11 June 2015

Somewhat Random Thoughts and Photographs

It's time to get caught up... at least more-so...

"I recently came up with my favourite theory explaining Life the Universe and Everything. My revelation came after thinking about the fact that every atom in our body was once inside an exploding star — and that thought led to me to suspecting that humanity might well represent an attempt by the Universe to become self-aware."—Dana Walker

Two weeks ago I bought a hole punch and put two new holes in each of my belts—to make them more snug, in case you were wondering :-P

Some of the roads here are bad. Others are HORRENDOUS!

I read something on-line that I just love: "Don't make the mistake of believing everything you think."
After a bit of research, the best source I can come up with is that it's a paraphrase of the title of a book by Thubten Chodron

When I moved into my rental house in Đà Lạt, I noticed holes in the exterior masonry that are part of the design

and, I assume they are to let in fresh air. This one is on the exterior wall of my kitchen, right above the dining table. I'd seen them before and not really paid much attention.

We're in the Central Highlands at about 1500 meters (4900 ft) above sea level and the climate here is very mild—the record high is 31.5 degrees C (88.7F) and the record low is -0.6 C (30.9F). Few of the homes here have either heat or air conditioning and the openings allow circulation. Add to that my landlord's beautiful collection of Bonsai trees,

the containers of which contain standing water, and you get muỗi (mosquitos). A LOT of muỗi.

That's one Vietnamese word that, had I never needed to learn it, I would be much happier.

The beds in the house all have permanent mosquito nets installed on the wall and, for a while, I got into the habit of making sure it was tightly pulled around the bed each night.. though some nights the little SOBs found a crack and got to me. It wasn't like there were swarms, though even one is enough to get me thrashing at the air every time I heard the BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ near my head. After only a few of those nights, I went to the local everything-for-sale market and bought some mosquito netting and some tape. The two "decorative" openings and the kitchen fan are now covered

but some still manage to find their way in via cracks between the window casings and the masonry (It's Việt Nam!), so I bought the ultimate in muỗi defense...
a muỗi racket! It's a rechargeable battery-powered electrocution device with three small LED bulbs at the top of the handle that light up your target for you. There is also an option to keep the light dark—stealth mode. In either mode, it makes a hugely satisfying sizzle when you connect! I used to laugh when I saw these in stores and now I laugh madly every time I connect (think Vincent Price at the end of "Thriller").

"You don't take photos for yourself, you take them for the old man you will become - if you are lucky." - Falang

When you come to Việt Nam, I strongly suggest that you try cháo gạo (rice porridge).

It's only 15,000VND (less than 75 cents US and quite filling.

@ 6:30-7:00 looks a lot like Sai Gon traffic

“When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, 'Damn, that was fun'.” ― Groucho Marx

Gangster Saigon Street Vendors Preying on Unsuspecting Tourists
Survey: Only 6% of Tourists Return to Vietnam
33% of Foreign tourists return to Vietnam
There's no telling what the real return rate is. Talking with the few tourists I encounter, my guess is that it's less than 10%.

Dessert is rare in Vietnamese restaurants, though there are bakeries and ice cream parlors. I am Jones-ing for good dark chocolate!

When you order scrambled eggs for breakfast, in most cases you will get diced, uncooked onions mixed in. If you don't like uncooked diced onions first thing in the morning, be sure to specify "không có hành tây" (kum cor han ti).

Vietnam Set to Become SE Asia's Economic Powerhouse

It's amazing how much rice I'm eating and enjoying. At least twice a week I'm having com chiên hải sản (seafood fried rice) for either lunch or dinner, and I no longer hesitate to order cơm gà (a mound of white rice with a piece of boiled chicken)... all because I now know to add sliced chili peppers to the omnipresent small bowl of soy sauce.

The transformation is amazing!

The Vietnamese government's import duty on automobiles is 100%. The ability to pay US$200,000+ for a sports car in a country where less than 3% of people drive cars is sometimes exclusive of what would pass for good taste in the most of the West.

When ordering what I thought was pho gà, I got this
The brain-looking white bits were chewy and "funny-tasting" and I only ate a bit of one. I'm guessing that there are a few other pieces in there that, in the west, only a butcher could identify. I was unable to determine, even after asking, what part of the chicken those orange balls are, but I couldn't make myself eat them. Is there a poultry version of Rocky Mountain Oysters?

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