Page 1

AsiaLIFE volume 50

22 front

08 News & Events 12 Dispatches


13 Street Smart: Nguyen Trong

40 Sterling's Saigon 41 El Gato Negro 42 Hoang Yen


43 La Creperie

16 Q&A with Nguyen Thi Thanh 18 Photo Essay: BIS Showcase

on the cover

22 Towards Tolerance


28 The Road Warriors 30 School's Out For Summer

style & design

44 House of Invention 48 Stepping Out 50 Connoisseur: Ducati


52 The List 78 Spotlight

32 Read All About It

80 Street Guide

34 Anyway You Slice It

88 Keeping Tabs 89 The Two of Us


36 A Northwest Passage

90 Pub Quiz

38 Weekenders

41 Cover Art Direction Johnny Murphy Photography Fred Wissink

4 asialife HCMC


note from the editor contributors Claire Jowell

Brett Davis I like to read UK’s The Guardian newspaper each day, along with US magazines Slate and The Atlantic, and Australia’s The Sydney Morning Herald. Throw in the English editions of Thanh Nien and Tuoi Tre and you pretty much have my list of daily reading. The snapshot you get, at least from the western news outlets, is of a world increasingly divided along ideological lines. They may be political, social or religious extremes, but the fact remains that the gulf between people seems ever widening. Take the US Republican presidential primary campaign season for example. While admittedly revelling in it as a kind of so-bad-you-can’t-look-away spectacle, it does reveal more troubling truths. Namely that there are some strongly held views by those seeking the most powerful office in the world that are less than charitable to certain segments of society. Where one would turn in the Republican party if you were not Christian, wealthy, male and heterosexual it is difficult to say. The issue of sexual preference, or more precisely the attendant civil rights of gay people, is a hot button issue in America. It is also similar to some extent in Australia, although it is still far ahead of the US. Unquestionably the greatest gains have been made in the UK, whose government is moving towards recognising full legal marriage between people of the same sex. It is an issue that is so intertwined with history and culture and belief systems that it is unlikely it will cease to be a contentious topic any time soon. Vietnam is no different from many nations around the world that are tussling with the issue, although in recent years there has been definite progress here. In this month’s cover story we talk to Vietnamese and expatriate members of the gay and lesbian community in Saigon to get an insight into some of their experiences and how they view the journey the country is taking towards tolerance. At the end of the day, and this is my personal view, the best we can do as individuals and as a society is to try to be happy and wish for others to achieve the same. However you achieve that and whomever it is with, as long as you are not hurting anybody else, is OK with me.

6 asialife HCMC

Claire Jowell, originally from South Africa, has been living in Saigon for a mere four months. She studied Politics, Economics and Media at the University of Cape Town. Her immense love of Cape Town's mountains and oceans made it difficult to leave, but she has been swept away by Saigon's vibrancy and diversity. She works as a teacher, as well as other odd jobs, and has a passion for reading and writing about her travel experiences. Radar pg82, Endorsed pg 87.

(Deon) Lieu Anh Vu A Professional Communication undergrad at RMIT Vietnam, Vu also studied a liberal arts degree in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. His main areas of interest are urban theories and gender issues, and he has been examining and advocating for a traditional, but not conservative, way of life for young urban Vietnamese. He currently lives in the area of HCM City formerly known as Cholon, an urban centre that has had its own colourful and turbulent history. Q&A pg 16.

Next time you're across the border, check out the latest issue of AsiaLIFE Cambodia or download it from

Find AsiaLIFE articles on

NEWS Weekend Breakfast at KOTO

The delicious food options, Perfetto coffee and relaxed courtyard dining experience make KOTO Saigon restaurant the ideal place for your leisurely weekend breakfast. From 8.30am Saturday and Sunday you can sit back and let the KOTO trainees make the most relaxing time of your week everything it should be. Options include the Big Breakfast, pancakes with maple syrup, and house-made muesli, as well as a selection of freshly baked treats.

Summer Ball for a Cause

The Saigon Children’s Charity Summer Ball continues to be one of the highlights of the city’s social calendar, and it is an opportunity for Saigon’s residents to show their commitment to a brighter future for disadvantaged children in Vietnam. The 5-star event is a great night to relax with friends and acquaintances, but also a unique

EVENTS opportunity to build dreams for hundreds of children by enabling them to get an education. This is a chance to escape the chaos and to have fun in style for a few hours. You and your friends will be treated to a classical ball with a champagne reception followed by a 5-course dinner prepared by top chefs at the Sheraton Hotel. During the night, there will be an auction, raffle prizes and an array of music for you to dance the night away – all for a good cause! Tickets are VND 2.7mill and a table of 10 is VND 27mill. More information at events.aspx, or contact Ms Frederikke on freddi@saigonchildren. com or on 0123 815 7508.

First Novel from AsiaLIFE Cambodia publisher

Always, the first published novella by AsiaLIFE Cambodia publisher Mark Bibby Jackson was launched at Phnom Penh’s Latin Quarter on 23 April. The launch of the novella marks

a life-time ambition for Bibby Jackson, who started writing fiction as a child. “I have attempted to write this story in various forms for about twenty years,” says the author. “Hopefully this time I have got it just about right.” Always follows the thoughts of a man living out the final seven days of his life in a cell, only he is also losing his memory. AsiaLIFE HCMC has 20 copies of Always to give away to readers. The first 20 people to reply correctly to the question: in which year was AsiaLIFE launched, will receive a signed copy by the author. Answers should be sent to: A kindle version of Always can also be bought online from Amazon Books. Search on the author’s name to download it.

Tearoom Now Open

Starting on 19 May, Operation: Tea will be serving their line of high quality teas from Japan, China and around the world, as well as traditional favourites, such as

English Breakfast and Jasmine. The new tearoom is located on the first floor of Yoga Meditation Center. Serving hours are Monday to Friday 8am-8pm and Saturday and Sunday 8am-12pm. Drinks start at 35,000 for a cup or 55,000 for a pot of tea. They will also be having a Grand Opening Party, Saturday 5 April, 2-5pm with free snacks and drinks. The tearoom is located at 335/31 Dien Bien Phu, District 3.

Nha Trang Sailing Regatta Series

The Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang will host the first official event within the Regatta Series program of 2012-2013. The opening event will be held on 2 June and 3 June right on the beach of the resort. High Tide is the organiser of the Regatta Series, a sailing championship consisting of four events over the year to support the growth of sailing in Vietnam. The event generates a high level of visibility through a wide range of

media from National Television to magazines as well as the Internet. Each event caters both to experienced sailors and beginners. Participants score points based on their ranking. Those points are accumulated toward a grand total for all four events together, determining the grand champions. There are new classes of sailboats including: HTR460, 4.4m long with hiking ladders and double trapeze and RS Q’Bas, 3.5m long, to be launched this time around at the race at Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang. Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang resort will provide a voucher for two nights accommodation in one of their luxury Deluxe Seaview Beachfront rooms for the the winner. The participants will have an opportunity to experience one of the most beautiful resorts in Vietnam with their partners after finishing the race.

La Residence Grows Menu with On-site Garden Business is blooming at La Residence Hotel and Spa in Hue, where chefs at fine-dining restaurant Le Parfum are picking the first batch of produce from a newly planted garden and orchard on the resort’s riverside grounds.

Set in a 1930s art-deco mansion in Vietnam’s former Imperial City, La Residence is cutting its carbon footprint and catering to guests’ tastes by using fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables grown in-house on a 260 squaremeter plot facing the Perfume River. Planted by the resort in January 2012, 10 vegetable species and 18 herbs and roots, including galangal, pandan and sweet potato are tended by a local gardener and protected under sunshade netting and a built-in sprinkler system until picked for preparation by executive chef La Thua An. La Residence’s orchard is planted with eight types of tropical fruit-bearing trees expected to yield their first harvest in 18 months. Meanwhile, a new orchid garden is currently providing flowers for room turndowns and decorations. General Manager Anthony Gill says La Residence has plans to host a cooking class and chef’s table amid the greenery once the garden and orchard are fully set up.

Express Visas Now Available

It is now possible to get a visa for

American Eye Center Opens in Vietnam

American Eye Center, the first high-quality eye care centre built to American standards in Vietnam, opened its doors last month in District 7. The centre offers advanced techniques and equipment, along with a team of highly trained doctors that meet US clinical standards. The American Eye Center is located on the fifth floor of the Crescent Plaza in District 7. Visit for more details. Vietnam in as little as three hours. Vietnam Visa is cutting down the time it takes for applicants to get their visa. Travellers can receive visa approval through the company Vietnam Visa. Applications are VND 1,300,000 per application, subject to nationality of the applicant. Vietnam Visa processes applications in two batches throughout the day. Morning applications are accepted until 8am and afternoon applications

are accepted up until 1:30pm. Applicants will need a completed application form. The company’s website, www., offers an Embassy List, Visa Guide, and Visa Fee List along with further instructions on how to apply., now in its sixth year, allows travellers to apply for a visa on arrival or landing visa at three international airports including Noi Bai airport in Ha Noi Capital, Da Nang airport

Ho Chi Minh City: 161 Dong Khoi street, District 1 ( Unit 1C, 1st Floor) Tel: 3.822 5034 Fax: 3.832 6941 email:

asialife HCMC 9

and Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City.

Seoul to St. Petersburg

Korean Air will resume services to St. Petersburg from 24 April till 29 September, one of the most popular destinations during the summer season in the northern hemisphere. The Incheon-St. Petersburg flights will operate three times a week- Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.

A major transport hub, St. Petersburg is referred to as “the Northern Capital” of Russia and is known as the city of culture and art and is home to the famous Hermitage Museum, one of the largest museums in the world. By resuming the Incheon-St. Petersburg route during the summer season, Korean Air expects to provide more options and greater flexibility for passengers travelling to Russia and Northern Europe.

Diesel Launches 2012 Campaign

The denim and lifestyle brand Diesel hosted an exclusive event last month to introduce its 2012 campaign, ‘Portraits for Successful Living’. The event was attended by many VIPs, including Vietnamese top celebrities Johnny Tri Nguyen, Ngo Thanh Van, Luong Manh Hai, Ho Vinh Khoa, and the 365 Band. The event was themed ‘I am who I am, my place is your place’ and depicted the cozy and elegant new Diesel styles that are built on the company’s core values. The Spring/Summer 2012 is a completely new collection with a fresh approach. Diesel is being distributed and managed by ACFC – a division of IPP Group. To see photos, updates, and promo information, please log on to

Audi A5 Sportback in Vietnam

The Audi A5 Sportback, which features cutting-edge technologies for a more efficient, powerful and sharper drive all within a sporty design, has been introduced to the Vietnamese market. It is a visual masterpiece with its flowing silhouette, crisp lines, accentuated surfaces and iconic LED lights at the front and rear. Its efficient 2.0 TFSI engine was declared Engine of the Year five times in a row, from 2005 through 2009. Tran Tan Trung, the general director of Audi Vietnam’s official distributor, Lien-A International, says the A5 Sportback is perfect for the Vietnamese market because customers will like its sporty design and convenience as a compact alternative.

10 asialife HCMC


Travel news from around the region and beyond

Idyllic Beach Resort Newly opened Le Méridien Koh Samui Resort & Spa is set in an enclave on Lamai Beach, the eastern and quieter side of Samui island. Featuring 77 guest suites and villas, accommodation options are diverse, ranging from secluded individual pool villas right at the scenic beachfront, to private suites clustered around communal pools. While the resort’s design and layout were inspired by the principles of feng shui, the main focal point remains its 224-metre floating dock which affords breathtaking views over the Gulf of Thailand. Nearby are a number of recreational and cultural facilities for visitors to enjoy, such as Buddhist temples, quaint fishing villages and waterfalls. The resort is currently offering a 'buy two nights, get a third free' deal, with rates starting at around US $300++ per night including breakfast for a pavilion pool villa. For more information visit – Ellen Boonstra

Luxury Living in Manila A space that former Philippine first couple Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos dreamed up has been re-imagined as Manila’s most opulent and versatile digs. At 6,200 square feet and with panoramic views of the sea and city, The Imperial Residence on the 11th floor of Sofitel Philippine Plaza is a mansion in the sky. The residence's most appealing facet could be its collection of five spacious suites, which guests can book separately or as a whole. The latter choice comes with the option to have any room converted into a customized special-purpose area, such as a gym, office or spa, or whatever the guest’s heart desires. As the only 5-star hotel with a resort setting in Manila this 609-room property is the largest in Sofitel’s portfolio. For more information visit

Reconnect in Hong Kong Sometimes a getaway just for two can recreate a spark of romance. You can take the time to reconnect with the special 'Amour' package at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Hong Kong. Stay in a Mountain View room; buffet breakfast for two; a bottle of red wine and chocolates to be enjoyed in your room; HK$600 (US $77) dining credit that can be used at Cafe, Sha Tin 18, Pool Bar, Tin Tin Bar, Patisserie, room service or minibar. Finally you can get a well-deserved sleep in with a late check out at 2pm. From HK$2,230 (US $287) per night for a double. For more information go to 

12 asialife HCMC


NGUYEN TRONG TUYEN Alex McMillan finds hidden gems in Phu Nhuan. Up Cafe 269 Nguyen Trong Tuyen We begin our journey at one of the most memorable places in HCMC. This cafe’s theme is everything upside-down; from its exterior, it appears as a house standing on its roof. Inside, the paintings on the walls are flipped, and the ceiling has a piano on it. It’s fairly popular with young locals and serves some good drinks at reasonable prices. We recommend the kumquat soda. Drinks average around VND 40,000. Serenata 329/15 Nguyen Trong Tuyen This live music restaurant/bar features lots of plants, an open atmosphere, and beautiful

nightly piano performances. Take your date here, as it has a perfect and quiet location down an alley where you cannot hear the rumble of the traffic on the street, which makes for a romantic evening. Advance bookings are welcome at +84 0839977178. International Schools 305, 309, 326A Nguyen Trong Tuyen Surprisingly, this street has no dearth of international schools. In fact there seems to be quite a few sprinkled all in a small area near the head of the street. The largest is a primary school called International School of Saigon (326A). For more information and photos check out their site asialife HCMC 13

Museum 326A1 Nguyen Trong Tuyen Need some communist art, history, culture? The back door to the museum grounds is located on this street. You can walk through a shaded cafe that leads into the museum. There are lots of communist inspired statues to look at outside as well as a gigantic tank. The museum closes during lunchtime around 1pm, so plan accordingly. Billiards – Thao My 353 Nguyen Trong Tuyen A quiet spot to duck in a have a game of pool with your friends over a beer in the evening or a coffee in the afternoon. The staff was friendly and welcoming. 14 asialife HCMC

Family Mart 367 Nguyen Trong Tuyen One of the largest convenience stores in Japan and Korea is making its way slowly to Vietnam. The interesting thing about this particular store is that they try to replicate the popular Japanese chain’s wares with similar items produced locally. So if you’re missing energy drinks and onigiri, try getting one here instead with a Vietnamese flair to it. The good thing is that it’s clean and well stocked like its Japanese cousin, but the prices are fitting for Vietnam. Bun Rieu Hem 385 Nguyen Trong Tuyen

If you’re looking for a good spot for some street noodles, look no further. An extremely popular spot during the lunch-time rush, this little alley way is served by a few different noodle carts with very friendly ladies. Highly recommended.

Two notable items sampled were cha ca, a kind of fried fish, which was amazing, as well as fried and dried sardine chips. Prices are cheap all along the street and there’s a little surprise at the end, which brings us to the next place on the list.

Market 409 Nguyen Trong Tuyen As a traveller it’s nice to find places that are off the beaten path. This market was welcoming and intriguing, and the people along the way were surprised to see a foreigner in their midst, but were still very kind in that they wanted to chat and give free samples.

Free Vegetarian Food 449 Nguyen Trong Tuyen On the 1st and 15th of every month at 11am a restaurant opens up to the public and offers free vegetarian food. Look for the place with the sign that says 'Com Chay Mien Phi' (vegetarian food for free). Their sign even reads, “everyone welcome”.

16 asialife HCMC

Nguyen Thi Thanh Known as 'The Lunch Lady', Nguyen Thi Thanh has been serving up delicious soups every day for 15 years at her street stall on Hoang Sa street in District 1. After making an appearance on celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain’ show No Reservations she became an unlikely international star. These days her regular office worker clientele mix with the tourists who have come from far and wide to sample her cooking. However, she tells Lieu Anh Vu fame has not changed her life or her passion for her work. Photos by Alex McMillan. You became known around the world after Anthony Bourdain featured you on his television show. What did you think of that experience and did you ever imagine you would become so famous? I don’t know how to express my feelings back then for you to understand, but generally I felt happy and excited when I knew that there were people living on the other side of the world thinking about me and missing Vietnam, and coming to this country. I paid a lot of attention to the newspapers that featured me. I never thought that one day I would become famous. Everything happened to me so suddenly. At first, it was only a few journalists eating at my stall. They thought my dishes were tasty and cheap, so they wanted to advertise my place to other Vietnamese. How did this attention from the media change your life, and did it change the sort of customers you get? My life hasn’t changed much and I’m still doing the same thing as before. It has been already a few years. Now I’ve

become familiar with the media and the new customers. Many tourists know about my stall and visit as well. There are more people coming here than ever before. How long have you been operating this business? I started this business 15 years ago, but it was not until three years ago that it became known in the media. Recently I have been interviewed a lot. There was also someone from New York who came here to interview me. I heard that it was already broadcast over there. Unlike many street vendors, you serve different dishes each day, why is that? Yes I have different dishes for each day. I think that the customers would get tired of the dish if I just kept cooking the same one for every single day. Serving different dishes will enhance their appetite and they will like the food better. How did you develop your recipes, did anyone help you? I have quite a few dishes to satisfy the palate of my custom-

ers. I try to cook what they demand. Some of the dishes include pho, mien ga, bun thit nuong,nem nuong, cha gio, mi quang, bun cha ca. I developed all the recipes myself based on my experiences cooking over the years. Why do you think your food has remained so popular? First, I think my dishes suit the customers’ tastes. Second, they are quite cheap. Last but not least, perhaps the customers are quite fond of me, and that’s a very important thing. Are you here every day of the week, and do you ever take any time off? Nowadays I’m only here for six days a week. My older sister replaces me on Sunday. I used to serve bun thit nuong cha gio on Sunday, but now my sister serves hu tiu nam vang. What do you enjoy most about your job? I enjoy everything about my job, because if you want to have a dish, you must love all the processes and the dish itself. Only then will your dish be

delicious. From selecting the ingredients from the market to preparing the dish at home, I must love everything. Can you imagine ever doing anything different? No I don’t think I will be doing anything other than this. I might improve the facilities or move to a more proper place, or renovate my current place a little bit, if I have an opportunity. The customers are now familiar with me and my dishes, and I am a well-known person. Whatever I decide to do later on, I will stick to the business of serving food. What do you think is the secret to your success? I don’t think there is any secret at all. I’ve become successful because my customers have been loyal to me and always support my street stall. They even gave me the signboard “Lunch Lady” that I’ve put in front of my place now. Sometimes they bring me the photos, the articles featuring me, and the DVD of my interview from the US. I really appreciate all that.

asialife HCMC 17


BIS SHOWCASE These photos showcase some of the work done by four Year 13 International Baccalaureate students studying visual arts at the British International School in Ho Chi Minh City. The work will be exhibited from the 24th of May at KOTO Saigon, 151A Hai Ba Trung, District 3.

CHRISTIANA GENTILE, 18 “I have always been intrigued by ideas and contradictions that exist within dfferent cultures and I have chosen to explore these juxtapositions within my artwork.”

CINDY CHANG, 18 “I’m fascinated with the social ideals that society is constantly projecting onto the younger generation and the effect on individuals' self esteem. Through my artwork, I have attempted to challenge the female archetypes by exploring what is considered beautiful.” asialife HCMC 19

DUY LE, 19 “The clash of modern and traditional culture has had a strong influence on my ideas which is why I have been interested in exploring sub-culture and street art.� 20 asialife HCMC

Kim Grosvenor, 18 “I have grown increasingly concerned for our natural surroundings and with my art I have chosen to explore the seemingly careless disregard for it through the development of society�

asialife HCMC 21

22 asialife HCMC

TOWARDS TOLERANCE Being homosexual in any country comes with its unique set of challenges, and in Vietnam it's no different. Ten years ago it was difficult for many gay and lesbian Vietnamese to come out to friends or family, let alone live an open lifestyle. Now, with the help of community organisers, the homosexual community in Saigon is thriving and negative attitudes towards them throughout the country are beginning to change. By Chris Mueller. Photos by Fred Wissink.

asialife HCMC 23

hen Nguyen Quoc Duy was a child and first realized there was something different about the way he thought, he wasn’t sure where to turn. The then 10-year-old knew he wasn’t interested in girls and no one he knew had ever talked about boys being attracted to other boys. As his strong interest in other male students grew, he became increasingly curious about what was different about him. Twelve years ago, the Internet wasn’t yet widely available in Vietnam, so Duy started to read books about his seemingly odd behaviour. His research led him to believe what he was feeling was normal for many his age and that he was simply curious about the world. All the books said he would grow out of it in his teenage years, so Duy stopped worrying. But he never grew out of it. When he was 16 he fell in love with a male classmate, then panic started to set in. Twelve years ago in 24 asialife HCMC

Vietnam homosexuality was an ambiguous concept to most people. The terms gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) were not taught in schools and when it was rarely portrayed in the media, it was always with a negative bias, making any non-heterosexual thoughts taboo in Vietnam. In 2002 homosexuality was declared a ‘social evil’ by the local media. Luckily Duy’s parents saw the depression creeping up in him and approached him about it. “It was hard to accept that I love a boy and not a girl,” he says. ”But my parents helped me overcome it.” Now at 22, Duy is one of the increasing number of homosexual Vietnamese who are coming out to their families and living open lifestyles in Vietnam. Compared to 10 years ago, the LGBT community here has made significant progress, says Vu Kieu Chau Loan, the project officer at Information Con-

necting and Sharing (ICS), an organisation set up in 2008 by the Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment. Discrimination and the media’s negative portrayal of homosexuals has been declining, she says. Ten years ago in Vietnam, most of the attitudes surrounding homosexuals came from their negative portrayal in the media. One of ICS’s biggest triumphs has been changing the way media outlets and TV programs show homosexuals, Huynh Minh Thao, the head of ICS, says. During the past four years, ICS has held workshops to provide journalists with information about homosexuality and the gay community. As a result, media representation has become more accurate and fair, Thao says. According to an ICS pamphlet about the portrayal of homosexuals in the local media,

many in Vietnam viewed homosexuals as people with an insatiable appetite for sex who would stop at nothing, even going so far as to have sex with children, to satisfy their urges. In HCM City, that way of thinking has significantly changed. As Duy and his openly gay friend, Tri, sat in a District 1 coffee shop telling me, rather non-discreetly, in both Vietnamese and English what it is like to be gay in Vietnam, we didn’t get so much as a hurried glance from any of the other customers. In Saigon, the most liberal city in Vietnam, the gay and lesbian community is flourishing. More and more gay and lesbian friendly bars, cafes and clubs are popping up and open homosexuals can be seen throughout the city. Gregg Dickson, a 61-year-old gay Australian man, has lived openly with his Vietnamese partner, Quan, since 2006. Although

Dickson, who served in the Australian army in Vietnam from 1970-71, describes Vietnam as, “The most ungay place I’ve come across,” he says he and Quan have never had a problem here. Dickson remembers that when he was a young man in Australia being openly gay was likely to get you beaten up. But both he and Quan, who says he has always known he was gay, have never felt discriminated against here. They also say they think that being homosexual has become a lot more acceptable, citing the coming out of many well-known Vietnamese actors, singers, businessmen and even a local politician. “We’re just normal people, living a normal life,” Dickson says. While there is no question that the tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality has increased, many still face discrimination. Unlike in the west, where much of the discrimination against homosexuals turns violent, all of the gay and lesbian Vietnamese interviewed for this article say they have never had any violence directed towards them for their sexuality, but some said they had heard of it happening. Vietnam’s conservative culture and emphasis on family has always clashed with those who identify themselves as gay, lesbian or transgender. Boys are expected to grow into men who will marry, work and take care of their family. Girls are brought up to marry a man who can support her and the rest of her family. But when sons or daughters turn out to be gay or lesbian, they are asialife HCMC 25

commonly ostracized from the family and sometimes the family becomes shunned by the community. This makes many gays and lesbians wary of coming out. To them, family ties and not disappointing their parents are more important than living openly. As we sit in the office of ICS in HCM City’s District 4, with rainbow flags adorning the desk and charts of LGBT events and tolerance-building strategies taped to the wall, Nguyen Hai Yen, a lesbian woman who is a project manager for ICS, describes her delicate situation. She says that although she came out to her friends eight years ago, she still hasn’t come up with a plan to tell her parents, who live in a town about 60km north of Hanoi. She says she worries that coming out could hurt her family’s honour, but she will come out nonetheless, at some point. Like Duy, Yen, 30, wasn’t really sure what was happening when she started to become attracted towards other woman in university. “I know now that these special feelings were first love, but I didn’t know how to identify it then,” she says. She says that in primary school when the time came for the teacher to talk about sex and human reproduction, all of the students were told to read the lessons at home and it wasn’t discussed in class. The textbooks only discussed heterosexual sex, which added to Yen’s confusion later on. “When I knew I was a lesbian, I was nervous because I thought I was different from other people. I thought I was abnormal,” she says. But after reading an article about a party organised for lesbians that described women kissing other women, Yen realized there were other people like her. “I recognized that I was not the only one who had these feelings for same-sex friends.” Yen thought her friends would judge her for her homosexuality, so she began to move away from them and make new friends on the large Internet forums for gay and lesbian people in Vietnam. Years later, however, she came out to her old friends and it didn’t affect their relationship. Yen says that in the last 10 years she has seen a significant transformation in the attitudes both within the LGBT community and society as a whole. “I’ve seen that there are many more people who dare to come out. There are more and more activities and much more advocacy for LGBT,” she says. “Now when an article says something negative about

the LGBT community in Vietnam, the readers are the ones who defend the LGBT [community].” Marten Ho, a 25-year-old gay Vietnamese man who spent seven years living in Australia, says he too has seen a significant change in how the gay community is viewed. “Society, or at least in the metropolitan areas, has come to accept it [homosexuality] as a part of life,” he says. “You see much more openness and acceptance towards our community compared to in the past.” Although attitudes have moved forward in major cities like HCM City and Hanoi, one of the biggest challenges ICS faces is bringing this same change to rural villages, says Thao. Several people interviewed for this article said in the countryside it is common for families to react harshly when young homosexuals come out to them. In some cases the families will take the son or daughter’s ID card and forbid them from leaving the house. The local media has also reported cases of suicide in the LGBT community, especially outside of the cities. Loan says ICS is conducting investigations into these cases, which is difficult since many families don’t want to talk about it. ICS is now setting up counseling services for those affected by depression.

Ho says that although progress has been steady much more needs to change. “Many still have to ‘behave’ in front of the crowd and can never truly be themselves,” he says. “One of the biggest challenges with being gay in this culture, a conservative culture which appreciates honour and face value, is humiliation. If the family and the gay man still think it is humiliating to be gay, then it creates a big barrier for them.” Loan says that while Vietnam does have a conservative culture, it is certainly not impossible to change the way people think about homosexuality. She adds that the problems here are more about ignorance and a lack of information than disdain. “They haven’t heard much about the subject,” she says. Changing the way homosexuals are portrayed in the media has helped, but Loan says the next critical step needs to be education. ICS organises conferences and events to inform the public about the LGBT community as well as going to schools and universities to teach the younger generation about it. With time, and a lot of work, ICS believes they can show Vietnam that homosexuality has long existed here and has a rightful place in Vietnamese society. asialife HCMC 27

The Road Warriors Michael Tatarski recounts close calls and crashes on an epic bicycle trip from Hanoi to Saigon.

Travelling in Vietnam never fails to generate good stories, and the more adventurous the trip the more tales you’ll return with. It’s hard to think of a more adventurous journey than riding a bicycle 2,000km from Hanoi to Saigon, which is exactly what I did with 18 other expats over the month of February in an event called H2H. There are people out there who would say cycling between Vietnam’s two biggest cities is idiotic, and they wouldn’t be entirely wrong. The country’s roads are notoriously dangerous thanks to poor maintenance and awful traffic, but this was H2H’s third year and no one had been seriously hurt before. Our ride got off to an inauspicious start though when a motorbike crashed into one of our support vans, shattering its rear window, before we had even gotten out of Hanoi’s sprawl.

Photos by Michael Tatarski

28 asialife HCMC

The near-misses The first week of the ride was muddy and constantly wet, and on one of these days the passenger on a motorbike in front of me signaled with her hand that they were going to be turning left. I didn’t want to brake so I moved left to go around them. I thought the woman was looking right at me but the moto kept edging left into my path, forcing me into a shrinking area of road. I ended up barely squeezing by on the left shoulder, my right leg mere inches from slamming into the moto’s front tire guard at 30kph. A few days later a panicked cow bolted onto the highway right in front me just as I was reaching the bottom of a steep hill. I swerved left, simply hoping that the terrified beast wouldn’t run into me, a collision I would be sure to lose. Thankfully it scampered to the right,

thus avoiding a serious bovinebicycle embrace. The day we left Hue I nearly killed a young boy riding a bicycle of his own when he speared all the way across the road without looking as I hurtled towards him at 40kph. While these incidents were scary, the most terrifying close encounters came in the windswept, sun-drenched Central Highlands. We entered this region of Vietnam one day after seeing the aftermath of an accident on a slick mountain road that had left a car overturned in a ditch and a lorry lying on its side, blocking all traffic, debris scattered everywhere. With that carnage fresh in our minds we began the often harrowing trek through the narrow, rough roads of the highlands. None of the highways had shoulders, so there was nowhere to go but into dirt or gravel

when a truck or bus ran you off the road, which happened often on this stretch. I’m not sure what it was about that part of the country, but nearly every driver seemed to be out for the blood of cyclists. Tour buses would pass other tour buses around blind corners, taking up the entirety of the road and honking wildly, forcing us off the tarmac while giving the driver an impotent middle finger. One time the driver of a bus coming towards me moved completely into my lane, even though his was empty. I wondered what the hell he was doing as I rolled off onto the dirt, only to see him laughing at me as he careened by. After that all I wanted to do was hurl rocks through the front windows of every bus I saw. The wrecks Sadly it wasn’t all just close calls on the ride; we left plenty

of skin and blood smeared across the roads of Vietnam. I happened to crash four times. The first was minor, but the second left me with a nasty gash below my left knee that came awfully close to getting infected. A few of us joined a wedding in a town called Do Luong, where we were treated to a flood of rice wine. After two hours of taking shots we tried to ride to our hotel, and I ended up falling over in the middle of the town’s main road, which was actually nothing but mud, and in my drunken stupor I did a poor job of cleaning the wound. The day we entered the highlands was brutal, so it’s no surprise that I crashed during it. We thought the day’s ride was going to be 104km long, but after leaving Kham Duc under a steady rain the first distance marker said 116km to

our next stop. The following marker said 122km, so I simply stopped caring what the actual distance was and resigned myself to a miserable day, which it certainly was. A steep climb greeted us straight away, and the strengthening rain combined with the altitude meant it was freezing. Near the top of the climb a thick mist descended, reducing visibility to a few metres. This was hateful, and when my rear tire rolled over a patch of slick moss on the shoulder I went down in a heap, cutting open my right knee as a lorry lumbered past me in the dense fog. I honestly felt like crying. Fortunately the torture ended a few kilometres later when we descended the other side of the hill and were greeted by the sunny warmth of the highlands. My last crash came as I

blasted down a hill on a curving road. A guy on a moto had pulled up next to me and tried to initiate a conversation when a lorry suddenly came around the next corner in our lane. The moto cut me off to avoid a crash of his own and as I slammed on the brakes I realized I wasn’t going to stop in time, so I had no option but to ride off the road. Fortunately grass lined the highway at that point and I managed to avoid enduring any cuts, although I did bruise my right leg as my bike went down on top of me. After 26 days of hard cycling, countless mechanical problems, and dangerous roads we entered Saigon, and nearly everyone had some sort of wound to vouch for the intensity of the journey. We had fought Vietnam’s pockmarked roads and erratic drivers and lived to tell the tale.

asialife HCMC 29

If you are staying in Saigon for the summer, there is no reason for the kids to be cooped up in the house with a wealth of fun and educational activities on offer, writes Brett Davis. School students everywhere in the city are probably counting down with great anticipation about now for the coming long summer holidays. Their parents may also be keeping a close eye on the calendar, but it is probably not with the same sense of excitement. Many expatriate families will be using this break to jet back to their home countries for an annual visit, or perhaps take off for some other holiday destination. However if you are remaining in Saigon for some time over the summer it does not have to be a purgatory for kids or their parents. Get Vertical Kids love to climb, often things

30 asialife HCMC

they probably shouldn’t. So why not unleash them in a safe, professional environment designed for the purpose such as an indoor rock climbing gym. X-Rock Climbing has locations in District 3 and District 2, and you can hire all the necessary gear plus get expert instruction and supervision from trained staff. Climbing is a great physical activity for kids and can provide a real sense of achievement when they master one of the many climbing routes. Kids’ day passes are VND 160,000 plus gear hire, and you really can make a day of it as X-Rock Climbing also has an arcade and games room as well as a swimming pool at the District 2 facility. Rock climbing party packages

are also available that include gear hire, belay staff, a cake and snacks plus 2.5 hours climbing. For eight children the cost is VND 3,168,000 and VND 350,000 for each additional child. For more information visit Boogie Fever So, your kids think they can dance? Then the summer programs offered by the DanCenter may be just the thing for them. For the little ones aged four to six years they have Welcome to Broadway commencing on 25 June. Here the kids will be introduced to some of the most famous Broadway musical numbers, design costumes and create makeup as well as learning to

sing and dance. The classes run from 9.30am to 11am Monday to Friday. There is a new theme musical each week such as The Lion King, Cats and The Wizard of Oz. The workshops are VND 1,470,000 and include a daily snack and juice. For those aged seven to 15 years, there is So You Think You Can Dance, where kids can create their own dance crew and choreography to the theme of the week. These include hip hop, disco funk and street jazz. Workshops run from 2.30pm to 5pm Monday to Friday and are VND 1,890,000. DanCenter has studios in District 7 and District 2. There are discounts available if you book early or into multiple workshops. Visit for more details. A Blank Canvass Vin’s Space is a boutique art studio that runs a host of workshops for children and adults. Here kids can get as creative as they want with options including oil painting, video art and jewellery making. The art and craft club is also great for younger kids, with two groups catering to kids three to five years and another for six to 10 year-olds. The programs at Vin’s Space are probably for the more dedicated artistic child as they run from between six and 12 weeks depending on the course. The studio does however cater to special events such as art parties, or their dedicated team will even come to your place to help organize the party you want. You can find out more at or email for further details. Giddy-up Many children have a special

attachment to horses, and they can experience this first-hand at the Saigon Pony Club. Only 20 minutes from Thao Dien in District 2, or an even shorter hop over the Phu My bridge from District 7, the club has training arenas as well as access to open fields to cater for riders of different abilities. In the school holidays, the Saigon Pony Club conducts pony clinics, which include riding lessons where you can learn cantering, jumping and dressage techniques, and also stable management where kids will learn how to take proper care of their pony and equipment. Summer sports In conjunction with the Saigon Sports Academy, the British International School will be staging football and basketball programs between 29 June and 1 July. These will take place at the An Phu primary and secondary school campus, and the Tu Xuong primary school campus. To find out how you kids can get involved email philipdrake@ Hitting the Books Well, it is a competitive world and just because it's summer it is no time to slack off. Getting some study time in over the warmer months may just give your kids an edge come the new school year. ACG International School will be running four different summer school programs between 25 June and 27 July. A kindergarten crèche and primary English school will cater for three to four year-olds and year 1 to 6 students respectively. Here they can build on their language skills with native English-speaking teachers.

The SAT preparation course will aim to develop problem solving and critical thinking skill to help prepare year 9 to 11 students for the rigours of university admission tests. Meanwhile the senior school IELTS preparation course is for year 10 to 13 students wishing to boost their IELTS score in order to attend overseas universities. Enquiries regarding these courses can be made by calling (08) 3747 1234 or emailing acgvn@ Meanwhile, the Montessori International School will be holding their summer camp between 27 June and 19 August. There are full-day, half-day and customised options. There will be different weekly themed activities, as well as a host of fun outdoor facilities including a play structure with slides, swimming pool, sand pit and jumping castle. There will be a range of activities suitable for children from age two to 12. For more information or to make a booking email info@ The Australian International School is offering an engaging, Intensive English Language Programme during the summer holidays. The program is designed for students from Kindergarten to Year 9. This year there is also a summer school program with lively and interactive classes for children from age two to age four The Courses have been carefully designed to assist students to further strengthen their language knowledge and to become confident in communicating in English. The program is staffed by qualified, highly experienced English as an Additional Language and mainstream teachers. For enrolments email

asialife HCMC 31

32 asialife HCMC

Read All About It Chris Mueller discusses the important role the local media plays in Vietnam despite sometimes onerous restrictions. Photo by Fred Wissink.


he local Vietnamese media has had its fair share of criticism from the international press and anyone who has read the English versions. Despite a lack of widespread journalism schools and strict restrictions about what is allowed to be published here, the local media is still able to produce quality journalism and plays an important role in Vietnamese society. As every international report about the Vietnamese media is quick to point out, the press here is controlled by the authorities. However, this doesn’t mean that independent and effective journalism isn’t done. “Local newspapers' coverage of local level corruption and or abuse of power has in certain instances become more bold and earned public respect,” Shawn Crispin, the southeast Asia Representative to the Committee to Protect Journalists, says. “The local media's coverage of the shootout between state authorities and the family of fish farmers in Haiphong city earlier this year was a case and point.” Crispin is referring to the coverage of an incident in January. According to Thanh Nien, a popular Vietnamese newspaper, the shootout began when police officers and soldiers were sent to confiscate land from a fish farmer. The incessant coverage by the local media has led both local and national government officials to reexamine Vietnam’s

land tenure system, with the Prime Minister going so far as to become involved with the case. Many also ignore the coverage local newspapers give to social issues affecting the poor and victimized. In July last year, Tuoi Tre, which arguably has the largest newspaper circulation in Vietnam, ran a series of articles about life in a massage parlour. One of their female reporters spent a month undercover in a typical massage parlour like those that can be found throughout Vietnam. The reporter wrote about the lives of some of the girls who worked in these places and what sexual favours were expected by the customers and owners. None of this was particularly ground breaking stuff, especially for anyone who has spent time in Asia, but it illustrated two important points about journalism in Vietnam. First, the willingness of a journalist to go so far as to put herself in an extremely awkward, and possibly dangerous position – journalists have always risked their lives for stories, the most recent example being the deaths of three prominent journalists in Syria. The second important thing a story like this does is to put an issue, like the every day exploitation of women in Vietnam, on the public record. Another good example of effective journalism is Thanh Nien’s investigation into mysterious explosions throughout the country involving motorbikes,

cars and buses. Their investigation led them to a regional gasoline distributor in Ho Chi Minh City where they video taped and photographed some of its workers siphoning gas out of the tankers and replacing it with low-quality fuel that was causing these fires. The investigation and published reports led to an outcry from the public and authorities began to inspect gas stations more thoroughly throughout the country. Another interesting thing about Vietnam is that the print media is still prominent here. In the early mornings, carts full of newspapers and magazines can be seen on the side of major highways. With the newspaper industry struggling worldwide, it’s refreshing to see that people seem to still care about newspapers and many still buy them. While there are issues with the standards of the Vietnamese press, especially obvious on some of the poorly edited English websites, it’s important to remember that proper journalism schools only opened in Vietnam in the early 1990s, according to a report done by Dinh Hang, who lectures about journalism at the Ho Chi Minh National Political Academy in Hanoi. Certainly a healthy and robust press is important to any country, but despite the challenges – and as long as readers don’t mind sifting through some of the sensationalised articles – the local media does a pretty good job with the limitations they are given. asialife HCMC 33

Any Way You Slice It As one of Vietnam's only foreign butchers, Australian Travis Fallon talks to Michael Tatarski about the ups and downs of plying such a unique trade in Vietnam. Photo by AsiaLIFE.

34 asialife HCMC

asialife HCMC 35

Trecherous mountain roads, rain and freezing temperatures are not enough to deter Walter Pearson from a unique travel experience in Vietnam's northwest.

36 asialife HCMC


iding down into the Nam Mu River valley with the 3140 metre-high Mt Fansipan looming on my left, I realised what an adventure I was having. Behind me lay nearly a thousand kilometres of cold, cloud-shrouded mountain passes, rough roads, exotic ethnic minorities and stunning valley views. Before me, nearly 300 kilometres of the same was to come. Of more immediate concern, the day was fading. I am on a 15-year-old 125cc Honda Bonus with a weak headlight. I do not want to be caught in the dark on the winding mountain road with its potholes and unpredictable surface. A train had delivered our bikes to Hanoi. Seven of us, all more than 50 years old, were taking a six-day tour of the northwest loop in rice transplanting season. First, it was southwest from Hanoi to Hoa Binh with its massive dam and hydroelectric plant, then Mai Chau, popular with western tourists taking in the ethnic minority experience. Outside Mai Chau, we encounter the 1000 metre-high Moc Chau Pass covered in cloud and the remains of a land-slide that had killed two people a week before. For kilometres

along the top of the mountains visibility is down to metres, temperatures in the teens. The sun returns as we drop down and chase tributaries of the Da River into valleys studded with mustard-coloured bamboo. Next stop, Son La. Son La snuggles sweetly on the foothills of the Su Xung Chao Chai Range. On one of its hills are the remains of a notorious French prison. After a night at the Trade Union Hotel, we follow a river valley of waterwheels to the Tuan Giao Track, crossing the 900 metre Tan Quai pass into Dien Bien Phu. Here in 1954, Vietnamese forces defeated the French in a siege battle that drove the French from Vietnam. Ethnic Thais dominate the region. Thai women are tall, slim and attractive. Married women wear their hair in a chignon with an innocent-looking silver hairpin, in reality a spikey weapon against would-be attackers. We spend a day visiting battle-related sites and the headquarters of the opposing commanders, Vo Nguyen Giap and Christian de Castries. Along the way to Lai Chau, a huge lake sits behind the dam on the Nam Mu River. Below the dam are whole communities relocated because of this and other dam projects. In the run up to

the Hong Thu Man Pass, the road is being rebuilt. We endure 50 kilometres, mostly uphill, of bone-jarring and bum-numbing terrain. We arrive at our hotel ravenous and covered in fine dust. We feast that evening and down one of the smoothest drinks I have ever had, Hanoi Ruou. It takes the kinks out of our bones and puts feeling back into our bums. At a local market, ethnic women surprise us. Women of the Man group wear a complex headdress of a coiled rope with a silver superstructure. H’Mong have bright tartans and wear heavily pleated, colourful skirts. No matter how many times you see the ethnic minorities, their day-to-day dress is still striking. In the valley west of Mt Fansipan, we lunch at a restaurant whose specialities are fighting cock, cat and rabbit. We choose river whitebait (Ca Suoi), curried goat (De Xao Lan), tofu fried in tomato sauce, boiled spinach (Cai Luoc) and steamed rice. Now we have to cross the Mt Fansipan Range to reach Nghia Lo before night. We grind up to the Khau Pha Pass, nothing more than a crack in the ridge. Beyond it, backhoes are clearing a recent landslide. Every so often vehicles are allowed through. We bounce,

bump and slide across the debris of rocks and mud, slip past tiptrucks before they gain speed and hang the bikes into the corners. The mountains of the Hoang Lien Son Range frown down from the clouds as the sun sinks towards them. Nghia Lo is the rice bowl and the teacup of northern Vietnam. Rice fields litter the valley floor. Tea stacks up on the hillsides. With all that tea, no wonder good coffee is so rare in the north. We make Nghia Lo with enough light to find the motel and see it looks suspiciously like a brothel. The next day’s run through the undulating hills onto the Red River Delta is easy. We make Viet Tri and its major attraction, the shrine to the legendary Hung Vuong kings. Then it’s a doddle of just 80 kilometres to Hanoi. Unfortunately it is 80 kilometres of traffic, drizzle, mist, falling temperatures and blackening skies. We cross the Thang Long Bridge in the dark, frozen and struggling to see in the rain and mist. I linger in the hotel shower, warming myself to the core. All that remains is to put the bikes on the train for Ho Chi Minh City and take the two hour plane trip back. I give in to a sense of self-satisfaction. asialife HCMC 37

weekenders With hot season in full swing and the monsoons looming, a break from the blistering heat could be just what you need. If you're itching to get out of the country, here’s our guide to destinations you can reach on a direct flight from Saigon.


Historically known as Canton, Guangzhou is the ancient starting point of a maritime silk road that linked China with India. In keeping with its reputation for business, the city now has grown to become a bustling metropolis and is home to the impressive 600-metre-high Canton Tower, the seventh tallest structure in the world. AsiaLIFE tip: Chang Long International Circus puts on a spectacular show including horseback riding, stunning acrobatics and even a death-defying human cannonball. Travel time: 2hr 30mins on China Southern Airlines


With a reputation as one of Asia’s most liveable cities, Taipei has a unique atmosphere all of its own. Hop on the Maokong Gondola for high-altitude views, or travel to the hillside town of Pingxi to see thousands of lanterns being sent into the sky this month. AsiaLIFE tip: Alley Cats has a reputation for the best pizza in town while the Tonghua night market is a winner for teppanyaki. Travel time: 3hr 25mins on China Airlines


Myanmar’s capital comes as a contrast to those used to the mystery of Indochine. Downtown Yangon has a distinctly English colonial air, especially around the port area, and with motorbikes banned you can actually walk the pavements without having to swerve around parked Honda Dreams. AsiaLIFE tip: Shwedagon Pagoda is without comparison. The 99-metre-high golden stupa dominates the town. Arrive mid-afternoon and stay until sunset soaking up the atmosphere of this 2,500-year-old temple. Travel time: 2hr 15mins on Vietnam Airlines

Kuala Lumpur

Upon each visit to Kuala Lumpur the shopping malls grow, the discounts get higher, and the feet become more tired. KL is a shopping paradise. But the city has more to offer and at night its glistening lights make it a wonderland, dominated by the massive Petronas Towers. AsiaLIFE tip: Jalan Alor, or hawkers’ street, is a great area to try with fresh food, cheap prices, ice cold beers or fresh juices in street-side seating. The hop-on, hop-off tourist bus takes a very long time between stops, a better option is to take direct buses to interesting sites. Travel time: 1hr 50mins on Vietnam Airlines and Malaysia Airlines


With K-Pop, kimchi and Korean barbeque to offer, Seoul is rapidly becoming Asia’s coolest city and provides a perfect location for people watching. Sip on soju or venture to Namdaemun market to stock up some Korean-style clothes of your own. AsiaLIFE tip: A 20th century replica of Gyeongbokgung Palace, which was destroyed in the 16th century, stands in the city. Arrive at 10am to see the changing of the guard. Travel time: 5hr 5mins on Vietnam Airlines and Korean Air

38 asialife HCMC








Ho Chi Minh city

Kuala Lumpur



Located in southern Laos, Pakse may be lesser known than the northern capital Vientiane, but it is transforming from a simple transit point to a perfect home base explore all that Champasak province has to offer. AsiaLIFE tip: Take the 17km trip to the small island of Don Kho, which is home to a village renowned for silk weaving. You can also stay overnight on the island in a traditional Lao-style home. Travel time: 1hr 35mins on Lao Airlines


From tucked-away temples in Shanghai’s old town to mega shopping malls and amusement parks, the thriving metropolis of ever-changing China is a place of contrasts. The People’s Republic’s largest city has a reputation for fast-paced living. For visitors, that means a plethora of things to do in a city where the modern world meets old world charm. AsiaLIFE tip: Aside from Shanghai’s fantastic museums and diverse nightlife, a train ride through the Bund sightseeing tunnel could provide something distinctly. Travel time: 3hr 55mins on Vietnam Airlines and China Eastern Airlines

Hong Kong

Buzzing Hong Kong may be compact, but with stunning sights such as the light show at Victoria Harbour its packs serious tourism clout. With both designer names and tranquil walking trails, it’s a city that mixes modernity with tradition. AsiaLIFE tip: For non-animal rights activists, the bird market is a mix of competitive warbling and prize pets. Or climb 200 plus steps to reach the Giant Buddha that sits atop of Ngong Ping plateau, amid the mountainous scenery of Lantau Island. Travel time: 2hr 30mins on Cathay Pacific


Clean, modern and often chewing gum free, Singapore is more than just a layover destination. Swanky Orchard Road is the city-state’s premier shopping street, but for nature lovers the botanic gardens and Sentosa Island are a short trip away. AsiaLIFE tip: Party animals can go crazy in Singapore with top name DJs regularly in town. Try the line-up at Zouk club, which is celebrating its 21st birthday this year. Travel time: 1hr 55mins on Tiger Airways and Jetstar

asialife HCMC 39

Where to Eat? Where to eat in Saigon? Ah, so many choices. And we poor mortals with only one mouth and one set of teeth. Envy the Hydra. Well, to the task at hand. Sometimes, on the boulevards and side streets of the city, the best way to answer the question of ‘where’ is to simply start walking. In almost any district you will pass restaurants of every kind. Vietnamese culture and society requires a plethora of restaurants. Foremost because they are a gregarious people and draw sustenance from each other’s company as much as from their food. Virtually all restaurants in Vietnam are ‘family’ restaurants; kids are always welcome. As a more practical matter, they put in a long day’s work, both men and women, and are often too tired to cook. And most people have small kitchens, sometimes just a corner in a common room, which can be oppressively hot. So what will you discover as you survey the restaurant landscape? To begin, you can find a lot of specialty restaurants. Many of Vietnam’s favourite dishes are labour-intensive or require special kitchens, or ovens, which few homes have. You’ll pass by any number of pho houses from grand to grotty. Pho requires many hours and great bubbling cauldrons to produce the broth, and so is rarely made in the home. Also popular are what are called in English ‘pancake houses’. I’m not talking flapjacks here, however. The word ‘pancake’ as it’s used here refers to a savoury dish more like a crepe or Indian dhosa. They’re called Banh Xeo. Their preparation requires counter space that 40 asialife HCMC

most homes lack. They require so much space that in many establishments the actual cooking takes place outdoors, such as at Banh Xeo (46A Dinh Cong Trang, just off Hai Ba Trung). Barbecue is a specialty and many such restaurants are easy to locate by the aroma wafting through the streets. Also popular is the dish known as Bo 7 Mon, which is beef seven different ways – a good feed when you’re feeling protein impaired. Then there are those restaurants on the dark side of the street, as it were. Go see the dog meat restaurants on a short lane off of Cong Quynh near the Thai Binh market. Huong Rung at 371A Nguyen Trai will kill a cobra before your eyes and drain its blood into your glass of rice wine. Cheers! The My Khanh tourist Garden in Can Tho raises all sorts of exotic animals from crocodiles to monkeys, and you can stroll among the cages and choose your victim. For something a little less daring just stroll down any of the main streets of Districts 1 or 3. You’ll  find the best of family dining in the numerous sidewalk cafes. And don’t neglect the remaining French and Chinese restaurants. They are not as common as they used to be, but they are an important part of Vietnam’s culinary and cultural legacy. Ordering When ordering from a restaurant menu don’t worry, don’t even think, about the proper succession of courses. There isn’t any proper succession of courses! Standard operating procedure is for all dishes to be placed in the centre of the table as soon as they are ready. Diners

help themselves to whatever appeals to them regardless of who ordered what. This Vietnamese way allows you to try a little of everything without having to waste it if you don’t like it. Just let the others eat it. You should try to order as many tastes, textures and colours as possible. While you can eat your dishes in any order you like, try to start with the more delicatetasting ones, and then proceed to the spicier and heavier items. Rice, in one form or another, may be brought out early or late in the repast. I recommend that you ask for it to be brought earlier so you can eat it with the other dishes. But don’t try to control the order in which the other dishes appear – you will fail. It may seem like gastronomic Russian roulette, but just spin the cylinder, pull the trigger, and take your chance. The worst blast you can get will come from spices. When dinner is over and it’s time to pay, just catch the waiter’s eye and make a writing motion across your palm. Here are a few dos and don’ts for whether you’re in a proper sit-down restaurant, a noodle stand, or a roadside stall: Do...         Just point to what you want     on the menu or in the food display. Remember what you ordered.     Accept whatever comes.   Enjoy it.               Don’t... Try to pronounce it. Ask for a change of ingredients. Change your order. Ask for separate bills. Bon Appetit!

El Gato Negro One thing Saigon seriously lacks is a good selection of Mexican food. While El Gato Negro may not satisfy your every south-of-the-border craving, it will definitely take the edge off. El Gato Negro is Geoffrey Deetz’s newest Black Cat venture, converting it from his previous cupcake and bagel shop. Conveniently located on Pasteur Street, the shop itself is small with only a few tables available for customers to sit at. If the shop is too cozy for you, burritos are something that travel very well and Black Cat’s excellent delivery service

Black Cat’s new burrito shop adds some filling comfort food options to the Saigon culinary scene. Photos by Fred Wissink.

will get them to you fast. The menu boasts a wide range of burrito options with choices like the classic ground beef, with rice and beans (VND 135,000) to el Saigon (VND 150,000), which includes BBQ lemongrass chicken, fried rice, refried black beans and pineapple salsa. They also have vegetarian options like el Californian (VND 120,000), a mix of BBQ vegetables, garlic tofu, fried rice and whole red beans. We opt for the chilli verde pork (VND 145,000), a mild mix of pork simmered in cilantro with jalapenos, lime, green rice and refried beans. I

prefer my burritos spicy, so I’m pleased to see a few different hot sauce options, other than the usual Tabasco, sitting on the counter. These burritos are exactly what you would find in a burrito shop in the US; flour tortillas bulging with ingredients and spicy juices that make a mess of your hands as you eat. They even come wrapped in tinfoil to keep everything together. On the side, we order the nachos grande (VND 150,000), an overflowing plate of tortilla chips, cheese sauce, ground beef (or any meat option you’d like), whole beans, salsa, gua-

camole, sour cream and pickled jalapenos on top. The stand out of this dish is the cheese sauce, the thick yellowy stuff you would get at a bowling alley or sports game instead of just the cheap melted cheese that is usually found on nachos in Saigon. After splitting these two dishes, we are more than full. A single burrito at El Gato Negro is enough to keep even the hungriest stomach satisfied for hours. 182 Pasteur Street, D1 Tel: 08 66 60 1577 11am to 11pm, 7 days asialife HCMC 41

Hoang Yen If you’re looking to eat downtown while avoiding downtown prices, look no further than Hoang Yen, just a block from the river. The airy interior is filled with natural light streaming in from the large windows looking out onto Ngo Duc Ke, and the top-notch air conditioning provides a wonderful respite from Saigon’s heat. Hoang Yen’s menu focuses entirely on Vietnamese cuisine, and the range of available dishes is massive. All of the usual types of meat and seafood are available, along with soup, vegetables, appetizers, a large selection of fish, and even a sec42 asialife HCMC

Reasonably priced, quality Vietnamese fare in the heart of District 1. Photos by Fred Wissink. tion devoted to ‘pork womb’. Prices are quite reasonable, especially considering the restaurant’s location, with most dishes costing around VND 100,000, although some of the fish and crab options cost VND 200,000 per kilogram, so that could get pricey. We start off with sour soup with bulbul fish (VND 89,000), which lives up to its name. The chunk of fish marinated in the soup is tender and tasty, although this dish is definitely best for those with a palette for sour flavours. We then moved on to deep fried rice stuffed with marinated fish paste (VND 139,000).

