Starvation, horror in Venezuela

8 hours ago, Beowulf said:

So what can be done? Yes, we can do something to change this. If any and I mean ANY of these corrupt regimes want aid and loans, they should be forced to accept a binding public referendum (supervised, of course)  where the population would be free to decide, whether they want a government appointed by the U.N to rule the country during say, 5 years. Appointees for Ministries like Economic Affairs, Justice, etc. will be selected from a pool of west european & U.S. ex officials. Or, they can reject the "YES"  and stay the way they are now. I would bet the farm the "YES" would win in a landslide!

Damn! I think you nailed it in one paragraph.  I love (need too, really) simplify issues. It helps find solutions.  Jan I agree with you It's a crisis of global proportions, and we potentially can stop it. 

But Beowulf is correct.  If we took Jan's plan, and we could present it to the people of Venezuela,  I think they would say no thank you.  I think they are wrong to do so, but the sentiment would not change.  I don't understand it, even with full bellies, they would be pissed that help showed up.  Maybe it's Pride?  I sooo want to be wrong about this, but I fear I'm not.  Maybe jose chalhoub could offer his opinion.

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53 minutes ago, Mike Marcellus said:

 

But Beowulf is correct.  If we took Jan's plan, and we could present it to the people of Venezuela,  I think they would say no thank you.  I think they are wrong to do so, but the sentiment would not change.  I don't understand it, even with full bellies, they would be pissed that help showed up.  

Mike, I wouldn't be so sure that "pride" will leave the moms of Venezuela "pissed" at the Americans.  When you have zero income, when those that work are paid one euro a month, when doctors get paid two euros a month. when there is no milk or baby food for the baby, and there steaming into the harbor are food transports and hospital ships, you are not going to let notions of vanity keep your baby out of the hospital ship and you away from your first hot meal, complete with meat and potatoes, in two years.  Nope, nobody is going to be "pissed" about the US Flag and US military police organizing the bread vans and the milk trucks, except maybe Maduro and his Cuban advisors. 

Go back to that movie of the starving mom and the toddler, her rooting through moldy leafy vegetables lying rotting in that pile in the dirty street, trying to pull something edible out of it, and ask yourself:  "Is this the face of someone who will be pissed at the food transports arriving from America?"  I don't think so. 

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I think you both have great ideas that could be implemented together, but it would have to be after Jan's part of the plan took control and, like he says, you can get food and other basic supplies to the people at the Eastern port.  Word would spread quickly and besides, it would give those that are ready to organize a bit of time across the country to get those that hesitate on board for Mike's plan.

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18 minutes ago, Jan van Eck said:

"Is this the face of someone who will be pissed at the food transports arriving from America?"  I don't think so.

I Agree with you Jan, she is ready.  The part that I don't know is how many are there like her.  I feel the majority of the population needs to be in her position. It's awful to type, but what I'm suggesting is more people need to suffer before the majority would feel differently. 

I live in the real world.  I'm not sure if it's right or wrong, but in my work I often proceed and ask for forgiveness. As, opposed to asking for permission, and being shot down.  I have to get stuff done, and asking for forgiveness instead of permission actually gets stuff done, gets people paid.  

I want to go Jan, but, busting into someones house to rescue someone else has costs.   I want to believe the citizens of Iraq were grateful for our troops, but I just don't think ALL of them were.  And that's where it gets mushy.  I know our intentions are good, doesn't mean they will be received that way.   I believe that is what's happened in the past.

 

 

 

 

 

9 hours ago, Beowulf said:

So what can be done? Yes, we can do something to change this. If any and I mean ANY of these corrupt regimes want aid and loans, they should be forced to accept a binding public referendum (supervised, of course)  where the population would be free to decide, whether they want a government appointed by the U.N to rule the country during say, 5 years. Appointees for Ministries like Economic Affairs, Justice, etc. will be selected from a pool of west european & U.S. ex officials. Or, they can reject the "YES"  and stay the way they are now. I would bet the farm the "YES" would win in a landslide!

Damn! I think you nailed it in one paragraph.  I love (need too, really) simplify issues. It helps find solutions.  Jan I agree with you It's a crisis of global proportions, and we potentially can stop it. 

But Beowulf is correct.  If we took Jan's plan, and we could present it to the people of Venezuela,  I think they would say no thank you.  I think they are wrong to do so, but the sentiment would not change.  I don't understand it, even with full bellies, they would be pissed that help showed up.  Maybe it's Pride?  I sooo want to be wrong about this, but I fear I'm not.  Maybe jose chalhoub could offer his opinion.

