Month: March 2013

Planning a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia – 2013

image

I tend to have a take it as it comes, plan as I go along kind of travel style. At earliest I might glance at the travel book on the flight, but more likely sitting in a coffee shop when I arrive. I would have booked flights, got an idea of other transport I might need, and also available accommodation, but not investigated too much more.

This is fine when you get a visa on arrival, which is usually for at least three months. But Vietnam and Cambodia seem different, and things may be done differently there. So I am working on basic questions I should get answers to, as I can’t take all the usual things for granted.

What route: This was decided by the flights I bought – flying in to Hanoi and out of Phnom Phen.
Mode of transport: Train from Hanoi to Saigon. Thereafter, no choice but to go by bus.
Visas: Malaysians don’t need to purchase a visa for Vietnam or Cambodia- they can get one on arrival. But with a UK passport I have to organise one. For Vietnam you can buy a letter online that you present when you arrive at an airport, at which time you pay for and receive a visa.  The visa is very expensive. you can get the Cambodian visa on arrival at a land border.
Money: ATMs – plenty exist, and in Cambodia dispense USD, as that is the currency they use there mostly. A problem in Vietnam is that most ATMs have s low withdrawl limit, of perhaps VND 2 million, which means the bank fees are a high percentage. Ask around for ones with a higher limit.
Credit cards: Merchants charge 3% extra
Luggage: The weather is warm at this time of year, so pack lightly

So I borrowed the Lonely Planet guide on Vietnam, read the Man in Seat 61, Tripadvisor.com and Wikitravel online.

If I had lots of time I could have gone overland. Thus flown to Hanoi, taken the train to Saigon, then the bus to Phnom Penh, the bus on to Thailand, the train to Bangkok, and then down to Butterworth.  But instead I will fly back from PP. I have done most of the rest of the journey overland in the past anyway.

FURTHER DETAILS:
booked a hotel for the first night
Noted sights to see in each stop
Found what activities could be done and where
Made a rough schedule
Researched where to buy train and bus tickets
Found how local transport worked in each location and prices
Wrote up all relevant details, put on Evernote as a backup
Also printed all details, including a few maps, airline documents, passport etc.
Got passport photos for visas
Got USD
Visa letter Vietnam
Fill out vietnam visa forms
Put flight docs on phone
phone banks & advise using in Viet and Cam
Book hotel for KL
check in for flights & print out all docs
book taxi to airport
USD for Visa in Vietnam
USD for Cambodia

backpack

backpack

PACKING LIST
This is what I took – and it weighed around 5KG, including the light backpack I took, which itself weighed .75KG.
Documents etc.:

directions, driving licence, money, debit card, ATM cards, credit cards, glasses, passport, travel insurance card, umbrella, wallet, watch, maps, plane/train tickets, pen, paper,sunglasses, torch, back pack, eye mask

Clothes:
socks x 3, underwear x 3, t-shirts x 3, shoes x 1, very small microfibre towel, swimming costume, belt, cargo trousers x 1, shorts x 1, flip flops

Electronics etc.
eBooks and music on phone, adapter plugs, triple adapter, earphones, camera and charger, mini tripod, usb sd card reader, spare camera battery, mobile phone, mobile charger, cable for battery, mini usb cord

Toileteries:
toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, razor, shaving cream small, shampoo, conditioner, hairbrush, hair gel, soap, tissues, moisturiser, colloidal silver gel,
nailclippers, ziplock bag, insect repellant

WHAT I DID WRONG
Internet often has a poor connection, so should have made a shortlist of hotels with phone nos so could book when decided schedule.
Brought old phone and bought sim to call hotels
Maybe one more set of clothes
Studied ticket meaning on Seat 61.com

MISTAKES
Must write down fares and prices before agree – so they can’t ask more later.
Maybe talk to more travellers
Write down or photograph plate of bus alight from so can find it later when at rest stop.

OTHER TIPS
Unless you really have to book before you leave home, book train tickets and tours locally. It is half the price for the same quality.

The biggest headache is getting local transport at anywhere near the right price, and without arguments. For taxis, tuk tuks etc. always agree the price in advance, having checked with your hotel or somewhere what the price is. And in Vietnam write the price down and show it to the driver before you depart. Agreeing 15 times orally is not enough – the driver can and often will demand a higher price on arrival. I would avoid having to rely on a taxi meter as they are often doctored. I’d prefer just to agree a price. Fellow tourists paid $3 one way in a taxi, in HCMC , but $40 for the return trip, as the meter leapt up. It’s better to use reputable taxi firms, but the drivers may still try to cheat you.

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Hiatus

Tropical Expat will be busy for the next couple of weeks, and may, or may not be able to post.

Fish and Chips in Malaysia

It’s nice to have fish and chips occasionally, but where in Malaysia can one get something nice? I thought I’d gradually try the offerings available when I find them. So, this blog is not yet too informative, but I’ll update it over time as I try different places.

