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AsiaLIFE volume 56

22 front

08 News & Events 12 Dispatches


43 Mam Son

13 Street Smart: Le Tu Tai

44 Zest Bistro and Cafe

16 Q&A with Urs Buchmann

45 Roadhouse Saigon

18 Photo Essay: Bolivia Revisited

on the cover

22 Do Vietnamese Woman


28 The Rising Electronic Tide

Have it All?

style & design

46 Cut and Paste


52 The List

48 Got the Look

78 Spotlight 80 Street Guide

30 Red and Blue, and

88 Odd One Out

Vietnam, Too


42 Sterling's Saigon

32 Starting From Scratch

89 This Country Life

34 Noise Revolution

90 Pub Quiz

36 Discovering Dien Bien 38 Mellowing out in Marunouchi 40 Fit for a King

36 Cover Art Direction Johnny Murphy Photography Fred Wissink Models Ivy Nguyen Nguyen Ngoc Long Jake Houseago

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November 17th HCMC Opera House Art exhibition and concert, featuring child prodigy violinist Do Phuong Nhi from Hanoi, performing with the Hanoi Chamber Orchestra, including feature performances by members of the Saigon South International School music department.

Tickets: 500,000VND For information or to reserve your seat SMS Roger at 0903 365 720 or reply by email to

note from the editor

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

Photography Interns: Alex McMillan and Linh Phanroy

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

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Editorial Intern: Claire Jowell

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

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

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


Last month the country celebrated Vietnam Women’s Day, a seemingly worthy holiday when men shower the women in their lives with gifts and praise. Every year I ask Vietnamese women the same question, why should we celebrate it? Aren’t International Women’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day more than enough to show our appreciation for our ladies? And each year I’m met with the same answer, “Every day in Vietnam is men’s day, so why can’t we have a few days to celebrate women?” Fair enough. We live in a culture dominated by men. On the surface, men in Vietnam run businesses, are the breadwinners for their families, and, of course, sit around all day drinking beer or coffee. But if you look closer, it becomes clear just how much women shape Vietnamese society. Most small businesses, from pho stands to coffee shops are run by women, who at the same time are raising the children while the men are away (or sleeping in the back). But things are changing and it's no longer just small buisnesses that women run. As the younger generations age, more women are getting jobs higher up the ladder and in bigger industries. While the male to female population ratio is widening, more Vietnamese women attend secondary school than men, according to a 2011 World Bank Report, which means more women are likely to enter the workforce at higher levels. Surprisingly, Vietnam is outperforming other Southeast Asian countries when it comes to gender equality in the labour force, according to the World Bank. But at the same time, women still tend to have riskier jobs, working on farms or in factories. The rates of domestic violence are also still high and selective abortions of female fetuses are common, especially among those who can afford ultrasounds. This shows how Vietnam stands in an awkward position where its cultural ideals are clashing with the desire for economic prosperity for both sexes. In this month’s cover story, we talk to some of the women who have leapt over the gender gap, and the challenges that remain in a male-heavy work force and a culture that has strict expectations of women. Despite the troubled economy, there is no doubt that Vietnam is continuing a major transformation, both economically and socially. While women in Vietnam still face many inequities, the country seems to be moving forward, so maybe we all should celebrate Vietnamese Women’s Day a little more thoughtfully.

Photo Editor: Fred Wissink Production Manager: Nguyen Kim Hoa

Deputy Editor: Lien Hoang

Chris Mueller

Regional Creative Director: Johnny Murphy

Next time you're in Cambodia or Thailand, check out the latest issue of AsiaLIFE or download them from Find AsiaLIFE articles on

NEWS Late-night Motown

A new upstairs bar Artisan Cocktails opened opposite the Sheraton Hotel with smoked glass, Motown, 70s beats and an electric terrace. Besides blues, enjoy soul, funk, and disco every Saturday from 11pm till very late. Daily happy hour from 6-9pm means 50 percent off cocktails and 30 percent off

EVENTS champagne, wine, spirits, and appetizers. Open daily 6pm to 3am, with later closings Thursday to Saturday. 59 Dong Du, D1, 08 38 233 122.

Christmas BISzaar

The British International School’s Christmas BISzaar will take place on 1 Dec from 9am2pm. Get into the holiday spirit

Charity Ball The 22nd Annual Saigon St. Andrew's Charity Ball will be held at the Park Hyatt Saigon on 17 Nov. Traditional Scottish band Face the West will perform, as will Merlion Pipes & Drums from Singapore. Tickets at $145 or VND 3 million buy a five-course gourmet meal, unlimited drinks, and a night of dancing and the traditional haggis ceremony. Scottish dance practices are currently held Wednesday evenings 7-9pm at the APSC Compound Sports Club in An Phu, D2. Contact Ceri Roche at 09 07 70 99 99 8 or

with children singing carols, goods to check off from your Christmas gift list, and more than 60 vendors including cake and catering stalls. A raffle and children’s activities round out the day at the An Phu Secondary Campus, 246 Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien, D2.

Black Cat Thanksgiving

For American Thanksgiving, Black Cat restaurant will be offering a special delivery or pick-up menu. On 22 and 23 Nov, the delivery and pick-up menu will include options for a complete Thanksgiving meal. Items on the extensive menu include options like a whole roast turkey with gravy (VND 2,400,000), a whole fried turkey (VND 2,500,000), stuffing (VND 27,000/person), and mashed potatoes (VND 27,000/person), plus many more. There is also

a dessert menu with 12 different pie and cake options. This same menu will be available on 24 Dec. Alternatively, you can opt for the all-you-can-eat buffet served in the Black Cat dining room for VND 550,000 per person. Reservations and prepayment are suggested for the buffet and the delivery menu is available on any day with at least two days notice. Email for more details.

World-Class Award

Korean Air was voted Asia’s Leading Airline First Class at The World Travel Awards Asia & Australasia Ceremony 2012 in Singapore on 18 Oct. The World Travel Awards are recognised globally as the ultimate hallmark of quality. Korean Air’s service has been recognised worldwide on several occasions, including

NEW LUNCH MENU From November 2012

38 Nguyen U Di, Thao Dien, An Phu, D2, HCMC T +84 (0) 8 3 744 6632 E W

Please call for reservations or book through our website

Gifts for the Body

The Body Shop has given its bestselling fragrance range a makeover. White Musk, a heady mix of lily, iris, rose and vanilla, comes in a shower and moisture set with shower gel, lotion and bath lily. There's also the White Musk Libertine, a blend of Turkish delight, baby orchid and chantilly cream, now available as a body butter. Or, for a more fruity option, try the new spritz or lip gloss collections. being named the World’s Most Innovative Airline at The World Travel Awards Grand Final Ceremony held last year in Doha, Qatar.

SSIS PTA Charity Bazaar The Saigon South International School PTA will hold a charity bazaar at SSIS on Saturday 17 Nov from 9am to 3pm. All proceeds will go to local charities that already have existing relationships with SSIS, allowing students to have insights into the needs and challenges of these charities. This year, more than 100 vendor stalls are expected at the bazaar. Stalls will sell goods including Vietnamese handicrafts, hand woven products, and specialty items. There will also be an extensive food court with 10 stalls selling products from a variety of wellknown international and local food merchants.

AIS and ACG Vietnam Merge

Two popular international schools in Ho Chi Minh City announced their merger last month, creating the second largest international school in the city. Australian International

School (AIS) and Academic Colleges Group Vietnam (ACG) will come together to establish AIS - Australian International School, which aims to provide a world-class, high-quality international education. After the merger, the school will have three campuses located in the centre of District 2, with total areas of 3.2 hectares and modern buildings and facilities. The merged school will continue to offer education for students from kindergarten to higher secondary level, with over 1,100 students from 35 countries and more than 100 qualified and experienced foreign teachers.

Warda Restaurant Renovated

After six years, Warda, which specialises in Arabic cuisine, has undergone a complete renovation and is now reopened. The spaces have been redesigned, giving a more sophisticated feel, through the addition of new furniture, large glowing mirrors, new lighting, and plants to the terrace, creating a relaxed tropical atmosphere. Both the terrace and the bar have been fitted with ceiling fans, helping to keep the

a/c flowing and the space cool. A contemporary lounge-style music selection with a slight hint of the orient, complements the new look. The renovation also includes a totally new wine list and cocktail menu, along with the introduction of a new Middle Eastern tapas-style menu. Warda is located at the end of the alley of 71/7 Mac Thi Buoi, District 1.

Resort Debuts in Central Vietnam

Banyan Tree Group has made its first footprint in Vietnam this month with the opening of Banyan Tree Lang Co. Part of Vietnam’s first world-class integrated resort, Laguna Lang Co, Banyan Tree Lang Co is poised to offer the group’s signature brand of luxurious accommodation with spacious pool villas, award-winning spa facilities, an 18-hole champion golf course, an array of dining venues and more. Designed to offer privacy and exclusivity, Banyan Tree Lang Co is nestled in a unique crescent bay framed by a three rvi ve Ri




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kilometre beach on the central coast of Vietnam. The resort is accessible within a 60-minute car ride from Danang international airport. Visit Banyantree. com for details.

Ha Long Postal Service

Life Ha Long has introduced a selection of postcards, picturing the UNESCO World Heritage site and the iconic red sailboat fleet, for sale onboard or at Life’s reception lounge at Tuan Chau Marina. Each postcard has an Asian-style stamp reading, “Halong Bay 2012 — Year of the Dragon” for VND 150,000, including postage. Postcards will be posted from the boat at check-out.

Nobel Visit

Prof Harald zur Hausen, a 2008 Nobel Laureate for Medicine at the German Cancer Research Centre, will visit Ho Chi Minh City as a keynote speaker in the 4th ASEAN event series ‘Bridges-Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace’. His talk, facilitated by the Vienna-based

Arts for Mobility

l Kids First Enterprise presents the fifth annual ‘Arts For Mobility’ exhibition and concert, featuring child prodigy violinist Do Phuong Nhi from Hanoi, along with the Hanoi Chamber orchestra. Members of the music department at Saigon South International School also will perform at the event, which will help support 200 poor and disabled people. It all happens 17 Nov, with the exhibit and silent auction 6-7.30pm and concert 7.30-9 .30pm. Buy VND 500,000 tickets from Roger at 09 03 36 57 20 or

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International Peace Foundation, is themed ‘Cancer prevention as a challenge for global health’ and will take place at 2pm on 28 Nov at the Vietnam National University. Zur Hausen is the second Nobel Laureate visiting Vietnam this month, after Prof Roger B Myerson’s address on ‘Leadership, democracy and local government’ in Hanoi. For more any of the free Bridges events, see Peace-foundation. net.

A New Shakespeare

Saigon Players say they’re not spoofing Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream with their latest original production, Miss Summer's Night Cream. In it, Shakespeare's favourite fairy, Puck, is up to his wings in trouble while trying to protect his beloved King Oberon. Everyone wants to have a happy Christmas in the magical fairy forest, but can Puck overcome all the

obstacles? The antics, audience participation and fun on stage will amuse children four and up (tickets VND 100,000), while the adults (VND 200,000) can enjoy the verbal humour. Performances begin at 5.30pm 24-25 Nov and 1-2 Dec at Snap Cafe, 32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, D2. Tickets at 09 07 95 40 93 or

More Budget Flights

1920s-themed Gala

Take a trip back to the Roaring '20s with Centre Medical International's annual charity gala, this year themed 'The Artists'. All profits go towards the surgery and treatment of destitute Vietnamese children, including cardiac operations that can cost $3,360. Sponsors can contribute in categories from $500 to more than $6,000. More about the fundraiser, to take place 24 Nov in the garden of the French Consulate, is at 08 38 27 23 66 or

Low-cost carrier VietJetAir last month added a fourth airplane to its fleet and launched a route linking Ho Chi Minh City with Hai Phong with one round trip daily. The airline also will start flights for Ho Chi Minh City - Hue on 22 Nov; Ho Chi Minh City - Vinh on 15 Nov; Ho Chi Minh City - Phu Quoc on 20 Dec; and Hanoi - Dalat on 7 Dec, for a total of nine domestic routes by the end of 2012.

%BZT/JHIUT 'SFF&BTZ5PVS The Entertainment Capital of Cambodia




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Travel news from around the region and beyond

Natural Beauty Scheduled to open 1 Dec, Regent Phuket Cape Panwa promises to offer luxury in a stunning location. Cape Panwa is a secluded bay on the lesser-known southeastern tip of Phuket, populated by rubber and palm plantations, plus lush hills that provide magnificent views of the Andaman Sea. Designed to harmonise with its tropical surroundings, the Regent features its own private beach, a 55-metre infinity pool, and two signature restaurants. Nearby attractions include old Phuket Town, with its quaint Sino-Portuguese shop houses, and Phuket Aquarium at the Marine Biological Centre. For more information, visit or call 66 76 20 08 00. – Ellen Boonstra

Extra Night Free The Barai, an award-winning destination spa, is offering a pay-two-nights-get-one-free deal. Stay at the Barai Suites next door to Thailand’s Hyatt Regency Hua Hin, which comes with eight exclusive residential spa suites and 18 exotic treatment rooms near the beach. With relaxing architecture to match, on offer are extensive spa treatments, signature massages, yoga sessions, and fitness and lifestyle programs. Valid for Sunday-Thursday bookings from 15 Nov to 20 Dec. Reserve with the offer code BAR008 at 66 22 54 62 00 or

Early Christmas in Laos Through December, stay at Villa Maly in Luang Prabang and experience Kamu Lodge at half price. In the heart of the still preserved city, Villa Maly bills itself as a residence, oasis, and destination unto itself. Once the home of Lao royalty, Villa Maly today is a boutique hotel of tropical flora and rooms of subdued elegance that evoke yesterday’s aristocrats. Hike up Mt Phou Si for a view of the Mekong River, royal palaces, wooden houses, Buddhist wats and saffron-robed monks. Book at or

12 asialife HCMC

Street Smart:

Le Tu Tai Alex McMillan heads out in search of some hidden gems in Phu Nhuan District. If you take Hai Ba Trung Street all the way out to Phu Nhuan District, you can find a lot of local life nearly untouched by foreigners. People in these neighbourhoods are often more curious and receptive to speaking with a foreigner than in typical tourist or expat locations. If you’re a photographer, people will pose for you and participate in your project quite willingly as well, a pleasant way to kill a couple of hours.

To get to this area, drive from District 1 on Hai Ba Trung until it turns into Nguyen Khiem. At the railroad tracks, take a quick right turn, and here you will find an enclave of culture, food and shops. Start your journey at the rails and explore these three streets, which form a triangle. Chao Dinh Duong 560A Nguyen Khiem When we entered Le Tu Tai, we found a small shop selling rice

porridge, crab soup and, our personal favourite, banh khot (seven for VND 15,000). Roll it up in lettuce and dip in fish sauce for a delicious and cheap snack. Tiem Gao Dao 30 Le Tu Tai Leading up to this shop were numerous fruit hawkers, however this one stood out because it had every type of rice imaginable, including red rice, as well

as huge gunny sacks of rice with the husk still attached. Also notable were the giant chilli sauce bottles, sold in Costcosized jugs, sitting in front of the storefront. Nguyen Dinh Chieu Market 1 Le Tu Tai  This market had the typical wares found in many Vietnamese markets, like gold, handbags and clothing. But what impressed us about it, compared to the others, were the prices, varieties, and quality on hand. Some of our favourite stalls in the market included a large shop with fresh flowers; the lilies smelled amazing. There were shops selling normal dried tea, but there was also a fantastic joint selling fresh tea leaves for VND 15,000 a kilo. We bought half a kilo, which turned out to be far more than we expected. Score. Several stalls also served artichoke tea by the glass for VND 8,000. Chuoi Nuong 65/1 Nguyen Dinh Chieu Outside the market, we found

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that all the shopping continues onto Nguyen Dinh Chieu. Amongst these shops was one of our favourite Vietnamese foods: grilled banana with coconut milk, peanut, and jelly. One serving only costs VND 6,000. Fresh Soy Milk/Tofu with Syrup 72 Nguyen Dinh Chieu The name of the shop wasn’t quite clear, but the large crowd gathered around the storefront should make it apparent where to go. This shop is was very popular with locals, and for good reason. Here, they make fresh tofu and serve it in a variety of ways, including hot soymilk by the bag and hot tofu served with a sweet syrup. Both tasted amazing and cost VND 5,000 a piece. If you make it out this way, it’s definitely worth finding to watch how they make Get directions tofu.

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Urs Buchmann

Based in Hong Kong, the Swiss banker takes frequent breaks from his life of finance to indulge in the fine arts. Performing a piano concert with the city’s symphony orchestra in September, Buchmann continued his drive to spread classical music across Asia. By Lien Hoang. Photo by Fred Wissink. How often do you come to Vietnam? I came here for the first time in 1989. It was a purely touristic visit. It was a significantly different country then because it just came out of the old planned economy, it was the beginning of Doi Moi. For instance, when you wanted to have one nice dish, you went to one restaurant just for that dish, there was not a menu with 20 items on it. (Vietnamese) impressed me with their hospitality. Most people called me Lien Xo because the majority of foreigners at the time were Russians. Initially I only visited the south, but I got more and more curious. But friends would say, no, if you go north, we can’t protect you anymore. But I went and was equally impressed with the North. Over 20 years, I’ve been here certainly 50 to 60 times. You also collect Vietnamese art, right? What really impressed me was painting, reflecting immense creativity. You experience Vietnamese tradition, but also the influence of France and before that, China. Vietnamese have for centuries developed a feel for aesthetics. You see it in the cuisine, in textiles, pottery, handicrafts. The level — it’s at a very high level. Professionally you’re a banker. That’s quite a change from music. I perform every year with an orchestra (and occasionally also in chamber formations or alone). Music deals with very abstract concepts. Banking can be abstract, too. Our products are very abstract, we don’t produce cars or mobile phones. That is where banking and music have some common ground.

How’d you decide what to play? Rubinstein is not much performed nowadays. As the composer wrote very rapidly you will discover quite a number of errors in his scores. For example, this morning we found contradictions between the conductor’s score and that of the musicians. It’s like in a book, you would say words have been misspelled. What languages do you know? German, French, English, Chinese, Thai, Russian, Italian, and a little bit of Spanish. What else will you do in Vietnam? Always when I go to a country I haven’t been to, I want to see what the local art is doing because artists can tell you about the society. I was very impressed (when first visiting this nation), people were very poor then, and maybe because of that and coming out of war, they had to give their utmost. Difficulties in life often produce the best in art. What do you look for, in paintings? I only go for art that has a sound. If a painting does not evoke a sound, I’m not attracted. Painting and music go hand in hand, I don’t draw much of a line here. What about your art? I wish I had more time to practice and prepare for concerts. But maybe the challenge of limited time teaches you to make use of your time more effectively. On average I have three to four flights a week, so I always have a score with me and I always take half an hour to prepare (on the plane). How does that work in each city you visit?

Wherever I go I have to make arrangements to practise. A pianist cannot bring an instrument along. Sometimes you rent a piano at a local music school. Sometimes I practise at a jazz club. It’s a challenge. The difference between the various pianos are massive, even within the same maker. Each Steinway has a different sound and uniquely different character. Generally my memory evolves much more in sound than in pictures. I remember sound for a long time but occasionally have problems evoking a face, especially after a long time. I understand you’re trying to encourage classical music in Asia. Classical music is now promoted as an elite activity, but in Vienna and Eastern Europe the taxi drivers mostly know the major singers at the local opera houses. In the west, I invite colleagues to a concert and they often ask if they have to wear a black tie, and I say no. You see, people stay away because they think it’s elite. It doesn’t need to be expensive but because it requires a certain level of education, it is not always easily accessible. As Asia develops, instruments become affordable. Particularly young Asians are very curious to learn. That’s what I love here, the enthusiasm for the new. You spend a lot of time in both Europe and Asia, how does that affect your identity? I have spent over 70 percent of my life outside my native country. Accordingly I enjoy the privilege to learn a lot from Asia. I feel very much at home in both realms, I would not like to miss neither the east nor the west. asialife HCMC 17


Photo Essay:

Bolivia Revisited

........................................................... Five years ago Zoe Pacciani travelled to Bolivia and swore she would never return. She travelled into the depths of the Bolivian mountains, past the salt lakes and flamingos, through small towns with ancient churches in cobblestone squares, on her way to help build a cable suspension bridge in a small village. The return from the village, after 10 days deep in the heart of the land, took her and her colleagues past a mining town where miners were just starting to close the road in protest of their terrible conditions. In order to pass they had to drive through the town and bump along the rocky terrain that the highway followed. Near the end of the short detour, a miner saw the car making 18 asialife HCMC

its escape and seconds later dynamite was set off and the soil exploded just 10 metres in front of the vehicle. After this experience, Pacciani promised that no matter how beautiful Bolivia and it’s people are, she would never go back. But this year, she broke that vow and returned to Bolivia to find a quieter, gentler place. This time there was no dynamite and no sad children. She saw another face of the country, one that was bountiful and fun, alive and dramatic. The people were open and friendly, inviting her into their homes, showing off their land and playing joyfully on the school grounds. This time Bolivia reminded her that there is no black without white and no great sadness without great joy.

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Do Vietnamese Women Have It All? / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

Maternity, misogyny, and basic male-female differences have long dogged the pursuit of equal opportunity at work. Here, women of all ages and professions weigh in on the gender balance in business — and what makes Vietnam unique. By Lien Hoang. Photos by Fred Wissink. 22 asialife HCMC

those, male and female characteristics,” Thanh said. “You have to know when to wear different hats.” Similarly, most of the women interviewed for this article said they take an androgynous attitude to work. But in business, there’s less agreement when it comes to the gender gap. Some deny that it exists, saying the fairer sex has as fair a shot as men, while others believe Vietnamese must change their perspectives and policies to ram through the glass ceiling. As companies the world over debate the merits of bringing more women on board, and strategies to do so, Vietnam grapples with the same questions from a viewpoint that is sometimes particular to the country.

