Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Helmets Galore

You can start seeing lots of helmets on the streets of Hanoi these days - it started about a month ago, when the government mandated that all government employees were required to wear helmets. I think it was Sep. 15th or so. The employees obliged (lest they be fined) and helmets popped up all over. The general populace will have to comply by Dec. 15th of this year.

This quick adoption of the rules is an example of how the government here, like everywhere else, can get compliance to its social policies through its employment channels, simply because it is the biggest employer around. Sorta like how the US government ushered in workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, disability accommodation, and other progressive social change by introducing it first in the Civil Service.

Another thing that the local government enforces is child planning. Unlike China's one-child policy (which has led to China becoming an "aging society" more quickly than it's economic development would have indicated), Vietnam's two-child policy is encouraged by fining government employees for having more than that number of children. You can have more kids, you'll just get into trouble at work.

The other thing you may notice in the above picture is that Minsk rider. If you look through that haze of pollution on the right you can catch him. Some white dude polluting a country that is not his. Maybe I should go on a personal crusade to publicly embarrass all the Minsk riders and other visible polluters around town. Sorta like the Hanoi version of the site Fuck You and Your H2.

If you want to buy a motorbike, scrap together some money and get yourself the new Honda Click. It was designed for the developing market, so it's only $1,550 (a new Honda Dream is about $950), and, most importantly, it's the only new motorbike sold in Vietnam that meets the Euro II standard in actual use, in a study conducted by the government earlier this summer, as reported in Vietnam News.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Entrepreneur's Day

Today, October 13th, is Entrepreneur's Day. Yet another holiday that's new to me.

So what does one do to celebrate Entrepreneur's Day (also known as Businessperson's Day)? Well, I'm doing what most entrepreneurs do - I'm off to play golf!

There are a bunch of holidays here that aren't celebrated in the States (obviously), but surprisingly a lot of them match up in terms of being in the same general time of year. Besides giving me a break from work, Federal holidays, like US sporting events, help to mark the time.

You have President's and MLK days to ease you from the post-Xmas/NYE malaise. You have Memorial Day to start summer, July 4th to reflect wistfully that you've wasted the summer indoors, Labor Day to wrap things up, Halloween to motivate you to clean up the leaves in the yard, and Thanksgiving to usher in chill and preparations for the year-end bash.

Here the year ends and begins with the long Tet holiday. Then there's Women's Day to give you a break from those two weeks back to work after Tet. Reunification Day starts the summer season, National Day on Sept. 2 ends the summer and starts the school year, and I'm sure a couple of holidays from now till Christmas, which is increasingly being celebrated in a secular manner here. The improving economy means the rise of the consumer class and the holiday marketing to siphon its money. I wonder when Vietnam will have a Black Friday shopping day.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Blogspot Being Blocked?

Hmm.. can't get to view this blog, or any blogspot blog, when heading there directly. Good thing I use a newsreader. Of course I can still log on and post. Strange.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Kid's a Video Star

Pullin' back the curtains a bit on this here sorta anon blog. But the kid's worth it. For those interested, two words: Code Pink.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Chi Linh Star - Golf Tournament

So this past weekend I played in a golf tournament at Chi Linh Star Golf Course, reputedly the toughest course in Vietnam. The tournament was organized by Vietnam Golf Magazine - one of two (that I know of) golf publications in Vietnam. For a country of a few thousand golfers (reportedly 4k local golfers), there is sure a lot of resources catering to this demographic.

Played with some friends that I met on cyberspace, and all in all we all had a good time. Played horribly for many reasons but mainly it was the Indian, not the arrow(s).

Chi Linh itself was a real nice course; not as nice as Tam Dao (which is shiny and new and gets less play), but nearly so. The course didn't seem too difficult - they had smaller greens, a few with multiple tiers, and the superintendent kept the greens firm and no overly receptive to average shots. The design is ok in my book.

The best thing about Chi Linh however is the drive there. It is a similar distance from Hanoi's CBD as the other course, but the drive was on the best highway I've been on in Vietnam. Divided, two lanes, with a shoulder and a medium amount of traffic. And unlike a lot of large roads around here, this highway did not cross into a hamlet every 5km, forcing the traffic to slow and account for four-way intersections. What a revelation, and what a comfortable 1.5 hour drive.