Coffee blossom

24 Mar

Viets have an earthy, robust humour that reminds me of my native Sheffield. On arrival in Kon Tum I found a hotel that seemed OK and told Slim, the lad on the desk, I wanted a motorbike in the morning. … Read More »

Close encounters of a photographic kind

20 Mar

Kon Tum, Central Highlands, the French-in-Indochina’s answer to the British-in-India’s Oota­c­amund: a hill station where Europeans could take temporary refuge from summer’s heat and white man’s burden, a town awash with handsome colonial architecture said to be the best in … Read More »

The cops took my wheels

16 Mar

How much d’you want for that? (I’m goin’ to the store). Man says three dollars. I say alright – will you take four?  Bob Dylan, Love & Theft Five men, amputees all, sit by the roadside hawking cheap fans. I’m … Read More »

Zen and the art of bartering

14 Mar

Two small porcelain trays have caught my eye. Their rectangular bases and shallow curving sides are painted delicately; Cham patterns in muted greys. Now the fun begins. “How much?” The girl smiles. “Sixty thousand dong each.” I look thoughtful. “Forty … Read More »

Motorbiking

13 Mar

Absolutely the way to go here: typically 125cc, and that’s enough. Two things are needed. One, you must know how to control the bike. (If unsure, find a way of practicing at home first.) Two, forget all you know about … Read More »

Danang

11 Mar

With a few exceptions I try to avoid writing on my travels of things you can find out your­self in books or online. For instance the walls of Hue’s Forbidden City are ‘crumbling’ due to ferocious US mortar fire in … Read More »

Common People

9 Mar

‘Everybody hates a tourist’, sang Jarvis Cocker, the one phoney note in the most inspired song ever to emerge from my home town. It isn’t true. Tourists who engage – and part with much needed dollars – are liked and … Read More »

Saigon

8 Mar

The officials at Guangzhou (‘Gwongchow’, Canton in old money) International can smile but it doesn’t happen often. That’s not due to some People’s Republic edict; still less surly disposit­ion. The first time I was there they pulled all the stops … Read More »