‘Half of socialism’ Women make up 27 percent of senior management in Vietnam, according to a 2012 Grant Thornton survey. That compares with 32 percent in ASEAN, though both numbers declined from 2011, even as the percentage in Europe rose. But many object that the data doesn’t truly represent women’s significance to the Vietnamese economy. Just look around at all the sidewalk cafes, small grocers, and other mom-and-pop stores — usually, women run the show. They control the family business, just as they control family budgeting. In part, that’s universal among women, seen as the keepers of the asialife HCMC 23

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It’s a little hard to imagine, but Nguyen Thi Viet Thanh said that at her company, she and the staff often say they love each other. Thanh, who founded Anphabe as a sort of LinkedIn for professionals in Vietnam, uses the term liberally but broadly, to say she appreciates her employees and the work they do. She doesn’t think so, but Thanh’s approach — bringing love into the workplace — beams out womanly vibes. She admitted to some qualities associated with women (caring, vulnerable, understanding) but balances them with others more often expected of men (aggressive, decisive, ambitious). “All women CEOs I know have both of

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household. But it’s also a legacy of war, said Hoa Sen University president Tran Bui Phuong. She said that as Vietnamese men went off to battle into the 1970s, their wives, mothers, and daughters took over quotidian functions, such as maintaining the house and making a living. They played their part in war, too. From the women warriors in videos at the Cu Chi tunnels, to the two Trung sisters (Hai Ba Trung) who died leading the charge against imperial China, women feature prominently in Vietnamese history. Gender equality also comprises an obvious brick in the egalitarian foundation of the communist state. As Uncle Ho said during the birth of modern Vietnam, “If we do not emancipate women, we would only build up half of socialism.” Last month Vietnam marked Women’s Day, and the World Bank blogged that it is “a front runner among developing countries when it comes to gender equality”. Today, many women are free to go out, drink, smoke, or have sex outside of marriage; these might not be the indicators that the World Bank had in mind, but they do correlate with Vietnam as a liberated society. And

in the world of business, many like to point out, some of the most well-known and successful companies are led by women, from Nguyen Thi Mai Thanh at REE (refrigeration and electrical engineering) to Vinamilk’s Mai

It’s been called a ‘universal conundrum’ that women’s prime childbearing years coincide with the ideal time to establish themselves professionally Kieu Lien. She declined to be interviewed but was the only Vietnamese on Forbes’ list of 50 Power Businesswomen in Asia this year. Work-life balance The country, though, can’t change its past, one based heavily on Confucian principles of respect that the ruled must show the ruler, the son must show the father, and the wife must show the husband. The effect is that

“All women CEOs I know have both of those, male and female characteristics. You have to know when to wear different hats,” says Nguyen Thi Viet Thanh, who founded the 45,000-member professional networking site Anphabe.

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males, who in a 107:100 ratio remain the preferred sex of newborns, continue to dominate in Vietnam, which checked in at 79 out of 135 countries on the World Economic Forum’s 2011 Gender Gap Index (it has slipped each

year since 2007, when it debuted at 42 on the list). Older generations and rural families, especially, still insist that women stay home to handle the three C’s: cook, clean, and care for the children. Chu Thi Hong Anh said that’s why she and her overprotective husband divorced after more than 10 years and two daughters. “Vietnamese men are not ready to help women yet,” said Hong Anh, a leading lady of media and advertising in Vietnam for 20 years. In red ankle boots and a button-up dress she designed herself, Hong Anh told me she served as president or chairwoman of a string of companies but now produces shows for several VTV outlets. Hong Anh's ex-husband didn’t square with her life as a determined career woman. Dang Thi Hoang Yen, the chairwoman of developer Tan Tao Group, said this kind of disconnect is the biggest challenge underlying the gender gap. Yen, a regular contender for the title of Vietnam’s richest woman with assets in the nine figures, told AsiaLIFE in an email that too many men assign their wives the role of homemaker, and themselves that of breadwinner. The 2012 Board of Directors Survey, conducted by Harvard academics and sampling 58 countries, shows that women on corporate boards are much less likely to be married than men (72 percent versus 90 percent) and more than twice as likely to be divorced (10 percent versus 4 percent). No wonder, then, that Sheryl Sandberg, one of the most recognisable female entrepreneurs in the world, gave this advice last year: “The most important career choice you'll

make is who you marry. I have an awesome husband, and we’re 50/50.” The Facebook CEO is publishing a book in 2013 called, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Many women here attribute part of their success to husbands who support their work, if not share domestic duties outright. Thanh, the social networker with a toothy laugh, said she had her husband take the children to school so that she could meet me the morning of our interview. The couple also employs two nannies. Thanh oversees a dozen staff members at Anphabe but calls the nannies her “most important employees”. For women all over the world, family more than anything else dictates professional outlook. Fewer and fewer people see these tugging desires — kids versus career — as a zero-sum game. But it’s been called a 'universal conundrum' that women’s prime childbearing years coincide with the ideal time to establish themselves professionally. “I don’t want to be too career-oriented,” said Anna Vo, a young, rouge-cheeked fashion designer who opened a high-end boutique in October. “I want to have kids.” She partly inherited that mindset, and the

idea of an eponymous clothing store, from her mother, Le Thuy Nga. The tough matriarch and textile boss has worked in fashion since the 1980s with some measure of success, and she applauds men in her daughter’s generation for welcoming more women into the fold. But she doesn’t want women to give up children for their jobs. “If they’re too successful, too ambitious, they don’t have enough time for family,” Thuy Nga said in Vietnamese, fondling a white dog in her purse with French-tipped nails. If the feminist revolution proved that women could work as well as men, then the counterrevolution declared that stay-at-home moms mattered just as much as their professional peers. Anne-Marie Slaughter, who left a post under US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in part to be with family, stirred the pot in June with her Atlantic cover story, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” The commentary attracted record views and bemoaned post-feminist societal pressures that have the perverse effect of blaming women if they don’t juggle work and children. On that front, women do have some

Chu Thi Hong Anh, a pioneer in the media and advertising industry, says she and her husband divorced because he didn't support her career goals.

advantages in Vietnam. First, the enduring trend of three-generation homes means grandparents often look after the children so both parents can work. Second, even lowermiddle-class families generally can afford daycare or a live-in caregiver. Not that that solves everything. The women I interviewed showed difficulty severing themselves from their children, such as Dale Carnegie Vietnam’s Nguyen Trinh Khanh Linh, who cut short a business trip to Taiwan because her four-month-old got sick. When she returned to Ho Chi Minh City, the doctor commented that the infant looked like she missed her mother. Similarly, Thanh of Anphabe said, “When you’re forced to work while your kid is sick at home, that is a terrible feeling.” Slaughter wrote of women who “never admitted to taking time out for a child’s

Anna Vo is following on her mother's designer heels by opening her own luxury clothes shop in October.

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doctor appointment or school performance” because they didn’t want their motherhood to be treated as a weakness at the office. But Hong Anh, the media mogul as well as private investor, takes the opposite tactic. Her rule is never to ignore a call from her daughters, even if it means cutting off a meeting. Men accept her role as a mother, and Hong Anh said she takes advantage of that. Lady on board Those women who do step out of the kitchen and into the boardroom don’t always meet a warm welcome. At Grant Thornton Vietnam, the accounting firm, Nguyen Thi Vinh Ha is the lone woman on a five-member board. Her colleagues are fine (“Having a lady in the board, men need to act more proper,” she said), but clients take more convincing.

Despite cordial emails, some male clients hesitate to work with Vinh Ha as soon as they realise, in person, that she lacks a Y chromosome. “You can see it in the first meeting,” Vinh Ha said by phone from her office in Hanoi. Most come around eventually, as Linh also discovered in her corporate training work at Dale Carnegie, whose operations she established in Vietnam in 2007. Few talk of deliberate sexual harassment, but sexism certainly persists. Linh, whose business card refers to her as chairman and CEO, said she wins them over after a half hour, but men have their doubts at first. “She’s young, she’s feminine, she’s charming — but can she work?” Linh said during an interview in a conference room at her office labeled ‘Pride Room’.

secretive old boys club that invariably leaks into most top-level business dealings. At every level are companies in which nhau, the Vietnamese drinking and eating binges, is practically a prerequisite to doing business. But women aren’t invited to the outings, or they decline the invitations. A woman’s touch In socialist and war campaigns, Vietnamese liked to say of women, “Gioi viec nuoc, dam viec nha,” meaning they served both the home and the homeland well. In less nationalistic contexts they were more likely to say, “Phu nu dam dang,” a compliment to the Renaissance woman who could whip up a bowl of bun bo, lay the baby down for a nap, and make money. It is the latter contribution that men and

If the feminist revolution proved that women could work as well as men, then the counterrevolution declared that stay-athome moms mattered just as much as their professional peers

Fashion designer Le Thuy Nga studied in the Czech Republic in the 1980s before opening a high-end clothing store in Ho Chi Minh City. "If [women] are too successful, too ambitious, they don't have enough time for family," she says.

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Women have to prove themselves, or as Yen, one of Vietnam’s wealthiest women, put it: “Therefore, you could say, in order to do business in Vietnam, if a man makes one effort, then women have to try and work two or three times harder.” It doesn’t help that Vietnamese textbooks pigeonhole women into low-paying jobs that don’t require much intellect. A recent study out of the Hanoi-based Academy of Journalism and Communication showed school books disproportionately cast women as housewives, dressmakers, and farmers, and men as supervisors, doctors, and scientists. Globally, the Board of Directors Survey concluded that “the primary reason that the percentage of women on boards is not increasing,” according to 35 percent of women polled, “stems from the fact that ‘traditional networks tend to be male-oriented.’” In the backroom politics of communist Vietnam, it’s even harder for women to break into the

women are trying to better understand. Some women succeed by adopting masculine qualities and suppressing others. Thanh takes pains to seem active and happy when she’s not, because she knows crying at work would dash office morale. “That’s really the internal fight I have to deal with as a woman,” she said. Thanh admitted she’s sensitive, so she might take an altercation personally, while a man will “yell at you but next time he’ll have a beer with you”. Vietnamese women in management positions said they make a point to talk straight with their employees and accept no mistake twice. Do Phan Tieu Khue jokes that people might call her bossy, but she takes pride in her no-nonsense attitude with staff. “They are scared if they miss my deadline,” she said in an interview at the city's Renaissance Riverside Hotel, where she is director of marketing and communication. At the same time, the cheery and spirited

In interviews, women also talked repeatedly about deploying a blend of sympathy and feminine charm that, for men, seems more difficult to come by. It takes the form of nicely asking for a task to be done, or having the ability to read between the lines. Linh said

Women have some advantages in Vietnam: threegeneration homes and affordable childcare

Nguyen Trinh Khanh Linh established Dale Carnegie in Vietnam in 2007, though she says male clients continue to wonder: “She’s young, she’s feminine, she’s charming – but can she work?” Khue is not content with blind obedience. She doesn’t want an employee merely to tell her she’s right, she wants to convince him she’s right. Put another way, women said they prefer some element of consensus rather than an iron-fist management style. Linh cited the Dale Carnegie principle of leading people to a conclusion by asking questions instead of giving direct orders. That may be one of the advantages researchers say women bring to the corporate table. Study after study attests that businesses profit from diversifying their leadership, gender-wise and otherwise. Observers posit that women help to counter groupthink, stretch companies’ knowledge of what customers want, put more thought into decision-making, exercise patience, and give attention to detail.

men “run away” from situations that require them to be expressive. She recalled training one male client, a marketing executive at a multinational company, who struggled to connect with his employees. “Have you ever asked about their hobbies? Or asked specific questions when it looks like they’re not in a good mood?” she asked him. Thanh, the social media butterfly, tries to breed an office culture of openness. At Anphabe headquarters, a cubicle-free room with lime-green columns overlooking District 4’s central Hoang Dieu Street, the employees paper the walls with their personal targets. Thanh, whose shelves are lined with Jobs and Trump books, designated herself chief energy officer, charged with invigorating the crew. Looking forward Yen, the developer whose riches have ranked among those of top women, proposed a list of solutions to narrow the gender divide: equal pay for equal work, education, a voice in government, and better support networks among women. Add that to the list in Slaughter’s Atlantic article, which called on men to pitch in at home, on businesses to promote family-friendly policies like telecommuting, and on society to recognise new norms of success, such as peaking later in a career or putting in overtime with the kids. While some businessmen turn to binders

full of women, and some countries (like Italy and Norway) are telling companies to step up with gender-based quotas, women here also are telling each other to step up on their own. Phuong, who noted that she is one of just two female presidents at the city’s universities, said women sometimes don’t realise they’re at a disadvantage. “Women are told to do many things for other people and they’re told to sacrifice themselves,” she said. Or, in Hong Anh’s words, “Vietnamese women have the habit — they don’t ask [for] what they need.” And when they don’t, the economy and the country could be losing out on a vital pillar. Thuy Nga, the elder fashion designer of the mother-daughter duo, said that in a house, men might be the roof still, but women are the columns that buttress it. Photo by Linh Phanroy

“If he can do it, I can do it,” says Renaissance Riverside Hotel director of marketing and communication Do Phan Tieu Khue.

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The Rising Electronic Tide

Electronic waste is a growing environmental and health problem around the world and in Vietnam, but the country isn’t prepared to handle the surging flow headed its way. By Michael Tatarski. Photo by Fred Wissink. Nhat Tao, a narrow street on the border of districts 10 and 11, is the epicenter of Ho Chi Minh City’s secondhand electronics trade. The street is teeming with TVs, speaker systems and other used electronics. Every day, ve chai sellers pick up used electronics from homes and businesses and then sell the goods to shops on Nhat Tao. The products are then repaired, cleaned, and put up for sale, creating an efficient recycling system. If a TV can’t be fixed, it is dismantled and the wiring, plastic, and electronic components are sorted, then passed on to someone else. When visiting the street, I noticed a huge pile of CRT computer monitors sitting in a parking lot. As I approached, I found three young men ankle-deep in wiring, circuits, plastic, and shattered screens in a shed containing dozens, possibly hundreds, of monitors. Monitors like these contain large amounts of lead, and are considered one of the most dangerous tech items to dispose of. Although areas like Nhat Tao provide a steady form of income for many, the electronic waste, or e-waste, trade is growing, and so is the potential to significantly harm the surrounding environment and anyone living nearby. Over the past decade scenes such as this have become increasingly common in poor countries. As the developed world rapidly digitised in the 1980s and 90s, electronics companies discovered that an easy way to get rid of used or obsolete products was to ship them to developing nations. For years

the most popular options were China or India, where entire cities have sprouted up around the processing of e-waste. E-waste is now the fastest growing municipal waste source and the United Nations Environment Programme estimates that 20 to 50 million metric tonnes of it are dumped every year. Vietnam is becoming an increasingly popular member of the group of nations targeted by e-waste shipments, largely thanks to a lack of regulations. There are no specific government policies controlling e-waste in Vietnam, according to a report by Nguyen Thanh Yen, head of the Vietnam Environmental Agency’s (VEA) Hazardous Waste Management Division. In 2001, a government regulation banned the import of second-hand electrical products, but only for goods that are not re-exported, and no mention of waste was made. This ban was strengthened in 2006, a move that initially helped curtail direct shipments of e-waste from overseas. But, a study by Takayoshi Shinkuma and Nguyen Thi Minh Huong, both professors specialising in the flow of e-waste, argues that illicit shipments from Cambodia to Vietnam quickly picked up the slack. According to their report, “Almost all the secondhand [electronics] sold in the South [of Vietnam] are smuggled in from Cambodia, where control over such items is much laxer.” The authors go on to explain that there are seven hot-spot smuggling places. In these ar-

eas, “Huge amounts of secondhand [products] are smuggled … a portion of the smuggled [goods] are consumed in the Mekong River delta in southern Vietnam, while the remainder are transported to Ho Chi Minh City for sale." Thanks in part to this crossborder trade, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) estimates that 20,000 computers are imported illegally into Vietnam every month. Since there are no mechanisms in place to track where these goods go, no one

this is a tiny amount compared with wealthier countries, it is growing. Ho Chi Minh City alone produces 7,000 tonnes of e-waste annually, a figure that is expected to reach 11,000 by 2020, according to estimates from the Institute of Tropical Technology and Environmental Protection. Additionally, computer sales in Vietnam have nearly doubled since 2007, while TV sales have risen fivefold in the same period, according to Business Monitor International. The MNRE adds that the number

Vietnam is becoming an increasingly popular member of the group of nations targeted by e-waste shipments, largely thanks to a lack of regulations is sure what happens once they enter the country. Yen, from the VEA, notes that many people in Vietnam consider e-waste a valuable resource, not a form of pollution. Therefore those who handle such waste, like the men on Nhat Tao, do so improperly. They strip off anything of value then toss the rest, which could include harmful elements such as lead and mercury, in municipal waste facilities. While shipments from Cambodia and other countries are a serious problem, Vietnam’s e-waste issues aren’t solely foreign-sourced. The MNRE estimates that the country’s electronic industry creates 12,000 tonnes of waste per year. While

of electronic products used in Vietnam is increasing 16 percent annually. Both the VEA and MNRE reports argue that e-waste isn’t as big an issue in Vietnam as it is in other countries yet, but this could change as the economy continues to expand. A draft regulation regarding the treatment of e-waste is supposed to be submitted to the government for approval by the end of this year, but it is unclear if this will happen. Public awareness of the issue is very low as well, a problem that will need to be fixed if Vietnam hopes to prevent e-waste from creating an environmental and health nightmare like it has in other countries. asialife HCMC 29

RED AND BLUE, AND VIETNAM, TOO In the run-up to the US presidential election this month, local GOP and Democratic expats stage a debate that brings the issues home to Vietnam. By Lien Hoang. Photos by Alex McMillan.

Thinh Nguyen poses as Barack Obama in a mock debate at the US Consulate's American Centre.

US Republicans would stand up to aggressors like China with a show of power, while Democrats would pursue diplomatic deals, local party proxies said in a mock debate leading up to the US elections on 6 Nov. The US consulate in Ho Chi Minh City hosted the firstof-its-kind debate on 17 Oct, hours after Gov Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama squared off in the actual town hall in New York. Like their real-life counterparts, the faux candidates from the local Democrats Abroad and Republicans Abroad groups often corrected and interrupted each other, and parroted their party leaders’ talking points. “All of you know the big gorilla in the neighbourhood 30 asialife HCMC

is China,” said Chris Harvey, a management consultant from Vermont who channeled Romney for the day. Harvey and his ‘running mate’, Gage Raley, attacked China as a currency manipulator that the United States must confront, in part by building up its military in the region. He said that when it comes to a ‘pivot’ to Asia-Pacific, the Obama administration has not walked the talk. His tough take on China was well-received by the crowd, made up mostly of young Vietnamese, who see their northern neighbour’s encroachment into the East Sea as a looming threat. But the audience also welcomed the less bellicose view offered by his opponents.

“Diplomacy takes time, and I think you would agree that talking to your neighbours, and people that you disagree with, is much better than shooting them first,” said Robert Palmer, standing in for Vice President Joe Biden, with Thinh Nguyen acting as Obama. Palmer, a marketing consultant from California, added the United States has been very active in the region, from opening a base in Australia to pursuing cooperation in Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay. For international disputes, such as Iran’s nuclear program, the Democratic duo pressed for solutions funneled through the United Nations, while Harvey shot back that Russia and China’s veto powers blunt the governing body’s effectiveness.

The local Republicans and Democrats, who staged the debate as part of the American Centre’s initiatives to expose Vietnamese to US culture, also hit a salient point on immigration. Nguyen, a war refugee who grew up in California, connected with debate-goers when he blasted his GOP rivals as favouring wealthy foreigners who enter the United States. “I was an immigrant in 1975, and we did not have the time or the money to be legal immigrants,” said Nguyen, an entrepreneur in the high-tech industry. Decades after war, Vietnam remains among the top countries sending immigrants to the United States. Harvey appealed

Playing GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Chris Harvey tells a Vietnamese crowd that Obama's immigration policy hurts people like them, who play by the rules and wait for visas.

to the crowd by warning that proposals such as the DREAM Act hurt people like them who want to enter the United States. Obama has issued a directive, related to the proposed law, that charts a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are in good standing and who were brought into the country as children. “Every day outside the American consulate on Le Duan, you see many, many people waiting for visas, playing by the rules,” Harvey said, adding that the president’s directive is an insult to them and sends the message, “Oh don’t worry about our laws, don’t worry about our borders. Just come and we’ll just give you everything and let you in anytime.”

The debate featured questions from moderator and consular economic chief Brian Neubert as well as via YouTube. One student asked what each party would do about climate change. Democrats boasted they’ve upped fuel efficiency standards and use of alternative energy, while Republicans went after Obama’s record, saying his policies cut jobs, not carbon emissions. But in front of Vietnamese spectators, ‘Vice President’ Palmer seemed to know he had the upper hand against a party whose members have denied climate change. Palmer called out Republicans for skirting the topic, saying, “I would like you to

directly answer the question: Does global climate change exist?” He went on to ask, “will the Mekong Delta be affected and impact millions of people of Vietnam? Do you believe that’s real science?” To which Raley, an attorney from Texas, replied, “If that is real science, the Obama administration’s policies are not an effective response to climate change.” In an unusual move, Nguyen rolled out a Powerpoint illustrating that historically, deficits and debt have grown under GOP presidencies, most recently through Bush-era tax cuts and war-spending. But Republicans did not let one glaring omission slide; Nguyen only showed data

through 2008. Harvey said that “says everything” about Obama’s term. “They don’t want to talk about the last four years,” Harvey said. “That’s why the last four years weren’t on the slide.” As an alternative, he hit on the five points in Romney’s economic plan: tax relief, energy independence, free trade, job training, and support for small business. Often stepping out in front of the podium like a motivational speaker and eloquently thanking people for their questions, Harvey certainly won the charm offensive, though Democrats won the debate overall, in a 45-35 audience vote. asialife HCMC 31

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Starting From Scratch One doctor’s 17-year mission to bring quality urological care to kids in Vietnam. By Sarah Dallof. Photos by Fred Wissink.

The pre-op consultations have been going on for two hours now and the crush of parents holding young patients in the hallway of the urology department of Children’s Hospital 2 doesn’t seem to be thinning. Still, Dr Le Tan Son’s energy doesn’t wane for a second as he presents case after case to a visiting team of American doctors with IVUmed, a group he’s been working with for 17 years. “This is a difficult case,” he says as a teenage boy climbs up onto the bed. In fact, all the cases Son and his team are reviewing today with IVUmed are complex. They’re the teenagers and children with conditions less familiar to the Vietnamese doctors, or ones where they want second, in-person opinions from fellow physicians. The Vietnamese and American doctors sit side by side holding the teen’s x-rays up to the light and animatedly discussing his condition as he lies there patiently, a tube sticking out of his abdomen. Medical students, jockey for position. A nurse stands on tip-toe snapping photos. After much review, the team decides the teen’s last operation was too recent and he needs to wait several more months before undergoing another. Son claps his patient on the shoulder and asks when IVUmed will be back. This case will be an excellent learning opportunity. “He’ll be right here waiting for you,” Son jokes. The ease with which the two groups of doctors work together comes from the trust and respect that has built steadily between them since 1994. That was the year IVUmed, an NGO dedicated to providing pediatric and adult urological care worldwide, came to Vietnam. At the time there were no pediatric urologists in Vietnam. IVUmed found a perfect in-country partner in Son, then a pediatric surgeon

who would go on to dedicate countless hours to learning this new specialty and training local doctors. “Before 1994, no one could deal with these situations,” Son says. “Sincerely at first I was really worried because no one could help me.” Today any nerves are long gone. Son has helped build a thriving pediatric urology program at Children’s Hospital 1 in District 10 and has moved onto Children’s Hospital 2 in District 1 to develop a high-tech surgical program with an emphasis on laparoscopic surgery. He has also authored two articles in major medical journals and teaches classes at the Medicine and Pharmacy University in Ho Chi Minh City, where he serves as head of the Pediatric Surgery Department.

to building a strong pediatric urology program in central Vietnam so patients and their families in more rural areas will not have to trek north or south for treatment, hundreds of kilometres by bus. It’s dark outside by the time Son has presented all 45 of his cases at the hospital, but early the next morning he’s walking around the operating suite with a smile. A group of eager students and residents trail him. Those who can’t fit into the operating room will watch on a television nearby. The first patient is a little boy born with two urethras, one of which is blocked by scar tissue. Son examines guide wires as IVUmed’s Dr Chad Wallis shows how to get a catheter across the scar tissue, allowing the child’s bladder to drain and

From left to right: Dr Le Nguyen Yen, Dr Catherine deVries, Dr Tran Quoc Viet, Dr Le Tan Son, Dr Chad Wallis, and Dr Lars Cisek.

“He’s a great teacher and his students are wonderful surgeons who learn fast,” Catherine deVries, founder and president of IVUmed, says. “They’ve taken everything we’ve done and amplified it. In fact, they’ve done so many more of some of these cases than we have because the volume is so high.” Thanks to this international collaboration there are now 13 pediatric urologists in Vietnam, 10 in Ho Chi Minh City and three in Hanoi. Focus is turning

subsequently healing an infection. He’ll need additional surgery to reconstruct his urethra, but for now his quality of life is improved. The next procedure is not as simple and takes more than double the time. The patient is Nguyen My, a two-year-old boy who is carried wide-eyed into the operating room before undergoing anesthesia. He has a blockage in his urinary system and needs a pyeloplasty to remove the blockage and reattach the healthy part of his kidney

to the healthy part of his ureter. Everyone presses forward to observe the procedure. In the past, the surgeon would access the area using a big incision. IVUmed is making a small cut. Students pepper Son with questions as they watch Dr Lars Cisek demonstrate the operation. When it’s over, My’s parents are waiting for him outside the operating room. His father transfers him to a gurney and helps the nurse push him along the sidewalk to a building a couple doors down and to his new hospital bed. His mom drapes a blanket over his small body and strokes his face as he wakes up. She’s hopeful the recurring pain caused by his condition will now be gone. “The doctors are very good,” she says through a translator. This is the reason Son dedicates so much time and energy to his work. A child with a treatable condition like My’s would not have received the same quality of care 17 years ago. Today, however, he was given top of the line treatment and future doctors were able to observe a new surgical technique that will help future patients heal faster and with minimal scarring. “I love, I love my job,” says Son. Between surgery, teaching, and special projects like his work with IVUmed, it’s hard to imagine Son has free time, but he insists he does. He and his wife have two children, both currently studying in the US. He enjoys television, music and, he says with a wink, fishing — the joke being that while he balances several jobs he only gets paid for one and has to find creative ways to eat. His true compensation is the knowledge that when he one day retires, he’ll leave behind a legacy of quality pediatric urology care and dozens of trained doctors and nurses to continue his work. asialife HCMC 33

Phan To (left) and Nguyen Hong Giang (right) of post-rock influenced band Time Keeper.

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In an attempt to bring something different to the local music scene, Time Keeper, a Vietnamese post-rock influenced duo that plays mainly instrumentals, has released its first full-length album. By Chris Mueller. Photo by Fred Wissink. ime Keeper’s debut album, Random Waves, is nothing like I’ve heard, especially in Vietnam. An easy comparison would be to the famous Icelandic post-rock Sigur Ros, or Mogwai, a Scottish band, but neither quite fits. The duo, made of Phan To and Nguyen Hong Giang, say they draw inspiration from Japanese post-rock, specifically World’s End Girlfriend, a composer who mixes electronic glitch to jazz-infused rock and modern classical. The influence can be obvious at times, but most of Time Keeper’s songs are still uniquely theirs. Take the fourminute 'Walk in Time'. The tempo starts out slow, then picks up with classical piano. About halfway through, the song transforms into classical Vietnamese music with sounds resembling the dan bau, a traditional one-string guitar. I first listened to this song while riding my motorbike in the early morning. When I stopped along the river to watch the local market come to life and the boats take off, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect soundtrack to the everyday flow of the city. To, 25, plays the guitar and bass, while Giang, 22, is on the keyboard. Only two of the 11 tracks on Random Waves have vocals, all in Vietnamese, but the band already has enlisted a third member, and she likely will sing most of the songs on

their next album, which they hope to release in the next couple of months. Time Keeper emerged out of both members’ desire to try something new in Vietnam. “When we made the band, we were just thinking about trying to develop music here,” To says. To arrived in Saigon from Dalat about six years ago, and started to play in Vietnamese grunge rock and stoner rock bands. Eventually, he says, he began to feel there wasn’t a big enough fan base for genres like these, and that stifled his creativity. That’s when he met Giang, 22, a freelance composer who has been playing piano since he was 5 years old. Both Giang and To were at the same place, musically. They wanted to try something new and something Vietnamese could relate to. I can see how Vietnamese would prefer this type of music, though often strange, to other new genres catching on in Ho Chi Minh City, like metal. The soft, looping melodies are easy to listen to. To can tear it up on guitar, but he doesn’t do so very often, which would probably turn off many Vietnamese listeners. He does, however, occasionally return to some pretty grungy riffs that intertwine with Giang’s mix of music, which can range from psychedelic and classical to drum beats and electronica. Although Hanoi has a growing fan base for post-rock

music and more bands like Time Keeper are forming in the north, this music is still new but growing here. Last month, the band made several live appearances, including one at Decibel in District 1 that attracted a mixed Vietnamese and expat crowd of about 50 people. I had been trying out their album a few days before the show. It is fun to listen to, especially when driving or walking, but the sound quality of their CD has room for improvement. During the live performance, however, their sound was much cleaner. It was also impressive to see so much sound coming out of only two people. When playing live, To says about 50 percent of the music is recorded prior to the show and the rest is played on stage. Time Keeper’s music certainly isn’t for everyone, but most people at the Decibel show seemed to enjoy it. ‘Cool’ and ‘interesting’ became the key words for the night. The crowd applauded to every song and some called for an encore. One of the strange things about this genre is that I’ve never found it to be very social. Sometimes it even can get a little depressing. But it is fun to watch To and Giang’s enthusiasm on stage. Whether their music eventually catches on with locals, it provides a more creative alternative to the same old pop songs and techno beats that are getting harder to escape around the city. asialife HCMC 35

Discovering Paul Hellweg takes a trip around the battlefields of Dien Bien Phu and finds peace among the ruins of war. Photos by Walter Pearson.

Dien Bien

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Please don’t go to Dien Bien Phu. It’s a hauntingly beautiful and unspoiled mountain valley with only limited development, not yet discovered by Kentucky Fried Chicken or Pizza Hut. The rustic beauty, clean air, lush rice paddies, and green hillsides evoke visions of Shangri-La, but paradise can’t last forever. The more who visit, the quicker it falls from grace. Not that Dien Bien Phu is everyone’s idea of paradise. Certainly not the French who experienced Waterloo deja vu on the valley floor and surrounding foothills, spring of 1954, setting into motion a string of repercussions that quickly led to the French withdrawal from Indochina and eventually to the American War. Two mates and I, all three of us military history buffs, toured Dien Bien Phu’s battlefields in September. I’ve read Bernard Fall’s classic account of the battle, Hell in a Very Small Place. Walking the terrain, the aptness of the title quickly becomes obvious. I’d always thought the book’s title referred to the French perspective, but hiking the steep hillsides that the Viet Minh had been forced to charge up under withering fire, I understand that hell here wasn’t just for the defeated. Now in 2012, I fall in love with the town of Dien Bien Phu, the better part of which has been built over and around the decades-old French defensive positions. One has to wind through fruit and vegetable stalls to view the site where the French artillery commander committed suicide because he had derisively under-estimated the Viet Minh’s ability to haul heavy artillery into the valley. Children stride atop the corrugated-steel roof of General

de Castries’ underground command post. We see children everywhere sitting and playing on rusted relics of the battle: American-made Chaffee tanks, American 105mm howitzers, broken pieces of downed aircraft. Monuments commemorating battle sites dot the entire valley, each a name and legend unto itself: Beatrice, Dominique, Elaine, Gabrielle, Isabelle, and others. Dien Bien Phu is located in a 20-kilometre-long valley, with the French headquarters and airfield down in the flatlands. With the sole exception of distant Isabelle, the French outer defenses were on a series of surrounding knolls bearing the women’s names. Beatrice fell first, Gabrielle next, but all endure in myth and history. Of the many monuments, the most tragic denotes where 444

of Viet Minh are buried here, almost all of them unknown soldiers. Only four of the graves bear names. The others are laid out in neat rows, the fronts of each tombstone blank except for identical gold stars within red circles. A few tombstones have names engraved on the back, added by relatives so desperate to find loved ones that they hired clairvoyants to find the correct grave. History is the main attraction here, but the allure of present-day Dien Bien Phu is not limited to all these quiet testimonials to past sacrifice and loss. Rather, the town provides a refreshing respite from the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City. The streets in Dien Bien Phu are wider and the traffic less. On a busy day, I only have to dodge three or four motorbikes while crossing a

History is the main attraction here, but the allure of present-day Dien Bien is not limited to all these quiet testimonials to past sacrifice and loss. Rather, the town provides a refreshing respite from the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City H’mong women and children were killed in a French bombing attack, presumably by accident (their men were off fighting for the French). All of these memorials, but especially the H’mong one, prompt self-reflection. I am sobered. I wouldn’t have come to Dien Bien Phu and been exposed to so much beauty were it not for the many thousands who perished here. Another sobering site is the immaculately-groomed Dien Bien Phu cemetery. Hundreds

wide thoroughfare, noteworthy only as contrast to the necessity of dodging them by the dozens in Ho Chi Minh City. Most of the locals are not Vietnamese, and of all the ethnic groups, Thai and H’mong are the most prevalent. The climax of our trip is a Thai feast arranged for us by Walter Pearson of Monkey Bridge Tours. Ever the finicky eater, I am hesitant to try the jerked water buffalo, but once started, I have trouble stopping. Same for the ground-pork-andminced-onion Spam look-alike. The feast is bookmarked with rice wine and a dance troupe of 11 women clad in traditional black and red Thai dresses with green sashes and brightly embroidered headbands. For the performance, and for our somewhat tipsy rendition of ‘Waltzing Matilda,’ it seems like the whole village has come to watch. asialife HCMC 37

mellowing out in

Marunouchi With barely a day to spend in one of the largest cities in the world, Mark Bibby Jackson decides to invest his time in Tokyo's financial district of Marunouchi and the wonderful Imperial Gardens to its west.


y preconceived perception of Tokyo was one of skyscrapers, neon signs and sushi. But by midday on my first day in this metropolis of some 13 million people, I found myself sitting in an oasis of calm surrounded by a small pond, herbaceous borders and ancient trees. I could have been in London if it were not for the humidity. A short walk from Tokyo Station, the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace stand on the site of the former Edo Castle that 38 asialife HCMC

dates back to 1603 when the Tokugawa Shoguns founded their capital here. Covering some 210,000 square metres, the gardens were part of a regeneration project for the Imperial Palace and opened to the public in 1968. As I enter through Otemon Gate, the first noise that greets me is that of young children practising their martial arts in a small pagoda partly secluded by hedges. Opposite to this small Museum of the Imperial Collections (Sannomaru Shozokan)

exhibits Yamaguchi Soken hanging scrolls from the mid-Edo period of the 18th century. A small building ahead is the first of many bansho dotted throughout the gardens. These were sentry posts for the samurai that protected the emperor and the Imperial Palace. However, it is not the many historical relics but the beautiful ornamental gardens that draw my attention. More like London Park than New York’s Central Park, they provide a perfect respite for the weary office worker.

I meet Nadisa, who is visiting the garden for the first time even though she works around the corner. “I have come here because I find it very relaxing,� she says. Nadisa reminds me of my pre-Asian existence when I used to slip off from the office at lunchtime for a leisurely stroll around St James Park in London to eat a sandwich and watch the pelicans. There are no pelicans here and the sandwiches have morphed into sushi rolls, but many office workers have

Photos by Mark Bibby Jackson

joined Nadisa to take advantage of this oasis of calm in the heart of the city. The soft rumble of the distant traffic is a reminder of the world that awaits us outside. A steep slope (Shiomi-zaka) leads from the Ninomaru (second citadel) area of the gardens to the Honmaru (inner citadel) area. The remains of a tower allows a perfect vantage point to look down upon Ohoku, a manicured lawn where, in imperial times, the Honmaru Gotun Palace was situated. Then you could see all the way to the sea from here, something I find hard to imagine as I cast my eye upon Tokyo’s sprawling city landscape. Droves of tourists and families are taking advantage of the picnic-friendly environment. Kyoko Tsukahra, 74, lives about an hour from Tokyo. She visits the Gardens once or twice a year. “I want to walk around the Imperial Gardens,” she says. “It is a very calm and beautiful place. I like it very much.” The gardens lie to the west of Marunouchi. Meaning “inside the circle”, its name refers to a time when the area lay within

the outer moat of the Imperial Palace. Now one of the city’s main financial districts and the headquarters for Japan’s three largest banks, the district is seeing something of a revival as a cultural and culinary centre. At the heart of this lies Marunouchi-Nakadori, a tree-lined street that would not look lost in Manhattan. Designer clothes shops nestle beside streetside bistros. With tapas seemingly de rigueur here, it is even easier to forget you are in the Far East rather than Upper East Side. The art literally spills out onto the street with bench sculptures and miniature gardens invigorating the well-trod pavements. To the rear of the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, itself a beautiful red-brick building dating back to 1894 with a wonderful café attached to it, is Brick Square. At least on this sunny day, the small, enclosed garden is full of office workers enjoying an extended — it is 3pm by now — lunch. Wine bars, waffle shops and yet more tapas indicate there is more to Tokyo cuisine than raw fish and glutinous rice. The night before, I had arrived by taking the Tokyo

Monorail from Haneda Airport to the main Tokyo Station, changing at Hamamatsucho. As droves of commuters stood taking photographs of the admittedly impressive structure, my stereotype of Japanese behaviour — largely based on tourists in London and American movies — became reinforced. It was only later I learned my visit coincided with the grand reopening of the station that had been kept under cover for five years. The project had restored the 98-year-old station to its pre-war beauty. As the sun begins to set I return to the station to reacquaint myself with the hordes gathered outside, this time with my camera in hand, too. It is the first time I have seen more people gathered outside a station than huddled inside on over-crowded platforms and concourses. Although, Marunouchi may lack the array of nightlife options in Roppongi or Shinjuku, it does have a post-work wining and dining atmosphere appropriate for a financial district. By-passing the inviting restaurants such as Garb and Trattoria Pagliaccio that draw me in with their siren offers of

vintage wines and tuna steaks, I head for Kanpachi, a sushi restaurant that has been recommended by the local tourist centre. Located at the base of the Kunigiwa Shopping Mall, Kanpachi is empty as I enter. My total ignorance of Japanese proves a problem as I point at various fish, hopeful that I have ordered octopus and tuna. The miso I am confident about. The fish come as anticipated, but the soup has a school of baby clams buried in its depths. This does not detract from the overall experience. Leaving far from stuffed — after all this is Japanese cuisine — I walk to neighbouring Cava. Over a glass of Japanese malt whisky I chat with one of the managers, Tony, who has spent a few years in New York. The main attraction of the place is the cheap prices — all its drinks are 380 yen ($5). “It’s popular with local people after work,” he says. Right on queue, a group of office workers come in and order a round of cold Asahi. Whether it’s London, Tokyo or Bangkok, it seems there is one thing everyone fancies after a hard day’s work. asialife HCMC 39

Fit for a King

On his first visit to Tokyo, Mark Bibby Jackson finds the Palace Hotel a right royal place to rest a couple of nights.

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ew hotels reflect the changing nature of Tokyo better than the Palace Hotel, which re-opened in May this year. The hotel stands on the same site as the former Hotel Teiko, a stateowned and government-run hotel that launched in 1947. It began operations as the Palace Hotel in 1961 before being closed in 2009 as part of a $1.2 billion redevelopment project. Located close to the Imperial Palace and Gardens, the hotel’s design concept is to create a grand residence incorporating the modern with the old. One example is the Royal Bar, which utilises the same counter as the original Palace Hotel. In the 60s, chief bartender Kiyoshi Imai was known as ‘Mr Martini’ and his bar stood at the perfect height from which to enjoy 007’s favourite tipple. The first view from my suite’s balcony is of Tokyo’s dramatic nightscape, but upon awaking, I notice through the window the Imperial Gardens to my right. It is an unusually green vista for this most modern of cities. The gardens also played a significant role in the hotel’s design, created by Australian Terry McGinnity. McGinnity apparently spent hours walking through the gardens to find inspiration. This is demonstrated by the use of traditional Japanese scenery throughout the hotel, from the stone clad exterior to the leaf motif of the carpeting and down to the fine details of the 10 restaurants and bar. The counter at the Lounge Bar Privé is shaped like a bay leaf, a reminder of the park just outside. The external environ-

ment also forms a strong feature in the design of the 290 rooms, all of which afford views over the gardens as well as the city’s skyscraper townscape. On one morning I am shown around the hotel’s 10 dining alternatives. Here the Palace is certainly aiming for the stars — Michelin ones, having partnered with Patrick Henriroux, who runs the two-star La Pyramide in Vienne, France, and Shinji Kanesaka, owner of Ginza’s two-star Sushi Kanesaka. The hotel even has tempura and teppanyaki restaurants that prove popular with local office workers. Perhaps the most unusual element of the hotel is the Evian Spa Tokyo, on the fifth floor. It is the first of its type in Japan and only the second outside of France worldwide. The five treatment rooms and spa suite are named after Alpine peaks. I take a dip in the internal pool to find a bottle of Evian placed beside my lounger. But it is in the bedroom that hotels ultimately succeed or fail. And here the Palace demonstrates imperial infallibility. After a luxuriant bath I crank up the air-con and wrap myself up in the Imbari bath towels, renowned throughout Japan for their quality, before heading for bed. The hotel literature claims the linen has a 300-thread count. Before I can count that far, I find myself falling asleep. New York may be the city that never sleeps but, at least at the Palace Hotel, Tokyo affords the most peaceful rest. Palace Hotel Tokyo



V ietnam

Crossing borders enquiries:

Green Food Is it possible to find any good vegetarian fare in the city? Fortunately, it is, now more than ever. Twenty years ago vegetarian fare was commonly available, as a matter of necessity. There just wasn’t a lot of meat on the market. And though it might have been available, most folks couldn’t afford it every day. Now with development and relative prosperity, however, it’s on most people’s daily menus. And of course while the Vietnamese dearly love their veggies, they also dearly love anything that crawls on the ground, swims in the sea or flies in the air. “Anything that turns its back to Heaven,” as the saying goes, is good for food. But there is another old saying here as well: “Take medicine when you are sick, eat vegetables with every meal.” Green food is never far away. And in keeping with Buddhist precepts, many restaurants go veggie on the 1st and 15th of each lunar month. But be wary. Any dish of vegetables may have been cooked with fish sauce or shrimp paste. You’ve got to ask. No one will think of you as a food fetishist or any other bad thing. They will be very willing to help you. But you’ve got to speak up. If you’re vegan, you’ve got a bigger challenge. But eggs are easy to spot. If it’s a crepe or a pancake in the west, it’s likely got eggs, but the Vietnamese banh xeo crepe does not. And the Vietnamese rarely, if ever, cook with dairy, though they do enjoy yoghurt and ice cream, and they use milk in their coffee. They also offer Laughing Cow processed cheese glop on streetside banh mi sandwiches, although I’m not sure that qualifies as dairy. I’ve always thought of it more as a petroleum product. At any rate, if you’re looking for green food, just look for the word ‘chay’. If you see that word in the name of a restaurant, 42 asialife HCMC

it's all vegetarian. If you see it on the menu, then that dish is vegetarian. Perhaps the oldest dedicated veggie house in town is Phap Hoa at 198 Nguyen Trai in District 1, near the Pham, a festive and crowded little joint that’s been operating since the early 90s. Here you will find mountains of mock meat, faux fowl and fake fish. Soy protein never looked or tasted so alive. Madame Nguyen Thi Ngoi Nga, a lawyer by trade, founded the establishment. When she’s on the premises she may burst from her adjoining law office into the dining room and greet all in earshot with a big “Hello, dear friends, everybody, welcome!”

dark, evil-looking potion, made from soy. Give it a smell. Strong stuff. It doesn’t really smell like fish sauce, but an important characteristic of Vietnamese cooking is a pungent aroma. It helps to set it apart from Chinese. Another traditional choice is Dinh Y restaurant at 171B Cong Quynh Street, District 1, also near the Pham. It’s owned and operated by members of the Cao Dai religion. Among its tenets are service to humanity and reverence for life. So this restaurant came into being to help satisfy those needs. Not only is it a restaurant, it's also a meditation space on the first floor and a charity outpatient clinic beside

If you’re looking for green food, just look for the word ‘chay’. If you see that word in the name of a restaurant, it's all vegetarian. If you see it on the menu, then that dish is vegetarian She radiates good humour, energy and an interest in humanity that is almost fierce. You suspect a bear hug somewhere in the offing. Phap Hoa specialises in making tofu look and taste like anything in the world but tofu. It can look like shredded chicken breast, skewered beef, mushrooms (why not just use mushrooms?), imperial rolls, a fillet of fish or a duck breast. It’s all very tasty counterfeiting. All the dishes are Vietnamese, using only local ingredients. And many of the recipes come from customers. They are encouraged to give suggestions for their favourite dishes or for new ideas. I’m assured that the cooks try them all. But how can any kitchen be truly Vietnamese without nuoc mam? During a rare slow time you can ask a cook, and be shown a bottle of a

the restaurant. “This is how we serve the people,” the manager says. Here the cook's specialties are not made to resemble meat, fish or fowl, but simply to look and be delicious for what they are: pates of mushrooms and tofu, spicy noodle dishes with an array of colourful vegetables, aromatic rice plates. Excellence in the kitchen is a part of their religious service. The Cao Dai are a missionary faith, seeking to propagate their message and draw the interest of people, or at least to extend reverence for life and to popularise the vegetarian diet. It might be working. “There used to be only a small number of vegetarian restaurants in Ho Chi Minh city”, the manager says. “But now there are over a hundred. Most of them are quite new. Just look for the word ‘chay’.”

Mam Son The French architecture of the colonial-style building housing Mam Son, mixed with the yellow walls, exposed brick and warm lighting, gives the restaurant the air of something old. If it weren’t for the simple Vietnamese decorations and the quiet classical Vietnamese music playing out of the speakers, Mam Son could be mistaken for a French restaurant. Instead it looks more like a home where a wealthy Vietnamese family might have lived during the 1930s. Everything about Mam Son is a nod to the past. Brother and sister Tuan and Tu, already well-known for their home-

Family recipes from old Hanoi served in a colonialera Vietnamese house in District 1. By Chris Mueller. Photos by Alex McMillan.

style restaurant, Tuan and Tu’s, have taken their grandmother’s special recipes from old Hanoi and painstakingly tried to keep them authentic. One example of this is the cha ruoi (VND 95,000), a meat pie of sorts made from sandworm paste, minced pork, eggs, dill and tangerine zest. The sandworms used in the cha ruoi come from the north, where they are found at the bottoms of rivers or mangrove swamps. Since the worms only appear two times a year, and only in the north, Mam Son uses frozen worms they keep on hand year round. If you are too squeamish to eat worm pie, don’t worry, they are minced up enough to

be unrecognisable and they add a nice crunch to the cha ruoi. We wash down the worm pie with some apricot juice (VND 50,000), a sweet, cider-like drink made from apricots left in a jar with sugar and water for one year. Although I’m not usually a fan of sweet drinks, this one goes well with the savoury Hanoian dishes. For a main course we try the fish with herbs cooked on a hot rock (VND 440,000). Like many dishes in Vietnam, this one is wrapped in rice paper with vegetables and herbs before being dipped in fish sauce. The dill that both the fish and fish sauce are seasoned with provides a

tangy compliment. On the side we try the sea crab and prawn fried spring rolls (VND 115,000), which are made with special, extra-thin rice paper from Hanoi for an added crisp. We also try the clam with tomato and dill soup (VND 90,000), which is full of clams and whole, juicy tomatoes, a light finish to a filling meal. If you’re looking for some home-style traditional northern cooking, Mam Son has it, all in the comfort of a quiet and tastefully decorated building. 35 Ton That Thiep, D1 08 39 15 36 53 11am to 10pm, seven days asialife HCMC 43

Zest Bistro and Café Zest Bistro is housed in a stylish, open-plan building on Ton Duc Thang Street in District 1 and is one of the rare spots in the city where you can have a good coffee with some great, well-priced food while enjoying the morning and early afternoon sun. The white walls, painted with bright propaganda artwork, the daylight- optimising high ceilings and the lightlybrushed wooden tables and bar make this urban warehousestyle space chic. The bistro has been open for five months and sees most of its business from the surrounding offices situated along the river, with many regular Vietnamese and foreign 44 asialife HCMC

patrons eating there almost every day. The French manager, Jonathon, explained that the bistro aims to provide a relaxed atmosphere with good, inexpensive food that will suit all types of people. Their ‘something for everyone’ policy is echoed in the menu, which has such a wide variety of dishes for some of the best prices I’ve seen yet. Surprising, considering the restaurant’s sophisticated atmosphere. The menu is divided into western breakfasts, soups, appetizers, salads, mains, vegetarian, and desserts, plus a Vietnamese menu. We started with cappuc-

A bright and airy bistro with an extensive menu that is perfect for a lengthy catch-up or a quick business lunch. By Claire Jowell. Photos by Linh Phanroy.

cinos that are made using Cafes Folliet beans, which is local coffee roasted in a French style. We ordered a selection of dishes recommended by Jonathon and sat back to enjoy the late morning sun and our coffees. First to arrive was the galette complete, which is a Rye flour crepe with mushroom sauce, sautéed mushrooms, ham, emmental cheese and a sunny side up egg (VND 88,000), as well as the classic croque madame (VND 88,000). Next up, were the bistro’s most popular dishes, the fish and chips (VND 77,000), crispy hot wings with blue cheese sauce (VND 88,000), and nem cua be, which is a

Vietnamese square crab spring roll (VND 55,000). The meals are very much like the menu suggests; simple with quality. The bistro will soon be bringing out a new menu, which will feature more sandwiches and various group meals, like the French raclette, to be ordered in advance. Zest offers a comfortable, cheerful ambience with simple yet delicious food, a perfect place to come with friends and colleagues, or even alone with only a book and your thoughts. 5 Ton Duc Thang Street, D1 08 39 11 55 99 7am to 10pm, seven days

Roadhouse Saigon Burgers are the name of the game here. While the menu boasts other options, from steaks and lamb chops to chicken wings and salads, the gourmet burgers are the true stars. Starting at VND 120,000 for a plain burger but topping out at VND 250,000, these may not be the cheapest around, but they have the quality and proportion to match. The Roadhouse sits atop the newly-opened, boutique Alcove Library Hotel in an obscure neighbourhood off Nguyen Van Troi in Phu Nhuan District. The main restaurant area has a scattering of round tables with a long black, leather

An American-style burger joint overlooking a quiet neighbourhood in Phu Nhuan District. By Chris Mueller. Photos by Linh Phanroy.

booth-style bench on the far wall. The outside dining area provides views over the quiet neighbourhood below. Altogether, the booth, dim lighting and open kitchen over a wooden bar hints at an upscale, American-style diner. We started with the baconmarinated burger (VND 165,000), served in a basket with a generous side of wellseasoned and perfectly crispy fries. Topped with bacon, melted Gorgonzola cheese, carmelised onions, sautéed mushrooms and garlic mayonnaise, the medium-rare patty was thick and perfectly pink on the inside. The Gorgonzola

stood out best, and although it was a strong cheese it didn’t overwhelm the rest of the ingredients. The second burger, as if one wasn’t enough, was the hearty Roadhouse wagyu warrior (VND 250,000), dressed with sautéed duxelle, mushrooms, bacon, cheddar cheese and truffle aioli. We also tried a few side dishes, like the warm spinach salad (VND 95,000). Its fresh, green leaves mixed with bacon, mushrooms, sliced onion, toasted sesame and lemon juice presented a lighter alternative to the burgers. As Americans, we also couldn’t resist the bacon-wrapped shrimp glazed

in maple syrup (VND 120,000), a nice sweet and savoury combination. We ended with a side of grilled corn on the cob. Although it was Vietnamese corn, the marinade left it juicy, just like at a summer barbeque. If you want to get away from the centre of town, the Roadhouse is worth the trip to Phu Nhuan for some excellent American food. Should the rich food leave you in a coma, you can always stay at the beautiful hotel below. 133A Nguyen Dinh Chinh Street, Phu Nhuan District 08 62 56 99 66 11.30am to 11pm, seven days asialife HCMC 45

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Pia Blair originally arrived in Ho Chi Minh City as just another teacher, but after a year she started to feel the urge once again to express herself creatively. She decided it was time to use the skills she had honed while studying sculpture and print making in Australia and teaching art at a secondary school. The more artistic path led her to places all over the city in search of material, and eventually to more than 40 stores selling her work in Australia. “I’ve been making things for friends and family my whole life,” she says. “I wanted to try to make some extra money.” Blair began by making greeting cards and, after creating a batch, she took them to L’usine, a hip District 1 café, in September 2011. She hoped L’usine would put one or two up for sale, but instead they took every last one and asked for more. Blair says, “I still can’t believe it. It was just so amazing.” Then came the introduction to Julia Green, a Melbourne-based agent with connections to art boutiques and buyers. Green liked Blair’s cards, but believed there was no money in them, so she told her to make something on a larger scale. Over the next two weeks Blair bought a set of large pieces of paper from Australia and began screen printing and experimenting with spray painting. “I’ve always been someone who collects things, which is great here in Saigon because I can search through stores in the middle of nowhere and find these great things,” Blair says of her creative process.

She found stores near Hung Vuong Plaza in District 5 and in Go Vap District that were packed with photographs, maps and postcards from the 1950s to today and used these to tell stories. Blair’s philosophy is that “there should be humour in art, and it should be accessible to all, so I try to tell a story and engage people while evoking a sense of nostalgia.” Sometimes she has a concept in mind when she starts

Green told me in an email. “This was not a stick and paste job for the light hearted. This girl had methodically worked out her theme, design and colour palette with precision, yet made it look like a random act of kindness.” Green then took Blair’s work to a retailer in Melbourne who bought everything on the spot. Blair now creates work under a business called Little Land of Pia. In August she took part in a

“This was not a stick and paste job for the light hearted. This girl [Pia Blair] had methodically worked out her theme, design and colour palette with precision, yet made it look like a random act of kindness” Julia Green, art agent a piece of artwork, other times the tale comes together as the work progresses. After finishing a set of prints Blair shipped them off to Green, the agent. “I was blown away,”

national art fair, and in February she will have her own display space at another exhibition, personally giving herself exposure to the Australian market for the first time.

Jo Mclean, who owns JFAHRI boutique in Melbourne, is one of the retailers selling Blair’s work. Her designs are always unique, colourful and fun with a hidden message, and each artwork tells an individual story,” Mclean says. “Customers spend a while choosing a piece which they best relate to.” When discussing the future, Blair admits her print artwork isn’t for everyone, especially because they are quite expensive to purchase. Recently she has diversified her products to make herself more marketable by creating handbags and cushions. “I’ve always been interested in textiles and there are skilled craftsmen and materials at our doorstep,” she says. “So it would be stupid not to make something like that.” Though at the moment Blair has her hands full with her Australian clientele, she hopes to enter the Asian market, but it’s proving harder than expected. In Australia, however, things are going exceedingly well for Blair. The Design Files, a popular blog, recently invited her to display her work at their Open House project in Melbourne along with 12 other artists from around the country. Last year the event attracted several thousand visitors. Blair’s work seems to have struck a chord. As Green says, “It is popular because it is fresh and different, and made with everyday ‘stuff’ and turned into a work of art.” To see examples of Blair’s work visit asialife HCMC 47

Got the Look

Irena Red Bordeaux taffeta pleated dress: VND 5,460,000 • Leaf earrings, 24K gold lacquered, with black stones: VND 1,250,000 • Multiple elastic arm bracelet: VND 980,000 •

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Long • Red Bordeaux Italian cotton suit: VND 4,680,000 • Herringbone cotton shirt: VND 1,450,000 • Made in Italy real leather black suitcase: VND 8,160,000

Irena White with black contrast top, Italian cotton: VND 1,890,000 • White with black contrast pants with gold button: VND 4,200,000 • Necklace: VND 1,650,000 • Multiple elastic arm bracelet: VND 980,000 • Gold pattern bracelet: VND 370,000 • 24K gold lacquered ring with blackstone: VND 1,150,000 •

Long Italian white linen suit: VND 4,320,000 • V-neck tee with white contrast piping: VND 920,000 •

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Irena • Orange satin Duchesse dress: hand-beaded: VND 16,800,000 • Pattern bracelet, 24K gold lacquered: VND 2,3800,000 • Gold bracelet: VND 370,000 Long Orange Italian cotton with double collar: VND 1,450,000 • Pink Italian linen suit: VND 4,320,000 •

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Irena • Jacquard blazer: VND 3,800,000 • Embroidered organza top: VND 2,380,000 • Flare pants: VND 1,950,000 • Necklace with golden pattern ball: VND 2,150,000 • Gold pattern bracelet: VND 1,150,000 • 24K gold lacquered ring with blackstone: VND 1,150,000 • Leaf earrings, 24K gold lacquered, with black stones: VND 1,250,000 Long Italian cotton shirt: VND 1,450,000 • Orange Italian cotton pants with red contrast piping: VND 2,205,000 • Made in Italy real leather shoes: VND 4,420,000 •

Anna Vo Fashion Boutique & A Café 23 Dong Khoi, D1 08 66 75 40 13 / 09 02 87 10 26 Photography: Fred Wissink & Alex McMillan

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hotel & travel AIRLINES

Air Asia 254 De Tham, D1 Tel: 3838 9810 Asia’s largest low-cost airline operates one daily flight between HCM CityHanoi, as well as international flights to Bangkok, Phuket, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. Cathay Pacific 72-74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D3 Tel: 3822 3203 Hong Kong-based airline makes three flights daily to HCM City and two flights daily to Hong Kong’s international airport. Malaysia Airlines Unit G8 Ground floor, SG Trade Center 37 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3824 6663 Offers daily flights from Hanoi and HCM City to Kuala Lumpur, with four economy class fare levels: low, basic, smart and flex.

conomy class: 46inch leg room, personalised entertainment screen and globally awarded cuisine on-board.

and snake through mountains, jungles and deltas, lasting anywhere from three to 21 days.

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.



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.

activities Turkish Airlines 8th floor, AB Tower 76A Le Lai, D1 Tel: 3936 0360 Awarded as the Best Airline in Europe offers the brand new Comfort Class to E


Dalat Easy Rider Tours 70 Phan Dinh Phung Ride pillion with English-, French- or German-speaking tour guides on motorbike adventures that start in Dalat

Novotel Nha Trang’s Vous spa introduces the winter package this November, including hot stone massages to restore balance and re-energize your body, followed by your choice of: foot reflexology, body scrub, manicure, or pedicure. Complete the experience with a warm cup of Vietnamese tea. Price is VND 1,190,000 for two hours. More at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay announced its Six Senses Spa is the first in Vietnam to launch a full professional and retail range of intraceuticals oxygen treatments, oxygen detoxification wellness programs and beauty and wellness spa holidays, which come with oxygen infusion and inhalation therapies. Intraceuticals focus on facials, while the infusion of oxygen and vitamin enriched serums from botanical extracts maximizes skin regeneration and moisture leaving the skin noticeably firmer and glow-

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Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi 83A Ly Thuong Kiet Tel: 3822 2800 Conveniently located in the heart of Hanoi’s business district, a 40-minute drive from Noi Bai International Airport and only 5 minutes from the city centre, Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi is the latest five-star hotel in town, tailored to meet the needs of discerning guests and especially corporate travellers.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

Park Hyatt 2 Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 3824 1234 Luxury colonial-style hotel includes 21 suites, lobby lounge with live music, Xuan Spa, pool, gym, international dining at Square One.


Caravelle Hotel 19 Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 3823 4999 One of the city’s most prestigious

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

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Winter Package

A Complete Spa

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.

venues. Features a casino, Reflections Restaurant and al fresco 9th-floor Saigon Saigon Bar.

ing with a visible lift. Visit for more about the Nha Trang resort.

Exclusive Gift

The five-star Hotel Equatorial HCMC presents an Exclusive Equinox Gift, including Azial moisturising body oil, Azial incense cones, Azial scented pouch and a 60minute body massage. With the concept ‘continue well-being at home’, the gift box costs VND 1,218,000. Contact Equinox Fitness and Leisure Center, Hotel Equatorial HCMC, 242 Tran Binh Trong, Ward 4, D5, 03 83 97 77 7 ext: 8555.

‘French Mansion’ Dining

In what could be Vietnam’s first restaurant opened by a chef with three Michelin stars, the Intercontinental resort in Danang is introducing La Maison 1888 on 12 Dec. Veteran chef Michel Roux put together a simple menu that includes traditional lobster and chicken dishes but roughly 150 wines. “You will never have seen food like that in

Vietnam before,” said Roux, who might venture into elements of Vietnamese cooking in a second phase. The architecture of the restaurant, named for the height of French colonialism here, recreates an antique French mansion with period themes, such as a travellers’ room or a madame’s boudoir. Roux also plans to hold a few master classes for chefs next year. More at

conference centre, shopping centre, supermarket.


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


Banyan Tree Lang Co Tel: 84 54 3695 888 The resort is inspired by the artistic heritage of Vietnamese dynasties past, features 32 lagoon pool villas, 17 beach pool villas, an array of eclectic dining experiences from modern Thai cuisine to French specialties, 18-hole championship course designed by Sir Nick Faldo, delivers a golfing experience that can be enjoyed by skilled and novice players alike. Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa Cua Dai Beach Tel: 0510 3927 040 Set on its own stretch of beach with 105 rooms spread through a traditional fishing village design of small “streets” and ponds.

HUE Pilgrimage Village Resort & Spa 130 Minh Mang Tel: 054 3885 461 Boutique resort with hut, bungalow and villa accommodation draws on natural environment and local culture. Features Vedana spa, two restaurants serving Vietnamese & Western food and imported wines and three bar/lounges. Vedana Lagoon Resort & Spa 112 Minh Mang Tel: 054 3830 240 Nestled on the shore of a peaceful and serene lagoon, vedana lagoon resort & spa is ideally situated between the two cities well-known as world heritage sites: hue and hoi an. The resort designed with a stylist harmony between the local traditional culture and a modern art concept with 27 villas, bungalows and 2 houseboats.


Evason Hideaway at Ana Mandara Ninh Van Bay, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa Tel: 058 3728 222 An island hideaway accessible only by boat, 58 private pool villas, international and local restaurants, wedding services, water sports and scuba diving. Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang Beachside, Tran Phu, Nha Trang Tel: 058 3522 222 Beachside resort set in 26,000 square metres of tropical garden, with 74 guest villas, three restaurants, Six Senses Spa. Mia Resort Nha Trang Bai Dong, Cam Hai Dong, Cam Lam, Khanh Hoa Tel: 58 398 9666 Ultimate luxury resort with 50 rooms divided into villas and condos, catering by wel-known restaurant Sandals and Mojito's bar.


Villa Aria Muine 60A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne

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


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


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

VUNG TAU Ho Tram Beach Resort & Spa Ho Tram Village,

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


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

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tralia. Good destination for both lunch and dinner.


La Habana 6 Cao Ba Quat, D1 Tel: 3829 5180 This charming little place has seating indoors and outdoors, upstairs and downstairs to fit your dining pleasure. Relaxed environment with frequent live music. Offers Spanish and Cuban fare including paella and a tapas fiesta comprising three plates. Open late daily.

food & drink BAR RESTAURANTS

Alibi 11 Thai Van Lung, D1 Tel: 3822 3240 Hip without being showy, this versatile venue has a pleasant front porch, stand up bar and comfortable lounge seating with bright, warm décor and great tunes. Drinks list is extensive and the food menu boasts French-style mains. Buddha Bar 7 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 2080 An Phu institution serves up tasty meals and good drinks in a friendly, chilled environment. Plenty of room to relax inside or out, plus a pool table on premise.  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 Aus-


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 and high quality food with ingredients imported from Turkey, Spain, Singapore, Egypt, New Zealand, Japan and France. Long happy hour half price by glass. Various shisha flavours. Phatty’s 46-48 Ton That Thiep, D1 Tel: 3821 0705

Sangiovese grapes from Tuscany together with five courses of gourmet cuisine are the stars of the Ruffino Wine Dinner on 21 Nov. Chianti Ruffino is renowned as one of the first to introduce Italian wines to the world. Ruffino’s brand ambassador in Asia, Alan Wong, will represent the winery and the Folonari family at Reflections Restaurant, where guests will sample six vintages from Ruffino’s legendary cellars. The evening begins with canapés and Orvieto Classico DOC 2011, while a Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico 2007 will be served with the fourth course of roast beef tenderloin with breaded artichokes, smoked potato puree and tarragon-flavoured bacon mushroom ragout. VND 1,480,000 per person. The restaurant is on the third floor of the Caravelle (see above). Celebrate the holiday on 22 Nov at Park Hyatt Saigon’s signature restaurant, Square One. Dine in the restaurant and indulge in a traditional Thanksgiving menu, with all the trimmings and some special

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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.

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

Chic bar decked in deep reds that gets packed to capacity on weekends. Open Monday to Saturday with live music on Fridays. Food menu by chef with over 10 years experience at La Camargue. Also does excellent pizza.  ZanZBar 41 Dong Du, D1 Funky, modern interiors and varied international breakfast, lunch and dinner cuisine. Imported beers, cocktails, gourmet espresso coffee, and happy hours make ZanZBar a great after-work spot. Open late.


