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below the surface

ISHCMC celebrates 20 YEARS of success A truly international learning environment with 50 nationalities represented and the only school in Ho Chi Minh City fully accredited to teach all 3 IB programmes for ALL students aged 2 to 18 years.

20 celebr ating

years of success 1993 - 2013

AsiaLIFE volume 70

18 06 News & Events


08 Dispatches

36 Sterling's Saigon


Chilli Indochine

37 Joie de Vivre

09 Street Smart: Le Thanh Ton

Western food in a Vietnamese neighbourhood

12 Q&A With Author Larry Berman

38 TnT

14 Photo Essay: Faces of Vietnam

American BBQ delivery

39 Cau Ba Quan

cover story

18 Hooked


24 Safety First

The drug trade

Fresh seafood

style & design

40 Beyond Bespoke A Waring and Gillow furniture designer

42 Fashion by the Twins

Improving food handling

26 Hidden History

Historical sites in Saigon

28 House Husbands of District 7 30 Learning the Lingo Multiple languages and expat kids


46 The List 70 Spotlight 72 Street Guide 80 Odd One Out On the straight and narrow

81 Connoisseur Harley-Davidson

32 Enjoying Jakara (Yes, Really)


82 Pub Quiz

34 Ve Que Reuniting with family in the countryside

14 42 below the surface

Cover Art direction Sarah Joanne Smith Photography Fred Wissink

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note from the editor Group director sales and marketing / director Vietnam: Jonny Edbrooke Managing editor: Chris Mueller Deputy editor: Lien Hoang Assistant editor: Ruben Luong

Art director: Sarah Joanne Smith Photo editor: Fred Wissink Production manager: Nguyen Kim Hoa Administrative: Nguyen Hanh Trinh

Editor-at-large: Brett Davis

Chris Mueller Let’s be honest: life as an expat in Vietnam is pretty easy. As much as we like to stoke our egos by comparing our exciting and “unique” lives with friends and family back home, there really isn’t much difference, minus the obvious. Yes, the culture and infrastructure can make for some interesting and frustrating experiences. The food is cheap, housing is cheap, and bars are aplenty here. And most of us can fairly easily get a job, one that pays far more than the average local. But after a while the novelty begins to wear off, and deep down we start to realise that what was at first exciting and new, is starting to become mundane. I’m not trying to trivialise the countless reasons there are to live in Vietnam — there really are too many to list — but rather point out how easy it is for most us to live comfortably here. With such an easy life, and with more disposable income than we’re used to, it’s no wonder some expats slip into a world of drug and alcohol abuse and often spiral out of control. The region has a long history of drug production, from the opium trade and the Golden Triangle to the explosion of methamphetamine. In our cover story we take a brief look at the drug trade in the region and how it affects both the local population and expat communities. On a much lighter (and less controversial) note, we speak to a group of fathers in Phu My Hung who have decided to go against societal norms and become stay-athome dads. This might seem commonplace, but you may be surprised by some of the hilarious reactions from locals. We also speak to a group involved in an issue important to us all — clean food. While many local restaurants and markets may not be up to international standards when it comes to food, things are changing as NGOs begin holding workshops that train local businesses on how to properly and safely handle food. Finally, our former columnist Walter Pearson reveals some of the lesser-known historical sites around the city that he had previously only shown to customers on his famous motorbike tours. Just when you think you know Saigon, you realise there is always a lot more to learn.

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AsiaLIFE Cambodia Group editor / director: Mark Bibby Jackson Managing editor: Ellie Dyer

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NEWS The Galapagos Project

International Business Luncheon returns for its ninth year on 16 Jan, bringing in a panel of six guest speakers from different business sectors to identify the executive summary and challenges for 2014. Speakers include Tareq Muhmood, CEO of ANZ Bank Vietnam who will discuss the banking sector, Victoria Kwakwa, country director of the World Bank who will discuss the socio-economic development outlook, and Don Lam, CEO of VinaCapital who will discuss investment trends. The luncheon will take place 11am-2pm at New World Saigon Hotel, located at 76 Le Lai, D1.

Prominent Vietnamese artist Tiffany Chung’s The Galapagos Project series confronts the current wreckage of modern society by examining the aftermath of colonisation and modernisation, drawing from her studies on the decline of towns due to industrialisation, demographic change, and environmental catastrophe. Her two shows, running through 11 Jan in Galerie Quynh’s two spaces, are part of The Galapagos Project series. The first show, at 151/3 Dong Khoi, D1, reflects on new urban area Thu Thiem. The second show at 65 De Tham, D1, will feature Chung’s “floating town” installation from the 2011 Singapore Biennale, which was created in response to the rising sea level predictions and flooding in Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong.

The Future is Now

SEED half page hor copy oct.pdf

CanCham’s annual Crystal Ball

A Good Attitude


Attitude magazine, Europe’s bestselling gay lifestyle magazine from the UK, published its first Vietnam edition last month. Attitude Vietnam features exclusive interviews 9/27/13 9:20 celebrities AM with Vietnamese and articles about fashion, health, and

other lifestyle content. The last issue featured model and singer Ho Vinh Khoa on its cover wearing clothing from Topman (2 Hai Trieu, D1). Attitude has been published for 20 years in the UK and released an edition in Thailand in 2011. Vietnam is Attitude’s latest Asian edition. For subscriptions, call 08 39 30 81 97, 9am-5pm, or email

Eyes are Everywhere

A team of HCMC mobile police was established early last month to impose fines on traffic violators. Divided into mobile groups, the team uses cameras and laptops on major streets, highways and the Thu Thiem Tunnel to record images, identify violations, and then hand out fines. In the course of 10 days last month, 124 violations were recorded, but the violators only received warnings. However, now violators not only risk getting a ticket, but getting their driving

licence, registration certification, or vehicles detained, which is contingent on the severity of the violation. Violators are given 10 days to pay the fines.

Beer Attack

A beer truck capsised in Bien Hoa last month, causing a huge swarm of locals to loot 1,500 cartons of Tiger beer that had spilled onto the ground in spite of Hau's, the truck driver, protest. The incident made headlines immediately and clips of the looting were uploaded online, spurring the Bien Hoa police to begin summoning suspects, though only a few, to penalise potential looters. Hau lives in a rented house and has a five-month-old baby. Some locals have offered to help or donate money to Hau. Damages totaled about VND 310 million, but Tiger and Vietnam Brewery, Ltd, which brews the beer locally, said they will cover the costs, according to media reports.

Pet Of The Month — Patrick

Patrick is a full-grown independent cat who loves people, but is not very social with other cats yet. Ideally, he needs to be in a single-cat household, preferably where he can get some outdoor time chasing rats and mice. Patrick has been vet checked, fully vaccinated and neutered and is ready for adoption. Email for questions or more info.

Singer Michèle Kaye to Perform at Park Lounge

Canadian performer Michèle Kaye will be Park Hyatt Saigon’s resident singer in Park Lounge from 21 Jan-14 April. Marking her debut in Ho Chi Minh City, Kaye has performed in Asia’s most prestigious hotels and on board the world’s best cruise lines with her classic and sultry voice. She also composes original pop music, such as her extended EP Angora, which was nominated for a Toronto Independent Music Award. The album also took her to Japan, where she toured and collaborated with Japanese musicians, such as pop singer Monica Wu. Kaye’s performances at Park Lounge will run 8-11.45pm. Park Hyatt Saigon, 2 Lam Son Square, D1.


Travel news from around the region and beyond

Winter is Coming For half a month, more than 15,000 workers carve 4 million cubic feet of ice by hand and laser for the Harbin International Ice and Snow Culture Festival in China. The festival will run from 5 Jan to 28 Feb in Harbin, China’s northernmost city. This temporary ice metropolis will have four ice parks and amusement zones containing 1,000 sculptures made from ice carved out of the Songhua river. Guests can marvel at the ice architecture and enjoy festivities, including an ice lantern show, sculpture competition, alpine skiing, dog-sledding, Siberian tiger watching, and a carnival and fireworks display. Check out tours and pricing at

An Indie Paradise The crystalline pop of Glaswegian trio Chvrches, the psychedelic riffs of New Zealand’s Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and the hip-hop, new-wave beats of Singapore’s Vandetta are just some of the rising indie acts to discover at St Jerome’s Laneway Festival in Singapore on 25 Jan. Organisers of the festival, which now marks its 10th year, have curated a sweet lineup of 18 new and seminal artists that will grace the stage at The Meadow in Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay, the country’s outdoor urban garden and events venue. Tickets are $150 and can be bought at

Got Rice? Sydney’s Tropfest, the world’s largest short film festival, extends to Southeast Asia for the first time 24-25 Jan in Malaysia. Tropfest Southeast Asia will feature shortlisted films from 11 countries in the region, such as Brunei, East Timor and Myanmar. Each film submission can be no longer than seven minutes and must incorporate loose interpretations of a predetermined Tropfest signature item, or concept. This year’s signature item is the word ‘rice’. Tropfest has been running 21 years in Australia, and has become a global occasion with satellite festivals in the United States, the Middle East, Paris and more. Visit

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Street Smart:

le thanh ton Ruben Luong can’t seem to get away from this street, finding urban necessities along its entire length. You could spend a leisurely day on Le Thanh Ton while still accomplishing a lot. The street is oneand-a-half kilometres long, making most destinations within walking distance of one another. You might begin with a morning fitting at one of the street’s many tailor shops, then wander past Ben Thanh Market and Parkson Plaza towards the Japanese-concentrated commercial district for a lunch date at Pizza 4P’s, arguably among the best restaurants in the area. From there, head to one

of the cosy bakeries and corner coffee shops to grab dessert, read the news, or write work emails over a cup of coffee. It’s easy to keep returning to Le Thanh Ton. A lot of the businesses here end up becoming favourites, and are often the first to come to mind when telling friends where to visit in the city. With a steady stream of old favourites and trendy newcomers, there’s always a reason to end up on Le Thanh Ton yet again.

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Tran Quoc Lan

The Warehouse

97 Le Thanh Ton

15/5 Le Thanh Ton

Le Thanh Ton is equipped with shoe services at almost every corner. Sidewalk cobblers can polish or mend shoes quickly and daily. But for a pair made from scratch, walk over to Tran Quoc Lan, a humble shoe shop with handcrafted and inexpensive leather footwear. Chukka boots, tassel loafers, wingtip oxfords, and monk-strap dress shoes can be custom designed in suede or opulent brown, burgundy, and chestnut polishes for men and women. The owner is friendly and speaks sufficient English, so it’s easy to express what you want. Shoes range from VND 1.9 million to VND 2.2 million and take one week to make.

More than 800 wines from at least 14 countries are more accessible than ever from The Warehouse’s new and only shop in District 1. Wine and champagne bottles are carefully shipped directly from the wineries to special climate-controlled storage facilities here to keep them pure and decadent. Along with weekly wine tastings, the shop’s wine connoisseurs speak Vietnamese, English and French to help you select the right wine for your evening get-togethers or your next party. The shop is open until 9pm Monday to Saturday and 7pm on Sundays. Customers also can order online at

Une Journee a Paris

Quan An Thanh Binh

234 Le Thanh Ton

140 Le Thanh Ton

Say bonjour to macarons, chocolate eclairs, and sweet tarts. They’re the only companions you’ll want at Une Journee a Paris, a French-owned patisserie good for relaxed brunches alone or with a small group of friends. Order the L’Italien (VND 100,000), a wholesome sandwich with fresh basil, mozzarella, and tomatoes on the most savoury olive ciabatta bread served warm and doused in light olive oil. Then settle down with a nourishing pot of tea and munch on complimentary chouquettes — crisp, airy, and hollow pastries encrusted with pearl sugar that add a touch of afternoon sweetness.

The delicious cang cua rang me, roasted crab nipper with tamarind sauce (VND 220,000), and cang cua bach hoa, fried crab nippers (VND 150,000), are two of the best dishes at Quan An Thanh Binh, a Vietnamese family restaurant located behind Ben Thanh Market. Don’t be fooled by the bins of Vietnamese candies (also for sale) concealing the storefront. The restaurant is farther inside, a secret cove for satiating Vietnamese-style dishes like ngheu hop xa, steamed clams with lemongrass (VND 50,000). Come for the awesome food, but also for the nuoc mia dau (VND 17,000 or VND 22,000 without ice), a revitalising strawberry sugar-cane juice.


May Trang Laundry

136/10 Le Thanh Ton

254 Le Thanh Ton

Mayhem is “not recommended for the average people”. That’s why its stock of mainly oversized, one-off Japanese thrift clothing will help inject plenty of individuality into your wardrobe. The point of this progressive, underground boutique isn’t necessarily to be trendy, but to dress freely and creatively. A range of unisex short-sleeve button-ups in fanciful prints, cool and interesting jackets, vintage eye frames, and edgy dresses can be worn to suit all creative types shunning mass-produced styles. To get there, follow Mayhem’s jester icon imprinted along the alley stairwell to the shop’s gritty red door down the hall.

Favourite articles of clothing often risk getting ruined in Saigon’s climate and environment. Bring them to May Trang Laundry for dry cleaning to ensure that unwanted stains are diminished the way your washer at home can’t quite accomplish. Clothes are individually labelled, ironed or pressed, and covered in clear bags. They fill the interior of the corner shop, which is a likely indicator of regular customers. Dress shirts cost VND 25,000 to clean, pants VND 18,000, T-shirts VND 12,000, and dresses VND 50,000. Cleaning hours are 8am-8pm with Get directions a two-day pick-up.

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Elegant surroundings, great location, professional service and finest cuisine. All you can find at Norfolk Hotel. 117 Le Thanh Ton Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Tel: (84-8) 3829 5368 - Fax: (84-8) 3829 3415 - Email: - Website: Managed by Norfolk Group

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Larry Berman The author of Perfect Spy returns to Vietnam to promote the latest edition of his book, which chronicles Pham Xuan An’s double life during the American War. By day, he was a trusted journalist for American news agencies in Saigon and by night, he was a communist spy sending dispatches, sometimes via eggrolls, to Hanoi. By the time of his death in 2006, An had maintained most of his friends on both sides. By Lien Hoang. Photo by Dave Lemke.

What changes are there in this edition? He would constantly quote Lincoln’s address after the American Civil War to me, which of course was: with malice toward none, with charity for all. Talk about the intrigue of being a spy. An would stay home at night and, using a special mix that creates an invisible ink, he would write his reports on pieces of paper, that were then used as wrappers for traditional Vietnamese food, eggrolls and the like. He would take them to the public market, where he would meet a woman by the name of Nguyen Thi Ba. She was a betel-nut-chewing woman, discreet, not attractive because he didn’t want any attention brought to her. He rejected 10 or 15 couriers before he selected Ba. And the two of them really became the most successful spy and courier team in the history of espionage to our knowledge. He had trained his dog, a large German shepherd, to pee at a certain tree, and that tree was actually a dropbox. He 12 asialife HCMC

would receive at this tree the location of the next rendezvous. When An’s reports made themselves all the way up to Hanoi, when General [Vo Nguyen] Giap read them, who obviously just passed away, he said, “Thanks to An’s reports, we’re now in the American war room.” But he loved the United States. He’s got these American friends, and he risks everything to save some of their lives,


of Vietnamese.

What was An’s role in the Tet Offensive? The head of his network, Tu Cang, came down weeks before. I had dinner with Tu Cang last night. Tu Cang knew nothing about the layout of Saigon, didn’t know easy access points and things like that. An showed him all of this. He showed Tu Cang certain areas where he thought troops could get in. He also showed him where caches of weapons

Do you think An took any secrets to his grave? My dream is that 50 years from now, this next generation of historians with Vietnamese language skills will be allowed into these archives with all of An’s secret reports in Hanoi. That’s where the truth really is.

I think that he despaired over " Do the death of Americans in general?


What do you want people to know the book is about? The Viet Minh looked around and they found one guy, Pham Xuan An, who had learned English at an early age from missionaries. They said, “We’re going to send you to the United States and we’re going to ask you to become the American expert on culture. We need to know who these people are, because they’re coming.”

Yes, just as he despaired over the death of Vietnamese.

like [Time correspondent] Bob Ansen. He risked everything to save someone who had shown empathy for the Vietnamese children who were massacred at Takeo [Cambodia]. He knew how much Ansen hated the war and loved the Vietnamese and respected the Vietnamese. How do you compare this to modern-day spying? An did all this without all these advanced technologies. What An represented was the value of human intelligence, to meld into a society, learn a culture. It’s the same way the perpetrators from 9/11 were educated in the US system, had lived with us. But they still hated us. An didn’t hate Americans, that was a really big

could be stored. This is where I think it would be difficult for An to defend himself. Of course An would always say he didn’t shoot a gun, he never killed anybody, he loved Americans, he would never do anything to hurt Americans. But of course it’s true that by showing Tu Cang all these areas, he had an indirect role certainly in what happened during the Tet Offensive. Do you think he felt grief about that? I don’t think he felt he contributed to the death of Americans, he wasn’t wired like that. Do I think that he despaired over the death of Americans in general? Yes, just as he despaired over the death

What were criticisms of the book, were you seen as a traitor? The biggest criticism was that I was taken in by An. That’s fine, but I’d say that’s a minority view. People sometimes say a stupid thing, they say An was a traitor. I address this point in my new edition, who did An betray? He didn’t betray the United States. He was a Vietnamese, he had sworn loyalty and fealty to Vietnam. Imagine if you and I were best friends for 20 years. Then you found out I wasn’t who you thought I was. I had not only lied to you about who I was, but I was the worst kind of thing, I was a spy. There was something about Pham Xuan An that led 98 percent of those who had been taken in by him, not to reject him, but to embrace him. And I think the answer, by the way, is that these people came to agree with An’s perspective on the war. Do you think he had any impact on policy after the war? He was made an adviser, particularly on Chinese policy. He never told me what he did. Ever.

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faces of VIetnam Kelly Padgett first came to Vietnam in 2009 to visit his (American) birth father who was living and working here along with his Vietnamese wife. His trip was only two and a half weeks long, just enough time to see a few places around the country and his new family in the Mekong. But Vietnam and its people left a lasting impression on him. He returned a year later and has been here since, using photography to tell the stories of the Vietnamese people who have given him so much. To see more of Padgett’s work, visit

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the drug trade Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, has a complex history of drug use and production. From the opium trade of the 19th century to the modern-day methamphetamine business, Indochina has long been influenced by the drug industry - a tradition that continues to this day. By Chris Mueller. Photos by Fred Wissink.

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n Halloween 2007, Steven Martin prepared himself for days of pain and suffering. He stocked his refrigerator with easy-to-digest food, removed the lid of his toilet to make it easier to flush, and then sat and waited for withdrawal to begin. Martin had unsuccessfully tried to quit smoking opium two times already, and in order to prepare himself better this time, he read descriptions of opium withdrawal from his small library of century-old, leather-bound books. As he sat waiting in his small, ninth-floor apartment in Bangkok's Chinatown, he thought about the book passages:

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" I had read of people tightly trussed to their beds and locked in rooms by loved ones," he wrote. "There were tales of prayers shrieked through the night; pleas for a hasty death that were sometimes answered by a body too shocked to function beyond a few days without opium . . And if I survived the physical pain, once it began to diminish, the mental anguish would take over: a dense boom of depression lowered onto a brain already exhausted by long nights of sleeplessness . . Just as your body turns against you during the days of physical withdrawal, so too, your mind will conspire with opium to unleash mental torment at its most intolerable. Whatever is most likely to unhinge you, that is what you will experience." The pain, hallucinations and sickness that would follow left Martin covered in "oily sweat and traces of vomit, mucus, and feces". Barely 36 hours after his last hit of opium, Martin found himself using again, returning to a cycle that seemed impossible to escape. In Martin's recently published memoir, Opium Fiend, A 21st Century Slave to a 19th Century Addiction, he chronicles his struggle as an opium-addicted expat in Bangkok. He had tried before to quit opium, which by that point he had been smoking continuously for months, finishing as many as 30 pipes a day. But he still wasn't prepared for what was to come. Martin originally became


Just as your body turns against you during the days of physical withdrawal, so too, your mind will conspire with opium to unleash mental torment at its most intolerable. Author Steven Martin on opium withdrawal

drawn in by the drug while amassing a vast collection of antique opium pipes, a subject he had previously written a book about. Addiction certainly isn't only a problem for expats. But what Martin's book illustrates is just how easy it is to feed the habit in an environment where you can escape your friends and family and where virtually no support network exists.

Drugs in Southeast Asia Although Martin's drug of choice was opium, which has an extensive history in the region, it is no longer widely smoked throughout Southeast Asia. Now only a few elderly people in minority tribes smoke it regularly. Southeast Asia has long been known for its strong opium, especially in the Golden Triangle a mountainous area where the borders of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet which is famous for growing opium poppy. Initially, the opium trade in Southeast Asia wasn't as big as in other regions, but in the late-19th century the French started to control opium poppy production, establishing a monopoly on the trade. As World War II spread to Indochina, the region, and its hundreds of thousands of addicts, was cut off from its main source of opium in the




Middle East. As a result, opium production in the Golden Triangle and Vietnam grew exponentially. It wasn't until 1946 that the French gave into international pressure and ended its official sanctioning of the opium trade. But up until they were defeated at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the French would use the opium trade as a way to finance themselves. Then, when the Americans came, heroin use and opium production in both Vietnam and the United States skyrocketed. Although opium production in the region has always been high, it has gone down drastically since its height during the early 1900s. But now, it is making a comeback. Opium production in the Golden Triangle has increased for the seventh consecutive year, the United Nations said in a report released last month. According to the report, Myanmar, Laos and Thailand now produce 18 percent of the worldwide opium supply. In Myanmar alone, opium production increased by 26 percent compared to 2012. The vast majority of this opium is being used to produce heroin, which is making its way across the borders into Vietnam. Vietnamese culture has typically favoured turning a blind eye to drug addicts rather than treating them, but the problem is getting difficult to ignore. Under or on many bridges around Ho Chi Minh City, heroin users are a common sight, or at least their used

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Opium production in the Golden Triangle is making a comeback with Myanmar, Laos and Thailand now producing 18 percent of the worldwide opium supply, according to the UN.

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needles on the ground are. Vietnam isn't particularly open about the country's drug use statistics, but Thanh Nien reported in a recent article that drug use is increasing nationwide. By the end of 2012, there were 171,000 reported drug users, an 8 percent increase over the previous year. Vietnam's treatment of drug addicts has received widespread criticism from human rights groups, which claim addicts here are mainly treated as criminals rather than patients. But since 2008, methadone clinics to treat drug addiction have spread throughout the country. These clinics are designed to supplement, not replace, the already existing treatment centres. Government officials involved with the clinics say they have been hugely successful, reducing the number of drug addicts, and in return combating Vietnam's HIV epidemic. While opium and heroin continue to be a problem throughout the region, it's the growing methamphetamine trade that seems to be making the biggest impact. In 2012 alone, 227 million meth pills were seized in East and Southeast Asia, a 59 percent increase from the year before, and seven times the number seized in 2008, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said in a November report. In addition, 11.6 metric tonnes of crystal meth were seized in 2012, a 12 percent rise from 2011. The report also found that meth is the most used illicit drug in 13 of the 15 Asia-Pacific countries surveyed. Specific data wasn't available for Vietnam, but according to the report, there have been "significant increases" in seizures. The UN says heroin remains the biggest drug of choice in Vietnam, but meth is a close second.

