BLOG: THE ZEN OF ZOOM

Traditional Cambodian Clothing

Traditional cambodian garments are like many other aspects of Cambodian culture: rich and vibrant. Cambodian clothing is tends to be very bright and beautifully embroidered. The styles have lasted throughout time since the Khmer Empire, and can be seen in present day Cambodia. The sampot  is the most common article of clothing. An array of colors are used for this clothing. It is wrapped around the body in the fashion of a skirt. For more formal occasions women tend to wear a sampot chang kben, which is similarly wrapped as a sampot, but in the fashion of pants. The brightly colored cloth is typically embroidered with beautiful gold metallic thread. There are many types of sampots, all of which have unique difference and patterns..

 

The Krama

This famous Cambodian Scarf is very unique to this region of the world. The unisex checkered & brightly colored scarf can be seen all over the country. It’s number of uses are vast. It can be used as a scarf, a handkerchief, to carry things (even children!), to protect oneself from harsh sun, or wear under one’s hat, and man other possible purposes. This scarf has actually been captured by the fashion world, and the influence of the traditional Cambodian scarf can now be seen in stores around the world.

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“Wait…Am I Supposed to Tip in Vietnam?”

Currency of Vietnam

Vietnamese money may get confusing with all of the 0's. Just think of VND 20,000 = about $1.00 USD for quick conversions

We often get asked about tipping in Vietnam. Tipping is one of those things that varies from country to country, and often travelers can get confused on the subject of tipping. So we are here to help clear that up. Frequently, people receive completely different answers to this question.

Here are the most common occurrences when someone may ask themselves, “Should I leave a tip?” and how to properly respond.

 

Taxis:

In some countries, like the United States, it is considered rude to not leave a tip for a taxi driver. In Vietnam, it isn’t required and a driver will not be insulted if you do not tip. However, if your taxi fare is, for example, VND 90,000 then it is normal to give VND 100,000 and tell them to keep the change.

 

Restaurants:

Vietnam is pretty famous for its delicious street food. Some of the best food can be found at street food stops. It is not typical to tip at these street food stops, unless you are really impressed by the food or service. If you are very impressed, VND 20,000 is a good tip!

Fancier restaurants get more confusing. Nicer restaurants almost always include a service charge of around 10%. Although you may think this goes directly to your server, it doesn’t always reach their pockets. The management may divide this up and the servers end up getting a smaller cut than you expect. If you receive outstanding service it is typical to leave an extra tip of VND 100,000/person. (When dealing with higher priced services in general, if you are really impressed then use the easy rule of thumb to leave a tip of VND 100,000/person. So when in doubt, just refer back to this as a pricing point.)

 

Spas:

Ahh… the spa. Spas are considerably cheaper in Vietnam than countries like Australia, Canada, the United States, or in Europe. So it’s understandable that when people go to the spa they become unsure of proper tipping etiquette. For cheaper spas, a few dollars is appropriate. Similarly to restaurants, the nicer spas will include a service charge of 5-10%. Again, like most situations in Vietnam, if you truly had an outstanding experience it is appropriate to add a little extra tip!

 

Tour Guides: (We are a tour company… so can’t dodge this part!)

For day tours, use the rule of thumb! VND 100,000 is typical if you are pleased with your tour. If you have a great tour guide and driver then let them know! Usually when giving the tip, just give the amount to the tour guide and they will divide it out amongst the driver(s) and themselves.

As many people know, Vietnam is a developing economy. This means that many people do not receive high wages. When they receive tips, it is greatly appreciated. However, tips should always reflect their level of service!

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Smash ‘N’ Grab – Rice Crackers In Hoi An

The humble rice cracker graces many a low plastic table in Vietnam, and is quite the accompaniment to many dishes across the country for the cuisine embraces textures, of which ‘crunchy’ plays a big part. The Vietnamese equivalent of the famous Indian poppadum is an incredibly popular snack across the country, and each region has it’s own version and Hoi An is no exception.

