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Ha Noi, Sa Pa and Halong Bay, Vietnam, June 2016

March 1st, 2017

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As usual it takes me more than half a year to post holiday photos and write a few lines about it. This time it’s June 2016’s holiday to Vietnam [wikipedia.org]. A packaged tour to Hanoi, Sapa and Halong Bay.

We flew into Hanoi [wikipedia.org]. Our first stop was the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum [wikipedia.org] followed by a visit to the Presidential Palace Historical Site [wikipedia.org] built by the French as the seat for the Governor-General of Indochina and where Ho Chi Minh [wikipedia.org] later lived as President, though not in the European style palace rather in a more modest and traditional stilt house.

Later we visited the Temple of Literature [wikipedia.org]. Dedicated to “Confucius, sages and scholars” and home to the first university in Vietnam, founded in 1076 (take that Oxford and Bologna). The most interesting thing is the Stelae of the Doctors which are 82 large stone statues of Turtles with a large — meter and a half or so? — tablet standing on their backs and inscribed with the names of the graduates and staff of the university.

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After the Temple we took a rest and had dinner before boarding an overnight train to Sa Pa. An adventure for my daughters who could not sleep. We left late and arrived in Lào Cai [wikipedia.org] before 6AM.

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From Lao Cai we took a bus up into the hills to Sa Pa [wikipedia.org].

We didn’t do much in Sapa town itself, just eating and sleeping (and a bit of pool time). We spent our two days treking around two local villages – Lao Chải a Black Hmong [wikipedia.org] village and Tả Phìn a Red Dao [wikipedia.org] (the ‘D’, written as ‘Đ’ in Vietnamese, is pronounced like a ‘Z’). The villages are beautiful, bright green rice paddies in the valleys between mountains but you do spend the whole hike being followed by eager locals hawking things. That gets real old after a few kilometers. I know they are just trying to make a living but if you do buy something from one then you become a target for the rest.

We spent most of a day driving back from Sa Pa to Hanoi and spent the evening in the Lotte Hotel. Shopping, swimming and watching the traffic 30-plus storeys below. The next day we spent the morning driving from Hanoi to the coast to visit Ha Long Bay [wikipedia.org]. We spent the early afternoon sailing among the limestone karst formations that make up the bay and visited a floating village to get a more up-close view via a traditional row boat trip around some of the islands.

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After a night on the boat — another first for the kids, along with the train — we visited Sung Sot cave and Monkey Island beach. And then a long ride back to Hanoi.

The last evening in Hanoi we went to see a traditional water puppet show which was interesting. Very annoying the number of ass holes recording the whole show on their phones or taking photos and forgetting to turn off the damn flash despite being asked in, like, seven languages to no take videos or photos. So unless you are in the front row you get to enjoy the show with 5 or 10 small screens in your view. Ass holes.

The full set of photos is on Filckr: Hanoi [flickr.com], Sapa [flickr.com] and Halong Bay [flickr.com].

Viral Post

February 23rd, 2017

I was recently discussing with a development line manager on one of my projects an aspect of the solution I was proposing. The line manager seemed to think this was an incredibly hard development job. I think it was simple for any mid level developer.

I got to  thinking about the code problem and later that night I posted an update to LinkedIn:

Anyone in Singapore want to hire an underpaid Solutions Architect to be an overpaid Software Engineer again? I miss writing code.

I know I can’t make a decent living writing code in Singapore, but it is all I ever really wanted to do. So…

Anyway. This post is by far the most viewed and commented thing I have ever posted to linked in. And I suspect it is more cowered than anything here or on Facebook (maybe some stack overflow questions/answers have more):


So, Capgemini, Optus and Ericcson – got any development jobs in Singapore?

Like it or not; he is your president

February 21st, 2017

I don’t agree with the theme of the anti-Trump protests held on Presidents Day. All the “not my president” slogans are wrong. Like it or not Trump is The President. With a capital “T” and “P”. You can disagree with every policy, with every word, with every mannerism and he’s still The President — your president. “Not my president” is how the republicans objected to Obama. It’s how the pro-Trump masses were groomed. Don’t go down that road. Respect the office. Fight the man but don’t institutionalize the idea that he does not, and cannot, sever The People — including those that didn’t vote for him. We must get back to a functioning government and that means politicians who can reach across and govern for all The People. Hold the president accountable but recognize that he is The President, like it or not.

Death by Vice

February 15th, 2017

The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation.

Thomas Malthus [wikipedia.org] in An Essay on the Principle of Population

RIP Hans Rosling

February 10th, 2017

It’s sad to hear about Hans Roslings death. Hans Rosling was my introduction to Big Data before the term existed via his early TED talks [ted.com].


Only 68. He didn’t make it to 100 to see if his predictions came true.