The never-ending adventures of a travel writer in Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mui Ne Bloodbath: Stop the Violence: Support the Grassroots Road Safety Campaign

Yet another killed by an automobile last night--our friendly street-cart corn seller. Another tourist was killed a week ago. This has been the bloodiest tourist season in Mui Ne ever, and I kinda have to wonder if it's the most foreigners killed in one city in Vietnam since the war. Folks we've had SEVERAL tourists killed or gravely injured almost EVERY WEEK since the season began last fall. Vietnamese are killed several times a week.

1. Please, please, please, do not drive yourself in Mui Ne unless you have a vietnamese license and several years of experience. Not by car and not by motorbike.

2. Please, please, please, stay on the sidewalk. MANY of the tourist deaths have been pedestrians. Stay alert when near the street!

3. As much as I hate to say it, bicycling really isn't safe in Mui Ne. Strongly consider it before you do it, and please do not let your children ride alone.

4. Though I really dislike Mai Linh and have witnessed them do hit-and-run accidents, they are much safer than going by motorbike driver.

5. If you are drinking, please do not walk long distances back to your room. Take a taxi.

6. If you think your driver is driving too fast, SPEAK UP. Make them slow down. Complain to your hotel if they arranged the driver. Refuse to pay if they don't slow down.

Many of the business owners/managers in Mui ne are banding together this week to start a grass roots road safety campaign, whether the local officials like it or not. You may see posters and brochures and other activities. Please help us support the effort.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Expats Fear Deportation During Increased Visa Restrictions

Well, I wish they'd used more intelligent-sounding quotes, but here's my contribution to Thanh Nien's latest story on the Vietnam Visa/Work Permit drama.

I did tell the reporter, which didn't make it in the story, that the local Phan Thiet immigration office is actually pretty friendly, helpful and they even speak English. Local paperwork and red tape is not so much a concern, but rather the regular threats from MOLISA in Hanoi, and prospects for future changes in the law and enforcement.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Travel Writer Cliches

A friend and I were discussing the common travel writer cliches that are used when writing about Vietnam. The one that drives me up the wall like nails on a chalkboard are the writers that go on about the “smiling, friendly, innocent, shy, gentle, child-like” hilltribes as though the jungles of Vietnam are populated by tribes of retarded gibbons with philanthropic tendencies… or all that noble savage crap as though the natives are autistic tree-huggers that would sooner have their village bulldozed by evil loggers than hurt the environment. What a load of bullcrap. I mean take a drive through the mountains for 5 minutes during dry season—anywhere Vietnam or Loas, and it rains ashes from all the burning forests that those naughty minorities (and Vietnamese) set ablaze. Don’t get me wrong—I love Vietnam’s minority groups—I just hate how “travel writers” portray them.