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Lifestyle

New Year, New Lists 2017

January 6, 2017

I love reading all the end of year/start of year lists. Anything from book roundups to travel destinations.

Here’s a few I’ve enjoyed. I’ll add to them as we go along.

New York Times – Places to Travel 2017

The Jealousy List – Bloomberg’s List of Articles their journalists wish they had written. Kudos to the designer on this one too.

Roads and Kingdom’s 2016 wrap

Not technically a list, but here’s a (Western calendar) Japanese New Year recipe.

Digital Nomad Stuff, Work Cafes

Coworking and Working from Cafe – Hong Kong September 2016

September 20, 2016

I’m only here for the quickest of quick visits, so I’ve lumped everything in one post.

Co Working Spaces & Wi-Fi Access in cafes

I should point out that co-working spaces in Hong Kong require a good deal more forward planning that I actually did. I flew to Hong Kong on the fly and didn’t really have time to do any research – I’d originally thought that I could just wing it.

It turns out that you need to book in with most coworking spots in HK. I belatedly applied for a few spots on the first day I was here, but was only here for 2 days, meaning that I never got around to visiting the coworking spaces. Having said that, I received very prompt replies from the places that I applied for.

Only a handful do day passes, and the cost is at about $300HKD per day (as of September 2016).

Here’s who I contacted and who responded quickly:

Garage Society (lightning fast!). If The Hive is the grand dame, Garage Society is the cool kid. There are some exciting companies working out of their offices, including General Assembly.

The Hive – of course they did. They’re the grand old dame of coworking spaces. 5 storeys or architect-designed space. I even received a welcome pack including pictures of the space. Lovely. This is a smooth operation and it shows.

other places that were interesting but I didn’t apply to:

Wynd

On to Cafes

It turns out that Wifi is not a given in cafes, which is what I’d assumed. The few places that offer it seem to stipulate a 20min limit – even Starbucks.

Having said that, I found a few places with Wifi! Here are a few:

Coffee Academics

image courtesy of coffee academics

image courtesy of coffee academics

I visited The Morrison branch in Wan Chai, but all branches very kindly offer Wifi. They also offer rad coffee!

The Wifi supports conference calls, and the seats are comfy. There are also plenty of power points. You’ll see a few people Working from Cafe here, which is always a reliable sign.

Brunch Club Peel St

image courtesy of brunch club

image courtesy of brunch club

Apparently the spot to work from if you’re a writer, applying for jobs or working from cafe in general. There weren’t too many power points (the only one I saw was taken), but the area is lovely – quiet, there’s an air conditioned area as well as an outdoors area. Bonus points – it’s pet friendly. I rate this place, mainly because of the consistent wifi, but also sort of because I got to pat an awesome corgi named Marty.

Be warned. Peel Street is fairly steep. It’s kind of like Crocodile Dundee saying, “that’s not a hill, THIS IS A HILL”. Or maybe just reminiscent of San Francisco/Dubrovnik.

You can saunter down the hill and discover lots of cool cafes too.

A failed attempt

Please note that I tried to visit Capo’s Espresso – a promised land of free wifi in an Aussie style cafe and ended up at To Good*, a Hong Kong street food eatery tethering while my GM laughed at me as I had a conference call. Luckily, he has a sense of humour and my LTE held up! Needless to say, Gato is closed, and seems to have been for a long time.

*not a typo – I’d like to think it’s a salutation. To Good!

Digital Nomad Stuff, Lifestyle, Work Cafes

Nest by AIA – Work Cafe

September 20, 2016

Nest aka Work Cafe is the AIA-backed sibling of Work Saigon, Saigon’s first co-working cafe.

About

This is a stunning workspace you can drop in to, payment is of course in food and drink. It’s currently my favourite place to work from in Saigon, along with Work Saigon. No I’m not being paid to say this.

There seems to be a Man In Charge who saunters about wearing an earpiece, he’s also in charge of the dubious music choices that always seem turned up to LOUD. Pack headphones, you may need them.

Another tip is there is only 1 toilet cubicle for women/disabled and 1 for men. If you’re feeling a little bit rushed, there are toilets just outside Work, across the way.

Directions

This one’s a no-brainer for flying visits. It’s in Bitexco, the tallest building in Saigon. No Uber or taxi driver has any excuse for not knowing where this is.