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

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Wine Pairing

Thanksgiving Out

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.

holiday touches. A set menu for lunch or dinner at VND 990,000 includes: sweet corn and crab meat chowder and glazed duck salad with sweet potatoes and chestnuts, followed by a main turkey with asparagus and cranberry. For dessert: pumpkin tart, maple ice cream and vanilla chantilly cream. 2 Lam Son Square, D1, 08 38 24 12 34,

Sizzlin’ Steak

Corso Steakhouse & Bar in the Norfolk Hotel introduces an enhanced selection of highland steaks this November, from the bbq shrimp sautéed New Orleans style with white wine to the sautéed mushroom and crabmeat with cream crab stuffing for starters. Mains include the signature trio highland steaks such as US eye fillet circled with smoked bacon, Australian cowboy rib-eye steak of heavily marbled rib, or New Zealand prime chopped steak. They come with homemade sauces and your choice of rice, macaroni and cheese, or steak fried. 117 Le Thanh Ton, D1, 08 38 29 53 68,

Waffle World

There’s nothing awful about waffles, especially those served by the Caravelle’s chefs from 16-22 Nov. Guests in the Lobby Lounge can snack on six types of freshly-baked waffles, such as warm cherry stew with macadamia ice-cream, for VND 128,000. Top them with sautéed apples, vanilla bean sauce Anglaise, natural icing sugar, or maple syrup. The Lobby Lounge is inside the Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, D1, 03 82 34 99 9,

street gourmet

Dua Tac Look no further than a cold glass of dua tac the next time you need to quench your thirst. While the main ingredients are coconut juice and large pieces of coconut, there's also a generous amount of kumquat juice, giving the drink its distinctive flavour. Sugar adds an extra kick,

The Crescent, 103 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung, D7 Hailing from the U.S., That’s Café is a new Khai Silk initiative. Claiming to provide the best coffee in town in a comfortable and friendly atmosphere, it’s a great place to hold a business meeting or catch up with friends. X Cafe 58 Pasteur, D1 Tel: 3914 2142 Bright, spacious foreign-run cafe decorated in the style of an Alpine chalet. Popular with local makers and shakers, has a great open-plan upstairs area and

but don't fight it — what Vietnamese drink would be complete without a little duong? Dua tac is served up with lots of ice, making it a great choice for the summer months. A glass of this sweet concoction will run you about VND 4,000/glass, VND 5,000 for take-away.

253 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3844 9222 ext. 168 Dim Sum and exciting Cantonese cuisine in a unique and elegant setting.

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.

Tel: 3829 9263 This French diner-style restaurant has an emphasis on hearty home cooking, courteous service and a relaxed atmosphere Chefs David Thai an Alexis Melgrani are well known industry figures and this venue can hold its own among the city`s many French restaurants

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.


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.

two outdoor terraces. Regular live music and homemade ice cream.

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.



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

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

Le Bouchon de Saigon 40 Thai Van Lung, D1

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


Al Fresco’s 21 Mac Dinh Chi D1 Tel: 3823 8427 27 Dong Du, D1 Tel: 3822 7317 D1-23 My Toan 3, D7 Tel: 5410 1093 400 Nguyen Trai, D5 Tel: 3838 3840 Theme restaurant boasting a range of Tex-Mex, Italian and Australian-style BBQ dishes. Huge portions and tasty Australian ribs coupled with a good atmosphere and helpful staff. Good lunch menu.  Amigo Grill 55 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 3824 1248 Outstanding steaks made with Australian, U.S. and Argentine beef, served in a cosy, family-friendly environment with large tables and banquette seating. Dishes like leg of lamb and seafood are also on the menu. Open 11 am to 11 pm. Au Parc 23 Han Thuyen, D1 Tel: 3829 2772 Lavishly decorated brasserie borrowing

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

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

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

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

from Moroccan and French styles and popular during lunchtime with expats. Specializes in Middle Eastern and North African food. The salad menu is a favourite, and a great range of lush smoothies and juices are on offer.  Blanchy's Tash 93 - 95 Hai Ba Trung, D1 A high-end bar and restaurant with outdoor terrace. With ex-Nobu London Chef at the helm, Blanchy’s offers tapaslike snacks that fuse Japanese and South American influences. Expect great things here from international DJs and renowned mixologists Black Cat 13 Phan Van Dat, D1 Tel: 3829 2055 Tiny but popular District 1 restaurant serving up an excellent selection of Western and Vietnamese fare and an extensive range of sandwiches and burgers.  BoatHouse 40 Lily Road, APSC Compound, 36 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 6790 Riverside restaurant with 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 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. Cafe Saigon Ground floor, Moevenpick Hotel Saigon 253 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3844 9222 ext. 234 An international buffet with unique food concepts that is perfect for gathering family and friends. Camargue 74/7D Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 08 35 20 48 88 One of the first western restaurants in Saigon, Camargue offers a great selection of French food and wine in a romantic, rustic French villa. Cham Charm 3 Phan Van Chuong, Phu My Hung Tel: 5410 9999 The highlight of this upscale, beautifully decorated Asian restaurant is a special seafood buffet that includes Portuguese oysters, Alaskan crab, lobsters, sushi, sashimi, Japanese-style seafood, Langoustine prawns, American Angus beef and much more. Errazuriz wines are also included in the buffet. Part of the Khai Silk chain. El Gaucho 5D Nguyen Sieu, D1 Tel: 3825 1879 Cresent Residence 1_12, No. 103 Ton Dat Tien, PMH, D7 A classic Argentine steakhouse where beef is the main attraction. There is still plenty of other options on the menu, in addition to an extensive wine list. Open from 4pm until late every day. The Deck 38 Nguyen U Di, D2 Tel: 3744 6632 Serves upmarket takes on regional specialties made with fresh local and imported products. Well-designed, minimalist dining space and bar on the river are a serious draw.

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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 Bitexc Financial tower. The legendary Prime Rib steaks are the centrpiece of the menu which also includes burgers, seafood and bar snacks.  Jaspa’s 33 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3822 9926 Unpretentious brasserie-style restaurant specializes in Australian-influenced international fusion cuisine. Full range of drinks including Australian and French wines and good cocktails. Hosts monthly Spam Cham networking event.  Kita Coffee House 39 Nguyen Hue, D1, Tel: 3821 5300 Four-level restaurant serving a wide menu of mains, pastas, salads, sandwiches, soups and appetizers for lunch and dinner, as well as a variety of coffee and fresh fruit juices. Includes a bright ground floor cafe, sophisticated Old World second floor bar and rooftop dining. Set dinner everyday from 5pm.  Koto 151A Hai Ba Trung, D3, Tel: 3934 9151 This is the Saigon arm of the renowned organisation that began in Hanoi a decade ago. Vietnamese food is prepared with innovative twist by young people Koto are helping get a start in the hospitality industry and on a path for a better life.  Le Steak de Saigon 15 Dong Du, D1 Tel: 08 38 22 45 93 On one of the fancier streets in the centre of District 1, this small steakhouse has limited options, but its set meal, which includes a steak, salad and fries or mashed potatoes for only VND 200,000, is probably one of the better deals in town. Market 39 InterContinental Asiana Saigon Ground Floor, Corner Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3520 9099 Seven interactive live kitchens offering French, Vietnamese and Southeast Asian cuisines, including a bakery, French patisseries, pancakes, tossed

salads, grilled steak, seafood, wok-fried items, noodles and pasta dishes. Mekong Merchant 23 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 4713 Set in a courtyard, this rustic Australianstyle brasserie has brought modern international cuisine to suburban An Phu. Popular for weekend brunches. Weekly specials and seafood flown in from Phu Quoc.  New York Steakhouse & Winery 25-27 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D1 Tel: 3823 7373 Chic dining venue designed in a classic New York City Art Deco. Open every day until late. Specializes in certified U.S. Black Angus steak, and features a fully stocked wine cellar. Guests are invited to bring their own wine on BYOB Mondays. 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 out-

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


Basilico InterContinental Asiana Saigon, Ground Floor, Corner Nguyen Du and Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3520 9099 Contemporary and casual trattoria-style restaurant specializing in authentic Italian dishes and homemade desserts. Wood-

fired pizza oven and a wide selection of Italian wines. Casa Italia 86 Le Loi, D1 Tel: 3824 4286 Serves home-style Italian cooking including pasta and pizza as well as a selection of steak and seafoodd dishes. Open daily 10 am until late. Good Morning Vietnam 197 De Tham, D1 Tel: 3837 1894 Popular authentic Italian restaurant with additional outlets around the country. Specializes in thin-crust pizza, pasta 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.  La Trattoria del Buon Vino 11 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: (0163) 4991625 Half Italian restaurant and half wine bar and jazz lounge, La Trattoria offers a remix of classical Italian cuisine with a contemporary, innovative touch in its restaurant and a chill, electronic atmosphere in the wine bar and jazz lounge on the third floor. Lucca 88 Ho Tung Mau, D1 Tel: 08 39 15 36 92 A centrally located trattoria, café and bar that gets lively at lunchtime but has space enough for a mellow meal. Opera Ground floor Park Hyatt Hotel, 2 Lam

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

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:

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street gourmet

How to Store Wine By Darryl Bethea You did your research. The wine you purchased has a 90-point rating, your friends and family are excited to open it up and enjoy. But then: uhoh, you’re having trouble with the cork; it cracks, breaking in half. Finally, after tasting the wine, you are disappointed. What happened? How can this wine be so dull, life-less? The answer could be in the storage method and temperature. When storing wine, the positioning and temperature are crucial. First, wines should be kept at an even temperature, around 12 degrees Celsius. Too much heat will cause the wine to age prematurely, turn brown, and lose its fruitiness and life. A white wine kept too warm will darken, causing it to oxidize. Light, too, is an enemy. Too much will cause the cork to heat up and dry. Sparkling wines will lose bubbles and become flat in appearance and flavour. The ideal wine storage area will have little or no natural light and no huge variations in temperature. Look at the relationship of the wine and how it is stored. That will give you a good clue about its contents. Natural corks are porous and should be kept moist; dried corks will shrink and let air in. Therefore, bottles sealed with a cork should be stored on their sides, labels facing up (once you store the wine, you don’t want to continually move it around). When serving, a full-bodied red wine will be best between 15 and 18 degrees, while a

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Banh He light-bodied version can be served slightly chilled at 13 degrees. White wines should be served cool or chilled, but not too cold because you will lose the aromatics and full flavour. The heavier dessert white wines can be served coldest (6-8 degrees), delicate and light wines around 7-10 degrees, and full-bodies whites at 10-13 degrees. Sparkling wine is best around 6-10 degrees. When in the ice bucket or cooler, it should be submerged at a slight angle, so the wine at the upper portion of the bottle mixes with the colder wine at the bottom. Be careful not to keep it on ice too long. Many times the complexity of the wine and the palate experience can be ruined if the wine is over-chilled. If you are serious about your wine, a wine cabinet with one or two temperature zones is a great investment. The ideal temperature will vary according to the origin and age of the wine, though many new world labels will indicate best temperatures. A few degrees Celsius can change flavours even from the same bottle, in one sitting. So the best thing to do is experiment to find the right balance. Darryl Bethea is Group Sales Manager for Fine Wines of the World (09 3378 5005) and is a certified sommelier from the Court of the Master Sommeliers. Contact Darryl at 09 3378 5005 or email Darryl@

Banh he just may be the oiliest street food around — and that's all the more reason to try it. The shell is made from wheat starch and the filling can be pork, minced shrimp or egg, neatly stuffed between heaps of chives and a bit of shredded papaya. The mixture is deep-fried until the wheat starch

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. Kissho 14 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 3823 2223 Fax: 3823 3343 Saigon’s newest Japanese restaurant boasts a multi-concept cuisine set in a cutting edge interior. Specialties include teppanyaki, yakiniku, sushi and sashimi crafted by expert chefs. The freshest imported meats and seafood round out the menu, accompanied by an extensive selection of fine wines and Japanese spirits. Open 11.30 am to 2 pm and 5.30 pm to 10 pm. Iki Ground floor, Moevenpick Hotel Saigon 253 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3844 9222 ext. 127 A Japanese restaurant that turns the notion of the common hotel sushi eatery on its head thanks to an affordable menu and a fun atmosphere. Nishimura Mövenpick Hotel Saigon, 253 Nguyen

gets somewhat crispy, although the grease keeps it mostly soggy. Banh he originated in Quang Ngai province in central Vietnam, but up in those parts, the only ingredients used are rice flour and chives. Either version can get rather messy, so don't eat it on the run! A serving costs VND 6,000.

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.


Baan Thai 55 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 5453 If you have been missing the delights of Bangkok nightlife then this restaurant and bar should be for you. The Thai chefs whip up all the traditional dishes you know and love, while in the bar there are a host of drinks and activities to help while away an evening. Lac Thai 71/2 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Tel: 3823 7506 An elegant restaurant tucked in an alleyway and decorated with art-deco furniture. Authentic Thai cuisine prepared by two Thai chefs. Food is tasty but less spicy than you’d find in Thailand.  Little Manila S2-1 Hung Vuong 2, Phu My Hung, D7 Tel: 5410 0812 Small, no -frills eatery with outdoor and indoor seating located on a quiet street. Serves a range of dishes from the Philippines (pictured on menu for those unfamiliar) and draught San Miguel. Thai Express 8A Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 6299 1338 Modern restaurant with a massive menu of Thai specialties served in moderate proportions. The menu inludes chef’s recommendations and background on Thai cuisine. Warning: some dishes will test your tongue’s threshold.


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. Viet Chay 339 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D3 Tel: 3526 5862 Upscale vegetarian restaurant specializes in fake meat dishes. The attractive dining room is suffused with natural light. Located within the walls of Vinh Nghiem Pagoda.


Banian Tree River Garden, 170 Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 6683 5308 – 0903 669 252

A fine dining Vietnamese restaurant that serves authentic cuisine. Offers a set lunch, set dinner, International breakfast is served from 6.30 am - 10.30 am. Blue Crab 49D Quoc Huong, Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 2008 This seafood restaurant has some of the most well-prepared and cheapest seafood in town. Its menu offers everything from prawns, scallops and lobster to pork ribs and crab, all for rock-bottom prices. Cha Ca Viet Nam River Garden, 170 Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 6683 5308 0903 669 252 Serves Hanoi specialty Cha Ca—turmeric grilled fish with noodles and dill. Hoa Tuc 74 Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3825 1676 This comfortable high-end restaurant serves traditional Vietnamese fare with a contemporary, classy twist. Expect to find your local favourites as you’ve never experienced them before. Beautifully plated, this is Vietnamese cuisine at its best. Lang Nuong Nam Bo 285/C145 Cach Mang Thang Tam, D10 Tel: 3862 2569 Warehouse-sized quan well-regarded among locals serves everything from beef, chicken and fish to porcupine, weasel and field mouse. Great destination for intrepid gastronomes. Has standard hot pot, rice and noodle dishes too. Mandarine Restaurant 11A Ngo Van Nam, D1 Tel: 3822 9783 Fine dining Vietnamese-style courtesy of two sumptuously decorated colonial villas, an antique wooden stair and a menu spanning all regions of Vietnam. Traditional music performances are available for dinner. Nam Phan 34 Vo Van Tan, Q3 Tel: 3933 3636 Well known at its previous corner location on Le Thanh Ton, Nam Phan continues to serve modern Asian cuisine including asparagus and crab meat soup, stewed bellyfish in pineapple and grilled duck breast in orange sauce. Set in a restored colonial villa, the interior is alive with reproductions of Cham-era bas-reliefs and is inspired by Euro-Zen. Temple Club 29 – 31 Ton That Thiep, D1 Tel: 3829 9244 This high-end restaurant attached to an elegant lounge bar is a must-try for its art deco atmosphere as much as for its food. Mains go around 80,000 -150,000.

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

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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. M52 Bar 52 Ton That Thiep, D1 Tel: 3821 6726 Sparsely-appointed venue with reasonably priced drinks noted for packing a punch. Owners Annie and Ms. Van are never too busy to check on their patrons, and the busy bartenders are quick with a smile. Purple Jade InterContinental Asiana Saigon, corner of Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3520 9099 Chic lounge blends the stylistic influences of contemporary design and opium dens. Hosts live music and serves special drinks, including Shaoxing and Maotai rice wines and an exclusive selection of luxury spirits. Saigon Saigon Bar 9th floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 3823 4999 Popular bar usually packed out with tourists and business travellers searching for some delicious cocktails and a great view of the city skyline. Cuban band Warapo plays every night except Monday from 8.30 pm until late.


Hoa Vien 28bis Mac Dinh Chi, D1 Tel: 3829 0585 Expansive beer hall serves up pilsner beer crafted from malt, hops and yeast from the Czech Republic. There’s also a large food menu and imported Pilsner Urquell. Lion Brewery 11C Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 3823 8514

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Microbrewery featuring traditional German brew technology and German fare like pork knuckle and wurst. Good spot to meet friends and enjoy a hearty meal and a whole lot of beer.

Tel: 3898 9286 Provide services of catering, banquets, event planning, BBQ’s. For a custommade quotation e-mail SaigonGG@gmail. com or call Huong on 0913 981128.


Xu Catering 71-75 Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3824 8468 From the brains behind Xu Restaurant and Lounge comes this new catering service, promising the highest standards in service. Everything from the menu to the comprehensive bar service and the staff is tailor-made to your specifications.

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

at home BAKERIES

Harvest Baking 30 Lam Son, Tan Binh Tel: 3547 0577 This authentic bakery offers a range of specialty baked goods for delivery. Offering bagels, scones, breads, desserts,cakes, tarts and more. Chocolate fudge cake and cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing highly recommended. Pat A Chou 65 Hai Ba Trung, D1 25 Thao Dien, D2 The home of the long and crusty baguette. Supplies many restaurants but also sells wholesale. The miniature patisseries such as crème brulée and cheesecake are worth a taste. Opens at 6.30 am. Tous Les Jours 180 Hai Ba Trung, D3 Part of the Korean bakery chain, Tous Le Jours stocks a superb range of freshly baked good from sugary treats like pain au chocolat to superior quality baguettes and loafs. Voelker 17 A7 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 7303 8799 39 Thao Dien, An Phu, D2 Tel: 6296 0066 Small bakery turns out sweet and salted pies and mousses in addition to baguettes and a range of Western sweets.


Saigon Catering 41A Vo Truong Toan, D2


Caravelle Hotel Cooking Classes Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 3823 4999 Full-day Vietnamese cooking classes for groups of up to 20 people. The classes include a visit to the market with the sous chef. Saigon Cooking Class by Hoa Tuc The Courtyard, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3825 8485 Cooking classes available from Tuesday to Sunday 10 am-1 pm/2 pm-5 pm. Students make an entire meal that includes traditional dishes like pho and cha gio, as well as more creative fare. Conducted by Vietnamese chef in English, Japanese or French on request.


KITCHEN Tel: 0974 444 001 Visit the website and start an account to begin ordering fresh, homemade meals to your home. Options include beef lasagne, big chicken and mushroom pies and pork dijon as well as a variety of sausages and vegetarian dishes. Must order a minimum of three dishes at a time. Pizza Hut Delivery (PHD) Tel: 3838 8388 Serving up pizza, pasta, chicken wings and much more. PHD guarantees 30minute delivery or a free pizza at your next order (you must live within 2 km from a PHD store). A free website that allows users to order delivery from dozens of restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City. Simply provide your address and phone number and pay the delivery driver in cash when he arrives Willy Woo’s Southern American fare including skillet

fried chicken, Belgium waffles and BBQ foods, red beans and rice, Jalapeno corn bread, and other classic southern sides. Delivery only via


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


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

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master of mixology


Giving Thanks for Beer By Matt Myers

Salmon tartar, mixed greens Ingredients 200 gr fresh salmon, finely diced 2 tbsp of shallots, finely diced 2 tbsp of spring onion, finely diced 2 tbsp meyer lemon oil White pepper Olive oil Salt Mixed micro greens 1 tbsp lemon juice Method of Preparation

For tartar Mix all ingredients in a bowl and keep refrigerated for 30 minutes before serving. For mixed greens Season lettuce with lemon juice, olive oil, and two tablespoons of salt. To serve Using a ring mold of your choice, pack down the tartar and top with the micro mix.

Recipes provided by Ana Esteves

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November is upon us at MGM Grand Ho Tram and we are all knee deep in getting this wonderful property ready to open. Let me apologise in advance to all our friends, associates and loved ones. If we don’t respond to emails, text messages and Facebook notifications, we are truly sorry. Opening a business is not easy and those of you who work in hospitality, run hotels/ restaurants, or own a business understand the challenges. You can relate to being tired from working 70 plus hours a week, not sleeping or eating regularly for weeks on end. For those who don’t have to deal with this kind of madness, you can enjoy a nice Thanksgiving. Generally, American Thanksgiving dinner is served around 2 or 3pm. Why? Because of American football. You need to be able to get all that family stuff out of the way before the real enjoyment of Thanksgiving Day begins. With American Football having this influence over Thanksgiving I found it fitting to do a food pairing that is about great beer. Belgian-style beers go well with the majority of Thanksgiving dishes. While most Americans drink lagerstyle beers, the Belgian variety can be a fitting pairing for the adventurous palette. I recommend the following beers with your Thanksgiving favourites:

• Maredsous 10 Tripel - Brewed by Duvel Moortgat (Belgium) - Honeysuckle nose, light burnt caramel, crisp with a short finish - Pairing: roast turkey and herb stuffing with gravy • Moa Noir - Brewed by Moa Brewing Co (New Zealand) - Dark chocolate nose, rich Vietnamese coffee with salted toffee finish - Pairing: deep fried turkey (crispy skin) • Chimay Grande Reserve (Blue) - Brewed by Chimay (Belgium) - Big, heady beer with accents of burnt sugar, cinnamon and baking spices - Pairing: pumpkin pie • Erdinger Dunkel Weisbier - Brewed by Erdinger (Germany) - Another big, heady beer, with cocoa powder-maple nose. This beer has a nice honey finish with hints of cardamom - Pairing: glazed ham with pineapple Give these pairings a try and customise your own celebration. Matt Myers is the director of beverage for MGM Grand Ho Tram.


culture CLASSES

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


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

Tel: 3775 2520 Modern cinema with four-way sound system. D7 location houses luxury theatre Charlotte with 32 seats and eight sofas. me phim HCM City-based film initiative that provides support to local filmmakers and hosts regular film screenings/discussions. Email for information or join the Facebook group. Megastar Hung Vuong Plaza, 126 Hung Vuong, D5 Tel: 08 2222 0388 CT Plaza, 60A Truong Son, Tan Binh Tel: 6297 1981 State-of-the-art cinema complex screening the lastest blockbusters with plush, reclining seats. All movies shown in original language with Vietnamese subtitles.


a little blah blah OUT-2 STUDIO, L6 FAFILM Annex 6 Thai Van Lung, D1 Operates as an engine for contemporary art by organizing projects, exhibitions, screenings and talks. Runs one major art project each year and a reading room with more than 1,000 texts on art, design and creative culture. Free for everyone and open Tue to Sat 10 am to 6 pm. Blue Space Contemporary Arts Center 97A Pho Duc Chinh, D1 Tel: 3821 3695 Busy, working gallery with easels propped up outside situated in the grounds of the beautiful Fine Arts Museum. Holds regular exhibitions by local artists. Duc Minh Gallery 31C Le Quy Don, D3 Tel: 3933 0498 Housed in an opulent colonial mansion, private museum and art gallery showcases the private art collection of Vietnamese business tycoon Bui Quoc Chi. Containing more than 1,000 pieces that range from traditional to contemporary. Galerie Quynh 65 De Tham, D1 Tel: 3836 8019 The city’s only international standard gallery, housed in a modern, two-floor space. Organizes regular exhibitions featuring established, emerging local/ international contemporary artists, publishes original catalogs in both English and Vietnamese. Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum 97A Pho Duc Chinh, D1 Tel: 3829 4441 Institution housing contemporary/traditional works by Vietnamese and foreign artists. Pieces date from as early as the 7th century. Includes Vietnamese antiques, art crafted by the Cham and Funan peoples. San Art Independent Artist Space 3 Me Linh, Binh Thanh Tel: 3840 0898 Artist-run, non-profit exhibition space featuring contemporary work by young Vietnamese artists. San Art hosts guest lecturers and curators. A reading room of art books and magazines is open to the public. TuDo Gallery 53 Ho Tung Mau, D1 Tel: 3821 0966 Hosting permanent exhibitions of works by the city’s artists, Tu Do deals in oils, silk paintings and lacquerware. More than 1,000 pieces on show.


