More Snake Sir?

Popped down to the night market to have a look see at the place. it is at the end of the strip almost in the old fishing village. Now night markets to me conjure up stalls ladened with cheap clothes etc a la Thailand  but this one is in fact made up of an endless line of small restaurants and guess what they sell. Yup BBQ squid, prawns and Kingfish. One after the other all doing pretty much what every other restaurant is doing on Phu Quoc.

At the bottom of the street there are 2 or 3 stalls selling clothes but that is it. Not really worth the 100,000 dong cab ride but there are a couple of very local bars with yet more infant school seats and beer in cold boxes so all was not wasted.

It seems you can get some interesting food served at the night market

IMG_0259

 

Never mind the heering salad or hot pod. Hows about what you get to go with your fresh seafood. That will bring you back for seconds without a doubt.

There is one other thing they catch off the beaches here and a few people have been bitten by them. These also go on the BBQ but at least you can keep them fresh and alive before cooking them

Night Market Snakes

 

Yes, sea snakes and very tasty they are too, just like eating chicken.

The hotel we have moved to is the newest on the strip having opened last November . I had looked at it with some envy as it is right next door to the Paris Resort but had presumed it was much more expensive. But when we declined to move rooms my friendly tour operator in Saigon got me a room here for US$30 more a night. It is to say the least chalk and cheese . The Famiana Resort has fully trained staff who go to school to learn their jobs and attend English lessons for 3 hours a week. it is professionally  managed by an hotel General Manager and is not amateur hour like the Paris. So a couple of shots as always. The view from the breakfast table :

Famiana Gardens

 

and from the bed chair and please note it has it’s very own sea based assault course.

Famiana Play Ground

 

all very It’s a Knockout from the 1970’s on BBC TV with the now imprisoned Stuart Hall and Eddie Warring the rugby league commentator . Boy the BBC could make some rubbish and we watched it .

We also have our own 18 hole gold course in the grounds and so you can play a few rounds before the sun gets too hot. Tee times are easy to book and to be fair you don’t need too much gear to carry though I’m sure this hotel would give you a caddy !!!

Famiana Golf courseW

We’ll okay I accept it’s not St. Andrews or Pebble Beach but with a cut down putter for a six year old it is quite a challenge !

So this hotel is  the newest on the strip but 5 hotels down towards town is the oldest built in the 1980’s when there was nothing on Long Beach but a few run down old French Colonial houses . In those days there were no roads on the island so you had to come by boat from the mainland and so did building materials . So you needed a pier that would survive monsoonal seas .

Pier Thousand Stars

 

and so The Thousand Stars Resort as it is called boasts the only pier on the whole strip.

It is a weird hotel built by an eccentric with his own idea of what things to put around the place. The gardens and the beach are dotted with oddities

Sculptures Thousand Stars

 

The place has certainly seen better days , much better days and is still open but up for sale and awaiting some developer to come and do it a favour and put it out of it’s misery by knocking it down.

If you go onto Tripadvisor and look it up there is not one review that doesn’t start with the first line in massive capitals. DO NOt STAY HERE. and then the poor person goes on to list a litany of problems they have encountered. One poor couple who stumbled on it one evening when the taxi dropped them at the wrong hotel had to pay to get their passports back once they had checked in and realised they were in the wrong hotel. We’ll phone the police they told the manager. Great he said they don’t speak English and you signed a booking form for 7 nights accommodation. Pay up to be able to leave. Now there’s customer service for you.

Wouldn’t happen at the Famiana ……. Would it????

 

 

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Food Glorious Food

One of the problems with  rapid tourist growth on an island is that things get thrown up in an hurry to meet the ever growing demand. Here on Phu Quoc the “strip” from what was the old sleepy fishing village  down to the end of Long Beach is just that a strip lined with restaurants and travel agents selling excursions. The local catch here is squid and prawns plus some local king fish. The rest is brought in from the mainland by boat.  So the locals who threw up a shack with tables and chairs and a makeshift kitchen with the loo in the middle of it were somewhat hampered for choice. Some bright spark ( all puns intended) came up with the idea of cooking the three staples on a BBQ and then tossing some rice or noodles onto the plate and serving it. The rest quickly followed and that is the choice down almost the entire strip. Great for a backpacker getting a few days of rays after a long trek through Vietnam before heading off to Cambodia some 3 hours away but not so great for the two week holiday maker. Then try us on our 4th week here and you realise why we are leaving before planned and also heading off into Cambodia.

