Sweet Sixteen – Happy Birthday to darryn.net

I remembered!

Every year, I intend to write a post on my blog’s birthday. This year, whilst on holiday in Viet Nam, I finally remembered.

Today marks 16 years since my first blog post on darryn.net, and this week marks the resurrection of the blog after years of neglect. As I’ve promised in several previous “facebook killed my blog and now I promise to resurrect it” posts, I have not been posting much since the rise of facebook. After going to the ProBlogger Conference last month, however, this time I really really promise to resurrect the blog.

As I’m on dodgy Viet Nam hotel WiFi, I’ve had to “upgrade” the site to the twenty-fifteen theme just to modernise it a bit. Perhaps I will add a genesis theme if I have a bit of downtime on a travel day, otherwise it’ll have to wait until we get home.

Happy Birthday, darryn.net!

The Mystery of the Missing Millions

On arrival in Viet Nam, at Ho Chi Minh City airport, Hayley withdrew 2,500,000.00 (Viet Nam Dong) from a CitiBank ATM. We kept the receipt, and it does say that amount.

We then bought SIM cards and pre-paid for a taxi from a tourist desk, and were allocated seats in a very small and uncomfortable taxi. The driver put the suitcases in the boot and driver’s side back seat, leaving the front and rear passenger seats for Hayley and I to sit. This detail may be important.

Less than 30 seconds after commencing our journey, the driver pulled the taxi over and started demanding money. Hayley handed him our copy of the receipt (he already had his own copy) but he kept demanding “1” and pointing to a tollbooth. Hayley had all the money, and offered him a 50,000 note but (unbeknownst to me, in the front seat) he instead reached into her purse and snatched out all of her money and left her holding the 50,000. All I saw was the driver reach around the back and come back with a pile of notes. I figured Hayley didn’t understand him and gave him some money to cover the toll. I tried to confirm with him that it was only “1” and he pointed to a sticker near my window. I turned to look at the sticker, which only made me more confused, as it said “0.1”, and not “1”. When I turned back to him, he was holding a single 50,000 note in his hand and gave me back a bunch of money which I assumed to be all of the money that Hayley had given him. I put the money in the pocket without counting (no need, Hayley wouldn’t have given him much). He paid the toll, which turned out to be 10,000, and gave me the four 10,000 notes which he received as change, and I put those in my pocket.

We arrived at our hotel, but the driver didn’t stop, and instead dropped us 30m further down the road. We only made it halfway to the hotel before porters arrived, started helping us with our bags, and asked if we were OK – sometimes taxis overshoot the hotel when they rip off tourists.

We got up to the room and Hayley asked for the money. I gave her all the money from my pocket and then she asked for the rest. This is when she told me that he had emptied her wallet. We counted the money and exactly 1,500,000 was missing – i.e. three 500,000 notes. My heart sunk, and I was in a bad mood for a little while

Theories of what happened to the missing 1,500,000:

  1. The taxi driver stole the money
  2. The money fell out of my pocket

Theory 1: The Thieving Taxi Driver

Clues that point to the taxi driver:

  • he put a suitcase in the back seat, so that we were visually separated, when all other taxi drivers have put extra suitcases in the front
  • He has a history of literally taking our money
  • He dropped us off past the hotel, which is apparently normal for rip-off taxis

Theory 2: The Careless Darryn

Clues that point to me losing the money from my pocket:

  • There is less money than expected, and it was in my pocket.

Clues that point to me not losing the money:

  • The pocket was sealed with 2 buttons


The taxi driver stole 1,500,000 from us.

Whilst this was a bit of a blow financially (about $93 AUD), it was a bigger blow to my experience of Viet Nam. I now view everyone as a potential thief and have an assumption that they tend towards the hostile end of the friendliness spectrum. Other experiences with non-tippable people have added to this. It’s a bit of a shame that this happened, but at least it happened at the start of my Viet Nam experience, so I will be wary for the duration of my visit, instead of being ripped off repeatedly until the penny drops.

[Update 1 day later – I’ve since learned that people count money in lots of 10,000, so “1” = 10,000]

[Update 2 days later – I’m less suspicious now; I’m in the North (Ha Long Bay) and perhaps people here are different, or perhaps I’ve just calmed down]

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention

Since my last post:

  • I proposed to my girlfriend, Hayley.
  • We moved in together.
  • I was in a car accident and sustained a whiplash injury.
  • I married Hayley.
  • We went on a hungrymoon and became Newlyfeds.

I’m writing this from a hotel in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Viet Nam. It is our first anniversary, and we are calling it Hungrymoon 2: The Hungerning. The official hashtags are #hungrymoon2 and #thehungerning.

recept: erwtensoep (Dutch pea soup)

It can stick and burn easily. This makes the soup yucky. Heat it gently and stir it often.