The expat and local drug culture of the Pham may be a normal part of Ho Chi Minh City, but Vietnam does actually have some of the toughest drug laws in the world. Expats and drugs All it takes is a trip to Pham Ngu Lao at night to see how easy it is to drugs here. The smell of weed fills the air on a typical night. People pass around joints and xe om drivers push their wares. As it gets later, the pills start to come out at the many bars and cafes that spill onto the sidewalks. Anyone who has spent any time in this city knows this is a familiar scene, one in which mysterious drugs (you never really know what you're getting) are always on the menu. The expat and local drug culture of the Pham may be a normal part of Ho Chi Minh City, but Vietnam does actually have some of the toughest drug laws in the world. Vietnam's penal code states that anyone convicted of trafficking, illegally producing or transporting 100 grams or more of heroin or cocaine or 300 grams of other illegal drugs can be sentenced to death, according to Thanh Nien. In addition, anyone found possessing more than 600 grams of heroin or 20 kilograms of opium can face the death penalty, the Associated Press reported. And Vietnamese authorities certainly aren't afraid to use these laws against drug traffickers. Just last month, five people were sentenced to death for their part in an international heroin trafficking ring between Laos and Vietnam, according to local press reports. In August, a Thai woman was sentenced to death for smuggling nearly two kilograms of cocaine from Brazil to Vietnam; also that month a Nigerian man was sentenced to death for smuggling more than 3.4 kilograms

of methamphetamine from Qatar into Vienam. Stories like these in the local press are common. Despite severe punishments for drug possession in Vietnam, hard drug use among expats is still a common occurrence, although not more so than in most of our home countries, according to the Castle Craig Hospital, a residential treatment facility in Scotland that specialises in alcohol and drug-dependent expats. There are, however, some unique factors for expats that can lead to not only drug abuse, but also addiction, according to the Castle Craig website. Many young expats studying or working abroad often find themselves as part of a circle of friends or colleagues in which life revolves around bars and parties. Jobs in expat communities also tend to be high-pressure positions, which can lead to coping mechanisms such as self-medicating with prescription medication or recreational drugs. Often those who don't work, such as stay-at-home spouses, can find themselves taking drugs to fight isolation, loneliness and boredom with drugs. "Expats - who are company directors, engineers, diplomats, and in general people who live or travel abroad - are dislocated from their homes, family and other support networks, this places them more at risk," says Margaret McCann, a director at Castle Craig Hospital. It's the lack of these support networks that really differentiates expat communities from others. In Vietnam, there is some support for alcoholics, but little exists for drug-addicted expats. While the chances of drug addiction here isn't greater than elsewhere, it's important to keep in mind that there are more risks.

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Safety First For Vietnamese to have safe, clean food, people are learning how to store and track products and spot risks of contamination. By Lien Hoang. Photo by Fred Wissink. Are you washing your hands properly? An organisation here suggests rinsing the palms, then the reverse side of the hand, then between the fingers. Finally, run your nails along your palms. This is one of the tips Assist Vietnam is sharing with supermarkets, food suppliers, restaurants, canteens, and just about everyone else working in the food industry. The aim of this 18-month project is to get stakeholders more concerned about the safety and hygiene of the food they handle — not just so that they do a good job, but so that the rest of us benefit, too. Assist is one of many groups, including those in the government, that have been looking for ways to improve safety standards across Vietnam when it comes to what we put in our stomachs. The movement comes at a time when those living in Vietnam read regularly in the press about poisonous noodles, recalled milk powder, or just about any ‘questionable’ product smuggled across the border from China. As Vietnamese incomes increase, more are starting to demand organic or otherwise reliable sources of food. “The younger generation cares more because they don’t have the habit of going to the wet market,” says Bui Nguyen Trong Thien, a student at the University of Agriculture and Forestry. “I really think that the situation is improving in Vietnam.” Thien and his classmates recently took part in a two-day training with Assist, an NGO that promotes environmental and social causes in developing countries. They learned how to check meat (red and elastic is good, brown isn’t) and fish (beware any bulging eyeballs). They learned the different temperatures at which to store different goods properly, as well as the types of pallets on which to store them.

Wooden is better for vegetables, plastic for meat, poultry and fish. They also discussed the importance of the farm-to-fork or farm-to-table concept. Few entities in Vietnam are prioritising it now, but the idea is to give, say, an individual carrot a code that follows it from the soil in Da Lat to the truck to the factory to the retailer, all the way to the consumer. “If there’s any problem after eating the food, they can trace it back,” Thien says. Training this group of students, most of whom are majoring in food science and technology, is an investment in the future. But Assist also hosted similar events for those already handling our food, such as Metro. The supermarket is fighting a scandal from late last year, when local officials fined it for contaminated beef, pork, lettuce, and wastewater. Metro denied the problems, though news later emerged of issues with seafood, chicken, cheese, and butter. The chain was collaborating with Assist before the fines came to light. They reviewed the types of contamination that could threaten our food supply: physical (a hair falling onto a slab of salmon), chemical, biological, or environmental (part of a tool chipping off). They discussed how to improve storage to follow the first-in-firstout model, which requires bringing products out from storage for sale in the order in which they were received. In response, some businesses will have to change their storage layouts, so that there’s another door or a walkway to reach the older supplies. “They’re happy because they know this in theory, but need tips to apply it,” Assist project manager Nguyen Tu says of the participants. The participants know many of the recommendations already, she says, “But in real life, when they’re

working, many problems happen.” Another concept to maintain sanitation is “one flow”, which means a supermarket or restaurant receives goods at one end of a room, but dispose of them at the other end, so there’s no overlap and risk for contamination. Besides the supermarket, Assist has done inspections of quan and canteens, where they’d find food on the floor or dirty machinery. Some places look clean in front and filthy in back. Tu is especially wary of the very small eateries that admit to leaving meat outside overnight and mixing it with MSG to maintain appearances. “We want to do more, because the majority of small- and medium-sized businesses, it seems it’s not a big deal for them, in comparison with doing business,” she says. While she understands the profit motive, Tu is trying to convince shop owners that they just need a small investment in the beginning — for, say, Tupperware — and they’ll continue to keep food safe and clean with little cost. Of course cost can’t be disregarded. It matters to customers, too. “I can say that money is everything,” says Pham Nguyen Thanh Phong, another student in the training. Vietnamese might know a product is subpar, but buy it anyway. Phong added that the government and big business have similar considerations. “To test the products requires high-tech machines,” he says. “Besides, Vietnam is still a developing country, we don’t have the money to purchase modern equipment.” But it won’t stay a developing country for long. As Vietnam’s economy grows, so too will its desire and ability to ensure safe and clean food. asialife HCMC 25

Hidden History Walter Pearson takes a look at three of the many historical sites around Ho Chi Minh City that show a timeline of Vietnam’s struggle for independence — but still go largely unnoticed by expats and tourists. Photo by Fred Wissink.

Nguyen Van Hao Theatre Corner of Tran Hung Dao and De Tham streets, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1 This theatre, built by a local businessman, was the site of a public meeting on 18 Aug 1945 that endorsed the Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh Hoi, known more generally as the Viet Minh, a movement led by Ho Chi Minh to wrest independence from France. After this meeting, the Viet Minh established a committee to run the area that had been known under the French as Cochinchina. A similar committee had been set up in Hanoi. These two committees were to run the country until a new constitution could be drawn up and a permanent government established for the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. This period is known as the August Revolution (Cach Mang Thang Tam). After the end of World War II, the defeated Japanese surrendered their wartime gains, including control of Vietnam, to the Allied Forces. Under these arrangements, China entered northern Vietnam to accept the Japanese surrender. In September 1945, the British arrived in southern Vietnam to accept the surrender of the remaining Japanese forces. The Chinese did not interfere with the newly emerging independent Vietnam. By contrast, the British arrived with an agenda and a French commando com-

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pany in tow. The British commanding general, Douglas Gracey, knew Britain wanted its colonial holdings in the east. If France could regain Vietnam it would help Britain’s claims to its prewar colonies. Gracey re-armed Japanese troops and with his own small contingent of British (Indian) troops and the French commandos, he attacked the Viet Minh Committee on 23 Sept 1945, driving it out of the building now known as the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Building downtown. So began the long 30-year war for Vietnamese independence and freedom. The Vietnamese say the war for self-determination began in the south on 23 Sept 1945 and ended in the south on 30 April 1975. 23/9 Park Between Pham Ngu Lao and Le Lai streets, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1 This park — named to remind us of that fateful day when the hopes of the August Revolution were crushed by foreigners — is a big part of the life of downtown Ho Chi Minh City. Now it’s filled with evening dance groups, English language students accosting tourists, children playing, parents exercising and the Tet Flower Show. But originally it was the site of the Saigon Railway Station. Lines ran west and north out of the city, another line

ran through the roundabout in front of Ben Thanh Market and up Ham Nghi Street. The line branched out as it hit what is now Ton That Dam Street, with one branch going out to the wharves in the port on the other side of the Ben Nghe Canal, and the other going up to the waterfront along Ton Duc Thang Street. What is now a leisure area and berths for the hydrofoils and floating restaurants was once a bustling industrial port. Ernst Thalmann School Tran Hung Dao and Nguyen Thai Hoc streets, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1 Most Europeans and Americans think the United States became involved in Vietnam in the ’60s. Not so. Outside the Ernst Thalmann School is a large red stone steela on which is inscribed the story of three eventful days in 1950. (Ernst Thalmann was an important East German communist.) On 13 March 1950, two US destroyers, the Anderson and the Stickle, arrived in Saigon harbour. That night revolutionary forces, who had been fighting the French since September 1945, mortared the two US ships, forcing them to up anchor and move up and down the river throughout the night. The Vietnamese were concerned that the arrival of these two ships marked the start of US involvement in the French war. The local leadership

protested to the French authorities, saying there should not be a reception for the officers of the US ships. The authorities rejected the call. At 2am on 15 March, people began gathering outside the school. By 9am, 500,000 people had filled the area. Local leader Nguyen Huu Tho told the crowd about the French authorities’ attitude. A riot then broke out. The crowd moved up Tran Hung Dao Street, through the Ben Thanh Market roundabout into Le Loi Boulevard. They were met by French soldiers with armoured cars and tear gas. People came out from their homes and businesses on the street and handed out wet towels to those affected by the tear gas. A group of US sailors said to be “lounging arrogantly” by the side of the road were chased back to their tender and returned to their ship. The riot broke up after three hours. However, despite the Vietnamese protests, the United States persisted in its support of the French. The Vietnamese mark 15 March 1950 as the beginning of US involvement in the War in Indochina and total opposition to the US role. By the time the Vietnamese defeated the French at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the United States was supplying material worth 85 percent of the cost of the French War. Without this US support, the French no doubt would have been forced to yield much earlier.

Most Europeans and Americans think the United States became involved in Vietnam in the ’60s. Not so.

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di s

In a growing trend, some expat fathers in Vietnam are bucking traditional gender roles and becoming stay-athome dads. By Ruben Luong. Photo by Fred Wissink.

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hen Canadian expat Brit Abbott takes his 10-monthold daughter for walks in District 7’s Phu My Hung, the reaction of many locals can be predictable. “You get loads of unsolicited advice, mostly from Vietnamese mothers and grannies who think you’re crazy because they don’t know why you’re looking after a baby,” Abbot, 36, tells me in his apartment off of Nguyen Van Linh Street, while the pink tutu-clad Lola plays on the floor in front of us. Abbott is recounting some of his experiences as a stay-athome dad while his Canadian wife, Jamie, teaches English at the Canadian International School during the day. “They tell me it’s too hot for the baby outside; the baby should have something to suck on; the baby is clearly hungry; the baby is too hot; the baby is too cold; that toy is too big; that toy is too small,” Abbot says. “I smile and say, khong sao.” In the US, news of more men going on the “daddy track” and becoming stay-at-home fathers has been a hot topic this year in publications such as TIME, Parade and The Wall Street Journal. According to a study published in the Journal of Family Issues, 550,000 men were stay-at-home dads in the past decade — that makes up about 3.5 percent of all married couples with children and at least one spouse with a paid full-time job. In the 1970s, only about 280,000 men stayed home with their children. Further research and more commenters claim this indi-

cates the ushering in of a new 21st-century, stay-at-home dad, one that isn’t necessarily trying to fit the archetype of a mom, but instead develops his own spin on parenting. The trend seems to be catching on in Phu My Hung, where many expat families already live or relocate to for its convenient living resources, fresher air, baby cafes and play centres. Abbott and his wife have been in Vietnam for eight years, two and a half of them in Phu My Hung. Abbott

year old, lives with his wife, Anya, 31, and their 11-monthold daughter, Lily, in the same complex as Abbott. Like Abbott, Oakley takes care of Lily during the day. The two fathers also know each other through VUS, where Oakley had previously worked but quit in order to take on private tutoring and online distance learning courses to get his master’s in teaching English. “I think my perception of being a father was different,” Oakley tells me. “I thought I would be very good because I

“I see a lot of fathers around this area now who are taking more of an active interest in their children.” David Oakley, a stay-at-home dad had worked at VAS English language centre for seven years but decided to quit last year in order to take care of Lola and accommodate his wife’s work schedule at the time. Now, he works in the evenings after 6pm at VUS. “For five years I taught grades one through five and two years in kindergarten, so that kind of got me in the flow of very young kids,” Abbott says. Scottish expat David Oakley is another father who has gotten on the daddy track. The 36

was a teacher. I could teach my daughter about life. But right now it’s about management, about organising your life and time, just to shepherd her and make sure she’s not going to hurt herself.” In many cultures, especially Vietnam, the husband is still expected to be the breadwinner. But among Ho Chi Minh City’s expats, particularly those with teaching jobs in the city that stray from standard work hours in Vietnam, this traditional family formula is not always a realistic option.

“When we discovered Anya was pregnant and when we had the baby, we were both working full time,” Oakley says. “I went to work and Anya had maternity leave. She stayed with the baby for about three months and I was working full time and discovered it was stressful for Anya, so I didn’t work so much.” He enjoyed his job teaching, but he didn’t mind the change and accepted it as the next stage of his life with no remorse. “My father spent most of his time working when he was bringing us up, but I see a lot of fathers around this area now who are taking more of an active interest in their children,” he says. “It’s the way that life is, the way the world is developing. We’re sharing more of the responsibilities in the world.” As a way to make their lives easier, Abbott, Oakley, and another mutual friend, Gus, a fellow stay-at-home dad who moved from Phu My Hung to teach kindergarten in Nha Be District, have formed a support group. They all found themselves with children, in the same situations, and at the same time, so it seemed like the natural thing to do. But of course stay-at-home dads need time apart from the kids, too. Sometimes they try to get away by playing table tennis or cards together, or go to The Tavern for quick drinks while locals help look after their children. “We try to keep the annoying parental chatter to a minimum, but it’s gotta come out sometimes,” Abbott says. “You can’t help it, it doesn’t matter how cool you try to play it.”

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Some parents wonder if a multilingual environment, like in expat communities, is bad for their children’s language development. But recent studies lead to one conclusion: multilingualism makes the brain stronger. By Chris Mueller. Photo by Fred Wissink. We all know the obvious benefits of being able to speak multiple languages, especially for expats who live in such cosmopolitan environments. But how are expat children affected by this immersion in another language? What if a child’s parents speak different languages? Will the child develop in the same way as his peers? These are questions that often plague expat parents, but fortunately the answers are proving to be all positive. Much has changed about the thinking of bilingualism and multilingualism. For a long time, many psychologists believed children who learned multiple languages at a young age became easily confused and were ultimately hindered by them. However, studies conducted over the past decade have proven this to be completely unfounded. “For a long time people believed bilingualism is too hard for children, that it will hold them back,” Ellen Bialystok, a leading bilingual researcher at York University in Toronto, told me in a phone interview. “Now we know that is simply not true.” Bialystok’s research has largely focused on something called the “executive control system”, which is a part of the brain that decides what is the most appropriate reaction to a certain situation. “We’re always bombarded by choices and too much stimuli,” she says. “The ECS directs attention to what’s necessary.” Children who speak multiple languages are constantly exercising their executive control system, which leads to a stronger, more effective brain. “For people who really are bilingual, both of those languages are always active and available,” Bialystok says. “That means every time you open your mouth to say something, you’ve got competition between the two language systems. So what the brain does is call on this system. If you’re bilingual you use it all time and it gets better.” Of course, there are simple social and personal benefits in learning other languages, such as making for a more well-rounded person. But Bialystok’s research has revealed there are some not-so-obvious advantages as well. Bilingual children, for example, are much better at multitasking. Because their brains are constantly having to choose which language to use, their executive control system becomes stronger, leading to a better decision-making process. Her research also suggests that the benefits are life long. According to her studies, bilingual children show signs of Alzheimer’s disease five or six years later than those who only speak one

language. Although there are plenty of benefits for having your child learn multiple languages, it isn’t always easy. “Being bilingual can mean children are a little slower to talk and struggle at school at some points as their academic language develops,” says Bridie Gallagher, a clinical child psychologist and director of Indigo International in Phnom Penh. At first, young bilingual or multilingual children often have difficulty organising the different languages, and it is common for them to confuse syntax, mixing up words or grammar from one language with another. But this problem disappears quickly, and after a few years the children learn how to separate the different languages. Some studies also indicate that because monolingual children have only one language to focus on, their range of vocabulary early on is better than their multilingual counterparts. In a 2009 study, Bialystok found this to be largely true. This shortcoming, however, is mainly limited to vocabulary related to home life, where the second language (which in the case of this study was English) isn’t spoken as frequently as in an English-only home. Bialystok says this is nothing to worry about, and as a child’s executive control becomes stronger, it will sort itself out. “I really want parents to understand that they’re not harming their children,” she says. “Speaking multiple languages is enriching and doing good things for their brains.” With all of this evidence highlighting the benefits of multilingualism, it seems obvious that parents should go out and sign their children up for a new language class. After all, that’s what many expat families are already doing, especially in Asia where 58 percent of expat kids were found to be learning a new language, compared to 44 percent globally, according to the results of the HSBC Expat Explorer survey released in November. The survey also indicates that languages most often thought of as the most difficult for nonnative speakers to learn, Chinese and Thai for example, are actually the most-adopted languages by expat children. In Thailand, Taiwan and Hong Kong, 75 percent, 72 percent and 52 percent of expat children, respectively, adopted the local languages. There was no data available for Vietnam. But learning a language is very different than actually practicing it. In order to profit from the skill, children need to use it constantly, Bialystok says, adding, “Using it more, even imperfectly, leads to more benefits.”

Languages most often thought of as the most difficult for nonnative speakers to learn, Chinese and Thai for example, are actually the mostadopted languages by expat children.

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Enjoying Jakarta (Yes, Really)

Lien Hoang was not looking forward to Jakarta — which is probably why it turned out to be a good trip. Photos by Fred Wissink.


could think of no better word to describe Jakarta than exhausting. Somehow the mosquitoes were meaner than in Ho Chi Minh City, the weather was hotter, and of course the traffic truly tests one’s stamina. That was the one thing I dreaded most, spending a few days in Indonesia’s biggest, baddest parking lot. Few people I consulted could say a nice thing about Jakarta, and their top complaint was gridlock. Subconsciously, at least, I probably knew I was arming myself with low expectations before the trip, so I could enjoy Jakarta ultimately for not being that bad. And the psychological trickery worked. Partly that’s because I love big cities. The population of 10 million (28 million with suburbs) is both a blessing and a curse for the Indonesian capital. As I drove in from the airport (which, by the way, is much farther than it needs to be), the first thing that struck me was the sheer scale of the place. Even after living in California, Manhattan and Europe, I felt a bit like a country bumpkin staring up at all the buildings and bridges and billboards. The skyscrapers are huge in number

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and size. I just didn’t expect Jakarta to match the urban scale of Hong Kong and Singapore when it has nowhere near the per capita income. This vastness infects everything. With so many people, Jakarta has the critical mass to attract international acts like Metallica and Stone Temple Pilots. With so much space, it has the capacity to offer world-class restaurants you could get lost in (and indeed I did get lost at Face bar, a watering hole swarming with foreign correspondents). With growth just continuing unchecked, people simply spread farther and farther out so that it takes hours to get from one end of the city to another. A friend told me you can’t fit in more than two meetings a day, and people bring work to do in the taxi while they wait. It boggles the mind that the biggest country in Southeast Asia does not have the transit system to match. Jakarta recently broke ground on a metro, but it has taken years, delayed perhaps by mismanagement and ‘korupsi’. I settled for the TransJakarta, which is a bus but better because it runs straight in its own lane like a cable car.

As much as I hate protectionism, I am grateful that Vietnamese tariffs double the cost of car imports, lest we incur the traffic jams of Jakarta. When I first hopped on it with a group of friends, the men in the group were told to give up their seats and move to the back; the front was for women. I guess I should have had an indignant Rosa Parks moment, but I wasn’t going to change the reverse discrimination in one visit, so I basked in the allwomen section. I take buses in Ho Chi Minh City more than anyone I know, but Jakarta beats us because middle-class people with leather shoes take the bus, not just students, senior citizens, and the poor or disabled. Much as I hate protectionism, I am grateful that Vietnamese tariffs double the cost of car imports, lest we incur the traffic jams of Jakarta. It doesn’t help that taxis are so cheap in Indonesia. People do take motorbike taxis, but those often cost more than a four-wheel cab because they save time. One cannot leave Jakarta without appreciating the comparatively humane streets of Ho Chi Minh, even if I do complain when I have to drive my Cub more than 30 minutes. A lot of the pleasure of visiting the Big Durian, actually, was to have a break from Vietnam, or at least to make comparisons. The difference is in the details, like when I had dinner with an Indonesian family who ate with their hands. Or when I kept overpaying because the Indonesian rupiah trades at close to 10,000 to the US dollar, compared with almost VND 20,000 per USD. That means when I handed over a 100,000 note, I’d forget it’s worth $10, not $5. Another usually good difference were the sidewalks, which were smoother, maybe because drivers weren’t constantly running over them with their motorbikes. That makes walking easier, except when city planners inexplicably stick potted plants in your path, or when you keep colliding with people. As with the roads, ramps, and escalators, the action is on the left side of the sidewalk. I also took advantage of being a foreigner. It’s a mixed bag, eg, I was overcharged maybe one or two times. But, as I only learned how to say one phrase (thank you: terima kasih), speaking English drew out the friendly Indonesians who pitied the helpless American. I toured a couple history museums, and not once but twice did the museum attendants drive me to my next destination when we couldn’t flag down a taxi. Perhaps that’s dangerously trusting, but it was daytime, and Jakarta has more of a reputation for safety and community than does Ho Chi Minh City. This sense of community makes locals quite welcoming and means, along with the international-standard offerings, Jakarta has a lot to offer. If they could just figure out transportation, it’d be a great place to live.

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Ve Que Ve que translates to returning to one’s hometown. VietnameseChinese American Ruben Luong house-hops solo in rural Vinh Long, reconnecting with generations of his mother’s family.

