Page 1










031 006 l The Prelude THE TALK

009 l The Big Five 010 l Just In 014 l The Buzz

022 l Overscene INSIDER 028 l Many Faces The black and white portrait artist

054 l Trendspotter Pho mai que

070 l Mystery Diner Le Paul Conti

071 l Street Snacker Streetside Barbecue

2 | Word December 2012

076 City Guide

026 Q


030 TIME


075 l Business Buff


Hanoi’s circus is laden with history and culture



Quang Tri was on the front line of the war. It still suffers the aftermath



018 l In the Papers 020 l Calendar

FEATURES Meet the man behind the ‘No Honking’ campaign

008 l Annus Horribilis?

Behind the scenes in North Korea



Documentaries tell stories of real people. Meet the makers



Looking for that Christmas gift? Here are some ideas




Cold weather dishes to lighten your mood

082 l Destination Zero 087 l Music Buff 090 l Wine Connoisseur 096 l Cinema Buff 098 l Book Buff 104 l Medical Buff

TIENG VIET FINAL SAY 108 l Motorbike Rider Backpack the Vietnamese way

Trivia Buff Answers

See p115 for the original puzzle

1) The Crocodile Hunter 2) TSB 3) Anthony Hopkins 4) Wellington 5) Greece 6) Sex Addicts Anonymous 7) Marvin Gaye 8) Thomas Edison 9) Edward Lear 10) Being ill 11) Ashtray Baby Heads 12) Halal 13) Hawaii 14) Your Memory 15) Cucumber 16) Nokia 17) Anne Nightingale 18) Kool & The Gang 19) Joan Collins 20) Formic acid

110 l My Own Super Power Being an international school student has its pitfalls 116 l Last Call Nguyen Thao, the force behind Pots ‘n Pans

December 2012 Word | 3

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Crossword Answers See p114 for the original puzzle. Puzzle by Frank A. Longo. Edited by Will Shortz

4 | Word December 2012

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December 2012 Word | 5

The Prelude F

or anyone used to the supposed ‘free press’ of elsewhere, working in the media in Vietnam can sometimes be a frustrating experience. To graft away in a profession that you believe in, you often have to make sacrifices. Not in terms of telling the truth — journalists should never lie — but in terms of telling the story. There are some things that just cannot be said. Such was the case potentially with this month’s cover story on Quang Tri — for a while we weren’t sure whether we could publish it. In a country where the past is dealt with by accepting bad events as a matter of fate, much is blocked out. So much so that discussing the war can often be taboo. Fortunately, for the writer and photographer who travelled to Quang Tri, the province surrounding the former Demilitarized Zone

(DMZ), our guides and the people they introduced them to were able to open up. It was both a warming and shocking experience. Shocking in that the people we encountered showed us and made us feel first hand the continued horrors of war. Do a search on white phosphorus and the unexploded ordnance known locally as bombi, the late Princess Diana’s most heartfelt cause, and you’ll understand. Read the facts laid out in our cover story and you’ll be sickened. Despite the war finishing almost 40 years ago, Quang Tri is still living in its aftermath. The most harrowing moment was a visit to see Bui Manh Thang in hospital. A victim of a mortar explosion only seven days earlier, his body was covered in black burn marks and he had injuries to his neck and almost every limb. Our photographer was visibly


(The Apple of My Eye, November 2012) I’m not shocked or surprised by this article. I’ve seen my friends get suckered by chicks like Phuong all the time with sob stories about sick relatives. They live overseas and come to Vietnam on a part time basis. They deserve what they get. — Adam

If only Apple could see how they’re corrupting the moral fabric of Vietnam. — Chuong


(The Free Man, November 2012) I feel this article was a non-article. It didn’t explain why he’s an interesting person or didn’t really say he was doing anything interesting. Just because he has free time on his hand and opens up a shop doesn’t warrant an article. — Ethan

6 | Word December 2012

perturbed. Yet despite being disorientated, Thang still had spirit. The visit to the house of Hoang Thi Thuy was equally upsetting. Her husband was killed in an accident two years earlier, and she was badly injured. One can only imagine her struggle to bring up her four children alone in the face of constant poverty. Woven throughout the region’s beautiful scenery are many such tales of individual struggle. We cover these stories and their dark history. We also visit the sites of Khe Sanh, Vinh Moc Tunnels, Ben Hai River, the Mine Action Visitor Centre and Long Hung Church, the image shown on our front cover. We hope you find it as engaging as we did. As ever, if you have any comments, please email editor@ And from all the team at Word, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.





THIS MONTH'S COVER Photo: Francis Roux Design: DH Advertising



(Answering the Critics, November 2012) I’m happy to see that in the last issue you covered Huyen Chip and her book Xach Balo len va Di (Pack your Bags and Go) because it is a hot topic among Vietnamese youth. However, I think the writer is too subjective to say: “According to conservatives, Chip epitomizes selfishness. How she could spend two years travelling and enjoying herself, rather than looking after her parents and studying, is beyond some in her homeland”. Actually the reasons the writer mentioned are not representative and they are almost at the bottom of the list criticisms. She has been condemned firstly because the stories will encourage other youngsters to travel abroad without proper preparation. This could put them in danger. Huyen had only US$700 and travelled to many countries by working to earn money to continue the trip. But what if she had been trafficked, got sick, had an accident, or got put into jail because of working illegally? She is reckless. Secondly, how much truth are there in her stories? According to Minh Tri, a writer for the People Police newspaper, no-one can actually verify how much money she actually brought with her. I also want to comment about the editor’s choice of the Huyen Chip’s photo in the story. I got confused. What message do you want to send through the image of a teenager lying in bed? I don’t see the portrait of a strong-spirited, dynamic travel writer. It doesn’t match the content of the story. I hope to see more good stuff in the mag. — Ha Nguy

57 Bui Thi Xuan Street - T: 04 3 944 0204 E: -

December 2012 Word | 7

The Talk

THE BIG 5 / JUST IN / THE BUZZ / CALENDAR / OVERSCENE international food chains. Burger King and Subway are here. Domino’s is starting to expand, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is increasing its presence, as is Pizza Hut, Trung Nguyen, Tous les Jours, Al Fresco’s, Baskin Robbins and Lotteria. Nationwide, KFC now has well over 100 stores. Starbucks is even due to open its first café this month in Ho Chi Minh City. On the face of it, these various chains seem to be faring well.

Let Me Entertain You

Annus Horribilis? Although recession is still here, the food and beverage industry is starting to boom. Photo by Francis Roux “[THIS] IS NOT A YEAR ON WHICH I shall look back with undiluted pleasure,” said the British monarch Queen Elizabeth famously in 1992. “It has turned out to be an annus horribilis”. Although referring to the tribulations and misfortunes of her family, it’s a phrase that in certain respects could also be applied to Vietnam. It’s been a recurring theme this year — the economic slowdown, the stalled construction projects, issues with self-expression, doom, gloom, more doom and even more gloom. According to Nielsen Vietnam, consumption has also been hit. Fearing tough times ahead, nine out of ten Vietnamese are changing their spending habits to save more. And while during the third quarter of 2012, the global consumer confidence index increased by a

8 | Word December 2012

point, suggesting a recovery is on its way, in Vietnam there was a dip of 8 points. The biggest concern, says Nielsen, were increasing utility bills. It’s a typical sign of a struggling economy — rising costs, consumption on the fall, money hard to come by. Yet, one industry seems to have fared remarkably well. Or at least, it has the appearance of faring well: food and beverage. One of the supposed recession-proof industries — the others include healthcare, the skilled services provided by plumbers, electricians, hair stylists and cinema — the obsession with eating out and making regular visits to watering holes, from bia hoi on the street through to rooftop bars on the top of office blocks, seems to be far from abating. In particular, the relatively inexpensive

As the western press has constantly pointed out, during periods of deprivation such as a recession, people feel fully justified spending on more cost-conscious forms of entertainment. So, rather than travelling business for their annual vacation they will fly economy. Instead of flying Singapore Airlines they’ll travel AirAsia, and if they go to a rock concert — as Status Quo’s Rick Parfitt was quoted as saying on a recent article on the BBC website — they will fork out the cost of the ticket but be less likely to spend on merchandising. In Vietnam the notion of entertainment transforms itself to the country’s favourite pastime: eating out and drinking with friends. And yet, the number of nonaffiliated bars, cafes and restaurants that seem to be sprouting up is nonsensical. There was a period when Word was able to keep up with the new openings. But such is the volume, especially with all the food courts working their way into Vietnam, that it’s now become impossible. The question, though, is how will everyone survive. Surely we’re hitting saturation point? According to a recent Cline Group study of restaurants in Dallas, Texas, 23 percent of all start-ups failed within their first 12 months. An additional 14 percent closed in the second year, while 7 percent locked up shop in the third year. Which all suggests that as reality bites, this little boom may be short-lived. The fro-yo, or frozen yoghurt explosion a few years ago, is a prime example of such saturation. Within a space of a few short months, from nowhere there seemed to be a fro-yo store on almost every Ho Chi Minh City street corner. Now there is a noticeable absence of this ‘healthy’ icecream alternative. For Queen Elizabeth, though, 2012 couldn’t have been a better year. Early in the summer she celebrated 60 years on the throne and then a month or so later was seen jumping out of a helicopter at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. An annus mirabilis?




THINGS TH T HIN INGS GS TO WATCH OUT FOR THIS MONTH HA HAHANOI 2: HONG KONG COMEDY TOUR CAMA ATK and the House of Son Tinh team up for the second time to bring three more stand up comedians to Hanoi. Part of the stable, the three English-language comics have been honing their craft on Hong Kong’s comedy circuit where they regularly support international talent touring in Asia. Expect culturally inappropriate jokes, heavy irony, deadpan one-liners, farcical stories and plenty of ha ha. Ha HaHaNoi will be taking place on Friday Dec. 14 at the House of Son Tinh, 31XuanDieu, Tay Ho and on Saturday Dec. 15 at CAMA ATK, 73A Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung. Tickets cost VND100,000 and include shots of Son Tinh liquor. Hilarity will hit from 9pm.



On Sunday Dec. 9, runners from all around Hanoi and further afield will gather for the Red River Runner’s annual street running event. Competitors set-off from UNIS at 8am snaking a route around Ciputra and onto the streets around West Lake. As well as the usual half marathon and 10km options, there is also a 5km event and a kid’s fun run. Instructors from Elite Fitness will be on hand to lead a warm-up routine and there will be prizes courtesy of New Balance, Topas Travel and others. Red River Runners supports Blue Dragon Foundation, and all proceeds from the event goes towards their projects around Vietnam. See for more details.


Can you imagine Hanoi without Hanoi Rock City? Probably not. It’s amazing then to think that this pillar of Hanoi’s cultural landscape isn’t even two years old. But it will be soon, and is celebrating in the style for which they are much loved. Saturday Dec. 8 will see a diverse lineup of quality home grown talent including live roots reggae from the Raggamuffins, a range of DJs including Sebastien Gesell, Vu Nhat Tan, DJ Y, Cybersnake and Dirty Fingrz, sophisticated singer-songwriter Phuong Dang, and live art from Inklings. They’ll be joined by headliners Illbilly feat. Longfingah, an electronic reggae group from Berlin. Their live show is a fun filled mash up of high energy genres like breakbeat, dub and jungle made up of live drums, electronic sounds, classic reggae samples and live vocals. HRC is at 27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho. For more information on their Dec schedule check out their website,

FOND AFFECTIONS The Onion Cellar continue to innovate with another eclectic line-up of experimental live acts. This time they’ve invited Finnish songstress Islaja and China-based duo FM3 to share the stage with new Hanoian JRG_01. Islaja combines a vast array of instruments with psychedelia, drone-like textures and her uniquely breathy voice to create what many have called an andacid-folk acid-folktake takeon on Bjork. Having released five albums, she recently completed a headline tour of the UK and has shared the stage with musical trail-blazers such as Animal Collective. FM3 is ChristiaanVirant and Zhang Jian — widely recognized as the pioneers of electronic music in China. Together they make meditative ‘poetic noise’ mixing Chinese traditional sounds with modern digital techniques. Music to end the world to — not to miss. Fond Affections will be taking place at Hanoi Rock City, 27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho on Dec. 21. Doors open at 8pm and tickets are VND100,000. For updates on this and other Onion Cellar events, follow


SKYLINES WITH FLYING PEOPLE “I cried for the skylines without flying people/ I then cried for the flying people without skylines.” A short poem written in the late 1980s during a time when artists were struggling to work freely, serves as the inspiration behind an experimental open studio this month. For three weeks, artists from Vietnam will work alongside various international artists on a series of creative projects. From Dec. 4, The Japan Foundation will host a week of conferences and artist talks, followed by an exhibition Measuring the World on Dec. 11. The Goethe Institut will stage a performance entitled White on Dec. 18. The Open Studios exhibition will show all artist work and documentation from the duration of the project on Dec. 21. Along with the Japan Foundation and Goethe Institut, Nhasan Studio and Manzi Art Space will host the December events. Visit www.swfp. org for an overview of Skylines With Flying People and a more detailed program of the events.

4 December 2012 Word | 9

Just In

OPTIMISE YOUR HEALTH Recently updated, as with previous versions the latest Hanoi Holistic Health Guide contains listings of holistic and wellness practitioners in Hanoi. The comprehensive directory is an indispensible resource for those looking to optimise their physical, mental, and spiritual health. A free download of the guide is available at hanoiholistichealthguide

MANZI If you fear your brain is turning into nothing but noodles, beer and sex, Manzi may be your salvation. Art and intellect are given new breathing space inside the early 20th century French villa on Phan Huy Ich. The recently opened shop and café bar is set on promoting contemporary arts by bringing together artists and audiences to think critically and stimulate a culture of debate. Exhibitions, talks, workshops, book introductions, film screenings, music and dance performances will serve as the fodder. Manzi’s intellectual and collaborative vibe is a much- welcomed addition to Hanoi’s growing scene of artists and activists, and its continuing encouragement of contemplative coffee drinking. Manzi is on 14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh and is open from 9am to midnight.



After a short hiatus in which the people behind the scenes at the Al Fresco’s Group have refurbished this Hanoi icon, Jaspa’s bar and restaurant will be reopening on Dec. 4. Possessing a fresh, new look, but with the same mix of international comfort food and atmosphere together with the Aussie-style sports bar of old, the opening party will boast music, a free-flow of wine, beer and spirits together with canapés, all for VND300,000. The relaunch of Jaspa’s starts at 8.30pm on Tuesday Dec. 4. Jaspa’s is on the 4th Floor of Hanoi Tower, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem

Though there are many things to mention in Pullman Hanoi’s recent hotel makeover, location is what we’ll go with here. In close proximity to government, diplomatic and business offices, and a ten-minute drive from the Old Quarter, the five-star, upgraded version of the Horison Hotel is easily accessible from Central Hanoi. Located at 40 Cat Linh, the Accor-managed property — think Sofitel and M Gallery— boasts a modest 242 recently refurbished rooms, with the signature Pullman bedding used in the deluxe and executive rooms. Check out for more details on booking, call 3733 0808 or email

10 | Word December 2012

the talk FROM OUT OF THE ASHES Former Sou Southgate chef Shahar Lubin has taken over aas the new owner of West Lake wine bar an and tapas joint Daluva. He’s got big plans for a rreinvention of the bar’s image, so seeing off the four-year old night spot will be seein special New Year’s Eve blow out. with a spec For those who liked Daluva’s choice of yard sale will be held to auction decor, a yar old furniture and fittings in off all the ol preparation for the New Year change over. Keep aan eye out for the all-new which promises to feature food restaurant w mouthwatering as the Southgate menu as mouthwa helped to pioneer. Lubin helpe Daluva is at 33 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho



How to define the Christmas spirit? Chic wine and deep house?! You can't make this stuff up

FLORA AND FAUNA NATIONAL PARKS MAP Flora and Fauna International (FFI) have a new map for sale that marks all of Vietnam’s national parks, how to get there, where to stay, where to trek, kayak, bike and watch birds. In addition to mapmaking, the conservation organisation is concerned with protecting Northern Vietnam’s endangered species by recruiting team members from surrounding ethnic groups to patrol the forest, creating a link between biodiversity conservation and the local economy. The maps are selling for VND65,000 and are available at Bookworm (44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh and Lane 1/28 Au Co, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho). All proceeds will go to support the Community Conservation team’s field equipment. For further information on FFI go to

Classic treasures in a pot, for example Words that mean nothing: gourmet, luxury, elegant, irresistible I heard there was something going on at CAMA ATTACK tonight My cadence coach said it doesn't matter what I say

FITNESS WORLD Opening at the beginning of this month, this brand spanking new fitness centre close to Duong Buoi and the end of Doi Can would seem to offer it all. Complete with a cardio area, dance studio space, resistance machines and a “sexy lounge area where you can surf the web”, the space is designed with purpose and obvious attention to aesthetics, in addition to the physical and emotional wellbeing of its customers. Thanks to the vibrant lifestyle concept at work, “highly pumped up” workouts are just part of the total gym experience. Fitness World is located at An Van Place, Lot 2 Nguyen Khanh Toan (next to KFC), Cau Giay. Email or call 3839 8611 for more information.

Talk to me about my hair, tell me about your hair Walking around like they're not the reason everything is rotten Chode we have a drink here before going out? Chodes! Let's do all of the things I thought as you got older it was supposed to get easier. I guess I’ve been reading from the wrong book December 2012 Word | 11


KING KONG ON A SCOOTER MY WIFE AND HER SISTERS THINK I look pretty hilarious on my motorbike. “It’s too small,” says older sister Huong. “It makes you look like King Kong,” adds younger sister Trang. The very first time I met my father-in-law he muttered: “Small bike for such a big tay”. I can rise above it. Me? I’ve long fancied Hanoi bloke bike, the Honda Dream, but my wife has other ideas. “You’re no good at gears.” Foreigners being “no good at gears” is something I’ve heard before. “Never buy a bike from a foreigner,” was one piece of advice shared between staff at my wife’s cafe. This was followed by much nodding of heads in agreement. Then again those classified ads that start, “I’ve just ridden this baby up from Ho Chi Minh City...” always crack me up. So you screwed the arse off it for a fortnight and now you want your money back? That seems fair. Cash?

Automatic for the People Anyway my wife and the rest of the Fabulous Nguyen Sisters think I should have a bigger, fully automatic bike. Not too big, though, as obviously being such a bad driver I wouldn’t be able to control it. They might have a point. Last week I watched a foreigner in the gym car park spend 10 minutes getting kitted up to ride his monster. Gloves with grips, padded black jacket, matching helmet. Then he bumped, skidded and stalled his way out onto the road as the security guard and I winced and giggled in his wake. My wife suggests I buy an Air Blade. A friend of hers has one. “You could put your shopping under the seat.” I don’t do any shopping. I’m not trusted to do shopping. I’d apparently only pay too much. I put my foot down. If we’re talking automatics I definitely don’t want a Honda SH. They’re universally driven by morons. The Honda asSHole: for people with an SUV

12 | Word December 2012

attitude but not quite the money to o back it up. The Honda SHithead. I could go on. n. And changing gears is a little manly, anly, no? Going from first to fourth through the Old Quarter leaving some sleeveless, beersloganed backpacker in my wake. I imagine they probably think I’m pretty cool. ol.

Manly Manoeuvres Sometimes older tourists point mee out to their friends. “Wow,” I bet they’re saying. “There’s a white guy on a motorbike in all this traffic. How does he do it?” Occasionally, when they are taking pictures of the anarchy, I race into shot doing a peace sign. My wife hates that. If they catch my eye as they try to cross the road I give them a particularly courteous wider berth and a sympathetic “It’s crazy isn’t it?” smile. This new bike must not have a footwell. Sitting astride a bike, even a fart-engined weakling, gives you an inner cool. Knees together on an automatic — I’d feel like I was trying to stop someone looking up my skirt. My current bike’s battery is knackered d again and that’s great. Kick starting a motorbike is just about the most alpha male thing in the world. Also cool, and you can try this, is stopping to chat with someone on the street and instead of taking off your helmet, just undoing the strap. For some reason it makes you feel like a military general justt back from manoeuvres. All of which suggests that a choice of motorbike has more factors to it than you might first imagine. It’s probably just as well then that I’ll have no say in it.

The Exhibitionist

the talk


FROM NAPLES TO BUENOS AIRES Traditions are like clothes, which help to express identity, say the two Italian musicians GiulianaSoscia and PinoJodice who will bring a reinterpretation of the jazz masterpiece, Tango from Naples to Buenos Aires to the Hanoi Opera House. On Wednesday Dec. 12, cultural cohesion will happen and tradition will be reinvigorated when the internationally acclaimed pianist, accordionist, and composers Soscia and Jodice team together to wear their traditional clothes. Tango from Naples to Buenos Aires will start at 9pm, tickets are on sale at the Hanoi Opera House at 1 TrangTien, HoanKiem.

The Onion Cellar and Hanoi Doclab are co-organising an official screening of the SigurRos’Valtari Mystery film Experiment at the Goethe Institut. The film is actually a collection of 17 fan-made short films created to mark the release of SigurRos’Valtari album. With small matching budgets, the filmmakers were invited to create whatever came into their heads when hen listening to the songs. The end result champions unfettered ered creative freedom and is pretty damn freaky to watch. The screening will take place at the Goethe Institut, 56-58 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh nh on Dec 6 at 7.30pm. Entry is free.

AN COM CHUA? Colin Christy has been thinking about food for a while now. Throughout November, he has been the artist in residence sidence at La 4uatrieme’s Open Studio reflecting on how a few Vietnamese food stapless act in relationship sty is an American to the community. Christy artist whose site-specific work from the US ures, installations and to Italy includes sculptures, ds to combine natural drawings. His work tends and artificial elements, and this most recent residency explores how in quickly changing times, food contains its culture, and culture hibition, starting on contains its food. His exhibition, ination of his work at Dec. 7, will be the culimination le suggestion: have a the Open Studio. Possible snack before coming. hibition is opening on The An Com Chua? exhibition eme is located on the 4th Dec. 7 at 6pm. La 4uartrieme floor of Ete, 95 Giang Van Minh, Ba Dinh.


SCULPTURING DANANG The Danang International Stone Sculpture Symposium 2013 is calling for artists to submit their proposals and artworks in the discipline of Stone Sculpture, from 05 Nov. 2012 to 05 Feb. 2013. The Symposium will take place in Danang, from Jul. 20 to Aug. 16 with a complement of 10 international artists and 10 Vietnamese artists creating artworks on-site over three weeks. The symposium is open to artists of all ages, genders and nationalities working with stone. Visit the official website at www. for more details.

Young artisan Dao Viet Dzung’s series of miniature wire bicycles have gone from tourist souvenirs to viable art pieces since he began selling them on the streets of Hanoi in 2003. Constructed out of steel wire and scrap metal, the collection was a hit when exhibited abroad in 2005, with a whole series being bought by a renowned Australian collector. Bookworm now commissions Dzung to make a series once every couple of years and exhibits them in house. Each one is individually hand painted and this particular show will also feature a selection of cyclos. Prices this series range from VND150,000 to VND200,000 a piece. Dung’s Xe Daps will be at Bookworm Too, 6 lane 1/28 Au Co, Tay Ho in early December and later at the original Bookworm at 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh.

NOI, HANOI AT THE HANOI BICYCLE COLLECTIVE Moving over to Tay Ho this month, the poetry and short story reading night will be set in the upstairs room of The Hanoi Bicycle Collective’s café-bike shop. Local poets and writers will read from a collection of work centered on the theme of Family. Scheduled for Dec. 16, the event will stay open to submissions until the day of; interested participants should email Noi, Hanoi at THBC on 44, Ngo 31, XuanDieu, will start at 8pm.

December 2012 Word | 13

The Buzz PRESS CLUB IN THE NEW YEAR Chic, gourmet and elegant are words that one might use to describe Press Club, and if those words meant anything anymore, they would certainly be accurate descriptions for the venue. In a festive, open-air bash, Press Club Hanoi will ring in 2013, starting with a dinner prepared by Chef Marcel Isaak. Of course, it wouldn’t be a party without champagne, desserts and the live music of The Hot Chicks Band together with DJ Polo. “Ring in 2013 at The Terrace Bar” will charge no cover and run late into the night. Get yer party dress pressed.


MARKET MILESTONES The Tay Ho Flea Market, which has been taking place every Saturday morning for the last three years, is holding it’s annual special market on Sunday Dec. 9. With great selections of small-scale producers selling everything from second hand clothes to free range chickens, the market’s annual celebration is likely to be shopping heaven for anyone interested in organic goods and family operations. The market will be run from 9am to 3pm on Dec. 9 at 67/12 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho. To enquire about renting a table email

VAN CHAI CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR’S SPECIAL If you’re looking to treat yourself or someone else for the holidays this year, tranquil Van Chai Resort in Thanh Hoa’s Sam Son beach has an ambitious hotel-restaurant-spa that could do the trick. With a stay of three nights for the price of two, discounts on food and beverage, and spa treatments, options abound. The offers run from Dec. 20 until Jan. 15. For more information on Van Chai, visit or call (04) 3717 2438.

14 | Word December 2012

Hanoi’s mental wellness just got well-er with A-Roaming Bodyworker’s December promotion. Whether you need to improve the circulation of your Chi or just your plain old blood, massage therapies can help relieve pain and stress. All December, customers booking a massage will receive a complimentary Jin Shin Jyutsu energy healing session. Just select the promotion offer on the “appointments” page of and use the promotion code: WordDec12.

SOFITEL SEASONS GREETINGS Adding to your Christmas headaches (or joys) is Sofitel Plaza Hanoi’s Christmas Eve Gala Party on Monday Dec. 24. Your wallet may have already been laid to waste, but you’ll have to fork out one more time for an unforgettable Christmas buffet with friends and family. Take a trip on a voyage of epicurean and entertainment pleasures via a myriad of culinary palates, ranging from traditional Swedish ham, roast turkey and Christmas pies to sushi, sashimi, seafood delights and Vietnamese fare. Prices start from VND2,100,000 for adults and VND1,600,000 for the kids Sofitel Plaza Hanoi is at 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh. To book call 3823 8888.

FAT CAT FUN If you’re looking for something eclectic, check out December’s events at FatCat Bar at 25 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem. From an UNDERWORLD show, chic wines and deep house, to a special HOBBIT NIGHT and the Best of the 1980s, the bar seems to be stock full of surprises this month. For a full listing of their events, check out the magazine’s calendar a few pages down.

FORTUNA HOTEL CUISINE HIGHLIGHTS Too many to list here, Fortuna is turning all sorts of tricks with their menu this month, from a chilli crab bun special at the Coffee Lounge, executive business suit lunches at Tiffin, new bento items and a lobster “fest” at the Japanese restaurant, and a garlic roasted chicken special at May Man’s Chinese Cuisine. Additionally, Fortuna will unveil a premature Ice Age Christmas on the Dec. 23. Because we couldn’t say it better: “Once making their way through a chilling entrance area across giant icy mountains, guests will experience the multisensory adventure with Santa and his likeable, cute, chirpy and favorite holiday tale characters as they celebrate Christmas in their own special way in the far-off land.” That and a lucky draw raffle. On the Dec. 24 and Dec. 25 will be a more timely, four-course Christmas dinner set. For reservations at any of the restaurants or further information about the Ice Age, call 3831 3333. Fortuna Hotel is located on 6B Lang Ha, Dong Da.

MOVENPICK Festive season brunches on every Sunday in December for VND780,000++ per person, a Christmas Day special (VND920,000++), a New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner (VND1,300,000++), a New Year’s Day “Energy” Brunch (VND780,000++) and gift baskets made on request are Movenpick’s way of saying happy holidays. Movenpick is at 83 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem. For more information email hotel.hanoi@moevenpick. com or call 3822 2800.

POTS ‘N PANS Following the autumnal menu, Pots ‘n Pans is tracking the changing seasons with a winter menu put together by chef Joel Manton. The menu presents well-balanced Vientamese flavours with an international twist. You can stay up to date on the Christmas and New Year’s Eve special menus by checking out the Facebook and twitter pages for the restaurant. Pots ‘n Pans is located at 57 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung. For more info go to and Twitter @potsnpanshanoi.

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VERY NGON HOMEWARES FOR THE HOLIDAYS A transformation of humble homeware products is underway at Very Ngon. Partners Lise Nguyen-Owen and Nguyen Thi Minh Hieu have been hand-printing tea towels and a growing range of homeware products that customers tend to use more for décor rather than functionality. Very Ngon is releasing a set of placemats for the holidays, featuring classic scenes of people and streets of Vietnam. To find more of their products and for some gift giving inspiration, visit one of the suppliers in Hanoi at Tan My Design (61 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem) and both L’Atelier shops (21 Nha Trung, Hoan Kiem and 33 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho).

PROJECTS ABROAD As the weather gets cold, Projects Abroad is casting a warm gaze on the orphanage at Bo De Pagoda in Hanoi. With over 100 children residing at the refuge, the hope is to raise money to provide medical equipment and improve the education programmes. To do this, an art and music showcase will generate the funds for the endeavour. On Saturday Dec. 15 at PUKU Café (16-18 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem) from 5pm to 9pm, one will find an assortment of activities, including creative workshops, live music, pay as you go karaoke, an art auction and unique raffle prizes. Swing by to support the cause!

CHRISTMAS CHEER The Hanoi Cooking Centre and the Bookworm are teaming up for a Christmas spectacular of yuletide joy. With the emphasis firmly on tradition, the duo will be hosting a whole weekend of live music, candy canes, warming gleuwine and big discounts on books. Saturday will see a classical chamber music trio perform, while on Sunday guests will be treated to some easy listening jazz. The Bookworm is located at 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh with the Hanoi Cooking Centre at the site. The free Christmas parties will take place on Saturday Dec. 15 and Sunday Dec. 16 from 2pm to 4pm.



Intrepid epid Travel Vietnam is doing promotions motions on four of their unique urban an adventure tours. Using local guides, des, Intrepid offer alternative tours rs in Ho Chi Minh City, Hue and Hanoi. From Dec. 1 to Feb. 28 a second person can travel for free when y you o book a place ou on the he Hanoi St Str Street reet Food by Night, ht, Tam Giang Lagoon and Beach ch Relax, Hoi An Boat and mple p and Tunnels Bikee or the Tem Temple tour. r. Intrepid ntrepid Travel Vietnam is based at 57A 7A Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. oi. For more information or to make bookings ings call 0904 193308 or email

The ever active Novotel Ha Long Bay are gearing up for the festive season with a Christmas market, Christmas Eve dinner and New Year’s Eve party. On Dec. 24 Santa will be joined by a carol singing choir, roast turkey buffet, poolside cocktails and what the organisers are calling the “novelty of the year”: snowfall in Ha Long Bay. For the New Year’s Eve bash, the onus will be firmly on a party with live music, a lucky draw and a variety of performers keeping spirits high throughout the night. The Christmas dinner is VND1,050,000++ for adults and half price for children, while the New Year celebrations are VND1,260,000++ for adults with the same children’s discount. For inquiries call (033) 384 8108or email info@

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THE DAWN OF DECEMBER Don’s Bistro are celebrating Christmas all month with a festive menu that you can get delivered direct to your door. The food, we mean, not the menu. Whether you need scran for your office lunch or a quiet meal at home, Don’s will cater to your needs. For those enjoying Don’s lake views, mulled wine and eggnog are available in little or large doses. Don’s Bistro is located at 16/27 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho

THE BUSINESS OF CHRISTMAS The British Business Group Vietnam (BBGV) are throwing a Christmas bash at the Hilton Hanoi Opera on Friday Dec. 7 from 6.30pm. The indispensable ingredients of roast turkey and mulled wine will be in place, and will be augmented by carol singing, a magician, live music and a charity raffle for needy children. Food, cheer and the spirit of giving — it must be Christmas. The celebrations cost VND400,000 for BBGV members and VND600,000 for those on the outside looking in. Kids under six go free while those between six and twelve get a 50 percent discount. Contact Nga at bbgvhanoi@, to book a table or register.

OPERATIC GRANDEUR Hotel de L’Opera Hanoi are pulling out all the stops for Christmas with events on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. You know the drill by now: live music, sumptuous buffets, magicians, free flow wine, kids entertainment, gifts from Santa, a DJ and general merry making. Booking early will get you a discount, but you’re still not going to walk away with any change. Hotel de L’Opera is located at 29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem. For all the details on their festive events, see or call 6282 5555.

NOVEL RICHES Colonial era restaurant, Club Opera Novel, is keeping it classy this December with a range of discounts. Get stuck into free-flow house wines from 6.30pm to 9.30pm for VND350,000++ or head down after lunch for unlimited tea and coffee and half-price home made cakes for just VND65,000. Club Opera Novel may have an unusual name, but it’s decor and finishings are spot on, making it a very welcome retreat from the Hanoi winters. Club Opera Novel is at 17 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem.

WIRED LET APP TAKE CARE OF IT These apps, available for both phone and computer across different platforms, could be life changing. NO MORE DRUNK DIALLING Avoid the pain of waking up after a big night out, looking through your phone and realising you made calls you really shouldn’t have; be it to your difficult boss or the boy or girl who broke your heart. There are apps designed to prevent drunken-you from ruining sober-you’s life by locking down specified numbers for a set amount of time. There are versions for both iPhone and Android; some services hide contact details, others direct you to a pre-recorded message reminding you why calling that person is a bad idea. QUIT WASTING TIME ONLINE Up against a deadline but getting distracted by interesting things on the internet? There’s help at hand. Choose from a range of apps designed to limit or monitor the amount of time you spend online, or on networking sites. A popular one is Freedom (both Mac and PC for approximately VND210,000) which blocks all internet access for a specified amount of time, but there are many different versions, some free, available.


RABIES ALERT The Animal Health Administration is urging better vaccination programmes for domestic pets after a new study found that 74 people had been killed by rabies in Vietnam so far this year. The survey found that most cases of fatal rabies came from the northern highlands, including 17 from Son La Province, 13 from Phu Tho, and 9 from Yen Bai. Officials said authorities had tracked and contained 268 rabid dogs, but they said there are still others free in at least 13 provinces. They said vaccinations for dogs and cats in poor and remote areas are often considered an unaffordable luxury.

FINE FOR NOT TRANSFERRING VEHICLE OWNERSHIP Under a new decree, the owner of a vehicle who has failed to carry out procedures for an ownership change will be fined, but some lawyers propose that such a fine be abolished as it is groundless. Foreigners, like others, would need proof of bike rental under the new law. According to a regulation that took effect on Nov. 10, police will penalise those who possess a vehicle that could have been sold, transferred or presented to them while procedures for change of ownership have yet to be completed. The fine is VND2 million to VND4 million for owners of motorbikes and VND6 million to VND10 million for car owners.

LAW AGAINST SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN VIETNAM The International Labor Organization (ILO) has welcomed Vietnam’s amended labour code due to take effect next May, but said it does not go far enough and more should be done to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. The amended Labor Code prohibits, for the first time in Vietnam, sexual harassment at the workplace. According to a recent report by the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs and the ILO, most victims of sexual harassment are women aged between 18 and 30. But the culture and fear of losing jobs prevent many victims from complaining, it added. Nguyen Kim Lan, ILO national project coordinator on gender issues, pointed out a major shortcoming of the amended labour code: it fails to define the act of sexual harassment at the workplace. A recent case of sexual harassment made it into the media at Soc Trang General Hospital in the Mekong Delta in January. A nurse accused the head of the hospital’s ENT ward of sexually harassing her while on duty, but the doctor insisted that it was not sexual abuse and he just “put his arm on her shoulder for fun.” He got away with a rebuke from his bosses.

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the talk

SINGAPORE SCHOOL VANISHES A Singapore-owned business school in Ho Chi Minh City, that was in the authorities’ sights for offering unauthorised courses, has closed down without notice, prompting them to consider cancelling the licenses of two other Singaporean schools also found violating regulations. The Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs revoked the license of Melior Business School soon after it shut. It had been licensed to offer only short-term courses in tourism and hotel management and business administration, but was found offering undergraduate courses. But before they could act, Melior closed abruptly. A notice outside its building left foreign teachers and around 150 students in shock since many of the latter had paid tuition fees of VND220 million only days before. A source told Thanh Nien that the school’s general director in Vietnam, Cheng Sim Kok, had left for Singapore and the school’s account at Standard Chartered had been emptied.

DRIVING CARS & MOTORBIKES TO BECOME MORE EXPENSIVE The Ho Chi Minh City administration has called on the People's Council to hike the license-plate registration fee for cars tenfold as a means to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads. It wants the the city legislature to increase the fee for cars fewer than 10 seats used for non-business purposes to VND20 million, saying the current low fee is causing a rapid increase in the number of private cars, which may overwhelm the local infrastructure. It also wants the fee on motorbikes — currently between VND500,000 and VND2 million, depending on the vehicle value — doubled. Ho Chi Minh City has more than 500,000 cars, nearly half of them private, and nearly six million motorbikes.

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AR ARGENTINE TANGO CLASS. 8pm to 10pm every eve Tue. at Quang Trung Secondary School Sch

WOOD CARVING ART. Until Dec. 4 att L’Espace

GAM ON TUESDAYS. 6.30pm every GAMES Tue. at Hanoi Ois Netball Club Tue



GIULIANA SOSCIA & PINO JODICE DUET. 8pm at Hanoi Opera House. Call 091348 9858 for tickets

HANOI’S 1ST MEGA MIND QUIZ COMPETITION. Email Hanoimegaminds@ for info



INSTALLATION “THE WALL”. From Dec. 15 to Jan. 7 at Goethe Institut




DZUNG’S XE DAP. Until Dec. 31 at Bookworm Too

HANOI PUB QUIZ. @ R&R Tavern every Tuesday, 9.30pm to 11.30pm


THE BEST OF 80'S. at FatCat

WINES AND CHIC. 9pm every Wed. at Club de l'Oriental EVERYDAY PEOPLE. 8pm every Wed. @ Finnegan’s Irish Pub

TOASTMASTERS. 6.30pm to 8.30pm every Tue. @ KOTO on Van Mieu

LIVE MUSIC AT TAY TAP. 8pm every Wed. at Tay Tap Bar and Grill

HANOI 18H/6H. From Dec. 6 to Jan. 6 at L’Espace

QUIZ NIGHT. 7.30pm every Tue. @ Puku FREE VIETNAMESE CLASSES. @ Puku every Wednesday, 7pm

DONNERSTAGSTREFF. 6.30pm at Jaspas



EUROCHAM CHRISTMAS PARTY. 6pm. Email linh@eurochamvn. org for info

MUSIC NIGHT WITH DJ GLASER. Every second Thu. of the month at the Rooftop


FREE BIRD BAND “LIVE”. 9pm every Wed. @ Polygon Musik Cafe



LIVE FLAMENCO GUITAR TRIO. 8.30pm every Thu. at Don’s Bistro

WOMEN’S GAELIC FOOTBALL TRAINING @ Dang Thai Mai football field every Tuesday

“BUDDY LOVE” LIVE. 8.30pm every Tue. @ Panacea Cafe

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WINES AND CHIC. 9pm every Wed. at Club de l'Oriental


18 EXHIBITION BY DO TUAN ANH. Until Dec. 21 at Hanoi Cooking Centre

SALSA PARTY. 8pm every Tue. @ Olympic Dance Club




ORDER ANY PIZZA OR CALZONE, GET THE SECOND ONE FREE. Every Wed. at Don’s SOCIAL TOUCH RUGBY. 8pm every Wed. @ Song Hong Stadium WEEKLY PERFORMANCES OF CA TRU. 8pm every Wed., Fri. & Sun. at 42 Hang Bac



FITNESS SESSIONS. 6pm every Thu. at Hanoi Ois Netball Club

7777 SPEED DATING. 7pm every Thu. at Duc de Hanoi (15 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho) LIVE PIANIST @ Panacea Cafe, 8.30pm every Thu. & Sat. SPOTLIGHT! @ Hanoi Rock City, 8pm every Thu.

To have your event included in our calendar, please email by no later than Dec. 18 with a description of the event and a high-res photo


SAT 01

EUROPEAN MUSIC FESTIVAL 2012. 8pm until Dec. 2 at The Youth Theatre


SUN 02

RUN FOR CHILDREN 2012. 7am to 9am at the main gate of Thong Nhat Park


SATURDAY WEEKEND MARKET. 9.30am every Sat. at Asian Veterinary & Livestock Services (67/12 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho)








KID’S GINGERBREAD HOUSE COOKING CLASSES. 63.30pm Dec. 8, 15 & 22 at Hanoi Cooking Centre

UR2 - HRC BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION. XINH XANH SONG COMPETITION. 8pm at The Hanoi Social Club. Email for info


CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS. Dec. 15 & 16 at 44 Chau Long. Call 01668 920 696 for info

CABARET NIGHT. 8.30pm at L’Espace

VIETNAMESE LANGUAGE CLUB. 7pm every Fri. at Tea Talk

SUB ELEMENTS. 9pm every Sat. @ Hot Rock Bar





SUNDAY MARKET ON THE ROOF TERRACE. 10am at Hanoi Cooking Centre

UR2 HIP HOP FESTIVAL. at HRC SONG HONG 2012 HALF MARATHON. Visit for info TAY HO FLEA MARKET. Visit www. for info







SLO-PITCH. 9am to 12pm every Sun., visit www. for info


SUNDAY WORSHIP SERVICE. 10.30am every Sun. at Hanoi Club Hotel 'BABYLON BURNING' SUNDAY AFTERNOON SESSION. 2pm every Sun. at Panacea Cafe


KARAOKE ( DON'T FORGET THE LYRIC ). 8pm every Fri. at Tulu Cafe & Lounge

ORDER MORE THAN VND3999,000++, GET A VND199,000++ BREAKFAST COUPON. Every Fri. at Don’s FRIDAY MILONGA - ARGENTINE TANGO @ Xichlo Cafe, 8pm every Fri.


JAZZ QUARTER, FUNKY, FUSION. 8.30 pm every Wed., Fri. & Sat. at Don's

ARGENTINE TANGO- MILONGA. 8pm every Sat. at Goc Ha Noi DJ NIGHT @ Summit Lounge, 9pm every Fri. & Sat. VIETNAMESE CLUB. 4pm every Sat. at R&R Tavern


LANGUAGES EXCHANGE. 3pm every Sun. at Climax LIV LIVE TRADITION TR VIETNAMESE VIE MUSIC. MU 8.30pm 8.3 every ev Sun. @ eve ev Don’s Do Bistro

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The lives of homosexuals in Vietnam were captured in an exhibition by Vietnam artist Maika Elan at the Goethe Institut. The photography project was supported by the Danish Cultural Development and Exchange Fund

THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS Every year Diwali in Hanoi is huge. This time round was no exception as well over 1,000 people poured into the American Club for a dose of great cuisine, Bollywood, singing, dancing and more PHOTOS BY NICK ROSS



The Democrats Abroad celebrated their Presidential election victory at the Vietnam-cum-international fusion restaurant and bar, Pots 'n Pans

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ARABIAN NIGHTS Auscham once again brought Hanoi the pleasures of their annual ball, this time at the InterContinental West Lake. The perfect opportunity to eat, drink, be merry and wear strange clothes


Warehouse put on a Nicolas Feuillatte champagne tasting at Press Club. Always a great way to bring out the smiles!



A Sunday service at the Hanoi Club in November. The inter-denominational HIS has a growing membership of both locals and expats, representing over 40 nationalities



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The end of a dance performance at this year's Diwali at he American Club

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The Sound of Silence The visionary behind Ford Motor Company’s ‘No Honking’ campaign and Hanoi’s silent parties, Minh Quoc ‘Dat’ explains the origins of this project to make the city a quieter, more thoughtful place. Interview by Kaitlin Rees. Photo by Aaron Joel Santos

Before there was a‘No Honking’ campaign, you first had something called a Silent Party. Can you explain what exactly a Silent Party is? The Silent Party is a party first, everyone drinks and eats. But, they don’t talk. They can use sign language or use their faces, everything except talking. It’s very simple. What is the purpose of a party where no one speaks? I hoped to get people thinking about talking. I wanted to create a difference between the inside and outside of the party, between silence and talking, so that people would consider the value of speaking and using words. When people leave the party and are free to talk again, I want there to be a change in how they express themselves. If you are not allowed to talk, you feel a certain pressure inside. I wanted the young people to come up against this pressure. Vietnamese young people need to learn to confront things, and the first thing you should confront is yourself. When it comes to facing confrontation, don’t you need to speak out in order for other people to hear you? We need that. People need to talk in order to understand each other. But when culture and people move so fast, like in Vietnam, they don’t have conversations, real conversations. Money, job, iPhone, nonsense things. We do need conversation, every culture does. But we need more than one conversation, and maybe that means having a conflict. My ideas about hosting a silent party are rooted in the need to come up against certain things on the inside in order to better understand yourself. Only then can you have real conversations with other people. The way that people have conversations today is so different, even in the language that is used. What do you think about how language is changing? It’s like a river. There are people who don’t accept the language that teenagers use today. They cannot understand it. The problem is that people don’t flow with the language. Generations move along and if you don’t move along too, you’ll misunderstand. The thing is that language and people can move so far, but silence is always there, in the same place as it has always been. Everyone is equal in the silence and it can be a bridge between cultures, between generations. How did you translate your ideas for the Silent Party to

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a No Honking campaign? The concept is the same. Because in Vietnam it’s a big problem, I wanted to make the name something equally big.No Horn,KoCoi, is a big statement that makes people question it. But when people question the name, they think about the ways that the horn is useful, and that means they are thinking about it. That’s all I want. My slogan is “think before horn”. It is the same as with the Silent Party, to think about the value of words. How to express yourself without words makes you respect words. The same with using horns while driving. So what is your response when people say, “I have to use my horn, it’s unsafe and impossible to drive without it”? That reaction is useful. When people go against the name, they think about it deeper and deeper. My main message is for young people, the ones who are driving their first motorbike that their parents bought for them. I had the experience of my dad teaching me to drive my first motorbike. He taught me that when you get to a corner, ‘beep beepbeep’ automatically, even without watching. When your horn is so automatic, you don’t really watch or think, you are like a robot, automatically stupid. A horn is not a substitution for vision. Do you know the story of Sisyphus, who pushes a boulder up a mountain only to have it keep rolling back down? Do you think you’re a little like Sisyphus? Yeah, my partner in the office asks the same thing, like ‘this is nonsense, you can’t change people, it’s a system error.’ The issue with the horn is part of a lot of other problems in Vietnam. Going first, going fast, doing everything just for yourself. To change that is impossible, he says, that is Vietnam, that is the Vietnamese character. My reaction to him is that if you don’t do something, nothing will happen. You have to do something, even if it’s nonsense. If you have an idea and don’t do anything to make it happen, to me that is nonsense. I don’t think about how to push the boulder, I know that it is a boulder. But I’ve found that people want to help me, like in the ‘No Horn’ project there is a big sponsor, and the groups Live and Learn, and Be Change Agents have also joined. I have only one idea and then people come. I don’t know how to change the world, or how to change the problems in Vietnam, but I don’t think too far ahead like that, I just do a little bit. I hope that the younger people will learn that you cannot dream about doing big things, if you can’t do small things first.

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The Black and White Portrait Artist Although digital technology has irrevocably transformed the art of portraiture, one Hanoi artist has stuck with tradition. Words by Phong Lan. Images provided by Nguyen Bao Nguyen


guyen Bao Nguyen, now in his 70s, became a portrait artist by chance. His childhood dream was to become a scientist and to achieve this he studied physics at university. However, in his final year he became seriously ill and was unable to complete his exams. This was to change his fate. During his convalescence, bored and with nothing to do, he followed some portrait artists near his house to their workshops, secretly watching them work. Fascinated by the lively images skillfully drawn with only simple tools, Nguyen decided to try it for himself, starting with sketched portraits of his own family members from some old photos. “I then realised that I not only had a passion, but also a great potential for drawing,” he says. “So I decided to learn the skills and then applied for work at a workshop near my house. I forgot about my uncompleted studies at university.” That was during the early 1960s in a period when black and white, hand-drawn portraits were in great demand. “We then mainly drew portraits for old people or those who had passed away so that their children could place them on their family altars,” he recalls. “We were often called the artists of the dead people.”

The Brush Master In Hanoi’s Old Quarter, portrait workshops were everywhere and a successful portrait artist could become relatively wealthy. After a period working for other business owners, Nguyen decided to go at it alone and opened a small studio at 47 Hang Ngang in the heart of the portrait drawing district. The tools Nguyen and other portrait

artists use are simple — brush pens, a small eraser and black ink powder — but the results are impressive, and the pictures full of life. There is more to the art than merely faithfully copying photographs. Nguyen prides himself on capturing the spirit and personality of his subjects. “This job requires deftness, patience, and experience,” he explains. “As we only have white paper and black ink, we need to have a thorough understanding about painting techniques. A good painter can depict a person’s personality through a single brush stroke.” At times the photo available does not match the desired result. “Most people want to have a portrait with smiling and cheerful faces, so sometimes I have to make some changes from the original photos, but I still retain [the subject’s] main features and expression.” One of the most difficult challenges he has had was a request to draw a portrait of a late poet, but without a single photograph of the man. Nguyen was still able to recreate the poet’s likeness. “The poet’s grandson brought me only some photos of three generations of the family,” Nguyen remembers. “From these it was fairly easy to sketch out a portrait, but the problem was how to give the image some soul, some character. So I asked [the grandson] to read his grandfather’s poems while I was drawing. It was like a miracle, as if someone or something from elsewhere was giving me help. The grandson said his grandfather’s style and manner was perfectly depicted in the final portrait.”

