Archive for November 25th, 2018

What can I say here? Our total bird count was pretty good in Viet Nam: we saw 103 birds, 99 of which were new to us. However, we found the lack of birds amazing. Everywhere we went, whether in the mountains or suburbs, parks or cities, there were fewer birds than we expected; of any kind of bird. We asked a couple of our guides about this and they all said, “Well, the Vietnamese people either catch and eat them or catch and put them in bird cages, so there aren’t that many.”

We found this to be strange but understandable. We pressed on with our bird-watching. Of course, our largest haul was in Cat Tien National Park. We probably saw 80% of our Viet Nam total in Cat Tien and that was over the course of 2 days. Whew.

Striking the professional bird photographer pose.Lost in thought as I gaze in wonder.

We were fortunate to see several really nice birds … I’ll add a few of the better pictures here. Enjoy!

Stumbling Piper

Plain Prinia.A Great Tit.Black-crowned Night Heron.Common Kingfisher (doesn’t look common to me!)White Wagtail … Scarlet Minivet.Orange-breasted Trogon.Red Junglefowl (yes, I know it looks like a chicken, but it’s a wild chicken!)Green Peafowl (like a Peacock).Red-wattled Lapwing.Black and Red Broadbill.Ashy Drongo.Stripe-throated Bulbul.Asian Emerald Cuckoo.Bronzed Drongo.

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After a wonderful time in Cat Tien National Park we headed back to the big city — Saigon! We were up early on the 18th for a quick bird watching (see previous post) and then on the road for around 3.5 hours. The drive was both uneventful and exciting at the same time (as we’ve found driving around Vietnam usually is)!

As it was late in the afternoon we relaxed at the hotel — funny enough, this is where I found my first craft beer in Vietnam … “Heart of Darkness” brewing. Check out my beermentor.me blog for my beer updates.

After a pizza and a couple of beers I was ready for some well-earned nap time!

The next day we changed our itinerary and decided we wanted to track down an old Army Signal location: Phu Lam Signal Base. This was the location of the South Vietnamese Signal headquarters as well as a large communication site for the US 1st Signal Battalion. James’ father was assigned there during the Vietnam War in 1968. Interestingly enough, our guide’s father was also a signal soldier in the South Vietnamese army and was stationed at another location where James’ father worked.

Ironically, as we were driving around checking out the site, this old US military Jeep drove right by us … so cool.

Our guide and driver where excellent — the guide had researched the site and information the night before and then when we arrived he began asking the local people about the site and where different buildings/towers were located. We found one of the original radio towers as well as a couple of original buildings and fences.

The site carries on some of the history — the sign above references what the Vietnamese call the local area “Dai Ra Da Phu Lam” — Radar site Phu Lam.

However, as with most sites like this, 50 years will bring a lot of change to an area. The South Vietnamese Signal Headquarters had been turned into the VIETEL cellular communications site. Another large part of the complex had been turned into a park (to include some amusement rides).

Overall it was a great adventure and we wrapped up our tour in Saigon by driving around the city checking out a few of the different “districts.” The wiring was very similar throughout the city … check out this jumble below … not sure how they keep it all straight!

As we were making our way back to the hotel, James mentioned to our guide that we wanted to go to a local craft beer brewery … there was a particular one James had in mind: “Pasteur Street Brewing Company.” Besides developing vaccines for anthrax and rabies, Pasteur came up with the process of pasteurization to keep microbes from souring alcohol. This seemed like a cool place to visit, so James asked the guide. The guide said yes, he knew of a brewery on Pasteur Street and was mentioning a German beer place. Both James and the guide were talking past each other and we ended up at Gammer’s Brewery. It is indeed a brewery on Pasteur street … but its specialty is German/Czech lagers.

Deb and James shared a good laugh, James enjoyed a beer, and then they walked back toward their hotel and across the street to Pasteur Street Brewing. A cool place that was full of ex-pats and maybe one Vietnamese person (besides the waitstaff).

Interestingly, the craft beer prices in Vietnam are the same as in the US–always a tad too expensive; however, the beer was very good! A great place to visit if you are in the area!

We went back across to the hotel, hit the relax button again, and found ourselves on the rooftop for a swim, dinner and a movie. A movie you ask? Yes, we had a theater in our hotel — one of those kind with about 15 to 20 seats, all recline, etc. We had been looking through “what’s showing” and saw Bohemian Rhapsody on tap. We said “great,” bought some tickets and went to the 2300 showing. Funny thing–it was the sing-a-long version! However, Deb and I didn’t hear anyone singing but us. Haha. Maybe because I usually drown people out.

Oh, the views from the roof top were spectacular … a great way to close out our trip to Saigon.

The next day we were up relatively early and were making our way to the next leg of the journey — but before leaving town, we did have a glimpse at the Notre Dame cathedral.


Stumbling Piper

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