Saturday, 29 December 2012

Will Vietnam Allow the Same-Sex Marriage?

If we choose the average percentage at 
3% of Vietnam’s population  (55.38million), 
about 1.65 million Vietnamese are 
under LGBT society.

The door will slowly open for LGBT community in Vietnam to be paired, legally living together, having the same rights and enjoy equal obligation like a heterosexual couple. LGBT is a term which refers to four sexuality group: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. According to scientist, LGBT is not a disease, and the people do not need any treatment if he or she felt under the category.

According to a survey, each country will have a variation of 1% to 9% of LGBT people out from the total population. However, there is no formal survey about LGBT in Vietnam and if we choose 3% from total Vietnam’s population (55.38million), about 1.65 million Vietnamese are in LGBT group.

Mr. Nicholas Booth, a policy advisor on Rule of Law & Access to Justice of United Nation (UN) Development Programme in a workshop shared about UN’s experience and perspective about LGBT community. He travelled to many countries just to deliver a positive message about the ideology of United Nation about LGBT society.

Professor Dr. Kees Waaldijk
Leiden University, Netherland
On March 2012, the Secretary General of United Nation (UN) Human Rights Council called all countries in the world to stop the discrimination and violence towards this group. Unlike heterosexual people, the LGBT group is in a big struggle to win the equal right like others.

According to Professor Dr. Kees Waaldijk, a Comparative Law Sexual Orientation professor from the University of Leiden said, “There are many countries in the world recognised same-sex marriage; 16 countries in Europe, 2 countries in America, 2 states in Australia and 1 state in Africa. Most of these countries are accepting gay pairing and 11 countries have a specific law for same-sex marriage; mainly in Europe.

Professor Dr. Kees Waaldijk believes that all countries should consider to accept same sex-marriage. He also hope that Vietnam will be the first country in Asia to allow same-sex marriage to the community.

Dr. Lê Quang Bình, Director 
Institute for Studies of Society, 
Economy and Environment (iSEE)
Dr. Lê Quang Bình from Institute for Social Research, Economic and Environment (iSEE) said, only 11% respondent in his research accepted homosexuality as a normal situation when other are still having a certain disgrace towards homosexual people. Another research from iSEE find that 83% of homosexuals in Vietnam were being despised and nearly 10% had been beaten up or verbally abused when attempting to take part in heterosexual’s society.

Currently, experts and policy makers are reviewing about the recognition of same-sex marriage and the community had risen up their concern about, “post gay marriage” in the country as well.

Law-makers Comment:

Ms. Trịnh Thị Lê Trâm, a member of Central Executive Committee from Vietnam Lawyers’ Association commented that Vietnamese law does not prohibit gay people to be in relationship and living together. But, a detail study has to be done before allowing them to get married.

Ms Vũ Minh Hồng from Public Law Department of Central Committee Vietnam mentioned about her concern in case the same-sex marriage couple choose to for a kid adoption. The children will confuse about who are their mother and father and we cannot call a man as a mother or a woman as a father which is totally against to the law of human nature.

Dr. Lê Hồng Sơn, the Director of Legal Document Inspection Department said, “Even the LGBT society is only a small part of Vietnamese citizen, same-sex marriage really need a special attention and support from all. A lot of things need to be considered such as public opinion, customs and traditional belief before making such a big decision.

Statistic from ISEE 2012

92% of 2401 respondents want to allow same-sex marriage law

Gay study result:

71% want the law to allow same-sex marriage

25% want to live with registration

4% want to live without registration

Lesbian study result:

77% want to get married

3% don’t know

16% do not see marriage is important

If same-sex marriage is still did not have any recognition in Vietnam, there are still have Vietnamese who are publicly get married in countries that allowed same-sex marriage. 

Vietnamese Gay Wedding in Overseas

Below is a very touching Vietnamese gay wedding ceremony by Nguyen Thai Nguyen & Dinh Cong Khanh, a Vietnamese Overseas (Viet Kieu) couple from  Canada. The ceremony was following Vietnamese traditional wedding custom with gift exchange, worshiping ancestors and get blessing from both parents before a wedding banquet party. 

Currently Vietnam's Government and NGOs organisation are working together to determine the right and law of same sex marriage. If everything is good, this Socialist Republic will be the first country in Asia to accept same sex marriage.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Good Bye 2012, Hello 2013 - Saigon New Year Outing?

If you are living in Vietnam, major cities in the country now is flourishing with beautiful lights, flowers, decoration and major entertainment. If you still don't have any specific plan about where to go on new year evening, here are some suggestion for you.

"Được là chính mình” Theatre Play

"Được là chính mình” . Photo from

Watching "Duc La Chinh Minh" or "Be Yourself" play. This homosexual theme play was rapidly played in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City from May until September this year. On the occasion of 2013 New Year Celebration, this play will be brought back for a free show in several universities in Ho Chi Minh City and Dak Lak from 24th December 2012 until 3rd January 2013.

"Được là chính mình”. Photo from

Vietnam Dog Show

If you are a dog lover, you may go to Phu Tho Outdoor Stadium at No.1 Lu Gia Street, District 11 on 29th until 30th December 2012. There is a competition which will be participated by over 150 dogs to win the "Vietnam's Best Dog" and "World Best Dog" title. This event was called by Vietnam Kennel Association (VKA) with support from more than 100 dog owners.

Watching Fireworks Displays

For this year, the fireworks will be set at Thu Thiem Tunnel area in District 2 and Dam Sen Park i District 11 at 12.00am of 1st January 2013.

Fireworks from Thu Thiem area

Saigon SkyDeck Gangnam Style Party @Bitexco Financial Tower

Why not if you have a chance to have the best fireworks view from 49th floor of Saigon's tallest building. With Gangnam Style theme party, Saigon SkyDeck invites you to celebrate the new year eve with friends and family with good food, beverages and excellent music. The ticket now is out for grab with price VND699,000 per adult and VND499,000 per kids (Below 1.3m)

Heineken's Annual New Year Party

The Grand Stage of Heineken Countdown Party 2011/2012

This Heineken's Annual New Year countdown party is one of must-have event for Saigonese. The venue for every year will be in the centre of Nguyen Hue Street, District 1, opposite to Sunwah Tower and Times Square building. As usual, this countdown party will come with a 20meter height grand stage with 360 degree design, laser play, LED, massive lighting besides appearance of international DJs and local singers.

Crowded. Heineken Countdown Party at Nguyen Hue Street, District 1, HCMC

Besides in Ho Chi Minh City, another Heineken Party also will be held in Nha Trang which will be synchronized for the countdown.

20:00 – 21:00 Warm up music. Local DJs & Dancers.
21:00 – 22:15 Ho Ngoc Ha, Tieu Chau Nhu Quynh, V-Music, Yen Trang, Amigo G.
22:15 – 23:30 DJ Emrah Is, Aimi, Guitarist Joy Basu, Radian Carp, George Marian.
23:35 - 00:05 Live broadcasting starts to/from Heineken Countdown Nha Trang.
00:00 - 00:30 Countdown. Shows continue until 00:30 with international singers and DJs.
20:00 – 21:00 Local DJs & Dancers
21:00 – 22:15 Ha Anh Tuan, Hien Thuc, Minh Thu, Thu Thuy, X-5.
22:15 – 23:30 DJ/Singer Liviu Hodor & Mona, dancers Danielle Xavier & Christina Fuentes.
23:35 - 00:05 Live broadcasting starts to/from Heineken Countdown HCMC.
00:00 - 00:30 Countdown. Shows continue until 00:30 with international singers and DJs.

The Voice US Runner Up - Dia Frampton Special Appearance in The Voice Vietnam

Dia Frampton,  The Voice US's runner up will make her very special appearance in The Voice Vietnam's semi-final show. This American artist will sing a solo song and the show will be broadcasted live on December 30, 2012 at VTV3 9.20pm.

If you are a party people, clubs and bar around the town always welcome you for a cool party. Five years living in Saigon, I will say that the traffic is congested in city centre, and my choice will be staying at home, enjoying home cook and chilling with my love one.


Thursday, 27 December 2012

10 LGBT's remarkable activities in Vietnam for 2012

Year 2012 is an exciting year especially for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Vietnam. There are many activities which aimed to unite the people and to fight for an equality right for LGBT community without any discrimination towards the people’s sexual orientation or gender.

There are a lot of campaign and LGBT oriented activities was organized in Vietnam such as the plan to revise the Marriage Law (same –sex marriage for homosexual), transgender right in Vietnam, dialogue between corporate, the Government, lawmakers and LGBT rights organization and many more activities.