B Photos by Ruben Luong

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orn and raised in Texas, I came to Vietnam for the first time in 1999 when I was 12. I was with my parents and older brother. My parents hadn’t returned to Saigon since escaping the aftermath of the American War in 1975. In 1975, my father’s family heard about a plane in Saigon helping locals evacuate to the United States. Word spread in the south, and families rushed from nearby provinces for spots on the plane. My mom sent word to her family in the Mekong Delta, but an incoming horde made it futile. My parents boarded the plane with my father’s family, but for my mom’s family in the countryside, it was too late. We reunited with my mom’s side of the family in 1999, but I still can’t recount much of where we went, what we did, or, especially, whom I met. My parents were doing their own research, tracking down old friends and relatives. I imagine the streets were different for them, too. I followed my parents everywhere, visiting one house, district, and province after another, trying not to get lost or fall

into a river. There were too many faces, too many roads, and I didn’t speak Vietnamese. When I came to volunteer-teach in September 2012, I waited close to a year before I contacted my relatives, in order to learn Vietnamese and to avoid this from happening again. In the sea of eight million, I’ve most likely passed by distant family working or living in Ho Chi Minh City without knowing it. But last summer I emailed my cau, whom I call my uncle. He lives in District 2 with his wife and two boys. He’s one of the only relatives I remember, and he also speaks English. It’s crazy to think he was about my age now when I first met him. The same weekend, he invited me to accompany his family to rural Vinh Long, my mom’s hometown. It’s about a three-hour drive south. We’d visit his parents, whom I refer to as ong and ba (although, I still struggle with names and pronouns). My cau drove us in his family’s minivan at six in the morning. After about two and a half hours, we stopped in Vinh Long city, where some of my relatives own a shophouse selling the standard array of potato

In the sea of eight million, I’ve most likely passed by distant family working or living in Ho Chi Minh City without knowing it.

chips, gum, and milk. There I reunited with a cousin I remembered, Nhieu, the son of my mom’s younger brother. He drove an hour away from My Tho, where more of my mother’s family reside, to see me. “Nho khong?” he asked, to confirm if I remembered him. He’d given me a ring before my family left in 1999, an 18-karat gold and onyx-encrusted ring which I lost back home, but rediscovered in my parent’s house five years later. Nhieu was in his 20s when I met him; by now he’d developed grey hair. I was introduced to more relatives and we had lunch, which is always a feast in the countryside. Men in the Mekong like to drink, and this would come to characterise all my trips to Vinh Long. I was flushed from rounds of snake and rice wine with the men of the family, full on noodles, and stricken from the heat, but the day was only beginning. We drove another 15 minutes away towards the rural district of Vung Liem. There were two other houses we visited. One belonged to relatives who lived along the road, where we’d left the car. From there, we rowed a canoe to a secluded house along the river, which my

cau had built for his parents and other relatives. Later that day, the men were building a bathroom with bricks, the women were busy cooking, and the children played cards. I wandered on my own. I took pictures of everything: rice paddies, chickens, dogs, ducks, bananas, palm trees, and the road. It reminded me of Vietnamese folk tales, in which the countryside is a ground for significant encounters in one’s life. One morning that weekend, Nhieu guided me through a long grove of shady palm trees and makeshift bridges to a house where two of my elder relatives live. Both of them are at least in their 80s. I don’t know much about their generation, but what I didn’t know I could see in their faces. Their wrinkles seemed to carry important lessons. We had short conversations in Vietnamese, took photos together, and mostly stared at each other. I sat across from them, and then I sat next to them, curious. There was no pressure to communicate. It was enough for them knowing that I was chi Luom’s son. Like every house I returned to in Vinh Long, I left both humbled and honoured.

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Chilli Indochine I sat at the bar in Mogambo, at 50 Pasteur Street, District 1. A very blond woman of a certain age sat primly two stools down from me and ordered a bowl of chilli con carne. The uniquely American dish was served in a Vietnamese claypot; a nod to its present kitchen, though not its origin. It was a thing of beauty. A shimmering, creamy brown sauce made a pool at the surface of the culinary offering. A rising peak of beans and spiced minced meat thrust up through the centre, promising savoury delight in the dark depths below. The mysterious lady added fragrant chopped onions; stirred in tangy cheddar cheese; crushed some corn chips between manicured hands and let them flutter down into the stew. Now I happen to think that the chilli con carne at Mogambo is about as good as it gets in Saigon. But beyond that, there is a special connection between a place called Mogambo, the country Vietnam, a very blond woman of a certain age; and a bowl of chilli. Interested? Well first let me tell you what chilli is and what it ain’t. All the world knows (or should) that chilli con carne did not originate in Mexico, though it relies on the chief crops of Mexico. Earliest extant written references are from Texas and date from the mid-19th century. Here we find a custom of pounding together dried beef, suet, salt and crushed red chilli pepper. The resulting mass was then molded, pressed and dried into the shape of a brick and would keep for months. It could be used by homesteaders in winter, cowboys on the cattle drive, or gold seekers to California as a savoury addition to beans or other vegetable

foods, or could even be eaten plain and uncooked while on the march. These “chilli bricks” were often referred to as “American pemmican”, a comparison to a staple of the plains Indians of that day. Later in the same century it evolved into the chopped or ground meat stew, often with red beans, that we are familiar with today. Virtually every region in the United States and parts of Canada has its iteration. Texas still holds fairly close to the original, usually

came to drink fine booze at the horseshoe bar and eat Chasen’s chilli. The recipe was a tightly held secret. Eleanor Roosevelt (wife of FDR) asked for the recipe and was politely denied but sent a complimentary quart. J Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, proclaimed it the best chilli in the world. Humphrey Bogart and Jack Benny ate it regularly. And to give it the equivalent of a papal blessing, Elizabeth Taylor had it shipped to her on dry ice when she was in Italy shooting the film Cleopatra with

“I wish I had time for just one more bowl of chilli.” Western frontiersman Kit Carson’s last words. without the beans or tomatoes. In Ohio and other Midwestern states they are known to make it with Middle Eastern spices and serve it over pasta (shudder!). The whole country serves chilli dogs — a hotdog in a bun with chilli poured over it. It’s a thing impossible to eat without making a mess. And delicious, too. You can also be on the lookout for chilli burgers, chilli fries, chilli rice, chilli eggs and even chilli pie. But, for all its variations, the chilli in California is the most famous, due in large part to Mr Dave Chasen of Chasen’s restaurant in Hollywood. It was at the corner of Doheny and Beverly Boulevards, near Melrose Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. It was a plush, wood-panelled, leatherboothed Hollywood eatery of many uproarious. And its best-known and most-loved item on the menu was chilli con carne. Flocks of film stars

Richard Burton. The record does not reveal whether her paramour enjoyed it as well. And lastly, Chasen’s chilli is generally believed to have provided Clark Gable’s last meal in 1960. And therein lies my tale. This place called Mogambo is named for one of Gable’s last films, the action taking place in Africa. There are posters of the film on the wall opposite the bar. It also starred the very blond Grace Kelly. The flick was a scene-forscene remake and relocation of an earlier Gable vehicle called Red Dust, also starring the very blond Jean Harlow. The action took place about 60 miles from here, on the Mekong Delta. And the chilli at Mogambo is as close to Chasen’s as I have ever tasted. So the next time you find yourself at Mogambo, take my advice: If a very blond lady of a certain age sits near you, or even if she doesn’t, try the chilli.

Joie de Vivre A challenge for Joie de Vivre will be to convince expats to get away from the comforts of Districts 1, 2 and 7 when they want western food. This new restaurant requires driving the length of Cach Mang Thang Tam Street through to District 3. But it helps to escape from the usual, once in a while. The wide, comfortable alley here offers the feel of very local Vietnamese living, with Joie de Vivre as an oasis of foreign cuisine. It plays up the multicultural influence with pan-European decorations and even creepy but interesting Korean masks. German mugs, Dutch windmills, Russian dolls, and a small Eiffel Tower line the

A western restaurant that sits like an island in an otherwise Vietnamese neighbourhood. By Lien Hoang. Photos by Fred Wissink.

shelves above stacks of logs. But the odd panoply somehow doesn’t intrude on the simple décor, which emphasises neutral browns and checkerboard patterns. For the best dining experience, the patio upstairs is a refreshing spot, especially at night when the schoolyard opposite goes quiet and the string of lights come on. Joie de Vivre brings a chef and management team from the Majestic hotel downtown. Perhaps their strangest choice was the presentation of the grilled lamb rack with pepper sauce (VND 298,000). It came on a pancake, which was definitely new to me and added nothing to the entree. The vegetables are fine, though

it helps to have them with the sweet and smokey pepper concoction, which lives up to the restaurant’s goal of focusing on unique, strong sauces. None of this can go without the mashed potatoes, with just the right bumpy texture. An even more unique sauce of lemon and capers comes with the baked seabass (not a bad deal at VND 185,000). The vegetables and string pasta were a bit plastic, but the creamy sauce makes up for it and contributes well to the firm fish. Also offering strong flavours is the chicken mushroom cream soup (VND 75,000). It’s a basic idea, but I rarely see chicken in cream of mushroom, and

this works. To a lesser extent, so does the Russian salad of potato, carrot, radish, and ham, topped with sliced, hardboiled egg (VND 80,000). Thankfully it’s light on the mayonnaise and surprises diners with its spicy additions. The creme brulee (VND 70,000) is rich and as sweet as it should be, not to mention fun to crack into. The eatery also has homemade cakes and other desserts under glass for VND 45-70,000, which makes them easy to take home. 292/10 Cach Mang Thang Tam, D3 08 62 60 00 66 7am-2pm, 5pm-10pm asialife HCMC 37

TnT BBQ Barbecue is ordinarily a backyard indulgence, but TnT BBQ makes it available at your doorstep. Its kitchen in District 4 has a grill and three barbecue smokers, where perfect American pork ribs and chicken are slow smoked, but quickly delivered throughout the city. TnT is an acronym created from the last names of the owners, Californian Mark Ton, 37, and Oklahoman Logan Tisdale, 32. They opened four months ago wanting a homegrown barbecue business that could be synonymous with the best barbecue in Vietnam. Hickory-smoked pork ribs, apple-smoked chicken, and pulled pork or chicken sand38 asialife HCMC

This delivery service brings slow-smoked meat and mouthwatering barbecue to your front door. By Ruben Luong. Photos by Fred Wissink.

wiches can be ordered individually, but the combo (VND 125,000-VND 445,000) or family combo (VND 460,000-VND 880,000) comes with twice, triple, or quadruple the meat and two or three sides of your choice. Soon customers will be able to order a barbecue chicken salad and beef brisket. Sides are nostalgic picnic dishes, such as bacon potato salad and minced veggies (VND 30,000), classic coleslaw (VND 30,000), and the most amazing cornbread (VND 30,000). The cornbread is so good that TnT even has a customer who orders a dozen pieces to eat over a few days. To wash it down, they offer Dr Pepper (VND 40,000) and Kool-Aid, which comes with a

reusable bottle (VND 60,000). Barbecue is Ton and Tisdale’s labour of love. They import American apple, cherry, and hickory woods for smoking, and are one of the few in town who slow smoke their meat. The hickory ribs require four hours of prep: they’re defrosted, bathed in a cajun mix marinade, smoked, soaked in a special wrap, and grilled by TnT’s Vietnamese grill master, Phat. The apple chicken is equally tedious, doused in TnT rub, roasted, and grilled to a charred perfection. Being delivery-only, Ton and Tisdale have figured out all the kinks to delivering barbecue hot and fresh. Simple, reusable Tupperware or standard foil keeps meats and sides insulated.

For the pulled pork sandwich, opt to separate the buns and pork to prevent sogginess. TnT’s drivers are friendly Vietnamese students who double check every order before heading out, and always carry the correct change with them. TnT has a VND 20,000 delivery fee (free for orders from VND 200,000) and a minimum order for delivery of VND 100,000 — but you’ll have no problem ordering more than that. Order from, Foodpanda. com, 01 66 66 67 85 8 Monday-Friday; 11am-2pm, 5-10pm Saturday-Sunday; 11am10pm

Cau Ba Quan Cheap and delicious seafood is one of the best things about living in Vietnam. But in Ho Chi Minh City, where food handling is sketchy at best and the sea is still a few hours away, eating at a streetside seafood quan can be a shot in the dark — and one your stomach may not appreciate. So when I stumbled across this three-month-old restaurant in District 1, it was hard not to get excited. Nikky Tran, the owner and chef, says she gets all her seafood every day or every other day directly from Phu Quoc island, where she has a trustworthy supplier who ensures its freshness. The restaurant itself is simple: short, wooden chairs

Fresh seafood in a streetside setting. By Chris Mueller. Photos by Fred Wissink.

and tables are set up on the sidewalk, wooden paneling lines the walls of the small, open-air dining room inside, and a charcoal grill sits outside. The dishes too are simple, but border on fusion — they’re not quite Vietnamese and certainly not western. But Cau Ba Quan doesn’t need to be fancy. Its reputation for fresh and good food is enough to bring in the crowds every night. While seafood is the main attraction here, there are still some other great options, such as the five-coloured beef salad (VND 79,000), which has a sweet and spicy kumquat sauce with beef, white eggplant, lemongrass, pineapple and mint. For something a little

more interesting, try the popular, and very spicy, sour leaf pineapple salad (VND 70,000). After warming up with the salad, we had a heaping plate of seafood fried rice (VND 70,000). The squid and bits of prawn were clearly fresh, while the rice was purposely fried a little longer than normal, which adds a nice, crispy texture. Next came two dishes: the restaurant’s special cinnamon crab and a thick stingray fillet (both VND 400,000/kg). The crab was big for Vietnam and the cinnamon added a hint of sweetness without being overpowering. This was the first time I had eaten stingray, and I enjoyed it. The meat was closer

to the texture and flavour of juicy chicken than fish. All of the seafood comes with a side of green chilli and kumquat juice sauce, which makes a welcome and spicy change from the typical salt, pepper and lime. While I finished eating a plate of scallops (VND 12,000 each), Tran made sure to mention that she never adds MSG to her food and tries to keep sugar to a minimum. “If I won’t eat it, I won’t serve it,” she says. 82 Mac Dinh Chi Street, D1 09 15 95 95 18 10am-2pm, 4pm-midnight, seven days asialife HCMC 39

beyond bespoke A sense of lineage plays out in designer Sean Knibb’s Oxford Collection for English furniture firm Waring and Gillow in Vietnam. By Ruben Luong. Photos by Christian Berg.


eritage runs deep for 19thcentury English furniture brand Waring and Gillow, a former outfitter of luxury liners, yachts and world war parts. Turning to the future, the re-emerging homeware maker has rooted itself in its new creative director, Los Angeles-based landscape and furniture designer Sean Knibb, whose own Jamaican heritage unexpectedly solidified his forthcoming Oxford Collection manufactured in Vietnam. Comprised of seven pieces — dining table, coffee table, two chairs, bed, sideboard and a set of end tables — the Oxford Collection is a byproduct of generations fusing together: classic with contemporary and time-honoured

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Waring and Gillow with globalising Vietnam. It could not have been realised without Knibb’s own reunion with his estranged father, a former salesman of exotic cars and perfume who moved to Ho Chi Minh City four years ago when he recognised that Vietnam was burgeoning. Knibb and his father travelled to Hanoi, Sapa, and elsewhere around Vietnam while reconnecting. Their expedition was an immediate catalyst for Knibb, and when Waring and Gillow approached him to create the Oxford Collection for its showroom in Nha Be District near District 7, he knew he would design it with Vietnamese techniques in mind.

“You have this emerging nation that’s finding its voice in design, but there’s this strong sense of Vietnamese identity looking at the history of native construction methods, pre-colonial architecture, beautiful lacquering and weaving, pottery, and the craftwork of northerners,” Knibb says. “It’s about taking that together and creating a new heritage line. It’s something beyond bespoke, and that’s what the new design and ethos for Waring and Gillow is.” This happens to be Knibb’s forte. He grew up in the colonial environs of Montego Bay, Jamaica as the grandson of award-winning florist Marion Cohen, who had him cultivating

Designer Sean Knibb. Photo by Alex McMillan.

anthuriums in her flower shop. His talent for colour, texture and composition ushered him into furniture design at Otis Parsons School of the Arts, where he landed a stint with furniture designer Carl Gilberg. Knibb’s penchant for gardening later propelled him into landscape design at Miami-based designer Harry Nelson’s firm, followed by a mentorship from famed garden designer Jay Griffith. At age 23, Knibb launched his design business, Knibb Design, winning the commission of a high-profile English Tudor estate and a reputation that would precede him. Having designed gardens for celebrities like Cameron Diaz, Halle Berry and Jennifer Lopez, Knibb has an aesthetic characterised by mixing traditional plants, such as roses and hydrangea, with modern assemblages of silver spear, succulents, or ornamental grasses. It’s this same ideology Knibb imple-

ments in his Oxford Collection. An essential part of the design was incorporating traditional Vietnamese lacquer into the legs of the pieces, which are all made from walnut imported from North America. The original prototype of his coffee table featured green lacquered legs that alluded to the heritage and foliage of the countryside. “You have the green of Europe, which is heavy and dense, but you have the green of Vietnam, which is light, textured, dynamic,” he says. For the final prototype, however, Knibb selected a subtler Vietnamese lacquer in white and ivory. “It’s about not taking away from the lines, the shape, and juxtaposition of the old and new lines,” he says. “You can see the old curvilinear lines and shapes, but also see that 2014 is happening on the piece.” Knibb designed and manufactured the collection over a six month-period while travelling back and forth be-

Having designed gardens for celebrities like Cameron Diaz, Halle Berry and Jennifer Lopez, Knibb has an aesthetic characterised by mixing traditional plants with modern assemblages.

tween his office on Abbot Kinney in Venice, California, and Ho Chi Minh City. He was doing this while simultaneously working on interiors for The Line, a swanky, 400-bedroom boutique hotel located in Los Angeles’s Koreatown, where he used a mix of objet d’art and custom-designed furnishings from his studio. While his Oxford Collection may be finished, Knibb has no intention of slowing down. He has plans to start designing a private residence in Vietnam later this year. But it is ultimately the Oxford Collection in Ho Chi Minh City, which enabled Knibb to spend time bonding with his father, that seems to have had the greatest impact on his work and career so far. “It allowed me to be a better designer and communicator, which is ultimately what I want to do with my work,” he says. “My craft is another way for me to speak.”

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the twins

Photography by Fred Wissink.

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Clothing, concept, styling and modelling by: The Twins Concept Store 8A/A4 Thai Van Lung, District 1 All clothing ranges from VND 750,000 to VND 1,700,000

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Building, D1 Tel: 3827 2105/06 Operates daily service between HCM City and Manila, offering fare options to suit all travel requirements.


Royal Brunei Level 4, 129A Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 3914 6868 Royal Brunei provides scheduled service across Asia, the Middle East, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

hotel & travel AIRLINES

Air Asia 223 De Tham, D1 Tel: 3838 9811 Asia’s largest low-cost airline operates one daily flight between HCM City-Hanoi, as well as international flights to Bangkok, Phuket, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. Air France 130 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3829 0981 Fax: 3822 0537 An airline with a vast and effective global network. Now flies direct to Paris. Cathay Pacific 72-74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D3 Tel: 3822 3203 Hong Kong-based airline makes three flights daily to HCM City and two flights daily to Hong Kong’s international airport. 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. Check out Friday Fare Frenzy online promotion every Friday. Malaysia Airlines Unit G8 Ground floor, SG Trade Center 37 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3824 6663 Offers daily flights from Hanoi and HCM City to Kuala Lumpur for about $200 round trip, with four economy class fare levels: low, basic, smart and flex. Philippine Airlines 91 Pasteur, 2nd floor, Saigon Royal


Thai Airways 65 Nguyen Du, Tel: 3829 2810 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: 3936 03600 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. VASCO Vietnam Airlines office, 116 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 3842 2790 Though it’s primary business is cargo shipment, Vietnam Air Service Company (VASCO) flies daily from HCM City to Con Dao and makes connections to lesser-known cities like Ca Mau, Tuy Hoa and Chu Lai. Vietnam Airlines Hanoi: 25 Trang Thi, Hoan Kiem Tel: 6270 0200 HCM City: 16th Floor, Sun Wah, 115 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 3832 0320 The domestic route map is extensive, with several flights daily between major and less touristed cities throughout Vietnam. Flies internationally throughout Asia and to Paris, Frankfurt, Moscow, Sydney, Melboure, Los Angeles and San Francisco.


Saigon Con Dao Resort 18-24 Ton Duc Thang Tel: 06 4830 155 Opened in summer 2009, Saigon Tourist’s 82-room hotel has a restaurant, swimming pool, tennis court and health club with sauna. Another 30 villas are available in the adjacent sister hotel, a renovated colonial-era administration building. Tours organized by hotel. Six Senses Con Dao Dat Doc Beach, Con Dao Dist, Ba Ria Tel: 064 3831 222 The first 5 star resort with 50 villas stretch across a mile-long beach, each villas has its own infinity-edge pool facing the ocean and a stunning restaurant.


Ana Mandara Villas Resort & Spa Le Lai, Ward 5, Dalat Tel: 063 3555 888 Luxury 35-acre resort encompasses 17 restored early 20th-century villas and 65 rooms set in the rural highlands. La Cochinchine Spa offers wide range of treatments. Le Petite Dalat Restaurant serves Vietnamese and fusion cuisine. Heated swimming pool, art gallery and cooking classes in organic garden.

Celebrate Tet with Novotel Nha Trang’s stunning rooftop fireworks performance on the hotel’s 18th floor plus three free drinks on 3031 Jan from 10pm-12.30am. The morning before, a Dragon Dance will be held in front of the hotel. A Vietnamese buffet lunch will also be available from 31 Jan-9 Feb for VND 315,000 per person, or try the seafood buffet dinner for VND 525,000. In addition, the hotel’s Vous Spa is offering a complimentary scalp massage for booking two body massages or 20 percent off bookings reserved one day in advance 1-28 Feb. Contact 05 86 25 69 00 for more information.

A Short Break in Mui Ne

Book a minimum of two nights at Anantara Mui Ne Resort and Spa and enjoy 20 percent off throughout your stay and a

Facilities include tennis court and sauna. Sofitel Dalat Palace 12 Tran Phu, Dalat Tel: 063 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: 04 6270 8888 Located on the waterfront with contemporary Vietnamese design, restaurants, business services, fitness centre including exercise classes and pool. Hanoi Hilton Opera 1 Le Thanh Tong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 04 3933 0500 Housed in a colonial-style building that complements the adjacent Opera House, this luxury hotel features modern amenities, business services, outdoor pool and fitness centre. Vietnamese specialties are served at Ba Mien, and Chez Manon does Japanese and pan-Asian. Melia Hanoi Hotel 44B Ly Thuong Kiet Tel: 04 3934 3343 Located in the city centre with 306 comfortable guestrooms elegantly decorated, complete with a host of modern amenities. Dining includes Asian cuisine at El Patio and El Oriental, snacks at Cava Lounge and tapas at Latino Bar.

Blue Moon Resort & Spa 4 Phan Boi Chau Tel: 06 3578 888 An attractive 65-room, country-style resort with extensive gardens for strolling or al fresco dining, as well as restaurant serving local Dalat dishes. On-premise bike rental, fitness centre, sauna and indoor heated pool.

Mercure Hanoi La Gare 94 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Hoan Kiem Tel: 04 3944 7766 Situated in the Old Quarter with 102 bright, spacious and modern rooms, Brasserie Le Pavillion restaurant serves Vietnamese and international cuisine.

Mercure Dalat 7 Tran Phu, Dalat Tel: 063 3825 777 Built in 1932 as the Hotel Du Parc, this 144-room resort pairs French colonial architecture with modern amenities. Cafe De Le Poste serves French home-style, international and Vietnamese cuisine.

Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi 83A Ly Thuong Kiet Tel: 3822 2800 Conveniently located in the heart of Hanoi’s business district, a 40-minute drive from Noi Bai International Airport and only 5 minutes from the city centre,

take flight with travel promotions around the region

An Explosive New Year

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Con Dao Resort 8 Nguyen Duc Thuan Tel: 06 4830 949 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.

20 percent spa discount on 90-minute oil massages for two. The package includes two nights’ accommodation, one signature cocktail or mocktail, daily breakfast for two persons, complimentary room upgrades (subject to availability). Rates start from $145. Offer runs until 31 Dec 2014.

Spring Blossoms in Hanoi

Moevenpick Hotel Hanoi is offering 30 percent off the best available rate for the Year of the Horse 24 Jan-19 Feb with its Spring Blossoms in Hanoi special package. The package also includes daily breakfast, a $20 voucher for lunch or dinner per person per stay, and late check out until 3pm. Moevenpick Hotel Hanoi is located in the Central Business District, which is a short distance from the Old Quarter in Hanoi.

Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi is the latest five-star hotel in town, tailored to meet the needs of discerning guests and especially corporate travellers. Nikko Hotel 84 Tran Nhan Tong Tel: 04 3822 3535 Luxury hotel offering spacious rooms, elegant furnishings, international fine dining from Europe, China and Japan. Sheraton Hotel Hanoi K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 04 3719 9000 “Resort within a city” boasts 299 spacious guest rooms with panoramic views, fitness centre, international restaurant and Hemisphere Vietnamese restaurant.

Located in the city centre, with gym, outdoor pool, tennis court, event space and Dynasty Chinese restaurant.

races facing the ocean, a swimming pool and a wide range of cuisine from around the world.

Sheraton 88 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3827 2828 Luxury downtown hotel with Level 23 bar, Mojo cafe, Li Bai Chinese restaurant, fine dining at The Signature on the 23rd floor.

InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort Bai Bac, Son Tra Peninsula Tel: 0511 093 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.

Sofitel Saigon Plaza 17 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 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.



InterContinental Asiana Saigon Corner of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3520 9999 305 rooms/suites with floor-to-ceiling windows, five restaurants/bars, meeting/ banquet facilities, spa/health club and lounge with panoramic view. Mövenpick Hotel Saigon 253 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3844 9222 Has 278 well-appointed rooms/suites, five restaurants/bars, meeting/banquet facilities and a shopping arcade as well as a popular e-gaming centre. New World Hotel 76 Le Lai, D1 Tel: 3822 8888

Banyan Tree Lang Co Tel: 84 54 3695 888 The resort is inspired by the artistic heritage of Vietnamese dynasties past, features 32 lagoon pool villas, 17 beach pool villas, an array of eclectic dining experiences from modern Thai cuisine to French specialties, 18hole championship course designed by Sir Nick Faldo, delivers a golfing experience that can be enjoyed by skilled and novice players alike. Boutique Hoi An Resort Tel: 84 51 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 ter-

Vedana Lagoon Resort & Spa 112 Minh Mang


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

Angsana Lang Co Tel: 84 54 3695 800 Set beachfront on warm sands with a backdrop of the towering Truong Son Mountain Range, Angsana Lang Co is one of the region’s newest five-star resorts. Blessed with brilliant scenes of unspoiled natural beauty, Angsana Lang Co is a contemporary getaway featuring 229 stylish suites (from 52 sqm to 179 sqm), 100 of which come equipped with their own private pools. All suites in every room category feature picturesque mountain, lagoon, or sea views, and incorporate local materials such as bamboo, along with traditional arts with a contemporary twist, lanterns and elegant framed calligraph.

Mercure Hue Gerbera 38 Le Loi Tel: 054 3946 688 Overlooking the Perfume River, this centrally located hotel has 110 contemporary rooms. Local Hue cuisine and international fare served at Le Bordeaux, and drinks served up top at Sky Bar or in the ground-floor Lobby Bar.


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

Celadon Palace Hue 105A Hung Vuong Tel: 054 3936 666 Grand building inspired by Indochine Nobel House with panoramic views, in-

La Residence 5 Le Loi Tel: 054 3837 475 Former governor’s residence on the banks of the Perfume River is now home to a boutique resort where art deco meets Indochine. La Parfum restaurant serves local and international dishes.

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

Windsor Plaza 18 An Duong Vuong, D5 Tel: 3833 6688 Located in a main shopping hub. Three restaurants, modern discotheque, conference centre, shopping centre, supermarket.


ternational restaurant, lounge/bars, pool, ballroom and wedding planning.

SERVICED APARTMENTS & COMMERCIAL SPACE FOR LEASE Hotline: 0918 802 526 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong Street, District 1, HCMC T: (84-8) 3822 6111 Ext.101 F: (84-8) 3824 1835 E: W: Managed by Norfolk Group



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Tel: 054 3830 240 Nestled on the shore of a peaceful and serene lagoon, vedana lagoon resort & spa is ideally situated between the two cities well-known as world heritage sites: hue and hoi an. The resort designed with a stylist harmony between the local traditional culture and a modern art concept with 27 villas, bungalows and 2 houseboats.


Six Senses Ninh Van Bay Ninh Van Bay, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa Tel: 058 3728 222 An island hideaway accessible only by boat, 58 private pool villas, international and local restaurants, wedding services, water sports and scuba diving. Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang Beachside, Tran Phu, Nha Trang

Tel: 058 3522 222 Beachside resort set in 26,000 square metres of tropical garden, with 74 guest villas, three restaurants, Six Senses Spa. Mia Resort Nha Trang Bai Dong, Cam Hai Dong, Cam Lam, Khanh Hoa Tel: 58 398 9666 Ultimate luxury resort with 50 rooms divided into villas and condos, catering by wel-known restaurant Sandals and Mojito's bar. Novotel Nha Trang 50 Tran Phu Tel: 058 625 6900 Each of the 154 rooms has a terrace with seaviews in this modern hotel located in the city centre. The Square serves international cuisine in a dining room overlooking the bay.


Book online Cambodia


Sheraton Nha Trang Hotel & Spa 26 - 28 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa Tel: 58 388 0000 Luxury hotel with 284 ocean view rooms, six restaurants and bars, club lounge, infinity edge swimming pool, spa, yoga studio, cooking school, Sheraton Adventure Club and (connected at) Link@ Sheraton.

PHAN THIET Villa Aria Muine 60A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne Tel: 062 3741 660 Villa Aria Muine is a boutique beach resort in Phan Thiet, Binh Thuan province. Set on a beautiful beachfront in the middle of the Mui Ne strip, the villa combines modern tropical style and French country luxury. Princess D’Ânnam Resort and Spa Khu Hon Lan, Tan Thanh, Ham Thuan Nam, Binh Thuan. Tel: 062 3682 222 Located on Ke Ga Bay with 57 exclusive villas, eight swimming pools, two restaurants and 1,800 square metres spa complex. The Sailing Club 24 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet Tel: 062 3847 440 Open bar overlooking the sea, spacious rooms, restaurant, swimming pool and day spa. Victoria Phan Thiet Resort and Spa Mui Ne Beach Tel: 84 62 3813 000 Located on a private beach, 60 cosy bungalows, natural spa experiences among other great activities on offer at the resort.


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


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Note: AsiaLIFE only lists dive centres recognized by international dive training programs, such as the Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI) and Scuba Schools International (SSI). We strongly advise against diving with

unaccredited dive centres in Vietnam. Rainbow Divers 55 Nguyen Dang Giai, An Phu, D2 Tel: 3744 6825 Diving tours and career/instructor development offered by Vietnam’s first PADI centre. established in the mid-90s. Operates dive centres in Nha Trang, Whale Island, Hoi An and Phu Quoc. Octopus Diving 62 Tran Phu, Nha Trang 058 826 528 PADI/SSI dive centre based in Nha Trang and affiliated with the Sailing Club Co. with additional centres in Mui Ne and Hoi An. Offers a range of services.


The Grand-Ho Tram Strip Phuoc Thuan Commune, Xuyen Moc District, Ba Ria Vung Tau Tel: +84 64 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 in July 2013 with its casino including 90 live tables and 614 electronic game positions. The second 559-room tower is on track to open in 2015. The Grand will be the initial component of The Ho Tram Strip, the largest integrated resort complex in Vietnam.


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


and high quality food with ingredients imported from Turkey, Spain, Singapore, Egypt, New Zealand, Japan and France. Long happy hour half price by glass. Various shisha flavours.

food & drink

Phatty’s 46-48 Ton That Thiep, D1 Tel: 3821 0705 Jaspa’s Steve Hardy and Ben Winspear’s sports bar has five widescreen TVs, a large drop-down screen and lots of pub grub and beer for fans looking to take in a game or two.

BAR RESTAURANTS Alibi 11 Thai Van Lung, D1 Tel: 3822 3240 Hip without being showy, this versatile venue has a pleasant front porch, stand up bar and comfortable lounge seating with bright, warm décor and great tunes. Drinks list is extensive and the food menu boasts French-style mains. Bernie’s Irish Pub 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 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.  Chilli Pub 104 Ho Tung Mau, D1 Tel: 08 73 01 13 77 An intimate pub on a popular bar street that serves pub grub and its famous bowls of chilli. It also has a pool table, dart boards and TVs for watching sports. Corso Steakhouse & Bar Norfolk Hotel, 117 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Located in the chic Norfolk Hotel Corso Steakhouse & Bar is well known for its steak imported from the US and Australia. Good destination for both lunch and dinner. La Habana 6 Cao Ba Quat, D1 Tel: 3829 5180 This charming little place has seating indoors and outdoors, upstairs and downstairs to fit your dining pleasure. Relaxed environment with frequent live music. Offers Spanish and Cuban fare including paella and a tapas fiesta comprising three plates. Open late daily. Le Pub 175/ 22 Pham Ngu Lao, D1 One of Pham Ngu Lao’s favourite watering holes, Le Pub also has a good menu of well-executed pub grub and international favourites. Hearty breakfast is available all day and specials are offered daily. Mogambos 50 Pasteur, D1 Tel: 3825 1311 This restaurant has been around since the mid-1990s, which offers an insight into its enduring quality. Specializes in American grain-fed steaks, hamburgers and salads served in a pleasant atmosphere.  Pasha Bar & Restaurant 25 Dong Du, D1 Tel: 08 629 136 77 Turkish–Mediterranean restaurant located in heart of HCMC serves halal

Qing 110 Pasteur, D1 Sophisticated downtown bar just off Le Loi specializes in Asian tapas, Asian/ South American fusion dishes and a few delectable deserts. Variety of good wines by the glass or bottle. Red Bar 70-72 Ngo Duc Ke, D1 Tel: 08 22 29 70 17 Tucked behind the Bitexco building, Red has one of the longest happy hours in the city (draught beer for VND 25,000 from 9am until 9pm). This, its international food menu and nightly live music makes it one of the liveliest bars around. The Tavern R2/24 Hung Gia 3, Bui Bang Doan, D7 Tel: 5410 3900 Boasts good international food, a pool table, dartboards and sports coverage on large screens. Outdoor seating on mutiple levels. Second floor sports lounge hosts DJs at the weekends.  Vasco’s Bar 74/7D Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3824 2888 Chic bar decked in deep reds that gets packed to capacity on weekends. Open Monday to Saturday with live music on Fridays. Food menu by chef with over 10 years experience at La Camargue. Also does excellent pizza. 

CAFES Cay Da Cafe Ground floor, Moevenpick Hotel Saigon 253 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3844 9222 ext. 118 Stocks the Moevenpick’s chef’s most delicious cakes, pastries, ice cream and sandwiches. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf 12-14 Thai Van Lung, D1 94 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D3 Nowzone, 235 Nguyen Van Cu, D5 Metropolitan Bldng, 235 Dong Khoi, D1 International café chain with a wide variety of coffees and teas, as well as light snacks and food. Also sells freshroasted coffee beans and tins of whole leaf tea.  Mojo 88 Dong Khoi, D1 A top-end cafe with an attractive interior, outdoor terrace at street level and comfortable lounges upstairs. Good business coffee or lunch venue. That’s Café Rivergarden, 170 Nguyen Van Huong, D2 The Crescent, 103 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung, D7 Hailing from the U.S., That’s Café is a new Khai Silk initiative. Claiming to provide the best coffee in town in a comfortable and friendly atmosphere, it’s a great place to hold a business meeting or catch up with friends.

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X Cafe 58 Pasteur, D1 Tel: 3914 2142 Bright, spacious foreign-run cafe decorated in the style of an Alpine chalet. Popular with local makers and shakers, has a great open-plan upstairs area and two outdoor terraces. Regular live music and homemade ice cream.


Li Bai Sheraton Hotel, 88 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3827 2828 Imperial-styled restaurant named after a famous Chinese poet. Excellent lunch time dim sum buffet for USD $17.00. Nightly à la carte menu with dishes going from 100,000 VND. Lotus Court 1st floor, Moevenpick Hotel Saigon 253 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3844 9222 ext. 168 Dim Sum and exciting Cantonese cuisine in a unique and elegant setting.

Yu Chu InterContinental Asiana Saigon, corner of Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3520 9099 Specializing in authentic Cantonese and Peking cuisine. Award-winning chef prepares dishes including handmade noodles, dim sum and wok-fried items. Wide selection of live seafood. Five interactive kitchens.


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

Ming Dynasty 23 Nguyen Khac Vien, Phu My Hung Tel: 5411 5555 Decorated in Ming Dynasty-style; offers 100 dim sum varieties and 300 dishes prepared by a chef from Hong Kong. The restaurant’s Imperial Buffet includes free flow of wine.

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

Ngan Dinh Chinese Restaurant Windsor Plaza Hotel, 18 An Duong Vuong, D5 Tel: 3833 6688 Beautiful wood paneling, colourful hanging lanterns and a sparkling mineral gallery make for a relaxing dining experience at the Windsor. Feast on roasted Pi Pa duck, giant grouper and steamed king prawns. Be sure to check out monthly specials.

Le Bouchon de Saigon 40 Thai Van Lung, D1 Tel: 3829 9263 This French diner-style restaurant has an emphasis on hearty home cooking, courteous service and a relaxed atmosphere. Chef David Thai is a well-known industry figure, and this venue can hold its own among the city`s many French restaurants.

Shang Palace Restaurant Norfolk Mansion, 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong, D1 Tel: 3823 2221 An upscale Chinese restaurant with a spacious and welcoming atmosphere. The menu boasts a wide range of Hong Kong Cantonese cuisine, including both dim sum, a la carte and set menus, regularly changed by the creative chefs.

L’essentiel 98 Ho Tung Mau, D1 Tel: 08 38 21 76 82 A French restaurant offering a traditional menu that changes every week in a rotation of four. Dishes range from around VND 100,000 upwards to nearly VND 400,000 and include a variety of meat and seafood options. Cheese and pastries are available as well.


Le Steak de Saigon

Shang Palace restaurant is offering an exciting mix of modern and traditional dishes to celebrate the Chinese new year from 15 Jan-14 Feb. Yusheng, comprised of salmon and jelly fish, is paired with a selection of vegetables and sauces chosen to represent luck and abundance for the new year. There’s also the Prosperous Big Bowl Feast, containing abalone, oyster, sea cucumber, scallop, roast duck, and tiger prawn displayed in layers to symbolise the achievements for the year ahead. Don’t miss the special Lion Dance at noon. Reservations at reservation@shangpalace. Shang Palace, Norfolk Mansion, 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong, D1.

An impressive 12-course set menu

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Ganesh 15 - B4 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3822 3017 Casual dining with takeaway available, Ganesh serves up both North and South Indian culinary traditions. Very reasonably priced, with vegetarian curries from 40,000 VND and chicken dishes from 64,000 VND.  Saigon Indian 73 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Tel: 3824 5671 Popular venue with an enormous menu. Serves both southern and northern Indian dishes like tandoori, biryani, dosa and idly snacks, plus a wide range of vegetarian dishes. Offers a set lunch menu. Cater service is available.  Tandoor 74/6 Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3930 4839 Part of a chain of restaurants covering Hanoi and Saigon, Tandoor features a large selection of standard northern Indian dishes, including a good vegetarian selection. Excellent cheap set lunches and reasonable prices all around. Will organize catering for events. 


Al Fresco’s 21 Mac Dinh Chi D1 Tel: 3823 8427 27 Dong Du, D1 Tel: 3822 7317 D1-23 My Toan 3, D7 Tel: 5410 1093 400 Nguyen Trai, D5 Tel: 3838 3840 Theme restaurant boasting a range of Tex-Mex, Italian and Australian-style BBQ dishes. Huge portions and tasty Australian ribs coupled with a good atmosphere and helpful staff. Good lunch menu.  Amigo Grill 55 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 3824 1248 Outstanding steaks made with Austra-

broaden your palate with promotions around town

Chic Chinese New Year

Tet in Style

15 Dong Du, D1 Tel: 08 38 22 45 93 On one of the fancier streets in the centre of District 1, this small steakhouse has limited options, but its set meal, which includes a steak, salad and fries or mashed potatoes for only VND 200,000, is probably one of the better deals in town.

suitable for two is available in Hotel de l’Opera Hanoi’s Satine restaurant, located near Hanoi’s beautiful Opera House, to celebrate the lunar new year. The menu is relatively cheap, priced at VND 680,000 per menu. Offer Runs 31 Jan-5 Feb. The Hotel de l’Opera Hanoi is the first boutique hotel in the heart of Hanoi. Reservations at Satine for parties of more than 10 people should call in advance for details or special arrangements. Call 04 62 82 55 55, ext 6421, or email

Cook Like a Pro

Food enthusiasts and resident gourmands can learn from the best culinary maestros with a personalised cooking class in Square One restaurant. Guests will learn how to prepare authentic dishes Vietnamese style, such as different types of spring

lian, U.S. and Argentine beef, served in a cosy, family-friendly environment with large tables and banquette seating. Dishes like leg of lamb and seafood are also on the menu. Open 11 am to 11 pm. Au Parc 23 Han Thuyen, D1 Tel: 3829 2772 Lavishly decorated brasserie borrowing from Moroccan and French styles and popular during lunchtime with expats. Specializes in Middle Eastern and North African food. The salad menu is a favourite, and a great range of lush smoothies and juices are on offer.  Blanchy Street 74/3 Hai Ba Trung, D1 A high-end bar and restaurant with outdoor terrace. With ex-Nobu London Chef at the helm, Blanchy’s offers tapas-like snacks that fuse Japanese and South American influences. Expect great things here from international DJs and renowned mixologists Black Cat 13 Phan Van Dat, D1 Tel: 3829 2055 Tiny but popular District 1 restaurant serving up an excellent selection of Western and Vietnamese fare and an extensive range of sandwiches and burgers.  BoatHouse 40 Lily Road, APSC Compound, 36 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 6790 Riverside restaurant with umbrellashaded tables spread across outdoor deck and small indoor dining room. Serves remarkably fresh and inspired dishes made with choice local and imported ingredients—favourites include the sirloin burger and pan-fried fish and chips. Boomarang Cresent Residence 2-3-4, No. 107 Ton Dat Tien, PMH, D7 Tel: 3744 6790 An Australian bistro on the scenic promenade at the Crescent in Phu My Hung that serves authentic cuisine from down under, including steaks, burgers, seafood and fish and chips. Cafe Saigon Ground floor, Moevenpick Hotel

rolls with mustard leaf, rice paper and seafood, Vietnamese crispy fried pork and barbecue duck crepes. Class is VND 1,100,000 per person. For reservations, email or call 08 38 24 12 34. The class is 18 Jan, 2.30pm5.30pm. Square One is located at Park Hyatt Saigon, 2 Lam Son Square, D1.

street gourmet

Saigon 253 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3844 9222 ext. 234 An international buffet with unique food concepts that is perfect for gathering family and friends. Cham Charm 3 Phan Van Chuong, Phu My Hung Tel: 5410 9999 The highlight of this upscale, beautifully decorated Asian restaurant is a special seafood buffet that includes Portuguese oysters, Alaskan crab, lobsters, sushi, sashimi, Japanese-style seafood, Langoustine prawns, American Angus beef and much more. Errazuriz wines are also included in the buffet. Part of the Khai Silk chain. El Gaucho 5D Nguyen Sieu, D1 Tel: 3825 1879 Cresent Residence 1_12, No. 103 Ton Dat Tien, PMH, D7 A classic Argentine steakhouse where beef is the main attraction. There is still plenty of other options on the menu, in addition to an extensive wine list. Open from 4pm until late every day.

Banh trang tron Although banh trang tron (rice paper salad) looks like a heap of mismatched ingredients, there's an organised chaos behind its construction. The base is comprised of shredded rice paper that's topped off with beef jerky, sour mango, peanuts, herbs and a fried and boiled quail egg. Mixing the ingredients in baby

prawn sauce moistens the salad and ensures that the diverse flavours distribute throughout. Banh trang tron can often be found around office buildings and schools, as it's especially popular with workerbees and students. And for only VND 5,000, it's a light and flavourful lunch that rivals any gourmet salad.

The Deck 38 Nguyen U Di, D2 Tel: 3744 6632 Serves upmarket takes on regional specialties made with fresh local and imported products. Well-designed, minimalist dining space and bar on the river are a serious draw. The Elbow Room 52 Pasteur, D1 Tel: 3821 4327 American-style bistro offering a wide range of appetisers, soups, salads, sandwiches, mains and desserts, plus an extensive wine menu. Open daily 7.30 am to 11 pm. Breakfast served all day.

