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Chuyên đề du lịch, ẩm thực

Vietnam Edition march 2014

Automatic For T h e P eopl e

Nhà Xuất Bản Lao Động


march 2014






010 / The Seeds of Growth

052 / A Life in the Arts

The bottle is now half full

011 / The Big Five

Events to look out for this month

BRIEFINGS 016 / The Village

The sequel to A O Show

Painter Bui Suoi Hoa shares insights from her 30-year career as an artist

084 / A Vietnamese Mosaic

098 / Mystery Diner Hanoi

Healthy home-cooked cuisine in Tay Ho

099 / Street Snacker Hanoi

On the menu: banh ran

100 / Mystery Diner HCMC

Photographer Réhahn Croqueville Two restaurants delight our inside has made a beautiful book man


020 / Valentine’s Day at McDonald’s 088 / The Workings of GingerWork

A date at the hottest ticket in town

026 / Women’s Day

The real scoop on Women’s Day

INSIDER 056 / Automatic for the People

Making inroads into Hanoi’s creative cliques

092 / The Riding School

Learning to ride horses in the Year of the Horse


Our cover story looks at the two-wheeled vehicles that have come 094 / Lunch for a Good Cause to symbolise Vietnam We can’t all eat cake

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131 / Hanoi City Guide

FASHION 102 / The Style Riders

Badasses and the clothes they wear

TRAVEL 108 / Dhaka by Bus

It’s an adventure, daily for some

114 / Penguins, Seals and an Echidna

Phillip Island near Melbourne, home of the penguin parade

126 / Destination Zero

An introduction to Villa Song

130 / Travel Promos

HANOI 044 / Overscene 046 / Calendar

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144 / Medical Buff

135 / Hanoi Promos

146 / Student Eye

HCMC 028 / Dance Parties

150 / Business Buff

034 / Overscene 036 / Calendar 147 / HCMC City Guide

118 / The Bikers’ Guide to the North 152 / Coffee Cup Thai Switchback Mountains

A well-dressed road trip


158/ Top Eats 172 / Food Promos COLUMNS 138 / Book Buff 140 / The Alchemist 142 / The Therapist

162 / Body and Temple 164 / A World of Good 174 / Tieng Viet FINAL SAY 178 / The E-Bike

Electric bikes aren’t just for nerds anymore

182 / Do-Gooders, Money Makers and Misfits

What’s your damage?

184 / The Last Call

The woman behind Fair Trade business, Betterday

Contributors This month we asked Word staff: How did your parents feel about you first getting on a bike?

Margaret Smith Contributing Writer I asked my mom this question recently. Her answer? “Pretty worried. You are easily distracted. Why? Have you had another accident?” Clearly my parents have a lot of confidence in my driving abilities.

Hoa Le Staff Editor It was since I was inside my mom’s uterus. She was sitting in the back seat of my father’s Cub. So they felt happy, I think!

Yves Schiepek Photo Editor When I was young I took my sister’s bike to the mountains, where motorbike guys would take their bikes for some jumps and stuff. Somehow I never really got much into it, but one day about 15 years later I was on a scooter around Sapa, which was great.

Vu Ha Kim Vy Stylist / Writer I was always considered a tomboy. So most of the time when I did dangerous things, my dad would say, “Just don’t drive so fast.”

Karen Hewell News & Online Editor The news about my getting a motorbike came to my parents in the same way that my getting a tattoo did — by accident. They saw a Facebook photo of me driving, and when I finally spoke to them again, they said, “If you drive that motorbike like you drive a car, we’d better get you some health insurance.”

Nick Ross

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EDITORIAL nick ross Chief Editor

Ed Weinberg Deputy Editor

MADs monsen Creative Director

Elisabeth Rosen Staff Editor

yves schiepek Photo Editor

Hoa Le Staff Editor

FRANCIS ROUX Staff Photographer (Hanoi)

kAREN HEWELL News & Online Editor

Kyle Phanroy Staff Photographer

mark allan Website & Graphic Designer

Francis Xavier Staff Reporter

Nguyen Loc Layout Designer

vu ha kim vy Marketing

ADMINISTRATION Bao ross General Director

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ADVERTISING bao ross General Director

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For advertising enquiries please call Ms Bao on +84 938 609 689 or Ms Giang on +84 934 640 668 Special thanks to Rob Egtberts, Vu Ha Kim Vy, Fred Lai, Harry Hodge, Margaret Smith, Aimee Millwood, Kelly L. Le, Lam Hieu Thuan, Jennifer Graham, David Harris, David Mann, Andy Crompton, Huyen Tran, Dana McNairn, Karen Gay, Douglas Holwerda, Truong from Bookworm, Phil Kelly, Shane Dillon, Cristina Nualart, Katie Jacobs, Villa Song, Family Medical Practice, Yanneth Albornoz and Tae Jun Park

Chief Editor When I got a job at Domino’s, I got on my first bike. If you delivered pizzas, you got tips. I remember my parents being scared — and critical — but knowing that by the age of 17 there was nothing they could really do or say. And at least I was out there earning money.

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hen tourists first arrive in Vietnam, they are struck (sic) by the traffic. The terror of crossing the road transfixes them as they watch the motorbikes stream by, moving left and right without abandon. Through their eyes they see chaos without order, madness without reason, a traffic system beyond their

imaginings. Yet there is rhyme to what at first seems to be a lack of reason. And if you can describe the traffic in this country as chaos, then a necessary qualifier would need to be added — ‘organised’. Because traffic elsewhere is based around the mighty car, seeing it formed in a different way, through an endless trail of motorbikes, creates an

assault on the senses, an assault unique to Vietnam. Yet the humble — or, these days, not-sohumble motorbike — is not about just getting from A to B. It is a phenomenon that over the past two decades has become the lifeblood of Vietnam. Although growing numbers of cars and trucks are entering the traffic system, without the almost 40

million two-wheelers roaming the country’s roads, Vietnam would come to a standstill. Literally. Motorbikes are the arbiters of this country’s development, the engine of its move into the 21st century. They are the transport of the people, the vehicles that make this country move. We hope you enjoy the issue! — ­ Nick Ross, editor@

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THIS MONTH'S COVER Cover by DH Advertising Photo by Yves Schiepek

Have Your Say Do you have any comments? Then let us know on Facebook — — or via Twitter, @wordvietnam. No matter how positive or negative your thoughts, we look forward to hearing from you.


Do you have any comments that you would like to air? If so, reach out and touch us AT — we’re at your fingertips. CHUYÊN ĐỀ DU LỊCH, ẨM THỰC


The February Issue Read the magazine cover to cover this month. Excellent. The best issue yet. Loved the 24 Hours in Vietnam concept. Very well thought out. Isn’t it amazing to see the contrasts between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City? — RR Hey, I was reading through your magazine and I found it very confusing. I’m never sure what is Hanoi and what is Ho Chi Minh City until I start reading the article. You need to make it clearer. — DC The cover of your present issue didn’t make sense to me. Putting all those photos on there made it hard to work out what the idea was. — GN Clever idea for your cover. A photo feature story and a contact sheet on the front. Like the negatives we used to get back in the old days when photography was still done with film. — KM

Mr. McDonald’s (February 2014, page 42) Don’t get the obsession with McDonald’s. What’s all the fuss about? Isn’t there any better news in Vietnam at the moment? — SJ Interesting article. Never knew this was Maccy D’s first new market for 15 years. Sounds like the Big Mac Index could be quite important for Vietnam. — DC

Ten-Dollar Man (February 2014, page 40) Hahahaha! That is so funny. Did he actually let you take that photo? Everyone knows that guy. — JD



Ten Dollar Man, one of The Pham in Saigon’s most enduring characters. We didn’t buy the watch.

Do you think he sells anything? — BN

40 | Word February 2014

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February 2014 Word | 41

The Talk Lead

The Seeds of Growth The bottle is now half-full


n early 2009 a well-known financial advisor and analyst based in Vietnam told Word that now (or then) was the time to invest. He expounded his reasons, but the key one was that the market was subdued. A subdued market means lower costs — labour, raw materials, rental, real estate and so on. Businesses, he continued, should take advantage of this and invest now while the going was good. Retrospect is a fine thing, and looking back you can see his error. A subdued market means that no matter how cheap it is to invest, there is a lack of demand. And selling your goods and services in such circumstances is tough — as many businesses were soon to discover, very tough. The market was also on its way down. Which meant that what you bought today, particularly in real estate rentals, could well be cheaper tomorrow. Yet what he said also made sense. If you could find a market niche — and at the time in Vietnam there were many — 2009 was the moment to enter it and establish yourself. The reason? Not only were set-up costs cheap, you would have time to get it right. The influx of competition you would get when the economy is booming would be slow to materialise.

market in Vietnam is at the bottom.” According to Lyons, where these investors differed was on when the market would actually rise. Some, he said, were thinking within two quarters — which would mean now — others said within three quarters, some thought not for another two years. “But they are deciding that now is the time to get in.”

Not So Premium We have already started to see this investment ripple through, most visibly in food and beverage. But one new change with this growth is its focus. In the past, much of this country’s development was focused on the top-end — the premium market. Now the middle and bottom tiers of the market are also being looked after.

“It is retail shopping malls out of the centre of the city catering for non-premium customers that are starting to do well,” said Lyons. “So is residential — like the lower end E-homes created by the Nam Long Group. They do a concept where you can buy a brand new two-bedroom apartment for US$30,000 (VND430 million). They have gone for mass sales with small margins.” He cites other successful low-end and mid-range projects that have been a success, concluding, “These kinds of projects give lower percentage returns but they turn over. The mid-range is okay as well, a little more risky but with higher returns. It is good to look at the low to mid-range.” Which all suggests that now, rather than 2009, is the time to invest. — Nick Ross

From the Bottom Up

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The start of post-Tet 2014 has been greeted with optimism — probably the most optimism to be heard since the credit crunch. Speaking to people in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, there is still some caution, but there is now a sense that we have hit the deepest part of the economic curve and are moving upwards. It has created a new buzz of activity that in the months running up to the Year of the Horse was strangely absent. Yet as David Lyons, former country manager of real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle, explained back in September 2013, last year there were already rumblings that the economy was about to change. The question was when. Often seen as a barometer of the local economy, real estate fluctuations tend to ripple out to the wider economy after six to 12 months. This may be what we are about to experience this year. “For the last eight months we have had a lot of foreign investors coming in and they have all done their own independent research,” he explained of the first part of 2013. “Every one of them without a question has come to the same conclusion — that the


the big five A Jekyll and Hyde Tale Few stories have the kind of resonance in different contexts as Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale of moral inconsistency and rival influence. There’s a reason that The New Theatre Company (TNT) has chosen Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to follow successful productions of Shakespeare and Gulliver’s Travels at the Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City Opera Houses, one of 20 countries on the play’s 22-week tour. It’s a simple, physically demanding setup, one that puts language and atmosphere above all else — with the beautiful opera house backdrops providing one and a veteran cast providing the other. To add to the resonance, who in Vietnam doesn’t have experience putting a mysterious liquid into their body and completely changing into someone else? Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde will show at the Hanoi Opera House at 7.30pm on Mar. 4. The production will then move to Ho Chi Minh City for four shows — 7.30pm on Mar. 6, Mar. 7 and Mar. 8 as well as an 11am matinee on Mar. 7. For ticketing go to, the Vietnam Performing Arts Center, tel: (04) 3747 8658, log onto or email

3. 2.


Maft Sai isn’t someone who just plays records — this Thai funk label head is a re-creator of the worlds and times these records came from. A truly original talent that Southeast Asia is lucky enough to call their own, Maft Sai has become *the* world expert on left-field Thai music — luk thung, molam and Isan dancehall — all of which are covered in the excellent comps issued by his Zudrangma Records label. A heavy research DJ for over 12 years, Maft spins an eclectic mixture of underground sounds from around the world. Expect the Eastern sonic equations — heavy molam, dense African breakdown, liquid luk thung and rare Middle East cuts — when he comes to The Observatory on Mar. 7. Maft Sai is at The Observatory — corner of Le Lai and Ton That Tung, Q1, Ho Chi Minh City — Mar. 7 at 10pm. Entry is VND150,000

Apocalaughs Now!

If you remember the prim-andproper crudeness of English comedienne Mandy Knight and the theatrical, melodramatic delivery of Canadian Glenn Wool, then you’ll sure as hell remember the last installment of standup comedy at Cargo Bar. The next show on Tuesday Mar. 18 is set to be equally as spectacular and bellytickling, with a return performance from Russian-born, American-raised gagmeister Daniel Kinno. Also on stage is Billy Connolly lookalike — did we really say that? — Dave Callum. Originally from Ireland, the comic is now based in Australia and has an arm’slength-worth of accolades to add to the shoulder-length hair. And as ever, support will come from Stand-Up Saigon, with MC Steve Jackson and Jeremy Ginsberg. For more information and table bookings, email or go to Alternatively click on Cargo Bar is at 7 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4 and entrance surcharge, including a free original Magner’s Irish Cider, is VND250,000. Doors are at 8pm


If you thought that the close of 2013 would be the end of the French-influenced cultural extravaganza that was to grace the 40-year-anniversary celebrations of diplomatic relations between the Gallic powerhouse and Vietnam, then you were wrong. This month, Hanoi’s L’Espace is bringing

Maft Sai Brings the Wild


GingerWork Turns One

If you’ve been living in Hanoi for the past year and haven’t heard of GingerWorks, then you’ve probably been living under a rock. Well, maybe not. But certainly this events production collective is one to watch out for. If you want to celebrate 12 months of combining art and music, installations, all things creative and of course, music, then pencil in Saturday Mar. 29 for their first anniversary. The full details have yet to be announced, but the ginger-haired guru at the helm, Mark Harris, assures us that you just need to check out their Facebook page for updates — We’ve run a feature on them this month. So, to find out more turn to page 88

in not three but four musicans to light up the northern Spring nights. Pick of the bunch is rising star, Superpoze. A composer, a beatmaker and a purveyor of electronic music at its crossroad of influences, by mixing jazz, hip hop and all things leftfield, Superpoze has an ability to knock doors,

slip through immigration and expand borders. He’s playing at L’Espace (24 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem) on Saturday Mar. 29 (for just VND60,000 entrance for two people), and is most likely also taking to the grounds of Saigon’s very own cultural centre, Idecaf. Don’t just pencil this one in, mark it down in ink.

March 2014 Word | 11


The Toilets Public toilets in Vietnam are going five-star. They even come with a built-in ATM. Photos by Francis Xavier


n a Nov. 14, 2008 TripAdvisor post, entitled ‘Toilet tips please’, an Australian tourist posed the following question about Vietnam: “Have a 14-year-old daughter who is very worried about squat toilets (must admit I'm not that keen on them myself). So fellow TripAdvisors, any tips for finding westernstyle toilets in these cities?” One of the fellow TripAdvisors replied, “Squat toilets were not that common but the general standard of public WCs or those at 'tourist stops' were a little disappointing.” Another said, “One tip, take plenty of tissues!” In the years that have passed, things have generally improved for such skittish tourists as Hen302, the originator of the aforementioned TripAdvisor post. But this general lack of tourist-standard facilities is still a problem on the minds of many, including N. Tran Tam, who wrote in the Dec. 21, 2012 edition of Vietweek that “the lack of public toilets in the city was ‘a difficult problem’” — forcing tourist companies to impose on five-star hotels in frequently touristed areas. Even though Vietnam had made strides in recent years regarding public toilets, Tam went on to say, these tourist area facilities

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were “unusable, especially for tourists, because they are too small for one to use with a backpack, or are abused by street vendors who use them as a place to take baths and wash clothes, or they are dirty and stink”. Enter the five-star toilet/ATM: Vietnam’s latest fix.

The Five-Star Solution Through minimal internet searching, the phrase ‘five star toilet’ yielded reports on the Vietnamese initiative, websites of a private company or two and a critical article on a stereo-equipped Chinese iteration. So we went into one of these new five-star toilets, to find out exactly what it is, and how it stacks up against the five-star hotel facilities the tourists had previously been sent to. Ho Chi Minh City’s 23/9 Park is a likely space for tourists, and locals too. Located just off the main tourist drag of Pham Ngu Lao, the park stays crowded through the day with skateboard kids, fitness-minded grannies, dog walkers and tourists off for a stroll. And now, on the Le Lai side of the park, one of these five-star facilities has just opened for business. Walking into the restroom, an attendant hands toilet-goers a swipe of bog roll

— two-ply, but bargain rate. There are plastic slippers at the entry. The toilets lock, and the urinals are equipped with auto-flush mechanisms. Dispenser soap is a handwashing option, although convenient drying tools aren’t. And right outside, a Sacombank vestibule caters to another aspect of the refuel, lining one’s pockets with currency via touchscreen. These ATMs are actually an important part of the experience, as the VND800 million, 11-toilet project in Ho Chi Minh City has been funded by the banks, according to Bui Xuan Cuong, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transportation, in a VietnamNet report. Conversely, Hanoi’s VND15 billion, 14-toilet project is to be funded by the state budget, according to the same article. Though some aspects of this five-star experience weren’t exactly up to scratch (where are the heated toilet seats, people?), in a pinch they’re not a bad option. And perhaps the media is putting the johnny on the spot a bit too much by claiming it the harbinger of a new washroom standard. If the new five-star toilets aren’t something to write home about — or post about on TripAdvisor — that can only be a good thing for Vietnam. — Ed Weinberg

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With June’s World Cup set to be screened at ungodly hours in Vietnam, how does the recent Super Bowl screening augur for the largest tournament in the world? Photos by Francis Xavier

The Early Bird A t 5.30am, Saigon’s Phu My Hung is not normally the liveliest place on a Monday. Factor in that it’s Tet, and you don’t even hear any motorbike horns. Walking roughly 20 minutes in the morning darkness from my apartment to a neighbourhood bar, the usual xe oms who hit me up for a ride are noticeably absent. Why would anyone be out so early? would probably be the main question in their minds. Once I enter The Tavern (R2-24 Hung Gia 3, Q7), it’s a scene of commotion. Every table is taken, so I was wise to book the table in advance. The servers look a bit petrified — this is certainly the busiest I’ve seen this District 7 pub. With the Super Bowl coming off the feed from Thailand’s True Sports network, there are some worried mutters during the pre-game show that the whole broadcast will be in Thai. Luckily, by the time the national anthem and the coin toss are taking place, it’s all in English.