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33 minutes ago, Mike Marcellus said:

I Agree with you Jan, she is ready.  The part that I don't know is how many are there like her.  I feel the majority of the population needs to be in her position. It's awful to type, but what I'm suggesting is more people need to suffer before the majority would feel differently. I want to go Jan, but, busting into someones house to rescue someone else has costs.   

And that's fine, Mike.  As you point out, we don't know how many are like her.  Might be only 4 million.  The population of Venezuela is about 32 million (at least, before the refugee floods into Colombia and Brasil).   We could send in an accounting team, to take a polite survey of that refugee flood, see how that stacks up. Can't get inside Venezuela, you would be shot by the Cubans. And that's the problem with these dictatorships. There is this opacity.

Another poster previously pointed out that Maduro was "popularly elected." That is likely true, for the first election, after the death of Chavez.  Hugo died in 2013, of a heart attack, apparently.  His buddy took over in a replacement election; that was five years ago.  In the last election, it has been renounced internationally, except for Russia, North Korea, Cuba, Nicaragua, maybe the Chinese.  Not exactly a ringing Indorsement. Who is this guy Maduro?  He now wants to be President for Life, he insists everything is peachy, and he buys oil he cannot pay for from the Russians to give to the Cubans  (who prop him up with paid assassins, the "Intelligence Services.")  His political opponents have this distressing way of disappearing.  Not exactly a ringing endorsement of a clean house, now is it? 

"Busting into someone's house?"  Looks like Maduro got there way ahead of you. At this point, the US Army is more like the fire department, that house is burning, a "fully involved structure fire," and who has the ability to put out the flames?  Colombia?  Panama? Argentina? Canada? The Germans?  All big "No's."   Here's the reality: it is the Americans, or it is nobody. 

And you can say it is not the time.  That's fine; you might be right.  Looks like the people on the ground in Eastern Venezuela are going to find out the hard way - and pay the price, either way.   

Cheers.

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On 8/14/2018 at 9:10 PM, Jan van Eck said:

Just a guess:   you have stumbled into a lecture by Mr. Heisenberg or Mr Schroedinger or had accidentally opened the cage door of Schroedinger's cat! 

Now, here's the real kicker:   maybe that cat actually exists in three phases at the same time:   alive, dead, and zombie!   Hey, Hollywood would agree. 

PS.  And don't come back with "those guys are dead" ideas; their bodies exist as both particles and waves (at least) so they're still around, ready to coalesce right in the lecture hall in front of you.  The cat would agree!

It wasn't any of those long dead Hombres and I cant remember now who it actually was*, but it was on youtube. As for them still being around..... Well, yes in particulate form, except that .... When I was a Kid I was taught that there are (It was believed that there were) two forms of existence that everything was made from: 1. Energy. 2. Matter. Matter was composed of atoms and all that stuff and energy was composed of, well, energy. So you couldn't actually destroy anything, you could only change it. You know, burn wood and it turns into energy and so on.

As a keen amateur radio enthusiast from an early age - 9 or 10 - I learned that radio waves are a form of energy that travel over an unknown immeasurable medium called "the ether". Obviously, I asked the question: How does modulated matter (electricity, the movement of electrons along a wire, right?) become radio waves which are energy transported on an unknown medium through space, atmosphere, window, clothing etc. At the speed of light. I'm still waiting for an answer.

Anyways, later on in life I learned that actually matter is composed of energy - strings of it. So I enquired as to what it is that stops the energy that forms the "strings" from dissipating (entropy - which isn't all that it used to be - and all that). Ah, well said my scientist friend, buggered if we know. Have a beer.

All of which brings me to a sign I saw near Cern a couple of years ago:

        WANTED!

   Schrodingers Cat

   DEAD AND ALIVE

.And if all of that wasn't enough, I saw fairly recently that string theory only works out mathematically if it is accepted that there are 10 dimensions. Which also may allow for time travel. A good theory I thought. So I tried it out on the missus.

I came home rather late one night from the Craft Ale bar in Thau Dien (district 2, Saigon) and with a bit of a Brahms and Lizst to starboard. 

My other half: AND WHERE TF have you been? (said with a Vietnamese accent). You are 3 hours late!!!!

Me: Sorry honey. Actually I am 3 days late. I was abducted by an alien space craft, which I thought was a Mai Linh taxi. However it transported me to a far off galaxy where they performed medical tests on me. They promised that they could do time travel and get me home in time for dinner, but there was an asteroid in the way and we had to make a diversion, soooo I am a bit late, sorry.

She: Troi Oi (oh my God) You are also lười biếng và điên (lazy and crazy).