A Different Perspective His customers have changed over the years. With the development of digital

photography, Nguyen is no longer required to regularly draw the portraits of the deceased. Instead customers come to him now for his art. Besides drawing portraits to order, Nguyen has also sketched images of his favourite film stars — Marilyn Monroe, Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable — as well as images of other famous icons. “Sometimes old fans of these stars, mostly foreign tourists, drop into my shop and buy their favourite star’s portrait,” he says. “Once an English customer brought in a small picture of Albert Einstein and asked me to redraw it. I was happy to do this because Einstein has also been one of my idols since I was a student. I love this picture of him.” With this fresh trade, and a new intake of customers, Nguyen continues to work hard, despite his age. He has even branched out from drawing, developing his own brushes made from materials such as cloth, cotton and bamboo. Although cheaper than buying the factory made versions, according to Nguyen they help him produce higher-quality drawings. Nguyen is happy with the course his life has taken and his success. “I am still receiving many orders, even though my drawings cost a lot,” he says with a smile. “In 2000 I was invited overseas to America, England and Japan to introduce my work. Since then many well-known people have become my customers including the Queen of Thailand and the American Ambassador.” And what about when it’s finally time for him to retire? Nguyen’s son, Bao Lan, has followed in his father’s footsteps and will take the business forward into the next generation.

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A Night at the Circus Intrigued by Asia’s first permanent structure dedicated to circus, Douglas Pyper visits Hanoi’s Central Circus and views it through the cultural lens of history and literature. Photos by Justin Mott


anoi’s Central Circus looks like a cement big top. Or perhaps that depends on where you’re standing. To its Vietnamese architects, it’s a blend of the conical hat, the flat-topped hat used in Quan Ho singing, and a lotus bud. What is unmistakable from any angle are the multi-coloured lights rotating in waves around the circular structure, the insanely large speakers blasting out dance music, and every kid in Hanoi running into the building in trails of popcorn and fallen candy floss. For many westerners, the concept of the circus is shrouded in the concept of the carnival. A place of lost innocence, dark arts, black magic and evil ringmasters.

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In short, a macabre merging of fantasy and horror. It’s an image fed by novels of magical realism by the likes of Ray Bradbury and Angela Carter. Yet the most striking thing about the circus is its rawness, and how rife it is with potential disaster. A stray arrow, for instance, shot from the clenched toes of a contortionist doubled over backwards could easily bed itself in the child sitting behind the target. Trapeze artists have safety harnesses only at particularly dangerous moments, and the magicians must perform their illusions under 360-degree scrutiny. An evening’s programme brings such contortionists, trapeze artists, gymnasts, clowns, magicians, jugglers, performing animals

and hoopers right up next to its audience. There is nowhere for the artists to hide. The carnival of Ray Bradbury’s novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes, has a carousel that when ridden, can either increase or decrease the age of the rider. At Hanoi’s Central Circus, the sight of grown adults leaning forward in their seats and clapping at inappropriate moments while their children drool on, is instantly reminiscent of this. In the ring, too, age is a slippery slight of hand. After the show in a backstage dressing room, the two female magicians who seemed spritely 20-somethings on stage, are revealed to be in their 40s. One is Nguyen Thi Anh Tuyet, who joined the circus back in 1978.

A tightrope walker in her youth, Tuyet moved onto magic when she no longer had the energy or physique for the more daredevil disciplines. She’s in no doubt about where the allure of the circus lies. The thrill for her is risk; the risk of failure and the risk of injury. The art of circus provides her with excitement that other jobs will never match. When you’ve been walking in the sky on a wire, wearing a skimpy figure-hugging dress for a living, you’re not likely to take a waiting job.

Sultry and Seductive As Tuyet’s attire attests, nights at Hanoi’s Central Circus are provocatively sexual. Performers’ outfits bulge at the breasts, ass and biceps. They feature inexplicable

She’s in no doubt about where the allure of the circus lies. The thrill for her is risk... The art of circus provides her with excitement that other jobs will never match. December 2012 Word | 31

They feature inexplicable absences of material around the crotch, causing the audience to gasp at both the daredevilry and the impossibility of the bodies on show

absences of material around the crotch, causing the audience to gasp at both the daredevilry and the impossibility of the bodies on show. This may seem at odds with the traditionally conservative society of Vietnam, an aberration that can only exist due to the exotic magic of the circus ring. It smacks of the escapism of another circus centric novel, Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus, where many of the characters use the circus’ alternative reality to escape the gender roles and rules of their society. The circus’s sexuality isn’t lost on the circus director Vu Ngoan Hop. His slicked back hair, white on the sides, and short stature combines, making him appear to be a dwarf-like Dracula, albeit an excessively cheery one. “The beauty of circus has a very sexy face,” he explains. “In the street it wouldn’t be acceptable, but when it’s in the circus, people don’t say anything.” Hop both acknowledges and resolves this dialectic by rationalising that it is permissible because the circus celebrates “natural beauty, the beauty of the body through hard work and practice”. Casual observers will have noticed that the circus is most popular in the former Eastern Bloc. Russia, China, North Korea, the Ukraine, Laos, Vietnam and all their contemporaries developed the art form heavily. The man responsible for this was Lenin, who declared in 1919 that the circus should be the people’s art form. As a result, it was given funding and facilities on a par

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with the opera, theatre and ballet. For this reason, Hanoi’s dedicated circus house building, which may strike a western European as an oddity, was actually quite the norm in Russia. Prior to the USSR’s collapse in 1990, Russia contained 70 such permanent structures and around 50 travelling troupes. While Lenin was no doubt aware of Juvenal’s famous “bread and circuses” quip, the worth and value of the circus cannot be so lightly dismissed. Director Hop explains that what it represents to both himself and Lenin is “the strength of humans and their ability to dominate nature and perform many difficult feats”. It is a celebration of the body and the ability of the common man to overcome physical limitations through hard work

and strength of will — exactly the kind of egalitarian rhetoric that was necessary to forge nations out of people power. And for the people, the circus is a pure, timeless spectacle. From the noisy, glitterstrewn facade that is shown to spectators to the array of ageless magicians, miniature Draculas, V-shaped strong men and discarded props backstage, through to the performers’ customised, handpainted motorbikes sharing the parking lot with colossal elephants, manicured performing dogs and mischievous macaques, Hanoi’s Central Circus is a theatrical monument to history, entertainment, politics and the body. Hanoi Central Circus, 67 Tran Nhan Tong, Hai Bai Trung, Dong Da

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Long Hung Church on the edge of Quang Tri Citadel

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PICKING UP THE PIECES It was a conversation about mushroom farming that first truly piqued the interest in Quang Tri. One organisation, Project RENEW, were helping victims of explosions from leftover war ordnance sustainably claw their way out of poverty through a system of micro loans and the cultivation of wood ear and linghzi mushrooms. It was an unlikely story, and where so many other NGO schemes over time had proved impractical, this was an unmitigated success. We were told we would be able to meet both the beneficiaries and the victims, and hear their stories first hand. But there was more than that to draw us into making the trip to Central Vietnam. For years a disproportionate number of NGOs and local organisations had been focusing their work on Quang Tri — it was clear this was a province with real, tangible needs. DMZ tours out of Hue had been running since the 1990s, with trips to Vinh Moc Tunnels, the Ben Hai River and the former base at Khe Sanh. And yet, badly marketed, few tourists take advantage of the these trips, preferring instead the more accessible, and commercially appealing delights of close by Hoi An. A recent, well-appointed museum -the Mine Action Visitor Centre - had been opened in QuangTri's principle city, Dong Ha, and if the countryside of Hue, the next province down, could be relied on, there was some spectacular scenery here, too. It all added up to a fascinating journey, a trip to a part of Vietnam that was in the front line of the war, but by hook or by crook was grappling their way towards a better future. It was a story of hope, a story of pain, a story of survival. It was a story that needed to be told.


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QUANG TRI Area: 4,739.8 km2 Population: 604,700 (2011) Population Density: 128 people / km2 Ethnic Groups: Kinh, Bru-Van Kieu, Hoa, Ta Oi Capital: Dong Ha Administrative divisions: (Town) Quang Tri; (Districts) Vinh Linh, Gio Linh, Cam Lo, TrieuPhong, Hai Lang, Huong Hoa, Con Co and Dakrong

Above and below: Monuments on either side of Ben Hai River, the former demarkation line between north and south. Right: A concealed tunnel entrance at Vinh Moc

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PARALLEL LINES Beneath the sun, sea and sand, from Vinh Moc Tunnels to the ruins of La Vang Church, a trip up the Quang Tri coast reveals a history that goes far deeper than the scenery

“Are there any nice beaches here?” A look of bemusement is the response to my question. Having encountered some astonishing stretches of sand to the south, I’m determined to discover what exists in Quang Tri. I rephrase the question. “There must be some beaches in Quang Tri, really nice ones. Everywhere else in Vietnam has them.” A quick discussion ensues between the three men, all NGO workers, all team leaders and project managers. Eventually they seem to agree on somewhere, but the looks remain quizzical. “We only go to the beach to eat and get drunk,” says one, still confused. “Or as a child,” another pipes in. With the way the land lies in Quang Tri, beaches just don’t come into the itinerary.

Covering the width of the 17th Parallel, the boundary that once served as a front line between north and south, Quang Tri’s positioning in the country made it the grounds for some of the worst damage of the war. And it’s still trying to clean up the mess. Fighting, bombing, Agent Orange — near total devastation — left this otherwise nondescript slip of Central Vietnam in tatters. The former citadel was flattened with now only the ruins of a church and a school to show for 150 years worth of history. A staggering statistic reveals that even today, 83 percent of the land has yet to be cleared of unexploded ordnance (UXO). And despite being home to some of the most eye-opening, grandiose scenery in the country, Quang Tri’s principle city of

Dong Ha is not even a stopping point. Ten years ago, the backpacker tourist trail ran through here courtesy of the bus route to Savannakhet, Laos. But a new well-paved mountain road connecting the Lao Bao border point with Hue, via A Luoi has changed all that. Now the buses bypass this provincial capital, going instead directly to Hue.

UP THE LINE Around lunchtime the next day Nguyen Thanh Phu picks us up to drive north. Formerly a tourist guide based in Hoi An, like his colleagues he is a well-educated, English-speaking professional who has avoided the brain drain lure of the big city. Instead he now devotes his life to his

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A fisherman at sunset on Cua Viet Beach

vocation, helping to clean up the mess that is Quang Tri. He is passionate, not just about decontaminating his home, but about telling the story and helping those affected by the aftermath — he wants to make Quang Tri a better place. His energy, an unusual dynamism, is not the first to have struck us over the duration of our trip. There are many others like Phu, who believe in their ability to make a difference to their wounded home. On a trip where we would be visiting Phu’s museum, meeting victims of UXO explosions, going to a mushroom farming facility and seeing first hand the clearance work undertaken by the NGOs, we considered joining an easy backpacker tour to see the contrast in travel experience through the DMZ (Demilitarised Zone) and Khe Sanh. But the idea was quickly binned;

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posing as backpackers would have been an insult to our hosts who had stretched the boundaries of hospitality to show us their home, its positives, its beauty, its problems and its goals.

FOX HOLES Anyone who has visited Cu Chi in southern Vietnam will tell you of the claustrophobic tunnels. Dark, narrow and only high enough for you to stoop, how people in the throes of war managed to live in the condensed terror has become the source of many a heroic story. In comparison the tunnels of Vinh Moc in Quang Tri are palatial —well-lit, less humid, and easy to navigate. Located north of the former demilitarised zone, they were originally

built as shelters from intense bombing. With nowhere else to go, the villagers of Vinh Moc dug tunnels and moved 12 metres underground. The space was then gradually increased to 30 metres. Over time the complex grew to include three levels of wells, kitchens, rooms for each family and healthcare stations. Around 60 families lived here, and as many as 17 children were born underground. During the six years the villagers had to retreat from life on the surface, not one person lost their life. Today most of the tunnels are easily accessible through entrances in a carefully manicured bamboo forest. Other doorways remain shrouded by thick foliage and hidden from view — a throwback to the concealment of the past. Following the labyrinth of passages, stairs going down,

deeper and deeper, the struggle for survival is clearly evident. In nearly all of modern day Vietnam, such travails are a distant memory. However, here the battle for survival on the outside is still very much being fought.

THE BEACH Upon leaving the tunnels, the beach discussion somehow re-emerges. Our hosts are still not quite sure what we are looking for. And Cua Tung, the stretch of sand just south of Vinh Moc, is not it. Developed some years back, the beachside has been replaced by concrete sea walls, the natural replenishment of sand has been disrupted and already starting to erode. Even the hotels overlooking the sea seem strangely disfigured. “I used to come here as

a kid,” says one of our hosts. “It was much more beautiful back then.” With beaches stretching endlessly south — many deserted — eventually we end up in Cua Viet, a coastal area close to Dong Ha that is in the process of being developed. Once again it is a development that leaves much to be desired: plastic-stool restaurants with the odd deckchair rental option for those with cash to splash. There is no shade or greenery, just the standard, but fortunately quite light, collection of litter. Yet, the sand here is fine; coloured somewhere between European beach yellow and tropical paradise white. And standing on the edge of the vista that connects land, beach, horizon and sea, you can envision how with a bit of foresight, this could become a beautiful destination.

Returning to the car the talk quickly leaves the beach and moves on to the afternoon light. The sunset around us is sensational, a photographer’s late afternoon dream, and our man behind the lens has caught some picture perfect, fisherman-onthe-beach shots. He is beaming. Our hosts, too, have captured the light. With our final destination a 20-minute drive away, our only concern now is getting to Long Hung Church in Quang Tri Citadel before dark. We make it, just in time to see this building that despite bombardment, bullet holes in its walls and a lack of proper preservation, is acting as an epitaph to the past. Along the tunnels, this is the highlight of the day. Our hosts were correct; if you’re coming to Quang Tri, don’t come for the beaches.

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SILVER LINING It’s a well-worn phrase, behind every cloud… Three beneficiaries of charity and NGO aid in Quang Tri tell their stories At the end of October, Bui Manh Thang was dismantling some scrap metal on his porch in the village of Nai Cuu Phong. Suddenly there was an explosion. The blast was heard by neighbours who rushed to his house to find him seriously wounded. None of his family was at home. The 67-year-old was transferred to Quang Tri Hospital for advanced trauma care. Surgeons had to amputate his right hand. He also suffered severe injuries to his left hand, neck, jawbone, left knee and both feet. According to his daughter, Bui Thi Thu Hoai, Thang had been scavenging scrap ordnance for years as a way to get additional income. Another member of the family confirmed this, adding that the grandchildren would often be playing in the house while their grandfather was playing with bits of scrap metal. “Almost everyone in the village has to scavenge [for scrap metal],” says Hoai. “We are really poor. We need the money from the scrap for extra income.”

THE SUCCESS STORIES Do Thien Dang currently earns a meagre living by making bamboo strips into hoops and pedestals for flower arrangements, as well as growing mushrooms. In 1980 he was badly injured and lost both legs. His additional income generation without excessive extra labour serves as a role model to other victims of UXO explosions. “I was just walking normally on a hill,” he recalls. “I didn’t know there were any mines there. But I stepped on one, it exploded and I fell into a coma. The next thing I knew I woke up in hospital in Hue. The villagers had brought me there.” He has since married, fathered three daughters and has managed to eek out a living. What happened was “bad luck. So, I just accept it and get on with my life. It was my fate.” He adds: “I’m lucky that I’m still alive. Every cloud has a silver lining.” In 2003 Dang became one of the first farmers involved in the Project RENEW Livelihood Assistance Programme. He has since, in one person’s estimation, become the project’s ‘champion grower’. This year he has progressed from growing the cheaper, but easier to cultivate wood ear mushrooms, to the more prized linghzi mushroom. Used for its medicinal qualities, the

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market value for a kilogram of linghzi is between VND700,000 and VND800,000. “Lingzhi requires much more attention,” explains Dang. “The temperature is the decisive factor. I always have to moderate it. When it gets too high, I have to spray the mushrooms with water. I also have to prevent the wind getting in. So, I’ve reinforced the growing house with more bamboo posts.” With an expected yield of approximately 10kg from the 500 mushroom blocks in his care, the harvest won’t make him wealthy. But in an economy based on barter, trade and subsistence farming, it provides a vital injection of cash.

PICKING UP THE SCRAPS A week after his accident, Bui Manh Thang is no longer disorientated. But, bed-bound and in the local hospital, he still can’t sit up. When the ordnance exploded he lost a lot of blood — fragments hit the artery in the left side of his neck. Besides his amputated right hand and other injuries, his body is covered in black burn marks. Yet he remains positive. “I was careless and I’ve been very unlucky,” he says. “But I’m lucky to be alive, extremely fortunate not to have any injuries to any of my organs.” When asked about his hopes, his answer is simple. “I’m hoping to have some assistance from above to get a loan to raise buffalos and cows. I don’t dare to ask for more.” From the various conversations we have with NGO workers, it seems that Project RENEW are likely to grant him a micro-loan to help him achieve his goals. Other organisations have also been on hand, paying his hospital fees and helping the family make up for lost income. Thang is determined to become an advocate. He wants to put the case to other people against collecting scrap metal, no matter how much additional income it can provide. “I will say, ‘Look what happened to me. You can never know how dangerous the munitions are’,” he explains. “This is the problem. It’s impossible to say whether the munitions are safe or still dangerous. When it comes to UXO we don’t know what will happen. We just don’t know.” He adds: “Now, never again. Cach mot doi.”

STRUGGLING ON Following the accident that killed her husband, Hoang Thi Thuy received assistance from various sources. Like Bui Manh Thang, most of the hospital fees were paid. She was also granted a donation of VND10 million to buy a buffalo. Determined to purchase a female animal so she could rear its offspring, she borrowed an extra VND5 million from a microfinancing programme. The buffalo has since given birth to a calf. In a year’s time Thuy will be able to sell the young adult animal for VND10 million. It’s a long-term investment that over time should pay off. “Having the buffalo helps,” says Thuy. “It helps with ploughing the land. But the problem is that I have no one here to do the ploughing. It’s a man’s job, not for women.” Despite the hardship of having to bring up four children by herself, she is determined to put her kids through school and for them to have a future. It’s a battle. There is no safety net here, no welfare state, no organised function that will come to the aid of single mothers or widows. But as she says repeatedly, it’s what her husband would want. Her determination is heroic. Talking about her husband, Thuy’s eyes redden. She pulls out a framed image of him to show us how he looked as a young man. It was October 2010, the flooding season, and the two of them had gone out early to Ben Hac Hill to clear weeds around their acacia trees. Suddenly Tam’s scythe hit an unexploded ordnance. The flooding had brought the previously buried munition to the surface. “When the accident happened I ran to the house of the head of the village,” she recalls. “My face was all covered in blood. He kept on telling me to wash the blood off my face. The only thing I was concerned about was getting my husband to hospital.” She points to her face. “I still have fragments of the mortar in my nose and cheek.” Two years later and despite her troubles, Thuy cites her youngest son as being the biggest difficulty. He was five when the accident happened, but now he’s starting to understand. Says Thuy: “He keeps saying, ‘Why didn’t my father just lose his limbs?’”

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MUSHROOMS WITH There have been many attempts to find sustainable solutions for people living in poverty. But few have been

Inside the main building of the mushroom processing facility, agricultural engineers wear white lab coats and plastic gloves. Through a sterilised glass container, they inject mushroom cultures into jars of brown rice. Under the auspices of our guide and facility director, Ngo Thien Loi, we’re here to see the first part of the mushroom growing process. Forming part of a programme that presently helps 150 families in Quang Tri climb out of poverty, this is the first stage of creating the mushroom blocks which, when ready, are sent to farmers to nurture, grow and cultivate into the final product. Like the institute that finances it, the non-profit, US-based Humpty Dumpty Institute (HDI), the programme is part of a leftfield attempt to make a difference. Says HDI’s president, Ralph Cwerman: “One of our passions is to work on mine action, which among other things is assisting victims who have been injured or disabled by landmine explosion or accidents.” For practical reasons this has led them to team up with Project RENEW. By providing

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training and micro-loans, the mushroom farming programme will one day equip 1,000 families with the tools and expertise to become professional mushroom growers. “Our main goal here is to build a business,” explains Ralph, “a real, sustainable business. And also to give a way for the actual victims [of the UXO and the war] to play a role in cleaning up the mess in Quang Tri.”

PHENOMENAL FUNGI But why mushrooms? Of all the projects that could be found to help create a sustainable livelihood for those in desperate need, it seems the most unlikely. Certainly, it’s not the kind of concept that would be expounded upon in your typical brainstorming session. Still in its early days, the programme has seen unmitigated success. Ralph’s response is remarkably succinct. First, it’s not actually that difficult to grow mushrooms — “it doesn’t take up a whole lot of land”. It’s not labour intensive, doesn’t require backbreaking work in the fields, and the physically impaired, as

long as they are fully mobile, are able to farm the mushrooms themselves. Once the mushrooms have been hung, you quite literally only need to water them. While the main beneficiaries of the project are victims of UXO and landmine accidents, Project RENEW also helps single women who have households to look after but no male support. By taking up mushroom farming they are able to earn much needed extra income, while still having the time to look after their children and keep the daily household responsibilities intact. Seasonally, the jigsaw also fits together. The natural season for growing mushrooms comes right in the middle of the rice farming seasons. So, locals in the area have the time to focus on cultivating mushrooms without it affecting their ability to work the fields. And once harvested, Project RENEW buys back all the mushrooms the farmers can grow, paying slightly higher than the market price. This way, the farmers can guarantee the sale, and through this system, repay their loans. Under the brand name NAMUS, the

A MISSION as creative and as successful as the Project RENEW mushroom farming initiative in Quang Tri

project is currently working on cultivating four different types of mushrooms: wood ear, shiitake, oyster and the expensive, medicinally valuable linghzi.

THE MUSHROOM CAPITAL OF VIETNAM Leaving the lab area, Loi leads us to the warehouse space out back. Here a group of women are working on building the growing blocks for the mushrooms. Made out of rubber tree sawdust and lime juice, once dried and injected with the spawn, they are kept for two months under inspection before being ready to be sent to the farmers for cultivation. “At present we’re producing 20,000 mushroom blocks a month,” says Loi. “It’s not enough because it limits the number of farmers who can join the project. We want to be producing 20,000 blocks a day.” According to Loi, the problem is the lack of space. The Japanese embassy in Hanoi recently donated the equipment to help them expand — one of many organisations and

national governments that are giving the scheme support. But until they can expand and build an additional processing facility, something that he hopes to start work on next year, they can’t increase production. “The aim is that by 2015 we will be able to create enough mushroom spawn to enlarge this project to involve 1,000 families,” he adds. “Ultimately our goal is to export the mushrooms,” continues Ralph. “We’re just not there in volume yet — last season we grew five tonnes of wood ear — and we’re still only selling the mushrooms locally. But we will soon be starting to sell them in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. We just need to increase our volume.” To become a real force in the market, though, Project RENEW also needs NAMUS mushrooms to have a competitive edge. Thus, the goal is for these mushrooms to have full organic certification. “Right now there are three steps to get there,” says Ralph. “First you need Viet Gap certification, which allows us to sell in

Vietnam. Then there’s Global Gap, and after that there’s full organic certification.” It’s a demanding process. No one else is cultivating organic mushrooms in Vietnam right now. Though in some of the remote areas where farmers live, it’s not easy to explain and enforce the organic certification. But the mushrooms also have a different kind of organic marketing tool — their story. Any profits will be ploughed into a fund to remove landmines and UXO. “In my earliest speeches I would say that we wanted to turn Quang Tri into Vietnam’s mushroom capital,” recalls Ralph. “Everyone laughed. Some people still laugh. But much fewer. For the first time, the real mushroom growers in and around Vietnam — it’s a US$40 million business here — are starting to pay attention to what we’re doing.” Loi puts it a different way. “The more we can expand the capacity of this centre,” he says, “the more people can benefit.” For more information on Mushrooms with a Mission, go to Project RENEW’s website — www.

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BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE MUSEUM Opened in August, the Mine Action Visitor Centre in Dong Ha is one of the bestappointed museums in Vietnam, though it took years to get off the ground. We speak to Ngo Xuan Hien, the project’s communications and development manager 44 | Word December 2012

What was the idea behind the museum? The idea originated from the fact that despite all the efforts to deal with the UXO, there was still no record of the real devastation that occurred here in Quang Tri during wartime, nor a record of the efforts to clean it all up. Every day, more than three busloads of tourists were visiting the DMZ, but there was no accurate information to tell them what happened, unless they had a tour guide with good local knowledge. So, coming here to the museum you get some first-hand information, a real insight into what happened, not just in Quang Tri, but in Vietnam. What are your hopes for the visitor centre? We hope that over time it will draw in lots of visitors, which in the long-term will bring in additional revenue to help sustain the province. Where did you get your funding from? The idea was put on the table and discussed by both the local government and NGOs many years ago, but no-one was able to fund the project. Fortunately a family foundation in California came on board — the Chino Cienega Foundation (CCF). They agreed to provide a grant of VND1.5 billion. After this, we coordinated with the local government and they provided the building in which the centre is housed. We used the funding to create the displays and get the artefacts that we have on show here. And with the funding we received we were able to run the centre for the first year of operations. Now we rely on donations — we need VND190 million a year to maintain, to pay our staff, and do upgrades. Besides attracting tourists from overseas, who else has benefited from the centre? We have taken advantage of the centre to provide youth in the province with mine risk education. Many are from ethnic minorities and live in the mountains. They are the most vulnerable. By the time they leave, they know about safety, and most importantly they know about reporting UXO if they discover it so it can be neutralised. What else do visitors learn from the centre? We provide awareness about the history — the loss, the resilience and the recovery of the people. When people come here they start to understand why Vietnamese people place such a high value on peace. Since we opened officially we have received over 3,000 visitors including 500 visitors from overseas. Most of the overseas visitors are war veterans or students from the US. Many of them are descendants of veterans. They want to know what happened to their fathers, their uncles, their family. There is a clear bias in the museum towards Project RENEW. They run the project and are now responsible for future funding. But shouldn’t the centre include more information on other NGOs and charities working in the area? The original idea was to showcase the efforts of all the mine accident organisations operating in the province. This includes Peace Trees, SODI, CPI, MAG and more. The problem is we have a lack of materials and photos from the other organisations. The other problem is that Project RENEW provides the funding, pays the salaries and runs the centre. We asked for contributions. But we’ve received very little. The displays are open for modification and we hope [the other organisations] are willing to share. That’s the point of this centre. If the world doesn’t know about it, what is the point?

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INFORMATION To explore Quang Tri, use Dong Ha as a base and avoid the tours from Hue. These are impersonal and require you to spend most of your time staring at the confines of a tour bus. A number of travel agencies in Dong Ha, including DMZ Tours ( can arrange trips to sites such as Khe Sanh, Vinh Moc, Ben Hai River and La Vang Church. Make sure you also put some time aside to visit the Mine Action Visitor Centre (Kids First Village, Ly Thuong Kiet, Dong Ha. Tel: 0533 567338).

ACCOMMODATION HuuNghi Hotel 68 Tran Hung Dao, Dong Ha Tel: 0533 852361 For price versus quality, probably the best option in town. Rooms start at around VND380,000 a night. Saigon Dong Ha Hotel 1 Bui Thi Xuan, Dong Ha Tel: 0533 577888 A well-appointed four-star property but with a provincial feel. Part of the Saigon Tourist group.

EATING AND DRINKING Phi Thuyen On the River, Ba Trieu, Dong Ha Set on a boat on the Mieu Giang River, a great venue for sunset eating and drinking Com Am Phu 56 Phan Chu Trinh, Dong Ha Sells Hue-style rice at VND30,000 or VND40,000 a plate. The best rice restaurant in town Tam Cafe 83 Tran Hung Dao, Dong Ha Sat opposite Huu Nghi Hotel, the proceeds of this cafe go to helping the deaf

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KHE SANH Sat on a mountain plateau, this former army base and now museum is the highlight of any trip to Quang Tri Approaching Khe Sanh the scenery immediately demands ones’ attention. Central Vietnam’s inland areas can often be hit with a disproportionate amount of miss — in some areas such as Phu Yen the landscape has been devastated, dams have been constructed, and the once lush jungle has been hacked and burnt leaving only desolate clumps of greenery. But here in Quang Tri it appears untouched. Even the river that undulates roughly along the same path as the highway is clear, devoid of litter and far from the touch of the human hand. We’re on our way to Ta Con airstrip, the remains of the altitude army base formerly occupied by the Americans. And as we pass the strangely titled Nha Trang Restaurant — what is a restaurant from NhaTrang doing in the mountains of Quang Tri? — I start asking about Ta Con. “Is any of the tarmac still there?” “It was all scavenged,” comes the answer. Everything that has any usage here is recycled. “So, only dirt, right?” “Only dirt.” I'm left feeling a bit apprehensive, echoes in my head of a previous trip a few years before to Hamburger Hill. A place of huge historical importance, the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the American War, there was very little from the past remaining. The airstrip and base had long since been dismantled, overgrown trenches the only surviving sign of what had taken place there. I wondered if the same would be true here in Quang Tri.

THE STRUGGLE But as we arrive in the plateau that houses Ta Con I realise that although the physical version of the airstrip may have long since disappeared, from a touring perspective, this is the highlight of my trip to Quang Tri. Highlight in the sense that few travellers ever make it so far inland and also that it is the first accurate representation of what transpired almost 50 years ago. An epitaph to the struggles of Vietnam to gain independence, the physical army base has long since disappeared. In its place is a small, 1980s-style museum on stilts and a huge open space displaying the trophies of victory — bomber planes, tanks, land vehicles and more. A typical wartime trench has been rebuilt, sandbags stacked high upon its walls, and for the hour or so that I wander around the former airstrip, I am tailed by two souvenir sellers. It’s the only frustration of the visit though I eventually buy some empty bullet casings and a badge from 1968. As we leave Ta Con and make our way back to Nha Trang restaurant for lunch, the talking resumes. At the airbase, I felt my hair standing on end. For large parts of the trip all was silent. Yet for our hosts, the three NGO workers, this is no more than a remnant of the past. It’s not so interesting any more. Their struggle is now, today, in their attempts to rebuild their home. It is there that their passion and dedication lie. We can only hope that they succeed.

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A JOURNEY TO THE LAND OF WHISPERS Seeking a unique travel experience, after much deliberation Chrystian Cohen took the train into Pyongyang to visit North Korea

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orth Korea feels frozen in time. It lies somewhere between a 1930s Soviet Union and a futuristic vision of society, as imagined back in the 1970s. When asked about my experience it’s hard to find a relevant reference point, as the Hermit Kingdom, which the country has come to be known as, is unlike any place I have ever been, seen or experienced. Visiting the northern section of the Korean peninsula has been more than a trip — it’s been a plunge into a whole other reality, which outsiders were never really meant to see. I was one of the select few. Despite being allowed to film, most of my footage was taken through dirty, rainy bus windows, from the top of a deserted

50-storey hotel or with my camera concealed. In the same way every observation, every conclusion was based on blurry glances, on often incoherent stories from the tour guides and on the little glimmers in people’s eyes, because their mouths never opened to tell their stories. I’m good at reading eyes, but in a country where the national mythology is indistinguishable from reality, it is up to every person to read between the lines and to draw their own conclusions.

Preparation In the week prior to my trip, I kept receiving mysterious phone calls in the middle of the night. At one point, I heard breathing; another time, the other side just hung up. I rejected them as someone probably wanting to buy my number and not expecting a foreigner to answer. Soon enough, I found out it was in fact Korean officials, calling to confirm my travel plans. The overall process of arranging travel to Korea was surprisingly easy. The decision whether I should go, wasn’t. The only feasible way to enter the DPRK is on a guided tour with a group and little more than sending over a passport copy is actually required. But, I was concerned — would my visit be a selfish act? Would it add to hardship?

Looking to make my trip more meaningful, I worked out a deal: I was given the unusual permission to film my experience in exchange for producing a travel promo for the tour company. There are few places in the world previously unexplored by filmmakers. Getting the chance to capture Korea on video is what helped me make my final decision. That, and the realization that money spent on my travel is a mere fraction in comparison to the tax money funding conflicts and suffering elsewhere in the world.

Legends and Etiquette My visit to North Korea was a spiritual pilgrimage. It’s not just a country, it’s a selfconfident creed in late stages of formation that you’re suddenly thrust into and you feel paranoid about accidentally offending its believers. During the revolutionary struggle, young soldiers apparently sketched victorious slogans into trees. When a forest fire broke out, those same soldiers didn’t take refuge in the nearby stream, but instead gave their lives protecting the slogans praising their country’s founder. A few years ago, a Korean teenager achieved the status of a national hero. During heavy floods, she gave her life and drowned attempting to save the

The Reunification Monument, Pyongyang

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portraits of the beloved dear leaders. Kim Il Sung, the country’s founding father passed away nearly 20 years ago. But to Koreans, he is still the one running his country, and always will be. There’s no point asking anyone for an explanation of how that’s possible or in any way logical — it’s simply the way it is. Kim Jong Il’s birth has also been surrounded by mystery. That night, the skies opened up, a double rainbow appeared, winter suddenly ended and spring came. There was also a talking bird involved. Nowadays, hundreds of Koreans still visit his birthplace, dressed in dark uniforms as a sign of respect. Koreans love and value their leaders so much that they wouldn’t dare call them by name. A front page article in the Pyongyang Times (translated into English for Air Koryo, the infamous North Korean national airline) went on for a whole paragraph listing the official titles of Kim Jong Un. Every following article did the same. Reading the paper, I barely avoided committing a grave crime — I tried to fold it in half. In Korea, newspapers shouldn’t ever be creased or thrown out, as the disrespect to a potential image of the dear leaders in such paper would be unforgivable. A confused tourist apparently once had to pay for his mistake of wrapping a tour guide’s gift in newspaper by writing an apology letter to the dear leader. Filming and photographing images or statues of the leaders is also restricted by proper etiquette. All pictures and video must be shot from a low angle point of view, without cutting off any of their parts. Absolutely no close-ups.

An Inward Journey A visit to North Korea is not only a matter of taking a train or a flight. For me it was very much a trip to some dark, yet strangely familiar memories; comforting yet painful feelings and thoughts that I didn’t want to face. I was not allowed to film the landscapes, the people, the street. Instead, in Chongjin, I was taken to a supposedly typical show, which pushed tears into my eyes. There, a group of kindergarteners sang, danced and performed acrobatic acts in synchronization more perfect than I’ve seen from professionals. They perfectly strummed guitar chords stretching over four frets and they played four-hand piano compositions without missing a note. My hands were shaking and my mind was running wild — yet here, I was encouraged to film. Being led through the strangely quiet

Clockwise from top left: Even far from the cities, there are barely any cars. People are always walking; When visiting the Samjiyon Grand Monument, Koreans dress in revolutionary uniforms and carry revolutionary flags as a sign of respect; Local kids were very curious about visitors in Chongjin. Unable to come closer, they popped their faces through the gates to get a better look — after all, most have never seen foreigners before; A fishermen’s pier at the beach town of Wonson; A rare chance to meet the locals

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With apparently 100,000 performers, Arirang is like a Hollywood blockbuster school, down a very specific path, passing the two nicely decorated and well-equipped rooms, with other areas blocked off, I wondered if it was all a facade. And I was boiling in anger inside because I felt helpless and didn’t know what to believe. I couldn’t help thinking: what if I had been born there? What would my life be like? What are my Korean peers like, nowadays? In a country under a Stalinist system, unchanged for now an eighth decade, with almost no knowledge of the outside world; unfamiliar with computers, Coca Cola or the Gangnam Style dance; convinced that Pyongyang, the DPRK capitol, is as good as it gets and that it is the cultural, technological, architectural, and every other -al centre of the world. How must they feel? Do they wonder about us, or do they accept and feel satisfied with the only reality they know?

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Back to the Future A visit to North Korea was a trip in time. Somewhat to the past and somewhat to the future. In a way it was a hallucinatory journey to a parallel reality in which I constantly had to remind myself that I am in fact in what people call the modern world, in the year 2012. I had to keep telling myself that while I was in my room, in a deserted hotel reminiscent of Kubrick’s The Shining, with national mythology blasting from an old, Soviet-era, black and white TV, that at the very same time, life was going on as usual worldwide. New science was being discovered, people were having moral discussions and my family and friends were somewhere out there, perhaps wondering about me. People were updating their Facebook profiles, sending tweets. And I was there, in a reality I still struggle

to comprehend. Then came Arirang, the massive, Guinness World Record-winning dance and acrobatic extravaganza with a 100,000 performers. Impressive and at times emotional, it was like an Olympic opening ceremony, sometime in the Soviet era, in a huge stadium with no sponsor banners, with zero commercialism. Well, except for the apparently handmade posters, VND550,000 or more for some, sold in the lobby along with other overpriced and usually rather unattractive souvenirs.

People and Places North Korea is picturesque and contrary to popular belief, most of the country is open to tourism — as long as you plan ahead and your guide stays by you. Mount Paektu’s Heaven Lake is hidden among truly beautiful, desolate and rocky

Heaven Lake seen from the top of Mt. Paektu — one of the key nature highlights of Korea landscapes, and is so blue I wondered if it, too, was propaganda. There, even the guides seemed more relaxed and I felt an elevated sense of human connection being able to take pictures with a few locals. There are the mysterious, distant villages surrounded by farmland, seemingly unchanged for nearly a century. There are waterfalls such as Rimjongsu or Ulim, where after long drives, visitors stop for an outdoor lunch. And the one image that stuck with me from the scenic drive to Chongjin were the old, mysterious factories, scattered all around the otherwise pristine land. Somewhere along all that is a forgotten hotel, where during my visit I showed a shy, local waitress video games on a fellow tourist’s tablet. Her excitement was probably comparable to the moment I got my first Nintendo years ago. Wonson could easily become the key

tourist highlight and a popular beach resort in Korea, if only the country opened up. There, after a stroll down a rickety pier, surrounded by fishermen and giggling children, visitors and locals alike can rest and enjoy all kinds of seafood, straight from the sea and grilled by local vendors. There’s an old, Japanese ship — a key landmark — its purpose, however, unclear, and there’s a beach where with some luck the locals will join for a game of morning volleyball. And then there’s Pyongyang — secretive, Orwellian and home to the elite, but an impressive city nonetheless. It is home to a major sports centre and an ice rink, an Olympic-sized stadium and swimming pool, a surprisingly popular, western-style bowling alley and the apparently not as popular only fast food restaurant in Korea. In my eyes, more important than places are

the Korean people. They stand as a symbol of human perseverance and even under the harshest circumstances are no different to any other people in the world. They still laugh and they still love. The difference is that they live in a drastically different reality. To me, it might be a dark, menacing place, but I realise that to learn I must respect. I did learn and I hope I taught something, too. If nothing else, I made a friend. I introduced him to John Lennon and I secretly left behind a memory card with music. I can only hope that one day, the barriers will disappear and we will be able to reconnect. Chrystian is a Polish-American filmmaker based in Hanoi. His TV documentary DPRK: The Land of Whispers is currently in post production and will be completed by the end of this year. You can learn more about the project at www.

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PHO MAI QUE A few years ago it was pho cuon. Then the hearty kebab. Now the snack food spreading around town is a Vietnamese version of an American favourite, pho mai que. Words by David Nguyen. Photos by Nick Ross


f your thing happens to be snapping strategic photos of yourself munching on exotic street fare and posting it on your favourite social sites merely to incite jealousy in your loved ones back home, beware that professionally printed banner for pho mai que lurking in the background. A rather literal Vietnamese translation for ‘cheese stick’, the uninitiated need not worry; pho mai que is mozzarella cheese shaped in the form of a stick, deepfried. The batter used is a common flour and cornmeal combination, similar in appearance and taste to the kind found on your average fish stick (fish sticks = fish,

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shaped in the form of a stick, deep-fried). It’s typically served scorching hot, and upon being bitten into, its inner cheese oozes forth, trailed by dramatic clouds of steam like an on-stage fog machine. It’s impossible not to notice that teens, pre-teens on their bicycles, or at the oldest, post-collegiate graduates, are the ones frequenting the multiplying pho mai que stalls around Hanoi. If the question of why it has become Hanoi’s current street food obsession comes to mind, you might not be alone.

From Korea with Love? Typical consumer, 10-year-old Hoang

Minh’s analysis of the appeal is uncomplicated. “I used to eat it at Lotteria,” he says, “but now I like it on the street.” How long has it been popular in Hanoi? His shoulders, starting from their normal position, rise dramatically to the tips of his ears — How am I supposed to know, dude? And what do you like about it? “It tastes good.” Prodding the young man for answers to this recent mystery seemed a bit unfair, so I decided to conduct some more in-depth research. It turns out the mighty cheese stick reveals a source far deeper than its fast-food veneer might suggest. In Le Menagier de Paris, a cookbook/

etiquette guide written for women of medieval France back in 1393, one can find its origins. Called pipefarces, the centuriesold recipe requires elaborate steps for its preparation, yet ask any citoyen of 2012 and they would likely be more than happy to relinquish custody of their brainchild. Indeed, most who share a history with the cheese stick pre-dating Lotteria will associate it with the likes of fluorescent bowling pins and Lipitor. Once exclusively popular with American kids whose parents refused to cook, cheese sticks gained traction with this set specifically because of their foolproof preparation method. Open your freezer, crack open a box, put it in the microwave for two minutes and voila. Your instant dosage of every portly American’s Holy Trinity: dairy products, fried foods and convenience. It has since matured into being the de facto appetiser on menus in august dining establishments like Applebee’s, Friday’s, and Chili’s, consumed with a passion rivalled only for the French fry.

Sketchy Origins This only complicates the reasoning behind its current popularity here in Hanoi. Ami, a pho mai que merchant in her mid-20s down the street from St Joseph Cathedral, has only been selling it for about a month. She’s outsourced the

prepping of the cheese sticks to her friend, who prepares it in her home kitchen before packing it in plastic-ware for Ami to freshly fry on the streets.

How long has it been popular in Hanoi? His shoulders, starting from their normal position, rise dramatically to the tips of his ears — How am I supposed to know, dude? And what do you like about it? “It tastes good.” Where does the cheese come from? “Any supermarket here in town that has western foods.” What gave you the idea to start selling pho mai que? “I first had it on Ta Hien in June, or July. I saw that it was very popular, so I —”

“Actually,” interjects Linh, a customer of Ami’s straddling a baby-blue plastic chair, “they started selling it around March. ‘Suxu Shop’ was the first, at 15 Ta Hien.” Unsurprisingly, Suxu is a stone’s throw away from what’s dubbed the International Bia Hoi Corner, befitting as a location for pho mai que Ground Zero. If Americans like to wash down a cheese stick with a Budweiser while watching their favourite sports, it’s only fitting that pho mai que is devoured along with every bia hoi denizen’s favourite recreation — people watching. With blue plastic chairs of their own, cheese sticks — compared to others sampled around town — Suxu’s were the best. The mozzarella was robust and the batter had a better flavour than elsewhere. So what exactly was the inspiration for the vendor to bring this to Hanoi? “It’s not my place, I’ve only worked here a month,” an employee tells me, not giving her name. “You’ll want to talk to chi Loc, the owner.” But repeated calls to the apparent foster mom of pho mai que in Hanoi went unanswered. Well… enough. A tramp wandering the streets of the world having found no shortage of love here in Hanoi, the cheese stick remains an orphan. Nobody to claim it, nobody to own it and nobody to blame.

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Three Girls, One Day by Ensemble Films for Plan International


THE BIGGER PICTURE The growing popularity of documentary is no ash in the movie-making pan. Like Hollywood it tells a story, but it tells a story of real people, people no dierent from ourselves. Rose Arnold talks to two documentary makers 56 | Word December 2012

Bitter Seeds, photographer Shaul Vitis


Bitter Seeds filming at the funeral, photographer Arnand Pande

Bitter Seeds farmer Ram Krishna, photographer Shaul Vitis


oseph Stalin and Mother Theresa probably don’t have much common ground but apparently agreed on one thing; that our level of caring about suffering does not rise in proportion to the numbers affected. In fact the opposite seems to happen. As the numbers rise our ability to care falls. “One death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic,” said Stalin. “If I look at the masses I will never act, but if I look at the one I will,” said Mother Teresa. Over the past decade, approximately 15,000 farmers a year in India have taken their own lives. A shocking fact, but at the same time hard to compute. The numbers are too big to get a grip on what that means in terms of human life; and anyway, we don’t know these people, we don’t understand their lives, we don’t know why they did

what they did. They are part of a faceless multitude that exists somewhere else.

A Bitter Pill This is something that award-winning documentary maker Micha X Peled, of Teddy Bear Films, wants to change. His latest work, Bitter Seeds, follows two protagonists, a young Indian woman Manjusha—who dreams of becoming a journalist and uncovering the truth about the suicides blighting her community—and farmer Ram Krishna and his family. During the picture you start to understand the huge impact of genetically modified seeds, sold primarily by American company Monsanto, on the lives of rural farmers in India. You start to see how it isn’t just ‘unavoidable poverty’

that is driving these farmers to take their own lives; that the drive for profits for Monsanto, and the debt that leads to for farmers has become the final straw. But most importantly you start to identify with, and care about these people’s lives. They have very human worries and concerns about debt and about taking care of their families. They are like us. “If I have made you live for an hour and a half in an Indian village, I have done my job,” says Micha. Micha has directed documentaries covering many different topics — Walmart’s spread through the United States, sweatshops in China, extremist Jewish settlers—but his films are always character driven and human. He says he is a storyteller first and foremost.

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Bitter Seeds, photographer Shaul Vitis

Innovation Harvest Vietnam by Ensemble Films for DFID/ADB

Left: Documentary maker Micha X Peled; Right: Documentary maker Paul Zetter. Photos by Aaron Joel Santos

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China Blue Jasmine at work His film China Blue, which has been shown in over 30 countries worldwide, almost wasn’t made. “All I could imagine was ‘what are we going to show’? A whole film about people hunched over sewing machines, who are miserable? Who wants to watch a film about that?” Months later, reading a related article in the New Yorker, he realised that focusing on the story of individual workers would give the film the personal ‘lens’ through which to understand the issue. Micha and his team found two vivacious teenage girls, Jasmine and Orchid, who became the central characters of the film. Their hopes and dreams are like those of many teenage girls throughout the world, they love dance routines and want boyfriends. This gave the film some light to balance the dark, making it watchable, at the same time strengthening the point —that the people who work around the clock for pennies to make our clothes are people not so different from us.

Living with Stories For Hanoi-based documentary maker Paul Zetter, too, the story is key. Through his company Ensemble Films he works with NGOs, often on documentaries designed to showcase the work that they do. Paul works closely with the teams to find the people and the stories that bring to life why audiences should care, rather than bombarding them with statistics and

information about ‘what we did’. Telling these stories will, he says, tell audiences “much more about the project than telling people it is a great project.” “If one person has a successful story we project that there must be others,” Paul says.“Audiences should be trusted to see a bit of poetry and understand the bigger picture.” One recent film(a co-production with the Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population) Living with Stories features different people recounting stories based on a personal belonging. The stories are small, in that they focus on specific incidents, yet they are very intimate and telling. Some are poignant, some happy, some hopeful. They make you feel, as a viewer, that you understand something about that person, that you know them a little. By the reveal at the end, that each person has the HIV virus, the point — that HIV can affect anyone — has been made, without having to talk about illness or suffering, or to labour the point. It is skilfully done. “Good documentary making is about finding good characters and letting them tell the story,” says Paul. An interviewer once commented to Micha that he had been “fortunate” in finding Manjusha, the journalist in Bitter Seeds. “You make your own luck,” was his response. Indeed a huge amount of groundwork was put in to find a lead

character that could carry the film. The initial idea had been simply to follow a farmer’s life, through a growing season. After travelling from village to village meeting farmers Micha realised that they were too taciturn and too depressed for an audience to want to watch for an entire film. Thinking the younger generation might provide his voice, Micha and his team visited high schools across the area. He talked to many, many young students before meeting anyone that he felt could tell the story that needed telling. He eventually met the aspiring journalist. “She’s an unusual character, pretty determined and strong willed.” And like all good characters there are obstacles she needed to overcome, that of tradition and the reservations of her mother. These films are not a complete education on the topics they cover, they don’t tell you everything you need to know but they make you think, and make you care. Says Micha,“I’m interested in generating debate and having people consider [something] for the first time so they are intrigued enough that they will go and find out more about the facts.” Bitter Seeds was screened at Cinematheque Hanoi as part of the globalisation trilogy of Micha X Peled. For more information on the work of these documentary makers go to their websites, and www.

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Give Out, Don’t Give Up It’s Christmas! Time to eat too much, drink too much, photocopy your arse, snog your colleagues in the broom cupboard and spend hours trawling the city in search of bad gifts that nobody will use anyway. Well, scratch one of those. Douglas Pyper is here to help with a selection of seven places to get great gifts that’ll do more than gather dust. Photos by Francis Roux and Aaron Joel Santos

Metiseko 40-42 Luong Ngoc Quyen, HoanKiem Oven gloves VND759,000 Aprons VND790,000 A one-stop shop for your home-wear, kitchen-wear and fashion needs. Using only organic and fair trade resources and working in conjunction with NGOs to provide jobs for women in rural communities, purchasing something special from Metiseko is making a little good in the world even if you’ve chosen something completely inappropriate. Speaking of which, what right minded person wouldn’t want to receive a brightly patterned apron or oven gloves at Christmas time?

