Archive | March 2012

The ‘Long Holiday’ Has Ended – Time To Go Home

People's Assembly Building, with Uncle Ho's statue in front

Well, it was never meant to last. We even tried to hold back – unsuccessfully – from buying anything of significant size or weight, because we knew, some day, we will go home. Well, now that time has come.

Bitexco Financial Tower, with Duxton Hotel in the foreground

Sky Garden, Phu My Hung

After 17 months in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, we have decided to go back home to Jakarta, Indonesia.

at a HCMC traffic light

I’m still at a loss to describe the multitude of roller coaster experiences that we have experienced here, but I dare say it’s an experience that I will never get anywhere else. We lived in a city where the only direction that traffic won’t come at you is from the sky, and where the food is absolutely fabulous. We got to experience being an expat in an exotic city, and enjoyed the virtues of a city not as crowded as Jakarta. On the work side, it was a constant plunge into the movie and TV industries – industries I may have not been able to learn if I were in Indonesia – and then some. Obviously, I learnt a lot. The good and bad of my experience in Vietnam has helped me obtain new possible perspectives to looking at problems, and at life itself. That, by itself, is already a blessing.

Grilled Catfish, specialty of Cha Ca La Vong restaurant

I must admit, one of the main reasons we came, was that we had to get away. Clear our heads, and get a completely new life experience. But now, as fate would have it, it’s time to return home. And I’m coming home, with a fresh head, to tackle fresh challenges. But let’s talk about that later…

Sunset at Mui Ne Red Dunes

Ho Chi Minh City, as a reflection of modern Vietnam, has its quirks – there’s never a day that goes by without seeing or experiencing something absurd – but you can feel the energy to the city. The city’s energy is definitely positive, optimistic and carefree [to a fault], compared to Jakarta’s negative, survival-of-the-fittest energy.

Floating Market at Can Tho

So. Vietnam. I’ve found a second home there. I’ll see you again soon 🙂

Using BlackBerry Service In Vietnam

As an Indonesian in Vietnam, I often meet fellow Indonesians on holiday here, and one of the most frequent questions they have is: how do I use my Blackberry in Vietnam?

Well, there are basically 3 options, that would apply to most BlackBerry users:

  • International Roaming
Provided you have international roaming activated on your number, as far as I know the BlackBerry service will work. But be prepared for an enormous bill.
  • Use the service over WiFi
Free WiFi is pretty much available anywhere around HCMC (and I hear, in many other cities) – cafes, restaurants and hotels usually provide it free and most of the time, all you just need to ask for a password. The video below will show you how (video by Crackberry).
  • Use a local operator

There are now officially two local operators in Vietnam that run the BlackBerry service. Viettel has actually had the service for a few years, but only for BlackBerry Enterprise Server users, and they only launched Blackberry Internet Server available for prepaid cards in August 2011. Mobifone just launched their Blackberry services in December 2011. Now for most users, the BIS plan for prepaid cards would be the most reasonable choice.

How to activate BlackBerry Internet Service on Viettel

For full BIS service, just send BB MAIL TUAN (weekly charging, 30,000 VND/week) or BB MAIL THANG (monthly charging, 100,000 VND/month) to 1602. If you want to see what other service options they have, you can look at Viettel’s Blackberry page here, and going to the “Dich Vu” section. Unfortunately the site doesn’t have an English service, but you should be able to figure it out.

How to activate BlackBerry Internet Service on Mobifone

For full BIS service, send DK BAS (monthly charging, 99,000 VND/month) or DK BASP (monthly charging, 130,000 VND, comes with 300 MB bonus data) to 999. If you want to see what other service options they have, you can look here. Luckily they have an English section.

Personally I’ve only been using the Viettel service, and it should be cheaper as they have a weekly charging option, ideal for those who only stay for a few days but simply can’t resist getting their Crackberry fix. As a comparison, standard mobile internet packages are much cheaper compared to their BlackBerry counterparts – I used to use a standard phone with a mobile internet package that gave me 350 MB/month bonus for 50,000 VND; and if you can resist the urge to immediately share pictures to Twitter or Facebook, using the WiFi option is usually adequate.