Fellow Vietnam foodhead Cathy at Gastronomyblog features in the latest series of food ventures of Padstow’s finest TV chef Rick Stein in Vietnam. I’ve been a fan of his for a while myself. Vietnam is just one episode in a series that takes in other parts of south east Asia. I watched the whole Vietnam episode today and just discovered it on YouTube. It’s a good broadbrush, although I noticed a few wee errors – at least errors to me – and why did he go to the old, tired and grumpy Cha Ca La Vong??? They really do not deserve the press. It’s similar to the Anthony Bourdain show in Vietnam recently, with a bit more depth, a lot more “how you can do this at home” and a few more sites. After all it’s a longer show. All in all, a very enjoyable reminder of life on the streets in Vietnam (if you ignore the posh junks, boats, cars and hotels…) Watch the clip above. Our Cathy appears at 2 minutes in on Ben Thanh market.
Up and out of the house, my first destination was a cafe to get my morning iced coffee and tea. At a small coffee stall, I leaned back in a little plastic chair and watched the traffic roll by, still many more motorbikes than cars. From coffee to breakfast, I walked into the first noodleshop I encountered, a small food stall selling Bun Bo Hue. The first sip of broth consisted of some of the most intense flavors I’ve tasted since I was last in Southeast Asia. Pungent and thick, with chunks of beef and pork, it was a delicious re-introduction to the food of Saigon. link
This from the Committee to Protect Journalists brought back some memories. I remember trying to encourage a number of Vietnamese to blog when I lived in Saigon. Paranoia and fear of a knock at the door fuel self-censorship. It really doesn't take much to get banged up in Vietnam as the blogger behind this article knows only too well,
even though they have nothing to do with my writings. They have through my
family tried to pressure me to shut down my blog, which to date has attracted
nearly one million page views and international media attention.
I have been a blogger since
2006 and I have twice in the last three years had to relocate my Yahoo! blog
page. At first I thought I was the victim of unknown hackers, but later
discovered that Yahoo had taken steps to freeze my account. I personally don't
see how the political views expressed on my blog violate Yahoo!'s terms of
After repeated attempts to
phone and e-mail Yahoo customer service, I have yet to receive a clear answer
about why my blog was suspended. I believe it is worth noting that Vu Minh Tri,
the head of Yahoo Southeast Asia Pte Ltd which operates the 360° blog service
is on record saying: "Yahoo is willing to cooperate with government agencies to
ensure a clean and healthy social network."
blogger and Internet freedom in Vietnam is not only contingent on the government's policies, but also on the actions of
multinational Internet companies such as Yahoo as well. link
OK… top free tip for starting a blog in Vietnam. Choose this domain and choose it quickly www.slightlylargerthanpoland.com. I just happened across the Reuters news alert pages for Vietnam and this is how they describe Vietnam. I for one think it’s a fantastic blog name for a Vietnam blog 🙂 While we’re on Vietnam blogs, might I mention I haven’t mentioned Saigon Nezumi in a while. I’m quite the fan of pro-snapper Kevin’s blog, whereas I’ve never mentioned am-snapper Simon’s Saigon Today blog. All worth a look, IMO.
I’ve found someone blogging food from Saigon and beyond – introducing Gastronomy. NB: the only way I find these things out, or they find me, is by setting up Google Alerts and Technorati feeds on this blog’s name, url and on my name. Right… I’m in London. I have a long meeting ahead and these to look forward to at lunch and maybe one of these or these or both 🙂 for pud….
I previously mentioned a blogging guide the Global Voices project has produced to help people who, for whatever reason, need to blog anonymously. Global Voices co-founder Ethan Zuckerman drops into the comments to say they need help with translating the guide into Vietnamese,
the guide is available under Creative Commons attribution – if anyone
wants to translate it into Vietnamese, they’re more than welcome. And
I’m looking for someone who might fund that translation – it’s one of
our priority languages right now…
Anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while will know I’m a big fan of Global Voices. Over the years, I have also tried to encourage the Vietnamese blogger wannabes who have contacted me, but fear and paranoia exists about writing stuff online and for very good reasons. However,
Andrea, Kevin etc. know anyone who might be up for the task? Or any rich Viet Kieu willing to shell out a few bucks to get the job done? The latest appeal for a Vietnamese cyber dissident, Le Nguyen Sang, was scheduled to take place in Ho Chi Minh City earlier today. It’s an ongoing story etc. etc. A translation of this guide could really help folk avoid getting arrested for something as simple as expressing an opinion.
