Thanks to Saigoneer for unearthing this set of vintage stamps depicting colonial Vietnam
There’s a huge range in taxi prices in Hanoi. A trip from Tay Ho to Ba Dinh can cost as little as 70k and as much as 140k and still be legitimate. Companies such as G7 offer fares at the lower end of the spectrum, while a Taxi Group 7-seater could cost more than double.
Sometimes, however, we find ourselves in a taxi with a meter that’s running like a fan. If you’re confident that you’re being swindled, follow these steps:
- Show no alarm, emotion or any signs that you’re shocked about the price. Keep a poker face and don’t stare at the meter.
- Tell the driver that you’ve changed your mind about your destination, apologise profusely and direct him to a hotel. If you can’t speak Vietnamese, it pays to always carry the card of a hotel that’s close to your home.
- When you arrive at the hotel, the porter will of course open the door to your taxi. Kindly ask the porter to deal with your problem. Porters are used to dealing with problems like this and invariably take your side if you’re clearly being scammed.
- While the porter is assisting you, take a photo of the taxi’s number plate and the driver’s ID card, which should be mounted on the dashboard. This will show the driver that you intend to report him.
- Pay the taxi driver what the ride should have cost you – discovering you have a scamming taxi driver does not mean you don’t have to pay anything.
- Email the photos of the offending taxi and driver to the taxi company so that they know they have a dishonest employee on their books. Companies do want to know about shonky drivers, as they stand to lose their operating licence if caught by the transport police. Reporting scams will help to eradicate dodgy drivers & we will all benefit from that.
Simple actions can have a huge impact
Sustainability is the catch-cry of the year and if you haven’t got aboard this ship, there’s no time like the present. Make just a few small changes in your life and you can save resources.
- Next time you stay in a hotel, grab the shower cap! These amazing little things can be reused hundreds of times as food covers. Now you don’t need plastic clingfilm in your kitchen! These shower caps are also handy for dog owners – use them as an emergency water bowl.
2. Keep you phone on airplane mode as often as possible. This will save energy AND when you charge your phone while it’s on airplane mode, it will take only a fraction of the time.
3. If you’re not already vegetarian, join the Meatless Monday Movement and don’t eat meat one day per week. Cows are one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases, so eating less steak will have a direct effect on air quality.
4. There’s really no need to buy commercial cleaning fluids. You can clean just about any surface with one or more of these: lemon, vinegar & baking soda. Look here for recipes
5. Re-use old newspapers to clean your windows, instead of using paper towel. Newspaper gives by far a better finish too!
6. Don’t throw away your snagged or laddered stockings and pantyhose. They can be used as sleeves to keep posters and wrapping paper rolled up.
Our blog post last week on beating jet lag with herbal tea received loads of interest & comments, so we decided to investigate the topic of jet lag cures in greater depth this week. Here’s what we found:
Light: Sunlight tells your body clock when it’s time to wake up, and darkness signals that it’s time to sleep. When you arrive home, make sure you spend as much time outside in the elements as possible, so that your body takes its cues to wake 7 sleep. No matter how tired you are during the day, pull yourself together and go for a walk outside – and leave your sunglasses behind. You’ll be rewarded with a better night’s sleep.
Say No to airline food: Refusing to eat airline food will not only help to save the planet by reducing packaging waste – it will also help you to avoid jet lag. Airline food is notoriously full of oil and quick carbohydrates, neither of which will do you any favours on the flight. Instead, drink copious amounts of water and avoid alcohol. When you arrive at your destination, if it’s breakfast time, eat a healthy, high-protein brekkie and have a cup of coffee to keep you awake. If you arrive during the evening, a big meal once you land will help you sleep.
Stay hydrated: A large part of jet lag is due to dehydration, which starts the minute you get on a plane. It’s exacerbated if you start drinking alcohol in the departure lounge or during your flight. Just say no to alcohol, and drink at least 1 litre of water every 3 hours. Some people report that electrolyte drinks and powders can keep jet lag at bay – it’s definitely worth trying this remedy to see if it works for you.
Showering: If you arrive at your destination in the morning, have a cold shower as soon as you get home. Your body will be reminded that it’s morning time. Conversersely, if you arrive home in the evening, a nice hot shower will signal to your body that it’s bedtime.