1. The Revision Plan of Same Sex Marriage

The Vietnamese Government had officially on the go with the study to legalize the marriage between two people of the same sex. On May 2012, the Ministry of Justice had issued a written opinion letter on the legalization of marriage between two people of the same sex to the Social Issues Committee of National Assembly of Vietnam. On October 2012, the government‘s sectorial delegation had participated in the panel discussion, “Do the Law for your loved ones” as their practical exposure to learn about the LGBT community. On December 2012, the Ministry of Justice with collaboration with UN agencies in Vietnam had organized a seminar on “International Experience in Protecting the Right of LGBT People in Marriage & Family relations”.

2. Transgender People & The Right in Society

On August 2012, the first study about Transgender in Vietnam, “The Desire is to be you” was presented and had attracted attention of Vietnam lawmakers and media. On December 2012, a clip about transgender with title “pede” had attracted more than 300,000 views on with a lot positive comments and shared.

Besides, a Vietnamese celebrity, Nguyen Huong Giang had voiced out about accepting transgender to participate in Vietnam Idol, one of the American’s franchise singing competition in as a sign that art is always equal.

3. Advocacy & Protecting LGBT Rights

On June 2012, the parents of LGBT child had come out with a meeting to recommend and discuss about the way to protect the rights of law the LGBT. Besides, on December 2012, a conference had been organized with title “International Experience in Protecting the Rights of LGBT people in Marriage & Family Relations” to talk more about their children rights.

4. Same Sex Wedding

Series of same sex wedding in Ca Mau, Kien Giang and Binh Buong had been stopped. This sanction had attracted public attention continued by a  debate about the right of Kissing in public for LGBT.

5. “Be Yourself” Event

The “Be Yourself” events had been organized at varieties of Universities in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. This event had attracted tens of thousands youth participation to share about LGBT community and the event was wrapped out with a very special concert at Opera House on 16th September 2012.

6. LGBT’s “Love is Love” Flash mob

On September 2012, a LGBT flash mob with theme “Love is Love” was organized and received a massive respond from more than 1000 young people either from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang. “Love is Love” come with idea to spread the message and awareness about love is for everyone and all should be equally to be love.

7. LGBT Pride 2012

The Vietnam’s first LGBT Pride had organized on August 2012 with presence of Vietnam’s LGBT community and media, especially international press. This pride is the stepping stone for Vietnam LGBT community to fight for the same sex equality and to join the worlds LGBT mission.

8. Hand in Hand Campaign

On August 2012, an event with theme, same-sex walking together hand in hand had attracted more than 1300 participants in Ho Chi Minh City.

9. The Pink Choice Exhibition – Love is Love

This event was organized in Hanoi on November 2012 by a women photographer, Maika Elan. This exhibition is about the life and love of LGBT couple and she took nearly a year to complete the project with participation of more than 70 couple from Nationwide’s LGBT community.

10. Gay theme Short Movie

International Short Film award ceremony, YXINEFF 2012 for the first time had awarded a Vietnamese directed Gay theme movie, “Dawn” as Best Film and this film as directed by a talented Vietnamese Director, Leon Le.  

Click HERE for more info and watching the the movie.

Year 2013 is coming real soon. We in LGBT community are looking forward for a positive change and to fight against discrimination and bullying towards the people.

Photos by: ICS Vietnam 

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

WorkOut Just Like a Vietnamese

Vietnamese are very sensible about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Besides taking a good care of their day-to-day diet, exercising also become a part of their routine. One my first year living in Vietnam, I am surprised when many youngsters consume alcohol regularly and always go out for eating out with buddies. But in the meantime, they still look fit and healthy.

The exercise activity in Vietnam will start as early as 4.00am in the park by old generation doing “quick walk” before young generation will present at 6.30am for aerobic dancing, playing badminton or street soccer

“Home-Self” Gym Tools

High income Vietnamese normally can invest themselves for a good quality of “home-self gym”. Big space is to place workout machines or tools besides giving relaxed-environment while working out. These workout machines can be purchased from workout equipment centre in town and it will cost you around VND10,000,000 to VND50,000,000 each.
In the meantime, young Vietnamese who can’t afford to buy professional tools will come with their own version of work-out tools such as “home-made dumbbell” or “home-made pull up bar” to fulfil their work out need.

“Low Cost” Gymnasium

There are many “Low Cost” gymnasiums available in town with monthly membership fees as low as VND150,000 up to VND400,000 per month. This low cost gymnasium really attracted young generation’s attention such as high school students, university students and low income workers. The gymnasium normally does not really have certified trainers with some basic rules and most of the gymnasium’s members are into self-training routine.  There are some gymnasium’s members said that, “Some young Vietnamese always dream to have nice muscles in 3 months’ time to show off to their friends or girlfriends. Even worse, some of them are taking some illegal steroids to help them gaining muscle in a quick way”.

Premier Fitness Centre

California Fitness & Yoga Centre, Star Fitness at The Manor and Saigon River Club at Saigon Pearl Apartments are among the premier choice for fitness centre. This centre is complete with high end and modern workout facilities, sauna room, steam bath, hot water shower, locker room and concierge services as well. Patrons are expected to pay between VND1,000,000 to VND2,000,000 monthly.


Nowadays, swimming turned to be a popular activity after working out in the gymnasium. Swimming pool in Lanh Anh Swimming & Tennis Club at 291 Cach Manh Thang Tam Street is very popular among Vietnamese besides some other high end swimming pools in five stars hotel and high end residence in town.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobics is a very popular form of exercise among young Vietnamese girls and aging women. This aerobic exercise can be done under roofed classes or open class at sidewalk areas. It is a common scene in many parks around the town in between 6.00am to 7.00am and 5.30pm to 7.00pm daily and you will see groups of women doing their aerobic exercise routine with loudspeaker sound and energy booming dance music. Some classes in public are free of charge or by donation, while indoor classes normally come with minimal monthly fees.

Dancing Exercise

Starts by belly dancing on early 2009 and faded by existing of pole dancing and chair dancing the year after, dancing is one of option for Vietnamese to keep fit themselves. However, negative feedbacks from traditional Vietnamese communities about these dance routines leads for some misunderstandings and most of the dancers doing this exercise in only private practice.
Ballroom dancing is in the top demand among local and young expatriate communities in Vietnam. As young people love the sexy move or tango and salsa, older generation prefer something slower and more intimation such as waltz dance routine. There are dance classes which is popular among expatriate and Vietnamese overseas such as DanCenter at 53 Nguyen Dang Gai Street, District 2 and La Habana at No.6 Cao Ba Quat, in District 1. Free classes are also available every evening around 6.00pm at 23/9 Park or Le Van Tam Park with some groups normally present there to practice their dance routine. Your basic Vietnamese language will help you to mix and join the group.

Yoga & Tai Chi

As yoga is popular among the young generation, Tai Chi is popular among senior citizens. This exercise is basically to help people to improve their concentration and maintaining good health. There are many private Yoga teachers available in Vietnam, either foreigners or local Vietnamese trainers for you to choose.
In short, no matter what nationality you are, you deserve to enjoy a healthy life and life longer. It will be no use if you have a lot of money, but you did not rewarding yourself by investing for your health and get sick at the end of the day.

This article was published in The Vietnam Guide on June 25, 2012.

Photos on flickr by boy_toy (boy=toy) CC BY-SA 2.0

Be a Minority Muslim in Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City

Champ Muslim Women at Chau Doc
Photo by  Adam Jone (adam_jone)
on flickr with CC BY-SA 2.0
Be a minority Muslim in a dominant Buddhism country can be a real challenge for the religion follower especially in Vietnam. I am living in Vietnam, particularly in Ho Chi Minh City since 5 years ago and most of my Muslim friends in home country will ask me about my adaptability factor toward the difference of culture, food consuming and other Muslim's necessities. 

Since 10 years ago, Vietnam had witnessed numbers or Muslim expatriates come to this country and work in professional sectors. Besides, the native Muslim Champ people in Vietnam had rejoiced Islam as a minority religion and flourishing the Mosque as a holy worshiping place. 

I used to live with a Vietnamese adopted family on 2010 and observed their mind-set about Muslim. The family will follow evening news on VTV daily and one of the news is the about the American-Islamic conflict in Iraq which more and less portraying Muslim as a terrorist and dangerous religion. If you are Muslim and your local colleague asking something about Muslim, you may explain but don't expect them to completely understand it.

Halal Food

A simple definition about Halal food is the food must be prepared according to Muslim procedure. Eating pork and consuming beer is prohibited for Muslim. Chicken and beef also must follow Islamic preparation procedure for Muslim consuming. Yes, Vietnamese like to have monthly party among working colleagues and as a Vietnamese, you cannot be offended if your Muslim guess refuse to make a toss with you or maybe they didn't touch the foods served by you. 