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Mekong Quilts 13 Hang Bac, HoanKiem Quilts: Baby sizes from VND1 million; adult sizes from VND4 million Bamboo bicycles: Children’s size from VND3 million; adult sizes from VND 3.6 million Similar to Metiseko, the non-profit organisation Mekong Quilts provides stable occupations for women in poor rural areas. Steady work — which can be done from home and for which Mekong Quilts provides training — makes very tangible improvements to the lives of people surviving on the seasonal income of rice farming. In addition, the company also provides scholarships for worker’s children and reinvests all profits back into the business. As far as philanthropic presents go, Mekong Quilts has a great selection. Choose from Christmas tree decorations, abstract reindeer sculptures or stylish pillowcases. Those seeking something extra special can go straight to the signature quilts. These are stylishly designed, hand-made and use only quality materials. If you’re after something a bit more active, then Mekong Quilts also designs and builds bamboo bicycles. With both kids and adult sizes available at reasonable prices, the Christmas shopping is going to be over before you know it.

Antique Fans from HaoQuang 2 Hang Dieu, HoanKiem Prices range from VND4 million to VND58 million Beautiful relics from Hanoi’s colonial past can be found with many exquisite design features. Perhaps nowhere more so than the brute elegance of old ceiling fan controllers and in the spitfire-esque parabolas that make up the Marelli standing fans. Designed and built in Italy, imported to Vietnam by the French and now maintained by an inexhaustible number of local history and design enthusiasts, these creative marvels make the ultimate Christmas gift. From the heft of their iron or copper frames, the brass blades discretely meshed by sparse and wavy art deco bars, to the double wound wiring of the plugs, these fans are all class. The shop on Hang Dieu has a fantastic variety of table, standing and ceiling models, with the ceiling variety sporting particularly beautiful wooden blades. Hanoi is one of the few places in the world where these products have been so meticulously salvaged and cared for, something worth taking advantage of.

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Exotic Birds from Cua Hang ChimCanh Minh Mai Kiosk 32-34 Cho Hang Da, Phung Hung, HoanKiem Prices range from VND50,000 to VND210 million Not everybody is crazy about birds in cages, but they are as much a part of Asian culture and concepts of beauty as Bonsai trees and paper lanterns. Asia itself is a treasure trove of these exquisitely coloured animals, with many tropical varieties imported to Hanoi to serve local demand. The sellers in Hang Da Market on Phung Hung have amazing collections from all over the continent including imported parrots, doves and the spectacular Singaporean chim bay mau, literally, the seven coloured bird, but better known to bird lovers as the Gouldian Finch. This avian art exhibit sports hues as diverse as yellow, white, blue, red, green and pink and can be picked up for VND2 million. The most expensive bird that can be ordered through the market is the hoangkhuyen. This small yellow variety, native to Gia Lai Province, has been known to fetch prices of up to VND210 million.

Chula 6 NhatChieu, Tay Ho Dresses from VND3 million Chula is a tailor. No, sorry, it’s an art gallery. But it’s also an events venue. Isn’t it somebody’s house? Chula is all of these things: shop, office, tailor, design studio, art space, events venue, and even its owners’ house. It’s a completely immersive, lifestyle shopping experience. Chula’s dresses are quite unlike any other fashion designer. That’s probably because Chula aren’t fashion designers at all. Their inspiration comes more from architecture, photography, graphic design and international politics than the latest trends in Madrid or Milan, which is probably why they cause infinitely more of a stir at fancy gatherings. With bold designs, bright colours and brash motifs, the dresses scream expression. If your partner is more Angelina Jolie than Gwyneth Paltrow, then a tailor-made designer dress from Chula may be just what she needs.

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La Casa 51 XuanDieu, Tay Ho Set of six coasters VND882,000 Vanity case VND336,000 Keyrings VND100,000 Breakfast tray VND2,940,000 Italian designer ValentinaBottari established La Casa all the way back in 1996. Her stylish take on home-wear has seen La Casa stand the test of time. The recipe is quality, a clean aesthetic and a mixture of eastern and western influences. Almost anything in the shop could make a good Christmas present: from trinkets such as coasters, vanity cases and keyrings, all the way up to breakfast trays for lazy Sundays in bed.

Stylish Nonsense ThanhBinh, 12A Ly Nam De, HoanKiem Printed T-shirts TuQuy, 58 Hang Be, HoanKiem Personally designed stamps from VND80,000 Huy Hung Art Gallery, 36 Hang Be, HoanKiem Commissioned paintings from VND700,000 Hong NhungAo Dai, 200 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh Male aodai from VND1.3 million At the end of the day, the best presents are the most personal. The ones that are clearly just for you and no-one else. If you’re the inventive type with a bundle of ideas for what to make, but lack the skills and resources to put your ideas into practice, then thank your lucky stars that you’re in Hanoi. In Vietnam’s capital you can commission just about anything you can think of. How about a propaganda painting that includes your friends’ faces? T-shirts with meaningful one-off designs, stamps that convey exactly what you want them to, iron worked sculptures or home-wear from De La Thanh— you can even buy a male aodaicomplete with hat to wear out to parties. If you can think of it, you can get it made in Hanoi.

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An all girl trek guide group, updates from the Women's Museum, and a review of Emily Maguire's Fishing for Tigers

The Sapa Sisters “When a woman has a safe, well-paid job it is easier to become independent if she needs to leave her husband. Or maybe the husband values her more as the main source of income in the family. It’s power.” Empowerment, according to Ylva Landoff Lindberg, drives the homegrown trek guiding company, Sapa Sisters.The organisation, founded in 2009, was initially an effort to level out the unequal pay for Hmong guides in northern Vietnam’s mountainous region. It’s here that a constant influx of travellers are interested in trekking, but tour companies are almost exclusively run by agencies capitalising on the poor education of native guides. When Ylva and the late Radek Stypczynski started talking business with the four young Hmong women who would become cofounders of Sapa Sisters —Chi, Lang Yang, Lan Do and Zao — the women were working

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for various Vietnamese run hotels and tour companies, getting paid a pathetically small percentage of the profits. “It was a problem,” Ylva says, for the women she first met in 2005 and with whom she had gradually built close friendships over the years. “We had to go with them to different hotels and advocate… Sapa Sisters started so they could cut out the middle man and take all the money from tours for themselves.” Though in some cases in the world, the more money you come across the more problems you see, in Sapa for the 17 Hmong women employed to guide private treks through the misty valleys of their home, the income saves their lives. Because of the ongoing, increasing rate of female trafficking to China, Hmong women in Sapa are at risk. The finances from Sapa Sisters allow

the women to not only put money in a bank account, buy their own computers, or renovate their homes, it also gives them good reason not to be lured over the border. The work provides a shield of self-confidence. “The bigger change is in their pride,” Ylva says. “Before they were so shy in contacting the authorities. They still are, but now they know they have something good going on.” Sapa Sisters’ treks consist of one guide per group and are customised to the interests and requirements of each group. Over the course of the last year, the organisation that started as a small group of friends has built itself up to become a professional business. Yet the final step of official accreditation demands a deposit of money, the sum of which is outside the means of the group. To help the sisters out in their fundraising efforts, visit sapa-sisters.


Stories from the Women’s Museum From last month’s look at breasts on boxes, we move to a different perspective of how women in art are evolving at Vietnamese Women’s Museum. Director Nguyen Thi Bich Van speaks about her museum’s recent award of ‘most attractive tourist destination’ by TripAdvisor and how a willingness to change makes the space stand out. “Feedback from visitors matters, and they have liked the way we approach the story of the objects,” she says. “Through films and short videos, in the captions of text, we talk about details of people, what their stories are.” Alongside historical artefacts from women’s lives and the more modern images of women in the postwar era, the museum strives to put it all in a personal context. And perhaps what makes it special is that women are the ones who create the exhibitions that tell the stories. “Most of the people who contribute to the museum’s collections are women. Because they keep things, they look after the family, they are the ones to tell the stories.” Giving a structure and overview to the stories housed in the museum, there are three permanent collections that focus on Family Life, Historical Roles and Fashion. The temporary collections include the voices of single mothers, victims of trafficking, street vendors, as well as the portraits of hundreds of mothers who lost their family during the war. There is clearly a link between the women portrayed in these collections. They are strong, they face hardships, they survive them; they are warriors in their own way. And what about the risk of keeping women in a position of suffering by repeatedly illustrating their capability of enduring it? Bich Van’s response gets to the museum’s mission of representation and exposure. “All our activity wants to reflect women in our society,” she says. “We think of the museum as a tool for women in lower positions to talk with the public. Women can use the museum to talk with society, get sympathy from them. A long time ago, we thought of the museum as a place for historical figures. But now we think that the Women’s Museum is for all kinds of women. All women have a place inside the museum.” Women, as ever-popular subjects of art, are often portrayed in certain pronounced fashions: the loving mother, the pillar of strength, the object of sex. Though the collections of the Vietnamese Women’s Museum highlight love and strength, sex is decidedly absent. Although perhaps this is not the case for long. “In our programme in the near future, we will think about an exhibition involving sex through photographs that depict the history of beauty competitions, with models from the early 20th century until today.” In addition to the permanent collection, new temporary exhibitions are set to open this year involving cultural exchange with women across the globe, most notably Singapore, Italy, Brazil and Japan. The Woman’s Museum is at 36 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem

Fishing for Lolitos It is a messy web of life we have going on over here, and when opening a book purported to contain elements of the distinct phenomenon we call our personal experience, sensitivity to detail and accuracy are at a maximum.For those who live in Hanoi, the act of starting Emily Maguire’s Fishing For Tigers is rife witha simultaneous self-defensive distance andselfidentifying closeness. The book’s protagonist, Misha, is a 35-year-old American woman living and working in present day Hanoi. The collection of characters that make up her group of friends could very well include you and the collection of characters that make up your group of friends. Thus the start of the novel; an introduction to people and objects you want to immediately peg in their correct place in your life, in your Hanoi. For this reason,a certain amount of cringing is inevitable, both for the spot-on descriptionsthat chillingly occur to you for the first time, and thosethatfall short of your perception of ‘how it really is here’. Then enters Cal, the 18-year-old Vietnamese-Australian who is visiting his mother’s home country for the first time while under the care of his father, one of the characters in Misha’s set. You can’t cringe at Cal. He is perfect in body and mind, body and soul, body and body. Though it takes a little while to fully grasp just how beautiful this young man is, once it’s understood that he is the object of desire for everyone from the elderly gay expat to the giggling teenage waitresses, he glows like a prince. The glowing permeates into his precocious critiques of Vietnam and the expats inhabiting it. He is at once precious and sharp, innocent and unnerving in his youth. Cal’s admonishments of expat ‘fuck ups’ seem to evade Misha, at least at first. Despite the rather loud sexual exploits and misdeeds of her friends, Misha has maintained a reputable discretion throughout her six years in Hanoi. Fleeing an abusive ex-husband in California, it is logical that she prefers solitude to physical intimacy in her new life. The tension of the novel surfaces slowly, through Cal’s advances toward Misha, and her crumbing resolve to resist them. Cal’s age, though controversial, makes him safe in a way others aren’t for Misha. And while the front cover of the book highlights the ‘random beauty of desire’, Misha and Cal’s mutual desire is not random at all. What brings them together is an intricate play of power, access, and the exotic. How a man’s desire differs from that of a woman’s and where the lines of morality diverge for each is central to the novel. Cal is fetishised for his youth and brown(ish) body; he is inexperienced and hot. These qualities should demean him into an object of play for Misha; the wiser, wealthier, and whiter of the pair. But because hepursues her (like a man), because he at times is scathing and condescending, accusing her of “wanting to live without connections, without responsibility…never hav[ing] to be real”, the power linesare anything but straight and clear. In literature, the relationship of power to youth, sex, and money has seen numerous enactments. Yet because Maguire’s enactment is set in a place where the layers of power are further complicated by race and foreignness, by insider and outsider status, the dynamics of her book feel unexplored. Fishing for Tigers embraces these complications in a refreshing way, particularly for those living in the midst of them.

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Winter Warmer Food A bit nippy out there? Hoa Le gives you some culinary, street-eat ideas that will help warm you up during the Hanoi winter. Photos by Francis Roux


he lengthy days of dull and grey skies; the wind seeping under your skin and into your bones as you are riding your motorbike; the cold and rainy months of January and February. Winter. As the Vietnamese idiom goes, in hard times, come great ideas. Koreans get through their rough winter thanks to ondol, the underfloor heating system that is run by steamed water or gas, while Japanese peasants sleep with a box covering a bed of hot charcoal that keeps the body warm through winter nights. In Hanoi, it is the hot steamy street food, the sweetcorn, ginger and lemongrass — all of those ‘hot ingredients’ — that make up for the lack of efficient heating systems and provide joy during the winter months.

Banh Cuon Nong In his 1950s work Hanoi’s Good Bites, writer

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Vu Bang describes the scene of a young girl from a poor family making and selling banh cuon nong. Sitting next to one or two pots of boiled water,a thin fabric tautly stretched across their surface;the steam comes out whenever she opens the lids.She scoops one wooden dipper of the rice flour batter, evenly spreads it on the fabric, then fills in that cooked thin rice roll with some stuffing and wraps it up. Her food stall consists of just a few old chairs and tables, the kind of place where if you judge a place on the setting before tasting the food, you’d better not enter. After she takes out that milky white wraps, she spreads a light touch of oil on their surface and tops them with some fried yellowish shallots. Served up, the customers then add chilli and a drop of ca cuong to their fish sauce. Half a century later, the technique for making banhcuon has changed little.

Stands are everywhere, from the on-thestreet versions in places like Hang Buom through to the more fancy restaurant chains like Gia An. The quality of the banh cuon depends on how thin, delicate and translucent the steamed rice roll can be, and of course the accompanying fish sauce. A perfect dish for the winter. Try street banh cuon at 14 Hang Ga, Hoan Kiem, 68 Hang Cot, Hoan Kiem or on the corner of Hang Bo and ThuocBac (evening only).

Banh Troi Tau Another winter dish that has made its way into literature is the boiled sticky rice cake banhtroi, known in Japanese as mochi. Female poet Ho Xuan Huong, known as the goddess of old Vietnamese poems (ba chua tho nom), used banh troi as an analogy for women’s beauty and life in feudal society. The white of the cake and its rounded

shape stands for a beautiful woman with light skin and a rounded face — the ideal of beauty at that time. Boiled at high temperatures yet maintaining their shape and elegant taste, she also compares the mochi to the hardship suffered by women in a society that valued men above all else. Banh troi tau, literally meaning Chinese banh troi, normally consists of two pieces of mochi, each with adifferent stuffing. One is filled with mung bean and the other with black sesame. Both bring a uniquely sweet yet savory taste. Variations include mung bean stuffing flavoured with dry kumquat peels and fresh coconut shells. These particular mochi are then bathed in a sweet ginger sauce, served warm and topped with coconut milk reduction and toasted sesame. Try banh troi tau at the famous stand on 4 Hang Can, HoanKiem.Another spot serving

good banhtroi tau is 52 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem.

Banh DucNong Tucked inside alley number 8 on Le Ngoc Han in Hai Ba Trung, what at first seems to be a tumbledown, splitting at the cracks family house, is in fact the best place in Hanoi for banh duc nong. Served in small bowls — like the house, some have cracks or are chipped — the cakes are warm and surprisingly filling, with a cold winter taste that keeps customers coming back for more. Made from a very thick rice flour, almost as thick as curd, the banh duc is kept over the fire at boiling temperature.After being scooped into the bowl, it is topped with a mix of fried ground pork, mushroom and onions. On top of that, a pre-mixed fish sauce with vinegar and sugar is added, together with a touch of celery and a few pieces of tofu.

Best eaten in chilly weather or on cold, rainy days, a dose of banh duc nong will make life feel just that little bit better. A bowl costs VND15,000.

Roasted Sweetcorn Corn is cheap, yes, and isn’t that even better when it tastes so good? Costing only VND3,000 to VND6,000 each, there’s nothing better than holding a piping hot, roasted corn on the cob in your hands when your body is being chilled through by the winter wind. On a pavement, down a tiny alley, or even on Long Bien Bridge, wherever you go you can spot a lady sitting on a little wooden stool next to a makeshift charcoal grill, with a few pieces of corn on top. It may take some patience to wait for the corn to be cooked, but it’s worth the wait — nothing can beat that sweetness and aroma of those fresh, offthe-fire roasted cobs.

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Chao Even if you have spent only a little time Hanoi, you might have already noticed the almost obsessive rice congee culture in Vietnam. You’re feeling sick? Have some chicken rice congee with perilla. You have stomach problems? What about some plain rice congee? And if you like seafood but don’t feel like eating anything heavy, what could be better than a bowl of mussel chao? The Vietnamese love chao. It is good for you, can be eaten all year around, on any occasion, and is particularly tasty in the winter. There are a variety of places you can try different variations at: chao with well stewed pork ribs on Hang Buom, chao with fried chopped mussels on Tran Xuan Soan, chicken chao on Ly Quoc Su or chao with pig’s heart and liver on Tran Nhan Tong. My favourite is the mussel chao at 26 Tran Xuan Soan in Hai Ba Trung District. It’s often said that things are cheaper outside the Old Quarter, and in this instance it’s so true. For only VND25,000 you get a delicious bowl of chao with plenty of presliced mussles, stir-fried with shallots. The mussel is a bit chewy, but the more you chew, the sweeter the taste. Add to this some crunchy quay sticks and a touch of chilli, and this is the perfect dish for winter.

Quay Nong In winter, in theory, all hot food tastes good. Yet I’m not sure how well that holds true for quay nong, the fried breadsticks

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that are often eaten with pho. Eating quay nong by itself is something that you just wouldn’t appreciate in summer. But in the cold weather, it tastes good. A plate of hot, fresh and crunchy quay served with mixed fish sauce and some cucumber or green papaya and carrot pickles, all with the addition of some chilli paste, can be an excellent winter snack. This simple dish can be tried anywhere you see the sign, quay nong.Try Cau Go next to the lake or 24 Hang Bo, HoanKiem.

Banh Chuoi Mrs Van sells some of the best banhchuoi in town on the corner of Yen Bai 1 and Nguyen Cong Tru in Hai Ba Trung District. The aromatic scents from the dark, yellowish banana pancakes are enough to attract passers-by, even from a distance. Her banh chuoi is a combination of the crispy batter coating and the soft, sweet taste of the banana inside. And yet, though this may seem like a simple dish, the technique for making banh chuoi is not as straight forward as it looks. The banana — usually chuoi tay or imported bananas — has to be very ripe. The batter is a mix of different types of flour including sticky rice flour, rice flour and wheat flour, with a little bit of saffron added for colour. And then the batter has to rest for four to six hours before using. According to Mrs. Van, winter is the best time to eat banh chuoi because it’s the season for good bananas and there is less chance

that the flour goes bad, unlike in summer. And beware, if you rock up after 4pm for your dose of the good stuff, you’ll have quite a queue. So come early.

Banh Gio This pyramid-shaped, steamed rice dumpling, often wrapped in banana leaf is a favourite breakfast dish in the winter. Although its stuffing is similar to that used in banh cuon and banh duc, with a mix of sautéed minced pork, onion and wood ear mushrooms, the banana leaf wrapped outside gives banh gio unique aroma, differentiating it from other dishes. When steamed, the fat from the minced pork seeps through the dough and leaves a certain amount of oil on the outside. So banhgio tastes best when it’s hot. The lady at 1A Ta Hien sells banhgio for VND12,000 per piece, from 7am to 7pm. If you live in Hai Ba Trung District, try it at MrsIch’s at 5 Tue Tinh. She usually runs out by 2pm.

Oc Nong If you have never tried snails, winter is probably the best time for you to get sucked in. The hot, spicy, gingerflavoured fish sauce with the aromatic touch of kumquat and lemongrass can definitely help beat the fear of eating something a little strange — like snails. According to Ha Trang, the owner of the snail stand, snails in winter taste better because they are fatter, richer, and don’t have many little snails inside as winter

is not the mating season for snails. All sounding like a good reason to give the worthy snail a try, right? OcNong Ha Trang is at 1 Dinh Liet in the Old Quarter. The dipping sauce here is unbeatable, but the prices aren’t — VND40,000 per bowl of small snails. For a better deal, go to alley no. 15 on Quoc Tu Giam, Dong Da. The friendly old man here serves the same dish for only VND20,000 per bowl.

Lau (Hotpot) According to Vietnamese cuisine historian Dao Hung, lau was introduced to Vietnam by the Chinese, and was originally called ta pin lu, a mix of everything. Faithful to its name, its ingredients can be anything and everything: from seafood through to pork, beef, and these days even frog, duck or goat, all mixed in with a selection of vegetables. Traditionally, lau was prepared with a specially designed pot, with the middle area fashioned to allow the coal-heated steam to come through from underneath,while the outer area was for boiling the broth. The process is now much more simple with the appearance of electronic hot pots. The ingredients are all prepared ahead of time and are cooked directly in the broth. For on-the-street duck hot pot go to Giang Van Minh, while frog or seafood hot pot can be found on Truc Bach or Pho Duc Chinh. Near the Old Quarter, try Phung Hung. The average price is about VND150,000 per person.

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here’s no doubting the deep standing culinary relationship between Vietnam and France. But few places seem to deliver the goods when it comes to more contemporary takes on the interrelationship between the cuisine of either country. Already garnering great reviews for their wine selection, I paid a couple of lunchtime visits to Le Paul Conti to sample their much-hailed lunch menu. Le Paul Conti’s exterior doesn’t really do it that many favours. As I pulled up on the cluttered and ever lively lunchtime on Nam Ngu, I was confronted by a fake, stone-clad building and some rather bland signage. Fortunately, the interior couldn’t be more of a contrast. While expecting a typical restaurant, on the ground floor Le Paul Conti has gone for a more relaxed wine bar and lounge experience. Subdued lighting, muted cream and black set off with some of the most comfortable purple, fawn and grey furniture probably found in any dining establishment in the city, this place already has a vibe all of its own, putting ease before the painful wow in the interior design stakes. While the downstairs is a great place to relax, it’s not the most ideal place to eat a full meal; better suited to grazing over cheese and cold cuts with a glass of wine to hand rather than ploughing through a threecourse set lunch. More formal dining options are available upstairs in a warmer toned and more spacious setting. The only criticism is as an English speaker a steady stream of French vocal jazz can get a teeny bit wearing after a while.

Globetrotting Fare Despite that pet peeve, Le Paul Conti

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Crossing Continents The unusually named Le Paul Conti has rightly gained plaudits for its quality and well-thought out wine list. But what about the cuisine? Photos by Francis Roux delivers when it comes to well-conceived, no frills, yet far from bland dishes. Always eager to seek value for money lunch options, the one, two and three-course options, topping out at VND185,000 excluding drinks offer great bang for the buck. Despite the French name, the restaurant shouldn’t really be dismissed as purely Gallic in its influences. With weekly rotation on the lunch set menu, French flavours rub shoulders with straightforward Vietnamese classics. Indeed, the menu shows signs of influence from all over the globe. I had the pumpkin soup as a starter; creamy, not too sweet, topped with crispy croutons and gruyere. The steamed fish for the main course was just as good. White, tender fish in fragrant broth, served with a fancy garnish and perfectly cooked seasonal vegetables. This was beefed up by a complimentary bread basket with proper French baguette, crisp and denser than usually found, and a perfectly done side bowl of rice.

Another nice nod to this subtle fusion is the slow-cooked beef topped by fresh celery leaves and stewed veal mains that vary on a weekly basis. The veal was accompanied by a thin but rich tasting, perfectly seasoned broth, topped with crunchy carrots, de-stringed beans and an Asian flourish of coriander tipping the wink to our Vietnamese location. Desserts are basic, invariably featuring yoghurt with fresh fruit, a choice of ice cream, a tropic crumble or on my last visit, seasonal strawberries. The menu, while limited in scope, is well balanced, and this deliberately small, but choice selection makes sense; as it’s some of the best contemporary Western-Viet fusion you can find for the value. A small warning, though. People with more hearty appetites may still feel they have some space left over, so perhaps an optional carbohydrate side order in addition to the bread might be worth considering adding to the order. Le Paul Conti, 59A, Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3941 1959 THE VERDICT

Food, Decor and Service are each rated on a scale of 0 to 15. 13 — 15 extraordinary to perfection 10 — 12.5 very good to excellent 8 — 9.5 good to very good 5 — 7.5 fair to good 0 — 4.5 poor to fair The Word reviews anonymously and pays for all meals

12 10 11 FOOD




Streetside Barbecue Following her nose, our roving street food reporter Huyen Tran takes a trip to the famous BBQ joint on Quan Su. Photos by Nick Ross


remember reading somewhere that the smell of bun cha is so irresistible that when the aroma of chargrilled pork drifts through the air, it’s impossible to focus on driving, even if you’re not hungry. And if the smell of chargrilled pork makes bun cha the so-called most tempting street food dish for lunchtime Hanoi, then do nuong or streetside barbeque is its nighttime equivalent. With so many BBQ joints opening in Hanoi, unlike a few years ago, the smell of chargrilled meat wafting down alleyways and along major thoroughfares is now a common phenomenon. Streets such as Gam Cau and Nguyen Thai Hoc as well as Ma May and Hang Luoc in the Old Quarter play host to food cooked on the table on that all-important outdoor grill. Even suburban streets such as Nghia Tan and Nguyen Trai have joined in the barbecue craze. But the standout, the one place favoured by both locals and foreign residents, attracting anyone from young Hanoians to business travellers, is Do Nuong Lau 61 Quan Su. Well-known among a variety of customers, not simply because of the smell of fresh barbecue meats and vegetables on the typical Vietnamese typical bep than, but because of a number of other elements that create the magical taste and mouth-watering

smell it’s difficult to forget.

The TV Chef Customers coming here for the first time might notice that the female owner looks familiar. In fact, the woman behind the scenes is Bich Lien, Vietnam’s first TV chef, who used to present cooking shows in the late 1990s, early 2000s. “My mum was the first person to teach cooking in Hanoi,” says Nghiep, Bich Lien’s son. “Besides teaching on TV shows, she and her sister opened the first Nhu Lan Bread Shop in 1996. However, it was not until three years ago, when I was invited to a barbecue party in Saigon, that the idea of opening a barbeque shop using small bep lo sprang to mind.” He adds: “It is not the BBQ concept, but rather my mother’s recipe of mixing ingredients and seasoning to create a combination of Asian and western tastes that makes our eatery so attractive to both locals and foreigners. Besides our own seasoning, we use my mum’s special tamarind sauce, nuoc sot me. A combination of the fish sauce or mam me typical of the south, and the tamarind, typical of the north, it also represents the sweet and sour flavour that is characteristic of Hanoi cooking.” Following in his mother’s footsteps,

Nghiep not only runs the family business but also works as Chef of Food Solutions for Metro, where Quan 61 get all their BBQ supplies; from pork, ribs, beef, chicken and octopus, to pig organs. “Most travellers prefer chicken and beef,” says Nghiep. “Some travellers staying at the nearby hotels drop in because they’re curious. Then to my surprise, they come back again and again.” Feeling winter in the air, I sit crouched on the street corner, eagerly looking at the slightly flaming barbecue. Warmth embraces my body. Across the street, the more extravagant Long Dinh Restaurant seems idle compared to these table-nextto-table street gourmets, chatting and devouring their food. “You can find high-end restaurants in cities all over the globe,” smiles Nghiep. “But here on the street, you are experiencing the real soul of Hanoi. You can travel the world, but you’ll never find this anywhere else.” Do Nuong Lau 61 Quan Su also sells lau chao or rice porridge hotpot. Priced at VND100,000 this comes with a selection of pork ribs, black chicken and other types of poultry. Each barbeque dish costs between VND40,000 and VND50,000. The eatery is open from 6pm until late.

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Destination Zero 082 Wine Connoisseur 090 West Lake Maps 094 Cinema Buff 096 Book Buff 098 Medical Buff 104 72 | Word December 2012



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TMF GROUP Unit 06-023, 6th Floor, Prime Center Building, 53 Quang Trung, Ha Dong 8th Floor, 53 Quang Trung, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3944 9733 39A Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 2220 2660 Unit 501, 5th Floor, Saigon Trade Center 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, HCMC, Tel: 3910 2262 TMF is headquartered in the Netherlands, with over 100 offices in 75 countries. Provides accounting, tax and payroll services. Also specialises in helping international investors establish a presence in Vietnam. This includes services such as incorporation of companies and representative offices, opening of bank accounts, licensing and tax stamps.

KPMG 16th Floor, Pacific Place, 83B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3946 1600 Worldwide firm specialising in auditing, accounting, tax and management consulting services. Also does executive search and selection.

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THANG LONG AUDITING COMPANY 23 Tran Duy Hung, Trung Hoa, Cau Giay Tel: 4976 2055 A Vietnamese company with more than 30 representative branches outside of Hanoi, Thang Long provides a full range of services, including audit, accounting, tax, corporate secretarial and business consultancy.

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ADVERTISING & MARKETING CRUNCHY FROG 8 Xom Chua, Tay Ho, Tel: 01283 443579 Crunchy Frog is a personable and experienced western design and branding agency. They offer high quality creative and strategic solutions to both local and global clients. Services include research, brand and marketing strategy, and design of communications materials, brand identity, packaging and websites.

GREY GROUP 10 Ho Ham Long Alley, Lane 1 Au Co, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 1459 Founded in 1917 in New York, Grey is a full spectrum global communications company offering branding, advertising, marketing, digital, and PR, with offices in 100 countries. Grey is the only agency with a specialised HoReCa team. In Vietnam, the client roster includes Nike, Vinaphone, Levis, TNT, ESPN, Bayer, Samsung Mobile, BaoViet, P&G, BAT, and 35 other top local and international brands.

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BUSINESS CONSULTING BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON, INC. Room 703, 7th Floor, MOF Project Building, No. 4, Lane 1, Hang Chuoi, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3971 9662 A US-based private consulting firm, Booz Allen Hamilton is one of the most notable names in the business. This firm has a long track record of assisting governments and multi-nationals in risk assessment and mission development.

DELOITTE 8 Pham Ngoc Thach, Dong Da, Tel: 3852 4123 One of the Big Four, this firm offers a broad range of audit, tax, consulting, risk, and financial advice to businesses. Over 182,000 employees in more than 150 countries, Deloitte serve more than 80 percent of the world's largest companies, Vietnam now being one of them.

DICKERSON KNIGHT GROUP 33A Pham Ngu Lao, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3933 2692 Established in 1991, this international firm has extensive experience in emerging markets. Their speciality is in providing advisory and training products to private sector enterprises and NGOs.

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T&C INVESTMENT HOLDING L3-14 Thuy Khue. Ba Dinh, Tel: 3728 0776 A well-known Vietnamese conglomerate of companies operating since 1994, T&C’s focus is on providing internationalstandard consultation to engineering and

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BUSINESS GROUPS AMCHAM M Floor, Business Center, Hilton Hanoi Opera, 1 Le Thanh Tong. Tel: 3934 2790 An independent association of American and international businesses, the objective of the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam is to promote trade and investment between the United States and Vietnam.

AUSCHAM Room 2707, 1010 Lang Ha, Dong Da Tel: 3562 5786 ext. 107 An organisation bringing together Australian companies and individuals doing business in Vietnam, the Australian Chamber of Commerce offers advice on doing business. Also offers networking opportunities and social events.

BRITISH BUSINESS GROUP OF VIETNAM 193B Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung. Tel: 0906 240159 The first foreign business group to set up in Vietnam, BBGV’s goal is to both promote the interests of its members as well as the more general interests of British business. Organises business luncheons and seminars as well as regular social and networking events.

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The place to go for all things related to the arts in a city that is developing its own, vibrant contemporary arts scene. Has event calendars, event postings, blogs, addresses and contact details, and covers anything from classical music through to installations, rock concerts and more.


Provides the expat community with essential information for living and working in Hanoi including comprehensive and up-to-date events listings as well as address lists of galleries, cinemas, theatres, hotels, housing agencies, embassies and much more. Subscribe to receive their weekly newsletter.


Event photos, a what’s on calendar, restaurant and bar listings and in fact, pretty much everything you want to know about nightlife in Hanoi can be found on this popular website. Also organize regular events and parties.


The city’s best known website, The New Hanoian provides user-generated listings, reviews and event information on pretty much anything and everything in the capital. Register, create your profile, write a review and receive frequent newsletters.


The online extension of The Word, contains both content from the print edition as well as blogs, events, news, a what’s on calendar, party photos and much more. Also has downloadable PDF versions of the whole publication.

74 | Word December 2012

mercial exchanges with Italy and to assist economic agents, as well as to foster the development of economic relations and cooperation among entrepreneurs of the various countries. The Chamber will not engage in commercial activities with the aim of producing profits.

LAC VIET COMPUTING CORP Hanico Building 110 Thai Thinh, Dong Da Tel: 3512 1846 Since its founding in 1994, professional services and innovative solutions has led LAC VIET to a recognized position of leadership in Vietnam. LAC VIET employs more than 400 professionals in IT services and product development. LAC VIET is a certified MicrosoftTM Gold Partner; CiscoTM Premier Reseller; Dell Distributor and Authorised Service Provider(DASP).


meet your various demands in Hanoi is made simple thanks to CBRE’s residential leasing team. Our services are inclusive of site finding, travelling fees, contract negotiation and resolving any other issues which arise during the term of the lease, all of which are free of charge for the tenant.

COLLIERS INTERNATIONAL VIETNAM 9th floor, Vinaplast, Tai Tam Building, 39A Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 2220 5888 Represent property investors, developers and occupiers in all matters related to commercial and residential property. Services include leasing and sales, valuation and research, property management and support services. Attempt to accelerate the success of their clients by making their knowledge your property.

Sofitel Plaza, No 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh Tel: 3715 2229. A business group with over 240 members that supports the French business community in Vietnam by listening to their members’ needs and expectations. Also promotes Vietnam to French companies and helps them in developing their businesses here.




G/F, Sofitel Plaza Hanoi, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh Tel: 3715 2228. A confederate organisation with strong ties to national business associations in its member countries, Eurocham looks after and provides advice and support for the business interests of European Union members in Vietnam.

NORDCHAM Suite 504, Thanh Ha Building, Linh Dam Tel: 3641 6864. Provides support to Nordic companies and individuals operating in Vietnam. A business and social network, members have the opportunity to meet, discuss, interact and share expertise and experience.

SINGAPORE BUSINESS ASSOCIATION VIETNAM Business Center, Ground Floor, Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha, Dong Da, Tel: 4772 0833 An association that actively fosters business relations with other business communities while promoting social, cultural, recreational, educational and charitable activities.

COMMERCIAL PHOTOGRAPHY NOI PICTURES 25/158 Ngoc Ha, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3747 8611 Photography and film agency specialising in commercial assignments, stock photography and production services in Vietnam. Has a number of mainly overseas photographers in their books both in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.


REGAL PREMIUMS 33 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: 0685 7167 Regal Premiums produces trendy corporate gifts, premiums gifts, promotional gifts and branded mass giveaway items. Professional team helps with design to fit your brand and production and logistics to fit your budget.

HOUSING & REAL ESTATE CB RICHARD ELLIS (VIETNAM) CO., LTD 6 Floor, BIDV Tower,194 Tran Quang Khai, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 2220 0220 Finding the perfect accommodation to

Room 802, Building 101, 101 Lang Ha, Dong Da Tel: 2246 2232 A real estate company that provides both private and commercial properties for sale, lease and rent. Also offers free brokerage and many other support services. 33 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Thoughtfully appointed and decorated, Daluva Home features a cosy bedroom for true rest, plus open living, dining, and work areas. Extras include two LCD TVs, iPod dock, and outdoor patio. Housekeeping, and daily breakfast from the Daluva Breakfast Menu are also included. Private car and tour booking service available.


can help to fill residential or commercial needs.

THREE TEMPLES 73B Ly Nam De, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3747 3366 Three Temples is a full-service, design-led property development and marketing company that specialises in creating residential addresses by providing high quality architecture, residential design, interior design, commercial consultancy, marketing and branding solutions. A onestop-shop to finance, design, brand and build for the finest residential products.

VIETNAM LAND 38 Phan Boi Chau Street, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3787 0188 Vietnam Land was incorporated in Vietnam in 2002 as a commercial and residential real estate services, real estate property management and real estate development company. Since that time Vietnam Land has successfully developed two residential towers at the Chelsea Park project in Hanoi and a residential land sales project in Hung Yen province called Villa Park.

INSURANCE AIG Suite 5-01, Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3936 1455 Offers a range of insurance products and services including property, casualty and marine exposure insurance. Also has comprehensive travel and accident coverage, as well as healthcare packages for expats residing in Vietnam.


Quang Trung Building, Room 203, 39 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0983 336336 This company can assist you in finding an apartment that meets your living and budget requirements. Though they specialise in high-end, high-rise apartments, they do have a range of options. The website contains most listings.

CCIFV/Eurocham, Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3936 5370 Emergency: 0903 732365 Specialises in medical, employee benefits and personal lines insurance advice to expatriates. The company has been operational in Vietnam since 1994 and offers free advice and comparative quotes.



40 Phan Boi Chau, Hoan Kiem UK real estate agent providing a wide range of services including property sale, lease, management, price appraisal, counselling and market research.

16th Floor, Hoa Binh International Towers, 106 Hoang Quoc Viet, Cau Giay Tel: 3755 7111 Provides a quality range of insurance services to both commercial enterprises and individuals. Coverage includes property, liability, business interruption, marine cargo, automobile, home and travel, as well as expat healthcare packages. Toll free hotline in Vietnam: 1 800 599 998.

MEGALAND 2nd Floor, 43 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3936 5556 Specialising in meeting housing needs of expatriates and overseas Vietnamese, Megaland offers a wide range of serviced apartments, villas and commercial spaces.

SAVILLS VIETNAM 6th floor, Sentinel Place, 41A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3946 1300 A leading global real estate service provider listed on the London Stock Exchange with over 200 offices worldwide. Provides consultancy services, property management, space planning, facilities management, corporate real estate services, leasing, valuation and sales to the key segments of commercial, industrial, retail, residential and investment property.

TAN LONG HOUSING Moongate Building, 5th & 6th Floor, 107 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho , Tel: 3719 9864 Tan Long has been concentrating on assisting individuals in the process of buying, selling and renting property in Hanoi since 1999. They also have several branch offices, and a useful website that

PRUDENTIAL 24 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3934 5999 Operating in Vietnam since 1995, has over 70 customer care centers throughout the country.

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS CONCORDIA INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HANOI CMC Tower, Duy Tan, Cau Giay, Tel: 3795 8878 International brand, Concordia, has highly performing schools in both Hong Kong and Shanghai at the top tier of the educational system. All instructors and teachers are native English speakers and admission applications are accepted throughout the year.

HANOI INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 48 Lieu Giai Boulevard, Ba Dinh With schooling available for students studying at the elementary through to

business secondary levels of education, HIS is one of the few private, international education options in the capital. The institution offers Cambridge IGCSE and IB Diploma for students at the secondary level. Located near the Japanese Embassy.

KINDERWORLD INTERNATIONAL KINDERGARTEN Unit 9 – 10, Shophouse CT17, Ciputra Tel: 3743 0306 3rd Floor, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3934 7243 Classes are kept small with a foreign teacher leading the class with the assistance of a Vietnamese teacher according to the teacher-student ratio. KinderWorld provides pre school education for children from 18 months to below 6 years.

QSI INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF HANOI #17 Lane, 67 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 6418, With nearly four decades of experience in international education, QSI International School of Hanoi is next in the long line of ‘quality schools’ that have been established by the Quality Schools International. The institution specialises in instructing pre-school and lower elementary age students.

SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 2D Van Phuc Diplomatic Compound, 46 Van Bao, 726 1601, Block C3, Ciputra, Tel: 3758 2664 An international school with an excellent record in a host of countries around the world, now available to those in Hanoi within its salubrious surrounds in Ciputra.

UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (UNIS) Ciputra International Village, Tay Ho Tel: 3758 1551 With more than 800 students from 50 different countries, UNIS is a non-profit IB World School that instructs students from as young as three years old through to grade 12. Established in 1988 by agencies representing the United Nations, the pristine campus has a broad range of facilities and is located in the gated community of Ciputra.

INVESTMENT & FINANCE DRAGON CAPITAL 11th Floor, Hanoi Lake View Bldg, 28 Thanh Nien, Tay Ho, Tel: 3936 0203 An integrated financial services provider with an exclusive focus on Vietnam’s capital markets. Established in 1994, the group is one of the largest and most experienced asset managers in Vietnam with total group assets in excess of US$2 billion. Has offices in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and the UK.

INDOCHINA CAPITAL Floors 9-9A, 60 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3930 6399 A leading investment firm operating in the ASEAN region with a particular focus on Vietnam. Assists partners, co-investors and clients to achieve financial objectives while focusing on four core areas: corporate finance and advisory services, investment management and real estate development.


12th Floor, HAREC Building, 4A Lang Ha, Ba Dinh Tel: 3772 4888 A private equity firm which focuses on the growth equity of companies in the developing Vietnamese economy.

SG VIETFRANCE VIT Tower, 18th Floor, 519 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh Tel: 2220 8979 The Vietnamese subsidiary of France’s

Societe Generale, the company recently opened a Hanoi. This was the first financial company in Vietnam to focus entirely on consumer credit.

TOTAL WEALTH MANAGEMENT 66/11 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3, Ho Chi Minh City Tel: 3820 0623. TWM provides information related to inter-country personal financial planning. They will walk you through the solutions and products available and will constantly monitor and manage your portfolio through opportunity and instability in global financial markets.



VIET TIN FINANCIAL CO. 1st & 2nd Floor, 40 Pho Boi Chau, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3941 1566. A locally based securities and stock brokerage firm whose stated mission is to provide valued returns to partners and shareholders.

VINACAPITAL 5th Floor, Sun City Building, 13 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3936 4630 A leading investment fund management company with extensive experience in the emerging Vietnam market. Manages the Vietnam Opportunity Fund (VOF), which is a an investment fund currently listed on the London Stock Exchange.

LANGUAGE SCHOOLS APOLLO 67 Le Van Huu, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 3943 2051 Established in 1994, Apollo offers highquality and cost-effective English language classes including general English, English for teens, English for business communication and a pronunciation clinic. One of the country’s leading language centres.

BRITISH COUNCIL 20 Thuy Khue, Tay Ho, Tel: 3728 1922 The cultural arm of the British government’s presence in Vietnam, the BC offers a variety of English language courses – business writing, corporate training and general English – in a large learning centre close to West Lake.

CLEVERLEARN Building 3, 2C Diplomatic Compound, Van Bao, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3726 1698 With two main schools in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Cleverlearn offers mainly conversational and business English courses. An authorised in iBT test site by the ETS.

LANGUAGE LINK VIETNAM 62 Yen Phu, Tay Ho, Tel: 3733 8402 With four schools around Hanoi, Language Link runs international English language courses endorsed by Cambridge University. One of the top language centres in the capital.

LEGAL SERVICES ALLENS Suite 401, Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3936 0990 Australian law firm working in Asia for over 30 years. Besides providing the standard legal services to corporate clients, has an excellent website containing the Vietnam Laws Online Database English translations of over 3,000 Vietnamese laws. Also publishes a monthly Vietnam Legal Update.

BAKER & MCKENZIE 13th Floor, Vietcombank Tower, 198 Tran Quang Khai, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3825 1428 One of the first international law firms to establish representative offices in

ECONOMICS OF BANK ROBBERY I RECENTLY WATCHED A MOVIE, The Great Bookie Robbery, where in 1976 thieves got away with stealing an estimated VND1.9 trillion (at 2011 value). It got me thinking that there is something deep down in most men that is thoroughly intoxicated by the thought of being involved in a successful heist. But how lucrative is a career in the balaclava and shotgun industry? A 2012 report in Significance, the journal of Britain's Royal Statistical Society and the American Statistical Association, provides the first “independent econometric analysis” of bank heists, using data from the FBI and British Bankers' Association. It turns out your grandmother was right — a life of crime does not pay. Of the 5,500 bank robberies in the USA in 2010, the average haul was VND157 million (US$7,500). Of these, 26 percent involved firearms and among the bank robbers there were 13 fatalities. The average heist involved 1.6 people and 60 percent were carried out by a single person. Sounds a bit lonely with a poor risk to profit ratio. OVER THE POND In the UK the profits are slightly more lucrative. However, it is a much smaller market — only 106 bank robberies were committed in 2007 with an average loot of VND665 million and a typical take home per thief per robbery of VND410 million. This

equates to half a year’s income of the average, full-time employed Britain. So in general, the best you can expect per robbery is a few months’ worth of modest living. The really interesting stats are: that 33 percent of robberies yield nothing, the average number of successful heists before getting arrested and jailed is three, over 50 percent of thieves are thwarted by fast rising protective teller screens, and in 22 percent of successful robberies the money is eventually recovered by the authorities. Another interesting fact was that as you increased the number of people involved, the take increased by VND295 million per additional person. This, however, decreased the average take home per individual robber. As a profitable occupation, bank robbery leaves a lot to be desired and it seems robbers have learned this lesson. Bank robberies are on the decline, both in the UK and the US, and criminals have instead turned their sights on targets that seem more rewarding; security vans. Not that I want to ruin the movie, but while the money from the Great Bookie Robbery was never recovered, all the criminals involved died violent deaths by the end of the 1980s. Shane works in financial services; he welcomes your questions or comments at shane.

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business Vietnam, Baker & McKenzie provide onthe-ground liaison and support services to clients interested in investigating, negotiating and implementing projects in the country.

on management services and consulting with in-house programs to meet the particular requirements of its clients. Offers teambuilding and academic-based business and management programmes.



Unit 1205, Pacific Place, 83B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3946 1203 As the first legal firm licensed as a foreign law company in Vietnam, Frasers provides legal advice on all areas of business and commerce within the country. They provide international legal advice in a Vietnamese context, and are ranked in the top tier of international law firms practising in this jurisdiction.

FRESHFIELDS BRUCKHAUS DERINGER #05-01 International Centre, 17 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3824 7422 This law firm works in 19 countries and is one of the world’s largest. They regularly advise large clients on international investment, banking and finance.

GIDE LOYRETTE NOUEL A.A.R.P.I. Pacific Place, Suite 505 – 507, 83B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3946 2350 A leading international law firm with 24 offices worldwide including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The Vietnam offices offer their clients (companies and international institutions) high quality services which combine legal expertise and a highly commercial approach to clients’ needs, across all sectors of business law.

J&P LAW LLC Room 1204B, Floor 12, Tower B, Handi Resco Tower, 521 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3724 5201 This Korean law firm offers international legal services and has additional branches in Ho Chi Minh City, Beijing and Ulaanbaatar. The Vietnam offices provide high-quality legal services in English, Korean, and Vietnamese across all sectors of business law.

LAWYERS ASSOCIATION OF THE CITY OF HANOI 35 Nguyen Chi Thanh, Dong Da, Tel: 3835 3548 The Lawyer’s Association is a collective of Vietnamese lawyers speicialising in many fields. They can provide legal and representation services.

ROUSE LEGAL (HANOI BRANCH) 7th Floor, VIT Building, 519 Kim Ma, Dong Da Tel: 3577 0479 Rouse is an international intellectual property law firm. From HCMC and Hanoi we advise on protection and enforcement of trade marks, patents, copyright and domain names; commercial IP, IP management/strategy.

RUSSIN & VECCHI 11/F, Hanoi Central Office Bldg., Suite 1104, 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Tel: 3825 1700 A financial law firm which focuses on commercial and investment matters for corporate clients. In some cases they can provide assistance to individual clients.

MANAGEMENT TRAINING BRITISH UNIVERSITY VIETNAM 193 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 3974 7596 The first university offering prestigious UK degrees in Vietnam. Courses offered in 2010 include International Business Administration, Banking & Finance, Accounting & Finance, Marketing Management, Accounting & Business. Pre-university courses are also available.

G&H MANAGEMENT SERVICES HKC Building, Suite 701, 285 Doi Can, Ba Dinh Tel: 3762 3805, A 100% foreign-invested company focusing

76 | Word December 2012

Hanoi Resco Building, 521 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh Tel: 3726 1460. A leading international provider of skills training and professional staff development, RMIT offers both short and longterm courses, customised courses, and can provide for either on or off-campus clients. Known for its Business MBA which is open to both Vietnamese and overseas students.

MARKET RESEARCH CIMIGO 142 Le Duan, Dong Da. Tel: 3518 6696 Independent marketing and brand research specialist operating in Hanoi and the Asia Pacific region in general. Services include auditing and optimising research programs, knowledge management, developing marketing plans and business models, and assessing market opportunities.

INDOCHINA RESEARCH 7th Floor, 73 Ly Nam De, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3747 4661. Provides a regional perspective on consumer, retail and social research to a range of multinational organisations operating in Indochina. Focus is on developing partnerships that leverage their market knowledge and on enhancing their client’s competitive position in the region.

THE NIELSEN COMPANY 3rd floor, 85 Nguyen Du, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3933 1161 . Media company offering integrated marketing and media measurement information and analytics. Offers full service capability across qualitative, quantitative, media and retail measurement for FMCGs, consumer products, finance, telecoms and more.

VINALINK 11th Floor, Lang Ha Building, 14 Lang Ha, Dong Da, Tel: 3772 4234 Specialising in online survey-based market research, Vinalink is a subcontractor for a few global market research firms, including CALEB Global and Pulse Group.

PUBLIC RELATIONS MEDIA ONE Rm 207, 40A Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3939 3966. PR company with offices both in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Focuses mainly on the Telecom and IT industries, providing a range of services including events, product activation, consulting, marketing and advertising.