I really haven’t been good at recommending places to eat on this blog unlike many other bloggers. One man’s meat is another man’s etc etc. But let me assure you that we have had to kiss an awful lot of frogs to get to being able to say where we most like to eat and we have suffered during the night and often all the next day in that quest to find a prince. Most Vietnamese just don’t know how to BBQ and of course what they don’t use that night goes back in a freezer and then is defrosted again the next day and so on until it is sold. health and safety would have a field day here.

However before we eat we have to have a sundowner or three so where do we go for those? Most restaurants are happy that you sit and just have beer but the majority are on the increasing busy main road so we look on the beach.

This one should be the king of all bars

Headland bar

 

it sits on the headland between the two parts of Long Beach and gets the cooling winds as well as some great views and sunsets

Sunset on Phu Quoc

 

It should be packed but it is run by a gloriously inefficient Vietnamese lady who rushes about doing almost nothing. 20 mins to order a beer and then 20mins for it to arrive. Who knows where she goes or what she does. It is a fact of life and maybe an endearing feature of the local people that they have no memory at all. It is not even the last person they talked to syndrome. Ten paces from the table they took the order it has gone from the mind as if it were never there they wander away and start on some other task and you sit there expecting within minutes a couple of cold bottles of beer to arrive. 10 mins later they wander past your table without a flicker of memory that they ever took an order from you. So you need a bar where the bar person  is close to you and the supply with no distractions in-between. This one is rough and ready but hits the two key objectives

Sundowner bar

 

Yes those are infant school class room chairs and yes you sit on them. It is like being back at the parent teacher meetings where the teacher in oder to rush you along sits you in little Freddies chair so you can view his scribblings, but the beer cooler is 5 paces away and the guy sits within feet of you and has nothing else to do and no real distractions. You can even get squids and fish from him and his BBQ is clever

BBQ

 

a kitchen sink !!! Now before i discovered the delights of an outside wood oven I used to do a load of BBQ and have a Webber at home. I went one time to buy the attachment they sell that gives you a workspace on the BBQ and realised that to buy it i would need to take out a fourth mortgage on the house. This local lad has solved that problem instantly clever fellow.  I’ve never been brave enough to eat anything from him but have seen others do it though to be fair i have never seen them ever again.

So after the sunset and the beer to the restaurant

Canadianand there is the champion after 4 weeks of testing. It is just by La Veranda Resort if you are ever down this way. The place is run by a Vietnamese family but they have a Canadian ex restauranteur as an advisor. He sold his house in Vancouver at the height of the housing bubble and bought a motor home for the summer to tour around visiting friends in Canada and invested the rest to pay for winters in the sun on Phu Quoc. He stayed at one of the cottages the family rent and offered to help out in return for beer and food. He also bought with him his 250,000 tune music library and each day he compiles two playlists one for lunch and one for dinner. As he says the music therefore matches his mood or hangover and we have sat there some evenings feeling maybe he wants everyone to cut their wrists. However the food is good, not a BBQ in sight and because as he in a very unCanadian way boasts that his place is by far the most popular on the beach or on the strip the turnover in food is very rapid.

A second place mention must go to Ganesh the indian restaurant who not only serve great curries but prove that you can take locals and turn them into good waiters. They bring in teams of Nepalese managers, head cooks and supervisors and train the local workforce. it is an impressive organisation with staff eager to serve you and never once forgetting why they are in a restaurant and wandering off to look at the sky.

All this is making me thirsty and hungry so I’m off

 

Expat Bars

Apologies for no posts but the internet at the Paris is down and looks likely to remain so. We have moved hotels now and I am on line again

It was a good time to leave the Paris Hotel as groups were beginning to arrive. Two days ago a group of Germans arrived some 20 in all . 18 of them were Chinese/Germans and were clearly here to have a good time.

In the early 1970’s Monty Python did  a sketch on the then new phenomenon of package holidays and what they were like. One of the lines from it was ” and swimming pools full of huge Germans building pyramids.”

Would these German living and speaking Chinese follow the same pattern set in the 1970’s I wondered. Well yes and no in fact as with the advancement of technology building human pyramids in the pool is clearly passé. Instead enter the underwater camera. So 20 people jump into the pool and one with the camera faces the other 19. the 19 then take a deep breath and down under they go . the photographer takes the photo and all 20 come to the surface. Loads of laughing and high fives and bellows follow as the water erupts around the pool . But wait the photograph missed out on his/her photo so let’s do it again. what fun, what a super game, isn’t everyone else enjoying the noise and the fun we are having. In fact lets do it 19 times and see if we can empty the pool of water and submerge a few bed chairs. No thy haven’t changed at all.