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


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

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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.

counsel corner

California WOW Xperience Parkson Plaza, 126 Hung Vuong, D5 28/30-32 Le Loi, D1 Tel: 6291 5999 The world’s biggest fitness centre chain is one of Saigon’s most modern places to get your sweat on. Located in Hung Vuong Plaza, CWX offers a huge workout area and all kinds of classes including spinning, KickFit, yoga and more. Caravelle Club Spa 19 Lam Son Square, D1 Tel: 3823 4999 Modern and stylish gym with lots of cardiovascular machines and free weights. The swimming pool is a great place for a dip, and the massage parlour, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi are there for winding down. Equinox Fitness & Leisure Centre Equatorial Hotel, 242 Tran Binh Trong, D5 Tel: 3839 7777 Decent-sized 3rd-floor gym with modern cardio and weights machines, sauna, steambath, jacuzzi, and large 4th floor pool great for swimming laps. Suzanne & Saigon Yoga Tel: 090 835 2265 Suzanne is an ERYT- 200 (Experienced) Yoga Alliance Instructor. She boasts two decades of experience, offering various yoga styles in District 2 and yoga retreats in Vietnam.


Australian Rules Football Tel: 093 768 3230 The Vietnam Swans play regular international footy matches around Asia. Training sessions are held weekly in HCM City (2.30 pm Saturday, RMIT D7) and Hanoi (midday, Saturday, UN International School, Ciputra). All skill levels and codes welcome. Les Gaulois de Saigon A new team of French footballers, the side invites players and their families to come and join in their friendly training sessions, where everyone can get together and enjoy the sport while making new friends. Contact Sebastien on 0919 691785 or Romain on 0908 060139. RMIT Vietnam A new player on the SIFL scene with a team made up of students from the University. They have their own football ground on-site consisting of two brand new pitches. Contact Landon Carnie. Saigon Raiders Sociable football side who are always on the lookout for new talent for their weekly matches and training sessions. The team participates in the Saigon International Football League and also has regular fixtures against local teams in the outlying provinces and also participates in international tournaments. Saigon Rugby Club Tel: 0903 735 799 Social, mixed touch rugby played every Saturday afternoon for adults at RMIT from 4 pm until 6 pm. Regularly welcomes visiting teams and tours the region for men’s contact and women’s

Jungian Dream Analysis By Briar Jacques Carl Gustav Jung (1875 1961) worked with dreams as a direct way of eradicating patient’s psychological neuroses. Jung believed that our dreams are attempting to lead us out of our dysfunctional complexes and into individuation, or the realisation of our potential. In Jungian dream analysis, the aim is to examine the dream thoroughly enough so the dreamer can see his or her personality structures. These are usually unconscious but cause certain dysfunctional behaviours. Understanding dreams also helps us to see how the unconscious is already trying to move the ego in the direction of health. Dreams always must be viewed in the context of the dreamer’s life but there are some common themes and symbols that resonate with many. Jung believed in the collective unconscious, information that we all have access to on some level. When archetypes appear in our dreams it can tell us a lot about what may be going on both in our lives and psyche. For each person the presence of an archetype in a dream will mean something different but knowing the general themes of the archetypes is a starting point in figuring out their personal significance. A common archetype is the ‘Hero’, the part of us that yearns for a quest and to be

a champion and rescuer of the weak. If this archetype appears in our dreams we may need to embrace these qualities in order to move towards better psychological health. If the ‘Maiden’ appears, we are asked how the qualities of purity, innocence and desire are operating in our lives and in our psyche. The ‘Trickster’ signifies deception, trouble and lies. If it is present in our dreams we may be experiencing someone in this way or have to look at how we are deceiving ourselves. When the ‘Wise Old Man or Woman’ surfaces we need to look at how we connect with our own wisdom. Are we trusting that part of ourselves? Is it developed or do we need some work in this area? Do we have people in our lives who can offer us their guidance and wisdom? Another of the major archetypes is the ‘Shadow’. This can appear in dreams in many forms but often as a monster, a serpent or a wild, exotic or chaotic character. Working to understand the Shadow’s symbols in our dreams can help us to become more integrated and conscious. Briar Jacques is a trained Australian counsellor who deals with issues like expat adjustment, depression, anxiety and drug abuse. Call 0 12 14 80 87 92.

touch rugby tournaments. Beginners welcome. Saigon Saints Expat football club of all ages, which has been running since 1995 and plays in the SIFL. Regularly venture on international tours especially to Bangkok and Manila and play in other local and international tournaments. The players train weekly, and new players are encouraged to join.


Dalat Palace Golf Club Phu Dong Thien Vuong, Dalat Tel: 063 3821 101 The most beautiful course in Vietnam, combining the crisp mountain air with an environment of stately pine trees. Overlooking Xuan Huong lake, the 7,009-yard course is an enjoyable challenge for golfers of all levels. Dong Nai Golf Resort Trang Bom Town, Trang Bom Tel: 061 3866 288 / 3677 590 Large golf resort with 27 holes, plus a villa complex, bar, sauna. jacuzzi and billiards. The resort sits on 160 hectares of land in Dong Nai Province, about 50 kilometres from the city. Membership starts at USD $2,000 a year. Ocean Dunes Golf Club 1 Ton Duc Thang, Phan Thiet Tel: 062 3821 995 Designed by Nick Faldo, the 6,746-yard par-72 course winds through seaside dunes, with the variable coastal breezes changing its character each day. An enjoyable and eminently playable course and has become a favourite venue for expatriate tournaments. Saigon South Golf Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phu, D7 Tel: 5411 2001 Nine-hole mini golf course and driving range set amongst attractive gardens just behind FV Hospital. Membership starts from USD $700 for 6 months. Visitors’ greens fees for a round of golf are around USD $16 before 5 pm and $19 after. Club, shoe and umbrella hire is also available. SaigonSports Academy League Tel: 093 215 3502 12-week, 5 a side community football league with Adult, U18, U14, U10 and U7 divisions. Matches held at Thao Dan Stadium in District 1. Corporate, local and expat teams compete in adult division with cash prize for champions. Song Be Golf Resort 77 Binh Duong Blvd, Thuan An Tel: 0650 3756 660 Located 22 kilometres from the city centre, the premier golf course in the area features an 18-hole, 6,384-metre course. Also has tennis courts, a swimming pool, and a gymnasium. Vietnam Golf and Country Club Long Thanh My Village, D9 This facility consists of two courses of 18 holes each, one of which is designed in a more traditional Asian style, and the other in international style. Has other attractions such as boating, tennis and a restaurant area.


Hash House Harriers

Running club that meets every Sunday at 2 pm at the Caravelle Hotel to go on a run in different locations out of town with their traditional balance of exercise and beer. Phun Runner Social running group that meets Saturdays at 7 am for a scenic run around Saigon before breakfast. Great way to explore the city, meet fellow runners and get fit for future events. Check website for rendezvous points. Rangers Baseball Club Isao Shimokawaji A baseball club always looking for additional players of any age, race or experience level. Plays Saturdays or Sundays, often against Korean or Vietnamese teams. Saigon International Dart League A highly popular group in town, the darts club runs a competitive year-long league for 16 pub-based teams. There are some excellent players in this sociable and international group. See website for details of how to join and latest 180 scores. Saigon International Softball League The league plays slo-pitch softball every Sunday (usually at the Taiwanese School in Phu My Hung) and always welcomes newcomers. Saigon Pony Club Lane 42, Le Van Thinh, D2 Tel: 0913 733 360 A standout facility offering pony rides, riding lessons, horse clinics and pony rentals. Also hosts events and birthdays. Squash The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3822 2098 ext 176 One of three squash courts in town. Membership is open to non-Landmark residents and drop-in players. Lessons and racquets are available for additional fees. Balls are provided. Book in advance or phone for further information. Ultimate Frisbee RMIT, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, D7 Join in this exciting popular sport every Sunday afternoon from 3pm to 5pm in Saigon South. Pan-Asian competitions also organised for the more experienced. Contact David Jensen at 0909458890 Vietnam Hobby Brewers Small group of beer enthusiasts gather bi-monthly at microbrewery to talk beer, share brewing tips and sample homemade suds. The group is keen on taking on new members with an interest in learning how to brew. X-Rock Climbing Phan Dinh Phung Sport Centre 75 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D3 Tel: 6278 5794 503A Nguyen Duy Trinh, D2 Tel: 2210 9192 Offering safe and professional climbing for anyone aged 4 and up. Featuring mountain climbing routes rated from beginner to advanced, climbing and belay-safety courses and training, birthday parties, corporate team building. Excellent facilities for children and annual membership for kids.

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American Chiropractic Clinic 8 Truong Dinh, D3 Tel: 3930 6667 A chiropractic, physiotherapy, foot care clinic staffed by American-trained chiropractors speaking French, English, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. Treats back pain, neck pain, knee pain, also specializing in sports injuries, manufacture of medical grade foot orthotics. Institute of Traditional Medicine 273-275 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Dr. Le Hung is the man to see at this well-established traditional hospital & training centre. He speaks good English and provides excellent treatments in a clean environment Theta Healing – Jodie Eastwood Tel: 091 859 1933 A unique energy healing technique for mind, body and spirit. Jodie is a UK qualified practitioner based in HCM City.


Cao Thang Lasik & Aesthetic Clinic 135-135B Tran Binh Trong, D5

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Tel: 3923 4419 A modern clinic offering a comprehensive range of optical services. Specializes in LASIK correctional procedures. English spoken. Open seven days a week.

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.

FV Hospital Cosmetic Surgery 45 Vo Thi Sau, D1 Tel: 6290 6167 6 Nguyen Luong Bang, D7 Tel: 5411 3366 International-standard cosmetic procedures from simple dermabrasion and chemical peels to collagen injections, nose and eye shaping, liposuction, and breast enhancement. Procedures carried out by French and Vietnamese doctors using the latest equipment.

Tu Xuong Dental Clinic 51A Tu Xuong, D3 Tel: 3932 2049/050 Provides general and cosmetic dental services at reasonable prices. Specialises in implants, orthodontic treatments and making crowns and bridges. Staff are professional and speak English.

Parkway Shenton International Clinic Suite 213-214, 37 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Owned by the Singapore-based healthcare giant Parkway Holdings, this aesthetics clinic offers a range of both surgical and non-surgical treatments including dental reconstruction.


European Dental Clinic 17 - 17A Le Van Mien,

Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 0918 749 204/08 3744 9744 Expat English and French-speaking dentist. Performs full range of dental treatment including whitening, aesthetic fillings, porcelain crowns, full ceramics, veneer and orthodontic treatment. 24hour emergency line: 0909 551 916 or 0916 352940. Starlight Dental Clinic Dr. Philippe Guettier & International Team of Dentists 2Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, D1 Tel: 3822 6222 With 14 years’ experience providing dental treatment to expat and Vietnamese patients, this well-known dental surgery

Westcoast International Dental Clinic 27 Nguyen Trung Truc, D1 Tel: 3825 6999 71-79 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3825 6777 Canadian-run dental clinic staffed by French, Japanese, English and Vietnamese speaking dental professionals.


Anthony George for London Hair & Beauty FIDECO Riverview Building 14 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 6475 Top British stylist George brings his unique flair to hair in District 2. The modern, stylish and professional salon is host to a staff of professionally trained beauty therapists. Uses Dermalogica, Schwarzkopf and L’Oreal products. Lloyd Morgan International Hair Studio 234 Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 090 8422 007 International stylist Lloyd Morgan is one of the best in town. He’s been in the business for over 30 years and brings

his expertise to this established, topnotch salon. Qi Spa 151 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3844 1719 Caravelle Hotel Tel: 3824 7150 Mövenpick Hotel Saigon, Tel: 3997 5437 High-end salon and spa offers the standard range of services in a calming atmosphere with good service. Waxing, nail services, hair dressing as well as luxurious facial and massage treatments on offer. Souche 2nd Floor, Saigon Trade Centre 37 Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3910 0372 A top-end beauty salon using the Dermatologica line of skincare products. Specialises in personalized facial care treatments and medicated acne treatments. Waxing and other aesthetic services are also available in a pleasant atmosphere with excellent service. Sunji Matsuo Hair Studio Saigon Paragon, 3 Nguyen Luong Bang, D7 Tel: 5416 0378 Celebrity hairstylist Sunji Matsuo’s Singapore-based hair salon has a variety of hair services including scalp treatments, rebonding and hair extensions. The Salon 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 Tel: 3822 9660 65 Le Loi, D1 Tel: 3821 6394 Reliable haircuts from well-trained stylists at this local salon with multiple locations.


Australian Clinic & Pathology Diagnostics (ACPD) 273-275 Ly Thai To, D10 Tel: 3834 9941 Services include general outpatient

healthcare, corporate / visa healthchecks, X-ray, full laboratory and in-house pharmacy including specialist medical services covering cardiology, paediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, orthopedic and dermatology. CARE1 Executive Health Care Center The Manor, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: 3514 0757 Sister clinic of Family Medical Practice, CARE1 is an executive health care centre offering comprehensive preventative-care checkups in a modern and professional setting. State-of-the-art technology provides fast and accurate diagnoses. Centre Medical International (CMI) 1 Han Thuyen, D1 Tel: 3827 2366 Located downtown next to the cathedral, the centre provides a high standard of medical care from qualified French and Vietnamese physicians. Its range of services include general and tropical medicine, cardiology, gynaecology, osteopathy, pediatrics, psychiatry, speech therapy and traditional Eastern medicine. Family Medical Practice HCMC Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3822 7848 Leading international primary healthcare provider, with a 24-hour state-of-theart medical centre and highly-qualified multilingual foreign doctors. Extensive experience in worldwide medical evacuations with car and air ambulance on standby. Also in Hanoi and Danang.

HANH PHUC International Hospital Binh Duong boulevard, Thuan An, Binh Duong. Tel: 0650 3636068 The 1st Singapore Standard Hospital in Vietnam. 260 –bedder, provide a comprehensive range of quality healthcare services: Obstertrics, Gynaecology, Paediatrics, Immunization, IVF, Health checkup, Parentcraft, Woman Cancer, Cosmetic Surgery… Just 20- minute driving from HCMC. HANH PHUC International Hospital Clinic 2nd fl., Saigon Trade Center, 37 Ton Duc Thang, D1. Tel: 3911 1860 The 1st Singapore Standard Hospital in Vietnam. The clinic is located at the center of Dist. 1, provides a comprehensive range of services specializing in Obstertrics, Gynaecology, Peadiatrics, Immunization, General Practice and Emergency. Open hours: Weekdays: 8am to 5pm; Saturday: 8am to 12pm. International SOS 167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D3 Tel: 3829 8424 Globally-renowned provider of medical assistance and international healthcare. Specializes in offering medical transport and evacuation both within and outside of Vietnam for urgent medical cases. Foreign and Vietnamese dentists. Has multilingual staff.

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.

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.


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

OPI 253 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D3 International brand of nail care offering a variety of treatments from standard manicures at 50,000 VND to the whole host nail services such as acrylics, powder gell, cuticle treatments and French polishing. Quang Qui’s Nails 146 Le Thanh Ton, D1 242 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Locally popular spots with low prices and good service, offering anything you could possibly want for your nails. Nghia Beauty 20 Phan Boi Chau, D1 Tel: 3829 2688 Located next to the Ben Thanh Market, clean efficient and friendly staff service your hands and feet with a range of treatments while you relax in a comfortable atmosphere.


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

Victoria Healthcare 135A Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3997 4545 79 Dien Bien Phu, D1 Tel: 39104545

The Body Shop 87 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Tel: 3823 3683 31 Nguyen Trai, D1

L’Apothiquaire 100 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Parkson Saigon Tourist Plaza Parkson Hung Vuong Plaza The Crescent, 103 Ton Dat Tien, D7 64A Truong Dinh, D3 07 Han Thuyen, D1 Tel: 3932 5181/3932 5082 French-made natural products for all types of skin. Also offers exclusive natural Italian skin, body and hair care from Erbario Toscano. Marianna Medical Laser Skincare 149A Truong Dinh, D3 Tel:3526 4635 Professional Laser Clinic in Ho Chi Minh City, Marianna owns the excellent experts in Aesthetic Medicine and the modern technologies such as Laser, Botox, Filler and all solutions can help you more beautiful and younger day by day.

We Inspire Join our global community at ACG International School Call or email us for a personal tour of the Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary School


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

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kids corner


Social Skills By Gemma Jones Have you ever been on a bus or on a shopping trip and noticed a parent completely ignoring her child? Isn’t it infuriating? It is crucial that all parents and caregivers interact and communicate with their children. What makes it worse is that these activities provide the perfect opportunity to do so. Even if it is imperceptible at times, children pick up on everything you say and do. They are most likely to mimic and learn from their main carer’s actions and speech, which is why it is very important to give your child plenty of positive attention as well as to speak clearly. It is never too early to start doing this. Even if it seems odd to be constantly talking to a three-month-old baby, do not refrain from doing so. Children begin to take things in before they can communicate verbally. Babies, in particular, learn through their senses. It is important to keep all five stimulated. Sing and talk to them as much as possible and remember that, even though babies may not respond every time, they are still soaking up everything. Once they are a little older, it is a good idea to teach them emotions. For example, show how laughing means happy and crying means sad. Seeing your child comfort others when they are upset is an amazing sight and should be motivation enough to work on this side of his personality. It is important to take children to places where

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they have the opportunity to socialise. Playgroups, a playground, or a friend’s house are perfectly good settings. They will help your child get used to being in the company of others. You may find that some of the children will bicker or complain that another child has taken his or her toy, or some other heinous crime, but this is normal behaviour and gives you the opportunity to teach both right from wrong and how to share. Being a good role model for your children is of utmost importance in helping develop social skills. Always make a show of using your own manners by saying “please” and “thank you” in a very pronounced way. After all, this is how you teach your children to be polite. Parents or caregivers who always communicate with their children are helping their development a great deal. Parents often know what their offspring want without their saying anything, but encourage your children to ask for things before they receive them. Small, almost imperceptible steps such as this encourage children to communicate, help develop their language skills and build their social repertoire. Gemma Jones has been working in childcare for more than 10 years. She holds an NNEB diploma in nursery nursing and is currently a principal at Cambridge Child Development Centre in Phnom Penh.

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.


Belli Blossom 4F-04 (4th Floor) Crescent Mall, Nguyen Van Linh Parkway, Phu My Hung, D7 Tel: 5413 7574 12 Mac Dinh Chi, D1 Tel: 3822 6615 Belli Blossom catering to moms and babies with imported brands of maternity and nursing wear and accessories, infant clothes, baby bottles and feeding products, strollers, high chairs, slings, baby carriers, diaper bags, and many others. Brands available include: Mam, Mamaway, Quinny, Maclaren, Debon, Luvable Friends, Gingersnaps. Maman Bebe Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3825 8724 Stocks an assortment of modern strollers and car seats. Also sells various utensils and practical baby products. Small selection of clothing for ages newborn to 14 years.

Me & Be 230 Vo Thi Sau, D3 40 Ton That Tung, D1 141D Phan Dang Luu, Phu Nhuan 246 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D3 101-103 Khanh Hoi, D4 287A Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan The closest thing to Mothercare the city has to offer. Stocks a substantial range of apparel for babies including bottles and sterilizers, cots (including travel cots), clothing, toys, safety equipment and more, all at reasonable prices. Me Oi 1B Ton That Tung, D1 A small shop adjacent to the maternity hospital bursting at the seams with everything you need for your baby. Clothing, footwear, bottles, nappies, nappy bags and toys all at reasonable prices.


Debenhams Vincom Center, 70 - 72 Le Thanh Ton, District 1 A superb range of unique and beautiful clothing for young children (from newborns to 12 years old) imported brand from UK. High to mid-range prices. DLS Paris 17/5 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, D1 Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, D1 Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 A superb range of unique and beautiful clothing for young children (from newborns to pre-school age) at high to 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.


ABC International School 2,1E Street, KDC Trung Son, Binh Hung, Binh Chanh Tel: 5431 1833 UK standards-based curriculum awards diploma with IGCSE’s & A Levels certified by Cambridge Universit examinations board. From playgroup to pre-university matriculation. Served by 80+ British teachers. Good facilities and extra-curricular activities. ACG International School East West Highway, An Phu, D2 Tel: 3747 1234 Part of the Academic Colleges Group’s international network of schools, ACG offers comprehensive education from kindergarten to senior high school and a range of extracurricular activities. International curricula (IB PYP and Cambridge International Examinations). The Australian International School Xi Early Childhood Centre 190 Nguyen Van Huong, D2 Tel: 35192727 Early Childhood & Primary School Cherry Blossom 1 & Lotus 1, APSC Compound, 36 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 3744 6960 Middle & Senior School East-West Highway, An Phu ward, D2 Tel: 3742 4040 An international curricula and PYP/MYP school. Senior students follow Cambridge A levels. AIS is the only school in Vietnam authorised to deliver the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Foundation Studies

Year 12 curriculum. Well-resourced classrooms, highly qualified and experienced teachers, excellent facilities that support academic, creative and sporting activities. Book a tour at enrolments@ British International School Primary Campus 43 - 45 Tu Xuong, D3 225 Nguyen Van Huong, D2 Secondary Campus 246 Nguyen Van Huong, D2 Tel: 3744 2335 With campuses all over the city and expansion underway, BIS offers a mixture of both English and International curricula-based education alongside excellent facilities and extra-curricular activities. Senior students follow the IGCSE and IB programmes. ERC 86-88-92 Huynh Van Banh, Phu Nhuan Tel: 6292 9288 ERC Vietnam is a member of ERCI Singapore. Founded by a group of successful business leaders around Asia Pacific. Our primary objective is to groom and mentor a new generation of business leaders in Vietnam equipped with skills to analyze and solve real-world business challenges of today. German International School 730F-G-K Le Van Mien, Thao Dien Tel: 7300 7257 A bilingual English and German school, supported by the Federal Republic of Germany, where children can learn subjects in both languages. The curriculum follows the National Curriculum of Germany, which provides students the assurance they can enter or re-enter the German Education System at any time.

Horizon International Bilingual School HCMC 6 Street 44, D2 Te: 5402 2482 The only bilingual international school offering dormitories for their students. Located in the most prestigious area in HCMC offering from kindergarten up to grade 12. The school apply 100% Vietnamese curriculum, MOET as well as an intensive English program. HIBS also has 2 campuses in centre Hanoi. International School HCMC 28 Vo Truong Toan, D2 Tel: 3898 9100 One of 136 schools around the world to be accredited as an IB World School. Offers all three of the IB programmes from primary through to grade 12. The school is fully accredited by CIS and NEASC and has a strong focus on community spirit and fosters an awareness of other languages and cultures. 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.

28 Street 19, KP 5, An Phu, D2 Tel: 6281 7675 Montessori utilizes an internationally recognized educational method which focuses on fostering the child’s natural desire to learn. The aim is to create an encouraging environment conducive to learning by developing a sense of self and individuality. A wide array of curriculum/extra-curricular activities are on offer including Bilingual programs. Renaissance International School 74 Nguyen Thi Thap, D7 Tel: 3773 3171 IB World school, one of Vietnam’s international schools operating within the framework of the British system. RISS provide a high quality English medium education in a stimulating, challenging and supportive environment. The purpose built, modern campus has excellent facilities. RMIT 702 Nguyen Van Linh, D7 Tel: 3776 1369 Australian university located in District 7, offers a highly regarded MBA and undergraduate courses in various fields.

The Little Genius International Kindergarten 102 My Kim, Phu My Hung, D7 Tel: 5421 1052 Kindergarten with U.S.-accredited curriculum, modern facilities and attractive school grounds.

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.

Montessori International School International Program 42/1 Ngo Quang Huy, D2 Tel: 3744 2639 Bilingual Program

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

44 Truong Dinh, D3 Tel: 3932 2807 Ground floor, Somerset Chancellor Court, 21 - 23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1. Tel: 3827 2464 The Manor, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh. Tel: 3514 3036 Students play and learn in an environment where the best of Western and Eastern cultures amalgamate to prepare KinderWorld’s students for today’s challenging world drawn from both the Singapore and Australian curriculum. The school offers International Certifications such as the iPSLE, IGCSE and GAC.


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 hand-made fancy dress costumes such as masks, superman outfits and much more. The stock changes seasonally, so this is a good place to stock up on Halloween, Christmas and other holiday-specific party costumes.

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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

Monetary Ideas By Afonso Vieira In a bull market, surging supply is no impediment to higher demand. The more the US government borrows, the lower the interest rate it seems to pay. In fiscal 2006, the year before the start of the global financial crisis, the US government spent $230 billion in interest on $4.8 trillion of Treasury obligations issued and outstanding. This is the public debt (excluding intragovernmental accounts), meaning debt that can be claimed at any moment by creditors. Interest rates average a little less than 5 percent, and for this fiscal year, the US government will spend $240 billion on a public debt of $11.9 trillion, or roughly 2 percent interest. In six years, public debt more than doubled, but the interest rate the US government pays decreased by half. How do they do it? For the time being, Treasuries are highly valued, not despite the fiscal and economic perils the US government faces, but because of them. The Federal Reserve, an institution independent from the government, is quashing interest rates by buying and selling Treasuries. That, along with buying financial assets from commercial banks and other private institutions with newly created money, is called quantitative easing. In early 2009, I told a confused, post-Lehman Brothers audience that despite the worldwide government stimulus packages, money creation,

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and interest rates slashing, consumer inflation was not coming back anytime soon, but we certainly would have asset price inflation ahead. It’s easier to observe today’s ultra-low interest rates than to imagine tomorrow’s possibly high ones. But what if the rate were 5 percent this year, not 2 percent? The taxpayers’ interest bill would more than double to $570 billion, compared with federal receipts projected at $2.6 trillion. Hapless savers and pensioners now are questioning the logic of keeping their nest-eggs in money market mutual funds and sovereign bond funds. They’re deemed safe but offer a return of less than one percent, which is below inflation. In a de-leveraging world, with Japan in recession, China decelerating, the Eurozone receding, and the US fiscal position deteriorating, four economies that account for more than 60 percent of global GDP are in trouble. In this context, the Federal Reserve methods seem likely to remain in place and be used by most central banks. That leads me to think assets that are considered safe today, such as sovereign debt, soon will be deemed 'risky', just like equities and precious metals. Afonso Vieira is head of investment management for Total Wealth Management. You can contact him at afonso.

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

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


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


Ernst & Young Saigon Riverside Office Center, 2A-4A Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 3824 5252 Professional service firm specializing in advisory, assurance, tax, transactions and strategic growth markets.

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.

Flamingo Corporate Services Tel: 2217 1662 Email: Specializes in business immigration, providing services like visas, work and resident permits, police clearance, APEC cards, authentication and legalization of work experience certificates and degrees in Vietnam and abroad.

Hung Hai 75 Huynh Thuc Khang, D1 A good place to purchase hard-to-find gear and some rare equipment, mainly auto focus lenses.

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

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.

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.

IF Consulting IBC Building, 3rd Floor 1A Me Linh Square, D1 4th Floor, 5 Ba Trieu Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi Tel: 3827 7362 Fax: 3827 7361 Email: Private insurance and finance.

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.

Indochine Councel Han Nam Building, 65 Nguyen Du, D1 Tel: 3823 9640 Business law firm specializing in legal services to corporate clients in relation to their business and investment in Vietnam. Inspired Image 42/2A Ho Hao Hon, D1 Tel: 091 635 2573 Image consultant and personal stylist. Previous clients include business leaders, TV presenters and busy professionals. International Management Initiative for Vietnam (IMIV) The International Management Initiative for Vietnam (IMIV), a non-profit initiative within VinaCapital Foundation that promotes excellence in business leadership and management by bringing to Vietnam proven international executive education and professional development programmes. Phuong Nguyen Consulting TPC Business Center, 92-96 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 3829 2391 Specializing in business facilitation, conferences, education counselling, market-entry research and IT/business consulting. Prism Information Technology Services Level 4, YOCO Building, 41 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 Tel: 3829 6416 A foreign-owned information and communications technology company that offers value-added IT solutions. Enables local businesses to attain and maintain international IT standards to be more competitive in the marketplace. Rouse & Co. International Abacus Tower, 58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D1 Tel: 3823 6770 Global intellectual property firm providing a full range of IP services including patent and trade mark agency services. Star Management Limited 92-96 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 3897 2765 Business advisory services for companies investing in Vietnam, business project advancement and a range of business development services. 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. PERSONAL FINANCIAL PLANNING

Total Wealth Management 66/11 Pham Ngoc Thach, D3


Antique Street Le Cong Kieu Street, D1 between Nguyen Thai Binh and Pho Duc Chinh A variety of antiques and faux antiques from Thailand, China and Vietnam including silverware, compasses, lighters, brass knockers, urns, vases, abacuses, religious and pagan statues, candlestick holders, furniture and watches. Asian Fish 34 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 Boutique-style arts and crafts store selling locally made gifts and souvenirs, all designed by the Japanese owner. Products include clothing, bags, crockery, sandals, chopsticks and jewellery. Aquarium Street Nguyen Thong Street, D3 between Vo Thi Sau and Ly Chinh Thang Dedicated street has everything one needs to display fish: tanks, decor, feed, filters and the fish themselves. Budget Housewares Street Corner of Pasteur and Nguyen Dinh Chieu Stock up on shower heads, kitchen supplies (juicer, spatula, grater, etc.), coat racks, clothes hangers, pots, pans, champagne flutes, bowls, coolers, trash bins, ironing boards, magazine racks and the like. Chau Loan 213 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3825 7991 Gallery based in a colonial shophouse stocking mainly Vietnamese-themed oil paintings and images of Buddha. Also deals in better-known reproductions. Decosy 112 Xuan Thuy, D2 Tel: 6281 9917 Producer of a large selection of European styled furniture and interior fittings, specializing in wrought iron and patine (distressed) wood finishes. Also stocks a wide-range of decorative accessories, crockery and fixtures. Custom design services available upon request. 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. Mekong-Quilts 64 Ngo Duc Ke, D1 Tel: 3914 2119 NGO enterprise specializes in quilts and sells a range of appealing handmade products created by underprivileged women in Binh Thuan Province. Mekong Creations 64 Ngo Duc Ke, D1 Tel: 3914 2119 NGO enterprise specializes in quilts and sells a range of appealing handmade

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people matter

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

How Executive Search Saves You Money By Gary Woollacott My inspiration for this month’s column came from a client, although he may not be too happy after reading this. A while back I had visited him, trying to resuscitate a relationship that wasn’t doing so well, even though we had recruited his HR manager just a year before. As an aside, business relationships, like personal ones, need to be nurtured or they will die. This client was explaining why he didn’t need us, and how his HR manager was doing a great job with recruiting. I found myself on the defensive, justifying our fees and what we do for them. Normally I have no difficulties in setting out exactly how we do things and why it is worth using a real headhunter (as opposed to recruitment firms that just place ads on internet job boards) to identify, qualify and acquire the best talent. I was struggling because he seemed to have every counter-point to my arguments. And then he said something that allowed me to dismiss his case. He was proud of the fact they had found their man after he had interviewed 20 applicants. Twenty! Think of the time he spent reviewing CVs, preparing for, and conducting interviews. And if he saw 20, his HR manager probably met

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40 and must have reviewed 100 CVs. What a waste of their expensive managerial time. I don’t think his superiors would be impressed with their time management choices. If he had engaged us, yes, he would have paid more. But our job is to deliver a handful of candidates who are interested in and qualified for the position. Not 20 who have posted a CV on a job board because they are desperate to leave their current employer. We go out and find the best candidates. These ‘passive candidates’ are usually very happy where they are and are only interested in a new challenge because we have taken the time to identify and call them. So if you are recruiting for a senior position — someone who is going to take the company forward and you need the best, not the desperate and dateless — then call us. As usual, let me know if you have any particular topic you would like to see covered here. Gary Woollacott is the CEO of Opus executive search in Vietnam and Thailand. He can be reached at +84 8 3827 8209 or via Opus is a partner of Horton International.

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


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.

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

Furniture Outlet 3A Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 2243 7955/3911 0104 Wide selection of well-crafted and carefully constructed pine wood pieces at good prices, aimed at customers craving a taste of Europe.

iDEAS Shopping Centre 133-141AB Cach Mang Thang Tam, D3 The largest of the electonics stores along the street, the three-storey iDEAS sells every type of electronic and home appliance imaginable. Offers proper warranties. Staff speaks some English.

Furniture Street Ngo Gia Tu, D10 between Ly Thai To and Nguyen Chi Thanh Very affordable furniture can be found on this stretch: couches, mattresses, desks, chairs, etc. It often takes some looking to find a gem. A connected sidestreet, Ba Hat, features woodworkers’ shops.

Nguyen Kim Shopping Centre 63-65 Tran Hung Dao, D1 Tel: 3821 1211 Stocks DVD/CD players, cameras, TVs, hi-fis and more from Sony, Sanyo, Panasonic, Philips and other major manufacturers. Also a good place to pick up electronic kitchen supplies like coffee makers and rice cookers, as well as large and small appliances, from hot water heaters to regrigerators. Phong Vu 125 Cach Mang Thang Tam, D1 Tel: 6290 8777 Two-storey electronics store retails in international products conveniently grouped by brand. Carries computers, home audio, printers, hard drives and more, as well as a variety of mobile phones, handheld electronic devices and accessories.

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.

LINH‘S WHITE 37 Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 6281 9863 Furniture shop that focuses on solid wood furniture and decorative items ranging from pillows and lamps to bedding. Also offers kids’ furniture and custom pieces. Rare Decor 41 Hai Ba Trung, D1 Tel: 3822 2284

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

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.

The Furniture Warehouse 3B Ton Duc Thang, D1 Tel: 6657 0788, ttpnam@ Offers a range of reasonably priced Italian, European and French colonial sofas, indoor/outdoor wooden furniture, lighting and interior décor, as well as custom designs based on clients’ specifications.

Limcharoen, Hughes and Glanville Havana Tower, 132 Ham Nghi, D1 Tel: 6291 7000 Full service international law firm with head office in Thailand. Main focus on real estate in Asia.

The Lost Art 31 Nguyen Cong Tru, D1 Tel: 3829 0134 Extensive product range as well as comprehensive interior design service, from initial conceptualization to design, manufacture and installation of unique products.


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


Allens Arthur Robinson Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3822 1717 Australian law firm for law translation services and legal advice on foreign investment and business in Vietnam. Baker & McKenzie Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, D1 Tel: 3829 5585 International law firm providing on-theground liaison and support services to clients interested in investigating, negotiating and implementing projects in Vietnam. Frasers International Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, D1 Tel: 3824 2733 Full service commercial law firm providing international and Vietnamese legal advice to both foreign and local clients specializing in transactions in Vietnam.

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


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


Bike City 480D Nguyen Thi Thap, D7 Luxury motorcycle shop carries a range of accessories, including apparel. Sells Vemar helmets, a brand that passes rigorous European Union standards. Protec Helmets 18bis/3A Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 248C Phan Dinh Phung, Phu Nhuan

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

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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.

swimming pool and panoramic views of the city.

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.

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

Diamond Plaza 34 Le Duan Street Tel: 3822 1922 Located in the heart of District 1, connected to Diamond PLaza. Services 1- to 4-bedroom apartments with gym,

InterContinental Asiana Saigon Residences Corner of Hai Ba Trung & Nguyen Du, D1 Tel: 3520 8888 Contemporary residential space in the


heart of the major business and cultural area in District 1. There are 260 one, two or three-bedroom units plus health club and outdoor swimming pool. Namhouse Corporation 48A Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, D2 Tel: 0989 007 700 Provides rental properties, construction services and interior decorating. Supports professional services and after-sales. Riverside Apartments 53 Vo Truong Toan, D2 Tel: 3744 4111 One of the first luxury serviced apartments in town located next to the Saigon River set in lush tropical gardens. Savills Viet Nam Level 18, Fideco Tower, 81-85 Ham Nghi, D1 Tel: 823 9205 Savills Viet Nam is a property service provider that has been established in Vietnam since 1995 offering research, advisory services, residential sales, commercial leasing, asset management, retail advisory, valuation, investment advisory and more. Sherwood Residence 127 Pasteur St., D3 Tel: 3823 2288 Fax: 3823 9880 Hotline: 0917470058 Sherwood Residence is a luxury serviced apartment property and the first property certified by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism. Modern living spaces meet prime location, comfort and class with 5-star facilities and service. Snap Tel: 0989 816 676 Online Real Estate service providing information on rental properties exclusively in District 2. Full listings online.


HR2B / Talent Recruitment JSC Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, D3 Tel: 3930 8800 HR consulting advises businesses on how to improve employee productivity. The search team specializes in matching senior level Vietnamese professionals and managers to top level opportunities in both major cities. Opus Vietnam 2A Rolanno Offices, 128 Nguyen Phi Khanh, D1 Tel: 3827 8209 Established in HCMC in 2005, Opus ser-

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vices 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


Allied Pickfords Satra Building, Room 202, 58 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 08 3823 3454 Moving and relocating services company specializing in business and office moves. Overseas and specialist movers also available. Crown Worldwide Movers 48A Huynh Man Dat, Binh Thanh Tel: 3823 4127 Not just International or local moving and storage. Crown Relocations offer a wide range of services including orientations, immigration, home search, intercultural training through to pet relocation. Call the team on the above number and check out our website for more information. JVK International Movers Saigon Port Building, 3 Nguyen Tat Thanh, D4 Tel: 3826 7655/6 International agengy with a full range of services including sea/air freight services and worldwide transit coverage. Santa Fe Relocation Services Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, D3 Tel: 3933 0065 Provides a range of services including home/school search, language/cultural training, tenancy management and immigration/visa support.


Custom Signage Street Le Lai, D1 between Truong Dinh and Nguyen Thai Hoc Offers custom-designed signs and custom engraving on trophies and plaques made of plastic, wood, metal and glass. Fahasa 40 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 3822 5796 Bookstore chain carries an expansive stock of office and home stationary; a one-stop shop for basic needs. Pi-Channel 45B Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3822 0253 Boutique shop carries up-market collections of pens and notepads, as well as desktop organisers, clocks, calendars and frames. Corporate services offered.



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

Creation 105 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3829 5429 A two-storey shop selling scarves, intricate handbags (from USD $30), tailormade silk dresses and tops. Has a wide range of materials on the second floor. Gallery vivekkevin FAFILM Building, 6 Thai Van Lung, D1 Tel: 6291 3709 Handcrafted pendants, necklaces, rings and bracelets. The gallery’s focus is on design, craftsmanship and finish, as well as educating clients on the intricacies of each piece. Gucci 88 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3827 6688 Located on the main shopping street in HCMC, this flagship store brings Florentine fashion to an array of luxury leather goods such as briefcases, luggage and a selection of men’s shoes for office or more casual occasions. Ipa-Nima 71 Pasteur, D1 Tel: 3824 3652 77 Dong Khoi, D1 Well-known Hanoi-based fashion brand. Founder Christina Yu is a former lawyer turned designer who produces eclectic and eye-catching handbags. Also stocks costume jewellery and shoes. J. Silver 803 Nguyen Van Linh Parkway, D7 Tel: 5411 1188 Make a statement without being ostentatious with handcrafted silver jewellery from the boutique store. Expect big, interesting pieces that are simple yet glamorous. Laura V Signature 11 Dong Du, D1 Tel: 7304 4126 Vintage designs aplenty with everything from jewellery and hair accessories to funky styled sunglasses, umbrellas and colourful maxi dresses. Louis Vuitton Opera View, 161 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3827 6318 Designer brand name housing traditional craftsmanship of luxury leather goods for men and women. An array of bags, wallets, cuff links and watches are available. Mai O Mai 4C Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3829 4007 A superb little place with beautiful jewellery and accessories to suit all budgets. Silver necklaces, bracelets, rings and more in both classic and imaginative designs, as well as gorgeous handembroidered bags. Mont Blanc Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan Notable for fine writing instruments, Mont Blanc also houses cuff links and other male accessories Rimowa Level 2 OperaView Tower, 161 Dong Khoi, D1 Tel: 3832 6941 The German luggage maker is popular with a who’s who of the celebrity world. Their range of cases come in varying sizes and are made from high-tech materials to provide exceptional durability while remaining very light weight. Scorpion Vincom Center B1, 70 - 72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3993 9889 Selling high-end leather products for both men and women, including shoes, handbags, belts and other accessories. Features a variety of leather in bright colors and styles. Tic Tac Watch Shop 72 Dong Khoi Tel: 0838 293519

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femme fashion

76 asialife HCMC 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.

Tombo 145 Dong Khoi, D1 Of all the embroidered and sequined bags, shoes and tidbits (or “Zakka” shops) that can be found in Dong Khoi, this shop’s has products that are prettier than most. Shoes can be custom-made and the sales staff is friendly.

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.

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.

The Colour Purple By Christina Yu The colour purple is a tricky little bugger. It is always about to be fashionable but then, before you know it, it is so last year. It has something to do with the hues: The next season’s purple never matches what you bought on sale the last time purple was just about to be popular. I searched my wardrobe for purple and honestly, the only outfit I loved was a Halston jersey evening dress bought in a second-hand shop in Miami: We are talking about 1970s fashion, when Halston was cool and used colour. So what do you really need to know about purple? My advice: Avoid purple except in these situations: • If you’re a 70s or 80s rock star, then purple haze, purple rain, purple pumpkin eater and deep purple are OK but, even then, not for wearing (what was Prince thinking when he came out in that purple suit singing ‘Purple Rain’?); • Thai Airways, but then again, this definitely did not date well; • Johnny Depp in Alice in Wonderland; • The so-called metrosexuals who are considering whether to come out; • Describing my prose; • The Ipa-Nima shop furniture (as it works so well with pink interiors and purple is my corporate colour). Purple does not rhyme with any other English word so it is pretty useless in literature as well. And do not be misled by Elegant show room displaying some of the world’s most recognized Swiss brands such as Rolex, Tag Huer, Baume & Marcer, Omega and Hirsch. On-site watch repair service and complementary watch evaluation available. Also carries a small collection of vintage Rolexes.