There’s No Place Like Home While there seems to be a slight variation in accents, the crowd is overwhelmingly (North)

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American, with T-shirts and jackets emblazoned with Seattle and Denver (the two teams in the game) as well as various teams from Miami, “Toronto” and other cities further afield. Sadly, two things are missing from this particular broadcast: A competitive game, and the world-famous commercials. By halftime, the Seahawks are laying a beating on the Broncos, and a blowout is looming. But for Eric Rosenthal, a 27-year-old English teacher living in the area, watching the game not only provides nostalgia, but is also a way to return to his roots from afar. “I wish I could be home with a bunch of friends to watch the game,” Rosenthal says, but notes that snowy New York State doesn’t offer the chance to watch the game on a patio, like the Tavern did that morning. “I’d be tucked inside a house with a fire going. We usually go to a friend’s place to watch the game.” Florida native Michael Blake, in town visiting his brother and some other friends, is ensuring that despite being on holiday he is still watching America’s most famous standalone game. “I have friends who live in District 7, and they’re here,” he says, adding that he is indifferent to which team wins.

“It’s more for the social aspect.”

What About The World Cup?

The Super Bowl is a one-off game, a yearly spectacle that American Football fans look forward to and watch in their armchair obsessed droves. But the World Cup is different. Yes, it takes place every four years, but there are 64 matches, of which 48 alone are in the group stages. Few, if any, watch every match. It’s more about supporting your country or watching the big teams scrap it out for qualification through to the next round. The problem for fans in Vietnam, as with the Super Bowl, will be the time difference. Brazil is between eight and 10 hours behind. The earliest matches will start at 11pm, with most kicking off at 2am or 3am. The Jul. 14 final, due to be held in Rio de Janeiro, kicks off at 2am. So, will places like The Tavern, or any other sportswatching haunts around the country be packed into the early hours? For the big matches, most likely yes. But how it will affect the Vietnam’s daytime productivity is something yet to be seen. As for licensing, now that’s another matter entirely. — Harry Hodge

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The Village What do you get if you cross a traditional northern village with a Vietnamese circus? Something very unique


hen we think of a ‘circus’, most of us think of complex equipment, bold stunts and extravagant costumes. We imagine vivid colours and death-defying physical feats that transfix audience members who gasp and shriek with bated breath. But the My Village show — the brainchild of the creative team behind the A O Show that takes to the stage this month at the Ho Chi Minh City Opera House — isn’t like most circus performances. My Village, or Xiec Lang Toi, takes the common pageantry of most acrobatics shows and turns it on its head. Vivid and bursting colours are traded for demure, earthen browns and sharpened juggling knives for bamboo rods. It’s simple, but it’s deliberate. Although My Village showcases stunning acrobatic stunts and plenty of gasps and shrieks, the show is above all about the culture and history of rural northern Vietnam, where simplicity reigns supreme.

A Different Perspective “The colours and [stunts] in the show were inspired by working with local people and within the [natural scenery] in northern Vietnam,” says creative director Tuan Le, who is also the director behind A O. In collaboration with Nhat Ly, Nguyen Lan and Tan Loc, Tuan Le began the My Village project in 2005 with a cast drawn entirely from the Federation Circus of Vietnam. In 2009, the show’s cast began a series of over 300 performances around the world, and has only recently returned to the Saigon stage for 2014. Much like the A O Show, My Village uses nothing more

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than bamboo and ensemble work in its acrobatic stunts, often balancing performers metres in the air atop nothing more than shoulders and thin bamboo rods. Yet, unlike A O Show, which draws on both rural and urban Vietnamese lifestyle, My Village tells a story of life in the countryside during a specific period of Vietnam’s turbulent past. “[My Village] illustrates a different perspective for the audience. For those audience members who have already seen the A O Show, [My Village] is another chance for those audience members to see a different world,” says Tuan Le.

The Sights and Sounds of the North Consequently, a collection of traditional instruments create epic soundscapes to illustrate the sounds of rain rather than traffic, and bamboo rods are manipulated to portray water and waves rather than noisy apartment buildings. Although the storyline is left largely up to the audience and their experience of the show, My Village paints a vivid picture of northern Vietnam and the lives and experiences of the people in the region. Director Tuan Le hopes that the return of the show to the local stage will provide an opportunity for both Vietnamese and foreign audience members to experience the performance. Although it draws upon the same inspiration of illuminating the culture of Vietnam through performance art, My Village aims to offer something new to audiences. “[My Village] is important,” he says. “It shares with audiences a different version of our work with the same concept and vision.” — Karen Hewell For more information on the show as well as performance times throughout March and April, go to

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The Pod Life I

t has finally happened. Living in a space capsule is now possible in Vietnam. And it only costs a minimal US$6 (VND126,000) a night in the form of Hong Kong Kaiteki Hotel’s capsule accommodation. One of the few of its kind in Southeast Asia, this capsule hotel is the new kid on the Bui Vien backpackers’ block in Ho Chi Minh City, and is definitely not the last we’ve seen of this phenomenon. “I’ve never been into a hotel that makes you change into slippers,” remarked one pod-dweller at reception. Indeed, leaving one’s shoes in specific lockers and changing into flip-flops provided by the hotel is ranked as important as handing over a passport during checkin. An unusual start and most certainly a sign of a peculiar pod-life experience ahead.

Your Every Electrical Need Each dormitory floor is gender separated and contains 12 double-decked capsules. As soon as I was ushered to my capsule, I was shown the mechanics of the electronic lock to my personal cabinet. Then, like an ignition to a space pod, the key was placed in the holder and the pod whirred to life, humming as the lights and ventilation came on. The word kaiteki in the hotel’s title means ‘comfortable’ in Japanese, and as dorm accommodation goes, it was an impressive setup. Apart from the usual — a mattress, pillow and blanket — each capsule is decked with a flat-screen TV accompanied by cable channels. Audio was muted and only accessible via an earphone port in the wall. But there’s more. Controls to various light settings, ranging from night lamp to reading lights, were all within reach. Carefully designed power sockets catered to the needs of power plugs from all over the world — there was even a USB port.

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Having entered, I threw myself down on the mattress and gazed in amazement at this interesting box that I would be spending two nights in.

Novelty or a Business? The brains behind the hotel, Chinese-born Chen Du, spent months in Hong Kong learning the trade before setting out on the Pham Ngu Lao hotel business. “Surprisingly, we are doing better than I had planned on,” says the 24-year-old. Opened in October 2013, Chen’s venture has catapulted into sell-out heights he had never imagined. In just a few months his venture has attracted a steady flow of intrigued travellers, all wanting to just come by and get a feeling of what it’s like living in a pod. However, Chen is not here just to provide novelty. He is, after all, a businessman with huge aspirations and already has plans to expand his line of hotels across popular tourist spots in Vietnam, and maybe eventually Southeast Asia. “I have been making notes of firsthand feedback from the hotel’s guests,” he says. “I’ve even stayed in my own hotel’s space capsule (the Chinese term for such hotels), just to know what it is like. After all, this is just a trial model, a foundation for what is ahead.” With shared toilet cubicles that look exactly like that of a hotel room, there remain intrinsic kinks in the whole capsule experience — stuff needs to be tweaked. Though dormitory-like in both structure and price, allowing travellers to have privacy means many see no need for interaction. Despite this, Chen Du is undeterred. And no doubt more of his capsules will soon be making a landing across Vietnam. — Fred Lai Hong Kong Kaiteki Hotel is at 22 Bui Vien, Q1. For more information, visit

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March 2014 Word | 19


Love takes on a whole new meaning under the golden arches. Photos by Kyle Phanroy


t’s Valentine’s Day 2014, and a week after its grand opening the hottest restaurant in town is as busy as ever. Outside the line to park is at least 30 motorbikes deep, if not longer. As couples, families and friends alight from their bikes and wait to order, red ropes surround them like the red carpet of a movie premiere. Dark pink flower petals float in a small pool of water out front, with lights from underneath shimmering in and out of the waves. Red and white heart-shaped balloons float near the entrance. And when customers finally reach the front door, smiling employees are waiting out front: “Welcome to McDonald’s.” Vietnam’s first McDonald’s has made a big splash. Situated near the District 1 roundabout of Dien Bien Phu and Nguyen Binh Khiem on an almost 3,000sqm property, the Ho Chi Minh City location is the first step into the first new market McDonald’s has entered in 15 years. Lines go out the door daily, and at the time of writing their Facebook page has more than 180,000 likes — growing by the thousands each day. Construction of a second store near the backpacker hub of Bui Vien is already in the works. McDonald’s Vietnam joins a growing

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Valentine’s Day at McDonald’s Southeast Asia market. The opening of the Vietnam location marks the 10,000th restaurant for the chain in the Asia, Pacific, Middle East and Africa region, and countries close to Vietnam have already been saturated with locations. Yet the entrance of the iconic fast food chain into the Vietnamese market is more than just a testament to Vietnam’s growing economy and fast food culture. It’s a new and exciting experience for those who’ve only seen it in the movies — and this Valentine’s Day, it was as popular as ever.

A Marriage of Convenience For their Valentine’s Day event, McDonald’s offered special deals for people that came in wearing the same shirt. Groups that participated got to skip the regular line and walk through a heart-shaped entrance made out of red and white heart-shaped balloons — McDonald’s own tunnel of love. Groups could be seen wearing matching polos, plaid button-ups and, in one case, a pair of T-shirts that combined to make a heart. At the front, groups of three employees helped couples complete their orders: the first person marking them down on a sheet of paper, the second entering them into a

handheld device and the third taking money and handling the food. “[Our celebration] is different from the others,” said Communications Manager Tram Le. “It’s a day to spread your love. It doesn’t matter if it’s family love or romance love.” Young lovers Quang and Oanh came in matching T-shirts on this, their first trip to McDonald’s. Afterwards they had plans to drive out to District 7, where they planned to walk around and enjoy the lights. They weren’t the only ones that had McDonald’s on their itinerary for Valentine’s Day. Almost all 350 seats over the restaurant’s two floors were packed with couples and families. They were eating Big Macs, sharing fries and sipping on CocaColas. Kids were excitedly standing in front of the Happy Meal display, pointing at all the toys. In the western world McDonald’s is seen as a quick convenience, but so far in Vietnam it’s attracted a different crowd. And this Valentine’s Day they didn’t just come to grab a quick meal before starting the rest of the night: this was the main event. After all, who wouldn’t want to go to most popular restaurant in town for Valentine’s Day? — Margaret Smith

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brief ings

The Passion of Real Madrid La Liga’s most successful football club is coming to Vietnam


he first thing one learns about the Real Madrid system is their philosophy: ME: As an individual learning leadership, self-control and humility THEY: As my peers where I will show respect, tolerance and solidarity WE: As a team learning fellowship, effort and teamwork This is a fairly simple guide to winning, one often repeated in team sports, but it underlies another basic fact — teams that win really practice this philosophy. And Real Madrid C.F., with a record nine European Champions League titles to their credit, is a team that knows how to implement these values. If you’re going to lay down the US$350 (VND7.35 million) for your child to take part in the Foundation Real Madrid Clinic in Hanoi between Apr. 14 and Apr. 18, you probably know this already. What you don’t know is the nuanced understanding these technical coaches — the same ones who work with the Real Madrid youth team in Spain — aim to impart. In partnership with Vietnam Football Passion Academy (VFP), United Nations

International School (UNIS) and Crowne Plaza West Hotel Hanoi, the clinic will run for five days on UNIS’s football pitch for the six to 16-year-olds in attendance. The coaches will also take on an additional session each day, training a group of underprivileged children. In these five days, they hope to make a lasting impact on all the clinic’s participants — in life skills as well as football.

Continuing Education Those who’ve already heard of Real Madrid’s coming may have heard some confusing reports online. “The Spanish professional Real Madrid football club is planning to open an academy for local young in Hanoi,” read the standfirst of one article. Lionel Wong, the founder of clinic organiser VPF, says it’s “not 100 percent true. The purpose of the five days training clinic is to assess the viability of opening an academy in Hanoi in the next few years. “At this point in time, Mr. Manuel [Pareno Rodriguez, Real Madrid’s international training manager] and myself have only confirmed that we will work on conducting and organising short-term football training

clinics in Vietnam.” Still, that the sustained involvement of one of continental Europe’s football powerhouses is even on the table bodes well for the future of Vietnamese football. Up to this point, England’s Premier League (EPL) is the only western football federation that has delved into the Vietnamese market on this level. EPL clubs have not only spent time and money on a five-year programme to train local coaches, they have also invested in the sustained development of Vietnamese football culture by setting up a football academy. That investment has paid off in the seven years since Arsenal poured VND85 billion into the Hoang Anh Gia Lai-Arsenal JMG Football Academy. Many of the members of Vietnam’s U-19 team are graduates. At this time, the only plans Mr. Wong could speak on were of organising a similar Real Madrid clinic in Ho Chi Minh City later this year. For those who’ve watched the state of local football progress, the fact that Real Madrid is trying to get involved at all is a big step. — Ed Weinberg For more information on the Hanoi clinic, click on

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brief ings

The Foundation The Nam Phuong Foundation is building the future of rural Vietnam, one bridge at a time. Yet, more surprising than the initial success of the Foundation are the unlikely philanthropists behind it


or one sibling duo, the term ‘building bridges’ is more than just a metaphor. Set up by 16-year-old Khang and 21-year-old Phuong, the intention of the Nam Phuong Foundation was to provide capital to improve infrastructure in rural Vietnam by building bridges. However, the venture has transformed into a project that is funding more than just construction. “[The foundation] will improve the future of the people [within] a whole area, through promoting education and trade,” says Phuong, currently an undergraduate at Oxford University in the UK studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics. “I guess this makes it metaphorical as well, although that was not the main reason for why we chose to build bridges.” After reading a story about children who drowned while making their way to school, along with her brother she recognized the need for massive infrastructure improvements in rural areas of Vietnam. “It hit us both really hard that there are kids out there who are so desperate to be educated, that they would risk their lives

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on a daily basis to go to school,” she says, adding that such stories are not uncommon in Vietnam. With many children in rural areas cut off from schools by treacherous waterways, journeying to the classroom often demands wading across rivers or crossing crude and structurally unsound bridges.

Building Dreams So, the pair set out to change things, setting out on a mission to garner capital to help fund the construction of bridges in rural areas. To make it happen they drew on all their resources. “My sister and I realised that with our small network and connections, we could raise enough funds to build bridges, and therefore eliminate unsafe bridges and means of transportation,” says Khang, who — at an impressively young age — is now the Foundation’s Operations Officer and the driving force behind its many projects. The Vina Capital Foundation soon came on board to manage the budding Foundation pro-bono. And together with support from numerous companies, to date they have raised over VND3 billion. Yet, the funds from

the Foundation do not cover all the cost for construction — and for good reason. “We contribute around 70 percent of the cost, with the rest coming from the local government and the people, so as to give them a sense of responsibility as well as achievement,” says Phuong. For her, the importance of empowering a community is equal to that of the Foundation’s development efforts. Lasting effects are a key element of the mission. “The permanence of infrastructure means that the returns will continue indefinitely — or at least for a very long time,” she continues, admitting that her economist background lends to her pragmatic and long-term mindset. The Foundation is now expanding their reach and are beginning to provide funding for roadways and water wells. — Karen Hewell The Nam Phuong Foundation will be one of the charities supported by the proceeds of the Air France Charity Gala on Mar. 22 at the Caravelle Hotel. For more info go to page 30. The Nam Phuong Foundation can be found online at

Definitely Maybe

Cat of the Month Patrick Patrick is a wiry orange one-year-old boy cat awaiting his chance at the big time — a spot on your couch. He’s a big cat with a friendly streak and a playful nature about him, as long as you can keep up — as ARC volunteer Christa says, “sometimes he doesn’t know how to play soft”. Patrick’s looking to be the brave boy of the house, as he gets a bit insecure around other kitties (although he does have a best bud at ARC if you’re looking for two). But close the door and he’s the friendliest, most eye-closingly happy kitty you could imagine. At one, he’s all grown up, and there’s nothing he’d like better than to have a fresh start in your lap. He’s active, spayed, fully vaccinated and waiting for you to take him home today. Contact to make your date with kitty destiny.

Meanwhile at the Cat Ranch… Fresh off a four-month kitten fostering, the delightful Hamish and Hattie are dewormed and ready to go! Delightful tabby siblings with an inquisitive nature, they’re excited to be teaming up with the other inhabitants of ARC HQ in chasing all the bouncy balls and pieces of lint they can find into their rightful corners. They’ll pick up the slack left behind by Toffee and Sydney, the latest graduates of ARC to go on to successful careers watching birds through Ho Chi Minh City’s finest windows.

Women’s Day So What’s the Story on ‘International’ Women’s Day? First off, to all those foreigners out there, although you may never have heard of it before coming to Vietnam, International Women’s Day is indeed international, with 100-year roots in women’s suffrage movements in the US, Europe and Russia. The earliest Women’s Day observances were held in the US by female socialists, crusading for voters’ rights, workers’ rights and equal treatment. In 1911 the first International Women’s Day was celebrated by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. In the Austro-Hungarian Empire alone, there were over 300 demonstrations — curiously,

none of them marked by the giving of flowers. Women’s Day strikes in St. Petersburg over bread shortages sparked the Russian Revolution on Mar. 8, 1917, and thereafter the observance of Women’s Day became a hallowed, patriotic event all over the Soviet world. Although it’s since lost its political flavour — ahem, ahem, romantic dinner planners — this is a day that continues to raise awareness on key issues for women the world over. That said, here’s a list of wine-and-dine options for the upcoming Mar. 8, 2014 edition.

Ho Chi Minh City 27 Grill @ Chill Skybar

Market 39, priced at VND1,099,000++ per person. Not that it’s the point, but each lady present can expect a special gift from the hands of the kind folks set to attend to your lovely lady. Some ladies can’t be bought off with roses — and for this discerning breed there’s 27 Grill’s special Women’s Day set menu. A four-course meal, clocks in at a base price of VND1.2 million++ per person, with step-up options to VND1.7 million++ per person for a free flow of wine and beer, or VND2.5 million++ per person for an extra course of pan-fried foie gras with apple and chamomile tea purée and a bottle of Moët & Chandon champagne for every couple. With a menu that runs the gamut from salmon tartar to pan-seared scallop to your choice of 250g MSA rib eye steak or pan-fried black cod, this is a meal your date might just buy you a rose after.

