Vietnam Notes (Part II)

War Museum. It posts a collection of memorabilia from the Vietnam War. The journalists’ photos were deeply affecting. It told of the travesty of war and the hapless victims that were the Vietnamese and Americans alike. I was amazed to find out that the Philippines sent a battalion as part of the allied forces although they were not armed with guns but with T-squares and scales (it was an engineering battalion). Thus the risk of dying from dengue was higher for them as compared to perishing from an enemy bullet.

Having watched such films as Platoon, Band Of Brothers, and Saving Private Ryan, I was gawking at the site of vintage tanks, 150mm howitzers, grenade launchers, an F5 fighter, and a Huey chopper at the museum grounds. Not to mention a real guillotine used during the French occupancy, I posed for a pic at each weapon of destruction, of course.

Cu Chi Tunnels. Mukhang nawaha na ako sa missus. She used to have a problem saying the word Wednesday (she pronounces it as Weh-nes-day para Tagalized daw). My Weh-nes-day is Cu chi Tunnels.

Galeng ng pagkakagawa ng CHU CHI Tunnels ano?


Onga, CHU CHI Tunnels.


It just happened. I dunno why. I must’ve confused it with an old sitcom character with the same name, a.k.a. Lola Chu Chi of Chicks2Chicks.

Anyway this was the highlight of our trip. We were made to crawl a 20-meter section of the complicated web of tunnels so that we can get a feel of the VC experience. As you can see, the picture is quite dark such that only my phone can be seen. It was held by the missus as I tried my flash-less digicam on her. It was pitch black, I tell you. You can’t see a damn thing. Add to that the assortment of traps, no wonder the Yanks weren’t able to penetrate these tunnels.

You should see my video on it. It was also pitch black, except for the phone light illuminating the missus’ chin lagatak-ing with pawis. Yep we were laughing all the way from start to finish, only disturbed by comments such as:

Teka teka! Picture muna! Ay potek ang dilim!

OMG ang dilim!

Wow pawis na ako. Hmmm….ang alat pala ng lasa ng pawis ko.

Asan na? Ang layo pa ba ng dulo? OMG!


I guess that last one was too much. Good thing there were no US-veterans with us. They would’ve grabbed a bayonet and stabbed the alleged VC.

Notre Dame Cathedral. Located in a picturesque European-like square aptly named Little Paris, we were fortunate enough to attend the 6.30am Sunday Mass. Yes 6.30am. The last time I woke up THAT EARLY for Mass was for Simbang Gabi. I was able to complete the 9-day Novena only once so far. That was when I was still a teenager with raging hormones, and pimples.

You have to admire the Catholic Vietnamese there. I observed during the Mass that ALL MEN hearing Mass (save for one Pinoy tourist) were wearing shirts with collar and were politely dressed, much like going to work. Taimtim talaga silang nagdarasal. Admirable, really. Too bad the Mass was ENTIRELY in Vietnamese. But as Sam, our atheist tourguide said, “Praying is not with the mouth, but with the heart.” Or something like that.

Well the rest of the tour was spent on shopping at Central Market (damn cheap but not as cheap as Divi), Saigon River Boat Cruise (most of the damn tourists were singing and dancing (asses flying) like your Dad and mine, noisily with the band; good thing I got it all on video…hehehe), Picture-taking in front of a 100+ year old post office, city hall, and Ho Chi Minh’s statue.

All in all it was great trip. Bagong tatak pa sa passport, as the missus would say.

Hmmm…dunno yet where we’re going this December break. The missus wants to go somewhere with snow. I aptly told her we just go up to Genting Highlands. I heard they have a “winter-wonderland” snow room there. Hehehe.