 

*Some days I cant remember what I had for breakfast.

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3 hours ago, Eodmatt said:

 

        WANTED!

   Schrodingers Cat

   DEAD AND ALIVE

.And if all of that wasn't enough, I saw fairly recently that string theory only works out mathematically if it is accepted that there are 10 dimensions. Which also may allow for time travel. A good theory I thought. So I tried it out on the missus.

I came home rather late one night from the Craft Ale bar in Thau Dien (district 2, Saigon) and with a bit of a Brahms and Lizst to starboard. 

My other half: AND WHERE TF have you been? (said with a Vietnamese accent). You are 3 hours late!!!!

Me: Sorry honey. Actually I am 3 days late. I was abducted by an alien space craft, which I thought was a Mai Linh taxi. However it transported me to a far off galaxy where they performed medical tests on me. They promised that they could do time travel and get me home in time for dinner, but there was an asteroid in the way and we had to make a diversion, soooo I am a bit late, sorry.

She: Troi Oi (oh my God) You are also lười biếng và điên (lazy and crazy).

 

*Some days I cant remember what I had for breakfast.

Matt, you are hysterically funny!  

And that wry sign in Cern - don't tell me:   In English?   Must have been the visitors from the "Big Bang Theory"!   [For those of you not in America, that is the Number One US television comedy show, where a group of young nerdy physicists stumble through their days attempting to become romantically involved with women. In one episode, they had a visit to the particle accelerator in Cern.]

I get the distinct impression your bride is a quite practical gal!

Warmly, Jan.

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If things should improve in Venezuela and it's oil industry recovers, this would impact global oil supply resulting in a drop in oil prices which in turn would be very unfavourable to the US oil industry (Donald Trump's main support base). It is therefore in the interest of the powers that be in the USA for Venezuela to remain the way it is. 

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Did you read about the part where I propose a binding national referendum? No referendum, no money nor aid.

Yes, there are crooks galore everywhere...However, the U.N. appointed people would have to present FULL information on their deeds and where the money went, and of course, be held accountable. When was the last time you learned that any african bimbo-president presented full info on the loans received, asset declaration, etc. etc. I risk say, never. Is the plan perfect? probably not but I will submit to you, it is the best alternative today. In the meantime,africans continue to suffer unimaginable privations while we.....look for the "perfect" solution.

Cheers!

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(edited)

On 8/16/2018 at 9:17 PM, Jan van Eck said:

Matt, you are hysterically funny!  

And that wry sign in Cern - don't tell me:   In English?   Must have been the visitors from the "Big Bang Theory"!   [For those of you not in America, that is the Number One US television comedy show, where a group of young nerdy physicists stumble through their days attempting to become romantically involved with women. In one episode, they had a visit to the particle accelerator in Cern.]

I get the distinct impression your bride is a quite practical gal!

Warmly, Jan.

Thanks Jan! Yep the sign was in English, but I can translate it into German since I lived in Germany for a few years in the military. So I can order a beer and a bratwurst and once nearly had sex with a bratwurst stall girl by mistake when I asked her: "was kosten Sie bitte*?, (how much do you charge) instead of, "was kostet es bitte?" (how much is that). An easy mistake for a young soldier to make in Germany in the 1960's!

Well, my missus - I call her my long haired dictionary because I not speak Vietnamese at all well and she translates for me a lot of the time - is the daughter of an NVA Colonel (now deceased RIP) and  her mother was a Viet Cong anti aircraft gunner. Anyway after the war in Vn things were a bit difficult, especially since she was the youngest daughter, so the shoes and skirts had been worn by two kids before her (lets not go into the underwear situation here since her brother was, well, a boy).

When it came to education, she decided that she wanted to go to university in Ho Chi Minh city and after school she moved to Saigon (which is very near to Ho Chi Minh) and with the ten dollars her parents had given her when she left the Central Highlands, she bought some cans of coca cola and a bag of ice and sold them outside the Ben Thanh market. After a couple of weeks she had a room to stay in and a small cart from which to sell cans of coke and coconuts as well as small snacks. A few years later she achieved an MBA in business development and post grad quals in corporate management law. So yep she is small, very strong minded and has a bad temper you could sharpen an axe on.

On and the last American TV program I watched was in the UK called "Third Rock From The Sun", very amusing!

American films have of course had world wide effects on people, especially kids. I was in Maputo (Mozambique) a few years ago running a demining program for that self licking ice cream the UN. Saturday afternoon I needed a beer and was walking past the newly refurbished cinema which was showing a Hollywood gangster type film - you know, where someone fires 10,000 rounds into a restaurant and no one gets hit. The film had just finished and about 2 dozen kids in the age group 8 -14 came barrelling out. On little shiny faced black kid ran straight in to me full pelt. Looking up at me with huge brown eyes he said:

Doant f*cken Move!

