Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Nha Trang 2007 Part I

Nha Trang from Bao Dai Villas1

Finally, we arrived in Nha Trang. I felt great being at home with my family and good friends. I had the chance to go swimming and lay on the white sandy beach and even play tennis with my old group. Everything seems right here except the work situation. The income for a restaurant manager in Nha Trang is quite low, around $200 which is acceptable for living here because things are much cheaper here than in other cities.

Nha Trang

Nowadays, Nha Trang is a popular destination for tourists which provides thousands of jobs, mostly in hospitality. I go home every 4 or 6 months and I notice the changes; there are so many big hotels and restaurants and I wonder how can they survice in the low season. One bad point about Nha Trang at Tet is that hotels and restaurants always put their prices up, also in the high season and on other special occasions. If you travel to Nha Trang at these times, you should go to government hotels which always charge the same price but the service is not always acceptable.

Bien Ngoc restaurant

My friends from Hanoi and I went to Bien Ngoc restaurant for dinner and this is just a beautiful restaurant which is located right on the side of Tran Phu B road with a sea view. It took us 20 minutes to get there and we were very impressed. Yes, we had a great time with lots of fresh seafood including lobster, king prawns,clams, squid, fish and some New Zealand white wine and beers. We paid 2,300,000Vnd for 6 people, which is cheap.

Lobster at Bien Ngoc restaurant

Tobe continued

Monday, February 26, 2007

Silly Rabbit

I went out for coffee with my friends and saw an old man selling rabbits. I loved rabbits alot when I was a boy and I decided to buy 2 male rabbits and put them upstairs on the balcony. When I got home, my dog, Misa, started chasing them and one of them ran down stairs to hide in my bedroom and other one disappeared. I ran up and down trying to find where he'd gone but I couldn't find him. I came up to my bedroom and took the one in my bedroom up stairs but after five minutes of hanging around, he decided to 'FLY' down over the balcony onto the alley below and die. I felt so bad and ran downstairs before putting him in a plastic bag. The other one had still not been seen.

The next day, when I was updating my blog, I heard the lady next door screaming at my landlord. After a few minutes, my door bell rang non-stop, so I went down and saw the old lady with a very upset face shouting at me and repeating the strange question "had I been throwing papaya seeds down onto her head?" I told her a hundred times that I don't eat papaya because I just don't like it and I would never do that. She didn't believe me and kept up the nonsense and accusation. I asked her to let me see the seeds and guess what? They weren't papaya seeds at all, but rather rabbit droppings and the rabbit had been shitting on her head. Of course, she didn't believe me, but I told her that I'd bought 2 rabbits the day before and I had actually lost one. There were a few turds still left in her hair but I didn't tell her. I also noticed that there was rabbit shits in her food and veggies too. She'd been preparing lunch when it all started. I ran back upstairs to check, and I saw my other rabbit sitting on her rooftop looking at me. I went back into her house to ask her to let me go up to collect my rabbit. Finally, I got my rabbit but after a night of real damn cold, I woke to find him dead in his little cage.

I felt sad and probably won't be getting a rabbit as a pet again.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hoa Lu - Tam Coc

Hoa Lu

I went to Hoa Lu and Tam Coc in December after I quit my job and needed some time to relax and I had a great time looking around this place. This is such a great peaceful place with a river, caves, temples and beautiful landscape which people refer to as another Ha Long Bay but on land.

Hoa Lu

We arrived at Hoa Lu, ancient capital of independent Viet Nam after a 2 hour drive by bus and everyone seemed to enjoy the scenery around for the whole trip. We biked for another 45 minutes from Hoa Lu to Tam Coc after visiting the old capital with amazing old temples where the remains of statues of Kinh Dinh and King Le, two heroes who lived in the 10th century and chose Hoa Lu to build the capital city. You can sit on a buffalo and take some photos as souvenirs and just pay the buffalo keeper a few thousand dong. Unfortunately, there are many aggressive sellers who follow and take you into their shop and keep talking, trying to make you buy their stuff even though you have refused many times.