Oh yes expat bars. let me just say that I’m not on about the bars in major cities frequented by working expats gathering at a favourite watering hole at the end of the day.

i’m on about the ones in seaside towns where clearly an holidaymaker has at some stage sat on a beach and said to the partner “you know this place needs a decent pub let’s stay and open one “.

I remember in Goa in about 1990 venturing out of a Taj hotel one evening and finding such a place with a large “just opened” sign on it. A couple from Manchester had just rented it and were busy turning  it into an English pub replete with pint mugs and fish and chips on the freshly painted menu. ” Been a dream of ours “they said “just what the area needs ” said his wife. ” Been here in the monsoon” I enquired . ” no but we get a lot of rain in Manchester ” they chorused. Hmm I thought as i finished my beer and left them dreaming of crowds of Brits spilling out into the roadway night after night. Two years later on another trip there was an empty building and a for rent sign in Hindi outside.

Phu Quoc boasts a couple of these dream places.

Expat Bar 1

My cheap laundry place is alongside the Safari run by  a Brit. I popped in to check it out and it was er empty . My beer was more than I pay in the hotel and almost double what the two nice bars nearby charge. Small wonder I thought why no one is there.

The other is American, Down Home Alabama

Expat Bar 2

and had 10 or so guys gathered around the bar. Mine host was in the middle of them . To a man they were clearly on long term holidays here for the whole winter and staying at the various hostels around town. Everyone knew everyone else and ranks were closed as new comers entered. Mine host was as uninterested and I ordered drinks from the young Vietnamese waitress. They cost even more than The Safari indeed more than most of the hotels on the strip.

The bar was more a way for the owner to have a few mates around for a beer and get them to pay for them. Opposite was a local Vietnamese bar and there were a few more long stayers there who clearly had either fallen out with mine host or couldn’t pay the crazy prices. The bill took ages as mine host couldn’t drag himself away from his crowd.

Cross two more off the list.

In Cyprus when we lived there loads of people  followed that dream of running a pub in the sun. Few make a go of it and they pour their woes out on expat forums. New lifers I call them as they always talk about a “new life” and when it goes wrong they are always “gutted” that people who said they would support the pub by being there everyday didn’t. “We were gutted” ” We came here in good faith ” etc.

It is normally best left as a dream . Shouldn’t it be sweet home anyway ?

One Night in Bangkok

The hectic life in Hong Kong has rather precluded any blogging . Suffice to say my daughter and son-in-law did a great job looking after us oldies poor things and the social whirl was exceptional.  I will return to the week in Hong Kong while we while away severn nights down at a coastal resort in Thailand.

So yesterday we boarded an Air Asia flight to Bangkok feeling somewhat hung over after an excellent evening eating Peking duck three ways and then doing the final round of bars in the Soho area .

Air Asia are a rather strange low cost carrier in that whilst their air fares are amazingly cheap when compared to the national carriers of the various S.E. countries their on board offering is completely different. You can order full meals on line if you so wish and there is a choice but also a fee to pay as well. However if you decide not to there is non of the hard sell tactics of say Ryanair nor the constant trolley work of cabin crew on other LCC airlines. Seats are allocated easily at check in as the on line seats are either emergency exit  or the first 7 odd rows  and they try hard to sit you together.

On board the trolleys come out to serve the few that have ordered the full meal and provide them with drinks and then retreat behind the ubiquitous aircraft galley curtain. The non orderers are left to use the call button to summon assistance and drinks ( no alcohol) and snacks are hand carried to your seat on a tray and monies taken. All savagely civilised. One very commercial but quite clever idea they have had is to sell each overhead locker door for advertising. It is actually quite colourful and rather reminds you of sitting on the London underground starring at the ads.

I haven’t been to Bangkok since 1989 having avoided it on my last few visits to Thailand so the drive into town was eye opening. The place like so many other S.E. Asia cities has grown upwards with apartment blocks and office towers sprouting like mushrooms everywhere you look.

We booked the Cabochon hotel as it looks like an old colonial place with lots of character and nicely tucked away from the main streets . It is indeed like a colonial place but was only built last year so though all the furnishings and even the light switches are from old houses the rest of the place works like a 21st century hotel.