Before peeling himself off me and dashing off into the distance.

*50 Deutschmarks, apparently.

Nanu Nanu!

Edited by Eodmatt
moronic speeling

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21 minutes ago, Eodmatt said:

 

Well, my missus - I call her my long haired dictionary because I not speak Vietnamese at all well and she translates for me a lot of the time - is the daughter of an NVA Colonel (now deceased RIP) and  her mother was a Viet Cong anti aircraft gunner.

Oh, well.  Anyway, looks like the Colonel's daughter became quite the polished capitalist!  Along with the rest of Viet Nam, at least those who managed to survive.  Interesting how American-style capitalism seems to poke out from under the sheets, even when they try to beat it down.  [P.S.  in her own way, that Bratwurst girl was also a budding capitalist!  Guess she figured out what those young American bucks were really interested in!]  Cheers, Jan

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On 8/17/2018 at 6:04 AM, Uduak said:

If things should improve in Venezuela and it's oil industry recovers, this would impact global oil supply resulting in a drop in oil prices which in turn would be very unfavourable to the US oil industry (Donald Trump's main support base). It is therefore in the interest of the powers that be in the USA for Venezuela to remain the way it is. 

I thought the Don portrayed himself as being there for Joe Sixpack rather than big business so a fall in oil prices would benefit Joe six pack and non oil business - particularly manufacturing . I recall that Bush Snr and Jnr were pretty much in the back pocket of Oil and Gas, Obama the Banking sector. 

The Don's big push to revive coal works against gas in particular because a relaxation of emissions standards will more likely make coal competitive against gas in the power generation business. 

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13 hours ago, Jan van Eck said:

Oh, well.  Anyway, looks like the Colonel's daughter became quite the polished capitalist!  Along with the rest of Viet Nam, at least those who managed to survive.  Interesting how American-style capitalism seems to poke out from under the sheets, even when they try to beat it down.  [P.S.  in her own way, that Bratwurst girl was also a budding capitalist!  Guess she figured out what those young American bucks were really interested in!]  Cheers, Jan

Ah well, I'm not American I'm a Brit. (boo etc. Heh heh heh). As for capitalism, there is a lot to be said for it.

In the UK we suffer from liberal looneyism which has destroyed our culture. but I'll rant about that another day.

Having lived here for a few years now (in Vietnam) I can say without fear of corroboration* that Vietnam is not a communist country. In fact it purports to be a socialist country. But the reality is that it is a "single party government" country. Very much like the EU is trying to be. I.E. run by an unelected elite (I wont invoke Godwins law here, but as far as the EU is concerned, there are some obvious parallels with history).

There is no welfare state in Vietnam although they do provide a minimum of medical support for the very poor. Which is why the streets are full of vendors selling everything from coffee to cakes and teddy bears to sun glasses, coca cola to compressed air for motorbike tyres. In short if you cant make a buck to live on you fall by the wayside.

And yet this country has the fastest growing economy in SE Asia, maybe the whole of Asia. The speed of development in the south of the country takes ones breath away. When they do something right, it isn't just right, it is perfect. Mind you when they get it wrong, its chaos and find someone to blame.

And my long haired dictionary will turn a buck wherever she can. She loves the stock market and occasionally makes good money. Like a lot of Asian people, she is startlingly bright and has a razor sharp mind when it comes to making money.

By contrast, she is also a firm believer in spirits (no not John Barleycorn), the kind that live in trees (mainly bad spirits) and fortune telling. She constantly has to juggle two calendars in her head, the western calendar and the Chinese lunar calendar. Everything is done according to "auspicious dates" and Feng Shui (sp). In fact she even has a steel 30 metre measuring tape with auspicious measurements on it. So everything in the house is placed, just so, to ensure maximum good luck.

And "face" is all important. 

It makes for a very interesting life.

 

*Kidding

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4 minutes ago, Eodmatt said:

And yet this country has the fastest growing economy in SE Asia, maybe the whole of Asia. The speed of development in the south of the country takes ones breath away. When they do something right, it isn't just right, it is perfect. Mind you when they get it wrong, its chaos and find someone to blame.

And my long haired dictionary will turn a buck wherever she can. She loves the stock market and occasionally makes good money. Like a lot of Asian people, she is startlingly bright and has a razor sharp mind when it comes to making money.