Gartenstadt 34 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3822 3623 Opened in 1992, it’s the first venue in town to offer German food with specialities such as pork knuckle and authentic German sausages prepared fresh each day. Also offers imported German draught beer. Good Eats NTFQ2, 34 Nguyen Dang Giai Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 6672 Easteran and Western dishes are low in saturated fat and made from all-natural ingredients. Organic vegetables, herbs and spices accompany meals. Even the French fries are healthy.  Halal@Saigon 31 Dong Du, D1 Tel: 3824 5823 Serving up a range of Vietnamese and Malaysian dishes prepared according to halal guidelines including ban xeo, pho and roti chennai and seafood favourites such as shrimp, squid and mussels. Hog's Breath 02 Hai Trieu, D1 Tel: 3915 6006 The popular Australian eatery's first foray into Vietnam. Centrally located on the ground floor of the Bitexco Financial tower. The legendary Prime Rib steaks are the centrpiece of the menu which also includes burgers, seafood and bar snacks.  Jaspa’s 33 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3822 9926 Unpretentious brasserie-style restaurant specializes in Australian-influenced international fusion cuisine. Full range of drinks including Australian and French wines and good cocktails. Hosts monthly Spam Cham networking event.  JJ’s Brazilian BBQ

Indulge yourself in the Fabulous Lunar New Year Spread as Shang Palace Restaurant offers a mix of modern creations in traditional festive dishes, ranging from the must-have delicacy “Yu Sheng” with “Wealthy” Salmon, Jelly Fish and Vegetables, the Prosperous Big Bowl Feast with premium abalone, oysters, sea cucumber, roast duck to the traditional Lunar New Year Cured Meat and our Special Dual Fish Glutinous Rice Cake that will bring you an abundance of luck in the coming year. Don’t forget to enjoy the famous Lion Dance at 12:00 noon on the 1st day of the Lunar New Year and begin a “Wealthy” year ahead at Shang Palace Restaurant. Shang Palace Chinese Restaurant 1st Floor , 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong St., Dist. 1, HCMC, Vietnam Tel: (84 8) 3823 2221 - (84 8) 3822 6111 Ext: 164 Fax: (84 8) 3822 6116 Email: Website:

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street gourmet

By Darryl Bethea

imbibe The Perfect Balance When learning about wine, you will often hear sommeliers and winelovers speak of a wine’s many levels and features. Two of the most popular are tannins and acidity. Tannins are a class of phenols, and are a byproduct of the seeds and skins of a grape. Red wine varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Nebbiolo are usually abundant in strong tannins, which, over time, tend to mellow out in an aged bottle of wine. The tannins are often described as being soft and mellow, medium and persistent, or firm, strong and tight. But how does this affect you when looking for a great bottle of wine? First, you need to understand how tannins relate to a wine’s complexity, or lack thereof. Understanding tannins is as simple as understanding drinking your favourite blend of tea. There is a good reason teamakers have suggested brewing times on their labels; the longer the tea brews, the higher the tannin level. Imagine the flavour of a cup of tea that has brewed for too long. It becomes unpleasant, bitter, and astringent. That harshness is similar to a really tannic wine. Is this necessarily bad? No. Just like pouring a little milk in your tea (the protein and fat from the milk will camouflage the bitterness and soften the tannins), a nice juicy steak will pair nicely. Generally speaking, because of the natural preservative feature of tannins, wines 52 asialife HCMC

with a higher tannin profile can age longer and over time they will usually become softer. When the right amount of tannins are present, the wine takes on a harmonic balance. Acidity can be equally challenging. Acid is an important element in wine. Too little acidity can make a wine seem dull, flat, and uninteresting; too much can be terribly unpleasant. Take a lemon, for example. Imagine squeezing lemon juice directly in your mouth. Now, picture a perfectly made glass of lemonade. Much better, right? It is important to note that the best winemakers will often adjust the winemaking process, sometimes adding acid to a wine’s natural acid, in order to balance it. This is OK because in certain hot climates, when a grape ripens and increases its sugar content, it will decrease its acidity. The Riesling grape is a good example of this. The ripe fruit flavours and balanced acidity is what makes these wines so amazing. Now that you have some basic knowledge about tannins and acidity, start to recognise these features on your palate and discover what you like best. After all, it is your preference and your palate that matters the most. Darryl Bethea is group sales manager for Magnum Wine Cellars. He can be contacted at darryl@magnumwinecellars. com or 09 33 78 50 05.

Banh cong Here's one you may have missed around town: banh cong. Also known as prawn cakes, these deep-fried, muffin-shaped delights are filled with minced pork, lentils, rice or soy flour and, of course, plenty of shrimp, including head, tail and skin. The mixture is prepared and

Restaurant and Bar 275-277-279 Pham Ngu Lao, D1 Tel: 08 38 38 88 33 Situated in Pham Ngu Lao, JJ’s offers traditional Brazilian churrasco every night, with a wide range of meats barbecued over a charcoal flame. The restaurant is split into three areas: the bar, an outside terrace overlooking the park, and a more formal upstairs dining room. Kita Coffee House 39 Nguyen Hue, D1, Tel: 3821 5300 Four-level restaurant serving a wide menu of mains, pastas, salads, sandwiches, soups and appetizers for lunch and dinner, as well as a variety of coffee and fresh fruit juices. Includes a bright ground floor cafe, sophisticated Old World second floor bar and rooftop dining. Set dinner everyday from 5pm.  Koto 151A Hai Ba Trung, D3, Tel: 3934 9151 This is the Saigon arm of the renowned organisation that began in Hanoi a decade ago. Vietnamese food is prepared with innovative twist by young people Koto are helping get a start in the hospitality industry and on a path for a better life.  The Loop 49 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 08 36 02 63 85 A contemporarily styled restaurant that serves the An Phu community some healthy trattoria-style dishes, refreshing drinks and premium Italian coffee. The menu includes homemade breakfast specialties, and a wide selection of sandwiches and salads. Market 39 InterContinental Asiana Saigon Ground Floor, Corner Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3520 9099

fried in individual rounded moulds known as cong. Banh cong is served with a variety of herbs that do a fine job of absorbing the cake's excess oil. Finally, a dip in nuoc mam (fish sauce) and you've got a tasty and satisfying snack or meal. One prawn cake runs VND 6,000.

Seven interactive live kitchens offering French, Vietnamese and Southeast Asian cuisines, including a bakery, French patisseries, pancakes, tossed salads, grilled steak, seafood, wok-fried items, noodles and pasta dishes. Mekong Merchant 23 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 4713 Set in a courtyard, this rustic Australianstyle brasserie has brought modern international cuisine to suburban An Phu. Popular for weekend brunches. Weekly specials and seafood flown in from Phu Quoc.  New York Steakhouse & Winery 25-27 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D1 Tel: 3823 7373 Chic dining venue designed in a classic New York City Art Deco. Open every day until late. Specializes in certified U.S. Black Angus steak, and features a fully stocked wine cellar. Guests are invited to bring their own wine on BYOB Mondays. Orientica Hotel Equatorial, 242 Tran Binh Trong, D5 Tel: 3839 7777 Top-end seafood and grill restaurant boasting modern decor. Good service and excellent food presentation make this a pleasant alternative to the downtown scene. Pacharan Tapas and Bodega 97 Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3825 6024 This tapas restaurant and bar serves up superb Spanish fare crafted from authentic imported ingredients. The exclusively Spanish wine list is extensive and Sangria is half price during happy hour from 5 pm to 7 pm and all day Wednesday.

The Refinery 74/7C Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3823 0509 Authentic bistro with cane furniture outside, informal indoor restaurant section and a bar area. Cuisine is light, modern European. The menu spans a price range to suit most budgets. Reflections Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 3823 4999 Contemporary fine dining that combines Asian flavors with classic Mediterranean cuisine in an ambiance of understated elegance and European style. Special culinary events include guest chefs from Michelin-star establishments around the world. Private rooms are available. Riverside Cafe Renaissance Riverside, 8-15 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3822 0033 International venue opening onto the bustling river sidewalk, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and particularly noted for its sumptuous buffet selection which combines Asian, Western and Vietnamese cuisine. Scott & Binh’s 15-17 Cao Trieu Phat Street, Phu My Hung, D7 Tel: 094 890 14 65 A friendly, laid back restaurant in Phu My Hung that serves “comfort food with a twist”. Run by American chef Scott Marquis, this small joint offers classic favourites that are consistently well prepared, making it a popular stop for expats and visitors. Signature Restaurant Level 23, Sheraton Hotel, 88 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3827 2828 Fine dining with panoramic views over central HCM City. Food is stunningly presented, top-end European cuisine with Asian influences cooked by German chef Andreas Schimanski. A la carte or five-course set menu available. Skewers 9A Thai Van Lung, D1 Tel: 3822 4798 Rustic Mediterranean restaurant where subtle colours and exposed brickwork combine with jazzy tunes. Serves tabouleh, falafel, couscous and kebab. Highly rated for its grilled meats, bread and dip combos, soups and pastas.  Square One Park Hyatt Saigon, 2 Lam Son Square,

D1 Tel: 3520 2359 Specializing in high-end Western and Vietnamese cuisine, Square One serves charcoal-grilled meats and seafood, as well as steamed and wok-cooked Vietnamese fare.

Lucca 88 Ho Tung Mau, D1 Tel: 08 39 15 36 92 A centrally located trattoria, café and bar that gets lively at lunchtime but has space enough for a mellow meal.

Warda 71/7 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Tel: 3823 3822 Chic, middle-eastern themed eatery swathed in oranges and reds serving Lebanese cuisine prepared by Damascan chef, Nouman. Mezze and tapas are the main draw, but you can also puff on hookas post-meal.

Opera Ground floor Park Hyatt Hotel, 2 Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 3824 1234 Slick, contemporary eatery with exposed brick and glass. The space revolves around an island kitchen from

which chefs produce gourmet Italian fare. Internationally trained chefs work with the freshest and finest ingredients around to produce some superb dishes.


Chiisana Hashi River Garden, 170 Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 6683 5308 0903 669 252 Serves authentic Japanese cuisuine including sashimi, sushi, tempura, sukiyaki and shabu shabu.

Xu Saigon 71-75 Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3824 8468 Inspired restaurant with an F&B director with a passion for mixing Vietnamese cooking with flavours and styles from around the world. Sleek but sparsely designed, the restaurant serves nouveau takes on Vietnamese cuisine.


Basilico InterContinental Asiana Saigon, Ground Floor, Corner Nguyen Du and Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3520 9099 Contemporary and casual trattoria-style restaurant specializing in authentic Italian dishes and homemade desserts. Wood-fired pizza oven and a wide selection of Italian wines. Casa Italia 86 Le Loi, D1 Tel: 3824 4286 Serves home-style Italian cooking including pasta and pizza as well as a selection of steak and seafood dishes. Open daily 10 am until late. Good Morning Vietnam 197 De Tham, D1 Tel: 3837 1894 Popular authentic Italian restaurant with additional outlets around the country. Specializes in thin-crust pizza, pasta and a range of Italian dishes. Good selection of Italian wines.  La Hostaria 17B Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3823 1080 Rustic eatery specializing in top-end traditional cuisine from various regions in Italy. Main courses from 130,000 VND with daily specials on offer. Serves excellent pizza. 

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Kissho 14 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 3823 2223 Fax: 3823 3343 Saigon’s newest Japanese restaurant boasts a multi-concept cuisine set in a cutting edge interior. Specialties include teppanyaki, yakiniku, sushi and sashimi crafted by expert chefs. The freshest imported meats and seafood round out the menu, accompanied by an extensive selection of fine wines and Japanese spirits. Open 11.30 am to 2 pm and 5.30 pm to 10 pm.

Local Eats

By Tristan Ngo

If It Ain't Broke Every once in a while, you happen to stumble across an absolute gem that has been around for years, but you never knew existed. And recently I was lucky enough to do just that. Only a block away from my restaurant The Elbow Room is Nha Hang Thien Nam. Thien Nam is arguably one of the oldest continuous restaurants in the city centre, if not all of Saigon. This family-run establishment has been going strong for three generations and remains largely unchanged since its opening in 1961. One older member of the family, decked out in old-school suspenders, told me its look, location and food has never changed. Entering the restaurant is like taking a trip into the past. The decor is European-Bavarian with white-cloth tables and French stained-glass windows. The walls are bare except for the chalkboard menu. Clad in bow ties, white shirts and black slacks, some of the waiters are as old as the restaurant itself. Ours had worked there for more than 20 years. A steady stream of Vietnamese families, both young and old, filled the tables, where they browsed Thien Nam’s two different menus — one western and one Asian. The western menu has options such as beefsteak, escargot, risotto and pasta. The Asian 54 asialife HCMC

menu is made up of a mix of Chinese and Vietnamese fare. We ordered the crispy-skin chicken and deep-fried mantou (Chinese steamed buns). Both were divine. Since the escargot wasn't available, we decided on the baked clams with Swiss cheese instead. The clams were literally floating in hot melted butter. Calories be damned. The Vietnamese baguette served on the side was perfect for sopping up the last of the sauce. Next came the deep-fried pig's brain. I like pig's brain but the batter on this one was bland. My friend ordered hu tieu to sip between dishes. It wasn’t bad, but isn’t something I’d come here for. For my finale I decided on the pan-fried pork chop with pomme frittes. It was so tasty and tender I wondered how they had made it that way. Even I have a hard time getting pork chops that tender. They also have an array of sauces — soy sauce, plum sauce, sweet and sour, Dijon, and vinegar chilli — on the table to match every dish. It’s places like Thien Nam that make Saigon such an interesting city to live in. Just when you think you know the city inside and out, a great surprise that has been under your nose for years reveals itself. Thien Nam Restaurant 53 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D1 08 38 22 36 34

Iki Ground floor, Moevenpick Hotel Saigon 253 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3844 9222 ext. 127 A Japanese restaurant that turns the notion of the common hotel sushi eatery on its head thanks to an affordable menu and a fun atmosphere. Nishimura Mövenpick Hotel Saigon, 253 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3844 9222 Exquisitely prepared sushi and sashimi from a globetrotting chef with three decades’ experience. A wide range of cooked dishes and monthly meal promotions are also available. The Sushi Bar 2 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3823 8042 3A Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3911 8618 This brightly lit Japanese-style restaurant serves over 40 varieties of sushi at reasonable prices. Sit at the sushi bar or in private rooms upstairs. Open until 11.30 pm, delivery available on request.  Zen 20 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3825 0782 Located amid the sea of Japanese restaurants on Le Thanh Ton Street, Zen offers a wide range of Japanese dishes. The yakitori station grills up fantastic steak and quail’s eggs, and the chilled udon noodles are also a standout.


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


Barbecue Garden 135A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, D1 Tel: (08) 38 23 33 40 Popular among locals, expats and tourists, this Vietnamese-style barbecue restaurant serves a wide-range of meat and seafood that can be grilled right at the table, all in a lush, natural outdoor setting. Lac Thai 71/2 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Tel: 3823 7506

An elegant restaurant tucked in an alleyway and decorated with artdeco furniture. Authentic Thai cuisine prepared by two Thai chefs. Food is tasty but less spicy than you’d find in Thailand.  Little Manila S2-1 Hung Vuong 2, Phu My Hung, D7 Tel: 5410 0812 Small, no -frills eatery with outdoor and indoor seating located on a quiet street. Serves a range of dishes from the Philippines (pictured on menu for those unfamiliar) and draught San Miguel.


An Lac Chay 175/4 Pham Ngu Lao, D1 Tel: 3837 0760 Apropos of the backpacker district, this little restaurant offers no frills and a vast menu. Though meat dishes are available, it specializes in vegetarian Vietnamese and quirky “backpacker favourites.”  Hoa Dang 38 Huynh Khuong Ninh, D1 Swish vegetarian restaurant on a quiet street that serves up nutritious dishes, including meatless versions of bun bo, pho and steamboat. Cosy bar serving non-alcoholic drinks, fruits and other sweets. Saigon Vegan 378/3 Vo Van Tan, D3 Tel: 3834 4473 Rustic vegan restaurant with extensive menu of healthy food at moderate prices. Lots of tofu dishes and soya chicken/beef, soups, banh bao and more. Also has a kids menu. Viet Chay 339 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D3 Tel: 3526 5862 Upscale vegetarian restaurant specializes in fake meat dishes. The attractive dining room is suffused with natural light. Located within the walls of Vinh Nghiem Pagoda.


Banian Tree River Garden, 170 Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 6683 5308 – 0903 669 252 A fine dining Vietnamese restaurant that serves authentic cuisine. Offers a set lunch, set dinner, International breakfast is served from 6.30 am - 10.30 am. Blue Crab 49D Quoc Huong, Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 2008 This seafood restaurant has some of the most well-prepared and cheapest seafood in town. Its menu offers everything from prawns, scallops and lobster to pork ribs and crab, all for rock-bottom prices. Cha Ca Viet Nam River Garden, 170 Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 6683 5308 0903 669 252 Serves Hanoi specialty Cha Ca—turmeric grilled fish with noodles and dill. Nam Phan 34 Vo Van Tan, Q3 Tel: 3933 3636 Well known at its previous corner location on Le Thanh Ton, Nam Phan continues to serve modern Asian cuisine including asparagus and crab meat soup, stewed bellyfish in pineapple and grilled duck breast in orange sauce. Set in a restored colonial villa, the interior is alive with reproductions of Cham-era bas-reliefs and is inspired by Euro-Zen. Quan Bui 17A Ngo Van Nam, D1 Tel: 08 38 29 15 15 From the team behind Quan Bui, the

popular casual Vietnamese eatery on the north edge of District 1, is this fourfloor 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.

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

Temple Club 29 – 31 Ton That Thiep, D1 Tel: 3829 9244 This high-end restaurant attached to an elegant lounge bar is a must-try for its art deco atmosphere as much as for its food. Mains go around 80,000 -150,000.

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.

nightlife BARS & LOUNGES

See bar restaurant listings for more popular watering holes. Cloud 9 2bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, D3, HCMC (Corner of Turtle Lake Roundabout & Tran Cao Van), Tel: 0948 445544 Recently opened with beautiful déco, this rooftop lounge bar has its stunning views at night. Live DJ, great cocktails and desserts. Open 6pm till late.  The Library InterContinental Asiana Saigon, corner of Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3520 9099 Unwind with a glass of wine or a cup of tea. The Library provides a welcoming atmosphere for those in search of calm, comfort and personalized service. The Wine Embassy 13 Ngo Duc Ke, D1 Tel: (84) 838247-827 Wine bar in district located in district 1 with excellent selection of wines, with signature trios for sampling and comparing. With experts on hand this is a great experience to experience wines at there best. Purple Jade InterContinental Asiana Saigon, corner of Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3520 9099 Chic lounge blends the stylistic influences of contemporary design and opium dens. Hosts live music and serves special drinks, including Shaoxing and Maotai rice wines and an exclusive selection of luxury spirits. Saigon Saigon Bar 9th floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 3823 4999 Popular bar usually packed out with tourists and business travellers searching for some delicious cocktails and a great view of the city skyline. Cuban band Warapo plays every night except Monday from 8.30 pm until late.

at home BAKERIES

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

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


Food Panda Online delivery service with over 500 popular restaurants available. A free website that allows users to order delivery from dozens of restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City. Simply provide your address and phone number and pay the delivery driver in cash when he arrives Willy Woo’s Southern American fare including skillet fried chicken, Belgium waffles and BBQ foods, red beans and rice, Jalapeno corn bread, and other classic southern sides. Delivery only via


you have a big dinner party planned , your kid’s birthday, your anniversary party,

in your

We cater any event, kitchen or our kitchen

Call us 0126 937 0461

Annam Gourmet Market 16-18 Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3822 9332 41A Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 2630 SB2-1 My Khanh 4, Nguyen Duc Canh, D7 Tel: 5412 3263 / 64 Boutique grocer with wide selection of foreign foods; Annam-brand coffee, tea and spices; and household products. Wine and premium beer, full deli counter, produce, dairy-frozen and baked goods on second floor. Classic Fine Foods 17 Street 12, D2, Tel: 3740 7105 Luxury food primarily imports for wholesale, but also takes orders for its range of dry goods, cheese, meat, poultry and seafood from private clients. Kim Hai Butchery 73 Le Thi Hong Gam, D1 Tel: 3821 6057 or 3914 4376 Excellent chilled imported beef, lamb, veal and other meats sold at reasonable prices. Metro An Phu, D2 Tel: 3740 6677 Warehouse wholesaler located just off the Hanoi Highway in D2 between the Saigon Bridge and the tollbooths. Sells bulk food, fresh fruit and vegetables and meat, as well as paper products, cleaning supplies, housewares--basically everything. Veggy’s 29A Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3823 8526 Sky Garden Pham Van Nghi, Bac Khu Pho, D7 Riverside Apartments 53 Vo Truong Toan, Thao Dien, D2 Popular expat market with a huge walk-in fridge area stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy products and a range of meats. Imported canned and

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music, performances, installations and discussion. Submissions accepted.


Galaxy Cinema 116 Nguyen Du, D1 Tel: 3822 8533 230 Nguyen Trai, D1 Tel: 3920 6688 Large, modern cinema that shows the latest foreign releases in English (with Vietnamese subtitles).


IDECAF 31 Thai Van Lung, D1 Tel: 3829 5451 French cultural centre and cinema theatre. Showcases French movies with English and Vietnamese subtitles. Also hosts movies and documentaries from a number of overseas film festivals.


AngelsBrush by Vin Tel: 0983377710 Oil painting course gives learners the opportunity to work from the different objects; explore different mediums, materials and techniques; and interpret line, tone and colour. Instructor works with students on individual basis.

Lotte Cinema Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3822 7897 LotteMart, 469 Nguyen Huu Tho, D7 Tel: 3775 2520 Modern cinema with four-way sound system. D7 location houses luxury theatre Charlotte with 32 seats and eight sofas.

Helen Kling Oil Painting 189/C1 Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 0903 955 780 Helene is a French painter who teaches beginners (children and adults) various techniques and the art of working with different mediums. She is also a fantastic tool for advanced artists who are looking to increase their creativity. Both day and night courses are available. Helene has a permanent exhibition at FLOW, located 88 Ho Tung Mau, D1.

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

Printmaking Classes are held at Alpha Gallery taught by the gallery owner Bernadette Gruber, who offers the chance to learn monotype, intaglio and etching techniques.


Bobby Brewer’s Movie Lounge 45 Bui Vien, D1 Tel: 3610 2220 86 Pham Ngoc Thach Popular top-floor home cinema showing movies five times a day on a large screen. Email for the latest schedule. Cinebox 212 Ly Chinh Thang, D3 Tel: 3935 0610 240 3 Thang 2, D10 Tel: 3862 2425 Cinebox cinemas show both original language films with Vietnamese subtitles and the dubbed versions. Future Shorts Vietnam branch of the international network screens foreign and local short films around town. Events often incorporate other media and elements, including live

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


a little blah blah OUT-2 STUDIO, L6 FAFILM Annex 6 Thai Van Lung, D1 Operates as an engine for contemporary art by organizing projects, exhibitions, screenings and talks. Runs one major art project each year and a reading room with more than 1,000 texts on art, design and creative culture. Free for everyone and open Tue to Sat 10 am to 6 pm. Blue Space Contemporary Arts Center 97A Pho Duc Chinh, D1 Tel: 3821 3695 Busy, working gallery with easels propped up outside situated in the grounds of the beautiful Fine Arts Museum. Holds regular exhibitions by local artists. Duc Minh Gallery 31C Le Quy Don, D3 Tel: 3933 0498

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

56 asialife HCMC

Thank you! Our generous ZEROawards supporters are helping us get closer to ZERO preventable child deaths in Viet Nam with $440,000 USD raised!

Platinum Philanthropists

Media Partners

Ha Phuong Foundation Philanthropists

Media Supporters

Creative Partners



In Kind Supporters Minh Long Marou Chocolate L’usine Neil Massey Forwood Design Bui Huu Hung Pham Luc Ha Huynh My

Manchester United Lie Sang Bong Nguyen Thuy Dung Phuong Vy Ha Phuong Phuong My Chi Quang Le Thai Chau

Phuong Anh Huong Lan Thuy Minh Nguyen Hoang Dung Xuan Bac Nguyen Nhat Anh Daniel Hayden

Special thanks to UNICEF Corporate Advisory Board members, NextGen Viet Nam volunteers, and all cash donors.