There are numbers of Halal restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City. Those halal restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City must possess a Halal Certification from the Ho Chi Minh City Islamic Community Organisation. Some of the restaurants are owned by Muslim and some others by non-Muslim. Halal restaurant by Muslim in Ho Chi Minh City are such as VN Halal at Pham Hong Thai Street and Bon Mua or Four Season Restaurant in Thi Sach Street in District 1. These restaurants serve Vietnamese and Malaysian cuisine in their menu. In the meantime, halal restaurant by non-Muslim in Ho Chi Minh City are such as the Lion City Restaurant franchise which by a Singaporean restaurateur, Halal Saigon by Malaysian and Baba's Kitchen which is serving a very authentic Southern Indian's cuisine. 

The halal foods in restaurant normally will be a bit pricey compared to local dishes. One serving of halal food can cost you around VND80,000 up to VND180,000 and it can be considered as an international cuisine. It will be more economy to cook your own dish at home as most of supermarkets in Ho Chi Minh City have a wide selection of halal product. From my experience, there are no halal chicken and beef in supermarket. But once, i have a quick glance at Cho Lon wet market, someone do sell halal meet with a limited number of supply. 

If you really want to have Vietnamese street food in halal way, I will suggest the stall which is located at the hem of 189 Hai Ba Trung Street i District 1. This stall served Vietnamese breakfast such as Bun Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle) and Hu Tieu (Vermicelli Soup) before switching their menu to halal lunch buffet. The owner of this this street stall is a Champ Muslim and some of them can speak Malay besides Vietnamese for daily conversation.

Muslim Clothing Shopping

On my first year in Ho Chi Minh City, I truly surprised when I saw so many Muslim Malaysian came to this non-Muslim to shop for clothing. Ben Thanh Market is a must-to-go place for Muslim to shop for their needs from praying clothing, daily wear, robes, scarfs and many more. Besides, there are some shops along the Nam Ky Khoi Nhia-Le Loi Street in District 1 which sale "Baju Kurung", a traditional Malay women attire, and praying cloth too. 

Prayer Places

Muslim pray five time a day. Many of my Vietnamese friends did ask me if Muslim are praying in temple. But the correct name for Muslim praying place is Mosque. One of the mosque popular mosque in Ho Chi Minh City is the one at Dong Du Street (pronounce as Dong Yu), District 1. This mosque is strategically located next to Sheraton Hotel Saigon and opposite to Halal Saigon Restaurant. Besides, there is a mosque at Phu Nhuan District at Nguyen Van Troi Street and another one at Tran Hung Dao Street which is located about 1.5 Kilometres from the Backpacker's area of Pham Ngu Lao. 

Be Extra Careful with Vietnamese Food

Some Vietnamese restaurant might be pork free or vegetarian, but I am not sure if its halal. The fried fish can be non-halal if the cooking oil or the frying pan used to cook pork dish too. Vietnamese cook normally will add some pork meat or born to broth up their vegetable soup. 

Cross Culture

Most of the concern among Muslim when come to Vietnam is about the food. Besides, the different between Muslim and Vietnamese culture can be another challenge. Muslim women need to wear scarf of "hijab" to cover their head and some local citizen will think that you are not easy to deal with, too traditional or maybe anti-social. 

In short, if you are Muslim and have a chance to live in Vietnam, particularly in Ho Chi Minh City, you should take the offer with joy. In the meantime, you need to make sure that you will receive a good pay as the cost of living especially food is relatively expensive. Modern Vietnamese had turned to be more global and diversified in adapting themselves with other world culture and belief. 

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Saigon Expat’s Night Out

Living in Saigon as an expatriate might be boring if you choose to be at home after work. No matter if you are Asian or Westerner, it is very common to extend the business deal from office to “night out entertainment”. Other than to strengthen the business relationship, at least they can retreat that homesick feeling with clients and friends.

If you are staying in Saigon, this is a buzzing city for business people and youngsters with non-sleep entertainment.

