Tuesday, December 29, 2009

my dog cant read the sign

So the Phu My Hung management decided to ban walking on the gras. First, my dogs can't read, so sorry. I will not walk barefoot as mentioned on the sign :-) Actually, I don't really understand why they do it (and why they don't explain). The kids really love to play on the gras, and I think it's actually important for them to feel a bit of gras instead only concrete and tiles.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Vietnam, standards, rules and quality

When I came back form Thailand, I was thinking, what is it that makes Thailand so far ahead of Vietnam? One thing I discovered is a better understanding of standards. Although the majority of Thais are working the asian way, you will see way more standards then in Vietnam.

Why standards are important?
If you have standards and everyone follows them, you make life just easier. You can connect people, services, businesses. But it requires a kind of mutual agreement on the standards. Let's say traffic lights: Stop on a red light is a standard. If everyone follows the standard, you can regulate traffic, avoid traffic jam and make it safe to cross the street (if you have green light). In Vietnam it's different: Still many people just ignore that.
Look at English: It's a standard for international business communication. It's makes business just easier if there is no language barrier. But in Vietnam English skills are still an issue.

What is the relation to rules?
There are two ways to implement standards, and you have to go both ways, not just one. The first way is that people need to understand the meaning of standards, the benefits. Like power plugs: If your electronic device would need 550 Volt, nobody would buy it because you can't really recharge it - the standard is 220 Volt. So everyone works with 200 Volt. Easy to understand and to follow.
The second way are rules: You need to establish the standard by laws, regulations, business practice. And you have to enforce it. So the government just decide to have 220 Volt, and everyone has to follow that. A letter size is a standard (although there are many different one).

So what about standards in Vietnam?
although there are a lot of rules and standards in Vietnam, I see a lack of enforcing them from all sides. Government is struggeling to implement the laws and rules in lower levels, mainly because of a lack of money and staff, and businesses don't really care. Following standards means do the same like your competitor - and this is something some people want to avoid.
Everyones does what he wants do do his way. People decide from traffic light to traffic light if the follow the traffic law. In their job, they even decide of the follow the working flow process or not. That leads us to quality.

Standards are the base for quality
You can only assure quality if you follow standards. Mostly your own standards. Every product you produce has to be the same and the same quality. You don't make good shoes on Monday and bad shoes on Tuesday. And this is exactly the biggest problem in Vietnam: The lack of understanding why quality is so important. Nobody like to pay for surprises, you like to know what you get in advance. A five star hotel is usually a international standard, with certain prices, facilities, service, quality of accommodation. Not so in Vietnam: Prices follow the rule. the rest not (if it's local owned and managed). Even my hairdresser around the corner, who speaks well English, spend a lot of time with foreigners (and was even abroad), don't get it. Sometimes you get a arm massage while having shampoo, sometimes not. The restaurants serve tra da sometimes, but not always. The citimart has muesli sometimes, sometimes not. The mens wear shop has Size 32 sometimes, sometimes not. There are hundreds or more examples.

Conclusion: What to do?
I think it's important to educate about the meaning of rules, standards and quality. And to implement enforcement. (There is a reason why shoemaking companies hire Philippines for the quality control management). If Vietnam doesn't start to work on that now, it will loose money and time. The government is asking for more exports. That will only works if the products are following international standards.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My christmas video

Mangez Buvez Gavez / It's not Food! from DavidMyriam on Vimeo.

Chinas true face in Kopenhagen

This is a fascinating report about the way China was acting in Kopenhagen. It shows that China is ignorning the world community and gives a shit about climate change. A reporter of the Guardian was part of a delegation and attended the close-door-meeting of the state leaders.

What I saw was profoundly shocking. The Chinese premier, Wen Jinbao, did not deign to attend the meetings personally, instead sending a second-tier official in the country's foreign ministry to sit opposite Obama himself. The diplomatic snub was obvious and brutal, as was the practical implication: several times during the session, the world's most powerful heads of state were forced to wait around as the Chinese delegate went off to make telephone calls to his "superiors".

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cheated by a shirt printing company

I am really pissed about the barcamp shirts. They were not only quite expensive but also the worst quality I have ever seen. They have actually a self-destroy mode, so better don't wash them. The company, aothun.vn, provided us not only ridiculous small sizesm but also a very bad printing. They also made it to change a sponsors name although we provided them all the logos. See below, how a shirts from Barcamp 2007 in Germany looks like after at least 20 washings, a Bangkok Shirt after at least 10 washings and the recent Barcamp Saigon Shirt after one washing.

three barcamp shirts. guess whats the one fom vietnam

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Invasion of English language?

I just read a editors comment on VietnamNet Bridge about the threat of English overcoming Vietnamese language. I tried to send a comment via the website, but got an error back. So i post it here:

Dear Editor, what I don't understand in this country is the lack of ability to even think about if others may have the same problem and how they solved it.
First: English is not a threat, because nearly nobody really speaks English. Second: Vietnam is part of the planet earth, people traveling around this planet. It's a continuos cultural exchange. Like coffee came to Vietnam, Or cars. electricity. so do some English words. You will find english words in German, French words in English, Chinese words in Vietnamese. Instead of complaining about foreign influence Vietnam should take advantage of. India is developing so well because of the English skills there. Even people in Cambodia speak better English. The lack of English in Vietnam is an obstacle for some investors. But: I agree that schools must teach Vietnamese. It must also remain as the official and main language. But if you communicate with the world outside, some words may come back.

For any reason I see a lot of complains coming up about any foreign influence. Stricter Visa regulations, investments process changes, import restrictions. I concerned about it.
Once the german wall felt 1989, people in eastern Germany complained about the foreigners (a lot of them Vietnamese) allegedly taking their jobs. That was nonsense, Frankfurt City alone had more foreigners living there than whole eastern Germany. But, for some people it was easier to complain about the foreigners instead of solving the problem and just creating jobs. Yes, we can learn from history to make it better, not the same.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

When numbers and figures no longer are keys to everything created

This country is so focussed on numbers and figures that nobody cares really about what's behind (actually the whole world likes numbers, but in Vietnam is the lack of quality more obvious)

Thats why I post this old Novalis poem, written 1801, and he was so absolutely right.

"When numbers and figures no longer"

When numbers and figures no longer
Are keys to everything created,
When those who sing or kiss
Know more than the learned scholars,
When the world returns to a free life
And the whole world rewinds,
Then once more light and shadow will couple
To produce genuine clarity,
And people will recognize that the true histories of the world
Lie in fairy tales and poems,
Then at a single secret word
This whole wrongheaded existence will fly away.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

where are the reindeers gone? santa claus in saigon

Where are the reindeers gone? Santa Claus as seen in this picture is now being brought to the next spot by a Xe Om, what a motobike taxi is called in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, also know as Saigon.
The economic hotspot of the booming south-east country is in christmas fever. Although mainly a buddist country, there are many christians living in the southern part of Vietnam, and one of the main landmarks in Town is the Cathedral.
But in general Christmas is used as a sales and promotion time, that why big shopping malls have beautiful decorated outside areas where every evening hundred of people stop by and taking pictures with their family members.

Ecotourism in Vietnam

I just read an article about Ecotourism in general and in in Vietnam in particular on Vietnambridge

I mentioned:
The director of the Institute for Tourism Development Research, a member of the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), Dr Ha Van Sieu, said there was a growing trend among world tourists to head for undiscovered rural destinations, where local populations led simpler and often poorer lives.

1. Growing trend doesn't mean that you can close the beach resorts. It' still on a small level in total numbers and I am sure it will remain.
2. There are at least two types of eco tourists: The one who are interested in local culture, but don't want to be local. The expect to be driven two the spot by an airconditioned bus, without wasting two much time for travelling, and of course the accommodation must be 4 star plus. The love to see a solar panel in the roof top and a brochure mentioning the reuse of waste water. Thats the majority of eco tourists.
Only a few are really the one who walk three hours to get a great panoramic view, sleeping under a moskito net or even try a home stay.

Nguyen Phuong Anh, deputy head of VNAT’s Hotel Department, said that tourism businesses had left certain scars on the environment via the consumption of resources, energy, food and other materials, as well as the discharge of waste and noise pollution.

