Bits and bobs

15Sep09
  • Did Tiger-Heineken a.k.a. Asia-Pacific Breweries Ltd. really contemplate making bia hoi back in the 1990s?
  • Previously mentioned here, the art house Vietnamese phim Choi Voi” won an award at Venice Film Festival — the international film critic association’s choice no less. The director is interviewed here — poor fella could hardly afford to be there by the sounds of it but you have to suffer for your art house phims I suppose.
  • LISTEN TO ME LOUD AND CLEAR: JETSTAR ANNOUNCES NEW DEAF-FRIENDLY POLICIES. Huzzah for that but does that mean they had an unfriendly to deaf people policy before? Well, kinda, sorta, maybe, um… yes. I believe they did. Two deaf people were prohibited from flying as they couldn’t hear the safety instructions.
  • The so-called Safari Park at Dai Nam in Binh Duong province had bragged about its animal enclosures that were safe and allowed for up-nice-and-close ogling for guests. But a tiger figured out how to jump the 2.5m electric fence and ate killed one poor park attendant and mauled another. This inspired Vietnam News to run an article with a corker of a headline “Tigers in captivity must be controlled.” A smart tactic if e’er there was one. The immediate reaction was to shut the “animal displays”. One of our readers Senor Santos suggests in the meantime the tiger will have some time to think long and hard about what it did. I expect a public apology a la Serena Williams or Kanye West — two very naughty individuals of late  — to be forthcoming.
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  • In case you hadn’t noticed Vietnam has a wee obsession with beauty pageants, and beauty in general I suppose, which makes the fact that Vietnamese women keep on getting snubbed by the adjudicating boards of international beauty pageants all the more distressing (for some). Every time a ‘beauty queen’ returns defeated and tiara-less from Ms World or Ms Universe there is a sincere bout of soul searching and spate of finger pointing. The latest to fail against the rest of the world is Vo Hoang Yen inspiring the headline with a complimentary question mark: No prize means failure for Vietnamese beauty?

Vo Hoang Yen in more carefree days before her beauty “failed” her and her country

Meanwhile elsewhere…

  • Of course, we don’t encourage such discriminatory behaviour regarding beauty at such pageants, but it’s okay to accept The Word Magazine’s invitation to choose your favourite bachelor and bachelorette from Sunny Saigon from a selection of 15  boys and girls,  ‘cos you know, it’s not all about the looks you shallow rotters. That’s why there’s also a Q&A with everyone. Some more than amusing answers too: “ QDo locals approach you? AThe men do more so than the women. One time when I stopped at a red light, a local guy pulled up next to me. I thought nothing of it at first because being a black man in Saigon you get stared at all the time. Then he pointed at me and started flexing as to tell me I had big muscles. He then proceeded to feel me up at the light. It was mildly uncomfortable.” We definitely empathise with this though sadly its less to do with muscles and more to do with a fleece or two of arm-hair (check out second post down over here, if you you want to know more about that personal affliction).
  • Apparently, there’s a clampdown on underage drivers in Hanoi: “A policeman, said that many students wore a coat over their uniforms…” It’s been a bad week for teenagers. First banned from being jockeys now this.

I like this as an excuse“Diluted drink story saves Hanoi nightclub manager” — but I bet all the punters who spent two to three trillion ding-dong on bottles of Chivas Regal or Hennessey back in New Century’s prime aren’t so impressed. The former club owner might counter with the argument that the complimentary fruit platter was compensation enough: “Never mind the watery whisky lads, try the star fruit! It’s simply divine! Fresh from the hills of Dalat I believe.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a nice slice of water melon when quaffing brandy as much as the next man but personally I only drink Chivas Regal when I’m on holiday in the South  Pole fishing for penguins with my two BFFs: “Teddy, did you remember the crystal tumblers?”, “Affirmative, my dear Dunlop, and is Gunther chiselling the ice cubes as we speak?”, “Aye – aye captain!”