Great stuff!  I rather got the sense that that communism/socialism stuff was more for show than the reality on the ground.  All those guys hustling, that is a long way from the re-education camps and the boat people fleeing.  A lot has changed in 50 years.  Anyway, great to hear that your bride is one sharp cookie, she can keep you afloat in your old age!  Cheers.

P.S.  "face" is all-important for me, also.  Hey, no such thing as a Dutchman with a thick skin, they can be ridiculous.  Including me!

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41 minutes ago, Eodmatt said:

In fact she even has a steel 30 metre measuring tape with auspicious measurements on it. So everything in the house is placed, just so, to ensure maximum good luck.

So long as she places you in the house and not by the tree!  I am always interested to read and learn more about VN and hope to go there some day soon.  A good friend of mine also tells me it is fantastic.  Here in Thailand a lot of the things you describe have fallen by the wayside in recent years due, apparently, to the desire of certain non-democratic elements and an obvious lack of understanding about how free capitalism works in this day and age.  In fact, there seems to be some rather strong desire by some elite to return to the days of old.  Judging by the current atmosphere, unfortunately, they seem to be having some success.  It seems that every other week, on the forums here, a number of expats talk about giving up on the place and moving to VN.  You've been warned!  LOL!

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(edited)

On 8/19/2018 at 12:13 PM, Dan Warnick said:

So long as she places you in the house and not by the tree!  I am always interested to read and learn more about VN and hope to go there some day soon.  A good friend of mine also tells me it is fantastic.  Here in Thailand a lot of the things you describe have fallen by the wayside in recent years due, apparently, to the desire of certain non-democratic elements and an obvious lack of understanding about how free capitalism works in this day and age.  In fact, there seems to be some rather strong desire by some elite to return to the days of old.  Judging by the current atmosphere, unfortunately, they seem to be having some success.  It seems that every other week, on the forums here, a number of expats talk about giving up on the place and moving to VN.  You've been warned!  LOL!

Vn is very different to Thailand. Many people come here looking for the girlie bars and the cheap beer in the same way that they do or did in Thailand - and they do exist but it isn't "in your face" like it is in Thailand - or rather like it was. I went to Thailand for the funeral of a friend two years ago, having lived in BKK and Undon Thani for a year or so in the past. Thailand used to truly be the "Land of Smile", but I noticed on my last visit that the smile is a little forced these days and that the Thais dont "defer" to foreigners like they used to. This is hardly surprising when one considers that Thailand has seen millions of drunken, leering foreigners visiting over the last quarter of a century, mainly for sex tourism, so that kind of behaviour is wearing a bit thin for the locals now.

When I first came to Vn (year 2000), it was the land of bicycles. The bars, restaurants and hotels were mainly full of foreigners, to whom the doors had only recently been opened. The drive from Saigon to Vung Tau, an oil town on the coast took around 6 hours and the roads were potholed and crammed with bicycles, kids, pigs and dogs.

There is a new highway now and the journey takes around an hour. The city of Vung Tau has lost its wild west oil town image along with its "sexy bars" or "bia 'om" bars, such as the Purple Night bar which was known to the locals as the "Boo Boo Nihe bar" as  they can't pronounce purple or night. Vung Tau is now a very nice seaside town with a clean and vibrant fish market where you can buy fresh oysters for  far less than you pay in Saigon.

In Saigon the customers in the bars, restaurants and hotels are now predominantly Vietnamese. The ladies are extremely fashion conscious and gone are the cheap nylon dresses of 20 years ago, with names like Prado, Yves St L, and so on seen everywhere - much of it good quality fake.

There is a law in Vietnam that prohibits you from sharing a room with a woman who isn't your wife (prostitution is illegal here). And the police check the hotels every night. The hotels for their part will tell you that you have to hire two rooms, one for you and one for the girl. I know this because my wife and I tried to check into the Caravel hotel in central Saigon one time. We now take our marriage certificate everywhere with us.

Except that there is no such law. The law prohibiting cohabitation was repealed in year 2000 and a new law recognising cohabitation was enacted in 2005. However the police make money from hapless tourists who get caught "cohabiting" and who may be invited to pay a contribution ($1000 or so) into the police station "coffee fund", or spend a few days in jail before ending up in court to be fined and maybe jailed for encouraging prostitution. The hotels continue to make money by hiring extra rooms to amorous couples - unless they have a marriage certificate.

