- McDonald’s. There are no McDonald’s in Vietnam, or rather none that I have seen. The KFC’s make up for its absence though. They seem quite popular here.
- Coffee or ca phé. There are no Starbucks either, but why would you go to Starbucks when you can get excellent café sua da at a fraction of the cost? On this point, coffee places are very popular here. They’re bigger than usual Starbucks and look more like a very trendy restaurant/lounge. They’re more of a hangout and socializing spot. You usually get free ice tea, and it is refilled the minute you’ve had a sip by the usually over abundant staff; you can easily have 5 different people waiting on you. Wifi is also usually available.
- Smoking. Smoking and smoking indoors is prevalent here. One of my pet peeves, Vietnam!!
- Adidas. There are many Adidas stores here in Saigon. Not sure why, but I keep seeing them everywhere.
- Saigon. In my always paranoia, I wasn’t sure it was ok to call Saigon Saigon. Or rather use Ho Chi Minh City. Supposedly, it’s fine. I won’t get arrested for it.
- Candies for money. 1 USD = 16,000 dong. Actually, the USD is dropping quite fast, so it’s more like 16,650 dong… This means that everyone’s easily millionaires and a grand is meaningless. The smallest currency is 500D, but when I’ve been owed 500 dong, I’m usually given a couple of candies as change.
- Television. Vietnamese dubbing is quite funny because it's usually one female voice for every character, with no inflections. She seems to be rapidly reading the script. And if you were wondering about Who wants to be a Millionaire?, they have their own version here. the grand prize is 120 million dong (about 7500 USD). mtvasia.com seems to play '80's music on a regular basis, which makes The Boyfriend happy...
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Here are some random observations about Vietnam: