Connecting Crouch End and Hornsey with news, views and information

Dalat to Cat Tien national park - The bus was very good and comfortable and the  halfway bus stop was OK too, ant we'd asked the driver to drop us at the post office. He didn't,  but went another 100 yards and dropped us in the 'territory' of the local motor cycle taxi gang. The car  taxi driver would not pick us up until we walked away from the crossroads and paid protection money, and the bike men backed off. They were quite intimidating. Still, £1.67 is a modest extortion demand.  

Carpenters too edgy - the Vietnamese like the Carpenters. The man on the trike selling cds uses a Carpenters album on his speakers to drum up business. But to judge by the tracks played in bars and cafes, the Carpenters are too edgy for the locals. So they have local singers record Carpenters' tracks in a rather more anodyne , more saccharine version. They also record their own Carpenter like ballads for new material, which they drone out at very high decibel levels at Karaoke parties.

Acts of kindness - I left my sunglasses in a cafe, the waitress found me about 3 purchases later in a very crowded market and handed them back to me with true Oriental politeness with both hands; I left my printed papers (not my passport) in the bike hire shop, the lady in charge caught up with us at the petrol filling station she had directed us to, even though she knew we must soon turn back, and it was raining; the receptionist (owner?) At the Dalat hotel, made a 10 minute phone call to the remote country lodge in order to sort out all  our travel instructions.

But the lady street vendor did take a 500,000 dong note from my wallet and try to #give me change for 50,000. 

Having a currency measured in millions ( there are 31,000 dong to the pound) changes the way you think about money. You find yourself haggling with a very poor person over 10,000 dong until you remember its only 10p.

Not looking at junctions - motor cyclists turning right on to a main road actually do not look to see if there is a gap. They just know that the rule is not to run into anything in front of you. Only once have I seen a motor cyclist look to left or right.

Valet parking and rules - at many places there is a member of staff designated to park the motorbikes in straight lines and to retrieve them afterwards. There are rules about where you can park, but I don't knowmwhat they are.

Wifi is almost universal  at no cost. The nature reserve is the only exception I have found.

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Tags: vietnam

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