Most shops will try to overcharge foreigners, after all, foreigners are rich (and stupid) or so the locals think. However when you delve deeper into the culture and learn a few words of Vietnamese (its a hard language to learn because the locals tend to speak a mixture of Vietnamese and local patois). For example when saying cheers and clinking glasses with Vietnamese in a bar or at a party you will see that, if you are older than them, or if you are a "boss" they will hold their glass lower than yours. If however they are older or more senior than you, or if they want to show arrogance they will hold their glass higher than yours. And if you are the same age or younger than them they will refer to you as "Em", of you are older they may refer to you as "An". If they don't know you and are just referring to you as "that bloke over there" they might call you "Ong" - Mr.

And the one thing that amazes me is that the Vietnamese have absolutely no hard feelings towards America or Americans about the Vn war, which they refer to as the, "American war". By contrast my maternal grandmother in England hated the Germans until the day she died. Main reason being that a german bomber returning from a raid over Bristol in 1943 had machine gunned her clean washing. "And on a Sunday too!" She never forgave nor forgot.

 

Edited by Eodmatt
Careless typing, banana fingers, dyslexic spelling check software
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This first bit is just to put a slightly different perspective on your first paragraph.  I am not challenging your perception in any way, as perception is indeed in the eye of the beholder.  So, for what it's worth, here is my perspective:

I have been coming to Thailand since 1990 and have been married to a wonderful Thai woman that I met outside the country for the last 13 years.  Forced smiles and non-deference (I understand you to mean more in the cities, resorts and so forth?) are somewhat more apparent these days, I agree.  Since the 1960s the Thai people have been gracious hosts and welcoming entrepreneurs, offering all sorts of services to entice eager men of all ages.  However, I will give credit where credit is due: the ascendancy that has transpired has left a vacuum of sorts, and the new is not as pure as the old (I do hope you understand my use of nuance), in fact quite the opposite, considering past associations and what most people believe are actually current associations.  That, along with the rebuilding of some coastal towns after the tsunami by the Elliot Ness foes of the era, and the new type of democracy in force, have made it clear to the citizenry who they really need to pay attention to if they want to survive.  Fortunately, out here in the far Eastern part of the country we still enjoy the classic LOS charm.  Anyway, moving on.  Talking delicately becomes rather tiring, but you never know who might be interested in listening to my perspective.

Your description of VN today is breathtakingly similar to the China I encountered upon arrival in 1989, and really through to the end of my time there in 1999.  Uncanny, really.  Alas, China has changed a great deal since those days, although I still cherish many things about the people and the place.  Enjoy, and let's hope VN holds onto its charms for many decades to come.

I would point out that most of the time the Chinese have no hard feelings towards westerners, unless the politics and the propaganda of the day warrant it, but they are rather vindictive towards their brethren in Taiwan and of course towards the Japanese who they tolerate and try to take advantage of in any way they can.

One thing is for sure: your email makes me want to gather up my wife and son and head to VN for a holiday.  Do you have any idea how easy or difficult it is for a Thai citizen to travel there?

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(edited)

On 8/19/2018 at 3:08 PM, Dan Warnick said:

This first bit is just to put a slightly different perspective on your first paragraph.  I am not challenging your perception in any way, as perception is indeed in the eye of the beholder.  So, for what it's worth, here is my perspective:

I have been coming to Thailand since 1990 and have been married to a wonderful Thai woman that I met outside the country for the last 13 years.  Forced smiles and non-deference (I understand you to mean more in the cities, resorts and so forth?) are somewhat more apparent these days, I agree.  Since the 1960s the Thai people have been gracious hosts and welcoming entrepreneurs, offering all sorts of services to entice eager men of all ages.  However, I will give credit where credit is due: the ascendancy that has transpired has left a vacuum of sorts, and the new is not as pure as the old (I do hope you understand my use of nuance), in fact quite the opposite, considering past associations and what most people believe are actually current associations.  That, along with the rebuilding of some coastal towns after the tsunami by the Elliot Ness foes of the era, and the new type of democracy in force, have made it clear to the citizenry who they really need to pay attention to if they want to survive.  Fortunately, out here in the far Eastern part of the country we still enjoy the classic LOS charm.  Anyway, moving on.  Talking delicately becomes rather tiring, but you never know who might be interested in listening to my perspective.

Your description of VN today is breathtakingly similar to the China I encountered upon arrival in 1989, and really through to the end of my time there in 1999.  Uncanny, really.  Alas, China has changed a great deal since those days, although I still cherish many things about the people and the place.  Enjoy, and let's hope VN holds onto its charms for many decades to come.

I would point out that most of the time the Chinese have no hard feelings towards westerners, unless the politics and the propaganda of the day warrant it, but they are rather vindictive towards their brethren in Taiwan and of course towards the Japanese who they tolerate and try to take advantage of in any way they can.