Business Dinner

Business meetings in offices normally will be continued to entertainment dinner with the client in fine restaurant in town. Sometimes, there are matters which not suitable to talk about during formal meeting can be appropriated to talk during after work activities. It is a normal evening scene along Le Thanh Ton street and Ngo Van Nam street when Japanese businessmen starts to feel in all the Japanese restaurants. At another corners, westerners normally will head up to tapas or western restaurant such as Pacharan Restaurant at Hai Ba Trung Street, Jaspas Restaurant at Dong Khoi Street, The Elbow room at Pasteur Street and many more.

Networking Event

There are many forms of networking events in Saigon which is favorite among foreigners as their evening activities.. It can be a cocktail party, product launching, group gathering or a business talk. Example, British Business Group in Vietnam (BBGV) is one of the aggressive foreigner association in town which are always organizing monthly networking events and business talks for professionals. There are many Vietnamese professionals and expatriates that like to attend this kind of events as this is a good channel for them to catch up with friends or finding new business prospects. Normally this networking event will starts from 6.30pm and finish around 9.00pm. The venue for this networking event normally has been held in five star hotels such as Renaissance Hotel, high-profile restaurant and bar such as Purple Jade in InterContinental Asiana Plaza Saigon and many other posh venues.


This night activity is very popular among Chinese and Singaporean expatriates in Vietnam. Karaoke centers such as No.700 in Tran Hung Dao Street is always a top choice for this group while luxury karaoke clubs such as Club Royal and Renaissance Hotel and Catwalk or International Tourist Club (ITC) of New World Hotel is a premium choice for important Chinese client’s entertainment.

Bar & Club

The bar and club entertainment scene shall be different for different nationalities. For Chinese business communities, clubs in District 5 or Vietnamese Club such as 030 in Ton That Thiep street and Oscar Club in Nguyen Hue Street is popular among them. While for westerners, clubs and bars which played reggae music or house music will be their preferable to hang out after work. Places like Vasco in Hai Ba Trung street, or elite bar such as Blanchy’s Tash and Xu on the same street is the best place to hang out.

Massage Centre

This night activity is very popular among Asian communities in Vietnam especially Japanese, Korean & Chinese. After a long working day in the office, it’s time for them to relax the body with sauna and good body massage. Clean and good service massage centres such as Quynh Nhu Spa & Massage Centre at Ham Nghi street and selections of massage centres along Ngo Van Nam Street and Le Thanh Ton Streets are famous among them.

Other than above night activities, some other expatriate will spend their after work time with other activities such as work out at gymnasium, golfing at golf range or spending time with family in shopping mall or other leisure activities.

Monday, 24 December 2012

How not to be scammed by the taxi mafia in Vietnam?

When you come to Vietnam the first time, all the new impressions will be overwhelming for you! However, things you naturally see, do and you are used to will differently be done in Vietnam. So you should carefully watch how Vietnamese do everyday things. When you arrive at the airport either in Ha Noi or Ho Chi Minh city, you will need to take a taxi to your hotel. Taking a taxi might be a normal business in your home countries, in Vietnam it isn’t. Vietnam is a nice country with many friendly and lovely people. But there are also some people who only like you because of your money. And taxi drivers are among them – at least, people who pretend to be a taxi driver.
When you walk out of the airport, after a ten to fifteen hours flight, tired and really groggy, wanting nothing more than a hot shower, some food and some sleep, you will certainly try to get away from Noi Bai Airport or Tan Son Nhat as fast as you can. Most visitors therefore get a taxi. But when the door opens, dozens of Vietnamese will confront you, some will try to take your luggage and bring you to their taxi station. You should really ignore them. They are in most cases not taxi drivers. They have a car, and they will bring you to the destination you wish, but they will charge you a lot. Usually, one transport from Ha Noi – Noi Bai to the city’s Old Quarter will cost around 120 000 – 200 000 VDN, depending on the route you go (in HCMC nearly the same). The so called „taxi mafia“ in Ha Noi will charge you three- to four times that much. I just met a tourist who complained he paid 400 000 VND. Others charge even more! First visitors often do not know about the prices and how much maybe one million Vietnamese Dong is. 

Example of Fake Taxis which is mostly available in tourist attraction areas

So, what can you do?

