab it from the fridge. That gets howls of protest as it confuses their accounting system – you know the one with the school exercise book, pen and calculator?

The true horror, for me, is the Vietnamese who stuff their fingers in every orifice in their heads and then offer a handshake. Again, I do what they do. I mimic putting my fingers all over my face and then offer my hand in return. Disrupting this form of unhygienic table manners is one of my favorites.

Yet, there’s a surprising upside to all this. One of my neighbors has that inescapable high-pitched whinge tone that activates in the presence of friends coming over with beer. He also uses it to berate his wife in the front garden late at night.

Our neighborhood has construction fever with three houses all being built at the same time. The noise is deafening and I’m pretty deaf! Yet, the neighbor has quietened down finding part-time work up and down the street, fetching and clearing and storing stuff as well as supplying snacks and water to the work crews. So some rebarbative grievances come to a happy end… for now.

I can’t deal with most of this, hence my habitual use of socially accepted addictions such as drinking, smoking and kicking things in my garden as therapeutic tools.

Maybe I should learn from my dog. He pees on the shoes, barks at the neighbors and chews the local motorbike wheels…

Sure, I can’t deal with a lot of things but it is fun to add to the chaos. I can turn up my music late in the evening, beep my horn on empty streets like everyone else and lift my T-shirt to expose my tummy too! I can park my bike diagonally to block the walkway and shout in a shop. Sneezing over people is great too – I rarely see Vietnamese use a nose tissue. And I never have to be on time again, ever!

It’s one of the things I love about Vietnam – you can get away with a lot!

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Hanoikids – Tours with a unique twist

The Hanoikids members are seen in this supplied photo.

The Hanoikids members are seen in this supplied photo.

Every now and then something pops onto my radar that restores my faith in humanity and the way the world is going.

Recently I saw a documentary on television about various tour offerings in Hanoi. Included were several creative options such as food, jaunts into colourful old neighborhoods, tours by motorbike, and even evening beer tours.

One of the groups stuck out from the bunch, an organization called https://HanoiKids.org/, a student-run “travel mate” service featuring tours of the sights of Hanoi. Most intriguing about Hanoikids is their tours are free.

That’s right – free of charge! In today’s commercial world that’s pretty remarkable.

Hanoikids is a team of volunteers who go to university full-time yet manage to eke out a few hours here and there to conduct tours for English-speaking visitors from overseas. Juggling full-time studies and part-time work is already plenty, then adding volunteer activities to that makes for a packed schedule.

Hanoikids piqued my curiosity because the obvious motivation for the students who run the tours is they get to practice English with foreign visitors, so it’s not difficult to find student volunteers eager to join the team. Since the tours are free there are plenty of visitors eager to sign up, so it’s a great business model for both customers and service providers.

The Hanoikids view is the acquisition of language skills is a strategic commodity worthy of sacrifice that will yield long-term benefits in today’s global business world.

They hit the nail right on the head with that thinking!

Hanoikids has been around for 13 years with total membership in excess of 600 part-time volunteer travel mates, of which 60-70 are currently active. The group was started by a small nucleus of students who wanted to transform their school English knowledge into practical day-to-day speaking experience and learn about foreigners and their countries and cultures.

I contacted the group prior to a recent trip to Hanoi to find out what’s behind it all, knowing in advance that it must be a forward-thinking gang.

Sure enough, they jumped all over it when I asked for a meeting and sent not one, but two sharp university students to tell me about it: Ms. Mai and Ms. Hien. And they are sharp, let me tell you. Both women are nearing the end of their studies in economics at the Foreign Trade University and gearing up toward professional careers.

Mai and Hien have each run 50 to 60 tours over the last couple of years, so it’s a schedule that can fit with studies, part-time jobs, and family life.

When I asked what motivated them to join Hanoikids, they replied almost in unison that they had sought real “on the ground” practice in English after many years of language studies focusing on grammar and spelling (yuck).

That practical experience is the key to the whole shooting match, especially in Asian countries where students can read and write like there’s tomorrow, yet get few opportunities to hone their vocal skills. Unfortunately, the only way to learn to swim is to jump in, and that means getting wet.

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The other benefit Mai and Hien mentioned is they gain valuable knowledge and international contacts for the day when they have opportunities to travel abroad, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.

And that they’ve done: Foreign tour participants come from roughly 20 countries around the world including the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries where English is widely spoken such as Malaysia and Singapore. The truth is I had trouble keeping up with them, never mind needing to “dumb down” my English to make it easier for them to understand.

The team offers half-day morning, afternoon, and evening tours of the main sights of Hanoi, thus leveraging their university schedules and lecture times. Flexibility is the flavour of the day, so the group tries to comply with requests from tourists who wish to visit sights off the beaten track.

Most foreign travel mates are first-time visitors to Hanoi with a list in hand such as Hoa Lo Prison, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Old Quarter, Temple of Literature, Hoan Kiem Lake, and so on. The food in Hanoi is tremendous, so Hanoikids takes people on food tours as well. Fact is one could go to Hanoi, eat everything and see nothing, and still go home with a wonderful memory of the city!

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When incremental costs are involved, such as special transportation or food, the team provides estimates to their guests, who in turn foot the bill. The guides accept no tips, only token souvenirs that visitors sometimes bring with them. For those who insist on chipping in (but it’s by no means expected) they are welcome to donate to Hanoikids to cover their operating expenses.

During our discussion I began wondering if it would be feasible to create a business model for their tours which would include both free and paid options. Turned out we were all already on the same page as one of the challenges the team is working on: developing a sustainable long-term business model.

As much as it’s a worthy cause people can’t volunteer forever.

This Hanoikids real-life scenario plays right into the hands of those two economics students. What better way to convert theory into reality than to manage the transformation of a non-profit cause into a successful private enterprise?

The challenge for the organization is to retain its free tours while developing optional new premium tours that generate income. This way the unique identity and integrity of Hanoikids remains intact while new revenue-generating offerings are marketed.

We discussed increasing exposure by leveraging other similar existing tour options. Local volunteers in many countries offer similar free tours, so Hanoikids could join some of those groups. We’re also making a list of travel-related Facebook groups and will join some to gain more followers.

It may be feasible to create single day or overnight premium tours from Hanoi to some spectacular nearby sites, such as the Trang An complex in Ninh Binh Province, less than two hours away by car. The complex features spectacular caves, rivers, and the Bai Dinh Pagoda.

Ha Long Bay also popped up in the discussion, especially now that a new expressway has reduced travel time from Hanoi to less than three hours. Sapa, further to the north, has grown immensely in popularity and would fit nicely into a two- or three-day trip.

The greatest aspect of the discussion is the Hanoikids team is well-equipped to succeed and grow on any new ventures they undertake. Reminds me of the old adage: “Give someone a fish and they eat for a day; teach them how to fish and they eat for a lifetime.”

Look out for these kids going forward – they already know how to fish. Let’s see if they can catch a few with all the great experience they’ve gained!

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Authorities announce list of 22 illegitimate hotels in Nha Trang

Local authorities have released a list of 22 hotels that do not meet compulsory standards in Nha Trang, a popular resort city in the south-central Vietnamese province of Khanh Hoa, ahead of a biennial beach festival in May.

The Khanh Hoa Department of Tourism has publicized the names of the illegitimate hotels based on the law on tourism, following the directive of the provincial People’s Committee.

The list will provide useful information for visitors to Nha Trang, especially during the ninth Nha Trang-Khanh Hoa Beach Festival scheduled for May 11 to 14.

The fest, which is organized every two years, is also the main event in the 2019 National Tourism Year hosted by Khanh Hoa Province.

“The tourism department is coordinating with relevant agencies to deal with the hotels in the list,” an official stated.

Such establishments include two hotels of notorious Muong Thanh Corporation, both of which were previously fined by local authorities for multiple violations.

Dubai Hotel on Ton Dan Street in Nha Trang City
Dubai Hotel on Ton Dan Street in Nha Trang City

The Muong Thanh Luxury Vien Trieu, located in Vinh Phuoc Ward, was slapped with a VND40 million (US$1,720) for constructing a swimming pool without a permit.

Meanwhile, the Muong Thanh Luxury Khanh Hoa, situated in Xuan Huong Ward, was built with 43 stories while the developer was only allowed to construct 40 floors.

Muong Thanh was eventually required to pull down the three illegal stories.

The list also mentioned Dubai and Euro Star Hotels, which were suspended from operations for failing to follow regulations on fire safety.

In addition, the Ninh Phuoc Wild Beach Resort & Spa has been operating and serving mainly Chinese tourists over the past years despite its violations of fire safety and construction regulations.

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The complete list of 22 hotels in Nha Trang that fail to meet standards promulgated by the law on tourism

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It must be tough to be a woman in Vietnam: foreigners

This caricature depicts how gender inequality still exists in Vietnam
This caricature depicts how gender inequality still exists in Vietnam

As communities around the globe begin focusing their much-needed attention on the gender inequality issues facing modern society, many in Vietnam feel the country’s efforts to put women on par with men lag far behind those made by developed countries.

Male expats living in Vietnam have shared with Kiwi In Saigon their observations on how Vietnamese women are treated by society.

General disrespect

As a foreigner in Vietnam, I often witness men judging Vietnamese women on their beauty, appearance, and attitude, especially in the streets.

This daily ‘harassment’ can be aggressive and violent, and is typically sexually oriented. There are often long stares at women’s private parts, trying to get their attention in rude ways, and even following young women.

This happens frequently and I’ve noticed that the response from women to such a behavior is very different in Vietnam compared to Western countries.

Often Vietnamese women don’t even respond to such harassment. They usually just look down at the pavement and walk away, maybe because they are worried that if they raise their voice they will be met with physical violence.

In my work as a sociology and culture researcher, I am collaborating on a project led by Ms. Doan Thi Ngoc from Hoa Sen University labeled: Sexual Harassment in Vietnam and Understanding Gender and Gender Equality.

For a long time, women’s education was based on four specific virtues: Công (Hardworking), Dung (Beauty), Ngôn (Articulation), and Hạnh (Good Behavior). Accordingly, the ‘ideal woman’ should have all of these traits.

The result of this ideology has led to the submission of women to men and the judgment of parents’ towards their daughters.

Countless young women who we’ve surveyed have shared that the pressure and criticism they face from their parents is heavily painful, especially as it relates to their beauty, virginity, and how their abilities stack up to their peers. In the end, it destroys their self-confidence and self-respect.

Many also share the differences between their education and treatment compared to their brothers’.

Education is the key to changing this mindset. Families and schools may need to update the way men are taught to interact with women as new standards become the norm.

This process is already taking place, but there is still a long way to go in the workplace, in families, particularly in terms of bridging socioeconomic gaps.

What everyone can do is focus on their basic behaviors and attitudes: refraining from sexual jokes, inappropriate staring, unwanted touching, and showing respect.

Beauty standards also must not be discussed because they can often limit the way people try to represent themselves or can be the cause of unrealistic standards.

Some feminist movements argue that ‘opening the door’ for women, inviting women in a courteous way and other signs of basic ‘gallantry’ are a form of domination.

I would say that these acts are okay for those who, as individuals, want to show respect to women. And they offer an opportunity for men to learn how to gently accept a ‘no’.

(Christopher Denis-Delacour from France)

This caricature depicts how women in Vietnam are still subject to physical abuse by men
This caricature depicts how women in Vietnam are still subject to physical abuse by men

Beauty standards

I have seen several heated exchanges in the streets of Hanoi where men were mostly catcalling women, but in those instances I observed that Vietnamese women were quite strong in arguing their case.

The married men I know in Vietnam are very respectful of their wives.

However, there is one particular problem for younger people: social media.

The habit, particularly for girls, of making themselves look beautiful and posing for their selfies to post on social media is much more noticeable in Vietnam, and Asia in general, and suggests that there is a high degree of pressure to conform to a certain idea of appearance.

This pressure in Asian countries is a lot higher than in the Western world and I believe that comes from the way people treat and comment on each other’s appearance. Society seems to dictate that women have to be good-looking.

It takes a long time to change attitudes in any society but the pace of development in Vietnam is extraordinary to watch and I expect social attitudes to also change quickly.

It will be young people who set future standards and therefore I am optimistic that women and girls will be better respected in the future.

I hope that girls develop the confidence to confront bad behaviors from boys at an early age in order to change the general perception of what is appropriate and what is not.

These problems, however, are still less noticeable than in countries with political or religious doctrines that seek to suppress the freedom of women.

(Paul Sansome from the UK)

This caricature suggests that men should help women with housework.
This caricature suggests that men should help women with housework.

Women’s workload is too much

I’ve lived in Vietnam for over three years and what I have seen and know is that Vietnam’s culture is set up in such a way that women are expected to do all the housework, like cooking and cleaning, while men can do as they please.

This mindset runs deep in Vietnamese culture. The wife is expected take care of her husband, the kids, and the house, all while holding down a 9-5 job.

This can be traced back a few hundred years to when men would go to work and the wife would stay at home, take care of the kids and look after the house. But nowadays it’s different. Both parents have to work to provide for their family, and when a woman comes home, she still has to cook and clean, which is definitely unfair.

To solve this problem, men and women should talk to one another more often so that men can see how hard it is to be a woman in Vietnam. We have a saying in the West: “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.”

I think respect comes from the heart. If you truly love your woman, there’s nothing you wouldn’t do for her. My Vietnamese girlfriend is amazing and works her socks off at home and at work. I try to show my appreciation by my actions. When I have time I try to help her with the washing or cleaning. It’s the small things that make a difference.

In regard to women, I treat them with the same respect as I do with men. For me, there’s no difference.

(Wayne Jordan from the UK)

Beauty and pain

I believe that commenting on a woman’s appearance originates from the belief that “women represent beauty.”

With this way of thinking, men allow themselves to comment on and judge unpleasant appearances without guilt.

I think this hurts women, even if they do not hear the comment. After all, we don’t get to choose the way we look when we’re born.

(Yamamoto Kansuke from Japan)

Women should be straightforward

I lived in Vietnam from 2003 to 2010 and noticed that women in Vietnam, and Asia in general, have a tendency to have more respect for men than for women.

Women in Vietnam do not demand equality and are often not straightforward about what they want.

Women have the right to say what they want while also demanding faithfulness and sharing household responsibilities. They are able to demand respect, love, and a healthy life.

(Roger Baddeley from Australia)

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Trump and Kim seen fleeing the country as hostel bills mount

Trump and Kim Escape Noi Bai

Nội Bài International Airport, Hanoi – It’s Fear and Loathing in Hanoi as a flustered Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un were seen charging through the airport in a mad dash to hit the immigration desk before their hostel owner reports them.

There were visible sparks flying between the two as they bickered their way out of a taxi, allegedly without paying, or stopping to remove the toilet paper that had become attached to Trump’s foot. Clearly, something, somewhere had gone horribly wrong on the much-ridiculed “Backpacking for Peace” Southeast Asian tour.