ACTIVE WEAR those non-purple words that sound so alluring: lavender, lilac, aubergine, plum, mulberry, and wine. These may be fine to smell, eat and drink but definitely not to wear. The latest trend forecast is trying to sneak purple back into fashion by labeling it 'nocturnal violet'. Sounds cool but in fact, it is a very dark black currant, almost the same as black. Do not be seduced into buying something in this colour, as this will not work with your current black wardrobe and it will be almost impossible to match with a top or bottom unless you buy the whole outfit. You know I’m right. Go to any public place and look around to see who is wearing purple: definitely not the 'in' dudes. Purple is supposed to represent magic, mystery, royalty and, in part, wealth, so it goes well with gold. If you do wear purple, pair the outfit with gold jewelry, shoes and handbags. Otherwise, save purple for the name of your next rock band. Once again, I’ll end with a contest: The prize is one very tasteful mauve and purple Ipa-Nima weekender for the person who sends in the best photo of someone wearing purple. Email sales@ipa-nima. com. Entries close 30 November. Christina Yu is the creative director and founder of Ipa-Nima, an award-winning accessories brand. Email your questions to or visit

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


BAM Skate Shop 174 Bui Vien, D1 Tel: 0903 641 826 In addition to a range of decks, wheels and trucks, this small shop is stocked with bookbags, skate sneakers, track jackets and t-shirts emblazoned with your skateboard company of choice. FCUK 127 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, D1 Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, D1 Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3914 7740 Trendy UK brand with a selection of fashion-forward dresses for women and smart workwear and funky casual wear for men, all at middle-market prices. L’Usine 151/1 Dong Khoi, D1 Lifestyle store and cafe housed in a period building restored to evoke the aesthetic of an early 20th-century garment factory. Carries an exclusive, frequently refreshed line of imported men’s and women’s fashion, including T-shirts and footwear, and a range of unique accessories. Entrance via the street-level Art Arcade. Replay Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 116 Nguyen Trai, D1 187 Hai Ba Trung, D3 Tel: 3925 0252 Wide variety of shoes, clothing, denim for teens and university-age men and women. Carries boots, sandals, pumps and sneakers at mid-range prices. Runway Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, D1 Tel: 3993 9988


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


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

Chloe Rex Hotel, 155 Nguyen Hue, D1 Tel: 6291 3582 Parisian-influenced fashion house specializes in simple, traditional designs with a feminine and fashionable twist. Jeans, satin dresses and a wide array of accessories are on display. Homegrown luxury boutique carries silk dresses, velvet corsets, chiffon shawls and a range of accessories, all designed in-house.

Gaya 1 Nguyen Van Trang, D1 Tel: 3925 1495 Carries a range of couture and pret-aporter garments and silk and organza dresses in vibrant colours created by Cambodia-based designer Romyda Keth.

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


Geisha Boutique 85 Pasteur, D1 Tel: 3829 4004 Facebook: Geisha Boutique Australian fashion label offering a contemporary range of casual and evening wear with an Asian influence. Printed tees, singlets, shorts, skirts, jeans, summer scarves, dresses, silk camisoles and satin maxi dresses.

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.

Kookai Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi French brand stocking classic, feminine, styles with a twist. Gypsy day dresses and classic little black dresses at mid- to high-range prices are perfect for twentyand thirty-something women.

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.

La Senza 47B–47C Nguyen Trai, D1 Tel: 3925 1700 65 Le Loi, Saigon Centre, D1 Tel: 3914 4328 Boutique carrying a wide range of bras, panties, pyjamas, accessories and lounge wear.

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.

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


Marc Jacobs Rex Hotel, 155 Nguyen Hue , D1 Tel: 6291 3580 This spacious shop with high-ceilings carries up-market clothes, shoes and accessories from the internationally recognized designer brand. Song Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, D1 Offers women’s fashion designs by Valerie Gregori McKenzie, including evening dress, tops and hats. Valenciani Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, D1 Tel: 3821 2788 66-68 Nguyen Trai, D1 Tel: 7302 4688

Dieu Thanh 140 Pasteur, D1 Tel: 3824 5851 Experienced tailor shop specializes in swimwear and cotton clothing, as well as business suits, evening dresses, luxury fabrics and accessories. Massimo Ferrari 42-A1 Tran Quoc Thao, D3 Tel: 3930 6212 Traditional Italian sartorial techniques are employed to offer a full wardrobing service and custom tailoring for men. Stocked with imported fabrics primarily from Italy. In-office and workplace fittings available. 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 77


Photos by Alex McMillan.

78 asialife HCMC

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radar Expat Life in Gif Form Gifs have been a form of Internet humour for years, and despite their age they still work well. The person behind ‘You want foo massa’ uses gifs combined with original captions to irreverently illustrate frustrating or amusing experiences we’ve all dealt with in Saigon. Both expats and locals are critiqued, and the result is often hilarious. One gif shows Russell Crowe delivering his famous line from Gladiator, “Are you not entertained?”, with the caption, “When I sing karaoke with my Vietnamese colleagues.” Another favourite is a man falling down a staircase with the caption, “When I leave Apo.” A word of warning: many of the images include vulgar language.

Concerts From Every Angle Switchcam makes life easy for anyone trying to watch concert footage through YouTube. Members of the site use YouTube footage to put together entire concerts in one stream, choosing the best audio and video sources to create a fairly seamless experience. Simply search for an artist (all of the big ones are there), choose a show, sit back and enjoy. This ensures you won’t have to search for another song every time the current one ends, and any poor-quality videos are eliminated.

Meet Your Inspiration In honour of this month’s cover story is a website featuring documentary interviews with trailblazing women from the United States, both household names and unknowns. AOL and PBS have sponsored the project, and there are dozens of videos available. By visiting the site one can hear the likes of Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton and Katie Couric talking about their journeys to influence and the role of women in the modern world. The goal of these videos is to document the progress of women in the United States over the last few decades, and the stories discussed will surely inspire anyone.

82 asialife HCMC

soundfix album review

by Mai Lynn Miller Nguyen

Taken By Trees



Bat For Lashes

Other Worlds

Kaleidoscope Dream


The Haunted Man

Ever since Sweden’s Victoria Bergsman guest sang on Peter, Bjorn and John’s 2006 hit ‘Young Folks’, she’s been one to keep an eye on. The former frontwoman of The Concretes has spent the past few years focusing on her solo career. Performing as Taken by Trees, Bergsman released Other Worlds, her third solo album. The cover shows her transparent silhouette holding a conch shell to her ear and facing an ocean. It’s an image that perfectly forecasts the album’s sound. Gentle waves of breezy singing, jaunty seaside rhythms and gentle production are as pleasant as a sunny day on the coast. And that’s just where Bergsman recorded, with studio space in Hawaii.

Not since the mid-1990s has R&B been so in vogue. But whereas critics’ darlings Frank Ocean and The Wknd have broken down R&B elements and rebuilt the genre with a contemporary, electronic approach, Miguel goes for more traditional smooth jams. The retrospective outlook is refreshing. His crooning style recalls that of Usher — suave, sensual and with a killer falsetto — embellished with some lusty synthesiser and snares. Miguel’s second album looks to be the breakout that his 2010 debut didn’t quite become. The mix of velveteen vocals and electric guitar riffs on ‘Arch & Point’ make it the catchiest number, whereas ‘How Many Drinks?’ is old school R&B at its finest.

With a name like Joe Lean and The Jing Jang Jong, the band seemed doomed to fail. And it did. But like a phoenix rising, the former group’s three members recouped, added two musicians and became Toy. The eponymous album serves up a mix of 1970s Krautrock and psychedelia, which sounds like a recipe for over-indulgence, but somehow is pulled off with flair. ‘My Heart Skips A Beat’ reveals the band at its most tender, with Tom Dougall’s boyish voice over cinematic instrumentals. The track is followed by another knockout, ‘Strange’, with a wink and a nod to the shoe-gazing genre. It seems a rebirth can work wonders.

It’s hard to believe that this is the artist who asked ‘What’s a Girl to Do’ on her first album. Five years later, Bat For Lashes — otherwise known as Natasha Khan — sounds like she knows exactly what she is doing. Khan’s third album is her most polished yet. This doesn’t mean the singer-songwriter has taken a hit on creativity; merely that she’s had time to mature and produce something cohesive. Khan draws comparison to Kate Bush at her calmest, given the delicate voice and a penchant for eccentric lyrics and tone. With this latest album, Khan may start commanding the critical attention and popular appeal she’s only flirted with on past efforts.

84 asialife HCMC


xoneFM top ten Hot 10 this last

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artist Adele Bruno Mars

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Skyfall Locked Out Of Heaven Live While We're Young Don't Judge Me Ho Hey Ronan Flower Not Even The King Hall Of Fame




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Capsule Coffee By Martin Ho The popularity of capsule coffee has surged in Europe and the trend is slowly making its way to Vietnam. These machines use pre-packaged coffee that comes in small, sealed cups. Instead of fumbling around with loose coffee, you simply add a little package into the machine, press a button, and wait for espresso to drip out of the spout. Coffee capsules are hermetically-sealed ground coffee that, despite their size, deliver a punchy flavour. The machines used with the capsules pierce them and force hot water through the hole to make espresso; they contain just enough coffee for one shot. Not only are these machines easy to use, but they’re also clean, extremely convenient, and come in models well below $300. However, like with printer toner, the manufacturers make their money on the coffee rather than the machines themselves, as the capsules’ shapes and sizes are specific to the machines they were designed for and are often not interchangeable. Buying my machine in Paris was quite interesting. The shop I visited was glamorous, akin to a boutique on 5th

Avenue. The staff was dressed up in nice suits and spoke with their noses upturned. This shop had a spacious lounge for customers to take their time sampling more than 15 different coffees and hot chocolates, which were all produced from capsules. Once you’ve decided on the flavours you want to take home, you are expected to line up for at least 15 to 30 minutes if you haven’t ordered online, and the stores can be packed with hundreds of customers. I don’t mean to make it sound off-putting. It's actually enticing in that there is so much ceremony and elegance attached to such a product. I loved the quality of the coffee enough to buy 50 boxes of capsules, and I continue to harass my friends to bring me back more from their trips abroad. Paris prices ran $5 for a box of 10 capsules to $130 for a box of 250. In Saigon, you can buy these machines and capsules online from or Meta. vn. If online isn’t your thing, you can order through Mua Hang My, 16/F Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 08 22 19 88 73.

asialife HCMC 85




Wreck-It Ralph

Rise of the Guardians

Bond is back in the 23rd installment of the longest-running film franchise of all time. Daniel Craig returns as Ian Flemming’s James Bond, but this time 007’s loyalty to M (Judi Dench), his boss and head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, is tested when her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack from Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a dangerous villain claiming a personal connection to both Bond and M, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

On the night before an old friend's wedding, three frisky bridesmaids go searching for a little fun but find much more than they bargained for. With Becky set to marry her sweetheart, the remaining members of her high school clique reunite for one last bachelorette bacchanal in the Big Apple. When Becky insists on keeping the bachelorette party tame, three friends — Regan, the maid of honour who is secretly smarting over the fact that she's not the first to marry, Gena, a closet romantic, and Katie, a ditzy beauty — decide to have an after-hours celebration of their own.

Ralph (John C Reilly) is tired of being overshadowed by Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer), the ‘good guy’ star of their video game who always gets to save the day. After decades of doing the same thing and seeing all the glory go to Felix, Ralph decides to stop playing the role of a bad guy. He takes matters into his own massive hands and sets off on a game-hopping journey across the arcade through every generation of video game to prove he's got what it takes to be a hero.

This epic adventure that tells the story of a fearsome team of heroes made up of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman and Jack Frost — all with previously unknown extraordinary abilities. When an evil spirit lays down the gauntlet to take over the world, the immortal Guardians must join forces for the first time to protect the hopes, beliefs and imagination of children all over the world. Based on the book series Guardians of Childhood by William Joyce, the script takes a new look at these legendary fixtures of childhood.

Opening Dates CINEMAS M: Megastar Cinema

G: Galaxy Cinema

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Skyfall (2 November) Bachelorette (2 November) Wreck-It Ralph (9 November) Rise of the Guardians (30 November) Skyfall (2 November) Wreck-It Ralph (9 November)

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

bookshelf Kevin Powers The Yellow Birds Little, Brown & Company

A Catch-22 for this generation, The Yellow Birds provides a literary window to the Iraq War frontlines. Drawing from his own experiences as a machine-gunner in Iraq, Kevin Powers — a first-time novelist with an academic background in poetry — portrays the everyday struggles and ironies of war. The plotline follows 21-year-old Private John Bartle from 2003 to 2009, through the United States, Germany and Iraq. A nonlinear format leaves readers to put together the pieces of a puzzle based on Bartle’s hazy memories of the war and the trauma he experiences both during deployment and after his return.

Hunter Davis (editor) The John Lennon Letters Weidenfield and Nicolson

John Lennon imagined a world that was better than the one we have. Beyond his musical abilities, it was Lennon’s creative spirit that made him one of the most significant artists of the last century. Editor Hunter Davies — who wrote an authorised Beatles biography more than 40 years ago — presents a collection of Lennon’s hand-drawn postcards, love letters and rambles. These correspondences present a vision of the artist as a man, while also revealing how he incorporated art into his everyday life. As the lyricist behind ‘Strawberry Fields’ and ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’, Lennon’s writing is equally composed with clever wordplay and poetic sensibilities.

Lois Lowry Son Houghton Mifflin

Lois Lowry published The Giver nearly 20 years ago. Written for young adults, the powerful novel features characters who come of age within a dystopian community. With its mature, thought-provoking themes, The Giver has become required reading in many schools. Written with the same sparse, stirring style, Son revisits the strange community and features a 14-year-old girl as the protagonist. Claire serves as a vessel, which the reader comes to learn is responsible for birthing. Although the community forbids parents from having any connection with their children — who are raised communally — Claire becomes determined to know her child.

Orhan Pamuk Silent House Alfred A Knopf

Not to be confused with a thriller film of the same title, Silent House is Orhan Pamuk’s latest work to be translated into English. First published in Turkish in 1983, the novel tells the story of a family gathering on the coast near Istanbul. As the impending military coup of 1980 looms, the family — an ageing mother, her three grandchildren and her husband’s son by a mistress — struggles to reconcile their own differences and confront the changing society around them. The winner of the 2006 Nobel Literature Prize, Pamuk delivers the story with compelling writing style.

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Dana Filek-Gibson offers some tips on how to pop the expat bubble. One afternoon while eating shoulder-to-shoulder on the street, my friend Linh cheerfully announced I was adopted. If Linh were anyone else, like my real sister, I might have taken this as an insult. Instead I spent the rest of lunch beaming, despite the fact I'd painted curry spots all over my shirt. I was finally Vietnamese enough for a Vietnamese person. Moving abroad is not unlike grade six: you're new, you're funny-looking, and everybody in town already has friends. Saigon is another place in which we all must learn to survive. Just as we once discovered coping mechanisms and awkward social behaviour, we adapt to Vietnam and the strange customs around us, mastering the international language of charades, hunting down every local shop that sells cheese, and trying to convince 88 asialife HCMC

our friends we never visit Pham Ngu Lao. In many ways, this alone is a unique cultural experience. And yet, I know people who have lived here for years and still aren't sure what banh xeo is. While we are all guilty of this on occasion, there are some among us who live daily on takeaway burritos and HBO reruns. These things are indisputably enjoyable, but I suspect that anyone who comes to Asia is, or once was, looking for something more culturally engaging than Entourage. Thankfully, as someone who has been called Vietnamese not once but three times, I am able to offer my unsolicited advice on how to enhance your day-today expat experience in Saigon. To state an obvious fact, expats are not tourists. We pride ourselves on fitting in, even when we don't. The

simplest way to spice up your everyday routine is to act like you are not, in fact, a foreigner. Do what locals do. Master the art of driving heavy, unsecured objects on your motorbike, for instance, or train yourself to execute the signature Vietnamese squat-sit for more than 10 seconds. While no one at home would describe pajama sets as sensible or something you wear in the daytime, it never hurts to try one on and gauge the reaction. Once you've mastered looking and acting like a local, immerse yourself in Vietnamese news. There is a whole world of things you would never know, if it weren't for local publications. What is a chicken beauty contest, and why does it exist? Are we angry at China? What is the price of gold this month? In my experience, there is at least one piece of genitalia-related

news a month in Vietnam. Stay abreast of these stories; they are incredible conversation-starters. Last but not least, cultivate a new hobby, like exercising in the park or that board game played by old men in their undershirts on the sidewalk. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, learn how to cook Vietnamese food without burning yourself. I've chosen speaking Vietnamese, which is a fabulous party trick, and occasionally useful when someone understands me. Regardless of what happens, the idea is to step outside your ever-expanding comfort zone. Since coming to Vietnam, my personal definition of reasonable has grown to include nosepicking, public urination, and people driving motorbikes with their eyes closed. It's best, I find, to keep pushing those boundaries as far as they'll go.

This Country Life As his Vietnamese wife gives birth to their first son, Walter Pearson quickly realises just how different child rearing will be in Vietnam.

The driver saved the day. He had a newspaper. My wife was about to give birth to our first baby and people were saying she needed a newspaper. Of course, Vietnamese peasant women have a high pain threshold during childbirth. They can even read a newspaper while they wait. This illusion was to be dashed. We had planned a safe clean birth at an international hospital in Saigon and estimated a delivery date of the 15th. The doctors predicted a delivery date of about the 25th. We believed them and planned to go down a week before and wait. The doctors were wrong. It was the 14th and I had just rushed my wife to the local hospital, the one she had wanted to avoid for hygiene reasons. The car propped to a halt outside Emergency; we bundled out and a nurse ran towards us. “No baby deliveries here,” she said waving and pointing around the corner. We bundled back into the car and sped around to Maternity. I

helped my wife to the cramped delivery room, where three other women lay on gurneys, their bare legs up in the air. “She goes in but you can’t,” the nurse directed — my first indication that the whole baby thing is very different in Vietnam. This likely was to be our only child and I could not be at the delivery. So I set about organising the gear we had brought along. “Four kilos,” Sister Eight announced soon after. What? “The baby, it’s four kilos.” Only 25 minutes and we had a new baby boy. My wife was wheeled out to a recovery ward wearing a pale pink hospital outfit made of a loose-fitting cotton shirt and calf-length skirt. Sister Eight carefully placed the newspaper under the new mother to soak up excess fluids and protect the bed. Then my wife stuffed cottonwool into her ears to keep out wind-blown disease. The baby was covered in hair — head, ears, arms, back. I wanted to file an “Ultra-hairy Baby Born In Binh Long” story.

Sister Eight stayed with my wife 24 hours a day while in hospital. Hospitals provide treatment; they do not provide care. Sister Eight had to get food and drink, help feed and bathe the baby and guard him when his mother went to the toilet or bathroom. Baby-napping, especially of halfie kids like ours, is common. There were three aromatic oils on the steel cabinet next to the bed. The green oil would be rubbed on the baby’s chest, head, arms and inner thighs. There was also an orange oil in a small, triangular bottle and a clear oil in a tall, thin bottle. My wife would use these for headaches, to cool her body, or for a list of other things I could not fathom. The maternity ward had five beds, one fan, one florescent light, grubby walls and dirty floors. A range of strangers and family members came and went at will. After four days we were allowed to pay the bill of VND 650,000 and take the baby home. That’s when things got strange.

My wife had to stay in our bedroom for a month. By rights she had to keep the cotton-wool in her ears, and wear socks, pants, long sleeves and a hat. She could take a sponge bath in the room, but not shower. The baby would sleep in the bed with us — and still does 14 months later. He would be bathed in green tea followed by the green oil. He would wear a hat, socks and gloves all the time, as well as a light elastic bandage around his stomach over his belly button. At night my wife would cool him with a banana leaf fan if he stirred. Relatives and friends visited anytime they pleased. I could be naked in bed at 6.30 in the morning and some old great aunt would drop in on the way to the market. I would come home from playing tennis and have to find some other room in which to change. Most amazing to me was the number of young men who wanted to visit the baby. Feeding time was a show for all. I would not have missed all this for the world. asialife HCMC 89

pub quiz Take a Bough


1) Ratty, Toad, Badger and Mole are all characters in which 1908 novel? 2) What was the title of the song that was a hit for Laurel and Hardy from the 1937 film Way Out West? 3) Which spy character did Michael Caine play in the 1960's films The Ipcress File, Funeral in Berlin and The Billion Dollar Brain? 4) Which film featured the character Freddie Kruger? 5) What phrase connects a funeral service and the title of a number one David Bowie hit?

21) Which lake is the deepest in the world? 22) The Mariana Trench is the deepest part of the world's oceans. In which ocean is it? 23) What was codename of Bob Woodward's Watergate contact? 24) What was the purpose of the IBM-developed computer Deep Blue? 25) ‘Smoke on the Water’ is a famous song by which band, who were once listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as "the globe's loudest band"?

6) What was originally billed as an "esteemed brain tonic and intellectual beverage" when it first appeared on the market in 1886? 7) What fruit is the basis of Calvados? 8) The letters ABV found on drinks containers are an abbreviation for what? 9) What is Adam’s Ale? 10) What drink, by European law, must come from the area around the Spanish town of Jerez?

When They Were Young 26)

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Cats & Dogs

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Heights 16) What was the highest building in the world until 1930? 17) Angel Falls is the world's highest uninterrupted waterfall. In which country is it? 18) In which US state is its highest mountain? 19) What is Africa's highest mountain? 20) Which country's highest mountain is the Grossglockner?



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30) 1) The Wind In The Willows 2) The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine 3) Harry Palmer 4) Nightmare On Elm Street 5) Ashes to Ashes 6) Coca-Cola 7) Apples 8) Alcohol By Volume 9) Water 10) Sherry 11) Dogs 12) A tail 13) Bill Sikes 14) Cat Stevens 15) Lee Marvin 16) The Eiffel Tower 17) Venezuela 18) Alaska 19) Kilimanjaro 20) Austria 21) Baikal 22) Pacific 23) Deep Throat 24) To play chess 25) Deep Purple 26) William Shatner 27) Christopher Walken 28) Ozzy Osbourne 29) William Shatner 30) Charlize Theron

11) What animal are the Canary Islands named after? 12) What does an Isle of Man Manx cat not have? 13) Which Dickens character owned a dog named Bull’s Eye? 14) Steven Georgi is now Yusuf Islam. By what other name was this singer known? 15) Who won the 1965 Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Cat Ballou?


Pub Quiz Answers

In the Drink

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