Tropical Storm to hit South Vietnam, HCMC

Thanh Nien news reports the tropical storm 'Noul' (Red Sky) with winds of up to 102 kph is due to hit South Vietnam tommorow, landing south west of Ho Chi Minh City. The path of the storm is similar to that of the Durian storm which caused widespread damage in 2006, and this storm is like to cause damage to crops, uproot trees and damage old buildings.

Looking at the map from the article it looks like areas as far north as Nha Trang will be affected so do take care if you are visiting any coastal areas. Some flooding is also predicted south of HCMC as the Dau Tieng reservoir in Tay Ninh is expected to overflow from the extra rainfall.

Thailand Holidays

With the help of some friends I've been working on another travel guide, this time to Thailand, called . I thought I'd take a different approach with this one, combining 'expert' articles with tips and advice from travellers and other bloggers to help the guide grow naturally. Anyone can contribute to the website - I'm hoping that by including a rating system for tips the best suggestions can rise to the top and less helpful ones will be hidden from view.

If it works well I may copy the format over to this site - although the first this I've noticed is that differences in writing style, travelling attitude and grammar between users can be quite big. Take a look at the website and see what you think - and if you have any tips you'd like to contribute please feel free to do so.

Back in Saigon

Been back in Saigon for two weeks now and it feels great.. funnily enough the day before we left the UK it turned artic, with snow settling across London and bitter winds before turning into a chilly but bright and sunny day as we did one last tour round London before hopping on the flight.. a perfect time to leave, we thought!

We've settled into a nice house with friends in Phu Nhuan and have been enjoying exploring the backstreets and all the good food that is on offer around here, as well as catching up with old friends and most importantly some of the students who lived at the project I used to work for - now doing extremely well with their own jobs and places to live, and looking extremely happy and confident!

I'm on the lookout for another full time job in an NGO, but in the meantime am doing some freelance web development and internet marketing projects for various people to keep the funds coming in and enjoying having some free time for once! If you are looking for help with your website then do get in touch.

LoretoFest - Saigon's outdoor music festival

Living in Saigon I always thought it really needed a music festival - what with beautiful weather, cheap beer and some great local and expat bands it seemed perfect. While I've been away someone's taken up the challenge, and LoretoFest was born at RMIT campus last year. It's set to return again on November 29th this year, and I'm really looking forwards to it!

The festival is run to raise money for the Loreto Vietnam-Australia charity, which raises money for educational projects for over 3,000 disadvantaged and disabled youth in the city and in rural areas. Tickets cost $25 and all proceeds will help support these projects.

Playing at the one day event will be many bands including Regurgitator, Mojo Webb, Ho Ngoc Ha, Pham Anh Khoam, Curtis King Band, Phuong Vy and Bad Neighbour, to name just a few. The event will run from 2pm till Midnight on 29/11/08 at the RMIt campus in District 7. Tickets are limited and will cost more on the door so its worth getting them in advance - they can be purchased from many locations listed on the Loretofest website

Budget Airlines between Vietnam + South East Asia

In the last couple of years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of no-frills budget airlines serving Vietnam, offering travellers an alternative to the heavily potholed roads of Cambodia and Laos on the way in and out of Vietnam. While they can be handy for those short on time, we really would advocate travelling overland where possible - both from an environmental perspective and because when you travel over land you get to meet more people and learn more about the countries you are passing through.

- Based in Malaysia, Air Asia provide flights connecting Kuala Lumpur (KL) and Bangkok to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), with fares starting as low as $16 one way before taxes. Most of their connecting flights depart from KL, where it is possible to fly on to Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, the Phillipines, Singapore and Thailand, as well as many destinations within Malaysia

- Offers flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok, and was awarded Best Regional Airline by SkyTrax in 2008. From Bangkok you have a choice of several destinations within Thailand, or flights on to Burma/Myanmar, Male in the Maldives, Guilin and Xi'an in China, Macau, Luang Prabang and Vientiane in Laos and Hiroshima in Japan

- Has suspended flights between Bangkok and Hanoi, and currently only offers domestic flights within Thailand.

- Jetstar, which has been flying cheap routes from Australia, Singapore, Bangkok and New Zealand to Vietnam for a while has recently formed a partnership with domestic carrier Pacific Airlines, offering budget flights around Vietnam at a discount to Vietnam Airlines' rates. In addition to these domestic and international routes from Vietnam, connections from Singapore include routes to Jakarta + Denpasar Bali in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Manila in the Phillipines and Taipei in Taiwan as well as Siem Reap and Phnom Penh in Cambodia. From Australia it is also possible to reach Japan and Hawaii with Jetstar, but it would be a fairly inefficient route!

- Tiger Airlines offer routes from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Singapore, where the airline is based. From Singapore it is possible to fly on to Haikou, Shenzen and Guangzhou in Chinam Bangalore and Chennai in south India, Phuket and Bangkok in Thailand, Manilla in the Phillipines, Macau, Padang in Indonesia and a good number of destinations in Australia. In 2009 they plan to expand into South Korea with connections on to Mongolia, Russia, China and Japan.

- Viva Macau offer cheap flights directly between Ho Chi Minh City and Macau, where you can take flights on to Tokyo, Okinawa, Sydney and Jakarta.

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