The "asian" tourism might have left these scars. The cheap and poorly managed hotels. The one where the local people stay as well as the Koreans and Chinese. I know at least one case where a hotel company tried to set up a new hotel in a rural area and gave up, because the local authorities didn't cooperate. They demanded more money and more money. Just stop giving licenses to the one who pay the most. And: A golf course is NOT eco. That leads to the other problem: Vietna is perfect in labeling things without having any idea what the meaning is.

According to a survey presented by SNV Nepal – where Viet Nam learned about promoting responsible tourism – 70 per cent of American, British and Australian travellers said that they would pay up to $150 more for a two-week stay in a hotel with a "responsible environmental attitude".

I bet this is just not true. They may say it, but clearly don't do it. Otherwise we would have a boom in eco tourism. But it's still a niche market.

People travel mainly to relax and enjoy their holidays. They may be interested in another culture, but not for two weeks. Like german tourists, where tour operator know that in the second week they must serve westrn food in the hotels, because the tourists are done with local food.

The problem in Vietnam with the low number of tourists and the even lower number of repeaters ist still infrastructure. It takes too long to go to certain palces, and when you are there, nothing is around. No restaurants, bars, entertainment.

Monday, December 7, 2009

What you need to know about Herbalife

This is for my Vietnamese friends who may know not much about Multilevelmarketing. Herbalife finally arrived in Vietnam. :-(

It's actually a pyramid scheme, that means you start a business selling a product, and then instead of finding just customers, you find also (or instead) new sellers. They again find news sellers, and so it goes all the way down to the ones at the bottom, who are not able to find sellers anymore. But as long as there are people joining the program, it's actually legal. So Herbalife is a legal business (although I am not sure if you may need a business license and work permit in Vietnam as a seller), I would call it unethical.

Usually MLM means people try to sell to their friends and family and their friends and family.

The basic system is not bad, Tupperware is doing a great job for example, but they take care of both, the products and their sellers. Other, like Herbalife, put a lot of pressure on sellers, usually more psychological. You will find yourself easily in a trap once you joined this world.
They may promise you a lot of money (and easy to make, but it's not easy, believe me. So don't quit your job, eat fruits and all the other healthy vietnamese food and you don't need that Herbalife powder.)

That's what other says about Herbalife and MLM:

Scheme Alert:Herbalife Warning Signs of Financial Harm and Deception Abound at Herbalife
Herbalife, one of the oldest and largest America-based multi-level marketing schemes exemplifies most of the classic warnings signs of a financial trap, a pyramid scheme and marketing program that is steeped in deception.

... 2004 settlement resolved a class action suit on behalf of 8700 former and current distributors that accused the company and distributors of "essentially running a pyramid scheme." A total of $6 million was to be paid out, with defendants not admitting guilt.
In a California class action suit, Minton v. Herbalife International, et al., the plaintiff is "challenging the marketing practices of certain Herbalife International independent distributors and Herbalife International under various state laws prohibiting "endless chain schemes", insufficient disclosure in assisted marketing plans, unfair and deceptive business practices, and fraud and deceit". [25]

Consumerfraudreporting.com: In a legitimate MLM company, commissions are earned only on sales of the company's products or services. No money may be earned from recruiting alone ("sign-up fees"). One must analyze the compensation plan to determine whether participants are paid from actual sales to customers and not from money received from new recruits. If participants are paid primarily from money received from new recruits, then the company is an illegal pyramid or Ponzi scheme

The FTC about MLM

Hubpages, a personal view:

HerbaLife makes the big bucks not by selling nutritional supplements, but by recruiting folks to become distributors.These distributors buy up a certain lot amount of the company's products, sample them, and try to sell them. More importantly, though, the newly-minted distributors are "encouraged" to recruit their friends and family (and anyone else they know) to become distributors too. And when I say "encouraged", I mean that the company will pretty much twist your arm in order to have you find new recruits. Weekly meetings, HerbaLife newsletters, company-wide e-mails, etc., will all repeat the company core motto until it comes out of your ears: recruit, recruit, recruit!.
Of course, there is an incentive to finding new distributors: a portion of their earnings on products gets kicked up to you. And likewise, part of your earnings get kicked up to whoever recruited you. And so it goes, until the very few people at the top of this pyramid scheme rake in the big bucks while you drive around in your car with big boxes of muscle-building protein powder. It's multi-level marketing (MLM), plain and simple.

So better apply for a regular job. Or even go to a casino (where at least you make yourself unhappy, but not others)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Our work is like a cappuccino (or Coffee latte)

I don't remember where I picked that up years ago, but I liked this description: Our work is like a cappuccino. The coffee, that's our day job, what we do fro 9 to 5 and where me make a living from. Then we have some other work, we do that in our free time or on weekends, where we create websites for others, repair cars, sell art, whatever. We like that work, and we make some money from. We call it the milk foam or cream on top. And then there is the work we do as a volunteer, helping elderly people in the neighborhood, organizing summer camps, joining school committees. We like it, but there is no money coming from. That's the chocolate on top.

Now, my work was pretty much like a cappuccino for years. I worked for a newspaper, got well payed, did some public relations on the side where I got some money to buy a new computer or stuff like that, and then I was organizing rock music events and stand up comedy nights, what I liked a lot, but what actually cost me money.

The change
I actually first changed my coffee taste. I switched from Cappuccino to Coffee latte. A Coffee latte is made out of one or two shots espresso and then a huge amount of milk. And I thought by myself, why not changing my work like that: Having some work like and espresso, where still a lot of money is coming from but in less time, and using the remaining time for the kind of work what you like, but is less paid? The hot milk? (Ok, you still can put chocolate on top)

The situation in Vietnam

Cappuccino and Coffee latte isn't well known in Vietnam, people here are drinking Ca Phe sua da, that means Coffee with sweet milk and ice. But that actually describes their work as well. The very strong coffee is the daily hard work people are doing here. There is only a small amount of that sweet milk, where they can make money on the side. But there is a lot of ice in the glass, and thats the family duties: Caring for the parents and relatives, borrowing money to family members, helping them out with other stuff. No chocolate work, because you don't really like it.

In Germany we used to have filter coffee, usually black. Even that fits if you see German people are very focussed on their work, drinking strong coffee without any milk and sugar, only doing their job. Hmm, what about the so called american coffee? That's left for the comments section...

(Pictures by Thomas Wanhoff, http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnnystiletto, http://www.flickr.com/photos/giovannijl-s_photohut under Creative Commons Licence

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Another funny (and wrong) story about the dreams of Vietnam tourism

This article was available at VietnamBridge.net, and this is such a perfect example of bad journalism. There are just so many facts wrong. See my comments in brackets.

VietNamNet Bridge – Representatives of the German national airline say the air carrier plans to open the direct air route Hanoi-Berlin during the visit of Andreas Timmerman, Director of the Foreign Trade and Trade Promotion Department under the Economy Ministry of Brandenburg state.

(There is no National Airline in Germany anymore, but they may mean Lufthansa. Why they don't name it? andreas Timmermann by the way is a more low ranking director in one of the poorest states in Germany).

Currently, Vietnam’s national air flag carrier Vietnam Airlines only provides flights from Hanoi and HCM City to Frankfurt.

At a recent meeting with leaders of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), an airline spokesperson said that Berlin is now the third biggest airport in Europe and has been upgraded and expanded.
(That can't be true, because actually Berlin is Number 28 in Europes airports and number 4 in Germany, needs to be upgraded and expanded, but isn't so. There are plans to build a new one in the future by 2012. Oh, and by the way there are actually 2 airports in Berlin, Tegel and Schönefeld)

In 2008, the airport served 21.4 million passengers, including 17 million transit passengers and 200,000 passengers who flew on Hanoi-Berlin route.
(Wikipedia says its 14,5 Million passengers in total. As far as I know ther is NO direct flight form Berlin to Hanoi for now. Actually there are just a few intercontinental flights from Berlin)

Confirming the intention to open the Hanoi-Berlin direct air route, the airline hopes the direct flights will help meet demands of businessmen and tourists traveling from Germany to Hanoi, especially the demand of tens of thousands of Vietnamese people living, working and studying in Germany.
(Yes, including those who are forced to leave Germany because they are illegal immigrants. Lufthansa has a strong focus on profitable business routes, and not so much about tourists).