Vietnam Notes (Part I)

So far we've enjoyed our stay here in Vietnam. The hotel was kind enough to give us a complementary 1-hour voucher each so we're here at the internet cafe checking our emails (and PBB updates for the missus). Here are some things/places that we recommend you try or go to when in Vietnam:

Christ's Temple. Located in Vung Tau some 120kms away from Ho Chi Minh City, it is a massive 22-meter statue of Jesus Christ standing on top of a hill with its arms wide open facing the ocean. Similar to that in Rio De Janeiro, it is the 2nd tallest statue of J.C. in the world. It takes 920+ steps to go from the bottom of the hill to the shoulders of the statue (yes you can climb up the statue) so comfortable walking shoes, a face towel, and a whole lot of stamina is required. No fees to pay.

Vietnamese Coffee. In the words of the great comedian Jimmy Santos, "HOLY COW!" This is THE BEST coffee I've ever tasted. Costs around 15,000 dong (or less than 1 US-dollar) for a cup, it is a must for every coffee-lover. Vietnam is the 2nd largest coffee exporter after Brazil and before Colombia. Another interesting fact: don't you know that there are NO STARBUCKS NOR MCDONALDS here in Vietnam? I find it quite refreshing, really. It makes you think at least there is one country in S.E.A. that will not succumb to American commercialism. Kaya ang papayat ng karamihan ng mga tao dito. I guess they don't need to watch that Supersize Me movie.

Oops my 1-hour voucher is almost up! I'll just blog the rest when we get back.



10 Updates

Three straight days working from 1am-10am. This system-migration stuff is really killing my body in terms of getting the right amount of sleep. Although the abundant food-delivery of Dominos and McD is steady, I'm glad today's the last day of this project.


Food intake is back to normal. Bochog normal, that is. I still try to exercise at least twice a week but I guess having to remember that I'm on a diet is rather difficult. This leads to BTP phenomena when trying on an Ambercrombie shirt at the mall (BTP = Big Tummy Protruding). The missus seems to agree as she gives a disappointed look after she tried out a ladies shirt.


The car has not been cleaned for almost 3 weeks now. It looks as if I've taken it for a drive from the desert, the rainforest and back. I have this spooky feeling that the gods are always conniving to make it rain after I've washed the car EVERYTIME. Note that this has been happening even when I was still in Pinas. Weird isn't it? I guess the rain-gods are daring me to wash the car so that they can prank me again but I'm not budging (it's been raining here everyday this week). You should hear me when I'm passing by the carwash-bay of our apartment, as if cursing the heavens: "Ha! Di ko pa din lilinisin ang kotse! Belat."


Boss is asking me (again) how's my job-hunt coming along ---with a "belittling" accent. I smiled and said, "Don't worry about me." Hmmm, I should've told him I had an ephipany two days ago. It told me to go back to Pinas and venture into franchising instead of looking for work. Well that's the plan at the moment. Subject to change, of course, depending on what other offer comes into play.


I've heard a lot of people migrating to Canada, Australia, and the US. The missus, in particular, has 3 close friends who've migrated to Canada and one just got approved to live in Australia. Hell, even April Boy Regino is migrating with his family to the US. Huwaw!


Got introduced to a new local snack: Roti Bakar. Toast two white bread. Thenafter, layer one side with kaya and butter. Goes best with coffee. Mmmmm....yummy.


There this unknowing geek neighbor at our apartment who has a wifi subscription that he lets open. There's no security at all that I could log-in and surf the 'net for FREE! I would use my laptop to find the strongest signal in the house, much like what we'd do with tv-antennas during the pre-cable-TV era. That was a couple of weeks back. I guess the geek noticed his 'net connection was slowing down (I was trying to download a large video-file once) and thus discovered my presence in his network. Since then I've not been able to connect to his wifi network. I assume that he has enabled the anti-barat-surfer feature in his wifi-router. *Sigh*


I've been loving the eletric-mosquito-racket at home. Yes, there IS such a thing. There've been frequent bwisitors in the sala and bedroom that the local mosquito-repellant is not really effective. The mosquito-racket has lessened the pest population effectively, with my Agassi-like forehand and backhand strokes electrocuting the damn bastards to death.


After 3 years I still haven't picked up the local language. The security guards at the office always assume that I'm local so they talk to me casually in Malay. All I could do is reply, "Aaahhh" and smile. It seems to be the only effective response with every "conversation."


