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AsiaLIFE Media Vol. 120




MARCH 2018 AsiaLIFE Media Vol. 120

|MARCH 2018


VOLUME 120 This month's cover Photography: Jonny Edbrooke Thang Pham


for more news and events, features, restaurant reviews and video, visit:


www. For advertising and marketing enquiries please contact: +84 938 298 395 / +84 903 325 543 or Director Jonny Edbrooke Editorial Director Barbara Adam

Art Director

Commercial Director


Thang Pham L.C.

Peter Cornish

Photo Editor

Nguyen Kim Hanh

Contributors Lauren Cameron Tristan Ngo Reem Mehanna

Production Manager

Romain Garrigue



Hoa Nguyen



FRONT EVENTS ............................................................... ASIALIFE’S PICKS: VIETNAMESE-THEMED COCKTAILS ............ Q & A Hoa Vu - Evolve Mobility WHAT’S NEW IN SAIGON............................. BUSINESS VIEW.................................................. SAIGON PROFILES.. ........................................... TRENDING..........................................................



How to host a dinner par ty............................. 3 6

06 10 12 13 14 15


Home cooking in Ho Chi Minh City............... 16



Bo bia (Chinese sausage fresh rolls ................ 3 7


A new cocktail joint in Bui Vien...................... 3 8


Sexy Spanish tapas............................................. 3 9


A shor t and simple chef-dr iven menu . . .......... 4 0


A peaceful oasis in Phu Nhuan .. ..................... 4 1


A luxur ious ar t-based resor t........................... 4 2


All about Vietnam’s three native breeds........ 2 2


A new F&B social enter prise . . ......................... 2 4


Greening on the balcony................................... 2 6


Evergreen Labs and community tourism ...... 2 8

HEALTH & WELLNESS - Hair loss. . ................. 3 0


Socially-minded Sapa-based tour s. . ................. 3 2


Tuk tuk tour of Thailand.................................... 3 4 2 AsiaLIFE HCMC

COLUMNS IMBIBE ............................................................................. 4 8 FITNESS .......................................................................... 5 0 EDUCATION HUB .................................................... 5 4 PERSONAL FINANCE ............................................. 5 5 PEOPLE MATTER ....................................................... 5 6 CRAFT SAIGON ........................................................ 5 7 APP CHAT .................................................................... 6 0 TALES OF A GECKOPHOBE ................................ 6 3 HANCOCK IN SE ASIA .......................................... 6 4 COMMUNITY FOCUS ............................................ 6 5 PUB QUIZ ..................................................................... 6 6






We encourage our students to be ambitious everyday, to try new things, take risks and learn from their experiences.



Haeon Yoon

Graduated in the top 1% worldwide

Haeon started at the British International School, (BIS HCMC), as a Year 2 student who barely knew any English. Twelve years later, Haeon graduated with an incredible 44 points in her IB Diploma, placing her in the top 1% of students worldwide. During her time at the school she was appointed Head Girl, awarded the IB Learner Profile Award for ‘Being a Communicator’ and had active participation in a number of extra-curricular activities. These experiences alongside the IB diploma programme have shaped her decision to study Liberal Arts (Political Science) at Williams College, USA with the ambition of one day contributing in some way to social justice. Haeon describes her time at BIS HCMC as “one that was full of warmth and limitless opportunities.” Start your #BISHCMC Story



▶ Appointed Head Girl

Swimming for Vietnam

▶ Prefect Team

Musician of the Year

▶ Represented school at several Model United Nation conferences

Josh Kazzi’s IB success story

▶ IB Learner Profile Award for ‘Being a Communicator’

▶ Travelled to Texas to compete at the F1 in Schools competition

Year 6 Published Writer


3 MAR 9am - 3pm

Holistic Fair @Eton House Entry: Free A day focused on holistic health and wellness, with talks and demonstrations from local and international practitioners.

16 - 19 MAR Vibe Nation Beach Fest 2018 @Coco Beachcamp Entry: From VND1.5 million A three-day music festival gathering more than 50 artists and performers, who will provide entertainment on four stages.

24 MAR 2pm - 9pm

New Zealand Wine & Food Festival @RMIT University Vietnam Entry: VND2 million A celebration of all things Kiwi, with more 30 different wines and some of the best New Zealand produce prepared by Ho Chi Minh City’s finest chefs, enjoyed on the lawn with live music. The event also raises funds for the Ba Chieu Home for Girls.


Saigon Burger Fest @Saigon Outcast Entry: VND50,000 Saigon’s first burger festival brings together Ho Chi Minh City’s best burger-makers, who will be selling classic burgers, strange combinations and vegetarian options. Arrive hungry.

Submit THREE pictures of at least 300 dpi to: Follow us: @AsiaLIFEmagazine on Instagram & @AsiaLIFEmedia on Facebook Deadline: March 15

The winner will have their photographs published in AsiaLIFE magazine.

Dinner for two at Soul Burger. 5 AsiaLIFE HCMC


Every so often one feels like raising a toast that acknowledges the place you’re calling home for now. Whether it’s to welcome a visiting friend or relative, let off some steam with colleagues or just revel in the amazing flavours of Vietnam. The AsiaLIFE team has your back on this one. We’ve hunted down some of the best Vietnamese-themed cocktails in the city. So cheers one and all!




Established 1997

SSC is the official Vietnam distributor for Vogmask - the first stylish, high efficiency, well-fitting, comfortable face mask in the world with n99 filtration and carbon filter.

Always in stock an extensive range of quality imported helmets in all styles and sizes including Vemar, Project, Roof, Vega USA, TDC and more




THE MEKONG DELTA VND179,000 The Alley Cocktail Bar & Kitchen The Mekong Delta pays homage to the after-school snack Tan Pham’s mother used to give him in his home town of Ben Tre: dried banana. Tan infuses bourbon whiskey with smoky sun-dried Ben Tre bananas for 10 to 15 days for this cocktail. To the infused bourbon he adds banana syrup, fresh lime juice, one drop of ginger bitters and egg white foam, all served in a half-coconut. The presentation of the cocktail, based on the classic whiskey sour, is a tribute to the Mekong Delta, too. Ben Tre is famous for its coconuts, hence the choice of serving vessel. The coconut cup sits on a woven bamboo basket, the type used to house fresh-off-the-cooker claypots in homes throughout the delta. Between the bamboo basket and the coconut cup is a folded khan rang, the versatile checked cloth used as a headscarf by Mekong Delta farmers. The final touch is a jazzy paper straw. “It doesn’t match anything else,” said Tan. “It represents the bartender’s character, talkative and colourful, to help the customer enjoy the moment.” The Mekong Delta is one of four Vietnamese-themed cocktails in the signature cocktails section of this cute little speakeasy’s menu. There are also several monthly specials, all with uniquely local twists, such a bittermelon essence to replace the “industrial bitterness” of Campari. 63/1 Pasteur, District 1 Open Monday-Saturday from 5pm







• We now offer long term discounted scooter rentals. • New stock includes a wide range of models including 50cc. • No license needed - 16 years and older for 50cc scooters • Full service package included , delivery option available. • We also specialise in Saigon to Hanoi rentals with 1 way drop off. For more info -

Vietnam’s only 100% foreign owned and fully licenced 1-stop scooter shop 151 Luong Dinh Cua , Phuong Binh An , District 2 , HCM City.. Open every day 9.00am until 8.30pm. Tel : 0903013690 AsiaLIFE HCMC 7 For more info -

TRA DA - VND150,000 Anan Saigon “The most expensive tra da in Vietnam” is how chef Peter Cuong Franklin describes his alcoholic take on the traditional Vietnamese iced tea. Anan’s black tea tra da is a refreshing and very tea-tasting mix of teainfused gin from Dalat, honey, lime and soda. It’s a great sunset-watching drink, and Anan’s cosy rooftop bar is a great spot to watch day fade into night. Staying true to Anan’s theme of blending the authentic with something new, the tra da is served in an old-fashioned tumbler with a simple slice of lime as a garnish. It’s an old school look for a cocktail with an interesting range of flavours, the most unsubtle of which is the tannin from the black tea. There’s also a touch of sweetness from the honey and a slight tartness from the gin and the lime, lightened by the fizz of the soda. “We’ve kept the spirit of tra da, which is very refreshing,” Peter said. “But now it’s a cocktail. It reflects our philosophy, the way we do all our food and drinks.” For those who like to sip late into the night, Anan has a short but delightful menu of Vietnamese-themed cocktails, including the phojito with sticky rice wine, lime and pho herbs, and the Cho Cu Mai Tai, with gold rum, Malibu, cucumber, pineapple, lime and sesame oil. There’s also a couple of fresh beers, locally-made rhum and some ruou nep (sticky rice wine) and a range of “modern” Vietnamese bar snacks, including five-spice pigeon (not for the faint-hearted as it’s served with the head and feet), nem nuong pork skewers and chicken nuggets with an outof-this-world ginger-soy dipping sauce. 89 Ton That Dam, District 1 Open from 5pm Tuesday-Sunday.

THE 150/7 NGUYEN TRAI - VND180,000 The Gin House The 150/7 Nguyen Trai cocktail is Vietnamese in so many ways. There’s the iconic Vietnamese flavours of lemongrass, lime leaf and cardamom, as well as the name itself. Because 150/7 Nguyen Trai is the “other” address for The Gin House, which is hidden down a little hem off Ton That Tung Street. Presumably the alley also opens onto Nguyen Trai Street, but once you’ve found this cute little speakeasy, there’s no need to wander off exploring alleys. The full list of ingredients goes like this: lemongrass and cardamom-infused gin, peach puree, homemade lemongrass, caramel and cardamom syrup, lime leaf and soda. The drink is light, refreshing, with strong “spiced” notes of cardamom. “In Vietnam we like to use spice, in food and in drinks,” said Gin House mixologist Nguyen Thanh Trung. “ In this cocktail we combine lemongrass, kaffir lime and cardamom, which makes the drink more `risky’.” The Gin House prepares its own gin infusions, and there are more than 20 flavours behind the bar, including lavender and butterfly pea, seaweed and nutmeg, and green tea and pomegranate. The infused gins can be ordered as a gin and tonic, or something a bit wilder, like a gin and ginger beer. The full cocktail menu is divided into sections: sweet and sour; creamy; bitter and dry; herbal and spicy; and sling and fizz. There’s a bit of something for everyone. 28/3A Ton That Tung, District 1 Open daily, from 5pm.



LE THANH TON SLING - 1,490,000+ QUI The Le Thanh Ton Sling is one of five “flowing bowls” on Qui’s cocktail menu. These flowing bowls are designed to be shared, just like a Vietnamese meal. Qui’s assistant bar manager, Tran Quang Minh, says the sharing bowls are very popular with selfie-loving Vietnamese ladies, who regard the dainty floral teacups as “sexy”. The Le Thanh Ton Sling, named for the street in which Qui overlooks, is a Vietnamese version of a gin sling, a traditional cocktail with gin, lime and soda. This sling, however, is prepared in a punch bowl, with gin, dry vermouth, maraschino lemon, cherry blossom tonic and soursop cordial. The swimming pool-sized cocktail is decorated with an orchid, nasturtium petals, lime leaves, raspberries and slices of dried lime, and served with a silver ladle. “Vietnamese people like something sweet, sour and refreshing,” Minh said. The Le Thanh Ton Sling is all that and more. It’s also fun, possibly because it feels a little bit naughty to be sipping something alcoholic out of one of nanna’s teacups! Qui captures that dimly-lit cocktail bar vibe, with its marbletopped tables and leather bar stools. There’s a selection of cigars available, and some tasty small plates that go well with some after-work cocktail quaffing.

Shri Served in a model 18th Century sailing ship, the Ba Son Shipyard pays homage to Vietnam’s maritime heritage and the country’s historic importance in the spice trade route. Back in the day, cloves were worth more than their weight in gold, and a ship owner could become a billionaire if his captain could successfully navigated the treacherous waters, and the pirates, between Asia and Europe. Cloves sold in Europe for 60,000 times more than their wholesale price in Southeast Asia, according to Shri manager Richie Fawcett. The Ba Son is a delicious blend of gold rum, ginger beer, fresh lime juice, fresh ginger juice, clove syrup, and coconut foam flamed into a meringue-like crust just before serving. It’s garnished with a ginger wedge studded with five cloves. Once offloaded from its impressive galleon, the Ba Son, in its copper captain’s mug, is a refreshing gingery fizzy burst of alcoholic goodness with a creamy coconut topping. It’s not too creamy, not too strong, and not too sweet. Like Baby Bear’s bed, it’s just right. The shipyard for which the cocktail is named has, sadly been demolished to make way for yet another high rise apartment complex. But don’t worry, there are many other Ho Chi Minh City sites that still exist that are honoured by a cocktail at Shri. The cocktail menu contains 41 Ho Chi Minh-themed drinks, including the Ly Tu Trong and the People’s Committee Building. If you haven’t got time to drink them all, buy a copy of The Cocktail Art of Saigon Drink Manual, illustrated by Richie, so you can whip yourself up a Vietnamese-themed cocktail at home. Level 23, Centec Tower, 72-74, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, District 1

22 Le Thanh Ton, District 1




Peter Cornishgets talksup toclose Hoa Vo, ofwith environmentally ethical relocation AsiaLIFE andfounder personal Mac whisperer Brian Caleda, company, founder of the Evolvepopular Mobility.iKnow Photocomputer by Romain Garrigue. repair store in Thao Dien. Photo by Romain Garrigue. You have recently opened Evolve Mobility, Ho Chi Minh City’s newest relocation company with a strong social and environmentally aware business strategy. Why do you believe such an approach is important in today’s business world? I believe that we have reached a critical point where we must re-evaluate how we do business, and how it fits in harmony with the planet and people. Evolve Mobility shuns this redundant thinking that makes us identify ourselves just as individuals as this thinking is to the detriment of our planet. Work and business cannot be seen as separate to people and what is important to individuals in their lives, but rather a “part of” these beliefs. When the earth faces ecological meltdown, businesses are stepping up to create alternative narratives. Evolve Mobility is not the only ones with this outlook, but we do want to be part of this new narrative.

Evolve Mobility describes itself as an “environment first moving company”. How would you describe the vison and ethos of the company? The packaging industry worldwide contributes to a large amount of waste. Here in Vietnam there are exciting earth-first initiatives, such as Evolve Mobility, taking place that we knew we could be a part of. If we can change here in Vietnam, then it is possible for the whole world to change. We are responsible for the health and welfare of our staff, our clients and the earth. From my many years’ experience in the relocation industry I know that the word “recycled” was used haphazardly without any real responsibility. I knew that with the right partners that I could create end to end recycling solutions at Evolve Mobility and a definite programme that was multi-levelled where we could address a reuse, repair, recycle philosophy. We hope that our competitors will see these initiatives and join us for a bigger conversation!

You describe the team at Evolve as “recycling warriors” What motivated you to take this approach? Without doubt the packaging industry worldwide is a large contributor to waste. When most moving companies qualify “recycling” as re-using boxes for local moves, I felt it was time to move the industry forward and to start a company that contributed more fully to the preservation of the beauty of Vietnam. I try to travel extensively in Vietnam and

am in awe of my homeland’s magnificent beauty. I feel a duty to protect that for my children and for everyone. As the first relocation company to initiate such directives in Vietnam we felt like “warriors” as we met other companies and created a “movement”. Anything that we can possibly obtain from recycled materials we secure. For somethings there is no alternative yet but soon we believe everything with be from recycled materials. We have gone to great lengths to access alternatives. People and planet first is how we approach each issue that has faced us so far.

Without doubt the packaging industry worldwide is a large contributor to waste

Who have you partnered with to achieve your environmental goals? I have partnered with Karta VN who are also environmentally conscious in their business strategy. They are a local Vietnamese company that manufacture boxes out of 100% recycled material in Vietnam. They also collect and process boxes and material from inbound moves that don’t meet international re-use standards and converts them into material that undergoes full quality control inspection after recycling.

We have heard about Karta Garden, an initiative started by Karta in Tay Ninh Province. Can you explain this project and what Karta hopes to achieve with it? This is a Karta initiative that has been operating for three years now and one that Evolve Mobility will also partner with Karta VN on. The idea behind Karta Garden is to give people a space and environment where you

can explore and understand yourself, others, and live in the caring arms of nature. In this space you can grow your own vegetables build your own bamboo and mud house and create a space to come back to when life gets stressful.

How do you think people can work together to confront environmental issues in Vietnam? Connection is the solution. Once we start to see beyond our own instant gratification and stop seeing ourselves as separate individuals then we see ourselves as part of the solution. Once I started to enquire with different people and companies I was surprised that I found many who shared Evolve Mobility’s beliefs. I recommend starting conversations with everyone. Did you know that we are the only species on the planet that if we became extinct the planet would flourish? Yet if ants became extinct or even bees the whole ecological system would fall apart. We are insignificant to this planet and the only ones that can offer a solution.

Throughout what Evolve does, you place emphasis on social responsibility. What else are you doing to promote this? Many of our clients allow us to collect any unwanted items for the reuse/ recycle/ repair programme. These items are stored at our brand-new warehouse just 20 minutes from the centre of Ho Chi Minh City. Each month we will hold a bazaar and raise money for a local charity. Each month the date of the bazaar will be promoted by way of Evolve Mobility and other partners Facebook and Instagram. Best offers will be accepted on the day and all proceeds will go to a different selected Vietnam charity each month. The charity and amount raised will be announced on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Follow us for regular updates as well as posting on topical environmental issues. It’s a great way to raise donations. Someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure!

What advice would you give other companies wanting to become more socially and environmentally relevant in 2018? Believe that there is another way. The world is moving in a different direction now. There are solutions created in connecting with other people and in exploring new ways. There will be people who will tell you – no, its not possible. Find the people that want to join you and support your efforts. They are out there! AsiaLIFE HCMC 11




Twins Jacques and Laurent Pourcel won three Michelin stars for their Jardin Des Sens fine dining restaurant in France, the chefs’ have branched out into Bangkok, Tokyo, Geneva, Marrakech, Casablanca and now Saigon.

A beefy new restaurant in District 3 offering a range of Western and Vietnamese fare, including steak and bo ne (sizzling beef and egg), homemade cheesecake and a great full English breakfast.

251 Dien Bien Phu, District 3

13/32 C Ky Dong, ward 9, District 3





Modern Japanese dining, signature drinks and cocktails in Binh Thanh District. This new eatery is the sister restaruant to the original Ichiba Sushi in Le Lai Street in District 1.

Authentic Mediterranean flavours from the south-east of France, Italy, Corsica and nearby nations, served with warm hospitality.

159d Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh

32 Nguyen Cu, Thao Dien, District 2



A Mediterranean-inspired wood-fired kitchen with a focus on organic produce and owner-selected wines, Quince Saigon’s sister restaurant in Bangkok was listed in the first edition of Michelin Thailand. 7bis Ky Con, District 1 12 AsiaLIFE HCMC

INTERNATIONAL CUISINE The guys behind Asian Streat are now serving international fusion cuisine in a new location in District 1, with a great range of cocktails. 34 Huynh Thuc Khang, District 1



VIETNAMESE SATELLITE SET FOR SPACE A made-in-Vietnam satellite, the MicroDragon, is due to be launched into space this year. The 50 kg satellite, developed by researchers from the Vietnam National Space Centre, will be the second Vietnamese satellite launched into space, following the PicoDragon, which went into orbit in 2013. The satellite is designed to monitor Vietnam’s coastline, observing water quality, fishing resources, changes in the ocean and shipping activity and tracing the origin of oil spills, Tuoi Tre news reported. Ho Chi Minh City Space Technology

Application Centre Director Lam Dao Nguyen also said the satellite could also be used to supervise farming in the Mekong Delta. As part of Vietnam’s space programme, 36 engineers studied satellite technology at Japanese universities. The design and testing of the MicroDragon was conducted under the mentorship of Japanese professors, and the satellite will be launched by a Japanese Epsilon rocket. A 600 kg satellite, LOTUSat, is currently being developed by the Vietnam National Space Centre, and is expected to be launched next year.

The traffic death toll over the four-day Tet holiday stood at 121, with another 120 injured, Vietnam News reported, citing the National Committee for Traffic Safety. The deaths and injuries were the result of 155 traffic accidents, with speeding and drink driving the major causes, the committee said. During the first two days of the new lunar year police issued 1,545 traffic fines worth more than VND413 million and seized 746 vehicles.

BABY BOOM Vietnam’s population will reach 94.7 million by the end of 2018, the Ministry of Health’s General Office for Population and Family Planning estimated, according to news reports. The current estimate of the nation’s population is 93.7 million, making Vietnam the 13th most populous country in the world and the third in Southeast Asia. The office said more than 1.3 million babies were born in Vietnam in 2017, with 117,000 born in Hanoi and nearly 60,000 in Ho Chi Minh City.

ELECTRIC CARS FIND FAVOUR More than a third of prospective car buyers in Southeast Asia would consider an electric vehicle, a auto company-backed survey has found. The Future of Electric Vehicles in Southeast Asia report, commissioned by Nissan, found 37% of people surveyed in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam would consider buying an electric vehicle as their next car.

