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Honey, I'm home!
We've moved! Starting from today the joys of hotel life (free coffee in the morning, a fresh towel and nice bed every night, drunken american tourists at 2am in the staircase, ...) are over. Apart from being very central, our new apartement has several advantages (see image below): hot jacuzzi just in front of the house, some green plants in a grey city, plenty of space in front of the house to park the motorbike...

Our new address:

c/o Mei Chen
A3F13, So. 341, Cao Dat, Q5
Ho Chi Minh City

Our new telephone numbers:

Oliver: +84977014605
Luis-Carlos: +84977014603
Posted by Oliver Fuhrer at 17:34
I like to ride my bycicle...
Riding a bike in Lausanne is peanuts! So here I am with my Chinese import 93ccm Honda trying to get a grip on riding a motorbike. Differences to a "normal" bycicle at first seem marginal: You don't have to pedal. But as always, the devil lies in the details. The problems begin with accelerating and breaking. As compared to bycicle where you accelerate with the feet and brake with the hands, for a motorbike it works exactly the other way around. This also goes for shifting gears, which is done with your left foot. Nonetheless, there are also some similarities between riding a bycicle and a motorbike: Cars are your enemy, thieves also like your means of transport, you can easily get yourself killed.

Getting my bike also wasn't easy. After having considered renting one, Bang actually organized one for me from Switzerland. The father of his wife is retired and rarely uses his motorbike anymore. So I thought I will just drop by one evening and sneak away with the bike in order to try it out somewhere safe. No sir! After having had to sing "Octopuse's garden" from the Beatles on the home karaoke box, he told me in his immaculate french "Et maintenant vous me montrez conduire!" Oh shit! Having never driven a motorbike before in my whole life showing off my driving skills to the 60 year old owner of the motorbike probably isn't the smartest of all ideas. Well, we set off to the 24h guarded garage ($3/month) and pointing at the back part of the saddle he told me "Moi assoir ici!". Not only will I crash the bike, hurt myself and get humiliated, I will also be responsible for hurting the father of Bang's wife!!! And off we went...

Everything went quite fine, Bang's father-in-law is still alive and healthy and I got away with a motorbike! And I have to say, crusing with 25km/h, Luis on the backseat and a GPS to guide me towards work is quite cool! After the campaign I will probably stay for another year and test my luck as a Honda-Man, driving people around HCMC for 20'000 Dung (1?) per 5km. I'm also considering tuning my bike before giving it back. They have some really nifty blue-aluminium brake handles! Pimp my ride!

Over and out!
Posted by Oliver Fuhrer at 16:49
Work in progress...
To all people who think that Luis and me are on a vacation: Don't read any further!

Preparations for the campaign are going on full throttle. Here some updates concerning what we've been doing so far:
- we've been joined by Ngoc and Hieu to help us for the campaign
- bought toolbox material (multimeter, soldering iron, torx keys, etc.)- GC calibration system assembled and ready to be installed
- 3m camera mount boom constructed and camera tested with external harddisk
- new blower assembled and connected to control electronics, works ok
- 100m of 6mm diameter plastic tube bought in 20m pieces, we have unions and adapter for blower
- permissions for placement of weather station, truck, tube, electricity, release of propane are ok
- contracted security guard for night time surveillance of truck
- GC setup in truck, waiting for gases (N2, H2, zero air, calibration gas) to start up

Next steps:
- construct tracer liberation system after some initial tests with new blower
- start up GC and calibrate
- get revision of NOx, O3, SO2, CO, and PM10/2.5 done from Victory
- install weather station on rooftop of closeby building
- put camera to street and shoot some sample videos to send to EPFL
- offer a stick of incense and some fruit to Wishnu, Budda and Jesus in order to pray for good luck for the campaign
Posted by Oliver Fuhrer at 16:31
Good morning vietnam!
Xin Chao!

We've finally arrived in the country of Pho [1]. Not having been killed yes in a motorcycle accident, I actually have the pleasure of adding an entry into the blog. After having washed away the black, sticky layer that has accumulated on my skin over the coarse of the day, I am sitting (at 1:51am, hello jetlag) in the hotel lobby our temporary home here. We've already had some interesting conversations in the local lingo of our street, which is probably the most touristic street of all HCMC [2]:

A: "Where can we get some ice-cream?"
B: "You want Marihuana?"
A: "No, but we would like some ice-cream."
B: "You want women?"
A: "No, I have a woman. I want to eat some ice-cream."
B: "Ah, you want North Face! Come with me, sir!"
A: "No, I prefer to spend a fortune on a North Face jacket in Switzerland. I want some ice-cream! Eat! Food! Cold! Strawberry!"
B: "Why you not want Marihuana"
A: "Oh forget it!"
B: "Where are you from, sir?"

So, after having bought 100g of Marihuana and 5 women, we actually found an ice-cream parlour which was in fact just 100m down the road. If anyone is interested in the GPS coordinates, I can send them...

Sunday I will start trying to drive a motorbike. Stay tuned for more infos such as visiting hours for the Ho Chi Minh City hospital and other useful infos. ;-)

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pho
[2] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/779487.stm
Posted by Oliver Fuhrer at 20:00
The Visit
Friedrich Dürrenmatt beat us to the scene in Vietnam by a couple of days. His play "The Visit" (Der Besuch der alten Dame in german) will for the first time be shown in Vietnamese, starting November 24. Of course, if I get a chance and a ticket, I will go and watch it and keep you posted of how it was like. Interesting caveat is, that even though Rudolph Straub is cited to be "a well known Swiss theater and movie director", googling him currently only gives links in Vietnam.

Posted by Oliver Fuhrer at 23:23
t - 7 days
One more week to go! Today we went to buy particle filters (see below) in order to survive daily traffic in HCMC. In reality, we probably would need much more than that... Sadly, I will not find the time to take some scooter lessons before leaving, so navigating the daily traffic will be an interesting experience to say the least.
Posted by Oliver Fuhrer at 12:58
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Calibration Gas in HCMC!
The calibration gas mixture which has been sent by ship from Singapore has arrived today in HCMC, meaning that we can already measure the volatile organic compounds as well as the tracer! Now we are crossing the fingers for the NOx/SO2/CO calibration gas and the BTEX to arrive on time...

Our flight is booked. This is your caption speaking... ready for takeoff on November 29, 2006 at ZRH. There's no way back now... Roger, over, ...chrrrck!
Posted by Oliver Fuhrer at 10:24
Equipment arrived!
Finally, the box containing the gaschromatograph has arrived at the Institute of Environment and Resources in HCMC. To our surprise, this time it only took 5 days and not 2 months.
Posted by Oliver Fuhrer at 8:51
Hello world!
This blog is dedicated to a measurement campaign which will take place December 2006 to January 2007 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The campaign is part of a SDC project of the LPAS (EPF) and IER of the Vietnam National University (VNU).

Stay tuned for more news at beginning of December 2006!

In honour of today's grand opening of the HCMC blog, I'd like to quote THE references for questions concerning life, the universe, measurement campaigns and everything...

"The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair."
(Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless)
Posted by Oliver Fuhrer at 12:26
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