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AsiaLIFE volume 57

24 front

08 News & Events 14 Dispatches

42 Sterling's Saigon 43 Monsoon

15 Street Smart: Ly Chinh Thang

44 La Trattoria

18 Q&A with Pete Olsen

45 La Brasserie de Saigon

20 Photo Essay: Hua Lamphong

on the cover

24 Putting the Poachers out of


30 Xe Om, 2.0




style & design

46 Behind the Design: Q4


52 The List

48 Fashion

78 Spotlight

32 Vietnam's 'Big' Problem

80 Street Guide

34 Pedalling Passion

88 Odd One Out

36 Riding the Crime Wave

89 This Country Life 90 Pub Quiz

38 Ancient Beijing, Modern Twists 40 Boarder Explorer

34 Cover Art Direction Johnny Murphy Photography Alex McMillan Model Le Thanh Hung

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Thank you to our sponsors

note from the editor

Group Director Sales & Marketing / Director Vietnam: Jonny Edbrooke Managing Editor: Chris Mueller

Regional Creative Director: Johnny Murphy Photo Editor: Fred Wissink Production Manager: Nguyen Kim Hoa

Deputy Editor: Lien Hoang

Photographers: Alex McMillan and Linh Phanroy

Contributing Editor: Michael Tatarski Editor-at-Large: Brett Davis

Chris Mueller A couple of years ago I spent a week with a minority tribe in the jungles of Kon Tum province, along the southern Laos and northern Cambodia borders. Civilisation was far away, about a six hour hike through jungle and another three hours by motorbike. These people were almost entirely cut off from the modern world, except for the poachers stalking through their jungles. The tribe made their living off what they could forage, hunt or grow in the forest, but poaching had made sustanable hunting nearly impossible. One of the tribespeople told me he was a hunter and was lucky if he could catch even a lizard. This is despite the fact that the area was once ripe with big game. Tigers, guar, deer and Asian elephants have vanished from the area. The dwindling animal population had made an already harsh lifestyle even more difficult. Seeing the effects of poaching firsthand was an eye opener. The illegal wildlife trade is huge business in Southeast Asia, making up about half of the $10-20 billion global trade. And it’s groups like this small tribe who it affects the most. About 70 percent of Vietnam’s population is rural and much of it still relies on some form of hunting, not as business but as survival. It’s not just the poor populations that are affected by rampant poaching, but entire ecosystems are changing that could leave Vietnam’s environment forever warped. Invasive species that compete with local wildlife are increasingly being introduced and the trade also has direct links to human and drug trafficking. But how can it be stopped? This month we try to answer that in an in-depth look at the wildlife trade across Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, and what is being done to fight it. Cambodia and Thailand have made significant strides, but Vietnam still lags far behind and has one of the worst records in the world for protecting wildlife. NGOs like Education for Nature – Vietnam, WWF, and Wildlife at Risk are using one of thwe most powerful tools to fight the trade in Vietnam, education, both among the local population and, more importantly, at the government level. But this alone won’t stop it. These organisations say one of the most valuable weapons they have are tips from the public, and expats tend to give better information. So if you see wildlife crimes, a quick phone call could be all it takes to help protect the future of Vietnam's animals.

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For advertising and marketing enquiries please contact: +84 938 298395 / +84 8 6680 6105 or

AsiaLIFE Group Group Editor / Director Cambodia: Mark Bibby Jackson Managing Editor Cambodia: Ellie Dyer Art Director Cambodia: Steve Tierney Sales Cambodia: Sorn Chantha

Director Thailand: Nattamon Limthanachai (Oh) Associate Editor Thailand: Yvonne Liang Photo Editor Thailand: Nick McGrath Sales Thailand: Piyalai Tandhnan (Ming)

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Top City

Ho Chi Minh City has ranked first in the affordability category of the Globe Shopper Index, published by Global Blue. It scored particularly well for the cost of hotels, restaurants and bars, as well as clothing, watches and electrical goods. The expanded index, in partnership with the Economist Intelligence Unit, adds 25 AsiaPacific cities to the existing 33 European cities, listing them in five categories covering shops, affordability, convenience, hotels/transport and culture/ climate.

Counting Down

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Park Lounge with an elegant

countdown celebration. As the midnight hour approaches, resident performer Mary Ancheta will sing accompanied by a three-piece band. Or head over to 2 Lam Son for a glitzy bash starting at 5pm, followed by turntable tunes from 10pm until early morning. If you can’t wait till 31 Dec, Saigon Saigon Bar inside the Caravelle (19-31 Lam Son Square) will host carnival parties, led by Cuban band Corazon Latino and sizzling samba dancers, for the entire last week of the year.

The Full Spa Treatment

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay announced that its spa is the first in Vietnam 2911//2012 11:33 and in Six Senses Group to launch a full

professional and retail range of intraceuticals oxygen treatments, oxygen detoxification wellness programs, and beauty and wellness spa holidays. Those include a full course of oxygen infusion and inhalation therapies. The company can be found at

Artistic Differences

Luong Luu Bien’s latest collection of mixed media paintings and earthenware sculptures entitled Evolution represents a radical departure in tone for this introspective and empathetic artist. Bien’s 2009 collection, Fossils, was composed of paintings that expressed feelings of intense loneliness and alienation from society that seemed to

emanate from his personal life experience. But the paintings of Evolution evoke an artist who has undergone a profound emotional renewal as they burst forth with representations of joy, playfulness and kinetic energy. See the art during the opening reception 6 Dec from 6-8pm at 19 Lily, An Phu Superior Villa Compound, Thao Dien Ward, District 2. The works will be at Craig Thomas Gallery, 27i Tran Nhat Duat, D1 from 8-29 Dec. Contact info@cthomasgallery. com or 09 03 88 84 31.

Spring ‘Spa-liday’

Xuan Spa’s signature Orchid package has three treatments designed to revitalise, energise and strengthen. The journey

begins with a traditional Thai massage, followed by a Vietnamese coffee scrub and then a synchronised Abhyanga massage, the famed ‘four hands massage’ known as an ayurverdic therapy for detoxification. The 180-minute session costs VND 4,160,000 on the third floor of Park Hyatt Saigon, 9am to 10pm. More at or

Recycle Art

At the end of each art exhibition, a question arises about the supplies that went into it: Were they put to good use? Yet another exhibition, RE-PLEASE, tackles that quandary with artworks made entirely from recycled materials, namely, leftover PR printed matter. The 11 emerging Thai artists behind the show will come to Ho Chi Minh City as part of their drive to raise awareness about natural resources among the art world.

A cocktail reception 7-9pm 22 Dec at sponsor Monsoon restaurant (1 Cao Ba Nha, D1) will kick off the exhibit, to last till 6 Jan.

Korean Air’s Third SkyTeam

Korean Air presented its third SkyTeam livery aircraft as a B737-800 last month. The newly wrapped aircraft has a configuration of 149 seats and will operate short-haul routes including China, Japan and Southeast Asia. By operating three SkyTeam livered aircrafts, the airline hopes to expose its exclusive colours and identity to more customers around the world.

Malaysia Stopover 2013 MASholidays, the travel arm of Malaysia Airlines, launched Malaysia Stopover 2013 last month. The series of ground options features the wildlife,

Christmas Carols

It wouldn’t be the holidays without Christmas carolers. The children from 1312 Kids at Ben Thanh Theatre will delight guests on Christmas Eve (7.30-8.15pm) and Christmas Day (12.30-1.15pm) with their a cappella renditions of traditional holiday songs as they move through Park Lounge, Opera and Square One. For those who prefer late afternoon, the Saigon Children’s Charity Choir will perform 3-5pm daily 20-25 Dec at the nearby Caravelle (pictured), where a Christmas tree greets guests at the entrance.




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windows. The eight daybeds in the foot massage parlour face a palm-shaded swimming pool and spray of climbing wall vines. There are also separate men’s and women’s areas, each containing aromatherapy steam rooms, saunas, private showers, a Jacuzzi and single treatment rooms. For more information please contact the spa manager at vi.hoang@

Caravelle Opens Kara Salon and Spa

ISHCMC gets new headmaster

Kara Salon & Spa on the 7th floor of the Caravelle Hotel has fully opened its doors to guests and visitors seeking a breather from the relentless pace of the streets below. The first in-house managed spa in the Caravelle’s history covers 750 square metres of hardwood and marble floors in the hotel’s original, 53-year-old wing. Kara Spa’s two corner VIP suites and eight private treatment rooms overlook the treetops of the Opera House and Lam Son Square through floor-to-ceiling glass

The International School Ho Chi Minh City announced last month that Simon Leslie will assume the reigns as headmaster for the 2013-14 school year. With almost four decades of educational leadership experience, Leslie is well equipped to guide one of Ho Chi Minh City’s leading educational institutions into its next phase of academic growth. Leslie joins ISHCMC from his latest posting where he served as Headmaster for eight years at the New International School of Thailand, Bangkok.

Flight Expansion

VietJetAir received a new Airbus A320 in Ho Chi Minh City. The aircraft will contribute to the airline’s schedule expansion for 2012, including its first flights last month between the city and Vinh. Besides more internal connections, VietJetAir plans to debut an international route in early 2013. Recently it also was voted the friendliest airline and the best airline for promotion deals in Vietnam by the Trust & Consume market research report in Ho Chi Minh City. The report lists the country’s top 100 products and services as chosen by both Vietnamese and foreign consumers living here.

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Cambodia & Thailand News Download the current issue of AsiaLIFE Cambodia and AsiaLIFE Thailand online at:

Cambodia Song Saa Wins Award

Song Saa Private Island’s pioneering approach to sustainable tourism has been recognised at The Responsible Tourism Awards in the category of Best Accommodation for The Environment. The resort focuses on biodiversity conservation of the two islands it spans and the surrounding marine environment off the coast of Sihanoukville. "Before we came people from outside the islands were using some very destructive fishing techniques in the area, such as blasting the corals with grenades,” says Wayne McCallum, Song Saa’s sustainability director. “Now it's amazing how the waters are teeming with life around Song Saa.” Established and managed in close co-operation with the local community, the marine reserve zone has helped boost fish stocks.

Two for Tea Towels

Anyone who has lived in the Kingdom for any length of time will know that the humble tea towel can be an elusive creature. Most people prefer to let their dishes drip dry in the heat, but now and then one really needs a tea towel. Bringing salvation to Phnom Penh are Lise NguyenOwen and Nguyen Thi Minh Hieu, the owners of Very Ngon Homewares, who have created a range of tea towels decorated with historical photographs of Cambodia. These decorative and practical items are on sale at Villa Langka Boutique on Street 282 and at Decosy on Street 19.

Try, Try and Try Again!

The highlight of the 2012 rugby season was Team Cambodia’s unexpected invitation to take part in the Punjab International Sports Festival 2012 Rugby 7’s event last month. Team Cambodia were among 10 Asian teams taking part, including four from the host Pakistani province, with international teams from Auckland and Belfast also joining in. The Cambodians achieved

two convincing walk-overs in the early rounds and held Pakistan Green to a couple of close-run score lines. Finally succumbing to Hollywood from Northern Ireland, Cambodia finished fourth overall. The Kingdom certainly proved its mettle in what remains a relatively new sport for Cambodians. For more information, visit

Move to Cambodia

One of the city’s favourite food bloggers, former Google employee Lina Goldberg of, has ventured into the literary world with her new work Move to Cambodia. Sure to prove a useful tool for new expats, the 175-page book explains everything from budgeting for a move to how to bargain with a tuk tuk driver. The work can currently be bought online for $8.99 from Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, Apple and Kobo. A handy accompanying website movetocambodia. com also offers a wealth of advice.

Photo Phnom Penh

The fifth annual Phnom Penh photo festival opens on 8 Dec and runs until 30 Dec. This year’s offering is a celebration of form, colour, space and time with works from photographers of all ages and many nations. Guest of honour, Georges Rousse, has produced a work especially to celebrate the exhibition, and is showing a huge retrospective of his oeuvre. Eighty past participants will be showcasing their new works. Open-air screenings, public space exhibitions, as well as works by other big names in photography will be held. For more information visit the French Institute or call 023 213 124/125.

Thailand Niu’s Jazz Fizz Festival

Niu’s on Silom will be celebrating its fifth anniversary with nine days of jazz from 7 to 15 Dec. The festival kicks off with the Joseph Marchione Quartet playing

covers and originals by the US saxophone ace and concludes nine days later with a scintillating party vibe and jam by Niu’s jazz family, featuring Dan Phillips, Mauro Monti, Rustem Galiullin, Hong Techatananan, Oh Viriyapark, Pisut Prateepasana and a host of others. For more information visit

New York Jazz Diva in Bangkok

New York’s Jazz Diva, Pucci Amanda Jhones, takes to the stage of The Living Room for a much-anticipated residency from 6 Dec to 27 Jan. Jhones has a well-deserved reputation for her highly-original voice which has been heard from Manhattan to LA, Las Vegas, Switzerland, Japan and Kuala Lumpur. In her native New York City, Pucci has performed at renowned jazz venues, Birdland, Blue Note, and the Lenox Lounge. Her latest CD, ‘Wild is the Wind’, features inspired takes of 12 timeless jazz standards.

Dreaming of a Blue Xmas

Master Chef Nooror Somany Steppe has conjured up one of the most creative New Year Eve’s menus by using the freshest ingredients and products from the Royal Project. Called ‘Blue Magic’, the menu consists of eryngi salad, turmeric chicken stew, foie gras strawberry, phad chaa snow fish, sugar cane rosemary lamb chop and ‘forgotten husband’ rice wrapped in lotus leaves. A live solo saxophone will enhance the atmosphere and a traditional ‘Pong Lang’ will usher in the New Year. All diners will receive a photo souvenir, and have an opportunity to win the lucky draw for a return business class ticket Bangkok to Paris sponsored by Thai Airways with a complementary dinner for two at Blue Elephant Paris. To book, call 02 673 9353–8 or email com.

Doomsday at The Lab

The LAB invites you to join Apocalypse workout on ‘Doomsday’

21 Dec, from 6pm to midnight where all the LAB Rats come together for a fun evening of crazy workouts, food, drink, DJ, music and loads of fun for a good cause. Make your last day on earth count with this charity fun night. Tickets are now available at The LAB. All proceeds will be donated to charity. The LAB, 3/F RSU Tower, on the corner of Sukhumvit 31, Tel: 02 662 1618,

Phuket King’s Cup Regatta

Recognised throughout the eastern hemisphere as the premier sailing event of its kind, the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta will be held from 1 to 8 Dec. This year’s competition will feature the largest and most competitive fleet of any regional regatta, with top sailors from around the region and beyond converging on Phuket to compete for the prestigious Royal Trophy. Over 35 countries will be represented with 1,000 sailors competing. Along with the racing will be six beachside parties including host venue Kata Beach Resort & Spa, with close to 2,000 guests attending nightly.

Big Bite

Big Bite Bangkok returns the car park of the Maduzi Hotel 9 Dec from 11am to 2pm. The event features an expanded roster of vendors showcasing everything from American craft beer and bagels, to healthy organic treats and traditional Thai-style street snacks. The market allows participants to sample 'bites' of food at no cost. Instead of purchasing tickets, market goers are encouraged to make a donation to charity. Previous Big Bite markets hosted hundreds flocking to try food from popular vendors such as Birds in a Row, Adam's Organic, Bo.lan, Quince and others. Proceeds from the event will benefit Dwight Turner's project working with families in poor Bangkok communities. Maduzi Hotel, Sukhumvit Soi 16 on Ratchadapisek Rd. asialife HCMC 11



Decosy: 1. Christmas candle set VND 180,000 2. Heart-shape Christmas tree deco set VND 270,000 3. Metal Christmas tree deco set VND 250,000 4. Metal Christmas tree set VND 260,000



Albeta: 1. Toy guitar VND 450,000 2. Mushroom pin cushion VND 222,000 3. Suitcase set VND 450,000 4. London bus pencil holder VND 290,000

Ipanima: 1. Sequin pouch VND 357,000 2. Inga VND 1,722,000 3. Faina VND 1,722,000 4. Klementina VND 2,730,000

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The Body Shop: 1. Gift duo whitemusk for men VND 1,150,000 2. Gift duo men’s face set VND 360,000 3. Gift cube cranberry VND 399,000 4. Gift tin manicure rose VND 580,000

DLS: 1. Boy’s suite VND 2,199,000 2. Girl’s dress VND 629,000 3. Kaloo Pop A VND 1,428,000 4. Kaloo Plume VND 1,299,000 (rabbit) VND 899,000 (teddy bear)

Mekong Quilts: 1. Papier mache “Merry Christmas” VND 567,000 2. Advent calendar VND 525,000 3. Christmas wreath VND 315,000 4. Rattan reindeer VND 315,000 (large) VND 210,000 (small)

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Travel news from around the region and beyond

Royal, and Eco-friendly For an idyllic vacation in Laos, consider the Sensational Luang Prabang package. Enjoy two nights at the former residence of His Royal Highness Khamtan Ounkham and a shimmering candlelight dinner, followed by one night of luxury camping and nature exploration at Kamu Lodge. Comes with return airport and river transfers, excursions to mythical Pak Ou Caves, all meals and a traditional Kamu massage at this eco-friendly lodge. The package is $174 per person, based on double occupancy. For more information, contact or

Biking on the River Recently opened Hotel Indigo Tianjin Haihe is the only internationally branded boutique and design hotel in the booming historical Chinese coastal destination. A personal tour of the hotel and local neighbourhood, plus a travel kit, map and tips on the surroundings will help guests explore the Haihe River Waterfront on one of the hotel’s complimentary bikes, along with refreshments on the way. They can immerse themselves in historical Tianjin and the inspirations behind Hotel Indigo Tianjin Haihe. On arrival, guests also may try the hotel’s free ‘Caring with Coffee’ special from the nearby restaurant Albert’s, plus little Indigo neighbourhood nightly treats in their rooms.

Golf Galore Five golf courses and three hotels have joined Golf Wonderful Indonesia, a consortium of premium courses, hotels and lifestyle outlets. Some of the new partners are Taman Dayu Golf Club & Resort in Surabaya, a stunning Jack Nicklaus design laid out at the foot of Mt. Welirang; Finna Golf in Surabaya, amid the lush, tropical highlands of East Java; and Merapi Golf & Mountain Resort in Yogyakarta, 800 metres above sea level and ringed by volcanic peaks. Golf travel packages are available at, which also serves as a clearinghouse of information centred on golf and tourism activities in the country.