WIND FARMS FOR MEKONG DELTA A Thai company plans to invest US$1.76 billion in wind farms in Vietnam, with the first phase consisting of three farms in the Mekong Delta. Superblock Public Company, Thailand’s biggest solar energy company, said the first three wind farms in the provinces of Bac Lieu, Soc Trang and Ca Mau should be operational by 2020, generating a combined 340 mega-watts of energy. The second phase of the project, in the same three provinces, will generate 360 mega-watts, the company said. Company Chairman Jormsup Lochaya said Vietnam’s young population and growing

economy would result in demand for power rising by 10% a year. Meeting this demand with wind power will mean less air pollution, he said. Vietnam currently has a wind power capacity of 140 MW, and the government has set a goal of reaching 6,000 MW by 2030. Superblock will soon decide whether to invest in another 50 MW solar farm in Vietnam, and is planning to expand its wind and solar capacity in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.

RICE EXPORTS TO INCREASE Vietnam’s rice exports are expected to increase by 7% this year to 6 million tonnes on increased demand from Southeast Asian nations. As well as increased demand, the price of rice has risen, the Association said, with the export price of 5% broken rice rising to $400 per tonne from $390. China will remain Vietnam’s largest rice export destination, with strong demand from the Philippines. Demand for imported rice is also set to rise in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, where bad weather affected local crops.



DAVID CAMPBELL By Lauren Cameron. Photo by Romain Garrigue.


rom Australian Apprentice of the Year, to executive chef for Australia’s Reserve Bank, to founder and owner of one of Saigon’s most unique antique shops, David Campbell finds creative inspiration in Vietnam’s history and people. We are sitting at a glass table, set on a restored wooden chest that David acquired through one of the many “pickers” who unearth antiquities for him across Asia. To our left sits a golden Thai wedding headdress, and to our right stands a canteen of French crystal goblets and a hand-carved Burmese village figure atop a restored Italian mantelpiece. We are in David’s “world” – and boy is it a fascinating one. Born in Queensland, Australia, to a Polish mother and an Aussie father, David grew up with big ambitions to make a creative impact on the world. He entered into a chef’s apprenticeship as soon as he could, inspired by the unique Australian flavours he grew up with, and by the time he was in his fourth year David owned his own restaurant, a rare feat for an apprentice chef. Possum’s Eatery, of New Farm, Brisbane, showcased Australian ingredients and helped win him one of Australia’s most prestigious awards, Australian Apprentice of the Year, when he was just 20. 14 AsiaLIFE HCMC

“I also took part in whatever cooking competitions I could and succeeded in many of them,” David explained. “I always tried to do things 100% to the best of my ability so I tried to compete wherever possible, and I think the judges took note of that.” From Possum’s Eatery, his cooking career took him to Ireland and London, where he completed his apprenticeship at the prestigious heritage hotel, The Grosvenor. Next stop was the culinary capital of Melbourne, where his craftsmanship landed him a job that was the envy of chefs across the nation: executive chef for The Reserve Bank of Australia. “It was any chef’s dream – there was no budget for the menu. We could use whatever ingredients we wanted so long as they were in season, everything was served on gold and sterling silver, our guests moved in high circles so we were serving lots of important people and there was all this incredible art throughout the building… marble floors… It was amazing,” David said. A sabbatical in Port Douglas followed this incredible career high, after which David made the natural move into the hotel world as front desk staff at the Radisson Hotel Port Douglas. From there, his hotels career blossomed until

he found himself the Global Director of Sales for the Raffles and Swissotel Group. A Global Career David spent much of his 20s and early 30s travelling, from Thailand to Estonia, Moscow to London. But as David travelled, he didn’t collect t-shirts and mugs along, he bought antique chandeliers and French pianos. “They were expensive souvenirs!” he laughed. “I became obsessed with collecting antiques. I bought a storage container and that, I suppose, was the real start of it all. I think I also became fascinated with antique collecting because Australia’s history and culture is so young. I mean, there are chairs older than Australia in Europe. Being so close to real history and real antiques made me really excited.” David’s Polish grandmother also collected antiques. She had an incredible collection of mainly European and Australian artefacts, but not so many Asian pieces. David attributes this gap in his grandmother’s collection to his fascination with Vietnamese antiques, together with his love for the country itself. “When I started Villa Royale I really wanted to concentrate on authentic antique collectables, with an emphasis on Vietnamese

collectables because they have such a unique history,” David explained. “I feel as though Vietnam is progressing and modernising so rapidly that the people are forgetting their heritage, just as Russia and China have done. There’s such a growing Western influence here, in terms of fashion, design, religion, that the traditional Vietnamese culture is starting to be neglected, which is really sad. I want to help Vietnam restore its most precious antiques and collectables to their former glory.” How It All Began When a once-in-a-lifetime job opportunity presented itself to David’s long-term partner Linh in 2011, the couple decided to make the move from Sydney to Saigon. Linh, born in Vietnam, had fled the country during the Vietnam War with his parents. Upon arriving in Saigon, David took another sabbatical in order to figure a new plan of action. He enrolled himself in a six-month full-time course in Vietnamese language and culture at a Ho Chi Minh City university. This turned out to be one of the best decisions of his life. “It was very challenging, learning Vietnamese especially. One of my teachers had a Northern dialect, the other a Southern one. But it wasn’t until I had studied the language that I felt I had a strong understanding of the business culture and community here,” David explained. “It helped me realise what it was that I wanted to do in Saigon.” And so the Villa Royale journey began. Villa Royale Antiques And Tea Room In 2013 David decided he’d start an authentic antique collectibles business, one that combined his love of classy comfort food and antiquities. Villa Royale was designed to attract local and international crowds. The eclectic business has two venues: one in District 1; and the original in District 2, in the villa where David and Linh live. The Villa Royale tearooms have such unique aesthetics they have been used on multiple occasions by local and international glamour magazines for photo shoots -- Gucci, Elle, DEP, Cong Tri and Thoi Gia Magazine. Vietnamese Pop singer Chi Pu even has recorded a music video in David’s District 1 venue. “We get a lot of hotel and travel groups coming through here for high tea and to learn a little about Vietnam’s unique historical pieces,” he said. “It’s wonderful. I get to meet so many travellers, expats and locals, chat with them and offer them advice about their stay in Vietnam. I love it.” “I think when you have a job and a business you look forward to going to every day, you shouldn’t mess with the recipe too much. I love Vietnam and can’t see myself living anywhere else,” David said.

HANOI’S FIRST MCDONALD’S Three years after opening its first outlet in Ho Chi Minh City, iconic American fast food giant McDonald’s has unveiled its first restaurant in Hanoi. The new restaurant, in a prime retail location overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake, has seating for nearly 200 customers. McDonald’s first outlet in Ho Chi Minh City generated VND1.5 billion ($71,130) in revenue in its first two days of operation. At the time, the company said it planned to have 100 outlets in Vietnam within a decade. At present, it has 17 restaurants, 16 in Ho Chi Minh City and one in Hanoi.

NEW CEMETERY FOR OFFICIALS A cemetery the size of 100 football fields will be built on the outskirts Hanoi for government and Communist Party officials, Tuoi Tre News reported. About 60% of the 12-hectare site, at the foot of Ba Vi Mountain about 40 km from downtown Hanoi, will be used for burial plots for officials, national heroes and “people of note”, the report said. The six-hectare Mai Dich Cemetery in Hanoi’s Cau Giay District, where officials have been buried since 1982, has run out of room. It’s expected to be turned into a cemetery park.

GOVERNMENT STEPS IN TO SAVE TET Dong Nai provincial authorities paid half a month’s salary each to 1,900 garment workers whose bosses did a midnight flit just before Tet. The Vietnam Economic Times reported Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc intervened in the case, ordering the local authority to support the workers of KL Texwell Vina, a fully-owned unit of South Korean Kwanglim Group. The report said the factory’s South Korean managers left Vietnam just before Tet owing VND13.7 billion in salaries to its staff. The company also owes VND17.5 million in social insurance contributions.

HAPRO TO EQUITIZE The Vietnam government will sell its entire stake in retail and property giant in an initial public offering (IPO) at the end of March. The Hanoi Stock Exchange said the Hanoi Trading Corporation, known as Hapro, will offer 75.93 million shares, or 34.51% of its charter capital, in the IPO on March 30 to raise at least VND971 billion ($42.7 million). Hapro operates supermarkets and convenience stores and owns land and properties throughout Vietnam. AsiaLIFE HCMC 15

Barbara Adam investigates what’s possible -- and what’s not -- when it comes to home cooking in Ho Chi Minh City. Photos by Jonny Edbrooke and Thang Pham.



n 2006, Paul Homfray spent a week scouring Saigon for a toaster to satisfy his craving for toast. Paul was visiting his daughter Elizabeth, who had just set up home in Saigon, in a house with the traditional Vietnamese kitchen of two countertop gas rings. “Eventually he found one lonely toaster at Nguyen Kim (electronics store). It cost about $70, which he found outrageous but he was desperate for toast. It still works, by the way!” The irony of the Homfrays kitchen stocking expeditions was that Elizabeth had given away all her kitchen gadgets, gizmos and knives before she left Sydney because she’d seen so many “Made in Vietnam” labels on them, so she thought they’d be readily available in Ho Chi Minh City. She arrived to find a kitchen gadget wasteland, and a shortage of accommodation with Western-style kitchens. “In those days you had to wait for someone to move out before you could get a house with a `proper’ kitchen,” she said. Times have definitely changed in Ho Chi Minh City since Paul’s desperate toaster search. Now there is a wide range of equipment to help home cooks, and an equallywide range of ingredients, in Saigon. So there’s really no reason at all not to cook at home. “You have to adapt, to a certain extent,” Elizabeth said. “The hardest thing for me when I go there, and I’m a country girl, was the meat.” Back in her early days in Ho Chi Minh City, Elizabeth ate a lot of buffalo because the beef was, in her view, substandard. “ Now you’ve got a multitude of restaurants that do good steaks, and you can also go to Meatworks and buy whatever you want,” she said. Cooking tutor Caroline Nguyen attributes the availability of cooking equipment in Saigon to the increasing affluence of Vietnamese society, as well as the post-Doi Moi awareness about the rest of the world.

Influence of Television

Chinese-American celebrity chef Martin Yan, who has hosted the television series Yan Can Cook since 1982, also contributed to the interest in cooking non-Vietnamese food, Caroline said. “His TV show was on national television in the 1990s,” she said. “So at that time, people became encouraged to think about cooking not only as a hobby but also as a career.”



People became encouraged to think about cooking not only as a hobby but also as a career Caroline Nguyen

International Influence

Caroline also said Vietnamese students returning from studying abroad had further boosted local interest in home cooking, as had the “blooming of YouTube” and international cooking shows such as Master Chef. Caroline only bought a counter-top oven three years ago. Since then she’s experimented with baking and roasting. Like many Vietnamese households, Caroline’s mum had some of Trieu Thi Choi’s cookbooks, written specifically for the Vietnamese kitchen, which, in most cases, has no oven. However, the cookbooks do have some baking recipes, for Vietnamese specialties such as cassava cake. The traditional Vietnamese way of baking is to place a large pot on a clay burner filled with charcoal. The cake is placed inside the pot, which is sealed tightly, and then embers are piled on top of the lid, ensuring the “oven” is heated from the top and the bottom. With this kind of oven there’s no need for a recipe to mention any temperature settings. Which caused a few problems when Caroline first tried to follow Trieu Thi Choi’s recipes with her new counter-top oven. “I had to try many times,” she said. “I eventually learned that cakes need to cook at 165 to 180 degrees, never more than 200. And for meat, the temperature has to be over 200 degrees Celcius.” While Caroline continues her experimentation with international cooking, she also works as a freelance cooking tutor, taking clients to local markets and explaining the local ingredients and how to avoid imported Chinese produce, then going to her client’s home to demonstrate Vietnamese cooking. Kris Burgess is another enthusiastic home cook, and a former chef and restaurateur, who has cooked professionally in the UK and Europe. “When I first came here in 2011, it was very hard to get hold of things,” he said. Kris’s first home had the standard Vietnamese kitchen consisting of two counter-top gas rings. “I did a lot of one-pot wonders,” he said. Now his setup includes two halogen ovens, which he uses to cook classic British fare such as Yorkshire puddings and a lot of Mediterranean-style dishes. Kris said the abundance of kitchen gadgets and gizmos available now in Vietnam was staggering, with everything from electric knives to pasta machines and

commercial ovens stocked in stores and sold online.

Hard Habit to Break

“People can cook at home now,” he said. “It’s just a lot of people have gotten out of the habit. “If people don’t get back into investing in cooking and especially investing in their children learning to cook, they’re all going to end up like they are in America, and the UK to some extent.” Home cooking is also easier in Ho Chi Minh City now than in the past, Kris said, because of the much wider range of ingredients. In the past, any attempt at cooking an international dish required a trek to the imported food shops in Ham Nghi Street in District 1, or Annam Gourmet, when it was predominantly an import shop. Even then such a shopping trip was a bit of a lottery because of the erratic restocking policies. But now the gourmet shops in the expat areas of Thao Dien and Phu My Hung stock a much wider range of imported and local ingredients, as well as fresh vegetables from Dalat. The changes have made these shops less intimidating to Vietnamese cooks as well, Kris pointed out, which has in turn increased demand. “The stuff that was being brought in before, the produce, you had to pick and choose to find the ones that were still at a useable stage,” he said. “Now you can be pretty confident you can go into Annam, Nam An or Black Market and find exactly what you want that day.” Delivery services like mean that you don’t even have to leave home to get hold of quality cooking ingredients.

A Taste of Home

It’s possible to get a taste of home in Ho Chi Minh City, no matter how far away from home you actually are. Russian expat Fedor Pigletov sells homemade Eastern European specialties through the DumplingsOi Facebook page, offering a range of pierogis, dumplings, sausages and cheeses. The pierogis and dumplings are delivered frozen and half-cooked, so some culinary skills are required. South Africans pining for some authentic biltong can also get beef and ostrich versions delivered by Bokkie’s Biltong. The gluten-free, sugar-free and MSG-free biltong is made by authentic South African Ronald Frank right here in Ho Chi Minh City. (To order, call 01215612026.) There’s also a new delivery service AsiaLIFE HCMC 19

called Go Cheffie, which delivers all the ingredients required for a meal, along with detailed recipe cards. My eight-year-old daughter and I trialled the service, cooking a meal of chicken parmiagana, buttered broccoli, and lemon and rosemary brown rice. Our bag of goodies arrived right on time, and we eagerly began unpacking the components of our dinner: eggs, onions, fresh and dried herbs, spices, chicken fillets, flour, breadcrumbs, fresh mozzarella cheese, and dinky little jars of olive oil. We started prepping the vegetables and it wasn’t long before I announced I was going to start a YouTube channel called I Hate Chopping. My eight-year-old assured me she’d be my first subscriber. Most of the dishes in my home cooking rotation are the one-pot wonders that Kris used to cook, interspersed with casseroles and quiches from our mini-oven. It’s very rare that I attempt an elaborate multi-dish meal requiring so many pots and pans. It took us more than two hours from unpacking to plating up. Partly because of the brilliant assistance of my child and partly because having three dishes on the go -- even if one was only boiled broccoli -stretched my end-of-the-day mental powers. We ended up with waaaay more food than we needed: four giant serves of chicken parmigiana, and mountains of broccoli and herbed rice. And just like an Ikea assembly, we had quite a few random items left over, including two cups of olive oil. (I think I was supposed to deep-fry something.) The chicken parmigiana was incredibly delicious. The herbs and spices in the tomato sauce and the fresh cheeses made a remarkable difference to the pub-grub parmies I’ve tried in the past. I’m pretty sure this dish would be a lot quicker to prepare second time around and I’d definitely consider ordering a Go Cheffie delivery for special family meal or a dinner party.

More home cooking hacks

Lyra Maleon Dacio, who’s lived in Ho Chi Minh City for nine years, regularly enjoys Filipino home-cooked favourites, such as chicken adobo, which uses vinegar, soy sauce and oregano, and sinigang, which is similar to Vietnamese sour soup. “Filipino dishes are both Spanish -333 years of colonisation -- and Chinese inspired, because of our history of trading,” she said. “Since Vietnamese cuisine has a close resemblance to Chinese cuisine, being a former Chinese colony, it’s easy to find ingredients similar to what we have in the Philippines.” Lyra said she only encountered minor


problems sourcing equipment to make Filipino dishes. She said she had a great deal of trouble finding a tool to make strips of coconut for Filipino fruit salad. She also initially had problems sourcing an ice shaver to make halo halo. “But now you can buy ice shavers easily. I got mine from a Japanese shop.” A full-time working mother, Lyra says she’s “no domestic goddess” and resorts to the most common of all kitchen hacks in Vietnam. “I have a Vietnamese helper,” she said. “I was able to teach her how to cook Filipino dishes. She now cooks even better than I.” Lyra’s Filipino home cooking is now also assisted by deliveries from Filipino restaurants and grocery stores, such as Loriekot’s Lutong Bahay (Loriekot’s Homecooked Meals) and Casa Manila. Apart from hiring a helper, there are a range of MacGuyverish tricks you can use in Vietnamese kitchens.

More than just rice

The most basic is to use a rice cooker to cook more than just rice. Rice cookers can be used for cakes, curries, poached pears, oatmeal porridge, fritattas, boiled eggs, roast pork, even giant pancakes. There are even recipe books dedicated to rice cooker recipes. For more cooking hacks, tune in to Ms Yeah’s YouTube channel for inspiration. Ms Yeah is a young Chinese office worker who films herself cooking using office equipment. Her videos, which regularly go viral, show her using an iron to grill beef, an air conditioning element to barbecue meat, taking apart her computer to use the housing as a grill, and using a kettle to make boiled snacks. She’s even branched out into hair care products, using a curling iron to make pastries and a hairdryer to make waffles.

And then there’s Will

Will Knight is a keen home cook whose busy work and social life means he eats out for nearly every meal. “My schedule is always packed from 8am until 1am,” he said. As well as Will’s day job in finance, he assists his dancer girlfriend with salsa social events in the evenings. “There are so many great options, day or night, that are really very affordable in Saigon. Between local and foreign restaurants, we really are spoiled for choice here. ” “I like eating around people, so generally I’ll only eat at home if my girlfriend and I are both there or if we organise a barbecue for friends to join,” he said.

Since Vietnamese cuisine has a close resemblance to Chinese cuisine, being a former Chinese colony, it’s easy to find ingredients similar to what we have in the Philippines Lyra Maleon Dacio

Kris’s list of kitchen essentials:

• good knife • wetstone • good set of spatulas • good balloon whisk • grinder • proper weighing scales • proper measuring jug • two thermometers, one for the oven and one for meat • book stand

Caroline’s list of kitchen essentials: • good pan • big chopsticks


es a k a t . damve dog A i a bar se nat r a , B me dog ietna e h V of t ds of r a ee ye he ree br t r th ou hon at the o T


hroughout Vietnam’s long history, people have relied on hunting and fishing to survive. And a lot of the time, the hunting and fishing were assisted by loyal canine sidekicks. Vietnam has three types of native dogs, all considered excellent hunting and guard dogs. The most well known of the native dogs is the Phu Quoc dog, from the beautiful island of Phu Quoc in Kien Giang province in the Gulf of Thailand. The Phu Quoc dog is one of only three breeds of dogs worldwide to have a ridge of fur on its back. The other two are the Rhodesian Ridgeback and the Thai Ridgeback, although Vietnamese dog experts believe the Thai dog is a descendant of the Phu Quoc dog. According to legend, Phu Quoc dogs are the descendants of island jackals and fu-dogs, the mythical dragon-dogs whose likenesses guard the entrances of Chinese temples. The fu-dog is the parent who passed on the ridge.

Royal Influence

But that’s only one of the legends surrounding the Phu Quoc dog. Another


says that Emperor Gia Long fled to Phu Quoc, pursued by Nguyen Hue. There, a dog helped him hide and as payment the king laid his sword on the dog’s back. That’s why Phu Quoc dogs’ ridges resemble a sword. Nguyen Minh Khang is the head of the native breeds department at the Vietnam Kennel Association, which has been documenting the history of Phu Quoc dogs in order to gain international recognition of the breed. According to the Vietnam Kennel Association’s Brief on the History and Development of the Phu Quoc Dog Breed, in the mid-1800s, when Vietnam was part of French-ruled Indochina, French medical student Fernand Doceu wrote about an unusual native dog he saw on Phu Quoc Island. Doceu eventually collected two breeding pairs of Phu Quoc dogs, which he sent to Jardin Zoolozique d’Acclimatation in Paris. More than 100 years later, the Vietnam Kennel Association, which was established in 2008, published the official breed standards of the Phu Quoc dog. As part of it’s research, the VKA asserts the Thai Ridgeback is likely to be a



descendant of some of the Phu Quoc dogs traded with Thai sailors over the years. The report said in the 1980s, one Phu Quoc dog could be traded with a Thai sailor for 20 boxes of tobacco “or other home appliances of equivalent value”. Phu Quoc dogs are good swimmers, with webbed feet that help them swimming, and walking on wet, sandy and muddy ground. The dogs can also climb trees, and have flexible cat-like bodies. Even though bred as hunters, Phu Quoc dogs are considered good pets, with lowmaintenance short hair and a sociable and playful nature. To honour this sociable breed, the Phu Quoc dog was used as the mascot for the 2018 Nguyen Hue Flower Street in Ho Chi Minh City.