In Ha Noi the scams got so heavy, that the city’s government and the airport administration decided to introduce a new system: Prices are now fixed. You usually pay BEFORE you get into a taxi and get a voucher. You pay later with the voucher, but you can tip the driver, if you like. Taxis of Mai Linh are the best in Vietnam (in my opinion). I’ve never experienced scams with them. One time I saw the taximeter in a taxi go from 19000 to 120 000! Someone inexperienced would finally have paid the 320 000 VND, instead of 32000 VND. I asked the driver about this and he replied, the taxi meter was broken…Sure…and it will take a long time to repair.
Other scams with taxis to get a higher price is going a longer route. Everytime I go to Ho Chi Minh City, I start at the Western Bus-Station (Ben Xe Mien Tay) and go to Quan 1. And everytime I see a different street. I am not so familiar with Sai Gon, so I cannot say, if the driver’s going right or wrong. But I always pay around 200 000 VND, so I think it is okay. One time I had a taxi, who wanted charge me then 320 000 VND. I complained a lot, and finally he reduced a little. Official taxis have usually an ID card in the front and a phone number, so you can complain directly if there is need to. I do not really want make an advertisement for Mai Linh, but they are really the best carriers of this country and reliable. I don’t want say, all others are not reliable or will scam you! If there are taxis from taxi companies, you usually need not fear any scams. If it is a „private“ taxi, you should insist on a taximeter. If it has none , you really should not go with him, since he will charge you fantasy prices! You should everytime insist on starting the taximeter!
Nothing is worse than a start into a holiday by a nice scam at the airport.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Tip-Top Transgender Traveller

Everybody love to travel, but travelling as a transgender can be a nightmare and challenging. The hassle can start since you stepping into the airport at your home country, during arrival at your destination and the acceptance of local people towards transgender traveller. This might sound discrimination, but the fact is, discrimination existed. This article is quick tips for travellers who are flying by flight which at least can speed up your time on board.

Transsexual flight attendants (from left to right): Nathatai Sukkaset, 26, Dissanai Chitpraphachin, 24, Chayathisa Nakmai, 24, and Phuntakarn Sringern, 24, pose for photographers at the PC Air office in Bangkok on Feb. 9.

Check in Early or Advance Check in

Normally when you go to the airport, the check in will be at check in counter which need you to present your ID for check in purposes. To avoid and scrutiny at check in counter, you are advisable to do your own online check in at home and self-print your boarding pass. Optionally, you may avoid the check in counter by choosing Self-check in kiosk which is normally located at departure hall and you may still your own boarding pass. To check in your luggage, normally doesn’t really a big problem and it is really quick as long as you follow the luggage check in regulation.

In case you cannot avoid yourself from checking in at check in counter, you need to get ready with some scrutiny measures. Some transgender might have a different look compared to their identification card. Besides, if you have any different names on the show besides your name in your identification card, make sure all your information on your flight itinerary is correct as per your legal travel document. It will be good if you can have a letter from your physician or therapist to clarify about your current present. It is not to say you are sick because you normal like others. But this is how to make thing easier for those who are don’t understand your sexuality situation.

Security Check & Hand Carry Inspection

Normally you will not have any problem with your check in luggage. But hand carry items can be an issue. All you need to do is be cool and act naturally besides following their procedures. If there are any items that you don’t want the custom officers to inspect in public, you may ask for a private screening.

Medication & Syringes

If you need to bring any medication on board, you are advisable to bring it in your hand carry luggage. This is very important to bring it as a hand carry in case there are any flight delay or losing your checked in luggage. All syringes with or without injectable hormone will need you to get a prescription letter from doctor physician. You may separate you medication and syringes in other bag and asking for visual view. Optionally, you may safely pack your medication and put it in your checked in luggage.  

Watch out your attire

Some transgender are really caring about their outlook in public but somehow, it can bring some difficulties when u needs to be on board. First come first, remove your out wear once you arrive in the airport. Next, watch out your clothing, shoes, binding materials and jewelleries. You are advisable to wear moderately or, you will get some additional, unwelcome and unfair scrutiny treat from the airport officers.

The metal detector is very sensitive. You need to take attention towards your piercing jewelleries, metal boned corset, underwire bras, metal binding materials and shoes. If you are wearing a binder or corset, you are advisable to choose a non-metal clasps material.

In some international airports, the passengers need to go through X-Ray machine called Rapiscan Secure 1000. These machines basically have a low level of X-Tray capability to give image of naked body. The checker normally can self-detect your genital, binding and prostheses. Basically, the security personal normally only can see “same sex” only. But for transgender, you can request for x-tray check according to your preference.

This process is also repetitive upon arrival and departure in every airport around the world. As a transgender traveller, you may keep in your style and get ready with the procedures.