PIONEER COMMUNICATIONS Floor 6, 58 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3945 4398. Pioneer Communications is one of the leading agencies in providing integrated marketing and public relations solutions for businesses and organiastions in Vietnam.

TQPR Room 109, House K, 7, 2ha, Vinh Phuc Ward, Ba Dinh., Tel: 32474 028 One in a group of companies from Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, the company offers international standard consultancy services and value-added

results to local, regional and global clients.

VENUS COMMUNICATIONS 4 Da Tuong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3944 7066 Well-known PR and communications company with offices in both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Offers the full range of PR, advertising and consultancy services.

RECRUITMENT & HR AON VIETNAM LIMITED 14th Floor, Vietcombank Tower, 198 Tran Quang Khai, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3826 0832 Founded in Vietnam in 1994, among other things, Aon now concentrates on human capital consulting, assisting their clients with compensation, benefit analyses and outsourcing.

HR2B Suite A6, 3rd Floor, Horison Office Center, 40 Cat Linh, Dong Da , Tel: 3736 6843 The forte of this company is placing highly talented Vietnamese and expat candidates into executive positions at medium to large companies. Rapidly growing, in the past years they’ve added Coca Cola, DHL and Prudential to their client list.

MANPOWER VIETNAM 12th Floor, Vincom City Tower B, 191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung , Tel: 3974 4574 Established in Vietnam at the beginning of 2008, Manpower is the first global recruitment company to set up locally. Offers a range of services for the entire employment and business cycle.

NAVIGOS GROUP Suite 1401, Vincom City Tower B, 191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung , Tel: 3974 3033 Adept at solving human resource challenges through excellence in matching and management talent. Has offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

RELOCATION & TRACKING AGENTS ALLIED PICKFORDS 8 Cat Linh, Dong Da, Tel: 6275 2824 The international home moving company helps make the burden of moving a lot easier. As the largest home moving company in the world, Allied Pickfords moves over 1,000 families in over 175 countries every day. Available with a full range of services — domestic moves, office moves and storage — whether you are moving within Vietnam or across the world.

ASIAN TIGERS TRANSPO Inland Customs Depot Area (ICD), Pham Hung, My Dinh, Tu Liem Tel: 3768 5882 Asian Tigers Group is committed to its mission of moving households without disruption to family life. They also offer pre-move advice regarding customs and shipping.

CROWN RELOCATION SERVICES 95E Ly Nam De, Ba Dinh , Tel: 3936 6741 Offering both family and corporate relocation services locally and internationally, Crown prides themselves on being a kidfriendly company.

IMAGE GROUP HOUSING No 17 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho. Tel: 3719 4375 A one-stop housing service that specialises in relocation, trained professionals can take care of housing rentals, short and

long term as well as car rentals. They also have an extension showroom for furniture rental and custom furniture, making your transition as easy as possible.

JVK INDOCHINA MOVERS 6 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: 3826 0334 Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is currently a leader in the field. Has offices in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

RESIDENT VIETNAM 3A Alley, 49 Huynh Thuc Khang, Tel: 3773 7191 Established in 2000, Resident Vietnam was the first dedicated Expatriate Service Provider in Vietnam. Resident Vietnam provides full relocation and immigration management services to several multinational companies in Vietnam and ser vices the Global Mobility industry.

SANTA FE RELOCATION SERVICES Suite 821, Vietnam Trade Union Hotel, 14 Tran Binh Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0908 096222 Santa Fe Relocation Services offers moving, home search, pet transport, orientation and immigration services. We are proud to be the only moving company with both ISO 9001 – 14001 certification in Vietnam.

SERVICED APARTMENTS ATLANTA RESIDENCES 49 Hang Chuoi, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 0912 239085 Atlanta Residences fully serviced apartments have been created to provide a space where you can ‘feel at home’. Within walking distance from Hanoi’s Opera House and Hoan Kiem Lake, this building offers a panel of 51 spacious apartments for you to choose from. The serviced apartments here offer the luxury of a hotel mixed with the peaceful comfort and privacy of your home, under one roof of course.

DALUVA HOME 33 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: 3718 5831 Whether traveling or on a temporary stay, Daluva can provide space & comfort. Thoughtfully appointed Daluva Homes feature a cozy bedroom for true rest, and an open living area that opens up to a terrace with plants.

FRASER SUITES 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 3719 8877 Great location in Syrena Tower on West Lake, Fraser Suites offer a tranquil repose from the busy city. Has several apartments with excellent views and provides gold-standard service.

MAYFAIR 34B Tran Phu, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3733 0030 A building with a great location, and some of the largest apartments you’ll find. The Mayfair is popular among the diplomatic and international business communities.

SEDONA SUITES No. 96 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: 3718 0888 175 well-designed, furnished apartments and villas combining the comforts of home with the conveniences of a fine hotel.

SOMERSET GRAND HANOI 49, Hai Ba Trung, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3934 2342 Internationally-managed accommodation with personalised services and extensive facilities. 185 fully furnished apartments, car park, 24-hour reception and central location.





providing cruise services for travelers with a mid-range budget.

visit for a comprehensive list of our listings NHA TRANG 080 NORTH-EAST 081 NORTH-WEST 081 PHAN THIET / MUI NE 081 PHU QUOC 083 SAPA 083 TAM DAO 083 TRAVEL SERVICES 083



$$$ 10 Halong Road, Halong , Tel: 0333 849 009 Close to the pier and the new bridge, what this hotel lacks in character is made up for in cleanliness and comfort. There are 184 rooms priced between VND2 million and VND6 million. Other facilities include indoor pool, health club and sauna.



$$$ 8 Halong Road, Bai Chay, Halong Tel: 0333 845810, One of the many large tower-type hotels in Halong City, Halong Plaza has pretty much everything you’d expect from a 4-star hotel. 200 rooms, a bar and a restaurant that touts its seafood and barbecue.




$$$ 4 Phan Boi Chau, Tel: 063 357 8888 Ideally situated in the centre of Dalat, this hotel has 71 rooms, all with good views, and modern amenities, including flatscreen TVs and DSL connections. Also has a heated swimming pool, gym, spa, and prices to match. CREDIT


$ 151 Phan Dinh Phung, Dalat, Tel: 063 383 3748 The excellent value at this small private place has made it justifiably popular. You get a large room with cable TV, free breakfast and Internet access, starting from $10 per night. The staff are friendly, too. Just round the corner are bike rentals (watch those hills) and other tour facilities.



$ 4A Bui Thi Xuan, Dalat , Tel: 063 382 2663 You get door-to-door service from Saigon at this budget hotel – it has links with the Sinh Cafe people and this is where their


BELOW VND630,000


VND651,000 TO VND1,680,000


VND1,701,000 TO VND3,171,000

$$$$ ABOVE VND3,171,000



bus stops. Apart from that convenience, it is a fairly basic hotel, but it’s right in the middle of town.


$$$ Son Tra, Dien Ngoc Coastal Street Hoa Hai Ward, Ngu Hanh Son, Tel: 0511 396 1800 With six different styles of villa units that offer views of the ocean, the mountains and a green of a golf course, the Danang Beach Resort is one of the most luxurious places to stay in this much overlooked city. The property also offers 33-storey twin towers housing a five-star hotel and golf courses adding up to 36 holes. CREDIT

HALONG & CAT BA BAI TU LONG ECOTOURISM RESORT $ Halong Commune, Van Don , Tel: 0333 793156 Stay in a beachside bungalow or a traditional resort-style hotel on the shores of Van Don Island. Bai Tu Long Bay is situated just up the coast from Halong City. The staff here can help you arrange tours that will offer scenery a bit different than the standard tours of Halong Bay.


$$$ 47 Phan Chu Trinh Street, Hoan Kiem Tel: 04 3944 6777 (Sales Office) Bhaya combines oriental style with contemporary luxury, offering tours of beautiful Halong Bay aboard reproduction wooden junks. Two or three-night tours are available and customers have a wide range of cabin styles to choose from: standard, deluxe or royal. CREDIT


$$$$ Tel: 04 3934 0888 This reproduction of a 19th-century paddle steamer trawls around Halong Bay in colonial style, with onboard overnight accommodation in impeccably maintained cabins. The great food and service adds to the already beautiful setting. They also offer transfers directly from Hanoi. CREDIT

HAI LONG JUNKS, HALONG BAY 32 Anh Dao, Bai Chay, Quang Ninh Tel: 0333 846099 Hai Long Junks is one of the three largest cruise operators in Halong Bay. The company boasts 11 overnight cruise vessels with a total of 160 cabins and 15 traditional junks with capacities from 25-48 passengers each for day trippers,

$$$ Ha Long Road, Bai Chay Ward, Ha Long City, Quang Ninh. Tel: 0333 848108 Located three hours from Hanoi, the beachfront Novotel Ha Long Bay is in close proximity to major attractions such as bay cruises and local markets. Featuring 214 rooms, one restaurant, two bars and one professional spa with seven treatment rooms, Novotel Ha Long Bay enjoys impressive panoramic vistas, including a pool with swim-up bar overlooking the limestone bay. Ideal for business travel or family holidays.



$$$ This resort is on a private island just off of Cat Ba Island. Around VND600,000 will get you a comfortable room in a bungalow close to the beach. Fee also includes the boat ride from Cat Ba. For more information check on the web.


$ 39 Vuon Dao, Bai Chay, Quang Ninh Tel: 0333 846009 Found just outside Halong City on Bai Chay beach, this is clean, honest accommodation for a reasonable price. Located on “Hotel Alley”, there are a lot of options here. The rooms are fairly well looked after and clean. You can usually get one for under VND400,000, but prices vary depending on the season.


$ Nui Ngoc, Cat Ba Island, Tel: 0313 888899 This is one of the better hotels on Cat Ba Island. Large, clean rooms with all the modern conveniences, as well as a restaurant and a popular bar. The front desk can also arrange tailor-made tours around the bay.



$$$$ 66 Pho Ha Long, Bai Chay, Quang Ninh Tel: 0333 848999. The four-star Royal Hotel boasts villas, well-landscaped gardens and a pool, all overlooking Halong Bay. Just two minutes walk from Bai Chay, the property has a resort feel and the rooms are housed in several buildings. If you’re feeling lucky, there’s also a ‘Gaming Club’.



$$$ KM 8 Pham Van Dong, Duong Kinh, Hai Phong Tel: 0313 880 888 Located 100km east of Hanoi, the fourstar Best Western Pearl River Hotel is the only internationally branded hotel in Hai Phong. All 101 suites and rooms offer bathrobe and slippers, digital safety box, free internet access, satellite TV and 24-hour room service. Facilities include the Jade restaurant, offering western and Asian fare, several bars, a deluxe spa and fitness center with separate hot and cold Jacuzzis, sauna, steam room, relax lounge and VIP massage room.




come in all shapes and sizes and have satellite TV, a fridge and a mini bar. The front-desk staff speaks English and can help sort out any travel arrangements. Rates from around VND250,000 per night.

$$ 42 Dien Bien Phu, Hai Phong, Tel: 031 384 2444 One of the best of the town’s best budget hotels, the aircon old but clean rooms


$$$ 4 Tran Phu, Hai Phong Tel: 031 382 7827 Hai Phong’s most prestigious address, this cool, retro French-colonial style property is the only international standard hotel in town. Designed with panache without being pretentious, room rates at this 122-unit property start at around VND2.5 million.



$$$ 60A Pho Dien Bien Phu, Hai Phong Tel: 031 384 2706 One of the larger hotels in town, Huu Nghi offers some of the comforts you might miss at the other places. In addition to the clean up-to-standard rooms, the hotel also has a swimming pool and tennis courts.


$$ 3K Ly Tu Trong, Hai Phong, Tel: 031 374 6540 New and tidy, with cable TV and airconditioning, Maxim is one of the best mini hotels in town. Rooms are small but have good modern conveniences like satellite TV and new, clean bathrooms done in designer tiles. Room rates around VND250,000 to VND300,000 a night.

MONACO HOTEL 103 Pho Dien Bien Phu, Hai Phong Tel: 031 374 6468 One of the more modern hotels on Dien Bien Phu Street, the prices here are competitive and it’s possible to request a room with a kitchen. Standards with aircon and a TV start at VND350,000 per night.


$$$ Lot X7, Le Duc Tho, My Dinh, Tu Liem Tel: 6270 6688. My Dinh’s first five-star property. This 24-storey mixed-use complex lies next to My Dinh National Stadium and close to the National Convention Centre. Boasting 393 guest rooms (including 40 suites), two swimming pools and a spa and fitness centre, Crowne Plaza also has some of the best meetings and conference facilities in town. CREDIT



$$$ 360 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3831 5555 This enormous structure offers the most modern of amenities, and with four restaurants and two bars, the events staff is well equipped to handle any occasion. Close to the National Convention Center, and a favourite of the business traveller, Daewoo even boasts an outdoor driving range. Shortly to become a Marriot property.

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$$$ 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3831 3333 This 350-room four-star set up in the heart of Hanoi’s financial district has a variety of rooms on offer, a “capital lounge” and three restaurants that serve Japanese, Chinese and international cuisine. And like you’d expect, there’s a fitness centre, night club and swimming pool, too, and even a separate spa and treatment facility for men and women. Set to the west of town, Fortuna often offers business deals on rooms and spaces to hold meetings, presentations and celebrations. CREDIT


$$$ 109-111 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi Tel: 3928 6969, With 55 rooms and suites, the four-star Golden Silk Boutique Hotel, which is located in the centre of the Old Quarter, is the only hotel offering a complimentary (free!) and daily replenished minibar and snacks service in every room. Facilities include a spa with Jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms, a comprehensive range of business amenities, the Orient restaurant, serving international and Vietnamese fare, and the Rendezvous Piano Bar with wines and cocktails. CREDIT



$$$$ 1 Le Thanh Tong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3933 0500 Located next to the Opera House, this fivestar is not to be confused with the famed “Hanoi Hilton” that housed American POWs. Reproduction colonial architecture is matched by an elegant and spacious inside area. Has all the standard facilities of a top-end hotel as well as an attractive, courtyard pool area.

PULLMAN HOTEL $$$$ 40 Cat Linh, Ba Dinh Tel: 3733 0808 A recent refit and a change of management — this property is now run by the Accor group — have given this 250-room hotel the sparkle that it had once lost. Good quality deluxe rooms and suites, a cavernous but contemporary looking lobby, an excellent buffet and a la carte restaurant, and a sleek image that would be at home anywhere in the world, this business traveller-orientated property is also close enough to the Old Quarter to make it a great stopping off point for anyone wanting to explore Hanoi. CREDIT



$$$$ 29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem Tel: 6282 5555 Resting just a step away from the Opera House, the hotel mixes colonial architectural accents and theatrical interior design to create a contemporary space. The first boutique five star in the heart of Hanoi, the lavish, uniquely designed 107 rooms and suites contain all the mod cons and are complimented by two restaurants, a bar and complimentary Wi-Fi.


$$$$ 1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho Tel: 6270 8888 This stunning property built over West Lake falls in between a hotel and a resort. Beautiful views, great balcony areas, comfortable, top-end accommodation and all the mod-cons make up the mix here together with the resort’s three in-house restaurants and the Sunset Bar, a watering hole located on a thoroughfare over the lake. Great gym and health club.



$$$ 17A Phan Dinh Phung, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3734 9988 A contemporary boutique hotel a stone’s throw from Hang Cot in the Old Quarter. Colonial era accents throughout and an oriental themes lobby. 32 upmarket rooms and an intimate top class restaurant make this a strong contender in an area with plenty of competition.



$$$$ 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3934 3343 Excellently located in central Hanoi, Melia Hanoi draws plenty of business travellers and is also a popular venue for conferences and wedding receptions. State-ofthe-art rooms, elegant restaurants, stylish bars, fully equipped fitness centre with sophisticated service always make inhouse guests satisfied.


6 ON SIXTEEN 16 Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem Another boutique hotel to grace Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the six rooms here mix contemporary and fresh with handicrafts and antique. Breakfast is included and in the long, lounge restaurant on the second floor, home-style Vietnamese fare is served up with fresh fruit juices and Lavazza coffee.


$$$ 38 & 23 Lo Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3926 2222 Two mid-range hotels situated in the heart of Hanoi,just 150 meters from Hoan Kiem Lake. Built using a blend of western and oriental architecture, the properties have 28 and 35 rooms respectively, all with mod-cons. For a bit more luxury stay at the Giabao Grand. CREDIT



$$$ 94 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3944 7766 When your train arrives from Sapa at 5am, you will be overjoyed if your bed is just across the street from the station in one of the 102 spacious rooms at this smart hotel. A stone’s throw from both the Old Quarter and the Temple of Literature, Mercure Hanoi boasts a French brasserie, an internal courtyard, a fitness centre and a retail outlet of wine importer and distributor Da Loc.

$$ 32 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 8583 The interesting arty decor of this place is a bonus, as is its value for money – it’s not often you pay under VND1 million for a modern hotel room slap bang in the middle of town. Try to get a front room (with balcony) to look out over the bustling Old Quarter. They’ve also opened a second Golden Lotus just down the street at number 39.





$$$$ 83A Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3822 2800 With its distinctive French architecture and top end service, Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi is aimed squarely at corporate travellers. An all-day restaurant and a lounge bar are available to satiate their clientele while the kinetic gym and wellness studio offer an excellent range of equipment. Massage and sauna facilities are available for guests seeking to rejuvenate. Of the 154 well-appointed rooms and suites, 93 are non-smoking.

$$ 38 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3826 8500 One of the only hotels in the Old Quarter to have a balcony with each room, this new boutique is middle of the range but feels higher. Run by Australian expats and partners with a wealth of experience in the hotel industry, expect great service. Awesome western breakfasts and Vietnamese lunch and dinners. The top floor honeymoon suite has perfect views of St Josephs Cathedral.


$$ 5 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3938 1048, Just to the side of St. Joseph’s Cathedral, this is a well-appointed, comfortable boutique hotel. Brightly decorated, the property’s 10 rooms have Wi-Fi, flatscreen TV and a mini bar. Prices start at VND650,000 a night. No smoking except for on the upstairs balconies.



$$$$ K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 9000, Surrounded by lush gardens, sweeping lawns and tranquil courtyards, this peaceful property features picturesque views of West Lake and is less than 10 minutes from downtown. In addition to the luxurious rooms, the hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool and great relaxation and fitness facilities, including a tennis court and spa. There are well equipped conference rooms and a newly refurbished Executive Club Lounge.


$$$$ 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3826 6919 The finest hotel of the French colonial period is probably still the finest in today’s Hanoi. Anyone who is (or was) anyone has stayed at this elegant oasis of charm, where the service is impeccable and the luxurious facilities complement the ambiance of a bygone era. Definitely the place to put the Comtessa up for a night. CREDIT


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$$$$ 1 Thanh Nien Road, Ba Dinh Tel: 3823 8888 Boasting Hanoi’s best views of West Lake, Truc Bach Lake and the Red River, Sofitel Plaza Hanoi soars 20 storeys above the city skyline. The 5-star hotel features 317 luxurious, comfortable guestrooms with spectacular lake view or river view ranking in 7 types from Classic Room to Imperial Suite. CREDIT




$$$$ 35-37 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 04 3938 0999 Just a short walk from Hoan Kiem Lake, this boutique hotel is fitted with 33 comfortable guest rooms, 18 deluxe, and four luxurious suites. All rooms have wi-fi access, and the cozy lobby has both a gallery and a piano bar. Prices range from VND2.5 million for a guest room to VND4.5 million for a suite. CREDIT



$$$ 24 Han Thuyen, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 2222 9988 Set in the old French Quarter a short walk from the Opera House, May de Ville City Centre is a welcome new addition to the capital. Combining contemporary architecture with traditional Vietnamese style and materials, this elegant property has 81 well-appointed rooms including four suites.


$$$ 1C Tong Dan Street, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3824 4775 This hotel houses 71 spacious, comfortable rooms all equipped with high speed CREDIT

internet, bath tub and room service. They have a meeting room, which can accommodate up to 60 people, as well as a restaurant and bar downstairs.



$$$ 4 Ba Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3934 1256 A mid-size boutique hotel with a prime location, Zephyr offers a range of packages and special offers on rooms that are clean and stylish. The lobby boasts a coffee house and restaurant with both Asian and Western Cuisine.



$$ 44 Hang Giay, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3824 3667 Basic rooms and friendly service at this well-known hotel. One of six properties of the same name in Hanoi, internet terminals are located in the lobby, and the property also offers a host of tour itineraries. Rooms vary in price from VND500,000 to VND700,000. Some of their other locations are more budget-friendly.


$ 48 Ngo Huyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3828 5372 Probably the cheapest, European-style hostel in town, with bunk-style beds mixed or single-sex dorms starting at VND150,000, plus a couple of double suites from VND250,000. A place to meet like-minded fold in the Old Quarter.


$$$ 34 Hang Manh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3828 5053 With four locations right in the Old Quarter, this is a good option close to Hoan Kiem Lake. Friendly staff can help you with any detail like renting a car, motorbike, or bicycle. Rooms are compact, with small but clean bathrooms, and all have the quality amenities of a proper hotel. Either ADSL or Wi-Fi connections available. Some of the locations include sauna, steam bath and fitness facilities



$ 58 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3928 8648 Spacious rooms with ADSL broadband connections starting at around VND600,000 a night. The rooms at the front are more expensive, and breakfast is included. The staff speak good English and are very helpful. Has a number of sister hotels in town, two of which are located next to the cathedral. The third is on Tue Tinh, close to Lenin Park. Check the website for details.



$$$$ 19 Lam Son Square, Q1 , Tel: 3823 4999 The only hotel in Vietnam to make the Robb Report’s 2006 list of the world’s top 100 luxury hotels. Facilities include the popular ninth-floor Saigon Saigon bar, Nineteen and Reflections restaurants, Club Vegas for a flutter, a swimming pool seven floors up and Qi salon and spa.



$$$ 132-134 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: 3829 9201 Fêted in literature and film, this huge old hotel with huge old rooms stands at the absolute centre of town and is the best of the Saigon Tourist chain. Hard to beat on charm, and a favourite with tour groups, this would be one of your first choices if you wanted to impress a newcomer to the city.

destination EQUATORIAL


$$$ 242 Tran Binh Trong, Q5 Tel: 3839 7777 Big and businesslike, with seven dining and entertainment outlets, a business centre, meeting and function rooms and a comprehensive fitness centre and spa. Also boasts the biggest banquet facilities in the city.



$ 171A Co Bac, Q1, Tel: 3837 8885 A place for exchanging views as well as sleeping, with its communal kitchen and TV room, this venue ticks all the right boxes when it comes to comfort, cleanliness and amenities. A stay here will make you appreciate the pleasure of being a guest rather than just a customer.


$$$$ 39 Le Duan, Q1. Tel: 3520 9999 Luxury accommodation with a stylish club Lounge boasting panoramic views, as well as the finest meeting and banquet facilities in town – all designed with the savvy traveller in mind. The 21-floor tower includes 305 elegantly appointed rooms, including 18 suites and a Presidential Suite. CREDIT



$$$ 46 Thu Khoa Huan, Q1. Tel: 3822 7926 You can’t get much more central than Ben Thanh Market and this modern hotel (one of many in the area) offers every amenity you would expect from a mid-range hotel while keeping its prices close to budget level. The staff are friendly and helpful.



$$$$ 76 Le Lai, Q1. Tel: 3822 8888 Its list of former guests ranges from U.S. presidents – two Bushes, one Clinton – to Korean teeny bop sensation Rain. If Knut the polar bear came to town, he’d probably stay here. It’s an ongoing event as well as a hotel. Fends off newer, glitzier competitors to hold its place as one of the best luxury stops in town



$$$$ 2 Lam Son Square, Q1. Tel: 3824 1234 Fabulous-looking hotel in a prime location, with an attractive lobby bar and all the attention to detail you would expect from the Hyatt. But wait, there’s more. The Square One restaurant has garnered an excellent reputation and the Xuan Spa by the landscaped pool is unbeatable.



$$$ 323 Le Van Sy, Q3. Tel: 3843 9999 A 4-star business class hotel, The Ramana Hotel boasts 293 guestrooms and suites and offers a complete range of service facilities including a Business Centre, a well-equipped Fitness Room, an outdoor swimming pool and the Sawasdee Health Club, The hotel is situated in District 3 – an area of Ho Chi Minh City only 2 km from the city centre and 3 km from the airport.


$$$$ 8-15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: 3822 0033 If you’ve never swum in a pool 21 floors up, you could rectify that at this luxury hotel by the Saigon River. As you would expect from a Marriott property, there’s CREDIT

plenty more here to appreciate – the full range of fitness, spa and business facilities plus one of the best-regarded Chinese restaurants in the city.



$$$$ 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: 3827 2828 Sheraton has bagged one of the best locations in town and made the most of it, with its usual mix of luxurious rooms and first-class facilities topped by an open-air restaurant 23 floors above the city. The conference and business facilities are unmatched – the enormous ballroom is just one of 17 meeting venues.


$$$$ 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: 3824 1555 True class on an attractive (and historic) street, offering a mix of rooms and suites, top-notch facilities, and restaurant cuisine which can match anything in the city. Without a doubt one of the nicest places to stay in the city. CREDIT



$ 18A Cua Dai, Hoi An. Tel: 0510 386 2231 Pleasant, small, family-run hotel with a spacious and faintly colonial air located between the town and the beach, with comfortable air-conditioned rooms and pleasant staff.


$$$$ 68 Ho Xuan Huong, Danang Tel: 3821 1888 (HCMC office) Among the first resorts to open in the country, this venue still scores highly because of its stunning beachside location allied to some indulgent touches – the smallest room measures 40 square metres – and a general air of refined luxury, as typified by the Cafe Indochine restaurant and the Lagoon poolside bar. CREDIT



$$$$ Hamlet 1, Dien Duong Village, Quang Nam Tel: 0510 394 0000, Setting the standard for luxury resorts in Vietnam, the Nam Hai is the ultimate relaxation space. Includes three massive swimming pools, a gourmet restaurant and elegant spa on a lotus pond. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Each massive room comes with its own espresso machine, pre-programmed iPod and both indoor and outdoor showers. Entire villas, spa villas and pool villas complexes are also available for rent and each villa has a view of the sea. A great place to forget about the city.


Tel: 0510 392 7040 Pull up some (private) beach and relax, at this unique and charming resort, which has been laid out to replicate a traditional fishing village with small streets, ponds and village houses. The Annam Asia n restaurant overlooks the sea, there’s also a spa, Thai or Swedish massage, and fitness centre.



$$$$ Thuan An Town, Phu Vang District, Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam, Tel: 08 6291 3030 Located on Thuan An Beach, a 20-minute drive from central Hue, the five-star Ana Mandara is the only beach resort with pool villas in the area. The property has a total of 78 rooms and villas, including beach pool villas, beach villas, duplex rooms and deluxe rooms in a wide range of styles and

decor designed with modern facilities. Offers private rice paddy dinners, beach BBQs and cruises through the local fish farms.


$ 10 Pham Ngu Lao, Hue, Tel: 054 382 6561 An excellent option for those on a tight budget, with a comfortable room plus balcony and satellite TV coming in at around VND200,000. An additional bonus is the pleasantness of the staff.



$$$ 10 Hung Vuong, Hue, Tel: 054 388 2222 One of the best hotels in the city, and certainly in the most convenient downtown location, this high-rise hotel has luxurious rooms with great city views, a selection of restaurants, a piano bar and the sumptuous Royal Spa. You can even hire your own butler. Internet rates start at VND2.4 million ++ for a deluxe city view room.



$$$$ 5 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: 054 383 7475 Built around a core of the former colonial governor’s mansion, and maintained in nautical modern style, this is one of Hue’s unique experiences. With ceiling fans and dark-stained wood furnishings, this is traditional Indochine at its best. Throw in an excellent restaurant with river views and you have a heady mix.


$$$ Tel: 0510 354 5105 If you’re looking for something a bit different, the secluded sand island of Tam Hai, with just a dozen traditional-looking (but modern) villas with private gardens and CREDIT


$$$$ Bai Bac, Son Tra Peninsula, Danang Tel: 0511 393 8888, With its own private bay on the Son Tra Peninsula, the Bill Bensley-designed InterContinental Danang is nestled within one of the region’s most exquisite locations. All 197 of the resort’s rooms, suites and beachfront villas are designed to take full advantage of their location and panoramic South China Sea views. Large terraces and shuttered windows elevate private living spaces that draw in the surrounding jungle and crystal bay, and add depth to the already large rooms that start from 70sqm.


$ 73 Phan Boi Chau, Hoi An, Tel: 0510 386 1453 Boasts that it is just 0.025km from the city centre, which translates into being an excellent base for exploring the old town. Added to that, you get simple and comfortable rooms for around VND400,000.



$$$ 1 Pham Hong Thai, Hoi An Tel: 0510 391 4555 Recently refurbished after a recent flood, this award-winning resort is located close to the charm and bustle of the Old Town and maintains an emphasis on wellness and pampering. Its spa combines the benefits of traditional Chinese medicine, tai chi, touch and hot stone therapies.

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AIRLINES AIR ASIA 25 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: 2220 5351

AIR FRANCE First Floor, 1 Ba Trieu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3825 3484

AIR MEKONG 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 37186 399

AMERICAN AIRLINES 99 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3933 0330

CATHAY PACIFIC G/F, Hanoi Tower, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 7298

CHINA AIRLINES 4th Floor, Opera Business Center, 6B Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3936 6364

EVA AIR 2nd Floor,17 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3936 1600

JAPAN AIRLINES 5th Floor, 63 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 6693

true tropical ambience may be the answer. There is endless beach, a swimming pool, and a restaurant to take advantage of the fresh seafood.


$ 48/3 Le Loi, Hue Tel: 054 382 6736 A budget option which offers a reliable and acceptable level of comfort for the sub-VND400,000 price with the additional benefit of being near the Perfume River and having attentive service.


$$$$ 130 Minh Mang, Hue Tel: 054 388 5461 A collection of rustic villas located in the countryside close to Hue and its historical landmarks. Villas range from the traditional Vietnamese pool house to the family bungalow. The boutique, imperial-era Vietnam styled resort also holds cooking classes, makes tour arrangements and has an on-site spa.



$$ My Canh, Bao Ninh, Dong Hoi, Quang Binh Tel: 052 384 2999 This top-end resort offers elegant, comfortable pool villas and bungalows, and is the only luxury accommodation in Quang Binh, about 150 miles from Hue. An ideal base for trips to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Phong Nha caves.


KOREAN AIR 2nd Floor, VIT, 519 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh Tel: 3934 7247

40 Quang Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3942 5362

LOT AIRLINES R402, 4th floor, Dao Duy Anh Tower, 9 Dao Duy Anh, Dong Da Tel: 3577 2202

MALAYSIA AIRLINES Somerset Grand Hanoi, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 8820

SINGAPORE AIRLINES International Centre, 17 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 8888

THAI AIRWAYS 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 7921


VIETNAM AIRLINES 25 Trang Thi, Hoan Kiem Tel: 6270 0200

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$$$ Poom Village, Mai Chau, Tel: 0912 320990 One of the larger stilt houses in Poom Village, the bamboo floor you can expect to sleep on is more comfortable than you might expect, and this house has a pleasant view of a lotus pond. Like at all the other stilt houses here, drink and dance can be arranged.



$$ Cu Yen, Luong Son, Hoa Binh, Tel: 018 382 5662 This eco-village in Hoa Binh caters to visitors in search of nature. 30 rooms of varying design in ten houses are surrounded by rice fields, lakes and hills. Has its own spa and restaurant.

MAI CHAU GUESTHOUSE At the farthest end of town, Mai Chau Tel: 0218 386 7262 This hotel seems to offer bare-bones amenities, but if you don’t fancy sleeping on the rattan floor of a stilt house, this is a couple good steps above, and the rooms are quite inexpensive. Be prepared for the noise from the karaoke bars which surround the place.


MR CAO MOTORBIKE RENTAL 106 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0912 094464

PHUNG MOTORBIKE RENTAL & SALES 4 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0904 253491 Well-maintained motorbikes for hire at reasonable rates, plus servicing and repairs for modern and vintage bikes.

QUAN’S MOTORBIKE & BICYCLE RENTALS 70 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0904 244941 Standard rental shop doing hire by the day and by the month.

VIETNAM MOTORCYCLE ADVENTURES 36 Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem (down alley in between No. 34 & No. 36) Tel: 3904 5049 Bespoke motorbike tours, rental of automatic and manual bikes plus repairs.

VIP BIKE RENTALS 64, Alley 71 Tan Ap, Tay Ho (off Tan Ap Street, close to Sofitel Plaza) Tel: 0914 931390 Bike rentals and repairs. Good reputation. Formerly part of the Blue Dragon Foundation.

rooms that are great value for the money. There is an in-house restaurant that will make it redundant to eat elsewhere. Prices range from VND100,000 to VND400,000 for a double deluxe room. The staff speak very good English.


$$ 55A Truong Han Sieu, Ninh Binh. Tel: 030 387 1602 This hotel is slightly more expensive than its neighbors, but the reason is apparent once you walk in. The rooms in the newer building are especially nice and, together with the better than decent restaurant downstairs, this one can make for a good stop over.


$$$$ Beachside, Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: 058 352 2222 There’s a generous 2.6 hectares of private beachside garden to get lost in here, and much to marvel at, with villa-style accommodation furnished in traditional native woods, verandah dining, pool bar and the signature Six Senses Spa.


$$$ Tel: 0218 386 8959, If real comfort is what you want, this is surely the best bet in Mai Chau. The rooms are modern and classy, with room service, sauna and internet connections. The newly built Water Lily Cottage offers a luxury version of the house on stilts. Give a call for exact directions, or you can check their website.

MAI CHAU NATURE PLACE House 38, Ban Lac Village, Tel: 3938 1443 A perfect mix between a home-stay experience and comfortable hotel. The private rooms are beautifully quaint while the communal sleeping option is more typical of rural lodges. Both options come with modern and clean bathrooms, traditional home-cooked meals, free bicycles and friendly, in-the-know, staff.





$$$$ House 100, Quarter 2, Mai Chau, Tel: 0218 386 7340 If a sturdy bed is what you crave, this might be your answer. The rooms are large and clean, with a working television and shower with hot water. Might not be the Hilton, but for an aching back it’s a step above a bamboo floor and a mat.


$$$$ 396 Quoc Lo 14, Dong Xoai, Binh Phuoc Tel: 0651 387 9764 Accommodation here is quite basic, but this place offers a good deal in relation to the other places around, if you want a place to sleep before a long day of park touring.


$ Cuc Phuong, Nho Quan, Ninh Binh Tel: 030 384 8006 Park accommodation, in modern rooms, stilt houses and detached bungalows, includes basic amenities and comforts in proportion to prices, which range from VND100,000 to VND500,000 per night. Rooms available at park hq, the park centre, and on the road linking the two.


$ 128 Le Hong Phong, Ninh Binh, Tel: 030 387 1811 Refurbished in 2004, this has big, clean

$ Ninh Phuoc, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa (40km north of Nha Trang). Tel: 058 362 2384 On a secluded – almost deserted – promontory north of Nha Trang, with accommodation ranging from comfortable guest rooms to basic outdoor bamboo shelters, this budget place is all about hammocks, the sea, the jungle and nature – certainly a change from mainstream tourism. The owners arrange pick-up from Nha Trang and the down-to-earth resort maintains a deliberate, family atmosphere. A real gem.


$$$$ Van Dang Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa. Tel: 058 372 8222 The upmarket Tatler magazine voted this its top hotel of 2006, and it’s not hard to see why. The location is stunning, on a bay which can only be reached by boat, and all the accommodation, amenities and facilities are top-drawer. So, naturally, is the price. Internet rates start at VND15 million++ for a beach pool villa.


$$$ 50 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: 058 625 6900 This stylish four-star hotel is centrally located on the main street of the resort city of Nha Trang. Along with 154 modern rooms, each with terrace and a stunning sea view, Novotel Nha Trang offers a pool, spa, restaurant, bar and meeting room catering for up to 200 delegates. CREDIT

SAO MAI HOTEL 99 Nguyen Thien Thuat, Nha Trang Tel: 058 382 7412 Try to get a seaview room with private balcony at this friendly and very cheap hotel, which also has a rooftop terrace. Rooms have basic but adequate facilities and it is well located.


$$$ 12-14 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: 058 382 0999 Luxury boutique hotel in the city centre and right across from the beach is well geared up for the family and business trade, with kids’ room, beach recreation, restaurants offering Japanese, Vietnamese and European cuisine, pool bar, beach bar, sky bar and a Qi spa. CREDIT



$$ Tel: 058 384 0501 This remote and unspoiled island some 60km north of Nha Trang has been made into a stylish getaway, with traditional bamboo bungalows on the beach and plenty of opportunity for serious nature watching, with abundant marine life and an array of birds. Onsite seafood restaurant and bar.


$ 1 Kim Dong, Cao Bang. Tel: 026 385 3431 A large, government-run hotel popular with tour groups. Rooms are super-sized, with big windows and some even have views. They also take credit cards, which might not be expected here. Room rates are around VND400,000.


$ 84 Pho Tran Dang Ninh, Lang Son, Tel: 025 387 0349 This place offers basic accommodation at a good price. Don’t expect too much, but as an en route stop-over, Hoang Nguyen will definitely do.

HOANG SON HAI 57D Thanh Tam, Lang Son. Tel: 025 371 0479 Although it may be a bit hard to communicate with the staff if you’re Vietnamese isn’t up to snuff, they are eager to help. The rooms are exceptionally nice for the area.



$ 14 Nguyen Trai, Ha Giang, Tel: 0219 386 1288 The large, comfortable sleeping quarters here may come as a surprise in these parts. But these are the things that have made Huy Hoan so popular. Several tour

groups use the place as a stopover, and the staff is adept at fulfilling their needs.

acceptable and about average for this type of establishment.



$ Nguyen Trai, Ha Giang. Tel: 0219 386 3019 One of the first guesthouses you see as you arrive in town, location has made this guesthouse a popular stop off point. The sleeping accommodations are clean and comfortable, enough to enjoy a good night’s sleep and shower.


$ V159 Vuon Cam, Cao Bang, Tel: 026 385 7026 Thanh Loan is a smaller hotel with more attention paid to the details. Still, expect basic accommodation, but, all said, a good bargain.

THAI NGUYEN HOTEL 2 Hoang Van Thu, Thai Nguyen, Tel: 0280 385 2803 Your standard two-star establishment, Thai Nguyen is one of the best (and one of the only) choices in the vicinity. It’s quite a large hotel considering its location, so booking shouldn’t be a problem.


$$$ 2 Hoang Van Thu, Lai Chau. Tel: 0231 387 5829 Offers reasonable guesthouse-style rooms with air conditioning, some of them with balconies. Take a look at the rooms before you rent as the quality may vary.


$$ 849 Duong 7-5, Muong Thanh, Dien Bien Phu Tel: 0230 382 5103 Pretty much what it sounds like: a Dien Bien Phu guest house. Rooms are made for sleeping and not much else, but at good prices. Cleanliness and comfort are CREDIT

$$ 25 Pho 1, Muong Thanh, Dien Bien Phu Tel: 0230 381 0043 This Soviet-era hotel has a unique style that makes it one of the most visited. So, despite its size, it may be a good idea to book in advance. There’s a charge for the swimming pool, even if you’re staying there. But, hey, there’s a pool. The rooms are better than average and have satellite TV. CREDIT


$$ 4 Duong, 26-8 Rd, Son La Tel: 022 385 5313 The explanation of the name is a mystery, but with 100 rooms it could probably house a mid-size union. Not the cheapest place in town, but the rooms are extra large and fairly well-kept. If you want to spend some time with satellite television, this is your place. Price range is VND500,000 to VND600,000, breakfast included. CREDIT


$ 53 Duong 26 – 8, Son La, Tel: 022 385 8798 Sunrise makes for a decent stay for those travelling between Hanoi and Dien Bien Phu. In relation to the other hotels on the road, the rooms are very clean and the staff helpful. A night here will run around VND400,000.


$$$$ 54 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet Tel: 062 384 7322 After renovation in 2007, Blue Ocean Resort is now under the management of Life Resorts. Its luxury makeover includes CREDIT

a large swimming pool and swim-up pool bar as well as a children’s activity playground. Another new addition is an Irish bar. One of the better appointed resorts in the area.

PRINCESS D’ANNAM RESORT & SPA $$$$ Khu Hon Lan, Xa Tan Thanh, Ham Thuan Nam, Binh Thuan Tel: 062 368 2222 The first all-villa luxury boutique resort in Vietnam, the Princess d’Annam is set on Ke Ga Bay, about a four-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh Ciry and 35km south of Phan Thiet. With a sumptuous spa, original architecture, eight swimming pools and a 24-hour butler service, this is one of the most luxurious resorts in the country. Definitely one of the most exclusive. CREDIT


$$$ Tel: 062 743 237 Top quality resort offering a small selection of luxury and attractively designed apartments and studios right on the beach, with fully equipped and modern units. Entertainment options include windsurfing, kitesurfing, antique sidecars, bike tours and dune buggy rides. Has a decent pool and dining options. CREDIT



$$$ 24 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet Tel: 062 384 7440 Much more than its name suggests, with beautiful landscaped tropical gardens leading onto a stretch of pristine beach and an outdoor bar, well-positioned to make the best of the scenery. Has a mix of comfortable rooms and bungalows, and has recently done some refurbishment. Offers quad-biking, kitesurfing, paragliding and, of course, sailing.

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BALI: A TALE OF TWO TOWNS As we drove the 34km from Seminyak Beach to the town of Ubud, the boutique shops, restaurants and luxury resorts, morphed into villages, farmland, rivers and narrow winding roads. Then, as suddenly as they had disappeared, once again we were surrounded by the trappings of tourism. But despite some similarities, the two towns have unique souls ali, a small Indonesian island next to Java, has been attracting tourists since the early 1900s and offers a wealth of natural and man-made attractions, along with a very warm welcome. Although many think of Bali as Kuta, the party beach town in the south of the island that attracts most of the holidaymakers, it has plenty more to offer. We explored two other popular destinations: Seminyak and Ubud. Seminyak village sits pretty on the west coast of the island, on the same long stretch of beach as Kuta and Legian, further south. But while Kuta is full of cheap clothes and souvenir stores, and is heaving with tourists, Seminyak has a classier vibe: boutique shops and enticing restaurants line its streets, funky bars can be found along the beach, and you can’t walk far without tripping up on the steps of a luxury villa or resort. Although much of the dining and shopping action is located along Jalan Oberoi — the so called ‘eat street’ — some real gems can be found by wandering around the quieter streets: Kreol Kitchen, for example, is a wonderfully welcoming and creatively decorated cafe selling the most delicious homemade cakes, and the food at Delicious Onion is beautifully cooked and presented. And of course there’s the beach. It may not be the archetypal tropical beach, being fringed with bars and hotels rather than palm trees, but my favourite moments in Seminyak are all thanks to that beach: the


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leisurely bare foot walk through the wash on our first day; the sunset Bintang beers with friends while sitting on plastic chairs slowly sinking into the sand; the amazing Italian meal at beachside La Lucciola; and lazing on beanbags, listening to a rock cover band at Crystal Palace.

Head Inland But there’s a lot more to Bali than beaches, and Ubud offers one such alternative. The popularity of 2006 novel, Eat, Pray, Love, in which Love takes place in Ubud, pushed this small town into the limelight. However, even before that, Ubud had gone past the stage of being a haven for backpackers, artists and bohemians, and had already begun to attract a wider array of visitors. Considered the cultural centre of Bali, it is not only famous for its arts and crafts but also its architectural sights and cultural events, such as nightly traditional dance performances. Stories I’d heard suggested that Ubud had lost that certain touch which made it special, being an over-crowded tourist hotspot. But I found relative peace along its streets and in its chilled out cafes. I also found a whole lot of shopping opportunities; if you’re looking for unique clothing or home decor, this is the place to be. It’s also the place to be if you like to eat. The dining options in Ubud surpass even those of Seminyak and range from what

is often considered Bali’s best babi galung restaurant, Ibu Oka, through to indulgent cakes and excellent coffee at Localista, delicious healthfood at Kafe and sushi with a twist at Toro Sushi Cafe. And did I mention the spas? No trip to Ubud is complete without at least one massage at one of the numerous spas in town. But if you have time, go for a more indulgent half-day package, or try out one of the out-of-town high-end spas like Mango Tree Spa, where some of the treatment rooms really are located in mango trees, or Maya Spa, overlooking the river. But as much appeal as the town itself holds, it’s the surrounding area that really puts the makes Ubud so worthy of note. The nearby villages are a delight to wander around — their narrow streets dotted with intricately carved temples and charming houses — and the countryside of rolling hills and valleys and those ubiquitous rice terraces provide picture postcard vistas. We walked down from our hotel into town, along the Campuhan Ridge, stopping along the way at small art shops and to take in the breath-taking views. One last piece of advice; don’t forget your camera. There are no direct flights to Bali from Vietnam. We flew Tiger Air to Singapore and then Air Asia to Bali, but flights are also available via Kuala Lumpur. The currency is the Indonesian Rupiah.


$$$$ Bai Xep, Ong Lang, Cua Duong, Phu Quoc, Kien Giang, Tel: 0773 995895 Open since Nov. 2008, this 37-bungalow resort provides a serene atmosphere along with first-class spa treatment and a mediterranean-themed restaurant. CREDIT



$$$$ Ward 1, Duong Dong Beach, Phu Quoc Tel: 0773 982888 / 3823 7645 (Sales office) Boutique luxury among exotic greenery and a white sand beach, La Veranda has beautifully-designed rooms with cool tiles in traditional designs and dark woods, a stunning swimming pool, an all-natural spa, a beach grill and a fine fusion restaurant overlooking the beach.



$$ Ong Lang Beach, Phu Quoc. Tel: 090 338 2207 A getaway in the true sense, combining an eco-friendly approach with a gorgeous beachside location. Wildlife abounds on land and in the sea, the bungalows are made of rammed earth, and there are no TVs and telephones around. Excellent sunsets from the beach bar, which also serves up excellent food in the restaurant on the edge of the sea.


$$ Ong Lang Beach, Phu Quoc Tel: 0918 073 494 / 0773 985002 Secluded budget bungalow-style resort, which lies in a beachside coconut palm plantation with small basic bungalows adding to the castaway effect. The restaurant serves fresh seafood. It’s laid-back and simple. And cheap.


$ 7 Muong Hoa, Sapa. Tel: 020 387 1243 Despite being in the centre of town, some of the back rooms offer nice views. There is also a good French-style restaurant downstairs, which is what you might expect considering the décor and name. Prices vary, but a room should generally cost around VND400,000.


$$ 18 Muong Hoa, Sapa. Tel: 020 387 1075 One of the best things about the Bamboo Hotel is the view, so make sure you check out the room first – some are better than others. There is aircon if needed, but you might want to ask for extra blankets in winter, in spite of electric heaters. Rooms here are between VND700,000 and VND1 million a night. The premium here is on the views.


$$ Cat Cat Road. Tel: 020 387 1218 Notable for having probably the best view in town from its bar restaurant, Cat Cat Guesthouse has plain rooms at very reasonable rates. A fairly steep set of steps leads to the block of rooms, most of which have big windows and balconies, and, for the cold winter, log fireplaces.


$ Km 6 Sapa, Ban Ho Road Sapa, Lao Cai Tel: 020 3872 130 A large stilt house, five clay-clad bungalows and one 70-year-old Hmong House is what waits for you amid the rolling hills of Lao Cai, 6km outside of Sapa. The eco-resort’s team are all local and will help you enjoy the surroundings of the Muong Hoa Valley.


and bus combo.

$$ 18 Phang Xi Pan, Sapa. Tel: 020 6505 228 Located in the heart of Sapa town this simple but comfortable boutique hotel occupies an unprecedented corner location overlooking the terraced valleys of Sapa and not far from the energy of the local market. Rooms are decorated with antique hardwood furniture and contemporary artwork from local artists with touches of ethnic minority culture.



$$ 24 Muong Hoa, Sapa. Tel: 020 387 2404 For the environmentally conscientious, the only place to stay in Sapa is the Topas Ecolodge. 25 individual lodges are located on the hills overlooking the valleys. Employing solar technology and a wastewater facility give it eco-cred. Topas also organises treks and bicycle tours. It takes over an hour to get from Sapa to the lodge; transportation is provided.



$$$ Tel: 020 387 1522, Topping the list of Sapa resorts, the Victoria is not priced for the backpacker (rooms range from $135 to $250 per night). The many amenities include satellite TV, in-room coffeemakers and safes, and a hilltop health club, tennis court and pool. The entire resort is tastefully decorated with panoramic views of the town below.


$ Khu Nhi Mat, Tam Dao. Tel: 0211 382 4315 A big new hotel, Green World has 100 rooms ranging in price from VND400,000 to VND600,000 a night. Because of its height, the top rooms have nice views of the town and surroundings. There is a restaurant and bar with billiards, and internet in the lobby.


$ Khu 1 Thi, Tam Dao, Tel: 0211 382 4208 Another one of the newer hotels in Tam Dao, Hang Khong caters mainly to Vietnamese tourists. But the price is right, hovering around VND500,000. Many of the rooms have balconies, but all have comfortable beds and hot showers.


$ Khu I Thi, Tam Dao, Tel: 0211 382 4282 Just your basic hotel, but if what you want is a bed and satellite television, this is your place. Can’t beat the price at around VND200,000. Beware, though, prices are subject to change.


$$ Thi Tran, Tam Dao. Tel: 0211 382 4321 Probably the prime place to stay in Tam Dao, the Mela has a swimming pool that might come in handy if you’re in the mountains to escape the heat of Hanoi summer. Rooms are comfortable and clean, with two double beds and balcony. The staff can assist if you want to explore the natural surroundings. Prices between VND800,000 and VND1.6 million.