Currently, Vietnam’s national air flag carrier Vietnam Airlines only provides flights from Hanoi and HCM City to Frankfurt.
(Yes, for a reason. The market isn't big enough for flights from Berlin. Frankfurt and Munic are still the big hubs for tourists.)

In addition, on November 30 the prospect of further cooperation and tourism development between the two sides as well as cultural exchange activities and trade promotion were discussed. These are slated to be held on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the relation establishment in 2010.

(It's not clear who was talking to each other. What would Lufthansa has to do with cultural exchange?? And why should a low ranking state official who is just involved in foreign trade of that particular state be allowed to speak in the name of whole Germany and Lufthansa??))

In addition, VNAT will organize a roadshow in Germany to display Vietnam’s tourist image
s. (Thanks. If it's like the other VN roadshows and trade fair apperances, you better use ATR's for the flights - you won't sell more than 20 seats)

Deputy Head of VNAT Hoang Thi Diep said that VNAT will propose the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to set up a tourism office in Germany soon.
(Really? Isn't that done by a local tour operator for now? And how this is going to be? Blue plastic chairs, metal tables, overexposured posters on the wall and 20 years old brochures combined with staff that barely speaks english and no German at all?)

Go back to journalism class, writer and start from beginning!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Collaboration and Contribution

While Google Wave is opening more and more some people still struggle with what it is for. The main reason is that collaboration isn't quite common and often misunderstood.
I just had the case when someone was think that collaboration means everyone is allowed to do everything (or even nothing). That might be a nice view in some political systems (end even there are different pigs as we learned), but actually collaboration means working together to build something. It comes from the latin word of labor, which means work. You create something together. Thats why collaboration and contribution is kind of tied together. Without contribution there is no collaboration.

So what is contribution? Let's say you want to build a house together and you ask your friends to help. You need an architect, someone who knows what kind of material you need and how to get it and then you need people to put brick on brick. The goal is to have a nice house. It's not how much someone contributed, it's about the quality of contribution. You would not see a lot of help if someone is always saying that he did it different or even better. You would like him to do better with your house, make a better design or mix the cement better or whatever.

That's why people who see Google Wave as a chat fail. That's why people who see a volunteer project as a chat fail. That's why you fail in your company when you not raise your hand when tasks need to be assigened. It's not just giving your opinion. It's about taking action.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Apple and the app store discussion

Just got a link to Paul Grahams essay about why Apple is doing wrong with the approval of apps.

He writes:
The way Apple runs the App Store has harmed their reputation with programmers more than anything else they've ever done.

Although many programmers are using Apple, it's not only build for them. I guess the problem why programmers are complaining is simple greediness. They expect their share from the big app business and wonder, why apple shuts the door.

Paul says:
Their fundamental problem is that they don't understand software...They treat iPhone apps the way they treat the music they sell through iTunes.

Yes, and this is understandable. Because it's their shop and they are responsible. Yes, they are doing mistakes with delayed approvals and some denies were wrong. That happens. But in general, from a users perspective, I totally agree in Apples rules.

Another quote is about the delayed appoval of updates:
By breaking software development, Apple gets the opposite of what they intended: the version of an app currently available in the App Store tends to be an old and buggy one.

So Apple says to programmers, please develop the best product first and submit then, instead of being fast and then send update after update. That what I would call Quality Management. Yes, I do like updates when the fix bugs, But I like more products with no bugs at all and updates with new features.

The misconception is that programmers might see themselfs now as part of Apple, not as the community anymore. Before, they may developed Software for Apple Computers, but not for Uncle Steve himself. Now they may see themself as kind of freelancers and wonder, why Steve still doesn't like to talk to them.

It's kind of simple today to have your own iphone app done within days. That makes things messy. It's like maintaining a big market hall: Once people selling rotten beef, you need to take action. If they don't keep their booth clean, they need to be punished. If they cheat as well. It's your market hall. They can make some nice money. But they can't takeover.

P.S.: One more thing. Paul says:
The main reason there are so many iPhone apps is that so many programmers have iPhones. They may know, because they read it in an article, that Blackberry has such and such market share. But in practice it's as if RIM didn't exist. If they're going to build something, they want to be able to use it themselves, and that means building an iPhone app.

I disagree. I think the reason is because the SDK is a great tool for programmers, iphone is a consumers phone and not a business phone and it has a great usability. That's why Nokia Ovi store is still struggling.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Andrea Hamilton at Yoko (Saigon)

Just a snippt form a concert by Andrea Hamilton, US singer/songwriter. I kind of like her music. Find more at www.andreahamiltononline.com


Monday, November 16, 2009

Customer relations

I have probably 20 different discount cards in my purse. Usually I collect stamps and have to give the coffee shop, supermarket or what ever my email, phone number, address. That's what the text book says: Collect customer data.
Unfortunately the 2nd edition seems not available in Vietnam (as in many other countries as well) or it's just to expensive: It's the one that tells you what to do with this data.

Today I got a email from Just Men Spa. I was a customer until one day I got the worst service ever (yes Tim, I learned my lesson). I complained, they send me an email and apologized in a very general way - and that it. Today they told me they have a new email address.

For any reason businesses are trying to avoid any direct contact with customers. Again, not only in Vietnam. What's the reason for that? They just don't care? They don't know how to do? It's to expensive?

Technology nowadays makes it so convenient and easy to communicate with your customers in an individualized, personalized way - but instead companies throwing all the money into advertising and - in Vietnam - promotion girls.

I guess, we have to develop this market.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My new english podcast

I decided to use Audioboo for my new english language podcast from vietnam. Have fun with maximum 3 minutes episodes about living in Vietnam (what is a great pleasure), getting news from Vietnam and my thoughts.

That's an audioboo about noise (I loove that topic):

Monday, November 2, 2009

Superrich expats need urgent....

... an ironing lady. Before I came to Vietnam I don't even knew that this exists. But apperently it does. Found this in my mailbox:
Hi all,
I am looking for a person who can help out with the laundry, or just
ironing. Two mornings a week could be good enough. If you know some
one with good references please let me know.

Notice the "just ironing".

My wife and me are both working and I always do the ironing by myself. I just wonder if all these expat have a ironing lady at home as well?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Marketing in Vietnam

My friend Matt will laugh again, because I am again complaining about something that is very common in Vietnam: loud music. Whenever I see (or in that case) hear something new and different, I ask why it is like it is. So why there is so much loud music here?
First of all I learned that there are different ways to play loud music:
In Bars/Coffee shops
During any kind of public event
In shopping centers
In front of shopping center

Only bars and restaurants use the music as a (kind of) entertainment for customers, everything else is the so called marketing. Yes, even public events want to attract people with the music.

In Vietnam, people are used to get "information" through loudspeakers since the communist party made public announcements and broadcasts of important speeches of the leader for years (and still do it). While it's not so common in downtown Saigon and modern residential areas anymore, you will still have this experience in provinces and especially in Hanoi.

What we would call propaganda was the first step into marketing in the Vietnamese understanding. Peopel are used to get announcements through loudspeakers.

But why so loud?
My theory includes two reasons: One is: The louder the music, the more people in far distance will here it (what is usually technically wrong since they use loudspeakers who don't really take it for a far distance but were built to provide a clear sound). So actually it's more a stopper when you pass by.

Second reason is: If it's loud, people don't have to talk to each other. That may sound a bit like conspiracy, but I believe there is some truth behind. Silence means you can reflect yourself, you can think. Noise is exactly the opposite. So if you don't want that people think too much, make some noise.

So marketing in Vietnam means "getting attraction" Nothing more. Maybe "be the loudest and the most impressive". You will not see any real branding behind this, no product information, not even anything that is building an emotional relationship to the product.

The best example is the Saigon Paragon Shopping Center (here it comes, Matt, thanks for waiting). They try to attract customers by putting huge loudspeaker systems in front of and right beside a Rolls Royce. The message: "Hey stop, there is something special".
I am sure the Rolls might be special enough as it is the impressive building. But still not customers. So they try the Vietnamese marketing way. Loud music and banners. But still no customers. Why?

Just because they target the wrong audience: If you are selling cheap shirts on Trang Hung Dao it would make sense to attract the commuters with a sound system outside. Because they are your targeted audience.

At Saigon Paragon, most of the people passing by are residents of Riverside and Canh Vien or construction workers and service staff. The latter just can't afford the Saigon Paragon, while the residents already know that it's there.
Also, the products are high price products. Omega for example, well known parfum brands. Luxury and noise doesn't really fit (except you buy a Ferrari). Silence is a luxury itself, as you can see in 5-Star-Hotels all over the world.

Customers who can afford the products at Saigon Paragon will compare this to the shopping centers outside Vietnam (like the real Paragon in Bangkok). And the one in Vietnam just fails. Not enough choice, nice design, but not for a shopping center as you can't really see what kind of shops are there, because the view is blocked by escalators, bored and totally untrained staff and a so called food court where I am sure - they planned the garage for motobikes.

I am pretty sure that Saigon Paragon and the shops inside don't even make enough money to pay the rent. and that's mainly because of wrong concept and a wrong understanding of marketing.

Oh, if you don't believe me, have a look on Julian Treasure TED talk, where he spoke about the effects of sounds. A bad sound environment drops down productivity in offices by 66 percent while sales in retail by 28 percent.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How to not apply for a job

There is a private expat mailing list with nearly 1000 members, and one was offering a job in a web company, creative stuff and client services.

This was one reply on the list (XXX is done by me to anonymise it)

I have over 12 years of experience in (Digital) Marketing,
communication and sales. I have a master in web usability as well and
realized start ups as XXXXXX,XXXXXXX developed the strategy for XXXXXX and much more. Please give me you e-mail address and I
can send you my CV.


Ok. First of all, what the hell is a Master in Web Usability? I am using the web since 20 years, but no certificate yet.

More serious is that someone with this skills replies in public on the list, and, and that's really unbelievable, ask for the email address. First of all it was mentioned in the original posting. Second, the company name may lead you to a website. Finally, you can reply to the author on this list.

So, I think this guy won't get the job.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

How to sell Vietnam as a tourist destination

Ok, no complains, or less, but more advise. How can Vietnam improve in international tourism?
1.) The markets
Campaigns must be targeting the right market. Chinese and korean tourists don't want to spend a lot of money, so you must sell Vietnam as a cheap destination (if you find enough low price hotels). European and US tourists want something special good server, value for their money. So sell luxury. But understand luxury as a concept, not a price. A luxury shopping center opens the door for you and the door boy knows your name. It's doesn't have loudspeakers with techno music outside.

2. ) Public picture: Most people see a girl from behind in a white Ao Day in a rice field on a bicylce. Call it a cliche, but actually it works fro Vietnam. It means: Young population, tradition, nature and authentic, even something secret (because you can't see the girls face). Should be enough for a branding, isn't it?

3.) Infrastructure: Roads, roads, roads and some airports.

4.) Less government, more market: Let the professionals do the job. Don't protect the formally state own businesses and let the market work itself.

5.) Diversify: Present the thousands of things you can do in Vietnam instead of Top 10. One reason why people don't come back to Vietnam is that the Top Ten are done in 2 weeks. And they don't know what else to do.

6.) Find the unique selling point: Tourism is not about the price, it's about imagination. Create a picture and sell this. It must be different from all the CNN campaigns you can see now. That;s actually the mist difficult and painful part.

7.) Be more professional, Use the experience you get for nearly free from foreigners in that business and learn from it.

I was inspired by this website http://www.hcmc100e.info. I think they make it wrong: HCMC is so great because of the many choices you have. It doesn't make sense to promote PHO24 or Khai Silk, everybody know them already. It would be better to show 1000 restaurants and 100 bars and 10.000 shops.

See what Tim Russel on ComeandgoVietnam wrote about it

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Starbucks Saigon

Starbucks Saigon
Originally uploaded by thomaswanhoff
Starbucks Saigon

"From the website: "Iyo was first developed in southern California with the concept which was:
“creating a place to be called “the third place” away from home and work.”

In Vietnam we decided to open the 1st store in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh city to be the standard store for our chain in the future. Iyo’s signature products such as Frozen Yogurt, Blended coffee or crepe are guaranteed to be fresh as well as the best quality that can be offered in the smart and fastest way."

They actually serve starbucks coffee, or better say, you serve, because it's sself service. You go to the coffee machine and press the "Latte" button and you get a cup of coffee. Pretty basic. The coffee taste is close to starbucks, so maybe at least the beans are real.

Kind of funny is this:
"We are the 1st store in Vietnam to offer self-serve frozen yogurt and hot coffee. Our waiters are always ready to serve and help with food or drink orders. We hope you will enjoy this unique experience." So what is a waiters job if you have to do the work by your own???

Website: http://iyo.com.vn/about_us.html

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The asian way: it's me versus we

When I came the first time to Asia some years ago one thing I learned form travel books was, that the main difference between Asian and western culture is the focus on either the individual or the group. I learned that Asian culture focuses on the family, the village, the country. The individual doesn't really count. And western culture is totally pointing on the individual, with individual rights and since some years the change in society from large families to double-income-no-kids.

After two years I think this is wrong. Actually the asian culture from a single persons perspective is way more about Me then We. The family, the community, the country, it might be important but only for the own advantage. The family is a insurance: You get food when you need, shelter, borrow money. But most people use it as a system. And complain when other members ask for that service. Whatever people do they try to get a personal advantage first. Then they look what is left for the community. That's how business works in Asia.

Western culture may give individuals some rights, but that's only for the countries best. Like Kennedy said, don't ask what you country does for you, ask what you can do for your own country. That's a We-perspective. Even business looks for sustainability. for long term. It's important that the system will grow and stay, so all efforts are for profit but also for keeping the system alive.

You won't find that in the asian culture. Nobody cares for higher purposes. The money that comes in today counts/ If the system fails, so what, there will be another system. If my auntie doesn't boroow me money I ask my grandfather.

I know that this is controvers, and I might be wrong. I also don't want to point on Asia and say it's wrong what they do. It's just a experience and observation of the daily life in Asia.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

10 reasons why using Twitter is NOT wasting time

Its funny: Just recently I read an article by the Scobleizer that Google Wave may be a waste of time because it's a information overload. People say the same about Twitter, that it's a waste of time to read tweets like "had coffee". It may also a waste of time to tell everyone that you are on the way to work now.

That might be true, but that's nothing to do with Twitter. It's about using it. Cruising a car through the city might be senseless, but is that a reason to argue against cars at all?

So here are 10 reasons why using twitter is NOT a waste of time.

1. It's probably the shortest way of information on the internet. Just 140 characters. Less than news articles and blogposts.

2. It's all about information. You follow the right people, you get the fastest newsstream ever in real time.

3. It reflects real life: Chitchating might be a waste of time, but we do it because we need it.

4. Even "Have coffee" might be a useful information. Means also this person isn't busy so you can call him or her, or that he/she is a person who knows that a break is something you refresh yourself.

5. You switch in on: Don't want to get disturbed, don't read it. It's that easy.

6. Be careful who you follow: You may not want to give your phone to all the marketing companies in the world, because their aggressive marketing sucks. So why follow these guys (or something similar ) on twitter?

7. Tweets like "Doing nothing" are first wrong, because writing this is something, and second are a waste of twitter. But that's your problem, not twitters. Just post something interesting.

8. It's a real time Google: If you need information about any even in real time, twitter might be the best tool available for that. That actually leads to

9. It's all about filters: Just set up different filters for important stuff on twitter, narrow down people they are more interesting, look for certain keywords you may want to monitor.

10. It's your time, not twitters time. Nobody forces you. Come on, be a bit more self responsible and don't cry for mums help just because you follow techcrunch and robert scoble.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Barcamp Phnom PEnh 2009 - more impressions

See what people say about the Barcamp in Phnom Penh 2009.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Barcamp Phnom Penh: Norbert Klein explains how ICANN works

Norbert Klein, who brought email to Cambodia and is working closely with ICANN, explains the TLD system on the Barcamp Phnom Penh. Listen to 45 Minutes of Audio:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

Barcamp Phnom Penh 2009 first impressions

Just a short video from the preparations at Panasastra University for the upcoming barcamp 2009 in Phnom Penh.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Webwednesday Part 2.0 - a review

I was attending the second Web-Wednesday tonight at vibes (thanks by the way to Chris Tran and the other organizers, great job folks). The main topic was "How is the current situation of social networks in Vietnam after Yahoo closed its 360 service?".

We saw the usual suspects there, Caravat, Zing, YuMe and - Webtretho. While the big guys tried to impress with numbers (yes, zing.vn just overtook facebook with 1 million active users), Nguyen Hoang anh, Marketing Manager, pointed to her core business: parents. Webtretho isn't even a social networks, it's more a forum, has about 300.000 members, mostly with nicknames, publishing not much about themself. But when it comes to problems with kids, the users are posting like crazy. That what you call "active users".

I really love that idea. I was always a fan of niche marketing, because that's the way you target the right audience. Forget the 20somethings on facebook, if you want to sell diapers, go to Webtretho. That's where your customers are.

So what we learned from the webwednesday was, that all the players still want to become number one and trying to get huge numbers of users, while niche products getting a nice piece of the cake of advertising.

The best question came from Simon, who asked the speakers, if one of them is using facebooks fanpages. None of them do it. They call themself a network, but don't do real networking. They just abandon on 900.000 users.

Leaving for Barcamp Phnom Penh


It's one of the most outstanding tech events in South East Asia and the organizer can be proud to make it the second time. Hope to see a lot of people on Barcamp Phnom Penh on the coming weekend.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dusty Sydney

Originally uploaded by thomaswanhoff
Woke up and saw a city in dust - no, not Saigon this time, I am talking about Sydney. A storm brought a lot of dust from the countryside, first time since decades as they said here. Was impressive, but never dangerous. Looks actually more scary then it was.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

German bakery Schneider's finest with Vollkornbread in Saigon

Just opened: The new german bakery in Pasteur street/Corner 27 Hanh Thuyen (just around Au Parc cafe) sells german Vollkornbread and German Brötchen (small breads) as I haven't seen it in Saigon before. That feels like home. Prices are reasonable, 48.000 for a bread, 5000-7000 for a small bread (as you see in the picture)

german brötchen

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"we need a bridge, we bring you here to build it. "

One thing I always hated in Germany was an kind of bashing on foreigners. Either they were blamed to steal jobs, girls or apples from trees. Usually it's just to blame others for your own fault. And it's so easy, in eastern Germany foreigners were actually chased when the economy went down after the fall of the wall (whole eastern German y at this time had less foreigners than the city of Frankfurt). Remember Rostock, when idiots set a house on fire were Vietnamese families lived. It was one of the most tragic moments after 1990.

Since I am in Asia, I love the friendliness and the lovely people here. Especially Vietnam greeted me always with a smile.

For any reason, it's seems to get a bit more tough between foreigners and locals. Stricter Visa regulations, stricter business regulations. A week ago we saw a driver throwing garbage out of his window while he was waiting. We just looked surprised on him, he suddenly got upset and said, we are foreigners, we are not supposed to tell him what's right or wrong.

Today, I found this post on facebook (I immediately un-friended this guy):

Take this: 90% of foreigners in Vietnam are losers, nomatter where they are from: US, UK, Australian, Korean. They were unemployed, failed to do business or desperately paid child support in their own country, so they come here to seek a better career. Remember that they are nobody in their country so if you treat them like big bosses, they do'nt know how to behave.....The way I see it is: we need a bridge, we bring you here to build it. Just have your job done and keep your voice low. Guests should always be polite, and if you are rude, we'll show you the way out.

Why out of a sudden we get this kind of experience? Is it just a coincidence? I hope so. I strongly believe that there is only one world. We trade in one world, we share experience. There is a cultural difference, and that's good for a variety, but there is no better than others. all countries failed who believed in they are the superior nations. I learned that from German history. And because of this history I will always try to bring people together instead of dividing.

Monday, September 7, 2009

One more funny expat posting

Some expats are really lost in this country, and without their army of helpers they would just die out of starvation. This family isn't at that stage yet, but close to:

My Nanny/ Maid/ Cook has not been showing up for work since last
Wednesday after the Public Holiday. She came with very good references
but she's just not that reliable and the ironing is piling up. I would
really appreciate it if anyone can forward on a contact number for an
english speaking child friendly helper.

Ok, at least she isn't mentioning about the food, so they were able to find a restaurant or a delivery service Let's see what will happen if there is no ironing lady in sight. Oh, and if you see the rats walking all in to the same spot, the expat family might haven't found the waste bin yet.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Business Visa to Vietnam only for three months? Work permits easier?

The Word is running a story about new visa regulations.
Based on an article published in on Thanh Nien’s website in July, it seems there is more to the problems people are now facing with visa renewal than was at first thought.

According to Ho Chi Minh City’s police department, there are presently 50,000 foreigners residing in the city. Of these, say the labour authorities, only 14,500 have work permits. As a result, writes Thanh Nien, “Labour authorities are seeking stricter measures to curb the rising number of foreign workers working in the city illegally.”

Such measures may include requiring “foreign workers to acquire a labour permit before entering Vietnam. The body also said immigration agencies should not be allowed to extend visas for foreigners working in the country without the permit.”

It seems that without a certain permission from the immigration authorities you will only get a three months business visa extended. The website http://www.vietnam-visa.com/ is also only offering 1 and 3 months visa.

Anyone any more information about that issue? I am also got some information from tha Word that for a work permit:
you now no longer need a police report from your home country if you have been residing in a city or province of Vietnam for six months or more. Instead, you need to apply for a background check from the local So tu phap (Department of Justice). In addition, providing you can prove you have been working in your field of expertise for over five years, then a university degree is unnecessary. However, it remains desirable.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Le Cat Trong Ly in Concert

Le Cat Trong Ly in Concert

Yesterday we went to the Yen Cafe to see a performance by Le Cat Trong Ly , on the most talented young Vietnamese singer and songwriters. You must know where Cafe Yen is, otherwise you will never find it - hidden in a backyard, just some handwritten signes show the way to the tiny cafe room, which is beautifully decorated in white and brown colors. The "stage" is made out of wooden boxes, just enough size to sit on.
Le Cat Trong Ly performs here every Tuesday and Friday, and reservations are highly recommended because of the limited space. You can order some tea and ca phe, but people come here for the performance.
Le Cat Trong Ly uses acoustic guitar and piano, sometimes accompanied by strings and drums, and plays together with Shan, a guitar player and singer as well. What really blow me away was her voice: a bit fagile, but with a lot expression, not a lot volume, but passion, and yes, in opposite to most popular singers in Vietnam she strikes the right notes!

The video I shot shows on of her english songs, while her most famous song is Chenh Venh, and my favorite is Nghe Tôi Kể Này.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Share, share, share!!!

When I was at the Webwednesday in Saigon, I was listening to a speech by Bryan Pelz. He is the founder of Vinagame, number one in internetwebsites in Vietnam. In his brief presentation he pointed out that the biggest obstacle in Vietnam is the lack of education. And in business language spoken a lack of cooperation. To develop the market companies must cooperate, to educate customers, to evolve business.

and that's the problem: Vietnam has still ap problem with sharing information. That's why there is no innovation coming from here, that's why they need foreign help in nearly every sector. If you sit on your information and keep it, that you will never know if it's right or wrong and how to do things better. If others don't share you will never get a new idea. And so Vietnam still sticks with coffee, rice and fish (and Nike shoes) as export goods.
The recent web events I joined (except the Webwednesday) are transforming from open geek meetings into beer driven small talks with nothing to learn. In opposite, joining a 2 hours afternoon meeting in Phnom Penh last month brought me a lot of ideas and contacts.