Does It Serve Food

Mainly pastries and cookies. They also serve smoothies and fizzes.

Lunch Rush

None, because it mainly serves pastries.

Wi-Fi

You have register your email address just once. It used to kick you out every hour, but seems to have stopped recently.

Power Points

Mucho multo. If you’re on the shared work desks (your most ergonomic option), ask for an extension cord from the cashiers if it’s not already set up.

Ergonomics

Yes! Chairs, sofas, a bleacher of sorts with cushions and if you’re over 6ft, perhaps some standing desk kind of areas (provided you don’t need to type too much).

Address Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, District 1

Website: http://www.workcafesaigon.com/

Lifestyle

Setting up house in Vietnam: Water world

August 9, 2016

Oh god the things they don’t tell you when you’re in a new country because it seems so blatantly obvious.

Hunting down a drinking water supplier has been a 2 week saga, and I only figured out how to do this because I um, asked a barista at a cafe. I kid you not. I walked up to a stranger and said, “hey, you work in the area I live in, how do you get your drinking water?”.

Luckily for me, the barista took pity on me and instead of saying, “go get your own honey smacks” actually gave me a straight answer.

So apparently this is how it works.

Each area has a drinking water supplier. I kind of imagine them to be godfather-like dons, cackling as they roll around with their hundreds of kegs of water, holding desperate thirsty people to ransom.

Anyway, you track one down, then you order a dispenser and two of these bottles of water for the dispenser because they don’t deliver just one. When you get one, it becomes markedly easier from then on as they paste their name and contact number on the dispenser.

You then text every time you need a delivery…and pay in cash.

make it rain

making it rain

Is this sounding more and more like a drug deal? Yes, I thought so. Refer to Godfather reference above.

This is after I was told my dispenser was out of stock the previous week and they’d call me when it was back in.

So I ordered my water, they called to confirm, and they wouldn’t give me a time for when they’re delivering the water. It was “sometime today or tomorrow morning”.

Well then, don’t mind me while I slowly mummify in the corner.

What do you do if you’re out? You know, like if you have a full time job? Is taking a day off from work to receive your water a legitimate thing?

Luckily, I live in an apartment with a concierge, so it won’t be that big of a drama. I’ll just do some crossfit training with 2 x 20L bottles whenever I get home. It’ll be fine.

I can’t open a bottle of Doritos salsa mind you, but I’ll be fine. Just fine.

Lifestyle

Toilet Etiquette in Vietnam

July 28, 2016

I’ve been trying to figure out the inner workings of toilet etiquette in Vietnam. This is as far as I’ve gotten and I’ll update it when I have fact-checked.

As far as I can tell, it’s actually quite civilised once you get the hang of it! I’ve survived Chinese bathrooms and Vietnamese bathrooms seem fairly clean for most part.

I’m still too chicken to ask my new Vietnamese friends how it’s done – “So…I’ve only known you for a fortnight, but how exactly do you use the toilet?”

So without further ado let’s chat about…

Toilet paper

The eternal question- in the bowl or out of the bowl?

It doesn’t help that there are various signs around Vietnam that vary in wording and imagery.

They range from this, which I assume means “no dumping” and not, “no confetti from your pinata”,

Basic CMYK

to this, which is fairly standard wording

IMG_8470

so…just paper towels? Or toilet paper too?

I’m still not sure.

Some places seem to take toilet paper quite well – but others expressly have signs put up. I’ve been chucking paper down the loo at my AirBnb and it’s been fine so far.

That not-bidet thing

Affectionately known as the “bum gun” by expats around Indochina, I’ve seen this in Thailand and Vietnam. They seem more utilitarian than your average shower head – which is what I’ve seen across the rest of Southeast Asia.

My mother used to tell me that people (in other countries with similar contraptions) used this because they believed it was a sin to use toilet paper as it was classified as masturbation. I’m a little dubious.

So how is this done?

My understanding is that people use the bum gun before they dab with toilet paper, and then dispose of the toilet paper in the bin. There’s no smell and it’s reasonably hygienic. Genius if you ask me, so long as you don’t question what’s in the water.

Whatever the case, if you get a case of the Saigon Squirts, you’ll be thankful for this.

If anyone has confirmations or refutations, please let me know. I’d love to know.