I thought that winter’s day would last forever.


THAC DA, Vietnam — On the obstacle course at the seventh annual Minsk Olympics here in northern Vietnam, Richard Rastall twisted the throttle on his Soviet-era Minsk motorcycle and gingerly accelerated up a four-foot grass embankment. The bike lurched. Its speedometer fell off.

“It goes with the territory, I suppose,” said Mr. Rastall, a 30-year-old Englishman who lives in Hanoi, fishing in his pockets for duct tape. “But you’ve got to love these bikes, really.”

Full article here penned by James Hookway and make sure you check out the slide-show with pix by Justin Mott and if you want to rant about smoke, fumes, heinous carbon footprints, etc. the WSJ article has a comments section. For the record The Comical Hat editorial board walks to work on a solar panelled powered magic carpet made from recycled Persian thread.


1. The Irish Times of all papers had a story on Muslims in Vietnam.

The migration of Islam has many forms in southeast Asia. Chinese Muslims, converted by Arab traders, brought the faith overland from Yunnan province into Laos and Burma. Second waves came with southern Asians serving as colonial administrators, while north African soldiers in the French colonial army prayed at mosques in Hanoi and Saigon up to the country’s independence. Islam may be making a comeback of sorts in Vietnam: Chau Doc’s Muslims may be marginalised, but they’re also thriving on the curiosity, and help, of foreigners. Read the whole shebang here.

2. And… the Pattaya girls I mentioned the other day are no longer performing — probably nothing to do with artistic differences or solo careers.

3. And also in case you though otherwise find out why Hans Solo was no General Giap (Thanks to Mr. Cinnamons for passing on the link).

PS — Is this what they call a slow day for hatted comicality?


Let’s go art house baby…

…there’s a new Vietnamese “phim” called Chơi Vơi (Adrift) — nope, it’s not a Dead Calm kinda film if you’re picturing a young couple float away into the big blue open sea on a Halong junk (“Curse these cheap Sinh cafe tours!”) before innocently picking up Billy Zane, blithely unawares that he’s actually homicidal maniac scouring the South China Sea searching for unsuspecting victims. It’s directed by Bui Thac Chuyen and it’s most definitely going for “sensual, intimate and atmospheric” — no surprises there as it’s an arthouse film set in Vietnam — but it’s also taken on some controversial subject matter with a story centred around a newlywed couple who have what you might call a sexual awakening (Read lesbian desire and marital infidelity). Anyway, looks promising judging by the trailer below.

In case you’re interested it stars Do Thi Hai Yen of Quiet American fame, Jonny Tri Nguyen of The Rebel and Linh-Dan Pham of The Beat That My Heart Skipped. Local Hanoians might also spot one of the lead singers of Đại- Lâm- Linh  (check those guys out on youtube) if you haven’t before), (she also owns Cong Ca phe so you might also recognise her from there…) towards the end of the trailer. And fair play to her says us.


The online newspaper Dan Tri (translated by Vietnamnet) recently featured a story on Pattaya, a group of five transsexuals who perform fashion shows at a café in Hanoi’s Hai Ba Trung district.

The report claims that while transsexuals are no longer “uncommon in Ho Chi Minh City” this is a bit more of a sensation in the capital city.

The shows, which take place twice a week, have apparently attracted a lot of “curious, mainly male, customers” and when Pattaya hit the stage it’s often “standing room only”, according to the café’s staff.

Before performances the MC comes clean announcing that the girls have “had to experience many plastic surgeries so that their bodies look as they do today”. To maintain their appearance the MC adds they have to return to Thailand annually for “maintenance”.

In case you were wondering the group chose the name “Pattaya” in a tribute to the popular holiday destination in Thailand where they “found themselves”. For those of you who don’t know, there are certain parts of Pattaya where most tourists don’t come armed with their bucket and spade and an unputdownable-novel.