TRAVEL SERVICES AIR MEKONG 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. Tel: 37186 399 With presence in eight different cities including Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Con Dao, Phu Quoc and Pleiku, Air Mekong is the ideal way to see more of Vietnam. It offers 30 daily flights and is a realistic alternative to the time-consuming train

ASIA WINGS TRAVEL COMPANY Ground Floor, Hanoi Towers 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 9343 0888 Founded in 1998, the travel company caters to both corporate and international travel. Services include ticketing, hotel reservation, travel insurance, transfer and visa arrangement. Outbound tours and packages throughout the world are also available.

ASIAN TRAVEL MATE 7 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3825 0615; 21 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3926 3449; Crowne Plaza, 36 Le Duc Tho, Tu Liem Tel: 6265 4558 An active supporter of the Loreto Program, AsianaTravel is a tourist information company that offers a wide range of customised itineraries, and reservations throughout Indochina. Have daily departure tours available in Saigon, Hue and Hanoi.

BUFFALO TOURS AGENCY (BTA) 94 Ma May, Hoan Kiem Dist., Ha Noi Tel: (84-4) 3 828 0702 A boutique Travel Agency at the service of all Vietnamese and expatriate residents in Vietnam offering easy, hassle-free travel around the world and in Vietnam, with the highest standards of customer care. This premium Travel Agency has been created to help travelers select their destinations and organize their trips, take care of the time-consuming procedures and ensure that all journeys are enjoyable and successful. BTA customizes leisure and corporate travel plans while offering a selected range of small group tours.

EXOTISSIMO 26, Tran Nhat Duat, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3828 2150 9 XuanDieu, Tay Ho. Tel: 3718 5555 A one-stop, all-in-one travel agency with an extensive operational track record in the Indochina region and beyond. Providing up-market services, Exotissimo brings their clients close to culture through personalised tours. Also find travel desks at the Hilton, Sofitel Plaza and Intercontinental hotels, which are open on weekends and holidays.

want to see northern Vietnam in a personal and tailored way. Think small knowledgeable teams of Vietnamese and French who share their passion for discovery during varied itineraries, usually focused on freedom, family, health trips and classic home stays. They will show you around Ha Giang, too.

INTREPID TRAVEL VIETNAM 57A Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh Tel: 0904 193308 Intrepid Travel Vietnam is an international travel company operating in Vietnam since 1992, offering innovative day tours, short breaks and small group adventures. With expert guides and guaranteed departures, Intrepid focuses on real life experiences in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Mekong Delta, Halong Bay, Sapa and beyond to get you up close to Vietnam's people, cuisine, history and culture.

SYRENA CRUISES 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. Tel: 3719 7214 If you’re thirsty for a Halong Bay experience while enjoying luxury comfort, Syrena Cruises could be the quencher you’re looking for. Forget drinking games and backpackers by relaxing on one of the two wooden boats from the fleet. Alone, as a couple or with a group, 34 luxurious cabins and suites are all ready for action. All you have to do is decide on how long you want to holiday for.

THE SAPA SISTERS Tel: 01282 273717 The best trekking guides in Sapa showing you the key spots with the guarantee of an unforgettable experience. Sapa Sisters aims to empower young H’Mong women and give them fair pay for their skilled services. Read their reviews on Trip Advisor..


FREEWHEELIN TOURS 2nd floor, 2A Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3926 2743 Responsible travel tourism company offering intimate, bespoke tours that give customers a more “authentic” taste of Vietnam. Motorbike journeys, homestays, visits to ethnic minority villages, national parks, waterfalls and spectacular scenery are all part of the mix, with part of the proceeds going to a number of responsible tourism initiatives.




16/27 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 2828 Have two Vietnamese bicycles for rent and well as a tandem. Great lake-side location. Pricey.

80 Ma May, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3926 2828 Established in 1997, Handspan provides customers with safe, high quality, diverse, small-group adventure tours to both popular and isolated locations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Has a focus on off-thebeaten-track sustainable and responsible tourism initiatives. Also provides to excursions to more well-worn destinations.

No. 10, Ngo 175 Hong Ha, Ba Dinh Tel: 0903 232888 A large number of old mountain bikes for rent. Located close to Long Bien Bridge. Good repair service.


Well-maintained bicycles and motorbikes for rent. Located in the Old Quarter close to Hoan Kiem Lake.

47 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3944 8844 Travel company specialising in small-group tours around Vietnam and further afield in Indochina. Is also the sole representative agent for Kenya Airways (for 40 cities in Africa —, American Airlines ( and Turkish Airlines (


61 Cua Bac, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3715 2852 Indochina Land is a French local travel agency for expatriates and tourists who

QUAN'S MOTORBIKE & BICYCLE RENTALS 70 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0904 244941

THE HANOI BICYCLE COLLECTIVE 44, Ngo 31, Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 8246 Well-maintained selection of bicycles for hire at the best prices in town, plus guided tours and all services you might need went to rent a bicycle. Rental available by day, week or month.

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visit for a comprehensive list of our listings

two lounges on the second floor. The sister venue on Phung Hung has a bigger menu and an earlier opening hour (11am instead of 6pm) but still keeps with the shisha, pool table and dance floor combo so popular on Hang Buom.



POOL HALL / LIVE MUSIC / CLUB 55 Ma May, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3935 1788 8am to midnight A potential gem in the heart of the Old Quarter. While it’s themed to the Easy Rider vibe out front, this huge two-storey venue is a jack of all trades – it has a bar, live music stage, pool tables, hookahs, a VIP room and a night club with a decent sound set up. Ideal for private functions and party promoters. Club stays open till late.


BARS & NIGHTCLUBS 17 COWBOYS MUSIC HALL/LONG BAR 98B Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3942 6822 5pm to 12am Cowgirls, lasers, belly dancing and Filipino bands who never shy away from a good Guns N' Roses cover. Drinks are a little pricey, but part of the money is going to the show. Expect a lively atmosphere and the band will take requests, but 1980s rock tunes are favoured.



TOURIST BAR/CLUB 32 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem This newcomer to Ta Hien’s Bia Hoi Junction is an Aztec-themed three story drinking hole and dance space. Balcony on the second floor, which provides a great view over the beer drinkers below, and dance space on the third floor. CDJs and a promise of dubstep and drink specials on the board outside are bound to go down well among the area’s party massive.

BAMBOO BAR CLASSIC FRENCH Sofitel Metopole Legend Hotel, 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3826 6919 7am to 10pm Set up like a traditional colonial-era bar space with dark wooden plank flooring, bamboo roofing, wicker chairs and handheld fan crafted ceiling fans, both during the day and at night there is a relaxed, timeless ambience here. The drinks focus here is on Martini-based and classic cocktails with a huge wine list and aged spirits also making an appearance. Also a great place for a morning or afternoon coffee.




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BAR BETTA RETRO CAFÉ BAR 34C Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3734 9134 8am to midnight This bar is every bit as quirky as the Czech moped it’s named after. Inside every surface is festooned with a medley of objects ranging from gramaphones to retro TVs. The rooftop terrace is an awesome place for a sundowner or a morning coffee. Eclectic and like nothing else in Hanoi.

CAFÉ BLUE NOTE LOUNGE BAR 61A Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem Located on the upstairs portion of Mix III lounge and café, Blue Note features dimly lit, blue lighting and a balcony area that overlooks the streets of the Old Quarter. The interior is decorated with elegant red, velvet chairs and photographs of vintage jazz artists along the walls—giving the place a vintage, musical feel to accompany your conversations. The bar is a promising small venue, equipped with a small stage and piano.



DJ / LATE NIGHT JOINT 25 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem Tel: 5333 6087 4pm to late Straddling Bia Hoi Corner and the cobblestoned end of Ta Hien, FatCat Bar is a small establishment from the minds behind the party and event organisers, LinkHanoi. The bar has tables filling the first floor and spilling onto the sidewalk as well as a small loft area for lounging. Nightly cocktail specials, reasonable bottles deals starting at VND500,000 and a DJ on the decks make up the mix.



DANCEHALL/BAR 61 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem 5pm to late Previously known as Dracula Bar, this watering hole tucked upstairs behind a hotel is around the corner from Ta Hien. A double-sided bar splits up a pool table space, lounge area and dance floor. The smoke machine can be a bit much, but the music is a decent mix of pop and house. Never crowded and open late, free shots are given out every hour on the hour.

MUSIC & ARTS BAR 73A Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 01262 054970 Wednesday to Saturday, 6pm to midnight With well-poured drinks, a foosball table, no smoking and a midnight closing time, CAMA ATK knows exactly what it wants to be — and that’s refreshing. The space is a part time venue for smaller acts and DJs. The venue is hip, comfortable and will likely provide the serious drinker with a reliable place to pull up a stool and take pulls in a relaxed haven.




LATE NIGHT LOCAL 1 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0904 032829 8pm to late Last building on the right before Hang Buom, this popular with the French (and everyone else) watering hole is a classic. Has the same Old Quarter vibe; small, cosy and personal with funky twists – and an awesome logo. Spread over two floors with good tunes, drinks specials and a foosball table, Cheeky is open till late. Also does tasty paninis into the early hours.

LATE NIGHT LOCAL / LOUNGE 32 Ma May, Hoan Kiem 10am to late In the same building as the old Bucket Bar, Hair of the Dog, the first floor offers a large drinking space, graphic artwork, sidewalk seating and a dance floor. Up the spiral staircase, there’s the late-night bar and shisha lounge complete with beanbags. Drawing in a mix of expats, backpackers and locals, when the bars across the street shut down, the mayhem continues in ‘The Dog’.




DANCEHALL LOUNGE 15 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem 93 Phung Hung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 4926 2177 11am — late One of the better venues in the Old Quarter for dancing on the weekends. Although crammed into a small space, cheap drinks and a mix of chart chits makes Dragonfly the regular go-to for younger Vietnamese crowds, tourists and the foreign resident looking to get up on the dance floor. If you don’t feel like dancing, relax upstairs with shisha and friends with one of the


ELECTRO LOUNGE 2 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem 8pm to late Owned by the people behind Face Club, the low, LED-lit venue has the feel of a VIP room situated in a larger club, only it's not. While techno and trance are the genre's of choice spun in the establishment by live DJs, patrons treat the space more like a lounge than a dancehall and typically order bottle service and cocktails. One of the Ta Hien mainstays. +


LATE DIVE BAR 62 Dao Duy Tu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3926 1943 3pm to late Often a bit dark and somewhat gloomy, “The Noodle” is still a hit with long term residents. With its all-hour eating options — ranging from cheese toasties and pizzas to grilled cod and bun cha — and its popular happy hour, this Old Quarter old-timer is still up there with the options. Between 11pm and 12.30am, local beers go for VND15,000 and mixers go for VND30,000. Friendly staff and talkative patrons included.

HANOI ROCK CITY LIVE MUSIC VENUE 27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Tel: 01887 487 426 5pm to midnight With a downstairs, English-style pub garden area and an upstairs space dedicated to live music and live production, Hanoi Rock City is the only venue in the capital of its kind. Has weekly live events featuring bands both from Vietnam and overseas — established and up and coming. Email for more information or check out their page on Facebook.

HO GUOM XANH CLUB STAGE AND TABLE CLUB 32 Le Thai To, Tel: 3828 8806 8pm to 11.45pm Just a few yards from the banks of Hoan Kiem Lake, this giant pantheon of a nightclub seems more at home in Bangkok than in the capital. With DJs, go-go dancers and an ear splitting sound system, Ho Guom Xanh is a great place to ‘dance’ around a table, if you’re willing, while enjoying expensive top shelf bottle service in the heart of the city.

HOUSE OF SON TINH LIQUOR LOUNGE 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 6377 8am to 11.30pm As part of the Highway 4 group, which now has its offices in the establishment’s upstairs areas, this bar-cum-restaurant outfitted with comfortable, stylish furnishings is famed for its luxurious rice wine liquors and newly created cocktail class. Does regular events on the first floor and also has a creative Vietnamese food menu based on cuisine sold at other restaurants in the chain.



IRISH PUB 4 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 2212 6821 8am to 2am The open-air watering hole with seating on the pavement is a great spot to enjoy a tall dark stout or light pilsner at anytime, day or night. What it lacks in gaudy decorations, it makes up for with a constant stream of regulars, occasional live Irish music and billiards on the third floor. Has a decent food menu and even better pizzas.

LA FÉE VERTE FRENCH-STYLE CONTEMPORARY Hotel de l’Opera, 29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem Tel: 6282 5555 7am to 2am Meaning the green fairy — an allusion to the hallucinatory effects of absinthe which was drunk extensively in colonial Vietnam — understated lighting, a laid-back lounge atmosphere, a good music selection and ultra-contemporary interior design make up the mix at this downstairs bar in Hotel de l’Opera. Expect a good selection of creative cocktails and an extensive wine list. Opens late with a DJ taking to the decks on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

LONG PLAY CAFÉ LATE NIGHT LOCAL 9B Bao Khanh, Kiem Tel: 0914 339439 9am to late This quirky bar and living room gets busiest in the later hours. Down in the bar, plasma screens and an iPod station mix with a dance floor and comically named cocktails. Upstairs, there’s a cushioned living room — a pleasant space with a low ceiling and shisha. Throw in a dartboard,

out & about “sell and swap” book shelves, Jenga and some tasty toasted sandwiches, and it can be hours of fun. The dried buffalo “nosh” from Tay Bac in the north is a must.

MAO’S RED LOUNGE LOUNGE AND BAR 7 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3926 3104 5am to 2am One of the few staple bars in the city that hosts an equal number of ex-pats, locals and tourists. With cheap drinks, funky, slightly ethnic decor and one of the most amiable owners in town, Mao's is always a great place to start off or finish the night. Sing-a-longs and dancing welcome at one of the most popular drinking spots on Ta Hien.



LAID-BACK FIX 2 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0917 897630 A curving neon sign marks the small entrance to May Pub, which stands on the corner of Nam Ngu and Phan Boi Chau. The pub hosts a laid-back bar atmosphere with old Hollywood photographs, free billiards and darts and low-key live music. The menu combines traditional cocktails with offerings like Russian string cheese — a late-night brew and dairy fix. Wednesday and Friday nights are Buy One Get One Free for ladies.

MODEL CLUB CATWALK BAR 45 Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem 8pm to late Lasers, pulsating trance, bottle service and nightly model shows. This venue is largely filled with flashy Vietnamese youngsters or older business types flashing their wads. Bottle service is a must, which is a little pricey, so if you ain't got enough money then you probably won't be sticking around to see the honeys.

PHUC TAN ELECTRO GRUNGE CLUB 51 / 4A Phuc Tan, Hoan Kiem 6pm to late Hanoi's favourite after hours dancehall/ trance den. Throw shapes on either of the two floors that have regular DJs while dancing to rapacious electronic beats or enjoy the Red River's breeze and snack on a kebab as you catch up with all of the city's regular night owls. The terrace out back has great views of Long Bien Bridge at night.



GAMING LOUNGE 104 Bach Dang, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0621 0212 9am to midnight If you’re looking for a more active night out, this gaming lounge has it all. White leather sofas, and plasma screens hooked up to Xbox 360 Kinect, Playstation 3 Move etc and more. Challenge your friends to games while enjoying a western-style food menu and a decent selection of beverages. When you get a little too competitive, you can cool down in the lounge area and gear up for your next big win.



EUROPEAN BREW HALL 10 Nguyen Bieu, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3734 2288 Modeled after a brewery, bar and bowling alley in the Czech Republic, Pilsner Urquell has an old Europe feel — particularly in the private rooms lined with glass beer mugs, thick cuts of dark wood furniture and semi-circular booths. With the UNmeeting-of-a-menu, customers can choose from goose dishes, noodles, fried apples, an assortment of cheeses and several other options. Perfect location for big gatherings.



LONG BAR 5 Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3825 0959 5pm to 2am A bit musty and jaded, despite being one of the oldest pubs in the city, this staple watering hole on Bao Khanh continues to be a hit. Probably the closest thing Hanoi has to an authentic English-style pub, Polite is frequented by a steady mix of locals and expats who find solace in the nightly conversations at the long bar, billiards and live football matches.



BOTTLE BASED DANCE CLUB 61 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0915 381180. A glitzy, spacious basement club tucked away in the corner where Luong Ngoc Quyen meets Hang Giay. It’s a laser, mirrors and disco ball affair with high tables, hostesses, bottles of whiskey and a DJ — usually playing a mixture of trance and house. Runs a number of spirits offers on different days of the week. Ask for details.

RED RIVER TEA ROOM LAKESIDE WATERING HOLE 25 Duong Ven Ho Tay, Tay Ho Monday to Friday, 2pm to 11.30pm. Weekends open from 11am Located on the lakeside road just below Xuan Dieu and close to the entrance to The Sheraton, this quiet, casual pub offers up a variety of beer, wine and mixed drinks, juice, tea, Nespresso coffee and espresso and milkshakes, all with a nice view of West Lake. Non-smoking indoors, Red River Tea Room is a welcome addition to the area.



REGGAE CHILLOUT BAR 2 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem 5pm to late With a reggae theme, the French-run Roots stays open late playing African and Caribbean music with some salsa thrown in for good measure. Laid back vibes. A good, late-night, Old Quarter option set on a first floor. The entrance is next to the Irish Wolfhound.

SPY BAR HOLE IN THE WALL / IRISH 12A Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem Tel: 2269 1107 Fronted by the affable Sean, and with Guinness, Jameson’s and a surprising amount of draught beer flowing from the taps, since its inauguration the tiny Spy Bar has managed to create a dedicated following despite its tiny size. With pictures of spies dotting the wall (both Vietnamese and international) and food delivery available from three restaurants, this is a great place to chill and shoot some well-deserved, Chuong Duong Bridge breeze.

SUMMIT LOUNGE ROOFTOP LOUNGE BAR 20th Floor, Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh Tel: 3823 8888 ext. 5314 4pm to Midnight Sunday to Wednesday, 4pm to 2am Thursday to Saturday While there are a few ‘rooftop bars’ in the capital, few hold a candle to the view on offer at the Summit Lounge. With a chilled but lively ambience, top shelf cocktails, and a Southeast Asian fusion bar menu, the Summit Lounge is a great place to pitch yourself above the madness and peer down at the chaos below in peace. Sunsets are particularly special.

TADIOTO 12 Truong Han Sieu, Ba Trieu Leftfield, Indochine, contemporary and artsy, all thrown into one, the latest incarnation of Tadioto rolls together café, bar and gallery. Always with an attractive ambience and friendly service, a garden

out back adds a nice touch to the space inside.



MEET-UP SPOT 100 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 6917 4pm to late Filled with wooden furnishings and a downstairs bar with two beers on tap — as well as wine, cocktails and spirits on the shelves — this newcomer venue has a grill menu catering to the tastes of both East and West. For those in search of a good old-fashioned Sloppy Joe or grilled cheese, you’ll be glad to know the kitchen is stocked to the ceiling with comfort foods.

TET BAR LATE NIGHT LOCAL 2A Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3926 3050 6pm to 5am This small and personal one-and-a-half floor bar starts to get busy at around 11pm and is popular with expats of all nationalities, despite having a French flavour. Run by the indomitable Thanh and once called Le Maquis, the Tet Bar these days has a slightly cluttered feel to it, but nonetheless continues to pull in the punters. Open very, very late.

THE SPOT LOUNGE BAR / TERRACE 47 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3935 1874 8am to midnight A stone's throw from Ta Hien, this barcum-lounge-cum-restaurant has all of the atmosphere present in bars scattered throughout the Old Quarter without being a dive. Enjoy a mixed drink, tacos or a Vietnamese staple starter with the occasional live DJ breaking out classic funk, soul and hip hop in the comfortable furnishings or on the back patio.

TRACY’S PUB AND GRILL SPORTS BAR/GRILL 40 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 6675 9838 11am to 12am This Canadian-run, miniscule sports bar on the main drag of Xuan Dieu is perpetually crowded with regulars drinking out front on plastic stools. Notorious for its mouth-watering burgers, cooked fresh to order, Tracy’s is most famous for their draft beers, claiming to serve the coldest draft beer in Hanoi, and always in a frosted mug. For those missing their dose of North American sports, they play all day via satellite on two plasmas.


CAFES ALIGN 3D POPULAR VIETNAMESE 1 Ma May, Hoan Kiem; 10A Khuc Hao, Ba Dinh 7am to 11pm Popular with young Vietnamese, the Align cafes are always busy. The younger venue on Khuc Hao is hidden down a bamboo alley and has three outdoor seating areas, one of which makes you feel like you’re sat under a waterfall. The other two are on the roof, and from the middle of this embassy-type street, the sound of motorbikes is replaced with tweeting birds. 3D pictures on the walls of each floor take you back to the old city, before KFC and Parkson. Even to times before the French.

AVALON CAFÉ LAKE VIEW LOUNGE 73 Cau Go; 9 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3926 0801 7am to 11.30pm Popular for its views of Hoan Kiem Lake, this lounge and bar is always busy. With comfy seating and balconies, the lounge and sky garden offer a pleasant escape from city-centre chaos. The smoothies are creamy and renditions of popular street dishes are spot on. Elsewhere in the eclectic menu, pizzas and pastas cost around VND100,000 and steak in red wine sauce goes for VND179,000. Classic pop instrumentals play by day, and come night, the chilled vibe is tainted slightly with electro pop.

CAFÉ LAM 91 Nguyen Huu Huan Tel: 3824 5940 Always busy, the café has traditional charm in old quarter. Lining the walls, old world drawings line the walls floor to ceiling. They serve a variety of teas and coffee, as well as many jars of pickled looking vegetables and less identifiable things. Grab a seat on the low wooden tables and take advantage of their strong Wi-fi.

CHILL OUT CAFE TEEN SCENE CAFÉ 89A Ly Nam De, Ba Dinh Tel: 3223 3246 9am to 10pm This hangout spot is styled for locals in their teeny-bop years and early twenties. The décor is kitschy and cozy, there is even a piano, used occasionally in live music shows. They serve sweet drinks at a reasonable price along with lots of treats like brownies in a variety of newwave flavors.


INTERNATIONAL / FRENCH 11B Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0936 063303 4pm to late Slim but stylish two-storey bar located just at the bend on Bao Khanh. The friendly staff can make a range of well-made and colourful cocktails. Frequent DJ nights and parties are commonplace at this watering hole that caters to both foreign and Vietnamese. Does an excellent happy hour with specials on Ricard.

RESTO LOUNGE 2 Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3934 1494 7am to 11pm A stone’s throw from the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake, this Saigonese franchise tries it’s hand with a variety of different western dishes at reasonable prices, especially considering the location. Loaded with booths and a steady, young Vietnamese crowd, the establishment is a great place to squash a sandwich or bowl of pasta and people watch. Oh, and they also do coffee, too.


INTERNATIONAL COFFEE HOUSE 28 Thanh Nien, Tay Ho Tel: 3715 4240 7am to 10pm Finally the newest addition to the Hanoi coffee scene has opened a little closer to town than the first outlet in Pico Mall. Famous for the exceptional quality of the coffee and tea, the latest Coffee Bean is a multilevel, indoor/outdoor café overlooking Westlake. With its LA coffee and office feel, when you walk in you might just forget that you’re in Westlake.

WINE AND CIGAR LOUNGE 2 Le Phung Hieu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3939 3477 9am to 1am The ambience at the relaxed wine bar near the Metropole screams red wine — the walls are painted a warm yellow, the exposed brick adds a touch of cool and the wine barrels-turned-tables are tasteful. Too bad it’s often awkwardly empty. Features fine wines, cigars and Vietnamese and international snacks.


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CONG CAPHE LEFTIST ARTSY CAFE LEFTIST ARTSY CAFE 152D Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung; 32 Dien Bien Phu, Ba Dinh Tel: 6686 0344 8am to 10pm With a kitsch, communist-driven theme saturating this quaint cafe, most patrons are young Vietnamese bohemians and artsy expats. Sip on a blended cup of joe with beans from the Central Highlands, knock back one of the many different types of tea available or sip on freshly squeezed juice from the Spartan cups in one of the hippest cafes on 'cafe street'. If you like pre-doi moi nostalgia, here is the place to go. And if you like more space and an outdoor terrace, hit Cong Caphe take two on Dien Bien Phu.

ESPRESSAMENTE ILLY ITALIAN COFFEE 75 Cau Go, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3935 2065 8am to 11pm International standard, Italian-style espresso drinks are the name of the game at this undeniably chic chain coffee shop. Boasting a wide range of drinks, including spirit coffees with tequila, and a small selection of pastries and panini sandwiches, the café’s clientele is a mix of tourists and Vietnamese who are tired of ca phe nau da. It is connected to a tour agency and in the central hub of the Old Quarter.

HAPRO CAFÉ CAFÉ / RESTAURANT 6th floor, 38-40 Le Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 7984 7.30am to 11pm Take the dilapidated elevator to the 6th floor and emerge onto a balcony with one of the best views of Hoan Kiem. The big draw to this café is the vantage point — the drinks are a secondary concern, though there is about every coffee and juice concoction known to mankind on the menu and plenty of yoghurt and smoothie options too. Graze on French fries, sandwiches, salads and typical Vietnamese rice plates. Perfect for watching the city wake up or catching a sunset.

HIGHLANDS COFFEE CONTEMPORARY / COFFEE CHAIN 6 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3938 0444 7am to 11pm As with any chain that attempts selfreplication, there is a tried and tested formula. At Highlands it is comfortable seating, good Wi-Fi, unobtrusive music and a mid-range, generic atmosphere. It works, too. The Starbucks of Vietnam, a French-influenced, international and pan-Asian food menu sits alongside the teas, coffee and cakes. Has other locations at 49 Hai Ba Trung, The Opera House, The Syrena Centre, Pacific Place and more.

JOMA COFFEE/BAKERY 22 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3747 33 88 54 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho. Tel: 3718 6071 7am to 9pm With two branches, Joma has brought a little slice of “home” to Hanoi for expatriates with a contemporary western feel to the counter-style service and atmosphere. The food is all there too: breakfasts, salads, soups, ice cream, muffins, cakes, cereals and bagels. Starting in Laos in 1996, Joma moved to Hanoi in 2010 and is looking to open in Ho Chi Minh City in 2011. Has a play area for kids up in the West Lake café and bakery.

KINH DO PATISSERIE / SIMPLE CAFE 252 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3825 0216 7am – 8pm A must-go-to place on a lazy day, Mr Chi’s long-standing patisserie is somewhat famous for its honest, home-cooked food, no frills-but-relaxing environment and sour yoghurt fit for celebrities — Catherine

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Deneuve ate here daily during her time shooting Indochine. Hot fresh milk, exclusive coffee, awesome croque madames and local dishes, too. Replace WiFi with a book and aircon with ceiling fans; eat in, take away, the pastries are great and the price is always right.

LA PLACE CONTEMPORARY / VIETNAMESE 6 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 5859 7.30am to 10pm This tall, narrow lounge café with rooftop seating is a quintessential Hanoi spot. The decoration is bright and casual and the all-day menu has food from both the east and the west. Draw with crayons on brown paper covering the tables as you while away the hours over coffee or cocktails, and take in the view of St. Joseph’s Cathedral. Has some interesting food options including spinach fried rice along with old standbys like tuna salad sandwiches and coconut chicken curry. No MSG is used here.

music four nights a week (Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat), but it’s not uncommon to find someone strumming away at the piano here at any time of the day. Friendly staff, good coffee, juices and cold beers.

PARIS DELI CAFÉ / BOULANGERIE 6 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3934 5269 7.30am to 11pm Time has been good to this airy, bistro-style café and patisserie opposite the Opera House. One of the original international-style establishments to hit the capital, despite its prime location prices remain reasonable — espresso-style coffees cost around VND40,000 — and the cakes and croissants are moreish. Also does filled baguettes and a larger café-cum-restaurant menu. Has a second establishment at 13 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem.


QUIRKY CAFE 26 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: 3243 2120 10am to 10pm, Closed Sundays Bathed in pink and decorated to mimic a French salon, Love Chocolate Cafe carries decadent chocolate desserts like mocha lava cake, espresso pepper brownies and tons of cookies. It doesn’t end there, hot chocolates, shakes and even coffee blends like minty java are on the menu. The sign out front reads, “All you chocoholics, We are open!”. A rare but terrific find in Hanoi.

CAFE / BOULANGERIE 5 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3933 2355 7am to 10pm Decked out in maroon, dark browns and cream, this cafe and French-style boulangerie is best visited in the morning when that Gallic, fresh-cooked aroma of bread, croissants and patisseries hits you as you walk through the door. Serving all day long, the downstairs space is split into the bakery on one side with a small non-smoking dining space on the other. The homely upstairs lounge area has standard tables as well as sofa seating. Simple but tasty French and international fare is served at meal times.



CAFE / INTERNATIONAL 14-16 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3825 6334 8am to 10pm Set in a deliciously attractive slightly run down colonial villa, the tourist friendly location gives Moca a large amount of guidebook-driven clientele. But don't let this put you off. The faded but charmingly run down French-styled retro interior, good WiFi and some of the best coffee in town makes this a great spot to while away a couple of hours. The food menu mixes Vietnamese fare with sandwiches, western and pan-Asian mains.

ITALIAN CAFE 36 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 1476 7am to 11pm Names of some of the world's greatest cities cover the front wall of Segafredo, an Italian cafe and eatery serving up some of the best espresso-based coffee in town. Red and white decor, lifestyle black and white coffee drinking images and an open plan space make up the mix. Besides the caffeine-based drinks, also does granita, teas, shakes and modern Italian fare ranging from panini and focaccia through to pizza, pasta, salads and desserts.


FRENCH DELI 11B Ngo Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 9433 8am to 11pm Situated on Hanoi’s not-so-serene ‘Pub Street’, Stop sponges up the surrounding atmosphere, which gives the French delicatessen a relaxed vibe that avoids pretension. The spot specializes in serving a mixture of western, French and Vietnamese fare, along with coffee, shakes and juice. The venue is more affordable then it’s sister location upstairs, Café de Arts, and is prime real estate to nibble on some quiche and quaff a juice on a sunny day.


ROOFTOP CAFE 4 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3938 1949 Considering the amount of flat rooftops in this city, it’s a crime that most go under utilized. However, the top floor of Chim Yen boutique and Marilyn Cafe is home to one of the more pleasant spaces in the Old Quarter. With a great, stone’s-throwview of St Joseph’s cathedral, food and beverages, this spot can turn a temperate afternoon into something a bit more special.

OCHAO TEAHOUSE TRADITIONAL TEA ROOM 25 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 01887 785977 8am to 10pm A stylish, two-storey traditional but contemporary tea house with great views of West Lake. Specialises in “precious” Vietnamese tea from the northern hills, handpicked by ethnic minority tribes and presented to the public by a passionate French owner. Well worth your time hanging out here on a lazy day.

PANACEA CAFE MUSIC CAFE 25 Quang Trung, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 0909 061982 8am to late Slightly rough around the edges and with an artsy vibe, this is nonetheless a place that welcomes all comers. There’s live


THAI CAFÉ PAVEMENT / VIETNAMESE 27 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung Walk by this old café and you’ll see why it’s favoured by the locals. Grab a stool on the sidewalk to enjoy the lemon-y tea and sunflower seeds, or a strong drip coffee and people watching.

THE CART SANDWICH SHOP/CAFÉ 18 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem (entrance on street behind Au Trieu) 8B, Lane 1, Au Co, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho Tel: 3928 7715 7:30am – 5pm Small a cozy café hidden on the quietest of Hanoian streets, with a new outlet on Nghi Tam, which is more like the big-windowed coffee shops you expect to see in

Europe. The Cart serves and delivers tasty baguettes, homemade juices, quiches, pies, muffins and cakes. The delivery service is quick and reliable, which makes this lunchtime favourite ideal for when you need to eat at the desk.

THE COFFEE BEAN AND TEA LEAF Picomall, 229 Tay Son, Dong Da Tel: 6276 1004 8.30am to 9.30pm Known for the quality of its coffee and tea, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf has landed in Hanoi — in the form of an air-con, western-style drinking space in Hanoi’s newest shopping mall. The five first coffee shops in Vietnam started in Ho Chi Minh City, and this the first one in the capital. Hanoians are finally able to taste the beverages already quenching the thirst in 20 countries across the planet. New stores to open on West Lake soon.

THE DOLL HOUSE 26 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3935 2539 8am – 10am This new café, which fills a coffee-shopshaped gap in the market for this area, has the feel of half green house, half designconscious doll house, and is a welcome alternative for when your favourite hang out begins to get samey. Focusing on fresh ingredients to suit the fresh design, the Doll House also has a garden terrace, and is open for party bookings and private events. Enter through the shop out front.

THE HANOI BICYCLE COLLECTIVE (THBC) 44, Ngo 31, Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 8246 9am to 10pm Tucked down an alleyway just off West Lake, The Hanoi Bicycle Collective is not just a place for all bicycle lovers, but a café that also sells Spanish tapas served up with gin & tonic, if the mood so takes you. Organising bicycle tours, running yoga sessions and holding music concerts in their upstairs cafe area, they also sell, rent and fix bikes and are an official supplier of TREK and SURLY cycling equipment. Eclectic? Not a chance!

THE HANOI SOCIAL CLUB 6 Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3938 2117 8am to 11pm Situated on one of the quieter Old Quarter streets just off Hang Bong, The Hanoi Social Club is a cozy midsize café/restaurant where you can forget the heat and bustle of Hanoi. The atmosphere is relaxed and you can imagine, for a second, that you’re sitting in a European café. The food is fresh and internationally inspired, and the design is complimented by the work of Tadioto’s Nguyen Qui Duc. To top it off, the coffee here is said to be up there with the best in the country.



FRENCH BISTRO 10 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3926 1327 8am to 11pm Thanks to its original tiled floor, cast iron backed chairs and wall-hung black and white photography, there is something decidedly charming about this tiny Parisianstyled bistro and bar. Serving up a simple menu of snacks such as quiche Lorraine, Paris beurre and croque monsieur, there is also a selection of classic but unpretentious French mains. Has a daily specials board and a decent range of pizzas.

MID TO TOP GREEN TANGERINE 48 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3825 1286




HANOI CAN BE A HARD PLACE to live for anyone who really loves music. Not that there wasn’t something worth listening to at the Nov. 25 Skank The Tank reggae show at Chez Xuan. Not at all. As a matter of fact there was plenty. The event was organized by SUB ELEMENTS, who have been doing a fine job of bringing new sounds to the local scene for some time, particularly with their Bass Residency. As far as music goes, they rarely disappoint. The all-day affair started off well enough, with different DJs giving their personal takes on reggae, expanding it into dance hall and even sometimes stepping on the toes of drum ‘n bass and hip-hop. It seemed like a strange choice, though, to make the live band the focus of the night. The DJ portion varied, with a number of decent tracks that really deserved more attention than they got. The music sometimes boomed and sometimes stepped. But to watch the reaction of the audience, occasionally complaining that the music was too loud, was curious. The tables farthest away from the speakers were filled, many with young children, trying to have quiet conversations. Surely a quiet night at a cafe would have been better for them.

HALFWAY THERE Those who did approach the dance floor were greeted by an odd semi-circle — a sort of invisible barrier that nobody seemed to want to cross — that separated the stage from the crowd by metres. There is no telling whether people were just not listening, or did not really care. In one writer's opinion, if there had been more open ears, people would have been going up to the DJs asking them what tracks they had just played. The kicker of the whole thing was the live band. For some reason, once this fairly mediocre outfit got on stage, that old invisible barrier gradually disappeared. Not to say they were bad. The drummer was tight, the keys were on point and the MC was energetic. But for anyone who has been to the old Roots Bar or played a couple Fela Kuti albums, they were not particularly original. The following statement will make any ‘music buff’ sigh, but it probably needs to be said. Perhaps people in Hanoi are just not musically open-minded enough to know when they are getting something good. The night wound down fairly early, people looking weary, mostly talking about where they would go next, or about going home. “See you later, mate. Gotta work in the morning.”

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out & about 10am to 11pm daily A leafy, cobblestone courtyard with dark green cast-iron backed chairs greets you as you walk into this French era-built villa that houses the main section of this Indochinastyled restaurant. Serving up an enticing mix of classic and contemporary French cuisine, blended in with Vietnamese ingredients and cooking styles, the resultant fare has had customers coming back again and again. A traditional Vietnamese and kids menu is also available, as is a wine list focusing mainly on French wines.


LA BADIANE 10 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3942 4509 11.30am to 2pm and 6pm to 10pm. Closed Sunday night. A white-washed, colonial era villa replete with period wooden shutters greets you as you enter this contemporary French restaurant. Guests can either dine indoors in aircon comfort or take to the leafy covered terrace out back with its walls lined with art and photography from 21st century Hanoi. The menu here mixes modern Gallic cuisine with a touch of Mediterranean and Vietnam thrown in, all creating an innovative and evocative selection of fare. Has an extensive wine list and an excellent, well-priced three-course lunch menu.

LA VERTICALE 19 Ngo Van So, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3944 6317 11.30am to 2pm, 6pm to 9.15pm Situated in an art-deco villa that was once owned by a Vietnamese mandarin, this establishment is now owned and run by perhaps the most famous French chef in the country. With modestly priced set lunches and subtle Vietnamese touches on the dishes, which primarily come from carefully selected domestic spices, the up market establishment lures in its high class customers with quality VietnameseFrench fusion cuisine.

LE BEAULIEU Sofitel Metropole Legend, 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3826 6919 6am to 10am, 11.30am to 2.30pm and 6.30pm to 10.30pm Classic French Indochine décor and subtle lighting give the Sofitel Metropole Legend’s signature restaurant an elegance rarely found in Vietnam’s capital. The a la carte menu pits classic French cuisine against contemporary Vietnamese cooking with dishes like Nha Trang lobster with saffron pot au feu, the pan fried veal tenderloin on a lemongrass skewer and the calisson parfait marinated with orange, pomelo and lemon balm. Has an extensive wine list.

LE PAUL CONTI CASUAL FRENCH FUSION 59A Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3941 1959 A well-appointed lounge bar downstairs and a more typical bistro on the first floor, this Vietnamese-run French eatery is known for is extensive wine list and excellent, but well-priced fusion lunches. The work of French-trained sommelier Hai Ha, Le Paul Conti has so far proved quite a hit. A great addition to the capital.

version of the mighty curry — they even sell pork and beef here — the menu keeps to the northern part of the subcontinent with masala, dopiaza, korma and the more Goan vindaloo taking centre stage. Also has a good range of breads and tandoor-cooked kebabs.

INDIA PALACE & DAKSHIN 78 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. Tel: 3719 5995 11am to 2pm, 6pm to 10pm India Palace is the fourth member of owner Ravi Kumar’s family of restaurants which includes Tandoor. The menu takes the cuisine of North India and combines it with a South Indian-inspired menu, to create a pan-Indian menu appealing to all. Occupying a large four-storey villa with unobstructed views of West Lake at the front, the décor here is traditional yet contemporary Indian. The fourth floor with sweeping views over West Lake is given up to Dakshin, a vegetarian restaurant selling mainly South Indian fare.

KHAZANNA NORTH & SOUTH INDIAN 11 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3934 5657 11am to 2.30pm, 6pm to 10pm Recently relocated, Khazaana is one of the two oldest Indian restaurants in Hanoi. The menu encompasses the entire sub-continent, complete with heavier chicken korma and northern curry dishes alongside lighter southern dosas and uttappams. The venue is homey albeit harsh, but with quintessential masala tea, naan and raita to round out the meal, the focus here is on the food and filling your belly… or overfilling, as is more likely the case. All cuisine here is halal.

NAMASTE HANOI 47 Lo Su, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3935 2400 11am to 2.30pm, 6pm to 10.30pm The latest newcomer to the Indian restaurants family, Namaste specializes in dishes from both northern and southern India — using Halal meat throughout. A meal will cost you between VND150,000 and VND300,000 and everything is there, from curries and breads to soups and desserts. Available to dine in or out with a free delivery

SPICE CONTEMPORARY INDIAN RESTAURANT First Floor, 80 Ma May, Hoan Kiem Tel : 3926 0580 Located in the upstairs portion of its sister restaurant, Tamarind, Spice is an impressive extension to the Indian food choices in the city, providing quality non-vegetarian dishes and a comfortable seating area. Includes lounge seating and a colourful dining area with thoughtful artwork and photographs along its walls. Spice is a tropical, artistic, cultural, and attractive addition to the Old Quarter’s dining options. Specializes in seafood and classic Indian dishes.

THE KEBAB HOUSE STREETSIDE FOOD STOP AND RESTAURANT 12 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem Tel: 6659 8598 Tasty Turkish Vietnamese dining with Nha Tho’s chiming bells accompanying your meal. Its outdoor blackboard menu advertises Kebab possibilities such as lamb, chicken, pork, and even ostrich. Choose from eating in the street or take a few steps inside, through the bustling kitchen, and into the comfortable upstairs lounge seating area. Scrumptious and affordable food, with Kebab’s starting at VND 30,000.

TRIEU PHUONG HONG KONG CANTONESE/DIM SUM 317 Kim Ma, Dong Da. Tel: 3846 1327 9am to 2pm, 5pm to 9pm One of the most underrated Chinese restaurants in the city, the place itself is not much to look at, but they serve above average dim sum. A variety of other Cantonese style dishes including noodle soup and rice dishes are on offer here, all at very affordable prices.

WESTLAKE CUPCAKE CUPCAKE SERVICE Tel: 01219 499523 The cupcake obsession has caught on. A new baking project by Westlake’s infamous Anna and Mia brings custom cupcakes cooked to order to your front door. Offering a variety of cupcakes and butter cream frostings, check out their speciality flavours like New York cheesecake, brown eyed girl and creative monthly specials. Are you drooling yet? Although a delivery only outlet, the cupcakes are available for purchase at Daluva and Oasis.





MEXICAN/COMFORT FOOD 129 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung. Tel: 3821 5342 7.30am to 9.30pm Service at this “slow food café” is seriously

OPEN AIR EATING 41, Ngo 76, An Duong, Tay Ho Tel: 0915 085305 Though it’s a bit far from the centre, the



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OLD TOWN CHIP JOINT 24 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem A quality food stop with a clean, smart, modern feel in the heart of Old Quarter that specializes in serving their signature Belgian fries to accompany their tasty, slider-sized burgers. Choose from an array of preparations ranging from beerbattered to garlic-fried with a variety of 12 different dipping sauces. If you’re craving a savoury lunch place, stop by FRY to get your fix.

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MID-RANGE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN 59 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3716 2959 10am to 10.30pm Lakeside location, low bamboo seating and a history that screams empathy make this eatery one of the most popular Indians in town. Selling an international


AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL 19A Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3938 1155 98 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. Tel: 3719 5322 8.30am to 11pm With a real ‘diner’ kind of feel, Al Fresco’s serves up munchies-busting Aussie inspired food from a number of locations across the city including their original restaurant at 23L Hai Ba Trung. Topping the menu are the jumbo ribs at VND395,000, with generous helpings of pizzas, pastas, burgers, Tex-Mex, soups and salads going for less. The set business lunch is three courses for VND155,000. See the website for delivery numbers and don’t forget to ask for delivery deals. Have an efficient delivery service, but make sure you ask for knives and forks.

TANDOOR 24 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3824 5359 11am to 10.30pm A long-popular, Indian-food enclave specialising in Northern Indian cuisine. Has an indoor and upstairs, white tablecloth aircon area with a more casual dining and bar space out front. Does excellent kebabs served from an authentic tandoor oven as well as the full range of mainly North Indian curries. Also has a branch in Saigon and does excellent set lunches.


snail paced, but that is part of the charm of this modest eatery with only a few tables and small stools. Popular as a weekend hangover mainstay for the greasy eggs with cheese, the café is best known for its not-quite Mexican food. But hey, when there’s guacamole, salsa fresca, beans and cheese, what can go wrong? Be sure to try the fresh juices, like the super-booster with beetroot, and the coffee with whipped egg.

expansive wooded area, chilled out atmosphere and good food makes it worth a visit. The menu is well equipped to satisfy cravings for fish and hearty meat dishes. If you’re in a DIY mood, you can Grill Yourself a plate of meat and seafood or choose from the gourmet selection of strip loin, ostrich or salmon to throw on the tabletop grills. Regularly holds live music events.

HOA SUA TRAINING RESTAURANT – SONG THU VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL 34 Chau Long, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3942 4448 Open from 7am to 10pm This restaurant, which schools and employs disadvantaged youths, has been popular for 11 years — as a grand villa and courtyard setting tucked away in the corner of Ha Hoi. Popular with business types, tourists and expats alike, who enjoy good food while supporting a good cause, mains like cha ca and steaks go for VND99,000 and VND289,000 respectively, and there are six set menus available which take in Vietnamese, French and Italian cuisine.

KITCHEN INTERNATIONAL CAFE FARE Ngo 40, Nha 7A Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 2679 7am to 9pm Despite a two-storey indoor dining space, Kitchen is all about its leafy, terracottatiled terrace out front, a great space for eating the decent breakfasts (check out the breakfast burrito), the creatively titled sandwiches and the selection of international salads. Also does a range of Mexican dishes (available after 5pm) and an innovative smattering of healthy, smoothiestyle drinks. Has amiable know-your-name staff and a good delivery service.

KOTO ON VAN MIEU RESTAURANT / CAFÉ / BAR 59 Van Mieu, Dong Da. Tel: 3747 0337 Monday: 7.00am to 4pm; Tuesday to Sunday: 7am to 9.30pm All profit is invested back into the cause at Koto, which is a school and workplace for disadvantaged students opposite the Temple of Literature. Authentic Asian and European cuisine comes out of a visible and frenetic kitchen and is served over four big floors of restaurant space. It’s cushioned, comfortable and has a rooftop terrace, too. Wrap it yourself nem, bun bo Nam bo, Koto burgers, pastas, fish and chips, chicken Kievs and sandwiches all under one homely roof.

LA RESTAURANT VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL 25 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3928 8933 8am to 10pm The complimentary warm bread with rosemary is reason enough to visit this homely spot featuring hearty lentil and black bean soups, along with a range of international and Vietnamese options like New Zealand beef tenderloin or tofu with chilli and mushrooms. We aren’t quite sure why the Miele Guide nominated it as one of Asia’s finest restaurants as service is lackadaisical and tables could use candles to improve the lackluster ambience, but the immaculately tasty dishes more than make up for any quips.

LA SALSA IBERIAN / MEDITERANEAN 25 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3828 9052 8am to 11pm A small but eternally popular Spanishthemed café and bar with an extensive list of reliable cuisine. Tapas are available, as well as full courses such as veal, and duck with currant sauce. Known for its good, European-style coffee and fantastic first-floor terrace area with views over the

out & about cathedral. Western staff speak English and French.

LE MARRAKECH MOROCCAN 88 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Tel: 3710 0389 10am to 11pm. Closed Monday Family-run Moroccan restaurant in a charming terrace-fronted house close to the start of Xuan Dieu. Focus of cuisine is on authentic couscous, tagines and kebab dishes made with a mixture of local and imported ingredients, all cooked up by a Moroccan chef. Uses Halal meat.

LITTLE HANOI VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL 21 – 23 Hang Gai Street, Hoan Kiem Dist Tel: 3828 5333 7:30am — 11:00pm A tourist hotspot and one for locals, too, Little Hanoi near Hoan Kiem Lake has been going sturdy since 1994 — mainly for its central location, range of sandwiches, pastas and Vietnamese cuisine. Baguettes go from VND95,000 and mango salads VND99,000, not to mention the coffee at around VND50,000, wines and fresh fruit juices. With Indochina-inspired art on the walls and jazz in the background, Little Hanoi is a little escape from the chaos of the central lake.

MATCHBOX INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE 40 Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh Tel: 3734 3098 11am to 11pm Located in the grounds of the Fine Arts Museum, this classy restaurant and wine bar mixes attractive décor with western cuisine, all cooked up by a New Zealand-trained Vietnamese chef. Famed for its salads, good cuts of steak, lamb shank and its various pasta fare, the menu here also incorporates a number of well-known Vietnamese dishes.



FRENCH FLAIR 2/2c Van Phuc, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3726 4782 7.30am to 9pm A modern eatery offering western cuisine with shades of French influence in a comfortable setting. Think gardens in a courtyard, drink and food deals and a warm indoor atmosphere — you know, just how the French do it.

THE HOUSE FUSION FARE / WINE 10 Truong Han Sieu. Tel: 6270 2611 The House, once Annie’s Corner, is one of the latest restaurants to occupy an old French building in the quiet streets nestled between Ba Trieu and Quang Trung. It serves Vietnamese food but with international twists. The affordable and eclectic menu ranges from local tenderloin steak to lemongrass tuna salads with a decent wine list and an ideal bring-yourown VND100,000 corkage fee per bottle of wine.




WESTERN / VIETNAMESE 18 Hang Quat, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3928 9916 7.30am to 11.30pm Sophisticated restaurant set inside an Old Quarter boutique hotel. Formerly a school, and now also on Cat Ba Island, Green Mango serves Vietnamese and western food, ranging from sandwiches and pasta to lamb chops and VND700,000 Angus rib-eyes. Buy-one-get-one-free deals on cocktails and beers every day from 4pm to 6pm and Lavazza coffee at all hours. With comfy seats and a soft setting, the function room at the back often hosts charity events and semi-formal get-togethers.


TEX-MEX / BURGERS / INTERNATIONAL 18 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0912 223966 The successor of My Burger My, this American-run, self-styled burger bar and restaurant fits a lot into a tiny, multi-storey space. Specializing in tasty, American-style, chargrilled burgers from around VND50,000 with a range of additional toppings including jalapeno peppers, smoked bacon, mushrooms, cheddar cheese and avocado, the creative menu also has a good range of Tex-Mex fare, a number of pan-Asian dishes and a decent delivery service.

INTERNATIONAL / AUSTRALIAN Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung (4th Floor), Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3934 8325 6.30am to midnight Recently refurbished, the Australian-influenced Jaspa's is known for its attentive service, tasty food and large portions. A place with something for everyone, it has proved itself to be popular with both the western and Asian expat communities who come back again and again. The comprehensive menu is a fusion of western and Asian cooking. The cocktails come large. The wine is mainly New World. Also has a spacious bar and lounge area that stays open late for all the live sport.




ASIAN FUSION 15-17 Ngoc Khanh, Ba Dinh Tel: 3823 5636 6.30am to 10pm An extension of Soul furniture and lifestyle store, the restaurant and lounge bar at Spoon serves up a fusion menu in a setting that screams homeliness and style. Asian dishes, seafood and steaks are among the go-to menu choices. Attentive and competent staff top it all off in this chic restolounge.

TAMARIND CONTEMPORARY VEGETARIAN 80 Ma May, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3926 0580 5.30am to 10.30pm Perhaps the only restaurant in Hanoi to cater to vegetarians that doesn’t focus on faux meat, Tamarind features a wide range of juices and shakes in a crunchy granola backpacker atmosphere. Breakfast is served all day and with Asian favourites, like vegetarian pho, Ma-Po tofu and Thai glass noodle salad, along with some falafel and western influences, vegetarians and carnivores alike will find something to try on this menu.

BELGIAN / EUROPEAN 1 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3938 1769 10 Alley 27 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 3719 5853 10am to 10pm An airy and spacious long-running Belgian-themed eatery with a location by the cathedral and a second out in West Lake. Although this is not the place to wash down your Chimay, Leffe or Duval with moules frites on a daily basis — the mussels are only available seasonally — a number of other traditional Belgian dishes fill the menu including carbonade, jambonneau and boulettes sauce tomate as well as the more Swiss-sounding beef and cheese fondue. Hearty fare in a nice environment.

LUALA CAFE CONTEMPORARY CAFÉ / RESTAURANT 61 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3926 2886 8 am to 10 pm If you can't afford the labels at Luala you can still enjoy the cuisine in this small cafe run in conjunction with the

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high-end fashion concept store, Luala and The Press Club. Offering a large menu specialising in creative but chic cafe fare as well as the prerequisite quality coffee, the outdoor terrace seating offers great views of the downtown area.



COLD CLIMATE WINES FOR WINTER With colder temperatures now filtering their way into Hanoi, I thought for my first column it would be good to look at the wines it’s best to drink to give you a bit of zest under the grey skies of winter. The consensus on the streets of the capital is to swap beer and even red wine for the more belly-warming comforts of Vietnamese ruou or imported whiskies. But with so much of the wine we drink nowadays coming from cold climates, rather than opting for the standard, heavy red, here are some tipples with bright, zingy flavours, perfect for driving away the dark, winter gloom. Two of my favourite wines that can be drank as an aperitif, with dinner or with a loved one over a DVD are the sauvignon blancs and pinot noirs from the Leyda Valley in Chile. The cold climate, hillside vineyards of this region to the west of Santiago make the vines struggle and stress, but in doing so create grapes with character, flavour, great aromas and lengthy finishes. As with all Chilean wines, the end product is great value too, usually avoiding the over-inflated prices of elsewhere. Served very chilled, the sauvigon blanc has a bright, crisp, green apple tartness with a powdery chalk-like finish. As

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I’ve discovered it’s a fantastic match with oysters, no matter what condiments you add to the aphrodisiac of the seafood world. It’s not unique to the Leyda Valley by any means — Marlborough in New Zealand, the far north of Italy, the Adelaide Hills, Tasmania and British Columbia in Canada also produce great sauvignon blancs. And then there’s Austria, certain regions in France… I could go on. But the Chilean version certainly fits well with the biting humidity of the Hanoi winter. The Leyda Valley pinot noir has a lighter colour than elsewhere, is clearer and more luminous, and despite the temperatures outside, must be served chilled. For such a light-bodied wine it is also surprisingly full on the palette, yet with a higher degree of acidity, lighter tannins, brilliant red berry and tree fruit flavours, and a touch of gravelly minerality. Other good examples come from Central Otaga and Martinborough in New Zealand — sorry, I’m not a fan of Marlborough Pinot — Oregon and the Santa Lucia Highlands in California, Northern Italy, Austria, Germany and of course Burgundy in France. So, it’s worth searching out the mighty yet surprisingly drinkable pinot from other regions beyond the Leyda Valley.


6A Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh Tel: 3845 5224 11am to 2pm, 5pm to midnight A nicely themed Brazilian churrascaria steakhouse offering all you can eat grilled meat and seafood on the skewer, Au Lac do Brazil is not for the feint of stomach. In typical Brazilian rodízio fashion, waiters bring cuts of meat to the table for patrons to pick and choose, all for a set price. They also offer wine pairings, a salad bar and an a la carte menu, with a creative selection of fruit caipirinhas on hand to wash it all down. The prices aren’t for anyone on a budget, but the amount and quality of meat is more than worth cost.


Fortunately, these days the wine retail outlets around town have great portfolios. So, you should be able to find what you’re looking for. To help you with your selection, here are some personal recommendations.

MONTES LIMITED SELECTION, LEYDA VALLEY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011 Brilliant, fresh, floral, grassy and citrus aromas on the palette. Although more pricey than the cheapest Chilean, this crisp wine performs like a classy French Loire or New Zealand sauvignon blanc.

ANAKENA SINGLE VINEYARD, LEYDA VALLEY PINOT NOIR 2010 The classic elegance of a teen beauty, this lean wine lacks the unnecessary make-up of excessive oak. A juicy, delicious, fruity babe of a tipple, best drunk young and paired with grilled chicken breast or roasted thigh of lamb.

ONA, LEYDA VALLEY PINOT NOIR 2009 Deep ruby-coloured, heavier, rounder in all the right places, and well made up with a more expensive and lengthy oak treatment, this slightly older pinot has a long finish and is best paired with pan-roasted venison loin or rack of lamb.

MEDITERRANEAN / INTERNATIONAL Hotel de l’Opera, 29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem Tel: 6282 5555 6am to 10pm Featuring both à-la-carte and buffet dining as well as an innovative Sunday brunch, this namesake of the French artist Toulouse-Lautrec provides an exotic ambience for diners to enjoy a mixture of international and Mediterranean-style fare. Has an extensive wine list to match the cuisine, which is all served up in a contemporary yet colonial-inspired environment.

DON’S TAY HO CONTEMPORARY NORTH AMERICAN 16/27 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 3719 Monday to Friday, 10am to late. Weekends 8am to late A bakery, bistro, restaurant, wine retailer, oyster bar and top floor lounge bar all in one, this lake-facing venue is the work of charismatic Canadian restaurateur and wine connoisseur Donald Berger. Focusing on comfort food done well, the main restaurant menu includes anything from wood-grilled rare tuna steak with fragrant Chinese black bean beurre noir to gourmet pizza and pasta dishes such as the likes of Iberian pata negra ham egg pasta served with crushed roasted garlic and manchego. Does an excellent range of imported oysters and has an extensive wine list.

EL GAUCHO STEAKHOUSE 99 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 6991 4pm to late This welcomed eatery combines traditional Argentinian recipes and preparation with great service in a contemporary and thoughtfully designed space over three floors. Already with two venues in Saigon — one near the Opera House and the other in Saigon South — the essence of this popular chain is quality top grade meats off the grill. Steak is the mainstay, but everything from chicken, pork and seafood is also up for grabs. Add to this a backdrop of low Latin music, low, subtle lighting and an extensive wine list and that’s another reason to head to El Gaucho.

HALIA HANOI SINGAPOREAN / CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL Pacific Place, 83B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3946 0121, Monday – Saturday 11am to 11pm Closed on Sundays A secluded courtyard in the heart of

out & about Pacific Place plays host to one of the capital’s best restaurants. A two-floored venue split into a downstairs tapas and bar area,with a refined dining space located on the level above, the menu includes Singaporean specialities such as the shrimp satay salad and the chilli crab spaghetti. A pan-European classical menu mixed in with light Asian flavours is also on offer, with dishes such as pan-braised Alaskan cod with sea winkle crust and the braised pork belly in shoyu and sweet mirin making an appearance. Has an extensive wine list.

HEMISPHERES STEAK & SEAFOOD GRILL Sheraton Hotel, K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 3719 9000 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6.30pm to 10pm The newest Steak & Seafood dining experience in Hanoi. Hemispheres Steak & Seafood Grill offers a wonderful menu covering both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Choose from Black Angus, US Prime Sirloin, Rib Eye, Rump and Tenderloin grilled to perfection. Prefer Seafood – no problem, Lobster, Oysters, Prawns, Fresh Fish, Clams and Crabs are all available for your dining pleasure, as well as an impressive array of wines by the glass & bottle from our “Wines of the World” selection.

JACKSON’S STEAKHOUSE 23J Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3938 8388 9.30am to midnight Then newest venture from the team behind Jaspa’s and Pepperoni’s is an all-day eating and drinking lounge fit for all occasions. It has three floors for different vibes – lounge bar, restaurant and “boardroom” – but fine imported steads can be found on each, as well as seafood and a huge wine list. A popular venue.

MILLENIUM PAN-FRENCH / INTERNATIONAL 11B Ngo Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3828 7207 10.30am to 2.30pm, 6pm to 10pm Clean and fresh with a fine-dining vibe, the Millennium restaurant is the minimal and chic result of a Café Des Arts makeover. The street’s new go-to for a high standard of eating and drinking goes over two floors and has a welcome and inviting three-level outdoor terrace high up amid the concrete and cables of the Old Quarter.

MING PALACE PAN-CHINESE Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh Tel: 3823 8888 11am to 2pm, 5.30pm to 10pm A fine dining destination at the Sofitel Plaza serving Cantonese and pan-Chinese cuisine in a sleek modern setting with private dining rooms. With more than 80 dim sum selections available along with Chinese entrees, Ming’s is an ideal eatery for those hungry for higher end Chinese fare.

NINETEEN 11 INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN The Opera House, 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3933 4801 11am to 2pm, 6pm to 10pm Named after the completion date of the Opera House under which it is located, walk inside and a labyrinthine-like, barebrick wall hallway leads you through to the main dining area. With dark browns, deep yellow tablecloths and a refined ambience aided by background classical music, the menu takes in western, pan-Asian and seafood fare and even

has its own section dedicated entirely to foie gras. Has a 100-strong old and new world wine list that includes Bordeaux vintages and also boasts a cheaper, outdoor garden space next to Highlands Coffee.

ricotta ravioli, cold cut boards, soups, salads and fish. Throw in an extensive wine list, a traditional wood fire oven and a balcony spot looking over Hanoi’s trendy café scene and you’re onto a winner.



CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL 3rd Floor, 59A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3934 0888 11.30am to 2pm and 6pm to 10.30pm. Closed Sunday lunch Wooden flooring, paneling and bold but subtle colours pervade this traditional but contemporary, fine-dining 70-seater venue close to the Opera House. Serving up quality cuisine for over a decade, Press Club boasts a bar area, two private dining rooms, including a wine room, a library and a vast selection of cigars, all in an elegant atmosphere. Does four excellent wine pairing menus, put together through the aid of the Press Club’s extensive new and old world wine list. Also hosts a popular first-Friday-ofthe-month party.

PAN-ITALIAN 3 Nguyen Khac Can, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 9080 8am to 10.30pm Just a stroll away from the Hanoi Opera House and Hoan Kiem Lake in the heart of Hanoi, Pane e Vino serves up authentic Italian food and has done for as long as anyone can remember. Renowned for the highly rated, oven fresh pizzas and large variety of pasta and salad dishes — look forward to fine food done well at this eatery that has the feel of Europe. Huge wine lists, friendly staff and a loveable owner.

RESTAURANTS — ITALIAN MID-RANGE CIELO CASUAL ITALIAN DINING 172 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 0680 9am to 10.30pm An Italian eatery in West Lake with a large selection of authentic, pan-Italian cuisine, Cielo is a place which goes back to basic, using homemade Bufala mozzarella on their pizzas. The word Cielo means sky, which is reflected in the fresh airy dining room. And while their takeaway service is prompt, eating in ensures a much better experience. Prices are very reasonable.


ZPIZZA Floor 1, Syrena Tower, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 5959 10.30am to 10.30pm Californian pizza chain in the now open in West Lake. — currently the only place to eat from this American pizza brand in Hanoi. The new pizzeria prides itself on its 100 percent certified organic wheat dough and different dishes found nowhere else, like the strawberry and goat’s cheese salad. Also serves up curry chicken sandwiches and meatball penne pasta.



CONTEMPORARY ITALIAN Sofitel Metopole Legend Hotel, 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 6919 11.30am to 2.30pm and 6.30am to late (restaurant) 11am to 2am (bar) There are only two truly top-end,

contemporary Italians in Vietnam and Angelina claims pride of place in this elite group. This doesn't mean that prices here are off limits — take a similar eatery in Europe and here you are paying a third, which all makes a meal here a special affair. The carpaccios are to die for, the pastas are all home made, the pizzas are wood-fired and the steaks are chargrilled. Does a great three-course set lunch for VND520,000++. Nick Ross


BONG-CHU JJIM-DAK KOREAN CHICKEN B40 Nguyen Thi Dinh, Thanh Xuan Tel: 6680 1423 Visit 11am – 10pm In typical Vietnamese fashion, Bong-Chu Jjim Dak restaurant only serves one dish it knows best: chicken. A light kimchi soup is served alongside the steamed bird mixed with cellophane noodles packed in a mildly peppery but sweet combination. It’s simple — ordering options include half chicken, whole chicken, chicken and a half, or all of the above. Select the answer that best fits your appetite and escape from the ubiquitous boiled chicken on streets.

GIM BAB KOREAN 50A Ngoc Khanh, Ba Dinh Tel: 3201 2989 One of the longest running Koreans in town, this down-to-earth eatery just off Kim Ma specialises in the Korean nation’s version of sushi rolls. These can be ordered either plain or deep-fried. Other Korean fare includes bibimbab and a range of barbecue dishes. The cuisine is brought to your low tables with floor seating and in typical Korean fashion, all meals are

DA PAOLO CLASSIC ITALIAN 18 Lane 50/59/17 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho Tel: 8585 1443 11am to 11pm This airy, contemporary looking Italian restaurant next to the famed lawn chair and coconut café on West Lake has all the right ingredients to become a classic. Run by the long time former manager of Luna D’Autunno, it features scrumptious wood-fired oven pizzas from VND120,000 and other Italian delicacies. Open every day for lunch and dinner, delivery is also available.

LUNO D’AUTUNNO CLASSIC ITALIAN 78 Tho Nhuom, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3823 73338 11am to 11pm This old-favourite Italian restaurant has been going for 10 years. It uses traditional wood ovens to prepare some of the city’s finest pizzas, which range from VND60,000 to build-your-own-skiesthe-limit. Set inside a large, thoughtful space with over 35 covers and an outside courtyard, seasoned chefs also make fresh pastas, soups and cheeses — the latter often bought by other restaurants. Monthly photo exhibitions and opera nights make it well worth a visit, as does the large wine list and choice of desserts.

MEDITERRANEO PAN-ITALIAN 23 Nha To, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 6288 10am to 11pm This long-running, cozy restaurant near the cathedral serves all the traditional Italian fare you could need — homemade mozzarella and fresh pasta, spinach and

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out & about served with free side dishes (banchan) of kim chi, pickles and eggplant.

KY Y JAPANESE RICE EATERY 166 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3978 1386 11.30am to 1.30pm, 5pm to 10.30pm, closed Sunday Sushi, soba, sake. Buy a big bottle of sake and the staff will put your name on it and keep it until next time. Dine at the downstairs bar or in one of the private rooms with sliding doors for an authentic Japanese experience. Although Ky Y specialises in rice-style working man’s fare, it’s hard to go wrong with anything on the menu, but the Japanese omelets, tempura and saucy eggplant dishes are perennial crowd pleasers.

IZAKAYA YANCHA JAPANESE BBQ 121 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3974 8437 11am to 2pm, 5pm to 11pm Just a stone’s throw from Ky Y, this Osakabased chain does the same cuisine, but entirely differently. The small plates on the large menu are best shared among a group and with bottles of beer or sake. The tofu in amber sauce will leave you licking the plate and the chicken with udon and vegetables is off-the-charts delicious. The tidbit barbeque sticks of okra or bacon are also great, but more as a snack than anything else.

SAIGON SAKURA TRADITIONAL JAPANESE 34 Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3825 7565 10am to 2pm, 5pm to 10pm This Japanese eatery might be easy to walk past without noticing, but venture inside and you will find a small but neat interior. The food ranges from traditional Japanese to dishes that lean towards fusion. Very reasonable prices, compared with other Japanese establishments.

RESTAURANTS — SINGAPOREAN MID-RANGE THE LION CITY SINGAPOREAN RESTAURANT 92 Le Duan, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3941 1208 Probably Hanoi’s best Singaporean dining is located steps away from the Hanoi train station, so close that a clear view of the tracks can be seen through a window from your table. As part of the lavish Cosiana Hotel, excellent hospitality comes hand in hand with tasty cuisine. Choose from a variety of typical Lion City dishes and speciality drinks


RASA SINGAPURA SINGAPORE PERANAKAN CUISINE 63 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh Tel: 3715 2992 5pm to midnight By the shores of Truc Bach Lake is the newly opened Singapore Peranakan Restaurant with its authentic, Straits fusion fare emanating from Singapore, Malacca and Penang. Boasting the mouthwatering nasi lemak as its signature dish, all the fare here is home-cooked by the owner / partner who spent five years living and studying in Singapore. This is tasty, homecooked, well-priced fare in a pleasant but tranquil setting. .RESTAURANTS — SOUTHEAST ASIAN

BUDGET NISA MALAYSIAN / HALAL 32 Hang Tre, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3926 1859 10am to 2.30pm, 5pm to 10pm A two-storey fresh looking Malaysian restaurant with affable staff and authentic cuisine. Difficulty in obtaining ingredients means that these days the menu is limited, but a nasi campur buffet-style counter in the downstairs space and photos on the wall of other classic Malaysian fare allows customers to choose what to eat. Think nasi lemak, mee goreng, roti canai, beef rendang and more. It tastes good, too.


PAN-THAI RESTAURANT & CAFE 9 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3933 6353 8am to 10pm Probably the only cafe restaurant in Hanoi that makes a genuine attempt at creating authentic Thai cuisine, mythical figures wearing traditional garb dance along the cream-coloured walls giving this contemporary venue a touch of elegance that goes beyond the food. The dishes come from all the regions of the country formerly known as Siam, with mains weighing in at somewhere around the VND100,000 mark.

THAI ELEPHANT INTERNATIONAL THAI 73 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 8586 7090 11am to 11pm For those with sensitive taste buds, this small restaurant serves up authentic Thai food that is lighter on the spice. Owned by a Bangkok native, the space itself is a small two-level restaurant with traditional Thai décor. At a convenient location near Hoan Kiem and Vincom Towers, Thai Elephant covers all the delicious bases with efficient, fast service and delivery.





BANH CUON PHU LY BANH CUON 39 Dao Duy Tu, Hoan Kiem 6am to 3pm Put the warm fish sauce in the small bowl with squeezed lime, chilli and fresh herbs and then dip. This is the Ha Nam version of banh cuon (rolled wet rice paper) with the gio lua (pork cake) substituted for barbecued pork and bacon. The street side, flaking paint wall location may be off putting for some, but the fare tastes great.




BUN BO HUE 36c Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung 7am to 4pm This is the second branch of the nine-

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month-old restaurant on Food Street. Like the Tong Duy Tan favourite, which is more restaurant than street-side affair, the new location serves up the same staples from further south including bun bo Hue, bun thit nuong and nem lui. Authentic, tasty and cheap

BUN BO NAM BO BUN BO 67 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3923 0701 7am to 11pm Dressed up like an indoor version of a streetside eatery, this megalith of a skinny bun bo restaurant is famed not only for its northern interpretation of a southern dish that you can't buy in the south, but also for its ga tan (stewed marinated chicken). The bun bo itself, a concoction of sauteed beef, peanuts, beansprouts, white noodles and sweet and sour sauce, is one of the better versions available in the city. And the beef is excellent.

BUN CHA DAC KIM BUN CHA 1 Hang Manh, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3828 5022 10am to 7pm With the help of over 40 years of customer loyalty and repeated mentions in overseas press, Dac Kim has become the powerhouse of eateries serving up bun cha (white rice noodles with barbecued pork and herbs). The formula is simple. The mini pork patties are perfectly rounded, the bacon is perfectly grilled and then the portions are humongous. If you're feeling ravenous, the servings here will fill that merry gap, but if you want quality over quantity, look elsewhere. Has a second eatery at 67 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem.

CHICKEN STREET BBQ STAPLES Ly Van Phuc, Ba Dinh Perhaps the most well known street food Mecca in all of Hanoi, the lane is flanked with BBQ chicken joints from north to south. At the Nguyen Thai Hoc entrance, the food stalls boast proper chairs, while the venues at the opposite end offer stools and host much larger crowds. No trip to Hanoi or tenure in the capital is complete without a trip to Chicken Street. Honey grilled banh my and potatoes provide vegetarians with savory alternatives.

COM CHAY NANG TAM VEGAN 79A Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3942 4140 9am to 9pm The set meals for one person or a group of six people make this a popular lunchtime eatery. Signs clearly demarcate the way through the alley on Tran Hung Dao to this casual restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. Everything on the menu is vegetarian, from standard tofu with tomato sauce to more obscure fake meat dishes. The walls are moldy but the food is fresh.

COM GA HOI AN HOI AN CUISINE 1 Cua Dong, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3923 3856 7am to 11pm A four-storey restaurant and café specialising in food from the centre of Vietnam — or, as the name suggests, the ancient town of Hoi An. It serves everything from the famous cao lau noodles and my quang tom, to bun bo nuong and com ga Hoi An. Also sells Thai and Chinese cuisine, cakes and ice cream. A spiral staircase, a second floor terrace and pictures of the ancient town top it all off.

CUA HANG AN UONG MAU DICH SO 37 CAFÉ / RESTAURANT 37 Nam Tran, Truc Bach, Ba Dinh Mau Dich is a blast from Vietnam’s

subsidy era past with diners ordering from a blackboard and paying in vouchers. Traditional dishes like thit kho tau are written up daily and washed down with cool bia hoi. Hanoi’s most interesting themed restaurant.

DAC SAN HUE HUE CUISINE 150 Nguyen Khuyen, Dong Da Tel: 6674 7917 6.30am to 10pm A no frills, ten-table restaurant easy to miss at the end of Nguyen Khuyen, just opposite the Temple of Literature. Specialises in dishes from Hue, like banh beo and banh khoai, all at local prices. The staff is friendly and helpful and the bun bo Hue is spot on.

DUONG SOM CHAO CA FISH PORRIDGE / CHAO CA 213 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3829 5281 Serves perhaps some of the best chao ca in the city. This rice porridge with fish is garnished with a healthy amount of fresh herbs and, if you choose, strips of banh quay – the Chinese style fried bread. The fish is boneless, which helps set this place apart from others selling the same dish. One bowl is VND30,000.

MAI ANH PHO GA 32 Le Van Huu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3943 8492 5am to 4pm Ignore the doubters, this infamous eatery serves up some seriously wholesome pho ga (chicken noodle soup) in a hygienic, shared table indoor environment. The secret? The broth, a perfectly rounded chicken stock consomme. Portions are big, too, and diners can order chicken on the bone or off and can even get an extra egg added to the soup for good measure.

PHO CUON STRIP PHO CUON / PAN-VIETNAMESE 71-77 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh 9am to midnight For a dish purported to be invented by French chef Didier Corlou, it is phenomenal how this wet rice paper filled with beef and herbs affair has so quickly been absorbed into the street food fold. Dipped into sweet fish sauce with a touch of chilli, it tastes good, too. The biggest proponents of this dish are on Truc Bach — a row of five street-side eateries that also sell standard, quan nhau meat and seafood fare. There is also another strip of joints just round the corner on Ngu Xa.

QUAN 32 PHO GA / PHO BO / PHO XAO 32 Bat Dan, Hoan Kiem 5.30am to 11pm A hearty, slightly salty broth accompanies the pho ga at this well-known, 40-year-old street corner eatery also lauded for its tasty pho xao and pho bo. It's a simple, typically Hanoian streetside affair here with red plastic tables on the street and foot-high stools. The soup comes with an accompanying basket of slightly stale but buttery banh quay.

QUAN 49 PHO GA / BUN BO NAM BO 49 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho 6am to 4pm A stilt-hutted street food eatery and cafe in the shadow of Elite Fitness doing a tasty version of the sweet and sour bun bo Nam Bo (southern-style beef noodles). Ladle in the chilli and mix up with the beansprouts, fresh herbs, peanuts and sauteed beef, and you have a spiced-up, filling meal. Also does decent pho ga (chicken noodle soup) and pho xao (fried noodles). Has a semi-mezannine cafestyle space out back.

out & about TRUC LAM TROI VEGAN 39 Le Ngoc Han, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 6278 1848 7am to 9pm Vegetarians delight in being able to order anything off this more-creativethan-normal traditional Vietnamese Buddhist restaurant situated on a quiet street. Corn juice is the drink of choice here, as everyone around sips the tepid yellow stuff, and the array of fried tofu vegetable dishes makes you reconsider vegan cuisine as “health food.” Order an office lunch plate or dine in during the weekend surrounded by families and walls adorned with traditional Buddhist imagery.

WHITE CLOUD VEGAN Nha 2, Ngo 12 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho Tel: 6258 1622 11am to 2pm, 5pm to 9pm Simplicity is the key at this small but airy, zen-like bamboo-table eatery located behind the Syrena Centre. A rarity in Vietnam — the cuisine here doesn’t only focus on faux meat imitation — the menu mixes canh (broth) with a range of light dishes, Vietnamese-style salads and a selection of tofu and gluten-inspired mains. Worth a try for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.

MID-RANGE CHA CA LA VONG CHA CA 14 Cha Ca, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3825 3929 11am to 2pm, 5pm to 9pm A funky wooden-floored two storey, one-dish-only eatery on a street devoted to one of Hanoi's best known dishes, cha ca. Claiming to be the oldest restaurant in Vietnam (established 1873) the deal is straightforward. The butter-coated, premarinated fish is sauteed with dill and spring onions on the table and served up with sides of peanuts, bun noodles and fresh herbs. It's not street food prices cheap by any means, but it's darned tasty. Popular with tourists and locals.


floored restaurant is for diners who don’t mind loud noises and sitting on the floor. It’s best for groups so you can order an array of dishes ranging from the more exotic frog legs, buffalo and ostrich, to the trusted standbys; catfish spring rolls, papaya salad and fried tofu. But it’s the exclusive Highway 4 flavoured rice wines that can be taken as shots or mixed into cocktails that keep this place crowded.

KITI RESTAURANT VIETNAMESE / WESTERN 38 Hang Hom. Tel: 3928 7241 An unassuming establishment that rarely fills up, which means that customers often benefit from better service and the servers utmost attention. What the restaurant lacks in atmosphere, it makes up for with a large menu that is chalked full of reasonably priced Vietnamese fare and some western staples.

NGOC HIEU STEAK / CHINESE NOODLES 52 Le Ngoc Han, Hai Ba Trung. Tel: 3978 2251 7am to 10.30pm Located on the corner of Hoa Ma, this steak served sizzling-on-the-griddle eatery packs no punches when it comes to getting your beef. Get the standard banh my affair and the imported US steak is doled up with meatballs, fried egg, chips and lots of fat. It's a cholesterol mess of a meal but really tasty. Also does bun bo Hue, Phuc Kien noodles and the Khmer Chinese hu tieu Nam Vang. Has restaurants at 349 Doi Can and 71 Tran Duy Hung.

NHA HANG NGON CONTEMPORARY STREET FOOD 26 A-B Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3933 6133. 7am to 10pm Large and always busy restaurant set in two colonial buildings. The courtyard is filled with tables and fairy light covered trees, which are circled by 18 cooking stoves. Here the chefs serve Vietnamese classics from all over the country a la carte style. Good for street side classics done well in the comfort of an airy restaurant. Of the 14 dining spaces, one room holds 30 guests. Open for breakfast lunch and dinner.

TRADITIONAL VIETNAMESE 65 Ngo Hue, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3976 0633 10am to 2pm, 5pm to 11pm Situated in a turn-of-the-century French townhouse in a tucked away alley, the ‘whistling bird’ continues to offer some of the best ‘traditional’ Vietnamese food in the capital. Sit on the floor upstairs or enjoy seating downstairs, regardless this eatery serves up simple Vietnamese staples that are well executed and presented in a setting that makes one feel like a regal Hanoian.




LOUNGE CAFE 15A Au Co, Tay Ho Tel: 0913 221971 Step downstairs through Choi’s imposing wooden doors, and into their cellar-like lair. Intricate jazz tunes float through the spacious interior, adorned with artwork that pays tribute to greats like D. Ellington and Bo Diddley. Enjoy a smart, cozy setting with selections of wines, soups, salads and other Vietnamese comfort foods to enjoy.

HIGHWAY 4 VIETNAMESE / ETHNIC 5 Hang Tre, hoan Kiem, Tel: 3926 4200 575 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3771 6372 54 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 3796 2647 25 Bat Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3926 0639 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 3718 6377 10am to midnight Always busy, often hectic, this multi-

GOURMET VIETNAMESE 4 Ton That Thiep, Hoan Kiem Tel: 1355 9096 10am-2pm, 5pm-10pm Gordon Ramsay once filmed a show at this restaurant in a renovated French villa and now the ribs carry his namesake. But it’s the twist on old world favourites, think fried snail spring rolls and miniature vegetarian banh xeo, in a casually elegant setting that make this spot near the train tracks standout. Be sure to try the rollyour-own cha ca spring rolls and check the schedule for live traditional music.

unload in front of the establishment on massive tour buses, this venue is imbued with the nostalgia of Indochine, replete with chess boards, stylish fans and waitresses outfitted in ao dais. Boasts a large menu filled with Vietnamese favourites and much more.


Vietnam and the other is in Phu Quoc, the location of probably the best seafood in the country. Every type of ocean-breathing animal is available here in addition to an array of tofu and vegetables. From crab to Russian sturgeon and grouper, most of this seafood harks from down south or Halong Bay. The restaurant is set up so that every day is a banquet and you can pick your poisons from the tank.

PAN-VIETNAMESE 17 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3972 8001 10am to 2pm, 6pm to 10.30pm Indochine elegance mixes with top-end culinary flair to create one of the best Vietnamese restaurants in town. Fine dining it isn't — this country's cuisine doesn't really lend itself to that type of cooking. But quality ingredients and a twist of creativity makes the fare here well worth the higher price tag — think creative spring rolls and lobster cooked up with a passion-fruit sauce. This is just the start. Also has a great downstairs lounge bar.

CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE 55A Nguyen Du, Tel: 3943 9342 10.30am to 10.30pm One of the city’s most popular Vietnamese restaurants is a delight from the entrance inwards. Walk over water features and 100 roses and up the spiral staircase into subdued lighting, warm colours and a menu that mixes subtle, well-executed Asian flavours. Not for those who love the sharpness of some street foods, but definitely for those who have guests in town or business clients to schmooze. Quite an experience.


Nick Ross

IMPERIAL / CONTEMPORARY 63 Pham Hong Thai, Ba Dinh Tel: 3927 5920 11am to 2pm, 6pm to 10pm After shutting the doors at its former location, Com Viet is nestled in the tranquil neighbourhood near Truc Bach Lake. The ‘imperial’ staple, with its pristine décor and antiques, traditional bites and regal atmosphere, specialises in serving up traditional treats with contemporary fusion — think cheese wrapped in beef with a side of pickled cucumbers and a glass of red. Go on the right night and catch live traditional music in the courtyard and feel like a king.

POTS ‘N PANS 57 Bui Thi Xuan Street, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3944 0204, 11.30am to late Brought to you by a group of former disadvantaged youth from Hanoi’s own KOTO, this unique fine dining restaurant, bar and lounge blends the old with the new. Vietnamese fusion cuisine, like profiteroles with green tea and café fillings, a private chef’s table with a kitchen view, and an extensive wine list combined with modern formal styling bring a unique experience to Hanoi.

SATINE 29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem Tel: 6282 5555 ext. 6414 Situated in the heart of Hotel de l’Opera’s 8 storey central atrium, Satine offers a high class dining experience. Signature Vietnamese dishes from around the country will be presented to guests including some of the country’s best kept culinary secrets passed down by generations.






CLASSY FUSION 33 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 5831 8am until late A popular hang-out for expats and trendy Vietnamese in the Xuan Dieu area on West Lake. This bar and restaurant offers casual dining with a classy twist, as well as wine, tapas, events and attractive décor. Additional services include catering, BBQ rentals, playroom, kids menu, takeaway and local delivery.

ETE BAR FRENCH LOUNGE 95 Giang Van Minh, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0976 751331 10am to midnight A favourite among those who roam further west of the city centre, this multi-storey restobar has been going strong for more than two years. It has balconies, mezzanine seating and a long bar guarding exactly 50 different cocktails. For many the Ete burger is right on the mark as are the sandwiches, tartines and salads. It’s always crowded — especially during the weekends. Amiable staff, pleasant vibes.

GRAIN AND GRAPE LOUNGE CAFÉ 9 Au Co, Tay Ho, Tel: 3710 1566 Nestled along bustling Au Co, seconds away from West Lake, Grain and Grape provides a comfortable, elegant setting to enjoy a glass of wine alongside an appetizing meal. Outdoor seating, dining room, and an upstairs seating area adorned with stacks of wine bottles along the walls only give testament to its extensive, diverse menu.


VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL 42 Duong 9, F361, An Duong, Yen Phu, Tay Ho, Tel: 2260 8968 10am-10pm Imperial-era architecture, a rock garden with trees almost 300 years old, a beautiful lawn area and contemporary Asian-influenced international fare make up the mix at this quite unique top-end restaurant. The cuisine and drinks don’t come cheap, but then establishments such as Softwater are a rarity. Has both an international and a Vietnamese menu and is located by the river in An Duong at the end of Road 9, close to the Sofitel Plaza.




INDOCHINE / VIETNAMESE 13 Tran Hung Dao, Tel: 3933 3533 Set in converted colonial villas and frequented primarily by travellers that

VIETNAMESE SEAFOOD 55 Cua Dong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 6270 0787 10am to 10pm There are two of these restaurants in

23J Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3938 8388 9.30am to midnight This new addition to the city from the

CONTEMPORARY STREET FOOD 18 Phan Boi Chau, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3942 8162 7am to 9.30pm Long-time favourite serving up Vietnamese classics in a large French villa and courtyard. Menu is huge, made up of street-food options and higher end dishes from Hanoi, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City. Quick service makes it ideal for lunch and the array of options makes it perfect for newcomers to Vietnamese cuisine. Order loads and share, of course.



INTERNATIONAL The Clubhouse, Ciputra Tel: 3758 2400 7am to 11pm One of the larger and more comfortable bars in Hanoi, J.A.F.A. is a great place for drinking cocktails by the pool. The beverages are not the cheapest, but this is made up for by service and ambiance. They also have a full menu featuring familiar western dishes such as pizza and cheeseburgers and cater for large parties or dinner functions. Periodic buffets and drink specials are also offered.

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out & about Dieu, Tay Ho.

Alfresco’s Group is definitely the meatiest yet. In the shape of a four floor, chic restobar — which has a bar lounge on the ground, a restaurant vibe on the second and third, and a “boardroom” on the fourth — Jacksons Steakhouse serves of well presented plates of imported Oz and New Zealand steaks as well as seafood. Of course, the large restaurant wouldn’t be complete without a large wine list to match.


area houses a classic bar that gives a finishing touch to the friendly community environment.


SPANISH 26 Lan Ong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 8585 2563 9am to 11pm Nestled just off the main Old Quarter drag, this bar and restaurant daubed in the colours of the Spanish flag is the first genuine Iberian tapas bar in town. Sells a range of fare from paella through to tapas, a selection of tortilla and Spanish mains, and also serves lethal but tasty sangria. Spanish tempanillos and reds make up the enigmatic mix.

LA PETIT TONKINOISE ART DECO / INTERNATIONAL 58A Tran Quoc Toan, Hai Ba Trung 8am to 10pm Located on the corner of Quang Trung, this large new cafe, restaurant and bar is housed in a restored colonial building. The beautiful courtyard is liberally decorated with plants, fans, blowlight jets of water, and shade is provided by tasteful cream parasols. Inside, a non-smoking, airconditioned room is the perfect place to escape the heat. Western and Vietnamese fare is on offer, they have a huge range of wine, beer and coffee and they serve excellent fries too.


PUKU INTERNATIONAL / CAFE 16-18 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3938 1745 Open 24 hours This spacious spot on food street is open around the clock, offering Aussie-inspired comfort food along with more eclectic Irish nachos, cottage pies and pan-Asian fare. Upstairs is fit for social gatherings and live music while the no-smoking downstairs space is filled with people working and socialising. Serves as community centre, catering both to ravenous backpackers who’ve just arrived off the night train from Sapa and locals looking to meet up.

LE PUB BRITISH / INTERNATIONAL 25 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3926 2104 7am to midnight Dark red walls and even darker brown seating run through the homely and casual Le Pub, one of the few bars in town with a regular stream of clientele. A long list of imported beer, Tiger draft, a decent international cum Vietnamese food menu, happy hour specials and live sport make up the comfortable mix. The venue also gets involved in the local community through regular events. Has a second Le Pub at Third Floor, 9 Xuan

R&R TAVERN BAR, CAFÉ AND MUSIC VENUE 256 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho Come grab a drink at the newly revamped R &R to enjoy a taste of American style brew and their comforting Western dishes. The pub still lives up to its old name, providing an array of drinks, buzzing chatter, and of course, some quality live rock music. Its upstairs area is equipped with a sound system and stage setup for weekly shows and events while the downstairs

SKYLINE LOUNGE 19th Floor, Pacific Place, 83B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3946 1901 8am to midnight If location counts for anything, then here it is spectacular. With a 270-degree view over the whole of the city, the up-on-high theme of the Rooftop is used to its full. The bar is pretty cool, too, with bare brick, sofa-style seating, glass fronted wine displays and a private room out back for more intimate drinking. Also does day-time office lunches, coffee and decent bar food.

SANDBOX INTERNATIONAL / WINE AND JAZZ 12 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh Tel: 3927 5708 5.30pm to midnight Tucked into a quiet street close to Truc Bach, this romantic, Parisian-styled lounge exhibits art from up-and-coming Hanoi artists and is best experienced on the nights with live music. The menu offerings are rich and robust, from chicken curry to spaghetti and roast duck, all created to pair well with wine. Come for dinner and stay for the live jazz and well-curated wine selection.

SOUTHGATE CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL 28 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3398 1979 Sunday to Wednesday 11.30am to midnight. Thursday to Saturday 11.30am to 2am

An American-run casual yet sophisticated restobar on Food Street with a great outdoor terrace area, a shared indoor bar space, a chef’s table and upstairs seating. Matched by contemporary décor, the creative food menu focuses on doing comfort food well, while a decent new and old world wine list and innovative cocktails make up the mix. Popular with the media and artsy set.

TADIOTO LOUNGE BAR AND CAFE 12 Truong Han Sieu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 6680 9124 8.30am to Midnight Alternative and nostalgic restaurant bar with a dim lit conversational ambience. This French-style villa is adorned with old-world architectural styles and hints of engaging contemporary artwork along its walls. Enjoy a glass of wine to complement a variety of succulent light dishes in this combination café, bar, and gallery. Includes lounge seating, two bars, an outdoor patio, and two multi-purpose rooms for small gatherings. Tadioto is an exciting, intimate venue for live music, literary readings, and art showcases.



OLD SKOOL 1 Nguyen Khac Can, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3939 2888 9am to 11.30pm This ‘Chill Lounge’ is not too far from the Opera House and is ideal for drinks against a bright backdrop. Its large bar serves up test tube shooters and the Party Animal Bucket offers a range of shots. Of course, it’s a café/restaurant, too and be sure to check out the owner’s collection of boom boxes next to the DJ Booth. Live music on Wednesdays and a DJ at the weekend.


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InterContinental Westlake

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The Cart


L’s Place


St. Honore; Vine


Oasis; Red Apron


Segafredo; Tracy’s; Kitchen


Vine Cellar Door


Mandarin; India Palace




Al Fresco’s; Tay Tap


Kitchen Art


House of Son Tinh


Santal Spa; Bamboo Village


Don’s Tay Ho


City Zoo; Better Day


Da Paolo; Coconut Cafes


Collective Concepts


La Salsa


Binh’s Salon


White Cloud






Pure Heaven


Bobby Chinn


International SOS


Le Marrakech


Ham Long Mini Market




Module 17




George’s Fashion


Hanoi Rock City




Love Chocolate Cafe


Zenith Yoga


El Gaucho



visit for a comprehensive list of our listings


leisure & arts range and swimmers enjoy a lovely view from the pool. The gym is small and classes are not included as part of the steep yearly membership fees.

L’ESPACE 24 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem The cultural arm of the French Embassy is very active in the cultural life of the city. They both organise and host many functions – music, performing arts, film. Large French language library as well as classes and workshops.

COOKING CLASSES HANOI COOKING CENTRE 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3715 0088. Hanoi Cooking Centre is a school, retail outlet and café, where you can find classes on not just Vietnamese cooking, but international cuisine, held in a beautiful setting. They also offer culinary tours.





COSMOS 168 Ngoc Khanh, Dong Da This bowling alley may be small, but if you’re hankering for a night at the lanes, this one has instant replay cameras that will show your strike again in slow motion.

22A Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3936 2648 Not a movie theater per se, but a private film club that charges a membership fee in return for entrance to a wide selection of movies, new and old. The management has an eclectic taste and shows films from all over the world.



2B Pham Ngoc Trach, Dong Da Tel: 3574 1614 Plenty of lanes, and the zany colours add to the festive feel. A game will cost VND27,000, plus a little extra for the shoe rental. All in all it makes for a night of good fun.

QUAN TOM 89 Bui Thi Xuan. Tel: 3294 47844 The staff at this karaoke bar is quite friendly. Large, comfortable rooms, and – their claim to fame – a vast English language track list, makes for a good night.

ANTIQUES 54 TRADITIONS GALLERY 30 Hang Bun, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3715 0194 The only gallery in Vietnam focusing on the antiques, artifacts and art of Vietnam’s 53 minority groups and the Kinh majority people. Has over 1,000 items on display and objects in the collection have been exhibited in museums both in Hanoi and abroad.

BOOK SHOPS BOOKWORM 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3715 3711 Bookworm has been the cornerstone of Hanoi’s literary scene since 2001. It has been around the block quite a bit and now shares a space with Hanoi Cooking Centre. With over 15,000 new and secondhand fiction and nonfiction titles in stock, the shop also buys used books and offers free travel advice.

HIEU SACH THANG LONG 55 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3825 7043 A large bookstore with mostly Vietnamese material, but there is also a selection of French and English books and even some literature.

XUNHASABA 32 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3825 4068 Often referred to just as ‘The Foreign Language Bookstore’, you’ll find a decent selection of both books and magazines. Their biggest section is composed of ESL materials, but you will also find fiction.

Vincom Towers, 191 Ba Trieu, 6th floor, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 3974 3333 Inside Vincom towers, this big, westernstyle multiplex shows some of the latest English language and Asian foreign films. The experience includes fairly wellstocked concession stands, comfortable seats, air conditioning and a booming sound system.

MEGASTAR PICO MALL 299 Tay Son, Dong Da The second Megastar outlet in the city in the newly renovated Pico Mall. Generally less crowed than the theatre at Vincom Towers, but the same concept. For real Hollywood and American fast food fans, has a Pizza Hut and Swensen’s within the same cinema complex.

NATIONAL CINEMA CENTRE 87 Lang Ha, Dong Da. Tel: 3514 2278 Cineplex with several smaller theaters and an arcade. Movies are quite cheap, especially matinees. Be sure to ask if the movie is subtitled in Vietnamese or dubbed.

CLUBS & SOCIETIES DEMOCRATS ABROAD – VIETNAM Affiliated with the American Democratic Party, like-minded and politically active individuals can stay in touch and continue to affect the political winds that are blowing Stateside. Hosts regular events for every major election cycle.

AMERICAN CLUB 21 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3824 1850 A bit worn around the edges, but the facilities are still useful and the grounds pleasant. They host frequent events that are open to the public. Wide lawn, volleyball and basketball courts may make the place worth a visit.

HANOI CLUB 76 Yen Phu, Tay Ho. Tel: 3823 8115 The exclusive social and fitness club is located on the banks of West Lake. Golfers hit balls into the lake from the driving

137 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho Tel: 0912 254045 A wide range of Vietnamese culinary classes are offered in these well-appointed and clean facilities. The knowledgeable staff will guide you through the secrets of Vietnamese cooking in an open air courtyard.

HIGHWAY4 COOKING CLASS 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3715 0577 The well-known restaurant also offers one-off cooking courses in the kitchens at their Truc Bach location. Don’t worry if you forget some of the tricks, as the class includes a recipe booklet.

studios offering dance and fitness classes for adults and children. Classes include ballet, folk dance, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary, belly dance, salsa, zumba and yoga for family. Instructors are qualified and certified from Vietnam Dance College or overseas.

FITNESS ELITE FITNESS 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. Tel: 3718 6281 The luxury gym features top-of-the-line fitness equipment, separate cardio and spinning areas and an indoor swimming pool with a retractable roof. The spacious studios and natural light make it a welcoming place to squeeze in a work out, but be prepared to pay. This place is top of the range.

FOUR SEASONS SWIMMING POOL 14 Dang Tien Dong, Dong Da. Tel: 3537 6250 This beautiful hotel has a swimming pool for VND40,000 per day, and another VND10,000 for a locker to keep your pantaloons. It might be a good idea to go during the off hours, as it’s a well used pool. But if laps are what you want, the pool is large and, at times, quiet.

HANOI BOOTCAMP BEEACTIVE To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho The successor to the weekly bootcamp famously run by fitness professional Helen Kindness, BeeActive continues the community spirit by bringing together both the fit and unfit to work out on the streets. To take part, drop them an email. Sessions are all held around the To Ngoc Van area, unless stated otherwise.


Lane 38/27 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. Tel: 6680 2770 Well stocked and modern cooking store offering cooking classes with one of Vietnam's popular food personalities. Kitchen Art Basic Baking Classes also open to non-Vietnamese speaking students. The friendly staff ensures that everyone is able to follow the instructor.

71 Nguyen Chi Thanh, Dong Da Tel: 6266 0495 This gym with American Life Fitness cardio and weight machines, provides a clean, uncrowded environment and expertly staffed facilities with a selection of fitness classes for its members. Classes include boxing, yoga and groupX with both Vietnamese and foreign fitness trainers on hand to give exercisers advice. Membership starts from VND1.5 million per month with no joining fee.




Lane 52/28, House 9, To Ngoc Van Tel: 3747 0377, This charitable organisation, which helps street kids gain the skills to succeed in the hospitality industry, also offers cooking classes to the public on Tuesdays at their training centre. Learn how to make some of the items on their menu at home. Pick up is also available at their Van Mieu location.

CYCLING THE HANOI BICYCLE COLLECTIVE (THBC) 44, Ngo 31, Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 8246 Tucked down an alleyway just off West Lake, The Hanoi Bicycle Collective is a place for all bicycle lovers! An official supplier of TREK and SURLY cycling equipment, the joint not only sells but also rents and fixes bicycles. To add to the eclectic, community spirit they also organise bicycle tours, run yoga sessions, hold music concerts in their upstairs cafe area and run a great menu of Spanish tapas served up, if you so wish, with gin & tonic. Quite a mix!

DANCING ASPARA DANCE STUDIO Level 3, 141 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: 3718 6869 Gate 3, Hanoi Academy, Ciputra, Tel: 3743 0455 Cosy, friendly and well equipped dance

4th Floor, The Garden, Me Tri, Tu Liem Tel: 3787 5353 This lifestyle, top-end gym in My Dinh offers massage rooms, steam rooms, saunas, Jacuzzis, cold plunge baths, gym areas, exercise studios, locker rooms, and a swimming pool. It is a great option for residents living on the outskirts of the city.

SUNWAY HEALTH CLUB 19 Pham Dinh Ho, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3971 3888 Very good equipment in this small gym, housed in a little hotel. None of the extra frills that you might expect at a larger place, but all the machines are running and well maintained. Monthly price of membership for non-guests is about VND1.4 million.

THE LITTLE GYM OF HANOI 4th floor, 402 Vincom Centre, Long Bien Tel: 0935 158 555 A place that aims to show kids the meaning of serious fun. At The Little Gym, a positive environment and bilingual classes create opportunities for children to try things and build self-confidence, all with a proud grin. Kids from four months through to 12 years are welcome to develop motor skills and more — this is a great way to give your child a brain boost, work on their social skills and get them moving. Besides a range of gymnastics classes, they also host awesome birthday bashes, organise kids camps and arrange parent survival nights.

