March, 2019

Travel tips and advice: Hanoi’s new international airport is one of the best new airports in the world

Nanjing Night Net

I’d like to recommend Hanoi’s new international airport, Noi Bai. Quick, clean and efficient, it’s one of the best new airports in the world. From disembarking to meeting our hotel limo driver outside the airport took an amazing seven minutes.

There are no queues at immigration. You don’t have to fill out those ridiculous “entry forms”. Just show your passport and within seconds it is stamped. A word of warning however, Australians need a visa.

You can get one before you leave from the Vietnam Embassy, or you can get one on arrival, however, to do this you will need US dollars to pay for your visa on arrival.

The airport is spotless. Even the toilets have a nice view. Everything you need is within the terminal building and once you leave, a fast new freeway takes you right into Hanoi itself. Airports like Noi Bai make travelling internationally a sheer pleasure.

Congratulations to the people of Hanoi for doing it right.

Alan Bohlsen, Phuket, ThailandCAPE OF GOOD TASTES

Brooke Walker, of Balmain, asked about good food in Cape Town (Tip-o-meter, February 12). Here are two very different places to eat.

Africa Cafe, 108 Shortmarket St. Cape Town ( offers a taste of many different types of food and the decoration of the cafe is great. We went in just for a coffee and went back at night for the dinner. Then there’s the historic Mount Nelson Hotel (belmond南京夜网/mountnelsonhotel) for high tea (book via email from Australia). It’s a wonderful experience of how the other half live!

Margaret Irwin, St Ives, NSWBARGAIN BRIGADE

We belong to the Affordable Travel Club. Based in the US, there are members scattered throughout the world. It costs nothing for an Australian to join. You must be prepared to occasionally host other travellers for a few days and provide breakfast.

The cost is $US20 a night. Members in countries other than the US may charge an additional US$10. Guests are encouraged to be away during the day so as not to interfere in hosts’ day-to-day lives, and hosts to offer local knowledge to the guests. You need to be over the age of 45.

Pam Fichtner, Matraville, NSWCOLOMBO PLAN

When you arrive in Sri Lanka spend the night when you arrive (and before departure) at seaside Negombo near the airport.  Visas are obtainable for the equivalent of $US30 online from Flights are only occurring from 4.30pm to 8.30am until April 6  because of runway repairs (we were told to arrive at the airport five hours before departure but got through in one hour). I easily booked Sri Lankan airline flights through Webjet.

L. Fagg, East Geelong, VIC

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Sayonara, Levi Strauss: How Japan stole the title of world’s best denim jeans from California

Kojima: Home of the Betty Smith Jeans Museum. Photo: JNTO Kojima Jeans Street (an area of the Museum). Photo: JNTO
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If we are in any doubt that we’re entering Japan’s denim capital, it is dispelled the moment we arrive at Kojima train station, in Okayama prefecture on the main island’s west coast.

There are displays of jeans everywhere, including a giant pair affixed to the wall of the entrance hall, beneath which we dutifully pose, fashionista-style. A 10-minute car ride later and we’re outside the two-storey log cabin that houses the Betty Smith Jeans Museum.

I usually have as much interest in garments and fashion as I do in crocheting or being prime minister. I go clothes shopping once a year and it’s over in an hour maximum. So I cannot imagine how this Betty Smith and her jeans are going to arouse anything other than cursory interest in me.  I’ll go in, say “yes nice threads” and then exit to find something more fascinating – like hot coffee – in the branded vending machine outside.

Once inside, there are, you’ve guessed it, jeans, hanging up as exhibits. One of them is even a replica of the prototype for Levi’s 501 range, supplied by the US manufacturer itself.

While several others in my group gaze at the exhibits and chatter excitedly, I drift into an historical dream.

In it I am mining in mid-19th century California, hoping to strike gold and make my fortune.

However, my clothes are too flimsy for the grinding labour or too hot for the West Coast conditions.

What I need is a brand new tough but comfortable fabric to wear.

This is where Levi Strauss, a German-born, San Francisco-based Jewish businessman and Jacob Davis, a Reno-based tailor, come in.

Seeing the gap in the market, they produce the first pairs of jeans, in 1873, made from a canvas-coloured denim.  At first they appear with rivets or buttons for flies, as zips are yet to be invented.

Levi Strauss and co have struck gold, and in a way that will last far longer than California’s supply of sparkling nuggets.