Now schadenfreuders amongst you will be delighted to know that just after our arrival ( I have talked before about our effect on the weather in countries worldwide), the heavens opened and it started to rain cats, dogs and anything else that came to hand. We were at the time enjoying the happy hour twofers offered by the hotel ( buy one get one free) and were little concerned until I saw the price of the food in the restaurant. It is always the trouble when you get deals on hotels that are normally expensive as the rest of the clientele barely glance at the menu price as they order whilst the dealers get a certain look of horror and fear on their faces as they pretend to study the food choices. I quickly decided that umbrellas were the solution so off we set to sample the delights of the city.

Now the last time here the problem was finding places that were farang friendly in terms of heat as in the number of chilli in each dish as everywhere served Thai food apart from the odd hotel restaurant. How things have changed. Up and down our part of the Sukanvit Road we went past pizza places, tapas places, burger joints, wine bars, English and Irish pubs serving fish and chips and hundreds of Japanese restaurants.What was as amazing was every place was full of thai locals munching away and swilling down glasses of wine a drink almost unknown here in 1989. The search was exacerbated by the fact that motorbikes and mopeds are allowed to use the pavement as a kind of cycle lane and so you spend more time looking both in front and behind you on the pavement for them. Finally one glanced Geraldine a blow as it went by and with her soaking wet feet, damp trousers and now a bruised arm my quest quickly came to an halt. Enough she said and we repaired to the nearest restaurant. Anything spicy I asked in hope, maybe something Thai. The waiter looked astonished as if we had asked for the crown jewels for nothing. No he said but if you want something with a bit of a kick then try our spaghetti arrabata the chef puts a little dried chilli in it.

All this way from Puglia to Thailand to be offered  an italian dish as the really spicy dish on the menu. Foolishly we declined and ate probably the worst burgers we have ever eaten .  Thai cooks certainly in this restaurant don’t do western food.but clearly no one has told the local patrons who were hoovering it down. Maybe a Thai in London feels the same about Thai food in a Thai place there ?

Hong Kong

I am sitting in an Italian deli that is just across the road from my daughter’s flat drinking a cappuccino . It is considerably more than I pay back in Puglia for the same product however my South China Morning News costs much less than any of the Italian papers at home.

The weekend has been an hectic social whirl but everyone has now returned to work and the apartment is quiet. The expat life here is not for the feint hearted with almost every street seemingly crammed with bars and restaurants teeming with party goers. Meals out are de-rigour and drinks before and after the norm. It is not something i could manage every weekend but I’m sure my parents said the same thing years ago when they visited us in various places around the world.

Two things catch my eye in the paper. One is an article bemoaning the fact that children are becoming less well behaved. It is they feel because both parents in this highly competitive and expensive place to live are working and employing nannies. These nannies keen to keep their jobs allow the kids total freedom and the parents equally looking for a quiet life at weekends do likewise. The result is screaming kids having tantrums all over the place. I would better describe it as Italian male syndrome . These guys have seen nothing on some of the youngsters i see everyday in Puglia screaming their hearts out while their parents not any nanny cover them in kisses.

The other more serious item is the destruction of the old Hong Kong by an organisation called The Urban Renewal Authority which is a quasi-governmental, profit-making body, formed in 2001 to promote and undertake urban regeneration in Hong Kong. On Saurday we spent an hour wandering about a street market called the Graham Street market .

IMG_0002

It is crowded and you are hit by shopping bags and find lots of bottlenecks because of the crush of humanity trying to move around.

More Market Hong Kong

but boy do you get a feeling of being somewhere very foreign and very different with dried fish stalls, chinese vegetable stalls and spice stalls. The smells, the people, the atmosphere is fabulous and with the old buildings all around it is very Hong Kong as you would expect to find it.

But don’t delay getting here to see it ‘cos the URA are knocking it all down with all the buildings as well to make way for some huge tower blocks and an hotel. They were to have built a new market for the traders as part of the redevelopment but that has been quietly shelved and another huge tower block will go up in its place.

Hong Kong is rapidly going the way Singapore went years ago. Singapore are now regretting doing what they did and seem intent on rebuilding replicas of what used to be there.  Loads of resorts in Spain are doing likewise but the URA seem oblivious to the lessons that others have learnt the hard way. People even non tourist residents like a mix of old and new and heritage is important. The Kinks got it right

We flew in on Turkish airlines via Istanbul from Rome. I bought their economy plus product which they call comfort class and let me tell you they are not mocking. it is fantastic. Huge seats reminiscent of Business Class seats before the airlines introduced beds with loads of legroom. The 777 was configured 2/3/2 across and we got one of the two seaters. The service can only be described as outstanding . Attentive crew who really couldn’t do enough for you. The meals were all served with real napkins, glass glasses and china plates. The drinks were served from the bottle  as was the wine and they were all premium brands. Quite nicely from my point of view the crew were also heavy handed and so sleep came easily. However the seats were so comfortable that even without the generous whisky measures sleep would have been easy.

Istanbul airport as a stop over is good as they have loads of security staff so the queues to get into the transit lounge are minimal . The actual huge transit lounge is rather like being in a massive bazaar with more duty free areas than I have ever seen but prices were higher than our local Auchan supermarket so easily left for others. We did find the bar and had a pint of Efes beer for a price that literally made my eyes water. That was till we got here to Hong Kong and now it seemed that they were giving it away in Istanbul !!

For Puglia readers here is a tip. For some reason ( senility) I got fixated on Rome as a departure point. It was not until we took off from there to go to Istanbul that Geraldine leaned over and showed me the Turkish Airlines route map and guess what they also fly from  Naples !!

So my entire drive to Rome, the night stop there  and the food poisoning was for nought we could have driven to Naples in 3 hours and flown away.

Well you live an learn in this world don’t you.

On The Road Again

“O Tiber! Father Tiber!
  To whom the Romans pray,
A Roman’s life, a Roman’s arms,
  Take thou in charge this day!”  
So he spake, and, speaking, sheathed
  The good sword by his side,
And, with his harness on his back,
  Plunged headlong in the tide.
This Horatius at the Bridge by Lord Macauly and it is here because I stayed at the Tiber Hotel on Wednesday night. i am now in Hong kong and feeling very jet lagged as I write this post.

I am aslo having a load of trouble with this new WordPress format and will change it tomorrow when i am more awake !

The drive from Martina Franca to Rome was  shall we say exciting as always. The A16 from Bari to Naples is two lane on either side so makes for some fun antics on the drive. It is more complicated at the moment with every viaduct in Campania having one lane closed for strengthening. Many of you will remember the horrific coach crash on July 28th when 38 people died. The coach plunged over a bridge and dropped 30 metres ( 98 feet ) into a ravine. A few days after the coach owners were arrested as were the road construction company that had apparently not carried out strengthening works in 2005 that they had charged Campania for. I read in August that the coach driver was not over the drink drive limit but hear no more about the construction company. However given that every viaduct is now undergoing work I guess we can assume it wasn’t done before.

The A1 from Naples to Rome goes the way the Allied armies hoped to go in 1943 straight up the west side of the Apennines . There are few exits and is boring motoring. Ours was enlivened somewhat by the fuel low gauge suddenly coming on when the tank gauge showed a quarter full. Quite soon the needle started to race down towards empty and the next services and exit was 57 kms away. So i went from racing past everything ( almost) in sight to crawling along on the inside lane while everything roared back past us. At 70 kph in 5th gear we made the fuel stop. However the delay put us on the southern around Rome  beltway after dark and at the height of the rush hour. Not for the faint hearted let me say and leave it at that.

The Hotel Tiber is a brand new hotel almost on the beach at Fiumincino and is functional. We thene managed to commit the cardinal sin of tourist abroad when we went out for dinner and wandered into a fish restaurant alongside a harbour. The sin was compounded when they said that there were no menus and hence no prices. “I make you something and you enjoy” said the chef. Wine I enquired vino della casa. No he said and took me to a cellar. Now this is when the wise man thanks him and says sorry we made a mistake and heads for the door. Did i ? Not a chance. Luckily my choice of wine at least quickly convinced him this might not be someone for fleecing as i insisted on a cheap ( kind of) Sicilian wine. I then insisted that we were happy with Spaghetti Vongole and luckily he gave up on us a crowds of Rome politicians arrived to order seafood like it was going out of fashion .

I have never seen such a demonstration of conspicuous consumption and it was all paid for by the Italian tax payer. Plate after plate of oysters, prawns, lobsters and fish was carried out of the kitchen with bottle after bottle of Prosecco . A few clams were €16 so you can imagine the bills later that evening. Outside drivers ( there are 670,000 on the Italian State payroll ) sat in cars ( over 900,000 on the payroll ) waiting to whisk them back to their houses in Rome. As a contrast we had coffee and grappa that night in a small fisherman’s bar full of Arab and Sri Lankan migrants as well as a few local Italians . They were playing fruit machines and buying lottery tickets

To add insult to injury I was up all night as one of the vongule got it’s own back on me. I won’t tell you what I wished for for those politicians many of whom ate them too.

I therefore spent a quiet day on Thursday waiting for the flight feeling sorry for myself and receiving scant sympathy from Geraldine. There is little to do in Fiumicino and The Tiber tossed us out at this new hoteliers time of 1100 hrs just like it tossed young Horatius back out all those years ago.

Click here to read the whole poem. I read it at primary school and like so many of those poems we had to learn can still quote lots of it. Lars Porsena  who started the war with Rome in the poem came from Clusium as I learnt by heart years ago. However I stopped a few years ago in Chiusi near Florence for a night and was delighted to find that Chiusi was in fact Clusium. the poem came alive for me again. But then I fell asleep with jet lag zzzzzzz

Wired

One of the big differences to packing these days must be the amount of wire that you stick into the hand luggage. I have so far put in a wire for the iPod, a wire for the two Kindles, a wire for the iPhone and a wire for the Nokia phone. Then, of course, there is the bulky recharger for the MacBook as well. It seems amazing that all this happily goes through airport security.

Steve Jobs at Apple seemed to come to wireless very late in his career, inventing more and more gadgets but all with wire connections to everything. It seemed that only just before his demise did he really start to focus on stuff without endless miles of wire to have to carry around. Still where would we be without smart phones .

That is certainly true here in Puglia where I would suggest two things have changed Pugliese youth namely Facebook and the smart phone. Facebook has allowed the young to interact and socialize without their parents being involved or in the main even understand what is going on and the smart phone has enabled them to do that and to communicate. Over the last year or so since the much cheaper Samsung smart phone was introduced how life has changed.  The TV which seems to sit in every Italian dining area has been replaced certainly by the under 35’s by the phone.

Now at lunch the parents sit watching the TV while the younger set fiddle endlessly with their phones connecting on to Facebook  texting friends or playing games.

At lunch last Sunday around the corner the 5 under 30’s spent almost the whole meal on the phone as it were.  The lad alongside me first texted photos of his haul from shooting that morning to a seemingly endless list of firends. Then he checked the phone for replies to the text and as they came in he replied to them and off we went again. Eventually that source of entertainment dried up but it was amazing to think that around our area at lunch tables other youth were receiving his stuff and replying.

Bored he decided to take a photo of himself. Now I have commented before about this ability of the Italian male to do things that we non Italian males would probably be embarrassed to do. In the barbers they spend ages at the mirror studying themseleves and their hair for instance. This lad preened ( there is no other word for it) and then took the photo . He studied it and rejected it. Again he looked at the phone and arched slightly one eyebrow and took another. This he was happy with and sent it to all his friends asking what they thought of it. Back came a few criticisms except from his wife who liked it. He then lent back on his chair to get a better shot of himself and off we went again.

I was fascinated and after years in the internet wilderness it was good to see young people using technology even if it was for some kind of self gratification. Italy, whenever stats are published languishes at the bottom of European tables in internet usage, purchases on line etc and the government swears to fix the problem. The reason seems to be the high cost of credit cards , the reluctance of Italians to share data and the low usage of bank accounts especially here in the south. Why are there so many banks here if no one uses them ? Answers on a postcard please.

Planning this journey has been an eye opener in the ways that social networking is changing the way we look at things and the way we buy travel. Sharing  is the new buzz word.

At the moment most are USA based but are heading certainly to the UK and other European countries. One that is big is AirBNB and I am already looking on it for stuff in Vietnam. Basically you either rent a room, or the whole place from another person based on if they like your profile. Renting a room in say London is cheaper then an hotel and you get all the advantages of having a local giving you places to eat and drink. Onefinestay does almost the same thing but is quite high end so not for me !

Swap your house with someone else like we are looking to do next year then Love Home Swap is the site you need

Another one I want to come to Italy is Park at My House where people offer to have your car in their driveway while you are away for a fee and drop you at the airport. Brilliant !

Better still if you want to rent your car out while your away why not use Flight Car and have your car earn money . And how about all those boats and yachts you see in all the marinas around the world. They never go out we always say when walking around one. Well Boat Bound now lets you rent one.

Now away from travel let me say there are a couple of new sites I want here Neighbor Goods lets you rent other peoples stuff like a rotovator or lawn mower etc and just share it lets you rent their spare car or 4×4 etc.

So I wonder if my almost silent lunch companion realises his doodling on his smart phone should be his first tentative steps into a brave new world of ‘peer to peer’ transactions. Hopefully it will beat taking pictures of yourself but hey this is Italy so who knows. I also won’t hold my breath for many of these sites getting here but you never know. Oh was that a pig that just went past the window ?