In a world, where are no secrets anymore, just information you don't know yet, it's kind of stupid to hide your ideas. Together with openness in import rules thats the biggest challenge for Vietnam: Transforming into a member of the new global business order.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

More expat stories: The recipe service

That just made my day, its from the AnPhuNeighbors list. Many of the members apparently never leave their compound, mainly because of the dangerous outside world, and yes, the have staff for everything. So here is the posting:

Dear all
I can really recommend you to sign up for the "Better Homes and garden " news letter.
I received so many wonderfull recipes from them.

So far so good, But then comes that:

It is so easy to print out, so you can give them to you cooking lady.


Monday, August 24, 2009

We don't have a maid

Since we are in Asia people don't stop asking us about our maid, cook, driver. We don't have any. We clean our self, we drive our own motobike, we cook our self. The reason is quite simple: We don't feel comfortable with a stranger at our place. And we don't really see the luxury. Cleaning your apartment is part of life, and as long as you are not so busy why not making it by yourself.

I just came over an announcement from people that are leaving Vietnam now about her cook:

She speaks good english and can read it as well. We have mainly had her cook western food for us to also include baking break and making pasta. She has also cooked Vietnamese. Ms. XXX does all of our shopping at Metro, An Phu Supermarket, Veggies and some other places.

It's so sad, people coming into other countries and stick with old habits like western food. so many couples have maids and cooks even when the expat husband or the wife stays at home. I still don't get into that.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Metro Cash and Carry’s Imported Meat Is NOT Unsafe to Eat

On August 16 an e-mail with the header “Metro Cash and Carry’s Imported Meat Unsafe to Eat” was posted on some websites here. As some Vietnamese prefer to spread a rumor instead proofing the story, here is the correction, issued by METRO:

Please be aware that most of the information reported in this article is total fabrication.

We carry out routine product checks on a regularly scheduled basis to ensure the safety of our products. The product was discovered in a routine check; none of the products was ever shipped to any Metro location for sale.

There was no raid and no police were involved. No product was seized by the authorities.

We have filed letters of complaint with the editors of the newspapers publishing the fabricated information as well as with the appropriate governmental authorities.

Please be assured that at Metro we take food safety very seriously. Our Quality Assurance procedures are world class.

Our official press release is attached. Please contact our An Phu Store Manager Mr. Paul Le (CCed) if you have questions or concerns.

Thanks for your understanding and thanks for shopping at Metro!!

Best Regards,

Randy Guttery

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Phu My Hung Neighbors List

If you live in Phu My Hung in Ho Chi Minh City or you work there or you just want to know anything, then just have a look on Phu My Hung Neighbors a new google group to share information between neighbours.

It's in English language, because that might be the best way to communicate between people from so many different nations like we have in PMH.

Please spread the word about the list. Members can invite other members, and non-members can easily apply for a membership.

Illy Espressamente Part III: the improvement

It took some time and a lot of complaining and suggestions, but it seems that the Illy Espressamente Management is open to ideas and suggestions - at least the shop in Phu My Hung.

Since a while they changed the pop music back to classic and jazz, so it's way less noisy now. Then, they followed my advice to install a pinboard so people can leave messages there - yes, it's community 1.0, but that is still something really successful. And then they changed their terrible menu: now it looks way better, not like a cheap italien pizzeria anymore.

So, people from Phu My Hung, please use the pinboard for your messages and announcements :-)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Set up GPRS for iphone with Mobiphone

This is just a note for myself, because I always forget how to to it.

Settings > General > Network > Cellular Data Network: APN: m-wap; username: mms, Pass: mms.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wind power in Vietnam

Just got this news:
Binh Thuan and the German agency will set a plan to develop wind power in the province from now until 2010, with a vision for 2020.
GTZ will supply equipment and management software as well as train technical experts for the province.

Binh Thuan is the first among Vietnam’s provinces with potential for developing wind power to sign such an agreement with GTZ.

Last Tuesday, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and GTZ had signed an agreement worth 1 million euros (US$1.4 million) to develop wind power in Vietnam.

What I am wondering about is, that I know at least two companies trying to establish wind energy in Vietnam and one failed already. There is apparently no real interest in supporting alternative energy. And why the hell GTZ needs one year to develop a PLAN instead of just building a wind park?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

La Veranda on Phu Quoc Island

Terrace at La Veranda

I am writing this blogpost while sitting in a white bamboostyle plastic chair, having a cappucino and enjoying the sea view. I am at the La Veranda Resort and Spa on Phu Quoc Island. Nearly everyone I know told me to go to Phu Quoc now, because in a few years the beauty of this island might be gone. So we took the plane (one hour flight) from Saigon to Duong Dong, landed smoothly with this old, but still well doing ATR planes.

La Veranda might be one of the most expensive hotels on the island, but we a0 had a package price and b)like to have some comfort (yes, we aren't backpackers anymore). The resorts is worth the money. Beautifully designed as a garden with bungalows hidden between all kind of tropical flowers, this place is exactly the kind of hotel we like for a short vaccation.

Sunset on Phu Quoc

What we like:
- the design of all the buildings and rooms is awesome. It's french colonial style, but ant it's best. Colors fitting as well as the smallest details like the elephant faces on the wall lights, the fresh flowers on the tables or he lemongrass smell in the toilet.

- the staff. If I would open a hotel on Phu Quoc, I would try to hire the La Verandas stuff. Overwhelming friendly and helpful, with good english skills and well trained. Nothing to complain about.

- the beach: its clean, safe, quiet (at least when we were there and the neighboring Eden bar was closed), the sea is not to roug and you habe a wonderful sunset.

- food: the prices are reasonable, that's what we were surprised of. 2 Dollars for a coffee is actually low for a hotel like this. The vietnamese food we had was delicious (Nuong Xo Ot). The breakfast buffet is good, nothing to omplain.

- the spa: .. we had several treatments. one hour body massage was included in the package and we had chosen the Vietnamese massage. One the next day we had a hot stone massage for my wife and a indian head massage and facial for me. The massage itself was ok, the stone were not too hot, the pressure was fine, nice ambient music (although it comes from a gettoblaster. The a/c was on, a bit too cold for me. The facial treatment feels good in general, you also get a arm massage and the upper part of your breast.

What we don't like:
There was only one thing we didn't like: We had a package price including a dinner, an one hour spa treatment and a half day excursion. The excursion was interesting and well operated. The spa treatment was good. The dinner was (under)average. Because my wife is a vegetarian, we asked for dishes without beef or pork, but all kind of fish and seafood is fine. What we got was a pineapple-squid salad as starter and 4 shrimps in tamarind sauce. We were a bit disappointed about the quality and taste. It was not but, but, as I said, just average, and we know they can do better.

Spa: Although the spa treatment was ok, it was not special. In the brochure they offer different types of oil, but ever asked us to choose. When I had my second treatment (the one I was extra paying for) they did not ask for anything, skin type, allergies, any special requests. The indian head massage wasn't better: I felt very uncomfortable sitting on the massage table getting a back massage instead of laying(I have some back pain, so sitting in a position like this is actually hurting me).

Summary: La Veranda is a beautiful place to stay, with a wonderful layout, nice rooms, delicious food for reasonable prices. The spa management has to improve, and even if you sell a package with a set menu you should not offer a lower quality of food for a included dinner.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Farming in phu my hung

recession even in vietnam: people start farming in phu my hung

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Solar Eclipse in Vietnam

Partial solar eclipse watched in Ho Chi Minh City

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Zing Promotion girls

Zing Promotion girls
Originally uploaded by thomaswanhoff
The Expo was ok. A lot of gadgets, TVs, some hard disks and even raids., usb-sticks and laptops. Zing.vn had a huge space there and made a lot of promotion. Most impressive was Vision Global, they showed a learning screen. Look at www.mamnon.com for more.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

SOLD!!! Canon XM2 Videocamera

For Sale: Canon DM-XM2 Mini-DV Camcorder, ¼″ 470K pixel 3CCD with pixel shift, Canon Professional L-Series Fluorite Lens, 20x optical zoom/100x digital zoom,
Optical image stabiliser, Direction accurate stereo microphone, Two-channel audio level manual control with VU meter, 2.5″ 200K colour LCD screen,
Sockets Include; Lanc, Headphone, Dc In, Microphone, Dv in/out, Av in/out/, USB, S-Video.
Accessories: extra battery pack, extra rhode microfon, Lowe Pro Camera Bag, XLR-adapter, used DV-tapes.

The camera is 2 years old and was used just ten times. I sell it because I don't use it anymore. It's not HD, but the XM2 makes great quality pictures, with great sound. You want a camera for semi-pro use? Then take the XM2.

Price: 700USD

Pay cash on delivery. I deliver for free in Ho Chi Minh City

Contact me 01223504593 or thomas.wanhoff@gmail.com

Accessories: For sale: Canon XM2 Accessories

For sale: Lowe Pro Camera Bag

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Acoustic Cafe: Live music in Saigon aka HCMC

Live @acoustic bar
Originally uploaded by thomaswanhoff
The story behind this crappy picture: Acoustic Bar in Ho Chi Minh City is one of the best spots if you like live rock music. When we went there we really liked a band called Coconuts, with a lot of coversongs from Aerosmith to Police. Good singer, good covers. The houseband itself (started at 10pm) was good in music, but the singer was just horrible. He actually cannot sing, so he was more shouting in the mic. Really bad performance, we left early. But that might not be the case everyday, so if you like live music, you have to check this place out. Come early (8pm) to get a seat or table since most of them a pre-booked.
6E1 Ngô Thời Nhiệm, Phường 7, Quận 3, TP. Hồ Chí Minh
Điện thoại: (+084-8) 930 2239
Fax: (+084-8) 930 7941
Email: info@acoustic.com.vn

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Vietnam: Visa on arrival?

Just got this news in:
The Vietnamese government has then officially announced that Vietnam will "soon" start to provide visa-on-arrivals at international airports and border crossing points for all international travelers. Vu The Binh, head of the travel department of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), officially gave the information to reporters. The implementation will take a few months to give time for the Customs Department to adapt its information technology system to accommodate the new system. VNAT and other concerned departments will then look at the new visa procedures.

Actually the visa problem is one of the biggest obstacles for tourism in Vietnam. although Germany is the largest trading partner in the EU, it's tourists are still needing a Visa in advance. No idea why it takes months, but, oh yes, that's Vietnam

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

charity for waste

Looking for a legitimate charity to donate 2nd hand gear; clothes, for men, ladies, kidswear mostly boys, & some toys, books etc
If anyone works for one, and has a car to pick up this gear one day this month fro - please reply to this email.

ok beeing a good person means get rid of stuff you dont want anymore. but doesnt include paying a taxi or minitruck. wow. these people are sooo good.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Banana Pub and Restaurant in Phu My Hung

There is a new so called Pub in Phu My Hung, which hopefully not a sign of a general change in this area.

Banana Pub and Restaurant is located in the Parkview Building, in the former Pat au Chou shop (same building as Tokyo Deli). They have a huge bar you can sit, a billiard table, dart, some tv screens and - beergirls. They also offer food, mainly western style, french fries with whatever. The salmon steak was not that bad, the chicken was under average. Beer is cheep, the girls (would not call them waitresses) doing there best (what includes sitting on you legs) to serve you.

What I like: When it's closed. (As I said, the salmon steak was ok, the beer was cold, and you might like it to sit outside in the early evening for people watching).

What I don't like: It's one of this sexpats bars, where older grey haired overweight westerners together with lonesome koreans gather to have what they call fun with vietnamese girls. I saw two men actually grabbing the girls butt, and they cannot complain, otherwise I am sure they get fired.

One day they were partying until 2.30am, the music was to hear all over the Parkwview B tower as well as the neighboring appartments and villas. (Disclosure: As neighbors we were really pissed to stay awake until early morning)

Open 10am to 12pm.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

What is cloud computing? Now it's a sales word

Has 'cloud-computing' lost its VC luster? | The Wisdom of Clouds - CNET News
A big part of the problem is the now almost unresolvable definition of cloud computing. How do you define the term? My own definition has shifted over the years, to where I use the term quite ambiguously. It's kind of like that famous old quote about pornography from the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart. The judge wisely noted: "I know it when I see it."

Indeed it is not easy to make a definition. Wikipedia says:
Cloud computing is Internet ("cloud") based development and use of computer technology ("computing").[1][2][3] It is a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualised resources are provided as a service over the Internet.[4][5][6][7] Users need not have knowledge of, expertise in, or control over the technology infrastructure "in the cloud" that supports them[8]

So James Urquhart made a nice statement on CNEt about how the definition is changing. It's worth reading it, especially for investors, because they are buying in everything what is labels cloud computing. As if there wasn't a internet bubble years before.

How to spread rumors...

I got through a email list this message:

A few days ago our 2 year old cat died of stomach cancer.
I' ve heard some stories about Whiskas biscuits causing cancer in dogs
and cats but I'd never really heard something concrete, and how on
earth can they keep it on the shelves if its so harmful!?

Yes, how can they keep it in the shelves? Maybe because this rumor is just not true? I can't believe that people are not ashamed to ask this publicly (and spread rumors with those postings). But the worst is, that instead of just thinking for some minutes or search in the internet, the rumor is spread first and others should do the work.

Wonder what they do if I post "I've heard some stories about Ms. XXXX that she steals and cheat, but I've never really heard something concrete..."

People just stop thinking when the next conspiracy theory is so close..

Friday, July 3, 2009

Dogs for sale in Saigon: Buy and see them die

Just want to bring attention to this article about the people seeling cute dogs in the streets in Saigon.

In Vietnam, the phrase “man’s best friend” has little value and dogs are seen as valuable currency and dinner.

In Ho Chi Minh City on Le Hong Phong Street in District 5, between Hung Vuong and Tran Phu, and on the corner of Nam Ky Khoi Nghia and Nguyen Thi Minh Khai are the two main locations that display dogs for sale.

Along the stretch of Le Hong Phong are shops crammed with cages displaying various dogs and cats. The animals, for the most part look healthy, but living conditions are grim, with several living in one cage.
.. read the full article

Monday, June 29, 2009


Originally uploaded by thomaswanhoff
just 4 girls at a photoshooting

Espressamente Illy Cafe in Phu My Hung

Now we have our own Espressamente Illy Coffee shop in Phu My hung. It opened last Saturday. A quick review.

What I like:
The design is awesome. It's a modern and clean design, mandatory for all Illy Coffee shops all over the world with just adjustment to the local shop sizes. The armchairs are real leather and comfortable, the lightning is not to bright, and the close the curtains when too much sunlight comes in.
The range of products is different from other chains like Gloria Jeans and Coffee Bean. They have many creations for cold and hot coffee (the cafe latte is still worth a try), and presentation is good as well. For the opening there was a promotion when you get a small cake with every coffee you purchased. They serve you on the table (that means not stand up and walk to the cashier desk to order).
The cakes are tasty, even if its Asia style cakes with this thick fatty cream. But thats ok. There is a small breakfast menu, mainly some fried egg dishes.

What I don't like:
Forget the food. It's pizza and some pseudo-western style dishes. The pumpkin soup and the spinach soup is ok, the rest just under average and overpriced.
The staff is - no wonder- not trained. They do the best, but from a level zero. So don't expect that they understand what a low fat milk is. For the opening weekend a lot of food was not available (no pizza margarita, but pizza salami.. wtf??) The music is typical 80s western charts :-(

And there is another problem that you should know: The owner of the Espressamente Illy Coffee shops also owns a shark fin restaurant in District 1. So if you are protesting against the inhuman way of killing sharks for fins, you should boycott Illy or at least leave a note of protest there.
When I asked Illy Headquarter about this, they said:

We thank for your letter and, as we can read in your mail, it is hard to
believe an Espressamente illy coffee bar interested in the business of shark

The premises you have kindly brought to our attention are independently
managed, although the products sold there, the offers, and the exploitation
of our brand unquestionably demand to operate in compliance with rules and
behaviours accurately defined and undersigned by the involved managers, upon
whom we keep a direct supervision.