December 2012 Word | 95


cinema buff

Hoa Le takes a look at what’s on in the cinemas this month COLD SUMMER — MUA HE LANH Director: Ngo Quang Hai Stars: Mi Du, Ha Viet Dung, Ly Nha Ky Genre: Drama, Thriller

Director of the beloved film Pao’s Story Ngo Quang Hai this time comes back to the movie theatre with an entirely different approach — a thriller drama movie. Kien is a young boy who grows up with a lack of care from his parents. After his father’s death, he heads to the southern provinces to look for his mother who moved there. In this new land, Kien meets two women. One is young and innocent — he falls deeply in love with her. The other is married for whom he a great sexual desire. With both women, Kien has the best experience of his life in terms love and sex. But unable to predict what's in store, he ends up in a relationship with both women at the same time… The movie is shown in Vietnamese with English subtitles. It hits the screen on Dec. 21 at MegaStar cinema complex in Vincom Tower (191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung) and Pico Mall (229 Tay Son, Dong Da).

Based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy novel The Hobbit (1937), An Unexpected Journey follows title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, which was long ago conquered by the dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior Thorin Oakenshield. Although their goal lies to the east and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain, first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever... Gollum. Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s ‘precious’ — a simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know. Hits the screens on Dec. 28 at MegaStar cinema complexes

VERTICAL RAY OF THE SUN (2000) — MUA HE CHIEU THANG DUNG Director: Tran Anh Hung Stars: Tran Nu Yen-Khe, Nhu Quynh Nguyen and Le Khanh Genre: Drama

Director: Christopher McQuarrie Stars: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike and Richard Jenkins Genre: Action, Crime, Drama

Director: Peter Jackson Stars: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen and Richard Armitage Genre: Adventure, Fantasy

In an innocent heartland city, five are shot dead by an expert sniper. The police quickly identify and arrest the culprit, and build a slam-dunk case. But the accused man claims he’s innocent and says “Get Jack Reacher”. Reacher

VINCHARM SPA AND GYM 6th & 7th floor Vincom Centre, 191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung. Tel: 3974 8686 Far more Zen then your average gym, work out to toned-down music while toning up on state of the art equipment, and have a post workout drink at the juice bar. There is even a separate swimming pool for tots, and a full service spa. Top-end equipment and services come with top-end monthly fees — not for the feint-hearted.

FOOTBALL, SOCCER & RUGBY HANOI CAPITALS FOOTBALL CLUB Hanoi Capitals don’t play. This football club is serious about their sport. The uniforms and attitudes alone tell you they’re no Bad News Bears. If you want to let your skills shine get in contact with Ricky at 0903 413339.

HANOI YOUTH FOOTBALL LEAGUE The biggest youth football league in the capital. Youths aged 8 to 16 years old come together to play regular tournaments.

VIET CELTS The first and only Gaelic Football league in Hanoi has recently added a women’s team. The teams play in the Southeast Asia Gaelic League as well as in tournaments all over the region. Bring a sporting spirit as a spectator or a player. Call Gareth for more information: 0904 228629.




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himself sees the news report and turns up in the city. The defense is immensely relieved, but Reacher has come to bury the guy. Shocked at the accused’s request, Reacher sets out to confirm for himself the absolute certainty of the man’s guilt, but comes up with more than he bargained for. Watch this movie at MegaStar from Dec. 28

So 40 Ngo 76 An Duong, Tay Ho Tel: 5321 9235 Although a little hard to find, VietClimb is a French-owned, 200-meter climbing gym with state-of-the-art courses. There are 100 different climbing routes within the gym that are changed every few months. They offer clinics, classes and children’s events. Membership and group rates are available, but be sure to check out the three-month pass.

Vertical Ray of the Sun centres around the lives of three sisters. Although each of them seems to be happy, they all have different secrets. The youngest sister is single and living with her older brother, whom she is desperately in love with. A second sister is married to a man who has another woman and child elsewhere whom he loves just as much as his wife — with a few conditions, she agrees to carry on with the marriage. The third sister and her husband are overjoyed to discover she is pregnant, but their marriage is on the rocks. This movie will be in Vietnamese with French subtitles at the French Culture Centre (L’Espace) at 8pm on Dec. 7 In true Aussie style, the Vietnam Swans footballers hold not only weekly matches and training sessions, but social and drinking affairs as well. Concerned just as much with fun as with winning, this club is welcoming to anyone. who is willing to have a good time.


APRICOT GALLERY 40B Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3828 8965 This centrally located space houses art by some of Vietnam’s best-known contemporary artists, such as Hoang Hai Anh and Dinh Quan, as well as up and coming artists.

ART VIETNAM Ngo 66 So Nha 2, Pho Yen Lac, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3862 3184 Now operating from the private residence of owner Suzanne Lecht, Art Vietnam is one of Hanoi's most respected galleries, featuring contemporary art in all its forms: painting, lacquer, photography and video, from both up-and-coming and established artists. To see the full list of artworks available, go to the website. Gallery viewing is by appointment only

HANOI ART CONTEMPORARY GALLERY 36-38 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3934 7192 This art space is home to a large collection of your standard tourist fare along with a smatter of more unique pieces.

leisure & arts MAI GALLERY 113 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3938 0568 Several floors of paintings, regularly changed, by some of the best known contemporary artists in the country, some of whom they’ve helped in gaining international recognition. Mai specialises is finding the perfect décor for both homes and offices.

MAISON DES ARTS 31 Van Mieu, Dong Da. Tel: 3747 8096 A gallery near the Temple of Literature with several floors bills itself not only as an art gallery, but a multi-purpose social and cultural space. Frequent exhibitions feature both Vietnamese and international artists. Mlle. Nga, who runs the space, also involves herself in several other cultural projects around Hanoi.

RED RIVER GALLERY 7 Hang Khay, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3934 9071 This small gallery has focused on building a collection of traditional Hanoi images with a modern twist since it opened in 1990. The gallery actively seeks out talented young contemporary artists.

Arts sells work by some of Hanoi’s more famous artists.

GOLF COURSES HANOI CLUB DRIVING RANGE 76 Yen Phu, Tay Ho. Tel: 3623 8115 A fitness club that also boasts a two-level driving range where the balls are hit into the water. No net means you can gauge your driving. The price for a bucket of golf balls depends on whether or not you’re a member.

TAM DAO GOLF AND RESORT Relatively new golf club near the base of the mountains at Tam Dao. It is about two hours from the city, but does provide an 18-hole course with a clubhouse and a spectacular view, surrounded by green hills.


BINH’S SALON 3 Lane 31/10 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 2656 A salon and spa offering a variety of cosmetic services, and specialising in western cuts and colour.


35A Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem Don’t be fooled by the signs hawking café sua da. Hidden within the coffee shop interior is a small gallery showing some of Vietnam’s newest talent.

2A Cua Bac, Ba Dinh. Tel: 09877 18899 A small but popular hair salon that serves both expats and locals. The many repeat customers go back because of Dinh’s willingness to both follow instructions, or to be creative when asked. Services include scalp massage, shampooing, colouring and styling.




96 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3928 6667 If you’re looking for a well-known name, and a high price tag to match, Viet Fine

SWIMMING POOLS ARMY HOTEL 33C Pham Ngu Lao, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3825 2896 FOUR SEASONS 14 Dang Tien Dong, Dong Da Tel: 3537 6250 HANOI CLUB 76 Yen Phu, Tay Ho Tel: 3823 8115 HORISON FITNESS CENTER 40 Cat Linh, Ba Dinh Tel: 3733 0808 MELIA HOTEL 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3934 3343 OLYMPIA 4 Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3933 1049 SAO MAI 10 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 3161 SOFITEL PLAZA FITNESS CENTER 1 Thanh Nien, Tay Ho Tel: 3823 8888 THAN NHAN Vo Thi Sau, Hai Ba Trung, (Inside the park) THANG LOI HOTEL 200 Yen Phu, Tay Ho

405 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh. Tel: 6329 2915 New garden-themed day spa named after the frangipani flower, known in Vietnam for its healing properties. Services include hair salon, nail care and massages. Details to amenities like bathrobes, slippers and towels provide a comfortable atmosphere.


KIDS HANOI ZOO Off Kim Ma, opposite Daewoo Hotel Tel: 3834 7395 Really as much a park as it is a zoo, you can find Vietnamese families on picnics here on any given day. Strewn throughout, sometimes in curiously small cages, you’ll also find a number of animals large and small, all indigenous to the country. Also, there are other attractions for children such as a fun house, and big, floating plastic balls they can climb into. The One Man Cinema operates out of here at weekends.

KINDERPARK 614 Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho, Tel: 3710 1666 A huge international indoor playground for children of all ages founded by three likeminded mums. The indoor playground covers an impressive 2,000 sqm, and offers activities, birthday parties and a welltrained staff. There is a café for parents to sit in while their children run amok.

THANG LONG WATER PUPPET THEATRE Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem Daily shows of traditional rustic Vietnamese carved puppets, animate folkloric tales accompanied by music. This can be fun for adults as well as children.

THE LITTLE GYM OF HANOI 4th Floor, 402A Vincom Center, Long Bien Tel: 3515 8555, The newest addition to the Hanoi family entertainment scene, this globally-known brand has more than 300 locations across the world. Has a range of programmes for kids aged four months to 12 years old including gymnastics, karate, dance classes, sports skills and more, with the activities focusing on developing both cerebral and physical capacity. Also hosts birthday parties, organises camps and arranges parents nights.

Hanoi Club, 76 Yen Phu, Tay Ho Tel: 3716 1754 / 3758 2940 (Ciputra). Hotline: 0912 267613 Multi-functional hair and body salon with a range of treatments running from haircut, highlights, shampoo, straightening and perm to hot stone foot and body massages, a range of facials, waxing, bikini lines and body scrub. With a first salon in Ciputra, TA number two is at the Hanoi club. Popular with both western and Asian expats as well as A-class Vietnamese.



191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung There are a bunch of toy stores and shops for children in the mall area of the second tower. Also, near the food court, you’ll find an arcade with video games and tiny rides for very small kids.

49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3934 5980 Located in Hanoi Towers, The Hair Workshop has a number of hairdressers used to cutting and styling all types of hair. The prices are significantly higher than they would be on the street, or at a smaller shop, but there are many people who refuse to go anywhere else. A full service salon that also offers such services as waxing.

HAIR SPACE 137 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho Tel: 0912 127554 Run by an Australian expat named Cat, this is a small but comfortable and well-run hair studio located in the Hidden Hanoi building. There is only Cat and her one assistant, so be sure to make an appointment.

TRAN HUNG HAIR CREATION 5 Ho Xuan Huong, Hai Ba Trung. Tel: 3943 4946 Located near Reunification Park, Hung has a long list of satisfied clients, both western and Vietnamese. Be prepared to allot one to two hours for a cut and more for colour as Hung is a perfectionist.

51 Xuan Dieu, Syrena Towers; 229 Tay Son, Pico Mall An indoor play-haven for children inside the safety of a shopping centre. Pay an entry fee of VND50,000 and let your kids loose on the jungle gym and video arcade-style games. Small and with enough staff on hand so you can let your kids play, and head out to do a little shopping next door.


LEISURE GENERAL FRIENDS OF VIETNAMESE HERITAGE A non-profit organization devoted to the culture of Vietnam. People from all over the world join together to educate themselves and others on Vietnam and preserve its heritage. The organization holds events such as lectures, city walks and excursions available to the public.

HANOI HASH HOUSE HARRIERS This big, assorted “family” gets together every week to go on out of town excursions, for hour-long runs along paths marked by flour spots, and with no lack of beer stops along the way. Drink and get into shape at the same time, and add some sight-seeing into the picture. Emphasis here is on fun. Bus leaves on Saturdays from the American Club on Hai Ba Trung at 2pm in summer and 1:30pm in winter.

HANOI LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL If you’re looking for a little league baseball team in Hanoi, this is the website to check out. One of the first, if not still the only, such club in town, their mission is to teach young people about the game, teamwork and to have a great time. Practice every Saturday at Xuan Dinh Field from 6.15 to 8.30 am

MASSAGE JUST MASSAGE 237 Au Co, Tay Ho. Tel: 6671 2249 Aromatherapy, Swedish, shiatsu and pregnancy massages all given by the hands and touch of nine visually impaired therapists. The massages here are professional and, of course, in aid of a great cause. Check their website for their range of promotions.

HANOI AESTHETIC INSTITUTE 14 Yen Phu, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3945 4548 Trained at the Tue Tinh Traditional Hospital, the therapists at this no frills, traditional Vietnamese massage centre use a variety of techniques including tuina, aromatherapy, ayurvedic and shiatsu. Also offer a range of healing treatments as well as notso-traditional laser and plastic surgery.

THANH GIA 18 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung 38 Le Thai To, Hoan Kiem One of a number of foot massage parlours in town that has treatments focusing as much on the pressure points of your feet at they do on the rest of your body. Strong hands, unbranded oils and, if you ask, tiger balm oil.

NAILS FANCY SPA 26 Dinh Ngang, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3824 4183 A small Vietnamese spa and salon. Prices are quite high, but the shop offers a wide range of services in addition to manicure/ pedicure.

LINKQ 271 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3725 2359 One of a chain of all-purpose beauty salons that specialises in manicures and pedicures. This place has a lot of business from word of mouth, so it’s best to call ahead and make an appointment.

THU CUC EXOTICAL SPA 57 Nguyen Khac Hien, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3715 0316 This all-purpose beauty salon offers spa pedicures in a Zen-like atmosphere where your manicurist won’t be chatting on her mobile phone.

TOP SPOT 52 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3828 8344 They offer a long-lasting, professional manicure and pedicure service for barely more than you would pay to get your nails cut on the street. The staff doesn’t speak much English, but they have an extensive menu to choose from.

PERFORMING ARTS HANOI CIRCUS 67 Tran Nhan Tong, Hai Ba Trung For VND50,000, see an array of live performances, both human and animal. Bears ride motorbikes, monkeys do tricks. The acrobatic performances are particularly amazing.

HANOI INTERNATIONAL THEATRE SOCIETY (HITS) Hanoi’s premiere community theatre group has been entertaining audiences around the city since 2001. The amateur acting society both draws from and gives

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Poster art, prints and bedtime stories. This month Bookworm’s Truong takes an eclectic look into the books available in Hanoi It seems that the western fascination with Vietnamese poster art isn’t fading. Over the past five years there have been some excellent books published that catalogue the history of the posters, no doubt spurred on by the popularity of real, copied, and fake posters in the poster shops that dot the old town. My favourite was a slim catalogue for an exhibition that included photographs of the various artists. Some lucky collectors have a catalogue that honed in specifically on female poster makers. POSTERS AND PRINTS A really excellent new publication by Vietnamese Lao Dong Publishing House in collaboration with Artbook, Vietnam Posters and Billboards, collates an interesting and historically valuable collection of revolutionary posters and billboards that starts in the period of the resistance war against the French. It usefully categorises the posters into eleven chapters, concluding with a post war and conflict section that highlights modern concerns such as HIV and drug use. The same publishers and production team have put together a similar sized, eye pleasing book called Vietnamese Folk Paintings that will pique the interest of many collectors and incidental viewers. The book’s foreword is brief

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and though it is thorough enough for the average reader, its lack of in-depth historical detail and background stories give it a less scholarly appeal. A few of the translated captions use antiquated English, which adds to the overall authentic feel. The prints are spread over four chapters about daily life, religions and beliefs, history, and literature. They are all wood block prints associated with those that were originally sold outside the Hang Trong Pagoda before Tet, and the Dong Ho prints that are still carved and printed by a couple of families in Dong Ho village about 30km from Hanoi. For the purist, the lack of distinction between the print types could be disconcerting. Most will be totally fascinated. Once, unframed, mass produced prints were hung on rural household walls and replaced each new year. Nowadays ubiquitous calendars have taken their place. I grew up in, what was then, a fairly isolated fishing village in southern Thanh Hoa where the white washed walls of our thatched house were alive with wondrous, cheap prints that took the place of that rare commodity, children’s books. Thus the little kids in my generation grew up with bedtime tales of remembered folk tales, stories of historical heroes, and, of course, the heroes of the recent wars — in which many of

our older family members fought, were wounded or killed. BEDTIME STORIES AND ANIMALS Sometimes I ask our western customers about the nostalgic bedtime stories of their early childhoods. A lot are about animals. An elderly Australian recalls the journeys of a very naughty koala bear called Blinkey Bill whose exploits made him laugh till he wet his pants when it was read to him before bed when he was seven. Several come up with the philosophical adventures of Winnie the Pooh, the A. A. Milne story, not the Disney version. Hosts of Americans opt for Charlotte’s Web as a favourite, or E .B. White’s books about Stuart Little, who was no ordinary mouse! And parents who sensibly realise the huge benefits of reading aloud to their own littlies will fall for the most recent no ordinary mouse — or rather, mice — book that is just waiting to be read aloud to wide-eyed, school starting tots (and older). It’s called Tumtum and Nutmeg — Adventure beyond Nutmouse Hall and was published in 2009. Tumtum and Nutmeg live in the broom closet at Rose Cottage and secretly look after the welfare of two disheveled kids called Arthur and Lucy Mildew and their absentminded father. It’s a thick, old-fashioned book

with old-fashioned adventures, villains and heroes that will appeal to all parents who have maintained a sense of wonder. It has nicely sized text and excellent illustrations that most modern little kids will relish. A lot will want to read it by themselves later on. And for those really sensible parents who know that all little kids need quality books around them, award winning kids’ author Anthony Browne — who is well-known for his popular and whimsical gorilla and chimpanzee picture books — has come up with another one that will make you smile and cheer. It’s called Changes and is about a new baby coming home and the changes to the established order that its older brother (about four years old) is worried about. Its illustrations about morphing and metamorphoses are almost too good to be true. And, yes, a gorilla does make a guest appearance. For more information on Bookworm go to www. Besides their original store in Chau Long in the Truc Bach area, Bookworm have a second, smaller shop in Nghi Tam Village in the West Lake area. Located behind The Sheraton and in the same alley as VilaTom Coffee, it can be found at Lane 1/28 Au Co, Lang Nghi Tam, Tay Ho.

back to the local community. All profits from the bi-yearly performances are donated to charities in Vietnam.

HANOI OPERA HOUSE 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3933 0113 This French colonial building hosts a packed schedule of cultural events throughout the year, everything from the New York Philharmonic to cutting edge Vietnamese performance art has graced its stage.

THANG LONG CA TRU THEATRE 25 Tong dan, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3665 54608 Head to this theatre, lodged on the campus of the Vietnam Revolution Museum, for a taste of one of Vietnam’s most traditional musical forms.

YOUTH THEATRE 11 Ngo Thi Nham, Hoan Kiem A few blocks south of Hoan Kiem Lake, this community theatre space hosts both music events and theatre productions.

SPAS KIM DUNG 38 Nguyen Cong Hoan, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3483 50079 Face massage, hair care, manicure, pedicure, this is a one-stop shop for all sorts of comfort services and products. Facilities are clean and modern. Hairstyling also available.

LANCY SPA 35 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: 3719 9461 This all-purpose spa offers the full menu: massage, nails, skincare at reasonable prices. Discounts offered to regular customers.

LE SPA DU METROPOLE Sofitel Metropole Legend, 15A Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3826 6919 A five-star spa for a five-star hotel, this colonial-style centre of relaxation is pure luxury. Choose the genre of music you want to hear in your treatment room from a menu, select anything from themenamed facials through to traditional, Vietnamese-style massages, and indulge. It comes at price, but when you’ve just got to treat yourself…

ORCHIDS SPA 34 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3926 4862 Just a few steps away from bia hoi corner, the unisex Orchids spa recently one a VTV award for being one of the top spas in Hanoi. Treatments range from facials through to waxing, saunas and slimming treatments.

SANTAL SPA 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. Tel: 3718 4686 Private rooms with showers, a beautifully designed interior, well-trained and professional staff. The place to go if you want to forget a busy work week, or the busy streets.

THU CUC EXOTICAL SPA 57 Nguyen Khac Hien, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3715 0316 Near Truc Bac, Thu Cuc is an all-purpose spa where you can get a full-body massage, a facial, manicure or pedicure in a relaxing environment. Both prices and service are comparable to the West.

ZEN SPA 100 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. Tel: 3719 9889 Brushing up against the banks of the Red River, this Indochine-styled day spa hideaway comes replete with an oasis-like bonsai garden and peace and quiet, a perfect tonic to the chaos of the city. Has a range of five-element spa packages as well as just one-off facials and waxings and other treatments. Has a second outlet at 100 Xuan Dieu as well as spas in Hoi An.

SPORTS CLASSES HOANG CAU SPORTS CENTRE 59 Hoang Cau, Dong Da. Tel: 3511 8030 The distinction of this fitness centre is that they have a large space, filled with a “number of different fields of different sizes”. Includes areas for aerobics, football and rugby. Classes depend, according to the season.

RED RIVER RUNNERS The Red River Runners meet every Saturday to run through the fields and suburbs skirting the Red River in Hanoi. The group organises races, such as the annual Hanoi Triathlon and the Song Hong Half Marathon, which are community events that help to add a different, more social dimension to fitness and sport in the capital.

UNIS COMMUNITY EDUCATION UN International School, Tay Ho Tel: 3758 1551 The UN International School is located between West Lake and the highway heading to Noi Bai Airport. They have great facilities and offer a number of different classes throughout the year.

TENNIS THUY LOI SPORTS COMPLEX 95 Chua Boc, Dong Da A wide sports pitch that also offers a swimming pool and a football field – if you get tired of tennis. Football fields are almost always crowded, but even for tennis it might be good to go during the off hours.

VAN TUE THANG LONG 136 Ho Tung Mau, Tu Liem A little bit hard to find, but Van Tue Thang Long offers quite a bit of room, with a sit-down restaurant and a few tennis courts. Facilities are a bit run down, but a place to go if you want to play tennis on concrete courts.

VIETNAMESE CLASSES VIETNAMESE TEACHING GROUP 164 Le Thanh Nghi, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 7236 9842 Offers not only Vietnamese classes, but also a variety of excursions and events that will help foreigners and expats to better understand Vietnamese culture. Organised and professional, classes are usually sold in blocks, which you pay for in advance.

VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY B7 Bis, Bach Khoa, Dong Da, Tel: 3869 4323 This national university also offers some language and culture classes to foreigners. Teaching standards are high, and prices are not unreasonable, at around VND150,000 for a one-on-one lesson.




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ACCESSORIES & FOOTWEAR BOO SKATESHOP 84 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3923 1147 This skateshop offers a variety of clothes, shoes and skateboarding equipment. Most of the T-shirts are made and designed in Vietnam, while the shoes and other equipment are made for export, often rejected due to minor defects. Staff is knowledgeable about Hanoi’s best skateboarding spots.

EURO FASHION SHOES 26, 84/16 Ngoc Khanh Tel: 0904153041 While you may have to dig through piles of mismatched or orthopaedic-looking shoes, this shop is full of hidden gems in larger sizes, a rare find in Hanoi.

EURO SHOES 320 Ba Trieu, Hoan Kiem If you’re looking for a diamond in the rough, head for Euro shoes, which has a wide selection of options, many of which you’ll want to give a pass. Often carries larger sizes than most Vietnamese retailers.

HANDMADE SHOES 18 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3828 5357 This cobbler’s shop repairs shoes and makes shoes to order. The staff speaks limited English, so it’s best to bring along your favourite pair to get copied.

HUONG’S JEWELLERY SHOP 62 Hang Ngan, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3828 1046 A small store specialising in silver necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings and pendants. While Huong’s merchandise is mostly silver or pearl, the staff will also make jewellery to order.

IPA-NIMA 73 Trang Thi, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3933 4000 Started by Hong Kong born designer Christina Yu, Ipa-Nima’s stores are filled with their one-of-a-kind purses and accessories. Their use of colour, a unique design philosophy and hand done embellishments appeals to jetsetters and fashionistas from Los Angeles to Paris. Always eye-catching and trendy, Ipa-Nima accessories are tangibly timeless and sophisticated.


LOUIS VUITTON Sofitel Metropole, 15 Ngo Quyen. Tel: 3824 4977 This boutique offers an exclusive collection of the French designer handbags and accessories.

THREE TREES 15 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 8725 The jewellery on offer, designed by a Belgian expat, often features chunkier gold shapes with small, well-placed diamonds. Hidden in the back of the store there is also a display case featuring less-expensive costume jewelry.

TINA SPARKLE 17 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 7616 An eclectic assortment of costume jewelry and Chula dresses are scattered among a wide collection of bags by one of Vietnam’s most popular designers, Ipa-Nima. Check out the seasonal sales for heavy discounts.

VIETNAM OPTICAL 138B Giang Vo, Ba Dinh Tel: 3736 5505 This all-purpose eyewear shop offers free eye exams and a wide selection of frames. Usually there is at least one English-speaking staff present. The quick and easy service means you will be out of the store, lenses in hand, in an hour.

CLOTHING BEO BOUTIQUE 54 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 8997 The answer for women who struggle with the Hanoi heat. A locally owned boutique selling simple, unfussy clothing in light and easy to wear styles, perfect for when the humidity rises. Most clothing is made from cotton or silk, but they also have felted jackets for the colder weather. As well as off the rack, do custom orders.

CALVIN KLEIN 19-21 Dinh Tien Hoang ; 61-63 Cau Go, Hoan Kiem If it’s all in a name then Calvin Klein’s lakeside store has got it pretty much sewn up. Underwear sits next to jeans going for around VND2.5 million and a range of quality CK shirts, belts and more. By Hanoi standards, prices are high, but think relative. VND5 million for an original, welltailored pigskin jacket is pretty good going.




3B Dang Thai Than, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3913 5497 One of the only yoga studios in town exclusively devoted to the practice. Professional instruction with well-trained teachers, and a very low monthly fee.

2 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh Tel: 3928 6556 Large selection of lenses as well as biomedic contact lenses imported from the US. But buyer beware, lenses in Vietnam usually aren’t scratch-resistant.

37A Van Mieu, Dong Da Tel: 3747 1535 High-end silk clothing retailer located near the Temple of Literature carries contemporary looks based on traditional Vietnamese styles.




21 Nguyen Huy Tu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 4972 6327 Home to the world’s finest gemstones, master craftsmen and jewellery experts, London Diamond Gallery is among the most established jewellery houses in the world, with an international presence that spans across England, Japan, Hong Kong and South-East Asia.

23 Nha Chung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 9891 Launched in Hanoi in 2007, Contraband targets young hip working women. Garments are made from versatile fabrics that are comfortable to wear and easy to look after – making them ideal for work and travel. New styles are introduced each month with limited production runs, offering a sense of exclusivity.

Floor 3, 111 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 0904 356561 A premier studio offering some of the best yoga, pilates and tai chi in town. Kids’ yoga, prenatal yoga and meditation are also available. Professional instruction along with a peaceful atmosphere creates one of the most zen places in Hanoi. Drop in classes are available for VND200,000 and a month unlimited class pass costs VND1.8 million.

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fashion EOS FASHION AND DÉCOR 45 Phan Dinh Phuong, Ba Dinh Tel: 3629 78574 The limited stock in this clothing store is made up for by the unique design of the pieces, which are refreshed by the designer every month.

GEORGE’S FASHION BOUTIQUE 36 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, el: 3718 6233 With new styles arriving in store every second day, this shop offers a huge range of dresses, shirts, pants, skirts and accessories in local and imported fabrics. Clothes fit all sizes, from petite to average to the generous figure. Alterations and a made-to-measure service are available at no extra cost.

GINKGO T-SHIRTS 44 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem; 79 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem An environmentally conscious and fairtrade company that offers unique designs and a quality product, Ginkgo t-shirts sport ethnic and modern graphics in a rainbow of colors. The company began in Ho Chi Minh City and now has five outlets around Vietnam. These shirts make great gifts or souvenirs, perfect for proving to disbelievers overseas that you’ve visited the home of the conical hat.

HANOI SILK Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Tay Ho Tel: 3716 3062 Located on the ground floor of the Sofitel Plaza Hotel, this silk shop offers a highquality selection of ready-made items. The

SUPERMARKETS BIG C SUPERMARKET 222 Tran Duy Hung, Cau Giay CITIMART HANOI TOWERS 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem CITIMART VINCOM TOWERS 191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung FIVIMART 210 Tran Quang Khai, Hoan Kiem 10 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh 671 Hoàng Hoa Tham, Ba Dinh 71 Nguyen Chi Thanh, Dong Da 51 Xuân Dieu, Tay Ho 93 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung Online shopping: HANOI STAR SUPERMARKET 36 Cat Linh, Dong Da INTIMEX 22 & 23 Le Thai To, Hoan Kiem 131-135 Hao Nam, Dong Da 17 Lac Trung, Hai Ba Trung 27 Huynh Thuc Khang, Dong Da METRO 126 Tam Trinh, Yen So, Hoang Mai Pham Van Dong, Co Nhue, Tu Liem

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most popular sellers include robes, linensilk blend shirts, ties and jackets.

ISALYNA 1 Trang Thi, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3762 4405 The retail outlet for local designer Teddie Tran, who believes that fashion is all about “attitude”. Accordingly, the store’s pieces are mostly basics that can be combined with a range of high-quality leather accessories and jewellery for a unique fashion statement.

KANA 41 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3928 6208 Reasonably priced handmade silk clothing and accessories in a wide range of patterns sized to fit western bodies.

KEN SHOP 108 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 6270 0256 A popular stop for silk lovers, this store is all about soft and light fabrics. Silk, cotton and silk cotton mixes in creamy summer colours or eclectic prints. Ken has a wide range on offer, from casual summer skirts to fancy dresses. A cute collection of toys made of cotton and imported jewellry and accessories are also for sale.

KENLY SILK 108 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 7236 Instantly recognizable with its two-pillared shop front, Kenly prides itself on professional guidance and high-quality materials from a design’s conception to finish. The shop caters to everything from fashion shows to personal designs.

KHAI SILK 133 Hang Ga, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3825 4237 One of the better established silk shops in Hanoi, this store also has a satellite shop in the Sofitel Metropole. With outlets throughout the country, this household name is a great place to go for ready-made silk items. You may find better deals at other shops, but with the highest quality silk, at Khai you pay for what you get.

L’ATELIER No 33 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3668 5509 Designer store where Le Duyen Huong features her creations and matching accessories and shoes. The trendy shop exudes a pleasant and warm atmosphere and collections change often. Offers tailoring for local and export markets.

LUALA BOUTIQUE 61 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3936 9899 Close to the Opera House, this “concept store” dressed up as a spacious boutique and café is aimed at the luxury, lifestylefocused end of the local market. Has clothing and accessories for men and women and stocks the likes of Vera Wang, Nina Ricci, Elie Saab, Paul & Joe and much more. Also slated to show contemporary Vietnamese art. Check out their website for latest arrivals and their full range of brands.

MAGOON 19 Ma May, Hoan Kiem; 9 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem A small fashion house with many outlets around the city, Magoon offers one-of-akind lady like fashions. They have a bit of everything from jackets and dresses to knitwear. The prices are affordable and the merchandise changes often. The main studio is on Au Trieu.

MARIE-LINH COUTURE 11 Nha To, Hoan Kiem 74 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem Parisian-style clothing combined with

quality Vietnamese dressmaking skills. The beautiful clothes are available in silk, organza and linen. Also available for online orders. With the accompanying home décor and accessories shop on 38 Hang Trong, it is possible to live an entire life of couture.

Vietnamese prices”, says it all. While mostly retailing women’s separates in soft cotton jersey and linen, the store also carries a range of accessories like embroidered canvas totes and printed tees. Has a good selection of unique men’s shirts.



40-42 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem A lifestyle brand that started out life in Hoi An, Metiseko’s move to the capital will see them bring us their creative, poetic prints designed for an eco-chic lifestyle. The products — clothing, accessories and furniture — are made from natural silk and organic cotton certified to global organic standards. Metiseko is also certified by the fair-trade, Textile Exchange.

MOON 111 Ma May, Hoan Kiem This small shop carries handmade embroidered linen and silk clothes that are usually less expensive than those found at the larger stores. The shop owners make most of the clothes themselves, so they will adjust designs to fit personal tastes.

NAGU 20 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem Walk past the rows of teddy bears and head for the small rack of clothing, which offers unique Japanese-designed dresses and shirts. The second floor has a selection of home goods. There is a loyalty program for frequent customers.

NUNA NUNONG 100 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Racks of flowery frocks line the walls, and handmade fabric garlands hang from the ceiling. You will also find a wide selection of handmade goods, such as hand-painted mugs, totes and baskets of increasingly popular animal pillows.

13 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3938 6260 The second branch of the flagship store located in Ho Chi Minh City, Runway sells only authentic designer collections from all over the world. The large store located in the Sun City Building mimics what a designer boutique should look like, with an all white interior. If you are in need of a designer fix, Runway is your answer, but be warned, the prices match the labels.

SOLE 21 21 Nha Chung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3938 1968 A distinctly designed boutique around the corner from the cathedral, bringing the latest from European and American Designers. Think Jimmy Choo, Kate Spade and Top Shop. Mark-up seems high on some pieces, but all designers are authentic. No fakes here.

VINATEX 25 Ba Trieu, Hoan Kiem In-town factory outlet for the Vinatex clothing corp. Carries items for men, women and children at low prices.

LINGERIE ANA MAI 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho This small boutique stocks lingerie similar to Parisian designers Agent Provocateur and Cosabella.



55 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 6290 If the classic storefront doesn’t draw you in, the clothing will. The Scandinavian showroom is clean and streamlined, emulating the modern but simple clothing contained within. Cottons and knitwear are the main focus in the European designed clothing for women and children. Prices are affordable and the quality is great.

52 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh Tel: 3822 9051 Pretty, lacy underwear imported from France. Carries mostly small sizes, up to a western sized medium.

SONG 5 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3828 6965 This boutique, whose name comes from the Vietnamese word for “life”, stocks high-end linen and silk clothes in a serene store awash with the fresh scent of mint. Located just across the street from the cathedral, prices are on par with its higher-end neighbours.

TAN MY 66 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3825 1579 Located in the heart of the old quarter, on “silk street”, Tan My claims to be Hanoi’s oldest silk and embroidery shop and boasts customers like Hillary Clinton. The three-storey shop offers everything from clothes and hand-embroidered baby pillows to sumptuous silk bedding.

TAN MY DESIGN 61 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3938 1154 800sqm of elegant, modern space that offers one-of-a-kind pieces to add to your home furnishings or wardrobe. Located across the street from the other Tan My, one of the oldest silk and embroidery stores in Hanoi.

THINGS OF SUBSTANCE 5 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3828 6965 This shop’s motto “Western sizes,

MINOSHE 59 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem This popular store carries a wide range of bras and underwear. Additional locations in Hanoi Towers and Vincom Towers.

SHOPPING MALLS HANG DA GALLERIA Cua Dong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 2220 9999 This small shopping mall is conveniently located in the centre of the Old Quarter, with all the standard small stores as well as a range of boutiques selling the wares of Vietnamese designers. The Highlands outdoor café is a perfect place to sit and watch the Old Quarter ebb and flow.

HANOI TOWERS 49 Ba Trieu, Hoan Kiem The retail space on the first floor of this complex includes everything from a golf shop to a hair salon. After shopping you can enjoy a cup of coffee at the Highlands Café or a sandwich at Papa Joe’s.

OCEAN PARK LUXURY MALL 36 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3936 0737 Shopping mall includes international designers such as Versace collection, Dolce and Gabbana, and Roberto Botticelli.

PARKSON Cnr. Thai Ha & Tay Son, Dong Da This Malaysian-owned department store prides itself on making the shopping experience one that is “more exciting and

fun”. Unlike many of Hanoi’s retailers, this megastore is also appealing to those who just want to browse. Departments include men’s, women’s and children’s clothing as well as home furnishings.

from Italy and England. The go-to place for top-of-the-range suits and shirts for all occasions. The shop is new and the service spot on.


18 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3828 9925 Though this tailor offers both men’s and women’s clothing, the well made dresses displayed in the window and the range of bright colours and patterns caters mostly to female tastes. Located in the shadow of the cathedral, it’s a little pricier, but you pay for the view.

299 Tay Son, Dong Da Newly renovated mall housing international stores like French Connection, Nike, and Adidas. A touch far from the centre, but distance brings lower levels of noise and customers, making it a nice option for shopping spree. Also has a movie theatre, a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and a food court.

TRANG TIEN PLAZA 24 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem This large shopping centre located at the southern tip of Hoan Kiem Lake includes shopping options for every price range. Bargain bins full of locally-produced clothing stand beside a Nike retail outlet. Offerings also include a cosmetics department and multiple electronics retailers.

VINCOM TOWERS 191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3974 9999 A shopping plaza offering a range of international brands such as Levi’s, United Colours of Benetton, Nike, Adidas and Geox.

SPORTSWEAR ADIDAS 83 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem Tel:3828 7190 The capital city’s flagship store of the international retailer of sport clothing and equipment.

B.BALL 65A Quoc Tu Giam, Dong Da Tel:3224 10780 This hoops-themed store sells balls, basketball shoes and jerseys of the madein-China variety.

HANOI CLUB GOLF SHOP 76 Yen Phu, Tay Ho Tel: 3823 8115 A small shop on the first floor of the Hanoi Club sells a range of equipment to fulfill your golfing needs, including clubs, balls and clothes.

NIKE Trang Tien Plaza, 24 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem; Vincom Towers, 191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung With multiple locations open, and more to come, Nike retails high-end sports clothing and accessories, including yoga mats and water bottles.

TOLIA Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Also known as the “Russian shop”, Tolia retails overstock outdoor wear made for export. Brands include Jack Wolfskin, The North Face and Patagonia.

ZONE GOLF Hanoi Towers, 49 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3936 3233 This centrally-located shop carries all the equipment and gear you need for a day at the course.

TAILORS CAO MINH TAILORS 250 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3939 3594 Located near Cua Nam street at the western-most end of Hang Bong, this established tailor with over 50 years of experience specialises in quality materials





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NGOC SHOP 64 Tran Xuan Soan, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3943 4747 This English-speaking tailor located near the fabric market off Pho Hue offers a seasonal collection of ready-made designs. The owner will also copy clothing or sew from your own designs. Fabric can be picked out in the shop or you can bring your own.

MS TAM Tel: 0989 098903 With a long list of foreign clientele, Ms Tam works from her home not too far outside of central Hanoi. She will pay a visit to where you live to take measurements and then bring the final clothes back a few days later. She also carries a book of fabric swatches for those who truly want to skip the shopping experience.

PHUONG LINH TAILOR 99 Son Tay, Ba Dinh Tel: 0904 083674 Exceptional quality at very reasonable prices, Phuong Linh may not speak English but her and her team make every effort to understand the task at hand. From copying your favourite garments to creating something new or from a magazine, Phuong and her girls succeed in getting it right time and time again.

THANH HA 114 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem Located in the heart of the old quarter, this tailor caters mostly to tourists, but a large collection of Vogue pattern books makes communication very easy.

OPTICIANS & GLASSES SUNGLASSES STREET Luong Van Can, Hoan Kiem If it’s all in a name, well here its all in a number — two of them in fact, 51 & 58. Not exactly conventional opticians — the rows of shops here do sell frames with lenses and have basic eye-testing services — but if its sunglasses with brand names super-glued on top, here is the place.

THU HA KINH THUOC 134 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3943 4570 Free eye testing in this well-known, German-trained opticians that also doubles up as a medical clinic and pharmacy specialising in eye problems. Sells a range of branded and no n-branded spectacles and sunglasses. Located opposite the National Hospital of Ophthalmology.

VIETNAMOPTICAL 48 Hai Ba Trung, Hai Ba Trung & 231 Nguyen Trai, Thanh Xuan Tel: 3736 5505 Chain of opticians, glasses and sunglasses stores selling a range of branded and Chinese-imported frames starting at VND100,000 a go and rising to over VND2 million. The in-store optometrist gives free eye tests. Helpful, English-speaking staff.


tion, which helps disabled and underprivileged children in Hanoi and northern provinces.

8 Nguyen Hoang Ton, Tay Ho Founded as a donut shop, it now also offers a wide range of German-inspired breads for those who favour nutrition over sugar. A loaf of rye bread rings in at VND40,000. Donuts, breads, cookies and sandwiches can be ordered online and delivered to your home or office. The bakery employs mostly disabled persons and is dedicated to providing them with high-quality training and care.



58 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem; 9 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 0473063682 Community development non-profit quilt shop featuring handmade quilts and accessories. Styles vary from traditional to patterned and Asian-inspired. Founded in 2001 and with outposts in several locations around the region, the shop employs women in rural areas, enabling them to make an income and care for their families.

252 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem One of the oldest and most wellestablished bakeries in the city, maybe best known as Catherine Deneuve’s former haunt, Kinh Do has been around much longer than any expat. But their breads, pastries and quiches keep foreigners and Vietnamese coming back. Extensive Western and Vietnamese menu as well.

38 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3938 0436 This newly-opened shop sells specially designed decorative objects in traditional Vietnamese lacquer and pottery in unique styles. It also retails small accessories that are easy to pack in your suitcase. Items are sold in the shop and online.



LE CROISSANT 21 Ha Hoi, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3943 6707 A well established and well respected Hanoi institution. Le Croissant not only makes excellent baked goods of all kinds, but is also part of the NGO Hoa Sua, a school for disadvantaged children that teaches them life changing skills.

PARIS DELI 6 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 6697 With two locations, one by the Opera House and the other by St. Joseph’s Cathedral, the Paris Deli makes a good job of their breads, tarts and pastries. Both are sit-down restaurants, but are happy to sell you their baked goods over the counter, to go.

THU HUONG BAKERY 35C Phan Dinh Phung, Ba Dinh Tel: 3734 3868 A small but popular Vietnamese-style bakery selling all types of sweets and cakes, luxuriously decorated. They also sell baguettes and sliced breads. They also deliver.

CRAFTS CRAFTLINK 43 Van Mieu, Dong Da Tel: 3843 7710 This non-profit organisation helps traditional artisans seek new markets. for sale in the retail space include handmade textiles from the northern provinces.

INDIGENOUS 36 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0977 799911 A crafts and home furnishings shop stocked by the Hold The Future organisa-

BAMBOO FURNITURE CORNER Cnr. Quang Trung & Tran Nhan Trong, Hai Ba Trung This cluster of furniture shops offer lowpriced bamboo products from baskets and desks to drawers.

BELLIZENO 130D Thuy Khue, Ba Dinh Tel: 3825 1343 The factory location of the Bellizeno bedding company includes a retail space for their high thread count sheets and bedding.

CARPET STREET There are a number of made-to-order carpet and rug stores along Kim Ma from roughly number 239 to 299.

CHI VANG 63 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3936 0601 Located near the lake, this store offers a wide range of embroidered bedding and tablecloths. Items can be purchased in the store or hand-embroidered to order.

COTYLEDON 1A Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 7887 This shop stocks high-end duvet and cushion covers, quilts and tableware like runners and placemats.

DARLING HANOI Tel: 01282 273717 Photowalls and Wallpaper of the highest quality. Create a photowall from your own image or choose an image from their large online catalogue. Inspiring and unique wall décor for private homes, offices and reception areas, hotel rooms and foyers, restaurants and bars. PVC-free,

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ELECTRONICS CAMERAS A DONG PHOTO CO 128 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 0732 This camera shop retails a wide range of cameras, including both analogue and DSLR models, as well as film and accessories like flashes and lenses. ALPHA LAPTOP 95D Ly Nam De, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3747 4418 This laptop retail and repair shop also carries camera accessories and cases. FUONG MAY ANH 5 Trang Thi, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3213 1568 This small store has a wide selection of Viet Nam-produced Pentax cameras. Also has a selection of imported lenses. NGUYEN CAU 1 Ba Trieu, Hoan Kiem This camera shop overlooking the lake develops both digital and film prints. Services include photo mounting and passport photos. COMPUTERS AND ELECTRONICS DK COMPUTER 29 Ngoc Kha, Ba Dinh Tel: 3772 4772 This large electronics retailer deals in computers, printers, as well as external storage devices. HI-TECH USA 23 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3938 6261 A small, but good all-around electronics store, selling all kinds of electronics. Speakers, I-Pods, headphones, cables and phone accessories. Many name-brands. PICO PLAZA 35 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem This is a super-sized electronics shop with each floor devoted to a specific kind of electronics. You’ll be able to find pretty much anything you’re looking for here, from a phone to a computer to a washing machine. PROFESSIONAL COMPUTER CARE AND IT SERVICES No 3, Alley 8, Hoa Lu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 0983 011081 This service company can help with a just about any computerrelated task. Computer repairs, set up, Wi-Fi, design, networking and development. On-site and off-site service, and free quotes. VIETSAD 34B Ly Nam De, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3747 8771 Located on bustling “computer street”, this shop offers a range of computer accessories including keyboards and USB drives. They also do computer and laptop repair.

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UV-resistant and moisture-resistant, all the paper is made in Sweden and shipped free within Hanoi.

DOME 10 Yen The, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3843 6036 Internationally run furniture store with three large outlets in Hanoi. They offer ‘affordable luxury’ goods such as pillows, bed linens and other home wears, in addition to making custom furniture.

EUROPEAN IKEA SHOP 35 Ngo Thanh Mie, Dong Da This tiny shop carries a small collection of IKEA brand furniture, but can order more from the catalogue.

GRAND BOIS Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem This high-end wooden furniture store located on the first floor of Hanoi Towers has offered best-selling designs for a decade. The classic pieces are mostly constructed out of dark wood and are complemented with cream-coloured linen lampshades and cushions.

HANOI MOMENT 101 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 7170 This shop makes sifting through lacquer kitchenware and accessories easy. While its stock may not differ from the stores next door, the display is less overwhelming.

LA CASA Syrena Tower, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 4084 A shop whose speciality is designing furniture and other household objects, this spot has everything from beds and bookshelves, to tableware and silverware. The items are all locally made by skilled artisans from Hanoi and the surrounding regions.

MAI LONG 71 Tran Xuan Soan, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3822 5393 This shop sells material for curtains and window blinds. They make house calls to measure and install.

MAROON 156 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 7264 Nestled in the heart of the old quarter, Maroon sells accent pieces to brighten up any household: lacquer picture frames, lamps, and silk bedding.


design centre.

MOSAIQUE BOUTIQUE 22 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 6181 Hard to miss, this bright green boutique blends Vietnamese traditionalism with modern flair. The result is a shop selling intricate lamps, lacquers and fun home wears. Handmade jewellery and crafts are also scattered around the store.


CT 6 My Dinh, Tu Liem; 147 Doi Can, Ba Dinh; 210 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3972 7412 Designers and retailers within the interior industry, each branch sells trendy furniture for modern living as well as interior design for all types Vietnamese houses.

62 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Tel: 6258 3510 Punto Italia is an authentic Italian supplier importing the finest espresso coffee as well as Italian coffee machines for professional, home and office use. Real Italian granita, ice-cream and much more is now available in Vietnam with the support of a professional and friendly service.




87 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3828 6758 This store is an impressive mix of fusionwestern furniture and home accessories. All furniture is hand crafted by artisans meaning top-end quality, but with price tags to match.

VELVET UNDERGROUND Tel: 3716 0400 This shop offers a range of ready made items, from bedding to hot water bottle covers as well as the option of designing your own item from a choice of fabrics. The friendly and helpful English-speaking staff make shopping a pleasure instead of a chore.

GROCERIES AU DELICE 3 The Giao, Ha Ba Trung Tel: 3972 0584 A European style deli and grocery store with all sorts of imported products for your dinner parties or a homesick night in. Their claim is to have the best selection of cheeses in Hanoi.

BETTERDAY 100 A Xuan Dieu Tel: 4258 3511 Hanoi’s speciality organic shop has a small stock of locally grown products including coffee, tea, cashews, a range of spices and beauty products produced in Sapa. Better Day Organics products are also available at the following stores: L’s Place, Oasis and Donkey Donuts

40-42 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem A lifestyle brand that started out life in Hoi An, Metiseko’s move to the capital will see them bring us their creative, poetic prints designed for an eco-chic lifestyle. The products — clothing, accessories and furniture — are made from natural silk and organic cotton certified to global organic standards. Metiseko is also certified by the fairtrade, Textile Exchange.

19/298 Ngoc Lam, Gia Lam Tel: 3873 6079 The place to go for imported foods such as foie gras, high-quality meats, pastas and dairy products. Although they specialise in the wholesale market, they occasionally do retail sales.



83 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 7247 Open since 2002, this interior design firm and home store creates modern and simple collections. They use local materials and traditional craftsmanship for a cool mix of contemporary Vietnamese living spaces. Their showroom showcases floor to ceiling windows, which allows for a bright open

Hoan Kiem Cramped and crammed to the bursting point with imported food products, making your way around the maze that is L’s Place can often be a tight affair, but it’s worth it. The canned and packaged goods together with fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy products and more can provide the dietary solution for anyone craving for a change from pho ga or bun cha.


71B Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 6220 This little store around Westlake has the feeling of one of those small ethnic markets you find in London or New York, but the ethnicity is Western. Reasonably priced canned foods, potato chips, cookies and other snacks that may be difficult to find elsewhere in the city.


3 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho; 34 A Phan Boi Chau,

28 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem Tel: 6492 9597 If you have a sweet tooth this store was made for you. Near the corner of Ly Quoc Su, Rock Candy specializes in the obvious, traditional rock candy. You can sample before you buy, and Rock Candy is available for weddings, private and corporate functions.

VEGGIE’S 99 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 4719 4630 International grocer at the end of Xuan Dieu, Veggie’s remains one of the best suppliers of western foods in the city. Stock includes organic granola bars, frozen corn dogs and shelves full of cereal. When searching for baking supplies, this store is your best bet. Also, due to having their own farm in Dalat, sell some of the best locally grown non-standard vegetables in town.