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sports & leisure By Phil Kelly

fitness New Year, New You Every year the number-one new year’s resolution is to lose weight. It also is the number one failed resolution. If you too are one of the many who have decided to shed some weight in the new year, here are some tips that may help: Set goals, and make them realistic and measureable. How many kilos do you want to lose and by when? Make sure you set short-term goals as well. If you need to lose 10kg, then say you want to lose half that by a certain date. When you reach that goal then readjust to lose the remaining 5kg. Once you set your goals, write them out and post them on a wall, or do anything that will be a constant reminder of what you want to achieve. Make a plan to meet your goals. This is the step that many people fail to do — they set a goal but have no idea how to achieve it. Weight loss is not always about calorie in vs calorie out, and you need to know the little daily steps that will accomplish your overall goal. For example, many people have no idea what they will eat in the immediate future. You should plan, shop for, and prep all your meals in advance. It is difficult, but once you get into the swing of things it is easy, and saves you money and time. Establish rewards and punishments based on your goals. If you achieve your 58 asialife HCMC

goal then reward yourself with something enjoyable or that you want. This reward could be anything — a weekend excursion, a shopping trip — anything except food. But also be ready to punish yourself. If you fail then what are the consequences? Maybe you shouldn’t go on that holiday you wanted or not buy a new set of clothes. You need something to punish yourself if you fail. Make one healthy change per week. Losing weight and keeping weight off is about modifying our behaviour and your habits. We need to stop doing what is wrong and do what is healthier, be it exercise or nutrition. It is well known that trying to change everything at one time usually leads to failure. Pick one bad habit per week and substitute it for a new healthy habit. Get support. We all need support in our weight loss and health routines. Tell someone your goals and ask him to hold you accountable and help you through the tough times. If we invest in ourselves and publicly declare our attempts, we are more likely to follow through. Phil is a health practitioner and expert in body transformation. His services are available at Star Fitness (, online or at your home. Contact him though

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,

DANCING DanCenter 53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Thao Dien, District 2 Tel: 3840 6974 Purpose built studio with foreign trained dance instructors. Classes in jazz, ballet, tap, hip hop, yoga, zumba, belly, hula, capoiera and more. Kids can start from 4+ and adults of all ages and levels are welcome. Schedule and news on events available on-line. Salsa Dancing at La Habana 6 Cao Ba Quat, D1 Six-week salsa package at 350,000 VND for single persons and 550,000 for a couple, run by Urko. Lessons every Tuesday (beginners L.A. style at 7.30 pm; intermediate L.A style at 8.30 pm). Registration required.


AIS Sports Centre 36 Thao Dien, An Phu, D2 Tel: 3744 6960, ext 126 Features six-lane, 25-metre pool, basketball and netball courts, astroturf hockey/football area and outdoor gym equipment. Available for party hire, with BBQ included on request. Membership packages available. Kids swim club and adult masters programmes. Rainbow Divers offers scuba diving courses for

children and adults. Free morning yoga. California WOW Xperience Parkson Plaza, 126 Hung Vuong, D5 28/30-32 Le Loi, D1 Tel: 6291 5999 The world’s biggest fitness centre chain is one of Saigon’s most modern places to get your sweat on. Located in Hung Vuong Plaza, CWX offers a huge workout area and all kinds of classes including spinning, KickFit, yoga and more. Caravelle Club Spa 19 Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 3823 4999 Modern and stylish gym with lots of cardiovascular machines and free weights. The swimming pool is a great place for a dip, and the massage parlour, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi are there for winding down. Equinox Fitness & Leisure Centre Equatorial Hotel, 242 Tran Binh Trong, D5 Tel: 3839 7777 Decent-sized 3rd-floor gym with modern cardio and weights machines, sauna, steambath, jacuzzi, and large 4th floor pool great for swimming laps. Hollywood Fitness World H3 Building, 384 Hoang Dieu, D4 Tel: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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. Sofitel Saigon Plaza Fitness Centre 17 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3824 1555 Small but well-equipped gym with helpful staff and quality equipment. Also runs a number of fitness classes including yoga. Park Hyatt Fitness Centre 2 Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 3824 1234 Luxury health centre with the full range of facilities including swimming pool, steam room, jacuzzi and fitness centre. Renaissance Hotel Health Club

8-15 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3822 0033 Stylish health club with gym, swimming pool, steam room, massage parlour, pool-side bar and an outstanding view of the city. Saigon Fitness Club New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, D1 Tel: 3822 8888 The modern Nautilus-equipped gym is staffed by highly-qualified instructors to cater for your fitness needs. Features a swimming pool, floodlit tennis court, golf driving range, jogging track, sauna, and massage rooms. Saigon Yoga Tel: 090 835 2265 A yoga centre with highly qualified instructors offering hot yoga, Hatha Flow, restorative yoga, kids’ yoga, pre and postnatal yoga and injury rehabilitation. Also does corporate team building and yoga teacher training as well as organising yoga retreats.


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: 063 3821 101 The most beautiful course in Vietnam, combining the crisp mountain air with an environment of stately pine trees. Overlooking Xuan Huong lake, the 7,009yard course is an enjoyable challenge for golfers of all levels. Dong Nai Golf Resort Trang Bom Town, Trang Bom Tel: 061 3866 288 / 3677 590 Large golf resort with 27 holes, plus a villa complex, bar, sauna. jacuzzi and billiards. The resort sits on 160 hectares of land in Dong Nai Province, about 50 kilometres from the city. Ocean Dunes Golf Club 1 Ton Duc Thang, Phan Thiet Tel: 062 3821 995 Designed by Nick Faldo, the 6,746-yard par-72 course winds through seaside dunes, with the variable coastal breezes changing its character each day. An enjoyable and eminently playable course and has become a favourite venue for expatriate tournaments.

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. Saigon International Dart League A highly popular group in town, the darts club runs a competitive year-long league for 16 pub-based teams. There are some excellent players in this sociable and international group. See website for details of how to join and latest 180 scores. Saigon Pony Club Lane 42, Le Van Thinh, D2 Tel: 0913 733 360 A standout facility offering pony rides, riding lessons, horse clinics and pony rentals. Also hosts events and birthdays.

Ultimate Frisbee RMIT, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, D7 Join in this exciting popular sport every Sunday afternoon from 3pm to 5pm in Saigon South. Pan-Asian competitions also organised for the more experienced. Contact David Jensen at 0909458890 X-Rock Climbing Phan Dinh Phung Sport Centre 75 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D3 Tel: 6278 5794 503A Nguyen Duy Trinh, D2 Tel: 2210 9192 Offering safe and professional climbing for anyone aged 4 and up. Featuring mountain climbing routes rated from beginner to advanced, climbing and belay-safety courses and training, birthday parties, corporate team building. Excellent facilities for children and annual membership for kids.

Saigon South Golf Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phu, D7 Tel: 5411 2001 Nine-hole mini golf course and driving range set amongst attractive gardens just behind FV Hospital. Club, shoe and umbrella hire is also available. SaigonSports Academy League Tel: 093 215 3502 12-week, 5 a side community football league with Adult, U18, U14, U10 and U7 divisions. Matches held at Thao Dan Stadium in District 1. Corporate, local and expat teams compete in adult division with cash prize for champions. Song Be Golf Resort 77 Binh Duong Blvd, Thuan An Tel: 0650 3756 660 Located 22 kilometres from the city centre, the premier golf course in the area features an 18-hole, 6,384-metre course. Also has tennis courts, a swimming pool, and a gymnasium. Vietnam Golf and Country Club Long Thanh My Village, D9 This facility consists of two courses of 18 holes each, one of which is designed in a more traditional Asian style, and the other in international style. Has other attractions such as boating, tennis and a restaurant area.


+84 8 3742 4040 | asialife HCMC 59


health & beauty


American Chiropractic Clinic 161 Hai Ba Trung, D3 Tel: 3939 3930 A chiropractic, physiotherapy, foot care clinic staffed by American-trained chiropractors speaking French, English, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. Treats back pain, neck pain, knee pain, also specializing in sports injuries, manufacture of medical grade foot orthotics. Institute of Traditional Medicine 273-275 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Dr. Le Hung is the man to see at this

well-established traditional hospital & training centre. He speaks good English and provides excellent treatments in a clean environment


European Dental Clinic 17 - 17A Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, D2

Tel: 0918 749 204/08 3744 9744 Expat English and French-speaking dentist. Performs full range of dental treatment including whitening, aesthetic fillings, porcelain crowns, full ceramics, veneer and orthodontic treatment. 24hour emergency line: 0909 551 916 or 0916 352940. Starlight Dental Clinic Dr. Philippe Guettier & International Team of Dentists 2Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, D1 Tel: 3822 6222 With 14 years’ experience providing dental treatment to expat and Vietnamese patients, this well-known dental surgery is staffed by both foreign & local practitioners. Au fait with the latest treatments and techniques, the surgery prides themselves on their high standard of equipment & sterilization.


Centre Medical International (CMI) 1 Han Thuyen, D1 Tel: 3827 2366 Located downtown next to the cathedral, the centre provides a high standard of medical care from qualified French and Vietnamese physicians. Its range of services include general and tropical medicine, cardiology, gynaecology, osteopathy, pediatrics, psychiatry, speech therapy and traditional Eastern medicine. Family Medical Practice HCMC Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3822 7848 95 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 2000 Leading international primary healthcare provider, with a 24-hour state-of-the-art medical centre and highly-qualified multilingual foreign doctors. Extensive experience in worldwide medical evacuations with car and air ambulance on standby. Also in Hanoi and Danang. HANH PHUC International Hospital Binh Duong boulevard,

Thuan An, Binh Duong. Tel: 0650 3636068 The 1st Singapore Standard Hospital in Vietnam. 260 –bedder, provide a comprehensive range of quality healthcare services: Obstertrics, Gynaecology, Paediatrics, Immunization, IVF, Health checkup, Parentcraft, Woman Cancer, Cosmetic Surgery… Just 20- minute driving from HCMC. HANH PHUC International Hospital Clinic 97 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1. Tel: 3925 9797 The 1st Singapore Standard Hospital in Vietnam. The clinic is located at the center of Dist. 1, provides a comprehensive range of services specializing in Obstertrics, Gynaecology, Peadiatrics, Immunization, General Practice and Emergency. Open hours: Weekdays: 8am to 5pm; Saturday: 8am to 12pm. International SOS 167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D3 Tel: 3829 8424 Globally-renowned provider of medical assistance and international healthcare. Specializes in offering medical transport and evacuation both within and outside of Vietnam for urgent medical cases. Foreign and Vietnamese dentists. Has multilingual staff. Victoria Healthcare 135A Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan

Tel: 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.

SKINCARE The Body Shop 87 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Tel: 3823 3683 31 Nguyen Trai, D1 Tel: 3926 0336 International cosmetics retailer with strong commitment to environment sources natural ingredients from small communities for its line of more than 600 products.

Belli Blossom 4F-04 (4th Floor) Crescent Mall, Nguyen Van Linh Parkway, Phu My Hung, D7 Tel: 5413 7574 12 Mac Dinh Chi, D1 Tel: 3822 6615 Belli Blossom catering to moms and babies with imported brands of maternity and nursing wear and accessories, infant clothes, baby bottles and feeding products, strollers, high chairs, slings, baby carriers, diaper bags, and many others. Brands available include: Mam, Mamaway, Quinny, Maclaren, Debon, Luvable Friends, Gingersnaps.


family ACTIVITIES DanCenter 53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Thao Dien, D 2 Tel: 3840 6974 Children and teenagers from age 4+ can enjoy jazz, ballet, tap, hip hop, acro dance and break dance classes at this professionally run, newly built dance studio. Schedule and news on events available on-line. Helene Kling Painting Offers classes in oil painting to both children and adults for 150,000 VND and 300,000 VND respectively. Classes are paced to suit each student. Briar Jacques Cel: 0122 480 8792 Helping families, individuals, couples, children and teens. Caring and confidential counselling to address issues such as expat adjustment, depression, anxiety and substance abuse. We take a holistic approach to enhance wellbeing on mental, emotional and physical levels. Saigon Pony Club Lane 42, Le Van Thinh, D2 Tel: 0913 733 360 Close to X-rock climbing centre, kids from three and upwards can ride one of the stable’s 16 ponies. Lessons with foriegn teachers last 45 minutes and cost 350,000 VND for kids from age six. Tae Kwondo BP Compound, 720 Thao Dien, D2 and Riverside Villa Compound, Vo Truong Toan, D2 Private and group classes are run after school three times a week by the friendly Mr. Phuc. Anyone over the age of five is welcome to join in the course, which costs USD $50 for 12 classes/month with a $25 fee for non-members. Contact Mr. Phuc directly on 0903 918 149.


Maman Bebe Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3825 8724 Stocks an assortment of modern strollers and car seats. Also sells various utensils and practical baby products. Small selection of clothing for ages newborn to 14 years. Me & Be 230 Vo Thi Sau, D3 40 Ton That Tung, D1 141D Phan Dang Luu, Phu Nhuan 246 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D3 101-103 Khanh Hoi, D4 287A Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan The closest thing to Mothercare the city has to offer. Stocks a substantial range of apparel for babies including bottles and sterilizers, cots (including travel cots), clothing, toys, safety equipment and more, all at reasonable prices. Me Oi 1B Ton That Tung, D1 A small shop adjacent to the maternity hospital bursting at the seams with everything you need for your baby. Clothing, footwear, bottles, nappies, nappy bags and toys all at reasonable prices.

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

+84 8 3742 4040 |


German International School 730F-G-K Le Van Mien, Thao Dien Tel: 7300 7257 The German International School offers an English language curriculum based on the internationally recognized Primary Program (PYP), Middle Years Program (MYP) and IB Diploma Program of the International Baccalaureate (IB) System. The mission of the school is to educate global citizens in a multilingual und multicultural learning environment in the setting of an educational village that focuses on international as well regional students

The Australian International School Xi Campus (Kindergarten) 190 Nguyen Van Huong, D2 Tel: 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: 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).

International School HCMC 28 Vo Truong Toan, D2 Tel: 3898 9100 One of 136 schools around the world to be accredited as an IB World School. Offers all three of the IB programmes from primary through to grade 12. The school is fully accredited by CIS and NEASC and has a strong focus on community spirit and fosters an awareness of other languages and cultures.

ABC International School 2,1E Street, KDC Trung Son, Binh Hung, Binh Chanh Tel: 5431 1833 UK standards-based curriculum awards diploma with IGCSE’s & A Levels certified by Cambridge Universit examinations board. From playgroup to pre-university matriculation. Served by 80+ British teachers. Good facilities and extra-curricular activities.

British International School Primary Campus 43 - 45 Tu Xuong, D3 225 Nguyen Van Huong, D2 Secondary Campus 246 Nguyen Van Huong, D2 Tel: 3744 2335 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 ERC 86-88-92 Huynh Van Banh, Phu Nhuan Tel: 6292 9288 ERC Vietnam is a member of ERCI Singapore. Founded by a group of successful business leaders around Asia Pacific. Our primary objective is to groom and mentor a new generation of business leaders in Vietnam equipped with skills to analyze and solve real-world business challenges of today.

KinderStar Kindergarten 08 Dang Dai Do, Phu My Hung, D7 Tel: 5411 8118/9 Offering bilingual preschool program with capacity up to 900 students with the most updated international standard. Montessori International School International Program 42/1 Ngo Quang Huy, D2 Tel: 3744 2639 Bilingual Program 28 Street 19, KP 5, An Phu, D2 Tel: 6281 7675 Montessori utilizes an internationally recognized educational method which focuses on fostering the child’s natural desire to learn. The aim is to create an encouraging environment conducive to learning by developing a sense of self and individuality. A wide array of curriculum/ extra-curricular activities are on offer including Bilingual programs.

Renaissance International School 74 Nguyen Thi Thap, D7 Tel: 3773 3171 IB World school, one of Vietnam’s international schools operating within the framework of the British system. RISS provide a high quality English medium education in a stimulating, challenging and supportive environment. The purpose built, modern campus has excellent facilities. RMIT 702 Nguyen Van Linh, D7 Tel: 3776 1369

By Gemma Mullen

KIDS CORNER Who's the Boss? So, your child is scared of the vacuum cleaner. Does that mean you only get it out when she is not around? This is a genuine situation that I have encountered, and it begs the question: Who is the boss? I come across so many parents who are frustrated by little ones who rule the roost, but can’t see that it is their parenting that allows this to happen. Many children demand things and speak to their parents as though they are in charge. While giving children choices is great for their independence, they should also never forget who the adult is. A good parent-child relationship is one in which the parent explains why children cannot do or have certain things, rather than cave in every time the little one wants something. It is incredible what some people will do for a hassle-free life — I’ve seen parents who are almost afraid of their children — but it is very beneficial for both parent and child if you set boundaries and rules. Allowing your child to do as they please and never using the magic word “no” can lead to children becoming confused, bossy and aggressive. Even worse, it can eventually lead to parents resenting their children. It is important to be firm and even matter-of-fact with your children when telling them no, and be sure to explain that unaccept62 asialife HCMC

able behaviour does have consequences. Of course, be sure to demonstrate good self-control yourself — if you throw a wobbly when things don’t go your way, what do you think your little one will do? Setting clear limits and rules early on will benefit everyone. Most importantly, stick to those rules. If your child isn’t allowed to do something one day, but the next day he is, he will just become confused, frustrated and more likely to test your limits again. Always remember to be a good role model, because children learn from watching their parents. When children throw tantrums after not getting their own way, it is tempting to give them whatever they want so they will stop wearing you down. This is the worst thing you can possibly do, and I see it all the time. Giving in only encourages more tantrums. Instead, try giving praise and positive feedback only for good behaviour. Don’t get me wrong, you must have fun with your children, play with them and be a clown sometimes. But also make it clear who is in charge. Gemma Mullen has been working in child care for more than 10 years. She holds an NNEB diploma in nursery nursing and is currently a creative writing teacher at Zaman International School in Phnom Penh.

Australian university located in District 7, offers a highly regarded MBA and undergraduate courses in various fields. SmartKids 1172 Thao Dien Compound, D2 Tel: 3744 6076 26 Street 10, D2 Tel: 3898 9816 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 Star International School Residential Area No. 5, Thanh My Loi Ward, D2 Tel: 3742 STAR Fax: 3742 3222 Offers a British primary curriculum approved by Cambridge University and integrated Montessori programme for nursery and kindergarten. Qualified, experienced teachers and small class sizes cater to individual needs and abilities. Saigon South International School Nguyen Van Linh Parkway, D7 Tel: 5413 0901 An International school environment offering an American/international program in a large, spacious campus, to children from age 3 to grade 12. Great facilities, extra-curricular activities and internationally trained teachers giving unique opportunities to learn. Singapore International School (SIS) No.29, Road No.3, Trung Son Residential Area, Hamlet 4, Binh Hung Ward, Binh Chanh District Tel: 5431 7477 The Manor, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh. Tel: 3514 3036 Students play and learn in an environment where the best of Western and Eastern cultures amalgamate to prepare KinderWorld’s students for today’s challenging world drawn from both the Singapore and Australian curriculum. The school offers International Certifications such as the iPSLE, IGCSE and GAC.


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


Beatrice’s Party Shop 235 Le Thanh Ton, D1 A lovely little shop selling everything you need to throw your little ones a good party. A catalogue of entertainers showcases a number of party favourites such as magicians, circuses and more. Nguyen Ngoc Diem Phuong 131C Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 A curious shop stocking a range of handmade fancy dress costumes such as masks, superman outfits and much more. The stock changes seasonally, so this is a good place to stock up on Halloween, Christmas and other holiday-specific party costumes. 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.



11 Le Cong Kieu, D1 An authorized service centre for Nikon camera that also specializes in repairing all camera makes. Measurement equipment and spare parts also available. Shop 46 46 Nguyen Hue, D1 Small shop run by photographer and collector. The owner’s more collectible pieces are pricey, but entry-level manual focus SLRs from the 70s and 80s are affordable.


Computer Street Luong Huu Khanh, D1 between Nguyen Thi Minh Khai and Nguyen Trai This stretch of District 1 is literally wall to wall with small shops selling computers, printers, monitors and everything computer related, more so toward the NTMK end of the drag.

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

iCenter 142A Vo Thi Sau, D3 Tel: 3820 3918 Professional, polished Apple retailer and repair centre with an attractive showroom featuring some of the latest in accessories and audio. English-speakers on staff. Honours Apple service plans.

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

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


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

Future World 240 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D3 Authorized reseller of Apple computers and products, as well as some off-brand items like headphones. Excellent service and English-speaking staff. Accepts credit cards. Phong Vu Computer 264C Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 Tel: 3933 0762 The biggest and busiest of the PC stores in town. Known for good, efficient service, in-house maintenance and aftersales repair on the second floor. SYS Vi Tinh Saigon 96C Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D1 A superb place with an excellent reputation for after-sales service with competent English speaking staff and a wide range of products and services. Freeware and shareware also available on the store website.


Concetti 33 Dinh Tien Hoang, D1 Tel: 3911 1480 Consulting and research company for technology transfer and investment. Embers Asia Ltd. 4th floor, 04 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D1 Tel: 3822 4728 As the first team building provider established in Vietnam, Embers specializes in making teams better in globally competitive markets. Embers' HR performance management services include: team building excursions, strategic planning retreats, conference facilitations and training workshops. Ernst & Young Saigon Riverside Office Center, 2A-4A Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3824 5252 Professional service firm specializing in advisory, assurance, tax, transactions and strategic growth markets. Grant Thornton Saigon Trade Centre, 37 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3910 9100 International business advisors specializing in auditing, management consulting, corporate finance, risk management and information technology. IF Consulting IBC Building, 3rd Floor

By Greg Ohan

Neighbourhood Watch To Buy or Not to Buy Here’s a fact for you: According to the Ministry of Construction, only about 100 out of 80,000 expats and organisations living and working in Vietnam have purchased apartments. Did you expect that number to be higher? I certainly did. In fact, even this number was driven up by a five-year pilot program allowing foreign individuals to buy accommodations in Vietnam. And guess what — the pilot program just ended at the end of last year. For a while now, opening the gates of the local property market even wider to foreigners has been on the cards, and it appears we are getting much closer. But property prices remain high in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi despite the slump. A villa in Hanoi, for instance, costs $1 million, much higher than in a city like Paris where it may cost a few hundred thousand dollars. So will any change to the restrictions on buying property in Vietnam really affect foreigners living and working in Vietnam, and, more importantly, Vietnam’s property sector itself? Well, yes and no. The good news is the Ministry of Construction has proposed that all foreigners who have a visa to enter Vietnam for more than three months should be allowed to buy houses. The proposal also contains options regarding duration of ownership and re-

moval of a number of property restrictions that would make ownership less complicated. The new law being reviewed will feature a number of improvements that apparently should lift some of the cumbersome limitations foreigners and foreign companies face when it comes to buying property in Vietnam. Under current law, foreigners who are allowed to buy houses have numerous restrictions and very complicated procedures with the local government. The law also stipulates that a foreign individual can buy only one apartment as a primary residence, not for financial investment or other purposes. In addition, he must pay tax in Vietnam and cannot sublease the property. Obviously, removing the restrictions on foreign ownership of property is great news but is certainly not the “be all and end all” to the underlying problem of our real estate sector. The amended law, if approved, would help attract more foreign cash to Vietnam and improve conditions for expats living and working here. But ultimately foreigners are only a logical extension to a maturing market, not a quick fix. Greg Ohan is the national director of CBRE, a Fortune 500 real estate services provider. Email your questions to greg. or visit asialife HCMC HCMC 63 asialife 63

By Elizabeth Png

HOME IMPROVEMENT Sweeten Your Tet When hosting visitors this Tet, be sure to put out a traditional Chinese candy box. This traditional gift of sweets is a round box that contains six or eight types of preserved dried fruits with sugar, chocolate coins, seeds and other goodies. The sweets all come in different containers which can be put together to form the circumference, with one more type of sweet being placed in the centre. The round shape, combined with the six or eight candies — auspicious numbers in Chinese culture — is meant to symbolise good luck for a new year. Each compartment has a special meaning. Thus, the candy you choose sends a special message to the recipient. A typical box usually has the following: Chocolate gold coins: These chocolates are wrapped in gold foil and symbolise good fortune and prosperity for the coming year. The coins typically have designs with the zodiac animal of that year imprinted on them. Lotus seeds: Lotus flowers are a symbol of purity and divine birth due to the delicate flower’s ability to grow from mud. Having its seeds in the candy box represents wishing its recipient luck and a fresh start in the new year. Its presence is especially important to Buddhists, as the lotus is a significant flower within the religion. Dried lotus roots: Similar to the seeds, lotus roots also symbolise luck, although its meaning is altered slightly to encourage marital harmony. They’re also 64 asialife HCMC

a healthy snack, being high in vitamins and minerals. Dried candied kumquat: The kumquat, a type of sweet orange, is especially popular during Tet. The fruit symbolises wealth, unity and perfection. Although it’s sweet enough eaten on its own, it is also often found dried and candied in a Chinese candy box. Dried candied pineapples: Pineapples are meant to convey congratulations or acknowledgement of success, and wishes recipients wealth, success and luck. Water chestnuts: Water chestnuts symbolise unity and congratulations for a great achievement. They are high in fibre and potassium, and have a natural, subtle sweetness, making them a healthy item in a candy box. Other candies: Dried, candied ginger and coconut are also common, along with melon seeds, peanuts and cracked sesame balls. Mix and match to send customised messages and blessings to your visitors. And if you’re worried about storage space for all these sweets, especially during the hectic festive period, the Electrolux FlexFresh fridge not only offers versatile storage options, but also keeps food fresher for longer. Elizabeth Png is the brand and consumer communications director for Electrolux Vietnam. She can be contacted at elizabeth.png-reade@electrolux. com.

