Today’s letters page in Thanh Nien contains a highly amusing tribute to Vietnamese toilet facilities from one Michael Smith, an Australian living in Saigon.
Yes, he says, Vietnamese toilets can be bad, but the problem is by no means confined to Vietnam, and in the cities at least, one can relieve oneself in international-standard facilities.
I have to say I agree with him about city toilets - most bars, cafes & hotels in Saigon have more than acceptable bathrooms. It’s when you get out of the cities that the problems begin. I’m not talking about rural fish toilets (as seen in the film Slumdog Millionaire) - whilst these may be uncomfortable, they’re eco-friendly and generally hygienic.
When last Friday afternoon rolled around I had so many options it was ridiculous. Cocktails at the Ambassador’s house, beers at the Embassy, drinks with fellow workers, live music at Talking or pumping up the jam at Pontoon while Paul spun the discs. In the end, I went home at 4pm (via Russian Market to score the 7th season of The Shield) and announced to my wife that I would not be going out but rather I would be staying in to baby-sit .
Vietnam may have many qualities as a tourist or expat destination, but traditionally nightlife hasn’t been one of them. A handful of seedy pubs or bland hotel bars, local nightclubs playing naff techno, and everything shutting down at midnight. And in the last couple of years it’s often felt as if there was a concerted plan to make Saigon’s nightlife even worse, with popular venues such as Why Not and No5 (in its Ly Tu Trong incarnation) closing down, and flash, ephemeral “lounge bars” opening and closing every few days.
This week is the end of term at the language school where I work. So it definitely feels like it’s time to get moving with sorting out my situation for the autumn. This feeling was reinforced following a conversation with my landlord. It seems he’s looking to start the planned renovations to the flat sometime in August or September, a bit sooner than I hoped. Whilst it looks like it’ll be OK for me to stay until the start of September I really need to get alternative accommodation sorted out for after that.
I was on the subway today, listening to some prog on the iPod, when a group of three young girls sat down in front of me. I couldn’t hear what they were saying because the music in my head was too loud. But somehow I knew by watching them that they weren’t speaking Korean. I took out my earbuds and sure enough they were speaking in fluent English. Not just English but American English. There was a slight accent, but the mannerisms, the colloquialisms, the verbal punctuation told me that this wasn’t simply a trio of good students.
Almost half (44%) of expats living in the UK are considering returning home due to the deteriorating economic conditions, a survey by HSBC Bank International has found.
The group was the most likely to return home of the expats surveyed, followed by those in the US, where 23% of expats were thinking about leaving the country.
Also in the UK, 75% of expats have scaled back their spending due to the recession, while a further sign of their declining financial position was that savings rates among this group were the lowest of all participants in the survey.
Another survey of UK expats has found they rate New Zealand as the best place to live outside Britain in terms of quality of life, standard of living and cost of living abroad.
More than nine in ten of the expats surveyed, or 92%, reported that they were “happier living abroad than they were at home”.
This was perhaps not surprising, given that “dissatisfaction” was the main reason cited for having chosen to up sticks and leave.
The survey was conducted for NatWest International Personal Banking (NatWest IPB) in conjunction with the Centre for Future think tank.
Strangely shortly after I received the phone call earlier this week saying that Steve was coming, the usual stifling hot April weather was replaced by much cooler almost autumnal temperatures, the parties that have plagued my street ever since I moved to the village were surprisingly silent, and the local generator that gives us three hours of power every night and which broke down the week before was working again. Funny that!
The first ChildSafe Certified Internet Cafes will receive their certification on Saturday 8 September.
Staff at these internet cafes have been trained to protect children and young people from the potential dangers of using the internet and potentially abusive situations.
Melbourne Cup Day was celebrated with style and aplomb at Raffles Hotel on Tuesday 7th November. With the race starting at 11a.m Phnom Penh time, the complimentary champagne cocktails were being quaffed at 9a.m and by 10a.m, many punters had moved onto the main cocktail list, spurned on by a ½ price deal organised by The Australian Business Association of Cambodia. Women arrived in fabulous dresses and hats and the Australian Women's Connection had jockey style silks made for the Le Royal staff so all in all it was a very carnival like atmosphere.