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Me and My Nouvo

March 24, 2008

Nouvo

Xe May (ˈmō-tər-ˌbīk). This is now my official transportation here in Vietnam. I used to ride a Xe Om (motorbike taxi) but I just got tired of being a passenger in the mercy of an unknown driver. Not to mention the hassles of negotiating the fare and the inconvenience of finding one during late hours in the office.

I rented this bike in preparation for Tet last February since I anticipated public transport would be scarce. Anh Loc and I went to a place inside the Old Quarters and I got a good deal for a Yamaha Nouvo! It’s fully automatic and I’m used to riding one by being a passenger for 6 months! I was initially going to get a SYM Atilla which was a typical scooter here but the Nouvo was just too good to pass up. Got a good price for it since I’ve rented it for 3 months and it now takes me anywhere within Hanoi 🙂  Have Helmet, will Travel!

I remembered the first time I drove a motorbike and it was a small scooter back in Taiwan. My A-ma (grandma) let me drive it by myself on the streets and I remember her smiling as I drove away. Take note that this was way back in the late 80s or early 90s (couldn’t remember) and I only circled one block and almost threw myself off the bike by hitting the brakes too hard on the intersection. It was scary but exciting. Hyew! That was the last time I rode a two-wheeled motorized vehicle…

..until now! Thanks to some lessons from Anh Loc, I’m officially a biker in the busy, chaotic streets of Vietnam 🙂 Within just two hours of practicing –how to zigzag, accelerate, emergency brakes, turning while leaning, small u-turn.. I graduated with honors..at least I thought so.  Safety is still the top priority — Helmets on, side mirrors aligned, check the brakes and off we go! Some interesting things you can do or see on the streets of Hanoi that I normally wouldn’t be able to without my trusty Xe May..

Books

…Books on the streets

Cows

…Cows on the streets (moo!)

Nan1milk

..I finally found Nan1 HA!

Monument

..National Heroes monument. It’s awesome at night.

kids

..Kids after school.. uuuy.. HHWWPSSP! 🙂

armortec

..getting a new badminton racket.. with free string!

bikes@night

..Teens hanging out at night with their bikes. Yes, they were in front of me during a stoplight in an intersection.

Brangelina in VN

..nuff said.. if Brad and Angelina rides a Nouvo.. that’s the bike for me! 🙂

The only way to get around and experience Vietnam is through a motorbike.. I’m glad I finally got to drive one myself and like I said in my previous posts.. I’ve been converted 🙂

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iPhone, schmiphone!

March 19, 2008

Argh! The wait for the next iPhone is unbearable. I’m missing out all the good stuff but I hope it’s going to be worth it. The trick with buying gadgets is to just do it! If you keep waiting, you won’t ever get to having one.. it’s a vicious cycle! Playing around with Apple’s touchscreen and GUI has always been a winner since the iPods came out. I’m more excited though for being able to view pictures of the family especially my li’l one and once you have a baby, you can never get enough of seeing your mini-me. That’s my main motivation in getting one soon. The iPhone in Vietnam is priced almost similar to Manila with the 16GB costing around $670..ouch! With that amount, I can push the DSLR up the queue 🙂 

I’ve had a chance to play with an iPhone lately and I really like the SMS conversation view.. fantastic concept indeed! Let’s not even mention about Safari.. taking mobile browsing as close as the desktop experience. The touchscreen response is amazing and I can blab about the features the whole day.. convincing many others to buy one before I do 😀

But.. i’ll still hold off for now. Still waiting to see how far portable storage will go and stretching the 16Gb limit. For the next gen iPhone, here’s my wish list and Steve Jobs will soon rule the world 🙂

  •  3G – This is a sure feature for the next iPhone release but i doubt if i’ll even use it.
  • 5 megapixel camera – This will be a monster if Apple changed their existing 2mp. It will now match with the Sony Ericsson K-series and Nokia N95s camera phone. Without any doubt, people won’t have choices left but just to buy an iPhone.
  • 32 Gb capacity – moore, moore, moore’s law 🙂 Will SSD be considered for iPhone’s next upgrade.. only time will tell as the price of SSD drops.
  • Extended battery life – must keep going, and going, and going… It’s a good time to play Rihanna’s “Please don’t stop the music”.. literally!
  • External storage slot for additional capacity – In my dreams! 🙂 Apple would never do that… ruins their strategy you know. Too bad 🙂

Do I smell an early Christmas in June when iPhone 2.0 is released? A few more months to go!

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Pata-Pata-Pata-Pon!

March 4, 2008
Patapon-Main

 Waaaah! The wife can’t play this game yet since the PSP is still bricked as of this writing. Still working on finding someone who can unbrick it for free or if we’re desperate enough, we’ll just pay for it 😦 This was one of my most anticipated games but more for the wife’s liking and I’m sure Anna will have fun with the Patapons! More screenshots and the trailer of this cool PSP platform game:

Patapon-1

Patapon-2

Now say it with me.. Pata-Pata-Pata-Pon!!! 🙂

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Suso at Sabaw

February 28, 2008

If you’re a pinoy reading this, you might misinterpret this a li’l bit 🙂 This was about a seafood dinner I had with Vietnamese friends. Compared to our Dampa, it’s a little different since they cook the seafood here more fresh and the flavor really comes out. None of that fancy butter-garlic stuff which I do really miss!

Thanks to Chi Thuy for her treat, we ate at a simple seafood place within Hoan Kiem (I’m used to sitting on the streets by now) with good company and enjoying delightful dishes. We started off with grilled clams followed by its lemongrass-ginger soup version (Halaan), then grilled shrimps and steamed crabs! How about that for a change from my chicken-pork-beef diet! *LOL* 

The highlight of the night was this little sucker. It’s quite common here and also in the Philippines but for me, it’s classified under exotic food! First reaction would be.. stay away from it! This was highly recommended by the team and it was my first time to try this…

Snails

 Snail-meat

..and it wasn’t that bad at all 🙂 A li’l bit of hesitation to pick out the meat inside it (poor snail) but down it goes the hatch! I can’t describe the taste though but it was steamed and cooked with soup. Maybe a light-tasting version of a raw oyster and I’m still okay as of this writing.. hehe! It was a good experience and that was only the single piece I had.. hehe 🙂 Only eating one snail was enough for me to you all about it.  

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Converted to Viet

February 24, 2008

Xin Chao! After being here for more than half a year, you know the Vietnamese culture is rubbing off once you start noticing the following:

1. You pronounce Doom as Zoom. I actually did this when I asked my colleague what was he watching on HBO.. he said Doom and I said “Oh, Zoom!” The ‘d’ here in Vietnam is pronounced as ‘z’ except for the hyphenated one. Silly me! The effort was good but it was a bit out of place 🙂
2. You like motorbikes now more than cars (Vespa, PS and Dylan rocks!)
3. You don’t miss Starbucks. The best coffees in the world are already in town!
4. You aren’t afraid to cross the street anymore! They are the ones who avoid you. Just do not hesitate and you’ll be fine. (Warning: This is only applicable to motorbikes avoiding you while Cars, Trucks and Buses are excluded!)
5. You have your shoes shined while eating lunch (for only 5,000 VND = 15 pesos!)
6. You like eating noodles more than rice and know the difference between Pho Bo and Bun Bo.
7. It takes you around 20 seconds to select a good pair of wooden chopsticks.
8. You eat more frequently on the streets rather than indoors!
9. You call everyone “em oi” even when you’re not in Vietnam anymore.
10. You finally understand football and even watch the sports highlights! I couldn’t care less about this sport back in the Philippines but it’s really big here! Even enough to play goalie for a couple of games 🙂

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Sand Art

February 20, 2008

If you’re stressed from the daily hustles and bustles of work or life in general, I suggest it’s time to take a break. To do that, I recommend you look at the work of Ilana Yahav. I’ve never seen anything like it and there’s more of her work on youtube. Here’s a sample of the artist’s masterpiece! *speechless*

 

 

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Chef Ricardo is Back!

February 17, 2008

Voila! I’m finally updating my repertoire and instead of the regular cooking of pork adobo, honey-ginger chicken, bistek tagalog and pork tonkatsu, I’ve become adventurous for a bit and need to explore more spices for the tastebuds.

Here’s one of my *well-done* (with emphasis) beef steak that I’ve prepared this morning:

Pancake

Looks good eh? Who wants to give it a try? *LOL* Who wants to test the true meaning of friendship?! 🙂

I keed, I keed… it’s actually my Pillsbury chocochip pancake for breakfast (sent all the way from Manila by the wifey and delivered by RedEx, thanks Red!) and this is what happens when you haven’t watched the NBA All-Star weekend live coverage for a couple of years! I was running back and forth from the kitchen to the living room and didn’t want to miss a moment of this much awaited NBA event! I left the skillet heat too high and I’ll call this.. Pancake ala Tusta!

Hoisin Chix

 On the brighter side of the day, lunch was better and cooked it with some TLC. Here’s my latest creation and it’s a hoisin chicken with the recipe from pinoycook. It took some grueling preparations as I had to toast the sesame seeds separately, deep-fry the chix, remove the oil, put in the hoisin sauce and add the chix and toss to mix with the sesame seeds! I just made it sound complicated but it really isn’t. I wanted to narrate like a chef from the Travel and Living channel 🙂

I’ve now become fond of cooking and hope I can continue this when the wife is here.. 🙂 I’m spoiled and the wife usually cooks for me.. Anna usually hears these two words coming out of my mouth.. Feed Me! That’s what Baby Justin is saying often these days! Like father like son eh?

Hoisin Ric
The Smell of Success!