1A Me Linh Square, D1 4th Floor, 5 Ba Trieu Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi Tel: 3827 7362 Fax: 3827 7361 Email: Private insurance and finance.

Stock up on shower heads, kitchen supplies (juicer, spatula, grater, etc.), coat racks, clothes hangers, pots, pans, champagne flutes, bowls, coolers, trash bins, ironing boards, magazine racks and the like.

Indochine Councel Han Nam Building, 65 Nguyen Du, D1 Tel: 3823 9640 Business law firm specializing in legal services to corporate clients in relation to their business and investment in Vietnam.

Chau Loan 213 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3825 7991 Gallery based in a colonial shophouse stocking mainly Vietnamese-themed oil paintings and images of Buddha. Also deals in better-known reproductions.

Inspired Image 42/2A Ho Hao Hon, D1 Tel: 091 635 2573 Image consultant and personal stylist. Previous clients include business leaders, TV presenters and busy professionals. International Management Initiative for Vietnam (IMIV) The International Management Initiative for Vietnam (IMIV), a non-profit initiative within VinaCapital Foundation that promotes excellence in business leadership and management by bringing to Vietnam proven international executive education and professional development programmes. Phuong Nguyen Consulting TPC Business Center, 92-96 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 3829 2391 Specializing in business facilitation, conferences, education counselling, market-entry research and IT/business consulting. TMF Vietnam Company Limited Unit 501, 5th Floor, Saigon Trade Center 37 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3910 2262 ext. 113 Fax: 3910 0590 With headquarters in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, TMF Vietnam specializes in accounting outsourcing and consulting. Total Wealth Management 66/11 Pham Ngoc Thach, D3 Tel: 3820 0623 Specialists in selecting and arranging tax-efficient savings and pension plans for expatriates. Offers councel on private banking services, wealth protection in offshore jurisdictions, currency risks and hedging strategies. Towers Watson Vietnam (formerly Watson Wyatt and SMART HR) Sun Wah Tower, 115 Nguyen Hue, Suite 808, D1 Tel: 3821 9488 Global HR consulting firm specializing in executive compensation, talent management, employee rewards and surveys, HR effectiveness and technology, data services and total rewards surveys.


Antique Street Le Cong Kieu Street, D1 between Nguyen Thai Binh and Pho Duc Chinh A variety of antiques and faux antiques from Thailand, China and Vietnam including silverware, compasses, lighters, brass knockers, urns, vases, abacuses, religious and pagan statues, candlestick holders, furniture and watches.

Decosy 112 Xuan Thuy, D2 Tel: 6281 9917 Producer of a large selection of European styled furniture and interior fittings, specializing in wrought iron and patine (distressed) wood finishes. Also stocks a wide-range of decorative accessories, crockery and fixtures. Custom design services available upon request. Dogma 175 De Tham, D1 Tel: 3836 0488 Located upstairs from Saigon Kitsch, this art gallery deals in Vietnamese propaganda posters, apparel, accessories and random paraphernalia. Large prints are sold at USD $60 each and small prints cost $25. Minh Boutique 15 Nguyen Thiep, D1 Lacquerware pieces, tea boxes, teapot warmers, ice buckets and sake drinking sets all handmade in Vietnam. Also sells a range of silverware, egg holders and ice tongs. OUT-2 STUDIO L6 Fafilm annex 6 Thai Van Lung, D1 Tel: 3825 6056 Studio space for independent designers to showcas their wares, sell their work and meet with clients. Open Monday t Saturday 10 am to 6 pm. Phuong Mai 213C Dong Khoi Gallery specializing in original oils by Vietnamese artists. The works here are a mish-mash of styles but do contain some standouts, particularly well-known local artists La Hon, Quy Tam and Pham Trinh. Sapa 125 Ho Tung Mau, D1 Offers a better selection of hill tribe handicrafts than most of its rivals. Concentrates mainly on the hand-woven clothing of the indigenous tribespeople of the region. There is also a line in ladies’ shoes and the standard range of silk wraps and bags. Unity 12 Dang Tran Con, D1 Tel: 3823 9375 Located opposite Galaxy cinema, Unity offers accessories that are designed to seamlessly blend in with your life. Familiar basics are given a contemporary update with the use of modern, alternative materials like silicone, rubber, and brushed aluminum. From orbital lamps and eggshell-white china, to wire-clasped water bottles, each individual piece complements the others in the collection to give your home a sense of Unity.


Aquarium Street Nguyen Thong Street, D3 between Vo Thi Sau and Ly Chinh Thang Dedicated street has everything one needs to display fish: tanks, decor, feed, filters and the fish themselves.

Hi End Audio 84 Ho Tung Mau, D1 A standout that stocks the very latest and greatest in home entertainment. Retails in everything from giant plasmascreen TVs to audio equipment. Most top brands are available.

Budget Housewares Street Corner of Pasteur and Nguyen Dinh Chieu

iDEAS Shopping Centre 133-141AB Cach Mang Thang Tam, D3 The largest of the electonics stores

along the street, the three-storey iDEAS sells every type of electronic and home appliance imaginable. Offers proper warranties. Staff speaks some English. Nguyen Kim Shopping Centre 63-65 Tran Hung Dao, D1 Tel: 3821 1211 Stocks DVD/CD players, cameras, TVs, hi-fis and more from Sony, Sanyo, Panasonic, Philips and other major manufacturers. Also a good place to pick up electronic kitchen supplies like coffee makers and rice cookers, as well as large and small appliances, from hot water heaters to regrigerators. Phong Vu 125 Cach Mang Thang Tam, D1 Tel: 6290 8777 Two-storey electronics store retails in international products conveniently grouped by brand. Carries computers, home audio, printers, hard drives and more, as well as a variety of mobile phones, handheld electronic devices and accessories. Savico 117 Ho Tung Mau, D1 Tel: 3821 7993 One-stop electronics and home appliance superstore. All products have a one to three-year warranty. Tech Street Huynh Thuc Khang Street between Ton That Dam and Nguyen Hue, D1 Sells compact discs, DVDs, electronic money counters, video games and systems, Discmans, mp3 players and portable DVD players.


Appeal 41 Ton That Thiep, D1 Tel: 3821 5258 A small, upscale shop that offers modern accents for the sleek dining room. The colours of the over-sized vases and fruit bowls are either glistening red or lacquered black. AustinHome 20 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3519 0023 Outstanding quality and style for your home. The shop says its products are hand-picked by an American furniture expert from the best factories in Vietnam. Upholstery, accessories, antiques and more. Catherine Denoual 15C Thi Sach, D1 Tel: 3823 9394 Beautiful showroom with clean lines and a sumptuous array of bedroom products including bedside lamps, linens, pillowcases and duvet covers.

Decosy 112 Xuan Thuy, D2 Tel: 6281 9917 Producer of a large selection of European

styled furniture and interior fittings, specializing in wrought iron and patine (distressed) wood finishes. Also stocks a wide-range of decorative accessories, crockery and fixtures. Custom design services available upon request. Esthetic 11 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: 3514 7371/7372 Fax: 3514 7370 Design and manufacture as order with a mixture of antique and modern furniture. Friendly staff speak excellent English. Furniture Outlet 3A Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 2243 7955/3911 0104 Wide selection of well-crafted and carefully constructed pine wood pieces at good prices, aimed at customers craving a taste of Europe. Furniture Street Ngo Gia Tu, D10 between Ly Thai To and Nguyen Chi Thanh Very affordable furniture can be found on this stretch: couches, mattresses, desks, chairs, etc. It often takes some looking to find a gem. A connected sidestreet, Ba Hat, features woodworkers’ shops. Gaya 1 Nguyen Van Trang, D1 Tel: 3925 1495 Four-floor store featuring the work of foreign designers: home accessories and outdoor furniture by Lawson Johnston, linens by Corinne Leveilley-Dadda, furniture and lighting by Quasar Khanh, laquerware decor by Michele De Albert and furniture and decor by vivekkevin.


37 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 6281 9863 Furniture shop that focuses on solid wood furniture and decorative items ranging from pillows and lamps to bedding. Also offers kids’ furniture and custom pieces.


Allens Arthur Robinson Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3822 1717 Australian law firm for law translation services and legal advice on foreign investment and business in Vietnam. Baker & McKenzie Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3829 5585 International law firm providing on-theground liaison and support services to clients interested in investigating, negotiating and implementing projects in Vietnam.

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Frasers International Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, D1 Tel: 3824 2733 Full service commercial law firm providing international and Vietnamese legal advice to both foreign and local clients specializing in transactions in Vietnam.

By Gary Woolacott

People matter Don't Drift This month I’m going to revisit one of my pet topics: sticking with a task until it’s completed. Many people drift through life without giving a thought to where their career is taking them or, perhaps, whether they should start a family. Things just happen, and these people react and continue to drift. On the other hand, there are determined individuals who plan what they want, sow the seeds of their success, and then work hard to get it. Are you a drifter, or are you a planner? The easy way is to just go with the flow. How many times have you heard “up to you” when you ask a question, even if it’s as simple as inquiring about where to eat dinner? Someone with no opinions is unlikely to go far in this difficult world. They drift along with the mass of people, playing games on phones, consuming other peoples’ output, and simply not contributing. If you want to achieve something meaningful, do you have the guts to go out and get it? A year ago I began planning to run a marathon. I’m happy to say I recently completed one. It was as much mental training as physical, although it ranks as one of the most physically strenuous things I have ever done. Knowing I was going to be running for more than four hours took considerable 66 asialife HCMC

training over a lengthy time frame. As I said, part of it was mental — visualising the finish line. Then all I had to do was get my body to physically comply by pounding out the distance. Easy! But the hours of training that had to go into it were exhausting, and a couple of weeks before the race I was wondering if I had really made the right choice. I felt tired all the time. And training while still having a demanding work schedule meant even after a good night’s sleep I wanted to just stay in bed. Come marathon day, however, the excitement and adrenaline kicked in and all the negatives were forgotten, and it was actually fun. Well, until the last 12km. The point is I stuck to it when the easy option would have been to just not bother. I applied myself to a task and I completed it. I’m not saying to go out there and run a marathon, but in your everyday life you should finish your chosen task and do it as well as you can.

Gary Woollacott is the CEO of Opus executive search in Vietnam and Thailand. He can be reached at +84 8 3827 8209 or via gary@ Opus is a partner of Horton International.

Indochine Counsel Han Nam Building, 65 Nguyen Du, D1 Tel: 3823 9640 Business law practitioners specializing in mergers & acquistions, inward investment, and securities & capital markets. Phillips Fox Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3822 1717 Full service law firm providing legal services in healthcare, education, crime, banking and hospitality among others. Pricewaterhousecoopers Legal Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3823 0796 Part of a network of international legal and financial advisors, PWC gives both specialist and general legal advice with a focus on mutli-territory projects. Rödl & Partner Somerset Chancellor Court 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 Tel: 3824 4225 European legal firm assisting foreign investors with structuring/establishing companies, investment projects, and mergers & acquistions.


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


Automotive Street Ly Thai To Street, D10 starting at Dien Bien Phu and running southeast Services include mending motorbike seats and sound system installation. Products range from zebra print motorbike seat covers to car and motorbike tyres, hubcaps, rims, subwoofers and sound systems by Xplode. Bike City 480D Nguyen Thi Thap, D7 Luxury motorcycle shop carries a range of accessories, including apparel. Sells Vemar helmets, a brand that passes rigorous European Union standards. Protec Helmets 18bis/3A Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 248C Phan Dinh Phung, Phu Nhuan 417B Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D3 American nonprofit manufacturer makes helmets with densely compressed polystyrene shell with ABS, PVC or fiberglass exterior, available with polycarbonate shatter-proof shield. Options for kids. Zeus Helmets Founded in Taiwan to manufacture cool, comfortable helmets that meet worldwide safety standards. Basic models feature thermo-injected shells constructed from lightweight ABS composite with interiors lined with moisture-absorbant brushed nylon. Shops selling authentic Zeus

helmets are located on Pham Hong Thai near Ben Thanh Market.


CB Richard Ellis Me Linh Point Tower, 2 Ngo Duc Ke, D1 Tel: 3824 6125 International property consultants and developers with both commercial and private properties for sale, lease and rent. Namhouse Corporation 48A Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 0989 007 700 Provides rental properties, construction services and interior decorating. Supports professional services and after-sales. Diamond Island Luxury Residences No 01 – Street No.104BTT, Quarter 3, Binh Trung Tay Ward, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam T: (84) 968 293 388 / 3742 5678 F: (84-8) 3742 3232) Diamond Island Luxury Residences offers 68 fully-furnished apartments, ranging from two- to four-bedroom units with private balconies providing panoramic views of the stunning surroundings in one of the most spectacular sceneries in the city. Each apartment comes with a fully-equipped kitchen, en-suite bathrooms, separate work and living areas. Each lavish space features plush interiors, modern amenities, elegant furnishings and carefully chosen trimmings and fixtures, creating a luxurious harmony of comfort and sensorial tranquility that will have you relaxed and recharged, and functioning at peak performance. Savills Viet Nam Level 18, Fideco Tower, 81-85 Ham Nghi, D1 Tel: 823 9205 Savills Viet Nam is a property service provider that has been established in Vietnam since 1995 offering research, advisory services, residential sales, commercial leasing, asset management, retail advisory, valuation, investment advisory and more. Sherwood Residence 127 Pasteur St., D3 Tel: 3823 2288 Fax: 3823 9880 Hotline: 0917470058 Sherwood Residence is a luxury serviced apartment property and the first property certified by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism. Modern living spaces meet prime location, comfort and class with 5-star facilities and service. Snap Tel: 0989 816 676 Online Real Estate service providing information on rental properties exclusively in District 2. Full listings online.


First Alliances #609, Saigon Trade Center 37 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3910 2080 Fax: 3910 2079 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. Navigos Group

130 Suong Nguyet Anh, D1 Tel: 3825 5000 Recruitment agency offering a complete portfolio of HR services including executive search, HR advisory, training, online recruitment, and print recruitment advertising. Opus Vietnam 5F, Vitic Building 6B Nguyen Thanh Y, D1 Tel: 3827 8209 Established in HCMC in 2005, Opus services local and multinational companies seeking to recruit high quality personnel. An Associate of Horton International, one of the world’s leading search groups with over 30 offices worldwide. For more info contact Smart HR Capital Place Building, Suite 601, 6 Thai Van Lung, D1 Tel: 3823 5828 Human resource consultants specialising in job search and selection, and human resource management. TMF Vietnam Saigon Trade Center, Unit 2811, 37 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3910 9229 / 9222 With more than 3,300 professionals working out of 86 offices in 65 countries, TMF provides independent accounting and corporate secretarial services to companies worldwide. 130 Suong Nguyet Anh, D1 Tel: 5404 1373 Excellent section on advice for jobseekers focusing on topics such as resume writing, cover letters, interview technique and more.


Crown Worldwide Movers 48A Huynh Man Dat, Binh Thanh Tel: 3823 4127 Not just International or local moving and storage. Crown Relocations offer a wide range of services including orientations, immigration, home search, intercultural training through to pet relocation. Call the team on the above number and check out our website for more information. UTS Saigon Van Intl’ Relocations 1st Fl, 214 Nguyen Van Huong, D2 Tel: 3744 7102 MOVING!? Full service relocating agency with warehousing, 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'


<=>=?!@!AB!!A!!CDBB!DEFG!!!!H!!!!8%&-8I8%+9#)J%)K$#3! ! <%)#+?!@!AB!!B!!CDEA!LDEM!!!!H!!!!+)5#I8%+9#)J%)K$#3!

Santa Fe Relocation Services 8th floor, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, D3 Tel: 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.


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

Being there, or being ‘there’ Crown’s people are always with you. Preparing you before you go, and helping you settle‐in when you arrive. Relocating should be exciting and rewarding for everyone. Our experience and knowledge of worldwide relocations, is shared by all our people in more than 200 locations.

Ho Chi Minh City Tel: +84 8 3840 4237 Da Nang Tel: +84 908 426 427 Hanoi Tel:+84 4 3936 6742

And we’ll always be there to help you get the most from your relocation.

Go knowing


fashion By Christina Yu

Fashion rules What a Stud “Men who have a pierced ear are better prepared for marriage — they've experienced pain and bought jewelry,” comedian Rita Rudner wrote. I recently read this quotation online and think Rita must have been having a tough time with a supersensitive and stingy man when she wrote it. It also reminds me of a fashion rule: straight men should only have their left ears pierced. Is this true? All it takes is one look at today’s Hollywood scene — from David Beckham, to Jamie Fox, to Diego Maradona, or any rapper — to realise this is an urban myth. Most men nowadays tend to actually get both ears pierced and wear them as the latest fashion statement. Diamond studs can be seen on men on the red carpet that will make any woman green with envy. Perhaps the better fashion question is not which ear to pierce, but where on the body and at what age? The current favourite spot for a man to pierce is the helix, the top rim of the ear. For me, having the helix pierced is like cheating. If you have decided to get your ear pierced, why not do it loud and clear by piercing your front lobe instead of hiding it at the back of your ear? Fashion rules also dictate 68 asialife HCMC

that men should never have their ears pierced in their 50s. In your 20s, it is hip. In your 30s, it is an afterthought. In your 40s, you are still trying to be hip (rather sad). In your 50s, it's a mid-life crisis earring. Look at Harrison Ford — he had his ear pierced in his 50s and even he couldn't make it look good. He must think he is re-living his Indiana Jones days. I have several friends who got their ears pierced in their 20s. All of them removed the jewelry once they felt they had moved into the ‘responsible stage’ of their lives, or at least were perceived to be more ‘responsible’ in the judgmental corporate world. With this in mind, I have even more respect for those who have continued to carry their studs around when they are older, and still look good with them. They remind me of Aztec warriors who carry their earrings as marks of honour — it shows confidence and defiance toward what the common world thinks.

Christina Yu is the creative director and founder of Ipa-Nima, an award-winning accessories brand. Email your questions to Christina@ or visit


Accessorize Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Fashion-forward accessories including necklaces, handbags, wallets, flip-flops, sunglasses, hair accessories, belts and more. Banana 128 Ly Tu Trong, D1 Women’s accessories and more, from bags, clutches and belts to clothes and jewellery, all at reasonable prices. Coconut 100 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Bags of all shapes and sizes rule the roost in this small shop. Made of silk and embroidered to the brim, these unique bags start at about USD $30, and many are suitable for both day and night. Creation 105 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3829 5429 A two-storey shop selling scarves, intricate handbags (from USD $30), tailormade silk dresses and tops. Has a wide range of materials on the second floor. Ipa-Nima 71 Pasteur, D1 Tel: 3824 3652 77 Dong Khoi, D1 Well-known Hanoi-based fashion brand. Founder Christina Yu is a former lawyer turned designer who produces eclectic and eye-catching handbags. Also stocks costume jewellery and shoes. Laura V Signature 11 Dong Du, D1 Tel: 7304 4126 Vintage designs aplenty with everything from jewellery and hair accessories to funky styled sunglasses, umbrellas and colourful maxi dresses. Louis Vuitton Opera View, 161 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3827 6318 Designer brand name housing traditional craftsmanship of luxury leather goods for men and women. An array of bags, wallets, cuff links and watches are available. Mai O Mai 4C Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3829 4007 A superb little place with beautiful jewellery and accessories to suit all budgets. Silver necklaces, bracelets, rings and more in both classic and imaginative designs, as well as gorgeous handembroidered bags. Mont Blanc Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan Notable for fine writing instruments, Mont Blanc also houses cuff links and other male accessories Scorpion Vincom Center B1, 70 - 72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3993 9889 Selling high-end leather products for both men and women, including shoes, handbags, belts and other accessories. Features a variety of leather in bright colors and styles. Umbrella

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


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


FCUK 127 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, D1 Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, D1 Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3914 7740 Trendy UK brand with a selection of fashion-forward dresses for women and smart workwear and funky casual wear for men, all at middle-market prices. Ginkgo Concept Store 254 De Tham, D1 Tel: 0905 493 148 A unique shopping space that offers an original and creative mix of made-inVietnam clothing from local designers, artisans and brands that stay true to the company’s environmentally friendly principles. 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. Runway Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3993 9988 Massive and minimalist design-led interior lets ultra high-end designer garments stand out. Carries men's, women's and children’s clothing, swimwear, shoes, accessories along with home décor. Brands include Chloe, Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga, Sergio Rossi and Eres. Versace 26 Dong Khoi Designer brand in men’s formal wear. Houses suit jackets and trousers, shirts as well as an array of men’s accessories. Also stocks womens clothing and shoes.


Lucas 69A Ly Tu Trong, D1 Tel: 3827 9670 Fashion store housing contemporary designs in casual, office and evening wear imported from Hong Kong. Massimo Ferrari 42-A1 Tran Quoc Thao, D3 Tel: 3930 6212 Bespoke menswear shop also boasts

its own brand of contemporary preppy attire tailored for the tropics. Carries a line of European-quality shoes, bags and accessories designed in-house, as well as exclusive Orobianco unisex bags, designer fragrances and eyewear. Timberland Parkson Plaza, 39-45 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Sells everything the brand is known for, from heavy-duty boots to tops and trousers that are both smart and casual. The emphasis is on muted tones and unobtrusive logos for men who don’t like to show off.

women BCBG MAXAZRIA Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 American brand sells women’s day dresses and tops, evening gowns and wear-to-work attire in many prints and colours. Also carries a small selection of accessories, sunglasses and watches. ER-Couture Boutique 43 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 2411 www. 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.

tees, singlets, shorts, skirts, jeans, summer scarves, dresses, silk camisoles and satin maxi dresses.

fashion design.