I rarely find chips that I like. Unless they are made directly from potatoes I don’t want to eat them.  Frozen or reconsituted and shaped into chips – no thanks. If possible I swap them for salad or something else.

Scarborough Fish ‘n Chips

So far, my favourite is Scarborough Fish ‘n Chips, on the north coast of Langkawi, at Tanjung Rhu.  You have a choice of fish, all of which are nice, tartare sauce (ask for more if you need it), and nice chips. The atmosphere on the beach, the duty free beer and wine, also help make it nice there.  Just show up, no reservation necessary.

English style fish and chips

English style fish and chips – Scarborough Fish ‘n Chips, Langkawi

Kopitam Classic White Coffee

The other day in Gurney Plaza, I noticed that a chain coffee shop, Kopitam Classic White Coffee had fish and chips.  You had a choice of sauces – black pepper sauce, BBQ sauce or their own sauce.

Kopitan Classic fish and chips.

Kopitan Classic fish and chips, Gurney Plaza

The fish was Dory, and was nice.  Their sauce was a kind of sweet curry sauce, and was quite nice. The chips weren’t nice, and I left them, and the vegetables seemed sourced from a can or the frozen cabinet. The red sauce was a normal commercial chilli sauce.  The price, before tax and service charge was RM10.50 for the dish, so not too bad, and the service friendly.

170-B1-37 & 38 Plaza Gurney,

Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Pulau Pinang

04-2282770

Blue Reef Fish & Chips, Straits Quay

2013-03-15 12.44.03s
REVIEW

Somehow I seem to have a fish and chips craving this week. We’d heard that Blue Reef in Straits Quays served good meals at a reasonable price, so today we went for lunch. The menu is the same whatever time of day, except they have happy hour offerings.

inside looking toward the marina

inside looking toward the marina

the view you can see, more or less - that the camera can't capture

the view you can see, more or less – that the camera can’t capture

One really good thing is that they have an Australian kind of BYO (Bring Your Own) policy on wine, and no corkage charge. This doesn’t apply to beer, spirits, or champagne (a kind of wine, of course). And they kindly offered an ice bucket for our white wine, to keep it cool, before I asked.

2013-03-15 12.54.57s

ice bucket

There are six menu pages, but I only photographed three, shown below.

2013-03-15 12.46.46s

2013-03-15 12.47.32s

2013-03-15 12.46.39s

We availed ourselves of the weekday lunch promotion, which includes soup of the day, garlic toast and a diabetes inducing iced peach tea.
soup and iced peach tea

soup and iced peach tea

The soup was a fish soup, and of sufficient volume. The garlic toast was sliced bread, toasted with a hint of garlic, so one bite was sufficient. And the iced peach tea was so sweet my teeth threatened to dissolve if I had more than one sip. But, the soup was nice, so the lunch special was worth it, for RM1.
Soon after the main course was delivered. I had ordered the seasonal fish in beer batter, with hollandaise sauce.
seasonal fish in beer batter, with hollandaise sauce

seasonal fish in beer batter, with hollandaise sauce

This was very good, although the batter was a little too thick in places.
Mrs Tropical Expat ordered Prawn, Calamari & Chips – which to tell the truth she didn’t enjoy as it didn’t have much flavour.
2013-03-15 13.08.54s
The serving volume was good for all dishes.
The staff were friendly and helpful, and it was a pleasant spot to be. While we were there it was quite popular, and people were coming and dining and going. And being able to have a couple of glasses of white wine with the meal without the usual expensive prices for it was great.
Disappointments? Mrs Tropical Expat’s main course.
SERVICE: Friendly, helpful and fast
DECOR: Pleasant – with a view of the marina from many tables
FOOD: Tasty (for mine, anyway) and good volume
PRICE: Reasonable
ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS: The usual – proper glasses, crockery and cutlery

Blue Reef Fish & Chips Restaurant

Location: Straits Quay – 3A-G-20, Block A, ground floor; 3A-G-20 Straits Quay, Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang, 10470 Penang,

Phone: 016 4059182

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bluereef.fnc

Opening hours: 11:00AM – 10:00PM every day except Mondays.

Wi-Fi: forgot to ask

—————–

Blue Reef Fish ‘n Chips Restaurant – March 2013 review

2013-03-15 12.44.03s
REVIEW

Somehow I seem to have a fish and chips craving this week. We’d heard that Blue Reef in Straits Quays served good meals at a reasonable price, so today we went for lunch.  The menu is the same whatever time of day, except they have happy hour offerings.

inside looking toward the marina

inside looking toward the marina

the view you can see, more or less - that the camera can't capture

the view you can see, more or less – that the camera can’t capture

One really good thing is that they have an Australian kind of BYO (Bring Your Own) policy on wine, and no corkage charge.  This doesn’t apply to beer, spirits, or champagne (a kind of wine, of course).  And they kindly offered an ice bucket for our white wine, to keep it cool, before I asked.