Bac Ha Dog

Bac Ha dogs originate from Bac Ha district in Lao Cai province in Vietnam’s northwest, bordering China. Sapa is the best-known city in the province, famous for its ethnic minority people, trekking and the nearby beautiful rice terraces. This native dog has thick fur to help it

THE STORY OF THE DOG IN THE ANIMAL ZODIAC cope with the region’s cold winters. It is a medium-sized dog, with a fluffy mane, which gives it a very majestic appearance. It comes in colours of black, grey, tan and brindle. Used for hunting and as a guard dog, the Bac Ha dog has a calm temperament, is highly territorial and loyal to its owners.

Hmong Dog

The Hmong dog, from mountainous northern Vietnam, has an unusual bobbed tail. It was used by the Hmong ethnic minority people as a hunting and guard dog. It’s a well-muscled dog of medium size, with a large head and expressive eyes. The breed comes in shades of black, brownish red, black and white, and brindle. Tran Dinh Thao lives in District 7 with two black Hmong dogs, a male called Mr Rob, who’s two years old, and a female called Lucky, who’s one. “They are a very loyal and cute animal,” he said. “They are very good with kids, very friendly. They are also very good guard dogs who will protect their territory.” Thao is an active member of the South Viet Nam Hmong Coc dog club. He’s also a member of the Facebook group, CLB NNN

HMong Coc Duoi Phuong Nam (Ket Noi Dam Me-Se Chia Khong Gioi Han), has more than 1,300 members, who regularly meet “offline” with their dogs. Minh Pham Thanh is another Hmong dog owner. He says his Hmong dog is so loyal to his mum, it gets upset if someone else wears her flip-flops or rides her motorbikes. Thanh also warns that Hmong dogs have a deep hatred of cats, and will kill any they encounter. Something that must be kept in mind by people thinking of getting a Hmong dog as a pet. Some pet enthusiasts have said the two northern breeds of Vietnamese dogs aren’t suited to southern Vietnam’s hot and humid climate. But The Vietnam Kennel Association’s Kang said they dogs are able to cope with life in Ho Chi Minh City. “Although the Bac Ha and Hmong are cold climate breeds, these two breeds can adapt to Ho Chi Minh City, just like other exotic breeds such as the Alaskan Malamute and the Samoyed,” he said. Kang also recommended all three breeds of native Vietnamese dog, the Phu Quoc, the Hmong and the Bac Ha, as pets because of their loyalty, personalities, attractive appearance and intelligence.

Legend has it that when the Jade Emperor, the king of heaven, announced a race to Heaven’s Gate to choose 12 animal guards and the calendar signs, the dog just squeaked in, arriving second last. The dog should have been one of the first to arrive, given its speed and intelligence. But it stopped to play in the river and had so much fun it almost forgot about the race. It remembered just in time and raced to the gate, arriving second last. The dog is the 11th animal in the zodiac, and people born in dog years are considered faithful, dependable, intelligent and open-minded. Negative traits include being cynical, lazy, stubborn and judgemental. Previous years of the dog have been 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994 and 2006. Famous dog people include Winston Churchill, Socrates, Bill Clinton, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Mother Theresa and Madonna.



AsiaLIFE and Oi Vietnam join forces with the city’s food and beverage sector with a project to use small change to create big changes for the disadvantaged.

he power of harnessing consumer spending for good causes is not a new concept, but it is one that has been gaining attention of late as people become more comfortable with the idea of for-profit social organisations, rather than the traditional not-for-profit ventures. There’s been an upsurge in sociallyconscious community events in Ho Chi Minh City of late, with groups such as Saigon SOS hosting charity fundraisers, and craft beer companies making regular donations to community causes through charity beer fests and event sponsorship. Often the outcome of these events is to raise awareness of the work that local NGOs and charities are doing, and to provide a much-appreciated financial injection to help them reach certain goals or, in some instances, just to continue with the work they are doing for the communities they support. Yet the reality remains that while these fund-raising events can be a great opportunity to capture the power of community goodwill, they often provide little more than a short-term panacea to the continued objective of raising funds. Worse still, in some instances they cost more to hold than they raise. The challenge of reaching financial sustainability for organisation operating in the social sphere remains an ongoing one, yet the number of organisations competing for an ever-shrinking pot of philanthropic donation and governmental support is increasing.

Social Enterprise

One solution to this ongoing funding challenge is the notion of a social enterprise, a business venture driven by a social or community cause which generates income from a product or service. However, although no longer reliant on the uncertainty of donations, most social businesses still struggle to persuade consumers to part with their money. Setting out to meet this challenge is new social enterprise. Small Change Big Changes is a new social enterprise that sets out to meet this challenge. Launching in late April 2018, Small Change hopes to harness the power of consumer spending in one of the city’s fastest growing sectors, the food and beverage industry. Funds will be raised


through consumer support of existing businesses, with people spending their money where they would spend it anyway. The idea is simple. F&B outlets will contribute a percentage of earnings to the fund. The amount they contribute will be small change, less than 1% of monthly revenue, and it will be possible for partner organisations to cap the amount they contribute. Nobody is asked to contribute more than they can afford, and partners will be able to withdraw temporarily or permanently at any time. In return for their monthly contributions, partner restaurants will receive offline and online promotional support from Small Change founding media partners, AsiaLIFE and Oi Vietnam. The value of the marketing support from the two publications is higher than the proposed contributions to ensure the restaurants get a fair exchange for their contributions.

It’s Time

“After more than ten years of AsiaLIFE in print and online, I though the environment was right for this initiative,” AsiaLIFE Director Jonny Edbrooke said. “Both AsiaLIFE and Oi have a great reach within the community and feel that if we can make a small change we have something sustainable.” By using partner restaurants as a collection point, guests that visit and eat at participating venues are indirectly contributing to the fund through a small percentage of their spending. The more the community supports the partner restaurants, the larger the contribution to the fund and the greater the social impact the fund will have. With a monthly revenue stream, the fund set up by Small Change will be used to create lasting and sustainable opportunities at a grassroot level, improving the lives of individuals or small groups. Sticking initially with the F&B sector, the first project will be the sponsorship of scholarship funding for trainee chefs at Streets International in Hoi An. Itself a successful and innovative social enterprise, Streets International develops and operates sustainable programmes for street kids and disadvantaged youth in Vietnam, preparing vulnerable, orphaned or disenfranchised young people for rewarding

careers in the hospitality industry. With a training platform that offers hands-on learning, observation and practice, course participants are equipped with the skills needed for work in the F&B and hospitality industry. Set up in 2009, Streets offers a comprehensive 18-month programme of vocational hospitality and culinary training. Streets has a 100% track record to date, graduating more than 250 trainees, many of whom now have careers at five-star hotels and restaurants, and mostly hired within 60 days of graduating. Once Small Change-sponsored trainees complete their programme it is hoped that partner restaurants will offer them employment in Ho Chi Minh City and support them as they embark on their new careers. Future projects that Small Change supports are expected to include the development of low cost, high nutrition meal plans at orphanages and schools around the city. The social enterprise would also like to provide seed funding for other start-up, high impact social business, perhaps chosen through a Dragon’s Den type scheme, where business ideas are pitched to potential investors. As a community fund, Small Change welcomes cooperation from other groups as well as proposals for funding.

Life-changing Opportunities

“Working with Streets International is a no brainer for us,” said Oi Vietnam Director Jimmy Jimmy van der Kloet. “The benefit of getting culinary skills is obviously a very sustainable and life-changing skill for trainees and can create far reaching opportunities. As our initiative develops we are looking at other initiatives we can fund, especially those that will have a sustainable impact on the environment.” Small Change will be launched on April 28 at a culinary event at Grain By Luke Nguyen, 71-75 Hai Ba Trung Street, District 1. Four chefs from partner restaurants will showcase a four-course meal, with each chef responsible for a different course. All proceeds from the event will be placed in the fund. For more information and tickets for the event:


Barbara Adam looks at how green thumbs survive in Saigon. 26 AsiaLIFE HCMC


n the urban chaos of Ho Chi Minh City, it seems there are very few pockets of peace, especially if you live in a noisy hem or apartment complex.

More and more people are creating their own little havens of tranquillity, on their balconies or on their rooftops, sometimes even on a windowsill, introducing some greenery to the grey grittiness of Ho Chi Minh City. Walk down any street in Ho Chi Minh City and you’ll see the how Vietnamese households use pots and baskets to create urban gardens on their balconies or on the footpath in front of their houses. Numerous studies have shown that garden can have a profound impact on people’s wellbeing, reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer depression, anxiety and stress. A Dutch study found that 30 minutes of gardening decreased levels of cortisol, a hormone that increases stress levels, in the brain. A think-tank, the King’s Fund, has even recommended Britain’s government-funded health system, the NHS, prescribe gardening for people showing early signs of dementia and heart disease. Not all expats in Ho Chi Minh City have land, but some people are making the most of what they do have -- balconies and rooftops -- to create their own little green space. Many balcony gardeners are even enjoying the fruits of their labour in the kitchen, havesting vegetables and herbs grown in containers and planter-boxes. The burning question for expats in Ho Chi Minh City is ... how do you get a garden started here?

Getting Started

Plant shops line most busy roads throughout the city, with colourful displays of potted flowers and ornamental plants. If you don’t speak Vietnamese, it can be difficult to do more than just buy what’s on display and then spend time working out through trial and error how to care for your purchases. Caecilia Graham, who grew up in the countryside in Indonesia, knew she wanted to garden when she was looking for a new home in Thao Dien two years ago, and she specifically selected a place that had a big balcony, with areas of full sun and part sun. “I got my first plant from the landlady, a welcome orchid, which I still have,” Caecilia said. Caecilia expanded her garden with purchases from local nurseries, gifts, and some plants grown from seeds. Because she couldn’t get advice from the local nurseries due to the language barrier, Caecilia turned to Google and gardening books to research growing a productive container garden. At the moment, Caecilia is growing spinach and Chinese kale, and she’s previously had success with cherry tomatoes and chillies.

Alexander Schlee from Gagaco, who studied agriculture in Germany, said a container garden consultation usually begins with a site visit, so the Gagaco staff can work out what plants will grow well in the space, depending on the angle of the sun and other conditions. “Then it’s usually the customer who tells us what he or she would like to grow and we check if it’s possible,” Alex said. “Or sometimes it’s the other way around and we give suggestions as to what’s possible and let them decide from the given options.” Alex said some plants, such as carrots, didn’t really suit container gardening. And some European herbs, such as European basil, sage and lavender, didn’t grow well in Saigon’s humidity. Gagaco’s small tiered planter systems start from about VND5 million, including materials, assembly, soil and plants. A follow-up service is also available, so that all the “gardener” really has to do is the watering.

Rooftop Gardening

Mai Hue grew an extensive rooftop garden on top of her apartment complex in Phu My Hung in District 7. Hue had about 150 square metres under cultivation, set up with the assistance of District 12-based gardening firm Rau Sach Thuy Sinh Eco. “I grew most tropical green vegetables and fruits, including mustard greens, radish, salad, string beans, onion, cucumber, bitter gourd, and tomatoes,” she said. For many apartment dwellers, a green balcony means the space is used more often. Plants can be used to hide eyesores, act as a windbreak or create shade. Best of all, a lush container garden can be your own private sanctuary, a green getaway where you can forget about the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City.

BALCONY GARDEN STARTER KIT: Pots - Chậu Saucers - Đĩa Potting mix - Đât sạch Hand trowel - Bay Watering can - Bình tươi nươc Hose - Ống tươi nươc Ready-to-use cow manure - Phân bò Liquid seaweed and/or fish fertiliser - Phân rong biển/ phân cá

Call In The Pros

Marta Del Pino Rojas from Spain sought professional help when setting up her balcony kitchen garden. A Ho Chi Minh City-based container gardening company called Gagaco supplied the planters, soil and plants, and now Marta has a flourishing kitchen garden with cucumbers, onions, several types of tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, capsicum, basil and flat parsley. Marta’s garden has attracted the attention of a creature, possibly a mouse, that is eating her seedlings, and aphids are also attacking her cucumbers. With the help of the internet and Gagco she is working out how to deal with the pests. Gagaco staff visit every two weeks to check the garden and stay in regular contact to make sure things are going well.

HANDY TRANSLATION GUIDE: Indoor plant -- Cây trồng trong nhà Outdoor plant -- Cây trồng ngoài trời Seeds -- Hạt giống Seedlings -- Cây con Flower seeds -- Hạt giống hoa Vegetable seeds -- Hạt giống rau cải



anang-based Evergreen Labs is a social enterprise that focuses on the triple bottom line: social; environmental; and financial

returns. Working with like-minded entrepreneurs and local partners, Evergreen Labs aims to develop and support businesses that drive social and environmental sustainability and empower those on the bottom of the pyramid of workers, all while focused on financial returns. Within this framework, Evergreen Labs is focusing on community-based tourism in Vietnam to transform businesses into sustainable, profitable and mutuallybeneficial operations for all of its stakeholders. Community-based tourism is a subcategory of responsible tourism, in which local residents from marginalised communities generate income through homestays, food, and other services. Sadly, current community-based tourism practices in Vietnam do not greatly benefit local


communities and for various reasons often fail. Evergreen Labs and the International Labor Organisation are now researching why community-based tourism has not been successful in Vietnam, with a view to finding some solutions to transform the segment.

Historical Issues

Vietnam has 53 ethnic minority groups, each with individual cultures, traditions, languages and food. Industrialisation has caused these cultures to integrate into the modern world, leading to the loss of identity and traditions. Community-based tourism aims to preserve cultures through sustainable tourism practices that conserve the environment and communities. Over the past decade, aid agencies, government bodies and tourism agencies have developed an estimated 250 community-based tourism projects throughout Vietnam. But only an estimated

10% of the projects were successful, mainly because of a lack of experience, support and expectation management. In many cases, local communities were exploited, commodified and left to fend for themselves when the developers left.

Social Innovation

The challenges of Vietnam’s fragmented community-based tourism ecosystem are being addressed by Evergreen Labs’ Vietnam Community-Based Tourism Network, which works to transform the industry into a sustainable, empowering and profitable sector through supporting development, market access, knowledge sharing and quality control. There are two ways the network supports development of projects. First through Last Mile Development, where consultancy is provided to communities that already have programmes in place but still need support in implementing sustainable and beneficial operations, and expanding their tourism products. Second, through grassroot

development, with the Vietnam CommunityBased Tourism Network helps develop projects with the potential for a sustainable outcome. Often community-based tourism initiatives never make it to the market because of a lack of support and know-how within communities. The Vietnam Community-Based Tourism Network increases market access by creating marketing material and linking programs to tour desks, as well as listing the tourism products on online portals including the website. The network also helps create customised tours for travel companies, study groups and corporate retreats.

Sharing the Knowledge

In the past, community-based tourism stakeholders have not exchanged experiences and pitfalls. The Vietnam Community-Based Tourism Network aims to make the know-how accessible to all. The network provides consulting services, including feasibility studies, operational improvements, process implementation, training, and destination and product scouting. The Vietnam Community-Based Tourism Network will also focus on quality control, firstly for its members and then via a nationally recognised certification system. While this process takes time, the impact will be substantial and greatly benefit the communities, tourists and operators alike. One project that showcases the benefits of the Vietnam Community-based Tourism Network is A Hua Village, about 60km southwest of Hue. A Luoi is a scenic mountainous district nestled between the A Shau Valley and the Laotian border. For many years, this off-the-beaten-track destination has been renowned for its cultural richness with different hill tribe minorities, lush mountain ranges, rice fields, and breathtaking panoramic views. Perched in the hills 7 km away from the main town, Vel (village) A Hua is home to 280 Ta-oi and Pa-Co people, two Mon-Khmer ethnic groups

based mainly in mountainous areas of Vietnam’s central provinces.

Last Mile Development

Through the scouting and support efforts of the Vietnam Community-Based Tourism Network, A Hua was identified as a project worth developing through its Last Mile Development programme. Funded through a social crowdfunding campaign on, new accomodation options were implemented, community members were trained in catering, hospitality and tour guiding, and the activities and programmes available in the village were listed on the Local Alike website. Its success in improving livelihoods for minority ethnic groups as well as high quality tours for visitors has been already begun and continues to flourish with support from the Vietnam Community-Based Tourism Network. After launching in September 2017, more than 25 visitors have enjoyed this community-based tourism project in A Hua village. Currently, Vietnam Community-Based Tourism Network has more 70 members and is still growing.

Open Invitation

The network supports developers, communities, agencies, organisations, and travel companies that have interests in Vietnam’s community-based tourism sector and all are invited to register and join the network at As the operator of this network, Evergreen Labs welcomes new members interested in working towards a common goal of creating financial sustainability for community-led operations in Vietnam. For more information about VCBT-N and Evergreen Labs activities:




Lauren Cameron investigates the ins and outs of hair loss in Ho Chi Minh City.


n an average day, people lose up to 100 hairs from their scalp. This is completely normal and in most cases the hairs grow back. But if your hair is not growing back at the normal rate, it is likely that you are beginning to experience Androgenic Alopecia – or put simply, ‘hair loss’. While it is completely natural to experience this as part of the ageing process it can be alarming when it happens prematurely. Hair loss can be attributed to many causes: it can be hereditary; it can follow a period of excessive stress, for example a major surgery; serious illness; pregnancy or drastic weight loss; or it can be the result of a sudden change in diet or lifestyle. You can also lose your hair if you have certain diseases, such as thyroid problems, diabetes, or lupus. The weather and pollution can also have an impact on the health of one’s hair. But there is one other factor that people living or spending a lot of time in Vietnam question – and that is water quality. Many expats or newcomers to Vietnam believe their sudden and unprecedented hair loss upon arrival is the consequence of the poor quality of water in which they are showering, with many claiming that changing one’s shower filter produces remarkable results. But the truth is there is no scientific evidence this is the case. Beyond impacting the quality of one’s hair, poor shower water quality has not been scientifically linked to the phenomenon of hair loss. That being said, it must be acknowledged there are significant health concerns relating to Vietnam’s water quality. Water pollution in Vietnam is the serious result of rapid urbanisation without adequate environmental considerations. The Saigon-Dong Nai river system is a significant source of water for the 15 million people living in Ho Chi Minh City - an alarming fact considering the high levels of waste discharged into the basin, some 29,700 cubic meters a day in

2017, in fact. According to a study by the Institute for Environment and Resources, Dong Nai is severely polluted by discharge from residential areas, hospitals, mining companies, factories, waterway transport vessels, farms – even garbage dumps. Furthermore “hard water”, which describes the type of water used by residential households across much of Ho Chi Minh City, contains large amounts of chemicals and metals such as magnesium, barium, calcium, silica and dissolved minerals, as well as organic micropollutants that can cause disruption to the reproductive system, central nervous system or immune system. According to Family Medical Practice internist Dr. Ruben Martinez-Castejon, the main pollutant that can affect hair growth is arsenic, and the problem of arsenic poisoning was solved by health authorities many years ago. “It was found that Red River water in Hanoi was rich in arsenic -- tens of times higher than internationally accepted for drinking,” he said. “Now it is only those people drinking from natural sources – in other words, rural, untreated water – who could be at risk of arsenic exposure. Anyhow environmental arsenic influence on hair growth is something that takes a very long time to happen.” Dr. Martinez-Castejon added that acute exposure to high quantities of thallium could also lead to acute and severe hair loss, but many other symptoms will occur before hair loss. “Cadmium exposure also looks to be related to chronic telogen effluvium, and in such a case it would be good to check levels in your water supply,” he added. Overall, Dr. Martinez-Castejon concluded that the quality of water coming from household taps and showers in Ho Chi Minh had not been proven to affect hair loss, but rather hair quality. “It’s true that there are hard and soft waters and that distilled waters will lead to a lower amount of calcium carbonate

deposition on hair, which makes hair look thicker and nicer,” he said. While it may be easy to jump to the conclusion that your hair loss is being caused by water pollutants, the truth is that around 50% of people will suffer some degree of pattern hair loss before turning 50, with the most common causes of hair loss experienced in Ho Chi Minh City being androgenic alopecia in men, female pattern hair loss, female androgenic alopecia, telogen effluvium acute and chronic, and alopecia areata, all of which are normally associated with infection, general autoimmune or rheumatic disease. Hypothyroidism, ringworm of the scalp - even your haircare routine may be responsible for your hair loss, and it is important to rule these out before anything else. Health professionals recommend consulting with your doctor to explore exactly why you are experiencing hair loss.