The six golden brown balls of fried rice may look a bit boring, but they explode with flavor once you bite into them, making this dish an unexpected highlight of the meal. To add some green to the proceedings we decided to try the thousand-mile flower stir-fried with garlic (VND 69,000), which went well with the steamed rice and soft, juicy pork simmered in coconut juice (VND 89,000). The thick slice of pork, drenched in the brown juice, was served with two hard-boiled eggs, similar in style to what is served at com tam stalls on the street. Our final dish was braised

bulbul in clay pot (VND 79,000). Clay pot dishes hold a special place in my heart, and this one was no slouch. The dense caramelized sauce that the fish sat in was good drizzled on the other dishes, and the fish was fresh and tender. Overall a great way to close out the meal. Hoang Yen serves up classic, no-frills Vietnamese cuisine in comfortable surroundings and its location makes it an ideal lunch-time spot for people working in the office towers nearby. 07-09 Ngo Duc Ke, District 1. Ph: 08 3823 1101 10am to 10pm, seven days

La Creperie France’s wild northwestern region of Brittany is famous for lighthouses, apples (from which is made the legendary calvados and cider) and, of course, crepes. Le Creperie, on Le Thanh Ton in District 1, has been open since late last year and is serving up Brittany’s signature delicacy to Saigon’s Francophiles. The restaurant is set over two levels and the décor has a strong nautical theme, nodding to the region’s seafaring traditions. The walls on the lower level are lined with familiar photographs of the lighthouses along Brittany’s fierce coastline. The menu is divided primarily into savoury crepes (or galettes) and dessert crepes. Manager Vincent Page tells

This District 1 establishment serving up a regional French favourite offers more than a little opportunity for indulgence. Photos by Brett Davis.

me they import the traditional buckwheat flour from France to make the galettes. There is an extensive list to choose from, however Page points me in the direction of the la complete (VND 170,000), made with a filling of ham, emmental cheese and egg. It is an impressive dish, a dark golden brown square of folded buckwheat galette with a soft egg yolk in the centre and a heaping of shredded lettuce on one side. It is cheesy and delicious and the egg gives it a silky texture. It is even better washed down with a bolee, a traditional Brittany-style cup resembling a small bowl, of imported Breton cider. Other galettes available include the la marin (VND 285,000)

with squid, garlic, mushrooms and white wine cream sauce, and the eckmul (VND 261,000) featuring reblochon cheese, potato, bacon and onions. For many, the crepe is primarily a dessert and there are some spectacularly rich options available. After some consultation with Page, I plump for the le defi (VND 148,000) in no small measure because the ice cream and sauce are both made in house with the traditional Brittany salt butter caramel. Add to these pieces of fried banana and it is a combination that is hard to beat. The la Hong Kong-Vietnam (VND 148,000) with vanilla ice cream, cinnamon cream, tatin apples and caramel is also a popular option. For an even

better visual effect you could try one of the flambéed dessert crepes such as the la Normandy (VND 160,000) made with stewed apples and flambéed with the fiery calvados liquor. There are other options on the menu if you feel like something a little different, including the Brittany fish soup (VND 130,000), or a traditional cake called the kouign amann (VND 88.000), made, almost unbelievably, from just butter and sugar. The food at La Creperie is wonderfully indulgent, although you may want to schedule a gym workout afterwards. La Creperie 17/7 Le Thanh Ton, D1. Tel : 08 3824 7070 11am to 11pm, seven days. asialife HCMC 43


French-trained artist Lim Theam is hoping to breathe new life into Cambodian handicrafts. Ellie Dyer visits his Siem Reap studio to see his work first-hand. Photos by Conor Wall.

44 asialife HCMC

The craftsmen and women who work at Theam’s House – a studio set beside a tranquil garden in dusty Siem Reap – fall silent as they delicately paint acrylic egrets onto board and layer lacquer onto a procession of clay elephants. The level of concentration is palpable. Led by the centre’s founding artist and designer Lim Theam, the skilled workers are not just producing memorable artworks. They are helping to reinvigorate traditional Cambodian handicrafts for a new generation of artisans. Theam left for France with his family as a youngster and returned in 1994 as a trained artist, following a stint at the prestigious École des BeauxArts de Paris. He has since dedicated himself to reinvigorating traditional handicrafts – first by working with well-known group Artisans d’Angkor then striking out on his own. His journey has not been an easy one. On his return to the Kingdom, a trip made with the aim of “understanding if people still had arts and crafts remain-

ing” in a country torn apart by war, Theam discovered an artisan community in disarray. “My disappointment was so, so huge … The skills were there, but people needed to feed themselves. They didn’t need to work on this [the arts],” he says. But as the country opened up and tourists returned, Theam saw a transformation slowly take place. With visitors flowing in, artisans realised that their skills could again provide an income. Aided by Artisans d'Angkor, an organisation created in 1998 and born out of a rural handicraft school, a thriving support network for working artisans and apprentices emerged around Siem Reap. It has endured to the present day. Theam was at the heart of Artisans d’Angkor for more than a decade as its artistic director, until he left to set up his own studio in February 2011, where he aims to “push more and more” for strong artistic values. He hopes to “help people believe in their work” by adding a unique twist to traditional handicrafts produced

by communities throughout the country. The clay elephants he transforms into a riot of colour, for instance, are made in traditional fashion by families in Kampong Chhnang province. The plain brown clay beasts are then transported to Theam’s House to be covered in powdered shell and painted in a rainbow of lacquer – from ochre, to neon pink and gold – and sold to a modern market. Traditional kramas, woven in a single village in Banteay Meanchey province, are also being reinvented. While some traditional chequers remain, new colours are being introduced to add to standard red, blue and black hues. Stripes and cut-outs now feature in the studio’s scarf collection, with shades of pink, purple and green. “I thought of how to make these people produce something for the market. We need to readjust dimensions and colour,” says Theam, who believes that modernisation can increase people’s earning potential. “If you work in a garment factory and work 10 to 12 hours

a day, at the end of the month you may have US $75. I think you can make the same [money] by weaving and staying at home. But there are so many people, you can’t help everyone.” And while helping a generation of craftspeople to reinvent their art, Theam is also working on projects of his own. In his personal studio, striking lacquered artworks in deep reds and golds are set against the soaring blank walls. Cambodian landmarks, including the S-21 prison and the home of notorious Khmer Rouge cadre Ta Mok, lie in the background with figures – including an image of an elderly nun who Theam saw in a photograph from the Khmer Rouge era – in the foreground. “I paint the ambiguity,” he says. And as Theam circles his workshop, helping craftsmen to nuance the work that he has designed, he is handing people the ability to shape their own future with skills that are independent of the tide and turn of politics. asialife HCMC 45


Existens is known for creating unique luxury pieces in pure silk. Designer Charlotte Gripon's label has a flagship store in Paris, and now a second outlet at the Crescent Mall in District 7. Photos by AsiaLIFE.

Naomi Nilsson


Carl Steinbach

asialife HCMC 47

Flagship store, Paris D6 HCMC store; 2fl Crescent Mall D7 48 asialife HCMC

Anna Maasbol


Thy Van Nguyen

asialife HCMC 49


Ducati motorcycles In many countries around the world teenage boys and young men stick Ferrari and Lamborghini posters on their bedroom walls, allowing themselves to look at their dream vehicle anytime they like. In a place like Vietnam where two-wheeled transport is still king, perhaps Ducati posters would be more appropriate. This legendary Italian company is synonymous with performance and exclusivity. Even people like me who know next to nothing about motorcycles know that Ducati is the pinnacle of the bike world. Founded in 1926 in Bologna by the three Ducati brothers, the company actually originally produced boring products like vacuum tubes and condensers. Ducati expanded during the war years and in 1950 produced its first motorcycle, called either the 55M or the 65TL. This 60 cc bike had a top speed of only 64 km/h, but much bigger things were on the way. In September of 1957, in order to help the Ducati name become known globally, Leopoldo Tartarino and Giorgio Monetti

50 asialife HCMC

rode two 175cc bikes around the world over the course of a year in an incredibly bold advertising campaign through countries that had barely been mapped yet and had little in the way of a road network. This epic journey achieved its goal of bringing Ducati to places that had never heard of it, and began a two-decade run that saw the company vault to the top of the motorcycle industry. The Mach 1, first released in 1965, began this process and earned Ducati a place in motorcycling history. This bike was the fastest of its type at the time, with road-legal models able to reach speeds of over 160 km/h. Today, the Mach 1is one of the most sought-after bike models among vintage motorcycle collectors around the world. By 1970 Ducati began manufacturing V-twin bikes, in which the engine consists of two cylinders that form a V. In 1973 the company introduced its nowlegendary desmodromic valve design, the technical aspects of which are a bit boring, but suffice to say that motorcycles outfitted with it are extremely

fast. Ducati has since become known for producing some of the world’s fastest bikes, with its top-end models capable of hitting the 320 km/h (200 mph) barrier. Ducati does not just focus on street bikes though, as the company now allocates 10 percent of its annual revenues to racing after re-joining the Grand Prix circuit in 2003 after a 30-year absence. Ducati bikes are often noticeably faster than their rivals in races, and in 2007 Casey Stoner won the firm’s first Grand Prix World Championship. Valentino Rossi, a nine-time world champion, became Ducati’s driver last year, and it looks like the Italian bike producer has a bright future in racing. Ducatis have also won numerous championships in lower-level racing leagues thanks to their incredible quickness. Motorcycles built by Ducati are striking to behold, full of sharp angles and sleek lines that make the bikes look fast even when they are standing still. The current lineup includes the Monster, which accounts for half of the company’s sales; the

Multistrada, Diavel, Superbike, Hypermotard, and Streetfighter. These bikes feature some of the most advanced technology available, and they are not cheap, with some costing upwards of $60,000. Like Ducati’s brethren in the Italian auto manufacturing industry though, price is of no concern for the company’s loyal followers. There are over 400 Ducati owner’s clubs worldwide, with 20,000 registered members. Ducati owners are referred to in the motorcycling world as ‘Ducatista’, an enviable nickname if there ever was one, and they are fiercely loyal to their beloved brand. Although Ducati has gone through numerous ownership changes over the years - at one point a company based in Texas took control of the manufacturer – it is once again in Italian hands and has managed to maintain its design philosophy throughout its long history. Already a legend, one has to wonder what’s next for Ducati. Perhaps Saigon’s traffic would present a suitable challenge for these peerless bikes.

asialife HCMC 51


hotel & travel AIRLINES Air Asia 254 De Tham, D1 Tel: 3838 9810 Asia’s largest low-cost airline operates one daily flight between HCM CityHanoi, as well as international flights to Bangkok, Phuket, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. Air France 130 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3829 0981 ext. 82 Fax: 3822 0537 An airline with a vast and effective global network. Now flies direct to Paris. Cathay Pacific 72-74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D3 Tel: 3822 3203 Hong Kong-based airline makes three flights daily to HCM City and two flights daily to Hong Kong’s international airport. Malaysia Airlines Unit G8 Ground floor, SG Trade Center 37 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3824 6663 Offers daily flights from Hanoi and


HCM City to Kuala Lumpur, with four economy class fare levels: low, basic, smart and flex.

restored early 20th-century villas and 65 rooms set in the rural highlands. La Cochinchine Spa offers wide range of treatments. Le Petite Dalat Restaurant serves Vietnamese and fusion cuisine. Heated swimming pool, art gallery and cooking classes in organic garden.

Turkish Airlines 8th floor, AB Tower 76A Le Lai, D1 Tel: 3936 0360 Awarded as the Best Airline in Europe offers the brand new Comfort Class to E conomy class: 46inch leg room, personalised entertainment screen and globally awarded cuisine on-board.


Vietnam Airlines Hanoi: 25 Trang Thi, Hoan Kiem Tel: 6270 0200 HCM City: 16th Floor, Sun Wah, 115 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 3832 0320 The domestic route map is extensive, with several flights daily between major and less touristed cities throughout Vietnam. Flies internationally throughout Asia and to Paris, Frankfurt, Moscow, Sydney, Melboure, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

CON DAO Six Senses Con Dao Dat Doc Beach, Con Dao Dist, Ba Ria Tel: 064 3831 222 The first 5 star resort with 50 villas stretch across a mile-long beach, each villas has its own infinity-edge pool facing the ocean and a stunning restaurant.

DALAT Ana Mandara Villas Resort & Spa Le Lai, Ward 5, Dalat Tel: 063 3555 888 Luxury 35-acre resort encompasses 17

HANOI Intercontinental Westlake Hanoi 1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho Tel: 04 6270 8888 Located on the waterfront with contemporary Vietnamese design, restaurants, business services, fitness centre including exercise classes and pool. Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi 83A Ly Thuong Kiet Tel: 3822 2800 Conveniently located in the heart of Hanoi’s business district, a 40-minute drive from Noi Bai International Airport and only 5 minutes from the city centre, Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi is the latest five-star hotel in town, tailored to meet the needs of discerning guests and especially corporate travellers. Sheraton Hotel Hanoi K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 04 3719 9000 “Resort within a city” boasts 299 spacious guest rooms with panoramic views, fitness centre, international

Sofitel Metropole 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: 04 3826 6919 Located downtown. Colonial-style hotel with well-regarded restaurants/bars serving French & Vietnamese cuisine, plus Italian steak house.

HO CHI MINH CITY Caravelle Hotel 19 Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 3823 4999 One of the city’s most prestigious venues. Features a casino, Reflections Restaurant and al fresco 9th-floor Saigon Saigon Bar.

Equatorial 242 Tran Binh Trong D5 Tel: 3839 7777 On the intersect of 4 districts, with 333 rooms, Orientica Seafood restaurant and bar, Chit Chat cafe, pool (swim-up bar), gym.

InterContinental Asiana Saigon Corner of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3520 9999 305 rooms/suites with floor-to-ceiling windows, five restaurants/bars, meeting/ banquet facilities, spa/health club and lounge with panoramic view. Mövenpick Hotel Saigon 253 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan

take flight with travel promotions around the region

Room Promotion at Novotel Nha Trang

The Novotel Nha Trang is offering a special “Stay three nights pay for two” package. Book the room at novotel-nhatrang. com and enjoy a free night. The promotion is valid until 30 June and includes in house complimentary use of sauna, steam bath, swimming pool, gym, mac computers at the lobby, sun lounge and towel. Contact 058 625 6900 for more information.

Princess D’Annam Resort & Spa

Princess D’Annam Resort & Spa is offering a special deal until 3 September where guests who stay two nights only pay for one. Prices range from VND 5,500,000/night for a Mandarin Suite to VND 21,890,000/night for an Empress Villa. The package includes daily breakfast and a welcome drink. Princess D’Annam is nestled within the unique eco-system of rivers, sand dunes and red canyons of Binh Thuan province, a few hours from Ho Chi Minh City. Visit for details.

52 asialife HCMC

Dalat Easy Rider Tours 70 Phan Dinh Phung Ride pillion with English-, French- or German-speaking tour guides on motorbike adventures that start in Dalat and snake through mountains, jungles and deltas, lasting anywhere from three to 21 days.

restaurant and Hemisphere Vietnamese restaurant.

Full Moon Package in Hoi An

The Hoi An River Resort is offering a two-night Full Moon package on 17 May where a single room costs VND 6,699,000++, VND 3,696,000++ for a twin share, or VND 2,856,000++ for a triple share. The package includes two nights accommodation, two-way airport transfers, daily buffet breakfast and a welcome dinner. Guests will also receive free entrance to Hoi An ancient town during the full moon and a half-day temple visit. Visit for more details.

Summer Getaway Package

The Sandy Beach Non Nuoc Resort in Danang is offering a summer package until 31 August. For VND 4,800,000 guests can receive a three-day, two-night stay in a Superior Ocean View Room that includes one-way airport transfer, one meal (lunch or dinner), buffet breakfast and the option to extend the stay for the special rate of VND 2,000,000 per room per night. The resort is located on 17 hectares of private garden on Non Nuoc Beach facing the East Sea and is only

15km from Danang and 18km from Hoi An. Visit for more information.

Summer Savings on Halong Bay

Indochina Sails Halong Bay is offering a summer discount on cruises until 30 September. Prices range from VND 7,000,000 for a Superior Single Cabin to VND 11,800,000for a Suite Double. The two-day, one-night cruise includes a shuttle to and from Hanoi, kayaking on Halong Bay, wine tasting, luxury air-conditioned cabin and meals. Visit for more information.

Summer Stay Package

Silk Path Hotel Hanoi is offering a summer stay package where guests can stay for three nights and only have to pay for two. The package includes breakfast, free Internet use in the room and use of the fitness centre. This four-star hotel is located on the edge of Hanoi’s Old Quarter and is only minutes away from Hoan Kiem Lake. Visit for details.

Tel: 3844 9222 Has 278 well-appointed rooms/suites, five restaurants/bars, meeting/banquet facilities and a shopping arcade as well as a popular e-gaming centre.

. . . a breeze of serenity

Park Hyatt 2 Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 3824 1234 Luxury colonial-style hotel includes 21 suites, lobby lounge with live music, Xuan Spa, pool, gym, international dining at Square One. Windsor Plaza 18 An Duong Vuong, D5 Tel: 3833 6688 Located in a main shopping hub. Three restaurants, modern discotheque, conference centre, shopping centre, supermarket.

activities Vietnam Vespa Adventures 169 De Tham, D1, Pham Ngu Lao Tel: 3920 3897 Offers 3-day trips to Mui Ne, 8-days to Nha Trang or half-day tours of HCMC on classic Vespas.



1.913.500 VND /Night

Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa Cua Dai Beach Tel: 0510 3927 040 Set on its own stretch of beach with 105 rooms spread through a traditional fishing village design of small “streets” and ponds.

1.913.500 VND HUE /Night

Pilgrimage Village Resort & Spa 130 Minh Mang Tel: 054 3885 461 www.pilgrimagevillage.

com Boutique resort with hut, bungalow and villa accommodation draws on natural environment and local culture. Features Vedana spa, two restaurants serving Vietnamese & Western food and imported wines and three bar/lounges. Vedana Lagoon Resort & Spa 112 Minh Mang Tel: 054 3830 240 Nestled on the shore of a peaceful and serene lagoon, vedana lagoon resort & spa is ideally situated between the two cities well-known as world heritage sites: hue and hoi an. The resort designed with a stylist harmony between the local traditional culture and a modern art concept with 27 villas, bungalows and 2 houseboats.

NHA TRANG Evason Hideaway at Ana Mandara Ninh Van Bay, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa Tel: 058 3728 222 An island hideaway accessible only by boat, 58 private pool villas, international and local restaurants, wedding services, water sports and scuba diving. Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang Beachside, Tran Phu, Nha Trang Tel: 058 3522 222 Beachside resort set in 26,000 square metres of tropical garden, with 74 guest villas, three restaurants, Six Senses Spa.

For further Information & booking please contact Tel: (84)-(064) 3 781 525 - Fax: (84)-(064) 3 781 433 - Hotline: 091 3 781 524 - Website:

54 asialife HCMC

Mia Resort Nha Trang Bai Dong, Cam Hai Dong, Cam Lam, Khanh Hoa Tel:

58 398 9666 Ultimate luxury resort with 50 rooms

divided into villas and condos, catering by wel-known restaurant Sandals and Mojito's bar.

PHAN THIET Anatara Beach Resort Mui Ne Beach, KM10, Ham Tien Ward Tel: 062 3741 888 Beachfront resort with 90 fully equipped rooms, business centre, spa, fitness centre and outdoor pool. Princess D’Annam Resort and Spa Khu Hon Lan, Tan Thanh, Ham Thuan Nam, Binh Thuan Tel: 062 3682 222 Located on Ke Ga Bay with 57 exclusive villas, eight swimming pools, two restaurants and 1,800 square metres spa complex. The Sailing Club 24 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet Tel: 062 3847 440 Open bar overlooking the sea, spacious rooms, restaurant, swimming pool and day spa. Victoria Phan Thiet Resort and Spa Mui Ne Beach Tel: 84 62 3813 000 Located on a private beach, 60 cosy bungalows, natural spa experiences among other great activities on offer at the resort

SAPA Victoria Sapa Resort Sapa District, Lao Cai Province Tel: 020 0871 522 Mountain chalet perched over the village wth cosy but modern guestrooms overlooking the lawn and garden. Ta Van restaurant overlooks Mount Fansipan and Ta Fin bar has a stone hearth fireplace. Connection from Hanoi by private train.

SCUBA DIVING Note: AsiaLIFE only lists dive centres recognized by international dive training programs, such as the Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI) and Scuba Schools International (SSI). We strongly advise against diving with unaccredited dive centres in Vietnam. Rainbow Divers 55 Nguyen Dang Giai, An Phu, D2 Tel: 3744 6825 Diving tours and career/instructor development offered by Vietnam’s first PADI centre. established in the mid-90s. Operates dive centres in Nha Trang, Whale Island, Hoi An and Phu Quoc.

VUNG TAU Ho Tram Beach Resort & Spa Ho Tram Village, Xuyen Moc Tel: 06 4378 1525 Located about 45km from Vung Tau in the Phuoc Buu Reserve Forest, Ho Tram Beach Resort & Spa boasts uniquely designed bungalows and villas.

TRAVEL AGENTS Buffalo Tours Agency HCMC: Tel: 3827 9170 Hanoi: Tel: 04 3828 0702 Exotissimo HANOI:


downstairs to fit your dining pleasure. Relaxed environment with frequent live music. Offers Spanish and Cuban fare including paella and a tapas fiesta comprising three plates. Open late daily.

food & drink

Le Pub 175/ 22 Pham Ngu Lao, D1 One of Pham Ngu Lao’s favourite watering holes, Le Pub also has a good menu of well-executed pub grub and international favourites. Hearty breakfast is available all day and specials are offered daily.

BAR RESTAURANTS Alibi 11 Thai Van Lung, D1 Tel: 3822 3240 Hip without being showy, this versatile venue has a pleasant front porch, stand up bar and comfortable lounge seating with bright, warm décor and great tunes. Drinks list is extensive and the food menu boasts French-style mains. Buddha Bar 7 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 2080 An Phu institution serves up tasty meals and good drinks in a friendly, chilled environment. Plenty of room to relax inside or out, plus a pool table on premise.  Corso Steakhouse & Bar Norfolk Hotel, 117 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Located in the chic Norfolk Hotel Corso Steakhouse & Bar is well known for its steak imported from the US and Australia. Good destination for both lunch and dinner. La Habana 6 Cao Ba Quat, D1 Tel: 3829 5180 This charming little place has seating indoors and outdoors, upstairs and

Mogambos 50 Pasteur, D1 Tel: 3825 1311 This restaurant has been around since the mid-1990s, which offers an insight into its enduring quality. Specializes in American grain-fed steaks, hamburgers and salads served in a pleasant atmosphere.  Pasha Bar & Restaurant 25 Dong Du, D1 Tel: 08 629 136 77 Turkish–Mediterranean restaurant located in heart of HCMC serves halal and high quality food with ingredients imported from Turkey, Spain, Singapore, Egypt, New Zealand, Japan and France. Long happy hour half price by glass. Various shisha flavours. Phatty’s 46-48 Ton That Thiep, D1 Tel: 3821 0705 Jaspa’s Steve Hardy and Ben Winspear’s sports bar has five widescreen TVs, a large drop-down screen and lots of pub grub and beer for fans looking to take in a game or two. Qing 110 Pasteur, D1

From April to May 2012

Satiate your appetite at Corso Steakhouse & Bar with the signature Steak & Chops as one of your dining favorites, or enjoy the grilled tenderness of the Demonic US T-bone Steak and the New York Strip with Roquefort Steak Butter… served with a selection of vegetable, potato and sauce. With more than just meats, draw your eyes over to the Field Green Salad, Lobster Bisque Soup, Potato Baked with Sour Cream and Chopped Bacon. Ground Floor - NORFOLK HOTEL, 117 Le Thanh Ton St, Dist. 1, HCMC, Vietnam Tel: (84-8) 3829 5368 Ext. 6614 - Fax: (84-8) 3829 3415 Email: Website: Managed by Norfolk Group

asialife HCMC 55 Sophisticated downtown bar just off Le Loi specializes in Asian tapas, Asian/ South American fusion dishes and a few delectable deserts. Variety of good wines by the glass or bottle.

Sheridan's Irish House 17/13 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3823 0793 Cosy Irish pub with authentic Irish decor, a pleasant atmosphere and regular live music. Wide range of classic pub grub, East Asian dishes and a fantastic breakfast fry-up available from 8 am. The Tavern R2/24 Hung Gia 3, Bui Bang Doan, D7 Tel: 5410 3900 Boasts good international food, a pool table, dartboards and sports coverage on large screens. Outdoor seating on mutiple levels. Second floor sports lounge hosts DJs at the weekends.  Vasco’s Bar 74/7D Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3824 2888 Chic bar decked in deep reds that gets packed to capacity on weekends. Open Monday to Saturday with live music on


Fridays. Food menu by chef with over 10 years experience at La Camargue. Also does excellent pizza.  ZanZBar 41 Dong Du, D1 Funky, modern interiors and varied international breakfast, lunch and dinner cuisine. Imported beers, cocktails, gourmet espresso coffee, and happy hours make ZanZBar a great after-work spot. Open late.

CAFES Cay Da Cafe Ground floor, Moevenpick Hotel Saigon 253 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3844 9222 ext. 118 Stocks the Moevenpick’s chef’s most delicious cakes, pastries, ice cream and sandwiches. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf 12-14 Thai Van Lung, D1 94 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D3 Nowzone, 235 Nguyen Van Cu, D5 Metropolitan Bldng, 235 Dong Khoi, D1 International café chain with a wide variety of coffees and teas, as well as light snacks and food. Also sells fresh-

Mojo 88 Dong Khoi, D1 A top-end cafe with an attractive interior, outdoor terrace at street level and comfortable lounges upstairs. Good business coffee or lunch venue. That’s Café Rivergarden, 170 Nguyen Van Huong, D2 The Crescent, 103 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung, D7 Hailing from the U.S., That’s Café is a new Khai Silk initiative. Claiming to provide the best coffee in town in a comfortable and friendly atmosphere, it’s a great place to hold a business meeting or catch up with friends. X Cafe 58 Pasteur, D1 Tel: 3914 2142 Bright, spacious foreign-run cafe decorated in the style of an Alpine chalet. Popular with local makers and shakers, has a great open-plan upstairs area and two outdoor terraces. Regular live music and homemade ice cream.


Li Bai Sheraton Hotel, 88 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3827 2828 Imperial-styled restaurant named after a famous Chinese poet. Excellent lunch time dim sum buffet for USD $17.00. Nightly à la carte menu with dishes going from 100,000 VND. Lotus Court 1st floor, Moevenpick Hotel Saigon 253 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3844 9222 ext. 168 Dim Sum and exciting Cantonese cuisine in a unique and elegant setting. Ming Dynasty 23 Nguyen Khac Vien, Phu My Hung Tel: 5411 5555 Decorated in Ming Dynasty-style; offers 100 dim sum varieties and 300 dishes prepared by a chef from Hong Kong. The restaurant’s Imperial Buffet costs USD $39 per person and includes free flow of wine. Ngan Dinh Chinese Restaurant Windsor Plaza Hotel, 18 An Duong Vuong, D5 Tel: 3833 6688 Beautiful wood paneling, colourful hanging lanterns and a sparkling mineral gallery

broaden your palate with promotions around town

Freshly Minted Mojito Menu @ Lobby Lounge

Step in from the sizzling streets of Ho Chi Minh City and cool off with a refreshing mojito at the Caravelle Hotel. From 7 to 20 May, the hotel’s award-winning bartenders at the Lobby Lounge are mixing selected mojitos prepared from original Havana recipes. Visitors and guests can sip on a flow of Hemingway’s favorite cocktail paired with sweet and savory treats from either the Traditional English or Vietnamese Specialty high tea menus. VND 98,000++/ mojito. Lobby Lounge, Caravelle Hotel. Tel: 38234999,

Celebrate Mothers Day @ Restaurant Nineteen

Hard-working mums and their families are invited to relax with a sumptuous meal together at one of the city’s favourite buffet restaurants this Mothers’ Day. Mum will be spoiled for choice at Nineteen Restaurant’s Sunday Brunch and Dinner Buffet on 13 May. Nine action stations will plate up fresh and cooked-to-order seafood, premium grilled and roasted meat dishes, and a wide selection of western and Asian specialties. Each member of the family can enjoy unlimited servings of their favorite delicacies including 22 tantalizing desserts. VND 1,144,000++/ person. Restaurant Nineteen, Caravelle Hotel. Tel: 38234999, www.

Duck Liver Delights @ Reflections Restaurant

The Caravelle is bringing rich duck livers to diners at Reflections Restaurant from 18 to 24 May, with a specially created gourmet

56 asialife HCMC

roasted coffee beans and tins of whole leaf tea. 

menu highlighting the coveted delicacy. Fans of duck liver’s buttery flavour can indulge delicious a la carte appetizers and mains, such as torchon of duck liver with beetroot jelly, apple and dill; savoury duck liver ice cream with caramelized pears and gingerbread crumbs; and seared duck liver with roasted scallops and curried cauliflower puree. There is also a degustation menu featuring three complementary duck liver courses followed by a seven-textures chocolate cake for dessert, and fresh coffee or tea for VND 1,180,000++ per person. Reflections Restaurant, 3rd Floor, Caravelle Hotel. Tel: 38234999,

Mother’s Day Brunch At Opera

Express love and appreciation for the woman who gave you the world with Mother’s Day Brunch in Opera on Sunday, 13 May. Celebrate with the family and enjoy a lavish dining spread, crafted from the finest seasonal ingredients. Enjoy free-flow bubbly, alongside a feast of gourmet dishes. Complete the meal with Pastry Chef Bertrand’s sweet creations like Chocolate Mille-Feuille, Fruit Savarin, and Jasmine Creme Brulee, and a bouquet of flowers and a 20 percent spa discount voucher for mum. VND 1.100.000 ++ with free-flow Prosecco, VND 1.700.000 ++ with free-flow Champagne. For more information and reservations, please call 08 3520 2357 or visit

Opera’s New Set Lunch – “Il Pranzo”

Overlooking the elegant Opera House of Ho Chi Minh City, the familiar all-day dining

restaurant, Opera, is proud to announce a new set lunch format, Il Pranzo. Ideal for a brief business lunch or leisurely get-together with friends, Il Pranzo provides diners with 2-course or 3-course options to taste authentic interpretations of Italian flavours. The chef will add new dishes to the menu every two weeks, to allow guests to return often and experience a broad spectrum of culinary creativity and a wide variety of starters, mains, and desserts will be offered to satisfy any craving. Il Pranzo is available from 11.30am to 2.30pm, Monday through Saturday. VND 330,000 ++ per person for two courses and VND 430,000 ++ for three courses. For more information and reservations, please call 08 3520 2357 or visit

Grass-Fed Rib-Eye In Square One

Square One celebrates Grass-Fed Angus Bone-In Rib-Eye this May. Imported from Australia, this beef has four times more nutritional value than grain-fed beef, is marbled with high levels of Omega 3 fats, and is free of antibiotics. The steaks are custom cut and prepared in a variety of ways that enhances the flavour and tenderness of this succulent red meat. You can choose: Cote de Boeuf, VND 1,800,000++, 1kg rib-eye, chunky chips, forest mushroom garlic herb sauce; Surf & Turf, VND 2,640,000++, charcoal-grilled 1kg rib-eye and Nha Trang lobster, Café de Paris Butter and lemon; Argentine-Style CharcoalGrilled, VND 1,800,000++, 1kg Rib-Eye, roasted peppers, chimichurri, three bean salad. For more information and reservations, please call 08 3520 2357 or visit

street gourmet

Wide selection of live seafood. Five interactive kitchens.


Au Manoir de Khai 251 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: 3930 3394 This top-end contemporary French restaurant is set in a picturesque colonial villa with a lush courtyard and a lavish interior. Full of private rooms and opulent lounge areas, this unique eatery is the brainchild of Vietnamese fashion guru Hoang Khai of Khai Silk fame. Offers up dishes such as lobster consomme, panfried duck liver, salmon medallions with Moet and escalope de foie gras.

Le Bouchon de Saigon 40 Thai Van Lung, D1 This French diner-style restaurant has an emphasis on hearty home cooking, courteous service and a relaxed atmosphere Chefs David Thai an Alexis Melgrani are well known industry figures and this venue can hold its own among the city`s many French restaurants


Banh Tai Yen Banh tai yen is a subtly sweet cake that is made completely from rice flour and quickly deep-fried in hot oil until it has turned dark brown and puffs up around the edges. Tai yen translates to "swallow’s

make for a relaxing dining experience at the Windsor. Feast on roasted Pi Pa duck, giant grouper and steamed king prawns. Be sure to check out monthly specials. Shang Palace Restaurant Norfolk Mansion, 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong, D1 Tel: 3823 2221 An upscale Chinese restaurant with a spacious and welcoming atmosphere. The menu boasts a wide range of Hong

nest", which the treat, with its curled-up sides and soft middle, resembles. Banh tai yen is a favourite snack for locals and can be found all over the city for about 5,000 VND. Stephy Thai

Kong Cantonese cuisine, including both dim sum, a la carte and set menus, regularly changed by the creative chefs. Yu Chu InterContinental Asiana Saigon, corner of Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3520 9099 Specializing in authentic Cantonese and Peking cuisine. Award-winning chef prepares dishes including handmade noodles, dim sum and wok-fried items.

Saigon Indian 73 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Tel: 3824 5671 Popular venue with an enormous menu. Serves both southern and northern Indian dishes like tandoori, biryani, dosa and idly snacks, plus a wide range of vegetarian dishes. Offers a set lunch menu. Cater service is available.  Tandoor 74/6 Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3930 4839 Part of a chain of restaurants covering Hanoi and Saigon, Tandoor features a large selection of standard northern Indian dishes, including a good vegetarian selection. Excellent cheap set lunches and reasonable prices all around. Will organize catering for events. 

INTERNATIONAL Al Fresco’s 21 Mac Dinh Chi D1 Tel: 3823 8427 27 Dong Du, D1 Tel: 3822 7317 D1-23 My Toan 3, D7 Tel: 5410 1093 400 Nguyen Trai, D5 Tel: 3838 3840 Theme restaurant boasting a range of Tex-Mex, Italian and Australian-style BBQ dishes. Huge portions and tasty Australian ribs coupled with a good atmosphere and helpful staff. Good lunch menu. 

Amigo Grill 55 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 3824 1248 Outstanding steaks made with Australian, U.S. and Argentine beef, served in a cosy, family-friendly environment with large tables and banquette seating. Dishes like leg of lamb and seafood are also on the menu. Open 11 am to 11 pm. Au Parc 23 Han Thuyen, D1 Tel: 3829 2772 Lavishly decorated brasserie borrowing from Moroccan and French styles and popular during lunchtime with expats. Specializes in Middle Eastern and North African food. The salad menu is a favourite, and a great range of lush smoothies and juices are on offer.  Blanchy's Tash 93 - 95 Hai Ba Trung, D1 A high-end bar and restaurant with outdoor terrace. With ex-Nobu London Chef at the helm, Blanchy’s offers tapaslike snacks that fuse Japanese and South American influences. Expect great things here from international DJs and renowned mixologists Black Cat 13 Phan Van Dat, D1 Tel: 3829 2055 Tiny but popular District 1 restaurant serving up an excellent selection of Western and Vietnamese fare and an extensive range of sandwiches and burgers.  BoatHouse 40 Lily Road, APSC Compound, 36 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 6790 Riverside restaurant with umbrella-shaded tables spread across outdoor deck and small indoor dining room. Serves remarkably fresh and inspired dishes made with choice local and imported ingredients—favourites include the sirloin burger and pan-fried fish and chips. Boomarang Cresent Residence 2-3-4, No. 107 Ton Dat Tien, PMH, D7 Tel: 3744 6790 Riverside restaurant with umbrella-shaded tables spread across outdoor deck and small indoor dining room. Serves remarkably fresh and inspired dishes made with choice local and imported ingredients—favourites include the sirloin burger and pan-fried fish and chips. Cafe Evita 230 Nguyen Van Huong, An Phu, D2

asialife HCMC 57


street gourmet

Love Wine? Join the Club! By Darryl Bethea Sharing good wine and food with friends can do more than just make you tipsy or fill your stomach; it can truly make the day memorable and take it to a higher level. That is why I am encouraging you to join a wine club, go to wine dinners and join a private wine society. In many parts of the world you can join a monthly wine club directly from the winery. Membership is free and you are placed on a newsletter list. You will be the first to know about new releases, stock in limited quantities and special discounted prices. However, in Vietnam this option isn't feasible due to shipping laws and cost. Going to wine dinners, however, is another great option. At these events you pay a reasonable amount for a four or five course dinner with perfectly matched food and wine. The reason this is such a great deal is because you are only paying for a gourmet meal; the cost of the wine is basically free. This gives you the chance to try some outstanding wines – sometimes first releases in the market place – in an informative, comfortable environment. Usually the winemakers themselves host the dinners, so you get an intimate look at the wine from a true insider. However, many of the dinners are only advertised in four or five star hotels for their guests, but I am looking to change that. Send me your email address and I will inform you about

58 asialife HCMC

upcoming events. Another great option is joining a wine society like the International Wine & Food Society. This organisation is the world’s oldest and most renowned gastronomic society. Since 1933 the society has thrived with branches existing worldwide. The society’s goal is, “To Bring together and serve all who believe that a right understanding of good food and wine is an essential part of personal contentment and health, and that an intelligent approach to the pleasures and problems of the table offers far greater rewards than the mere satisfaction of appetite.” The membership is limited and exclusive, but Saigon’s branch is currently looking for new members. A non-member can be invited to attend a dinner by an existing member (like myself) and after attending two dinners an invitation to join can be extended. Contact me for more info and checkout the website at  You should never drink alone; join a community of wine lovers and enjoy with friends, old and new. Cheers! Darryl Bethea is Group Sales Manager for Fine Wines of the World (09 3378 5005) and is a Certified Sommelier from the Court of the Master Sommeliers. Contact Darryl at 09 3378 5005 or email Darryl@

Chao Muc Chao muc or squid porridge is a savoury delicacy. Shredded dried squid, which has been soaked in water and a little white wine bulks up the dish. In addition to the squid and coagulated blood clots (huyet), the

Tel: 3512 3888 Academic-themed menu at this outlet near the British International School includes meals like The Principal, a triple-decker club with fries and salad and burgers that range from First to Fourth Grade. Also has a wood-fired pizza oven.  Cafe Saigon Ground floor, Moevenpick Hotel Saigon 253 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3844 9222 ext. 234 An international buffet with unique food concepts that is perfect for gathering family and friends. Cham Charm 3 Phan Van Chuong, Phu My Hung Tel: 5410 9999 The highlight of this upscale, beautifully decorated Asian restaurant is a special seafood buffet that includes Portuguese oysters, Alaskan crab, lobsters, sushi, sashimi, Japanese-style seafood, Langoustine prawns, American Angus beef and much more. Errazuriz wines are also included in the buffet. Part of the Khai Silk chain. El Gaucho 5D Nguyen Sieu, D1 Tel: 3825 1879 Cresent Residence 1_12, No. 103 Ton Dat Tien, PMH, D7 A classic Argentine steakhouse where beef is the main attraction. There is still plenty of other options on the menu, in addition to an extensive wine list. Open from 4pm until late every day. The Deck 38 Nguyen U Di, D2 Tel: 3744 6632 Serves upmarket takes on regional specialties made with fresh local and imported products. Well-designed,

dish contains finely sliced pigskin, dried shrimp and finger-shaped soufflé batter (chao quay). Egg yolk, bean sprouts and shredded ginger are also added. A bowl goes for about VND 30,000. Stephy Thai

minimalist dining space and bar on the river are a serious draw. The Elbow Room 52 Pasteur, D1 Tel: 3821 4327 American-style bistro offering a wide range of appetisers, soups, salads, sandwiches, mains and desserts, plus an extensive wine menu. Open daily 7.30 am to 11 pm. Breakfast served all day. Gartenstadt 34 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3822 3623 Opened in 1992, it’s the first venue in town to offer German food with specialities such as pork knuckle and authentic German sausages prepared fresh each day. Also offers imported German draught beer. Good Eats NTFQ2, 34 Nguyen Dang Giai Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 6672 Easteran and Western dishes are low in saturated fat and made from all-natural ingredients. Organic vegetables, herbs and spices accompany meals. Even the French fries are healthy.  Halal@Saigon 31 Dong Du, D1 Tel: 3824 5823 Serving up a range of Vietnamese and Malaysian dishes prepared according to halal guidelines including ban xeo, pho and roti chennai and seafood favourites such as shrimp, squid and mussels. Hideaway Cafe 41/1 Pham Ngoc Thach, D3 Tel: 3822 4222 Stylishly decorated and relaxing restaurant and cafe serving an eclectic range of tasty European-style food. Dine al fresco in the charming courtyard. 

Jaspa’s 33 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3822 9926 Unpretentious brasserie-style restaurant specializes in Australian-influenced international fusion cuisine. Full range of drinks including Australian and French wines and good cocktails. Hosts monthly Spam Cham networking event.  Kita Coffee House 39 Nguyen Hue, D1, Tel: 3821 5300 Four-level restaurant serving a wide menu of mains, pastas, salads, sandwiches, soups and appetizers for lunch and dinner, as well as a variety of coffee and fresh fruit juices. Includes a bright ground floor cafe, sophisticated Old World second floor bar and rooftop dining. Set dinner everyday from 5pm.  Market 39 InterContinental Asiana Saigon Ground Floor, Corner Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3520 9099 Seven interactive live kitchens offering French, Vietnamese and Southeast Asian cuisines, including a bakery, French patisseries, pancakes, tossed salads, grilled steak, seafood, wok-fried items, noodles and pasta dishes. Mekong Merchant 23 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 4713 Set in a courtyard, this rustic Australianstyle brasserie has brought modern international cuisine to suburban An Phu. Popular for weekend brunches. Weekly specials and seafood flown in from Phu Quoc.  New York Dessert Cafe (nydc) Restaurant and Cafe NOWZONE 235 Nguyen Van Cu, D1 Metropolitan 235 Dong Khoi, D1 Parkson Flemington 184 Le Dai Hanh, D11 Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 The Crescent. Phu My Hung, 107 Ton Dat Tien, D7 New York themed menu offering a wide selection of Western dishes and desserts, including a variety of cheesecakes. New York Steakhouse & Winery 25-27 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D1 Tel: 3823 7373 Chic dining venue designed in a classic New York City Art Deco. Open every day until late. Specializes in certified U.S. Black Angus steak, and features a fully stocked wine cellar. Guests are invited to bring their own wine on BYOB Mondays. Orientica Hotel Equatorial, 242 Tran Binh Trong, D5 Tel: 3839 7777 Top-end seafood and grill restaurant

boasting modern decor. Good service and excellent food presentation make this a pleasant alternative to the downtown scene. Pacharan Tapas and Bodega 97 Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3825 6024 This tapas restaurant and bar serves up superb Spanish fare crafted from authentic imported ingredients. The exclusively Spanish wine list is extensive and Sangria is half price during happy hour from 5 pm to 7 pm and all day Wednesday. The Refinery 74/7C Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3823 0509 Authentic bistro with cane furniture outside, informal indoor restaurant section and a bar area. Cuisine is light, modern European. The menu spans a price range to suit most budgets. Reflections Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 3823 4999 Contemporary fine dining that combines Asian flavors with classic Mediterranean cuisine in an ambiance of understated elegance and European style. Special culinary events include guest chefs from Michelin-star establishments around the world. Private rooms are available.

Warda 71/7 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Tel: 3823 3822 Chic, middle-eastern themed eatery swathed in oranges and reds serving Lebanese cuisine prepared by Damascan chef, Nouman. Mezze and tapas are the main draw, but you can also puff on hookas post-meal. Xu Saigon 71-75 Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3824 8468 Inspired restaurant with an F&B director with a passion for mixing Vietnamese cooking with flavours and styles from around the world. Sleek but sparsely designed, the restaurant serves nouveau takes on Vietnamese cuisine.


Basilico InterContinental Asiana Saigon, Ground Floor, Corner Nguyen Du and Hai Ba Trung, D1

Tel: 3520 9099 Contemporary and casual trattoria-style restaurant specializing in authentic Italian dishes and homemade desserts. Woodfired pizza oven and a wide selection of Italian wines. Casa Italia 86 Le Loi, D1 Tel: 3824 4286 Serves home-style Italian cooking including pasta and pizza as well as a selection of steak and seafoodd dishes. Open daily 10 am until late. Good Morning Vietnam 197 De Tham, D1 Tel: 3837 1894 Popular authentic Italian restaurant with additional outlets around the country. Specializes in thin-crust pizza, pasta and a range of Italian dishes. Good selection of Italian wines. 

Riverside Cafe Renaissance Riverside, 8-15 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3822 0033 International venue opening onto the bustling river sidewalk, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and particularly noted for its sumptuous buffet selection which combines Asian, Western and Vietnamese cuisine. Signature Restaurant Level 23, Sheraton Hotel, 88 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3827 2828 Fine dining with panoramic views over central HCM City. Food is stunningly presented, top-end European cuisine with Asian influences cooked by German chef Andreas Schimanski. A la carte or five-course set menu available. Skewers 9A Thai Van Lung, D1 Tel: 3822 4798 Rustic Mediterranean restaurant where subtle colours and exposed brickwork combine with jazzy tunes. Serves tabouleh, falafel, couscous and kebab. Highly rated for its grilled meats, bread and dip combos, soups and pastas.  Square One Park Hyatt Saigon, 2 Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 3520 2359 Specializing in high-end Western and Vietnamese cuisine, Square One serves charcoal-grilled meats and seafood, as well as steamed and wok-cooked Vietnamese fare.

LOUISIANE BREWHOUSE Beachside Nha Trang Asian & Western Cuisine Swimming Pool & Private Beach

asialife HCMC 59

La Braceria 11 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3824 7446 A Mediterranean-style grill house that serves imported prime steaks, lamb, duck and fresh seafood as well as pasta and pizza. Great selection of old and new world wines La Hostaria 17B Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3823 1080 Rustic eatery specializing in top-end traditional cuisine from various regions in Italy. Main courses from 130,000 VND with daily specials on offer. Serves excellent pizza.  Opera Ground floor Park Hyatt Hotel, 2 Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 3824 1234

Slick, contemporary eatery with exposed brick and glass. The space revolves around an island kitchen from which chefs produce gourmet Italian fare. Internationally trained chefs work with the freshest and finest ingredients around to produce some superb dishes.

JAPANESE Chiisana Hashi River Garden, 170 Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 6683 5308 0903 669 252 Serves authentic Japanese cuisuine including sashimi, sushi, tempura, sukiyaki and shabu shabu. Dragon Hot Pot 122-124 Ho Tung Mau, D1 Tel: 3915 1001 Japanese hot pot restaurant serving

motsu nabe, Japanese barbeque and lots of sake and shoju. Kissho 14 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 3823 2223 Fax: 3823 3343 Saigon’s newest Japanese restaurant boasts a multi-concept cuisine set in a cutting edge interior. Specialties include teppanyaki, yakiniku, sushi and sashimi crafted by expert chefs. The freshest imported meats and seafood round out the menu, accompanied by an extensive selection of fine wines and Japanese spirits. Open 11.30 am to 2 pm and 5.30 pm to 10 pm. Iki Ground floor, Moevenpick Hotel Saigon 253 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3844 9222 ext. 127 A Japanese restaurant that turns the notion of the common hotel sushi eatery on its head thanks to an affordable menu and a fun atmosphere. K Cafe 74 A4 Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3824 5355 Small, cosy and cheery, this café is noteworthy for its cracking hand rolls. Salmon skin rolls are also a treat. The assorted sushi and sashimi, tasty and beautifully presented, costs around USD $8. Leave some room for homemade yoghurt. MOF – Japanese Sweets & Coffee Level B3-17A, Vincom Centre, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 30 Le Loi, D1 Refined Japanese café specializing in unique desserts and food. Focusing on use of organic products, this casual eatery has a comprehensive Japanese dining menu along with a wonderful selection of sweets and offers possibly the most divine and delectable gelato in HCM City. Nishimura Mövenpick Hotel Saigon, 253 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3844 9222 Exquisitely prepared sushi and sashimi from a globetrotting chef with three decades’ experience. A wide range of cooked dishes and monthly meal promotions are also available. Set lunches cost about USD $15.

production house and studio in Vietnam. Available 1K Ngo Van So, Ward 13 District 4, HCMC, Vietnam (+84) 08 3941 1179

60 asialife HCMC

Okinawa Yamaneko 13/1 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3823 8433 Part restaurant, part Japanese pub serving up a variety of Okinawa favourites like sashimi with sea grapes, namakari and goya champuru plus sushi and soba. The Sushi Bar 2 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3823 8042 3A Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3911 8618

This brightly lit Japanese-style restaurant serves over 40 varieties of sushi at reasonable prices. Sit at the sushi bar or in private rooms upstairs. Open until 11.30 pm, delivery available on request.  Tama-Gawa Thao Dien Village 195 Nguyen Van Huong D2 Tel: 08 37446857 Anh Phu’s only Japanese restaurant, Tama-Gawa serves fresh sushi and other delicacies. Set lunches begin at 120,000 VND. Zen 20 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3825 0782 Located amid the sea of Japanese restaurants on Le Thanh Ton Street, Zen offers a wide range of Japanese dishes. The yakitori station grills up fantastic steak and quail’s eggs, and the chilled udon noodles are also a standout.

KOREAN 25 Si 8A/6D Thai Van Lung, D1 Tel: 3824 6921 Traditional Yasik-style drinking restaurant. Winter and summer scene murals fill the walls of this dual level eatery. Large menu with favs like budae jjigae, a mix of chilli paste, Spam, hot dog and tofu, as well as super spicy duruchigi. Hana 8 Cao Ba Quat, D1 Tel: 3829 5588 Japanese-Korean fusion in the heart of District 1. Contemporary decor with a private, yet open feel. Broad menu including cooked and raw fish and traditional hot pot with fish eggs, rice and vegetables. Kim Bab Chun Gook R4 42 Hung Phuoc 2, Phu My Hung Tel: 6296 9057 Korean boonshik/snack food eatery serving up a wide variety of light but substantial foods including dumplings, rameyon and fish cakes. Kumdo 6A Pham Ngoc Thach, D3 Tel: 3824 3253 Korean beef barbecue served in small, welcoming dining rooms with barbecues built into tables. Large selection of raw meat specialties.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN Baan Thai 55 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 5453 If you have been missing the delights of Bangkok nightlife then this restaurant and bar should be for you. The Thai chefs whip up all the traditional dishes you know and love, while in the bar there are a host of drinks and activities to help while away an evening.

Lac Thai 71/2 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Tel: 3823 7506 An elegant restaurant tucked in an alleyway and decorated with art-deco furniture. Authentic Thai cuisine prepared by two Thai chefs. Food is tasty but less spicy than you’d find in Thailand.  Little Manila S2-1 Hung Vuong 2, Phu My Hung, D7 Tel: 5410 0812 Small, no -frills eatery with outdoor and indoor seating located on a quiet street. Serves a range of dishes from the Philippines (pictured on menu for those unfamiliar) and draught San Miguel. Thai Express 8A Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 6299 1338 Modern restaurant with a massive menu of Thai specialties served in moderate proportions. The menu inludes chef’s recommendations and background on Thai cuisine. Warning: some dishes will test your tongue’s threshold.

VEGETARIAN Hoa Dang 38 Huynh Khuong Ninh, D1 Swish vegetarian restaurant on a quiet street that serves up nutritious dishes, including meatless versions of bun bo, pho and steamboat. Cosy bar serving non-alcoholic drinks, fruits and other sweets. Saigon Vegan 378/3 Vo Van Tan, D3 Tel: 3834 4473 Rustic vegan restaurant with extensive menu of healthy food at moderate prices. Lots of tofu dishes and soya chicken/ beef, soups, banh bao and more. Also has a kids menu. Viet Chay 339 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D3 Tel: 3526 5862 Upscale vegetarian restaurant specializes in fake meat dishes. The attractive dining room is suffused with natural light. Located within the walls of Vinh Nghiem Pagoda.

VIETNAMESE Banian Tree River Garden, 170 Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 6683 5308 – 0903 669 252 A fine dining Vietnamese restaurant that serves authentic cuisine. Offers a set lunch from US $8 per person, set dinner from $15 per person. International breakfast is served from 6.30 am - 10.30 am. Cha Ca Viet Nam River Garden, 170 Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 6683 5308 0903 669 252 Serves Hanoi specialty Cha Ca—turmeric grilled fish with noodles and dill. Com Nieu 19 Tu Xuong, D3 Tel: 3932 6288 The house specialty, com nieu (smashed rice), comes with a shattered-crockery and flying-rice show at this well-known restaurant, prominently featured in Anthony Bourdain’s A Cook’s Tour. An extensive and tasty selection of southern Vietnamese cuisine rounds out the menu. Hoa Tuc 74 Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3825 1676 This comfortable high-end restaurant serves traditional Vietnamese fare with a contemporary, classy twist. Expect to find your local favourites as you’ve never experienced them before. Beautifully plated, this is Vietnamese cuisine at its best. Lang Nuong Nam Bo 285/C145 Cach Mang Thang Tam, D10 Tel: 3862 2569 Warehouse-sized quan well-regarded among locals serves everything from

beef, chicken and fish to porcupine, weasel and field mouse. Great destination for intrepid gastronomes. Has standard hot pot, rice and noodle dishes too. Mandarine Restaurant 11A Ngo Van Nam, D1 Tel: 3822 9783 Fine dining Vietnamese-style courtesy of two sumptuously decorated colonial villas, an antique wooden stair and a menu spanning all regions of Vietnam. Traditional music performances are available for dinner. Nam Phan 34 Vo Van Tan, Q3 Tel: 3933 3636 Well known at its previous corner location on Le Thanh Ton, Nam Phan continues to serve modern Asian cuisine including asparagus and crab meat soup, stewed bellyfish in pineapple and grilled duck breast in orange sauce. Set in a restored colonial villa, the interior is alive with reproductions of Cham-era bas-reliefs and is inspired by Euro-Zen. Quan Bui 8 Nguyen Van Nguyen, D1 Tel: 3602 2241 Well executed and delicious Vietnamese food at almost criminally affordable prices. Tucked away at the top end of District one, this place is worth seeking out for five-star food in a casual setting that will certainly not strain the budget. Temple Club 29 – 31 Ton That Thiep, D1 Tel: 3829 9244 This high-end restaurant attached to an elegant lounge bar is a must-try for its art deco atmosphere as much as for its food. Mains go from around VND80,000 to VND150,000. Wrap & Roll 62 Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3823 4030 SA1–1, My Khanh 1, Nguyen Van Linh, D7 Attractive downtown venue that brings street-style food into air-conditioned and uncluttered comfort. Choose prewrapped appetisers such as the cha gio (spring rolls) or roll-it-yourself mains with ingredients like pickled shrimps, beef on sugar cane, fish, grilled eel and pork. 

nightlife BARS & LOUNGES See bar restaurant listings for more popular watering holes. Amber Room 59 Dong Du, D1 Tel: 6291 3686 A true London meets New York lounge, with chilled out tunes during the day and more funky vibes at night. A pleasant meeting place for drinks and a bite to eat. Bar's bar 47 Phan Chu Trinh, D1 Tel: 3822 3352 Small luxurious upstairs bar adjacent to Ben Thanh Market, offers a welcome retreat from the bustle of the city centre. Customers are served with relaxing music and a wide selection of cocktails, whiskies and Japanese Sake. Open nightly 6-late.  Cloud 9 2bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, D3, HCMC (Corner of Turtle Lake Roundabout & Tran Cao Van), Tel: 0948 445544 Recently opened with beautiful déco, this rooftop lounge bar has its stunning views at night. Live DJ, great cocktails and desserts. Open 6pm till late.  The Library InterContinental Asiana Saigon, corner

asialife HCMC 61

of Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3520 9099 Unwind with a glass of wine or a cup of tea. The Library provides a welcoming atmosphere for those in search of calm, comfort and personalized service. Purple Jade InterContinental Asiana Saigon, corner of Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3520 9099 Chic lounge blends the stylistic influences of contemporary design and opium dens. Hosts live music and serves special drinks, including Shaoxing and Maotai rice wines and an exclusive selection of luxury spirits.

NIGHTCLUBS Fuse Bar 3A Ton Duc Thang, D1 A popular bar that plays primarily hiphop music. Every Tuesday Fuse hosts a ladies night where women drink for free. Lush 2 Ly Tu Trong, D1 Tel: 3824 2496 A large and lavishly decorated bar and club popular on weekends. Good DJs playing the latest in beat-based music and the city’s beautiful people add to the sights and sounds. It’s on-par with Western clubs in both ambience and drinks prices.

at home BAKERIES Harvest Baking 30 Lam Son, Tan Binh Tel: 3547 0577 This authentic bakery offers a range of specialty baked goods for delivery. Offering bagels, scones, breads, desserts,cakes, tarts and more. Chocolate fudge cake and cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing highly recommended.

include a visit to the market with the sous chef. Saigon Cooking Class by Hoa Tuc The Courtyard, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3825 8485 Cooking classes available from Tuesday to Sunday 10 am-1 pm/2 pm-5 pm.

DELIVERY KITCHEN Tel: 0974 444 001 Visit the website and start an account to begin ordering fresh, homemade meals to your home. Options include beef lasagne, big chicken and mushroom pies and pork dijon as well as a variety of sausages and vegetarian dishes. Must order a minimum of three dishes at a time. Pizza Hut Delivery (PHD) Tel: 3838 8388 Serving up pizza, pasta, chicken wings and much more. PHD guarantees 30minute delivery or a free pizza at your next order (you must live within 2 km from a PHD store).

GROCERIES Annam Gourmet Market 16-18 Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3822 9332 41A Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 2630 SB2-1 My Khanh 4, Nguyen Duc Canh, D7 Tel: 5412 3263 / 64 Boutique grocer with wide selection of foreign foods; Annam-brand coffee, tea and spices; and household products. Wine and premium beer, full deli counter, produce, dairy-frozen and baked goods on second floor. Kim Hai Butchery 73 Le Thi Hong Gam, D1 Tel: 3821 6057 or 3914 4376 Excellent chilled imported beef, lamb, veal and other meats sold at reasonable prices.

Pat A Chou 65 Hai Ba Trung, D1 25 Thao Dien, D2 The home of the long and crusty baguette. Supplies many restaurants but also sells wholesale. The miniature patisseries such as crème brulée and cheesecake are worth a taste. Opens at 6.30 am.

Metro An Phu, D2 Tel: 3740 6677 Warehouse wholesaler located just off the Hanoi Highway in D2 between the Saigon Bridge and the tollbooths. Sells bulk food, fresh fruit and vegetables and meat, as well as paper products, cleaning supplies, housewares--basically everything.

Tous Les Jours 180 Hai Ba Trung, D3 Part of the Korean bakery chain, Tous Le Jours stocks a superb range of freshly baked good from sugary treats like pain au chocolat to superior quality baguettes and loafs.

Organik 11A Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 090 273 3841 Online grocer based out of Dalat selling a range of organic vegetables and groceries, as well as imported all-natural products such as cereal, soymilk and tea. Operates a retail shop in An Phu.

Voelker 17 A7 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 7303 8799 39 Thao Dien, An Phu, D2 Tel: 6296 0066 Small bakery turns out sweet and salted pies and mousses in addition to baguettes and a range of Western sweets.

CATERING Saigon Catering 84 Xuan Thuy, D2 Tel: 6281 8388 Provide services of catering, banquets, event planning, BBQ’s, daily deliveries and cocktail parties. For a custom-made quotation e-mail or call Huong on 0913 981128.

COOKERY CLASSES Caravelle Hotel Cooking Classes Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 3823 4999 Full-day Vietnamese cooking classes for groups of up to 20 people. The classes

62 asialife HCMC


Veggy’s 29A Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3823 8526 Sky Garden Pham Van Nghi, Bac Khu Pho, D7 Riverside Apartments 53 Vo Truong Toan, Thao Dien, D2 Popular expat market with a huge walk-in fridge area stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy products and a range of meats. Imported canned and dried foods, wines, beers, soft drinks, spirits and snacks also available.

LIQUOR & WINE The Warehouse 178 Pasteur, D1 Tel: 3825 8826 924 Tran Hung Dao, D5 Tel: 6261 1525 One of the city’s premier wine distributors, The Warehouse is an aptly named, stylish wine store that stocks a full range of both New and Old World wines, sparkling wines, Champagne, spirits, imported beers and accessories.

Hazelnut parfait with chocolate sauce and roasted apricots Serves 6

For the parfait 280 gr hazelnut paste 100 gr heavy cream 70 gr egg whites 65 gr sugar 280 gr whipped cream For the chocolate sauce 1 cup heavy cream 1 cup of dark chocolate For the roasted apricots 400 gr apricots 80 gr butter 120 gr sugar METHOD OF PREPARATION For the parfait 1. In a mixer, mix in the hazelnut paste and the heavy cream. Set aside. 2. Make an Italian meringue with the egg whites and sugar, and add it to the first mixture. 3. Fold in the cream and beat

to a soft peak. 4. Freeze overnight. For the chocolate sauce 1. In a medium size saucepan heat the cream until almost boiling point. 2. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, mix until achieving a homogeneous sauce. For roasted apricots 1. In a non stick pan heat the butter, and slowly cook the apricots 2. Add sugar and keep cooking slowly until caramelized. To serve In the middle of a round plate put on one side the chocolate sauce, and right next to it the roasted apricots. Place the hazelnut parfait in the middle. Encrust with some caramel decorations and sprinkle with ground hazelnuts.

Recipes provided by Ana Esteves


Tel: 3775 2520 Modern cinema with four-way sound system. D7 location houses luxury theatre Charlotte with 32 seats and eight sofas.


me phim HCM City-based film initiative that provides support to local filmmakers and hosts regular film screenings/discussions. Email for information or join the Facebook group.

AngelsBrush by Vin Tel: 0983377710 Oil painting course gives learners the opportunity to work from the different objects; explore different mediums, materials and techniques; and interpret line, tone and colour. Instructor works with students on individual basis. Helen Kling Oil Painting 189/C1 Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 0903 955 780 Helene is a French painter who teaches beginners (children and adults) various techniques and the art of working with different mediums. She is also a fantastic tool for advanced artists who are looking to increase their creativity. Both day and night courses are available. Helene has a permanent exhibition at FLOW, located 88 Ho Tung Mau, D1. Printmaking Classes are held at Alpha Gallery taught by the gallery owner Bernadette Gruber, who offers the chance to learn monotype, intaglio and etching techniques.

CINEMAS Bobby Brewer’s Movie Lounge 45 Bui Vien, D1 Tel: 3610 2220 86 Pham Ngoc Thach Popular top-floor home cinema showing movies five times a day on a large screen. Email for the latest schedule. Cinebox 212 Ly Chinh Thang, D3 Tel: 3935 0610 240 3 Thang 2, D10 Tel: 3862 2425 Cinebox cinemas show both original language films with Vietnamese subtitles and the dubbed versions. Future Shorts Vietnam branch of the international network screens foreign and local short films around town. Events often incorporate other media and elements, including live music, performances, installations and discussion. Submissions accepted. Galaxy Cinema 116 Nguyen Du, D1 Tel: 3822 8533 230 Nguyen Trai, D1 Tel: 3920 6688 Large, modern cinema that shows the latest foreign releases in English (with Vietnamese subtitles). IDECAF 31 Thai Van Lung, D1 Tel: 3829 5451 French cultural centre and cinema theatre. Showcases French movies with English and Vietnamese subtitles. Also hosts movies and documentaries from a number of overseas film festivals. Lotte Cinema Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3822 7897 LotteMart, 469 Nguyen Huu Tho, D7

GALLERIES a little blah blah OUT-2 STUDIO, L6 FAFILM Annex 6 Thai Van Lung, D1 Operates as an engine for contemporary art by organizing projects, exhibitions, screenings and talks. Runs one major art project each year and a reading room with more than 1,000 texts on art, design and creative culture. Free for everyone and open Tue to Sat 10 am to 6 pm. Blue Space Contemporary Arts Center 97A Pho Duc Chinh, D1 Tel: 3821 3695 Busy, working gallery with easels propped up outside situated in the grounds of the beautiful Fine Arts Museum. Holds regular exhibitions by local artists.

At the CMI, you can find this medical treatment. General and Tropical Medicine Cardiology Gynaecology Traditional Oriental Medicine Osteopathic Medicine Paediatrics Psychiatry - Psychotherapy Psychology Psychomotor Therapy Speech and Language Therapy Preparement for birth All of CMI’s profits are dedicated to the FONDATION ALAIN CARPENTIER that pays for destitute Vietnamese children to have cardiac surgery at the Heart Institute of Ho Chi Minh City.

CENTRE MEDICAL INTERNATIONAL - Fondation Alain Carpentier 1 Han Thuyen, Quartier 1, Ho Chi Minh Ville Tél : (08) 38 27 23 67 - (08) 38 24 58 74 - Fax : (08) 38 27 23 65 -

Duc Minh Gallery 31C Le Quy Don, D3 Tel: 3933 0498 Housed in an opulent colonial mansion, private museum and art gallery showcases the private art collection of Vietnamese business tycoon Bui Quoc Chi. Containing more than 1,000 pieces that range from traditional to contemporary. Galerie Quynh 65 De Tham, D1 Tel: 3836 8019 The city’s only international standard gallery, housed in a modern, two-floor space. Organizes regular exhibitions featuring established, emerging local/ international contemporary artists, publishes original catalogs in both English and Vietnamese. Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum 97A Pho Duc Chinh, D1 Tel: 3829 4441 Institution housing contemporary/traditional works by Vietnamese and foreign artists. Pieces date from as early as the 7th century. Includes Vietnamese antiques, art crafted by the Cham and Funan peoples. San Art Independent Artist Space 3 Me Linh, Binh Thanh Tel: 3840 0898 Artist-run, non-profit exhibition space featuring contemporary work by young Vietnamese artists. San Art hosts guest lecturers and curators. A reading room of art books and magazines is open to the public. TuDo Gallery 53 Ho Tung Mau, D1 Tel: 3821 0966 Hosting permanent exhibitions of works by the city’s artists, Tu Do deals in oils, silk paintings and lacquerware. More than 1,000 pieces on show.




Megastar Hung Vuong Plaza, 126 Hung Vuong, D5 Tel: 08 2222 0388 CT Plaza, 60A Truong Son, Tan Binh Tel: 6297 1981 State-of-the-art cinema complex screening the lastest blockbusters with plush, reclining seats. All movies shown in original language with Vietnamese subtitles.



Up to




149A Truong Dinh street, Ward 9, District 3, HCM Tell: 08.3526 4636 – 3526 4635 - Hotline: 0903 731 555

(*) More information, please contact consultant or

asialife HCMC 63

counsel corner

Dealing With Depression By Briar Jacques The World Health Organisation estimates that by 2020 the disease that will impose the second largest burden worldwide will be depression. Twenty to 25 percent of women and 7 to 12 percent of men will experience clinical depression during their lifetime, yet depressed people often do not seek treatment. Although with time people may come out of their depression by themselves, risk of relapse increases with each untreated episode. Since the 1980’s Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been used to treat acute depression to great effect. Now, because depression is viewed as a recurrent disorder, new methods of treatment have developed focusing on equipping people with tools to avoid relapse and manage susceptibility to depression. One such therapy is Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) which combines eastern mindfulness meditation practices with western CBT. It’s very easy if we are prone to depression to descend into a spiral of negative thoughts, feelings and physical sensations. We screen out much of the picture and think just about the bad, hopeless aspects. Emotionally this causes us to feel low, irritable, restless and lonely or crave escape through addictions. Physically we get lethargic, achy and anxious or experience symptoms of panic, insomnia or appetite disturbance. Each part of the spiral quickly feeds the others. With MBCT we learn how to intervene in our own depression spiral. Physically

64 asialife HCMC

we do this through awareness and control of the breath and increased ability to tune into the body and induce relaxation. Mentally we learn to understand the way our mind works and how to expand our thinking to see a fuller picture so we can reframe our cognitions as they happen. MBCT helps us identify when we are attempting to suppress thoughts in order to ‘think our way’ out of depression. We learn to view thoughts as what they are – mental events that we can work with. Emotionally we learn to allow our emotions and realise that all emotions are temporary. By developing emotional awareness we put ourselves in an empowered position. We can connect to the idea that life doesn’t always need to feel pleasant and we don’t always need to feel happy to be OK. MBCT is a practical approach and equips us with a bag of tools we can apply anytime anywhere. Ultimately it helps us identify that inner judgemental voice common to all periods of depression and see it for what it is – a learned, unkind, dysfunctional way of thinking that achieves nothing. MBCT can be engaged in individually or in a group setting. It is integrated over eight weeks and so far research indicates it is an excellent way to manage and prevent depression. Briar Jacques is a trained Australian counsellor who deals with issues like expat adjustment, depression, anxiety and drug abuse. Call 0121 480 8792.


sports & leisure Sport Street Huyen Tran Cong Chua, D1 between Nguyen Du and Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Services include mending and restringing broken tennis rackets. Products range from badminton birdies and rackets to basketball hoops, free weights, roller blades, scooters, soccer jerseys and all manner of balls. Trophies & Custom Signage Street Le Lai, D1 between Truong Dinh and Nguyen Thai Hoc Offers custom engraving on trophies and plaques made of plastic, wood, metal and glass.

CRICKET Saigon Cricket Assocation Social cricket league plays 25 overs a side matches Sunday mornings at RMIT’s District 7 pitch. Season runs November through May, with friendly games throughout the pre-season. Practice on Saturdays and Sunday afternoons. Australian Cricket Club Terry Gordon saigonaustraliancricketclub@yahoo. com

English Cricket Club Richard Carrington Richard.carrington@pivotalvietnam. com Indian Cricket Club Manish Sogani, United Cricket Club Mr. Asif Ali,

DANCING DanCenter 53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Thao Dien, District 2

Tel: 3840 6974 Purpose built studio with foreign trained dance instructors. Classes in jazz, ballet, tap, hip hop, yoga, zumba, belly, hula, capoiera and more. Kids can start from 4+ and adults of all ages and levels are welcome. Schedule and news on events available on-line. Salsa Dancing at La Habana 6 Cao Ba Quat, D1 Six-week salsa package at 350,000 VND for single persons and 550,000 for a couple, run by Urko. Lessons every Tuesday (beginners L.A. style at 7.30 pm; intermediate L.A style at 8.30 pm). Registration required.

FITNESS & YOGA California WOW Xperience Parkson Plaza, 126 Hung Vuong, D5 28/30-32 Le Loi, D1 Tel: 6291 5999 The world’s biggest fitness centre chain is one of Saigon’s most modern places

to get your sweat on. Located in Hung Vuong Plaza, CWX offers a huge workout area and all kinds of classes including spinning, KickFit, yoga and more.

a team made up of students from the University. They have their own football ground on-site consisting of two brand new pitches. Contact Landon Carnie.

Caravelle Club Spa 19 Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 3823 4999 Modern and stylish gym with lots of cardiovascular machines and free weights. The swimming pool is a great place for a dip, and the massage parlour, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi are there for winding down.

Saigon Raiders Sociable football side who are always on the lookout for new talent for their weekly matches and training sessions. The team participates in the Saigon International Football League and also has regular fixtures against local teams in the outlying provinces and also participates in international tournaments.

Equinox Fitness & Leisure Centre Equatorial Hotel, 242 Tran Binh Trong, D5 Tel: 3839 7777 Decent-sized 3rd-floor gym with modern cardio and weights machines, sauna, steambath, jacuzzi, and large 4th floor pool great for swimming laps. Suzanne & Saigon Yoga Tel: 090 835 2265 Suzanne is an ERYT- 200 (Experienced) Yoga Alliance Instructor. She boasts two decades of experience, offering various yoga styles in District 2 and yoga retreats in Vietnam.

FOOTBALL & RUGBY Australian Rules Football Tel: 093 768 3230 The Vietnam Swans play regular international footy matches around Asia. Training sessions are held weekly in HCM City (2.30 pm Saturday, RMIT D7) and Hanoi (midday, Saturday, UN International School, Ciputra). All skill levels and codes welcome. RMIT Vietnam A new player on the SIFL scene with

Saigon Rugby Club Tel: 0903 735 799 Social, mixed touch rugby played every Saturday afternoon for adults at RMIT from 4 pm until 6 pm. Regularly welcomes visiting teams and tours the region for men’s contact and women’s touch rugby tournaments. Beginners welcome.


Dong Nai Golf Resort Trang Bom Town, Trang Bom Tel: 061 3866 288 / 3677 590 Large golf resort with 27 holes, plus a villa complex, bar, sauna. jacuzzi and billiards. The resort sits on 160 hectares of land in Dong Nai Province, about 50 kilometres from the city. Ocean Dunes Golf Club 1 Ton Duc Thang, Phan Thiet Tel: 062 3821 995 Designed by Nick Faldo, the 6,746-yard par-72 course winds through seaside dunes, with the variable coastal breezes changing its character each day. An enjoyable and eminently playable course

asialife HCMC 65

and has become a favourite venue for expatriate tournaments. Saigon South Golf Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phu, D7 Tel: 5411 2001 Nine-hole mini golf course and driving range set amongst attractive gardens just behind FV Hospital. Club, shoe and umbrella hire is also available. Song Be Golf Resort 77 Binh Duong Blvd, Thuan An Tel: 0650 3756 660 Located 22 kilometres from the city centre, the premier golf course in the area features an 18-hole, 6,384-metre course. Also has tennis courts, a swimming pool, and a gymnasium. Vietnam Golf and Country Club Long Thanh My Village, D9 This facility consists of two courses of 18 holes each, one of which is designed in a more traditional Asian style, and the other in international style. Has other attractions such as boating, tennis and a restaurant area.

LEISURE Hash House Harriers Running club that meets every Sunday at 2 pm at the Caravelle Hotel to go on a run in different locations out of town with their traditional balance of exercise and beer. Phun Runner Social running group that meets Saturdays at 7 am for a scenic run around Saigon before breakfast. Great way to explore the city, meet fellow runners and get fit for future events. Rangers Baseball Club A baseball club always looking for additional players of any age, race or experience level. Plays Saturdays or Sundays, often against Korean or Vietnamese teams. Saigon International Dart League A highly popular group in town, the darts club runs a competitive year-long league for 16 pub-based teams. There are some excellent players in this sociable and international group. See website for details of how to join and latest 180 scores. Saigon Pony Club Lane 42, Le Van Thinh, D2 Tel: 0913 733 360 A standout facility offering pony rides, riding lessons, horse clinics and pony rentals. Also hosts events and birthdays. Ultimate Frisbee RMIT, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, D7 Join in this exciting popular sport every Sunday afternoon from 3pm to 5pm in Saigon South. Pan-Asian competitions also organised for the more experienced. Contact David Jensen at 0909458890 X-Rock Climbing Phan Dinh Phung Sport Centre 75 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D3 Tel: 6278 5794 Offering safe and professional climbing for anyone aged 4 and up. Featuring mountain climbing routes rated from beginner to advanced, climbing and belay-safety courses and training, birthday parties, corporate team building. Excellent facilities for children and annual membership for kids.

66 asialife HCMC


questions for the coiffeur

health & beauty ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE American Chiropractic Clinic 8 Truong Dinh, D3 Tel: 3930 6667 A chiropractic, physiotherapy, foot care clinic staffed by American-trained chiropractors speaking French, English, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. Treats back pain, neck pain, knee pain, also specializing in sports injuries, manufacture of medical grade foot orthotics. Theta Healing – Jodie Eastwood Tel: 091 859 1933 A unique energy healing technique for mind, body and spirit. Jodie is a UK qualified practitioner based in HCM City.


European Dental Clinic 17 - 17A Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 0918 749 204/08 3744 9744 Expat English and French-speaking dentist. Performs full range of dental treatment including whitening, aesthetic fillings, porcelain crowns, full ceramics, veneer and orthodontic treatment. 24hour emergency line: 0909 551 916 or 0916 352940. Starlight Dental Clinic Dr. Philippe Guettier & International Team of Dentists 2Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, D1 Tel: 3822 6222 With 14 years’ experience providing dental treatment to expat and Vietnamese patients, this well-known dental surgery is staffed by both foreign & local practitioners. Au fait with the latest treatments and techniques, the surgery prides themselves on their high standard of equipment & sterilization. Tu Xuong Dental Clinic 51A Tu Xuong, D3 Tel: 3932 2049/050 Provides general and cosmetic dental services at reasonable prices. Specialises in implants, orthodontic treatments and making crowns and bridges. Staff are professional and speak English. Westcoast International Dental Clinic 27 Nguyen Trung Truc, D1 Tel: 3825 6999 71-79 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3825 6777 Canadian-run dental clinic staffed by French, Japanese, English and Vietnamese speaking dental professionals.


Lloyd Morgan International Hair Studio 234 Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 090 8422 007 International stylist Lloyd Morgan is one of the best in town. He’s been in the business for over 30 years and brings his expertise to this established, top-notch salon. Qi Spa 151 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3844 1719 Caravelle Hotel Tel: 3824 7150

The Right Price By Lloyd Morgan As the old adage goes, ‘When in Rome, do as the Roman’s do.’ That’s why I kept cheap prices in mind when I set up shop in Vietnam. With my background and experience, I was amazed at how cheap the hair world was in this city. Over the many years I have been here this hasn’t changed much, with the exception of a few salons in An Phu and in town that charge way too much. So this month I want to say that if you go to a salon run by a foreigner, make sure you get charged appropriately. If you want a full head of highlights make sure it is complete and not a half head, which happened to a lady I met recently. When I checked her hair, only half of it was highlighted but she was charged the full price of VND 1,700,000. This same hairdresser had told one of my clients she could never have a layer cut for her long hair because it was too fine. When she came to see me, I layered her hair throughout, as it was not fine at all. Another time a girl had asked me about changing her dark brown colouring back to blonde, which is a logistical

nightmare for a stylist and the result is never perfect. I refused to do it because it would have damaged the hair too much, so she went to this same stylist who bleached her hair to strip the colour. She later called me and said her hair had been severely damaged. I believe in quality not quantity, which is why my salon is so busy. I do what the client wants and within their price range. You should always be able to go back to the salon if you want any alterations to the colour or cut within seven days, which is standard procedure all around the world. Every stylist in the world will experience client dissatisfaction at some time or another, but that’s the same for any profession, so make sure your foreign stylist is thinking of your best interests. This month we are giving a 15 percent discount to clients when you bring in this AsiaLIFE column. Lloyd Morgan runs the Lloyd Morgan International Hair Studio at 234 Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien, D2. Contact him at 0908 422 007 or

Mövenpick Hotel Saigon, Tel: 3997 5437 High-end salon and spa offers the standard range of services in a calming atmosphere with good service. Waxing, nail services, hair dressing as well as luxurious facial and massage treatments on offer.

OPI 253 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D3 International brand of nail care offering a variety of treatments from standard manicures at 50,000 VND to the whole host nail services such as acrylics, powder gell, cuticle treatments and French polishing.


Quang Qui’s Nails 146 Le Thanh Ton, D1 242 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Locally popular spots with low prices and good service, offering anything you could possibly want for your nails.

CARE1 Executive Health Care Center The Manor, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: 3514 0757 Sister clinic of Family Medical Practice, CARE1 is an executive health care centre offering comprehensive preventative-care checkups in a modern and professional setting. State-of-the-art technology provides fast and accurate diagnoses. Centre Medical International (CMI) 1 Han Thuyen, D1 Tel: 3827 2366 Located downtown next to the cathedral, the centre provides a high standard of medical care from qualified French and Vietnamese physicians. Its range of services include general and tropical medicine, cardiology, gynaecology, osteopathy, pediatrics, psychiatry, speech therapy and traditional Eastern medicine. Family Medical Practice HCMC Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3822 7848 Leading international primary healthcare provider, with a 24-hour state-of-the-art medical centre and highly-qualified multilingual foreign doctors. Extensive experience in worldwide medical evacuations with car and air ambulance on standby. Also in Hanoi and Danang. FV Hospital 6 Nguyen Luong Bang, D7 Tel: 5411 3333 A foreign-owned international-standard hospital with a mixture of French and Vietnamese physicians. Offers quality services, comprehensive patient care and is particularly well regarded for its maternity care. Full array of dental services from examination, cleaning and whitening to fillings, cosmetic procedures and implants. 24-hour emergency line: 3411 3500. International SOS 167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D3 Tel: 3829 8424 Globally-renowned provider of medical assistance and international healthcare. Specializes in offering medical transport and evacuation both within and outside of Vietnam for urgent medical cases. Foreign and Vietnamese dentists. Has multilingual staff.

Victoria Healthcare 135A Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3997 4545 79 Dien Bien Phu, D1 Tel: 39104545 Well-regarded clinic offering general examinations and specializing in pediatrics, digestive diseases, cardiology and women's health. Offers a membership program and cooperates with most insurance companies in Vietnam and abroad. Open with doctors on call 24/7.

NAILS Nail P.KH 51 Nguyen Huu Cau, D1 A well-known local place with a number of manicure stations and an extensive range of services. A mani-pedi with polish starts at 40,000 VND.

SKINCARE The Body Shop 87 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Tel: 3823 3683 31 Nguyen Trai, D1 Tel: 3926 0336 International cosmetics retailer with strong commitment to environment sources natural ingredients from small communities for its line of more than 600 products. L’Apothiquaire 100 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Parkson Saigon Tourist Plaza Parkson Hung Vuong Plaza The Crescent, 103 Ton Dat Tien, D7 64A Truong Dinh, D3 07 Han Thuyen, D1 Tel: 3932 5181/3932 5082 French-made natural products for all types of skin. Also offers exclusive natural Italian skin, body and hair care from Erbario Toscano. Marianna Medical Laser Skincare 149A Truong Dinh, D3 Tel:3526 4635 Professional Laser Clinic in Ho Chi Minh City, Marianna owns the excellent experts in Aesthetic Medicine and the modern technologies such as Laser, Botox, Filler and all solutions can help you more beautiful and younger day by day Sian Skincare Laser Clinic 71–77 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel:3827 6999 Skincare laser clinic offering the latest in non-surgical esthetic treatments including Botox, laser, acne treatments, hair loss regrowth, hair removal, skin rejuvenation and anti-aging treatments. Led by Dr. Tran Ngoc Si, a leading esthetic dermatologist from the hospital of Dermatology of HCMC.

SPAS Aqua Day Spa Sheraton Saigon, 88 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3827 2828 Recently revamped luxury eight-room spa with a holistic approach to treatment, using natural Harnn products plus hot stone therapy and seaweed treatments.

BEDSIDE TO BEDSIDE Everything is included and additional family can travel with the patient. We make all the arrangements to include: – Complete full service bedside to bedside – Obtain required medical clearances from the airlines – Coordinate with attending and receiving facilities – Provides medical staffing and equipment as required – All ground transportation


When the medical necessity and cost of a private air ambulance isn‘t necessary and the patient is ambulatory we can provide the assistance of a “medical escort.” Our medical crew will consult with the patient’s Physician(s) then evaluate his/her medical condition as it relates to air travel and advice on the best method of transport.

Trained & experienced medical crew members in Aviation Medicine. − Neonatologist − Pediatrician − Intensive Pediatrician − Emergency Medicine − Cardiologist − Intensivist − NICU Nurse − PICU Nurse − ICU / CCU Nurse − Flight Nurse

Renaissance Riverside Spa 8-15 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3822 0033 No-frills Vietnamese, shiatsu and aromatherapy massages from USD $22 plus a room dedicated to foot massages from $18 at the atrium level. Also has sizable steam and sauna rooms at the club

All staff and personnel maintain the latest updates to licensing and credentialing in their respective fields. Our medical personnel must have at least five years experience in critical care and maintain current certifications and licensing from Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Basic Life Support (BLS), and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS).

Xuan Spa Park Hyatt, 2 Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 3824 1234 Beautiful spa with highly rated Swedish massage and water therapy including the unique 60 minutes Vichy shower to soften and smooth skin or the Indian Shirodhara with special oil for 45 minutes. Spa packages aimed at rejuvenation, calming, and hydrating are also available.

Aeromedical Transport Department Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital 488 Srinakarin Road, Suan Luang, Bangkok 10250, Thailand Tel: +66 2 378 9000 / Fax: +66 2 731 7044 E-mail:

asialife HCMC 67


family ACTIVITIES DanCenter 53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Thao Dien, District 2 Tel: 3840 6974 Children and teenagers from age 4+ can enjoy jazz, ballet, tap, hip hop, acro dance and break dance classes at this professionally run, newly built dance studio. Schedule and news on events available on-line. Helene Kling Painting Offers classes in oil painting to both children and adults for 150,000 VND and 300,000 VND respectively. Classes are paced to suit each student. Briar Jacques Cel: 0122 480 8792 Helping families, individuals, couples, children and teens. Caring and confidential counselling to address issues such as expat adjustment, depression, anxiety and substance abuse. We take a holistic approach to enhance wellbeing on mental, emotional and physical levels.

Saigon Pony Club Lane 42, Le Van Thinh, D2 Tel: 0913 733 360 Close to X-rock climbing centre, kids from three and upwards can ride one of the stable’s 16 ponies. Lessons with foriegn teachers last 45 minutes and cost 350,000 VND for kids from age six. Tae Kwondo BP Compound, 720 Thao Dien, D2 and Riverside Villa Compound, Vo Truong Toan, D2 Private and group classes are run after school three times a week by the friendly Mr. Phuc. Anyone over the age of five is welcome to join in the course, which costs USD $50 for 12 classes/month with a $25 fee for non-members. Contact Mr. Phuc directly on 0903 918 149.

BABY EQUIPMENT Belli Blossom 4F-04 Crescent Mall, Nguyen Van Linh Parkway, Phu My Hung, D7 Tel: 5413 7574 Belli Blossom catering to moms and babies with imported brands of maternity and nursing wear and accessories, infant clothes, baby bottles and feeding products, strollers, high chairs, slings, baby carriers, diaper bags, and many others. Brands available include: Mam, Mamaway, Quinny, Maclaren, Debon, Luvable Friends, Gingersnaps. Maman Bebe Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3825 8724 Stocks an assortment of modern strollers and car seats. Also sells various utensils and practical baby products. Small selection of clothing for ages newborn to 14 years. Me & Be 230 Vo Thi Sau, D3

40 Ton That Tung, D1 141D Phan Dang Luu, Phu Nhuan 246 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D3 101-103 Khanh Hoi, D4 287A Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan The closest thing to Mothercare the city has to offer. Stocks a substantial range of apparel for babies including bottles and sterilizers, cots (including travel cots), clothing, toys, safety equipment and more, all at reasonable prices. Me Oi 1B Ton That Tung, D1 A small shop adjacent to the maternity hospital bursting at the seams with everything you need for your baby. Clothing, footwear, bottles, nappies, nappy bags and toys all at reasonable prices.


Debenhams Vincom Center, 70 - 72 Le Thanh Ton, District 1 A superb range of unique and beautiful clothing for young children (from newborns to 12 years old) imported brand from UK. High to mid-range prices. DLS Paris 17/5 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, D1 Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, D1 Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 A superb range of unique and beautiful clothing for young children (from newborns to pre-school age) at high to midrange prices. The quality compensates for the price. Bedding, baby equipment and furniture and organic and natural supplies also kept in stock. Ninh Khuong 44 Le Loi, D1 Tel: 3824 7456 Well-known hand-embroidered children’s clothing brand using 100% cotton. Newborn to 10 years old (girl) and fourteen

years old (boy). Also stocking home linens. Prices are reasonable.

EDUCATION ABC International School 2,1E Street, KDC Trung Son, Binh Hung, Binh Chanh Tel: 5431 1833 UK standards-based curriculum awards diploma with IGCSE’s & A Levels certified by Cambridge Universit examinations board. From playgroup to pre-university matriculation. Served by 80+ British teachers. Good facilities and extra-curricular activities. ACG International School East West Highway, An Phu, D2 Tel: 3747 1234 Part of the Academic Colleges Group’s international network of schools, ACG offers comprehensive education from kindergarten to senior high school and a range of extracurricular activities. International curricula (IB PYP and Cambridge International Examinations). The Australian International School Saigon Cherry Blossom 1 & Lotus 1, APSC Compound, 36 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 6960 Middle & Senior Campus 21 Pham Ngoc Thach, D3 Tel: 3822 4992 An international curricula and PYP/ MYP candidate school. Senior students follow IGCSE and Cambridge A levels. Only school in Vietnam authorized to deliver University of New South Wales Foundation Studies grade 12 curriculum. Well-resourced classrooms, highly trained

Join our IB World School today Call or email us for an application pack or a personal tour of the Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary School ACG International School Vietnam offers: s ANAuthoriseDINterNAtioNALedUCAtioNfoRSTUdeNTSofALLNAtioNALItIES s KindergArteNtoYEARSchoOLINGoNoNESTAtEofTHEArTCAMPUS s WorLD cLASSLEArNINGANDSPortINGFACILItIES s ANAdvANceD)4enviroNMeNTtOINSPIrEANDeNHANcELEArNINGOutcoMES s ConvenieNTANDquicKAccESStODistricTvIA4hU4hieM4unneL

Phone: +84 (0)8 3747 1234 | Email:

68 asialife HCMC

and experienced expatriate teachers, outfitted for academic, sport, creative activities. British International School Primary Campus 43 - 45 Tu Xuong, D3 225 Nguyen Van Huong, D2 Secondary Campus 246 Nguyen Van Huong, D2 Tel: 3744 2335 With campuses all over the city and expansion underway, BIS offers a mixture of both English and International curricula-based education alongside excellent facilities and extra-curricular activities. Senior students follow the IGCSE and IB programmes. ERC 86-88-92 Huynh Van Banh, Phu Nhuan Tel: 6292 9288 ERC Vietnam is a member of ERCI Singapore. Founded by a group of successful business leaders around Asia Pacific. Our primary objective is to groom and mentor a new generation of business leaders in Vietnam equipped with skills to analyze and solve realworld business challenges of today. German International School 257 Hoang Van Thu, Tan Binh Tel: 7300 7247 A bilingual English and German school, supported by the Federal Republic of Germany, where children can learn subjects in both languages. The curriculum follows the National Curriculum of Germany, which provides students the assurance they can enter or re-enter the German Education System at any time.

Horizon International Bilingual School HCMC 6 Street 44, D2 Tel: 5402 2482 The only bilingual international school offering dormitories for their students. Located in the most prestigious area in HCMC offering from kindergarten up to grade 12. The school apply 100% Vietnamese curriculum, MOET as well as an intensive English program. HIBS also has 2 campuses in centre Hanoi. International School HCMC 28 Vo Truong Toan, D2 Tel: 3898 9100 One of 136 schools around the world to be accredited as an IB World School. Offers all three of the IB programmes from primary through to grade 12. The school is fully accredited by CIS and NEASC and has a strong focus on community spirit and fosters an awareness of other languages and cultures. The Little Genius International Kindergarten 102 My Kim, Phu My Hung, D7 Tel: 5421 1052 Kindergarten with U.S.-accredited curriculum, modern facilities and attractive school grounds. Montessori International School International Program 42/1 Ngo Quang Huy, D2 Tel: 3744 2639 Bilingual Program 28 Street 19, KP 5, An Phu, D2 Tel: 6281 7675 Montessori utilizes an internationally recognized educational method which focuses on fostering the child’s natural desire to learn. The aim is to create an encouraging environment conducive to learning by developing a sense of self and

individuality. A wide array of curriculum/ extra-curricular activities are on offer including Bilingual programs. Renaissance International School 74 Nguyen Thi Thap, D7 Tel: 3773 3171 IB World school, one of Vietnam’s international schools operating within the framework of the British system. RISS provide a high quality English medium education in a stimulating, challenging and supportive environment. The purpose built, modern campus has excellent facilities. RMIT 702 Nguyen Van Linh, D7 Tel: 3776 1369 Australian university located in District 7, offers a highly regarded MBA and undergraduate courses in various fields. Saigon South International School Nguyen Van Linh Parkway, D7 Tel: 5413 0901 An International school environment offering an American/international program in a large, spacious campus, to children from age 3 to grade 12. Great facilities, extra-curricular activities and internationally trained teachers giving unique opportunities to learn. Singapore International School (SIS) No.29, Road No.3, Trung Son Residential Area, Hamlet 4, Binh Hung Ward, Binh Chanh District Tel: 5431 7477 44 Truong Dinh, D3 Tel: 3932 2807 Ground floor, Somerset Chancellor Court, 21 - 23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1. Tel: 3827 2464 The Manor, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh. Tel: 3514 3036

Students play and learn in an environment where the best of Western and Eastern cultures amalgamate to prepare KinderWorld’s students for today’s challenging world drawn from both the Singapore and Australian curriculum. The school offers International Certifications such as the iPSLE, IGCSE and GAC.

ENTERTAINMENT Gymboree Play & Music Somerset Chancellor Court 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 Tel: 3827 7008 The Gymboree Play & Music offers children from newborn to 5 years old the opportunity to explore, learn and play in an innovative parent-child programmes.

PARTIES Beatrice’s Party Shop 235 Le Thanh Ton, D1 A lovely little shop selling everything you need to throw your little ones a good party. A catalogue of entertainers showcases a number of party favourites such as magicians, circuses and more. Nguyen Ngoc Diem Phuong 131C Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 A curious shop stocking a range of handmade fancy dress costumes such as masks, superman outfits and much more. The stock changes seasonally, so this is a good place to stock up on Halloween, Christmas and other holiday-specific party costumes. Prices are also on the cheap. The Balloon Man Tel: 3990 3560 Does exactly as his name suggests – balloons. Great service has earned this chap a reputation around town for turning up almost instantly with a superb selection of balloons. Also provides helium balloons. almost instantly with a superb selection of balloons. Also provides helium balloons.


asialife HCMC 69



Pham The 11 Le Cong Kieu, D1 An authorized service centre for Nikon camera that also specializes in repairing all camera makes. Measurement equipment and spare parts also available.


Shop 46 46 Nguyen Hue, D1 Small shop run by photographer and collector. The owner’s more collectible pieces are pricey, but entry-level manual focus SLRs from the 70s and 80s are affordable.

COMPUTERS BUSINESS GROUPS AmCham New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, D1 Business Centre, Room 323 Tel: 3824 3562 AusCham TV Building, Suite 1A, 31A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D1 Tel: 3911 0272 / 73 / 74 British Business Group of Vietnam 25 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3829 8430 CanCham New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, D1 Business Centre, Room 305 Tel: 3824 3754 Citi Bank 115 Nguyen Hue St, D1 Tel: 3824 2118 Citibank Vietnam offers a wide range of banking services to both consumer and corpo-rate. Services include Corporate and Investment Banking, Global Transaction Services, and Consumer Banking. In Vietnam for 15 years, Citibank has a presence in both HCMC and Hanoi. Eurocham 257 Hoang Van Thu, Tan Binh Tel: 3845 5528 German Business Group 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 Singapore Business Group Unit 1B2, 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 Tel: 3823 3046 Swiss Business Association 42 Giang Van Minh, Anh Phu, D2 Tel: 3744 6996 Fax: 3744 6990 Email: Hong Kong Business Association New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, D1 Business Centre, Room 322 Tel: 3824 3757 / 3822 8888 NordCham Bitexco Building, 19-25 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 3821 5423

CAMERAS Hung Hai 75 Huynh Thuc Khang, D1 A good place to purchase hard-to-find gear and some rare equipment, mainly auto focus lenses. Le Duc 5B Huynh Tinh Cua, D3 A shop for all your professional accessory needs. From lighting equipment to tripods and reflectors, the shop offers the best equipment and service in HCM City.

70 asialife HCMC

Computer Street Luong Huu Khanh, D1 between Nguyen Thi Minh Khai and Nguyen Trai This stretch of District 1 is literally wall to wall with small shops selling computers, printers, monitors and everything computer related, more so toward the NTMK end of the drag. iCenter 142A Vo Thi Sau, D3 Tel: 3820 3918 Professional, polished Apple retailer and repair centre with an attractive showroom featuring some of the latest in accessories and audio. English-speakers on staff. Honours Apple service plans. Future World 240 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D3 Authorized reseller of Apple computers and products, as well as some off-brand items like headphones. Excellent service and English-speaking staff. Accepts credit cards. Phong Vu Computer 264C Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 Tel: 3933 0762 The biggest and busiest of the PC stores in town. Known for good, efficient service, in-house maintenance and aftersales repair on the second floor. SYS Vi Tinh Saigon 96C Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D1 A superb place with an excellent reputation for after-sales service with competent English speaking staff and a wide range of products and services. Freeware and shareware also available on the store website.

CONSULTING Concetti 33 Dinh Tien Hoang, D1 Tel: 3911 1480 Consulting and research company for technology transfer and investment. Embers-Asia Ltd. Level 9, Nam Giao Building, 80-8 Phan Xich Long, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3995 9163 With a focus on experiential learning, Embers-Asia has been creating and delivering high-performance training and development solutions for corporations, embassies, international schools and NGOs throughout Southeast Asia since 2002. Ernst & Young Saigon Riverside Office Center, 2A-4A Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3824 5252 Professional service firm specializing in advisory, assurance, tax, transactions and strategic growth markets. Flamingo Corporate Services Tel: 2217 1662 Email: Specializes in business immigration, providing services like visas, work and resident permits, police clearance, APEC cards, authentication and legalization of work experience certificates and degrees in Vietnam and abroad.

The World of Lobbyists By Shane Dillon Loved, hated and misunderstood, the world of Washington lobbyists continues to affect American legislation and, subsequently, the rest of the world. According to the Centre for Responsive Politics, last year lobbyists where paid a total of US $3.49 billion for their work in Washington, advising politicians and fine tuning legislation to minimize the effect it would have on their clients’ bottom line. While this is a vast sum of money, lobbyists are proving themselves to be one of the biggest bargains in Washington. For example, from the beginning of 2009 to March 2010 the Private Equity Council has paid a reported US $4.2 million to outsourced and in-house lobbying services. If similarly interested groups on the issue of taxation in private equity paid a total of around US $15 million the investment would be well worth it. For this US $15 million spent on lobbying, the combined interest groups of money managers and private equity firms would receive about US $10 billion in lower taxes over the next 10 years. And there are similar stories with derivative traders, auto dealers and major banks who all have their own lobby groups. A major issue with the growing number of lobbyists

is the increased complexity of legislation. An example of this can be seen with the 1914 law creating the Federal Trade Commission, which was eight pages in its entirety and the Social Security Act of 1935 at only 28 pages. The 2010 Financial Reform Bill in its current version comes to 2,319 pages. Within legislation, a slight change in a paragraph, sentence or even a word can mean millions of dollars for the groups who use lobbyists to influence the final version of laws. It is not all about big business though. Lobbyists also represent many other interest groups. It is difficult to say which are good and which are bad, with many lobbyists also representing groups like clean coal, wind energy, consumer advocacy and Public Citizen’s Congress watch. There is even a lobbyist group that lobbies for lobbyists, who have all had victories imposing their interests in new legislation and government policy since the Global Financial Crisis. There is one thing for sure: with these payoffs for these prices, lobbyists are here to stay. Shane Dillon is a partner at Total Wealth Management. He welcomes your questions or comments at

Grant Thornton Saigon Trade Centre, 37 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3910 9100 International business advisors specializing in auditing, management consulting, corporate finance, risk management and information technology. IF Consulting IBC Building, 3rd Floor 1A Me Linh Square, D1 4th Floor, 5 Ba Trieu Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi Tel: 3827 7362 Fax: 3827 7361 Email: Private insurance and finance. Indochine Councel Han Nam Building, 65 Nguyen Du, D1 Tel: 3823 9640 Business law firm specializing in legal services to corporate clients in relation to their business and investment in Vietnam. Inspired Image 42/2A Ho Hao Hon, D1 Tel: 091 635 2573 Image consultant and personal stylist. Previous clients include business leaders, TV presenters and busy professionals. International Management Initiative for Vietnam (IMIV) The International Management Initiative for Vietnam (IMIV), a non-profit initiative within VinaCapital Foundation that promotes excellence in business leadership and management by bringing to Vietnam proven international executive education and professional development programmes. Phuong Nguyen Consulting TPC Business Center, 92-96 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 3829 2391 Specializing in business facilitation, conferences, education counselling, market-entry research and IT/business consulting. Prism Information Technology Services Level 4, YOCO Building, 41 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 Tel: 3829 6416 A foreign-owned information and communications technology company that offers value-added IT solutions. Enables local businesses to attain and maintain international IT standards to be more competitive in the marketplace. Rouse & Co. International Abacus Tower, 58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D1 Tel: 3823 6770 Global intellectual property firm providing a full range of IP services including patent and trade mark agency services.

66/11 Pham Ngoc Thach, D3 Tel: 3820 0623 Specialists in selecting and arranging tax-efficient savings and pension plans for expatriates. Offers councel on private banking services, wealth protection in offshore jurisdictions, currency risks and hedging strategies. Towers Watson Vietnam (formerly Watson Wyatt and SMART HR) Sun Wah Tower, 115 Nguyen Hue, Suite 808, D1 Tel: 3821 9488 Global HR consulting firm specializing in executive compensation, talent management, employee rewards and surveys, HR effectiveness and technology, data services and total rewards surveys.

DECOR Antique Street Le Cong Kieu Street, D1 between Nguyen Thai Binh and Pho Duc Chinh A variety of antiques and faux antiques from Thailand, China and Vietnam including silverware, compasses, lighters, brass knockers, urns, vases, abacuses, religious and pagan statues, candlestick holders, furniture and watches. Asian Fish 34 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Boutique-style arts and crafts store selling locally made gifts and souvenirs, all designed by the Japanese owner. Products include clothing, bags, crockery, sandals, chopsticks and jewellery. Aquarium Street Nguyen Thong Street, D3 between Vo Thi Sau and Ly Chinh Thang Dedicated street has everything one needs to display fish: tanks, decor, feed, filters and the fish themselves. Budget Housewares Street Corner of Pasteur and Nguyen Dinh Chieu Stock up on shower heads, kitchen supplies (juicer, spatula, grater, etc.), coat racks, clothes hangers, pots, pans, champagne flutes, bowls, coolers, trash bins, ironing boards, magazine racks and the like. Chau Loan 213 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3825 7991 Gallery based in a colonial shophouse stocking mainly Vietnamese-themed oil paintings and images of Buddha. Also deals in better-known reproductions. Decosy 112 Xuan Thuy, D2 Tel: 6281 9917 Producer of a large selection of European styled furniture and interior fittings, specializing in wrought iron and patine (distressed) wood finishes. Also stocks a wide-range of decorative accessories, crockery and fixtures. Custom design services available upon request.

Star Management Limited 92-96 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 3897 2765 Business advisory services for companies investing in Vietnam, business project advancement and a range of business development services.

Dogma 175 De Tham, D1 Tel: 3836 0488 Located upstairs from Saigon Kitsch, this art gallery deals in Vietnamese propaganda posters, apparel, accessories and random paraphernalia. Large prints are sold at USD $60 each and small prints cost $25.

TMF Vietnam Company Limited Unit 501, 5th Floor, Saigon Trade Center 37 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3910 2262 ext. 113 Fax: 3910 0590 With headquarters in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, TMF Vietnam specializes in accounting outsourcing and consulting.

Mekong-Quilts 64 Ngo Duc Ke, D1 Tel: 3914 2119 NGO enterprise specializes in quilts and sells a range of appealing handmade products created by underprivileged women in Binh Thuan Province.


Total Wealth Management

Mekong Creations 64 Ngo Duc Ke, D1 Tel: 3914 2119 NGO enterprise specializes in quilts and

asialife HCMC 71

people matter

sells a range of appealing handmade products created by underprivileged women in Binh Thuan Province. Minh Boutique 15 Nguyen Thiep, D1 Lacquerware pieces, tea boxes, teapot warmers, ice buckets and sake drinking sets all handmade in Vietnam. Also sells a range of silverware, egg holders and ice tongs. OUT-2 STUDIO L6 Fafilm annex 6 Thai Van Lung, D1 Tel: 3825 6056 Studio space for independent designers to showcas their wares, sell their work and meet with clients. Open Monday t Saturday 10 am to 6 pm. Phuong Mai 213C Dong Khoi Gallery specializing in original oils by Vietnamese artists. The works here are a mish-mash of styles but do contain some standouts, particularly well-known local artists La Hon, Quy Tam and Pham Trinh.

Don’t Burn Bridges By Gary Woollacott There's a saying about being nice to people on the way up, as you may see them again on the way down. I was reminded of this the other day when a resume came in from an expat being sent home – of course he wanted to stay. When this happens some people's first thoughts are, 'Who can help me stay?’ and 'who can find me a job?' Well, I guess that's where we start being useful. The problem is that so often these are the people who have been hard to reach beforehand. Perhaps we've met at a networking event and discussed business; it's normal for us to follow up and request a meeting but sometimes they just disappear. 'He's in a meeting, he'll call back.' 'She's on a conference call; don't know when it will finish.' Or a business trip. We’ve heard them all. Try as we might, they are impossible to get hold of – until they need our help. Then we are their new best friends and they are falling over themselves to meet us. It's really quite funny. Someone who has been in meetings for three years (some meetings are very long) is now completely free to discuss their career options with us. The problem is that it doesn't really work that way. Everyone expects to be

72 asialife HCMC

treated with respect and we executive search consultants are no different. We value those people who are accessible and straightforward and don't waste our time – an honest response is always appreciated, even if it's a negative one. Someone who ignored us now wants our help urgently: what would you do? If you are a senior manager at a large corporation your world could be turned upside down by any number of factors. The most common are restructuring or a merger. Then you might want a frank discussion about escape routes if the worst should happen and you are retrenched, or sent home. Keep that in mind the next time you get a call from someone who seeks to develop a business relationship. You might not need it now but don't burn bridges, you never know when you will need to turn around and cross one. As usual, let me know if you have any particular topic you would like to see covered here. Gary Woollacott is the CEO of Opus executive search in Vietnam and Thailand. He can be reached at +84 8 3827 8209 or via Opus is a partner of Horton International.

Sapa 125 Ho Tung Mau, D1 Offers a better selection of hill tribe handicrafts than most of its rivals. Concentrates mainly on the hand-woven clothing of the indigenous tribespeople of the region. There is also a line in ladies’ shoes and the standard range of silk wraps and bags. Unity 12 Dang Tran Con, D1 Tel: 3823 9375 Located opposite Galaxy cinema, Unity offers accessories that are designed to seamlessly blend in with your life. Familiar basics are given a contemporary update with the use of modern, alternative materials like silicone, rubber, and brushed aluminum. From orbital lamps and eggshell-white china, to wire-clasped water bottles, each individual piece complements the others in the collection to give your home a sense of Unity.

ELECTRONICS Hi End Audio 84 Ho Tung Mau, D1 A standout that stocks the very latest and greatest in home entertainment. Retails in everything from giant plasmascreen TVs to audio equipment. Most top brands are available. iDEAS Shopping Centre 133-141AB Cach Mang Thang Tam, D3 The largest of the electonics stores along the street, the three-storey iDEAS sells every type of electronic and home appliance imaginable. Offers proper warranties. Staff speaks some English. Nguyen Kim Shopping Centre 63-65 Tran Hung Dao, D1 Tel: 3821 1211 Stocks DVD/CD players, cameras, TVs, hi-fis and more from Sony, Sanyo, Panasonic, Philips and other major manufacturers. Also a good place to pick up electronic kitchen supplies like coffee makers and rice cookers, as well as large and small appliances, from hot water heaters to regrigerators. Phong Vu 125 Cach Mang Thang Tam, D1 Tel: 6290 8777 Two-storey electronics store retails in international products conveniently grouped by brand. Carries computers, home audio, printers, hard drives and more, as well as a variety of mobile phones, handheld electronic devices and accessories.

Savico 117 Ho Tung Mau, D1 Tel: 3821 7993 One-stop electronics and home appliance superstore. All products have a one to three-year warranty. Tech Street Huynh Thuc Khang Street between Ton That Dam and Nguyen Hue, D1 Sells compact discs, DVDs, electronic money counters, video games and systems, Discmans, mp3 players and portable DVD players.

FURNITURE Appeal 41 Ton That Thiep, D1 Tel: 3821 5258 A small, upscale shop that offers modern accents for the sleek dining room. The colours of the over-sized vases and fruit bowls are either glistening red or lacquered black. AustinHome 20 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3519 0023 Outstanding quality and style for your home. The shop says its products are hand-picked by an American furniture expert from the best factories in Vietnam. Upholstery, accessories, antiques and more. Catherine Denoual 15C Thi Sach, D1 Tel: 3823 9394 Beautiful showroom with clean lines and a sumptuous array of bedroom products including bedside lamps, linens, pillowcases and duvet covers. Decosy 112 Xuan Thuy, D2 Tel: 6281 9917 Producer of a large selection of European styled furniture and interior fittings, specializing in wrought iron and patine (distressed) wood finishes. Also stocks a wide-range of decorative accessories, crockery and fixtures. Custom design services available upon request. Esthetic 11 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: 3514 7371/7372 Fax: 3514 7370 Design and manufacture as order with a mixture of antique and modern furniture. Friendly staff speak excellent English. Furniture Outlet 3A Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 2243 7955/3911 0104 Wide selection of well-crafted and carefully constructed pine wood pieces at good prices, aimed at customers craving a taste of Europe. Furniture Street Ngo Gia Tu, D10 between Ly Thai To and Nguyen Chi Thanh Very affordable furniture can be found on this stretch: couches, mattresses, desks, chairs, etc. It often takes some looking to find a gem. A connected sidestreet, Ba Hat, features woodworkers’ shops. Gaya 1 Nguyen Van Trang, D1 Tel: 3925 1495 Four-floor store featuring the work of foreign designers: home accessories and outdoor furniture by Lawson Johnston, linens by Corinne LeveilleyDadda, furniture and lighting by Quasar Khanh, laquerware decor by Michele De Albert and furniture and decor by vivekkevin.

LINH‘S WHITE 37 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 6281 9863 Furniture shop that focuses on solid wood furniture and decorative items ranging from pillows and lamps to bed-

ding. Also offers kids’ furniture and custom pieces.

services and legal advice on foreign investment and business in Vietnam.

Rare Decor 41 Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3822 2284 137/1 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: 3840 6304/5 Leading home furnishings company in Vietnam, supplying high quality, unique products. Also offer custom made furniture, accessories and lighting for commercial projects and home use.

Baker & McKenzie Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3829 5585 International law firm providing on-theground liaison and support services to clients interested in investigating, negotiating and implementing projects in Vietnam.

Remix Deco 222 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D3 Tel: 3930 4190 Boutique furniture store in sprawling white with modern furniture including sofas, tables and seating from around the world. Featured designers include Le Corbusier, Ray & Charles Eames, Philippe Starck and Ludwig Mies Van der Rhode. The Furniture Warehouse 3B Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 6657 0788, ttpnam@ Offers a range of reasonably priced Italian, European and French colonial sofas, indoor/outdoor wooden furniture, lighting and interior décor, as well as custom designs based on clients’ specifications. The Lost Art 31 Nguyen Cong Tru, D1 Tel: 3829 0134 Extensive product range as well as comprehensive interior design service, from initial conceptualization to design, manufacture and installation of unique products. Thien An Furniture 90A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D1 Tel: 3910 5650 A range of beautiful furniture with a distinct traditional flavor from colourful silk lampshades, wooden carved beds, screens, chests and more. Tran Duc Homes 47-49-51 Phung Khac Khoan, D1 Tel: 7300 0777 B2-25, Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3993 9700 Wood solutions partner for high-end residential and resort projects. Experienced in manufacturing and installing wooden modular housing, interior fittings and contemporary indoor and outdoor furniture.

LEGAL Allens Arthur Robinson Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3822 1717 Australian law firm for law translation

Frasers International Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, D1 Tel: 3824 2733 Full service commercial law firm providing international and Vietnamese legal advice to both foreign and local clients specializing in transactions in Vietnam. Indochine Counsel Han Nam Building, 65 Nguyen Du, D1 Tel: 3823 9640 Business law practitioners specializing in mergers & acquistions, inward investment, and securities & capital markets. Limcharoen, Hughes and Glanville Havana Tower, 132 Ham Nghi, D1 Tel: 6291 7000 Full service international law firm with head office in Thailand. Main focus on real estate in Asia. Lucy Wayne & Associates Law firm providing legal services across the board from entertainment and environmental law to health care and real estate. Phillips Fox Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3822 1717 Full service law firm providing legal services in healthcare, education, crime, banking and hospitality among others. Pricewaterhousecoopers Legal Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3823 0796 Part of a network of international legal and financial advisors, PWC gives both specialist and general legal advice with a focus on mutli-territory projects. Rödl & Partner Somerset Chancellor Court 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 Tel: 3824 4225 European legal firm assisting foreign investors with structuring/establishing companies, investment projects, and mergers & acquistions.

112 Xuan Thuy Ward Thao Dien District 2 Ho Chi Minh City Tel/Fax. (+84) 8 62.819.917

asialife HCMC 73

style for gents


Luxury Light 1483 My Toan 1, Nguyen Van Linh, Phu My Hung, D7 For those who really want to bring a touch of luxury to their homes, this place deals with Italian imported lighting from the ultra - modern to the traditional Murano style chandeliers. Extremely expensive reflecting the quality of the design and workmanship. Mosaique 98 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 One of the best and most diverse selections of lamps in town with everything from the ordinary decorative lotus silk lamp to more inventive and original designs in lacquer and silk.


Bike City 480D Nguyen Thi Thap, D7 Luxury motorcycle shop carries a range of accessories, including apparel. Sells Vemar helmets, a brand that passes rigorous European Union standards.

Getting the least out of yourself By Brett Davis For the huskier gent, finding well fitting clothing in Vietnam can be something of a challenge. It may be that you are just naturally a big guy, or perhaps it is too much of the all-to-easy indulgences that are part of expatriate life here. Fortunately, this country is also blessed with a wealth of very competent tailors that are also very affordable. Of course, you could simply give away the beers and start doing some regular exercise. So, off to the tailor it is then. Any decent tailor should have a bag of tricks to help create clothing to make their clients look slimmer. It is also helpful if you have a few ideas already about what colours, fabrics and cuts will serve you best. The name of the game is to create a taller and narrower look, while hopefully also minimizing problem areas as much as possible. Firstly, make sure your clothes are neither too tight nor too loose. Clothing that is too tight will reveal all the lumpy stuff you are trying to hide, while going for a very loose fit will actually make you look bigger than you are. Short sleeved shirts and t-shirts will draw attention to your mid-section and arms, which is great if you want to show off the gym-toned guns, but not so great if you look like you have a couple of hams attached to your shoulders. So, go for v-necked shirts as they

74 asialife HCMC

give the impression of a slimmer neck line, and sleeves that extend down past the elbow. Colours and patterns are important in getting the slim style happening. Darker colours are best, but if you don’t want to always wear black you can try darker blues, browns or greys. Unless you are content to rock the ‘big party animal’ look, then it is probably best to stay away from bright colours and crazy patterns. Although, a vertical stripe in modest hues will help lengthen the look of your torso. When it comes to pants and jeans, again the goal is to make you look taller and slimmer. It is recommended to go for low-rise pants that sit on your hips, and have a hem almost reaching to the ground to lengthen the look of your legs. Pleated trousers will create a bulkier effect so go for flat-fronted pants. You can also remember to simply empty your pockets of bulky items. Fabrics are the easy part because you don’t want anything heavy or bulky in Vietnam anyway due to the heat. Lighter fabrics will help you appear lighter on your feet, too. One last little tip: stand up straight. Better posture will actually make you taller, but also make you feel and act more confident. Something that always looks quite good.

Protec Helmets 18bis/3A Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 248C Phan Dinh Phung, Phu Nhuan 417B Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D3 American nonprofit manufacturer makes helmets with densely compressed polystyrene shell with ABS, PVC or fiberglass exterior, available with polycarbonate shatter-proof shield. Options for kids. Zeus Helmets Founded in Taiwan to manufacture cool, comfortable helmets that meet worldwide safety standards. Basic models feature thermo-injected shells constructed from lightweight ABS composite with interiors lined with moisture-absorbant brushed nylon.

REAL ESTATE CB Richard Ellis Me Linh Point Tower, 2 Ngo Duc Ke, D1 Tel: 3824 6125 International property consultants and developers with both commercial and private properties for sale, lease and rent. Diamond Plaza 34 Le Duan Street Tel: 3822 1922 Located in the heart of District 1, connected to Diamond PLaza. Services 1- to 4-bedroom apartments with gym, swimming pool and panoramic views of the city. InterContinental Asiana Saigon Residences Corner of Hai Ba Trung & Nguyen Du, D1 Tel: 3520 8888 Contemporary residential space in the heart of the major business and cultural area in District 1. There are 260 one, two or three-bedroom units plus health club and outdoor swimming pool.

Nghi, D1 Tel: 823 9205 Savills Viet Nam is a property service provider that has been established in Vietnam since 1995 offering research, advisory services, residential sales, commercial leasing, asset management, retail advisory, valuation, investment advisory and more. Sherwood Residence 127 Pasteur St., D3 Tel: 3823 2288 Fax: 3823 9880 Hotline: 0917470058 Sherwood Residence is a luxury serviced apartment property and the first property certified by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism. Modern living spaces meet prime location, comfort and class with 5-star facilities and service. Snap Tel: 0989 816 676 Online Real Estate service providing information on rental properties exclusively in District 2. Full listings online.


HR2B / Talent Recruitment JSC Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, D3 Tel: 3930 8800 HR consulting advises businesses on how to improve employee productivity. The search team specializes in matching senior level Vietnamese professionals and managers to top level opportunities in both major cities. Opus Vietnam 2A Rolanno Offices, 128 Nguyen Phi Khanh, D1 Tel: 3827 8209 Established in HCMC in 2005, Opus services local and multinational companies seeking to recruit high quality personnel. An Associate of Horton International, one of the world’s leading search groups with over 30 offices worldwide. For more info contact

RELOCATION AGENTS Allied Pickfords Satra Building, Room 202, 58 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 08 3823 3454 Moving and relocating services company specializing in business and office moves. Overseas and specialist movers also available. Crown Worldwide Movers 48A Huynh Man Dat, Binh Thanh

Tel: 3823 4127 International moving company serving diplomats and private customers, employees and expats, providing domestic and iternational transportation of household, office and industrial goods.

Namhouse Corporation 48A Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 0989 007 700, 0989 115 511 Provides rental properties, construction services and interior decorating. Supports professional services and after-sales.

Santa Fe Relocation Services Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, D3 Tel: 3933 0065 Provides a range of services including home/school search, language/cultural training, tenancy management and immigration/visa support.

Riverside Apartments 53 Vo Truong Toan, D2 Tel: 3744 4111 One of the first luxury serviced apartments in town located next to the Saigon River set in lush tropical gardens.


Savills Viet Nam Level 18, Fideco Tower, 81-85 Ham

Pi-Channel 45B Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3822 0253 Boutique shop carries up-market collections of pens and notepads, as well as desktop organisers, clocks, calendars and frames. Corporate services offered.


fashion ACCESSORIES Accessorize Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Fashion-forward accessories including necklaces, handbags, wallets, flip-flops, sunglasses, hair accessories, belts and more. Alfred Dunhill Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, D1 A timeless style in male luxury providing formal and casual mens accesories tailored for the discerning man. Also stocking handcrafted leather goods. Anupa Boutique 17/27 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3825 7307 The ever-changing boutique retails in the elegant design of anupa accessories made from high-quality leather. Collections available range from men, women, executive, travel, spa, yoga, board games, boxes and semi-precious stone jewellery. Collection changes on weekly basis. Also carries toys, stationery, Unitdot Bamboo eye wear, Ella Charlotte scarves and ladies' apparel brand Things of Substance. Bally Rex Hotel, 141 Nguyen Hue, D1 Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, D1 Flagship store in the Rex Hotel providing luxury Italian-made accessories for men. Among these are shoes, belts, wallets and a collection of male jewellery. Banana 128 Ly Tu Trong, D1 Women’s accessories and more, from bags, clutches and belts to clothes and jewellery, all at reasonable prices. Cartier Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan This well-known designer brand displays a wide range of accessories for men. Famous for its watches, Cartier also stocks pens, key rings, belts and sunglasses. Cincinati 177P Dong Khoi, D1 Vietnamese brand of genuine leather bags, shoes, accessories and personal goods for men and women: notebooks for a classic vagabond look. Quality leather from crocodile, horse, snake and fish made by local craftsmanship. Cleo-Pearls 30 Nguyen Dang Giai, An Phu, D2 Tel: 091 3587 690 Jewellery designer Birgit Maier operates Cleo-Pearls from her home, specializing in necklaces, bracelets, earrings, key holders and bag accessories. All pieces created with gemstones, fresh water pearls and beads. Coconut 100 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Bags of all shapes and sizes rule the roost in this small shop. Made of silk and embroidered to the brim, these unique

bags start at about USD $30, and many are suitable for both day and night. Creation 105 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3829 5429 A two-storey shop selling scarves, intricate handbags (from USD $30), tailormade silk dresses and tops. Has a wide range of materials on the second floor. Gallery vivekkevin FAFILM Building, 6 Thai Van Lung, D1 Tel: 6291 3709 Handcrafted pendants, necklaces, rings and bracelets. The gallery’s focus is on design, craftsmanship and finish, as well as educating clients on the intricacies of each piece. Gucci 88 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3827 6688 Located on the main shopping street in HCMC, this flagship store brings Florentine fashion to an array of luxury leather goods such as briefcases, luggage and a selection of men’s shoes for office or more casual occasions. Ipa-Nima 71 Pasteur, D1 Tel: 3824 3652 77 Dong Khoi, D1 Well-known Hanoi-based fashion brand. Founder Christina Yu is a former lawyer turned designer who produces eclectic and eye-catching handbags. Also stocks costume jewellery and shoes. J. Silver 803 Nguyen Van Linh Parkway, D7 Tel: 5411 1188 Make a statement without being ostentatious with handcrafted silver jewellery from the boutique store. Expect big, interesting pieces that are simple yet glamorous. Laura V Signature 11 Dong Du, D1 Tel: 7304 4126 Vintage designs aplenty with everything from jewellery and hair accessories to funky styled sunglasses, umbrellas and colourful maxi dresses. Louis Vuitton Opera View, 161 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3827 6318 Designer brand name housing traditional craftsmanship of luxury leather goods for men and women. An array of bags, wallets, cuff links and watches are available. Mai O Mai 4C Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3829 4007 A superb little place with beautiful jewellery and accessories to suit all budgets. Silver necklaces, bracelets, rings and more in both classic and imaginative designs, as well as gorgeous handembroidered bags. Mont Blanc Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan Notable for fine writing instruments, Mont Blanc also houses cuff links and other male accessories

Rimowa Level 2 OperaView Tower, 161 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3832 6941 The German luggage maker is popular with a who’s who of the celebrity world. Their range of cases come in varying sizes and are made from high-tech materials to provide exceptional durability while remaining very light weight. Scorpion Vincom Center B1, 70 - 72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3993 9889 Selling high-end leather products for both men and women, including shoes, handbags, belts and other accessories.

femme fashion

Features a variety of leather in bright colors and styles. Tic Tac Watch Shop 72 Dong Khoi Tel: 0838 293519 Elegant show room displaying some of the world’s most recognized Swiss brands such as Rolex, Tag Huer, Baume & Marcer, Omega and Hirsch. On-site watch repair service and complementary watch evaluation available. Also carries a small collection of vintage Rolexes. Tombo 145 Dong Khoi, D1 Of all the embroidered and sequined bags, shoes and tidbits (or “Zakka” shops) that can be found in Dong Khoi, this shop’s has products that are prettier than most. Shoes can be custom-made and the sales staff is friendly.

Vintage - then and now By Jade Bilowol “You only realise your mother was right when your daughter tells you you’re wrong." An email designed to evoke solidarity among its female recipients contains this line. It gets me thinking. I haven’t had a daughter or any children. Yet I don’t need to be a parent to realise my mother’s always been right when it comes to fashion. Stomping around in her light green, leather cowboy boots with three-inch high heels and brown stitched swirling patterns is among my earliest memories. I’d sneak into her wardrobe, slip my legs into these boots and march around as if they were chaps. If they were still here today, they’d barely touch my knees. My mother grew up in a world dominated by The Beatles, The Stones, Led Zep, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. By the time I was 14, sepia-toned photos of her in platforms, bell bottoms, wavy, flowing blouses and wide-brimmed hats made me realise I’d been born decades too late. HCMC undoubtedly has a thriving vintage sub-culture. As I wander through the Saigon Flea Market at The Crescent, among racks and racks of garments crowding Boomarang Bistro’s second level and spilling out into the open night air are vintageinspired items. Retro-style jewellery, bags and other accessories are also clustered atop tables. I think of those green leather boots and hunt down anything slightly resembling its era. A bohemian, flower-patterned frock, psychedelic scarf, thin white belt, necklace with a green peace-symbol pendant

76 asialife HCMC

and then some soon lighten my wallet. What does it mean to go vintage? Clothing actually produced from the 1920s to the 1960s is deemed ‘vintage’. ‘Vintage-style’ and ‘retro’ are used to describe clothing and accessories imitating the past. While we’re on this tangent, pre-1920s clothing is dubbed ‘antique’ while more ‘modern’ and ‘contemporary’ fashion is called exactly that. Magonn at 41 Hai Ba Trung, Shin at 53A Nguyen Du, Liti at 40D Ly Tu Trong , and Lam Boutique on 71 Mac Thi Buoi, all in District 1, are among local operations feeding HCMC’s love of all things vintage-inspired. There are also a few little homes-cum-shop fronts selling second hand bags and shoes along Ho Xuan Huong in District 3. At your finger tips online is the Mad Men collection by Banana Republic. Second-hand, vintage or vintage-inspired clothing has always had a following. But when celebrities such as Kate Moss, Winona Ryder, Drew Barrymore and more recently Michelle Williams and Elle Fanning started donning such numbers, demand skyrocketed – as tends to be the case due to the celebrityfashion nexus. But my mother got in first and hence must be cooler! I’ve combed second hand shops since my early high school years. My wardrobe here has expanded tenfold thanks to friends gifting me their clothing as they’ve departed Vietnam. But no matter how hard I try, I can never find a substitute for those green cowboy boots.

Umbrella 35 Ly Tu Trong, D1 and 4 Le Loi, D1 Tel: 6276 2730 Sophisticated boutique showcasing a diverse range of imported women’s accessories. Also houses women’s garments from office wear to cocktail and party creations.

ACTIVE WEAR Roxy and Quiksilver Parkson Plaza, 39-45 Le Thanh Ton, D1 The original active living and extreme sports brands, Roxy and Quiksilver products combine form and function. Choose from outdoor gear to cool indoor clothes. TBS Sports Centre 102 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan This store stocks a range of good sports clothes and equipment from big name brands such as Puma, Adidas, Ecco, Nike and Converse. Volcom Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, D1 Chic and funky ladies’ apparel brand from America. Lots of tank tops, minis and shorts for day tripping with girlfriends or lazing on the beach.

READY TO WEAR unisex BAM Skate Shop 174 Bui Vien, D1 Tel: 0903 641 826 In addition to a range of decks, wheels and trucks, this small shop is stocked with bookbags, skate sneakers, track jackets and t-shirts emblazoned with your skateboard company of choice. FCUK 127 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, D1 Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, D1 Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3914 7740 Trendy UK brand with a selection of fashion-forward dresses for women and smart workwear and funky casual wear for men, all at middle-market prices. L’Usine 151/1 Dong Khoi, D1 Lifestyle store and cafe housed in a period building restored to evoke the aesthetic of an early 20th-century garment factory. Carries an exclusive, frequently refreshed line of imported men’s and women’s fashion, including T-shirts and footwear, and a range of unique accessories. Entrance via the street-level Art Arcade. Replay Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 116 Nguyen Trai, D1 187 Hai Ba Trung, D3 Tel: 3925 0252 Wide variety of shoes, clothing, denim for teens and university-age men and women. Carries boots, sandals, pumps and sneakers at mid-range prices.

Runway Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3993 9988 Massive and minimalist design-led interior lets ultra high-end designer garments stand out. Carries men's, women's and children’s clothing, swimwear, shoes, accessories along with home décor. Brands include Chloe, Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga, Sergio Rossi and Eres. Versace 26 Dong Khoi Designer brand in men’s formal wear. Houses suit jackets and trousers, shirts as well as an array of men’s accessories. Also stocks womens clothing and shoes.

men Lucas 69A Ly Tu Trong, D1 Tel: 3827 9670 Fashion store housing contemporary designs in casual, office and evening wear imported from Hong Kong. Massimo Ferrari 42-A1 Tran Quoc Thao, D3 Tel: 3930 6212 Bespoke menswear shop also boasts its own brand of contemporary preppy attire tailored for the tropics. Carries a line of European-quality shoes, bags and accessories designed in-house, as well as exclusive Orobianco unisex bags, designer fragrances and eyewear. Mattre 19 Nguyen Trai, D1 Tel: 3925 3412 This local men’s clothes shop has some funky tops and jeans for more fashionforward males. Apparel in sizes that fit the typical Western man’s frame are often available. Another store is located on Hai Ba Trung and Ly Tu Trong Milano Sheraton Hotel, 88 Dong Khoi A conjoining shop with D&G offering a selection of men’s shoes and accessories with a sideline in women’s clothing. D&G provides a collection of menswear, from casual jeans and T-shirts to uniquely designed suit jackets. Timberland Parkson Plaza, 39-45 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Sells everything the brand is known for, from heavy-duty boots to tops and trousers that are both smart and casual. The emphasis is on muted tones and unobtrusive logos for men who don’t like to show off.

women Axara Vincom Center B1, 70 - 72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, D1 21 Nguyen Trai, D1 Tel: 3993 9399 Carries women’s clothing suitable for work, weekends or evening. Luxurious fabrics and simple cuts and styles all at reasonable prices. Also carries handbags and accessories. Balenciaga Rex Hotel, 155 Nguyen Hue Tel: 6291 3572 Sporting modern shapes and elegant items crafted from natural, raw and artificial materials. BCBGMAXAZRIA Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 American brand sells women’s day dresses and tops, evening gowns and wear-to-work attire in many prints and colours. Also carries a small selection of accessories, sunglasses and watches. Bebe Saigon Center, 65 Le Loi, D1 Tel: 3914 4011

An international brand that specializes in contemporary, modern tees and sexy, elegant dresse, tops and party attire. Chloe Rex Hotel, 155 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 6291 3582 Parisian-influenced fashion house specializes in simple, traditional designs with a feminine and fashionable twist. Jeans, satin dresses and a wide array of accessories are on display. Gaya 1 Nguyen Van Trang, D1 Tel: 3925 1495 Carries a range of couture and pret-aporter garments and silk and organza dresses in vibrant colours created by Cambodia-based designer Romyda Keth. Geisha Boutique 85 Pasteur, D1 Tel: 3829 4004 Facebook: Geisha Boutique Australian fashion label offering a contemporary range of casual and evening wear with an Asian influence. Printed tees, singlets, shorts, skirts, jeans, summer scarves, dresses, silk camisoles and satin maxi dresses. Kookai Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi French brand stocking classic, feminine, styles with a twist. Gypsy day dresses and classic little black dresses at mid- to high-range prices are perfect for twenty- and thirty-something women. La Senza 47B–47C Nguyen Trai, D1 Tel: 3925 1700 65 Le Loi, Saigon Centre, D1 Tel: 3914 4328 Boutique carrying a wide range of bras, panties, pyjamas, accessories and lounge wear. Mango 96 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Tel: 3824 6624 Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, D1 Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 A favourite with fashion-conscious women, this mid-range store stocks clothes from simple tees and jeans to evening wear. Marc Jacobs Rex Hotel, 155 Nguyen Hue , D1 Tel: 6291 3580 This spacious shop with high-ceilings carries up-market clothes, shoes and accessories from the internationally recognized designer brand. Song Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, D1 76D Le Thanh Ton

Offers women’s fashion designs by Valerie Gregori McKenzie, including evening dress, tops and hats. Valenciani Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, D1 Tel: 3821 2788 66-68 Nguyen Trai, D1 Tel: 7302 4688 Homegrown luxury boutique carries silk dresses, velvet corsets, chiffon shawls and a range of accessories, all designed in-house.

SHOES Charles & Keith 10 Mac Thi Buoi, 18-20 Nguyen Trai Tel: 3925 1132 Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Singapore brand housing youthful and trendy shoes of a contemporary, high fashion design. Converse 186 Hai Ba Trung, D1 148 Nguyen Trai, D1 122 Ba Thang Hai, D10 Tel: 3827 5584 Sells iconic Chuck Taylor, Jack Purcell and All-Star sneakers and Converse brand clothing and accessories. Also at department stores around HCMC. Dr. Marten’s 173 Hai Ba Trung, D3 Tel: 3822 4710 Air Wair sandals and shoes here feature the classic yellow stitching and chunky rubber soles. Also stocked with clothes and accessories by Replay and Kappa tracksuit tops. Sergio Rossi 146AB Pasteur, D1 Rex Hotel, 141 Nguyen Hue, D1 World-renowned Italian brand stocks a diverse European-style collection of upmarket shoes and bags made of quality materials, from crocodile and python skin laterals to garnishings of Swarovski crystals and colourful beads.

TAILORS Dieu Thanh 140 Pasteur, D1 Tel: 3824 5851 Experienced tailor shop specializes in swimwear and cotton clothing, as well as business suits, evening dresses, luxury fabrics and accessories. Massimo Ferrari 42-A1 Tran Quoc Thao, D3 Tel: 3930 6212 Traditional Italian sartorial techniques are employed to offer a full wardrobing service and custom tailoring for men. Stocked with imported fabrics primarily from Italy. In-office and workplace fittings available.



asialife HCMC 77

Sound Fest

Photos by Alex McMillan, Dylan Walker and Chris Mueller.

78 asialife HCMC

New Zealand Wine and Food Festival

Always book launch

asialife HCMC 79

1 h in Ch

an h


h in

PHU NHUAN Ng uye nV an

Huynh Va n Ban



yn Hu


Ph u


Tro i

Tran Quang


Ph a

hV an B



Na m

Tran Quang

T han g on g Qu y

Ly Ch inh ng

en Hi g on hu oi .T hu .C Ng

Ph u


Bi e

Ng uy en Th ien

en uy Ng

n So

e uy Ng

Th ua t




ity rs al ve tur es i Un f Na nc o cie S


M hi nT

h in


nh Cha iet V m


ng Tro inh nB Tra

u Ph

80 asialife HCMC

uo An D

g uon ng V

r che Tea ining Tra ersity v Uni





an To

an Tr

n uye

ng Pho

g on Vu ng u H



Ba nC o

Ly Tha i



Qu ye n

en uy Ng

V C u M hu on ar o ke i t




Ca oT ha ng

District 11 2km


Ng uy en Th o

g2 han 3T

Tra nM

en Di

o Xu Tu



u Sa


Lan Ma n Spo Anh g Th ang Leis rts & Tam ure Clu b


i Th Vo

Ky D


Tru on gD inh

on g


H Hoa

Tran M

Cac h

Van Dang

en uy Ng


n Tra

Sa inh Train igon Quy Sta en tion

Tan Binh 0.5km


nS y

n Dang Tran M

Ky K

Le V a


Tran V a

Nh Tran

Nguyen Du C4, D3, D4 Nguyen Hai Tu B4 Nguyen Hue D4, D5 Nguyen Huu Canh B2 Nguyen Huu Canh C5 Nguyen Huu Cau B3 Nguyen Khac Nhu E3 Nguyen Khoai F3 Nguyen Ngoc Phuong B5 Nguyen Phi Khanh B3 Nguyen Sieu C5, D5 Nguyen Son Ha D2 Nguyen Tat Thanh E5 Nguyen Thai Binh D4, E4 Nguyen Thai Hoc D3, E3, E4 Nguyen Thi Dieu D2, D3 Nguyen Thien Thuat D1, E1, E2 Nguyen Thong C1, C2, D2 Nguyen Thuong Hien D2 Nguyen Trai D3, E2 Nguyen Trung Ngan C5 Nguyen Trung Truc D4 Nguyen Truong To E4, E5 Nguyen Van Cu E2 Nguyen Van Hai B3 Nguyen Van Lac B5 Nguyen Van Thu B4, C3, C4 Nguyen Van Troi B1 Pasteur C2, C3, C4, D4 Pham Hong Thai D2, D3 Pham Ngoc Thach C3 Pham Ngu Lao D3, D4, E3 Pham Viet Chanh B5 Pham Viet Chanh E2 Phan Dinh Phung B2 Phan Ke Binh B4 Phan Van Han B4, B5 Pho Duc Chinh D4, E4 Phung Khac Khoan C3, C4 Suong Nguyet Anh D2, D3 Tan Vinh E4 Thach Thi Thanh B3 Thai Van Lung C5 Thi Sach C5 Thu Khoa Huan D4 Ton Duc Thang C5, D4, D5, E4 Ton That Dam D4 Ton That Thiep D4 Ton That Tung D2, D3 Tran Binh Trong E1 Tran Canh Chan E2 Tran Cao Van C4 Tran Dinh Xu E2, E3 Tran Hung Dao D4, E2, E3 Tran Khac Chan B3 Tran Khanh Du B2, B3 Tran Minh Quyen D1 Tran Minh Quyen C1 Tran Nhan Ton E1 Tran Nhat Duat B3 Tran Phu E1 Tran Quang Dieu B1, B2 Tran Quang Khai B3, B2 Tran Quoc Thao C2, C3 Tran Quoc Toan B2, B3, B2 Tran Van Dang C1, C2 Truong Chinh C3 Truong Dinh C2, D3 Tu Xuong C2, C3, D2 Vinh Khanh E4, E5 Vo Thi Sau B3, C2, C3 Vo Van Tan C3, D2, D3 Vuon Chuoi D2 Xo Viet Nghe Tinh B4, B5 Yersin E4

Airport 3km

ng Ho Le

3 Thang 2 D1 Alexandre de Rhodes C4 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan C1, C2, D2, D3 Ban Co D1 Ben Chuong Duong E4 Ben Van Don E4, E5 Bui Thi Xuan D3 Bui Vien E3 Cach Mang Thang Tam C1, D2, D3 Calmette E4 Cao Ba Nha E3 Cao Thang D1, D2, E2 Chu Manh Trinh C4, C5 Co Bac E3 Co Giang E3 De Tham E3 Dien Bien Phu B4, C3, C2, D1, D2 Dinh Cong Trang B3 Dinh Tien Hoang B3, B4, C4 Do Quang Dau E3 Do Thanh D1 Doan Nhu Hai E5 Doan Van Bo E4, E5 Dong Du D5 Dong Khoi C4, D4, D5 Hai Cua B5 Huynh Tinh Cua B2 Huynh Van Banh B1 Khanh Hoi E4 Ky Con B3, C3, C4, D5 Hai Trieu C5 Ham Nghi D4, C5 Han Thuyen C4 Ho Hao Hon E3 Ho Huan Nghiep D5 Ho Tung Mau D4, D5 Ho Xuan Huong C3, D2 Hoa Hung B1 Hoang Dieu E4, E5 Hung Vuong E1 Huyen Tran Cong Chua D3 Huynh Man Dat B5 Huynh Thuc Khang D4 Ky Dong C1, C2 Le Cong Kieu D4 Le Duan C4, C5 Le Hong Phong D1 Le Lai C3, C4, D3 Le Loi D4 Le Quoc Hung E4, E5 Le Quy Don C3 Le Thanh Ton C4, C5, D3, D4 Le Thi Hong Gam D4, E3, E4 Le Thi Rieng D3 Le Van Phuc B3 Le Van Sy C1, C2 Luong Huu Khanh D2, E2 Luu Van Lang D4 Ly Chinh Thang B2, C2 Ly Thai To E1 Ly Tu Trong C4, C5, D4, D5 Mac Dinh Chi B3, C4 Mac Thi Buoi D5 Mai Thi Luu B4 Mai Van Ngoc B1 Me Linh B5 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia B2, C2, C3, D4, E4 Ngo Duc Ke D5 Ngo Thoi Nhiem C2, D2 Ngo Van Nam C5 Nguyen Binh Khiem B4, B5, C5 Nguyen Cong Tru E4 Nguyen Cu Trinh E2, E3 NguyenDinhChieu B4,C3,C4,D1,D2,D3 Nguyen Dinh Chinh B1


Di en

Street Guide


yen Ngu


3 4th Floor ONG&ONG Building 159 Phan Xich Long St Ward 7, Phu Nhuan District

Ng .H uu

Ca u oc Toa n

Qu Tr an

oc To an


Ph am



hu nP Bie

en B Di a

Hu ye n

uy o en Th Ng on g

Nh ng Th an uo hQ H ua n an Xu o H hi nT ye u Ng


Tru on gD

Tu Ly


en uy

i Tra

i Le La

Tra i uye n Ng

HCM City Boat Quay (for Vung Tau)

n Do

i u Ha n Nh Doa

uo cH un g

gD an Ho


Vung Tau


Nh u g an Gi o C

u r ie iT Ha

n ha tT Ta en uy Ng

Ho n


Thu Thiem Ferry Port (for District 2)


o Ng



c Ba Co

cK Du

g on Tru Ng


Van Ben

h an Kh

a Nh



Cat Lai Ferry 9km

nh Vi

an Tr

ng Hu

ao Xu C


te et lm Ca


Din h


nh Ca


u g Tr Con Ng.