We pay a visit Mrs Linh and her family on our Countryside & Islands Experience’ tour, where we can all have a go at making the perfect rice cracker – it’s trickier than it looks, and is incredibly hot work in steam room-like temperatures!

Most producers will be local families that grow their own rice on land allocated to them by the local commune which yields two harvests per year, usually one in April/May and one in September – weather dependent. After the back breaking graft of growing, cultivating and then the harvesting the rice, they have their own supply.

The process involves taking the grains of rice, mixing with water and grinding into a batter-like paste. Until recently, this was done on a traditional stone rice grinder, however Mrs Linh now has the relative luxury of an electric grinder. To this, Mrs Linh will now add sesame seeds to her recipe, to make the ‘banh trang me

The paste is now ready to be transformed! The rice husks (nothing here goes to waste) are used to fire a clay stove, in which a pot of water is placed, brought to the boil. A piece of muslin is stretched over the pot, and the rice paste is ladled on to the material, spread out evenly into the traditional circular shape, covered and steamed for about 30 seconds. After which, the freshly steamed jelly like circle is laid onto netting (stretched over a bamboo frame) and will be dried in the hot sunshine for about 3 hours.

So to the final process, the dried rice crackers are then char grilled on either side, where they slowly form the crispy texture we are all familiar with.

Luckily, Mrs Linh has the finished article on hand to sample, which is crafted into Banh Dap. This literally means ‘smashed cake’. Two crispy rice crackers sandwich a large flat and wet (fresh) rice noodle, and they are literally ‘smashed’ into smaller bite size pieces.  Dipped into a fish sauce with garlic and chilli, they are delicious and very more-ish.

To book our ‘Countryside & Islands Experience’ tour with us at Vietnam Vespa Adventures: 

Online at http://vietnamvespaadventures.com/category/our-tours/

Email us: info@vietnamvespaadventures.com or lets@ridevespas.com

Call us: 01222 993 585 or 0938 500 997

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How Vespa Became Legendary

Today, you can see Vespas anywhere in Vietnam on the street. But you might ask yourself, how did Vespa come to be the famous icon that it is today?

It all began in 1884, when the Piaggio company in Italy started out producing timber, seaplanes, and airplanes. Due to its success, it became one of the largest airplane companies in the world! Unfortunately, that happened to not be the best thing in Italy when World War II started in 1939. The fact that Piaggio became so successful with its airplanes led to it being a target for enemies and to the destruction of its airplane factory.

After the war, in 1946, the company had to ‘switch gears’ and came up with the stylish motorbike that we know today. The Vespa became so popular worldwide, that limitations were put on it.  However, Vespa still topped the market especially with the release of a movie starring Audrey Hepburn on the famous bike in the 1950’s, which sparked the beginning of the ‘Golden Era of Production’ for Vespas (1960’s-1970’s).

The Vespas came to Vietnam with the French, who occupied the country until 1954. When the French left, their Vespas stayed. After the Vietnam War, Vespas became very rare due to economic isolation and borders that were closed to foreign imports. In 1990, when the borders opened back up, many brand new Vespas got into the country. Although many of the old Vespas from the ‘Golden Era’ were salvaged, some of them have survived until today.

We have tracked down some of these Golden Era Vespas, restored them, and hope to give you the feeling of the #RideOfYourLife on them!

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Hoi An Full Moon Festival Dates

Every month in Hoi An, on the 14th day of the lunar calendar, Hoi An celebrates the full moon with locals placing offerings on their ancestral shrines and burning incense.

Tomorrow will take at extra special significance as this is Tet Trung Thu (Mid Autumn Festival) Local kids form groups and perform incredible Lion Dances in elaborate costumes in the streets of Hoi An before and during the festival. These ‘lions’ will also go into shops and homes and start dancing as a blessing of luck and fortune. It is customary for locals to give ‘lucky money’. It is primarily a festival for children who receive toys, fruit and especially moon-shaped cakes as gifts.