Caravelle Restaurant Nineteen is the site of Caravelle’s ode to the fairer sex — an overflowing lineup of mouth-watering appetisers, cheeses, soups, salads, seafood stations and dessert corners. This Mar. 8 dinner buffet comes in at VND1,013,000++ per person, leaving you with something to spare for a nightcap at Saigon Saigon Bar, where you’ll find expert bartenders pouring Women’s Day Grand Marnier and Belvedere-infused cocktails to the Latin beats of Cuban band Q’vans — VND198,000++ a go.

Hotel Equatorial Both Chit Chat and Orientica are throwing out all the stops this Mar. 8, and inviting the ladies in your life to sample a westernand-Asian dinner buffet at Chit Chat or a special set menu at Orientica — both priced at VND940,000++ a person. Throughout the night, attending ladies will have a chance at winning some free pampering vouchers.

InterContinental InterCon knows that no two ladies are the same, and that’s why they have options — lunch and dinner dim sum all-you-can-eat starting at VND500,000++ per person at Yu Chu, and a signature-cocktail-and-otheradult-beverage-lubricated buffet dinner at

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Mövenpick Mar. 8 is seafood night at Café Saigon, wherein all the marvels of the sea will be yours to try, buffet-style. To make an all-day thing out of it, hit Kinetic Wellness Studio between 10.30am and 3pm for a day of pampering at 30 percent off.

Sheraton For Women’s Day, invite your lady to unbuckle her belt and indulgence-related guilt in preparation for Saigon Café’s sumptuous Women’s Day spread. Complementing fresh seafood, homemade sushi and sashimi, ovenroasted prime rib and Yorkshire puddings is a free flow of sparkling wine and house wines — and of course the requisite rose for all ladies. VND1.2 million++ per person, 6pm to 10pm on Mar. 8. And For After Dinner…

Everyone’s a DJ Presents: Mekong Dub @ Broma 41 Nguyen Hue, Q1 After the wine-and-dine, it’s time for the ‘cultural experience’. And right in the nick of time, DJs Daddy Vegas and Jacques Cousteau are coming with the funk, rock steady and Afrofunk grooves they used to introduce the city of Beijing to rare soul nearly 15 years ago. Broma will be the site of this historic collision, to be called Mekong Dub by future generations — an amalgam of rock steady, ska and heavy heavy dub left by the fates for them to come across in the back alleys of Asia, Europe and the US. Superkid to support — VND50,000 at the door, which opens 9pm on Mar. 8.

Danang Grand Mercure Danang You came to Danang for the healthy lifestyle — and La Rive Gauche doesn’t want to undo all

the good work you’ve done on your stylish physique. The Food for Fit buffet will allow you to indulge in a healthy manner this Mar. 8 in freshly-sliced sashimi, enticing seafood platters, a flavourful salad bar and a free flow of draught beer, all to the tune of VND500,000 net per person — with a 50 percent discount for all ladies.

Hanoi Daewoo Hotel Although a BBQ buffet dinner doesn’t sound like the most ladylike thing in the world, we promise that the lady in your life wants nothing more for Women’s Day than some great food. Luckily, Café Promenade is offering a BBQ buffet dinner featuring fresh seafood and premium meat alongside an extra-special romantic setting of flowers, candlelight and champagne. The buffet is VND800,000++ per adult, but for only VND400,000++ per child, you can even bring along the whole family to celebrate.

Hotel de L’Opera International Women’s Day is kicking off in superb style at Hotel de L’Opera with an exclusive three-course set dinner for VND500,000++ per person at Café Lautrec. Coupled with a glass of the tantalising Bulle de Blanquette sparkling wine, the romance of scrumptious French cuisine will be that much better with a little bit of a buzz to match. Of course, the candlelight will keep things plenty romantic — you may even trump your Valentine’s Day do.

Melia Hotel Melia Hotel wants you to take a break for Women’s Day and enjoy the finest seafood in the city, with a special seafood treat for the special day. Afterwards, El Patio is ramping up Women’s Day with something even more exciting. Every female customer will receive a surprise door gift plus chances to win big prizes throughout the night in a special Women’s Day draw. The seafood dinner is priced at VND815,000++ per person, and prize winners will be announced at the end of the night, so plan to stick around until late!

Ho Chi minh city what s on Stand Up and Be Counted

The Headbanger’s Ball Just not feeling that bubbly, smiley vibe you know you’ll have to embrace at the other dance parties this month? Try Saigon Hellfest 2014 instead — a gathering of six metal acts from Vietnam and elsewhere. At the behest of the infernal likes of Pukelization (Australia/Japan), Human Mastication (Philippines), Sagometal, Mephonic, Seismic Origin and Cruel Society (all local) they’re packing the metal into a solitary Saturday afternoon at Metallic Bar — be warned. Saigon Hellfest 2014 will take place on Mar. 22 at Metallic Bar, 41 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, Q3, from 3pm to 8pm. Entry is VND150,000, go to saigonmetalgroup. com for more info

Stand-Up Saigon have already made some great strides with their twice-monthly amateur comedy shows, and with a Tet break now under their laugh-a-minute belts, they are back this March with two more shows. First up is a little night of belly-tickling fun on the top-floor terrace of The Spotted Cow (111 Bui Vien, Q1) on Wednesday Mar. 5. VND50,000 gets you entrance and a frosty Saigon Green for your efforts, while the Ho Chi Minh City brewed beer of choice goes for VND15,000 a bottle thereafter. The show starts at 8pm. The Tavern (R2-24 Hung Gia 3, Q7) is also in for some comedic uproar from 8pm to 10pm on Thursday Mar. 13. Entrance to this District 7 extravaganza is free of charge, but don’t expect a letdown in the quality. It will be every bit as funny as its brother-in-arms night of stand-up at The Spotted Cow. For more information email or go to

Don’t Feed the Monkey As last month’s Melting Pot reminded us, there is a lot of vibrant original music going on these days in Saigon. In this Cargo Bar local music showcase, 10 bands including the likes of UGWAE, Space Panther, Cat Pylon, Tofu Band, The 67s, GrowSound, Freckled Gypsies and Applesauce will be playing — all in the glow of Space Panther effects man Daniel Day Long’s video mapping trickery. The showcase goes from 4pm till forever. Don’t Feed the Monkey is happening on Mar. 15 at Cargo Bar, 7 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4. Entry is VND150,000, and things kick off at 4pm

A Salsa Promotion Remember the Salsa Man, MexicanAmerican Patrick Leija? Well, the entrepreneur of last year past is still purveying his tasty salsa, Dos Chiles, made up with homegrown chillis and created using a special recipe taught by his grandmother.

In response to the Lunar New Year, the man behind the spice is offering a special promotion for readers of Word. Throughout March, buy one 375ml jar of the good stuff and get a 30 percent discount off your second jar. With four options available (depending on how

much spice your palate can handle), choose from mild, medium, special reserve and fire, with a jar of Dos Chiles starting at VND100,000 before discount. Recall that BBQ or dinner party you’ve been thinking about laying on? This might just be the perfect accompaniment. And it keeps well in the fridge, too. To make your purchase, call 0902 527131 or email For more information go to

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Women’s Ho Chi minh Day city what s on Your March Dance Party Calendar

Cesare Vs Disorder On a night pulsing with some serious underground house and techno, Italyvia-Berlin DJ Cesare Marchese — aka Cesare vs Disorder — will be centrestage, as he often is. His slick and deep sounds have graced recordings on Get Physical Records, BPitch Control and own labels Mean and Serialism. Local Nic Ford will be supporting. Cesare vs Disorder is Mar. 1 at The Observatory, corner of Le Lai and Ton That Tung, Q1 — VND150,000 entry, 10pm start time

Heart Beat #7 So you’re looking for a deep, dark and crazy rave, filled with an eclectic combination of techno, house and techhouse? You would like it to be delivered through four DJs and innumerable speakers? Mar. 7 is good for you? Ok, the prescient partiers at Heart Beat figure you’re ready for this — Heart Beat #7. Waiting for you are some eclectic sounds, delivered to your earlobes and fragile cardiovascular systems by the likes of DJ Cybersnack out of Germany, Manilabased Marshall White and Pav Parrotte, and resident heavyweight Deejay Konka. Heart Beat #7 is Mar. 7 at Cargo Bar, 7 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4. Entry is VND100,000, VND50,000 for students

Saigon Soul Pool Parties Entering the second month of their Saturday pool party residency at New

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World Hotel’s Splash Bar, Saigon Soul is beginning to come into its own, with rotating DJs, drink slingers, babes in bikinis, dudes in suits, offsite burritos and massage therapists all rotating around one of the best pools in Ho Chi Minh City. Every Saturday next month, the pool party will be the only place you can dance your Saturday afternoons and early evenings away — in the pool or out. Saigon Soul pool parties happen every Saturday in March — Mar. 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 — from 10am to 11pm at New World Hotel’s Splash Bar, 76 Le Lai, Q1. Admission is VND100,000, free for hotel guests. For more info go to

a soundtrack and backstory to match. Playing deep, organic-sounding techno that fuses rolling electronic rhythms with a universe of eclectic sounds — of the sort he’s played for the past five years at Paris’s legendary Rex Club — DJ Pepperpot is primed to bring audial exploration to The Observatory March 28. Greg Pepperpot is coming to The Observatory — corner of Le Lai and Ton That Tung, Q1 — on Mar. 28, start time and entry to be announced on theobservatoryhcmc

Electric Kicks

It’s the night before the annual 2,000km bike ride a group of 15 or so cyclists have undertaken every year since 2008, all for the future of Vietnam’s underprivileged children — maybe a quiet drink and an early bedtime is in order? Well, not at The Observatory on Mar. 30. The day before the beginning of their trip, H2H is organising a fundraiser built around a jukebox concept, where each song request costs VND20,000, all going to support the charitable activities of H2H. DJ Starchild will wind down the second part of the night, getting our pilgrims prepared for a month with no all-nighters. The H2H Charity Sendoff is at Mar. 30 at The Observatory, corner of Le Lai and Ton That Tung, Q1. Entry is VND100,000. For more info on the ride you’ll be supporting, go to

“Get your kicks on Route 66,” goes the old song, without going into what kind of kicks. We can only guess that DJs Superkid, Per Say and BLX ATTX weren’t satisfied with the kicks available on the US’s first cross-country road, and had to head out to Vietnam for the kind of DIY indie electro sleazy discopunk dance party that will be going on at Broma Friday, Mar. 21. Be sure to clear your schedule for the following day. The March edition of Electric Kicks is at Broma, 41 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Mar. 21, 9pm to late. VND50,000 entry

Greg Pepperpot Greg Pepperpot doesn’t just have a name out of a funky, absurdist French new wave film from the 1970s, he’s got

Charity Sendoff for H2H Bike Ride

The Month in VinSpace

The Saigon Players Come in Like Lions It’s Saigon Players’ 10th season, and there’s no better time to go back to basics. Jim Cartwright’s award-winning play Two is about a night in a pub, owned by the two unhappily married protagonists. Throughout the night, we’ll see our bickering protagonists and their quirky customers go on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, one that some of the onlookers at La Habana and McSorley’s will know all too well. The Saigon Players March production of Two will play at 7.30pm on Mar. 20 to Mar. 23, splitting the dates between La Habana (Thurs. and Fri.) at 6 Cao Ba Quat, Q1 and McSorley’s (Sat. and Sun.) at 4 Thao Dien, Q2. Tickets are VND200,000 with all proceeds going to Operation Smile — email saigonplayers@gmail. com for enquiries and bookings

VinGallery is holding their monthly art market this Women’s Day, Mar. 8 — 10am to 4pm, with a handmade card workshop from 10.30am to 12.30pm. Along with all the handmade art and crafts, paintings, drawings and limited edition prints you’ve come to expect, VinGallery welcomes photographers and other crafters to showcase their works. The midday DIY card-making workshop comes in at VND70,000 per person, and is a neat way to support tradition in an untraditional way. The festivities take place at VinGallery, 6 Le Van Mien, Q2. Next up, on consecutive Thursdays, Mar. 13 and Mar. 20, are a pair of Canvas&Wine workshops — one focusing on life drawing, one on movement-based poses inspired by the dancer-centric work of Matisse and Picasso. The Life Drawing and Painting

session is at VinSpaceArt Studio at 6 Le Van Mien, Q2, Mar. 13 from 6.30pm to 9pm, while the Depicting the Dance session is downtown at VinSpace Garage, 95 Pasteur, Q2, Mar. 20 from 6.30pm to 9pm. At the end of the month, VinSpace will take full advantage of their two campuses with an international multi-contributor exhibition entitled One Way or Another — a grouping intended to show the similarities and differences in the way different cultures conceptualise ‘art’. From Vietnam to France, South Africa to Spain, Indonesia to Australia, the featured artists will explode the notion that there is one way to see art — Mar. 21 to Mar. 30 at 6 Le Van Mien, Q2 and 95 Pasteur, Q1, with an opening reception at the District 2 location on Mar. 21 from 6pm to 8pm. For more info, visit

SSC Scooter and Bike Rentals Vietnam’s One Stop Scooter Shop


100 IMPORTED PREMIUM QUALITY ITALIAN HELMETS New Arrivals – Project helmets Made In Italy Top quality fiberglass/Kevlar helmets including stylish Café Racer helmets, Open Face with built in and additional Visors and fashionable kids helmets Also in stock a full range of Italian Manufactured Vemar helmets including full face, Race Replica’s, Flip Front and Moto Cross All helmets are rated with all major International kite marks Contact or check out the website: www. Telephone: +84(0)903013690 Address: 25/7 Cuu Long Street, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City District 2 Branch: 80 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 7pm.


Ho Chi minh city what s on Doc Talk “We love documentaries and thought it was high time to organise monthly screenings followed by discussion of the film, themes and issues raised in the film,” reads the Facebook page of Doc Talk — a co-venture of Everyone’s a DJ, Fact & Fiction Films and DocLab. This March, the premiere event is coming, a six-hour documentary-screening and

record-spinning affair to be held at The Observatory on the afternoon of Sunday Mar. 9, featuring a short Vietnamese doc, a feature-length international one and a sparky discussion to follow. The inaugural Doc talk is on Mar. 9, 2pm to 8pm at The Observatory, corner of Le Lai and Ton That Tung, Q1 — VND20,000 for students, VND50,000 for regulars

Wine and Refine Wine Embassy is trying to create more wine ambassadors through a new eight-session course, covering basic wine topics and nuance. In two, twohour sessions per month, your wine trainers will introduce you to basic winemaking knowledge and locationspecific understandings. Mar. 4 at 6.30pm is the first session, on basic wine understanding — how to make wine, and what exactly is this thing you love so much is. The Mar. 25 session (also at 6.30pm) covers the origin and unique characteristics of the grapes that eventually make the magic. Each session is VND750,000+ per person, with a minimum booking of two sessions paid in advance required. For more details, visit or call (08) 3824 7827

A Night in Paris Air France KLM’s 2nd annual charity gala is gaining a reputation — as a fine cause. The evening will consist of a champagne reception, a four-course gala dinner with a live performance accompanying and silent and live auctions with a special contribution from Christian Louboutin — a pair of the designer’s famous stilettos signed by Christian Louboutin himself as the main auction prize. Over 250 high profile guests are expected to attend, from all nationalities and segments of Ho Chi Minh City society — CEOs, officials and members of the media. Tickets are VND2.75 million per person, or VND27.5 million per table of 10. Funds raised will go towards Consular Club Ho Chi Minh City, HVTT Foundation, Hy Vong 1 school for auditorily-handicapped children, Mai Nha Children Foundation and the Nam Phuong Foundation. For more information contact Air France KLM on (08) 3829 3770 or mail.hcm@ The gala takes place on Mar. 22 at Caravelle Hotel, 19-23 Lam Son Square, Q1. To see an article on one of the supported charities, Nam Phuong Foundation, go to page 24

Sheraton Indian Food Festival In cooperation with the Consulate General of India in Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon Café and two guest chefs from the Ashok Hotel in New Delhi are presenting an Indian Food Festival from Mar. 13 to Mar. 15, with ‘Indian Nights’ on Mar. 21 and Mar. 28. Each buffet dinner — featuring the likes of haryali kabab, murgh malai tikka, murgh rehana and gosht roganjosh — goes from 6pm to 10pm, clocking in at VND995,000++ per person, including a free flow of house wine. In addition, there will be a Kalbelia folk dance performance on Mar. 13 at 6.30pm, and Mehndi art demos on Mar. 13, Mar. 14 and Mar. 15. Saigon Café is at Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1. Visit for more details

The Jungle Quadrathlon There’s a whole year to sit behind your desk, refreshing Facebook and shuffling papers. But this month, the Ta Lai Trophy — formerly Madagui Trophy — Corporate Challenge demands your attention, desk jockeys. Ride your mountain bikes through the tough jungle terrain of Cat Tien National Park, navigate circuitous rivers by kayak and breaststroke, and stomp some leeches in the jungle run. The quadrathlon is only open to 33 companies, sending two

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of their fittest competitors each. Prove that your year of paperwork hasn’t made you soft. Ta Lai Trophy’s Corporate Challenge takes place on Mar. 15 and Mar. 16 in Cat Tien National Park, Dong Nai Province. Company participation costs VND4.1 million, while racer fees come in at VND2.85 million, including transport, meals and one night accommodation. To register or find out more, email or go to

Time to Shine (Those Teeth) We don’t want to disappoint your children, but most of them will never earn back the money you poured into top-flight dentistry by becoming movie stars. But West Coast International Dental Clinic has prepared a consolation prize — the International Smiles Art Contest 2014, with iPads and a camera on offer for those whose smiles are yjr most artistic. The contest goes from Apr. 1 to May 15, and is open to children under 12 who have a desire to spread their dental passions to the masses and display it on paper using their artistic verve. For more info, check westcoastinternational. com

IB Malaysia Vietnam’s International Baccalaureate options just got a bit more competitive with the emergence of Marlborough College Malaysia, open under two years and growing at an exponential rate. After a successful first year of operation in Malaysia for its initial 350 pupils, this year has seen the number jump to 600, representing 30 different nationalities whose parents highly value the merits of a first-class British boarding school education, but in Southeast Asia. The first international campus of the wellknown Marlborough College in England’s Wiltshire area, from Mar. 8 to Mar. 11, school officials including the headmaster and director of admissions will be on hand to meet with prospective parents interested in hearing more. In addition, a general information session will take place at the Park Hyatt (2 Lam Son Square, Q1) on Mar. 9, from 10.30am to 12.30pm. For more information about Marlborough College Malaysia, head to The information session is on Mar. 9 from 10.30am to 12.30pm at The Park Hyatt, 2 Lam Son Square, Q2

Mamma Mia! The kids of Australian International School have good taste — or at least 45 million people worldwide agree with them. For this year’s play, the kids have taken on the smash hit musical Mamma Mia! based on the songs of ABBA. Howling and parental lineage-questioning through two performances, the musical theatre types of

AIS will make musical history in Ho Chi Minh City on Mar. 20 and Mar. 21. Mamma Mia! will be performed by secondary students at the Thu Thiem campus, 264 Mai Chi Tho (East-West Highway), Q2. Performances are Mar. 20 and Mar. 21 at 6.30pm — tickets are available for free at reception or via

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Ho Chi minh city Just In

The German International School Rebrands As last month, the German International School (GIS) changed its name to the European International School (EIS). According to the school’s general director, Michael Osswald, “The rebranding consolidates the school’s vision and strategy. It reflects our heritage and the successful evolution of the school towards a truly international school with English as the main language of instruction and a diverse student and faculty body.” Adopting the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) curricula, while English will be the main language of instruction,

the school will continue to offer German language at mother tongue level (language A) and as a foreign language. Students will also have the opportunity to learn two additional foreign languages from a language portfolio that currently includes German, Spanish, French and in the future Mandarin. EIS presently offers classes from Toddler to Grade 9. In the next academic year they will add Grade 10. The IB Diploma Programme is scheduled to be added in 2015. EIS is at 730 F-G-K Le Van Mien, Q2, Ho Chi Minh City. For more information call (08) 7300 7257 or go to

100% Dot Com

Subway Strikes Again! Not to be outdone by McDonald’s, Subway has opened a fifth location in Ho Chi Minh City this past month. The walkup location is downtown central on Le Thanh Ton, with a balcony and ample seating… and the occasional uplifting visit from balloonwielding sandwich-shaped mascot, Mr. ‘Subway Dude!’ Subway number five is at 26A Le Thanh Ton, Q1

100%, a locally-sourced gourmet grocery that’s been gaining traction in Thao Dien, is soon to be expanding its reach to the rest of Ho Chi Minh City — with an online shop mirroring the physical concept. From fresh fish to deli meats, cheeses to wines to spices, new stock comes in every week to complement an already impressive selection — all natural, local, safe and traceable products made in Vietnam. Watch for developments, or head to centpercentalimentation until the new site gets off the ground

Vietnam’s First ‘Real’ GoKart Track

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You thought you knew speed, but the guys at Bobcat Racing are here to reintroduce you to the concept. With karts clocking in at a ridiculous 200cc, the no-holds-barred racing lets you get up to speed on a 320m track on otherwise relaxing Phu Quoc Island. This is real racing, height-restricted to those over 150cm… although their Facebook whimsically adds “Bobstar Racing don’t discriminate people! We will provide pillows for shorter people”. Bobstar Racing is at 2 Ong Lang, Duong Dong, Phu Quoc, Tel: 0939 391459. For more info, click on bobstarracing

Local Vegetables, Delivered Locally The Vietnamese word ‘xanh’ means in English ‘green’, ‘blue’ and ‘youth’. As of now, Xanh also means access to locallyproduced vegetable baskets, delivered to your door on a subscription basis. Sourced from small-scale producers, the distributor controls quality on their own, so as not to pass on expensive certification costs to their producers — but their quality control is thorough,

covering non-GMO ingredients, freeness from preservatives and varying degrees of chemical fertilisation (they require all of their produce to be non-GMO and free of preservatives, but will work with producers on meeting their standards if they are currently reliant on chemical fertilisation). Check for more information

Learn English with the Rest of the World English Attack! is a worldwide ESL platform currently launching in Vietnam, designed to change the way people learn the language, forever (sorry teachers!). With a curriculum woven into scenes from blockbuster movies and cult TV shows, hit songs and karaoke sessions, English Attack! aims to make the transition between online gaming and Facebook surfing to language learning as painless as possible, all with a very youth-centric reward of making future TV watching a bit cooler. For more info, go to

Delices Najoua A recently set-up catering and home delivery service, Delices Najoua, is presently making some waves in Ho Chi Minh City. Serving up authentic Moroccan cuisine — anything from couscous royal, chicken and beef tagine to chakchouka, bakoula and a selection of North African pastries — all dishes need to be booked 48 hours in advance to ensure they are cooked fresh and to your exact requirements. Cooked up by chef Najoua, who has been living in Ho Chi Minh City since 2006, the cuisine is inspired by her grandmother’s home cooking. For more information go to or call 01225 419837 or 0987 731010

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overscene ho chi minh

The Cuban Brothers

Photos by Nick Ross Weirdly, the Cuban Brothers got so hot in Saigon’s balmy weather they had to take off all of their clothes at Cargo!

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Saigon Soul pool party

Photos by Yves Schiepek At the kickoff Saigon Soul pool party at New World Hotel’s Splash Bar, the babes dressed down and the

If you have a noteworthy event which you think would fit into our coverage, please email and we'll take a look.

Melting pot 4 dudes dressed up. Expect similar shenanigans every Saturday in March

Photos by Francis Xavier Celebrating its first anniversary, the art-and-music festival split festivities across the artistically fertile premises of Saigon Outcast and McSorley’s

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march 2014 doc talk


ou watch dumb movies with your friends and smart movies by yourself. It’s a flawed premise, and Fact & Fiction Films, DocLab and Everyone’s a DJ have teamed up to get you talking.

Monkey Business


f the travails of last month’s Melting Pot have taught us anything, it’s that this city has a neversay-die attitude to its music scene. In the all-day 10-act bill planned at Cargo, we’ll get the latest rewards for our loyalty.

Mar. 9 — The Observatory

Mar. 15 — Cargo

01 saturday

10 Monday

future shorts film festival. 6pm @ Saigon Outcast The Observatory presents Cesare vs Disorder. 9pm @ The Observatory. See What’s On

11 Tuesday

02 sunday

50% discount on Frog Porridge. Until Mar. 15 @ Lion City restaurants

Pet Adoption and Awareness Day. 11am to 7pm @ Boomerang Bar, Phu My Hung Saigon Rockers Reggae Sunday. From 3pm @ Saigon Outcast

12 Wednesday

03 monday

cinema paradiso: L’aria serena dell’Ovest. 7.15pm @ Pendolasco (87 Nguyen Hue, Q1)

04 tuesday

13 Thursday

05 wednesday

Canvas&Wine: Life Drawing and Painting. @ Vin Space (6 Le Van Mien, Q2) indian food festival. From Mar. 13 to 15 @ Sheraton Saigon Hotel. See What’s On standup comedy night. 8pm @ The Tavern. See What’s On

standup comedy nights. 8pm @ The Spotted Cow. See What’s On

14 Friday

Wine Training: Basic Wine Understanding. 6.30pm to 8.30pm @ Wine Embassy. Call 0838247827 to register. See What’s On

06 thursday Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. From Mar. 6 to Mar. 8, 7.30pm @ Saigon Opera House. See Big5

07 friday The Observatory presents Maft Sai. 9pm @ The Observatory. See Big5

15 Saturday Seafood extravaganza. 6.30pm every Sat. @ Chit Chat Café, Hotel Equatorial

16 Sunday

08 saturday Art Market. Celebrating International Women’s Day. @ VinSpace (6 Le Van Mien, Q2) Woman’s Day special dinner. @ Nineteen Restaurant, Caravelle Hotel

09 sunday doc talk. 2pm to 8pm @ The Observatory. See What’s On Marlborough College Malaysia information session. 10.30am to 12.30pm @ Park Hyatt. See What’s On

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16 Sunday Steak Week. From Mar. 15 to 21 Premium US grilled beef @ Reflections, Caravelle Hotel

To have your event included in our calendar, please email by no later than Mar. 15 with a description of the event and a high-res photo

Saigon Player s’ Two


irst, imagine you’re in a bar with your significant other, and you get into a fight. Now, imagine you own this bar with your significant other, and this happens every night. Now, watch this scenario acted out in a bar.

Mar. 20-23 — La Habana / McSorley’s

17 Monday Aloha Cocktail Feast. Every Mon. from 8pm to 11pm with 5 specialty flavours @ Chill Skybar

18 Tuesday

A Night in Paris


t’s gonna set you back a bob or two, this one, but it’s worth it. Air France’s second charity gala at The Caravelle supports a number of charity organizations (see The Foundation on page 24) — last year they raised over VND1 billion — and it’s a star-studded, glitter and glow, Parisian affair. Not to be missed.

Mar. 22 — Caravelle Hotel

24 Monday 25 Tuesday Wine Training: Common Grapes Recognition. From 6.30pm to 8.30pm @ Wine Embassy

26 Wednesday cinema paradiso: 20 Sigarette. 7.15pm @ Pendolasco (87 Nguyen Hue, Q1)

27 Thursday Daisy, Daisy. Ode of digits Exhibition by Sandrine Llouquet. Until Apr. 25 @ Phuong My Flagship Store apocalaughs now! 8pm @ Cargo Bar. See Big5

28 Friday

19 Wednesday 20 Thursday Canvas&Wine: Depicting The Dance. @ Vin Space ( 95 Pasteur, Q1) Mamma Mia! Musical by AIS students. 6.30pm @ Thu Thiem Campus(264 Mai Chi Tho, Q2) The saigon players’s two. 7.30pm @ La Habana. See What’s On

21 Friday Mamma Mia! Musical by AIS students. 6.30pm @ Thu Thiem Campus(264 Mai Chi Tho, Q2) The saigon players’s two. 7.30pm @ La Habana. See What’s On

22 Saturday

One way or another - Contemporary art exhibition. From Mar. 21 to 30 @ VinGallery pepperpot. 9pm @ The Observatory

29 saturday Romantic Earth Hour. 8.30pm candlelit dinner @ Hotel Equatorial

Air France Charity Gala Dinner. @ Caravelle Hotel. Call (08) 38293770 for info The saigon players’s two. 7.30pm @ McSorley’s. See What’s On

30 sunday

23 Sunday

exhibition mau do. Until Apr. 15 @ The Observatory h2h charity bicycle trip fund raising. @ The Observatory

The saigon players’s two. 7.30pm @ McSorley’s. See What’s On

31 monday March 2014 Word | 37

hanoi what s on Health for Life California Fitness & Yoga and Family Medical Practice are teaming up on Saturday, Mar. 29 from 2pm to 6pm for the Health for Life day. Get an inside look at how healthy your lifestyle is — and how you can make it even healthier — straight from the fitness and health professionals. Health practitioners from Family Medical Practice will provide free blood pressure and vision testing, sugar levels testing for those over 50, and a variety of demonstrations including a CPR demo from health specialists. California Fitness and Yoga’s free body fat measurements and nutrition and fitness

Get Spicy CAMA ATK once again brings their monthly salsa night to Mai Hac De from 8pm until late on Wednesday Mar. 5. Along to the rhythms of the best salsa tunes, dancers from beginner to expert — plus their shy, observer friends — are welcome. A great selection of cocktails are available to loosen up your dancing legs, and may just get your wallflower friends or future dance partner out of the corner and onto the dance floor. For those with two left feet, a free minilesson from 8pm to 9pm will get you swinging around the dance floor like a pro in no time. Salsa night at CAMA ATK kicks off on Wednesday, Mar. 5 from 8pm until late at 73 Mai Hac De. Get there early for a free mini-lesson from 8pm to 9pm. Entrance is free

demonstrations will give you the keys to improving your overall health, plus a free dance class that’s fun and healthy for the entire family. Great healthy food from Don’s Tay Ho will be provided throughout the event. Don’t forget to get in on the event’s prize draw, where you can win big prizes from event organisers. Health for Life, presented by California Fitness & Yoga and Family Medical Practice takes place on Saturday, Mar. 29 from 2 to 6pm at Royal City Centuryon Club, L2 Tower R3, Royal City, located at 72A, Nguyen Trai. Get more information at

St. Paddy’s for the Foodies Movenpick Hotel is celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day a bit early on Sunday, Mar. 16 with, what else, the food of Ireland. The culinary team will prepare an exclusive menu of Irish stew, Shepherd’s Pie, poached salmon and leg of lamb along with many other Irish specialties. To really get you in the mood, traditional Irish music will kick off from 11.30am along with St. Patrick’s Day cocktails and a free flow of Guinness beer on entrance. Then, continue at Mangosteen Restaurant with a special Brunch, complete with live music until 2pm. Movenpick Hotel’s special St. Patrick’s Day feast is on Mar. 16 and costs VND950,000++ per adult. Contact (04) 3822 2800 for more information and bookings

L’Espace for the Month of March L’Espace is celebrating the coming Spring season with the best in French music throughout the month of March, featuring three renowned French musical artists to grace the L’Espace stage. First up is Celina Ramsauer on Monday, Mar. 17, a travelled musician who has taken the stage in no less than five continents. With her newest concept, Together, she brings her experiences from her travels to her music that celebrates and explores the things that make people around the world both different and the same. Soon after, on Thursday, Mar. 20, L’Espace welcomes Brigitte, a French rock duo that brings all that is sexy to the Hanoi stage. Inspired by the power of the 1950s femme fatale, the blonde and brunette pair combine

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their vocals and provocative lyrics to their energetic rock chimes. Lastly comes Superpoze on Saturday, Mar. 29, who finishes off the month of March with all of the energy electronic beatmaking has to offer. Recently praised by astounded audiences at the Vieilles Charrues Festival, Superpoze brings eclectic inspiration to his mix of jazz and hip-hop electronic masterpieces. Celina Ramsauer comes to L’Espace on Monday, Mar. 17 for VND120,000. Soon after you can see the due, Brigitte, on Thursday, Mar. 20 for VND120,000. To round off the month, Superpoze will play on Saturday, Mar. 29, with a pair of tickets costing only VND60,000. All shows start at 8pm and all tickets can be purchased at L’Espace, 24 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem

Hump Days FatCat Bar doesn’t believe in counting out their weekdays, and that includes hump day. This month, Wednesday’s are big, with all four of them packed with great music. First, get moving with Reggae night on Mar. 5. Mar. 12 is all about acid jazz, with the following Wednesday, Mar. 19, heating things up with ElectroSwing. The final hump day of the month is in not one, but five languages, with multi-lingual singer Manu Chao taking centre stage. FatCat is located at 25 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem

All That Jazz Rolling off of their success with the last jazz evening, Millennium Café de Arts brings back their popular jazz night on Friday, Mar. 14 from 8pm, featuring the everenergetic Domino Band and a collection of talented amateur musicians. Plus, if you’re planning a special Women’s Day evening, a special lunch and dinner menu will be available on Mar. 8, along with live music and a great atmosphere. Millennium Café de Arts is located at 11 Hang Hanh, Hoan Kiem

TexMex Food Festival Movenpick Hotel and Mangosteen Restaurant get spicy and sizzling on Friday Mar. 14 with their TexMex Food Festival, celebrating all that is delicious in the American southwest. Created by chef Trinh Cuong, the second-Friday-of-the-month festival menu promises favourites including burritos, chicken, chimichangas and quesadillas along with plenty of side dishes. Alongside the food is a collection of activities for the whole family, including a dedicated playroom for younger diners. Arts and crafts plus plenty of puzzles and books are available to keep every diner, young and old, plenty happy. Open from 6.30pm until 10pm, the TexMex Food Festival costs VND600,000 per person, with half-price discounts for those between six and 12, and free for under six. Entrance includes a welcome margarita. Contact Mangosteen Restaurant at (04) 3822 2800 for bookings. Mangosteen Restaurant is located in Movenpick Hotel, 83 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem

Hanoi Slam Takes 2014 Hanoi Slam is back with more true tales from Hanoi’s finest, this time under the theme ‘Roots’ on Wednesday, Mar. 5 at the Red River Tea Room. Ten storytellers will take to the microphone to share their tales of defining moments, some laugh-inducing and some heartbreaking. All of the stories are told live and without notes, and in the storyteller’s own, authentic style. The best stories are in line for fantastic prizes and the chance to participate in the upcoming Grand Slam, set for June. All proceeds from the VND100,000 entrance fee will go towards the Humanitarian Services for the Children of Vietnam (HSCV). Hanoi Slam comes to Red River Tea Room on Wednesday, Mar. 5 from 7.30pm. Interested storytellers should email hanoistoryslam@

Rockin’ Hanoi Party central Rockstore is heating things up for March, with an entire month packed in with music, madness and all-around great gigs. Besides their regular line-up of during-the-week acts — Tuesdays’ Thanh Danang Live Rock, Wednesdays’ Ambiance and all-night happy hour, Thursdays’ Hot Chicks Band, and Sundays’ rock flashback with Sunday Rock Fever — a few big names are coming up on the Rockstore calendar. Saturday, Mar. 1 welcomes progressive house purveyor Ngoc Mobile, a descent into the energetic

and out-of-body energy of house beats. Then, on Friday, Mar. 7 comes DJ Yagi all the way from Melbourne, Australia to rock Hanoi. Friday, Mar. 21 brings the Eyes Wide Shut party with DJ BlipBlop —a big name on the Hanoi music scene — and finally, Saturday, Mar. 29 brings us back to the 1980s with DJ Pacman. If you had to pick just one place to spend the month of March, Rockstore’s massive event calendar would make it an easy choice. Rockstore is located at 61 Ma May, Hoan Kiem

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hanoi what s on March is for Madake March is a big month at Madake, with everything from swing to film taking over. First up is Swing Night on Tuesday, Mar. 4, which welcomes dancers from beginner to expert level to shake their stuff on the dancefloor to the best swing beats. Friday, Mar. 7 is time for Ichi Sessions, a monthly showcase featuring the wares of local and travelling artists in the magic Madake garden and basement. The collective SubElements returns on Friday, Mar. 14. A group of DJs, producers, selectors and organizers, expect the best of bass that Hanoi’s dancefloors have to offer, including dub, garage and reggae. Finally, Friday Mar. 21 yet welcomes Movin’ and Groovin’ — a showcase of afrofunk, disco and soul that gets the dancefloor swaying from 9.30pm like nowhere else in the city. Madake is located at 81 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho

To the Summit Summit Lounge of Sofitel Plaza Hanoi is taking high-end dining to exciting new levels with plenty of events through the month of March, including Thursdays and Fridays promising jazz and acoustic live music and specials on signature cocktails

and fine wines. Wednesdays taste a bit different, with specials on whisky and a tasting flight only VND200,000++ per person. Summit Lounge is located on the 20th floor of the Sofitel Plaza Hanoi, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh

A Kultural Experience CyberKulture is back and taking over Hanoi Rock City on Saturday, Mar. 15 for the best of electronic, techno, house and electro-swing. Like every one of their quarterly parties, this month’s CyberKulture promises a total re-imagination of the venue alongside a still-secret special guest. The space and the playlist will offer Hanoi Rock City something distinct from the rest of the city’s dancefloors, and will give attendees a taste of what the next Quest party has in store. Synergy presents CyberKulture comes to Hanoi Rock City, 27 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, on Saturday, Mar. 15 from 8pm until late. Entrance is free

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Saigon VS. Hanoi, CAMA Style The ever-raging battle between Saigon and Hanoi does have some perks, and for CAMA ATK, pitting the city’s party purveyors against each other is the best perk there is. Bringing in Everyone’s a DJ’s Electric Kicks — one of Saigon’s longest-running and most successful club nights — CAMA and EADJ join forces to present one of the best music events to the culture capital of Vietnam. Featuring DJ Superkid and the CAMA resident DJs, Electric Kicks is set to bring the best of indie rock, electro, and 1980s new wave to the Hanoi music mix. Everyone’s a DJ and CAMA ATK join forces with Electric Kicks on Saturday, Mar. 15 from 8pm at CAMA ATK, 73 Mai Hac De. Entrance is VND50,000

Daluva Does Supper

Metiseko’s Spring Update Fashion brand Metiseko is soon to introduce their new line for Spring, just in time for Women’s Day. On Saturday, Mar. 8, Metiseko will unveil its new range of dresses, tops and accessories at Angelina in Metropole Hotel. This time around, Metiseko will be showcasing their beautiful creations and original prints

designed with organic cotton and natural silk for a uniquely eco-chic twist on local fashion. Metiseko unveils their new collection at 9pm, Saturday, Mar. 8 at Angelina, located at Metropole Hotel, 56 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem. Entrance is free. The Metiseko flagship store is located at 71 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem. For more info email

Daluva is taking mealtime to epic new levels with their introduction of Supper Club, a monthly culinary exploration dinner from chef Shahar Lubin. Featuring dishes from such vibrant ethnic tastes as Thai-Mexican fusion and contemporary Japanese, Supper Club is a Hanoian foodie’s dream. The very first Supper Club will feature a five-course tea themed dinner featuring premium Ronnefeldt tea, with tea being the main ingredient in all the dishes. Daluva’s first Supper Club comes to Tay Ho on Friday, Mar. 14. Daluva is located at 33 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho. Reservations are necessary, so contact info@daluva. com to set yourself up with one

March is for Foodies Hanoi Cooking Centre is taking good care of Hanoi foodies in March, with not one, but two great events to satiate our cravings. First, Mar. 9 from 10am to 3pm, creative designers whose wares are not easily found in Hanoi come to the HCC roof terrace for the monthly Sunday Market, plus plenty of foodie goodies as per Hanoi Cooking Centre tradition. And, since being far away from home can take its toll — but few things are more missed than the traditional Sunday roast — HCC is taking good care of our tummies, too. The foodie

paradise is kicking off their Sunday roast on Mar. 23 with all of the trimmings, not forgetting the essentials of roast lamb, roast potato, cauliflower cheese, mint jelly and red wine sauce. Finish up with a golden syrup pudding with custard, and Sunday never tasted so good. Hanoi Cooking Centre’s Sunday Roast gets cookin’ on Sunday, Mar. 23 from 11.30am to 3pm. The Sunday Market on the HCC Terrace is on Mar. 9 from 10am to 3pm. Hanoi Cooking Centre is located at 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh. Bookings are requested for the Sunday lunch — contact

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hanoi Just In Nancy Chandler’s Map of Hanoi For most foreigners living in the cultural capital of Hanoi, finding the best shops, food stalls and sights come from simply spending the time to find them. While most maps of the city focus solely on the tourist hotspots in the Old Quarter, three seasoned expats who call Hanoi home have combined their creative energies to create a new, illustrated map that’s a little bit different. Authored by two local residents and beautifully illustrated by mapmaker Nancy Chandler, the Nancy Chandler Map of Hanoi provides pinpointed destinations and hidden alleyways for the best spots outside of the tourist track. A perfect resource for residents and tourists alike, the Nancy

Chandler Map of Hanoi features walking tours that meander through Hanoi’s less tread streets. Detailed area maps cover downtown Hanoi, greater Hanoi, the Old Quarter, Tay Ho and Ciputra, plus market maps of Cho Dong Xuan and Cho Hom. The pocket-sized travel companion also includes a directory for the city’s best dining and shopping, plus must-haves for expatriates like housing developments, international schools and supermarkets. Buy the Nancy Chandler Map of Hanoi at or on The illustrated guide retails at US$15.95 (VND335,000)

Kub Café Truly in tune with what the Hanoi social scene is missing, Kub Café is bringing the best of two wheels and good food together under one roof. Having opened just after Tet holiday, Kub Café — that is, Kustom Urban Bikes café, the brainchild of motorbike enthusiasts Mai and Toby — has not just a kitchen serving anything from fresh bia hoi to signature hot dogs, but is also bringing in plenty of cycle-centric events to keep things interesting. Designed with an eclectic mix of motorbike parts fused with a classic restaurant interior, Kub Café puts a different twist on the Hanoi eatery. The design aesthetic is coupled with a slew of events including swap meets, racing events and workshops. Stick around after dark and catch some of the café’s regular live entertainment and music. Kub Café is open daily from 9am to 11pm at No. 12, Ngo 264, Au Co, Tay Ho. Find Kub Café on Facebook at

Namaste Relocating Indian cuisine locale Namaste Hanoi is relocating their delicious fare to a new spot in the city centre, at 26 Tho Nhuom, Hoan Kiem. One of the best locations in Hanoi to find top-quality Indian, vegetarian and Halal cuisine, Namaste will offer the same stellar menu at their new location, which is set to open on Mar. 14. The original space at 47 Lo Su will continue service until Mar. 5, after which the restaurant will close for the move. As always, Namaste’s commitment to a tranquil dining environment with the best in Indian tastes and aromas will still be intact. Namaste Restaurant’s new location at 26 Tho Nhuom, Hoan Kiem will open on Mar. 14

Somerset Refurbishes

The Pie Shop From the Western cuisine purveyors JaFa comes a new option for Hanoians seeking quality Western fare. The Pie Shop — located in Syrena Tower in Tay Ho — opened in November of 2013, and has a selection of 15 savory pies in classic Aussie and Kiwi style. Including standard pies like their bacon and egg, chilli beef and mince options, some creative takes on ethnic fare like the tandoori vegetable pie come in three sizes for any stomach, plus family-style extra large pies to

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feed the whole gang. The Pie Shop is now delivering, and can be found online at Pick them up at their location in Tay Ho for a hot takeaway snack or frozen for the morning hangover. The Pie Shop is located at the Syrena Tower, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho and is open seven days a week from 10am to 9pm. Contact The Pie Shop at or by phone on (04) 3718 1507

As part of the introduction of a new look, the popular luxury serviced apartment complex overlooking West Lake has refurbished their one-bedroom premier apartments. The 77sqm units now come equipped with state-of-the-art LED TV, iPad/iPod dock, a home entertainment system and a fully equipped kitchen, making these apartments the perfect place to work, entertain and relax. Somerset West Lake is at 254D Thuy Khue, Tay Ho, Hanoi. For enquiries call (04) 3934 2342 or email

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overscene hanoi

the highway to cau giay

Photos provided by Highway 4 Apparently the way there is by taking Highway 4, with the restaurant chain opening their newest space there on Tran Thai Tong

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say it with jazz

Photos by David Harris Millenium continued its monthly jazz nights with a range of musicians, both local and overseas, taking to the stage

from old world to new Photos by David Harris Daluva’s monthly Around the World wine parties continue to bring in the wine‌ and the customers

If you have a noteworthy event which you think would fit into our coverage, please email and we'll take a look

Sam Thi and Friends

Photos by David Harris A special reunion concert at the Vietnam National Academy of Music celebrated the return of European-based violinist, Nguyen Sam Thi. All proceeds went to charity

on the roof

Photos by David Harris Despite the cold spell and a certain festival called Tet, the Sunday Rooftop Market continued its second-Sunday-of-the-month appearance at Hanoi Cooking Centre

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march 2014 Hanoi Slam: Back to Basics


anoi Slam has been bringing Hanoians together for a while now, and now it wants to know where all these weird stories are coming from. Hear about 10 storytellers’ roots, in advance of the upcoming Grand Slam.



ynergy is taking over HRC with their special blend of EDM and spatial distortion, promising a night like none you’ve ever had.

Mar. 5 — Red River Tea Room

01 saturday dj Dan Bi Mong (Hibiya Line). @ CAMA ATK, 8pm to 12pm

02 sunday 03 monday Vitamin B Night. @ Daluva. Every Monday at 8.30pm. Cult movies, beer, burgers and bourbon

04 tuesday

Mar. 15 — Hanoi Rock City

10 Monday 11 Tuesday 12 Wednesday 13 Thursday

Swing Madake. @ Madake, 9.30pm till late

Live acoustic and jazz, every Thursday and Friday evening. @ Summit Lounge, Sofitel Plaza

05 wednesday

14 Friday

Salsa Xao Chua Ngot. @ CAMA ATK, 8pm to 12pm Hanoi Slam: Roots. @ Red River Tea Room, 7.30pm

06 thursday Vi Thuy Linh Passport of Soul. @ L’Espace, 8pm

07 friday Ichi Sessions. @ Madake, 9.30 pm till late DJ Yagi from Melbourne. @ Rockstore, 9pm

08 saturday Fantastic Seafood Treat. @ Melia Hotel Metiseko Fashion Show. @ Angelina, 9pm. Free entry

09 sunday Sunday Rooftop Market. @ HCC, 10am to 3pm

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Namaste Opening. @ 46 Tho Nhuom, Hoan Kiem, 6pm HIWC Coffee Morning. @ Van Tri, 10am. More information at coffee@ SubElements. @ Madake Jazz Music – Domino Band. @ Millenium Cafe, 8pm TexMex Food Festival. @ Movenpick Hotel, 6.30pm to 10pm The First Supper Club. @ Daluva. Email for reservations and info

15 Saturday Everyone’s A DJ & CAMA Present. @ CAMA ATK, 8pm to 12pm CyberKulture. @ Hanoi Rock City, 9pm

16 Sunday St. Patrick’s Day. @ Movenpick Hotel, 11.30am St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations. @ Rockstore, 9pm

To have your event included in our calendar, please email by no later than Mar. 15 with a description of the event and a high-res photo

Brigitte DJ Pac-man


f you’ve seen their music videos, you’ll probably be interested in seeing them live. This duo is femme fatale at its Gallic finest.


his refugee of the 1980s has taken his wax with him, or maybe just bought some in a store. Either way, if you like classic hip hop this will be your night. Time to munch some ghosts.

Mar. 20 — L’Espace

17 Monday Célina Ramsauer. @ L’Espace, 8pm

18 Tuesday

Mar. 29 — Rockstore

24 Monday 25 Tuesday

19 Wednesday 20 Thursday

26 Wednesday 27 Thursday Hot Chicks Band with Annakizer Walter. every Thursday @ Rockstore, 9pm

28 Friday DJ &ndy, Andy Crompton. @ Rockstore, 9pm Brigitte. @ L’Espace, 8pm

21 Friday

29 29 saturday Friday

Moovin & Groovin #3. @ Madake, 9.30pm till late Around the World Wine Party. @ Daluva, 6.30pm to 8.30pm Eyes Wide Shut with DJ BlipBloP. @ Rockstore, 9pm

22 Saturday 23 Sunday Traditional Roast with All the Trimmings. @ HCC, 11.30am to 3pm

Superpoze, Electronic Music. @ L’Espace, 8pm Health for Life. @ Royal City Centuryon Club, 2pm to 6pm. More information at Back to the 1980s with DJ Pac-man. @ Rockstore

30 sunday 31 monday

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in the papers The Best of the VietnameSe Press



Vietnam’s Longest Sea Bridge to be Built Fertile Ground in Vietnam Vietnam has become the target for scrutiny as three foreign companies — American corporation Monsanto, Pioneer Hi-Bred Vietnam under the US’s Dupont, and Swiss Syngenta — established labs in 2011 in the country in order to carry out research and testing on GMO corn seed varieties. The results of the research are currently being reviewed. The developments follow a 2006 blueprint to develop these genetically modified crops as part of a “major programme for the development and application of biotechnology in agriculture and development”. These efforts are aimed to improve crop yields that feed a population of over 90 million people in Vietnam. GMOs have faced intense global pushback from activists arguing that these crops can have negative health effects, with nearly all of Europe’s food industry abandoning GMOs. The plan in Vietnam aims to have some GM crops cultivated by 2015 with 30 to 50 percent of Vietnam farmland with GMOs by 2020.

Construction on a 5.44 kilometre bridge is set to begin soon in Hai Phong City, establishing it as the longest sea bridge in the country, and among the longest bridges currently in Southeast Asia. The project commenced on Feb. 15 and will connect a 15.63 kilometre traffic line between Tan Vu and the port of Lach Huyen on Cat Hai island. Around 10.19 kilometres of access road will span 5.44

kilometres over the sea to connect to the bridge, which will feature four lanes for vehicles and two safety corridors. Access roads will allow vehicles to travel at 80km/h. The massive project will cost an estimated VND11.8 billion, with large portions of the investing coming from Japanese ODA. The remaining funds will be provided by the Vietnamese authorities.

Pickpockets Nabbed Eleven members of a pickpocket gang that targeted foreigners in downtown Saigon have been arrested. The gang’s alleged leaders were a 37-year-old woman, Tang Thi Thuy Trang, and a 50-year-old man, Chau Van Nhieu. The gang targeted young, foreign men by employing women to approach them

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before fleeing on motorbikes. However they were caught red-handed in the Bui Vien area after a series of complaints from foreign tourists. After nine testimonies, two additional people were arrested including a 33-yearold owner of a mobile phone shop in which the stolen phones were sold to.

Taxi Rage Two taxi drivers connected with the assault of a young South Korean tourist were arrested in Hanoi after stealing his backpack when he refused to pay an overcharged fare. Do Van Duong, 31 and Nguyen Anh Trai, 38 were both arrested after their alleged assault of Lee Seang Man, a 14-year-old Korean student who resides in China. The assault was reported by a local student who saw a foreign man with a blood-covered face calling for help in Yen My Commune. The victim was promptly taken to a hospital before the man was questioned with the help of a translator. The victim reported that after he refused to pay a VND500,000 taxi fare, the taxi driver called another illegal driver who quickly came to the scene. Unknowingly, the victim then got into the new driver’s cab in an effort to escape. After once again refusing to pay an overcharged fare, the driver stole a backpack containing a wallet, a mobile phone and personal papers after beating him with a fire extinguisher. The stolen items were eventually returned to the victim.

1,000 New Street Names More than 1,000 new street names have been added to the available list by the People’s Committee in Ho Chi Minh City. Including 45 historical figures of the 20th century, one such name is that of the late general, Vo Nguyen Giap. Also included are Pham Xuan An, a brigadier general, and Dang Thuy Tram, a heroic war doctor. Many other streets will bear the names of researchers, artists, technologists and composers. One street will also be named after Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara. Two other foreign names include Jose Marti and Marie Curie.


A Life in the Arts // Automatic for the People // A Vietnamese Mosaic // The Workings of GingerWork // The Riding School // Lunch for a Good Cause // Green Taste // Banh Ran // Café If // 27 Grill // THE STYLE RIDERS // Dhaka by Bus // Penguins, Seals and an Echidna // The Bikers’ Guide to the North Thai Switchback Mountains Photo by YVES SCHIEPEK

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A Life in the Arts One of Vietnamese contemporary art’s original leading lights, Bui Suoi Hoa shares her insights on a life of triumphs and challenges with Kelly L. Le. Photos by Lam Hieu Thuan


hen we think about artists, we typically imagine quirky individuals who fearlessly march to their own beats, immune to the stresses of the nine-tofive grind. They are introduced to us on magazine covers and at gallery openings. They seem to glide in and out of different social circles with such charming swagger that we wonder: Is the life of an artist constantly filled with discovery and excitement, or is there some gravitas behind the carefree glamour? Providing insight to this question is wellrespected oil painter Bui Suoi Hoa. With over 30 years of experience, she has seen it all — the good, the bad and the unexpected turns of what it means to be a female artist in Vietnam.

A Life Less Ordinary The daughter of Huyen Kieu, an acclaimed early 20th century poet, Suoi Hoa grew up in

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“You do not have to constantly paint or sell a lot of paintings to be successful. Life is inherently rich. If you manage to imprint some of your spirit onto canvas then you have done well”

a household where her natural talent for fine art was not only fostered but also refined. She was taught to appreciate Vietnamese culture. Her father routinely took her to see cheo, a traditional form of northern opera. Originating during the Dinh Dynasty, cheo generally consist of archetypal characters, representing the full spectrum of rural life in the Red River Delta. Each performance is filled with vividly-coloured costumes, lively beats and alluring melodies. “I am constantly inspired by the compassion of cheo’s characters,” Suoi Hoa says. “To me they exemplify the Vietnamese spirit, and its capacity for desire despite the fleeting nature of happiness.” Suoi Hoa’s commitment to explore the depth of cheo on canvas led to early success in her career. Dubbed one of the leading talents of Doi Moi by Hong Kong-based gallery Plum Blossom, Suoi Hoa became a sought-after artist. When it was still considered a rare accomplishment to be

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able to travel internationally, she was invited to art residencies and exhibitions across the US and Europe.

Triumph Against the Odds Fiercely prolific, Suoi Hoa managed to hold her own despite being a woman in a male-dominated industry. Her success was particularly noteworthy in her avoidance of public and private arts associations, at a time when it was an accepted fact that participation was necessary to secure one’s professional standing. Suoi Hoa intended her works to speak for themselves. Using distinctive strokes, intense colours and bold composition, she created unique imaginings of the Vietnamese landscape and people, imaginings that echo of both introspection and spirituality. On a personal level, Suoi Hoa is an exemplar of uncompromising independence. In the 1980s, she made a life-changing decision to leave the safe haven of Hanoi for the frontier arts scene of Ho Chi Minh City. She arrived in Saigon alone — a single mother with no money or job prospects. “It was a struggle to finally secure a lecturing position at the University of Architecture,” she says of those early days. “Fortunately, I was able to sell my works soon after. It was good timing, too, because a year into teaching, I realised I just couldn’t seem to show up to classes on time.” Giggling bashfully, she continues, “I was worse than the students! Teaching just wasn’t for me. Come what may, painting is my life.”