The longer you cook it, the more delicious it is.

Make a lot, it won’t go to waste. The soup freezes well.

Like a curry, this soup is much better the next day. It should be refrigerated as it goes off easily if left out. When cold, you should be able to cut it with a knife.

The for stages of erwtensoep's life
Clockwise from top: ready to eat, cut it with a knife, the spoon standing up in the pot, ingredients starting to simmer


1 celeriac, diced
4 carrots
4 large potatoes
1/2 bunch celery (see Method)
2 handfuls chopped celery leaves
1 handful chopped parsley
4 leeks, halved lengthwise, washed, roughly chopped (inc. green bits)
1kg split peas
6L water

1 ham hock (800g)
6 pork ribs (“fat removed”)
smoked bacon bones

You want about 1.5 – 2kg of meat, including bones.

2 rookworst (accompaniment)

A massive stockpot
A stab mixer or potato masher

Peel and dice potatoes, celeriac, and carrots. Dice stick of celery, or half a bunch if you couldn’t get a celeriac. Halve the leeks lengthwise, wash them and chop roughly, including the green bits. Dice any loose meat but leave any meat that is on the bone. Chop up the celery leaves, you will need about 2 cups.

Wash the peas 3 times, after picking out any that are a funny colour, or are stones.

Disputed: soak the peas for 12 hours in 6L of water. Afterwards, quickly bring them to the boil, skim off the scum, and then discard the water. I don’t bother doing this, the packet doesn’t even say to do it.

Rookworst, pork ribs, ham hock, bacon bones
Rookworst, pork ribs, ham hock, bacon bones


All the veges for erwtensoep
All the veges for erwtensoep

In a large pot, add celeriac, carrots, potatoes, leeks, peas, and all meat except the rookworst. Cover with 3 litres of water. You can add some stock powder or cubes if you wish, but don’t tell me about it if you want my respect. Bring to the boil, then put the heat on low. Leave it to simmer, covered.

After an hour, give the soup a stir and check that it isn’t sticking to the bottom. Add water if it looks like it needs it. Cover and repeat every half an hour or so.

After 2.5 hours of simmering, check the meat. If it comes easily away from the bone, take it from the pot. Remove and chop the meat. You can discard the bones or chuck them back in for that little extra flavour. If the meat was not ready, test it again later.

After 3 hours the soup should be ready. If you like, you can give it a bit of a mash with a potato masher, or use a stab mixer if you desire a more even consistency. I like the chunks to degrade naturally by being ‘boiled to bits’.

Finally, get a spoon and stand it in the centre of the pot. If it stays upright, the soup is ready. If not, wait until this *very important* test can be passed.

Once the spoon stands up, thinly slice the rookworst and add it to the pot. Let it simmer until the rookworst is hot and some of its delicious juices have started to come out. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the chopped celery leaves and parsley.

I’ve covered this in a separate post, but I have been unable to get proper gelderse rookworst, or indeed anything that a Dutch person would identify as rookworst, in Sydney. The closest substitute is the DOM “rookwurst” (sic), although I am almost tempted to use hot dogs. HANS used to make something that they called “Kookwurst”, which was like a cross between rookworst and a hot dog, and that was the closest I have seen here. I have seen recipes which call for kielbasa, a Polish smoked sausage, so that might be worth a try. Let me know in the comments if you’ve got any clues.

Traditionally it is served with a kind of rye bread that is similar to pumpernickel (roggebrood) and a thinly sliced black smoked ham/bacon called katenspek. Sometimes mustard is spread on the rye bread.


Cook in a crockpot
Mung dhal instead of split peas
pork belly
spek – I saw something called speck in the supermarket, was smoked, looked a bit like pork belly, might be worth a go.
I’ve heard of some people adding a fennel bulb. You can try it, I won’t.
Some people will add 5 or 6 bay leaves and a teaspoon of thyme. Give that a go, if you want.
One of my Dutch recipes calls for a pig’s ear and a trotter. I substituted the hock for the trotter.
Adding onions as a supplement to the leeks.

In Australia, the meat and the celeriac are the most expensive ingredients. Bacon and pork chops could be substituted, and celery substituted for celeriac. The soup won’t be as good.

Called Primo Hans – the Kookwurst has been deleted by Woolies so there is no point in manufacturing it anymore. The product no longer exists :(

Girl is on my mind

Hayley has been gone for over 2 weeks now, and there are still 16 more days before she returns. It’s been a difficult time, as I’ve been missing her badly. The one thing that has made it bearable is Skype; my day is made when I see her smile and hear her laugh. I’m always thinking about her; everything reminds me of her. I can’t wait until she comes back.

[edit 6th December 2012] runner-up track would have to be: