wifi353

Bia hoi.

Not to bang on about it, but I'm currently in Vietnam having a truly great holiday and once again I've been struck by how much Australians overcomplicate things ...

In Vietnam, the line between a problem and its solution is absolutely straight, not bent around government regulations and legalese or forced to snake through thickets of political correctness and paternalism.

A case in point. The tiny bia hoi beside our hotel in Nha Trang is run by a bloke in his 50s and serves jugs of shivering cold, beautiful pale ale for one dollar.

You'll get five or six mugs of beers from every jug - so you do the math on how much Australian breweries rort us with the prices we pay for the amber nectar in our country.

Anyway, if you want a takeaway, old mate empties a jug full of beer into a plastic bag, ties it off with a rubber band, then sticks it in a shopping bag with some chunks of ice. Then he has his mate home deliver it to you via moped for 25 cents.

Try pulling off that business idea in Australia and you'd disappear under so many laws, rangers, coppers and council workers you'd be paying your legal bills until The Rapture.

In regards to price, it makes some sense that something like beer would be a little cheaper because of the lower costs of production in a country like Vietnam.

But when it comes to telecommunications ... what gives?

Every single cafe, bar or restaurant you walk into in Vietnam has free, fast wi-fi - perhaps the keystone of any modern economy - yet we condescend to call the place a third world country?

My friends and I visited a collection of fishing shacks half an hour out of Nha Trang - literally in the middle of nowhere - and they had free wi-fi there.

You can wander the 'wilds' of St Kilda or Bondi for half an hour trying to find a wi-fi connection, which you'll then be asked to pay for seven times out of ten.

I toddled off to find a SIM card for my mobile when I arrived here - and outlaid 60,000 dong - about A$3 - and it's kept me going through about ten texts, four local and three calls home to Australia.

And it's not like it's getting any better in Australia.

Telcos are now reducing the data allowance you get on mobile phone plans.

The Age reported Tuesday that "Australia's three biggest mobile phone providers have slashed the amount of data offered in their plans, some by up to 40 per cent on last year ... a sleight-of-hand price increase.''

So someone - anyone - explain it to me how a 'Third World' beach shack where beers cost 60c can afford to offer free wi-fi but it costs you hundreds a year to get the same service in your house in Australia?

I'm currently on semi-leave. Moderation will be a little hit and miss because of the time difference.

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