Le Q

am Th

Tra n

ri Cu T



u Hu

i uo

Le Cong Kieu

am gG inh on iB H i ha h T T en Le uy Ng Ky C on ru gT on .C g N


yen Ngu

iB Th


Saigon Bridge & Highway 1 3km

Na m

hi . Ng H.H


u M p yen hie Hu T t e Ton Th a ng

Ham Nghi




nh hi cC Du


n Hu


n To

Th a


ha cK Thu h n Huy

i Lo Le


en uy Ng

ac h



ng . La



cT ha ng

h an Th e L

i Lo Le


o Da Bus tion g

n rsi Ye

Bu i

an Tr



u Da Q.




CoT Marke ng Qu yn h


am Th

L Ngu Pham


ha nh



Pham Hong Thai


To Tha

n .V Be anh t L e Th ark M



l al H n n h To w n

nT ru ng Tru c

on Tr

u Ma


nN nA uye


ye n

iV an Lu at ng u Q ieu a S B o Ng Ca

o Ph

Tu ng


Pa ste ur

an hT rin h

Th iS

m Da

To nT ha t

ng Tro

Do ng



o & Ga Bo rd tan en ic s a

n en ga uy g N Ng un Tr

ng Tu


h nT

en uy

Tu Ly

. T. T

Tha ng





H ai Th

Lu on gH uu K


Cultural Park

an Xu ieng hi hi R T i Le T Bu

g on

Th u

Ch u

Ng u

an Du

To n


ai Kh

u Ng

nh tA


an Du Le

Du en uy g N Ng uy e

Co ng Ch ua

Po Cen H st tra ai Of l Ba fic Tru e n

te Pas

an nT Va

Cao Th


n ye

h in


Hu Re-unification ye Palace nT

es od Rh

a gh H ia

u Ng



Cac hM



a Na ex m Al Ky Kh oi N

oi Th

ieu Ch



e eD dr



t Da



War n Remnants n Ta Museum o Va

Gi aT hi eu

n H tele HTV oa visio ng n


n Va an Ph


uy en




uo cT ha o

V Xo


n ua

n ye


uy D

ieu Ch



eT gh N t

h Cu


Tra nQ

Pa ste

hie m

H St oa a Di diu Lu nh m

nh Di n ye u Ng Ma cD inh Ch i an V o a C an Tr

Ng oc Th ac h


Ng u yen Van

N g u yen



e uy Ng

Qu ye n

u Th an V n


Nguy en D u

Va n

Tru on g

gh ia

m Ta n Va ark Le P

Ma iT hi Lu u Ke Bin h

h Tin

Me Linh


Ph an

uy en

Huy n

ng uo Ph oc



Tha ch T hi T han ng h u a Tr Sa . C hi . T D o



Hoang S a

Ng HaiTu

Khai Tran Quang Ng. Phi Khanh L. V. Ph uc


Cu a

aT run





e uy Ng

Ky K

i nh



Pham Van Han

Truon g Sa

c Chan




ai .H .V


ha Tran K



Huynh Man Dat

Vo Huy Tan

Tha Ton D ng u Mu c seu m



Hu yn

Dinh Tien Hoang


h Tran Khan


Phan Xich Long

at Tran Nh

yen gu


4 Gia Dinh Hospital


an Van B

District 7 & Nha Be


o Da asialife HCMC 81


radar Seek and you shall find This site takes surfing the web to a new level. Once you have created a profile, you are asked to select your interests from a selection of hundreds of categories. These interests range from 'Ancient History'; 'Design'; and 'Dogs' to 'Bizarre/Oddities'; 'Alternative Energy'; and 'Magic and Illusions'. When you have specified your various interests you simply click on the ‘stumbleupon’ button ... and prepare to be hooked. The site will display page after page of weird and wonderful articles and images from all corners of the web, which have been categorized according to your interests. You can easily share these pages through Facebook and Twitter, and you can like or dislike pages in order to rank their popularity for other stumblers. It is not only a great way to spend an afternoon, but it is also the key to becoming a more interesting dinner guest. This is definitely not a site to be missed, but be warned, its content is highly addictive.

Message in a bottle The unique idea behind Futureme is to send emails to your future self. As they state on their homepage, “ is based on the principle that memories are less accurate than e-mails.” The site allows you to set up an email that you will receive at some point in the future. This may be something as simple as a reminder. You can email yourself as far into the future as 2062. One chooses to make your letter private or public, but it will always remain anonymous. Anyone who visits the site may then read through this archive of letters to one's 'future self', which proves most amusing. The procedure for sending an email to the future is very straightforward, and may be used as simply a reminder to feed the dog in the evening, or a message in a bottle to your older self. It's a great little bookmark to have, especially for those who lead busy and confusing lives, yet read their email.

Evolution in action “The Darwin Awards salute the improvement of the human genome by honouring those who accidentally remove themselves from it.” The site nods to Charles Darwin and his work on natural selection, and award those who are 'unable to cope with the dangers of the modern world', and are therefore are an example of evolution in action, according to the site. “Nominees significantly improve the gene pool by eliminating themselves from the human race in an obviously stupid way,” the site claims. The founder of the site started collecting stories in 1993 and sending them to friends in a monthly email; which then turned into a website where nominations are sent in from all over the world. Everyone enjoys a bit of dark humour and most of these stories are just too ridiculous for even the most politically correct individual not to laugh. If you don’t believe me, then take a look. Tread carefully and don’t go getting any ideas.

82 asialife HCMC


Salmon fishing in the Yemen

The Three Stooges

Titanic 3D

21 Jump Street

The brilliant Lasse Hallstrom (Cider House Rules and Chocolat) brings the original book by Paul Torday to life in this inspirational romantic comedy. Starring everybody's favourites, Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt, this film tells the story of a wealthy Yemeni sheikh who hires businesswoman Harriet ChetwodeTalbot (Blunt) to help fulfill his vision of introducing salmon fishing into Yemen. The British expert, Fred Jones (McGregor) dubs the idea ridiculous and unfeasible, but when the Prime Minister's overzealous press secretary (Kristin Scott Thomas) latches onto the idea as a ‘good will’ project for Britain, Jones is forced to embark on a journey with Chetwode-Talbot to prove the impossible possible.

This movie is a modern replication of the antics of the mid-20th century American vaudeville and comedy trio (Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Shemp Howard), who starred in numerous TV shows and short films. The film is about three brothers; Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos), Larry (Sean Hayes) and Curly (Will Sasso), who were left on a nun's doorstep as infants. Their life has been filled with ridiculous misadventure and silliness, and eventually leads them to become entangled in a strange murder plot while trying to save their childhood home. The film is a lighthearted slapstick comedy directed by the Farrelly brothers, who have produced other big hits in this genre, including Dumb & Dumber and Me, Myself & Irene.

James Cameron and his team have applied 3D graphics to this massive hit of 1997. The most expensive movie made in Hollywood history at the time of its release (US $200 million), this movie tells a story that takes place on the maiden, and final, voyage of the While Star Line's US $7.5 million (and spectacularly re-created) R.M.S. Titanic, and the tragedy of 15 April 1912. The film begins with a contemporary storyline where the ship wreck is discovered by an American treasureseeker, and then shifts to 1912 when Rose (Gloria Stewart) recalls the tale of her younger society girl self (Kate Winslet) and how she fell in love with the penniless Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) on the doomed voyage.

This film is a revival of the 1980's cop drama of the same name. In this action-drama, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum), are eager to leave their adolescent lives behind, and decide to join the police force and the secret Jump Street unit. The duo are forced to trade their guns for backpacks and schoolbooks however, when they are assigned to go under cover in a high school in order to investigate a dangerous drug ring. What they find is that high school is no different from when they left and the audience has many laughs as they struggle with having to deal with all the issues they thought they had left behind.

Opening Dates CINEMAS T: Thang Long

21 Jump Street (18 May)

The Three Stooges (4 May) Titanic 3D (18 May)

G: Galaxy

Salmon fishing in the Yemen (11 May )

M: Megastar Cinema

84 asialife HCMC

The information on this page was correct at the time of printing. Check cinema websites for screenings.

bookshelf The Cove Ron Rash Ecco

Hank and Laurel Shelton live in a lonely Appalachian valley, on the same broken homestead where their parents toiled and died years before. Locals shun Laurel for her witchy birthmark, and Hank struggles to maintain the farm without a hand he lost in the Great War. When a mute stranger arrives, both (especially Laurel) allow themselves hope for a future outside the cove, away from small-town superstition and wartime fervour. In the lyrical prose that won him such acclaim with his previous novel Serena, Ron Rash washes this novel's languid spaces with bucketfuls of atmospheric dread, pushing his characters into the currents of their fate with determined empathy. The Cove solidifies Rash as master of modern Southern Gothic.

Truth Like the Sun Jim Lynch Knopf

Told through dual timelines – the 1962 World’s Fair and a 2001 mayoral election – this is the story of a man and his city thinking big, striving for greatness, and making mistakes. Civic cheerleader Roger Morgan had been the driving force behind the construction of Seattle’s iconic Space Needle. Thirty-nine years later, Morgan, now 70, decides on a whim to run for mayor, which brings him face to face with a curious and tenacious reporter – and his own murky past. Author Jim Lynch is a former newspaper reporter who deftly captures the complicated relationship between an ambitious journalist and an ambitious public official, each of them flawed and haunted by the ghosts of past mistakes.

Bird Sense: What It’s Like to be a Bird Tim Birkhead Walker and Company

Bird behaviourist and scientific historian Tim Birkhead demystifies the world of birds of all feathers from the inside out, showing how their unique physiology gives them sensory powers beyond our own – including the ability to see UV light, echolocate, and migrate by feeling magnetic forces. With the wit and wonder of David Attenborough, he relates how scientists have discovered what it means to be a bird, over centuries and as new technologies have opened a golden age of sensory knowledge. Though his subject will appeal most deeply to bird lovers, Bird Sense will pique the curiosity of anyone interested in how any creature's experience of the world is shaped by the body it inhabits.

The Beginner’s Goodbye Anne Tyler Knopf

"The strangest thing about my wife’s return from the dead was how other people reacted." So begins Anne Tyler's new novel, which documents the days of Aaron Woolcott after the loss of his wife, Dorothy. The first sentence is arresting, but it's also a bit worrying. So many clichés could follow. Will Aaron resolve his grief through moonlit walks with the apparition of his lost wife? Thankfully, this is Anne Tyler. And the ghost of Dorothy, like all Tyler's characters, has a kind of rich, eccentric depth that sits opposite to the expected. Aaron's recovery after his wife's death conveys all the subtle hallmarks of Tyler's style, where a flawed man must learn how to do a very difficult thing – say a final goodbye.

asialife HCMC 85

soundfix album review

by Mai Lynn Miller Nguyen

Amadou & Mariam Alabama Shakes Graham Coxon

Sea of Bees


Boys & Girls



All music may be hybrid to some extent, but in the hands of Malian musicians Amadou & Mariam, hybridity is an art form. African rhythms, blues, pop and indie-rock are among the many paints they use to produce masterpieces. The husband-wife duo—who met at a school for the blind—returns with Folila (“music” in Bambara). Setting out to record two albums, Amadou & Mariam took the audacious step to mix the tracks together. This proves successful for much of the album, but becomes convoluted on tracks such as the overdone ‘C’est Pas Facile Pour Les Aigles’. Fortunately, there’s ‘Dougou Badia’, featuring Brooklyn singer Santigold and an electrifying guitar line, ‘Africa Mon Afrique’ with a sexy series of minor chord progressions, and Mariam’s beautifully sung closer ‘Chérie’ amongst the album’s highlights.

With the magnetic first chords of ‘Hold On’, Alabama Shakes makes an entrance worth sitting up straight for. As soon as Brittany Howard starts crooning in her smoky tones, it’s impossible not to be mesmerised. The band’s debut album has propelled the Athens, Alabama foursome—friends who started playing together in high school for kicks—into an indie Cinderella story. Appearing as the metaphorical fairy godmother, Jack White has already booked them to open his solo tour. It seems Alabama Shakes is going to the ball, a position they seemed to have anticipated in the heady ‘Goin’ to the Party’. A consistent delivery—with a slight lack of passion—means tracks run together, but the moving mix of rock and soul proves the attention is still well deserved.

Last month, Damon Albarn announced that Blur’s concert at the Olympic’s closing ceremony would be the band’s swan song. As pioneers of the Britpop genre in the 1990s, Blur leaves an indelible mark on the music scene. Then there’s also the band’s side projects. Beyond Albarn and his Gorillaz, Blur guitarist Graham Coxon has also built up a solid solo repertoire. A+E is Coxon’s eighth album, infused with a restless energy that shows the 43-year-old rocker isn’t slowing up. Some tracks are avalanched by synths and squelchy feedback, but when Coxon relaxes the distortion on ‘Ooh, Yeh Yeh’ and ‘Running for Your Life’, the songs become pleasantly accessible. Coxon embraces experimentation which, although it can come across as cold and forced at times, makes his career outside of Blur worth following.

Over the past two years since her 2009 debut album, singer-songwriter Julie Ann Bee, who performs as Sea of Bees, has gone from ardour to heartbreak. Orangefarben charts this plotline, with a raw collection of songs inspired by the 25-year-old’s “first true love.” The album is titled in honour of a pet name for her ex-girlfriend, and the lyrics are filled with the melancholic memories of days of happiness lost. Rather than channel post-break up bitterness, Bee sings and plays with a wistful complexity of emotions that feel genuine. A gentle cover of ‘Leaving on a Jetplane’ breathes new life into what could be a hackneyed song, whereas ‘More’ and ‘Grew’ allow Bee’s fragile voice and simple accompaniment to be at their most transcendent.

86 asialife HCMC


xoneFM top ten Official xoneFM Vietnam Top 10 this last

week week


artist Justin Bieber Demi Lovato

1 2

6 5



Boyfriend Give Your Heart A Break Mirror

4 5

2 Re

Part Of Me Live My Life



I Like It Like That



Love You Like A Love Song Goodbye If This Was A Movie Stronger

8 9 10

Re 5 7

Lil Wayne feat Bruno Mars Katy Perry Far East Movement feat Justin Bieber Hot Chelle Ray feat New Boyz Selena Gomez feat The Scene Avril Lavigne Taylor Swift Kelly Clarkson

US Top 10 this last

week week


1 2 3 4 5 6

1 2 4 3 7 6

Glad You Came We Are Young Part Of Me Stronger Wild Ones Ass Back Home



Turn Me On

8 9 10

9 8 11

Feel So Close Take Care Starships

artist The Wanted Fun feat Janelle Monae Katy Perry Kelly Clarkson Flo Rida feat Sia Gym Class Heroes feat Neon David Guetta feat Nicki Minaj Calvin Harris Drake feat Rihanna Nicki Minaj

UK Top 10 this last

week week


1 2 3 4 5

1 New 7 27 26

Call Me Maybe Can't Say No We Are Young Ordinary People Laserlight



Somebody That I Used To Know So Good Starships She Doesn't Mind Boyfriend

7 8 9 10

New 5 6 2

artist Carly Rae Jepsen Conor Maynard Fun feat Janelle Monae John Legend Jessie J feat David Guetta Gotye feat Kimbra B.O.B Nicki Minaj Sean Paul Justin Bieber

Imitation Weasel Coffee By Claire Jowell Some are born to enjoy mornings, others are most definitely not. I am not a ‘morning person’, and if you are anything like me you will know the detestation us morning grouches feel for those that cross our paths with a cheery demeanour first thing in the day. From the cat to the boyfriend, they better watch out, I bite. Coffee is my salvation. I absolutely love the stuff. I probably owe the fact that I have a job and friends to that morning cup of coffee. When I heard about the rare and delectable ca phe chon that is produced right here in Vietnam, you can therefore imagine my excitement. Ca phe chon is a literal translation of civet faeces coffee, and is made from the beans of coffee berries which have been passed through the digestive tract of the Asian Palm Civit (although commonly, and incorrectly, referred to as a weasel). The civit chooses the juiciest and fleshiest berries to eat and its stomach enzymes then seep into the beans, which are then defecated, still in their original shape. The beans are then washed, sun dried and lightly roasted, and finally end up producing an aromatic, rich and chocolatey cup of coffee. It is also said to be the most

expensive coffee in the world, and I do enjoy the finer things in life, so tasting this coffee was made a priority. You can then imagine my surprise to stumble across ‘genuine weasel coffee’ in the Ben Thanh market for only VND 80,000 per 100 grams. My mornings would be changed forever, I would become a new person as I sipped the rarest cup of coffee in the world for a terrific bargain of only a couple of thousand dong per cup. I may have had a sneaking suspicion of the obvious I'll admit, but refused to let it get me down. The coffee was delicious. Truly a great cup of coffee, and I have to say I genuinely think I am a nicer person to come across before 10am now. I have subsequently been informed that true ca phe chon is very rare, and the few hundred kilograms produced are exported straight to the UK. The ca phe chon that is available and marketed here is produced using an enzyme to mimic the process. Well, you know what? I don't care, I think it tastes great and it makes me feel special and cheerful, and I can tell all my more ignorant friends that I drink coffee that a civit in Vietam's Central Highlands digested especially for me.

asialife HCMC 87

Keeping Tabs

All good things must come to an end, just ‘Keep Your Shit Together’ until they do, writes Tabitha Carvan, in her last column for AsiaLife.

How do you know when it’s time to leave Vietnam? When the house next door gets knocked down and turned into a six-floor karaoke bar? Or when the house next door gets knocked down and turned into a six-floor karaoke bar, and you think, “Awesome! Now I can sing along to Celine Dion’s greatest hits without even leaving the house!” No, that’s the time for citizenship. The house over the road from us has actually just been knocked down. In the middle of the night. Using jackhammers. There’s not going to be a karaoke bar there, but they’ve posted an artist’s image of the government office that will be, and it speaks a thousand words. Most of them swear words. When Nathan and I saw that image of towering steel and glass, and landscaped gardens featuring strange 2D palm trees, we both just knew: we wouldn’t stick around to see 88 asialife HCMC

those palm trees in 3D. The thought of ceaseless jackhammering filled us with overwhelming dread. We knew it would be the straw that broke the camel’s back, if living in Vietnam was a camel. Over the past couple of months, the cracks had already started to show. The honking seemed louder and more unnecessary, the pollution became unbearable, fruit vendors took on Machiavellian qualities, children stopped being cute and were just loud. But nothing about Vietnam had changed, only us. After two-and-a-half years of enthusiastic ardour for Vietnam, I was cruising for a bruising. Maybe it was a selffulfilling prophecy, because I’d always said we should leave before three years was up, but I think it’s more just the expiry of the statute of limitations on ‘Keeping Your Shit Together’. Living as an expat in Vietnam isn’t hard, but it isn’t al-

ways easy. While, yes, you can drink out of coconuts and get cheap pedicures, it’s also loud, crowded and polluted. And some vegetables are grown in human poo. It always has been that way, and I’ve always known that. But to thoroughly enjoy Vietnam’s many, many upsides, I’ve had to not let the downsides get to me. And I’ve done this through a constant practice of ‘Keeping My Shit Together’: focusing on the positive, being curious rather than judgemental, being dazzled, not frazzled. ‘Keeping Your Shit Together’ is an active process and, over time, it’s tiring. Once you begin to falter, it easily spirals into ‘Losing Your Shit’. You don’t look at your beer and think, glory be to God for cheap beer; you think, this beer is probably laced with formaldehyde. You give the stink eye to children with those squeaky shoes. You see a dog and you say to it, “They’re going to eat

you." You look at an artist’s image for a new building and you don’t feel impressed by Vietnam’s unstoppable march towards modernisation, you just think, that building is going to be the end of me. And then you tread on a used sanitary napkin and that pretty much seals the deal. One of the hardest things about being an expat in Vietnam is listening to the whinging of embittered expats – who’ve ‘Lost Their Shit’ – who act as if they’re serving time here against their will. Their bad juju is contagious, kryptonite to anyone fiercely, and rightly, ‘Keeping Their Shit Together’. I don’t want to be one of them. I’m going to accept that in this break-up it’s not Vietnam, it’s me, and I’m going to get out of here before I bring anyone else down with me. To read more from Tabitha visit

THE TWO OF US Chris and Matt Tran tell AsiaLIFE how their close relationship and upbringing has led to an entertaining and carefree life in Vietnam. Photo by Fred Wissink.

Matt I’m not sure how the nickname ‘The Doctor’ came about, but it might have been from a friend of ours, the ‘Indian Tran’. About four or five years ago, we used to party quite hard, same as most expats who come here. Then we had one of those mornings where after partying hard my friend woke up, and was like, “Dude, what do I do? I have this massive hangover and have to work at 9.” So I said drink some orange juice and Ibuprofen. This type of thing happened a lot. Every time someone was hungover I’d be like, take some pills and you’ll be better, and I think that’s why they call me ‘The Doctor’. I do think Chris and I have

Chris a closer relationship than the average cousin just because we come from similar backgrounds, being Vietnamese Americans, and we have a lot of things in common. Not every VK is somewhat culturally sensitive in terms of Vietnamese culture and Chris and I were pretty fortunate to be raised in a way where that was pretty important to our families. For example, we couldn’t speak English at home, so our Vietnamese is quite good. We’d get slapped in the head if we tried to speak English at home, so we have that in common. Now we are able to go out and switch between English and Vietnamese, which can obviously be very helpful.

Three and a half or four years ago one of our friends was getting married and we were trying to figure out who would do the ceremony and somebody had the idea that I should perform it. I think we got the idea from a Friends episode where Joey or whoever had signed up online to be a reverend, so we did the same thing. Then a couple weeks later I performed a wedding in Hanoi, then one in HCM City, then a couple other friends had me perform weddings. Then some people I didn’t even know asked me to perform weddings and that is how I became ‘The Reverend’. The first couple of minutes before you actually perform

a ceremony the weight of the thing actually hits you. It’s quite arguably the most important day of somebody’s life and as a reverend you could either ruin their most important day or make it something spectacular. Saigon, or Vietnam itself, is like the world’s biggest college town. People get married then the question comes, who has performed a wedding? Who has had a trial by fire? And that list is very, very short. We are cousins, even though people say we aren’t but they are just jealous. I’m a little taller and way hairier. I’ve got more hair on my chest than he’s got on his head, so people don’t think we’re cousins.

asialife HCMC 89

pub quiz Dogs

1) Which astrophysicist built a guitar named Red Special? 2) In 1620, which ship sailed from Plymouth to Plymouth? 3) Michael Bloomberg currently holds which office? 4) Who said, “A hard man is good to find”? 5) Whose most famous work begins, “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug”?

21) Who has a pet called Dogmatix? 22) Dog Days Are Over was recorded with no instruments in a studio the "size of a loo" according to the band who recorded it. Name them. 23) AC/DC and Adam and the Ants have both had hits with which song title? 24) What title was given to the leader of the Most Serene Republic of Venice for over a thousand years? Work 25) In which film does Al Pacino 6) Which band released the Album play a man who attempts The Works in 1984? to rob a bank to pay for his 7) And which band released “wife’s” sex reassignment 3-disc compilation album The surgery? Works in 2008 which ends with Squashed Celebrities “Easy”? 8) Oscar Wilde quipped, “Work is 26) the curse of the” what? 9) What does “All work and no play” make Jack? 10) Who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her part in Working Girl? 11) Tim Flowers was a member of which Premier League winning side? 12) Current England cricket coach Andy Flower was born in South Africa. For which country did he play test cricket? 13) Which characters spoke a language called Oddle Poddle? 14) Which expression was coined by the American Beat poet Allen Ginsberg in 1965? 15) Where does the Royal Horticultural Society hold its annual flower show?

Cats 16) By what name did Steven Demetre Georgiou become famous, although he has since changed it again? 17) Which Cambodian animal is in the Guinness book of World Records, weighing up to 300kg? 18) How are the larval form of members of the order Lepidoptera better known? 19) Capt. John Joseph Yossarian is the protagonist in which novel? 20) What is the national and only official language of Andorra? 90 asialife HCMC


Chòu traùch nhieäm xuaát baûn: Nguyeãn Thò Thanh Höông Bieân taäp: Nguyeãn Vónh Trung Söûa baûn in: Löu Thuûy Trình baøy: Coâng ty TNHH QC TM DV Ba traêm saùu möôi laêm ngaøy Bìa: Coâng ty TNHH QC TM DV Ba traêm saùu möôi laêm ngaøy Nhaø XuaáT baûn toång hôïp TP. Hoà Chí MINH 62 Nguyeãn Thò Minh Khai, Q1 ÑT: 38225340 – 38296764 – 38220405 – 38296713 – 38223637 Fax: 84.8.38222726 Email: - Thöïc hieän lieân keát xuaát baûn: Coâng ty TNHH QC TM DV Ba traêm saùu möôi laêm ngaøy In laàn thöù nhaát, soá löôïng 4000 cuoán, khoå 20,5cm x 27,0cm GPXB soá: 79-12/CXB/536-04/THTPHCM Ngaøy 04/02/2012 In taïi Coâng ty ITAXA, ñòa chæ 126 Nguyeãn Thò Minh Khai, Q.3. In xong vaø noäp löu chieåu thaùng 05/ 2012 365 Days Advertising Trading Services Co.,Ltd L4,159 Phan Xich Long, P7, Phu Nhuan District Tel: +84 8 3517 2208 Managing Editor: Brett Davis

Director: Jonny Edbrooke

Deputy Editor: Chris Mueller

Photo Editor: Fred Wissink

Contributing Editor: Michael Tatarski

Art Director: Johnny Murphy

Production Manager: Nguyen Kim Hoa

Senior Designer: Nguyen Mai Anh

Editorial Interns: Claire Jowell, Lieu Anh Vu

Photography Interns: Alex Belikov, Alex McMillan

For advertising and marketing enquiries please call: Nguyen Kim Hanh +84 908 298395 / +84 8 3517 2208 Distribution: Super Long +84 937 633283 AsiaLIFE is a registered trademark. No content may be reproduced in any form without prior authorisation of the owners. © Ba Sau Nam Co,Ltd Vietnam


6 2


1 5

7 29)


8 7


7 1

5 7


1 5

9 3




2 3


9 30)

Pub Quiz Answers


Thoâng tin du lòch vaø vaên hoaù ôû Vieät Nam ASIALIFE HCMC

1) Brain May 2) The Mayflower 3) The Mayor of New York 4) Mae West 5) Louisa May Alcott 6) Queen 7) Faith No More 8) Drinking Classes 9) A dull boy 10) Melanie Griffith 11) Blackburn Rovers 12) Zimbabwe 13) Bill and Ben The Flowerpot Men 14) Flower Power 15) Chelsea 16) Cat Stevens 17) Mekong Giant Catfish 18) Caterpillars 19) Catch 22 20) Catalan 21) Obelix 22) Florence and the Machine 23) Dog Eat Dog 24) Doge 25) Dog Day Afternoon 26) Willem Dafoe 27) Steven Tyler 28) Steve Buscemi 29) Prince Harry 30) Bruce Willis

May Days








Culinary delights, comfortable seats, great entertainment and much more... We take you to more than 200 destinations all around the world. We are Turkish Airlines, we are globally yours. | +84-8-39-360 360





AsiaLIFE HCMC 50  

Saigon Pride Issue

AsiaLIFE HCMC 50  

Saigon Pride Issue