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Dana Filek-Gibson explores this busy street and finds everything from cheap hamburgers to a famous pho stall and a small cinema. Photos by Alex McMillan.

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In the heart of District 3, Ly Chinh Thang may not be a main artery of downtown traffic, but it is a major player. At any time of day or night, a steady flow of motorbikes pushes toward Hai Ba Trung like a river. Despite all the hustle and bustle, this street maintains its distinct identity amid the modern construction projects sprouting out of the pavement. Ly Chinh Thang is bursting with alley culture and several local gathering places, which spill out onto the main road and line the curb from Cach Mang Thang Tam all the way to District 1. Iboo 140A Ly Chinh Thang Not far from the intersection with Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, the bright, clean storefront of Iboo turns out a variety of banh mistyle sandwiches and hamburgers. After placing your order at the outdoor window, squeeze your way into the small seating area just beside it, where another menu lists rice dishes and other Vietnamese fare, as well as coffee and drinks. Sandwiches run between VND 13,000 and VND 25,000 apiece, while other meals are generally VND 30,000 to VND 35,000. Though the burger-to-bun ratio can be a little on the weak side, the staff is friendly and the sandwiches are made on the spot. Sinh To 142 142 Ly Chinh Thang Famous among locals, this sinh to shop is a wide, low building next to Iboo and known for its smoothies and juices. Drinks are not too sweet and come in a variety of unconventional combinations, like the avocado mung bean smoothie, mango tomato juice, or the surpris16 asialife HCMC

ingly delicious carrot coconut smoothie. Most beverages are between VND 20,000 and VND 25,000, and the place is packed with Vietnamese in the mid- to late-afternoon. Bun Cha next to 140A Ly Chinh Thang You'll recognise this half-street stall, half-restaurant by the barbecue smoke trailing out of the alley and the neon sign that advertises bun cha at all hours of the day. Ask for an order of the northern-style dish and you'll be met with a collection of bowls, containing everything from noodles to greens to freshly barbecued meat soaked in fish sauce. Though it's only a few steps off the street, the white noise of traffic is obscured and the cool, shaded alley makes a great spot for a quiet lunch.

Pho Stall Alley near 129 Ly Chinh Thang Wander down this street in the morning and you will come upon a swath of people crouched low over plastic tables at the top of the alley near 129. Though we were too late to actually try it ourselves, this food stall is famous among locals for its pho. World's No. 1 Coffee Machine 204B Ly Chinh Thang Moving towards Tran Quoc Thao, the confidently-named World's No. 1 Coffee Machine store is an obvious draw for coffee aficionados and caffeine addicts. This shop sells all manner of coffee paraphernalia, including presses, espresso machines, and single-cup coffee makers, and carries recognised brands like Illy, Bodum and Procaffe.

Cinebox 212 Ly Chinh Thang The lime green facade of Cinebox makes it pretty hard to miss when you are walking down the street. This local movie theatre features both foreign and Vietnamese films in a combination of English audio and Vietnamese subtitles, dubbed foreign films, and local movies in Vietnamese. Tickets run from VND 50,000 to VND 60,000 depending on the time of day — except for Tuesday, which is ‘Happy

Day’, when all tickets are VND 40,000. Vacosi 250A Ly Chinh Thang Though there aren't enough photo studios and dress shops to make this a bona fide ‘wedding street’, places like Vacosi are definitely a nod to the growing number of weddingoriented places in the area. This make-up and beauty store carries reputable brands such as MAC, Shiseido, OPI and Loreal. There is everything inside from

nail polish to facial creams, hair products to beard trimmers. The most unusual product we found was a full ear-cleaning toolkit. Best of all are the reasonable price tags: a bottle of OPI nail polish, for example, will run you about VND 160,000. Most other items in the store are between VND 120,000 and VND 250,000. Fish tanks Nguyen Thong & Ly Chinh Thang For anyone looking to stock an aquarium, this is the place to go. At and around this inter-

section are countless shops specifically tailored to pet fish and aquarium products. Shelves upon shelves of fishbowls of all sizes are piled high behind tanks displaying big and small fish alike. Wide plastic bowls line the sidewalk in front of the shop, growing different aquatic plants and very, very small fish, which may or may not be dinner for some of the Get directions bigger guys.

117 Le Thanh Ton Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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Pete Olson The American Formula Renault racer has gone from the streets of California to the tracks of Zhuhai, China. Along the way he has partnered with ChildFund International to help children and their families in 31 countries, including Vietnam. By Chris Mueller. What got you interested in racing? I wanted to do it since I was a kid. In high school I was just street racing. In college I started racing motorcycles, supersport motorcycles, like the 500cc Kawasaki Ninja. I started with motorcycle racing because it was much cheaper than Formula car racing, but I always wanted to race cars. In the beginning it was about the thrill, but the more I’ve gotten into it the more exciting and interesting it has become. Racing has brought me from the US to Canada to Asia to Europe. It went from being a hobby to a career. Part of the reason I’ve worked my way up to this point, is because it was always my goal to race professionally. I trained all the time, learning everything from the technical parts of the car to the media side. To me it was never just a hobby, it was about becoming professional and doing the best I could, all the time. Did the street racing ever get you in trouble? When I was in high school, my license was suspended twice.

The first two years I had a license, I had over 15 speeding tickets. There was a point where I was uninsurable. You are trying to be the first American to win a racing championship in China, why is that so important to you? It’s kind of funny because the racing has been out here since 1998 and there have been Americans here and there. But I can’t believe there has been racing here for 14 years and no American has won, and I think it’s time. Next year, I think I have a good shot to win it. This season is more of development season, we had a lot of car problems. It’s not just the car that can win the series, but I definitely don’t have the best car. What is more important, the car or the driver’s skill? We have over 20 drivers per race. You can finish pretty well, in the top five, with a decent car. If you want to be on the podium, you’ve got to have one of the best cars. Usually that comes down to budget, the

guys with the higher budgets get the engines from Europe. All the Renaults are technically the same, but with the engines there is some leeway. What is it like to race in China compared to other places you’ve competed? The racing is growing here, but the thing that is limiting it is the lack of corporate support. In Europe and North America you have more sponsorship involvement. Out here, most of the drivers are funding themselves. But it’s also much cheaper in China. There is also a lot more media attention. Formula Renault is very international and very competitive. If you’re racing at this level in North America, there isn’t a lot of media and fans coming to races. But in China, the stands are packed. Over 20,000 people come to each race and there is a lot of TV coverage. There is a big cost advantage here and you get a lot more attention than back home. Here in Zhuhai, you’ve got people using the track all year round and it’s really active. In Shanghai, you have F1 tracks,

but Zhuhai is the most used track in the region. What are you trying to accomplish with racing? In 2003, I saw that guys had sponsor stickers on their cars, and I didn’t. I had to save up for a year before I could afford to race. So I thought that I’d get some stickers made up for a local charity. There was a professional photographer there, so I thought I’d get some photos taken and get some exposure for the charity. It became about more than just racing for thrills. Tell me about the charity you work with now. Now I’ve sponsored four children through ChildFund International and I’ve been sponsoring Trang [living in Cao Phong, Vietnam] for five years. The money from the sponsorship goes to community projects and also allows her to attend school. Now that I’m working with ChildFund I feel like I’m actually racing for something, not just trophies or my own glory. asialife HCMC 19

Photo Essay:

Hua Lamphong After a suggestion he should check out Hua Lamphong Railway Station, celebrityentertainment photographer Kristian Dowling spent a few hours over a couple of days documenting the comings, the goings and the resting of people at Bangkok's central station. He found it an intriguing place, a central hub for the many people passing through Bangkok. As Dowling normally focuses on celebrities and the entertainment industry, this kind of work allowed him total freedom

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to express himself without any of the restrictions usually imposed in that line of work. His passion for photography started on the street. Limiting himself to only one fixed lens without a zoom and using manual focus and exposure, Dowling finds that placing restrictions on his gear forces him to concentrate on the experience and achieving pictures that best represent what he is feeling and seeing at the time.

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Putting the Poachers out of Business The wildlife trade is a multi-billion-dollar business that rivals drug and human trafficking in its global reach, and Southeast Asia remains a major hotspot for it. As the trade becomes more lucrative, poachers, and those tasked with stopping them, continue to use more sophisticated techniques, leaving the fate of many of the region's animal species in question. By Bridget Di Certo, Chris Mueller and Mark Bibby Jackson. Photo by Alex McMillan.

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The photograph shows a man sitting on top of a tiger. He is holding a rifle in his right hand. The tiger is dead. Taken on a mobile phone in Thailand’s Western Forest Complex, the image was used to convict Thai national Nai Sae Tao to five years imprisonment in February this year — the most severe punishment handed out for wildlife poaching in the country. His partner in crime, Vietnamese Hoang Van Hien, received a four-year sentence. The global trade of wildlife is big business. According to wildlife NGO Freeland, some experts estimate it at $10-20 billion annually, and it is growing. “Over the past few years wildlife trafficking has become more organised, more lucrative, more widespread, and more dangerous than ever before,” US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said at a meeting on wildlife trafficking held at the State Department in Washington last month. The very fact that Clinton was addressing an international convention on trafficking emphasises the importance being placed on the issue by policy makers. Left unchecked the impact on nature could be devastating. “If trends continue, scientists predict 13 to 42 percent of Southeast Asia’s animal and plant species could be wiped out this century,” according to Freeland. “At least half those losses would represent global extinctions.”

Trafficking Across Borders It is not difficult to see the trappings of animal trafficking across the region. The streets of Vietnam are teeming with wildlife. In urban centres, cages perched on the backs of motorbikes are stuffed with wild birds, lizards, marine animals and sometimes monkeys on chains. Many are endangered. In some markets, in clear view, hawkers sell rhino horn and tiger bone paste, the authenticity not known. Wildlife restaurants are common, selling rare meat to those looking to impress their peers or trying to cure some real or imagined ailment.

“I think we’re getting very close to there being no hope for the elephants [in Vietnam],” says Nick Cox, the manager of WWF’s regional programme on species and protected areas. Vietnam is also playing a larger part in the thriving tiger parts trade, which they use in traditional medicines. Although the trade is officially illegal, licensed tiger breeding farms — formed by the Vietnamese government as pilot programmes for reintroducing tigers into the wild — still exist. Conservationists warn they could be fronts for the trade. Cox says that tigers are virtu-

“Scientists predict 13 to 42 percent of Southeast Asia’s animal and plant species could be wiped out this century” In August, the last remaining male in a herd of elephants in Vietnam’s south-central Dak Lak province was killed for his tusks. Conservationists now say the herd is unsustainable. The New York Times later wrote about the incident, stating that elephant conservationists in Vietnam had “essentially thrown in the towel”.

ally extinct in Vietnam and, as it’s not costeffective for poachers to hunt wild breeds, more farms are popping up to meet growing demand both in Vietnam and in China. Catching the Poachers The problem is not unique. In October, a man was arrested in Khon Kaen province in

Royal Thai Customs seized 247 elephant tusks (over 2 metric tons of ivory) at Bangkok's seaport in April 2011. The multi-million dollar contraband was smuggled in a shipping container from Kenya. Mekong countries act as conduits for ivory markets in China, the United States and Europe.

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northeastern Thailand while driving a truck containing 16 tiger cubs. Police said he was paid $470 by an unnamed trader to transport the animals from Bangkok. According to Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT), the cubs came from breeding facilities in the Kanchanaburi and GreaterBangkok regions. It believes they may have been destined for the Laos city of Thakhek where “one of the largest ‘safehouses’ for wildlife is, with dozens of bears, tigers and hundreds of pangolins awaiting transport to Vietnam and China”. The driver claimed he did not know that the transportation of tiger cubs was illegal. Zoos that have legitimate licenses for breeding tigers could also be part of the illegal trade, reports indicate. In April the owner of a private zoo in Thailand’s Chaiyaphum province was charged with possession of protected wildlife after two tiger cubs were found during a July 2011 raid. At the time, DNA samples were collected to verify claims that the cubs were the offspring of animals legally owned by the zoo. A subsequent DNA test conducted by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation’s Wildlife Forensic Science Unit showed the claims were false. The zoo is believed to be a cover for illegal international trafficking operations, according to Freeland. “What traffickers must understand is that Thailand is very serious about wildlife crime and will continue to use the latest forensic techniques to investigate and apprehend these organised criminals,” says Doug Goessman, law enforcement advisor for the wildlife organisation. “CSI and forensics not only applies to people, it applies to wildlife as well.” The use of DNA is just one of the many modern approaches law enforcement agencies are using to clamp down on the poachers. In Thailand’s Western Forest Complex, rangers are trained in GPS control systems to monitor the movements of protected wildlife and their prey. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) says such technology has helped to improve rangers’ morale, which was “very low” when the group started working in the area in 2005. “The key thing is to maintain the quality of the protection in the park,” says Anak Pattanavibool, director of WSC Thailand. Training, improved job satisfaction and the use of modern technology all help to achieve this, and the results are showing. The Western Forest Complex is one of the few places in the world where the number of tigers is actually rising. “It’s quite amazing,” Pattanavibool says. “The wildlife population is responding quite positively.” Technology also helped in the conviction of

A Thai forest ranger trains in basic navigation techniques. Improved training exercises like this have resulted in Thailand’s Western Forest Complex becoming one of the most important sanctuary reserves in the region.

Nai Sae Tao and Hoang Van Hien. Evidence provided by camera traps proved the tiger they killed came from the Western Forest Complex, rather than across the border in Myanmar as the poachers had claimed. Tigers have distinctive stripes that are almost as conclusive as human fingerprints for identification. A Few Good Men Those looking for more positive signs need to look across the border in Cambodia, where the wild animal trade was once rampant. Just five years ago, many local markets and restaurants were involved to some extent in purchasing or trading wild animals

for medicine or meat, according to conservation group Wildlife Alliance. It was a profitable business with high demand. In the mid2000s, a healthy pangolin — a scaly anteater found in parts of Africa and Asia — could be sold for about $80 per kilo. Now it is around $300. Pangolins are in high demand, especially in Vietnam and China where they are sold as meat and their scales are used in traditional medicines. Since then, renewed conservation efforts in Cambodia's jungles have resulted in a major slowdown of the highly damaging and illegal trade, but that is not to say it does not still exist. In fact, the stakes are higher than ever as hunters and traders resort to extreme

A tiger, which was rescued from the wildlife trade as a cub, is displayed to the press by the Royal Thai Police as they announced the arrest of a major trafficking gang’s “money man”. The gang is believed to be responsible for the trafficking of up to 1,000 big cats from Thailand into Laos and Vietnam during the last decade.

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measures to continue their plunder of Cambodia’s forests. “The scale of the problem in Cambodia is decreasing tremendously,” says Khem Vong, project manager of Wildlife Alliance’s Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT). “It used to be that wildlife was openly for sale on national roads — trading was very out in the open but now it is more difficult to find wildlife meat.” The trade has been driven underground by

“In one recent raid, we stopped a luxury car with fake military plates that had a sealed medicine box in the trunk. Inside were six rattlesnakes, each in a medicine compartment being kept on ice to keep them quiet and generate oxygen,” Khem says. Dwindling populations mean that pangolins can now fetch up to $1,000. In part, this is due to large land concessions that can result in the razing of flora or fauna, says Nick Marx,

“Criminals see it as a lower-risk way to make money because the penalties are just not as strong as for drug trafficking or human trafficking” the successful actions of Khem and the small team of investigators and military police. The wildlife taskforce, in operation since 2008, cracks down on trading cartels and rescues and rehabilitates poached wildlife. But the team has had to adapt to increasingly sophisticated and covert measures used by animal traders. Whereas animals like macaques were once transported by public bus from place to place and exported across borders — most frequently to Vietnam, traders now employ more clandestine methods of transportation.

director of wildlife rescue and care at Wildlife Alliance. “The big, charismatic, valuable stuff like tigers are simply gone,” he says. A Lesser Crime One problem in the region is that even when the poachers are caught the likelihood of conviction is slim and the punishment meted out seldom fits the crime. “It’s still a long process preparing the case [even if] the police are willing to prosecute,” says Seamas McCaffrey, communications officer for Freeland. “It can be years and at the

end of it all, they maybe just get a slap on the wrist. There are a lot of loopholes and gaps in law where cases can fall apart.” The organisation has a programme aimed at informing those within the law and order network that it is a multi-billion-dollar trade, often linked to money laundering and other forms of trafficking. “Criminals see it as a lower-risk way to make money because the penalties are just not as strong as for drug trafficking or human trafficking,” he says. Although William Schaedla, regional director of NGO TRAFFIC, says the link between animal traffickers and organised crime is overplayed — the former requires specific husbandry skills that normal criminals do not posses, he agrees that there is a tendency to see animal trafficking as a lesser crime. “The case evaporates and there is no follow through in the court system or prosecution,” he says. “Prison sentences when they are actually carried through are often very low.” Wildlife at Risk (WAR), a grassroots NGO based out of Ho Chi Minh City, has an alternative approach, focusing on local education. It targets students rather than taking on lawmakers and fighting poachers directly. Simon Faithfull, a technical advisor, says the programme is popular, and many young Vietnamese are starting to understand the importance of protecting wildlife. “There is no point in butting heads with local authorities,” he says. “Do you play a softer ball game or butt heads and have your project shut down?” Sometimes new legislation can work to help rather than hinder the poachers. In

The illegal trade in pangolins has led to a drastic decline in their natural populations in Southeast Asia. Pangolins are often smuggled to markets in China and Vietnam where their meat is considered a delicacy and the scales are used in traditional medicines.

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Photo by Conor Wall

Wildlife Alliance's rapid rescue team briefing before a day out in the field.

October, Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development legalised the commercial trade of 160 species they deem to be non-threatened. However, wildlife experts say many of the species are actually endangered. Others fear that it opens the door for hunters to capture or kill any species they come across by claiming misidentification. “A lot of the species cannot be readily identified by the forest management, hunters or rangers,” says Douglas Hendrie, the wildlife crime and investigations advisor for Education for Nature – Vietnam (ENV), an NGO that works with the Vietnamese authorities to try to improve wildlife protection. “No one will know who is selling what and this will result in increased trade.” Laws like this continue to complicate wildlife protection in Vietnam, but at the same time Hendrie says that such legislation, though ill-founded, had good intentions. The aim was to create a hunting law, like many in the west that are used to control the population of certain animals. “A similar law is implemented in the United States, and there is nothing wrong with it,” Hendrie says. “But what’s wrong with this law here is that it is made for a Vietnam of the future, not the Vietnam of today.” A Hub for Trafficking The Mekong countries are not just feeder countries. They can also act as conduits for illegal animal products such as rhino horn and ivory from Africa, which are then exported to markets in China, the United States and Europe, often over the internet.

“Thailand is definitely a hub, you can tell that from the seizures that are coming in,” McCaffrey says. Vietnam is another major culprit, according to the Wildlife Crime Scorecard, a report released in July by WWF. Since the last Javan rhino in Vietnam was officially declared extinct in October 2011, the Vietnamese have had to look to the white rhinos of South Africa to meet demand.

Many believe rhino horn has multiple medicinal properties that can cure anything from cancer to hangovers. Some consumers simply do not know that these animals are on the brink of extinction. Others blindly believe the claims made by the peddlers of illegal animal products, despite the lack of scientific evidence. Still more believe that offering endangered species to their dinner guests is an overt demonstration of their wealth. Out of Business Back in Thailand, the efforts of Anak Pattanavibool and the rangers of WCS show the way forward. A combination of improved training, modern technology and transparent punishment of offenders has helped turn the Western Forest Complex into one of the most important sanctuary reserves in the region. The number of tigers in its Hua Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary has risen from 46 in 2007 to 65 this year. The photograph of Nai Sae Tao striding the dead tiger appears on a Facebook page called Save the Tiger. More than 1,600 people have “liked” a story documenting the poacher’s capture, with some comments indicating the intensity of people’s feelings on the subject. Their comments echo the sentiments of Clinton at the close of her speech. “Let’s put the poachers out of business and build a more secure and prosperous world for all of us, and particularly for children generations to come.” Additional photos supplied by Freeland Foundation.

Thai and Lao forest rangers train in counter-poaching patrolling at Khao Yai National Park, Thailand in 2009.

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Xe Om, 2.0


A company in Ho Chi Minh City provides motorbike taxis with metered pricing, as well as female drivers. By Lien Hoang. Photos by Fred Wissink.

ere’s how the standard xe om transaction works: A motorbike driver rouses from his nap and, with an upward turn of his finger, flags down a pedestrian on the street. They pin down a destination, haggle, and then zip off. Here’s how the next generation of xe om has been operating for the past few months: A customer calls Thien Khach company, an employee there consults a live map to locate the nearest xe om, and the driver picks up the client on a metered bike. The new company, based in Tan Phu District, challenges the entire xe om paradigm. An automated device, not quibbling, sets the price of a trip. Drivers wear vests and are held accountable for safe passage. And women — not just men — sit at the helm. A rare sight in this motorbike-obsessed city, female xe om could help turn the service into a more palatable option for local and foreign passengers alike. Safe to say women drivers are much less unsavoury and much less likely to hit on their customers. They also tend not to have a need for speed. The change contributes to an overall facelift for xe om and customer service, two phrases that rarely go well together. In the business name, thien means heaven and khach (nguoi khach) means customer, a sort of homage to the maxim that customer is king. “Nguoi khach la number one,” Pham Phu Tai says after I interrupt to tell him to turn left at Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street. The driver is giving me a glimpse of how the model works. Probably the coolest part of the process is hopping onto the back of the seat, where a sensor detects my weight and triggers a meter that begins

calculating the fare. Company founder Doan Huu Phat bought them from old cabs and converted the machines, after a few attempts, to work for the much less powerful motorbikes. He also equipped the vehicles with insurance, GPS to track each employee, and light-up advertising signs similar to those seen on cabs. A sign on the tail of the bike lists prices: VND 10,000 for the first kilometre, VND 6,000 for the second, and VND 3,100

their four-wheel cousins. Tai is from Dong Nai province, where he says he once drove a passenger to and from a wedding without charging for the wait time. If they want to pay, that’s OK, he says, and if not, that’s OK, too. He has transported expats from Italy, Korea, Taiwan, and other countries — even though, like everyone else at the company, Tai doesn’t speak English and the foreigners don’t speak Vietnamese. “They don’t know

for the 11th onward. I took a normal xe om to Thien Khach for VND 50,000, while the company would have charged VND 70,000 for the trip back. Tai, 37, drives me out of the alley. As I scribble notes from the back of the bike, he explains that he quit driving cabs after three years because the oversupply meant he and a few other cabbies were always racing to one client. By way of comparison, he also points out that motorbike taxis spend much less time in traffic than

the language but we understand their meaning,” he says. Back at headquarters in Tan Phu, Phat says he might learn English because in a few months he wants to expand operations to downtown and other districts frequented by foreigners. Currently, Thien Khach runs in districts Tan Phu, Tan Binh, 3 and 10, though xe om have taken clients elsewhere, too, of course. Phat, who in the past started other business ventures and gave automobile driving lessons, would like to colour code

each district through the vests his workers wear, so customers can identify them if they need to contact the company. Stacks of vests and matching helmets adorn his office, all of them orange for now, an idea Phat got after seeing how the motorbike taxi drivers in Bangkok dress. At least one foreigner is a regular after a Vietnamese friend connected her with Thien Khach, but most of the demand comes from Vietnamese, including students. “The male customers didn’t like going with women, so we changed it to have women drive students,” Phat says. “They [the male customers] say they’re scared. Well, being a man having a woman drive, they’re hesitant already.” Men think women are weak drivers, Phat says. Women could be uncomfortable, too, with strangers of the opposite sex huddled on their backs. Fourteen male and three female drivers clock in at Thien Khach. One of them, Le Thi Thuy Trang, is a 43-year-old mother of two who used to clean houses. “We don't drive the same,” she says. “Men do know the streets better. We don't have as much experience.” Still, it’s hard to a imagine a woman swerving drunkenly through Ho Chi Minh City, a scene common enough to anyone who takes the common xe om. Expat Anthony Deepak Joyson says xe om is his favourite form of transit because it’s cheap and easy. But one drunk driver brought him a split second away from a crash, while another drove him in circles for a half hour and then charged VND 150,000. So Joyson, a 28year-old waiter from India, says he’d like to try Thien Khach. “They’re not street guys, they’re a company,” he says, “and people always trust the company.”

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Waistlines are growing in Vietnam, along with the rate of overweight, urban children. Is the country prepared to take on the coming obesity epidemic? By Michael Tatarski. Photo by Alex McMillan.

Even though Ta Thi Thuy Trang worries about obesity and related health problems, she lets her daughter eat junk food several times a week. And 10-year-old Tran Ngoc Phuong Thao, swayed by the colourful packaging and flavour, is happy to indulge. The contradiction is common enough among Vietnam’s growing urban middle-class. Parents know their children need to eat well, but when there are so many dining options in the city, it can be difficult to deny their kids. Many of these adults grew up in times of famine, so they try to give their offspring everything they couldn’t have. And with one- or two-child households the norm, it’s that much easier to cater to the younger generation.

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Trang tries not to give in, writing by email that “I usually cook at home with healthy meals,” including vegetables and fish, or snacks of fruit and milk. But the numbers aren’t in her favour. According to Tuoi Tre newspaper, a survey of 15 local elementary schools in the 200910 school year found that 38.5 percent of students were obese, double the rate 10 years earlier. The study, by the Ho Chi Minh City Nutrition Centre, cited overfeeding by parents and physical inactivity as the two main culprits. Relatively new to Vietnam, fast food chains have become hugely popular in recent years and will play a large role in urban health moving forward. In 2011 total fast food sales reached

nearly $40 million, jumping 26 percent from the previous year. Burger King recently opened its first store in central Ho Chi Minh City, with more planned, and McDonald’s is expected to arrive in the next two years. Unlike in the west, where health problems associated with fast food are widely documented, many Vietnamese consider these restaurants high-end, and the ability to eat at KFC or Lotteria is a status symbol. KFC and Burger King declined to comment for this story. As a result of these developments Michel Guillaume, a nutritionist in Vietnam for more than 20 years, worries about the future of children’s health. “Southeast Asians have extremely efficient metabolisms, much more so than westerners,”

he says. “So when we give them junk food and KFC it’s a recipe for disaster.” In his view, the solution to the problem starts with education, particularly of parents. “Education means the responsibility of being a parent,” he says. “It is not to concede to everything … If you love your children you have a responsibility to take care of them. Being a responsible parents sometimes means to say, ‘no’.” Guillaume says an obese 5-year-old has a 90 percent chance of developing cardiovascular disease by age 30. “This problem then becomes cross-generational,” he says. “When you are a fat 30-year-old man and you pass your genes on, your children are more likely to be obese.”

The World Health Organisation estimates that 16 percent of Vietnamese males will be overweight in 2015, up from just 5 percent in 2005. The respective figures for females are 24 percent and 13 percent.

ternational Insulin Foundation (IIF), a group that combats the disease in developing countries, Vietnam spends roughly $606 million on diabetes treatment annually. By 2025 the figure could be $1.1 billion.

“Southeast Asians have extremely efficient metabolisms, much more so than westerners. So when we give them junk food and KFC it’s a recipe for disaster” - nutritionist Michel Guillaume Diabetes, one of the most common weight-related illnesses, gets little mention in Vietnam but costs the country millions. According to the In-

For a variety of reasons, diabetes treatment in Vietnam is considerably more expensive than the international average. The IIF has found that it

costs $876 annually to treat a Vietnamese child with Type 1 diabetes, a hefty sum when the country’s GDP per capita is $1,260. The number of people suffering from diabetes is expected to rise in the future, placing even more strain on families already beset with economic problems. Of course, no discussion on children’s health would be complete without acknowledging the opposite end of the weight scale. In Vietnam, 34 percent of children under age five are malnourished, largely in rural areas, whereas obesity prevails in the cities. That puts Vietnam in the interesting position of figuring out how to provide more food to some groups, while convincing other groups to eat less.

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Pedalling Passion

Rod Skeggs (left), one of the founders of Saigon Cycles, and Gary Fisher, considered one of the inventors of the modern mountain bike, discuss cycling last month before going on a bike ride outside Saigon.

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Five years ago, foreigners would have had a hard time finding bikes in Ho Chi Minh City. “At that time you couldn’t buy a decent bike in Vietnam,” says Rod Skeggs. “You could buy local bikes, but there weren’t any big enough for foreigners and the quality wasn’t what I was after.” Skeggs and his friend Eugene Kee decided to change that. They met while working in construction in Taiwan, where they used to cycle to work every day. So, after relocating to Vietnam, they opened Saigon Cycles in the Sky Garden complex in Phu My Hung in 2007. A major challenge Skeggs and Kee faced at first was finding a bike company to provide gear. They went to a large Taipei bike convention in 2008 and talked to hundreds of representatives, but no one wanted to help. “They would tell us we could have something, but only with a $5,000 to $10,000 minimum order,” Skeggs says. After the discouraging experience, the business partners decided simply to buy equipment on their own in Taiwan and ship it to Vietnam. They bought Giant bikes and sold them at their shop for a year.

In 2009 Skeggs and Kee returned to the Taipei bike show. They approached Giant and since they were selling its product in a new market, they asked the company if it would help support them. Giant agreed, and Saigon Cycles became their official retailer in the country. The following year the regional representative from Trek, a major American bicycle company, visited the store and asked if they would be interested in selling their bikes instead of Giant’s. After six months of consideration Skeggs and Kee decided to make the move to Trek, which they both now consider the best decision they have made for the business. Last month, that changeover was handsomely rewarded when Gary Fisher came to visit. A legend in the international cycling community, Fisher helps develop bikes for Trek and is credited with inventing the modern mountain bike. He spent four days in Ho Chi Minh City with Skeggs and Kee acting as his hosts. Kee says that last year, while he was on a ride in the countryside south of the city, Trek’s regional head told him Fisher would love

Thanks to years of dedication and a recent visit by a cycling legend, Saigon Cycles has helped bring both attention and equipment to the local bike community. By Michael Tatarski. Photos by Alex McMillan and Saigon Cycles.

to cycle here. Three months ago Saigon Cycles was told he would be coming to town. Skeggs was elated. He believes it was “a major show of confidence in our business and an understanding of the potential of the market here.” Fisher’s global reputation brought attention to both Saigon Cycles and Vietnam as a whole. “The international publicity has put us on the map abroad, and we’ve been contacted by a number of people since the visit who now want to come to Vietnam,” Skeggs says. Shortly after arriving, Fisher sat down with AsiaLIFE for an interview at Saigon Cycles. I asked him whether recreational cycling could become popular in a place like Vietnam, where people flaunt new wealth through flashy cars and denigrate bikes as the poor man’s mode of transportation. “It was the same way in the 60s and 70s in the US,” Fisher says. “People would see us riding and wonder why we were doing it. They would ask, ‘Are you poor or something?’ But it’s about quality of life. When I travel someplace, there’s no better way to see it than on a bike.” Fisher also commented on the

inherent advantages Vietnam possesses. “People already know how to handle two wheels,” he says. “There’s a pretty good flow but I understand that the average length of their trip isn’t that long. Why be a slave to a motorbike?” The city’s heat, pollution and traffic congestion offer easy reasons not to cycle. Fisher advised that “the best thing you can do is join a group of like-minded people, they will have solutions to those problems.” He also argued that riding here is safer than in the United States, where people are able to drive cars very fast, get bored and lose focus. Skeggs agrees that Vietnam has great cycling potential, thanks to the fact that the country was built around the bicycle. “Prior to all of these motos and cars, people walked or cycled. It’s really an ideal environment to get out and ride,” he says. Fisher was given a first-hand view of this environment on a 64km-ride along the singletrack concrete paths that snake through the hamlets and rice paddies outside of the city. When he left two days later, Fisher told Skeggs and Kee that it had been a “life-altering experience”. asialife HCMC 35

Riding the Crime Wave Everyone has a good book in them, or so they say, and Asia’s first English-language crime publishing house looks set to put that adage to the test. By Mark Bibby Jackson. Photo by Chatti Phal.

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The setting is hardly classic noir. At a Bangkok sports bar just before noon, my source has a bottle of water in front of him, I a cup of black coffee. Our conversation flows naturally rather than being weighted down with unspoken innuendo. Then again we are here to talk about crime fiction rather than create it. “Most of the books are terrible,” writer Tom Vater says of the spate of books he calls ‘bargirl genre’ on sale in book shops in Bangkok and across the region. “They are badly printed, the fonts are awful and the stories are just these endless sob stories about the bargirl scene here.” As a great reader of crime fiction himself, Vater felt there must be something better. So, together with publisher Hans Kemp, the seasoned author decided to establish Crime Wave Press — Asia’s first Englishlanguage publishing house devoted to crime fiction. The two were working together on Sacred Skin, a nonfiction book about Thailand’s tattoos, when they came up with the idea. “What me and Hans thought was print book sales are going down, eBook sales are going up, and a new publishing house that has a little bit of a maverick attitude … can offer something to authors that can really write,” he says. Vater refers to traditional publishing houses as “dinosaurs” struggling to get to grips with new technology such as eBooks, although he adds that such technology has its own pitfalls.

“The problem with eBooks is that there is no gatekeeper,” he says. “Anyone can write a book now, format it and put it on Amazon. The quality is often rather low.” This is where Crime Press comes in — to sort the wheat from the chaff — publishing a select series of crime thrillers under a label readers can trust. The aim is to publish 20 titles over the next few years, either as eBooks, print on demand or conventional print materials. Though the publisher launched officially in October at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Bali, where Vater participated in three sold out panel discussions, he already is receiving two to three manuscripts a week. He reads all of them himself. Inevitably some do not fit into the specific genre of the publishing house. “We had 120,000 words on Satanism the other day,” he says. “Non-fiction.” Satanic verses aside, Crime Wave will consider any full manuscript, preferably 80,000 to 100,000 words, relating to crime fiction that has an Asian angle. Vater is particularly keen on receiving novels based in China or Japan, as Crime Wave seeks to prove its credentials on a pan-Asian rather than Southeast Asian reputation. The publishing house is based in Hong Kong. In addition to having their books edited by Vater, authors benefit from the network of connections developed by Kemp during his 10 years of publishing books, such as the popular photography title Carrying Cambodia, produced under the

'...print book sales are going down, eBook sales are going up, and a new publishing house that has a little bit of a maverick attitude … can offer something to authors that can really write”

Visionary World label. At the time of our interview Kemp was at the Frankfurt Book Fair promoting Crime Wave’s publications. One of the first books published by Crime Wave is Vater’s own work, The Cambodia Book of the Dead, a crime mystery set in 2001 — the year Vater first visited the country. He believes that Cambodia, like Thailand, affords great opportunities for crime writers. “It makes an excellent backdrop for … crime novels with a dark, twisted tale because there are plenty of things in Cambodia which are dark and twisted,” he says. Recently Crime Wave sold the international rights for The Cambodia Book of the Dead to British publishing house Exhibit A, while another of its books, The Devil’s Road to Kathmandu, will be published in Spain early next year.

“We’re really pleased that our first two titles have been picked up straight away,” Vater says. “The industry is taking note of what we are doing.” Written by Nick Wilgus 10 years ago and set in Thailand, the latest book published under the label is a reissue of Mindfulness and Murder, part of the Father Ananda series. Negotiations are also underway with the view to publishing a thriller about Phnom Penh and another one set in Thailand at the time of the Vietnam War, according to Vater. With the recent explosion of fiction labeled Asian noir, including Christopher G Moore’s compilation of short stories entitled Bangkok Noir, the launch of Crime Wave seems well timed. But Vater is quick to point out that most of these works are whodunnits or crime fiction that technically belong more to the tense hard-boiled detective fiction of American authors such as Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett than to the noir fiction popularised by subsequent writers such as David Goodis, Jim Thompson and James M Cain. “The term Asian noir … seems to suit more the backdrop of those countries … than the actual literature itself,” he says. “In the noir of the 40s and 50s the main protagonist is usually a loser for whom life will get worse throughout the book and then everything will collapse.” Vater adds, with a smile totally out of keeping with the fiction he adores, “but Asian hard boiled doesn’t sound as good, maybe.”

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Ancient Beijing,

From tobogganing down the Great Wall of China to rocking out in a bar just outside the walls of the Forbidden City, Sarah Dallof discovers just how much China mixes old and new. I’m staring at the salt and pepper hair of the man in front of me as we inch forward on a sleek, steel track in our respective toboggans, slices of the Great Wall of China visible through the trees. Just a few slots ahead of us a Shibide Slideway worker is giving people the three-second rundown on how this all works. “Push go forward, pull go back,” he demonstrates with the toboggan handle before giving a mum and her child a push. “Bye bye!” I wiggle my handle, testing it until I finally slide into the starter position. “Go. Stop. Forward now,” he commands. As I shoot down the steel track I hear him yelling something about leaning into the curves but I’m way ahead of him. I zip through the twists and turns of the slide and shoot 38 asialife HCMC

over a bridge catching a quick glimpse of the dramatic drop on either side. At one point I fly past a slide employee who yells at me to slow down. I’m too far away before I can politely inform him that I didn’t travel all this way to toboggan the Great Wall of China slowly. Fast is the only speed I know. It’s a strange, almost sacrilegious feeling to be zipping down this 1,580-metre slide with one of the wonders of the world in my rear view. During the planning phase of my trip to Beijing I researched different sections of the Great Wall. The Mutianyu section was a little farther than others, about 60 km from the city centre, but as a result the guidebooks claimed it was less crowded and had fewer high-pressure hawkers. It also had the bonus of the Shibide Slideway. I was sold. It turned out the guide-

books were telling the truth. After a ride up the mountain aboard a ski lift I am free to stroll the 2.5-km section at my own pace. Besides a few shouts from tourists — something about a bucket list promise to drink a beer atop the Wall — the Mutianyu section is quiet and peaceful. The view is as fantastic as one would expect, with the Great Wall snaking over hills and mountains for as far as I can see. When it is time to go down I have four choices: hiking, ski lift, cable car or the slideway. Which brings me back to irresponsibly speeding down a steel shoot, ignoring wise warnings from employees. According to posted signs, the top speed is 30 km per hour, which I’m pretty confident I’m hitting. Even so, the ride is long and smooth. The key, I hear, is to make sure you don’t end up behind a slow rider — parents with kids and the elderly being the most likely offenders. I luck out and reach the end of the line without having to ever pull back on my handle. Cities as ancient as Beijing walk a fine line in allowing attractions like the Shibide Slideway to be built as add-ons to historic landmarks like the Great Wall. They provide jobs, travel buzz and a fresh take on something many travellers already have visited. But go too far and all of a sudden there’s a Starbucks on every corner and this former standout city now looks like any other one on the map. This actually happened in 2007 when the coffee chain opened a shop inside the walls of the Forbidden City. More than a half million furious people signed a petition and it was closed. As I said, a fine line. Another progressive twist on old Beijing near the former site of the offending coffee franchise has proved more successful. Old What Bar has been serving up drinks for years with a side of punk, alternative

and folk music performers hoping to get their big breaks. This little hole in the wall is located just outside the Forbidden City’s west gate and I stop by the evening after I return from the Great Wall. Where the Wall offers wide, open space, Old What Bar is cramped and claustrophobic. Maybe 50 people can squeeze into the place, and the uneven floors and hodgepodge of furniture give it the feeling of being a little thrown together. But what it lacks in décor it makes up for in relatively cheap drinks and a friendly mix of expats and locals. So I grab a chair and settle in for the music. I’m in time to catch the last performer of the night, Liu Yu Si. I’ll learn later that Si is an Australian native living in Beijing, but for now all I know is that he’s got a great voice and a Neil Young-like ability to play the guitar and harmonica simultaneously. He’s not just here to provide background music either. The crowd is quiet, attentive and clearly here to listen to him play. After a few songs, he invites two fellow musicians onstage and they begin to experiment with synthesised sounds and lyrics mixed with groans. It doesn’t appeal to me, but I will give them this — it’s something new and different. At the end of the night as I hail a cab I’m struck again by the contrast of old and new in Beijing. In just a few hours tourists will begin arriving to explore the Forbidden City, fascinated by the study of what once was. When the sun goes down, they’ll follow nearly the same path into Old What Bar. Are these new twists to old China blasphemous? Possibly. Fun? No question. For more info: Old What Bar, 72 Bei Chang'an Jie, Dongcheng district, 133-31112734

"It’s a strange, almost sacrilegious feeling to be zipping down this 1,580-metre slide with one of the wonders of the world in my rear view."

Photos by Sarah Dallof

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Explorer An Associated Press reporter who covered the Vietnam War first-hand drives back by motorbike to revisit a northern plateau’s limestone giants, ethnic legacy, and history of another, perhaps forgotten war. By Carl Robinson.

There we were, amid huge conical mounds of rough-looking karst, or limestone outcrops. Entire valleys of the grayish sharp-edged material really were a virtual desert because no water collects anywhere and very little grows other than crops of maize. This was the day’s long-awaited drama, the limestone heart of the Dong Van Karst Plateau in Ha Giang province. To anyone who’ll listen I rave that Dong Van ranks as the country’s singularly most spectacular region. Here at the very northern tip of Vietnam is dramatic scenery, an amazing mixture of karst, deep valleys, caves and tribal people. I’d been so entranced on a motorbike trip the previous year that I just had to come back. 40 asialife HCMC

But you’d think more people would know about this region, considering its place in history during the border war between China and Vietnam in 1979. Unlike the four other northern provincial capitals, Ha Giang was not occupied by the Chinese but, with the border only 24 km away, they shelled the hell out of the place and all the town's civilians fled. For years I've collected string — facts and anecdotes — about the now deliberately-obscured Sino-Vietnamese conflict. Everywhere I travelled in my two-week 2000-km motorcycle trip along the Chinese border, all I had to ask locals was "And where were you in '79?" to hear memories flooding back. To reach the plateau, my motorbike companions and I

left behind the Song Lo, which like all of northern Vietnam’s rivers originates in China's neighbouring Yunnan province, and followed a major tributary up through a narrow canyon. The valley widened out into a settlement at the bottom of a dramatic escarpment. On the hillside straight ahead, a big Hollywood-style sign announced our destination in Vietnamese and English. The escarpment rose sharply above us and a good 500 metres up I could just make a truck clearing the first crest onto a pocket-size plateau half-way up, likely formed by a receding sea long ago. Travelling slowly and nervously past where I’d taken a bad fall the year before, I crossed a second, much larger plateau and finally up another

escarpment through the socalled Heaven's Gate. An unusual feature of driving through this steep and dramatic landscape is the kilometre markers, which can show you’re only a couple more kilometres away but you still can't see your destination. Then, you make a sudden descent down the sheer side of a mountain — and you’re there. Riding on, we encountered ethnic minorities, mostly Hmong. A couple boys walked by, laden with chopped grass for the animals back home, and two girls, one carrying stalks of corn, bolted away giggling as I raised my camera. We would meet more tribal groups the next day, when villagers from all around came out in their Sunday best for a frenzied

Photos by Carl Robinson

day's trading. On Market Day, Hmong (aka Meo) men in black clothes and berets pulled along cattle, pigs and dogs, while women in colourful clothing carried baskets of produce or just-purchased goods on their backs. These tribal markets are supposed to be really colourful, but perhaps one just gets a bit ‘marketed out’ after a while in Vietnam. I saw very little that was original, with most of the material goods on sale ‘Made in China’. Forget finely embroidered skirts and blouses. This is all polyester country now, manufactured stuff from across the border barely 20 km away. With everyone a bit disappointed by Dong Van's not-solarge nor exciting market, we backtracked up the previous

day’s road for Vua Meo, or Meo Palace. Located at the head of a valley of karsts, the more-fortthan-palace dates from 1919, when it was built by a local opium warlord named Vuong (King) Chinh Duc who ruled over the Meo of the plateau with the full blessing of the French colonial regime. By the time he died in the late 1940s, his successor already had struck a deal with Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh (who actively courted minority groups and needed their territory as rear bases) and later joined North Vietnam's first National Assembly. Located among tall pine trees and done in Chinese-style, the Hmong palace is quite an impressive structure surrounded by a now-dry moat and stone wall complete with firing

holes. At its highest point are two guard-towers reached by ladder, while inside are living areas for the king's three wives, and a couple lovely courtyards, including a thick-walled, cool room that once housed the opium. At the information centre and shop outside, we met the distinctive-looking grandniece of the famous king who still lives there. After that pleasant visit, we headed up through the most remarkable scenery of the Dong Van Plateau to the northernmost point of Vietnam — and the landmark giant flagpole at Lung Cu. At the top of another valley of conical-shaped karst, we turned along a ridge road where a long, deep valley dropped spectacularly off to our right. On its far side stood

a line of distinctive ‘hogbacks’ karst formations, as well as ridge after ridge far off in the hazy distance. Then, driving right along the Chinese border, we descended into a triangularshaped valley with the flagpole rising from a hill at its centre. While my travel mates climbed to the top of the flagpole, I stayed behind to chat with a young employee of the provincial tourism office. When I asked about 1979, I was told the Chinese had fired artillery from across the border, here marked by steep river valleys and a tough climb for any troops, and knocked it to the ground. The one built after that was replaced only two years ago by the new one. Yet another piece of string in that longforgotten war. asialife HCMC 41

Take a Little Wine Everyone knows that Vietnam produces excellent coffee, refreshing tea, and some quite drinkable beers. But what about wine? Since the French arrived in the 19th century Vietnam has not been without wine. Vietnamese cuisine, almost uniquely among Asian cooking styles, lends itself well to wine. In the dark days between 1975 and the early 1990s, what wine you could find was apt to be Bulgarian cabernet sauvignon. I was never quite sure whether “Bulgarian” meant that it came from Bulgaria, or that “Bulgarian” was just the Vietnamese word for “incredibly bad wine”. Then there was what was known as “joint venture” wine. French wines, often poor, were shipped in casks to Vietnam and bottled locally. The labels were in French, rarely with any indication of a wine’s joint venture status. But you could always tell. Joint venture wines were always the cheapest. But the dark days are long over, and corks are heard popping all over the land. Most of the wines available nowadays are Chilean, Australian and French. You can see the occasional Italian. And if you search hard you can find a Californian, when you just gotta have Napa Valley. And they are well priced, considering the high import tax. But now let us consider Vietnamese-made wine. Excellent table grapes were always grown in the environs between Mui Ne and Nha Trang. And they are just that, excellent table grapes. But wine grapes were introduced to the highlands of southern Vietnam only about 20 years ago. There, with the cooler temperatures and plentiful sunlight, they have been producing very serviceable wines since 42 asialife HCMC

1999. While local growers continue to learn the vintner’s art, and production is still relatively small, you should have no trouble finding Vang Dalat wine in these environs. This is the most common European-type wine in the country. This is not rice wine or fruit wine. And it is not, as a certain calumny goes, grape juice with alcohol added. There are people here of a certain Gallic persuasion who actually believe that to be the case. They will swear that a trustworthy

I have got hold of a few bad bottles of “The Vang” over the years. As many know, a lot of Vietnamese merchants still don’t know how to transport or store wine properly. Bottles are often stored standing upright, in brightly lit, un-air-conditioned spaces. It is sometimes displayed, like all other kinds of merchandise, right out on the street. Corks dry out, air and heat go in, bad wine comes out. So ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances. At worst,

“Vang Dalat (and, no, we will not call it VD for short) is the real deal. Grapes are crushed, the juice is fermented, the wine is bottled. It has grown into perfectly serviceable, everyday, nonvarietal wine in both red and white” friend of a friend who knows a friend of the winemaker has sworn to it. Vang Dalat (and, no, we will not call it VD for short) is the real deal. Grapes are crushed, the juice is fermented, the wine is bottled. It has grown into perfectly serviceable, everyday, non-varietal wine in both red and white. If you’re from California, think Two Buck Chuck for both quality and price. It also makes a damned fine Sangria, which I have been proud to serve at every house party I’ve ever given here in Ho Chi Minh City. And that’s a lot of Sangria, you can ask my friends. In recent years the folks at Vang Dalat have also released a Cabernet and a Chardonnay, but you don’t see them often, yet. Co-Op Mart gets them now and then, and at about $6 a bottle it’s a steal.

you’re out a couple bucks. And speaking of a couple bucks: Few Vietnamese restaurateurs know about the western custom of charging corkage to patrons who bring their own wine. Shhhhh. Editor’s note: Every year the US publishers of Travelers’ Tales compile the best travel writing from abroad that was published in the previous year, and then republish them in a collection called The Best Travel Writing. Widely considered the gold standard of travel lit, it is highly regarded by critics and readers, as well as used in universities to teach the narrative art. This year’s edition includes a page from AsiaLIFE, in which columnist Richard Sterling wrote poignantly about his vanishing Old Saigon in a piece called ‘Negrita’. This is AsiaLIFE’s first entry in the anthology and Richard’s fourth.

Monsoon Typically a restaurant’s tables near the bathroom are the last to be filled, but at Monsoon guests tend to snatch up those spots. Why? They’re upstairs next to a play area where children can colour on the walls and bounce on bean bags, while mom and dad dig into fusion fare. Well, not exactly fusion. Monsoon brings together the cuisine of five countries, but each dish is distinctly Burmese, Cambodian, Laotian, Thai or Vietnamese. For a tour of all of them, the appetiser platter (VND 250,000) puts on the same plate (in order of the countries listed): tea leaf salad, shrimp cakes, minced pork, corn fritters, and the all-too-familiar spring rolls and eggrolls. The salad, called lephet thoke

The pan-Southeast Asian eatery cooks up a five-country storm of cuisine. By Lien Hoang. Photos by Fred Wissink.

with dried shrimp, peanuts, garlic and sesame seeds, really is an acquired taste of earthy fermented leaves, though the legumes compete with a welcome crunch. The minced pork or laap gai, a national dish of Laos and a must-try at Monsoon, is tangy and grainy, if spicy. And as an American, I can’t complain about the Thai fritters (served with sweet vinegar) and juicy Cambodian shrimp cakes (with plum sauce) in all their fried goodness. Though run by a Thai, Monsoon proselytises food from Burma, as the country opens up, because its original restaurant still is in Rangoon. Hence entrees like mohinga (VND 90,000), another national dish. The rice noodles in rice fish soup resemble pho, but

with a stronger flavour of curry and the sea. Possibly the highlight of the large menu, helpfully divided by country, is the amok trei (VND 100,000) from Cambodia. Anyone who likes coconut even a little must try this steamed curried fish with coconut milk, served as custom dictates in a coconut whose inner walls can be carved to finish out the dish. You also can get a little experimental with the fruit/vegetable juices (which are made without syrup), or the smoothies (VND 40,000 to 60,000). They blend such strange bedfellows as pineapple and broccoli, or cantaloupe and coconut milk. Don’t worry, by the way, about the playful children. While they’re upstairs, adults below can dine in peace, lounge

on an opium bed or hanging orb chair, or take up some light reading about the five countries, which also are represented in wall decorations. Most are subtle Buddhist figurines or photographs of conical hats, though Monsoon also has printed campy images on its doors. Beyond food, the restaurant is trying to get active with eclectic initiatives. Through year’s end, it is encouraging customers to reuse its water bottles, by offering free refills. And this month, it is sponsoring an in-house exhibit of paintings by a group of incoming Thai artists. 1 Cao Ba Nha, D1 08 62 90 88 99 10am-11pm, seven days asialife HCMC 43

La Trattoria Despite its name, La Trattoria doesn’t scream Italian. The glass front doors looking onto busy Le Thanh Ton open up to a sparsely decorated dining room. The beige walls, dark grey arches and vaulted brick ceilings give the restaurant an airy yet intimate feel. When we visited during the afternoon, the glass doors let in just enough natural light for an enjoyable afternoon meal or business lunch. But make no mistake, this place is as Italian as it gets. The talented chef was hired in Venice and makes a new menu every day, based on the freshest ingredients and whatever inspires him. 44 asialife HCMC

A traditional Italian trattoria and wine bar with great food, wines from around the world and nightly jazz. By Chris Mueller. Photos by Linh Phanroy.

The ingredients in our first dish, the pappardelle with jumbo scallops and cherry tomatoes (VND 320,000), were certainly fresh. The huge mollusks in this pasta were seasoned just enough so as not to overpower the rest of the seafood. To my surprise, I was most impressed with the bright red cherry tomatoes. Usually when tomatoes are added to a pasta, they turn to mush and only seem to be there for the colour, but these were still sweet and juicy and gave the dish a wonderful freshness. As a side we tried the Italian cheese plate (VND 300,000 for a small, VND 450,000 for a large). Cheese is always good

no matter how it’s served, but what made this unique were the sauces drizzled on the plate. Both the caramelised red wine with cinnamon and anise and the honey provided a sweetness that complemented the strong cheeses. For dessert, we were presented with the caramelised pear on Chianti (VND 120,000). Boiled in sugar and placed on top of the classic Tuscan red wine mixed with sugar, the pear was crowned with an impressive pastry-like sculpture that left us wondering how to begin eating. The pastry added a neutralising crisp to the gooey and very sweet pear.

If you aren’t ready for a full meal, or are just looking for a place to relax, the wine bar on the third floor makes for a perfect stop. Fitted with couches, a bar and high tables, Il Buon Vino is stocked with more than 30 different types of wine from around the world, sold by the bottle for VND 95,000 to VND 155,000 per glass. The lounge also has nightly electronic jazz sessions by a resident DJ. 11 Le Thanh Ton, D1 01 63 49 91 625 11am to 2.30pm, 3.30pm to 11pm, closed Monday

La Brasserie de Saigon The latest addition to the Le Bouchon portfolio, La Brasserie de Saigon is how I imagine most restaurants in France look. Huge mirrors adorn the walls, soft lighting creates an intimate atmosphere, and large windows provide views of the busy Dong Du-Hai Ba Trung intersection. White tablecloths and dark wood furniture contribute to an air of elegance, and a winding staircase leads to a second floor fitted with plush booths and Parisian-style lamp posts. There is also a fresh seafood cart positioned next to the front door, allowing customers to see exactly what they will be getting. La Brasserie’s menu features a

wide range of traditional French dishes, with an emphasis on seafood, all of which is fresh from Nha Trang. Appetisers range from VND 130,000 to VND 200,000, a la carte seafood from around VND 350,000, and meat and fowl dishes, including pigeon, duck, and steak, run from VND 250,000 to VND 900,000. There are also two set lunches offered every day, with two courses for VND 335,000 and three courses for VND 445,000. For an extra VND 200,000, free-flow sparkling wine is provided. We start with the degustation (VND 650,000), one of three pre-set seafood platters, which

Fine French cuisine and a great setting make this restaurant a winner. By Michael Tatarski. Photos by Alex McMillan.

includes oysters, clams, shrimp, a crab, and sea snails, all on ice. It also came with several dips. All of the seafood was incredibly fresh, with the oysters and shrimp standing out thanks to their completely natural taste. Next was the bouillabaisse (VND 290,000) with sea bream, garlic toast and saffron sauce. The rich, dark sauce was packed with flavour, and after spreading butter on the toast we dropped it into the soup, adding some crunchy texture. The tender fish was excellent, and this dish ended up being my favourite part of an overall outstanding meal. We also tried the sole fillet

with Greek vegetable blend (VND 300,000). Again, the fish was fresh as could be and tasted clean and natural. Though we were already full the manager insisted we try the crepe suzette (VND 170,000), which is flambĂŠed with orange liquor right at the table. After a fiery preparation the crepe was served under a scoop of vanilla ice cream. With a distinct burnt orange taste, this provided a sweet ending to the meal. 38 Dong Du, D1 01 20 46 99 154 11.30am-2.30pm and 6pm-10pm, seven days asialife HCMC 45


Behind the Design:

Chris Mueller takes a look at Q4, a new, customisable venue space that allows promoters and performers to think outside the box. Photos by Fred Wissink. A blank canvas is sometimes all that is needed to create something truly unique. And this is exactly what Q4 — the newest, and possibly the only — dedicated events venue in Ho Chi Minh City. The space can host anything from large-scale concerts and parties to fashion shows and corporate events. Hidden behind the storefronts separating Nguyen That Thanh Street in District 4 from the riverfront port along the Saigon River, Q4 has transformed an 80-year-old warehouse into a versatile space that allows the imagination of an event promoter or performer to run wild. 46 asialife HCMC

“We wanted to create a big, multi-purpose space that can do anything,” says Rod Quinton, CEO of Saigon Sound System, the live music event production company behind Q4. “What people want to do with it is only limited by their imaginations.” Well, it’s also limited by their budgets. The entire space, except for the structure of the building, can be changed to whatever the promoter desires. The walls can be repainted, or even painted on by guests during an event. Moveable forty-foot shipping containers are also available and can be converted to sitting or bar areas, once again it’s entirely up to the

promoter. Right now, one of the containers is painted with graffiti, but that too can be changed. But all of this creativity comes with cost and part of the contract to use the space stipulates that the promoter must pay to have walls painted over after the event. Nick Do, the creative and content manager for MTV Vietnam, which held the MTV European Music Awards party at Q4 last month, says the money may be a problem for some smaller promoters, but if you want an event done right, it’s worth it. “Saigon needs something like this,” Do says. “We need better places for better parties. Cost wise Q4 could be a problem for a lot of people, but for people who want a proper party it is the best place in the city.” The 1,600m2 warehouse is big enough to fit 1,500 to 2,000 people comfortably. But for smaller events, strategically placing the stage and backdrops will allow promoters to create a cozier atmosphere. Quinton says soon they will install a heavy custom-made curtain that can be hung from the ceiling trusses to make it easier to change the size of the space.

In such an old building with so much wiring being used for lighting and sound systems, some might be a little uneasy to be packed into the warehouse. After all, Vietnam isn’t known for its dependable or safe wiring. But because Saigon Sound System was serious about making it a safe, professional venue, the entire warehouse was wired to international standards and can support a huge amount of equipment and lighting. To further improve the building’s safety, they also added fire retardant to the grass roof, which they use to both dampen the sound heard from the outside and to keep the building cooler. They also hired an acoustics engineer to treat the walls and ceiling, ensuring the entire space has exceptional sound quality. Q4 is still new, only opening at the end of October, but Quinton says he hopes the venue will attract a range of local artists, big international acts, and alternative bands from around the world. One of the biggest reasons so few artists come to Ho Chi Minh City, he says, is because there are few dedicated places to put on a concert, so maybe Q4 has changed that.

Above: Photos courtesy of Saigon Sound System

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Left: Long red dress VND 1,869,000 Right: Kenda top VND 1,680,000 and Teresa shorts VND 1,600,000

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“ I stay true to myself and my values. If I wouldn’t want the fabric against my own skin, I wouldn’t offer it to my clients ” Designer Elisabeth Rolskov

Left: Fabia long dress VND 2,700,000 Right: Farren draped dress VND 1,440,000 All clothes and accessories are from ER Couture 1st floor, Anphu Supermarket, District 2 Photography: Alex McMillan Makeup: The Body Shop Model: Chery Yen Vo Concept: Hanh Edbrooke

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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.


hotel & travel



Air Asia 254 De Tham, D1 Tel: 3838 9810 Asia’s largest low-cost airline operates one daily flight between HCM City-Hanoi, as well as international flights to Bangkok, Phuket, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. 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. 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


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.


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


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. 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

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.


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 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. 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.


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.


Banyan Tree Lang Co Tel: 84 54 3695 888 The resort is inspired by the artistic heritage of Vietnamese dynasties past, features 32 lagoon pool villas, 17 beach pool villas, an array of eclectic dining experiences from modern Thai cuisine to French specialties, 18-hole championship course designed by Sir Nick Faldo, delivers a golfing experience that can be enjoyed by skilled and novice players alike. Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa Cua Dai Beach Tel: 0510 3927 040

take flight with travel promotions around the region

With a range of business packages starting from VND 2,625,000 per person, Sofitel Plaza Hanoi offers newly renovated meeting rooms with video conferencing, projectors, LCD TVs, PA systems, and high-speed internet. Choose from a theatre, U-shape room, boardroom, classroom, banquet hall, or ballroom with high ceilings and built-in stage. In particular, the new Hoi An Room features an open roof, chic decor and first-class technology. All venues come with expert support from event professionals. See the offer, valid until 31 March, at Mercure Danang is opening Karma Spa with a 50-percent discount on reserved treatments. The spa consists of eight standard rooms and three VIP rooms,

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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 restaurant and Hemisphere Vietnamese restaurant.


Meeting in the Capital

Spa at Half Off

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.

which are equipped with a modern steam room and jacuzzi tub. Uniquely located on the peaceful Green Island, the hotel spa includes Swedish massage, hot-stone treatment, Cleopatra bath, manicures and pedicures. Plus, the romance package comes with body and facial treatments for couples, as well as a flower bath, shimmered candlelight, tropical fruits, and sparkling wine. Contact 05 11 37 97 77 7 ext 144 or h7821@accor. com. Karma Spa, fourth floor, Mercure Danang hotel, Lot A1, Green Island, Danang.

Holidays in Nha Trang

Novotel Nha Trang will celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with gala dinners: buffets of foie gras terrine, whole Spanish Serrano ham, and lobster, and live music in the lobby and Bellevue room. Santa

Claus will be rewarding children who have been nice with gifts and all guests with a raffle whose prizes include stays at Accor hotels, dinner, and spa packages. Dinner is VND 1,050,000 on 24 Dec and VND 1,365,000 on 31 Dec. Call 05 86 25 69 00 to book. While you’re there, try a Vous spa treatment for VND 1,190,000, which comes with a surprise Christmas gift.

Set on its own stretch of beach with 105 rooms spread through a traditional fishing village design of small “streets” and ponds.

among other great activities on offer at the resort


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.

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


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. 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.


Villa Aria Muine 60A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne Tel: 062 3741 660 Villa Aria Muine is a boutique beach resort in Phan Thiet, Binh Thuan province. Set on a beautiful beachfront in the middle of the Mui Ne strip, the villa combines modern tropical style and French country luxury. 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



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. Octopus Diving 62 Tran Phu, Nha Trang 058 826 528 PADI/SSI dive centre based in Nha Trang and affiliated with the Sailing Club Co. with additional centres in Mui Ne and Hoi An. Offers a range of services.


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. MGM Grand Ho Tram Beach Phuoc Thuan Commune, Xuyen Moc District, Ba Ria Vung Tau Tel: +84 8 3528 5286 MGM Grand Ho Tram Beach is Vietnam’s first large-scale, fully-integrated luxury beach resort and entertainment destination. With beautifully appointed five-star rooms, numerous activities, world-class restaurants, and a luxurious spa, this resort offers guests a premium hospitality experience in a spectacular natural setting.


Buffalo Tours Agency HCMC: 81 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Tel: 3827 9170 Hanoi: 94 Ma May, Hoan Kiem District Tel: 04 3828 0702 Tailor-made itineraries, community-based tourism, cultural tours, adventure trips, golfing and premium trips offered by locally run and well-respected travel agent. Exotissimo HCMC: 20 Hai Ba Trung St, D1 Tel: 3827 2911 SD5-2 Grand View, Nguyen Duc Canh, Phu My Hung, D7 Tel: 5412 2761/62 HANOI: 26 Tran Nhat Duat St, Hoan Kiem Tel: 04 3828 2150 French-owned agency specializing in flight bookings, package holidays and a range of well-run cultural and historical tours of Vietnam and Southeast Asia.

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tralia. 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 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 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. 

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. 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. 

Chilli Pub 104 Ho Tung Mau, D1 Tel: 08 73 01 13 77 An intimate pub on a popular bar street that serves pub grub and its famous bowls of chilli. It also has a pool table, dart boards and TVs for watching sports.

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.

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 Aus-

Phatty’s 46-48 Ton That Thiep, D1 Tel: 3821 0705 Jaspa’s Steve Hardy and Ben Winspear’s


Nothing captures the warmth of the festive season like a dinner with your loved ones. And if you host a dinner party at Market 31, your food will be on the house. Whether your dinner involves 10 people or more, the culinary team of Market 39 can organise it with additional offers including a glass of sparkling wine for each diner upon arrival, your choice of celebration cake and flower decoration. Prices for the rest of the diners are unchanged at VND 728.000 per person from Monday to Thursday and VND 828,000 per person from Friday to Sunday. The offer applies for dinner with a minimum of 10 persons from now until 31 Jan. Advanced bookings are recommended, email for details. If you prefer to do your holiday dining at home, Opera will do Christmas feasts to order. The so-called Holiday Hampers cook up classic seasonal treats from around the world, such as foie gras terrine with mango coulis and brioche or the traditional tom turkey. You can also try the gourmet cold cuts, homemade bolognese lasagna, and

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Monday to Saturday with live music on Fridays. Food menu by chef with over 10 years experience at La Camargue. Also does excellent pizza. 

Qing 110 Pasteur, D1 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.

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.

Red Bar 70-72 Ngo Duc Ke, D1 Tel: 08 22 29 70 17 Tucked behind the Bitexco building, Red has one of the longest happy hours in the city (draught beer for VND 25,000 from 9am until 9pm). This, its international food menu and nightly live music makes it one of the liveliest bars around.

Sheridan's Irish House 24 Ngo Van Nam, 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


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 freshroasted coffee beans and tins of whole leaf tea.  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

broaden your palate with promotions around town

Be The Host

Holiday Hampers

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.

Christmas logcakes in vanilla, chocolate and coffee. Orders must be for eight guests or more and require 48-hour notice. Call 08 35 20 23 67 or email opera.saiph@


It happens only once every 100 years, the date 12/12/12. Celebrate this very unique day at InterContinental Asiana Saigon. You can relax in chic surroundings while enjoying international delicacies and offers. At Market 39 from 6pm to 10pm there will be a buffet dinner for VND 412,000/person and include house-wine, Tiger draught beer and soft drinks. Yu Chu will have a Dim Sum dinner from 6pm to 10pm for VND 212,000. At Basilico, from 11.30am to 10pm, select any type of pizza for VND 112,000 VND. And at the Library from 7am to 12am, a well-known Vietnamese coffee will cost only VND 12,000 per cup. For more info email,

Dinner and Santa

The Caravelle’s Lobby Lounge will serve early-morning baked goodies, as well as afternoon Christmas teas with sweet

and savoury treats 7-23 Dec. Nineteen, restaurant is presenting Christmas Eve and Day gala dinners of traditional and international dishes, complete with candlelight, champagne, and a visit from Santa with gifts for good children. On Christmas Eve, Reflections Restaurant, also in the building, will set tables for a five-course menu of gourmet creations and a flute of champagne, plus a live jazz quartet. The last night of the year will be marked with a black-tie, six-course gala dinner in Reflections, while Nineteen will hold a lavish dinner buffet with unlimited wine, premium cocktails and live jazz.

street gourmet

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 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 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.

Banh da lon Although banh da lon translates to “pigskin pie”, this gelatinous dessert looks more like key lime pie than anything resembling pork. The base ingredients are rice flour, sugar and coconut, but the yellow and green hues come courtesy of lentil and an indigenous green leaf. Each layer is prepared

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.

separately and then formed into a sweet yet mild-tasting delight. Banh da lon hails from southern Vietnam and can be found at local bakeries and on roving vendor carts all day long. On the street, it is sold as a pie that costs between VND 3,000 and VND 15,000, depending on the size.


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

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 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. 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

Tel: 3829 9263 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


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. 


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

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Convivial atmosphere, contemporary Italian food styles and International chefs ...

Take away, corporate functions & special events catered for ...

WE WINE ... WE DINE Relax in Casa’s casual dining upstairs or downstairs ...

Experience a taste of comfort and converse with our friendly staff ...

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 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. Camargue 74/7D Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 08 35 20 48 88 One of the first western restaurants in Saigon, Camargue offers a great selection of French food and wine in a romantic, rustic French villa. 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, 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.

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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. Hog's Breath 02 Hai Trieu, D1 Tel: 3915 6006 The popular Australian eatery's first foray into Vietnam. Centrally located on the ground floor of the Bitexc Financial tower. The legendary Prime Rib steaks are the centrpiece of the menu which also includes burgers, seafood and bar snacks.  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.  Koto 151A Hai Ba Trung, D3, Tel: 3934 9151 This is the Saigon arm of the renowned organisation that began in Hanoi a decade ago. Vietnamese food is prepared with innovative twist by young people Koto are helping get a start in the hospitality industry and on a path for a better life.  Le Steak de Saigon 15 Dong Du, D1 Tel: 08 38 22 45 93 On one of the fancier streets in the centre of District 1, this small steakhouse has limited options, but its set meal, which includes a steak, salad and fries or mashed potatoes for only VND 200,000, is probably one of the better deals in town. 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 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.

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.

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.

Scott & Binh’s 15-17 Cao Trieu Phat Street, Phu My Hung, D7 Tel: 094 890 14 65 A friendly, laid back restaurant in Phu My Hung that serves “comfort food with a twist”. Run by American chef Scott Marquis, this small joint offers classic favourites that are consistently well prepared, making it a popular stop for expats and visitors.

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.

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.

and a range of Italian dishes. Good selection of Italian wines. 

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.

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. 

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. Wood-fired 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

La Trattoria del Buon Vino 11 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: (0163) 4991625 Half Italian restaurant and half wine bar and jazz lounge, La Trattoria offers a remix of classical Italian cuisine with a contemporary, innovative touch in its restaurant and a chill, electronic atmosphere in the wine bar and jazz lounge on the third floor. Lucca 88 Ho Tung Mau, D1 Tel: 08 39 15 36 92 A centrally located trattoria, café and bar that gets lively at lunchtime but has space enough for a mellow meal. 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.


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.

Indulge yourself at Shang Palace. Imagine a delightful lunch with over 50 different kinds of Hong Kong Dim Sum…

Shang Palace Chinese Restaurant 1st Floor , 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong St., Dist. 1, HCMC, Vietnam Tel: (84 8) 3823 2221 - (84 8) 3822 6111 Ext: 164 Fax: (84 8) 3822 6116 Email: Website:

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street gourmet

’Tis the Season for Sparkling Wine By Darryl Bethea During the months of December and January, the consumption of alcohol goes up dramatically, and for good reason. It’s a time for celebration, and there is no better way than with a bottle of sparkling wine. Here are the top five reasons to add some bubbly to your shopping list this holiday season: 5. Champagne goes well with food. It has a high acidity and a great palate-cleansing ability. Typically, it is the drink of choice with appetisers or before the first course. Certain champagnes may have a yeasty flavour, some light and delicate, which may determine your choice of brand. However, in general a blanc de blanc (100 percent Chardonnay) or a blend containing pinot noir, and pinot meunier, all have a great acidity that help balance many flavours without spoiling the food. The same can be said for your favourite cava, dry prosecco, or sparkling wine not from the Champagne region of France. 4. There are so many superb sparkling wines for every budget. Cava from Spain, Italian Prosecco, and Methode Champenoise from the United States are all high-quality without the high price of champagne. Often in blind tastings, these wines outperform their French counterparts. All of these wines have the same visual excitement when opening the bottle: The bubbles are the same, fine or aggressive, and the grapes are the grapes. It is possible to have champagne taste on a beer budget! 3. Sparkling wines can be

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festive, simply because of the colour. Rose wines come in varying hues of pink, a very expressive colour. Women love the delicate appearance, and people of all backgrounds have responded favourably once they try sparkling rose simply because it looks good. The bubbles from a rose prosecco or champagne can inspire feelings of fun, smiles and love. To spice up the excitement of a dinner or event, try it for a change. 2. Love and joy in every bottle. How many special occasions have you been to that were highlighted with the opening, pouring and drinking of the bubbly? Birthdays, weddings, job promotions, birth of a baby, holiday dinners with family and friends, all have love and joy as a common denominator. 1. Life is precious. Sometimes life can get us down, sometimes life can be downright depressing. But I have never seen anyone drown their sorrows in a glass of sparkling wine. There is something special about this wine that reminds drinkers of the good times, and inspires us to enjoy our lives. So, regardless of your plans for celebrations this year, consider that any event can be enjoyed with a glass of sparkling wine. Darryl Bethea is Group Sales Manager for Fine Wines of the World and is a certified sommelier from the Court of the Master Sommeliers. Contact Darryl at 09 3378 5005 or email Darryl@finewinesasia. com.

Canh bun A bowl of canh bun is a feast for the eyes and the stomach. Mild yet flavourful, this hearty soup contains tofu, steamed morning glory, freshwater crab and congealed pork blood (last ingredient optional). At first glance you might think there are sweet

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. 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.

potatoes in canh bun, but those bright orange bits are actually chunks of tofu died by cashews. Canh bun is eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner and can be found at both street stalls and local restaurants. A bowl will run you about VND 10,000.

The yakitori station grills up fantastic steak and quail’s eggs, and the chilled udon noodles are also a standout.


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.


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. 

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.

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.

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.


An Lac Chay 175/4 Pham Ngu Lao, D1 Tel: 3837 0760 Apropos of the backpacker district, this little restaurant offers no frills and a vast menu. Though meat dishes are available, it specializes in vegetarian Vietnamese and quirky “backpacker favourites.”  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 nonalcoholic 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. Tib Chay 11 Tran Nhat Duat, D1 Tel: 3843 6460 Intimate spot with a big menu of Vietnamese vegetarian appetisers, salads, soups, rice/noodle mains and desserts 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.


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, set dinner, International breakfast is served from 6.30 am - 10.30 am.

Blue Crab 49D Quoc Huong, Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 2008 This seafood restaurant has some of the most well-prepared and cheapest seafood in town. Its menu offers everything from prawns, scallops and lobster to pork ribs and crab, all for rock-bottom prices. 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. 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. 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 around 80,000 -150,000.

nightlife BARS & LOUNGES

See bar restaurant listings for more popular watering holes.

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

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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 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. M52 Bar 52 Ton That Thiep, D1 Tel: 3821 6726 Sparsely-appointed venue with reasonably priced drinks noted for packing a punch. Owners Annie and Ms. Van are never too busy to check on their patrons, and the busy bartenders are quick with a smile. 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. Saigon Saigon Bar 9th floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 3823 4999 Popular bar usually packed out with tourists and business travellers searching for some delicious cocktails and a great view of the city skyline. Cuban band Warapo plays every night except Monday from 8.30 pm until late.


Hoa Vien 28bis Mac Dinh Chi, D1 Tel: 3829 0585 Expansive beer hall serves up pilsner beer crafted from malt, hops and yeast from the Czech Republic. There’s also a large food menu and imported Pilsner Urquell. Lion Brewery 11C Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 3823 8514 Microbrewery featuring traditional German brew technology and German fare like pork knuckle and wurst. Good spot to meet friends and enjoy a hearty meal and a whole lot of beer.


Fuse Bar 3A Ton Duc Thang, D1 A popular bar that plays primarily hiphop

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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. Velvet Bar 26 Ho Huan Nghiep, D1 Hip-hop and Viet trance club with both bottle service and bottle beer that isn’t prohibitively expensive. Circular center bar is ringed with tables, and VIP areas and sofa seating line the walls.

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. 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. Schneider’s Finest 27 Han Thuyen, D1 Tel: 3829 1998 Traditional German bakery bakes 45 different kinds of breads, rolls and baguettes and a wide range of danishes, pastries and cakes. Catering available. 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. 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.


Saigon Catering 41A Vo Truong Toan, D2 Tel: 3898 9286 Provide services of catering, banquets, event planning, BBQ’s. For a custommade quotation e-mail SaigonGG@ or call Huong on 0913 981128. Xu Catering 71-75 Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3824 8468 From the brains behind Xu Restaurant and Lounge comes this new catering service, promising the highest standards in service. Everything from the menu to the comprehensive bar service and the staff is tailor-made to your specifications.


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 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. Students make an entire meal that includes traditional dishes like pho and cha gio, as well as more creative fare. Conducted by Vietnamese chef in English, Japanese or French on request.


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). A free website that allows users to order delivery from dozens of restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City. Simply provide your address and phone number and pay the delivery driver in cash when he arrives

Willy Woo’s Southern American fare including skillet fried chicken, Belgium waffles and BBQ foods, red beans and rice, Jalapeno corn bread, and other classic southern sides. Delivery only via


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. Classic Fine Foods 17 Street 12, D2, Tel: 3740 7105 Luxury food primarily imports for wholesale, but also takes orders for its range of dry goods, cheese, meat, poultry and seafood from private clients. 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. 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. 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.


The Warehouse 178 Pasteur, D1 Tel: 3825 8826 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.


liday feast

Christmas Eve Parkview Tel: 08 38 22 88 88 Saigon.newworldhotels. com 76 Le Lai Street, D1 International Christmas dinner buffet served with a free flow of champagne, mulled wine, house wine, draft beer and soft drinks, 6-11pm, VND 2,058,000 per person.

mulled wine, draft beer, soft drinks and juices.

Black Cat Tel: 08 38 29 20 55 13 Phan Van Dat, D1 All you can eat buffet, VND 550,000 per person. Black Cat will also be doing a special Christmas delivery menu. Email blackcatsaigon@ for details.

Restaurant Nineteen Tel: 38 23 49 99 19 Lam Son Square, District 1 Early buffet: 5–7.30pm, VND 1,480,000 Gala dinner: 8–11.00pm, VND 2,180,000

Chit Chat at the Café Tel: 08 38 39 77 77 242 Tran Binh Trong, D5 Christmas Eve buffet: 5.30-7.30pm, VND 1,390,000 and 8-10.30pm, VND 1,640,000 The Deck Tel: 08 37 44 66 32 Christmas eve dinner and jazz quartet from 7 to 9 pm. Dynasty Tel: 08 38 22 88 88 Saigon.newworldhotels. com 76 Le Lai Street, D1 Christmas Eve Chinese set menu: 6-11pm, VND1,365,000 per person. Set menu served with a free flow of champagne,

Opera Tel: 08 35 20 23 57 2 Lam Son Square, D1 Christmas Eve fivecourse set dinner: 5.30-10.30pm, VND 1,900,000 Includes a glass of champagne.

Reflections Restaurant Tel: 38 23 49 99 19 Lam Son Square, District 1 Set-menu dinner: 6–11pm, VND 1,880,000 Corso Steakhouse & Bar Tel: 08 38 29 53 68 117 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Christmas Eve and Christmas Day fivecourse dinner. Café Rivoli Tel: 08 38 24 15 55 17 Le Duan Boulevard, D1 Christmas Eve buffet: VND 2,100,000 Traditional Christmas fare, including a vast array of fresh seafood available either chilled or cooked as you like it at

the grill station, including free-flowing Bordeaux, soft drinks, beer and champagne. L’Olivier Tel: 08 38 24 15 55 17 Le Duan Boulevard, D1 Christmas Eve dinner: VND 1,450,000 A five-course set menu featuring touches of seasonal French and Mediterranean cuisine. Christmas Day Orientica Tel: 08 38 39 77 77 242 Tran Binh Trong, D5 Set menu: 6.3010.30pm, VND 1,200,000 Parkview Tel: 08 38 22 88 88 Saigon.newworldhotels. com 76 Le Lai Street, D1 Christmas brunch buffet: 11am-3pm, VND1,512,000 per person Traditional brunch buffet filled with your Christmas favourites, served a free flow of sparkling wine, mulled wine, house wine, draft beer and soft drinks. Christmas Day dinner buffet: 6-11pm, VND1,638,000 per person. Lavish dinner buffet served with a free flow of champagne, mulled wine, house wine, draft beer and soft drinks. The Deck Tel: 08 37 44 66 32 Yuletide carols songs, live singers and pianist from 1-3 pm and 7-9 pm. Dynasty Tel: 08 38 22 88 88 Saigon.newworldhotels. com 76 Le Lai Street, D1 Christmas Day Chinese set menu: 6-11pm, VND1,365,000 per person. Chinese set dinner with a free flow of champagne, house wine, draft beer and soft drinks. Opera Tel: 08 35 20 23 57 2 Lam Son Square, D1 Buffet lunch: 11.30am-2 .30pm, VND 1,100,000, or VND 1,300,000 to add unlimited Prosecco. Four-course set dinner: 5.30- 10.30pm, VND 790,000 Restaurant Nineteen Tel: 38 23 49 99 19 Lam Son Square, District 1 Lunch buffet: 11.30am3pm, VND 1,480,000 Dinner buffet: 5.45–10 .30pm, VND 1,480,000 New Year’s Eve Restaurant Nineteen Tel: 38 23 49 99 19 Lam Son Square, District 1 Early buffet: 5–7.30pm, VND 1,480,000 Gala dinner: 8–11pm, VND 2,880,000

The Deck Tel: 08 37 44 66 32 Four-course menu with festive cocktails and champagne, plus live music rom 9 pm until early 1am. Reflections Restaurant Tel: 38 23 49 99 19 Lam Son Square, District 1 Set-menu dinner: 6–11pm, VND 2,180,000 Saigon Saigon Bar Countdown Party Tel: 38 23 49 99 19 Lam Son Square, District 1 New Year’s Eve countdown from 7pm until late. Cover charge is VND 1,200,000, including one standard drink. New Year’s Day Restaurant Nineteen Tel: 38 23 49 99 19 Lam Son Square, District 1 Lunch Buffet at Nineteen: 11.30am–3pm, VND 1,480,000 Dinner Buffet at Nineteen: 5.45–10pm, VND 1,480,000 Opera Tel: 08 35 20 23 57 2 Lam Son Square, D1 Six-course set dinner, VND 2,100,000, on New Year’s Eve, including a glass of champagne, available from 5.30-10.30pm. asialife HCMC 61

eating local

master of mixology

Dealing with December By Matt Myers By Tristan Ngo Not only does Vietnamese cuisine taste fabulous, but the fresh vegetables, herbs and other ingredients used to make it has led many to consider it one of the healthiest in the world. I love Vietnamese food, but like everything else, you've got to know where to go to find the good stuff. My suggestion is to go where the locals go. Most often you will not find the real deal in a fancy restaurant, but rather at small restaurants and street vendors. I have always found it intriguing to search for these local gems, and they motivate me to try my hand at making and introducing good, local and popular (meaning common) daily cuisine. Located adjacent to the HTV television station in alley 12 off of Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street in District 1, Bun bo ‘without a name’ (no that's not the name of the place, it really doesn't have a name) is a good place to start for some quality, local food. After turning down the alley, make a left at the first, smaller alley about 25 metres before the end of the cul de sac. It is the only food stand sitting in front of house number 12/12

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Nguyen Thi Minh Khai. Here you'll find a mom-and-son shop run by Hanh and Hao, respectively. This modest bun bo stand is breezy and clean with only four tables and at times even fewer chairs. Bun bo is a popular Vietnamese soup containing rice vermicelli (bun) and beef. Instead of pig knuckles or oxtail, Hanh and Bao serve their bun bo rendition like pho, with thinly-sliced beef shank and beef tendon. The soup is mild yet well-seasoned and fragrant with diced green onions, raw onion slices, ginger, basil, persicaria (rau ram) and Vietnamese long coriander (ngo gai). Just add a dash of lime or chilli if you want an extra kick. Other condiments commonly served with bun bo include thinly-sliced banana blossom, sawtooth herb and bean sprouts. Open Monday to Friday, 6am to 1pm VND 30,000 for a bowl Tristan Ngo is the chef and owner of The Elbow Room and Skewers, two popular restaurants in District 1. You can contact him at ngotristan@

December can be a pretty brutal month. From party hopping to dealing with family and shopping for loved ones, this holiday season can take its toll. Anyone working in hospitality can tell you that December is anything but a party. Between the pressures of trying to close the books of the fiscal year and working during every holiday season party, things aren’t exactly jolly. My recommendation is to try to have fun and enjoy those libations. You can always add “drink less” to one of those New Year’s resolutions, which you’ll likely forget by March. To that end, and in honour of the holidays, I have prepared a family favourite, which I have made for many seasons. Most classic eggnog recipes have deep roots in the New England region of the United States. There are many arguments that eggnog comes from the brandy milk punch of New Orleans, but no one knows for sure. After all, cocktail history isn’t driven by fact but rather by those who tell the best story. Here is a classic eggnog recipe that has been passed down through my family. This recipe is great fresh, but also can be enjoyed the following day. You can use the spirit of your choice, though I prefer

bourbon; rums and brandies also work well. Eggnog Recipe Ingredients 4 egg yolks 1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon 1 pint whole milk 1 cup heavy cream 3 ounces bourbon or rum 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 1/2 vanilla bean, cut down the middle with seeds scraped out Directions In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in colour. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, over high heat, combine the milk, heavy cream, nutmeg and vanilla seeds. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and gradually temper the hot mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. Then return everything to the pot and cook until it reaches 71C. Remove from heat, stir in bourbon, and pour into a mediumsize mixing bowl. Refrigerate, then enjoy! Matt Myers is the director of beverage for MGM Grand Ho Tram.


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.


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 Tel: 3775 2520

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.


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. 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.

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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.


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 English Cricket Club Richard Carrington 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.


AIS Sports Centre 36 Thao Dien, An Phu, D2 Tel: 3744 6960, ext 126 Features six-lane, 25-metre pool, basketball and netball courts, astroturf hockey/football area and outdoor gym equipment. Available for party hire, with

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BBQ included on request. Membership packages available. Kids swim club and adult masters programmes. Rainbow Divers offers scuba diving courses for children and adults. Free morning 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. 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. 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. Sheraton Fitness Level 5, Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3827 2828 Sheraton Fitness features a team of trained professionals and new Technogym equipment. Members have full use of leisure facilities and receive discounts at hotel bars and restaurants and Aqua Day Spa.


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. Les Gaulois de Saigon A new team of French footballers, the side invites players and their families to come and join in their friendly training sessions, where everyone can get together and enjoy the sport while making new friends. Contact Sebastien on 0919 691785 or Romain on 0908 060139. RMIT Vietnam A new player on the SIFL scene with 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. 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. Saigon Rugby Club Tel: 0903 735 799

Dental Trauma By Dr Deborah Moore Bumps and scrapes are a part of any kids life when growing up, and minor cuts and bruises can usually be dealt with by using a smear of antiseptic cream and a sprinkle of “magic fairy dust” — or was that just my mum’s trick? Sometimes though, things can be little bit more serious, and when teeth get involved that is usually the case. Between the ages of eight and 12 children often have protruding front adult teeth, because they haven’t grown the space for them to line up straight. In dental terms this is rather fetchingly known as the ‘ugly duckling phase’. Unfortunately, during sporting accidents such sparkling new teeth are sometimes the first things to break the fall. Injuries to upper incisors can range from a small chip in the enamel to a large fracture involving the dentine and pulp (the living part of the tooth). Sometimes the whole tooth can be knocked out or ‘avulsed’. An avulsed tooth needs careful handling. The tooth can be replaced into the socket by a dentist under local anesthetic, but it will only work long-term if the millions of cells that coat the surface of the root stay alive. The best way to keep these cells alive is to not touch the root. It might be tricky to tell

which end is the root, but the most obvious way is that it is a darker yellow colour. So try to pick up an avulsed tooth by the whiter end — the enamel. Studies have shown that the best way to transport these teeth as you travel to the dental office is to keep them in cold milk. The milk provides a similar level of acidity as the body and contains sugars that feed the root cells. The next best thing is the child’s own saliva. Time is of the essence so contact your dentist ASAP. Minor enamel chips can be smoothed over by your dentist with a polishing disc. For bigger fragments, look around to see if you can see the fractured part. It is possible to re-bond a broken fragment back in place, which provides a quick and easy solution that looks natural. If a child plays contact sports or games such as cricket or baseball, it is a good idea to get a protective mouth-guard made, which is fabricated from a special mould using a dental impression. Dr Deborah Moore is general dental surgeon at International SOS Dental Clinic Phnom Penh, Cambodia. If you have any questions about this article or any other medical matter please contact info. cambodia@internationalsos. com. 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. Saigon Saints Expat football club of all ages, which has been running since 1995 and plays in the SIFL. Regularly venture on international tours especially to Bangkok and Manila and play in other local and international tournaments. The players train weekly, and new players are encouraged to join.


Dalat Palace Golf Club Phu Dong Thien Vuong, Dalat Tel: 063 3821 101 The most beautiful course in Vietnam, combining the crisp mountain air with an environment of stately pine trees. Overlooking Xuan Huong lake, the 7,009yard course is an enjoyable challenge for golfers of all levels. 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. Membership starts at USD $2,000 a year. 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 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. Membership starts from USD $700 for 6 months. Visitors’ greens fees for a round of golf are around USD $16 before 5 pm and $19 after. Club, shoe and umbrella hire is also available. SaigonSports Academy League Tel: 093 215 3502 12-week, 5 a side community football league with Adult, U18, U14, U10 and U7 divisions. Matches held at Thao Dan Stadium in District 1. Corporate, local and expat teams compete in adult division with cash prize for champions. 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.


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. Check website for rendezvous points. Rangers Baseball Club Isao Shimokawaji 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 International Softball League The league plays slo-pitch softball every Sunday (usually at the Taiwanese School in Phu My Hung) and always welcomes newcomers. 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. Squash The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3822 2098 ext 176 One of three squash courts in town. Membership is open to non-Landmark residents and drop-in players. Lessons and racquets are available for additional fees. Balls are provided. Book in advance or phone for further information. 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 Vietnam Hobby Brewers Small group of beer enthusiasts gather bi-monthly at microbrewery to talk beer, share brewing tips and sample homemade suds. The group is keen on taking on new members with an interest in learning how to brew. X-Rock Climbing Phan Dinh Phung Sport Centre 75 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D3 Tel: 6278 5794 503A Nguyen Duy Trinh, D2 Tel: 2210 9192 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.

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local practitioners. Au fait with the latest treatments and techniques, the surgery prides themselves on their high standard of equipment & sterilization.

health & beauty

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.


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. Institute of Traditional Medicine 273-275 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Dr. Le Hung is the man to see at this well-established traditional hospital & training centre. He speaks good English and provides excellent treatments in a clean environment 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.


Cao Thang Lasik & Aesthetic Clinic 135-135B Tran Binh Trong, D5 Tel: 3923 4419 A modern clinic offering a comprehensive range of optical services. Specializes in LASIK correctional procedures. English spoken. Open seven days a week. FV Hospital Cosmetic Surgery 45 Vo Thi Sau, D1 Tel: 6290 6167 6 Nguyen Luong Bang, D7 Tel: 5411 3366 International-standard cosmetic procedures from simple dermabrasion and chemical peels to collagen injections, nose and eye shaping, liposuction, and breast enhancement. Procedures carried out by French and Vietnamese doctors using the latest equipment. Parkway Shenton International Clinic Suite 213-214, 37 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Owned by the Singapore-based healthcare giant Parkway Holdings, this aesthetics clinic offers a range of both surgical and non-surgical treatments including dental reconstruction.


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 &

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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.


Anthony George for London Hair & Beauty FIDECO Riverview Building 14 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 6475 Top British stylist George brings his unique flair to hair in District 2. The modern, stylish and professional salon is host to a staff of professionally trained beauty therapists. Uses Dermalogica, Schwarzkopf and L’Oreal products. 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 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. Souche 2nd Floor, Saigon Trade Centre 37 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3910 0372 A top-end beauty salon using the Dermatologica line of skincare products. Specialises in personalized facial care treatments and medicated acne treatments. Waxing and other aesthetic services are also available in a pleasant atmosphere with excellent service. Sunji Matsuo Hair Studio Saigon Paragon, 3 Nguyen Luong Bang, D7 Tel: 5416 0378 Celebrity hairstylist Sunji Matsuo’s Singapore-based hair salon has a variety of hair services including scalp treatments, rebonding and hair extensions. The Salon 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 Tel: 3822 9660 65 Le Loi, D1 Tel: 3821 6394 Reliable haircuts from well-trained stylists at this local salon with multiple locations.


Australian Clinic & Pathology Diagnostics (ACPD) 273-275 Ly Thai To, D10 Tel: 3834 9941 Services include general outpatient healthcare, corporate / visa healthchecks, X-ray, full laboratory and in-house pharmacy including specialist

medical services covering cardiology, paediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, orthopedic and dermatology. 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. HANH PHUC International Hospital Binh Duong boulevard, Thuan An, Binh Duong.

Tel: 0650 3636068 The 1st Singapore Standard Hospital in Vietnam. 260 –bedder, provide a comprehensive range of quality healthcare services: Obstertrics, Gynaecology, Paediatrics, Immunization, IVF, Health checkup, Parentcraft, Woman Cancer, Cosmetic Surgery… Just 20- minute driving from HCMC. HANH PHUC International Hospital Clinic 2nd fl., Saigon Trade Center, 37 Ton Duc Thang, D1. Tel: 3911 1860 The 1st Singapore Standard Hospital in Vietnam. The clinic is located at the center of Dist. 1, provides a comprehensive range of services specializing in Obstertrics, Gynaecology, Peadiatrics, Immunization, General Practice and Emergency. Open hours: Weekdays: 8am to 5pm; Saturday: 8am to 12pm. 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.

communities for its line of more than 600 products.


Dermalogica Saigon Trade Center, 37 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3910 0372 U.S. brand of cleansers popular among skin care professionals. The line of toners, exfoliants, moisturizers and masques are engineered by skin therapists to be free of common irritants, and the company is categorically opposed to animal testing.

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.

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.

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.

Nghia Beauty 20 Phan Boi Chau, D1 Tel: 3829 2688 Located next to the Ben Thanh Market, clean efficient and friendly staff service your hands and feet with a range of treatments while you relax in a comfortable atmosphere.


Avon 186A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D3 Tel: 3930 4018 HCMC branch of the world’s largest direct seller of cosmetics occupies the ground floor of District 3 villa, selling brand names like Anew, Skin-So-Soft and Avon Natural. 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

L’Occitane en Provence New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, D1 French cosmetics company with a 30year history offering a range of bath and massage oils, essential oils, body and hand care products are especially well known. Also has outlets in all the major downtown shopping malls. 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.

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kids corner

family ACTIVITIES DanCenter 53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Thao Dien, D 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.

Chatterbox By Gemma Jones From chatty to borderline mute, children have interesting ideas when it comes to communicating. There are books that state how many words children should say by certain ages, and many parents are concerned that children are not speaking early enough. But children vary and I think it is wrong to try putting exact numbers on speech. As long as other developments are normal you should not worry too much. Even though a 21-month-old toddler should be speaking, if they aren’t it may simply mean they have a speech delay. As long as the other milestones are being met and there are no hearing problems, you should not be concerned. If worries remain it may be a good idea to keep a record or a diary of the child’s communication and speech. He or she may make slow improvements and should be adding words monthly. Once parents can see the small changes it will make them realise that their little one is developing. Another good idea is to put children’s actions into words as often as possible. For example, if they point to a toy you should say, “Oh you want this toy.” If you spill juice and he points at it say, “Spilt juice, messy!” You are showing them how to respond by using speech.

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Another cheeky tip is to put your little one’s favourite things out of reach so they have to communicate with you to get them. If everything is easily accessed, children have less reason to interact with you. Perhaps the best way to teach communication is simply through play. Set time aside and ask your child what he or she wants to play with. Let them choose and always say the name of the toy. Get down to their level, even if it means lying on the floor, and allow them to lead you. Imitate their actions, movements and noises. Let them direct the play and they will become more interested in interacting. The worst course of action with a late- or non-speaker is to force them to speak. Do not show any signs of distress or sadness with their lack of speech, as this will only hinder communication skills and may even prolong the nonspeaking. Most importantly, remember to praise your little orator when he or she does speak to encourage them to do it again. Gemma Jones has been working in childcare for more than 10 years. She holds an NNEB diploma in nursery nursing and is currently a principal at Cambridge Child Development Centre in Phnom Penh.

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.


Belli Blossom 4F-04 (4th Floor) Crescent Mall, Nguyen Van Linh Parkway, Phu My Hung, D7 Tel: 5413 7574 12 Mac Dinh Chi, D1 Tel: 3822 6615 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 mid-range 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.


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 Xi Early Childhood Centre 190 Nguyen Van Huong, D2 Tel: 35192727 Early Childhood & Primary School Cherry Blossom 1 & Lotus 1, APSC Compound, 36 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 6960 Middle & Senior School East-West Highway, An Phu ward, D2 Tel: 3742 4040 An international curricula and PYP/MYP school. Senior students follow Cambridge A levels. AIS is the only school in Vietnam authorised to deliver the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Foundation Studies Year 12 curriculum. Well-resourced

classrooms, highly qualified and experienced teachers, excellent facilities that support academic, creative and sporting activities. Book a tour at enrolments@ 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 real-world business challenges of today. German International School 730F-G-K Le Van Mien, Thao Dien Tel: 7300 7257 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 Te: 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. 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. KinderStar Kindergarten 08 Dang Dai Do, Phu My Hung, D7 Tel: 5411 8118/9 Offering bilingual preschool program with capacity up to 900 students with the most updated international standard. 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

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. 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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

Nguyen Ngoc Diem Phuong 131C Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 A curious shop stocking a range of hand-made 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 holidayspecific party costumes. 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.

Singapore International School (SIS) No.29, Road No.3, Trung Son Residential Area, Hamlet 4, Binh Hung Ward, Binh Chanh District Tel: 5431 7477 The Manor, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh


* IB World Schoo


l School Vietnam


* International Cu

* Great Facilities


* Accessibility

* Primary & Sec

ondary on one ca mpus * Small class size

* Excellent range

* Children are ha

of activities


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

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AusCham TV Building, Suite 1A, 31A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D1 Tel: 3911 0272 / 73 / 74

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.

British Business Group of Vietnam 25 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3829 8430

This year’s surprising slowdown across Asia-Pacific exposed the vulnerabilities of Vietnamese banks. The macroeconomic environment in the preceding years had been conducive to favourable credit conditions, allowing most borrowers to pay back loans on time. In 2009 the official figures for nonperforming loans (NPLs) were just 2.2 percent. But this year it increased sharply to almost 5 percent, with many observers placing the real figure well above 10 percent. It’s difficult to know the exact ratio of NPLs, as loans to state-owned enterprises account for half of total lending, and capital repayment dates have been deferred in many loan contracts. But during the summer, the governor of the State Bank of Vietnam contradicted the official figures and said, “The NPL ratio has amounted to 10 percent, half of which are deemed uncollectible.” This confirmed what most observers were saying: Vietnam is now in a severe banking crisis.

CanCham New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, D1 Business Centre, Room 305 Tel: 3824 3754

Tightening To get out of it, Vietnam faces a choice between taking an IMF (or Chinese) bailout, or fully opening the banking sector to foreign investors. At present, foreigners can own a maximum of 20 percent of a local bank, four of which have full-service banking licenses so far: HSBC, ANZ,

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Afonso Vieira is head of investment management for Total Wealth Management. You can contact him at afonso.



Waiting Out the Banks By Afonso Vieira

Waiting The deterioration in banks’ balance sheets may feed back into the economy because banks will tighten credit conditions, raising worries that Vietnam’s economic growth could be further slowed down by credit constraints in 2013. So for the expatriates thinking about buying an apartment, the economic context suggests that prices on finished or almost-finished real estate residential projects have yet to reach bottom.

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. 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.

AmCham New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, D1 Business Centre, Room 323 Tel: 3824 3562

Citi and Standard Chartered. But is there another solution? We know that there is no lack of money in the banking system. After all, this year’s deposits rose by 10 to 15 percent and credit by only 1 to 2 percent. And we can count on the government to always help the state-owned banks (Vietcombank, Vietinbank, BIDV and Agribank). So maybe the solution is just patience. The government has been pushing for the consolidation of joint-stock banks since late last year, coupling weak banks with not-so-weak banks, and reducing their number. There are 35 jointstock banks, up from only four 20 years ago.

camera that also specializes in repairing all camera makes. Measurement equipment and spare parts also available.

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


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. Pham The 11 Le Cong Kieu, D1 An authorized service centre for Nikon

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 after-sales 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.


Concetti 33 Dinh Tien Hoang, D1 Tel: 3911 1480 Consulting and research company for technology transfer and investment. Embers Asia Ltd. 4th floor, 04 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D1 Tel: 3822 4728 As the first team building provider established in Vietnam, Embers specializes in making teams better in globally competitive markets. Embers' HR performance management services include: team building excursions, strategic planning retreats, conference facilitations and training workshops. 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.

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. 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.


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 66/11 Pham Ngoc Thach, D3 Tel: 3820 0623

Mekong Creations 64 Ngo Duc Ke, D1 Tel: 3914 2119 NGO enterprise specializes in quilts and sells a range of appealing handmade

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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.

Resigning From Your Job By Gary Woollacott As the year comes to a close, it’s that time when some start thinking about changing jobs. Maybe a pay rise wasn’t as good as hoped and you’ve decided to look around, or perhaps you’ve just reached the natural end of a work relationship and it’s time to move on. Either way, the year’s end and the holiday season may lead to reflections on achievements (or failures) over the past 12 months, and plans for the future. So if you decide to resign, how should you do it? The simple act of writing a resignation letter doesn’t mean listing every grievance you've had with your employer. Some, if not most, of these things are best left for an exit interview or, perhaps even better, left unsaid. For me, and this is only my opinion, the standard, perfunctory letter is entirely appropriate. Be clear that you are giving the required notice and what your last working day will be. You might choose to mention that you have enjoyed the time at your company and learned a lot. There is no need to have your letter acknowledged but, of course, your manager or HR must see it. I have heard stories where a company refused to accept a resignation and wouldn’t let

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the person leave. That's ridiculous, none of us is a slave (even if it feels like it), and we have the right to choose when to offer or withdraw our labour. If your manager tries to put this on you then he or she is living in the past, is a bully, or maybe is just poorly informed about labour law. I’ve had some people tell me that they are dissatisfied with their companies and are thinking of resigning to encourage their managers to improve conditions. Be warned: This is a dangerous strategy if you don’t have a back-up plan. What happens if your resignation is accepted? If it’s in writing and you can’t withdraw it you have a problem. If it was an oral resignation, your manager may understand your change of heart but you have probably lost some credibility — and that may never be regained. Tread carefully! 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 gary@opusasia. net. 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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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 Leveilley-Dadda, furniture and lighting by Quasar Khanh, laquerware decor by Michele De Albert and furniture and decor by vivekkevin.


37 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 6281 9863 Furniture shop that focuses on solid wood furniture and decorative items ranging from pillows and lamps to bedding. Also offers kids’ furniture and custom pieces. 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. Business law practitioners specializing in mergers & acquistions, inward investment, and securities & capital markets.

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.

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.

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.

INSURANCE Blue Cross Vietnam 8th Flr. River View Tower, Thai Van Lung, D1 Tel: 3821 9908 Blue Cross Vietnam is part of the Pacific Cross group of companies with over 60 years' experience in providing health and travel insurance to people and businesses who call Asia home. Our reputation for transparent, honest and reliable service means we are the strength behind your insurance. To make sure you are getting the most out of your insurance please contact us for a free quote.


Allens Arthur Robinson Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3822 1717 Australian law firm for law translation services and legal advice on foreign investment and business in Vietnam. 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. 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

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.


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. 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

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

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exterior, available with polycarbonate shatter-proof shield. Options for kids.


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. HousingInteractive

Offering an easy-to-use, comprehensive website that only lists authentic apartments and villas throughout Ho Chi Minh City. The website empowers users to make specific searches to narrow down properties in order to suit their exact requirements and save time. Upon selecting, HousingInteractive's professional staff is available 6 days a week to introduce tenants to their future homes. 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.

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

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International, one of the world’s leading search groups with over 30 offices worldwide. For more info contact info@


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 Not just International or local moving and storage. Crown Relocations offer a wide range of services including orientations, immigration, home search, intercultural training through to pet relocation. Call the team on the above number and check out our website for more information. JVK International Movers Saigon Port Building, 3 Nguyen Tat Thanh, D4 Tel: 3826 7655/6 International agengy with a full range of services including sea/air freight services and worldwide transit coverage. 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.


Custom Signage Street Le Lai, D1 between Truong Dinh and Nguyen Thai Hoc Offers custom-designed signs and custom engraving on trophies and plaques made of plastic, wood, metal and glass. Fahasa 40 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 3822 5796 Bookstore chain carries an expansive stock of office and home stationary; a one-stop shop for basic needs. 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.



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. Features a variety of leather in bright colors and styles. Tic Tac Watch Shop 72 Dong Khoi Tel: 0838 293519

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femme fashion 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. 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.

Fifty Shades of Grey By Christina Yu I have actually checked my Pantone colour chart. By the time you add in the blue greys and the greeny greys, there probably really are 50 shades of grey. Fifty Shades of Grey is the fastest selling paperback ever. It is apparently mainly read by women who: (a) are married, (b) are over 30, (c) have a secret desire for softcore porn, (d) think publisher Mills and Boon has no literary content or (e) are a member of a female book reading club. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, an “un-closeted” reader of the book, clearly did not qualify for criteria ‘a’ and ‘e’, so you can make a bet on which ones she did satisfy. She is also one of the most public people I see always wearing grey. This raises all sorts of important fashion questions: Does grey cover her Aussie-pie-filled figure best? Or is it supposed to blend with her red hair? Or is grey is simply her favourite colour? But what does wearing grey actually mean? Believe it or not, grey is in my corporate palette because it blends well with pink and purple. I have received lots of requests to use more of it and update our shop image, but I remain unconvinced. To me, grey is a colour for indecisive and submissive people. A person who wears grey cannot choose between black and white, so instead compromises with grey. Case in point: Calvin Klein, who has grey in every one of his collections,

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ACTIVE WEAR apparently painted his office in 50 shades of white, probably because he couldn’t work out which white to use. Of all the colours grey has the least impact and is the most boring. In fashion texts, grey is mentioned every three years as the new black, when people need an alternative to black. Invariably, it is a charcoal grey which is almost black, so what is the point? Grey looks good in pin stripes office suits but, then again, the blue one with pin stripes almost always looks better and classier. In colour psychology, grey signifies timelessness, a neutral and practical mood, which is why grey is all the rage with any self-respecting bar or a five-star hotel. Grey doesn’t upset the customer and you get your money back with your renovation down the road. In baseball, many teams opted for grey away uniforms, because they didn’t show the dirt as much as the white home ones did. This is hardly a concern for the modern fashionista, and to me white uniforms always look more dashing. Can you imagine Richard Gere in a grey uniform in An Officer and a Gentleman having the same heartthrob effect? I can’t! Christina Yu is the creative director and founder of Ipa-Nima, an award-winning accessories brand. Email your questions to Christina@ or visit Ipa-nima. com.

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.


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 inte-

rior 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.


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. 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.


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 twentyand 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 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.


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.


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. Dzung 221 Le Thanh Ton, D1 One of the most reliable and respected men’s tailors in town with prices and production time to reflect the quality of the workmanship. 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. Uyen 13 Nguyen Thiep, D1 An excellent option with English-speaking staff and a good selection of fabrics (although the price takes a dip if you bring your own) and some off-the-rack staples to copy. Reasonable prices.



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La Trattoria Opening

French Tuesdays

Photos by Alex McMillan.

78 asialife HCMC

Mango Men Opening

Saigon Zombie Walk

Arts for Mobility

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o Da asialife HCMC 81


radar YouTube Without the Garbage Everyone loves YouTube, home to millions of videos and always an easy way to kill time. But there is plenty of stuff on the site that isn’t worth watching, including thousands of clips involving cats being cat-like. Another problem is the comments, as they invariably turn racist and ignorant no matter what video you watch. gets rid of both of these problems, as it compiles the best of YouTube’s most popular videos with no comments allowed. With a focus on HD videos, Devour is perfect for the more discerning online procrastinator.

Back to School Many people harbour dreams of returning to school someday to obtain an advanced degree, or perhaps just to learn something new. But with increasing tuition prices, money often can be the biggest obstacle. Coursera offers a way around this with 204 courses in 20 different categories from 34 universities worldwide, all free. Most courses last five to 10 weeks and come with homework and quizzes. All you have to do is sign up and then learn on your computer. A few course examples include Introduction to Sustainability, A History of the World since 1300, and Social Network Analysis.

Humanity at Its Best This site collects the dumbest, most insensitive, and most inappropriate comments, statuses and pictures from Facebook, keeping the original posters anonymous. Much of the content, which includes incredible displays of ignorance and people sharing far too much personal information, is definitely not safe for work. This is a great site to visit if you want to feel more confident about yourself, as you surely are a better, more intelligent person than whoever posted, “If Obama wins, I’m getting the heck outta this country! I’m going to Alaska!”

82 asialife HCMC

soundfix album review

by Mai Lynn Miller Nguyen

Kendrick Lamar

Jessica Pratt

The Babies

Bomba Estéreo

good kid, m.A.A.d. city

Jessica Pratt

Our House on the Hill

Elegancia Tropical

Heralded as one of the year’s best hip-hop albums, Kendrick Lamar’s critically acclaimed second album is putting Compton, California, on the map once again. Raised in the home of Dr Dre and Ice Cube, the 26-year-old specialises in a smoother form of gangsta rap than his predecessors. Lyrics are introspective and highly quotable, delivered alongside catchy hooks and beats. Family values are a recurring theme, with voicemails from Lamar’s parents interspersed between tracks. Amongst an overall cohesive collection of songs, ‘Backseat Freestyle’ stands out for its hard-hitting rhythm and ironic send-up of typical rap bravado.

If you like delicate guitar chords and ethereal vocals, then Jessica Pratt is a singersongwriter worth getting to know. Pratt creates folk music perhaps better described as reliable than brilliant. She keeps it safe, which isn’t a bad thing. The San Francisco native croons with sincerity on songs that are uncomplicated, tender and confessional in both lyrics and tone. The influence of folk legends of the 1970s is central, with Pratt coming across as wise beyond her years. Her voice has an otherworldly quality, which thrives over gentle acoustic guitar, particularly on the poignant ‘Midnight Wheels’.

Side projects are often dubious ventures, but The Babies, a collaboration of Woods bassist Kevin Morby and Vivian Girls front-woman Cassie Ramone, can be considered a rock and roll coup. Their brand of straightforward garage rock, with a fuzzy lo-fi take, makes for a second album that’s a pleasure. Our House on the Hill kicks off strong with ‘Alligator’, combining Morby’s boyish voice with a playful guitar riff. The chemistry between Morby and Ramone, who alternate backup vocals, drives the record, as does a refreshing sense of rawness.

Colombian Cumbia — with its Afro-Latin origins — gets an electronic treatment from Bomba Estéreo, a Bogotabased band that is one of Latin America’s most engaging breakouts. The group’s sound has been referred to as electrotropical, an apt description of their sunshine-soaked beatdriven tunes. The group’s follow-up to their 2009 debut reveals a new level of maturity. Singing in Spanish, singer Li Saumet keeps up with dance floor rhythms while evoking a powerful sensuality on slower tracks. This is an album ideal for summoning a warm Caribbean vibe, even in the darkest winter.

84 asialife HCMC


xoneFM top ten Hot 10 this last

week week


artist The Script feat Guy Sebastion feat Lube Fiasco Christina Agulera Lifehouse feat Natasha Bedingfield Olly Murs feat Flo Rida Taylor Swift



Hall of Fame



Battle Scar

3 4

reentry new

5 6

2 reentry

7 8 9

6 5 7



Hurt Between the Raindrops Troublemaker We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together Castle of Glass Ronan Live While We're Young Skyfall

Linkin Park Taylor Swift One Direction Adele

Global Mail By Lien Hoang

Australian Top 10 this last

week week 1






4 5 6 7 8

6 34 2 5 8

9 10

9 3

title What You've Done to Me Thrift Shop

artist Samantha Jade

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat Wanz Don't You Worry Child Swedish House Mafia feat John Martin Bom Bom Sam and the Womp Get Along Guy Sebastian Gangnam Style Psy Locked Out Of Heaven Bruno Mars I Knew You Were Taylor Swift Trouble Little Things One Direction Die Young Ke$ha

US Top 10 this last

week week 1 2 3 4

2 1 3 6

5 6 7 8 9

4 8 5 13 7



title Diamonds One More Night Die Young Locked Out Of Heaven Some Nights Gangnam Style Let Me Love You Ho Hey We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together I Cry

artist Rihanna Maroon 5 Ke$ha Bruno Mars fun. PSY Ne-Yo The Lumineers Taylor Swift Flo Rida

As a journalist I might be committing heresy by admitting this, but I don’t need to be the first to know. Election updates, roadside bombings, banker arrests — if I learn the news a day late, it’s usually no skin off my back (unless I am reporting it, in which case, let it be known to all editors that I do need to be first). I’ve come to feel this way because I care about the big picture, about what the breaking news means for the year and for years to come, not just what it means for that day. Unless we are voting or investing, our obsession with instant updates derives from curiosity more than any motive of use or impact. What a breath of fresh air, then, to discover Launched this year, the Sydney-based website makes a point not to “swim in the 24/7 news cycle” and instead delivers well-researched and dense stories. Its stock in trade is journalism that is independent (no corporate dollars fund the organisation), analytical, and investigative. In other words: journalism at its finest. I have always respected the Christian Science Monitor for the same reasons. Don’t let the name fool you, this website reports the news with integrity and is almost unrelated

to the eponymous church. Setting it apart from other press, the Monitor strives to present not just news but an examination of why that news matters. Headlines (such as: ‘Syria's opposition groups convene in Qatar — can they build a unified front?’) often come with question marks, because they look to the future. The Mail is a smaller operation and therefore not as comprehensive. But its scribes dig up unique angles, such as a piece about Indonesian rituals of sex and religion, called ‘The Swingers' Guide to Islam’. While the Monitor focuses on the United States, the Mail has an Australian tinge despite covering news from all corners of the world. For just regional articles, you can go to the author page for the Mail’s Asia correspondent, Aubrey Belford, who wrote the swingers story. The nascent publication is gaining traction (4,600 likes on Facebook, an op-ed from a former Australian foreign minister). But enjoy it while it lasts. A deep-pocketed philanthropist has pledged millions to keep the lights on for five years, but after that, the Global Mail will have to figure out how to convince consumers to pay for news, just like every other media outlet.

asialife HCMC 85


Playing For Keeps

Life of Pi

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Jack Reacher

Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman, Catherine ZetaJones and Dennis Quaid star in this romantic comedy about a charming, down-on-his luck former soccer star (Butler) who returns home to put his life back together. Looking for a way to rebuild his relationship with his son, he gets roped into coaching the boy's soccer team. But his attempts to finally become an ‘adult’ are met with hilarious challenges from the attractive ‘soccer moms’ who pursue him at every turn.

Director Ang Lee creates a groundbreaking movie event about a young man who finds himself stranded on a lifeboat when the cargo ship carrying his family and zoo from India to Canada sinks. After the disaster, Pi is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. He is the only survivor on the lifeboat, but he finds himself with a zebra with a broken leg, a hyena, a female orangutan and a 450-pound fearsome Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

In the first installment of Peter Jackson’s long-anticipated prequel to The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo Baggins is swept into a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves. Along the way, Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever... Gollum. Alone with Gollum, the unassuming Bilbo not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of the ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-Earth.

In an innocent heartland city, five are shot dead by an expert sniper. The police quickly identify and arrest the culprit and build a slam-dunk case. But the accused man claims he’s innocent and says, “Get Jack Reacher.” Reacher, an exmilitary investigator, sees the news report and turns up in the city. Shocked at the accused’s request, Reacher sets out to confirm for himself the absolute certainty of the man’s guilt, but comes up with more than he bargained for.

Opening Dates CINEMAS

Playing For Keeps (7 Dec) Life of Pi (14 Dec) The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (28 Dec) Jack Reacher (28 Dec)

G: Galaxy Cinema

Jack Reacher (28 Dec)

M: Megastar Cinema

86 asialife HCMC

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

bookshelf Border Vigils Jeremy Harding Verso

In an age of increased globalisation and transnational travel, Jeremy Harding takes a look at the issue of illegal immigration in Border Vigils. He examines how anti-immigration sentiment and policies are on the increase in the US and Europe, despite an enduring market for migrant labour. Using interviews with migrants and people-smugglers, Harding sheds light on the motivations for crossing borders at great personal risk, raising questions about the roots of illegal immigration and offering suggestions for how policy approaches could change for the better.

Far From the Tree Andrew Solomon Scribner

Written over the past 11 years, Far From the Tree is Andrew Solomon’s extensive examination of families raising children under challenging circumstances. From interviews with more than 300 families, he looks at how they cope with various diversities, including deafness, Down’s syndrome, dwarfism, child prodigies and more. Solomon draws upon his own childhood experiences of grappling with homosexuality and dyslexia in order to explore what it means to grow up “different” and how families must practice unrequited love to accept children for who they are.

Flight Behavior Barbara Kingsolver Harper

Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, Flight Behavior tells the story of a woman whose life is changed by the unexpected appearance of migrating monarch butterflies in her small Tennessee town. Changing climate patterns have re-directed the butterflies’ flight plan, and their arrival gives the protagonist, Dellarobia, a new outlook. Narrated with Barbara Kingsolver’s lyrical prose, the story tackles the impact of global warming with a poetic and philosophical approach.

The Sound of Things Falling Juan Gabriel Vásquez Bloomsbury Publishing

When ex-pilot Ricardo Laverde is shot in the streets of Bogota, young lawyer Antonio Yammara sets out to discover his friend’s secrets. Antonio’s mission to understand Laverde’s killing leads him to revisit Colombia’s past, particularly the tempestuous 1960s when the capital city was under the throes of the marijuana trade. But, as Antonio finds out, investigating the past has its costs. Encompassing themes of memory and trauma, Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s newly translated work explores Colombia under the control of infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar.

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Gearing up for the holidays, Dana Filek-Gibson offers her best gift-giving advice. I have never been one for the holidays. The pressure of embodying the Christmas spirit always gets to me, what with the onslaught of children in shopping malls and Kenny G playing in every Starbucks across the world. As a December baby, I never understood why my family celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ — a person we'd never met — with such crazed enthusiasm, when my own entrance into the world was commemorated with cake and a handful of gifts, which later doubled as Christmas presents. Perhaps it is for this reason that I am now incapable of shopping for other people. I see something in a store, and I never think, “So-and-so would love this.” Instead, I think, “MINE.” You could say I struggle with the act of giving gifts. Unless, of course, I'm in Vietnam. The holiday I, for all of my life, have associated with ugly sweaters and re-gifted fruitcake is another story altogether when you live in Saigon. Throughout the city workers rush to and fro, building baby-less nativity scenes full of Christmas giraffes. Children don red velvet pajama sets lined with cotton, running 88 asialife HCMC

around like so many wide-eyed miniature Santa Clauses. The frequency with which you hear Abba's 'Happy New Year' is quadrupled. And when it comes to Christmas presents for the family at home, you possess the ultimate trump card in the game of Who-Gives-the-Best-Gifts. Why? Because it is damn-near guaranteed that anything you purchase, interesting or not, will merit some degree of fascination because it came from Vietnam. Every time my mother's face appears on Skype, I am reminded to “get another pair of those Hugh Hefner pajamas” — a set of the cheap, faux-silk PJs they sell at Ben Thanh Market — for my five-year-old cousin. They are not special, they are not even unique, they just are mass-produced baby clothes. But to my relatives at home they are priceless. If you, too, are struggling with the thought of buying things for other people, fear not. I have assembled below four of Vietnam's hottest holiday gifts, in no particular order, for your perusal. Local fashions Though they are to clothing shops what oxygen is NOT

to Saigon, the nonsensical English-language T-shirts you see everywhere are hard to come by in your home country. This makes sense; after all, who else would think to put such catchphrases as “Arrogant Soaring”, or my personal favourite, “Herpes Schmerpes” on a T-shirt? Send one of these home for the holidays, and you will open your email one January morning to a photo of your loved ones beaming, arm-in-arm, with “Shit is Shit” emblazoned on their chests. Ear Candles There's a good chance that nobody at home has ever heard of ear candles. Thankfully, life in Vietnam has taught you plenty of valuable lessons, including the many varied ways in which the Vietnamese remove wax from their ears. You have a unique opportunity in this gift not only to introduce people to something new, but also to act like you invented it. Be prepared, however, that for the rest of your life you will be considered the foremost authority on ear cleaning to at least one other person.

Glamour Shots As a child, I used to watch my mother sit in the basement at Christmastime, stuffing framed copies of my school photo into gift bags for our relatives. Those poor people had to feign gratitude as they plucked my bug-eyed, acne-ridden face from the tissue paper on Christmas morning. Now, a generation later, it's my turn — and yours. Make an appointment at your local photo studio as soon as possible. You know you want to. Coffee Two words: weasel coffee. Do not explain what this means before the first cup. Follow these suggestions, and I can guarantee that you will either a) triumph over all in the ongoing competition for the most coveted Christmas gifts, or b) be formally asked never to go holiday shopping again. Either way, you can rest assured that, when you tuck in to your four-billion-dong dinner at the Sheraton on Christmas Eve, you've done you're very best to bring the true spirit of Vietnamese Christmas to the world.

This Country Life A small tennis championship gives Walter Pearson another reason to continue the simple life in the countryside.

I knew something was going on when they started to erect a wedding marquee outside the tennis courts. I was told that the next day we would nhau beginning at 7am. I was confused. Why we would be getting on the grog that early in the morning? It’s bad enough that 11am is the usual start time for weddings and the like. Regardless, next day I got up early, shaved, showered, put on my most polite long pants, polo shirt and sandals, and headed for the tennis court. When I arrived, it was clear there was to be no eating and drinking at that hour. Half of the members of my afternoon tennis club — the 4567 Club, named after the hours we play — were in their tennis whites. A game had just started between one of our double partnerships and the morning club called Sao Mai, or Morning Star. Herds of doan thanh nien (youth group) members were setting out chairs in the marquee. The first clash was over and we went into the marquee. By now I had worked out that today was no small deal. The

large banner across the street outside said, “Warmly welcoming the Binh Long Tennis Championship”. At the end of the marquee another proclaimed the Office of Culture and Sport of Binh Long, a town two hours north of Ho Chi Minh City, was presenting the Binh Long Tennis Championship. On one side was a table with a dozen or more trophies. We sat on small red plastic stools to hear speeches from representatives of the People’s Committee, the Office of Culture and Sport and the Clubs. The volunteers of the doan thanh nien in their distinctive blue shirts and dark pants performed a number of dances, twirling and singing and raising their hands in delicate gestures. I could never see young Australians or Americans doing that sort of thing. Formalities over, we went back to the tennis. Brother Advance and Brother Power from Club 4567 were looking good, winning their first round easily 6-2. Club Sao Mai were a bit ragged but the Doctor and his partner, both in their early 60s, made a strong showing. By 10am, Club 4567’s Brother

Brain and Brother Weapon had knocked out the Doctor and his partner. Now the Doctor and his partner would fight for second place against Brother Advance and Brother Power. Once again the Doctor and his partner went down to Club 4567. Then the Binh Long Rubber Company Youth Group teams battled for supremacy. They were young, big men and heavy hitters. Excitement reached a peak as the last two t eams tore the covers of the balls in a dramatic end to the day’s play. During the tournament, tables had been put out in the marquee for people to nhau. We sat down. Presentations began. Acknowledgements of all the local dignitaries, including the chair of the People’s Committee, were made. Club 4567 had made a clean sweep. Big cheers from our table. Our winners pooled their prize money — VND 300,000 to VND 500,000 each — for a night on the grog. Our club chairman gave me a posy of flowers. Then the serious drinking began. While we got stuck into the chicken, special dishes and

hotpot, the victorious players went from table to table toasting their opponents and their supporters. The local politicians worked the room, so to speak. Sao Mai congratulated 4567. Everyone laughed, joked and teased one another. The club treasurer told me next time we would team up; we could win easily, he claimed. Drunk already, I thought. I was introduced to the chair of the People’s Committee. The town puts on two of these championships a year, one on Liberation Day and one in October. The authorities are serious about participation in sport. We have a Sports and Culture Area in our town that has tennis and volleyball courts, a body building gym, dance clubs, mini-soccer, badminton courts, a library, a concert hall, and an Olympicsize swimming pool, complete with a copyright-infringing rings motif. Bloated with beer after innumerable toasts and almost unable to walk, I made my excuses, jumped onto the bike and went home reflecting on another reason I like living here. asialife HCMC 89

pub quiz Merry 1) Merry Brandybuck is a character from which novel? 2) Sir John Falstaff appears in which Shakespeare comedy? 3) In which Oscar winning film did Julie Andrews win a race on a merry-go-round horse? 4) In which TV series did Buster Merryfield play Uncle Albert Trotter? 5) In which woodland might you encounter the Merry Men?

20) Which Shakespearean King has the line, “Now is the winter of our discontent”?

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21) Which Oscar winning film stars Jude Law, Nicole Kidman and Renée Zellweger? 22) What is the oldest British regiment in the Regular Army in continuous active service? 23) The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is a 1963 Cold War novel by which popular Christmas author? 6) Christmas Island is a territory of 24) In 2000, which band released their breakthrough single which country? ‘Yellow’? 7) Which European country 25) Many people see 1991 as is generally accepted as being the end of the Cold beginning the custom of the War. Who resigned as the Christmas tree? last head of state of the 8) In which song do the singers Soviet Union in that year? request figgy pudding? 9) On the 12th day of Christmas, Celebrity Santas my true love gave to me... 12? 10) ‘Adeste Fideles’ is a hymn tune 26) usually associated with which Christmas carol?

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16) Who won an academy award for her acting in The Diary of Anne Frank? 17) In which country will the next Winter Olympic Games be held? 18) In the Northern Hemisphere, on what date will this year’s southern, or winter, solstice happen? 19) In Britain, fans of many football teams sing variations of which seasonal song to celebrate a particular team, player or manager? 90 asialife HCMC












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Pub Quiz Answers


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1) Lord of the Rings 2) Merry Wives of Windsor 3) Mary Poppins 4) Only Fools and Horses 5) Sherwood Forest 6) Australia 7) Germany 8) ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ 9) Drummers Drumming 10) O Come, All Ye Faithful 11) New Year/Songkran/Chaul Chnam Thmey 12) Boxing Day (Dec. 26) 13) March 14) January 15) Jul. 4 16) Shelley Winters 17) Russia 18) Dec. 21 19) Winter Wonderland 20) Richard III 21) Cold Mountain 22) The Coldstream Guards 23) John Le Carré 24) Coldplay 25) Mikhail Gorbachev 26) Rowan Atkinson 27) George Clooney 28) Donald Sutherland 29) Denise Richards 30) Harrison Ford

11) In Theravada Buddhist countries, what holiday is is celebrated for three days from the first full moon in April? 12) What is the last public holiday of the year in the United Kingdom? 13) In which month will western Christian countries celebrate Easter in 2013? 14) In what months do Australians celebrate Australia Day? 15) Ironically, on which date do the Philippines commemorate the official recognition of Philippine independence from the United States?

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