…and I’m all for going back to the same restaurant again and again and again, but isn’t this all a bit well… bloody sad?
"Lee and I first ate in the Eastbourne McDonald’s in 1990 and we’ve been back every weekday ever since. We had just moved over from Vancouver and we just fell in love with McDonald’s.
We call it "the office" now and our relatives will ask us how the office is and have a little joke about it. We almost have our own table and if someone else is sitting there then, oh boy, I have to sit somewhere else and I feel like I’m lost. We never go to any other restaurants, you’ll never see us anywhere else.
What do we love about it? McDonald’s has always been very pleasant, and the people who work and go there are always very polite and friendly. In all these years, we have never, never had a cross word from anybody. We have people coming to sit with us who are a quarter of our age, and I love listening to the young kids and the students. And if they haven’t got time to talk to us, then they’ll just wave and go about their business.
We both order a double hamburger with one portion of chips between us, Lee has a cup of coffee and I give him one of my hamburgers, so I have one and he has three. I did once try the Big Deli sandwich and, I tell you, I couldn’t walk out of the door it was that big!
We don’t eat big when we come home, we like to sit down in the afternoon and watch Deal or No Deal with a Magnum chocolate-covered ice cream. We sit there licking it like two little old kids.
I’ve heard it said that people who go to McDonald’s all put on weight – don’t you believe it! I’m very slim and so is Lee. It’s just nonsense about McDonald’s not being healthy. Lee will have a bowl of cereal in the morning, and I’ll make him a pre-cooked roast beef at the weekends, but there’s 400 calories in our ice cream so we don’t eat much else.
We were there all through that terrible time of the BSE crisis when they said don’t eat beef. We were just fine and we’re still healthy now. We’re both 84 and there’s nothing wrong with either of us. They’re always going to criticise McDonald’s and I don’t understand why – it is one of the cleanest places you’ll ever go to and we just love it." From The Guardian.
I’ve long been a subscriber to the excellent Intellasia news service. Today I received a message that the web driven news service is under attack from the Vietnamese authorities. Intellasia Director Peter Leech, whom I have met on a number of occasions, writes a reply to an article in An Ninh Thu Do,
"Despite the fact that Intellasia has over the years promoted Vietnam as a safe and good destination for foreign investors, balanced news reporting that gives all sides to any story is banned. Intellasia has always endeavoured to present a fair picture of what is happening in Vietnam during the good and lean times over the years. But now that the country has joined the WTO, things have suddenly reverted ominously."
You’ve got to wonder what the Vietnamese government’s agenda is at the moment what with their pathetic attempt to amend the press law and censor blogging and now this latest moronic attack against probably the best English language resource for investors and news junkies interested in Vietnam. A phrase, including the words ‘shooting’ and ‘foot’, comes to mind… Read the full article. And for those interested – and it looks as though a Vietnamese translation might be needed Ethan – here is an excellent guide to how to blog anonymously.
UPDATE: through the email ether… "Interesting [Peter] used same reference to large feet and projectiles when we spoke this evening. Guess you’re not planning a visit anytime soon neither ?"
The Ministry of Culture and Information is drafting regulations to prevent bloggers from posting subversive and sexually explicit content online. Vu Xuan Thanh, the ministry’s chief inspector, said they would enable agencies to control weblogs and slap fines on people disseminating ‘subversive or licentious information’.
He said once the regulations were finalised a circular would be issued and they would be incorporated in the amended Press Law.
But the manager of Ngoi Sao Network Company, which runs the licensed weblog www.ngoisaoblog.com, warned that superfluous formalities like asking bloggers to register their real names and ID card numbers would only see a rise in blogs located outside Vietnam. via Intellasia
If you’re Vietnamese, living in Vietnam and want to start a blog why would you ever want to submit your blog to the vagaries of the Ministry minions? Especially given their track record with people writing online. Even if you have absolutely no intention of publishing anything ‘subversive or licentious’, why run the risk of falling foul of a flimsy law when you can easily set up a blog on a free service hosted outside the country?
"The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of
Culture and Information are to target bloggers and blog-hosting
websites in the latest move by the government to restrict what
Vietnamese write about and post on the internet. The chief inspector of the Ministry of Culture and Information Vu Xuan
Thanh said the two ministries would issue a joint circular to strictly
control and monitor what is written in online blogs, especially views
against the state." via Intellasia