Our night tour: the ‘Streets & Eats Of Hoi An‘ runs every night starting at 5:30pm and we zip along the streets and quieter alleyways on our vintage Vespas just outside the old quarter, stopping frequently to try some incredible local dishes in some fantastic eating spots and restaurants.

To book your tour, please go to http://vietnamvespaadventures.com/category/our-tours/

The Hoi An Full Moon Festival dates for the next 3 months are:

7th September 2014

7th October 2014

6th November 2014

5th December 2014

 

 

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Rice Harvest Time In Hoi An

The last rice harvest of the year has just started in Hoi An, and will continue for the next few weeks. If you book either of our two half day tours in Hoi An, the ‘Countryside & Islands Experience‘ or the ‘Rural Village Experience‘ – you will be able to witness the locals in action! Not only can you see the age old manual processes involved in harvesting the rice, this is a fantastic photo opportunity! Swathes of stunning golden brown rice crops as far as the eye can see, and the locals working away in the rice paddie fields, ready to flash a smile for the cameras!

To book your tour, please click here: http://vietnamvespaadventures.com/category/our-tours/

Or contact us:
email: info@vietnamvespaadventures.com or call: 0907 722 681 or come into our new Cafe Zoom in Hoi An at 134, Tran Cao Van St.

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Our Favourite Clams In Hoi An

The seafood in Hoi An is legendary – and we believe we have found the best clams in Vietnam!

To taste them for yourself, while taking in the stunning view out to The East Vietnam Sea, book on our morning tour around Hoi An – the ‘Countryside & Islands Experience’ where we finish off with a delicious seafood lunch at one of Hoi An’s quieter beaches.

To book, please visit: http://vietnamvespaadventures.com/category/our-tours/ or call: =84 (0)907 933 855

 

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Day Tours Around Hoi An

Exhilarating! 

Please click http://youtu.be/0x1W0vX93Lo to see a short video clip of our tour in Hoi An – riding through the dirt tracks around Hoi An.

One of our favourite roads in Hoi An

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New Tours In Hoi An

Our new tours in Hoi An and now up and running! Let us take you out and explore the stunning countryside around Hoi An on one of our two amazing half day tours, or our fabulous night tour, taking in the local street food scene of Hoi An.

To book your tour, please contact us:

email: info@vietnamvespaadventures.com or call: 0907 722 681 or come into our new Cafe Zoom in Hoi An at 134, Tran Cao Van St.

 

Vintage Vespa Hunting in Saigon

 

We were featured on a television show in Australia: Vintage Hunter. In the show Vintage Hunter, flea market junkie Dominic Johnson-Hill takes us on a journey across Asia to find captivating curios and antiques, both valuable and intriguing. It can be like finding a needle in a haystack, but whatever happens, it’s a road trip that Dominic always gets a kick out of. Flea markets are haunts for colorful characters from all walks of life. As the Vintage Hunter, Dominic gets a different peek at history via its collectors and their prized possessions.

 

In this episode of Vintage Hunter, Dominic traveled to Saigon looking specifically for a vintage Vespas, and what better place to find one than here. Vespa scooters have been in Saigon since the 1950’s, and when the country closed its doors to foreign influence, the locals were forced to maintain these bikes. In other countries, as the Vespas became outdated, they were discarded as junk. It can be compared to the number of classic American vehicles that you can see driving around in Cuba today.

 

Dominic had success and he was able to find an authentic Vespa for $1,400 and immediately brought it to Steve at Café Zoom for further inspection.  Steve was able to point out to Dominic what made it authentic and what a bargain he had found with this bike.

 

Dominic loved Café Zoom and its Vespa theme. After hanging out at the Café with Steve and some of his friends, Dominic hopped on his newly-bought Vespa and Steve took him on a tour of Saigon to show him some of the sights.

 

After driving through the city and stopping here and there, Dominic was brought to our showroom to see the motorbikes used here at Vietnam Vespa Adventures. Needless to say he was impressed at the number of vintage bikes and that he had a blast with Steve.

 

Check out the video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrkLyeMC4bM&t=8m50s

 

 

 

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