One thing is for sure: your email makes me want to gather up my wife and son and head to VN for a holiday.  Do you have any idea how easy or difficult it is for a Thai citizen to travel there?

Understood about perception and I was of course generalising from my own experience, which is across the board, so to speak, having travelled and worked in Thailand both in the south and the N/east.

I too found China to be very enticing a few years ago although I was mainly in Beijing. I was there when Airbus opened up it's offices there and one of the jobs I did was to "deep clean" the new Airbus premises. This entailed scanning the entire radio spectrum both inside and outside the buildings. What was very interesting was that the mobiles phones in those days in Beijing were entirely analogue and the equipment we were using was able to "lock on" to mobile phones in the local area. And it was a surprise to to me to learn how many of the "ladies of the night" in Beijing could speak English. After two nights I had a good handle on the services offered and could have produced a price list. All very interesting. 

And yes, my stay in Udon Thani a couple of years ago was very pleasant - and productive as we dealt with a massive amount of bombs on the Sin Phu Horm mountain, part of which is a tourist place of great beauty, but beware going off the beaten track there because we only dealt with UXO actually on our seismic acquisition lines.

As far as I know your wife will not need a visa to visit Vietnam for a visit of up to 30 days: https://vietnamvisa.govt.vn/requirements/vietnam-visa-for-citizens-of-thailand/ but double check as the laws change here like traffic lights on a busy junction. Normally for less that 30 days a Thai citizen will just get a stamp on entry.

if you are a US citizen you can apply online: https://vietnamvisa.govt.vn/vietnam-visa/visa-on-arrival/ and pick up your visa on entry.

Now a word of caution: When in Vietnam ONLY USE THE FOLLOWIG TAXIS: VINASUN - cars are predominantly white and clearly marked. MAI LINH - cars are predominantly green and clearly marked. Both companies drivers are uniformed and generally polite. All cars used by these two firms have unique identification numbers in addition to their registration plates. https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwj48eqj0PrcAhUIKlAKHTouCZcQjRx6BAgBEAU&url=https%3A%2F%2Fnews.zing.vn%2Ftai-xe-taxi-mai-linh-tong-csgt-tung-nhay-cau-tu-van-post573204.html&psig=AOvVaw3r4TE6SP13Mg07jfDg_1x_&ust=1534820003445361 The taxi in the pic has its unique number 049 clearly shown. The number is also shown inside the taxi, often on the back of the front seat head rests. Memorise the number or, take a pic with your smart phone so that if you leave you umbrella or whatever in the taxi you can call the company and get it back. I gave this advice to an elderly English couple who visited Saigon 2 years ago. They ignored my advice, hailed a cab in the street that wasn't with Mail Linh or Vina Sun, whilst out shopping. It was a fake cab. The driver took them to  a quiet street and robbed them. Like Thailand, it docent happen very often but it does happen. But don't let that stop you enjoying Vietnam which although Asian is totally different to other Asian countries. Do try a breakfast Banh Mi (pronounced Bang Me - yeah I know), its a baguette packed with roast pork, chilli and salad - or you can order other stuff to go in it.

If you like a beer, try to find a Bia Hoi bar. Its a local bar that sells localy brewed rice beer. Its not strong but very light and refreshing. Or if you can find one, grab a bia tuoi, again a local brew but which is a little bit darker. Both of the foregoing beers are just a few cents a glass. The tourist bars will try to sell you Heineken which the Vietnamese think is the best beer - they are very susceptible to advertising. Much better than Heineken is the national beer Ba Ba Ba (333) its also much cheaper than Heineken. If you can find it, try a Saigon Do beer (pronounced Saigon Dor - means Saigon Red, from the colour of the label on the bottle). Brown bottle, red label, it has a slight hint of hops in the after taste.

Vietnam tourism is still in the style of: "follow the man with the flag - get on the bus - get off the bus - watch the ladies doing the straw hat dance - get on the bus - get off the bus - have a drink off coconut water - watch the show ..... etc. As a world traveller you will be better finding a base to stay in - the hotels are quite reasonable in the main - and sallying forth on your own to see things. The war museums are interesting. The Cu Chi tunnels are ok but not if you are large. You can also get to fire kalashnikovs and stuff at Cu Chi. 

To travel to the sea side from Saigon, take a VIP bus. They are Mercedes or Ford  mini busses done out with between 12 and 17 airline type seats , full aircon, wifi G4 internet. They are fast, reasonably safe and will get you to Vung Tau from Saigon in an hour or so - cost about 12 dollars. Or you can hire a chauffeur driven car for about 100 US a day.

oh and you can take an evening dinner trip on a restaurant boat on the Saigon river. Interesting but noisy - the Vietnamese are noisy eaters.