Mango 96 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Tel: 3824 6624 Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, D1 Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 A favourite with fashion-conscious women, this mid-range store stocks clothes from simple tees and jeans to evening wear.

Converse 186 Hai Ba Trung, D1 148 Nguyen Trai, D1 122 Ba Thang Hai, D10 Tel: 3827 5584 Sells iconic Chuck Taylor, Jack Purcell and All-Star sneakers and Converse brand clothing and accessories. Also at department stores around HCMC.

Marc Jacobs Rex Hotel, 155 Nguyen Hue , D1 Tel: 6291 3580 This spacious shop with high-ceilings carries up-market clothes, shoes and accessories from the internationally recognized designer brand.

Dr. Marten’s 173 Hai Ba Trung, D3 Tel: 3822 4710 Air Wair sandals and shoes here feature the classic yellow stitching and chunky rubber soles. Also stocked with clothes and accessories by Replay and Kappa tracksuit tops.

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.

Footwear Street Ho Xuan Huong Street, D3 between Cach Mang Thang Tam and Ba Huyen Thanh Quan Le Thi Hong Gam in D1 between Pho Duc Chinh and Calmette Selection ranges from leather loafers to plastic thongs and everything in between.


Esprit 58 Dong Khoi, D1 Outpost for the international brand of colourful, preppy men’s and women’s casual wear.

Aldo 157 Dong Khoi, D1 Offering a wide selection of affordable footwear from mid- to high-range prices. Carries office-appropriate and partyready heels and flats, as well as a range of accessories and bags.

Geisha Boutique 85 Pasteur, D1 Tel: 3829 4004 Facebook: Geisha Boutique Australian fashion label offering a contemporary range of casual and evening wear with an Asian influence. Printed

Charles & Keith 10 Mac Thi Buoi, 18-20 Nguyen Trai Tel: 3925 1132 Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Singapore brand housing youthful and trendy shoes of a contemporary, high

Nine West Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, D1 Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Stocks an extensive range of designer footwear for women. Handpicked by a global community of independent trendsetters and stylists. Sergio Rossi 146AB Pasteur, D1 Rex Hotel, 141 Nguyen Hue, D1 World-renowned Italian brand stocks a diverse European-style collection of upmarket shoes and bags made of quality materials, from crocodile and python skin laterals to garnishings of Swarovski crystals and colourful beads. Star Polo

97B Nguyen Trai, D1 Mix of imported shoes and locally made footwear crafted from Australian leather for men and women as well as imported ones. Sizes from 38 to 42 for men, and from 34 to 40 for women.


Dieu Thanh 140 Pasteur, D1 Tel: 3824 5851 Experienced tailor shop specializes in swimwear and cotton clothing, as well as business suits, evening dresses, luxury fabrics and accessories. Dzung 221 Le Thanh Ton, D1 One of the most reliable and respected men’s tailors in town with prices and production time to reflect the quality of the workmanship. Shirts start from US $30. Fabric Street Hai Ba Trung, D1 across the street from Tan Dinh Market. Spools upon spools of fabric manufatured locally and abroad, with more than ample variety of textures, colours and materials to choose from. Massimo Ferrari 42-A1 Tran Quoc Thao, D3 Tel: 3930 6212 Traditional Italian sartorial techniques are employed to offer a full wardrobing service and custom tailoring for men. Stocked with imported fabrics primarily from Italy. In-office and workplace fittings available. Uyen 13 Nguyen Thiep, D1 An excellent option with English-speaking staff and a good selection of fabrics (although the price takes a dip if you bring your own) and some off-the-rack staples to copy. Reasonable prices.

asialife HCMC 69


Photos by Fred Wissink, Dave Lemke, Christian Berg, Steven Nguyen and Tai Van Trung Nhat

70 70 asialife asialife HCMC HCMC

5th Anniversary of the RMIT ProfCom Program

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at Q4

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asialife HCMC 73


radar Best fests What better way to experience a new country or culture than through the enlightenment, energy or weirdness of a local festival? That’s the premise behind this website, which highlights 300 of the most interesting and unique festivals around the world. The list features 270 festivals chosen by the site’s staff, from art festivals like Burning Man in the United States to religious ones like India’s Diwali. The 30 remaining are chosen by Fest300 members. At first, the site may seem like another travel list, but it goes deeper than those by trying to inspire travellers to live a “culturally curious life” and move away from being just another tourist.

Eyes on the world There is no denying the internet has given us unparalleled access to news from around the world. But stories written in different languages have largely remained unreadable for the average English speaker. Worldcrunch is trying to change this with its team of ‘journalators’, who translate and edit non-English news from trusted media outlets around the world into English. Founded and run by a former Time magazine Rome and Paris bureau chief, the two-yearold site is tapping into the vast resources of non-English news sources and creating a truly global experience. The major downside for many is that Worldcrunch requires a monthly, albeit modest, fee.

Pee peacefully One of the best things about the cinema in Vietnam is being able to buy buckets full of beer (at least at Megastar). While nothing is quite like enjoying an ice-cold beer and watching a film on the big screen, it will inevitably lead to a trip to the bathroom and anxiety over missing a good scene. This website and app has solved the problem by listing movies currently playing in theatres, the best times to run to the bathroom and how long you have until you should return. It also tells you exactly what happened during your break, so you never have to worry whether you missed something important.

74 asialife HCMC

soundfix album review

by Mai Lynn Miller Nguyen

Cate Le Bon


Zachary Cale

Mug Museum


Blue Rider

Perera Elsewhere Everlast

A little bit of eccentricity can be a good thing for a musician. Welsh free-spirit Cate Le Bon’s subtle quirkiness makes for interesting music, defined by macabre lyrics, experimental song structure and dreamy vocals. Mug Museum is Le Bon’s third album, recorded this year after she left her hometown of Cardiff for the bright lights of Los Angeles. Beyond the film industry’s glitz and glamour, Los Angeles also has a reputation for whimsy, which seems to have brought out the best in Le Bon. The blithe ‘Are You With Me Now?’ is one of the record’s standouts, along with the sultry duet with Perfume Genius called ‘I Think I Knew’.

76 asialife HCMC

How did she keep it a secret? Beyoncé’s latest album came with no advance warning, creating a fervour of surprise unusual in this age of overhype. Available for purchase on iTunes as an entire record only, the self-titled release is a “visual album” of 14 tracks and 17 accompanying videos. In a clip posted on her website, Beyoncé explains her decision to offer an immersive experience, recalling her team’s reaction to the idea of shooting videos for all of the songs. “Everyone thought I was crazy,” she says. Shock over the game-changing concept and distribution aside, Beyoncé’s new music showcases a darker, more complex tone that may be her best work yet. It looks like Queen Bey will be ruling the charts for 2014.

January may be the perfect time to enjoy Zachary Cale’s Blue Rider. The singer-songwriter’s fifth full-length encourages the intimate, reflective moments that are worth taking time for at the start of a new year. Cale’s music has been called “minimalist folk”, a fitting description for his gentle sound. Louisiana-raised and Brooklynbased, Cale evokes the poetry of Leonard Cohen, the soul of Neil Young and the spirit of Bob Dylan. His acoustic guitar skills would be the envy of most aspiring musicians, creating multi-layered, finger-picked melodies that are bittersweet and tender. Across eight equally strong tunes, Cale creates a transcendent space that listeners can escape to for a while.

Everlast is Sasha Perera’s debut solo album as Perera Elsewhere, following up on her role in electronica trio Jahcoozi. Less club-driven than her previous work, the album showcases Perera’s haunting voice over a distinctive collection of soundscapes. Going back and forth between London and Berlin, she captures the energy of both places in her music. There’s the influence of London’s frenetic clash of cultures, mixed with Berlin’s sense of space and experimentation. But the two European metropolises aren’t the only geographic references to be heard on Perera’s songs, which include lyrics in West African language Yoruba and influences picked up from her travels around the world.


xoneFM top ten Hot 10 this last title week week 1


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Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas White Christmas Somewhere Only We Know Like A Drum The Fox The Monster Roller Coaster Meet Me Under The Mistletoe Timber

artist Avril Lavigne ft. Chris Kroeger Toni Braxton ft. Baby Face Kelly Clarkson Lily Allen Guy Sebastian Ylvis Rihanna ft. Eminem Justin Bieber Never Shout Never ft. Dia Frampton Pitbull ft. Kesha

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Somewhere Only We Know Hey Brother One More Sleep Happy How Long Will I Love You Of The Night Trumpets Let Me Go Story Of My Life The Monster

artist Lily Allen Avicii Leona Lewis Pharrell Williams Ellie Goulding Bastille Jason Derulo Gary Barlow One Direction Eminem ft. Rihanna

AUSTRALIA Top 10 this last title week week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

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All Of Me Rude The Monster Trumpets Timber Like A Drum Hey Brother Roar Triple J-Christmas Happy

artist John Legend Magic! Eminem ft. Rihanna Jason Derulo Pitbull ft. Kesha Guy Sebastian Avicii Katy Perry Number 1 Pharrell Williams

The Ricky Gervais Show By Lien Hoang In at least a small way, my life changed when a friend introduced me to the most downloaded podcast in the world. In The Ricky Gervais Show, the British creator hangs out with Karl Pilkington and Stephen Merchant to have “pointless conversations”. The funniest bits happen when Ricky and Stephen mercilessly tease Karl, the supposed “idiot” of the show but also the star. The truth is that this program has value because episodes can be as inane as they are illuminating. In one episode, Karl asks, “Does the brain control you, or are you controlling the brain?” Ricky (famous for creating The Office) jumps at the apparent nonsense and tells Karl repeatedly, “You are your brain.” He and Stephen take pot shots at Karl’s cognition and laugh at the image of Karl arguing with his own brain. But that’s mostly semantics. In reality Karl is onto something, that we aren’t always aware or in control of what we think and do. Any basic understanding of the id, ego and super-ego would show us that. Karl reasons things out on his own but lacks the vocabulary or sophistication to defend his opinions. The show gets a lot of mileage out of that. It helps, too, that Karl truly seems to have a unique brain, so that he makes up words

like “foodage” and thinks monkeys have performed eye surgery. He himself is a strange man who got lost in a field because he was walking while reading, a man who saw a bank robber and wondered if the criminal wanted the pie he was holding. HBO took the show to a whole new level by illustrating it — YouTube is the best way to enjoy The Ricky Gervais Show. The animation is incredibly creative. We usually see the trio in a studio, but when they discuss a hostage situation, for example, Karl is drawn as a negotiator, Ricky as a terrorist, and Stephen as a cop. They act out what they describe, and sometimes their lines are transposed onto props in the fake scenario, such as Stephen speaking as a worm. You really have to see it to appreciate it. Karl doesn’t accept any premise and questions everything. He’s glad he hasn’t acquired a taste for fine wine, because then he wouldn’t enjoy the cheap stuff. You may not agree with his odd logic, but he thinks for himself. He calls poetry gay, not understanding political correctness. And when Stephen and Ricky ridicule him, he doesn’t acknowledge it but continues the conversation. He’s either a real stoic or a good sport.

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Walking With Dinosaurs

I, Frankenstein

In the second installment of Peter Jackson’s three-part interpretation of JRR Tolkien’s fantasy masterpiece, title character Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan), and the 13 dwarves continue their epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. Having survived the beginning of their unexpected journey, the company continues east toward the Lonely Mountain, where they must face a creature more terrifying than any other.

Ben Stiller directs and stars in this film adaptation of James Thurber's classic story of a daydreamer who escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. When his and his coworker’s (Kristen Wiig) jobs are threatened, Walter takes action in the real world, embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined.

For the first time in movie history, audiences can see and feel what it was like when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. This film is the ultimate immersive, big screen adventure for families. Viewers will meet dinosaurs more real than they’ve ever seen as they take off on a prehistoric adventure in which Patchi, an underdog dinosaur, triumphs against all odds to become a hero for the ages.

Living in a dystopian present when vigilant gargoyles and ferocious demons rage in a battle for ultimate power, Victor Frankenstein's creation Adam (Aaron Eckhart) finds himself caught in the middle as both sides race to discover the secret to his immortality. From the creators of the Underworld saga, this film was written for the screen and directed by Stuart Beattie and is based on the graphic novel I, Frankenstein by Kevin Grevioux.

Opening Dates CINEMAS Megastar

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The Hobbit (3 Jan) The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (3 Jan) Walking With Dinosaurs (10 Jan) I, Frankenstein (24 Jan)

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

bookshelf A Story Lately Told: Coming of Age in Ireland, London, and New York Anjelica Huston Scribner

An actress, model and daughter of director John Huston, Anjelica Huston has led a colourful life, to say the least. Stories from her upbringing on a grand estate in Ireland, amidst her family’s many famous friends, form the bulk of the first volume of her memoirs. At St Clerans, Huston’s swashbuckling father created a whirlwind of social activity, inviting notables such as John Steinbeck, Marlon Brando and the recently deceased Peter O’Toole as regular guests. After passing through Huston’s teen years in 1960s London, the second portion of A Story Lately Told shifts to the bohemian beginnings of her career in 1970s New York.

Egyptomania: Our Three Thousand Year Obsession With the Land of the Pharaohs Bob Brier Palgrave MacMillan Mummies have yet to resurge as a pop culture icon, but given the exhaustion of vampire, werewolf and zombie films, it’s only a matter of time. Egyptomania is not as high as it once was — mummy horror films packed cinemas in the 1930s — but ancient Egypt has long captured our imaginations. Scholar Bob Brier writes about our enduring fascination with Egypt, from Roman times to the popularity of kitsch sphinx, scarab and pyramid-themed memorabilia, to the transportation of obelisks to museums around the world.

A True Novel Minae Mizumura Other Press Minae Mizumura dares to re-invent Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights in A True Novel. Although the setting may be dramatically different — postwar Japan instead of 19thcentury Yorkshire — Mizumura’s story will ring familiar to those who know Bronte’s novel. Instead of Heathcliff, there’s Taro Azuma, the anti-hero son of a chauffeur turned millionaire. The details of Taro’s mysterious past become clearer as the story progresses, including his tormented love for Yoko, the story’s Catherine. Mizumara gives the English classic a decidedly Japanese take, exploring the country’s post-war struggles and class division.

Radiance of Tomorrow: A Novel Ishmael Beah Sarah Crichton Books In his bestselling memoir A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah told the chilling story of his experience as a child soldier in Sierra Leone. Now his novel, Radiance of Tomorrow, centres on two characters returning to their hometown in Sierra Leone after the end of the civil war. As Benjamin and Bockarie attempt to help rebuild their village, they come face to face with the challenges of food shortage, crime, lack of infrastructure and post-war tensions. Even though arms have been laid to rest, the repercussions of war continue to shape the lives of Beah’s characters.

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ODD ONE OUT Amid the growing Tet festivities, Dana Filek-Gibson tries to stay on the straight and narrow.

Some of us escape the phenomenon by going on vacation, but those who stay in Saigon are left with a perfect dry-run to the apocalypse — a lawless wasteland infested with rice cakes, booze and flowers.

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By the time you read this, the magic will be over: most of the life-sized plastic zoo animals downtown will have been disassembled and carted away. On street corners and in front of churches, desperate vendors will hawk their leftover stock of children's Santa suits. No more turkey. No more gifts. No more outlandish purchases or constant overeating. As everyone nurses a New Year's hangover and jots down a hasty list of resolutions — which we will later forget, lose in our pants pockets or actively ignore over a cheese binge and a few dozen reruns of CSI — 2014 is upon us. If you're an optimist, there's still plenty to look forward to. The world does, after all, continue to turn. But even with the limitless possibilities of a new year, January can be tough. For many expats, it marks the beginning of a tedious stretch in which we are forced to work nearly three months without a governmentsanctioned holiday. Abba's ‘Happy New Year’ returns to being completely irrelevant but no less overplayed, prices rise and the money we spent on large, communal dinners and all-you-can-drink hotel buffets has left us both embarrassed and ashamed. Only those who love Jesus and/or chocolate will

remain hopeful, turning their thoughts toward Easter. But despite these somber realities, coming down from the holiday high is an important character-building process. The relatively uneventful months that start from New Year's and reach Halloween are our annual reminder that life is unfair. We take stock of our successes and our shortcomings. We reflect. And, through it all, we aspire to be our better selves in the coming months because, unfortunately, life can't be about expensive gifts and bottomless drinks all the time. That is, of course, until February. Then it can be about as much alcohol and snack food as you want. As soon as those standard-issue Styrofoam flowers start blooming across every window display in town, the giddy, carefree spell of Tet is practically a handwritten invitation to return to indulgent behaviour. Some of us escape the phenomenon by going on vacation, but those who stay in Saigon are left with a perfect dry-run to the apocalypse — a lawless wasteland infested with rice cakes, booze and flowers. Almost instantly, the importance of ATM withdrawals and grocery shopping increase tenfold. Children as young as four stop you in the street to shake

you down for lucky money, and every kid in Vietnam gets a haircut, usually with hilarious results. In a world turned upside down by holiday frenzy, it's hard not to slip back into your old habits. For someone with poor impulse control and almost no willpower, this is an environment ripe for irresponsible decisions. On the one hand, I appreciate any pre-fabricated excuse for my behaviour. I can survive off several of those heavily cellophaned New Year's gift baskets throughout the three-week holiday and chalk it up to necessity. But just because I can, doesn't mean I want to. Sometimes, it pays to stick to those New Year's goals. To wake up on time. To eat right. To leave the couch. I'm not necessarily excited about getting through a day without Christmas cookies, but I understand that it's probably for the best. And yet, just when we're at our weakest, missing the holidays and slightly diabetic, Tet comes along and, suddenly, my better judgment gets lost in a cloud of rice wine and sunflower seeds. I hate to say it, but Tet has come early this year and I'm not happy about it. Dana Filek-Gibson is a Canadian expat living in Ho Chi Minh City.


Harley-Davidson A name synonymous with motorcycle, Harley-Davidson has been an American classic since the beginning of the 20th century. Big, loud and often driven by tattooed bikers in leather, the Harley has a reputation for being the ultimate bad-boy bike. But the motorcycles have also long been associated with the weekend rider — usually a well-off white man in the throes of a mid-life crisis who is more concerned with image than performance. Although these are extremely well-built machines, in a way the obsession many have for the bike really has everything to do with image. In 1901, 21-year-old William S Harley completed a blueprint for an engine designed to be put on a bicycle. After a few years of tinkering in a tiny shed in Wisconsin, Harley and his friend Arthur Davidson, built the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle. This first version was more of a bicycle with an engine than the powerful behemoth of today. Over the next 100 years, the Harley-Davidson company would go on to create some of the most iconic motorcycles in the world, and survive in an industry where few succeed. Harley-Davidson was one of only two American motorcycle companies to survive the Great Depression in the ’20s and ’30s, after which it dominated the market. Then, in 1969, American Machine and Foundry, which was primarily a bowling ball manu-

facturer, bought the company. In an attempt to increase profits, AMF streamlined production by firing workers, leading to strikes and poorly built motorcycles. Over the next decade, Harley-Davidson’s reputation would suffer hugely. The bikes they put out were unreliable, and inferior in nearly every aspect when compared with cheaper Japanese bikes. But in 1981, 13 executives at the company purchased Harley-Davidson and remade it into the bike most people know today — one that is powerful, reliable, loud and the embodiment of cool.

And that’s what many people see when they look at a Harley. They see a classic American success story and an increasingly rare made-inAmerica product, all rolled into one badass package. Some argue this patriotic fervour is solely responsible for Harley’s cult-like following. Although the company became widely known because of misfit biker gangs, HarleyDavidsons have become a luxury product around the world. And they aren’t cheap — ranging from $8,000 to nearly $50,000. There has also been a shift in their customer base. In

2012, Harley sales to young adults, women, blacks and Hispanics grew at twice the rate of their core customers, the Washington Post reported. And now Harley-Davidson is making an aggressive push in the international luxury product market. Already popular in Japan and China, the company started a dealer network in India in 2011. And last month, Harley-Davidson rumbled into Vietnam, with their first dealership in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, where you can expect to pay top-dollar for one of the most famous motorcycles ever built.

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pub quiz 1. Who played The Joker in the film The Dark Knight? 2. Which Serbian tennis player is known as The Joker? 3. Who recorded the 1973 album The Joker? 4. Which film did US Marine James T "Joker" Davis narrate? 5. Which Czech author’s first novel was The Joke?

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21. The city of Rockhampton is in which Australian state? 22. What is the real name of wrestler and actor The Rock? 23. What emblem is on the badge of Celtic Football Club? 24. Which locomotive won the Rainhill Trials in 1829? 25. Which Beatle has not been inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his solo work?

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Not Joking 6. Whose autobiography is called You Cannot Be Serious? 7. What name is often given to the character of “Death” — shown as a skeletal figure carrying a large scythe and clothed in a black hooded cloak? 8. On a boat, what is opposite the bow? 9. Who recorded the album ...But Seriously? 10. A Serious Man is a 2009 dark comedy, written, produced and directed by which brothers?

Rivers 11. What is the largest river to flow into the Dead Sea? 12. Through how many countries does the Mekong flow? 13. What is the second longest river in Africa? 14. On which river does Baghdad stand? 15. Which river is blocked by the Hoover Dam?

Celebrity Sideshow 26)

In taïi Coâng ty ITAXA, ñòa chæ 126 Nguyeãn Thò Minh Khai, Q.3. In xong vaø noäp löu chieåu thaùng 01/2014 AsiaLIFE Media Advertising Communications JSC 2Bis Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Da Kao Ward, District 1 Tel: +84 8 6680 6105 For advertising and marketing enquiries please contact: +84 938 298 395 / +84 8 6680 6105 or Distribution: Super Long +84 937 633283 AsiaLIFE is a registered trademark. No content may be reproduced in any form without prior authorisation of the owners. © AsiaLIFE Media Advertising Communications JSC




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1) Heath Ledger 2) Novak Djokovic 3) Steve Miller Band 4) Full Metal Jacket 5) Milan Kundera 6) John McEnroe 7) The Grim Reaper 8) Stern 9) Phil Collins 10) Joel and Ethan Coen 11) River Jordan 12) 6 13) The Congo River 14) The Tigris 15) The Colorado 16) Sandy Lyle 17) The Sandwich 18) Fraser Island 19) Nicaragua 20) Sandra Bullock 21) Queensland 22) Dwayne Johnson 23) Shamrock 24) Stephenson's Rocket 25) Ringo Starr 26) Elvis and Lady Gaga 27) Natalie Wood and Johnny Depp 28) Megan Fox and John Wayne 29) Humphrey Bogart and Reese Witherspoon 30) Claudia Schiffer and Peter Sellers

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Sand 16. Who is the only Scottish golfer to have won the US Masters? 17. What, according to the story, was invented by the Earl John Montagu? 18. Which Queensland World Heritage Site is considered to be the world’s largest sand island? 19. The Sandinista National Liberation Front is a political party in what country? 20. Who won the Academy Award for Best Actress for the film The Blind Side?


Pub Quiz Answers



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AsiaLIFE Vietnam January 2014  
AsiaLIFE Vietnam January 2014  

Let’s be honest: life as an expat in Vietnam is pretty easy. As much as we like to stoke our egos by comparing our exciting and “unique” liv...