VINE CELLAR DOOR 7 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 2922 With a huge wine cellar, a tasting bar, a new array of gourmet foods and a deli case with imported meats, cheeses and olives, Vine Cellar Door Wine & Gourmet Market is a good spot to find the perfect bottle and the foods that go well with it. Also offers glassware, wine & cigar accessories, espresso, gourmet tea and a small café menu from the kitchen of Vine Restaurant.

THE OASIS 24 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 1196 A great place to get all kinds of imported groceries and home-made foods. All of the breads and pastas are made in the in-house kitchen. A great variety of fresh sauces, a limited, but well-chosen selection of wines and a fantastic deli and cheese case. Free delivery.

YUKI’S 54 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 6192 New on the scene, this grocer on Xuan Dieu has a large selection of fruits and seafood downstairs. Upstairs is reserved for a grocery store carrying western goods.

KITCHEN PRODUCTS KITCHEN ART 38/27 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 6680 2770 Kitchen Art is a little haven for all foodies, cooks and bakers to grow their love and

passion for cooking and baking. Come to Kitchen Art Store to buy restaurant-grade tools and ingredients to cook like a chef, take part in regular demonstrations and workshops at the Studio, or simply read and relax at the cookbook cafe corner while enjoying the peaceful West Lake view.

PUNTO ITALIA 62 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Tel: 6258 3510 Trendy, reliable and stylish coffee machines for the workplace or home, specialising in authentic Italian coffee. Also sells their own brand coffee in capsules, ready ground or as the original roasted mix of beans.

LIQUOR & WINE BACCHUS CORNER 1C Tong Dan, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3935 1393 Part of the Tan Khoa chain, the largest liquor and wine distributor in the country, the walls here are lined with a decent selection of wines, pleasantly arrayed and back lit. Besides their selection of new and old world wines Helpful staff and free delivery.

DA LOC 96 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem; 94 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3934 1325 This wine importer and distributor has over 250 different types of wine in its portfolio and is doing its part to bring a culture of fine wine to Hanoi. The main office and showroom is on Hai Ba Trung and an upscale outlet is located within the grounds of the Mercure Hanoi hotel on Ly Thoung Kiet.

HANOI GOURMET 1B Ham Long, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3943 1009 Not just a wine shop, the long-running Hanoi Gourmet specialises in imported cheeses, meats and artisan breads. After browsing the mainly French selection of wines, you can take a look at the deli and sit down for a light snack.

PANE E VINO WINE SHOP 3 Nguyen Khac Can, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 9080 This Italian favourite with a huge food menu also has a huge for-retail wine list that is 100 percent focused on fine wines and liquors from Italy. Owner Hoang has great knowledge of Italian wine and a passion to match, which is sure to land you with the best wine for any occasion.

RED APRON 18 Yen The Tel: 3747 4889 15a Ngo Van So Tel: 3943 7226 28 Xuan Dieu Tel: 3719 8337 #6, Lane 1, Au Co Tel: 3718 6271 Hanoi Club, 76 Yen Phu Tel: 3823 8749 The retail face of wine distributor Celliers d’Asia, this small wine shop is in the French Quarter, adjacent to the Metropole. The focus here is on quality and the portfolio ranges from French to Chilean to the barrage of wines coming from Down Under. Delivery service available.

THE WAREHOUSE 59 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0439 287666 The Warehouse is Vietnam's ultimate premium wine importer, distributor, and retailer, representing many of the greatest wines from the best wine-growing regions on the planet. The portfolio mixes the best of both old and new world wines.

VINE CELLAR DOOR 7 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 2922 With a huge wine cellar, a tasting bar, a new array of gourmet foods and a deli case with imported meats, cheeses and olives, Vine Cellar Door Wine & Gourmet Market is a good spot to find the perfect bottle and the foods that go well with it. Also offers glassware, wine & cigar accessories, espresso, gourmet tea and a small café menu from the kitchen of Vine Restaurant.

MARKETS CHO HOM Corner of Pho Hue and Tran Xuan Soan, Hai Ba Trung One of the best places in the city to buy fabrics. Found a tailor, want to make clothes? Here you’ll find everything you need, stuff imported and domestic, silk, cotton, linen. Also any sewing materials you might need can be found here.

CHO SINH VIEN Xuan Thuy and Pham Hung, Cau Giay The Student Market, across from Hanoi National University, caters to students. Mostly durable goods, clothing and accessories here. As far as style and size of clothes, selection is a bit limited, but if you take your time you may find something worth the trouble. The market, as well as the food stalls surrounding it, are open quite late. Prices are also tailored for the student budget.


Dong Xuan, Hoan Kiem The biggest market of it’s kind in Hanoi, Dong Xuan is filled with pretty much any durable good you can think of: from jeans to jewelry, from leaf tea to livestock. The indoor market spills out onto the streets, which can also serve a good place to get a meal pretty much any time.


Au Co, East Side of Street The name can be a little deceptive, since it’s more of a distribution point, where flowers come in to vendors all over the city. Of course you can buy directly from sellers here at a good price, provided you’re up late enoug`h. The other reason to come is for the pho stands. The market begins late at night and continues well past dawn.

PETS CITY ZOO 114A Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 6660 7749 Hanoi pet lovers take notice. A real pet store selling all your pet needs exists. City Zoo caters to dogs, cats, birds and fish. Dog beds line the walls at this small shop which also offers a range of imported pet food, accessories like collars and pet toys. You can even pick up a hamster while you’re here. Delivery is available on pet food.



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ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE DR. TRAN HUONG 80 Ngo Nui Truc, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0913 540907 Dr. Tran Huong is well-known in Hanoi thanks to his long experience as both a practitioner of traditional Chinese and Western medicine. The clinic treats severe and chronic pain with a variety of drugfree methods, including acupuncture, acupressure, cupping and moxibustion.

YAKUSHI CENTER Lane 28, No 6, Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 3719 1971 The centre offers such services as acupuncture, massage and traditional Chinese medicine. One of their specialties is the hot rock massage. Run by Dr. Thuy, a qualified practitioner, the Yakushi Center has a clean and relaxing environment and takes a holistic approach to health, designed to take care of both body and mind.



internationally trained dentists. The prices here are more than competitive than the other international dental clinics in town.

HONG NGOC HOSPITAL 95 Nguyen Truong To, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3716 3972 The dental practice is located on the first floor of this well-organised health clinic. The waiting time is short and the doctors competent.

ONE DENTAL No 8, Lane 27, Xuan Dieu,Tay Ho, Tel: 3718 6168 Providing quality dentistry in calm, relaxing environment it has an attentive and experienced mixed foreign and Vietnamese dental team who are there at all times to assist with any concerns.

PEACE DENTAL CLINIC 51a Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3715 2286 Established in 2001, it is run by an American dentist named Frederick. The clinic has a number of dentists trained in such places as Japan, Denmark and the Czech Republic – so the doctors are also fluent in many languages.



Cnr. Thai Ha & Tay Son, Dong Da One of the newer malls in the city, Malaysian-owned Parkson offers international name brand cosmetics. For those days when you feel like treating yourself, do your shopping in a real mall atmosphere.

1 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho, Tel: 3934 0666 24-hour emergency service with pricey, but international quality emergency and routine dental services. If your wisdom tooth needs pulling in the middle of the night, or you break a tooth, there are competent doctors and fast service.

TRANG TIEN PLAZA 24 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Stop here for everything from moisturizer to lipstick before heading upstairs to continue the shopping trip. Keep in mind, imported cosmetics don’t come cheap.

COUNSELLING INTERNATIONAL SOS VIETNAM, LTD. 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 3934 0666 In addition to emergency healthcare, the clinic also offers consultations by in-house specialists, full counselling and psychotherapy services. Call to make an appointment.

FAMILY MEDICAL PRACTICE Van Phuc Compound, 298 I Kim Ma Road, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3843 0748 (24 hours) Family Medical Practice provides psychotherapy and nutrition counselling services by in-house specialists. For more information or to book an appointment, please call the clinic.

COSMETIC SURGERY NEW LIFE CLINIC 6 Nguyen Thi Thap, Khu do thi moi Trung Hoa, Nhan Chinh, Tel: 6261 6166 www.newlifevietnam.comA small clinic that offers cosmetic dental work, skin treatments and minor cosmetic surgery. The on site doctor, Ms. Ha, was trained at the University of Southern California.

DENTAL AUSTRALIAN DENTAL CLINIC 3 Nguyen Du, Dong Da, Tel: 3944 5216 A clinic with modern facilities and

ONE DENTAL CLINIC No 8, Alley 27, Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 3718 6168 Providing clients with the best in dentistry, the international standard One Dental also creates a calm environment where customers can enjoy their dental experience. Using the latest technology, the One Dental team is there all the time to assist customers with any questions they may have.

WESTCOAST INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC 2nd Fl, Syrena Center, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho District, Hanoi Tel: 3710 0555, www.westcoastinternational The Westcoast International Dental Clinic is composed of dental professionals who deliver modern, high-level dental services throughout Vietnam. The clinic provides the highest quality technology, comfort and after-service care to patients.

MEDICAL FAMILY MEDICAL PRACTICE 298 I Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3843 0748 On the little street directly below Kim Ma, with all sorts of specialists including OB/GYN, Pediatricians and ENT. A Medium-sized practice with both Vietnamese and international doctors, but they are used to treating expats. Also a 24-hour emergency service.

FMP PEDIATRIC UNIT Van Phuc Compound, 298 D Kim Ma Road, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3726 5222 The Pediatric Unit of the Family Medical Practice Hanoi provides routine newborn and well-child check-ups, updated immunizations and vaccinations, out-

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medical patient treatment and follow-up. FMP’s pediatric specialists provide professional consultancy from infancy to adolescence.

medical buff

FRENCH HOSPITAL 1 Phuong Mai, Dong Da, Tel: 3577 1100 The first international hospital created in Hanoi, and still viewed by some as the gold standard for medical treatment. Offering everything from standard medical and preventative care to surgical procedures. Full-service hospital that has both doctors and staff speaking good French and English.

INTERNATIONAL SOS 24-HOUR CLINIC 1 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho, Tel: 3934 0666 Well-known medical clinic also known for its quality emergency services. Doctors and consultants also provide a range of services from standard GP-style check-ups through to vaccinations, paediatrics and specialist care.

PHARMACIES H CLINIC 24T 1 Hoang Dao Thuy, Cau Giay, Tel: 6251 2835 A clinic with a very large pharmacy that can fill pretty much any prescription you get in Hanoi. They also offer minor medical consultations.

NHA THUA VINH PHUC 625 Hoang Hoa Tham, Ba Dinh While it appears to be your basic street pharmacy, this small shop front stocks some hard-to-find medicine.

SUPPLEMENTS AMEVITA SUPPLEMENTS Tel: 3759 2515, Sells high quality vitamins and supplements imported from the USA including multivitamins, probiotics, joint care, herbals, fitness and anti-aging products. Free delivery in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Available online and at select retailers.

ULTIMATE NUTRITION Hotline: 0917 295091, Protein supplements, high quality vitamins, testosterone, muscle gain and fat loss supplements for those looking for professional sports nutrition to help their exercise or training regime. Call the hotline for free delivery to your home or office.

VETS ANIMAL CARE 16 ngo 424 Thuy Khue, Tay Ho Tel: 2246 1946 / 0978 776099 Locally-run clinic specialising in treating cats and dogs as well as providing a range of pet-care accessories, from animal food to clothing, toys and much more.

ASIAN VETERINARY & LIVESTOCK SERVICES (ASVELIS) 98 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: 3178 2779 English, French and Vietnamese-speaking veterinarian providing a range of medical services as well as grooming, boarding and certification for pet import and export. Also sells a range of pets toys as well as other products.

DR. BAO, MOBILE VETERINARIAN Tel: 0903 223217, On-call, English-speaking veterinarian who does the rounds in Hanoi. Well-respected, knowledgeable and, according to the feedback, very funny.

INTERNATIONAL LABORATORY & VETERINARY SERVICES 31 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho District, Tel: 3719 9994 A Vietnamese-owned small-animal veterinary clinic with English-speaking vets. Offers a range of healthcare and laboratory services as well as products for all animal needs. Products can be ordered online.

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COLON CANCER The colon is the large intestine and is the lower part of your digestive system. Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon). Rectal cancer is cancer of the last 6 inches of the colon. Together, they're often referred to as colorectal cancers. Most cases of colon cancer begin as small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps. Over time some of these polyps become colon cancers. SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS — A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool for more than a couple of weeks. — Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool. — Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain. — Abdominal pain with a bowel movement. — A feeling that your bowel doesn't empty completely. — Weakness or fatigue. — Unexplained weight loss. — Blood in your stool may be a sign of cancer, but can also indicate other conditions. FACTORS THAT INCREASE RISK Age. About 90 percent of people diagnosed with colon cancer are older than 50. A personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps. If you've already had colon cancer or adenomatous polyps, you have a greater risk of colon cancer in the future. Inflammatory intestinal conditions. Long-standing inflammatory diseases of the colon, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, can increase your risk of colon cancer. Inherited disorders that affect the colon. Genetic syndromes passed through generations of your family can

increase your risk of colon cancer e.g. familial adenomatous polyposis. Family history of colon cancer and colon polyps. You're more likely to develop colon cancer if you have a parent, sibling or child with the disease. Diet. Colon cancer and rectal cancer may be associated with a diet low in fiber and high in fat and calories. Some studies have found an increased risk of colon cancer in people who eat diets high in red meat and processed meats. A sedentary lifestyle. If you're inactive, you're more likely to develop colon cancer. This may be because when you're inactive, waste stays in your colon longer. Obesity. People who are obese have an increased risk of colon cancer and an increased risk of dying of colon cancer when compared with people considered normal weight. Smoking. People who smoke cigarettes may have an increased risk of colon cancer. They may also have an increased chance of dying of colon cancer. Alcohol. Heavy use of alcohol may increase your odds of colon cancer. Radiation therapy for cancer. Radiation therapy directed at the abdomen to treat previous cancers may increase the risk of colon cancer. DETECTING THE DISEASE Stool blood test. The fecal occult (hidden) blood test checks a sample of your stool for blood. This can result in a negative test result, even though you may have cancer. Hence has limited value. Flexible sigmoidoscopy. In this test, your doctor uses a flexible, slender and lighted tube to examine your rectum and sigmoid. The test usually takes just a few minutes. Barium enema. This diagnostic test allows your doctor to evaluate your

entire large intestine with an X-ray. Colonoscopy. The colonoscope, which is a long, flexible and slender tube attached to a video camera and monitor — allows your doctor to view your entire colon and rectum. Virtual colonoscopy (CT colonography). Uses a computerised tomography (CT) machine to take images of your colon TREATMENT The type of treatment your doctor recommends will depend largely on the stage of your cancer. The three primary treatment options are: surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Surgery (colectomy) is the main treatment for colorectal cancer. How much of your colon is removed and whether other therapies, such as radiation or chemotherapy, are an option for you depend on the location of your cancer, how far cancer has penetrated into the wall of your bowel, and whether it has spread to your lymph nodes or other parts of your body. Three drugs that target specific defects that allow cancer cells to proliferate are available to people with advanced colon cancer. These can be given along with chemotherapy drugs or alone. PREVENTION Regular screening. This should begin at age 50 for people at average risk of colon cancer. Lifestyle changes. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Limit fat, especially saturated fat. Eat a varied diet to increase the vitamins and minerals you consume. Limit alcohol consumption. Stop smoking. Stay physically active and maintain a healthy body weight. Dr WB McNaull MB ChB MPhil (Cambridge) DTM&H FRSTM (London) is the medical director of FMP, 298 I Kim Ma, Ba Dinh.


Âm Thanh Của Sự Tĩnh Lặng Chiến dịch “Không còi” của công ty Ford cùng với những bữa tiệc im lặng tại Hà Nội, đều có chung một tầm nhìn, một mục tiêu - dựa theo lời giải thích của anh Minh Quốc Đạt, đó chính là làm thủ đô trở nên yên tĩnh và trầm tư hơn trước. Phỏng vấn bởi Kaitlin Rees. Ảnh chụp bởi Aaron Joel Santos

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Có những người không chấp nhận được ngôn ngữ mà giới trẻ đang sử dụng ngày nay... Vấn đề ở đây là nhiều người không đi theo dòng chảy của ngôn ngữ. Trước khi có chiến dịch quảng cáo “Không còi” này, anh đã có ý tưởng “Bữa tiệc yên lặng”. Anh có thể giải thích ý nghĩa thật sự của “bữa tiệc yên lặng’ là như thế nào không? Cũng đơn giản thôi. Bữa tiệc yên lặng trước hết là một bữa tiệc, mọi người cùng ăn uống với nhau. Riêng một điểm khác biệt là họ không dùng lời nói. Họ có thể giao tiếp thông qua những biểu cảm khuôn mặt, những cử chỉ cơ thể để thể hiện, tất cả đều được ngoại trừ lời nói. Mục đích của bữa tiệc yên lặng là gì khi mà không ai nói gì? Tôi hy vọng thông qua nó có thể làm mọi người suy nghĩ kỹ về lời nói. Tôi muốn tạo nên sự khác biệt giữa khi bạn đang tham gia và sau khi tham gia bữa tiệc, giữa sự im lặng và việc nói chuyện, qua đó mọi người sẽ suy nghĩ kỹ về giá trị của lời nói và cách sử dụng từ ngữ. Khi mọi người kết thúc và rời khỏi bữa tiệc, họ thoải mái nói chuyện lại, tôi muốn có sự thay đổi về việc họ diễn tả suy nghĩ của chính bản thân họ. Nếu bạn không được phép nói, bạn chắc chắn sẽ cảm thấy áp lực bên trong chính mình trong suốt bữa tiệc. Tôi muốn những người trẻ tuổi sẽ đương đầu với áp lực này. Những thanh niên Việt Nam cần học cách đương đầu với khó khăn và nhiều thứ khác, và điều đầu tiên họ nên đối mặt chính là bản thân họ. Nhưng khi đối mặt với mâu thuẫn, không lẽ bạn không cần phải lên tiếng để mọi người lắng nghe ý kiến mình hay sao? Chúng ta cần điều đó. Mọi người cần phải nói để hiểu rõ nhau. Nhưng khi văn hóa và con người thay đổi quá nhanh, như ở Việt Nam, họ không có những cuộc trò chuyện, ý tôi là những cuộc nói chuyện thật sự. Tiền, công việc, Iphone, những điều vô nghĩa. Chúng ta cần trao đổi, đó là một điều tất yếu mà bất kỳ nền văn hóa nào cũng phải có. Nhưng chúng ta cần hơn chỉ một cuộc đối thoại, và đôi khi, điều đó bao gồm cả sự xung đột. Ý tưởng của tôi về việc tổ chức bữa tiệc im lặngbắt nguồn từ sựcần thiết yếu phải đương đầu với một số yếu tốtừ bên trong

bản thân nhằm hiểu rõ hơn về chính mình. Chỉ có thế họ mới có những cuộc nói chuyện thật sự với mọi người. Ngày nay cách mà mọi người nói chuyện với nhau thật sự rất khác biệt, ngay cả trong việc sử dụng ngôn ngữ. Bạn nghĩ gì về những thay đổi trong ngôn ngữ đó? Nó như một dòng sông. Có những người không chấp nhận được ngôn ngữ mà giới trẻ đang sử dụng ngày nay. Họ không thể hiểu nổi nó. Vấn đề ở đây là nhiều người không đi theo dòng chảy của ngôn ngữ. Các thế hệ sau luôn tiến theo dòng chảy đó, và nếu bạn không tiến lên cùng, bạn sẽ hiểu sai. Điều đáng nói ở đây là ngôn ngữ và con người có thể bước xa nhau nhưng sự yên lặng thì luôn luôn ở tại một chỗ, không thay đổi. Mọi người đều bình đẳng như nhau trong sự yên lặng và nó có thể là cây cầu nối giữa các nền văn hóa, giữa các thế hệ. Làm cách nào mà Bạn có thể truyền đạt ý nghĩ của mình từ “Bữa tiệc yên lặng” tới chiến dịch “Không bấm còi xe” không? Về căn bản thì chúng đều giống nhau. Bởi vì ở Việt Nam đây là một vấn đề lớn, nên tôi muốn chương trình có một cái tên tầm cỡ tương đương – “Không Còi”. Không bấm còi xe, là một khẩu hiệu lớn làm nhiều người thắc mắc. Nhưng khi mọi người thắc mắc về cái tên đó, họ sẽ suy nghĩ về cái còi xe nó có sự hữu dụng như thế nào, điều đó có nghĩa họ đang suy nghĩ về nó. Đó là tất cả những gì tôi muốn. Nó chung mục đích với Bữa tiệc yên lặng, nhằm để suy nghĩ về giá trị của ngôn ngữ. Khẩu hiệu của tôi là “suy nghĩ trước khi bấm còi”. Việc làm thế nào để thể hiện chính bạn mà không sử dụng lời nói sẽ làm bạn quý trọng lời nói hơn. Điều này cũng tương tự về cách bạn sử dụng còi khi đang lái xe. Vậy bạn phản ứng như thế nào khi có người nói: “Tôi phải bấm còi, thật không an toàn và không thể lái xe mà không có nó”? Phản ứng đó là tốt. Khi mọi người đều phản đối cái tên đó, họ sẽ càng suy nghĩ sâu hơn về vấn đề này. Lời nhắn của tôi chính hướng tới các bạn trẻ, những người lần đầu lái

những chiếc xe máy được bố mẹ mua cho. Bản thân tôi cũng có kinh nghiệm được bố tôi dạy khi học lái xe. Bố tôi dạy tôi rằng, nếu đang chạy xe mà tới chỗ rẽ, hãy bấm còi liên tục kể cả khi không nhìn đường. Khi bạn bấm còi một cách liên tục, bạn thật sự sẽ không nhìn đường hay suy nghĩ gì nữa, như một con robot, bấm còi tự động và ngu ngốc. Cái còi xe không phải là cái thay thế cho việc nhìn và quan sát đường. Anh có biết câu chuyện về Sisyphusm người liên tục đẩy một tảng đá mòn lên đỉnh núi với mục đích duy nhất là để nhìn nó lăn xuống chân núi? Bạn có thấy bạn hơi giống Sisyphus không? Yeah, cộng sự của tôi cũng hỏi một câu giống như thế, kiểu như điều này thật không hợp lý, anh không thể thay đổi con người, nó là một lỗi của hệ thống. Vấn đề với cái còi xe chỉ là 1 phần trong rất nhiều vấn đề khác tồn tại ở Việt Nam. Đi trước, đi nhanh, làm mọi thứ chỉ cho chính bản thân mình. Thay đổi là một điều không tưởng, đó là Việt nam, một phần tính cách của người Việt, cộng sự của tôi đã nói như thế đấy. Sau khi nghe điều đó, tôi chỉ nói với anh ấy rằng nếu anh không làm gì, sẽ không có gì xảy ra. Anh phải làm một điều gì đó, kể cả điều đó là bất hợp lý hay không. Nếu như bạn có một ý tưởng mà lại không làm gì để điều đó xảy ra, với tôi đó mới là điều không hợp lý. Tôi không nghĩ tới việc đẩy một hòn đá cuội lên đỉnh núi, và đúng nó là một tảng đá cuội thật. Nhưng tôi tìm thấy được những người muốn giúp tôi, như trong cái dự án “Không còi” có một nhà tài trợ lớn, và những nhóm như “Sống và Học tập” hay “Be Change Agents” cũng tham gia. Tôi chỉ có một ý tưởng và mọi người tới với tôi. Tôi không biết cách thay đổi thế giới, hay thay đổi những rắc rối ở Việt Nam, nhưng tôi không nghĩ quá xa vời như thế, thay vào đó tôi làm từng bước một. Tôi hy vọng rằng các bạn thanh niên cũng sẽ hiểu được rằng bạn không thể mơ tới làm những điều to lớn mà không cần phải làm những việc nhỏ trước.


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MOTORBIKE RIDER Over the past decade, backpacking in Vietnam has become a lifestyle. Its form, though, contrasts greatly with that experienced in the west. Words by Mien H. Pham.


haven’t got any Vietnamese friends who are THAT cool!” says an American friend, a four year resident of Vietnam, when I mentioned Vietnamese people doing motorbike road trips. In the eyes of many westerners, the locals appear to be too shy, too gentle, and not adventurous enough to do things such as day-long motorbike road trips. That impression is totally false. Many young Vietnamese love to hit long distances on motorbikes, and to them, it’s not just travel, it has become a lifestyle. Called phuot, this backpacking-style travel movement has grown in stature over the last decade. And the most popular type of phuot are motorbike road trips with no bus, train or car involved, because the motorbike will be its owner’s best friend from the beginning to the end. Espousing the mantra “the important thing is the route, not the destination”,Vietnam’s bike ‘hedonists’enjoy driving their vehicles through rocky and muddy mountain paths in the thick fog, in the darkness or under the pressure of heavy rain. They relish a challenge, testing themselves against the elements even if it means having to suffer, and they want to see every bit of change on the way from the city to the countryside. They just simply love the feeling of riding their motorbikes to ‘conquer’ a destination. Thus, they may ride 1,000 km just to spend an evening in Ha Giang or Sapa and think of that as a victory.

Preparation The all-conquering road trip needs a lot of preparation. First you need your travelling companions. Vietnamese people love to journey in big groups. Maybe it’s part of the traditional Asian mindset, not to take oneself away from the crowd. Maybe it provides security. What is clear is that their only idea of fun is ‘the more the merrier’. A travelling unit with less than six people (three guys driving and three girls sitting on the back) is considered to be too small and not enjoyable. So, groups tend to include between eight and 16 people — the

accepted current record is presently 50. In every group there is a leader who is responsible for planning, and at least one person who can act as the mechanic and do simple motorbike repairs such as fixing flat tyres. The leader is always the most experienced in the group, the person who has done many road trips before and is capable of leading the way for the group members. In most cases the leader also takes the role of repairman. There is no fighting or battling for this position, because it means responsibility and requires a lot of experience.

Espousing the mantra “the important thing is the route, not the destination”,Vietnam’s bike ‘hedonists’enjoy driving their vehicles through rocky and muddy mountain paths in the thick fog, in the darkness or under the pressure of heavy rain Groups of phuot motorbike riders also need to decide on an itinerary. In many cases it can be extremely detailed, like an agenda for a conference or the itinerary followed by tour guides. So you may get something like: 6am leave Place A. 7.30am arrive at Place B and eat breakfast. 10am arrive at place C, 30minutes for taking photos. The cost breakdown is also estimated as accurately as possible, including a clear daily budget for eating, sleeping and petrol. This cost estimation is the most important part of the whole planning experience since Vietnamese travellers are keen on knowing how much they will have to spend from the beginning.

The cost of a trip is normally very low. For instance, they can live with roughly VND1 million for a three-day road trip. This not only includes the basics, but also the expense of buying school supplies for mountain kids on a charity trip.

Compare and Contrast Most westerners living in Vietnam are expert solo travellers. Big groups generally don’t work in the west since westerners often have such strong opinions that they may end up spending the whole day arguing about what to eat and where to stay. Conversely, within a group of Vietnamese travellers, major conflicts are seldom. As part of a group, it is easier for individuals to compromise and from the outset it’s already clear who’s in charge. However, the time wasted on waiting for each other is a huge negative, and compromise also doesn’t necessarily mean consensus. Thus, misunderstanding and small conflicts still occur. Westerners also prefer exploring roads without any pre-planning. As one Australian friend of mine says, “How can you discover new places with a fixed route?” However, that fixed itinerary so espoused by groups of Vietnamese backpackers is surprisingly flexible. The group leader may change his mind at any time based on his experience, and the whole group may do the whole trip not once having followed the planned route. Which all begs the question. Why plan in the first place? Perhaps for a sense of security — group members like to know, at least in theory, where theyare heading to, even though in fact they actually don’t. As for me, I have travelled with both Vietnamese and western groups of motorbike riders, and I am the type of person who cannot easily compromise. Thus, I always dream of a solo motorbike road trip like a westerner, but with a bit of planning like the Vietnamese. Or at least, I will make sure I learn to do simple mechanical work first in case my motorbike breaks down in the middle of nowhere.

December 2012 Word | 109

My Own Super Power Detachment, identity and a place you can’t quite call home. Despite its advantages, life as an international school student is not a stroll in a well-manicured park. Words by Charlotte Porter 110 | Word December 2012


am an expat kid. I am living proof of someone who doesn’t know how to fill in the ‘permanent address’ box on a university application form. I have a home country that doesn’t consider me as its citizen. I have an accent that doesn’t correspond with my nationality. I have lived the generic expat life ever since I was born; the kind where you’re not allowed to paint your room because it’s ‘only temporary.’ The kind where basic addition and subtraction is crucial when trying to find the difference for appropriate Skypedates with grandparents and cousins. The kind where you find yourself comparing the taste of drinking water because you’ve travelled around so much. I am British. Whether or not I’ve mastered the slang that all the British teenagers use, or if I can wear shorts in the middle of November, I am British. Every summer I return home to see family and friends, equipped with photo albums, exotic presents and — something I’ve found stands out when you’re in the UK — a suntan. Although I consider England to be my home, I know that deep down I’m an outsider. I feel as though I’m lacking some kind of connection with the people who live in England, as if I’m missing out on some kind of joke. Once a year isn’t enough time to adjust to the ever-changing British lifestyle. It’s like trying to watch a movie, only I keep leaving the room and every time I come back something new has happened.

Home Sweet Home I have lived in Hanoi for the past six years. From being a country that I didn’t use to know existed, Vietnam has now become a part of me. Crossing the street has become a language that I’ve gradually picked up; difficult at first, but now something I can do fluently. While I may not speak Vietnamese, I’ve managed to conjure up my own tongue, a mixture of taxi-talk and sign language. Hoan Kiem Lake is like the north that a compass points to; I can always find it whenever I’m lost in the Old Quarter. I’ve grown used to the construction that wakes me up at seven on a Saturday morning and to the workmen who shout down to me from the rooftops. I major in the art of bargaining and I’m still working on how to perfect the aggressive way in which the Vietnamese shop. I love spinning stories to my family and friends in England of the hectic Vietnamese traffic and the wild monsoons, or explaining how the lack of shopping malls are made up for by the maze of streets that are each dedicated to some form of goods. I see tourists walking around carrying maps the size of dinner tables and it gives me a sense of pride to know that I don’t need to do that. Yet I used to. Six years ago, Hanoi was a labyrinth, a jungle of noise and motorbikes

and back alleys. Before Hanoi, I was living opposite BatuFerringhi beach in Penang. I was used to civilized traffic, an abundance of incredible food and the way in which skyscrapers would bloom out of the ground overnight. Before that it was Holland. Before that it was Japan. I see people come and go more often than not. I’ll make a new friend to replace the ones that are gone. I’m more fluent in goodbyes than I am in hellos. I bounce around from place to place so frequently that it might as well be categorised as one of those things you do every few of months, like going to the dentist. Having the opportunity to live abroad and travel is supposed to be a luxury, but sometimes it can be really hard to see how. I’ve been told that we are special, that we are different from all the rest,we have more of an opportunity to shine. I’ve been told that others are jealous of how fortunate we are, that they’re missing out on something big that has changed our lives. Yet how come when we all go back to our countries we feel jealous of them because they have a place to call home, a place which really is their home?

The New Super Power All the expats are thrown together in international schools across the globe. The benefit of going to an international school is that you get all the different sides to the story. During our weekly university session, I found myself comparing the American application system with a friend to my nowfamiliar UCAS. She told me she had to write a 2000-word essay answering the question: “If you could have any superpower, what would it be?” When she first told me about this, I automatically thought of the traditional superpowers that we’re all secretly craving. Invisibility, so we can listen to what people say about us behind our backs. Flight, so we can feel lighter than we’ve ever felt before. Speed, so we can get to places quicker than we do now. The basics. But then I thought about it— really thought about it. I don’t need a superpower.

I’m an International Baccalaureate(IB) student. I went back home this summer and I met someone who asked me about the ‘A’ levels I was taking. Common mistake; as someone who looks British and has a slight English twang, I should be living there, right? I told him I was doing the IB and asked him if he’d heard of it. He had, and asked if that made me super smart. “No,” I replied,“it just means I’m unfortunate.” Anyone who tells you that the IB isn’t hard has probably never done it or lives in a military boot camp. I master in three higher level subjects and three standard level subjects. I’m taking at least one science, one humanities, one arts, one first language, one maths and one second language. I have at least one assignment due every two weeks and a test every three. I could sing a song about the IB-learner profiles — backwards. My biggest fear is the IB and I know that once I conquer that, I will be unstoppable. Essays? Don’t get me started. I have to write a 4000-word essay judged by criteria so specific and picky it makes me cringe. We’ve had almost everything thrown in our faces; from last-minute assessments to English orals based on a sealed envelope. Some of us have to produce art to the level of Picasso or write essays demonstrating the research of a professor to achieve a grade worth smiling over. Some of us have to learn an entire language or memorise an extensive vocabulary. We have three weeks of exams that will determine the rest of our lives. That counts for the past 13 years of school and that will be the last thing we will ever do as high school students. I may not be able to show my kids the house I grew up in in the future. I may not still be going to school with the same kids from my nursery. I may never truly have a place which I can call my home. But living overseas, growing up as an expat, doing the IB diploma? These are worth far more. I’ve created my own superpower. I’m almost a super hero. Charlotte Porter is in her final year at the United Nations International School of Hanoi.

I see people come and go more often than not. I’ll make a new friend to replace the ones that are gone

December 2012 Word | 111


Street Index

N H NIEN Ng. Can h Chan

Doc Lap Khuc H ao


Gia m

Dong Da


Va n

Huo n





ng uo


Ngo S

Day Dan g Tra n Co n





Ngo Qua nT ho 1



P. Va n


Quo c Tu Ng o Ta t To QuGi am oc


Tho 1



Van Chu Ho


Doa n

Bich Cau


Han g B ot

P. P hu Tie n


Ha n g



Van Mie u


Ly V an P huc




Hoa i D uc


hao gC Han

g an Gi








Ong Ich Khiem



Ha Ngoc

Ba D i n h S q uare



H. Van

Dang Tat





Hung V uong

Ba Dinh

Bach Th ao P ar k

Thanh B ao


Q uan

112 | Word December 2012

Nguyen Huu Huan - C6, D6 Nguyen Khac Can - F7 Nguyen Khac Nhu - A4, A5 Nguyen Khuyen - E2, E3 Nguyen Sieu - C6 Nguyen Thai Hoc - D1, D2, D3, E4 Nguyen Thien Thuat - B5, B6 Nguyen Tri Phuong - A4, B3, C3, D3 Nguyen Truong To - A4, A5 Nguyen Van To - D4, D5 Nha Chung - E5, E6 Nha Tho - D5 Ong Ich Khiem - C2, D2 Pham Hong Thai - A4, A5 Pham Ngu Lao - F7 Pham Su Manh - F7 Phan Boi Chau - E4, F4 Phan Chu Trinh - F7 Phan Dinh Phung - A2, A3, B3, B4 Phan Huy Ich - A4, B4 Phan Phu Tien - D2, E2 Pho An Xa - A5, A6 Pho Duc Chinh - A4, A5 Phuc Tan - B6, C7, D7 Phu Doan - D5, E5 Phung Hung - B4, C4, D4 Quang Trung - E5, F5 Quan Su - D5, E4, E5, F4 Quan Thanh - A2, A3, A4, B4, B5 Quoc Tu Giam - E2, E3 Son Tay - D1 Ta Hien - C6 Thanh Ha - B6 Thanh Nien - A2 Tho Nhuom - E4, F5 Tho Xuong - D5, E5 Thuoc Bac - C5 Thuy Khue - A1, A2 Ton Duc Thang - D2, E2, F1 Tong Dan - D6, E7 Tong Duy Tan - D4 Tran Binh Trong - F4 Trang Thi - E4, E5, E6 Trang Tien - E6, F7 Tran Hung Dao - F4, F5, F6 Tran Quy Cap - E3, F3 Tran Nguyen Han - E6, E7 Tran Nhat Duat - B6, C6 Tran Phu - D2, D3, D4 Tran Quang Khai - C6, D7, E7 Tran Quoc Toan - F4 Tran Vu - A2, A3 Trinh Hoai Duc - D1, D2 Van Mieu - D2, E2 Vong Duc - F6 Yen Phu - A4, A5, A6 Yen Thai - D5 Yet Kieu - F4




Hang Giay - C6 Hang Giay - B5 Hang Hanh - D5, D6 Hang Hom - D5 Hang Khay - E6 Hang Khoai - B5, B6 Hang Luoc - B5, C5 Hang Ma - C5 Hang Mam - C6, C7 Hang Manh - D5 Hang Ngang - C5, C6 Hang Non - D5 Hang Quat - D5 Hang Ruoi - B5, C5 Hang Than - A5, B5 Hang Thiec - C5, D5 Hang Thung - D7 Hang Tre - C7, D7 Hang Trong - D5, D6, E6 Hang Vai - C5 Hang Voi - D6 Ha Trung - D4, D5 Hoa Lo - E5 Hoang Dieu - B3, C3, D3 Hoang Hoa Tham - A1, A2, B1 Hoang Van Thu - B2, B3 Hoe Nhai - A5, B4, B5 Hoi Vu - D5, E4 Ho Van Chuong - F2 Hung Vuong - A2, B2, C2, D2 Khuc Hao - C3, D2, D3 Lan Ong - C5 Le Dao Thanh - E7 Le Duan - D3, E3, F3 Le Hong Phong - C2, C3 Le Lai - E6, E7 Le Phung Hieu - E7 Le Thach - E6, E7 Le Thai To - E6, D6 Le Thanh Tong - F7 Lo Ren - C5 Lo Su - D6, D7 Luong Ngoc Quyen - C6 Luong Van Can - C5, D6 Ly Nam De - B4, C4, D4 Ly Quoc Su - D5 Ly Thai To - D7, E7 Ly Thuong Kiet - E4, F4, F5, F6, F7 Ly Van Phuc - D1 Ma May - C6 Nam Ngu - E4 Ngoc Ha - B1, C1 Ngo Huyen - D5 Ngo Quan Tho 1 - E1, F1 Ngo Quyen - E7, F6, F7 Ngo Si Lien - E3 Ngo Tat To - E2, E3 Ngo Tram - D4, D5 Ngo Van Chuong - F1, F2, F3 Ngo Van Huong - F1 Nguyen Bieu - A3 Nguyen Canh Chan - B3



19/2 - E4 Au Trieu - D4, E4 Bach Dang - E7 Bao Khanh - D5, D6 Bat Dan - C4 Ba Trieu - E6, F5, F6 Bat Su - C5 Bich Cau - E1 Cao Ba Quat - D2, D3 Cao Thang - B6 Cat Linh - D1, E1, E2 Cau Chuong Duong - C7 Cau Dong - B5 Cau Go - D6 Cau Long Bien - A6, A7, B6 Cha Ca - C5 Chan Cam - D5 Chau Long - A4 Cho Gao - C6 Chu Van An - C2, D2 Cua Bac - A4, B4 Cua Dong - C4, C5 Cua Nam - E4 Dang Dung - A3, B3 Dang Tat - A3 Dang Thai Than - F7 Dao Duy Tu - C6 Da Tuong - F5 Dien Bien Phu - C3, D3, D4, E4 Dinh Le - E6 Dinh Liet - C6, D6 Dinh Tien Hoang - D6, E6 Doc Lap - B2, C2 Dong Thai - C6 Dong Xuan - B5, C5 Duong Thanh - C5, D5 Gam Cau - B5 Gia Ngu - D6 Giang Vo - D1 Ha Hoi - F5 Hai Ba Trung - E4, E5, F6, F7 Hang Bac - C6 Hang Bai - E6, F6 Hang Be - D6, C6 Hang Bo - C5 Hang Bong - D4, D5, E4 Hang Bot - D2 Hang Bun - A4, B4 Hang Buom - C6 Hang Ca - C5, C6 Hang Can - C5 Hang Chao - D2 Hang Chieu - C5, C6 Hang Chinh - C6 Hang Cot - B5, C5 Hang Da - D5 Hang Dao - C6, D6 Hang Day - D1, D2 Hang Dieu - C5, D5 Hang Dong - C5 Hang Ga - C5 Hang Gai - D5, D6

We s t L ake




D. Th ai



Khac Can


Pham Su







Hien Ta




19/2 Ho i


Hang Da



Hoa Lo

Dinh Liet



H. Thiec



Phung Hung Ho i


Qua n

Da T uong


Vong Duc


Opera House


Tran Binh Tron g


Hang Cot

H. Ruoi

H. Dong

Ga Hang

Bat Su

Nam Ly Ta n







Phung Hu








h Than


Thanh L. Dao



Phu ng





n Pha nH uy Ich

ng Ha







Dinh Le









Le Thach


ng Da ch Ba

i Vo

Tien Tran Ng. Han




h Din


H. T

Ph uc Ta n

g hun



re gT Han


Huan Huu Hang Be


Hang Mam

Ho an Kiem L ake

g Tron





Nh uo m


Q uyen

o Ba

ng Chu Nha


hinh H. C



a Tu





n c Ta Phu



ao g D Han Van

ng Ha

Si Li Ngo Si Lie n



g Luon Hang Giay


g Luon

h an Kh




Nguyen Bieu

Dang Tat



ve AN TR

uat Th

g gan H. N n g Ca Han


n Xua

Tran Quo c


Buom Hang

Tho Nha


Th o



Su uoc Ly Q


m uo Nh



ao C. G ieu S n e Nguy

ai gG n Ha Hanh

am nC Cha




ng Bo

en Huy Ngo ong u Trie T ho





uat gQ Han

Thai Yen


Nam Ngu

Hang C

a Ch

Hang N on

m Ho ng Ha anh gM Han


ng Do

oc Lu


M a r ke t

hieu Hang C

Hang Bo

P hu


m Na Cu a HAI

Hanoi Trai n Station

ng Ha

gD Ton

en Thi

y G ia

ng Ha


g Don anh Ha Cau Do ngTh X u a n


nh Tha


Nguy en K huyen

Ngo rung Ha T

ai Kho

ng ha oT a C


Hoan Kiem


g Han

ng Duo


Ba Qu at

m Tra

g Han

Lo Re n

Hang Vai

Ng. Van To



Hang Ma

Bat Dan

L en i n Park Ca o








e Ho



ai Nh






Ngu yen Tru ong To QU A


Ng Duc uye C n K hin h a Hon g T c Nhu hai





Pha m

o Ph


n Vu Dung Chau Long





Truc Bach Lake







{crossword} Answers on page 4











20 1










































ACROSS 1. Medieval slaves required to render services to a 6-Across 6. Manor owner of the Middle Ages 10. Angry crowd 13. Vast body of water 14. Computer users' correspondence: Hyph. 16. "You ____ what you eat" 17. Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, 800-14 19. Acquire 20. Sent to the canvas, in boxing slang 21. President Reagan, for short 22. Forbidden things: Hyph. 24. Rotate 26. Coke or Pepsi 27. Person who easily becomes
















37 1

1 1










160 61



1 1








114 | Word December 2012


1 1











sentimental 30. School org. 32. Behaves 35. Pertaining to 36. French national heroine who ended the siege of Orleans in 1428: 3 wds. 38. Actor ____ Diamond Phillips 39. Medieval English poet who wrote "The Canterbury Tales" 41. ____ de Janeiro, Brazil 42. Shopkeepers who were common in the Middle Ages 44. Discourage 46. Pale in the face 47. "For ____ a jolly good fellow" 48. Ten-year period 49. Meat-grading org. 51. Cruel Roman emperor 52. "We ____ please!": 2 wds.

55 56


54. Bartender on "The Simpsons" 55. Sit-ups strengthen them 58. ____-Cone (icy treat) 59. Affliction that killed an estimated quarter of Europe's population in the 14th century: 2 wds. 64. Hundred Years' ____ (conflict between England and France, 1337-1453) 65. Stringed instrument of India 66. Grown-up 67. Naval officer: Abbr. 68. See 51-Down 69. St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Francis of Assisi, for example DOWN 1. Footwear item

2. Reverberation 3. Enjoy the novel 4. ____ East (where MArco Polo traveled in the 13th and 14th centuries) 5. Weekend comedy series, for short 6. Sour fruit 7. Country west of the Arabian Sea 8. Dustcloth 9. Loud noise 10. Document of English liberties sealed in 1215: 2 wds 11. Black-and-white cookie 12. Wagers 15. Joke-teller Jay 18. Fourth largest Great Lake 23. Norwegian king (1016-29) who became Norway's patron saint 24. Letters after R 25. Curve ball, for one 26. Walking stick 27. "Dogma" actress Hayek 28. Double-reed instruments 29. In medieval physiology, the elemental fluids blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile: 2 wds. 30. Sullen looks 31. Tic ____ (tiny breath mints) 33. Took a stab at 34. Make a touchdown, for example 36. "Sense and Sensibility" novelist Austen 37. " ____ in the court!" 40. "Very funny": 2 wds. 43. Abnormal sac 45. ____-friendly (safe for the enviroment) 48. Low-pitched, as a voice 50. Scooby-Doo, Benji and Pluto 51. With 68-Across, Gothic cathedral in 1163 52. "It's the end of the world ____ know it!": 2 wds. 53. ____ instant (suddenly): 2 wds. 54. Polite thing to call a woman 55. "Son of ____ !": 2 wds. 56. Gain muscle mass, with "up" 60. Get ____ of (throw away) 61. Seventh Greek letter 62. On the ____ (fleeing) 63. Commotion

Photo of the Month by Gia Vu Phan

Do you ow na photograp h that would look good here? Ema il it to editor@wo rdhanoi. com

Gold Light

{trivia buff} Answers on page 2

1) By what name was Steve Irwin more commonly known?

Moonglows with Motown boss Berry Gordy's brother-in-law Harvey Fuqua?

14) If you have amnesia what have you damaged?

2) What was advertised on TV with the slogan: "The bank that likes to say yes"?

8) Who invented the gamophone?

15) What is considered to be the least nutritious fruit or vegetable?

3) Who starred in Remains of the Day and Shadowlands?

9) Who is credited with writing the poem The Owl and The Pussycat?

16) What company is the biggest producer of digital cameras in the world?

4) What is the capital of New Zealand?

10) The average person spends 8 years of their life doing what?

17) Who was the first female DJ on Radio 1?

5) What European country withdrew its forces from NATO in 1975?

11) Butthole Surfers were formerly known As 'Ashtray Baby Heads' Or 'Aliens Must Die'?

18) Who Had A Hit With The Song Celebration?

6) The SAA is a help organisation founded in 1972. If you got in touch with The SAA who would you expect to contact?

12) What is the name for meat killed in the prescribed Muslim manner?

19) What soap star wrote Prime Time?

7) What singer began his career in The

13) What US state flag has a UK Union Flag on it?

20) What acid was first prepared from distilled red ants?

December 2012 Word | 115


Street kid hospitality training programme KOTO helped Nguyen Thao go from selling postcards on the street to studying in Australia and managing one of Hanoi's finest restaurants, Pots 'n Pans.She shares what she's learnt along the way. Photo by Aaron Joel Santos

THE BEST THING ABOUT RUNNING A RESTAURANT IS... FOOD, but you have to have a passion for it. Tasting food is also about tasting different cultures and wherever you go in the world everyone wants to talk about it.Food brings people together.

WHAT NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT WORKING IN HOSPITALITY IS... it’sa game, albeit one which never ends. That means it takes a huge amount of energy and it eats up all your spare time. But it’s fun, too.

YOU CAN TELL HOW GOOD A RESTAURANT IS BY... just walking in the door. The ambiance soon lets you know not just how good the cuisine is but how well it will be served. In a good restaurant you can feel the passion in the decor and in the enthusiasm of the staff before you even taste the food.

WHEN I WAS IN AUSTRALIA WHAT I MISSED MOST ABOUT VIETNAM WAS… Pho Hanoi!Pho ThanhHoaon the corner of Van Mieu and Ngo Tat To. I never stopped craving it, literally every single breakfast time I was away.

NOW I AM BACK IN VIETNAM WHAT I MISS MOST ABOUT AUSTRALIA IS… lamb chops cooked on a barbecue by my Australian family. Yum!

VIETNAMESE ARE DIFFERENT TO AUSTRALIANS BECAUSE... they are “too skinny, too short and look funny” or so I’m told.I

116 | Word December 2012

have also learnt that Australians like to ‘take thepiss’.You soon learn teasing is a compliment.

I HAD NO IDEA WHEN I FIRST STARTED AT KOTO THAT... I’d find so much passion for food and the hospitality industry. I just thought it would be a job.I’vebeen fortunate to travel and to enjoy opportunities that I never thought would be open to me, but I guess it’s this growing love of food that surprises me the most.

I LOVE IT WHEN CUSTOMERS... give us compliments.That might seem obvious but a restaurant’s enthusiasm is fuelled by compliments.We need it.It keeps us going.

IF I WAS A CUSTOMER THEN MY DREAM RESTAURANT WOULD BE... can I say Pots ‘n Pans?Yes?The food and service is for others to judge, but we have it written into our agreement with our Australian investors that we have to contribute to our community and are aware of our wider environment. If it is a dream then I don’t want to wake up any time soon.

WHEN I GO TO RESTAURANTS... I’m always learning.What do they do well?What do they do badly?It’s hard to switch off.

WHEN I AM 50 I... still want to be eating and travelling and going to restaurants.So more of the same, I guess. It’s a hard life.

Word Ha Noi December 2012  

The what's on guide to Hanoi and beyond

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