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At any given moment on Tạ Hiện street, Hanoi you’ll find a tourist photographing this window for the Creative Oriental Crafts Kingdom (aka COCK). This sign is clearly no accident, but an excellent business strategy, as confirmed by the store-owner in this blog. As it reported:

“As it turns out ‘COCK’ stands for ‘Creative Oriental Crafts Kingdom’. Inside we meet the owner, Miss Huong. She greets us with perfect English and after brief introductions; she proceeds to tell us about the story of COCK… According to Miss Huong, the ‘COCK’ is part of her business strategy. Her front window featured large text ‘Try COCK today please’.”

Continue reading “‘Fartshion’: the joy of shopping in Hanoi”

Portugal

Apr 16, 2012

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The problem with siestas

Once upon a time in a land far away, two naïve and rather idiotic girls set off to find a fabled land near the border of Spain and Portugal. Rumours of its unsurpassed beauty ran rings around them as they eagerly planned their journey, their excitement growing by the minute. Little did they know that these plans would soon become unravelled due to one small detail -- the siesta.

Freelance journalist Kerryn Koh writes: Once upon a time in a land far away, two naïve and rather idiotic girls set off to find a fabled land near the border of Spain and Portugal. Rumours of its unsurpassed beauty ran rings around them as they eagerly planned their journey, their excitement growing by the minute. Little did they know that these plans would soon become unravelled due to one small detail — the siesta.

The siesta that turns any small, well-meaning village into a ghost town.

Such was the situation we found ourselves in as we disembarked into our ordeal. Alone.  Not a soul to be seen. Nobody to ask for directions and nothing to go by except the soon-to-be-misleading-map we had brought along with us. The plan was to hike down a trail to a lookout point. So, being the highly intelligent individuals that we were, we navigated our way to the path.

Continue reading “The problem with siestas”

Talkin' Travel

Apr 10, 2012

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I’ve always been a big believer that travel is an easy thing to do. Want to go somewhere? Book a ticket. If it’s somewhere local, book the hotel, camping site, whatever.

If you’ve got one big thing booked, then you’re forced to figure out all the other parts of the plan.

Obviously there are other factors that come into this — children, partners, getting leave off work, financial issues, not wanting to travel alone etc. — but I think the basic premise remains the same.

But for me the biggest travel drama this year is not figuring how I can afford it or when my boyfriend and I can both get time off work, it’s figuring out where the bloody hell to go.

Continue reading “Where the bloody hell do you choose to go?”

An Expat Opinion

Apr 3, 2012

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Fear and self-loathing in expat-land

In Vietnam, I am, and always will be, a "Tây", meaning "westerner". I’m not offended one bit by this label. Not even when I had new passport photos taken and the shop filled in the "Mr/Ms_________" section on the little receipt with “Ms Tây”, and filed it away under T.

To the Vietnamese who live around me, it’s clear where I fit in here: I don’t. The differences between us are as plain as the enormous nose on my big fat face.

In Vietnam, I am, and always will be, a “Tây”, meaning “westerner”.

I can hear the call of “Tây-Tây-Tây-Tây-Tây” in any market as vendors announce my presence to each other, making it pretty much synonymous with the sound effect “ker-CHING!”

I’m not offended one bit by this label. Not even when I had new passport photos taken and the shop filled in the “Mr/Ms_________” section on the little receipt with “Ms Tây”, and filed it away under T.

Continue reading “Fear and self-loathing in expat-land”