Kiwi In Saigon retraced their steps from the night before.

Claiming that the pair had overslept and then made a less than discreet run for it, fellow backpacker Dean Hamilton, 19, stated that a drunken Kim had been carried to bed in the shared dorm room by Trump at approximately 3.15am this morning.

“I just remember this huge scene kicking off sometime after 3am,” recalls Hamilton, “Someone had told Kim Jong-un to keep it down or something and he just flew off the handle, yelling about nuking everyone, nuking their mums and Trump – that dude was trying to be chill about it, but even in the dark, you could tell he was scared.”

“I’m not surprised they did a runner,” added Hamilton, “I saw Trump’s tiny little hands all over the place last night, he was like a particularly gropey spider, but large, orange, and humanoid. He wasn’t even drinking.”

While owner of Beds, Bugs & Beyond was unavailable for comment, airport CCTV showed an irate, apparently unpaid taxi driver chasing them into Nội Bài International Airport before being wrestled to the ground by airport security.

Speaking exclusively with The Durian as he trampled over a small child on the way to the immigration checkpoint, North Korean Supreme Leader, digital disruptor, and would-be influencer Kim Jong-un claimed, “We had no choice man, that place was skanky and I totes forgot I booked us on the earlier flight to Bangkok, we could take a later one, but we’d miss our connection to Chiang Mai.”

Stopping to mop the sweat from his supreme brow, the North Korean leader confided to our reporter that he was too hungover to deal with Trump’s shit and had deliberately booked a seat on a separate aisle.

Trump echoed his backpacking buddy’s sentiment in a characteristically unedifying and incoherent statement, “People say we didn’t pay, that’s fake news, people – they know nothing, these people, nothing, I’m a very rich guy, one of the richest, too rich some people say, not me, but that’s what people say, they say ‘He’s very successful, sure, but he’s too rich’ – I’m unpresidently rich and I’m a winner, I’m gonna win at immigration, I’m gonna win at catching this flight, and I’m gonna win at this full moon party Kim’s taking me to, great guy, Kim, short, but great, tremendous eye for parties, I love parties, love them, except the crooked Democrats, they won’t pay for my trip, they’d rather pay for illegal immigrants.”

Reports stated that the pair were just inches from the security checkpoint when they descended into visceral, verbal violence as it emerged that the passports of both world leaders were in fact still behind the desk at Beds, Bugs & Beyond.

It may be too early to speculate on the outcome of this ugly spat, but as authorities surrounded the pair with guns drawn, it signalled a premature end to the “Backpacking for Peace” Southeast Asian tour that promised so much and delivered little more than memes and hours of reportage that nobody asked for.

Detained and indicted for absconding without paying, Trump and Kim are set to appear in court later this month, but for the time being, their journey together enters a new phase as they await trial behind bars at an undisclosed location in Hanoi.

More on this sphincter-tightening story as it develops.

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Da Nang, Nha Trang are new Aussie favorites

The pristine beauty of a beach in the resort town of Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa Province
The pristine beauty of a beach in the resort town of Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa Province

Two beach destinations along Vietnam’s central coast have overtaken Bali and London among top 10 Aussie travel choices.

The famous resort town of Nha Trang in the central province of Khanh Hoa came in sixth on the list of 10 most searched travel destinations by Australian tourists, according to Skycanner, the largest online travel booking site in Australia that helps people find cheap flights and hotels for holidays.

Vietnam’s third largest city Da Nang ranked 9th on the list, which was topped by Kiev in Ukraine.

A Skycanner survey found a year-on-year surge of 33 percent in the search frequencies of its readers and users for Nha Trang and 23 percent for Da Nang.

The online booking site says volcano eruptions and earthquakes have deterred Australian tourists from returning to Bali, while recent terrorist attacks have pushed the U.K.’s London off its high perch.

Da Nang rings in the new year 2018 with a fireworks party on Han River.
Da Nang rings in the new year 2018 with a fireworks party on Han River.

The rest of the top 10 places are: Thessaloniki in Greece, Russia’s St Petersburg, Liston and Porto in Portugal, Nice in France, Palawan in the Philippines and Medellin in Colombia.

Australians are the seventh biggest group of foreigners visiting Vietnam and among the top spenders in the country.

Vietnam last year received 387,000 Australians, surging 4.5 percent from the previous year.

Vietnam has tried to relax its entrance procedures with an e-visa policy that has just added 35 more countries and territories, raising the list of beneficiaries to 80.

Da Nang, which has won global attention with its annual international fireworks competition and its spectacular Golden Bridge, has also been improving its infrastructure in transport, healthcare, commerce and services to welcome the higher volume of tourists.

Nha Trang, endowed with long stretches of beautiful beaches, has emerged as the top holiday destination in central Vietnam in recent years.

 

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Gucci Is Selling a $450 Hat That Looks Just Like Straw Hats Worn by Farmers in Vietnam

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The artificial bamboo hats by Gucci closely resemble those traditionally worn by Vietnamese in the rice fields. The only difference is that the Vietnamese version costs only a few thousand dong.