Semi-excited about the Vietnam trip this weekend. "Semi" coz the Yahoo-weather forecast does not look good (partly cloudy with scattered t-storms in Ho Chih Minh). Even the travel agent has advised us to bring raincoats. Damn, I hope Yahoo-weather is not that accurate. Oh yeah, we'll stay away from eating chicken there as much as possible.



(ABOVE) You have to agree: he does look spooky when wet. I couldn't put my finger to it at first but he reminded me of someone from an old Disney cartoon...

...Ichabod Crane.



Halfway into the PBB season, ABS-CBN is milking the said show for all its worth: SMS-voting, tshirts, caps, 24/7 subscription of livecam, and lately, the PBB magazine. This is aside from the fact that the show is already earning from the numerous sponsors, with their ads streaming endlessly DURING the show.

I'm saddened by this since PBB-mania is draining the texting-public of all their hard-earned load just to vote for their manok from being evicted especially this week since there are 5 nominees. Add to that those senseless multiple-choice sms in between the votings that lures the ignorant cellphone user into wasting his money for nothing.

This just proves the bankable partnership of reality shows and sms-voting. That is why I think Filipino telco-operators are not eager to rollout 3G services at the moment as they are still profiting from the SMS phenomenon. In tandem with advertising and media companies, they are eager to dangle the bait. Texters are then hooked and waste money.

So, who are you voting for this week? If you're voting for Chx, I suggest you don't contact the missus.


Dear Santa

The Nokia N70 3G phone. Ah yes. Bee-you-tea-full!

I've been waiting for this phone to be released in the market since I first saw it on the Nokia website last Q2 of 2005. Finally, it's here! I just saw it from one of the cellphone shops here at the grocery. My current phone, a Nokia-6260, is a total crap. Its software hangs a lot, the bluetooth has problems connecting to a laptop, the shine in the volume buttons has faded, etc. Yeah, I was taken in by the hype of its looks. I should've listened when Melanie Marquez said "My brother is not a book!"

Hmmm...I wonder how much this phone costs. Good thing my company has just given all the employees a RM500 rebate (approx. P7,500). Some of my officemates are selling the vouchers for RM350-400 so I'm thinking, I may save an additional 300 bucks (P4,500) more. Add to that the trade-in value of my 6260.

Hmmm...not bad as an advanced Christmas gift for myself don't ya think?

Yeah, you're right. I'm one selfish bastard.

So bite me.


Morons At Heathrow

I got this (349kb) from an officemate. Sort of like what Bart Simpson does when he calls that guy tending the bar at Springville. I can't believe these guys pulled it off at Heathrow Airport.



Ah yes. London. I remember vaguely a week of training (which was more of a sight-seeing tour) last Sep. 2000:

Hyde Park.

King's Cross.


Trafalgar Square.

The Underground.

Buckingham Palace.

Tower Bridge.


Too bad I wasn't able to watch a Premier League game at the time. It would've capped a great week in England.

So while I'm waiting when I'll fly back to that wonderful city, the Travel-Channel and ESPN's English League will have to do at the moment.


Sweet Torture

After watching a travel-show on Thailand last Saturday, we decided to head to a Thai-resto for dinner.

Under a year, the missus has become a converted lover of tomyam. She classifies it as something of "sweet torture," much like the Japanese wasabe. The latter, when taken in above-normal portions, hits the nose's path going up your brains as if fumigating your nostrils. The feeling is overwhelmingly hot (and embarassingly stupid) while you try to quench it with green tea. Stupid because after a sip of green tea you realize that the drink is hot. So it was like trying to douse a bonfire with gasoline. Ahhghhh should've ordered a Coke!

Tomyam has the similar effect, especially when you sip it wrongly. I, for one, have been a victim to this. I would take a sip, then I feel something building up at the back of my throat, like hot magma about to flow to my lungs. I have no other recourse but to cough, to the weird smiles of the waiters and other guests of the resto.