WHAT KIND OF HAIR LOSS ARE YOU EXPERIENCING? Telogen effluvium: rapid hair loss (by handfuls), normally occurs after severe weight loss, stress, sickness or post-pregnancy Female pattern hair loss: hair thins on sides and apex, slowly and progressively, supposedly a result of increased activity of an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase on the scalp. Male or androgenic alopecia: caused by the same as female pattern hair loss, but instead the front line and apex recedes. Alopecia areata: an autoimmune but not scarring alopecia and may be associated to other autoimmune diseases such as diabetes or thyroiditis.



ackpackers weave their way across Vietnam for self-discovery. Others choose to settle here and enjoy free time exploring the incredible diversity the country offers. Whatever your motivation, Vietnam is a treasure trove for those seeking to explore and interact. Exploratory travel is a form of consumerism and making the right choices is essential if human exchanges are to be rewarding for all parties. Package tours create human interactions with locals that are often nothing more than trivial. Sapa is no exception. With tourists typically spending only two days in the area, a generic trek is often quickly followed by an onward journey to the next destination. It is because of this fast turnaround that many companies choose to maximise profit, often to the detriment of local people. As you stroll the main strip of Sapa Town one understands this point of view. The potholed streets are lined with neon, nightclubs and bars offering happy hour drinks. “Tourism is often short-sighted, with little thought to culture or sustainability. We should prioritise supporting the local community by providing opportunities for ethnic minorities who face adversity,“ said Hoa, cofounder of Ethos - Spirit of the Community, a socially minded tour company working with ethnic minorities in the Sapa area. As you walk the streets, or drink and dine in Sapa, you will likely be approached by women or children asking you to buy souvenirs or to tip them for performing a “traditional” dance. You might have teens asking to take you trekking. Persistent, entrepreneurial ethnic minorities are selling everywhere. To some, this provides opportunities for interesting photos, 32 AsiaLIFE HCMC

but most find the overzealous approach irritating. These interactions with “street sellers” can be confronting yet are rarely mutually positive. A child’s education is an investment in their future potential and paves the way to successful employment as adults. Knowing that cuteness pulls on the heart strings, the financial rewards of selling souvenirs to tourists encourages families to remove their children from school and instead spend time dressed up in replica tribal clothes in the hope of making a sale. This compounds the higher rates of illiteracy among minority children, and public notices from the authorities against buying souvenirs from children go unnoticed and unenforced. “Selling earns a meagre wage now. Education opens up opportunities in the future,” Hoa said emphatically. “Locals see tourists as money and most travellers’ only interaction with ethnic minorities is during the hard sell,” shesaid. “Selling is therefore symptomatic of poor management.” “Local people deserve the right to meaningful employment but often find opportunities limited”. Fortunately, Sapa also excels in providing community-based tourism for those seeking authenticity. Travellers searching for experiences that awaken the senses describe Sapa with fondness, often talking about it as the highlight of their Vietnam journey. Most that say as such share one thing in common; their respect and admiration for the Hmong and Dao people that make the area so culturally fascinating. Quality tourism is encouraged by Giang Thi So, a team member from the Hmong ethnic minority who works with Ethos.

“When I was a child, my family didn’t have enough food. Tourism means I can buy everything needed, and my children have a better life than I did.” Talking with So, it becomes evident how much pride she takes in her employment. “As a guide, I get to meet people from around the world. I enjoy showing people my culture and allowing them to see the real Sapa,” said said. Visitors also take a great deal from a sustainable tourism approach. “I loved the immersion and the authenticity of this experience,” said Mike Levi, who visited Sapa with Ethos in January 2018. Perceptions and attitudes can alter as a consequence of cross-cultural interactions facilitated through mindful tourism. Enjoying the journey itself and making connections with local practices and cultures form the core of any true Sapa experience. Comparing the genetic package tours and community based initiatives is not difficult. “Don’t be afraid to ask where your money goes,” said Hoa, emphasising that “Ethos works hard on literacy and numeracy for our team. We train community leaders, who competent in first aid, health and hygiene and who care for their environment”. Ethos have partnered with a small non-governmental organisation, Projet Humanitare Nord Vietnam (PHNV), to deliver health and hygiene seminars in villages throughout Sapa District. PHNV also produce the Booklet for Mindful Travellers, which educates guests about positive ethical practices. Crucially, the guide urges tourists to take any nonbiodegradable waste back to town rather than leaving it at a homestay. “The plastic issue is immense and it’s

growing,” said Hoa. “Visitors produce trash when trekking and put it in litter bins in the homestays. With no organised means of disposal, homestay owners tie up waste in bags and throw it into the river. Awareness among travellers is important for this reason,” she said. Ethos treks are plastic free, utilising a network of drinking water tanks bought by the organisation and distributed across the district. Guests are encouraged to refill and reuse water bottles and as such, the organisation reduced their use of plastic bottles dramatically. Such initiatives are going a long way to preserve, protect and empower this part of Vietnam. Widespread poverty, exposure to human trafficking and environmental degradation are among the serious problems affecting the Hmong and Dao ethnic groups. A core number of companies want to eradicate these issues by providing education and employment through a range of ethical experiences.

Last year, 76 girls were reported as being trafficked from Sapa District. Most were aged 13 to 16 and belonged to ethnic groups. Ethos runs monthly anti-trafficking awareness workshops in collaboration with the Sapa District Women’s Union. With a number of activity based learning exercises and all teaching done in ethnic minority languages by trained Ethos guides, these classes have the power to change lives. “The approach Ethos takes makes a tangible difference. Activities are tailored to the age and interests of the vulnerable teenagers in attendance” said Luu Thi Ngan Ha, head of the Sapa Women’s Union. Ly Thi My, a 17-year-old Hmong woman, describes the workshops as vitally important for her community. “My mother was trafficked three years ago. My sister was also taken at 13 years old,” My said. “She was smuggled at night and sold on five times in the first few days after her disappearance.” Transported over the border to China,

My detailed how her sister eventually managed to run away after seven months held captive. She was eventually found by a policeman and brought to the Vietnamese border where she was collected by Ethos representatives. Such horrors spurred My to get involved with Ethos workshops to help educate younger girls on how best to protect themselves and their peers. “When booking a tour, always ask for a minority guide with rich local knowledge and able to offer a genuine human experience,” Hoa said. “Ethos goes beyond the superficial and aims to facilitate mutually beneficial exchanges between hosts and guests,” she said. This differs from the package tours touted on every street corner in Hanoi’s old quarter, but knowing that tourism money can be spent wisely is comforting. Choosing an experience rather than merely a tour, especially one that benefits travellers and locals alike is therefore the only real way to see Sapa.


Mark Bibby Jackson spends 10 days driving a tuk tuk around the hills of northern Thailand with The Tuk Tuk Club and receives a hospitality he has seldom encountered previously.


crowd has gathered around Jen. I’m used to this by now for she has upstaged me throughout this entire trip, even though I was the one to sleep in Angelina Jolie’s bed! Never act with children and animals, they say. Well, don’t travel with a tuk tuk either. All the staff of the Fern Resort have congregated in the car park, two of them pause by Jen as I get behind the wheel and pretend to drive away with them as my passengers, while the smartphone cameras silently click. If you have not gathered already, Jen is a tuk tuk, one of the troupe that The Tuk Tuk


Club drives around the hills of northern Thailand from their base just outside of Chiang Mai. I don’t know why this memory stands out so clearly in my mind. It could have equally have been the time we stopped for lunch at Mae Chaem, only to discover all the restaurant staff standing beside Jen taking photos of themselves next to her. Or equally at the eclectic Ching Ching bar in Mae Sariang, where our guide Smithy struck up a conversation with a group of young Thais who had seen our small convoy – two bright orange tuk tuks and a support 4WD – entering the border town, and explained how they just loved what we were doing. Or the numerous occasions that local Thais smiled at the crazy foreigners driving their tuk tuks up and down – the latter is far scarier – the sweeping mountain roads to Doi Thannon, at 2,565 metres above sea level the highest point in Thailand, and beyond. This is the Thailand they sell in tourism brochures and on videos – the real Land of Smiles. Not the modern-day Thailand you encounter in Bangkok where people sit

on the Skytrain, their faces buried in their mobile phones just like their distant cousins do on the London Underground, the New York Subway or Paris Metro, or the false tourist smile of the islands to the south. At first Jen and I don’t exactly hit it off. Quite understandably she took umbrage at my cumbersome use of the gear with only passing reference to the clutch. And as for the brake, the least said of my heavy right foot, the better. Jen gives me the cold shoulder, as she repeatedly juddered to a halt on the small basketball court that was our training circuit, in the middle of which a family of Karen farmers were drying rice. After receiving a blessing for the journey ahead at nearby Wat Tham Nam Hoo, we drive to the Maevang Elephant Home. Up to 18 months ago, Maevang was very much like many other places around Chiang Mai providing elephant rides for ill-informed tourists. However, now people come to feed the pachyderms and walk beside them to the river where they have their bath – the elephants not the tourists – although everyone ends up in the water.

“Here you can feel they are like a friend; you can touch and feed them,” explains Num, who works at Maevang. Seeing him here comes as a bit of a surprise as the previous day he had helped me learn to drive a tuk tuk, after serving us lunch at the hotel. Later he explained that the V in Maevang – as opposed to MaeWang the name of the river and town – stands for “victory” in their campaign to improve the lives of elephants. There is a childlike quality to the elephants’ play down at the river. One of the smaller ones tries to duck his younger sibling’s head under the water, just like any ‘normal’ child would in a swimming pool; only this time mum stands by imperviously as she shoots a jet of water at us, rather than yelling at her children to behave. Clearly, they are having fun – something that is not often said of their cousins who trudge their way through the forest carrying gap-year travellers or selfie trigger-happy tourists on their backs. We spend the third night at Ban Kuhn Klam, where Jen takes a well-earned rest

having climbed her way up more than one thousand metres that day. A small community set in the middle of paddy fields, this is the epitome of rural Thailand. The following day we set off on foot on the Pha Dok Seaw trail in Doi In Thannon national park, following the course of the Mae Klang river. An easy walk, the obligatory guide is more a much-needed income generation scheme for the local Karen people than a life-saving necessity. We pass by an opening where local farmers are growing chrysanthemums rather than the opium of distant travel yarns. The next day’s drive is our first long stretch, some 160 km to Mae Sariang on the Myanmar border, so Smithy and I share the driving. I have discovered my driving rhythm, instinctively sensing when Jen wants to change gear and when to give her a bit of welly. I even discover the art of descending a mountain in third gear without touching the brakes – although Jen does make the most frightful noise whenever I do this. After a night – and too many beers – spent in Ching Ching bar, we head to just outside Mae Hong Son some 170 kilometres to the north, and the Fern Resort. Angelina Jolie stayed here on a visit in her pre-Brangelina days and then again with Brad Pitt. I am allocated number 16 – Angelina’s room. As I am led to my accommodation I find myself wondering how extravagant it will be – a four-poster bed perhaps with fine silk drapes – before my guide explains it’s quite simple. True enough, I open the door to discover no Aladdin’s den, but a simple wooden bungalow. Still, I think to myself – this is the bed that Angelina slept in. That night, I sleep even better than Jen, who will have the following day off. After a brief visit to Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu, we spend the rest day searching for some white flowers. At the outset of our trip, the monk at Wat Tham Nam Hoo gave us some candles to burn to make a wish. The only problem was that we each needed nine white flowers to perform the ceremony. Smithy had planned to buy some white chrysanthemums from local farmers on the Pha Dok Seaw trek, but the flowers were not yet in bloom. Unfortunately, Mae Hong Son is very much a yellow flower kind of town, as our brief excursion confirms. Despite the inviting prospect of spending our day of rest lazing by the pool, we opt to

hike a trail that leads from the back of Fern Resort. The weirdest thing about the walk is our guides. As we assemble at the starting point, the owner of the resort claps his hands several times and four dogs appear before scampering off down a path, while we duly follow. How difficult could the walk be, I ask myself, if dogs are our guides? An hour or so later as we are scrambling up and down some rocks and traversing stepping stones either over or through a stream, I have discovered the answer to my question. Today is the 50th birthday of Rachael, the mother of the family from Suffolk. As she slides her way down the slope we have just climbed, once we realise we are heading in the wrong direction – as our four-pawed guides rummage in the undergrowth – I think she doubts she will ever make it to 51. Still, we survive to celebrate her birthday. And as the bottle of champagne that Smithy has carted around with him, is opened, all thoughts of her near-death experience are banished from our minds. Then comes the ceremony. Rachael divvies out the white flowers and the candles, and we decamp to one of the bonfires in the resort’s grounds to light the candles and place the flowers beside them, as one of our errant guides joins us. It is actually quite a moving experience, even to a hardened travel cynic like me. The following day’s drive to Pai is the most spectacular on our trip with sweeping panoramas of the verdant countryside. We arrive at the Phu Pai Art Resort, a few kilometres outside of Pai, mid-afternoon. Set in some farmland, this really is getting back to nature, and as I relax in the pool I feel that I am an intruder in a foreign land, especially as a farmer strims the now unwanted rice paddy in a neighbouring field. My most biding memory of the trip will be the way that Thais have welcomed the crazy foreigners driving their orange tuk tuks around Thailand. I have never felt so true a welcome in all my travels. There is a genuine warmth but also respect for what we are doing, especially as we are taking Jen and her colleague Flo on roads that no selfrespecting urban tuk tuk would ever dream of driving. The Tuk Tuk Club runs day trips from just outside of Chiang Mai as well as the longer 11-day trip. For more information, visit www. AsiaLIFE HCMC 35



ant to throw a dinner party but don’t know how? You don’t have to be Nigella or Marco Pierre White to impress your dinner guests or friends. There is nothing worse than preparing a meal for guests and serving up thin watery sauces, burnt pastries, underseasoned dishes, overcooked or even undercooked show stopper meats or -- heavens forbid -- being the centre of wagging fingers regarding an outbreak of food poisoning. It can be daunting when you consider the above but there are several lessons and tips you can learn that will prevent your night of culinary glory descending into never-to-be-forgotten mayhem. 1. Do pick a theme that is relevant to what you are celebrating or doing, i.e. if it is a movie night, watch the latest horror film with friends then serve a main of liver with fava beans and Chianti (of course minus the human offal). 2. Have a budget and stick to it, there is an altogether human trait of wanting to over impress that can find you running out of cold hard cash and resorting to shop-bought vanilla ice cream for dessert. 3. Get others involved, it shouldn’t be a 24-hour chore. Make it a chatty preparation and set the table, chill the drinks early. 4. Plan and prepare as much as you can in advance such as for starters. Vol-au-vents and fillings can be made beforehand and stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours along with a nice fruity tart for dessert. 5. Learn how to store your food correctly prior to reheating and serving. Not only will this preserve the quality but dramatically reduce the chances of food poisoning. 6. Always keep a basic roux in the fridge, equal quantities of butter and flour mixed together can thicken up any sauce and be 36 AsiaLIFE HCMC


used as and when required, just remember to cook out the flour for at least 15 minutes. 7. When it comes to vegetables, even the humble carrot, it pays to ensure you have the freshest available, there is nothing as bad as a week-old carrot that you have Frenched and cooked that turns into a rubbery truncheon. 8. Always, always season at the start of cooking, this will bring out the natural flavours and allow to judge later the need for further seasoning or not. 9. Buy yourself two thermometers, one for the oven and one for the food, you cannot hope to cook a joint of meat correctly and know when to remove, allow for resting without both. Remember ovens can deteriorate in performance over time and thermocouples can go wonky. 10. Always have a freshly sharpened knife for serving, there is nothing more dangerous or off-putting than watching somebody hacking away at a cote de boeuf, rolled entrecote or porchetta at the table. 11. Taste, taste and taste again, need we say more. 12. I like a tipple while cooking, however, I keep my wits about me and make sure the guests do not imbibe too much before they get something substantial in their stomachs. 13. There will always be a nosy sod that will look in your waste bin so be honest, if you bought the puff pastry own up to it. 14. Unless you have made them numerous times before and are comfortable then don’t attempt tricky sauces such as hollandaise, beurre blanc or anything else, like a souffles, that is required to be made immediately prior to service. 15. Finally have fun and don’t take it too seriously, even the best cooks and chefs make mistakes.





huc mung nam moi everyone and happy Tet to you and your loved ones. I hope you all had a nice holiday to welcome the year of the dog and are well rested to start the new year. I don’t know about everyone else but the Tet holiday is one of my favorite holidays, where my family and I get to do absolutely nothing, except for occasionally handing out red envelopes, seeing a couple of lion dances, swimming, eating and hibernating like bears. Tet in Ho Chi Minh City is so quiet and that’s why I love to stay in the city during this period. There is absolutely no one here apart from the real Saigonese. The majority of the city’s residents are either in their home towns for family reunions or vacationing at a resort somewhere (you can compare it to Thanksgiving in the US, but a week long instead of just a weekend). Most expats have packed up and headed home, or to the beach, the mountains or somewhere that does not celebrate lunar new year because most shops, restaurants and businesses are closed. We have roughly around 10 to 12 million people living in Ho Chi Minh City at any given time and I can safely say there are only about a million people who are from Saigon that remain in the city during the week-long Tet holiday. There’s barely any cars, buses, or motorbikes on the road and getting from A to B takes five minutes instead of 30. Despite many businesses being closed, there are still plenty of eateries open during the Tet holiday, especially in and around Cholon (Chinatown) so you won’t go hungry. I have written about many traditional and popular Tet foods in the past but decided to write about something completely different this year -- bo bia. What is bo bia? Bo bia are spring rolls and one of my favorite snack foods. It’s kind of like the Vietnam version of the Chinese roll popiah (thin wafer). Popiah originated from the Fujian province of China and is commonly found in country such as Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia. It found its way to Vietnam many years ago. Despite its origin and similar pronunciation, there are few differences between the popiah and bo bia.

Chef, patron and owner of Skewers Restaurant The Elbow Room and Cafe Sweet Street.

The popiah wrapper is commonly made from wheat flour, filled with bean sprouts, green beans, grated carrot, lettuce, fried tofu, fried shallots, omelette and chopped peanuts. Popiah has variations; it’s stir-fried in Taiwan; and hot and spicy in Malaysia. The Vietnamese bo bia is a fresh type of spring roll, filled with steamed grated jicama, grated carrot, Thai basil, thinly-sliced Chinese sausage, shredded omelette and dried shrimp. It’s wrapped in rice paper and I personally prefer Vietnam’s bo bia because it is smaller in size, so easier to eat, and I like the taste of the steamed jicama. One of the most important components of bo bia is the dipping sauce. Like the broth in a good noodle soup, the dipping sauce can make or break a good bo bia. The dipping sauce should be made with hoisin sauce, plum sauce, minced garlic, crushed roasted peanuts, chilli paste, sugar, water and vegetable oil. It’s very simple to make. Just heat the minced garlic in a pan with vegetable oil until slightly brown. Mix the hoisin and plum sauces with water and sugar, add to the pan and heat until just boiling. Remove the sauce and pour it into a dipping bowl with crush roasted peanuts and chilli paste and you’re done. 1. Classic street hawker since 1993 This a gem if you’re happen to be in District 11 , 6 and Cholon (Chinatown) area. An awesome husband and wife team have a few tables operating from 3pm to early evening. Costs around VND6,000 per roll. 258-260 Han Hai Nguyen Street, Ward 9, District 11 2. Quan Nuoc Mia 93 (Sugarcane Juice Shop 93) A classic street cart has been running within this eatery for the past 30 years. Known for their bo bia, nuoc mia (fresh sugarcane drink), goi du du (green papaya salad with beef jerky) and bun rieu (crab based vermicelli noodle soup). 93 Cach Mang Thang Tam Street, District 1 Open 7 days a week from 8am to 10:30pm. AsiaLIFE HCMC 37



The Crib 25 Bui Vien Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Peter Cornish checks out a chilled new cocktail joint on Bui Vien Street. Photos by Romain Garrigue. The recent weekend pedestrianisation of Bui Vien has done plenty to change the vibe of the street, bringing in people who would otherwise avoid it. And as the street becomes more prosperous, business owners are upping their game to cater for the influx of new visitors, many of whom have more money in their pocket than those of yesteryear. New to the block is The Crib, proudly boasting some of the best cocktails in town and at VND170,000 a pop for their signature drinks they are certainly priced more in line with other parts of District 1 than what we’ve come to expect from Bui Vien. But when we visited on a Saturday afternoon, the bar was heaving, proving that the street is no longer the refuge of skint travellers searching for a VND12,000 Saigon Green. The Crib is a small bar, tucked away on the first floor above the popular kebab shop Gotcha and next door to the infamous den of iniquity GO2. The upper floors of the building house accommodation so there’s a steady stream of guests coming in and out, many of whom stop for a drink before heading out to explore the action below. Owner Alistair Shiells and his wife Ha set out to create a cool, welcoming vibe with a strict ‘no gangsters’ policy, and enlisted the help of an artist friend to guide them in the design of 38 AsiaLIFE HCMC

their bar. The result is crisp modern design with white walls, bamboo sectioning and some fine examples of ethnic art covering the walls. An open front to the bar provides a great spot to people watch without the unwelcome intrusions of sitting street side. The signature cocktails draw inspiration from Vietnamese culture and locations and were designed by an award-winning mixologist especially for the bar. Using local ingredients and flavours to create deliciously unique and refreshing drinks, served in traditional ceramic and clay pots, they have names like Hmong sister (bourbon, palm sugar, apple and lime juice) and ngheu hap xa (vodka, lemongrass syrup, lychee, ginger and basil) and the old Bui Vien (single malt whiskey, fresh ginger, rosemary, lime juice and angostura bitters). The Crib also servers a good selection of bar snacks including lime sauce chicken wings (VND120,000), BBQ pork ribs (VND250,000) and smoked honey chicken (VND380,000) with Monday Crib Meals offering a free beer with each main. A daily happy hour runs from 3pm till 6pm with Tiger draft just VND29,000 and 20% off all cocktails and Jack & Jill Thursday offers 30% of wine and spirits all day. Live music from 4pm till 6pm at the weekend.

TOMATITO 171 Calmette, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Peter Cornish investigates tasty Spanish tapas at Tomatito. Photos by Romain Garrigue.

We held off on our review of Tomatito while others rushed to get theirs in early. We thought we would give El Willy, founder of the Tomatito brand, a chance to set things up before handing over to the more than capable hands of Chef Julio Gomez who now competently takes charge of the kitchen. Of course, we swung by to check out the food as soon as they opened, and have returned on more occasions, and the place certainly lives up to expectations. If you’ve read the earlier reviews you’ll already know Tomatito is all about the sexy, from the bold and colourful Spanish-themed interior showcasing El Willy’s unique personality, to the hot Latin passion in his interpretation of traditional Spanish tapas. We got stuck right in starting

with a glass of complimentary sangria. And then another. First dish to arrive was the salmon TNT (VND145,000) that gets its name because it’s da bomb. Two fingers one bite, this dish of smoked Balik salmon in sour cream, white truffle oil and drizzled with honey explodes flavour with every bite. Tapas is meant to be shared but we wouldn’t judge you if you kept this one for yourself. Next on the table was mi causa (VND145,000). A traditional Peruvian plate updated and given a multicultural twist by Chef Julio, mi causa is a dish of slow-cooked Spanish octopus, Mexican pico de gallo, smoked mashed potato with lime mayo and a Cuban criolla sauce. It creates the same explosive impact as the salmon, bursting

with smoky flavours and the mildest hint of chilli. Vegetarians tucked in to plates of Tomatito-style patatas bravas (VND80,000), a deliciously simple dish of fried potatoes smothered in homemade garlic mayo and a spicy tomato sauce oozing flavour with yet more hints of Mexican chilli. Accompanying this was another Spanish favourite, tortilla de patatas (VND90,000), a simple omelette of eggs and potato, sliced and confited in Spanish extra virgin olive oil then cooked fresh to order for each guest. It’s easy to see why this is also a favourite. Another octopus dish arrived, octopus a la Tomatito (VND145,000), Chef Willy’s interpretation of pulpo de Gallego, individually presented baby potatoes confited and

oven cooked in rosemary, thyme, shallots oil and bay leaves, then served with barbecued octopus and a slice of Iberian jambon for a touch of the luxurious. Yet more dishes arrived including montadito de gambas (VND110,000), a favourite of Chef Julio’s that combines flavours from Asia and Mexico to create a wanton taco with ginger, chilli oil, coriander and prawns, presented as bite sized fried tacos. Tomatito is a restaurant founded on friendship, serving food best shared with friends. The well-deserved reputation of warm, welcome hospitality already established in its previous incarnation as CafeRestaurant looks set to continue with Tomatito. Buen provecho a todo! AsiaLIFE HCMC 39

PUBLIK HOUSE 50 Dang Thi Nhu, District 1

Barbara Adam gets the low-down on a new food-and-beer collaboration. Photos by Romain Garrigue.

Once upon a time two chefs met and bonded over beers and fish tacos. There was an instant connection. Not just because of their shared love of beer and conversation, but also their dedication to honest, no-nonsense food, created for the sole purpose of being truly enjoyed. The bromance deepened over time, watered by craft beer and long-winded discussions about food. Eventually Josh McGechaen and Calvin Bui decided to create their own cheffy happily-ever-after: a restaurant with a short and simple chef-driven gimmickfree menu. Josh and Calvin’s idea found a home in the taproom of Winking Seal Beer Company, itself a collaboration between two like-minded dudes 40 AsiaLIFE HCMC

wanting to create something honest and true. The pork shoulder (VND200,000) probably best illustrates what this collaboration within a collaboration is all about. The dish is a three-layer savoury dream of polenta cake, boudin noir (blood sausage) and red wine braised pork shoulder. Calvin’s braised pork is matched with Josh’s blood sausage, and bacon and dijon mustard polenta to create some a plate-lickingly great dish. Funnily enough, American Calvin had never even tried the English breakfast staple of blood sausage until he met Josh, who hails from Leeds in the UK. “This is why this collaboration is so great,” Calvin gushed as his partner slaved away in the kitchen

upstairs, sending down dish after delicious dish in the Art Deco-style dumbwaiter behind the bar. “We’re not constrained by any style. We can be influenced by all kinds of ingredients and techniques. The current menu has influences from Korea, the UK, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean.” Publik House’s menu will change regularly, at the whim of Josh and Calvin, who share a seasonal farm-to-table approach to what’s on offer. Vegetarians are well looked after with the lotus seed falafel (VND155,000), a sweet and creamy version made with lotus seeds, served with a roasted capsicum, hummus and mint yoghurt. Strangely enough, the bacon carbonara (VND170,000) can be vegetarianised on request.

The original dish is a creamy and earthy combination of homemade pasta, house-cured bacon, roasted mushroom and lashings of parmigianoreggiano cheese. Also outstanding in terms of flavours was the Gochujang chicken wings (VND160,000), Korean-style double-fried chicken wings, with a crunchy toffee-ish glaze, served with a dash of sour cream and spring onion. Equally flavoursome, is Publik House’s meatball, a take on the Vietnamese xiu mai (meatball), with ground pork and jicama and stuffed with Irish cheddar, swimming in a homemade tomato sauce. For the sake of all Ho Chi Minh City’s foodies, here’s hoping this cheffy happilyever-after story continues.

HERE & NOW VEGETARIAN 89E Nguyễn Công Hoan, Ward 7, Phu Nhuan District // Open 7.30 am till 2pm then 5pm to 21.30 pm

Peter Cornish samples some sublime vegetarian fare in the here and now. Photos by Romain Garrigue.

Nestled in the corner of a small hem, off the larger hem that Tran Ke Xuong becomes as it crosses Phan Xich Long, Here & Now Vegetarian can be tricky to find the first time you venture there, especially as the map location is slightly off. But have a little patience, follow Tran Ke Xuong around the corner and you’ll find this charming little restaurant easily visible tucked down an alley on your right. It’s well worth the effort. Coming into the restaurant through a small entrance in the corner of the hem you are greeted by calm tranquillity of a shaded courtyard with chairs and tables to seat about 30. The courtyard itself is L-shaped, wrapped around the house that homes the restaurant and partially covered by an overhanging

roof. In the opposite corner is a large tree, providing shaded cover for diners, or people coming to sit and relax as they enjoy a freshly squeezed juice or a pot of flavoured tea. The restaurant is a favourite hang out for local artists and their work lines the walls of the open-air dining area. As soon as you walk through the entrance into the shaded interior you are greeted by warm and welcoming music and the soothing sounds of water flowing from a seated Buddha into a small fish pond in the corner. This is much more than just a restaurant, it’s a place to relax, forget all your troubles and enjoy the moment here and now. The food is fresh and innovative, classic Asian food but adapted ever so

slightly to be modern, new and unique. Traditional and familiar Vietnamese dishes are prepared and presented simply, allowing the fresh, locally sourced ingredients to speak for themselves. The menu offers ample choice with dishes served individually or to be shared with friends, family or colleagues. We opted for the com bi do nuong (VND75,000), a deliciously moist dish of grilled broken rice similar in texture to couscous and mixed with pepper, peas, carrot and pumpkin. Accompanying this came gio rau cau chan viet (VND70,000), or kappaphycus alvarezil (elkhorn sea moss) salad, served in a rice cracker basket, colourful, and full of flavour.

Next up was cuon diep (VND65,000), a beautifully presented plate of mustard cabbage rolled with mushrooms and bean curd sheets, wrapped in leaves and fastened with tied stalks and packed with light, fresh flavours that burst through with every bite. Last to be brought out was nem nam (VND75,000), crispy bean curd rolls, stuffed with mushroom and carrot. Served hot and crisp, these were without doubt the highlight of our meal! This little restaurant is a hidden charm, an oasis of peace and tranquility away from the chaos of the surrounding city. If you’re looking for deicious, wholesome Vietnamese food in calm, relaxing surroundings, this is a spot surely not to miss! AsiaLIFE HCMC 41

Peter Cornish delves into the deep luxury of an art-based resort on the beautiful Cam Ranh coast.



hat could be more relaxing than an all-spa-inclusive resort on a beautiful tropical island a short flight from Ho Chi Minh

City? Opened in April 2017, The Anam is a luxurious 117-villa and 96 room resort spread over 12 hectares of natural beauty on the stunning Cam Ranh coastline. Setting new benchmarks for five-star accommodation in Vietnam, the resort’s design pays homage to colonial-era influences and the timeless charm of Vietnam’s by-gone age. Surrounded by lush, verdant gardens, jutting headlands and magnificent views of the East Sea, the prestigious resort boasts 300 metres of private beachfront, lapped by gentle waves of a clean, turquoise sea. Blessed with 300 days of sunshine, gentle surf and amazing landscape, the location offers some of the country’s best weather and the perfect opportunity to switch off, relax and dream of a simpler, less stressful world. The Anam offers the type of facilities expected from a world-class resort, including multiple restaurants, bars and a treatment room spa. For those not content to lie on the beach, soaking up the sun and cooling down in the clear waters, the resort has multiple swimming pools, tennis courts, a gym and water sports centre, and a kids’

club for family vacationers. A ballroom and 3D cinema are just some of what’s on offer for evening entertainment. Yet in a region already famed for its beaches, Cham heritage and of course the seafood, The Anam is striving to make the region famous for something new: its art. Throughout the resort’s buildings and grounds is an impressive and eclectic collection of artworks by local artists, ranging from oil paintings and metalwork to sculpture and photography. Not content with merely showcasing the best of the region’s art, the resort has launched the Nha Trang Art Tour. This unique experience offers tourists the chance to visit some of the acclaimed artists at their homes and studios, providing a new perspective and otherwise inaccessible, behind-the-scenes glimpse at their work in progress. Motivated by an interest in local art and a desire to get to know artists personally, the tour has been carefully put together by Anam general manager LaubichlerPichler, along with Nguyen Hong Van, founder of The Rainbow Gallery, Nha Trang’s first art gallery. Bringing unrivalled “insider” knowledge to the personal and intimate seven-hour tour, Nguyen Hong Van accompanies guests around the region introducing them to local artists and their work.

Included on the tour is Mai Loc who, once an impoverished local miner, had his life transformed through a chance meeting with a Norwegian couple who gifted him a camera for his wedding. Now, 20 years later, Mai Loc is one of Vietnam’s most soughtafter photographers, displaying his dramatic black and white images of Vietnam’s landscape in galleries worldwide. Also on the tour is Bui Van Quang, a contemporary master of painting in Vietnam who depicts scenes of the country’s daily life, incorporating rich, vibrant colours in his authentic work. Other artists include sculptor Doan Xuan Hung, metalworker Bui Trun Chinh and painters Tran This Boa Tran, Luu Thanh Qua, Nguyen Huu Bai, Ngo Dang Hiep and Le Hynh. In December 2017, The Anam launched their inaugural ‘Garden and Sun Artist in Residence’, inviting local artists to create works in the resort’s grounds, interacting with guests and culminating in an exclusive exhibition of the artists’ work. The Nha Trang Art Tour operates daily from 1:30pm from The Anam, and includes transfers, visits to studios and homes with a guide, as well as traditional Vietnamese dinner at the end of the tour. The Anam is easily accessible from Ho Chi Minh City, with multiple arrival and departure flights daily. AsiaLIFE HCMC 43


hotel & travel CON DAO Con Dao Resort 8 Nguyen Duc Thuan Tel: 0254 4830 939 Modern hotel with 45 rooms and seven villas set on 2km of private beach. Onpremise facilities include restaurant, bar, beach-view swimming pool, tennis court and volleyball. Organizes outdoor activities and tours. Six Senses Con Dao Dat Doc Beach, Con Dao Dist, Ba Ria Tel: 0254 3831 222 The first 5 star resort with 50 villas stretch across a mile-long beach, each villa has its own infinity-edge pool facing the ocean and a stunning restaurant.

DALAT Ana Mandara Villas Resort & Spa Le Lai, Ward 5, Dalat Tel: 0263 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 Edensee Lake Resort & Spa Tuyen Lam Lake, Zone VII.2, Dalat Tel: 0263 383 1515 Nestled in the heart of the “Black Forest of Vietnam” and discretely hidden along the waterfront of Tuyen Lam Lake, this resort is a perfect launching point for exploring the Highland region. It has two fine-dining restaurants, a café and terrace, a cigar lounge, and golfing and tennis. Sofitel Dalat Palace 12 Tran Phu, Dalat Tel: 0263 3825 444 Stately lakeside hotel was built in 1920s and retains the period’s aesthetic. It encompasses 38 rooms, five suites, a gourmet restaurant, brasserie, piano bar and Larry’s Bar. Golf can be arranged, and there’s tennis, boules, snooker and billiards on premise.


Intercontinental Westlake Hanoi 1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho Tel: 024 6270 8888 Located on the waterfront with contemporary Vietnamese design, restaurants, business services, fitness centre including exercise classes and pool. Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi 83A Ly Thuong Kiet Tel: 024 3822 2800 Conveniently located in the heart of Hanoi’s business district, a 40-minute drive from Noi Bai International Airport


and only 5 minutes from the city centre, Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi is the latest five-star hotel in town, tailored to meet the needs of discerning guests and especially corporate travellers. Sheraton Hotel Hanoi K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 024 3719 9000 “Resort within a city” boasts 299 spacious guest rooms with panoramic views, fitness centre, international restaurant and Hemisphere Vietnamese restaurant. Sofitel Metropole 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: 024 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: 028 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: 028 3839 7777 On the intersect of 4 districts, with 333 rooms, Orientica Seafood restaurant and bar, Chit Chat café, pool (swim-up bar), gym. InterContinental Asiana Saigon Corner of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, D1 Tel: 028 3520 9999 305 rooms/suites with floor-to-ceiling windows, five restaurants/bars, meeting/ banquet facilities, spa/health club and lounge with panoramic view. New World Hotel 76 Le Lai, D1 / Tel: 028 3822 8888 Located in the city centre, with gym, outdoor pool, tennis court, event space and Dynasty Chinese restaurant. Renaissance Riverside 8-15 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 028 3822 0033 349 rooms/suites with panoramic views over Saigon River. Conference/banquet facilities, rooftop pool, gym, two restaurants. Sheraton 88 Dong Khoi, D1 / Tel: 028 3827 2828 Luxury downtown hotel: Level 23 bar, Mojo café, Li Bai Chinese restaurant, fine dining at The Signature on the 23rd floor. Sofitel Saigon Plaza 17 Le Duan, D1 / Tel: 028 3824 1555 One of the city’s top hotels with in-room Wi-Fi, two restaurants with international cuisine, two bars, six conference rooms, outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre. Windsor Plaza 18 An Duong Vuong, D5 Tel: 028 3833 6688 Located in a main shopping hub. Three restaurants, modern discotheque, conference centre, shopping centre, supermarket.

HUE, HOI AN & DANANG Boutique Hoi An Resort Tel: 0235 03 93 91 11

This resort is located on Cua Dai Beach in Hoi An, just five minutes from the Old Town and 30 minutes from the Da Nang airport. The property has 82 rooms and villas, all with private balconies or terraces facing the ocean, a swimming pool and a wide range of cuisine from around the world. Indochine Palace 105A Hung Vuong Street, Hue City Tel: 0234 393 6666 Surrounded by the lush exotic garden, the hotel has is designed to appeal to the affluent, up-market leisure and business travellers with facilities offering for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions. InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort Bai Bac, Son Tra Peninsula Tel: 0236 393 8888 A world of poetic experiences and jungle-clad romance in a place that cloaks you with luxury. The mastery of traditional Vietnamese design meets modern architectural flair in this distinctive retreat within the dense rainforest of mythical Monkey Mountain. Nam Hai Tel: 0235 3940 000 Luxury resort accommodation from single villas to sumptuous five-room dwellings with private pools. Facilities include 8 private spa villas; 3 beachfront swimming pools; library; and tennis, basketball and badminton courts.


Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang Beachside, Tran Phu, Nha Trang Tel: 0258 3522 222 Beachside resort set in 26,000 square metres of tropical garden, with 74 guest villas, three restaurants, Six Senses Spa. InterContinental Nha Trang 32-34 Tran Phu Street, Nha Trang Tel: 0258 388 7777 A luxury beachfront retreat located in the heart of the city, the resort overlooks the stunning coastline. From there getting around the city is convenient as shopping, attractions, restaurants and bars are easily accessible within walking distance of the hotel. Mia Resort Nha Trang Bai Dong, Cam Hai Dong, Cam Lam, Khanh Hoa / Tel: 0258 398 9666 Ultimate luxury resort with 50 rooms, divided into villas and condos, catering by well-known restaurant Sandals and Mojito's bar.

PHAN THIET Anatara Beach Resort Mui Ne Beach, KM10, Ham Tien Ward Tel: 0252 3741 888 Beachfront resort with 90 fully equipped rooms, business centre, spa, fitness centre and outdoor pool. Princess D’Ânnam Resort and Spa Khu Hon Lan, Tan Thanh, Ham Thuan Nam, Binh Thuan. Tel: 0252 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: 0252 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: 0252 3813 000 Located on a private beach, 60 cosy bungalows, natural spa experiences among other great activities on offer at the resort.


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: 0908 781 756 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 Tel: 0258 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.


The Imperial Hotel 159-163 Thuy Van Tel: 0254 362 8888 Victorian-style hotel with 152 rooms, outdoor pool, shopping mall and fully serviced gym. Ho Tram Beach Resort & Spa Ho Tram Village, Xuyen Moc Tel: 0254 378 1525 Located about 45km from Vung Tau in the Phuoc Buu Reserve Forest, Ho Tram Beach Resort & Spa boasts uniquely designed bungalows and villas. The Grand-Ho Tram Strip Phuoc Thuan Commune, Xuyen Moc District, Ba Ria Vung Tau Tel: 0254 3788 888 The Grand - Ho Tram Strip is Vietnam's first large scale integrated resort and ultimately will include an 1,100-room five-star hotel, a world-class casino, restaurants, high-tech meeting space, an exclusive VIP area, as well as a variety of beach-front recreation activities. The first 541-room tower of this development opened with its casino including 90 live tables and 614 electronic game positions. The Grand will be the initial component of The Ho Tram Strip, the largest integrated resort complex in Vietnam.


Buffalo Tours Agency HCMC: Level 8 157 Pasteur, D3 Tel: 3827 9170 Hanoi: 94 Ma May, Hoan Kiem District Tel: 024 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. EXO Travel HCMC: 41, Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 028 3519 4111 HANOI: 3rd Fl, 66A, Tran Hung Dao Hoan Kiem Tel: 024 3828 2150 iViVu Offering the traditional services of a travel agent – airline tickets, tours, packages and hotels - as well as tips and up-todate travel news on Vietnam. Terraverde 12/20 Nguyen Canh Di, Tan Binh Tel: 028 3948 4754/56 German-owned travel agency specializing in tailor-made tours combining nature experiences; site visits; cultural encounters; biking, boating and trekking expeditions.

AIRLINES Air France 130 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 028 3829 0981 An airline with a vast and effective global network. Now flies direct to Paris. Cathay Pacific 72-74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D3 Tel: 028 3822 3203 Hong Kong-based airline makes three flights daily to HCM City and two flights daily to Hong Kong’s international airport. Jetstar Pacific Budget branch flies into Can Tho, Danang, Hanoi, Hai Phong, HCM City, Hue, Nha Trang and Vinh and operates

cheap flights from HCM City to Siem Reap and Bangkok. Malaysia Airlines Unit G8 Ground floor, SG Trade Center 37 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 028 3824 6663 Offers daily flights from Hanoi and HCM City to Kuala Lumpur for about $200 round trip, with four economy class fare levels: low, basic, smart and flex. Thai Airways Ground Floor Suite 101 29 Le Duan, D1 Bangkok-based airline connects twice daily between the Thai capital and HCM City and Hanoi. Multiple daily flights are also operated from both to Phnom Penh and Phuket. Turkish Airlines 8th floor, AB Tower 76A Le Lai, D1 Tel: 028 3936 0360 Awarded as the Best Airline in Europe offers the brand new Comfort Class to Economy class: 46inch leg room, personalised entertainment screen and globally awarded cuisine on-board. Vietnam Airlines Hanoi: 25 Trang Thi, Hoan Kiem Tel: 024 6270 0200 HCM City: 16th Floor, Sun Wah, 115 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 028 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.

a favourite, and a great range of lush smoothies and juices are on offer. 


Bamboo Chic Le Meridien, 3C Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 028 6263 6688 Slick, minimalistic restaurant boasting a stunning view of the Saigon River as well as a menu of high­quality cuisine that mixes Japanese and coastal Chinese styles. Worth a visit, even if it’s just for a cocktail.

food & drink Dublin’s Gate D1 19 Thai Van Lung, D1 This authentic Irish pub in downtown Saigon has a large wine list, a wide selection of single malt whiskey and local and imported beers, including widgets of Guinness. It also has a western and Asian menu.

Buddha Bar D2 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. 

Saigon Social Space D2 53 Quach Giai / Tel: 0938 890 870 Located in the mystical Pendula Gardens offering a vast array of settings, a brand new venue to eat, drink, socialise and celebrate. 

DISTRICT 1 Al Fresco’s 21 Mac Dinh Chi D1 Tel: 028 3823 8427 27 Dong Du, D1 Tel: 028 3823 8424 D1-23 My Toan 3, D7 Tel: 028 5410 1093 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.  Au Parc 23 Han Thuyen, D1 Tel: 028 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


Basilico InterContinental Asiana Saigon, Ground Floor, corner of Nguyen Du and Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 028 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. Bep Me In 136/9 Let Thanh Ton, D1 Home-cooked Vietnamese dishes from all regions of Vietnam, with no MSG, just like you’d be served at a family party in the countryside. Black Cat 13 Phan Van Dat, D1 Tel: 028 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.  Chilli Pub 89 Ton That Dam, District 1 Tel: 098 376 33 72 Located in the heart of the nightlife area of District 1, Chilli pub is a cozy bar full of fun. Hosting regular events such as quiz night, darts, live music and live sports on the big screens. Menu revolves around Chili dishes with chili dogs and of course big bowls of Chilli. 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.  Corso Steakhouse & Bar Norfolk Hotel, 117 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Located in the chic Norfolk Hotel Corso Steakhouse & Bar is well known for its steak imported from the US and Australia. Fork Saigon 15 Dong Du, District 1 Tel: 028 3823 3597 An eclectic tapas-style restaurant that draws inspiration from all over the world, rather than just Spain. Tasty small plates to share, great set lunch deals and fantastic happy hour drink specials. Good Morning Vietnam 197 De Tham, D1 Tel: 028 3837 1894 Popular authentic Italian restaurant with additional outlets around the country. Specializes in thin-crust pizza, pasta and a range of Italian dishes. Good selection of Italian wines.  Guanabana 23 Ly Tu Trong, District 1 Tel: 09 09 82 48 30 Guanabana brings a California approach with its all-natural range of healthy smoothies. The smoothies are available in three varieties and are priced between VND 45,000 and VND 65,000. Hoa Dang

38 Huynh Khuong Ninh, D1 Swish vegetarian restaurant on a quiet street that serves up nutritious dishes, including meatless versions of bun bo, pho and steamboat. Cosy bar serving non-alcoholic drinks, fruits and other sweets. In Saigong Rooftop Bar 27-29 Huynh Thuc Khang, D1 Tel: 028 9934 4350 The city’s only Wollongong-themed bar, this rooftop bar is a relaxing place to undwind with local and craft beers, cocktails and a varied menu. Jake’s BBQ 50 Pasteur Street, D1 Tel: 028 3825 1311 Genuine, warm service from Chef Jake himself sets this American Barbeque joint apart. A true slice of Americana in Vietnam. Large portions, smoked meats, and the only ‘Jucy Lucy’ burger in town!  Jaspa’s 33 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 028 3822 9926 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Dist 1, HCMC Tel: 028 3827 0931 Unpretentious brasserie-style restaurant specializes in Australianinfluenced international fusion cuisine. Full range of drinks including Australian and French wines and good cocktails. The Dong Khoi branch has recently beed enovated with new menu and decor.  Kay’s Vegan Bistro Hem 84 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D1 090 395 81 69 Homemade vegan delights from all over Southeast Asia and beyond. With daily specials and ingredients available to take home, it’s a hit with the locals. Koto 3rd Floor Rooftop, Kumho Link Plaza, 39 Le Duan, Ben Nghe Ward, D1 Tel: 028 3822 9357 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. Kissho 14 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 028 3823 2223 Kissho 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. La Brasserie 2nd Floor, Hotel Nikko Saigon 235 Nguyen Van Cu, D1 Tel: 028 3925 7777 Offers wide international buffet stations for breakfast and dinner. Nightly live music performance.

Malt 46 – 48 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Tel: 09 1848 4763 American-style bar that offers good beer, shuffleboard and an interesting pub grub menu in a casual setting. Manmaru 71 Mac Dinh Chi, D1 Japanese izakaya with a solid lineup of affordable beers, sakes and whiskies. Whether you choose the casual, pub­like experience downstairs, or the formal dining terrace upstairs, expect excellent food and even better prices. Service is friendly and efficient and always welcoming. May Restaurant & Bar 19-21 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 028 6291 3686 We have over 20 years experience in hospitality business in Vietnam with some famous Brand such as Shodow Bar & Café and MAY Restaurant & Bar. MAY- short for ‘Me and You’, it is all in one premium casual kitchen & bar downtown. Located centrally on the historic Dong Khoi street with a fusion of Western and Asian cuisine and pride themselves in their wine list and international standard of service. Market 39 InterContinental Asiana Saigon Ground Floor, corner of Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, D1 / Tel: 028 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. Ming Court 3rd Floor, Hotel Nikko Saigon 235 Nguyen Van Cu, D1 Tel: 028 3925 7777 Featuring authentic Chinese cuisine and a wide selection of delectable All-youcan-eat Dim Sum. Mojo 88 Dong Khoi, D1 A top-end café with an attractive interior, outdoor terrace at street level and comfortable lounges upstairs. Good business coffee or lunch venue. Mountain Retreat 36 Le Loi, D1 Tel: 90 719 45 57 A rustic restaurant perched above downtown offering a secluded getaway and tasty traditional food. OMG 15-17-19 Nguyen An Ninh, D1 Tel: 09 37 20 02 22 Perched on the ninth-floor rooftop of a hotel adjacent to Ben Thanh market, OMG has superb views over downtown Saigon and food to match. The menu is focused but includes enough choices to satisfy everyone across hot and cold starters, pasta and risotto, mains and dessert.

Lac Thai 71/2 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Tel: 028 3823 7506 An elegant restaurant tucked in an alleyway, 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. 

Phatty’s 46-48 Ton That Thiep, D1 Tel: 3821 0796 Jaspa’s Steve Hardy and Ben Winspear’s sports bar has five widescreen TVs, a large drop-down screen and lots of pub grub and beer for fans looking to take in a game or two.

Li Bai Sheraton Hotel, 88 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 028 3827 2828 Imperial-styled restaurant named after a famous Chinese poet. Nightly à la carte menu with dishes going from 100k VND.

Quan Bui Add 1: 17A Ngo Van Nam, D1 Tel: 028 38 29 15 15 Add 2: 55 Ngo Quang Huy, D2 From the team behind Quan Bui, the popular casual Vietnamese eatery on the north edge of District 1, is this four-

floor fine-dining restaurant in downtown Saigon. The chic design and ambience, as well as its rooftop garden, are designed to attract a more up-market clientele. Quan Ut Ut 168 Vo Van Kiet, D1 Tel: 028 39 14 45 00 American-style barbecue meets Vietnam-style dining with big wooden tables and benches that are reminiscent of an open-air quan. Serving a wide range of smoked and barbecued meats. Reflections Caravelle Hotel, 19 - 23 Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 028 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. Relish and Sons 44 Dong Du, D1 Tel: 012 07 214 294 105-107 Xuan Thuy, D2 Tel: 90 900 4294 Burgers are the stars of the show in Relish & Sons, with six varieties, all composed of different but expertly combined ingredients.  Romeo and Juliet Times Square Building, 57 – 69F Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 028 38 236 688 Underground restaurant of the newlyopened Reverie Saigon, Romeo and Juliet is reinventing local dining to encourage the kind of slower, savourthe-moment experience that allows guests to enjoy the space’s ambiance, food and top-notch service. Royal Pavilion Reverie Saigon Hotel, 4th Floor, 22 - 36 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 028 3823 6688 Located in the Reverie Saigon Hotel, the Royal Pavilion serves up classic Cantonese cuisine in fine dining style. Featuring a menu of epic proportions, there is sure to be something for everyone. Saigon Indian 73 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Tel: 028 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.  Shang Palace Restaurant Norfolk Mansion, 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong, D1 Tel: 028 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. Skewers 9A Thai Van Lung, D1 Tel: 028 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.

Stoker Woodfired Grill & Bar 44 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Tel: 090 729 2725 District 1 venue with spacious bar downstairs and upstairs dining room. Serving a full selection of home aged US and Australian beef complimented by a delicious sides. Tandoor 39A-39B Ngo Duc Ke, D1 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.  The Elbow Room 52 Pasteur, D1 Tel: 028 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. The Racha Room 12-14 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Tel: 09 08 791 412 With street and hawker specialties from Thailand prepared under one roof – and in one room – The Racha Room is a restaurant-cum-lounge fit for a king. The Refinery 74/7C Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 028 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. The Sushi Bar 2 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 028 3823 8042 3A Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 028 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.  Tuk Tuk Thai Bistro 17/11 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 028 35 21 85 13 Tuk Tuk, a chic new modern Thai bistro. With three floors of seating, an open-air roof area and an array of Thai dishes to excite your palate. Urban Kitchen + Bar 18 Ngo Van Nam, D1 Tel: 028 62 506 363 Urban Kitchen takes a nuanced approach to Western cuisine, producing an eclectic compilation of regional North American dishes – whether it’s comfort food of the American south, Quebecois specialties or East Coast-inspired. Yu Chu InterContinental Asiana Saigon, corner of Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, D1 Tel: 028 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.


DISTRICT 2 BoatHouse 40 Lily Road, APSC Compound, 36 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 028 3744 6790 Riverside restaurant with umbrellashaded tables spread across outdoor deck and small indoor dining room. With revamped menu which includes a mix of family-style meals with Mexican featuring predomominately, followed by Italian and Asian fare. 

By Richie Fawcett

IMBIBE THE SIMPLE COMPLICATION CASE OF TRUST PROBLEMS, AND THEIR SOLUTIONS When it comes to this business, the single biggest worry for the owner of a bar or restaurant has to be that can they trust their staff, from cashier, bartender to manager, as temptation is always there. The closer to cash a manager is, the more likely they are to be fiddling the books, tips, commissions or anything else they can get their sticky fingers on. The bottom-feeder mentality of picking the low-hanging fruit of the hard work of the team can be catastrophic to any business over time if the cancer is not caught in time, and spreads to other weaker staff to hide and cover up the actions of the main culprit. The warning signs to be aware of can be subtle and almost unnoticeable to the untrained eye. Language plays a huge part. Mostly body language gives away the guilty. Difficulties with spoken language and the difference between knowing right and wrong but still doing wrong is another point to consider. Motives are obvious, they are just greedy for money. Surprisingly, even managers on good salaries with great working conditions find it easy to abuse the trust they are given. They find themselves not focusing on the guest experience, but on how much they can line their pockets with. Pack mentality is one tactic commonly used. The lone

wolf cannot operate without an accomplice who has the same distorted morality. If the main manager is showing signs of dominance over other staff, this usually means they are conditioning juniors to cover things up. Remember it’s easier to hide a misdeed in a busy establishment. Point-of-sale techniques of concealment are also no less subversive. Having more than 20 years’ experience of bars and restaurants around the world I’ve seen pretty much everything when it comes to lifting cash. So, what’s the solution to this nightmare of Alibaba antics? Accountability and responsibility is the key. First, set the policy crystal clear. No manager is to handle cash, period. All cash over and under at the end of day needs the general manager’s signature to authorise to accounts with full explanation for losses. Change cashier every two years, or move them from site to site. Do not allow discounts unless the GM or owner signs. Make a cash tip record book for every tip to be recorded and accounted for every day, counted at the end of the night and sealed in an envelope. Question all the time, keep a sharp eye and tune into the feeling when you see two people in trusted positions getting too close, and good luck.

Shri Restaurant and Lounge manager Richie Fawcett is an artist, bartender and restaurateur.


Bia Craft 90 Xuan Thuy, D2 Tel: 028 3744 2588 A cozy bar serving beer­themed snacks and some of the best craft ales in Saigon. Constantly buzzing with the friendly chat of local expats in the area. Ebisu 66 Song Hanh, D2 028 6276 8787 The city’s soba noodle specialists bring authenticity and professional service to the Japanese table. Sushi and grilled skewers are also specialities, DTwo Sports Bar 55­57 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 028 3519 4138 Stylish non­smoking sports bar offering all the latest action on a choice of widescreen TVs. Perfect for sports fans who are looking for a cold pint and big portions from a tempting pub grub menu. Mekong Merchant 23 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 028 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.  Quan Bui Garden 55 Ngo Quang Huy, Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 028 3898 9088 From the team behind Quan Bui, this D2 spot has all the chic design and ambience, with a gorgeous garden setting designed to attract a more upmarket clientele. The Deck 38 Nguyen U Di, D2 Tel: 028 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.

DISTRICT 3 Cha Ca La Vong 3 Ho Xuan Huong, D3 Tel: 028 3930 5674 36 Ton That Thiep, D1 Tel: 028 3915 3343 Two HCM City outposts of the legendary Hanoi original serve only one dish: the eponymous and delicious cha ca la vong, fish pan-fried at the table with turmeric and dill and served with cold noodles and peanuts. Com Nieu 19 Tu Xuong, D3 Tel: 028 3932 6288 The house specialty, com nieu (smashed rice), comes with a shattered-crockery and flying-rice

show at this well-known restaurant, prominently featured in Anthony Bourdain’s A Cook’s Tour. An extensive and tasty selection of southern Vietnamese cuisine rounds out the menu. Hu Tieu Nam Vang Lien Hua 381 Vo Van Tan, D3 Lien Hua has been serving Chinese­ Khmer noodle soup on this spot for over forty years. Pork and shrimp set hu tieu Nam Vang apart from your average pho while the house speciality dim sum selection is unmissable Kumdo 6A Pham Ngoc Thach, D3 Tel: 028 3824 3253 Korean beef barbecue served in small, welcoming dining rooms with barbecues built into tables. Large selection of raw meat specialties. Viet Chay 339 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D3 Tel: 028 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.

DISTRICT 5 Ngan Dinh Chinese Restaurant Windsor Plaza Hotel, 18 An Duong Vuong, D5 Tel: 028 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.

DISTRICT 7 Kim Bab Chun Gook R4 42 Hung Phuoc 2, Phu My Hung, D7 Tel: 028 6296 9057 Korean boonshik/snack food eatery serving up a wide variety of light but substantial foods including dumplings, rameyon and fish cakes. The Tavern R2/24 Hung Gia 3, Bui Bang Doan, D7 Tel: 028 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.  Viva Tapas Bar & Grill 90 Cao Trieu Phat, Phu My Hung, D7 Tel: 028 54 106 721 Tucked away on a quiet street in Phu My Hung, Viva is colourful and welcoming and has both indoor and outdoor seating. Tapas make up the bulk of the menu and cover traditional dishes as well as a few house specialties that put a quirky twist on things. 

PHU NHUAN Iki Ground Floor, Eastin Grand Hotel Saigon 253 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 028 3844 9222 Saigon’s trendiest Japanese restaurant turns the notion of the common hotel sushi eatery on its head, with a wide yet very affordable menu from Bento boxes, yummy tempura or fresh madeto-oder sushi and sashimi.

Tung Garden 1st floor, Eastin Grand Hotel Saigon 253 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 028 3844 9222 Invites you to indulge in a unique and unforgettable fine dining experience with more than 130 seats & 4 private rooms. The restaurant features enticing Chinese cuisine and Dim Sum along with a full lunch and dinner menu.

nightlife See bar restaurant listings for more popular watering holes. The Library InterContinental Asiana Saigon, corner of Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, D1 Tel: 028 3520 9099 Unwind with a glass of wine or a cup of tea. The Library provides a welcoming atmosphere for those in search of calm, comfort and personalized service. Purple Jade InterContinental Asiana Saigon, corner of Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, D1 Tel: 028 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 Rooftop via 9th floor, Caravelle Saigon Hotel, 19 - 23 Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 028 3823 4999 A great iconic bar to watch the sun go

down over the city skyline, or dance the night away. The panoramic views of the city are spectacular, particularly in the evenings. Live entertainment nightly with Cuban band Q’vans except Tuesday from 9:00pm till late.

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 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. 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 39 Thao Dien, An Phu, D2 Tel: 028 6296 0066 Small bakery turns out sweet and salted pies and mousses in addition to baguettes and a range of Western sweets.

at home DELIVERY

Patty’s Kitchen homecookhealthyfood Home-made meals for pick-up or delivery. 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


Annam Gourmet Market 16-18 Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 028 3822 9332 41A Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 028 3744 2630 Takashimaya Saigon Center 65 Le Loi, D1 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. Cosy café serves coffee, drinks and sandwiches. Kim Hai Butchery 46 Nguyen Thai Binh, D1 Tel: 028 3914 4376 This town is definitely big enough for two Australian butchers. Reasonably priced imported beef, fish, chicken, and more at this original neighbourhood fixture.

Meatworks Butchery 1, Street 2, Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 028 3744 2565 Imported meats from Australia, including top-quality beef and lamb, and locally sourced pork and chicken.. Proudly Australian owned and managed. MegaMarket An Phu, D2 Tel: 028 3740 6677 Tel: 028 3717 2979 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. Organik 11A Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 090 273 3841 Online grocer based out of Dalat selling a range of organic vegetables and groceries, as well as imported allnatural products. Phuong Ha 58 Ham Nghi, D1 Tel: 028 3914 1318 A mini-supermarket that sells an extensive assortment of imported packaged food, cheese, meat, fresh fruit, vegetables and fine wines. Veggy’s 14 Pham Hong Thai, D1 Tel: 028 3823 8526 Sky Garden Pham Van Nghi, Bac Khu Pho, D7 Popular expat market with a 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.


listings By Phil Kelly

FITNESS GET HEALTHY IN 2018 For “health” both food and exercise are important. Healthy exercise is simply an ability to move… walking is one of the healthiest activities you can do. You do not need a gym, you do not need expensive equipment, you only need to move. If your aim is more aesthetical then you need to be more precise with your exercise but for health purposes it is a simple case of moving. Most people understand this, however nutrition seems to be the hardest thing to change and adopt healthy eating habits. Firstly, what is a healthy diet? It’s not about counting calories, measuring portions or cutting carbs. You won’t really find a healthy diet on the lite menu at your favorite restaurant and you certainly won’t find it at the local street or fast food joint. A healthy diet is all about ‘what’ you eat rather than ‘how much’ you eat. Because if you are eating the right foods you will naturally not overeat, not have cravings, not have low energy and you will definitely not be overfat. Is a healthy diet what we have been lead to believe - milk for strong bones and teeth, bread/ pasta/rice to fuel physical activity, cereal for breakfast, snack in between meals, and maybe a ‘healthy’ microwave dinner if we are ‘on the go’? Unfortunately this diet is what is identified as a SAD diet (Standard American Diet). It is nicknamed SAD because that is what it is… sad! Have these recommendations made us any healthier? The West clings to these conventional wisdom nutrition recommendations… America spends a whooping $1.3 trillion a year on health care. If these recommendations are so great why is the global society not getting any healthier?

Other pertinent questions about your health beg for answers such as, why after more than 30 years since the ‘War On Cancer’ was declared, do we still have an increasing cancer rate. Yes, we have many more people surviving cancer but the rate at which people are getting cancer is increasing. We have come a long way in taking care of sick people, but we haven’t made any progress in preventing people from getting sick. Why do one in every four people have diabetes? Why is there more heart problems today than 30 years ago? Why is more than 50% of the USA population on some kind of prescription drug? With all the technological advancement in the past 50 years we can’t solve simple lifestyle caused health issues. A healthy diet is 100% in your control… what is it that makes most live unhealthy lifestyles? The secret to a healthy diet and a healthy life is living food; fresh vegetables, fruit, good quality protein and green leafy salads. The answer to a healthier you is summed up in three words; breakfast, lunch and dinner. My basic golden rules for optimal nutritional health are to consume the following nutrients at each meal time: Breakfast should consist of protein and fats. Lunch a big salad. Dinner can be a balanced meal of 25% protein/fat, 25% starch and 50% vegetables. The food you choose must be real food… not from packets. A healthy diet is not tasteless, bland or boring! Add any dry spices or herbs that you like to make healthy taste good. Living a healthy life and having a healthy family is all about eating a healthy diet, every day of our lives!

Phil Kelly is a health practitioner and expert in body transformation. His services are available at Star Fitness ( 50 AsiaLIFE HCMC

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.


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,


DanCenter 53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Thao Dien, District 2 Tel: 028 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 Salsa package for single persons and 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: 028 3744 6960, ext 126 Six-lane, 25-metre pool, basketball and netball courts, astroturf hockey/football area and outdoor gym equipment. Available for party hire - BBQ included on request. Membership packages avail-

able. 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: 028 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: 028 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: 028 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. Hollywood Fitness World H3 Building, 384 Hoang Dieu, D4 Tel: 028 3826 4639 One of the latest & best workout environments in the city, suitable for all ages and fitness levels. Personal training is offered. L’Apothiquaire Fitness Centre 64A Truong Dinh, D3 Tel: 028 3932 5181 Internationally-certified teachers offer daily classes in Sivananda, Iyengar, Power, Yoga, Abdo-Pilates, Taebo and Aqua-Aerobics. Peaceful swimming pool, sauna and steam room. La Cochinchine Rex Hotel, 146 Pastuer, D1 Tel: 028 3825 1812 (ext 7477) New and affordable fitness centre located in the heart of the city. This gym has a wide range of weight machines, as well as many cardio machines, including treadmills, cross-trainers and bikes. A good variety of classes are available, including yoga and aerobic dance. NTFQ2 Spa 34 Nguyen Dang Giai, D2 Tel: 028 3744 6672 Therapeutic massage with a focus on sports massage to increase circulation, remove lactic acid build-up, restore flexibility and relieve back pain. Sheraton Fitness Level 5, Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 028 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. Star Fitness Gym Manor Apartments, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: 028 3514 0255 This 1,600sqm gym is apparently the biggest in Vietnam. Has a good range of machines for any type of workout. Membership involves one time entry fee plus monthly subscriptions and gives free access to regular fitness classes. Saigon Yoga Tel: 090 835 2265 A yoga centre with highly qualified instructors offering hot yoga, Hatha Flow, restorative yoga, kids’ yoga, pre and


Australian Rules Football Tel: 093 768 3230 The Vietnam Swans play regular international footy matches around Asia. Training sessions are held weekly in HCM City (2.30 pm Saturday, RMIT D7) and Hanoi (midday, Saturday, UN International School, Ciputra). All skill levels and codes welcome. RMIT Vietnam A new player on the SIFL scene with 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 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: 0263 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: 0251 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. The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip Phuoc Thuan, Xuyen Moc, Ba Ria Vung Tau Tel: 064 378 8666 Designed by Greg Norman, The Bluffs is a 50-hectare 18 hole links-style golf course associated with The Grand Ho Tram Strip integrated resort, about a 2.5 hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City. Saigon South Golf Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phu, D7 Tel: 028 5411 2001 Nine-hole mini golf course and driving range set amongst attractive gardens just behind FV Hospital. Club, shoe and umbrella hire is also available. Song Be Golf Resort 77 Binh Duong Blvd, Thuan An Tel: 0274 3756 660 Located 22 kilometres from the city centre, the premier golf course in the area features an 18-hole, 6,384-metre course. Also has tennis courts, a swimming pool, and a gymnasium.

Vietnam Golf and Country Club Long Thanh My Village, D9 This facility consists of two courses of 18 holes each, one of which is designed in a more traditional Asian style, and the other in international style. Has other attractions such as boating, tennis and a restaurant area.

LEISURE 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: 028 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 Vietwings Paragliding Promoted by a local advertising executive turned test pilot, paragliding, hanggliding, trike plane can be performed in several locations across southern Vietnam including Dalat, Phan Thiet, Tay Ninh. Call Loco on 0903 825607 for more information.


OUR SPECIALTIES General and tropical medicine

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.

Cardiology Obstetrics/gynecology Psychology Osteopathic medicine Pediatrics

Raffles Medical Clinic 167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D3 Tel: 028 3845 4218 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.

Psychiatry Speech and language therapy CENTRE MEDICAL INTERNATIONAL 1 Han Thuyen, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Tel: (84.28) 3827 23 66/67 Fax: (84.28) 3827 23 65 Email:

Traditional oriental medicine Psychomotor therapy Childbirth education classes Home nurse service



American Chiropractic Clinic 161 Hai Ba Trung, D3 Tel: 028 3939 3930 A chiropractic, physiotherapy, foot care clinic staffed by American-trained chiropractors speaking French, English, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. Treatsback pain, neck pain, knee pain, also specializing in sports injuries, manufacture of medical grade foot orthotics. CARE1 Executive Health Care Center The Manor, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: 028 3514 0757 Care 1 Executive Health Care Center in the Manor is the main facility for health screening and wellness check-ups. To fit into your busy life, Care 1 offers one stop service - modern, comprehensive healthcare services and state-of the-art facilities all in one place. 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. The Institute also provides acupuncture lessons.


Victoria Healthcare 135A Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 028 3910 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.


Accadent 39 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 028 6267 6666 A clinic that brings leading German dentistry to Vietnam. All dentists here were trained in Germany and all equipment comes from Germany to ensure proper hygiene and quality. Starlight Dental Clinic Dr. Philippe Guettier & International Team of Dentists 24 Thao Dien, D2 2Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, D1 Tel: 028 3822 6222 With 14 years’ experience providing dental treatment to expat and Vietnamese patients, this well-known dental surgery is staffed by both foreign & local practitioners. With the latest treatments and techniques, the surgery prides themselves on their high standard of equipment & sterilization. Minh Khai Dental Clinic 199 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 Tel: 028 3925 3399 No.1 Dental Clinic 51 Ba Thang Hai, D10 Tel: 028 3929 0909 Located in District 10, No.1 offers general dentistry services include fillings, checkups and teeth cleaning and specialist dental care that includes dental implants, orthodontics (braces), endodontics (root canals), prosthodontics (false teeth, including dentures, crowns and veneers) and cosmetic dentistry, such as laser teeth whitening. West Coast Dental Clinic 27 Nguyen Ba Lan, D2 Tel: 028 3519 1777

MEDICAL Centre Medical International (CMI) 1 Han Thuyen, D1 Tel: 028 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, gynecology, pediatrics, ophthalmology, psychology, psychiatry, osteopathy, acupuncture and psychomotor therapy. .

Family Medical Practice HCMC Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 028 3822 7848 95 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 028 3744 2000 Leading international primary healthcare provider, with a 24-hour state-of-theart 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 97 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 Tel: 028 3925 9797

The Body Shop 216 Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 028 3820 5845 87 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Tel: 028 3823 3683119 Nguyen Trai, D5 Tel: 028 3923 2918 Parkson CT Plaza, Tan Binh Tel: 028 6297 2095 Parkson Cantavil, D2 Tel: 028 6296 0265 Diamond Plaza, D1 Tel: 028 3822 1887 check out more outlet via website International cosmetics retailer with strong commitment to environment sources natural ingredients from small communities for its line of more than 600 products. The Face Shop 81 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 028 3829 3058 Diamond Plaza 34 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 028 3507 0800 Vincom 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 028 3936 9308 Parkson Cantavil, D2 Tel: 028 37407180 check out more outlet via website Stamford Skin Centre 99 Suong Nguyet Anh, D1 Tel: 028 3925 1990 The Stamford Skin Centre has grown to include qualified specialists who treat general diseases of the skin such as acne, eczema and other forms of dermatitis, rosacea, psoriasis, skin cancers. Offering treatments for simple blemishes and outbreaks on a person’s face, a long standing melasma, acne scars, wrinkles or sagging skin that if treated, removed, or substantially improved.



Conservatory of Music 112 Nguyen Du, D1 The established training centre for professional musicians offers private piano and violin lessons to foreigners in the evenings. DanCenter 53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Thao Dien, D 2 Tel: 028 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. 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 for kids from age six.


Maman Bebe L2-11, Vincom Quang Trung, Go Vap 3rd Flr Parkson Hung Vuong Plaza, D5 L2-11K, Vincom 72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 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 52-54 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 191 Hoang Van Thu, Phu Nhuan S11-1 Sky Garden 1, Phu My Hung, D7 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.


Albetta 32 Tran Ngoc Dien D2 58 Nguyen Duc Canh, Tan Phong, D7 Albetta is a British family owned company, with a factory in Saigon, which produces beautifully designed and handcrafted clothes, gifts, shoes and accessories for children. Their new Lucky Luca collection shown are available in Albetta shops now. DLS Paris Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, D1 A superb range of unique and beautiful clothing for young children (from newborns to pre-school age) at high to midrange prices. The quality compensates for the price. Bedding, baby equipment and furniture and organic and natural supplies also kept in stock. Little Anh – Em 41 Thao Dien, D2 A French brand made in Vietnam offering a wide selection of colourful, simply packaged and thoughtfully collated “sets” of garments for girls and boys

from newborn to 10 years old. Lifestyle pieces also available include sleeping bags, bedroom accessories and bags. Ninh Khuong 42 Le Loi, D1 Tel: 3824 7456 71B Dong Khoi, D1 22 Nguyen Trai, D1 344 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D3 343 Hai Ba Trung, D1 27 Le Van Sy, Phu Nhuan Well-known hand-embroidered children’s clothing brand using 100% cotton. Newborn to 10 years old (girl) and fourteen years old (boy). Also stocking home linens. Prices are reasonable.

EDUCATION ABC International School 2,1E Street, KDC Trung Son, Binh Hung, Binh Chanh Tel: 028 5431 33/34/35/36 Judged “an outstanding school” by British Government Inspectors, the ABCIS is accredited by CIE, AQA and Education Development Trust and members of COBIS and FOBISIA. Serving 2-18 year olds in a caring environment, it delivers a globally valued curriculum based on best UK practice. This culminates in the award of IGCSEs and A levels from the Cambridge and AQA examination boards. These “gold standard certifications” afford entrance to the very best universities around the world.

American International School 220 Nguyen Van Tao, Nha Be, HCMC Tel: 028 3780 0909 Established since 2006, American International School is a private school serving students from Preschool through grade 12. Operate on 2 campuses, the school offers innovative American curriculum with true Vietnamese heritage. All students are well prepared for academic success appropriate to their needs and aspirations in the US and around the world. The Australian International School Xi Campus (Kindergarten) 190 Nguyen Van Huong, D2 Tel: 028 35192727 Thao Dien Campus (Kindergarten & Primary School) 36 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 6960 Thu Thiem Campus (Kindergarten, Primary, Middle & Senior School) 264 Mai Chi Tho (East-West Highway) An Phu ward, D2 Tel: 028 3742 4040 The Australian International School is an IB World School with 3 class campuses in District 2, HCMC, offering an international education from Kindergarten to Senior School with the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), Cambridge Secondary Programe (including IGCSE) and IB Diploma Programme (DP). British International School Primary Campus 43 - 45 Tu Xuong, D3 225 Nguyen Van Huong, D2 Secondary Campus 246 Nguyen Van Huong, D2 Tel: 028 3744 2335 BIS is the largest international school in Vietnam operating from three purpose built campuses in HCMC catering for students from pre-school to Year 13. The school operates within the framework of the National Curriculum for England and is staffed primarily by British qualified and


trained teachers with recent UK experience. Students are prepared for both IGCSE & the IB Diploma programmes. BIS is a member of FOBISSEA & is fully accredited by the Council of International schools

By Shannon Brown

EDUCATION HUB THE BENEFITS OF PETS As we ease into the year of the dog, I thought it would be nice to explore the ways that having a dog (or a cat, rabbit,fish or snake) has a positive impact on children. Kids are often super eager to get their first pet, while parents are a bit more hesitant. As most of us know, a lot of time, money, and patience goes into finding a suitable animal companion for ourselves and our families. Pets require constant care, which can be especially challenging living overseas. Pets need the right vaccinations and travel documents, just like humans. However, research continues to show that raising an animal has several benefits for childhood development. First, children who grow up around pets seem to have a health advantage. Early exposure to the bacteria in animal saliva and fur may decrease the risk of developing certain allergies and even asthma. Children with pets are also more physically active in general, which lowers their risk of obesity and cardiovascular disorders. Second, having a pet encourages empathy and nurturing skills, especially in boys who might shy away from taking care of younger siblings. Pets provide a neutral and non-judgemental source of comfort when emotions seem to be out of control. Third, kids with pets appear to have higher self-esteem and verbal skills. Pets provide

a common subject area to discuss with peers and taking care of a pet can lead to a sense of well-being. Confidence is often linked to increased responsibility. We have all seen young children chatter away to animals, even before they are speaking fluently! Several studies have also shown that kids who read to their pets perform better in school. Fourth, having a pet can strengthen family bonds. When everyone takes a role - feeding, walking, bathing, training - the pet becomes a member of the family and a shared source of love. If you are ready to take the plunge, Animal Rescue and Care (ARC) is a local non-profit organisation that rehomes cats and dogs. All of their animals are cared for and properly vaccinated and neutered. They organise a daily dog walk each morning, and you are welcome to join to see if there is a particular dog you or your children make a connection to. You can also choose to foster a dog or cat before making the adoption permanent. When choosing an animal for your family, consider your lifestyle and the age of your children. Some animals have endless patience, some have boundless energy, and some can be quite protective. While many animals thrive with training, you will probably have to do some training with the kids too so they can learn how to treat the newest member of the family.

Shannon Brown works in international education in Ho Chi Minh City and has a background in social work, public heath, and early childhood education. 54 AsiaLIFE HCMC

EUROPEAN International School 730 F-G-K Le Van Mien, Thao Dien.Tel: 028 7300 7257 The EUROPEAN International School Ho Chi Minh City (EIS) offers an international education from Early Years through Primary and Secondary School. EIS is committed to educating students to become creative critical thinkers and problem solvers. In small student centred classes, students are immersed in a multicultural learning environment which values multilingualism. The language of instruction throughout the School is English; the language program includes Spanish, German, French and Vietnamese. International School HCMC 28 Vo Truong Toan, D2 Tel: 028 3898 9100 One of 136 schools around the world to be accredited as an IB World School. Offers all three of the IB programmes from primary through to grade 12. The school is fully accredited by CIS and NEASC and has a strong focus on community spirit and fosters an awareness of other languages and cultures. The International School HCMC American Academy 26 Vo Truong Toan, D2 Tel: 028 3898 9098 The International School Ho Chi Minh City - American Academy is a worldclass middle and high school for children aged 11 to 18 years old. Offering a comprehensive academic program built upon the principles and standards of the American education system.. International School Saigon Pearl 92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh District Tel: 028 2222 7788/99 The International School Saigon Pearl (ISSP) is a world-class Elementary School for children aged 18 months to 11 years old offering a full American school curriculum in Vietnam. With a custom built primary campus ISSP’s ethos is centered on building caring relationships with each child and family. Montessori International School International Program 42/1 Ngo Quang Huy, D2 Tel: 028 3744 2639 Bilingual Program 28 Street 19, KP 5, An Phu, D2 Tel: 028 6281 7675 Montessori utilizes an internationally recognized educational method which focuses on fostering the child’s natural desire to learn. The aim is to create an encouraging environment conducive to learning by developing a sense of self and individuality. A wide array of curriculum/extra-curricular activities are on offer including Bilingual programs.

Renaissance International School 74 Nguyen Thi Thap, D7 Tel: 028 3773 3171 An International British school providing inclusive curriculum based upon the

British curriculum complemented by the International Primary Curriculum and International Baccalaureate. The school has made a conscious decision to limit numbers and keep class sizes small to ensure each student is offered an education tailored to meet his or her individual learning needs. It is a family school providing a stimulating and secure learning environment with first-class facilities including a 350-seat theatre, swimming pool, mini-pool, play-areas, gymnasium, IT labs, music and drama rooms, science labs and an all-weather pitch. RMIT 702 Nguyen Van Linh, D7 Tel: 028 3776 1369 Australian university located in District 7, offers a highly regarded MBA and undergraduate courses in various fields. SmartKids 1172 Thao Dien Compound, D2 Tel: 028 3744 6076 An international childcare centre that provides kindergarten and pre-school education for children aged between 18 months and 6 years. A fun and friendly environment, the school focuses on learning through play. Saigon South International School Nguyen Van Linh Parkway, D7 Tel: 028 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.


Diamond Plaza 34 Le Duan, D1 The top floor arcade and bowling alley is bound to keep your little ones entertained for hours with an impressive array of video games. Some child-friendly dining options too, with Pizza Hut on hand, a KFC and a New Zealand Natural ice cream concession. Gymboree Play & Music Somerset Chancellor Court 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 Tel: 028 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.


Beatrice’s Party Shop 235 Le Thanh Ton, D1 A lovely little shop selling everything you need to throw your little ones a good party. A catalogue of entertainers showcases a number of party favourites such as magicians, circuses and more. Nguyen Ngoc Diem Phuong 131C Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 A curious shop stocking a range of 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 costumes. Bibi Clown - Chu he Bibi Tel: 0933 131 012 Does exactly as his name suggests.Great service has earned him a reputation for turning up almost instantly with a superb selection of balloons and games in both English and Vietnamese. The Balloon Man Mr Hoat 0903 837 326 Does exactly as his name suggests – balloons. He will come to your place for decoration but English not as good. Also provides helium balloons.


living By Paul McLardie

PERSONAL FINANCE WILDLIFE IN THE PUB We all need it. Some of us have more than others and some of us have a lot less than others but will we ever get to the point that we can talk to the lads down the pub about your misfiring wallet as easy as your misfiring Nuevo? Most likely not, as we men have a problem. We find it difficult to talk to each other about anything that is actually important. We will have a moan about work and our employers and we realise this is both cathartic and healthy, and once in a while marital issues come up, but the one thing that never comes up beyond “I don’t get paid enough” is we the issue of money. Our younger Millennial brothers have been leading the way on creating a better place for mental health issues. Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets are full of relationship issues, job problems and family squabbles, but even here they have a problem with talking about money issues. The main problems Millennial are have is that they haven’t been taught the basics of money management. If you have just moved out of your parents’ house where the biggest thing you had to worry about was a phone contract, you will undoubtedly end up in the kaka. But don’t worry, you are not the only person your age is in debt because of the fear of missing out. Us older but maybe not wiser people, may think these problems are tiny compared to what we are going through, but the culture of keeping money worries to yourself

has been passed down from generation to generation. This needs to stop. It is unhealthy and damaging to all of us. We fill our attention span with things that do not really matter to block out what is actually important. Now here comes the analogy. You are the wildebeest grazing away when you see a giraffe for the first time. You stop chewing and ask your mates around you what it is. One of the wildebeest at the back says he was told about it and it’s an elephant. Another one says it’s an antelope so a discussion goes on about who will look it up on bovine Google but in the meantime everyone has completely forgotten about the pride of lions hiding in the undergrowth. The next thing you know you have a set of teeth hanging out of your rump. We all have money issues, but let’s start dealing with the problems that are in plain sight that will bite you in the behind. As with any problem, the first way to fix it is to admit there is one. I am not saying that we should all it in a circle of truth and burn basil and chime little bells, but if you can talk to your mates about marital problems, why not say, “you know what, every month is way too long for my pay cheque, have you been there yourself?”. Women have been shown to be better to opening up to their peers than us men, but for the good of our health and the good of our relationships, maybe we should give it a try once in a while. Also, we just can’t have women being better at something than us.

Paul McLardie is a partner at Total Wealth Management. Contact him at

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.


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: 028 3933 0762 The biggest and busiest of the PC stores in town. Known for good, efficient service, in-house maintenance and aftersales repair on the second floor.

Unit 2404, 24th Floor Pearl Plaza Office Tower, 561A Dien Bien Phu BUSINESS GROUPS Street, Ward 25, Binh Thanh District Direct: 84 8 3840 4237 AmCham New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, D1 Business Centre, Room 323 Want to 3562 avoid making mistakes?? Tel: 3824 To learn how contact Crown for all your relocations needs. We provide services Internationally, locally and AusCham as well provide storTVcommercially Building, Suite 1A, as 31A Nguyen Dinh age solutions long and short Chieu, D1 Tel: 3911 0272 / 73term. / 74 British Business Group of Vietnam 25 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 028 3829 8430 / CanCham New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, D1 Business Centre, Room 305 Tel: 028 3824 3754 Eurocham 257 Hoang Van Thu, Tan Binh Tel: 028 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: 028 3823 3046 Swiss Business Association 42 Giang Van Minh, Anh Phu, D2 Tel: 028 3744 6996 Email: Hong Kong Business Association New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, D1 Business Centre, Room 322 Tel: 028 3824 3757 / 3822 8888 NordCham Bitexco Building, 19-25 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 028 3821 5423


Kiet Camera Ground Floor, Lucky Plaza, 69 Dong Khoi, D1 Ver reliable shop with large range of kit and very good prices. If he hasn’t got in stock, Kiet can quickly find it. Pham The 11 Le Cong Kieu, D1 An authorized service centre for Nikon camera that also specializes in repairing all camera makes. Measurement equipment and spare parts also available. Shop 46 46 Nguyen Hue, D1

Thuan My 32 Cach Mang Thang 8, D3 2 Thao Dien, D2 Apple Authorized reseller and Premium Service Provider of Apple computers and products. Excellent service and Englishspeaking staff.


Concetti 33 Dinh Tien Hoang, D1 Tel: 028 3911 1480 Consulting and research company for technology transfer and investment. Embers Asia Ltd. 4th floor, 04 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D1 Tel: 028 3822 4728 As the first team-building provider established in Vietnam, Embers specialises in making teams better in globally competitive markets. 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: 028 3824 5252 Professional service firm specializing in advisory, assurance, tax, transactions and strategic growth markets. Grant Thornton Saigon Trade Centre, 37 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 028 3910 9100 International business advisors specialising in auditing, management consulting, corporate finance, risk management and IT IF Consulting IBC Building, 3rd Floor 1A Me Linh Square, D1 4th Floor, 5 Ba Trieu Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi Tel: 028 3827 7362 Email: Private insurance and finance. Indochine Councel Han Nam Building, 65 Nguyen Du, D1 Tel: 028 3823 9640 Business law firm specializing in legal services to corporate clients in relation to their business and investment in Vietnam. 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: 028 3829 2391 Specializing in business facilitation, conferences, education counselling, market-entry research and IT/business consulting.

By Gary Woollacott

PEOPLE MATTER DITHER DITHER I’ve written on this topic before, and it will probably come up again – a perennial question: why do companies sometimes dither so before hiring their preferred candidate? We’ve done the search, completed the interviews and all parties agree on the preferred candidate – that’s the good news. The candidate is keen to sign and ready to resign from her current employer. Then there’s a snag. Something else must be done, or someone else has to see the candidate (often unrelated to whatever the candidate will be doing) or there’s just one more sign-off from head office that has to be sought. Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into a month, or even two. Then when we go back to the candidate and she says: “You know what? The push factors (perhaps an incompetent or annoying boss, poor procedures, low pay etc) have been fixed and I’m no longer looking, thanks so much.” After all that time the candidate changed her mind. And who can blame her? Add in the fact that we have taken two months to conduct a fairly simple interview process and no wonder she has walked away. What would it be like to work for a company that can’t make practical and straightforward decisions? Is that the place she wants to help move her career forward? Probably not. Our ideal candidate just disappeared. That leaves us scratching

our heads. We all know that really great people are so hard to recruit, why would a company knowingly sabotage what could be a fabulous recruitment for itself? All the parties at the company think that they are blameless as, individually, they have all done their little bit. But when we add up all those “little bits” we sometimes find that the recruitment process that has been set up over the years is now so unwieldy that it’s a miracle anyone is hired at all. It’s time for HR to step in and try to restore some common sense into the recruitment process (on the assumption that they aren’t the ones who set it up). Or perhaps the chief executive needs to take a good look at what is going on in her company. She probably has no idea: her goals are simple – to hire the best – but as she never goes through the process herself, she doesn’t understand that the process itself is scaring away talent. I’m not advocating hiring just anybody on a whim. Of course we need checks and balances to make sure that we don’t hire non-performers, lazy or toxic people. But for goodness’ sake, when you find a superstar who actually wants to work for you, why wouldn’t you do all you can to get that person in the company as quickly as possible? As usual, let me know if you have any particular topic you would like to see covered here.

Gary Woollacott is an executive search consultant who works for Horton International in Vietnam, Thailand and Laos. He can be reached at +84 8 3910 7682 or via 56 AsiaLIFE HCMC

TMF Vietnam Company Limited Unit 501, 5th Floor, Saigon Trade Center 37 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 028 3910 2262 ext. 113 Fax: 028 3910 0590 With headquarters in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, TMF Vietnam specializes in accounting outsourcing and consulting. Total Wealth Management 66/11 Pham Ngoc Thach, D3 Tel: 028 3820 0623 Specialists in selecting and arranging tax-efficient savings and pension plans for expatriates. Offers councel on private banking services, wealth protection in offshore jurisdictions, currency risks and hedging strategies. Towers Watson Vietnam (formerly Watson Wyatt and SMART HR) Sun Wah Tower, 115 Nguyen Hue, Suite 808, D1 Tel: 028 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.


Nguyen Kim Shopping Centre 63-65 Tran Hung Dao, D1 Tel: 028 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 refrigerators. Tech Street Huynh Thuc Khang Street between Ton That Dam and Nguyen Hue, D1 Sells compact discs, DVDs, electronic money counters, video games and systems, Discmans, mp3 players and portable DVD players.

FURNITURE AustinHome 42 Nguyen Dang Giai, D2 Tel: 028 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.

Decosy 112 Xuan Thuy, D2 Tel: 028 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. Gaya 6/39A Tran Nao Street 12, D2 Tel: 028 3740 6009 Gaya is re launching with new name at the new location featuring the work of foreign designers: furniture and lighting

by Quasar Khanh, laquerware decor by Michele De Albert and other home accessories and outdoor furniture . Linh’s White 67 Xuan Thuy, D2 Tel: 028 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.


Dreamplex Level 9 – 10 – 11 21 Nguyen Trung Ngan, District 1 Tel: 028 7306-6880 A coworking space for startup entrepreneurs, creatives, consultants and investors to work collaboratively or privately. There’s a meeting hub to connect enterprises with domestic and global investors, as well as assist with recruitment. The Hive Saigon 94 Xuan Thuy, District 2 Tel: 028 3620 3481 Open spaces and private offices in a three-storey building for creatives and entrepreneurs. Part of a network of coworking spaces throughout Asia. PepperHouse 19 Hoang Sa, District 1 Tel: 028 3910-2028 PepperHouse provides a space to stay and work in Ho Chi Minh City. Bright, open, and the perfect place to hunker down to get some work done and network. Saigon Coworking 101 Cu Lao, Phu Nhuan District Tel: 0965 100 244 and 0902 740 106 One of the first coworking spaces in Saigon, Saigon Coworking was founded for startups and networking for young foreign entrepreneurs. The space partners with local professionals to help with legal, financial and IT consulting. Has an onsite kitchen and green rooftop garden. Start Saigon 18bis/14 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, District 1 Tel: 028 6682-8580 Start Saigon is a 24/7 co-working space dedicated to information technology start-ups and entrepreneurs. With a rooftop garden, pool, fast optical-fibre internet, and a meeting room, they also host after work parties and barbecues. Workyos Viettel Complex, Tower A 12th Floor, 285 Cach Mang Thang Tam, District 10 Tel: 028 6288-2882 Drop in and work in one of the open spaces, or rent a desk or private office longer-term. Branding consultation available from the experienced staff. Also available are meeting and event rooms, a bar and a “relax” room.


First Alliances #609, Saigon Trade Center 37 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 028 3910 2080 As Vietnam’s most established recruitment consultancy, First Alliances operates across all major industry sectors and at all levels of seniority. Also providing HR outsourcing solutions for staffing and payroll,overseas employment and education services.

HR2B / Talent Recruitment JSC Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, D3 / Tel: 028 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.


CRAFT SAIGON ROSE CAO FLORAL DESIGN A double major in accounting and finance seems to be the most unlikely background for a floral artist. But that’s the career path Rose Cao originally chose, before the stress of working through the global financial crisis in Singapore got too much. Rose took some floristry classes to try to take her mind off her daytime workload, which kept increasing as her company downsized. “The more I learnt the more I liked it and felt that I should go deeper into it because it’s such a relaxing feeling to complete a beautiful arrangement and to bring it home after every class,” Rose said. From such simple beginnings, Rose went on to become the first Vietnamese floral art designer to enter the prestigious Singapore Garden Festival in 2016. She ended up winning the silver medal in the table floral display series. Rose has now dedicated herself to sharing her love of floral art through workshops in Ho Chi Minh City. Her own signature style is very minimalist. “Some of my designs have just flower or a very minimum amount of flowers,” she said. “I like monochromatic colour harmony. I also use a lot of aluminium wire in my design to create avantgarde compositions.”

Rose said that unlike in painting, where you can mix colours, floral art is more nuanced “because you can’t change the colours of nature”. Well, you can, with colour spraying products, but Rose says she hates those products. “My inspiration is to keep things as natural as possible,” she said. So what is the difference between a floral artist and a florist? Rose said the comparison is akin to a tailor and a fashion designer. “A florist is someone who creates arrangements that follow a fixed design or according to the customer’s request,” she said. “A floral artist is someone who expresses their ideas, creations or emotions by using a combination of floral and nonfloral materials.” Rose enjoys passing on her knowledge of floral art through workshops, classes and exhibitions. She teaches courses from basic to advanced, as well as children’s classes, special interest classes, such as terrariums, living jewellery and succulents. “I have about 60 topics to cover for anyone who seriously wants to go into professional floristry,” she said. Rose Cao’s studio is at Block E #04-71, Lexington Officetel, 67 Mai Chi Tho, An Phu, District 2.

Horton International 5F, Vitic Building 6B Nguyen Thanh Y Street, D1 Tel 028 3910 7682-3 Established in HCMC in 2005, Horton International services local and multinational companies seeking to recruit high quality personnel. Horton International is one of the world’s leading executive search groups with 50 offices in 30 countries.  For more information, contact

RELOCATION AGENTS UTS Saigon Van Intl’ Relocations 1st Fl, 214 Nguyen Van Huong, D2 Tel: 028 3744 7102 MOVING!? Full service relocating agency with ware! housing, handyman, insurance & claim, ! orientation an partner career support services also availble. !"#$%&&'(!)%*#)%&&'(!+),-.)%*#)%&&'/! 0#1.!2#3-(!#4$-(!5%$,#.'/!! !6--7!8,#.%9-!/! :&%))+)9!,#!.-&#$%,-!;#.&7;+7-/! ! !"#$%&$''(")*'+,"-%,'.%*$#/*0'


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Santa Fe Relocation Services 8th floor, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, D3 Tel: 028 3933 0065 With over 150 offices around world, Santa Fe offers local & international moving, pet transportation, relocation services including home search, orientation, cultural training, immigration & records management.



Accessorize Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Fashion-forward accessories including necklaces, handbags, wallets, flip-flops, sunglasses, hair accessories, belts and more. Ipa-Nima 71 Pasteur, D1 Tel: 028 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.

Craft Saigon is a monthly column to highlight new small businesses in the city, if your business wishes to be featured please email

READY TO WEAR unisex 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. Retro KID 345/3 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D3 Tel: 0909 168 350 Featured Street wear imported from Thailand and US as well as local designmen’s and women’s fashion, including T-shirts and footwear, and a range of accessories. Runway Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 028 3993 9988 Massive and minimalist design-led interior lets ultra high-end designer garments stand out. Carries men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, swimwear, shoes, accessories along with home décor. Brands include Chloe, Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga, Sergio Rossi and Eres.


Massimo Ferrari 42-A1 Tran Quoc Thao, D3 Tel: 028 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.


ER-Couture Boutique 36 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 028 3744 2411 Exclusive Scandinavian brand offering designer garments. Versatile fashion for women in European sizes 34-44. Each style is released in limited quantities and can be tailored to individual taste. 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.


Dieu Thanh 140 Pasteur, D1 Tel: 028 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: 028 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. 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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District 7 & Nha Be

Must have Android apps 2018





Keeping yourself on task can be difficult. is a great way to do so thanks to its ability to sync between all of your devices, including desktop, so you’re always in the know about what’s next on your to-do list. Add in a deep bench of features, like sharing lists and tasks with friends and co-workers, and becomes a must have.

Flipboard shook up its approach recently, but the core of the app remains the same. It collects various news sources and topics into “magazines,” giving users a single place to quickly catch up on the news they care about. It remains one of the best looking, and useful, news apps on the market and one that is well worth your time.





There is no shortage of keyboard apps in the Play Store, but Google’s own offering is the one you should have on your phone. After debuting on iOS, Mountain View finally brought the full GBoard experience to its own operating system months later. Though it seems a simple addition, having a Google search button directly on your keyboard is incredibly useful, making the whole experience of using your smartphone more efficient.

One of the primary steps everyone should take toward being more secure online is creating varied, intricate passwords. A manager like LastPass makes the process easy. It lets users sync across multiple devices for free, and will even read the context of your screen to know if it should chime in with a username or password suggestion. LastPass can give you ease of mine, and ease of use.


TOMB RAIDER Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) is the fiercely independent daughter of an eccentric adventurer who vanished years earlier. Hoping to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance, she embarks on a perilous journey to his last-known destination – a fabled tomb on a mythical island.

DEATH WISH Dr. Paul Kersey is a surgeon who often sees the consequences of the city’s violence in the emergency room. When home intruders brutally attack his wife and young daughter, Kersey becomes obsessed with delivering vigilante justice to the perpetrators. As the anonymous slayings grab the media’s attention, the public begins to wonder if the deadly avenger is a guardian angel – or the Grim Reaper itself.

THE HURRICANE HEIST A team of tech hackers embark on a $600 million robbery from a coastal U.S. mint facility at the same time a disastrous Category 5 hurricane is set to strike. The remaining people left in the deserted beach town are a meteorologist, a Treasury agent and the meteorologist’s ex-Marine brother. Together they not only must survive the hurricane, but also stop the mastermind thieves from accomplishing the heist of the century.

A WRINKLE IN TIME Based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Madeleine L’Engle, the film follows a young girl who sets off on a quest. After learning her astrophysicist father Alex is being held captive on a planet deep in the grip of a universespanning evil, Meg Murry works with her intelligent younger brother, new friend and fellow student Calvin O’Keeffe, and three astral travellers – Mrs. Which, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Who – to save him.


phobia pho•bi•a (fō’bē-ə) n. A persistent, abnormal, or irrational fear of a specific thing.


he past few weeks, geckos have only been at the back of my mind. Most of my attention was taken up by moving house, downsizing from the nice-yet-huge place we’ve called home for the past year. Like many Vietnamese houses, this one was tall and skinny, with many bedrooms and bathrooms -- and stairs. For they are designed for multi-generational Vietnamese families. Such space and design made it very hard to take care of my baby girl, who is now scooting around the floors, pushing doors open with her head and looking desperate to tackle the steep and scary stairs. I was upset at having to tell our supernice landlord we were leaving. Even though he couldn’t understand why I’m afraid of geckos, he installed bug screens and checked the sealing of the skylight window to ensure geckos couldn’t crawl through. I bet my running tears and tic-like checking of ceilings were enough to convince him. Hunting down an apartment in Ho Chi Minh City is not a difficult. The supply is huge, and so is the demand. The expats pouring into the growing city make the real estate market fast-moving, with many options to meet the diversified needs and tastes. I had a set of criteria that I shared with real estate agents to narrow down the search, yet some criteria were hard to

explain. I was secretly evaluating apartments against the possibility of attracting reptiles. Obviously, this is not something I could tell the realtors, or anybody for all that matters. It just sounds so insane. When inspecting apartments, I examined how well sealed the windows and doors were, how much greenery was around and the distance of the complex from the river. I was initially interested in an apartment on a higher floor, until I spotted a gecko on the 22nd floor! Despite the chaos that comes with moving, I was still capable of continuing with phobia therapy, as the online feature comes with a lot of flexibility. I guess it helped me find my Zen. My therapist’s advice revolved around two main pillars: understanding why geckos scare me; and thinking about how I can stop the fear from taking over. This is called systematic desensitisation, or called graduated exposure therapy. Supposedly it’s the methodology used by clinical psychology to help overcome phobias and other anxiety disorders. Desensitisation, as explained by my therapist, is a process that is broken down into several steps. First we identify what makes us afraid or anxious, then analyse why, realising that it’s not a rational fear. Then we slowly face the object/situation that induces fear in an escalating form to be able to conquer it.

The therapist promised to guide me through the steps till I normalise my relationship with geckos, as we both agreed that our current relationship is not healthy. The process seemed logical except for the last bit of facing my fear to conquer it. I got very nervous and kept asking the therapist “what do you mean by facing my fear? Are you going to make me touch a gecko?”. Thankfully me touching a gecko was not in the plan, all I had to do for now is to understand why I am afraid of geckos and what I think will happen. The point is that I don’t think - I freeze, I panic, I go blank. The therapist kept digging into why I am so afraid, wondering if a gecko ever harmed me before or even touched me but the answer is no. I don’t know. I never had an encounter with a gecko. Only seeing them gives me the creeps. I am sure hoping my analytical mind can master my reflexes at least till I break down the reasons for my phobia. To make it more appealing to myself, I compared my geckophobia to motherhood. I am able to curb my reflexes when the baby pulls my hair, slaps my face or bites me as she tries out those two very sharp teeth she recently acquired. It’s proof that I can control my reflexes, so hopefully I can extend that from baby world to gecko land. Who knows? Will keep you posted!


hancock in se asia



et is a great time of year for the locals and can be equally interesting for expats. I stayed in town this year and enjoyed the relatively traffic-free roads and a drop in the astronomic pollution levels of recent months. Highway traffic throughout Vietnam is pretty awful generally so I chose to stay local. As always at this time of year, thousands of locals hurriedly went about their preparations in order to see their families. Sadly many of them will not have made it. The accident rate goes through the roof at this time. Even in the run up to Tet, Facebook was awash with graphic film clips showing motorbikes crashing in often ridiculous circumstances. The amount of alcohol consumed rose as usual, often the cause of the accidents. I am still constantly amazed at the lack of awareness and safety on the roads here. Everyday I see incidents that are so dangerous and frequently see riders missing a catastrophe by inches. Normally it is only luck that prevents serious injury or worse. I am amazed at some of the accidents; they seem almost unbelievable. When a bike rides in a straight line into a park vehicle at speed, you have to question 64 AsiaLIFE HCMC

whether or not the rider should be on a bike in the first place. In this country wearing a helmet is an absolute necessity and of course the law. The fact that many don’t is nothing short of lunacy. I am staggered at the number of expats in District 2 that ride round without a helmet. I think getting on a bike without a helmet is disgraceful and putting your children on one without a helmet is (or should be) criminal. Surely those not wearing helmets are setting the worst possible example to local people, especially the young. The number of school children is District 2 is enormous. Yet every day, on their way to and from school, they see dozens of expats riding round with no helmet. I would make it a sackable offence for anyone in my employ; some responsible companies here do. A big shout out here for Fox Football, a sackable offence for their staff and missing out on a football game for the children, if they are spotted anywhere without a helmet. I couldn’t help but cast a look at a guy I saw recently on Xuan Thuy. He was riding directly in front of me with no helmet on. He pulled up at a hair salon and walked inside. He obviously cares more about his hair than he does about his head. I know what it is like to lose a loved one to a traffic

accident. I wouldn’t wish that hurt on my worst enemy. Please people; think before you get on your bikes, life is precious and preciously easy to throw away. Let’s make this the year that people think more carefully about their own safety and the feelings of their loved ones. I fear it will take a serious accident to an expat in District 2 before many wake up to the obvious danger. If you don’t think your head is worth $100, then you’re possibly right.

Following a successful 25-year career as a singer/ songwriter/musician, Keith pulled out of the rat race and moved to Southeast Asia in 2008. First living in Thailand, then Cambodia and Ho Chi Minh City since 2013.



t the heart of LP4Y (Life Project for Youth) is a deep-seated concern for the catastrophic situation facing a growing number of excluded youth worldwide. Life on the streets can be tough, and many of these excluded young adults face a daily battle of survival. To help them cope with their harsh life conditions they develop skills they need to stay alive, and many of these skills are similar to those of entrepreneurs. In 2009 a group of friends, entrepreneurs and young people came together to found LP4Y, an organisation dedicated to the social and professional integration of disadvantaged youth in the Philippines, Vietnam, India and Indonesia. Over the course of a year, the founders of LP4Y visited major cities in 23 countries, looking at ways they could harness the unique skills of excluded youth to help

them live prosperous lives in society. Working with core partners, including businesses, universities and local communities, LP4Y have developed an 18-month integration ecosystem for disadvantaged young adults living in conditions of extreme poverty. To deliver their programme, they have established Life Project Centres (LPCs) in key areas of the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s they work, close to slum areas where excluded youth live. Here, they can provide the support needed to work towards social integration. To be accepted into the programme, young adults must demonstrate strong commitment and motivation towards improving their future. Applicants typically live well below the poverty line and include people with disabilities, orphans, victims of domestic violence and young offender. Provided they can show

commitment and motivation, all are welcome to apply. Once accepted on to the programme, trainees are assigned a coach and invited to join a team of 15 other youth to work on an â&#x20AC;&#x153;economic micro-activityâ&#x20AC;?. Often working as part of a team for the first time, they create, develop and manage a small business, focusing on the economic micro-activity developed by each Life Project Centre, and benefitting from the specially adapted coaching pedagogy. Learning new skills and developing those they already possess, the young adults learn how to manage a business from conception to implementation including production, marketing, sales, admin and finance. Working in a positive, supportive environment, taking responsibility and initiative helps build confidence in their abilities, allowing them to further develop their entrepreneurial skills and professionalism. LP4Y has two Life Project Centres in Ho Chi Minh City; one in Go Vap and the other in District 8, where teams are developing products and services for the Made 4 Change brand, a collection of goods showcasing what different groups are making at LPCs internationally. Brands in Ho Chi Minh City include Bread & Smiles, a bread and cakes bakery that delivers; Lanterns & Lights, a group that works with lighting design and production; Seeds of Hope that cultivates and sells plants for urban gardens and Revival, an upcycling group that creates furniture and decorative objects out of recycled materials. Visit their Facebook page to find out more. AsiaLIFE HCMC 65

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General Knowledge


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1. Ulysses S. Grant appears on the front of which denomination of US currency? 2. In which ancient South Asian language is the text of The Vedas written? 3. Which fledgling network aired its first music video titled Video Killed the Radio Star? 4. Who was the AfricanAmerican woman who was crowned Miss America? 5. In the 1984 vicepresidential debates, who was George H. W. Bush’s opponent?

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3. Utopia 4. Pantomime (little skirmisher,1600’s) 5. Yellow - Food and Drink Answers: 1. Georgia 2. Tequila 3. Fruit (dried) 4. Seaweed

1. Which US state is famous for their juicy peaches? 2. Which liquor is made from the blue agave plant? 3. What is the main ingredient of a mince pie? 4. What is sushi traditionally wrapped in? 5. When was the fast food chain McDonalds founded?

5. April 15th 1955 (Des Plaines) - History Answers: 1. $50 bill

Food and Drink

1. What is the study of bird eggs called? 2. How many arms does a squid have? 3. Which wood is used to make piano keys? 4. What is the chemical symbol for gold? 5. What name is given to the lowest level of the earth’s atmosphere?

2. Sanskrit (originated in north-western India) 3. MTV 4. Vanessa Williams 5. Geraldine Ferraro.

Science And Nature

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