The Italian high-fashion brand recently put up for sale on their website what they are simply calling “wide brim hat” (pictured on the left) after it debuted on the Cruise 2019 runway. People in Vietnam quickly made comparisons between it and local renditions mũ nan or nón rơm, Vietnamese hats that are made from straw and commonly worn by farmers in the countryside during harvest season.

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A shop selling straw hats at the Pho Trach Artisan Village in Hue

At the time of writing, Gucci is asking US$450 (VND10 million) for its “wide brim hat”; meanwhile, beach straw hats sell for VND10,000-20,000 a piece at all coastal areas in Vietnam. While Vietnam’s straw hats are made from actual organic materials, Gucci’s hats are crafted from “braided straw-like fabric,” whatever that is.

One internet commenter wryly wondered if the made-in-Italy hats will produce royalties for Vietnam while noting that the nation must truly be ahead of the fashion curve if the west is just now taking notice of the style.

VietnamNet noted that this isn’t Gucci’s first instance of slapping an absurd price tag on a piece similar to humble items from Vietnam. They previously offered plastic strap sandals, much like those seen on feet and in markets across the country, for VND11 million. There is no word as to whether they will soon introduce VND20 million traffic face masks.

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Saigon to Vung Tau by Ferry Boat

Taking the ferry boat between Saigon and Vung Tau is one of Vietnam’s most underrated journeys (despite also being one of its most obvious). It’s a fascinating voyage from downtown Saigon, along several rivers, and across open sea to Vung Tau. What it may lack in natural beauty (for some, not me) it more than makes up for in interest. Indeed, this journey is a more rewarding riverine experience than many Mekong Delta boat tours. What’s more, Vung Tau, especially during the week, is now a very attractive, affluent, and peaceful seaside getaway. Even after the opening on a new expressway and an upgraded highway between Saigon and Vung Tau, taking the boat is still far more enjoyable, comfortable, and scenic. Going by bus, taxi, or motorbike is simply a means to an end; going by boat is an experience. This is my full guide to the Saigon-Vung Tau Ferry Boat.

One of Vietnam’s most underrated journeys: the Saigon-Vung Tau fast boat is a fascinating ride
One of Vietnam’s most underrated journeys: the Saigon-Vung Tau fast boat is a fascinating ride

A new fleet of modern fast boats has replaced the old, characterful but unreliable, hydrofoils that used to ply the route (one of which famously caught fire on the river in January 2014). At around 2 hours, journey time is comparable to going by road, although ticket prices are roughly twice the cost of the bus ride (but it’s well worth the extra expense). On this page I’ve written a full guide to taking the ferry boat between Saigon and Vung Tau. I’ve organized this guide into several sections:

FERRY OPERATORS & CONTACTS:

There are currently two different companies operating fast boats between Saigon and Vung Tau: Greenlines (www.greenlines-dp.com; Tel: Saigon 098 800 9579; Vung Tau 098 690 8907) and Petro Pacific (www.taucaotoc.vn; Tel: 01222 69 69 68).

Both company’s websites are very clear, well-presented, and available in English and Vietnamese. Over the phone, staff are helpful but you may struggle to get clear information if you conduct the call purely in English (even though staff on the other end of the line do have some English, phone conversations are very difficult in a second language). Both companies have ticket offices at the boat piers in Saigon and Vung Tau. However, in my experience, Greenlines is far more efficient and reliable than Petro Pacific. Staff at the former are polite and organized while at the latter they seem to be stuck 10 years in the past when it comes to service and attitude, but maybe I just got them on a bad day/days. (Note: do not take any information on either company’s websites as gospel: sailing times and prices do change subject to weather, demand and other bits and pieces. So always double check the information before you leave, either over the phone or in person at the ticket offices at the piers).

Two companies operate ferries between Saigon & Vung Tau: Greenlines & Petro Pacific
Two companies operate ferries between Saigon & Vung Tau: Greenlines & Petro Pacific

SCHEDULES & SAILING TIMES:

With Greenlines it’s pretty simple and straightforward: there are five sailings every day (weekdays and weekends) in both directions:

SAIGON→VUNG TAU: 8.30am, 9.30am, 11.30am, 1.30pm, 3.30pm

VUNG TAU→SAIGON: 8.30am, 11.30am, 1.30pm, 2.30pm, 3.30pm

 

With Petro Pacific, however, I’ve experienced cancelled services due to technical problems, and delays and alterations to the published schedules. Here’s their timetable, such as it is:

SAIGON→VUNG TAU: 8.00am, 10.00am, 12.30pm, 2.00pm

VUNG TAU→SAIGON: 10.30am, 12.00noon, 2.00pm, 4.00pm

 

The Greenline ferries I’ve been on have all left right on time; the Petro Pacific ones have either been delayed or cancelled. Although journey time is advertised as 90 minutes, my sailings have all been closer to 2 hours.