The missus has found a way to sip the spicy concoction without coughing. She says the idea is to stop breathing while you sip the tomyam. Easy right? Unfortunately I couldn't get it right. I always had to cough. Anghang kasi eh!

Of course, there's no need to mention that I sweat heavily when I have tomyam. I could feel the sweat accumulating at my shirt collar. It's like going to a sauna, only you feel a slight guilt of the additional calories that you need to burn on the next badminton session.

As we walked out of the resto, I could feel the tomyam spice palpitating on my lips. Hmmm...this must be how lip-enhancement surgery feels. There's no other way to tone down the spice-level but to grab a cup of Baskin n Robbins and use it as a lip-icepack.

All in all it was like crossing the Sahara and then ending up at the Antartic.



Terabyte anyone?

Talk about waste of space, RT has found two websites offering free-email with mailbox sizes at 30-gigabytes and 1000-gigabytes! That's 1-terabyte! It's like uploading 25 copies of the entire contents of my laptop to the damn thing! Wow!

Man. Nakakauyam naman nun. I think Gmail's 2GB+ size is alright for me at the moment. 2gig nga wala na akong malagay, eh 1-terabyte pa? Plus I'm very O.C. with my mailbox: I always empty my trash-bin and sent-items. I want to keep my mailbox spick and span. Eliminate the "eyesores" as the missus would put it.

I remember during high-school that we'd give out ooh's and ahhh's whenever our rich classmate would bring his 1.44MB, 3.5inch floppy disk to computer-class. It seemed to have made our 640kb, 5.25inch double-density floppy disks so uncool. But we had the same argument: "What do I need a 1.44MB disk for? It's just too much!"

Years later, having a 1.44MB-diskette case-cabinet on your desk seems so uncool. It's like that scene from Austin Powers where Dr. Evil asks the US-gov't for only one million dollars ransom so that he won't destroy the earth with his (slight pause) "laser beam" a.k.a. "freakin' laser" ---to the unstoppable laughter of the US-president and his staff.

That's computer-technology for ya. We just have to expect that it will always evolve in size and shape every now and then. I guess the era of the terabyte is just around the corner.

But for now a 30-gig or 1-terabyte mailbox seems too much. I find it unnecessary at the moment.

Btw, you can email me at daytripper1021@30gigs.com.



Laptop ist repariert!

At last!

After 21 days our IT-dept has finally fixed my office-laptop yesterday. They were able to put in a new harddisk and CD/DVD-drive. It's as good as new! Too bad I wasn't able to coax the technician to replace my 40GB harddisk with a higher-capacity one so that I can put in more MP3s. Sayang.

Good thing it came back this week. If not, the missus would have asked me to reprimand them for slow-response since she cannot do her "work", i.e. emails and watching ABS-CBN shows (she's had a lot of "backlog" on the PinoyBigBrother videos). Incidentally, I haven't been watching a lot of ESPN since our sound-surround system (PC speakers) is being used when playing the ABS-CBN videos from our personal laptop. Nothing left to do but surrender to watching The Buzz as Kris Aquino unmercilessly talks about herself and her overdressedness (is that a word?). Ahhh yes, vanity becomes her. Don't you agree that you somehow get hypnotized when Boy Abunda speaks?

"So....kumusta ka na Ruffa?"

"Yes Tito Boy I'm ok naman"


I just don't have the penchant for watching Sunday Pinoy TV shows. Take the Sunday variety-shows like ASAP and SOP, for example. It's like every dance/song number has so many artists(?) performing that a can of rotten sardines seem to taste better. Moreover, they ride on the hype of budding singers and bands such that the likeability of the hit-song is plunged into the deepest recesses of Hell. Back in the days when I was a fan of The EraserHeads with Ely Buendia, I would cry out in disgust when they would guest in such shows and have the "buset naman" host sing with them out of tune.

T*ngina naman mag-host ka na lang! Buset!

I felt a little relieved, however, when the E-Heads seemed oblivious to answering the host's questions after the performance. It was like showing them the finger "with a smile" pardon the pun.

Hahahaha buti nga sayo kupal ka kase!