Tam Coc

We cleaned our eyes after 45 minutes biking through the beautiful green fields, along rivers and around mountains. When we finally arrived at Tam Coc, we stopped for lunch before taking a boat trip. This boat tour is a bit like the boat tour to the Perfume pagoda. The small metal boats are pedalled by people using their hands and feet to move the boat really fast. The lady who owned the boat I was in was really aggressive. She thought I was the tour guide and she was a bit rude before I gave her a charge. The actual tour guide was a bit worried because he was scared that I may make some negative comment when the tour finished.

Tam Coc

It was really pleasant going along the river by boat, so peaceful and quite that you only can hear the water moving and birds singing all around. This place has a similar atmosphere to Laos. Coming here is like a heaven compared to the daily worry about money, work stress and so on. I wish I could afford to come here every month to relax.

Tam Coc

If you ever come to Viet Nam, do not forget this beautiful place.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Another Bad Time with Vietnam Airlines

Vietnam Airlines

Today I started my holiday and flight to Nha Trang for Tet, which is the Chinese New Year. Unfortunately, I couldn't go with Pacific airlines because they do not fly to Nha Trang and I have to fly with Vietnam airlines. I called the main office to ask about taking Misa with me to Nha Trang too, and the staff at Viet Nam airlines told me that I only need a cage. There was no mention of a muzzle but this morning when I arrived at the airport, they didn't allow us to board because Misa didn't have one. I told them that the Vietnam airline staff told me that he didn't need it. I had a big argument with them, before we were forced to change the flight till tomorrow. Misa was confused and scared because he had to stay in the cage and he didn't really know what was going on.

Hoa Lu

Anyway, five minutes before I blogged this post, I called the Vietnam airline office again and asked them about the situation. The woman repeated the advice they gave me the first time, and she also told me that they don't have any rules about muzzles. I got a bit angry with the staff at the airport but the airline is not professional. In particular, the check in manager for Vietnam airlines at the airport was really bad. I haven't been happy with their services for years but as Vietnamese, we don't have any choice for some domestic flights.

Vietnam airlines food

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Kitchen God Day


Happy Kitchen God day! I remembered when I used to live in my city, Nha Trang, and on this day, I saw many people throwing their old cookers out onto the street and buying a new one for the coming year.

Hoa Dao

I don't really know if northern people do the same thing as we do in the south. On these days, the Old Quarter of Hanoi is always busy and full of people all wanting to be the first people to buy their cooker and go, and it's no wonder it looks like a traffic jam for a kilometre. People also buy and release Carp fish or buy fake money, paper cars, motorbikes, and houses which they burn to release the bad luck and welcome the new year.

Happy Kitchen day and best wishes to everyone for the coming year!!!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Bat Trang, Pottery Village

Bat Trang

My friend and I went to Bat Trang for Tet shopping and it was the first time for my friend but the fifth time for me. Bat Trang is a village in North Vietnam about 13 kilometers south east of Hanoi, on the Red river. I love this place because it's so peaceful, the people are so nice and friendly. Bat Trang has a very long history and is famous for its ceramics.

Bat Trang

In the past, I came here by motorbike but my friend wanted to go by local bus. It took us about 20 minutes and cost just 6000Vnd for both of us, a cheap and safe way to travel. I do prefer to go by motorbike, though, because you can see the beautiful countryside, green rice farms or you can take some photos of the weird house designs or strange colors, but it's all beautiful.

Bat Trang

Bat Trang's always busy as lots of tourists come here to visit the village and see people make ceramic products. It's amazing to see how fast they can make a bowl or a plate... or paint them. These workers decorate their products and quickly finish them with beautiful flowers on or inside the plate or product. I was standing there watching them doing it for half an hour and I couldn't believe how good they were.

