Friday, July 29, 2011

The core housing foundation

I saw an episode of Hot Cities on SBS Online (Australian TV) a while back ago and it was talking about how people living in Cuba were finding shelter to protect themselves from hurricanes and other natural disasters.

The main goal of the Cubians was to build at least one quality room that can act as their shelter and protect them against hurricanes. So rather than trying to build an entire house with the best resources, they will focus on building at least one quality room and as time goes on they can extend this in the future. This is since time and resources are not always easy to come by and they call this 'progressing developing houses', where the home will evolve over time as means and resources grow.

It's an interesting concept that makes sense as considering how in life we think we often need everything before we can even start something. So it may be worth using what we have now and then deciding what we can do later on with it. The main thing in applying this concept would be to remember that this is a core housing foundation that is being built and there should be considerations on future scability in mind.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Getting a visa for Vietnam – from Australia

Travelling can be confusing so I have written up this rough guide to give you an idea of the process of applying and getting ready for going to Vietnam from Australia.

I'm based in Melbourne, but you will find that my process of applying for a visa should be applicable nationwide (Australia). I have also included details on possible vaccinnations that you are able to take before you go.


Here’s a summary of how to apply and get for a Visa for Vietnam, which you obtain from the Vietnam Embassy in Australia. This involves mailing your passport via registered post and having it returned back to you, unless you live in Canberra, ACT where you can also have this done in person.

1. Print and fill in visa application form.
2. Post or visit in person (located in ACT) and provide them with:
  • A completed visa application form (found on the Australian Vietnam Embassy's website)
  • Your passport (so they can attach the visa details to it)
  • Include a return self-addressed prepaid registered envelope (for return of your passport)
  • Money order or “Australian” bank cheque payable to "the Embassy of Vietnam". I had this made in Australian dollars.
3. Wait a few business days or so for your passport to be returned. This process is even faster if you choose express registered post to and from the embassy.

Further specific details are available at:


While you're best bet is always to check with you doctor before you go, here are a couple of shots that I had been recommended to take before I went, and these were.
  • Hepatitis A shot (approx. $58 AUD), Typhoid tablets ($46) (prices as of the first half of 2011 in Australia)

They say you generally should take these 2-3 weeks before you leave. Hep A lasts generally 20 years (though some say maybe longer - lifetime even?), typhoid lasts for approximately three years.

They also recommend you take malaria tablets if you plan on going into the wilderness (mainly Sapa-type of areas – Sapa is in the North of Vietnam). There was also a cholera vaccination that was recommended for those who will enter areas of possible flooding (such as the Mekong Delta during some seasons) and/or plan on eating a lot of seafood.

Useful links: