Here in Saigon, television is going out of fashion; a trend that looks like it could be spreading to the West. 87 % of the younger population in Vietnam (18 to 25), no longer watch TV at all. Instead, they view the Internet: YouTube has become at least an Asian, if not, global TV channel. You can watch more or less what you want, when you want – with advertisers who market youth brands here in Vietnam, now spending 70% of their budget on online entertainment, and moving away from TV.
Movies over 2 years old – both from the US or Asia (‘Phims’ here in Vietnam) can be watched freely online here, and it now seems incredibly old fashioned for a teenager to watch TV – with a predetermined set of nightly programmes over-which they have no choice. Gone are the days where ‘there’s nothing on’ instead, everything is on – with a plethora of bewildering choices.
Yet internet channels, such as YouTube, do not (currently) make television programmes, they merely broadcast them. Programme making is an expensive art, so how the relationship between TV programme making and internet broadcasting develops will be a delicate one.
Western programmes see a delay in their ‘legal’ internet broadcasting to recoup their investment – not dissimilar with the pharmaceutical industry in the development of branded medicines before generic versions can be rolled out. Let’s wait and see. But for now, in Asia at least, young person’s TV is over. What do you think? Do you watch more ‘online’ programmes these days? Beyond the ‘Daily Motion’ or ‘YouTube’ do you watch any interesting Internet Channels? Let us know. (By the way, if you like BBC Historian Michael Wood there are some great series on YouTube readily available)
Nepal is a fascinating country, here is our list of the ten best places to visit.
- Kathmandu Durbar square – the classic end of the Hippy trail and a good start for your holiday
- Bhaktapur – as if stepping back in time, this classic city is a must visit
- Chitwan – the reserve is beautiful and gives you a different perspective on Nepal
- Pokhara – set along the beautiful lake and in full view of the Himalaya
- Flight over Everest by light aircraft for stunning views
These are some of the highlights on any holiday to Nepal.
For those joining us on our tour of Nepal this year, you may wish to watch the ‘Unmistaken Child’ featured here on ‘You-tube.’ The story follows the death of a venerated monk – a lama or High Priest in Nepal – who would be reborn again at some remote corner of Tibet. The ‘reincarnated’ child was found.
At age 4, he was a guest of Angel Holidays, where one of our groups met him for dinner, albeit the boy sitting on a make-shift gold embroidered throne, that our staff had made hastily up.
Reincarnation plays a big part in both Hindu and Buddhist religions, and at this young age, the boy could speak fluently four languages – something that his ‘soul predecessor’ could also do. He engaged in an instant humourous rapour with our leader – Steve Carver, they are friends to this day – where the boy, now 11, lives (and is worshipped’) in Brisbane.
Here is a snippet, of the search for him as a baby. The Da Lai Lama, was also involved in his discovery. The film starts in Nepal at Boudhanath – the Buddha Place- where we take our visitors to visit. We hope this gives you a fitting foretaste of the culture of Nepal, and what lies ahead.
Each October, Nepal celebrates Deshain, a festival which brings families together in a 10 day celebration. In a predominately Hindu and Buddhist nation – and like Christmas – central to the festival is feasting; a family dinner.
To my knowledge there is not one turkey in Nepal, instead millions of goats are sacrificed. Each goat’s soul when passed is believed to go on a celestial journey across the universe to be reborn as a human, anywhere in the world. It is therefore seen as a gift. This journey, like that of humans, can take anything from 2 weeks to several years.
Only male animals can be sacrificed in Nepal, females are seen as mothers of the earth. Nepal is also a sizable Buddhist nation with many different Buddhist traditions, not all following Tibetan Buddhism, and not all are vegetarians.
One Buddhist sect of monks worships alcohol – particularly in the festival. Becoming intoxicated is seen as an act of religious healing. A temple in central Kathmandu is also devoted to alcohol, with pilgrims pouring beer, whisky and wine over the heads of deities.
Nepal; landlocked from the rest of the world until the late 1950s, retains many of these Hindu traditions, long gone in previously colonised Hindu nations such as India. Those coming on our last tour of Nepal this year, will visit at the time of the festival.