With its collection of vintage sewing machines and yes, replica jeans, from down the ages, it is this quirky museum in a Japanese town that has induced this daydream.  Not only that but it’s taught me a thing or two.

Such as why Japan adopted the US garment – after James Dean’s appearance in a pair in the movie Rebel Without a Cause in 1955 – and then ran with it at production houses in the traditional textile manufacturing town of Kojima, making them on imported heavy-duty sewing machines from America.

After a slow start in the late 1960s, Japanese denim and the country’s skilled workers made jeans a must-have luxury fashion item, as that ever reliable website, highsnobiety南京夜网, explains:

“In short, Japan’s obsession in recreating the American jeans they crazed over led Japanese denim manufacturers to become the world’s best in terms of knowledge and production. From then on it was only a matter of time before the rest of the world caught on to the craftwork behind Japanese denim.”

Among the Japanese brands that made their mark were Big John, Bobson and Betty Smith. Betty Smith still produces all its jeans by hand, here in Kojima, with French and Italian fashion houses among their customers.

Some of the heavy equipment used in that jeans-making process, including original sewing, cutting and washing machines form another part of the exhibition.

Although the museum has tricked me into showing interest in jeans and how they are made, I draw the line at the second floor salon, where it’s possible to order a pair custom-made from a dizzying array of buttons, zips and different coloured denim.  Apparently, these jeans can be shipped internationally.

Nor am I tempted by the possibility of making myself a mobile-phone strap in the nearby workshop or of making a purchase – while several in my group buy big – from the purses, eco-bags and even denim yukatas (casual kimonos) at the factory outlet shop.

But hey, Betty Smith, whoever you are (or were), you’ve broken down at least part of my fashion resistance and your museum is clearly a hit, attracting 50,000 visitors a year to Kojima in search of the perfect jeans.  TRIP NOTES MORE



Betty Smith Jeans Museum and Village is at 5-2-70 Shimono Town, Kojima, Kurashiki City, Okayama, on the west coast of Japan’s main Honshu island.  It opens 9am-6pm daily, admission free.  TEL- +81 (0)86 473 4460. See

Daniel Scott was a guest of the Japan National Tourist Office 

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Could Nintendo’s Splatoon 2 be the next big esport?

Splatoon 2 is launching this year for the upcoming Nintendo Switch, a machine with much greater competitive potential than the Wii U.A portion of the Nintendo Switch’s reveal trailer showed two esports teams filing into an arena, picking up some Pro controllers and gearing up for a round of Splatoon in front of a roaring crowd. While seemingly fantasy, Splatoon 2 as an esport isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility.
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Nintendo of America recently tweeted a surprising announcement: That Splatoon 2 would be able to connect 10 Switch consoles over LAN for a private match, four on each team and two observers able to spectate from player-perspective or an omniscient overhead view. Exciting news for #Splatoon2 fans! Private Battle Spectator View is a new feature allowing up to 2 non-players to spectate a Private Battle. pic.twitter南京夜网/4exL7trO1x— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) February 11, 2017

These two facts in tandem might indicate a marketing push to try to force “esports” in as a buzzword for a non-endemic game. Most of the best, and biggest, scenes come from grassroots efforts. Street Fighter was born in the fluorescent depths of arcades, Dota 2’s grandaddy was built on the bones of another game and Super Smash Bros. Melee almost revels in being an esport with no real publisher or developer support. Often the esports cart is put before the proverbial horse.

Splatoon isn’t quite the same though. This quirky, ink-based squid-shooter wasn’t pushed as an esports title for its release on the Wii U, and despite being on the Wii U, it gradually garnered a following.

Organisers of Splatoon events faced some of the most significant logistical challenges of any esport. In an AMA a year ago, members of several teams and organisers discussed the competitive scene. The tournament organiser for the Booyah Battle Series, “BestTeaMaker,” described the amount of equipment needed to host just a single competitive match:

“While there’s a whole suite of tools for players to play competitive with in place, there isn’t much from a spectator’s point. LAN events are also very hard and expensive to do due to the number of capture devices and ethernet connections needed”.

Any match in the past needed capture devices and ethernet connections to hook up ten Wii U’s, leaving an observer only 10 player point-of-view cameras to work with for play-by-play. That’s certainly far from ideal, but tournament organisers and teams pushed through to make events happen.