Like my Mom's special Ilocano pakbet, the TV is an important dish to our Sunday lunch. As per instruction, the TV is adjusted such that it faces the dining table, thus offering an unobstructed view of the disgusting show(s). I had no other option but take an afternoon siesta or go out and play darts with my buddies.

Of course, when I get back the TV's still on. This time my sisters are switching the channels between The Buzz and S-files. If the variety shows were Purgatory, the showbiz talk shows were Hell.

"Wala pong katotohonan yun..."

"Ay di po totoo yun..."

"Huhuhu....he promised he will work things out..."

"Sinaktan po nya ako..."

"Yes Tito Boy..."


Never-ending interviews of denial, please-star-me-in-a-movie tears, accusations, gay reporters, lesbian reporters, Mahal, the list goes on. So when I found work abroad I felt relieved that I would never see these shows again.

Then, on the 8th Day, Man created e-Commerce. ABS-CBN was now online. Double arrghhh.

For the purchase of 12 US-dollars, you get to waste your money for 3-months' worth of downloading the crappy shows that you never wanted to watch in the first place. The Sunday shows have penetrated these shores and onto my apartment living room where the missus, a self-confessed "Claudine-hating RicoYan-loving Raymart-adorer-but-now-hates-Raymart-for-wanting-Claudine" fan, awaits.


Italians vs Europeans

I got this from a former colleague. I think "
Filipinos vs Europeans" is also applicable.


The "O" Cult

The missus is a member of what I fondly call the Oprah Cult. Shown at Star-World every 9am and 1pm on weekdays, she would watch every episode without fail ---including the replays.

“Di ba napanuod mo na yang episode na yan?”

“Eh Oprah eh.”

About 30% of our conversations involve the missus uttering, “Ang sabi nga ni Oprah…” or “Parang ganyan yung sa Oprah…”

I’ve got nothing against Oprah. Her topics are very timely and every new episode gives me a new reason NOT to migrate to the States ---stories such as teenage depression, child molestation, extreme obesity, infidelities of married couples, Tom Cruise dating Katie Holmes, to name a few. It makes you feel glad to say, “Buti na lang walang ganyan sa ‘Pinas!”

I think if they set up a big screen in front of the Embassy showing only the Oprah show, it will definitely deter the would-be immigrants from going to the States ---hence shortening the queue. The fishball and sago stands nearby will definitely lose profit.

The only thing I hate is the “clap-happy” audience. They seem to be applauding anything (and I mean ANYTHING) that Oprah says ---most of which I don’t even think deserves an applause. I’ve been telling this to the missus since Day-1 but she seems to have been brainwashed by the all-knowing priestess.

Then came last Friday’s 1pm show.

Fridays are a time for me to have lunch at home since it’s 2.5hours “unofficially.” With 2 packs of pork-rice, my lunch with the missus reached her 1pm high-Mass with Sistah Oprah.

The topic was regarding mean teenage-girls that had issues on not feeling pretty, and alcoholism, among others. As in most episodes, Oprah would hire a psychologist to have a professional opinion on the matters at hand.

There was this instance wherein the psychologist was explaining beautifully the reasons as to why this one girl had a certain issue (sorry the exact details escape me at the moment). I myself was amazed at how this shrink was able to analyze the whole thing. “This better deserve an applause,” I thought. To my surprise and disgust, the audience didn’t applaud.

Then the camera focused on Oprah. For a brief moment, she seemed lost for words ---rightfully so since the shrink had covered everything that needed to be said. Oprah had nothing left to say except, “Talk to the people.”

Then, as if on cue, the audience gave a loud applause.

“What the freakin’ ass was that?!?! Nakita mo ba yan?!


“Ayan oh! Yun lang sinabi ni Oprah eh pinalakpakan pa ng audience?! Ano ba naman yaaaan? Yung psychologist ang ganda-ganda ng sinabi di man lang inappreciate?”

“Eh si Oprah yan eh.”

It's official: the missus has been brainwashed.

Ayos talaga. There goes another reason NOT to migrate to the States.