The Falling Action of Success The late 1990s was a tumultuous time for Vietnamese art. Demand for contemporary

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paintings sharply declined. Forgery scandals caused foreign collectors to turn their attention elsewhere. The residue of this phenomenon can be found across Ho Chi Minh City. Popular hole-in-the-wall shops, particularly those along Bui Vien and Dong Khoi, offer an array of made-to-order reproductions of both Vietnamese and international artists. And while young painters have accepted this as a fact of life, established artists have a hard time overcoming its unfairness. Suoi Hoa is still weary of consignments. As she is published and featured in collections both abroad and at home, her primary concern is professional integrity. More often than not, the culprits set up a gallery as a front to start their private collection, selling customers high-quality replicas and keeping the originals for themselves — or worse, documenting the series and returning all paintings to the artist, unsold. “Trust is everything,” Suoi Hoa says. “Artists don’t often get to meet buyers. The difficulties lie not in finding a gallery that will showcase your painting, but rather in finding one that you can build a long-term relationship with.”

The Pragmatist For Suoi Hoa, a painter must have more than talent to stand above the pack. To live by one’s art requires an honest assessment of limitations. She admits that her seclusion from public life has notable drawbacks — namely, that the next generation of collectors are currently unfamiliar with her works. Determined to change, Suoi Hoa is debuting a brand new series of work at the end of the year. Though she is optimistic

about finding the right representation for the show, she recognises that financing one’s own exhibition at popular venues, such as the Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts, can be a good alternative. And there are other practical matters that artists have to deal with on a regular basis. One of the least talked about is storage. Suoi Hoa, herself, is a victim of mould. A few years back, she lost some of her favourite works due to humidity. “Ho Chi Minh City is very damp,” she says, “especially during the monsoon season. Unfortunately, there is only so much you can do when it comes to decades-old paintings.”

Lessons Learned With everything said and done, Suoi Hoa remains as jovial and youthful as ever. Sipping on a glass of homemade plum wine, she wonders, “What is there not to be happy about? I have the freedom to do and be what I am. In life, I might not have many things — but in my paintings I’ve achieved much.” Every aspect of her life is in keeping with her philosophy. She wakes up every morning to a large studio, overlooking a breezy, lush garden. While visitors might be wise to arm themselves with mosquito repellent, Suoi Hoa glides in and out of the foliate of bamboo and vines with grace and poise. With a shimmer in her eye and a pair of garden clippers in hand, she seems, as her name suggests, to be made of suoi (‘stream’) and hoa (‘flower’). Dropping freshly picked tea leaves in a brightly-coloured plastic strainer, she says as effortlessly, “You do not have to constantly paint or sell a lot of paintings to be successful. Life is inherently rich. If you manage to imprint some of your spirit onto canvas, then you have done well.”

“Trust is everything. Artists don’t often get to meet buyers. The difficulties lie not in finding a gallery that will showcase your painting, but rather in finding one that you can build a long-term relationship with”

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Cover Story

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t was the late 1990s at a tiny, nameless coffee shop. One expat was a regular, sitting on the plastic chairs a few times a week, sipping ca phe sua da and making polite conversation with the shop’s owner, an aging and unassuming local man. But it wasn’t the coffee that kept him coming back. He’d heard whispers that there was something spectacular only metres away in the shop owner’s back garden — a treasure trove of epic proportions. It took nearly a year before the shop owner let down his guard and invited him in. What he saw in the garden’s messy overgrowth were dozens of classic Harley-Davidson motorbikes, packed tightly together and in various levels of disrepair. It’d been years since most of them had been driven — none of them had been restored — but the collection must have been worth thousands and thousands of dollars. When he asked the shop owner how he had gotten them, these monuments of luxury in two-wheeled form, he got an unexpected answer: he had traded them for bicycles. “Between the late 1970s and the early 1980s, petrol was in short supply,” recalls the expat. “People needed to get from point A to point B, and the only reliable way to do it was with something that required

no petrol at all. They needed bicycles.” So, desperate motorbike owners traded in their luxury vehicles for pedal power. Yet, at a time when ostentatiousness was the exception rather than the rule, he kept them hidden away in his back garden and open to the elements.

Motorbikes ‘R Us

As Vietnam has grown richer, the once-downplayed obsession with status has returned. And nowhere is this status demonstrated more openly than in the vehicle we drive — whether it’s a car, a motorbike or even a bicycle. No longer is a motorbike just about getting from A to B. Now it’s an instrument of passion, a vehicle of love, and an arbiter of image. Today, the concept of storing away 100 Harleys in a back garden is unthinkable. Yet, becoming a country whose transport system is ruled by the sometime humble, sometime showy motorbike has been a long process. It is a process that makes this country unique, since nowhere else has succumbed to the power of two wheels quite like Vietnam. As George Orwell once miswrote, “Four wheels are good, two wheels are better.” — Karen Hewell

Automatic for t h e P eopl e Photo by Yves Schiepek

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A S hort History

The lifeblood of Vietnam, the motorbike has continued what the bicycle started, an obsession for travel on two wheels rather than four. Compiled by Ed Weinberg. Illustration by Cristina Nualart

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of Motor bik e s

1950s to 1970s — Mobylette. A product of a more carefree time, these 50cc two-strokers cruised the streets in style, one remembered fondly by Mobylette enthusiasts to this day.

1950s to 1960s — BMWs, Vespas and Lambrettas.

1960s to 1970s — Honda 67.

With the oldest Vespa in Vietnam dating to 1952, and the oldest Lambretta, 1954, the 1950s and 1960s were the era of all things Italian. However, the German BMWs weren’t to be outdone, also having an impact on the market. The oldest BMW motorcycle presently known to exist in Vietnam dates in 1939.

These stylish numbers were among the first wave of Japanese motorcycles in Vietnam, and some of the most popular. From their pre-war heyday to now they’ve achieved mythical status, making a comeback on the Hanoi and Saigon streets of the 2010s.

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1970s to 1980s — Minsk.

1980s — Honda Cub.

1980s — Motorcycle Modesty.

Late 1990s — Honda Spacy.

This ‘old buffalo’ was a belching, rumbling sight even in its production years, when the Belarusian product terrorised quiet streets around Hanoi. Due to privatisation hiccups back home, the steady flow of Minsks into Vietnam stopped in the 2000s, and most of the Minsks you’re likely to see nowadays have the scars to prove their age. In 2012 after a short hiatus, production re-started and there is now a new range of rebranded Minsks — now called M1NSK — coming off the production lines.

These low-powered city cruisers first took to the streets in the 1980s, where their clean lines and modest fuel consumption made them a favourite of a slower-paced Vietnam. Today, these 50cc ‘Cubbies’ can still be seen lumbering to the devilmay-care throttles of legallyhelmetless riders.

As motorbikes were coming into vogue, Vietnam’s roadside ateliers worked on a new fashion standard. The no-peeping aprons and colourful facemasks would become standard wear two decades later, when motorbikes became a way of life.

First hitting the streets in 1995, the Spacy was the bike of choice for Vietnam’s millennial femme fatales. Its purse-accommodating body spelled class at a time when semi-automatics — with their tiny storage holds — ruled the road.

2000s — Transitioning the Roadways.

2002 — Yamaha Nouvo Ushers in the Scooter Era.

2007 — Honda Air Blade.

2000s to 2010s — Honda Lead.

Behind the market expansion of the China shock and the rise of local assemblers, motorcycle consumption jumped from under a half-million per year at the end of the 1990s to nearly three million per year at the end of the 2000s. Motorcycles quickly became a must-have, and just like that the age of the bicycle was over.

Breaking the Honda stranglehold on the region, Yamaha dipped out of the racing market for this 125cc entry, which brought the scooter craze to Vietnam and made automatic transmissions the desired standard. To this day, Yamaha holds 25 percent of the domestic market.

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In a long-delayed response to Yamaha’s market incursion, Honda released the Air Blade, taking back market share in the process — only cooling off a bit four years later, as recession hit and the design flaws of the 2011 model became apparent.

Bulking up the purse compartment even more, Honda replaced its Spacy line with these cool customers, whose 125cc engine was powerful enough to take its bulky back-end wherever it needed to go.

1990s to 2000s — Honda Win.

1990s to 2000s — Honda Dream.

Not only the favourite of motopackers, these 110cc road warriors are exceptionally fuel efficient and trail-tested, making them a natural choice for the mountains of northern Vietnam. Along with Minsks, of course.

Actually a Super Cub, with the engine bumped up to 100cc and a slight makeover, the Honda Dream took Vietnam by storm in the 1990s, briefly becoming Vietnam’s ‘it’ bike before the Yamaha takeover. These smooth rides can still be seen under the posteriors of the classier xe om drivers.

Responding to new import restrictions, Honda Vietnam’s first factory was set up in Vinh Phuc Province, 32km northwest of Hanoi. Today joined by a second Vinh Phuc factory built in 2008 and a 2012 Ha Nam Province location, Honda Vietnam has a production capacity of 2.5 million motorcycles, with their bike sales accounting for nearly 65 percent of the market.

As the Vietnamese market looked to be reaching capacity, it began to be flooded with low-priced imitations of Japanese motorcycles imported from China. Not only did this jumpstart the stagnant industry — at one point accounting for 80 percent of the four-fold increase in annual sales — it also forced Honda’s hand in releasing the Wave Alpha at a third of the price of the company’s previous models. Behind the Wave Alpha, Honda quickly gained back market share, as the low quality of the Chinese products became more widely known.

2000s — Suzuki and SYM Try Their Luck.

2010s — Piaggio.

2013 — Vietnam Takes to the Global Export Market.

March 2014 — 175cc Within Reach.

Having come far from the days when the quality of domestically bought Hondas couldn’t be assured, Vietnam-produced Hondas are now being exported for sale in their country of trademark origin, Japan. This is only part of a new market reality, which sees the five major motorbike makers continually raising their production capacity — to nearly 5.5 million bikes a year, currently — and domestic consumption falling, now only accounting for about three million of those produced.

As of this month, new legislation will allow anyone passing the standard driving test to qualify for an A2 license — and own motorbikes with engines larger than 175cc — which previously was only available to government officials and members of motorcycle clubs. How this will affect the desire to keep motorbikes in-country below the 36 million mark targeted by 2020 — there are currently 37 million registered — can only be speculated upon.

Hoping to carve space into a scooter market dominated by Yamaha and Honda, Suzuki and SYM both released automatic models. However, despite the modest success of bikes such as SYM’s Atilla, neither really gained the foothold they were looking for, and today concentrate on 50cc “naked bikes”. Together with Piaggio, these companies share the 10 percent of the market not controlled by Honda or Yamaha.

Piaggio rebooted its Vespa and Piaggio lines for domestic consumption in 2009, and soon erased memories of the smoking relics of yesteryear. Nowadays, the classic lines of bikes made in their Vinh Phuc factory support the very chicest of Vietnam’s commuters, as well as commuters in the other Southeast Asian countries to which they export.

1997 — First Honda Vietnam Early 2000s — ‘China Shock’. Factory Established.

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Forget Clarkson, Hammond and May, Nick Ross and Yves Schiepek bypassed Top Gear and tried the motorbikes on Vietnam’s roads for themselves. Eight test-driven vehicles later, and not even a scratch to blight that perfect bodywork, together they managed to get an insight into locally-available bikes that can get you from more than just A to Z

Top F e ar

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t was 8am on Valentine’s Day and the sun was burning hazily through the smog of the city. Perched outside Saigon’s IBIS Hotel in District 7, we watched the beasts arrive. First a 1962 Lambretta, or as someone described it, sex on wheels. Italian sex on wheels. Was this to be our Valentine’s date? Then the Hell’s Angels rocked up, or at least, the closest version you’re likely to find in Vietnam. Sat astride their four Harley-Davidsons, booming rumbles preceded them as they rolled down the road in movie-like unison. All we needed now was an outdoor screen showing the classic flick, Easy Rider, with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper (R.I.P.) on hand to sign autographs. It was not to be. I had spent the previous sleepless night in between a mix of terror and self-affirmation. I’ve driven bikes for 25 years, glided through Europe, parts of North America

and four countries in Asia. Thanks to a close friend, I now own a Honda Trail Bike, a 30-year-old off-roader, and have ridden almost every type of bike you’re likely to find on the roads of Vietnam. But never a Harley. And never a KTM, too, one of the other speedy beasts I was going to try. Would I be able to manage it? The answer, as I discovered, was yes. Not always with ease, though. The largest of the Harleys weighed in at almost 400kg and, with its 1,800cc-plus engine, is faster than the speed of light. Well, it felt that way. Nought to 100kmph in under two seconds is not to be sniffed at. But once you’re used to driving a manual bike, and have taken it through a variety of terrains, both onroad and off, converting your skills to something bigger, more powerful and — if the word is apt, better — is not such an arduous task. So, here’s the lowdown.

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The Lambretta Model: TV175 Year: 1964

This curvaceous beauty of the biking world is so rare now, that only the collectors out there will understand how desirable it is to own a TV175. As owner Steve Mueller reiterated, in its day this was a favourite of the air pilots, who liked to cruise around Saigon and the surrounding countryside in Roman Holiday style. He should know. The man behind Vietnam Vespa Adventures, he has 75 classic Vespas in his keeping, many used for tours. But for Steve, the Lambretta is a little bit special. Riding and Handling This is a heavy bike, with the engine rattling through every part of the body. Yet it takes the rough and tumble of the roads with surprising grace. And for a bike of such age, it switches into neutral with ease. Appearance Italian chic. Simple yet robust, curvaceous yet sexy. A real looker. Engine For a 1964 vehicle, super smooth. Value According to Steve, if you can find a TV175, you’ll be looking at over VND100 million. Even 15 years ago when Vespas and Lambrettas captured the imagination of foreigners visiting and living in Vietnam, this particular model was going for up to VND15 million. Equipment Sorry? Who it’s for For people who like a Sunday drive on a frame of beautifully crafted metal and paint. It’s a collector’s bike, the kind driven by a mod out of the cult movie Quadrophenia. Overall If you know your bikes, and like to go for something classic, then Lambrettas and Vespas may just be the models for you. It’s a love affair. But beware the spark plug. In the rain it can get soaked and leave you stranded.

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“Did I say smooth one too many times?”

Honda Automatics

Models: SH Mode and Air Blade Deluxe Year: 2013 / 2014 If one company can lay claim to pushing forward the motorbike industry in Vietnam, it’s Honda. From the Honda Cubs and Honda 67s through to the Honda Dreams and more recently the Waves, Futures, Spacys and SHs, Honda have played a role in making this country into the motorbikeobsessed nation it is today. Riding and Handling I own an Air Blade. So, comparing the latest model to my own 2010 whizz buster was fascinating. What improvements would there be? As I discovered, all were incremental and in the details. The engine is softer, less noisy. The acceleration is smoother, the electric starter almost soundless. And even the speedometer has been changed up — now it has a digital element. The SH Mode was equally smooth. Honda’s main scooter model, it is powerful yet to drive it feels effortless. Honda bikes are all about a smooth, calming ride. And in the heat of frenetic traffic they are difficult to beat. Appearance Attractive with nice curves. The Air Blade retains its sporty attire while the SH Mode has curves and swirls. Engine Did I say smooth one too many times? Time to add in the word powerful, then. For relatively small-engine automatics, these bikes really fly. Value Hondas retain their value. So, while you’re going to pay more for an Air Blade or an SH than you would for a competitor equivalent, the reliability of the bikes means that secondhand they are as good a buy as new. Equipment Simple yet sleek, now with digital features on the dashboard to complement all those ‘ometers. Who it’s for People who can afford it and in particular, people who are searching for bikes that will last. Here Honda is in a world of its own. Overall As city bikes with some speed and yet easy to operate in traffic, both the Air Blade and the SH Mode are in their element. Attractive yet practical, and most importantly, a brand you can rely on.

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Models: Duke 200 and Duke 390 Year: 2013 A new addition to the Vietnamese market, KTMs started off as off-road and racing bikes. The recent transition of this Austrian brand to smaller engine models is a masterstroke. Light yet speedy, sporty yet easy to manoeuver, their range of manual bikes in Vietnam starts at the Duke 125 before heading upwards into the precipices of the superbike. Riding and Handling Like a dream. Light but with the power of a rocket in its spleen, the Duke 200 is only an entry model but is something to be reckoned with. Good in traffic, but despite its speed it never feels like it’s too difficult to handle. And then there’s the Duke 390. Now we’re getting somewhere. Appearance Sleek, orange, white and black. Sporty, distinctive and yet easy on the eye. Has ‘racer’ written all over it. Engine A nice purr, a soft rumble, and when the gas is down, the whizz of acceleration is a dream. For the real deal, switch up to the 390. Now we’re talking. Value The word ‘reasonable’ does this brand justice. We’re not going to mention exact prices here, but for under VND150 million you can have yourself one helluva bike. Equipment Simple buttons and switches, but check out that digital speedometer. Everything you need to know about your bike on one simple screen. Watching the speed go up and down as you accelerate or change down gears adds to the sense of usability. Who it’s for According to KTM, mainly 20 to 35-year-olds. According to me, people who like speed but want a bike that can navigate the city in heavy traffic. Overall Possibly the perfect bike for both the city and the open road — if you like speed, that is. The 200 and 390 are so light that you will never feel you have too much weight on your hands. And moving up and down the gears — we’re talking six in both these instances — is effortless. As is changing down into neutral. What more could you ask for of a manual bike, especially one negotiating traffic?

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“The Vietnamese phrase ‘Tien nao cua nay’ comes to mind here. You pay your price, you get your quality”


Models: 883, Forty-eight and Street Glider Year: 2012 / 2013 Now over a century old, Harley-Davidson are the classic American-built beasts of the road. When I say beasts, despite their size and their almost perfect, stuff-of-dreams black and chrome bodywork, get these things moving and they are light. Very light. Even the almost 400kg-heavy Street Glide, the ultimate touring bike and the producer’s best-known model, is light once you get it past walking pace. And wow does it fly! The recent opening of the Harley-Davidson dealership in Ho Chi Minh City means these bikes can now be purchased in Vietnam. And with the HOG groups (Harley-Davidson owner groups) already claiming scores of members, the fascination with these bikes is set to grow. Riding and Handling Beautiful. Smooth with that insane comforting rumble. Amazing acceleration, but controlled. My favourite bike, the Forty-eight, with its stripped down, nothing-to-hide bodywork, was low-slung, small and light with wide handlebars and your legs stretched out in front. Described as an urban brawler, turning in a circle on this boom-boom, double exhaust baby was surprisingly easy. So easy that I must have taken it for 10 rounds of U-turns before our photographer finally got the shot he required. Appearance Black and silver and more black and silver. When it comes to art and motorbikes merged into one, Harleys are beauties. But for me the real beauty of all the beasts was the Forty-eight. Engine The 883 was slightly tinny, but in that classic sort of way and always with that rumble. The 1,200cc Forty-eight was roaring, displaying a hunger for power and a passion for speed. And the Street Glide, designed for long-haul touring comfort, was all strength, low-end torque and raw, horseinfused power. There was 1,800cc of it, after all. Value The Vietnamese phrase “Tien nao cua nay” comes to mind here. You pay your price, you get your quality. Think VND350 million and up, up and up. Here you are truly paying for quality. Equipment The 883 and the Forty-eight by Harley standards are fairly simplistic. But then it’s all about that classic look. And after all, who needs all the mod cons? Now as for the Street Glide, this is the equivalent of a car on two wheels — all the comfort of a four-wheeler fitted into a bike. Who it’s for For someone who likes to be seen and look mean. Owning a Harley requires a certain outlook on life. Fortunately, there are so many different models available that there’s something for everyone. For me? The Forty-eight. Overall I want it, I want it, I want it!

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Z e n a nd t h e Art of Motorcyc l e Mai nt e na nc e

Everything you thought you knew but didn’t know and certainly may want to know about owning and driving a motorbike. Words by Hoa Le. Photos by Yves Schiepek Getting a Motorbike License To legally drive a motorbike with a capacity of over 50cc in Vietnam you need a Vietnamese license — international licenses are not valid here but can be converted into a temporary Vietnamese driver’s license. Here are the things you need to know to get a Vietnamese license: — Submit an application package including a copy of your valid visa and passport and six photos. — Take a medical check which tests your eyesight and general health. This takes place at the driving test site before you take the test. — Take the driving test. You’ll need to drive around a short figure of eight and obstacle course usually involving a few speed bumps and a corner, without stalling or putting your feet down. If foreigners

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have a motorbike or car driving license from overseas, they are not expected to complete the written test as it is in Vietnamese. But if you do, you’ll usually be provided with a translator. — Wait 10 to 15 days to receive your license if you pass the test. — Fee: VND225,000 In Hanoi, visit the Centre for Automotive Training and Mechanism (83A Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3942 2715). In Ho Chi Minh City, contact the Office of Transportation (63 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 3760). In provincial areas, you should consult local police authorities. An international driver’s license or your home country’s driver’s license can both be converted into a temporary Vietnamese

driver’s license — but in the latter case, you’ll need to get your license translated into Vietnamese before applying. Contact the offices above for further information. Big Bikes For motorbike under 50cc such as a Honda Cub 49cc, you don’t need to apply for a driver ’s license. Starting this month, you can apply individually for a special driver ’s license for riding a motorbike with a capacity over 175cc. This was not possible before as it was required that you be a member of a recognised motorcycle club. You’ll need to do a test on a 250cc motorcycle no matter what bike capacity you’re applying for. Contact the offices above to get more information.

Getting Insurance It is compulsory that you have a civil liability insurance when driving a motorbike in Vietnam. It costs VND66,000 per year for bikes of under 50cc and VND80,000 per year for bikes of under 150cc. This is to cover up to VND50 million if the driver damages property, gets injured or dies from an accident. Bao Viet, Bao Minh or Pijico are the three major companies that you can get this insurance from. Another type of insurance you can buy to protect your bike or increase your coverage is the voluntary third party liability. This can cover up to US$20,000 (VND420 million) and you pay a fee of about four to five times higher than the compulsory fee or from 0.1 to 0.2 percent of the value of your motorbike. This insurance

won’t cover you if you fall or lose some parts of the bikes. You also need to legal documents to show that you own the bike or the benefits will go to its legal owner — or sometimes no-one when ownership can’t be proven. This insurance also only pays for full loss or full forcible theft. If your motorbike is brand new, you need to agree with the insurer that they will pay the brand new price for one year or at least six months — otherwise you may be stuck with the market value — this can be much lower. Effective medical treatment in case of an accident requires good medical insurance. This can cover your hospital treatment, evacuation and post-hospital treatment including rehabilitation in Vietnam or other countries such as Thailand,

Singapore and even Europe and North America. While an international insurer may not over-scrutinise if you have an accident, a Vietnam-based insurance company will check the situation carefully before they decide to cover your case. They will need proof that you can drive legally in Vietnam including your driver’s license, a valid visa and passport, and whether or not you were wearing a helmet. Police records, a hospital admission form, a doctor’s declaration and accident claim forms are all taken into consideration. A locally based insurer will also want proof of no drug or alcohol usage. For more details about insurance, consult your insurance company or contact If Consulting (

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What to Look For When Buying a Bike

General Laws

Owning a Motorbike

Here are a few tips for you if you’re thinking about purchasing a secondhand motorbike: — A Honda is many people’s first option as it’s reasonably priced and reliable. You can find many Honda dealers or shops around, so it’s easy to replace parts or fix when necessary. — Make sure the bike is an original and its parts haven’t been changed. You can take the bike to a reputable garage, shop or mechanic to have it checked. Even better, get a mechanic to take a look at the bike before you buy it. — Make sure the bike has a registration card, a frame number, an engine number and a number plate that all match up. — Whether you buy a brand new bike or a secondhand one, you should always make sure you have papers. No papers means no insurance claim if anything goes wrong.

You’ll need to obey these rules if you want to be safe on the roads and not get pulled over: — Drive in the lane for motorbikes when you’re in the city. When you go outside of the city, be aware that some highways are for cars only. — Go under the speed limit. Unless marked otherwise, it’s 40km/h in the city and 50km/h outside the city for normal motorbikes. — Always bring a valid Vietnamese driver’s license with you when riding a motorbike over 50cc. — Wear a helmet at all times, including when travelling as a passenger. Violation will result in a fine of up to VND200,000. — Make sure the motorbike has simple components such as wing mirrors and working front and rear lights. — There is presently a crackdown on signaling. So get into the habit. Indicate not just when turning, but when changing lanes, too.

— Make sure you take your motorbike for scheduled maintenance and servicing. Good bike rental places provide you with monthly servicing. — If you need to change parts, go to reputable garages or your bike’s dealership. There are chances that you will get inferior copies when you buy on the black market or in small shops. — Always make sure the tyres are pumped to the correct pressure because it makes the bike safer and easier to ride. The standard pressure is 30 psi (about 2.1 kg/cm2). The front tyre often needs a bit less air than the rear one. — Always adjust the brakes to the right level and regularly lubricate them. — Change your engine oil regularly. Make sure you use good oil (see the next column). Inferior quality oil can affect performance and damage the engine.

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What to do in an Accident Here are a few tips from the doctors at FV Hospital:

— F or

abrasions , bleeding . While a severe abrasion should be seen and cleaned by a physician, you can do some things to promote healing. First, because abrasions can easily become infected, you should clean the area thoroughly and remove any dirt and debris. Ideally, you want to irrigate the area with a nontoxic surfactant such as 0.9 sodium chloride or Shur-Clens with a bit of pressure (use a syringe if possible). The area must be completely clean. If necessary, use a clean gauze to gently scrub the area. Do not scrub vigorously, as this can cause more tissue damage. Check your tetanus immunisation as well.

— F or

sprains . Begin RICE (an acronym for rest, ice, compression and elevation) immediately. Delaying this could mean more pain and swelling, and a longer recovery period. So start these self-care steps the minute you’ve sustained an injury

R est . Cut back on normal daily activities and

Oil & Lubricants — Use products from reputable companies because good quality oil protects the inside of your engine. Module, Castrol or Shell Gold are among the better oils out there. — Depending on the quality of the oil, how often you ride the bike and the conditions you ride in, engine oil should be changed accordingly. In perfect conditions, it can be changed after 3,000km. But if you’re riding through rivers or during rainy season, change it more frequently. — Check the level of the oil by using the dip-stick. It should always be full. — When you have your oil changed at a garage, make sure it’s new and the bottle hasn’t been opened yet. If you don’t have a choice, make sure the colour of the oil is OK. The new oil should be the colour of honey or light Lipton tea. Black is not good and needs to be changed.

avoid putting weight on the injured body part.

I ce . Use an ice pack on the injured area for

10 to 20 minutes at a time, anywhere from four to eight times per day. Don’t use the ice pack for longer than 20 minutes, and wrap it in a T-shirt or thin towel so you don’t burn your skin.

C ompression . To reduce pain and swelling, wrap the injured area with an elastic bandage or another doctor-recommended compression brace or device — not too tightly, though. And ask your doctor for how long and how many times each day.

E levation . Use pillows or blankets to raise

the injured limb above the level of the heart to minimise swelling.

— M oderate


S evere H ead I njury

a) Call emergency right away. FV Hospital’s emergency number in Ho Chi Minh City is (08) 5411 3500 and the French Hospital’s number in Hanoi is (04) 3574 1111.

b) Check the person’s airways, breathing and circulation. If necessary, begin rescue breathing and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). c) If the person’s breathing and heart rate are normal but the person is unconscious, treat them as if they have a spinal injury. Stabilise the head and neck by placing your hands on both sides of the person’s head. Keep the head in line with the spine and prevent movement. Wait for medical help. d) Stop any bleeding by firmly pressing a clean cloth on the wound. If the injury is serious, be careful not to move the person’s head. If blood soaks through the cloth, do not remove it. Place another cloth over the first one. e) If you suspect a skull fracture, do not apply direct pressure to the bleeding site, and do not remove any debris from the wound. Cover the wound with sterile gauze dressing. f) If the person is vomiting, to prevent choking, roll the person’s head, neck and body as one unit onto his or her side. This still protects the spine, which you must always assume is injured in the case of a head injury. Children often vomit after a head injury. This may not be a problem, but call a doctor for further guidance. g) Apply ice packs to swollen areas. A more serious head injury that involves bleeding or brain damage must be treated in a hospital.

— F or B roken B ones

a) If the skin is injured, it should be treated immediately to prevent infection. Don’t breathe on the wound or probe it. If possible, lightly rinse the wound to remove visible dirt or other contamination, but do not vigorously scrub or flush the wound. Cover with sterile dressings. b) If needed, immobilise the broken bone with a splint or sling. Possible splints include a rolled-up newspaper or strips of wood. Immobilise the area both above and below the injured bone. c) Apply ice packs to the injured leg or arm to reduce pain and swelling.

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Motor bik e C lubs in Ha noi 72 | Word March 2014

Keen to roll with other petrol heads? David Mann visits two of Hanoi’s largest motorcycle clubs to get the word on Vietnam’s burgeoning motorbike scene. Photos by Francis Roux, translation by Tran Phuong Dung

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here are many reasons to love a Harley-Davidson,” explains Nguyen Viet Tao, president of Hanoi HOG — more formally known as the Hanoi Harley Owners Group. “They are iconic, sexy and manly. They also represent freedom and a brotherhood that has translated very well in Vietnam.” HOG Hanoi is one of four motorcycle clubs based in the nation’s capital and devoted to worshipping iconic brands, joining a Royal Enfield club, a Ducati club and the nation’s oldest club, Moto Hanoi. Aided by the 2007 loosening of restrictions on importing high-powered foreign bikes, it’s no surprise that a vibrant motorbike subculture has emerged in a country with around 37 million motorbikes. And while typically a preserve of the wealthy, Vietnam’s fast-growing economy and progressively open market is paving the way for more motorcycle clubs.

HOG Hanoi

HOG members share the creed of HarleyDavidson riders everywhere: they’re tough and they live on the edge.

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For any normal person, piloting an 1,800cc Harley-Davidson (equivalent to the combined power of 15 Vespas) through the streets of Hanoi would be, well, terrifying. As such, it takes a particularly brave adrenalin junkie to roll with these guys. Although one of the newer clubs in Hanoi, having only been founded in 2007, HOG Hanoi have seen a steady rise in members. “The opening of a Harley-Davidson showroom in Ho Chi Minh City proves these bikes are becoming more popular in Vietnam,” says Tao. “In our club alone we have over 60 bikes.” The club meets every Sunday and conducts monthly rides out of the capital. The weekend I talk to them, they are heading to Halong Bay to meet with other motorcycle clubs from around Hanoi. “The relationship between motorcycle clubs is good here,” he says, although he admits it hasn’t always been this way. Much to my own surprise, Tao explains Vietnam has a growing list of paved highways well suited to long-distance cruising. “It has happened over the past two or three years. Now, there are more beautiful

roads to ride on than before. He adds: “We often go touring on the big highways to places like Quang Binh, Bac Kan, Sapa, Son La, Dien Bien Phu and even along the Ho Chi Minh City Highway.” The club is as authentic as any HOG chapter you will find in the US, with the same raucous enthusiasm for Harleys as their American counterparts. The Harley-Davidson logo is proudly emblazoned across T-shirts and leather jackets, worn with reinforced Blundstone boots. To Tao, it is a thing of beauty. “We’ve had visitors come to Vietnam and be blown away by the brotherhood we have formed here and even by the calibre of bikes that are available,” he says. “It is a great time to be part of a club in Vietnam.”

Moto Hanoi

It’s a sentiment shared by Lan Van Nguyen, president of Vietnam’s oldest motorcycle club, Moto Hanoi. “We were the first club to be officially recognised by the government,” he says fondly. The club boasts a wartime history dating

back to 1962. Back then, a handful of members helped to ferry goods and letters between provinces. Later, the club shifted its focus to performances, where members (both men and women) would perform tricks on their motorcycles as entertainment. The club’s website is a fascinating collage of images depicting members in a range of gravity-defying acts. “We celebrated our 50th anniversary in 2011 and every year we have a party where we invite our old members back,” says Lan. “We have a very rich history.” Now the club dedicates itself to charitable causes. Members form motorcades for cyclists and host a wide range of charity events including blood donation drives. Moto members can even be seen riding around the streets of Hanoi bearing the national flag. “In 2010, we even provided a guard around riders who cycled from Ho Chi Minh City all the way to Hanoi,” says Lan. The club now meets monthly to decide on group rides, occasionally linking up with other clubs in Hanoi. In the past, the club has ridden to Hai Phong, Danang, Ha Giang,

Sapa and even toured the famed Highway 1 route from Hue to Hoi An. The club welcomes anyone with a motorbike and passion for riding, and even claims a clutch of enthusiastic foreigners from Canada, the US and The Netherlands. Lan says that most of the club’s members are between the age of 25 and 30, but that ages vary from as young as 18 to well over 60. “We also do a lot of workshops around safety and getting to know your bike,” he adds. “After 2007, when it became easier to buy powerful bikes, we got a lot of young people joining.” According to Lan, younger generations are becoming even more active in motorcycle clubs, aided by the rising incomes that older generations didn’t have access to in the past. “They have more bikes to choose from and more money to enjoy them. I’ve been able to share this passion with my children.” While the authorities look to find ways to manage the increasing hordes of motorcycles cavorting their way down the roads, it seems Vietnam’s passion for two-wheeled vehicles shows no sign of slowing down.

Information For more information on the HOG club , go to for the Hanoi Chapter. The Saigon club can be found at M oto H anoi is online at motohanoi. vn and and is located at 36 Tran Phu, Hoan Kiem. The are also some motorbike clubs in Ho Chi Minh City including S aigonmoto C lub ( and the best known, ACE MTSG . Check out their website — They also have a café at 45 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1.

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T h e Bik e Pi mps Love it, hate it, like it, lust it, make your bike into something just that little bit special. Here are 10 owners who got into pimp mode. Compiled by Hoa Le and Nick Ross

Owner: Mai Model: Honda Cub Modifications: A fully-restored, enhanced 110cc engine and frame with custom six-layer paint work (candy green). Matching leather seats with leather handgrips and Japanese running gear.

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[BIKE 1]

Owner: Toby Model: Honda Cub 90cc Modifications: Honda Win swing arm, custom-made handlebars, flat tracker 18� wheels and tires, 30cm extended frame with 15-degree raked front forks, ‘67 tail light and custom mud guards.

Owner: Mr. Dung Model: Kawasaki Z1000 Modifications: Inspired by the Ducati concept, except for the engine, gas tank, saddle and front lights, most of the parts have been replaced. The rear tyre, forks and exhaust pipe are imported from Thailand; the rear frame holding its monster back tyre is made from a 180kg aluminum piece; the engine cooling system has been placed in the front, under the lights.

Owner: Viet Model: Honda 67 (50cc) Modifications: Installed a 100cc engine, modified the gas tank and straightened the handlebars.

Owner: Thiep Model: Cub 79 (50cc) Modifications: Gearbox changed from three to four ratios, 100cc engine installed, bigger tyres, electric starter, handlebar and lights all replaced.

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[BIKE 6]

Owner: Damien Model: SR 250 Yamaha Modifications: Frame de-tabbed and shortened; flat pan seat, bare metal, pinstriped and aged fuel tank, Daytona handlebars and Coke bottle grips; custom front and rear lights. All electrics hidden. Shortened suspension. Flat black wheels and dual sport tyres. Custom exhaust.

[BIKE 7]

Owner: Huy Model: Full custom Modifications: BMW classic Boxer frame with Honda 250cc engine installed, flat tracker tyres, custom seats and much more.

[BIKE 9]

Owner: Jeff Model: 2011 Gia Toan Motors 50cc Solowins Modifications: Customised front fender, handlebars. Custom-made tank (10 litres), seat with storage compartment, side covers, extended swing arm, rear fender, number plate holder and tail light combo. Replaced rear wheel and tyres.

Owner: Scott Model: 1965 Lambretta Li Series 3 Modifications: Mod-style bike (think Quadrophenia) with fog lights, period accessories, aerials, badges and other era paraphernalia.

Builder: Pat (now with a new owner) Model: 1965 Lambretta Li Series 3 Modifications: Transformed into a chopper Lambretta which required just about every modification you can think of from extending the frame through to engraving and changing up the engine cylinders to 200cc. This was a week-by-week, Sunday afternoon project that took seven months.