Also do visit the Majestic Hotel down on the river - almost opposite the restaurant boat dock, for afternoon tea. Its a stunning French Colonial style hotel. Or go up to the roof top bar in the evening and watch the boats moving up and down the river - some huge barges being towed by little tugs but with no navigation lights. Lightnning overhead among the clouds once described to me as "dragons chasing each other in the sky".

I should write a travel blog/

Edited by Eodmatt
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On 8/16/2018 at 1:19 AM, Mike Marcellus said:

Damn! I think you nailed it in one paragraph.  I love (need too, really) simplify issues. It helps find solutions.  Jan I agree with you It's a crisis of global proportions, and we potentially can stop it. 

But Beowulf is correct.  If we took Jan's plan, and we could present it to the people of Venezuela,  I think they would say no thank you.  I think they are wrong to do so, but the sentiment would not change.  I don't understand it, even with full bellies, they would be pissed that help showed up.  Maybe it's Pride?  I sooo want to be wrong about this, but I fear I'm not.  Maybe jose chalhoub could offer his opinion.

May I jump in here? Just to say that I have worked with the UN in several countries and wherever the UN goes there is corruption. Its almost axiomatic. And what surprises me (it gets me every time) is the fact that where money is concerned - and it is public money, tax payers money, the fiscal controls applied are so loose as to be almost non existent. The reasons that I have heard given for this are 1. Applying struct fiscal controls over donated money amounts to Neo Colonialism, which is inherently racist and therefore unacceptable. 2. Control and oversight of the spending of donated money is "big brother" insulting, restrictive, oppressive and dictatorial.

So when I uncovered a huge fraud involving about 7 million USD of World Bank money a few years ago, I also found that an audit team of lawyers and accountants had recently spent more than a week auditing the accounts of the foreign government department concerned - at a cost of around 60,000 USD - their vehicles - one big 4 x 4 plus driver per person - had never left the capital city and were used only to go from hotel to office, office to restaurant, restaurant to hotel and so on. The only thing the audit team found was that there was an undue number of paper cups being purchased and that china cups should be bought, which could be washed and re used. You really couldn't make it up.

I asked the audit team if they had  been out and counted the vehicles said to be held by the funded projects. No, we checked the ledgers to see if the number of vehicles held corresponded with the purchase receipts for the vehicles, they said. I asked, how about the staffing, did you check the number of people  actually employed  against the roll of employees? No, came the answer, we checked that the amount of money drawn for the payroll every month corresponded with the list of people employed. So you didn't actually see any employees? Nope.

It went on and on. And when a senior foreign government official was questioned about his (massive) overspend on business class and first class air fares and 5 star hotel bills, he complained bitterly that, "you are undermining my authority".

 

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2 hours ago, Eodmatt said:

 

I should write a travel blog/

Yes, you should.  Sounds like an adventure.   Some day....

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29 minutes ago, Dan Warnick said:

Yes, you should.  Sounds like an adventure.   Some day....

I'm far better qualified to write a blog about laziness though....

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4 minutes ago, Eodmatt said:

I'm far better qualified to write a blog about laziness though....

Ha-Ha!  The least given/admitted to reason for many of us being here.  I actually don't care where I am located, so long as I have enough money to provide and, most importantly, I am with my wife and son and they are happy.  We'd better cut this short, my friend, the blog is titled "Starvation, horror in Venezuela" and it's obvious we've gotten way off target.  I'll PM you if/when we have the chance to travel to your neck of the woods.

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2 minutes ago, Dan Warnick said:

Ha-Ha!  The least given/admitted to reason for many of us being here.  I actually don't care where I am located, so long as I have enough money to provide and, most importantly, I am with my wife and son and they are happy.  We'd better cut this short, my friend, the blog is titled "Starvation, horror in Venezuela" and it's obvious we've gotten way off target.  I'll PM you if/when we have the chance to travel to your neck of the woods.

Roger that, Dan. I was just about to say the same. Maybe start a travel blog on another thread, if I can find out how to do it. Apologies to other thread  attendees for derailing this one.

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3 minutes ago, Eodmatt said:

Roger that, Dan. I was just about to say the same. Maybe start a travel blog on another thread, if I can find out how to do it. Apologies to other thread  attendees for derailing this one.

Great!  Click the Start a Discussion button at the top and choose from the Off Topic Discussions:

image.thumb.png.47baa4a103e6fb9528d768d853584d70.png

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