The passion for Splatoon is still alive, though muted. Streamers still play online, and players gather in a Discord server called “The Inkademy” to discuss builds and share strategies. One of the most interesting niches I found was a content creator who goes by “Silver,” who delves into really in-depth game theory topics using Splatoon. This one on whether low accuracy is a boon is really something else:

Though a spot of esports in the Switch’s reveal trailer may be a marketing grab, the reality is that Splatoon already has a passionate following. Users have delved into the game data, charting shots-to-kill and theorycrafting map strategies. Twitch streamers like PKFuzzy, SendouC and Its_Power_ play scrims during the day, streaming high-level play in the Competitive Splatoon community group.

Many games fail to garner a grassroots community, much less one as fervent as Overwatch or Super Smash Bros. But with the right tools in the right place, and on a brand-new system, the stars might be aligning for Splatoon to have a real competitive presence.

Could it be at the level of say, the League Championship Series or The International? Probably not. But for passionate folks who have been hooking up dozens of Elgato capture cards and ethernet connections just to host a small tournament, being able to build up the scene without hardware or software limitations might be all they need.

For a community willing to go to that trouble and endure over a year of pushing a Wii U scene as far as it can go, the possibilities with these tools are exciting. celebrates video game culture with news, reviews and long form features.This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe all but rules out rate cuts, defends corporate tax cuts

Dr Lowe says cutting rates would make housing affordability even worse. Photo: Jim MaloThe head of the Reserve Bank has dashed hopes of a further cut in interest rates, pleading for people to “focus on other things other than quarter of a per cent moves in the cash rate”.
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Appearing before a parliamentary inquiry in Sydney governor Philip Lowe said the Australian economy was set to rebound as the “headwind from falling commodity prices turned into a gentle tailwind”.

The headwind from falling mining investment “should blow itself out before too long”. Australia was also about get the payoff from large increases in production of liquefied natural gas. There were even “green shoots” of recovery in Western Australia.

The downside risks were much diminished from when he last appeared before the committee in September.

But he was often told that rates should be a bit lower “to try to encourage employment and get inflation up a bit”.

“People on my own staff argue this,” he told the hearing.

“The counter argument is that lower interest rates would mainly work through encouraging people to borrow more.”

“That would probably push up house prices a bit more, because most of the borrowing would be borrowing for housing.”

“While that would have some positive effect on the economy, the issue we are dealing with internally is how that would add to fragility.”

“Household debt is at record levels. Is it really in the national interest to get a little bit more employment in the short term at the expense of encouraging that fragility?”

Central banks in other countries were given more limited mandates, usually to target inflation, and probably would have cut interest rates further were they in Australia’s position. But the Reserve Bank was also charged with ensuring “the general welfare of the Australian people”.

It had to consider other things including real estate prices and household debt. House prices

Dr Lowe offered a “personal perspective” on housing affordability, saying he had two teenage children who would soon need places to live.

“I’ll be okay because I am paid a lot of money,” he said. “But high prices are entrenching inequality. Many people are putting too much of their money into housing. “In the days of higher wage growth it was much easier to pay of home loans. With wage growth now near 2 per cent buyers are forced to bear the burden of high repayments for much longer.”

“We certainly don’t solve the problem of high house prices by adding to demand. We solve it by increasing supply.”

“The things you can do involve transport, zoning and jobs. Most are matters for the states rather than the federal government. The population densities of our biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne not that high by world standards. We’ve got to make them denser, but not everyone likes that.”

Asked about immigration, Dr Lowe said if the only objective was to reduce pressure on house prices, there would be a case for cutting immigration, but he saw the program as a source of strength.

“I am fond of telling visitors 40 per cent of Australians were either born overseas or have a parent who was born overseas. I wouldn’t want to give up that kind of advantage just for property prices.”

Asked whether it would help to rein in the so-called negative gearing tax break for investors, he said what was more important was the capital gains tax discount, which made negative gearing attractive. Australian dollar

Although Australia’s present exchange rate of 77 US cents to the dollar was not necessarily overvalued, Dr Lowe “would like it to be lower, if I had the choice”.

“It would be better if it was lower still, but the dollar is hard to forecast. Economists believe the best forecast is where the rate is at the moment, but we can probably expect it to climb with climbing commodity prices and fall when they fall.” Penalty rates

The Fair Work Commission’s decision to cut Sunday and public holiday penalty rates would not necessarily make the Reserve Bank’s job worse by cutting consumer spending.