2013-03-15 12.54.57s

ice bucket

There are six menu pages, but I only photographed three, shown below.

2013-03-15 12.46.46s

2013-03-15 12.47.32s

2013-03-15 12.46.39s

We availed ourselves of the weekday lunch promotion, which includes soup of the day, garlic toast and a diabetes inducing iced peach tea.
soup and iced peach tea

soup and iced peach tea

The soup was a fish soup, and of sufficient volume.  The garlic toast was sliced bread, toasted with a hint of garlic, so one bite was sufficient.  And the iced peach tea was so sweet my teeth threatened to dissolve if I had more than one sip.  But, the soup was nice, so the lunch special was worth it, for RM1.
Soon after the main course was delivered. I had ordered the seasonal fish in beer batter, with hollandaise sauce.
seasonal fish in beer batter, with hollandaise sauce

seasonal fish in beer batter, with hollandaise sauce

This was very good, although the batter was a little too thick in places.
Mrs Tropical Expat ordered Prawn, Calamari & Chips – which to tell the truth she didn’t enjoy as it didn’t have much flavour.
2013-03-15 13.08.54s
The serving volume was good for all dishes.
The staff were friendly and helpful, and it was a pleasant spot to be. While we were there it was quite popular, and people were coming and dining and going. And being able to have a couple of glasses of white wine with the meal without the usual expensive prices for it was great.
Disappointments? Mrs Tropical Expat’s main course.
2013-03-15 15.03.42s
SERVICE: Friendly, helpful and fast
DECOR: Pleasant – with a view of the marina from many tables
FOOD: Tasty (for mine, anyway) and good volume
PRICE: Reasonable
ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS:  The usual – proper glasses, crockery and cutlery

Blue Reef Fish & Chips Restaurant

Location: Straits Quay – 3A-G-20, Block A, ground floor; 3A-G-20 Straits Quay, Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang, 10470 Penang,

Phone: 04-8996127;  016 4059182

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bluereef.fnc

Opening hours: 10:30AM – 10:30PM  every day –

Wi-Fi: forgot to ask

—————–

Gespräche mit J.C. auf Deutsch 13: 15. März

2012-12-31 14.52.51s

Jede Woche treffe ich mit meinem Freund JC, mit wem ich Deutsch lerne. Unser Zweck ist Deutsch zu üben und wir besprechen immer verschiedene Themen. Diese Blog handelt von unserer Gespräche. Bevor jedes Gespräch bereiten wir jetzt ein bisschen.  Wir gebrauchen ein Buch, dass kategorisiert Worten nach Thema, aber wenn wir ein Wort nicht kennen, benutzen wir auch ein Wörterbuch.

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Zuerst sprachen wir über Produktion. Ich habe in Schottland an einer Halbleiterschaltkreisproduktiongesellschaft gearbeitet. Die Fabrik hat 1.500 Leute angestellt, und hat Erzeugnisse für Export zu verschiedene Länder hergestellt. Meine Arbeit war nicht mit den technischen Anlagen, aber mit der Software für das Produktionsverfahren. Es ist eine Industrie, die hat entweder großen Gewinn oder großen Verlust. Als ich in die Gesellschaft eingetreten, hat sie großen Gewinn. Jedoch, nach zwei Jahre hat die Regierung von Korea zu den Halbleiterschaltkreisproduktiongesellschaften von Korea große Subventionen gegeben, und die Konkurrenz ließ meine Gesellschaft zumachen.

Und dann über Finanz. JC hat in der International Informatik Abteilung für eine große Bank gearbeitet. Er hat für viele Jahre am derselbe Schreibtisch gearbeitet, metaphorisch ausgedrückt. Während er arbeitete, hat die Gesellschaft sowohl fusioniert als auch gefestigt. Und wann er hat pensioniert nach zwanzig Jahre, bekommt er … einen Kugelschreiber. Aber unsere Gespräch war zu kompliziert… das Derivat, die Obligation, die Schuldverschreibung, die Investion, die Aktie, die Gerechtigkeit, die Dividende…

Schließlich, sprachen wir über Computerbackup, zur DVD, Blueray oder zum Server.

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Neue Wörter für mich:
die Konkurrenz = competition
konkurrenzfähig = competitive
der Halbleiterschaltkreis = semiconductor circuit
die Fabrik = factory
das Erzeugnis (se) = product
herstellen = to produce
anstellen = to employ
die Anlage = equipment; investment
das Verfahren = process, procedure
der Gewinn (e) = profit
metaphorisch ausgedrückt = metaphorically speaking
die Abteilung = department
fusionieren = to merge
festigen = to consolidate
das Derivat = derivative
die Obligation = bond
die Schuldverschreibung = bond
die Investion = investment
die Aktie = share
die Gerechtigkeit = equity
die Dividende = dividend
der Backup = backup
der Server = server
——————-

http://german.typeit.org/ ist nützlich.
http://www.stars21.com/spelling/german_spell_checker.html ist auch nützlich.