Bat Trang

Bat Trang people sell their products as the main source of income besides farm work and most families have their own show room with thousands of samples on display. This industry is also providing thousands of jobs for people in this area as well as a good way to maintain a traditional village.

Bat Trang

Come to Bat Trang and buy something so you can remember your Bat Trang experience at home. A lot of the stuff is the same but you can find some nice homeware here.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Kiwi Eric's Birthday

Eric- Tam Dao

Kia Ora! Greetings to Mr Eric, a Kiwi blogger in Hanoi.

We are invited to Neo cafe for dinner tonight at 7.30 pm with some good friends and Gaylene, Eric's wife to help Eric celebrate another year full of luck, happiness and youth.

Happy Birthday Mr Eric!!!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Job Interviews in Hanoi Part I

Exibition photo

I remembered the first job I applied for four years ago was the Emperor restaurant. I had my first interview with the owner, who agreed for me to work there for 800,000Vnd - $55. The next day, they called me and I had an interview with Patrick, the Swiss manager. After 15 minutes talking, he told me I had been accepted and my salary would be 1,000,000Vnd- $70. I would work as a captain, taking orders and putting food onto the table. I started working the evening shift because at that time I had to go to school to study French at Allain Francais.

Ha Long Bay - surprising cave

After a few months, the owner called me into her office and told me that I was being sent to another restaurant called the Opera Club which belongs to the same company. The only thing was that I had to work in the morning and evening. I told her about my study situation and reminded her about her agreement from the first time but she refused to compromise with me. I was forced to quit that job which was unfortunate because I loved working there with very nice colleagues. She fined me 200,000Vnd-$13 because I refused to be transfered and would not follow the company regulations, even though they'd actually broken the agreement. Everyone was really surprised that I shouted because I am pretty easy- going and that was also the first time that a staffmember talked to her like that. A friend of mine also quit his job because of a similar situation, and when he came back to the restaurant to get his salary, the owner said to him that he doesn't know him, he had never ever met him before, then he called the security guy to throw him out. Every staff member was really upset about that but they couldn't do anything because they didn't want to lose their jobs.

Exhibition picture

The second place I applied to was the Sofitel Metropole. I got through the interview easily but at the end they didn't recruit me because they called the Emperor and the owner told them that I was a really bad employee who can't speak English well and don't really know how to work in a high class restaurant. I was really shocked when I heard that from the lady in human resources. I talked to my other friends who were no longer working there and they told me that the owner said the same thing to anyone who calls the restaurant to ask about someone's work history. I really don't know why they did that and wonder if the Sofitel Metropole is a very professional 5 star hotel if they take so much notice of that.

Exhibition picture

Anyway, I went back to the Sofitel Metropole again for my lastest interview for food and beverage manager. After I finished my writing test, in which I scored 86 or 88 points out of 100, the human resources manager told me to come back in 5 days to meet her general manager for a final interview. I went back and met the general manager, a French man and the Vietnamese Director. The first thing they said to me was your speaking is quite good but your writing was really bad. I didn't say anything even though I was really surprised about that. They asked me many questions and they asked me if I minded if they called the Emperor restaurant to check about my work experience there. I said of course, and I wanted to ask some questions about my working hours, salary.... and do you know what they told me? They told me that if I applied for a job in a professional hotel it means you have no right to ask about working hours. They both said that, and the French guy told me that he was at the hotel almost the whole day- I don't know why? He also told me that the hotel follows Viet Nam's labour laws. I said that I thought our country's working hours regulation was only 8 hours. The Vietnamese guy looked unhappy even though he knew I was right. He shut up. However, I also told them that if I was accepted to work there, then I would follow the hotel rules whatever they were. Then I asked them about the salary. They asked me how much I expected. I realized that I wouldn't get this job and I told them that I thought they should pay me at least $500 per month, before leaving.

Keys cut

It seems that I don't have the right to ask about working conditions.

Tobe continued