2014 in review – an insight into social media

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,600 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 27 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.




Well our Vietnam adventure is over but what of Sandy? Her adventure is just beginning as she starts a hotel internship in HCMC.

You may remember we left Sandy in Hanoi, alone, with a tee shirt signed by the group as a memento to board a later flight to HCMC. The realities of her situation soon became apparent. Her tour was over. So how is she? What has she been doing? How was her first days in HCMC? So many questions….

But through the miracle that is FaceBook we stay in touch.

With sooooo many questions – all I managed was

So how was your first day? (Thankfully Sandy is a little bit better with the words)

It was great! 😃 The staff here are incredibly friendly! They’ve been taking me out almost every night to explore hcmc. I was meant to move to their hotel in district 7 on Monday but one of the staff really wanted me to stay so she called the general manager and asked if I could stay another day. Surprisingly she agreed that I could stay another week!
So I’ve just been helping out with breakfast service and they’ve also given me the task of designing a survey for customer feedback and also a survey for tourists. Today I had the task of taking the survey out on the streets and interviewing tourists. It’s a challenge, but I’ve been trying my best! The target is 100 interviewees by the end of the week.

What a fantastic adventure – we look forward to regular updates 😊

Getting the message out

One important aspect of the tour now is generating positive publicity. It is a fact of modern life that it is not enough to offer the participating students on the tour a transformational educational experience ( it is a shame we cannot post some of their reflective journal comments expressing the perception of the benefits) A simple thank you note to those that helped the tour no longer suffices. We also need to “drum up business” for the next tour. Today we need to be digital journalists with an engaging story to tell.

The iPad story


With 3 minutes of posting on FB – I had likes from Oman & Cyprus.

The Vietnam Swans – it is more than just football

Phil it seems has been hard at work on FB – the students and the jumper a newsworthy story across Asia.

On Yammer DrTimmy and I had a like on our story from the Vice Chancellor 😎😎😎😎 (very cool)

Just how many tweets on Twitter did Tim send talking up the students AFL adventure – well…. 40 tweets, 25 likes & 6 retweets 😉

Our blog stats – have been the subject of much discussion. For me – I had views in 17 countries & the most popular post “it’s a guessing game”

But it is not just me – the students have all posted their adventure on FaceBook – friends and family commenting and re posting. An all important part of the tour is played out in social media.

For an old Buddha this can all seem a bit strange but social media has added a rich layer to the tour – another exciting dimension. And it has been fun.
Oh my most popular Instagram photo was


On the 27th of December Sandy posted the photo used below on her FB site. It formed the base for another post on Yammer.


Interesting People

Flicking through the photos and can across this one. It helps sum up some of the surprise that is Vietnam. Wandering the streets (the persona of the flaneur dwells deep) walked past a fine art gallery. Observed this photographer taking photos of the art. Was it the French style beret that provided the catalyst – but had to photograph the photographer.


What was your favourite bit?

What was your favourite bit? This is a question I have asked all the students? In many ways a ‘stupid’ question. Certainly a question I could not definitively answer.

That said, there are of course highlights – things that have readily emerged from the collage of colour, sights, tastes, sounds, people, the cacophony that is Vietnam. So in no particular order

The food. From paddock to plate – it is a rich tapestry. The freshness. The availability. The flavour of Vietnamese fish sauce. The markets. And Pho.


Street life. Life happens on the streets. It is hard not to be fascinated with the routine of everyday life acted out in public. From haircuts to food preparation, this public display stands in deep contrast to the secretive life of Middle class Australia. In many ways it is refreshing to see life being lived.


Car horns I wish I had taped the sound of the car horns – they sound less aggressive than in Aust, but they are used far more frequently. I realised just how much I missed them at 3am in Hanoi, a city asleep, quiet, in stark contrast to the noise of daytime.

The different personalities of the three cities we visited.
The sense of modernity that characterised HCMC tempered by the past that is Saigon.
The human scale of Hoi An – the amazing streetscape – was it designed with the flaneur in mind.
Hanoi – my favourite (cannot explain) – the old city is fascinating, amazing, hard, more aggressive, in your face, noisy – I could go on…..

(The wedding photo was taken in Hanoi – outside a new (largely deserted) shopping complex leased by western upmarket designer brands, brides and grooms ( there were about 8 couples) with camera crews in tow were very publicly having photos taken in front of the store and this couple dicing with the chaotic traffic. These juxtapositions with the nearby old city sum up the complexity of Hanoi.)

The People I decided not to mention any names here but it is a combination of some amazing individuals and the population as a whole.

Places We visited some truly amazing places. Many famous, many not ( for me the streets were enthralling) – if I had to pick one that stands out, then this wet bar in HCMC.

The reasons for picking this place are complex, a sense of the authentic, the sense of timeout and for somebody with my career background truly amazing sense of hospitality& service. Again I could go on…

It would be easy to add to the list – coffee, traffic, places, can do attitude, resilience, contrasts, personal space…

Vietnam is an amazing country that stands in contrast to many aspects of life in Australia – there is much to learn from this place and its people.

And of course the students.

Dinner – a simple affair


Sen Tay Ho is an amazing restaurant complex. It has a function space for 1000 (tonight there is a wedding for 800) the are smaller private areas and then there is the two buffet restaurants. Our buffet is shared with several 100 others and there is 200 hundred dishes to select from. Dishes vary from the everyday to the exotic (butterfly pupae), seafood to crocodile and there is dessert – a whole section of just desserts.

The morning talk from Gip the head chef is now thrown into perspective. The comment of a 100 plus chefs becomes real as you witness their effort and watch as they cook everything from BBQ to bowls of Pho. The quantity of food becomes tangible as the tonne of seafood per day has become those delicacies in front of you. The 150 kilos of rice per day has magical become a bank of dishes.

The talents of our kitchen master are evident – not just the cooking skill but the logistics, the HRM and given this award winning restaurant is 7 years old his financial skill. Gip you have my respect.

The morning tour of an empty restaurant and function space I find interesting. I watched the somewhat bored faces of a couple of students who do not realise they are privileged to see the beginning of a magic show.
The transformation of this.


Tonight it will be different. An army of people transform empty stations into gastronomic display. The flowers that sit in a heap on the floor will be arranged.

This is what confronts the students on return.



Then there is the food.


The result – you be the judge do they look well feed.


And to the students, for the card – thank you. But importantly it is the last night of the tour. There are places to go 😉 experiences to be had.