“If people have less in their pocket there will be less spending if you look at the individual,” Dr Lowe said. “But if you look overall it might allow more people to have more jobs. And when more people have joss they feel like they have more security and are more willing to spend.” Company tax

While Australia would face increasing tax competition from other countries cutting company tax, it was up to the parliament how it responded.

“Since the global financial crisis other governments have been talking about company tax rates as low as 15 to 20 per cent,” he said.

“I think you could argue that from a global perspective that is not useful. But that’s not the world that we live in. The choice for the parliament is whether to respond. Are we going to say ‘no’ because we’ve got other advantages that mean foreign firms want to move here?”

“Some countries for better or worse have decided to have lower corporate tax rates or less enforcement of the existing legislation as a way of attracting more foreign investment. The issue for us is not so much attracting foreign investment to buy the existing assets, it is foreign investors coming in and creating new assets and new jobs and new growth, and that capital is very mobile.”

“Australia has lots of advantages and firms come here for a lot of reasons, clearly a skilled workforce and the political system and property rights, and the wonderful places we have to live, but tax is a consideration, and I think it you are uncompetitive in the tax race you will probably get a few less dollars of capital formation from foreign firms in the country.

“It’s a choice for the parliament. It’s a decision about foreign investment, because dividend imputation makes a tax cut effectively irrelevant for Australian firms”. President Trump

It was too early to tell whether the policies of the new US president Donald Trump would boost or harm the world economy, Dr Lowe said.

The biggest risk was that he would erect barriers that wound back international trade.

“We will be the big losers if that deteriorates,” Dr Lowe said. “Our ability to sell our minerals, and our services to the rest of the world is critical to our standard of living.

“I suspect in many western societies we have passed the high water mark for public support for open international trading. It’s probably rue in Australia.”

“The idea that we make ourselves wealthier by erecting barriers, it’s crazy.”

Follow Peter Martin on Twitter and Facebook

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Sydney woman Margaret Goodwin struck by lightning in Bowral dies in hospital

Margaret Goodwin died in hospital, five days after she was struck by lightning. Photo: Rockdale Uniting ChurchA Sydney woman who was struck by lightning while sitting on a park bench with her two sisters has died in hospital, five days after a series of severe thunderstorms battered parts of NSW.
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Friends have remembered Margaret Goodwin, 61, as a dedicated member of the Rockdale Uniting Church, who “always thought of others’ needs before her own”.

Mrs Goodwin, the wife of the church’s minister, the Reverend Martin Goodwin, died peacefully in Royal North Shore Hospital on Thursday morning, after her life support was switched off.

Her sisters, twins Pam and Heather, survived the lightning strike.

Ms Goodwin and her sisters were in Corbett Gardens in Bowral, in the NSW Southern Highlands, about 3pm on Saturday when severe thunderstorms hit the area.

The sisters sought shelter from the storm under a large tree, on one of the park’s benches. It’s understood one of the sisters was holding an umbrella when lightning struck the women.

Police said a witness alerted police at Bowral police station, and an officer ran to the gardens and began performing CPR on Mrs Goodwin, who was the most seriously injured.

She was flown to Royal North Shore Hospital in a critical condition.

Mrs Goodwin’s sisters – aged 60, and from Mulgoa and Canberra – were treated at Concord Hospital and have since been released.

A friend said the sisters had met in Bowral, a half-way point between their homes, and spent a lovely day together before tragedy struck.

Rockdale Uniting Church confirmed in a statement that Mrs Goodwin had “passed away peacefully”.

“While we grieve the loss of Margaret, we also know that God was the love of Margaret’s life. She lived her life seeking to model her actions on her Saviour,” the church said.

“She acted with grace and love, and when provoked forgave.

“She always thought of others’ needs before her own.

“We give thanks to God for the precious time we have known her.”

One church member, Mark, wrote: “Words cannot express our sadness at the unexpected loss of Margaret. Such a wonderful lady who will be with us always in our hearts.”

Another member of the congregation, Dorothy, said: “Dear Margaret touched our lives in so many ways.

“She was a vital part of Rockdale congregation and it has been a privilege to know her. She will be sadly missed. Loving sympathy and prayers to Martin and family.”

Mrs Goodwin’s death comes two weeks after a young farmer was killed by a lightning strike in central western NSW while he was trying to protect his family’s livestock from several grassfires sparked by a storm.

Cameron Cox, 22, died on his family’s property in Moolarben, about 40 kilometres north-east of Mudgee, on February 7.

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