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Friday, July 30, 2010

Ho Chi Minh City – My brief overview

It was a few days ago that due to unforeseen circumstances I was suddenly asked to stand in for someone scheduled to conduct a seminar presentation in Ho Chi Minh City and here I am, my first trip to The Socialist Republic of Vietnam unexpected and unplanned for.

I arrived in Tan Son Nhat International Airport on a hot afternoon with a cloudy overcast. While the plane was taxing to the airport, I couldn’t help but notice many mini hangars that can be seen along the way. About half of them are empty with the other half filled with military helicopters and plane. The contrast compared to the main airport building was huge.

As you step into the main airport building, it can give any other airport in terms of creature comfort and convenience a run for its money, however things took a turn as you step out to get a taxi. Chaos rules once outside, even my host was clearly embarrassed with the situation. Taxi with horns blaring was driving in and out, jumping queues and ignoring basic traffic rules picking up passengers who are not too sure which taxi should be taken. Surprisingly there seems to be uniformed people with walking talkies coordinating the whole thing.

If asked to drive in this city, I will not be capable enough nor have the guts to do it. All this while I thought only motorcyclist and drivers in Central Jakarta have suicidal tendencies but it appears that this is clearly not the case. With the haphazard driving style and motorbikes weaving in and out of traffic I wonder why some of the motorcyclist bothers to wear special mask for protection against the polluted environment, that in fact should be the least of their life threatening worries.
I somehow finally make it to the office in one piece and not a moment too soon, I was told I had just missed the hungry lunch crowd this must be my lucky day. After settling down, lunch was on the next agenda. My first introduction to authentic Vietnamese food, beef noodles.

The flavoring is not as strong as the ones available back home but the presentation, side dishes and condiment accompanying the noodles is somewhat different, I actually like it.
In the afternoon it was back to the office to have a discussion for tomorrow’s assignment, which took the better part of the day. Evening was a real culture shock, I was taken to have dinner in a Czech beer house, in the middle of urban Ho Chi Minh City, being serve Vietnamese food and imported Czech beer with German sounding beer drinking songs being played in the background.

I notice the Czech consulate also happen to be conveniently located in the same building.
All things must come to an end and I had to make my way back to Kuala Lumpur the next evening.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Flea beetles

Belonging to the leaf beetle family it is often seen, yes you guess right, on leaves feeding. They are small beetles and if not for their often bright attractive colors it would be difficult to spot them.
Observing them closer you will notice that their hindlegs are bigger which helps them to jump like a flea, hence the name Flea beetles.

Sometimes they are regarded as pest especially when they are found to attack agricultural crops as they feed on plants eating the various parts from leaves to stem.And when feeding on weeds they are considered beneficial, although I would think, what is a pest or not really depends on which perspective we choose to look from. To the flea beetle, all it was doing was eating something available to survive.