Travel can sometimes be inspirational and bring light to others – it’s not just about tourist sights.
Take our Angel Holidays ‘Exotic Marigold’ experience where they’ll be given access to help street children or kids suffering from HIV for example. They can teach these toddlers, take them for a walk in the park, make lunch for them, and generally bring a little British sunshine into their lives. Whilst 2019 is full, if you might like to come next year, let us know.
Whilst it’s difficult to assume anything, overseas travellers might consider taking $US on their holidays to exchange rather than the £UK. When Brexit was announced around two years ago, in Asian countries it was difficult to exchange the British pound, as each day the currency was losing value.
An exchange office for example, might lose money by giving you an exchange rate one day, that drops significantly the next. Many bureaus would not take pounds. Whilst it’s impossible to know what will happen to exchange rates or the stability of the Pound around Brexit, those travellers wishing to minimise their risk might consider the dollar.
The 5th February represents New Year in many Asian countries including Vietnam – where we travel in April. It’s an ancient ritual following the Lunar calendar which has twenty nine and a half days per month – the Luna year around 354 days, thus losing 11 days each year compared to the Gregorian calendar. Many religious festivals still follow the ancient Lunar or solar calendar system – this s why Easter for example, falls on different times each year.
Nepal, another country we will be visiting this October, also uses the Lunar Cycle, but unusually they have several different new years including Buddhist, Solar and Western – the Nepalese like their festivals!
New Year in Vietnam is called Tet, it will take place this Tuesday; it’s the biggest event in the Vietnam. (By the way the Vietnamese language only has one syllable per word – hence the more accurate description Viet (veet) Nam).
Lunar New Year is also celebrated in China (simply known as Chinese New Year) and the many China towns in Western cities will be celebrating. But for now back to Viet Nam; where celebrations will shortly begin. Businesses will close, families will get together, and quite a lot of beer will be drunk, under a full moon. Happy New Year!
For those coming with us to India, our 16 page guide on the trip is now available. Like all Angel tours, we provide a comprehensive guide on each location enabling you to get the most out of the holiday. Our India tour is quite special in that, its the last time we’ll visit the Pushkar camel fair, the largest on earth – and quite an experience.
Camels still play an important role of life in Rajasthan, it’s forbidden to kill them and many are decorated in bright colours for the festival. Trading takes place too, where a camel (that can live a good working age up to 20 years) costs between $2,000 – $5,000.
For those lucky ones signed up on our tour to Nepal next week, they’re probably already packing, then repacking – and in a pleasant state of flux about ‘what to bring.’
It won’t be too long now, and they’ll be wandering around in the sunshine through the busy streets of Kathmandu; the end of the ‘hippy trail.’ Next it’s Bhaktapur – an experience as if stepping back in time (the city was used as the setting for the movie ‘Little Buddha’). After we’ll drive south to the Indian border (just 15 miles away) where we’ll ride elephants into the bush, sail down a jungle river, as well as perhaps, enjoy cocktails one or two evenings as the sun sets over the water.
Next it’s Lumbini, cycling (or taking a rickshaw) around home of the Buddha, before driving through the mountains to Pokhara below the Himalaya. Did we mention many will fly by light aircraft over the Himalayas too?
If you want to come on this magical trip in 2019, let us know.
Ho c Chi Minh City is still referred to, by many in its more romantic notion – Saigon. The city was renamed in honour of the communist leader Ho Chi Minh in 1976 – ‘Uncle Ho’ as he was affectionately known, would never had seen this honour, he’d died 6 years earlier.
Uncle Ho was an intelligent man, who divides opinion in Vietnam today, particularly whether patrons are from the North or South. He spoke several languages, including Chinese, English, Russian and French, and was one of the co-founders of the French communist party in 1920.
He vehemently believed in an independent Vietnam, something he never enjoyed in his lifetime; the Americans left – hastily in panic and confusion – in 1975. His body is interred in Hanoi, lying serenely in a displayed glass case; as if in some gentle dream. He’s taken to Russia every two years for continued preservation treatment.
Angel Holidays travellers will be taken to see the body in a solemn military procession – as a fitting prelude to our trip. [This text is taken from the forthcoming Angel Holidays guide to Vietnam].