Information hacks for people who like to read

Let me share one of my ”information consumption” hacks. I often come across books at a library or while reading an article. I am intrigued by the book, but I may not have the time to buy/borrow and read the book right then. I search for the name of the author or book on the iPhone Podcast App. There is a good chance that I will find an interview featuring the author. I can listen to the audio later on and get a gist of the authors' idea. The audio also helps me decide if I want to read the book. If you are on Android, you can use the excellent listennotes.com site to search for audio clips related to a particular keyword. This hack has helped me make my commutes and queuing up fun.

A Central Asian cafe in Nha Trang

I found a Central Asian cafe in a small lane in Nha Trang. I got Okroshka - a cold soup with kefir (a fermented milk drink) or kvas (a beer like, but non-alcoholic drink prepared by fermenting rye bread), cucumber, spring onion and bits of meat. There was a man from Tajikistan, we could exchange a few words in Farsi - Tajik and Urdu have several common words. This lane has backpacker places, and the guests seemed to be independent travellers from China. The flavours and sounds - a mix of China, Russia and Central Asia reminds me of the silk route.

Finding Russia in Vietnam

Many in Asia follow Western or Japanese or Korean popular culture but some of us cold warriors, we miss Russia - remember all those inexpensive and colorful science books, Tarkovsky movies and upbeat Tsoi music videos. Fortunately for us, these days Russia can be found easily in South East Asia - all you have to do is to go to certain beach areas. 

Notes and translation for the photos below

  1. Russian travel agent welcoming newly arrived tourists
  2. And if you miss the Vietnamese fare, there are always small alleys you can walk into.
  3. This place is popular with the Chinese too, with several direct flights from smaller cities in China.
  4. Most street signs in the couple of streets along the beach are in Russian and Chinese - here is a pharmacy, next doors is a Russian restaurant. This city also has food from Armenia, Georgia, Uzbekistan and other former Soviet republics.
  5. Heavies - perhaps former inter-agency colleagues
  6. Celebrating Russia-Vietnam friendship. And of course, wi-fi everywhere.
  7. “Russian spoken here” at a travel agents
  8. This shop can copy any bikini design in one day.

When I grow up

As an educator, I find traveling in Vietnam inspirational. I often meet young people who are interested in sharing their knowledge and learning from each other. When I was in Nha Trang, local students invited me to join their learning meet. I was impressed by the organisation ability of Tra and her friends, and also the interesting topics they discussed. When I grow up, I wish I could be as smart as them.

Some factors that help people to get together

Facebook - It is easy to crate an event on Facebook, get you friends to join and let the broader know about the event.

Load and loads of cafes - there are huge number of inexpensive cafes dotting the city, and these cafes don’t care how long you stay as long as you buy some drinks. 

All is not so quit on new year's day

Just as I hum U2's "All is quiet on the new year's day", I find the small alleys busy as usual. Mobile shops are busy sideloading apps and videos for the last few who do not have mobile data. Streetside gambling is probably the only thing as addictive as the phone.