Note: sailing times for both ferry companies are liable to change without notice due to weather conditions. If the weather has been bad or particularly windy recently, check by phone or at the ticket offices to make sure your boat is scheduled to leave on time:

Greenlines: www.greenlines-dp.com; Tel: 098 800 9579 (Sagion); 098 690 8907 (Vung Tau)

Petro Pacific: www.taucaotoc.vn; Tel: 01222 69 69 68

Greenlines sail 5 times a day in both directions; Petro Pacific sail 4 times. Journey time is about 2 hours
Greenlines sail 5 times a day in both directions; Petro Pacific sail 4 times. Journey time is about 2 hours

TICKET PRICES & BOOKING:

Interestingly, prices are different for each of the ferry companies. Greenlines ticket prices are slightly more expensive than Petro Pacific (perhaps the lower prices for Petro Pacific fares are a kind of pre-emptive discount for their lower level of service and reliability). Ticket prices are as follows:

GREENLINES:

Adult: 250,000vnd (one way)

Adult over 62 years: 180,000vnd (one way)

Child 6-11 years old: 120,000vnd (one way)

Child under 6 years old: free

PETRO PACIFIC:

Adult: 200,000vnd (one way: Monday to Friday) 250,000vnd (one way: weekends & holidays)

Child under 1.2m high: 100,000vnd (one way)

Child under 2 years old: free

Tickets can be booked online, by phone, or at the ticket kiosks at the ferry piers in Saigon and Vung Tau. It’s not really necessary to book in advance unless you are travelling on a weekend or public holiday (and maybe a Friday, too). However, it’s still a good idea to book your ticket a day before departure, especially if you have an appointment to keep. Passengers are required to be at the port 30 minutes before the boat is due to leave (and the boats do generally leave right on time, well, Greenlines boats do). Online bookings are fairly straight forward, although you may find it’s not possible to book a ticket this way on the same day as your departure. Booking tickets over the phone is fine as most operators speak enough English to conduct the call, however you may need some patience to do this. Booking tickets in person at the piers in the easiest and surest way to make your reservation. Here are the contact details for both ferry operators

Greenlines: www.greenlines-dp.com; Tel: 098 800 9579 (Sagion); 098 690 8907 (Vung Tau)

Petro Pacific: www.taucaotoc.vn; Tel: 01222 69 69 68

Tickets can be booked online, over the phone, or in person at the ferry piers in Saigon & Vung Tau
Tickets can be booked online, over the phone, or in person at the ferry piers in Saigon & Vung Tau

DEPARTURE & ARRIVAL PORTS:

The arrival and departure ports in Saigon and Vung Tau have changed since the days of the old hydrofoils:

SAIGON: All fast boats from both ferry operators (Greenlines and Petro Pacific) now leave from the Bến Nhà Rồng Port. Located just behind the distinctive pink building of the same name (which used to be the old French colonial customs house, but now houses the Ho Chi Minh Museum), Bến Nhà Rồng is in Saigon’s District 4, just over the Khanh Hoi Bridge from downtown District 1. Accessing the port from the road is a little confusing, but any taxi driver should know where to go. Once at the port, turn left along the harbourfront until you are in the shadow of the giant wooden walls of the Elisa floating restaurant. Here you’ll find the ticket kiosks for both Greenlines and Petro Pacific. There’s a decent cafe behind the kiosks where you can wait with a coffee before departure time. From the pier, the views upriver back towards District 1 are impressive.

From Saigon, Greenlines & Petro Pacific boats depart from the Bến Nhà Rồng pier in District 4
From Saigon, Greenlines & Petro Pacific boats depart from the Bến Nhà Rồng pier in District 4

VUNG TAU: Confusingly, Greenlines and Petro Pacific ferries dock at different ports in Vung Tau. Greenlines boats arrive at the Hồ Mây ferry pier, also known as Hòn Rù Rì harbour, or simply Bến Tàu Cao Tốc (fast boat pier). This port is at the northern end of Bãi Trước (Front Beach), beneath the green slopes of Núi Lớn (Big Mountain) and the grand, French colonial Governor General’s House (see map). Boats dock at the end of a long pier, which doubles as a restaurant and cafe. A handful of taxis meet the boats, or you can walk along the pleasant seafront road to the waterfront cafes and hotels. The Greenlines ticket kiosk is located at the port entrance, on Tran Phu Street. Petro Pacific boats arrive at Cảng Cầu Đá, which is the same port that the old hydrofoils used to dock at (see map). Located at the southern end of Front Beach, this port is well-served by taxis, cafes and fast food restaurants. Many of the harbour-view hotels, such as Leman Cap Resort, are within walking distance of here. There is a Petro Pacific ticket kiosk is at the entrance to the ferry port.

In Vung Tau, Greenlines boats dock at Hồ Mây pier, but Petro Pacific boats dock at Cảng Cầu Đá pier
In Vung Tau, Greenlines boats dock at Hồ Mây pier, but Petro Pacific boats dock at Cảng Cầu Đá pier

THE BOATS:

Unlike the old hydrofoils – which looked pretty worn and forlorn – the new fast boats used by Greenlines and Petro Pacific are modern, clean, and, on the surface at least, well-maintained. Greenlines vessels are painted blue and white; Petro Pacific ones are yellowey-orange. Both operators use similar, but not identical, crafts: Greenlines boats look very smart from the outside, but also rather tub-like and a bit stumpy, whereas Petro Pacific ones are lower, pointier and more aqua-dynamic in appearance. However, the general set up of the vessels, inside and out, is essentially the same.