 

Work Cafes

Loft Cafe – Ly Tu Trong

July 28, 2016
Loft Cafe Ly Tu Trong

I’ve been inspired by Flip Flop Travellers to help other work-from-anywhere people find their perfect cafe and co-working space.

There are lots of bloggers rating their favourite work cafes, but some things that I found missing were whether the cafe served food (embarrassing if you’ve decided to bunker down for the entire day and woe, alas! there is no food), whether it was busy during lunch hour, power points (thanks Flip Flop Travellers), connectivity, suitability for online meetings and ergonomics. Let’s be honest. Most of these cafes are cafes, they’re not meant for us to sit in typing all day. They don’t care if you have adopted the pose of a baby rabbit in order to type – and why should they?

This format hasn’t been set in stone yet, so give me feedback if you think I should make some tweaks.

So without further ado, my first work cafe post. Loft Cafe, the Ly Ty Trong branch.

About

I love the idea of this cafe. Its employees are disadvantaged youth being trained in hospitality. It’s located in a hideaway building slated for demolition and is full of little shops, including an awesome womenswear boutique next door. It has those old tiles that are so hot right now- but in this case they’re actual old tiles. Love.

I worked here all day.

Note: There’s another Loft Cafe located on 95 Pasteur St.

Directions

Right across the road from Vincom Center. It’s pretty well signed. Look for a shop selling art while lots of artists make copies!

Summary

Amazing. The staff were lovely, it was quiet until lunch time.

Does It Serve Food

Yes!

Lunch Rush

Yes. There was even a queue! Order lunch and keep the orders coming if you want to stay. If you don’t, I’m judging you.

Wi-Fi

Connection was mostly very strong, except for a few dropouts lasting several minutes at a time.

I had online meetings in here with no problem.

Power Points

Yep. and lots of them too.

Ergonomics

One of the better ones so far! I can type with my hands at 90 degree angles! 😀

 

Address: 26 Ly Tu Trong, District 1

Website

Image courtesy of The Loft, because my iPhone5 pics came out grainy.

Lifestyle

Trash Disposal in Vietnam

July 1, 2016

Day 3: In which I discover that I don’t know how to deal with my own rubbish.

I email the landlady to ask what to do with my rubbish and she says to walk to the end of my alleyway, where I should see “rubbish trash”.
 
Walk to the end of the alleyway, no rubbish bin, no green bin, nothing.
 
I sheepishly turn to a private Facebook group, and this is the conversation that followed:
 
Person: It depends on the building. If she says dump it at the end of the street, you’re probably not seeing the trash because they come early to collect it. 😀
 
Me: so…I just…leave it under a tree?
I sound so daft.
 
Person: You probably just toss it there, yeah. lol If it’s gone the next day, you’ll know it was right. LOL
 
I have visions of myself shamefacedly turning up the next morning to retrieve plastic bags while the roadside stallholders watch on at this woman who looks like an overfed local retrieving trash and is therefore clearly crazy. 

yeah, she cray.

 

Riiiiiiiiggght. So I walk out again, taking care to stare at the tree bases and I find out that every fourth or fifth tree has a styrofoam cooler box under it – RUBBISH TRASH! 

TL;DR, in my area, rubbish is left in cooler boxes under trees. I’m not even kidding.

Lifestyle

Cuba, Saigon and Beyond!

May 31, 2016

Well, I’ve just come back from almost a month of travelling through Cuba (more on that later) via the awesome Naka Island in Phuket, and I’m just about off again to Saigon aka HCMC. Nothing quite like a bit of emigration!

I guess this is as good a time as any to start the blog.

My friends and I were joking that I need to create a satirical lifestyle blog – I’d drape myself all over furniture in a neutral coloured house, dress exclusively in flesh tones and rhinestones, and strew liberal amounts of rose gold ornaments around. I’d do yoga poses in deeply uncomfortable and/or dangerous locations. I’d take 51 selfies of me and my green juice. #blessed #cleanliving #rosegold

But then they also wanted updates. And since I’m not wont to update much on Facebook, and I’d always toyed with the idea of starting up a recipe blog for weird and wonderful experiments, here I am.

#serenitynow #namastebitches #yesiactuallyownthecandle

actual candle I own

actual candle I own

Currently enjoying: The All of Saigon