For what said above, we would like to thank you very much for your report
and we are glad to reassure you that this case is already under assessment
and taken care of with the greatest attention.

Both restaurants are still in the same ownership, they may stopped cross promotion in District 1 - I havent been there since then.

UPDATE: I am sitting in the Illy Espressamente again. The mens toilet room is out of soap. I saw two managers and supervisors using the toilet as well as one cook. Nobody noticed that there is no soap, meaning they did not clean their hands properly. Why they set up useless, clueless and unexperienced supervisors in these shops instead of someone who can run this properly.

I blame the (foreign) management for this problems, not the staff. They haven't been trained properly, so it's not their fault.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Economy effects expats community

Even the An Phu Expats are now effected by the economy downturn:
We live in BP compound & having 2 kids, one is 4 years old boy & 9 months girl.We had a nanny & a maid but we are looking for a nanny who can cook for us as well.

Isn't that sad? They must reduce the staff (nothing mentioned if the driver must do gardening work now too)

Irony tag off.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Good news from economy in Vietnam

"Vietnam was the only one of the top 30 exporters to the US to increase shipments to the world’s largest economy during the first four months of the year, benefiting from clothing and footwear production."

Thats a good news, and this one too:
Occupancy rates in hotels and resorts in Vietnam will decrease with the most luxury hotels being impacted least, a hotel survey released Tuesday predicted.

As an optimist I see that there is less effect in the high price market, and that's actually important, because thats were the money is coming from (to us as well :-))

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Originally uploaded by thomaswanhoff
Heron bird in nature in my home town in German. See him every morning when I am out for running

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chicken slaughter in Phu My Hung

Its seems that even Koreans Restaurant Owners are not really educated in food safety standards. Today i witnessed how people in front of the twochicken restaurant on the backside of parkview a building in Phu My Hung were slaughtering theiur chicken right on the street side. They don't follow simple food saftey standards, the dead chicken were then thrown in the gras nearby to blood to death.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Twitter account suspended

For any reason, or just because I was hacked, my Twitter account was suspended this night because of suspicious activities. I saw that there were 5000 updates, so it looks like a spammer from russia or so hit me. I wam waiting now for response from twitter, after I reset my password I issued a ticket. A friend from the Netherlands has the same problem, and twitter is while I am writing this down for a while, so maybe it's a serious attack.
Until I am back on twitter, enjob my facebook status, my blog or my friendfeed

Friday, May 29, 2009

Blue head lizard

Blue head lizard
Originally uploaded by thomaswanhoff
No idea what kind of lizard this is, but I like thehead turning blue when there is some threat or danger.. we have some of them arround our home.-

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Notes from Barcamp Bangkok 3

Two session I joined where I was taking some notes:
About presentations:

- slide is a reference point, it visually stimulates your audience.

- pictures can tell a story

- rule of thirds for pictures

- use movies

- find images that show emotions

- use small 6px font as some keywords for you in the left bottom

And another session about MANAGING THAI STAFF

- language barrier is always there
- lack of technical qualification ->training needed
- fluctuation of staff

- pooling task and pooling people
- stop putting people into specific tasks
- solution: bring all staff and task together in a big group

we train them all in once
we pool all related to using english together

same level in hierachy makes communication easier

if one leaves, the other still have the knowledge

Friday, May 22, 2009

Advice for retalis shops in Vietnam: Promote your language

I just remembered here in the Starbucks in Bangkok what is a main difference between retails shops in Thailand an Vietnam: It's the greeting and the Goodbye.
In Vietnam, everybody says "Hello" or "Good morning" when a foreigner steps in, and "Goodbye", "See you later" (??) or "ByeBye".

In Bangkok your are greeted in Thai with a nice ""Sawatdee Khrab" and if you leave they may say "sawatdee".

While Thais in the bigger cities are able to have a english conversation between Sawatdee Khrab and sawatdee, Vietnamese retail staff is just the opposite.

So my advice: Every tourist and even foreigner business people may know the Vietnamese word for Hello and thank you, maybe Goodbye as well. They love it to hear something they may understand.

And it's makes the Vietnamese language more popular in other countries :-)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Happy Hacker Hour H3

Happy Hacker Hour H3
Originally uploaded by thomaswanhoff
Yesterday I joined the H3 Happy Hacker hour again at Quan Nuong Toi Restaurant. The roof top is a nice place and the food is great, like mostly in Vietnam.
So what is Happy Hacker Hour? It's a informal gathering of geeks and people who are interested in INternet business. It's not really a hacker meeting, actually I dod not see one single laptop yesterday (but of course the small gear, iphones and so on).
What I really like is to meet people I see rarely during my work hours. A talk with David is always a pleasure, and I was happy to meet Yen the first time, a very nice lady who speaks fluently German.
Rick is always cool, so is Dan. Huy showed up for some time, and even chip made it. I will meet both again in Bangkok for Barcamp3. For the first time I met two guys who were already familiar to me, thanks to twitter. @kennedypj and @etienne are both really nice guys, and good to have them here in Saigon. Ok enough expats, @ducban came with his lovely lady, @vinapay also, as well as some new guys I haven' met before and as usual, I forgot their names.
It's networking as it's best, these H3 Happy Hacker Hours, and thanks to @anhhung for organising again.

Friday, May 15, 2009

We don't have this in Vietnam

As I am working in the IT business, I often wondered why certain technology is not used here. Especially when it comes to websites. When I ask people why they don't use news technologies to design a website, they often answer "we don't have this in Vietnam".

Which is just not true: Since the Internet age information is available all over the world. Even people in China know about using < div > instead of < table >, and I know people in Myanmar aware of the fact that a ticker on a website is a No.

But I still see a lot of really bad professional websites. What's the reason?

Thesis 1: Most of the technology knowledge came by Vietnamese people from overseas. They brought heir knowledge, started companies some years ago and didn't learn more.

Thesis 2: Like most books in school also books about web technology are old and outdated. People learn knowledge from the 90ies.

Thesis 3: As long as it works it's ok. Like the lack of quality in other sectors, people don't care so much about a good and well designed website.

Anyway, there may be more reasons, but for sure the excuse "We don't have it" is just too simple. Designguides a free in the internet, blogs about technology are in place since years, even conferences like barcamps are available. so it leeds to

Thesis 4: It's just an excuse, nothing more.

Too close this blog post with the godfather of podcasting and conspiracy, Adam Curry:

There Are No Secrets, Only Information You Don't Yet Have

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Collaboration, mis-use of Powerpoint, changing behavior in the internet age

Just a few days ago I invited the CEO of a software company to share a google document with me. This company already uses the Google apps for their email account, so I thought they might be familiar with it. But they are not. I got a email with a word document (without any tracked changes) back and the excuse "sorry, I am not familiar with Google documents and so I copied it in word".

So, if software companies cannot use Google documents, who else? It's not that Google is complicated. It's that word is just working fine, and people don't want to change. Most users don't see the great advantage of collaboration. They might be because you just want to be on the safe side: Send a document by email and your work is done (for now). Shall other now review it.

What most companies don't understand and see: Collaboration is the only way to work more efficient and faster. You can fire people like crazy to safe cost, but the work still has to be done. So you need to change your behavior, they way you work together.

Some advise, above all for my Asian friends:
If you want to create something, like a proposal, architecture draft, whatever, and you call for a meeting, then give up hierarchy: The only thing a boss should do in a meeting is taking care that people stay with the topics. Don't try to lead the discussion when it comes to ideas. Don't hide information (like someone did in a meeting where he called the client by skype chat and did not invite the others oin the meeting for a conference chat).

If several people need to work on a document, save time while working together like you do in google docs. You can not only save time, you can discuss issues faster and better and you still have an overview about recent changes.

Content first: Sometimes people start with the template first, crwating chapters, formatting them, drawing graphs. Bullshit: Text first, make up then.

And: Powerpoint is for presentation, Word is for reading. But most people still use Powerpoint as a kind of landscape word format.

Last but not least: Never send Powerpoint presentations to clients if the animations aren't reatelly important. Send a pdf and its find. Clients are bored about time wasting animations with flying bullets and text that drops down for no reason.

Thx for reading. Amen.