Soviet-era hydrofoils on the Saigon-Vung Tau route have been replaced by a fleet of modern fast boats
Soviet-era hydrofoils on the Saigon-Vung Tau route have been replaced by a fleet of modern fast boats

Boats are boarded at the stern, where there is a good covered deck with a plastic bench (or at least ‘surfaces’ for sitting on), and also a clean western-style toilet. (If, like me, you love boat journeys, then you’ll probably find that you spend the entire voyage sitting out on this back deck, watching the shipping and scenery pass by).

Best seat on the boat: all ferries have a covered back deck on which to sit out and enjoy the scenery
Best seat on the boat: all ferries have a covered back deck on which to sit out and enjoy the scenery

However, inside things are just as good. A surprisingly wide, high-ceilinged, bright and clean cabin seats around 50 passengers. There are two columns of soft, coach-style seats with plenty of leg-room. The cabin is air-conditioned to a reasonable temperature (not freezing cold as on some ferries in Vietnam). The windows are very large so you can enjoy the passing scenery from your seat. There’s even WiFi available. But there are no refreshments, aside from a small complimentary bottle of water. Passengers are mostly foreign travellers, expats, and Vietnamese holidaymakers; staff are young and quite friendly.

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Inside, the cabin is large, bright and air-conditioned, and seating is comfortable, clean, spacious

On board ‘entertainment’ comes in the form of a TV which shows, depending on the whim of the captain, anything from terrible pop music to prank-style comedy to Vietnamese soap operas. But the volume is mercifully low (unlike the fast boats to Phu Quoc Island) so it doesn’t intrude into your headspace. It’s also good to bear in mind the reason for this entertainment: it’s not just to pass the time on a 90 minute journey, it’s also to offer a distraction from the waves, especially for Vietnamese passengers who commonly suffer from travel sickness.

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On board entertainment comes in the form of TV shows & pop music, but it’s at a reasonable volume

Ever since one of the old hydrofoils caught fire on the river in 2014, forcing passengers to evacuate onto the muddy riverbank (which was the beginning of the end for those Soviet-era relics on this route), safety has been a major concern, both for passengers and ferry operators between Saigon and Vung Tau. In general, Vietnam has a pretty awful maritime safety record, but things are changing. Also, it should be pointed out that travelling between Saigon and Vung Tau by road is statistically far more dangerous that taking the boat. All Greenlines and Petro Pacific ferries have life vests under every passenger seat. During the voyage, two engineers are constantly opening up the hatches on the back deck to check the state of the engine. The barrier on the back deck is a little low and the latch to the boarding gate could easily come loose: don’t lean on it, and take extra care if you’re travelling with children. Seasickness shouldn’t be a problem for most people, because the majority of the voyage is on placid rivers, but the last 30 minutes crossing open sea can be quite bumpy.

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Safety measures include life vests under every seat, life rafts & regular engine checks during the voyage

Lastly, these new boats are fast. Not 30 seconds after maneuvering out of port, the main engines power up and the boat ploughs its course, dodging all the other sluggish vessels on the river, churning up a silver-brown wake of river water and water hyacinths behind it.

The new boats are very fast and churn up a white wake which occasionally showers the back deck
The new boats are very fast and churn up a white wake which occasionally showers the back deck

THE VOYAGE:


The tubby, tug-like Greenlines vessel casts off from Nhà Rồng pier, the same pier that Ho Chi Minh set sail from in 1911, as a cook aboard a French ship, not to return to Vietnam for another 30 years, in very different circumstances. The gleaming high-rises of Saigon’s District 1 tower above the water as the boat drifts onto the swell of the wide Saigon River.

The Saigon-Vung Tau ferry pulls away from the pier in District 4 with the city skyline behind
The Saigon-Vung Tau ferry pulls away from the pier in District 4 with the city skyline behind

The city’s major waterway is a constant presence if you live in Saigon, but when you are actually on it, as opposed to just looking at it, it’s a totally different experience. Saigon appears serene; without the noise, heat, congestion, and pollution that blights it on street level: from the river, this is a calm, controlled, and even beautiful, city. The old ferry between District 1 and 2 used to provide a similar experience, but since that went out of service with the opening of the Thu Thiem Tunnel in 2011, the fast boat to Vung Tau is one of the few ways to see the city from the water.

Leaving the city in its wake, the fast boat picks up speed as it begins the 2 hour voyage to Vung Tau
Leaving the city in its wake, the fast boat picks up speed as it begins the 2 hour voyage to Vung Tau

Very soon after departure, the main engines kick in, the bow lifts up, and the speed picks up. The boats are seriously fast, and if you sit out on the back deck (which I tend to do for the duration of the voyage) you’ll be sprayed intermittently by cooling showers of river water.

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When the engines power up the boat churns the water white, spraying the back deck with river water

The Saigon skyline recedes, very quickly, into the distance; disappearing around a bend, reappearing on the horizon, then fading out of sight again as the boat moves through a chicane of meanders. These bends make the journey immediately disorienting: Saigon landmarks, such at the Lotus Building (the Bitexco Tower) keep popping up to the east then to the west; behind the boat then in front of it, then disappearing altogether. It’s impossible to get your bearings.

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A chicane of meanders on the Saigon River makes the journey immediately disorienting

Sailing downriver, the skyscrapers of downtown give way to the sprawling, apartment-filled suburbs, and the Saigon docks which line the riverbanks for many kilometres. It’s fascinating to watch as the boat dodges all the different kinds of shipping: slipping between the bows of giant container vessels and freight ships, tugs and barges, fishing boats and canoes, tankers and warships.

Watching all the different boats on this increasingly busy shipping lane is a lot of fun
Watching all the different boats on this increasingly busy shipping lane is a lot of fun

After passing beneath the soaring blade of concrete that is the Phu My Bridge, the boat veers right and joins the wider waters of the Dong Nai River. Continuing southwards into the Soai Rap River, the banks expand ever further apart, until they must span at least a couple of kilometres. Container ships are more numerous here but they’re made to appear small on the mighty, muddy river.

Passing under the Phu My Bridge, a soaring blade of concrete over the Saigon River
Passing under the Phu My Bridge, a soaring blade of concrete over the Saigon River

With Saigon now out of sight, industry takes over. Warehouses, factories, oil depots, cement plants, coal, gas, wood, metal: the brawny industrial arm of the southern hub and all of the boats that supply it. It’s an utterly compelling sequence, so much so that you won’t want to sit down, go inside, or take your eyes off it for one minute for fear of missing something.

The brawny arm of the southern industrial hub: ships supply factories along the river banks
The brawny arm of the southern industrial hub: ships supply factories along the river banks

At the confluence of the Soai Rap and Long Tau rivers, an enormous new bridge is under construction. The fast boat continues straight ahead, due south on the Long Tau River. From here, greenery begins to colonize the riverbanks: concrete becomes a rare sight, small wooden fishing boats cast their nets into the wide waters, and the sky looms large over the flat expanse of boggy, delta land.

Eventually, greenery takes over the riverbanks and industry fades away
Eventually, greenery takes over the riverbanks and industry fades away

In order to avoid a detour on the Long Tau River, the fast boat takes a shortcut through a narrow channel lined with mangrove. This is a tight waterway, not big enough for larger ships. The banks are close together and the distinctive splayed roots of the mangrove trees are clearly visible. Suddenly, after all the urbanity and industrial activity of the first half of the journey, it’s now easy to imagine yourself sitting on the back of the boat in Apocalypse Now as it winds its way into the jungle, ever closer to Colonel Kurtz. The scenery is exotic and atmospheric. However, I’m not sure how environmentally sound it is. Mangrove are supposed to be one of the major lifelines for Vietnam if it is to avoid sinking into the ocean in the future. Their roots help anchor the land, which, in these swampy, delta regions, is nothing more than mud and silt. The waves from the wake of the fast boats surely can’t do any good to the stability of the mangrove trees.

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A narrow channel provides a shortcut through mangrove forests and small fishing communities

After rejoining the meandering arm of the Long Tau River, the Phu My Hills rise to the northeast. The water is brackish here: the colour changes, becomes lighter; the surface becomes ruffled as the wind picks up, and the banks are wider apart. The boat is nearing the mouth of the river.

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Nearing the river mouth, the water becomes brackish & choppy, & large ships dwarf fishing boats

Out onto the open sea, rainy season clouds mushroom above the waiting container ships, threatening Vung Tau with a storm. The sea is rough and, for the first time, you can feel the vessel rising and falling with the swell. The air is clearer, saltier; the sky is bigger, the light sharper, the humidity lower – it’s hard not to get excited as you approach the rocky promontory under which the white structures of Vung Tau glint in the sun.

Out on the open sea it’s cooler & brighter, and the excitement builds as the boat approaches Vung Tau
Out on the open sea it’s cooler & brighter, and the excitement builds as the boat approaches Vung Tau

Through the increasing amounts of spray on the back deck, Vung Tau’s skyline comes into view: high-rise hotels along the seafront, red-roofed villas crawling up the hillside. It looks like an island in the East Sea, surrounded by boats of all shapes and sizes, including oil rigs, which have played their part in making this province one of the wealthiest in the country.

Vung Tau seen from the sea is a collection of hotels and houses at the bottom of Big Mountain
Vung Tau seen from the sea is a collection of hotels and houses at the bottom of Big Mountain

It’s an exhilarating journey, but when the boat docks below Big Mountain and the engines are cut, all that remains is the searing tropical heat and the sound of the sea lapping the concrete pier. It’s time to make your way along the seafront road for a coffee or settle into one of Vung Tau’s harbour-view hotels, like Leman Cap Resort, for a relaxing mini-break.

These days Vung Tau is a very pleasant place for a relaxing mini-break by the sea
These days Vung Tau is a very pleasant place for a relaxing mini-break by the sea

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