As the summer holidays come to an end and everyone flies back to Hanoi, how to deal with jet-lag after a long haul flight? Here are some natural remedies you may like to try:
Chamomile Tea can improve the quality of your sleep – you’ll wake up fewer times during the night after a cup of chamomile.
People have been using Valerian Root Tea for centuries in Europe to induce sleep. This tea can make you feel drowsy but there’s no hangover the next day.
Lavender oil and flowers placed strategically in your bedroom can assist you to sleep better, and so can drinking Lavender Tea.
Decaf Green Tea consumed before bedtime can help you fall asleep faster and wake up feeling more energetic.
Lemon Balm Tea (made by infusing leaves in boiling hot water) can have a relaxing effect on drinkers, especially when it’s combined with Valerian Root Tea.
Spearmint Tea, a popular anti-inflammatory, can also help you to fall asleep, especially if you’re prone to evening headaches.
Cover glass objects like bottles with socks to protect them during transit
Pack the heaviest items in the bottom of your suitcase – this will make it easier to steer your luggage when you’re transiting and it will prevent lighter items like clothing from becoming creased
Carry chargers and their corresponding electrical items like phones and laptops in your carry-on luggage. If your luggage is lost or stuck in transit, you’ll still be able to use your phone
To prevent business shirts from creasing in your suitcase, fold them up department-store style and coil one of your belts inside the neck to keep it in shape
Wrap your shoes up in a shower cap to prevent them from transferring dirt to your clothing
Last but not least, check out this quick video by Marie Kondo on how to fold your clothes correctly
This is a fair question – it’s been terribly hot every day this week, with massive thunderstorms every evening. Here’s what causes this phenomenon:
Hot weather increases the rate of evaporation of surface water. We all know that hot air rises. As the air moves upwards, into the atmosphere, laden with water, it begins to cool because the temperature up there is cooler than the temperature on the land. Clouds form. Warm air can hold more water than cool air. When the air temperature drops, the air becomes saturated with water and it rains. As the droplets of water fall through the clouds, they pick up negative charges and here is where my knowledge of physics starts and ends. Something happens between negative and positive charges, and suddenly we’ve got a thunderstorm on our hands.
The street names in Vietnam actually mean something. Here’s a quick look at what’s behind the names of these famous streets in Hanoi
Xuân Diệu: a prolific poet
Đặng Thai Mai: a writer
Nguyễn Thái Học: a revolutionary
Lý Nam Đế: Vietnamese king from 544 to 548
Đại Cồ Việt: the name given to Vietnam between 968 and 1054
Tô Ngọc Vân: an artist, who died from injuries sustained during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu
Phan Đình Phùng: a revolutionary who led uprisings against the French
Hoàng Hoa Thám: a commander who fought bravely against French colonial rule
Phan Bội Châu: a 20th century revolutionary
Nguyễn Chí Thanh: A Vietnamese General
A quick visit to Linh Lang Market in Ba Dinh this morning revealed some interesting fresh produce that you probably wouldn’t find in a Western supermarket. Here are the highlights:
Rau rút (aka water mimosa) is used to make clear soup with tomato
Quả cau (areca nut) is bought for 2 main reasons – firstly, as a pain killer (wrapped in a betel leaf and accompanied with lime paste, you can chew on the nut and your gums will become numb…. And eventually your teeth will be stained orange) and secondly – as a gift from a man’s house when he asks for the hand of his bride. The nuts are carved with a small knife and turned into adorable flower-like creations. You can find qua cau and other wedding gifts in Hàng Than St in the Old Quarter.
Quả mướp (melon fruit) is grown on a vine and makes a delicious clear soup
I’m not sure of the English translation for rau ngổ, but it’s in season now, it’s cheap and it tastes great in a fish soup stock
Exercise as early in the morning as possible, when the weather is relatively cooler.
One sign of dehydration is that you don’t urinate. Drink enough water that you’re peeing at least once an hour on hot days.
Check the colour of your pee – it should be the palest of yellows. If it’s dark, glug down more water
If you’re bored drinking plain water, add a slice of lime or even some cucumber to add some interest
Headaches are another sign of dehydration. Drinking water regularly throughout the day is key to staying hydrated. Binge-drinking water sporadically won’t do the trick.
When we sweat, our bodies lose water and minerals. Remember to replenish these minerals every day. Oresol powder is the cheapest way to do this – the sachets are available at all pharmacies.
It’s so obvious, but wear a hat!