It has been a little difficult to come up with subject matter lately for my blog as I have run into a bit of a snag. You see, I give travel advice on a popular forum and also write this blog that gives travel advice. They are sort of at conflict in a way as the travel forum would of course like to have as high a readership as possible and generate revenue in various ways. The information given to travelers from that site is valid but almost exclusively given from the viewpoint of fellow travelers that often can help with popular things to see and do. When it comes to legal, social, and other issues, a traveler can often be mistaken on facts (especially perception of corruption, tourism and driving rules etc.)
and that is where I can often help as I live and work in Vietnam tourism. Now this is where the snag is. I try very hard not to openly tell people of my business interests and try to give advice that is helpful. I often include link to my blog that will give clear answers to traveler’s questions and save a person a lot of time searching for answers. I am encouraged to continue from the many compliments and even people who drop by in person to thank me for the input. Some of them have become friends. The problem is talking about life in Vietnam….. Mine in particular, is what my 3 year old reader base expects. Well lately, my business is my life and vice versa. I was told by the travel forum monitors that links to my commercial interests within my blog were having my useful posts deleted, so I removed all links. I then had an “Expert” member
comment that my banner links (that were simply related to help people search for hotels and such and never made me money) looked like money making buttons (same as the forums site I might add), so I removed them also. I sometimes become very weary when useful posts get deleted by some paranoid person thinking my contribution is all a big scheme to lure people spend their money with my interests. Poppycock!! I am simply giving them the information they are looking for and often using the information contained on my blog to help them. The fact that I might and sometimes do get spin off business from my advice as other do (some of them in the form of prompted spam) means nothing in the big picture…… WHO CARES? If my or another’s advice end up guiding a person to have the vacation they are looking for, or
puts them on our doorstep, they will probably have the vacation of a lifetime as it was they who sought us out. I tried to use the same forum to get answers from actual travelers to why they liked some locations over others. I am not really qualified to answer that question because I have seen many changes and guide to those locations. The fact that I live here makes my perspective on tourist destinations a bit prejudiced. It started out well but was interrupted by one who thought I was going to use it as marketing material. I was so disappointed but do intend to use some of the comments in another itinerary building post. Well……. I guess for now, I will continue to talk about life and travel in Vietnam regardless of whether it fuels my interests in Vietnam or not as it is what the content of the blog was always about.
A new Toy: I have watched and waited for over a year for the perfect motorcycle. I really enjoy traveling in the high country and many of you know that I legally drive here. I have the Harley that I use for work (poor Bossy is in for maintenance having 42000 km on her already). Well now for play let me introduce you to The Red Devil. It is not 100% what I was looking for but very close. I purchased him/her (have not decided yet) a couple of months back and have been on a few trips to Saigon and even carried my nephew on a highland trip. Now my next step is to find time to take my loving wife for trips.
A new Home: As many of you know, the Tide Hotel will be sadly coming to an end as of Jan 20th 2013. This has sort of forced our hand. We have a large house close by that has sat empty since we have moved here. Because of family squabbles and unfinished legal issues, we have not allowed anybody to live in it including ourselves, however, the building has become in need of some very serious repairs or risks becoming a property to be torn down. An area of the back yard collapsed into the septic system making it dangerous and unhealthy and water seepage cracks were everywhere. The interior wails have a lot of
mold growth and the rear kitchen and small apartment that were built with no foundation were starting to shows signs of collapse. We had no choice but to take some of our retirement money and repair, therefore, we decided that renovations would be done as the costs would be similar. The renewed house will be our next phase in life and we are calling it the RipTide (a pun on R.I.P. Tide Hotel suggested by a travel forum contributor) Mai’s mood has improved as she sees a day soon when we end living out of boxes and are back in our own home. We also plan to perhaps stay in the accommodation and Vietnam adventure business, but in a much more exclusive way. We are hoping to slow down, but others that know me think we will become even busier…… we will see.
Riders everywhere: The motorcycle tours that I have designed have taken off more than I could have
imagined. It is all from word of mouth and keeps me busy at least half of the month. In the past, there have been some that think it is not possible for a foreigner to understand Vietnam and give a good off the beaten track adventure by motorcycle, but they could not be more wrong. I now have a team of handpicked riders working for me and have a lineup of many many more who would like to join my team. The reason is that we have spent a lot of time and designed routes that differ from an “easyrider” tour. I apply the
understanding of what the foreigners want to see and do, and fill in history, culture, and other topics the riders do not understand or take for granted, and I delegate authority to the most knowledgeable Viet riders to present the customer in areas where they are most expert. This eliminates a lot of the made up tales many riders tell. My almost all inclusive system eliminates the riders trying to profiteer and make extra money from kick backs and commissions as many do. I do not yet have a website and may not for some time as I only have 2 solid reliable riders I can count on to follow the set tour structure and not slip into their old ways. Most of the others I work with follow our lead although there is a couple I am working with to be tour leaders hopefully bringing it to 4. Vietnamese think very different from us and many assume they know what the foreigner wants when in fact, they often do not and are way off the mark. Well….. That is what is going on with us. I have to say that life is not boring here.
Our 3 year mission is coming to an end and Mai and I plan to visit Canada for a holiday. Mai misses Canada, but frankly, beyond missing my family, there seems nothing there that draws me.