Category Archives: Transportation

Tom Gets Scribd

I’ve just uploaded seven of my greatest hits from my tenure at AsiaLIFE HCMC. (Or at least my mom says they’re my greatest hits.) Check them out at my new Scribd account or click right to the articles below.

Scooter Madness: How American intervention, an underground economy and Cold War politics created the world’s last stockpile of classic Italian scooters. April 2009.

I Want My VNTV: Local audiences remain critical of Vietnamese television, but it’s hard to deny the demand for homegrown content. Industry insiders speak about delivering better programming in Vietnam. June 2010.

Primates on the Rebound: On a small island in Cat Tien National Park, a group of conservationists has big plans to counter the trade in endangered primates through rehabilitation, research and education. April 2010

Work in Progress: Over the past decade, the contemporary art scene in Ho Chi Minh City has quietly flourished. But limited infrastructure, lack of funding, and the enduring challenges of working within the confines of state oversight have presented obstacles to providing services to artists and attracting collectors. An overview of the scene and a look at some of the art being created in the thanh pho. April 2010.

Wildlife in Jeopardy: Vietnam is one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet, but it has also suffered from decades of deforestation and habitat loss and remains a hot spot for wildlife trade. Today, conservationists face an uphill battle to save Vietnam’s beleaguered wildlife. March 2010

The Next New Battleground: Local and international businesses have found an alternative to shrinking export markets in the last place anyone expected: rural Vietnam. November 2009

Solving Saigon’s Congestion Question: The way we drive now and a look at the plans and problems that lie ahead for Ho Chi Minh City. November 2009.

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Filed under Art, Conservation, Culture, History, Ho Chi Minh City, Pop Culture, Television, Transportation, Vietnam

Cutbacks at Qantas

Qantas announced this weekend a series of measures meant to keep out of the red in the face of sky-rocketing global fuel costs. On the chopping block are 22 of its 228 plane strong fleet, as well as Jetstar’s pilot and cabin crew base in Adelaide. The route, however, will remain in service, with flights manned by staff based out of Sydney and Darwin. Some routes will see capacity reductions, but no routes are currently slated to be cut outright.

Despite its most recent fuel woes, Qantas says it will go ahead with plans to replace older crafts with more fuel-efficient A380s and B787s, roll out new customer service initiatives and launch its direct service from Sydney to Buenos Aires in November.

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Filed under Australia, Flights, Transportation

British lend insight to Saigon Subway

The British came to town last week to pinpoint possible areas for cooperation on Saigon’s main railways and the future metro system, the Word HCMC reported in their latest issue. Turns out the Brits are on a public transportation world tour of sorts, stopping by developing nations to lend their rail expertise. Add the British to the growing list of international partners helping to develop the Saigon subway.

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Filed under Ho Chi Minh City, Transportation, Vietnam

Jetstar: Hue Routes Axed, Highlands and Dalat Delayed

Jetstar Pacific recently confirmed my suspicions: the delay on the Hanoi – Hue route missed its simultaneous launch with the Nha Trang and Danang routes due to rising global fuel costs. Now, the Ho Chi Minh City – Hue service has been axed, as well. Add to the list of bad news that the HCMC – Buon Ma Thout (Central Highlands) and HCMC – Dalat routes will miss their scheduled first flights originally slated for August.

In related news, Airbus announced that increased production on its A380 line will be delayed, which will likely complicate Jetstar’s plans to get wheels up on thirty A380s in Vietnam by the projected 2014 deadline.

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Filed under Flights, Ho Chi Minh City, Transportation, Vietnam

Jetstar: Turbulence en route to Vietnam expansion?

Oz Traveller recently posted on Qantas Group’s reduced and cut Australia routes, as well as on the grounding of one of its recently acquired Airbus A320s. The first A320 is due to arrive in Vietnam in August and is slated to support additional service between Ho Chi Minh City – Dalat and Ho Chi Minh City – Buon Ma Thuot (Central Highlands). No word yet on whether Jetstar’s Airbus woes will affect the HCMC increase, but Jetstar is behind schedule on the new Hanoi – Hue direct route.

Qantas cited high global gas prices for the reductions on low-demand routes. The price of gas products in Vietnam will remain fixed until June 30 in order to combat inflation, but hoarding in the lead up to the cap’s expiration is already becoming a problem. Here’s hoping that fleet of fuel-efficient A320s makes it here before the shaky economy goes haywire.

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Filed under Flights, Ho Chi Minh City, Transportation, Vietnam

Three New Vietnam Routes on Jetstar Pacific

Jetstar Pacific is scheduled to expand its domestic route map today to include three new direct routes connecting Hanoi to Danang, Hue and Nha Trang. However, as of this morning, jetstar.com‘s booking engine yields no results for the Hanoi-Hue route. Meanwhile, wheels are up on the Danang and Nha Trang flights. A JetSaver Light (carry-on only) ticket starts at $35, while a full-priced boarding pass costs about $47. JetSaver Light tickets to Cam Ranh Airport, 28 miles (45 km) from Nha Trang, average $52 for weekday travel and $72 on the weekends. Regular fares hover at $82.

Jetstar Pacific is poised to corner the market on cheap flights in Vietnam. The partnership between Quantas Group’s Jetstar and Pacific Airlines, which launched Jetstar Pacific on May 23, has introduced the nation’s first budget airline.

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Filed under Flights, Transportation, Vietnam

International Aid Fuels Saigon Subway

There’s been lots of nay-saying floating around since ground broke on the long-anticipated Ho Chi Minh City metro system this past February. But cynics can’t deny the initial foreign investment is there. Three lines have international support, and two Japanese companies and one French firm are vying for rights to outfit the system with the latest railway technology.

The Japan Bank for International Co-operation will pump $905 million into the already-started first line in the six-line system, which will run from Ben Thanh Market to Suoi Tien Park in Thu Duc District. This flagship line will run underground between three stations in District 1 before emerging to connect the next 11 stations. Completion is set for 2014 to the tune of $2 billion total.

On the same day construction began on Line 1, the German government pledged $86 million to the estimated $1.2 billion price tag on Line 2, which will connect Districts 2 and 12. China Shanghai Corporation for Foreign Economic and Technological Cooperation has stepped in to conduct the feasibility study on a third line following what the Vietnamese government calls inadequate progress on the part of a Russian development consortium.

Over the first six years, the HCMC Urban Railway Authority expects 162,000 commuters to utilize the system, inclusive of six subway and three monorail and/or lightrail lines. The next decade-long phase of development between 2020 and 2030 aims to accommodate 635,000 passengers. 800,000 are anticipated to be riding the rails by 2040.

Whether or not the metro will coax the Vietnamese away from their motorbikes is yet to be seen, but the potential environmental benefits to this smog-choked city are encouraging.

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Filed under Ho Chi Minh City, Transportation, Vietnam