HJC RPHA-10 Jorge Lorenzo Replica

Andes A.3000


Price: VND11.05 million

Price: VND4.1 million

Price: VND1.48 million

The strong yet lightweight shell is a composite of carbon fibre, aramid epoxy, fibreglass and non-woven fabric, making for superior fit and comfort.

Made of ABS plastic, and giving the most protection in the Andes line, this helmet is also designed for comfort with a flip-up double visor.

Using CAD technology, the HJC CS-R1 is built from polycarbonate composite, with 95-percent UV protection and removable crown and check pads.

Vemar Dirty Range Ithilbor XP8C302

Andes 611

Shark RAW

Price: VND5.3 million

Price: VND2.1 million

Price: VND4.47 million

With a loud design on its shell, this off-road helmet is the style pick of the litter.

A lightweight and simple-looking modular helmet, it also has a removable chin guard.

A helmet for the zombie apocalypse, it’s constructed from injected thermoplastic resin, with an anti-scratch cover and anti-fog visor.

H e ad First

As bikes get bigger and texting fingers get itchier, it’s up to a new generation of helmets to save us from ourselves. Compiled by Vu Ha Kim Vy


hanks to helmet laws that were applied to the whole country in 2007, the domestic rate of accidents has decreased every year since. In 2008, fatal accidents went down by 1,400 cases and injuries dropped 2,200 cases compared to the

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previous year. Yet, according to a report of the National Traffic Safety Committee, there were 458 accidents causing 212 dead and 481 injured during Tet 2014. In spite of the high rate of accidents, fake and low quality helmets still are seen around the country. Here,

Word gives you our selection of the best helmets available in Vietnam, encompassing full-faced and doubleglassed protections, on-road and off-road designs, all of which will keep you looking cool and stylish while still protecting your brain.

Andes 210

Project Smarty SMV02

Project Flash Barry AV 83

Price: VND1.4 million

Price: VND5.3 million

Price: VND5.3 million

A standard certified, light and compact helmet that fits easily into the boot of your bike.

This Italian import is designed for young people — with a removable and washable interior, as well as a quick-release buckle with micro-sensitive adjustment.

With a shell made of Kevlar and three types of interchangeable visors, the AV 83 is suited for a wide variety of uses. It can even be used as a helmet.

Andes 202FB

Vemar Urban Range Zero JBA1

Project Cafer Racer Hd Custom Nero Lucido

Price: VND1.4 million

Price: VND5.3 million

Price: VND5.3 million

Styled as a demi-jet open face helmet, this white number has a dual visor to help wearers protect their eyes during both day and night riding.

This Italian import’s has one upper air intake, two laterals and three rear extractors for air to pass through, making the inside cooler and less humid.

Built with fibreglass and little else, this visor-less helmet is a good pick for those who love the air and wind touching their skin as they drive around the city.

Quality Distributors A ndes S howroom N o . 1

112 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3, HCMC Stocks Andes helmets exclusively

M oto W orld

95 Nguyen Van Cu, Q5, HCMC Offers a wide range of HJC helmets and a selection of Sharks

S aigon S cooter C entre

The Helmet Washing Bag A newly released, made-in-Vietnam product aimed at the motorbike market lets you safely and easily wash your helmet in a washing machine. The collapsible bag will protect both helmet and washing machine. Available in different helmet sizes. For more information, please visit the company website,

80 Xuan Thuy, Q2, HCMC Stocks Vemar and Project helmets, offering shipping throughout the country

HJC S howroom

388 Cau Giay, Hanoi Stocks HJC helmets exclusively

H uyen A nh

23 Nguyen Thiep, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi Offers Andes, Honda, HJC, Arai and ACE helmets March 2014 Word | 81

How to Replace a Tooth in Vietnam


irst, lose the tooth. In dramatic fashion is best. People will ask about it, it’s better to have a story to tell. Heal up. Watch some movies during this. Don’t think about anything, because your mind will inevitably be pulled into regret. Someone will text you, and give you a recommendation. The place they recommend will be expensive, but you’ll go there anyway. You don’t want to make two mistakes. Your VND300,000 a day budget will be f-cked. You’ll think about this, and the fragility of life. You’ll commit to VND30 million in root canals, chippedtooth buildups, and a two-session crown implant. People will take your stitches and broken teeth as an ‘OK’ to divulge their own past experiences. Most will be simple anecdotes, some will involve tragedy. The take-home point will either be “sh-t happens” or “you’re lucky” — both of which you know. Take it in good humour, with a minimum of bitterness. Look at their healed wounds and fixed teeth and think of the future, when all this will be behind you, too. After two hours in the dentist’s chair, tell the dentist she didn’t get it quite right. She will frown and ask if you’re sure — after all, she’s taken your bib off. You’ll want to get this right, unlike all the barber’s mirrors you’ve ignored. You’ll bite down and it won’t be the right feeling, then the realisation will wash over you that the feeling will never again be right. You’ll probe the inside of your new tooth, and it will feel too long, contoured in the wrong places. It will make you sad. You’ll realise with a numbness that touching your real teeth never made you happy. People will compliment your new tooth, they’ll ask where you got it done. Some will ask how much you paid. Some will tell you you paid too much. One guy will lift his upper lip to show off his fake front teeth, boasting they cost only VND4 million. You’ll admit they look good, and you’ll question your own choice. You won’t tell him this, and will go on to change the subject. You’ll have to be patient, it will be another while before you smile wide enough to show off your own. — Ed Weinberg

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Unluc k y There’s a downside to the speed and chaos of driving in this country, and three of our editors have felt it personally. These are their stories. Photo by Mads Monsen Close Call


t was like a scene from a movie. I was lying on the street, staring up towards long grass and more than half a dozen people. I would have liked to take a picture, had I been able to at the time. A few minutes prior, I was running against time, trying to make it to Dalat before dark. I hadn’t fixed my headlight, and I wanted to avoid staying in a hotel along the way. I felt like I could make it — it was only 5pm and about 60km left — but I must have gotten tired somehow. My inevitable encounter with a car sent me sliding along the street for metres. The police later showed me a photo of the skid marks, and it seemed like I had been going too fast. I’m guessing, though, since I couldn’t tell the speed. The speedometer was broken, too. As I hit the street, my collarbone snapped and my ribs were grazed, but I was lucky that it wasn’t worse. I got up, felt a stab in my chest. Breathing and walking with difficulty, I ran to the side of the road as fast

as I could. I thought: what if these breaths had been my last? What if a car had run me over? What if nobody had found me lying there? In such moments of pain, the fear comes easily. One of the bystanders took me to the hospital in their car. Comparing the X-ray I got a week later in Saigon with the one from the day of the accident, I realised that my bus journey to Saigon didn’t help my injuries much. But in the end it healed anyway, without an operation — the one good thing about collarbone fractures. Although on the day of the accident I promised myself to no longer drive in Vietnam, I eventually broke my own promise. As if not enough things were broken in this story, the accident was also the end of a kind of love story that later led to a broken heart. Even later a friend diagnosed my ‘broken heart’ as broken pride. But no matter what, most breaks will someday heal. — Yves Schiepek

The Head Injury


t was the day after — it always is — when the reality comes into play. I was at lunch with three friends in a restaurant in Hanoi. My head was misshapen. Swollen. And a patch of gauze and cotton wool was taped to my left temple. Underneath was the gash, the gash caused by being cut up by a truck as I was leaving Yen Bai the day before. “Have you been to the hospital yet?” everyone seemed to say to me in unison over our Italian starters. “It’s a head injury. You need to check it out.” They seemed to stare at me as if I was a being from outer space, but I could tell their thoughts. Why is he here? Is he okay? I was still giddy, reeling from the accident, seeing the moment as my vision went from driving a motorbike at 50km/h to turning sideways in slow motion as I hit the asphalt.

And then the next memory. Disorientated, people around me cleaning up the blood, my colleague Aaron looking me in the eyes to see if I was okay. My low-grade helmet had cracked on the asphalt, making an incision into my head. Despite its inadequacy, it had saved my life. The mains came out. Pastas, gnocchi, a meat dish of some sort. The conversation shifted. I was able to focus and get involved, but my head was starting to throb. Once again the conversation returned to the injury. I was being stoic and trying to move on, but I had to have someone check this thing out. “Head injuries are dangerous,” I remember someone saying. That was the line I needed to change my resolve. After the accident I was driven first to the hospital in Yen Bai and then the train station. My bike had survived with

scratches. So had I. “If I’d hit the truck,” I kept on saying to myself, “if I’d hit the truck, I wouldn’t be here.” The image of being tangled up in its wheels came to me like a horror show. But somehow as I fell I’d skidded myself out of the way, a reaction which saved my life. Then there was the trip back to Hanoi, by train, my bike stored in a back compartment, me sat uncomfortably with Aaron on wooden seats in a carriage. “Don’t worry, it’s covered,” said a friend as the bill came out. “But you’ll promise you’ll go to the hospital?” I made my promise and did just that. There wasn’t much the hospital could do beyond X-rays, medicine, cleaning up the already stitched wound and observation. But having the care of professionals was important. I was lucky to be alive. — ­ Nick Ross

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Arts Photography

A Vietnamese Mosaic

On the back of the release of his book, Vietnam: A Mosaic of Contrasts, Word speaks to Hoi An-based photographer and restaurant owner, Réhahn Croquevielle

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very photographer understands the difficulty of editing. It is an arduous task that doesn’t just involve postproduction and work in Lightroom, Bridge or Photoshop. It’s the problem of whittling down a large amount of photos to a small selection, to a usable, perfectly chosen amount. In Réhahn’s case, the task was oppressive. After just over a year in Vietnam he had 30,000 images taken from around the country. When he decided he was going to put together his book, Vietnam: A Mosaic of Contrasts, he had to edit down to 145 photos. “It was so hard,” he says. “My first selection took two months. I was then sure it was all good, until I noticed I had 300 photos and I had to remove half of them!” Like so many others who have left their

countries for foreign climes, Normandyborn and raised Réhahn arrived in Vietnam seeking new opportunities. Having travelled to over 30 countries, the more he went abroad, the less the communication agency and printing house owner “wanted to come back to France”. So, in 2012 the 32-year-old upped roots and seized the opportunity. He moved to Hoi An and set up a restaurant, ENJOY, which also contains a small book shop and a photo gallery. Leaving a nine-to-five job provided him with another opportunity — the chance to travel and follow his passion and obsession, photography. The resulting coffee tablestyle work shows a Vietnam of the past, an impression of a country that will soon disappear.

“Vietnam is a mosaic of colours, contrasts, light and ethnicities. Hundreds of different faces, completely different, that make up one single country”

What is meant by the book’s title, Mosaic? Vietnam is a mosaic of colours, contrasts,

light and ethnicities. Hundreds of different faces, completely different, that make up one single country. It’s the same with the landscape. The colours of Bai Sao Beach in Phu Quoc, terraced rice fields in Mu Cang Chai or Sapa, the red sand dunes of Mui Ne, the yellow walls of the old city of Hoi An, or even the salt fields next to Nha Trang. All this shapes one country.

A lot of your work is portraitbased. What fascinates you so much about people’s faces? Does a good portrait need to be set up or should it be natural? I think the best way to take a good portrait

is to take your time. A good portrait will not come out in five minutes. Sometimes I spend an hour with my subject. I am a very sociable person. I love to discover, understand, learn and explore the people that I work with. As a result, every single moment that I capture is natural and comes during my interaction with them. To me, a good portrait is composed of two people: the model and the photographer. It’s the communication and interaction between the two that produce a natural effect.

How do you get to know your subjects? Do you speak Vietnamese or do you have an interpreter? I am learning Vietnamese and sometimes I travel with a Vietnamese friend. But as I have encountered a variety of Vietnamese

people, I have learnt to speak the language in the context of getting to know them. It is important to take the time. Also, hearing a foreigner speaking their language makes them laugh, which opens many doors.

The lifestyle images in your book seem to focus on rural Vietnam. Why did you focus on the countryside and ethnic minorities rather than the life of the big cities? I am not so fascinated by the big cities,

which I think are starting to resemble cities in developed countries. In addition, people do not have much time to stop and chat, and when they do, they ask for money. In the mountains is where we find Vietnam in its truthful, traditional form — colourful

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costumes, people who live life slowly and gently. They have more time to interact with you. I also love the different ethnic faces: their skin colour, eyes, beards. I love to ride on my motorbike in far off regions, where not many people go.

Is the purpose of your book to show Vietnam as it is today or the Vietnam that is gradually being lost? I think that unfortunately for photographers

and tourists, the ethnic minorities are blending into mainstream life. Many have already given up their costumes and traded them in for jeans and T-shirts. It is inevitable. In the future, no one will wear these costumes — yet they are so colourful and beautiful.

How did you get started in photography? I started getting into photography three

years ago, but I started in depth when I moved to Hoi An. It was a question of time, which I did not have. When you take pictures during five weeks of holidays (in France, that’s the average), you do not have time to improve. However, here I can take photos every month, sometimes every week.

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What advice would you give to anyone else starting out in photography? It all depends on what the person wants to

do. My biggest rule to follow is: Practise! Reading books about technique or chatting on different forums does not have much effect. However, taking out your camera and shooting, that’s when you can make the difference. For more information or to purchase a copy, go to or Photography

Photo by Diane Brisc


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The Workings of GingerWork March 2014 Word | 89

NYE at Madake. Photo credit: Viet Le Hoang


erhaps you’ve heard of GingerWork — the creative think tank behind events like Dichotomy, Carnival of the Dead or Wonderland. You might have run into Mark Harris, the distinctly ginger-haired founder, socialising or networking around town. Or maybe you’ve never heard of GingerWork. Perhaps it’s time, since GingerWork is one name to know in Hanoi right now. A GingerWork production is not your typical Friday night party. You may find yourself transported into Wonderland — dressed as Alice and acting out a Mad Hatter script — or getting your face painted under an enormous Dia de los Muertos skull while fire dancers twirl nearby. By combining the creative energy of its many members, GingerWork’s art-as-entertainment approach often includes costumes, interactive performances, theatre and original art installations. Born from a desire to achieve cohesiveness between entertainment and the environment, GingerWork’s events centre around carefully

thought out themes. After creating a concept, they work for up to a month both curating the entertainment and re-designing the event venue’s interior to bring the idea to life. The approach, in part, comes from the personalities of the members themselves. “I love the idea of looking at how spaces and people interact,” Jeremy Wellard, a member of Gingerwork, says. As the owner of co-working café Commune, his pre-disposition to collaboration is understandable. “For me, that’s really what it’s all about: getting the perfect balance of all the different pieces to create something holistic.”

All in the Details When it comes to re-imagining their venues for the perfect event, the possibilities are endless. In the past, they have turned Hanoi Rock City into a morbid Carnival of the Dead and Madake into an intergalactic universe of twinkling stars and UV-planets. This strong attention to decorative details distinguishes GingerWork, but their

New (Event) Kids on the Block GingerWork isn’t the only new entity taking Hanoi’s social scene to the next level. These event organisers are helping to grow Hanoi’s event calendar in big ways.

T he H anoi U rban F lea M arket

For Hanoi Urban Flea Market founder Alma del Mundo, organizing events was entirely accidental. She was inspired to start the project after a successful Philippines charity event in response to the typhoon. She posted in the Facebook group Hanoi Massive that she had extra clothes to donate, and asked if anyone else would be interested in contributing. “The feedback was so impressive. It just blew up,” she said. She originally planned to hold a modest fundraiser at her home, but

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due to the enormous response, she needed a bigger space. When Barbeque Garden Westlake offered their venue, Alma was launched into event planning. “We collected kilos and kilos of clothes. In total, we raised US$2,000 (VND42 million), all of which went to The Philippines.” After the fundraiser, Alma launched the monthly Hanoi Urban Flea Market. Unlike a typical flea market, her concept is not a place to trade clothes or buy thrifty secondhand goods. Alma’s flea market is distinctly urban as she offers Vietnamese sellers — many of whom do not have a physical shop — a venue to display their goods and a chance to network with the public. The 30 participants at her January market included handmade shops, vintage clothes and crafts.

success also comes down to their ability to understand and adapt to the frequent turnover of Hanoi’s social landscape. “People are always arriving and departing at different times. Friend groups merge in some places, but don’t overlap in others,” says founder Mark, drawing from his six years of experience in Hanoi. With new events and names cropping up every week, he says, “to be memorable, you really need to have a brand and be consistent in what you deliver.”

A Future Built from the Past Mark was inspired to create his own events after helping Synergy’s Steve Sander with the aesthetics for CyberKulture and Piknic Electronik. “Steve and his partners pretty much laid the foundation Gingerwork was built upon,” Jeremy says. “He was instrumental in starting to raise the bar for events here and creating a real intersection between entertainment and arts.” But for GingerWork in the future, the

T he H anoi U rban F lea M arket Photo by Alina Shine


Know CAMA, Synergy, Link Hanoi and SubElements? Remember Noi Zee? Now there’s a new breed of event promoters adding to the Hanoi fold. Words by Aimee Millwood

NYE at Madake. Photo credit: Viet Le Hoang

“The barrier to entry is low, so anyone can try. [Some] foreigners have more disposable income, so it is easier for them to try an idea out without fear of failure. You can put a few hundred dollars into something, and if it doesn’t work, it’s not the end of the day”

team — which includes designers and architects Camille Jenny and Marine Billet, resident artist Max Cooper, fire spinner, ukulele player and installation master Christophe Barthe and co-founder and musician Lawrence James Kemp — hopes to expand beyond local parties and into larger productions. “We are going to go forward, [we] definitely aren’t just going to stay as we are,” Mark says. “We are going to keep trying new things because I think it’s important to support the less obvious choices of entertainment and art.” With the changes comes a bigger effort to reach out to more Vietnamese people by taking on staff to translate and promote events, as well as offering cheaper tickets for students. But Jeremy — whose wife and business partner is Vietnamese —believes simply attracting a mixed crowd of expats and Vietnamese is not enough. “Our whole idea is about including local voices — not in a token way, but through co-creation,” says Jeremy. “We’re aiming to

precautions like security and checking fire escapes, as well as keeping up communication between artists, venues and event planners to create a baseline for entertainment in Hanoi. For GingerWork, collaboration is key to the development of Hanoi’s art, entertainment and social community. “It’s growing bigger every year, and we as a community have the power to guide it,” Mark says. GingerWork hopes to be a forum for emerging creatives in Hanoi — whether it’s in the form of helping artists find opportunities that fit their talents or spreading their knowledge with aspiring event planners. A core group of people forms the collective, but the group encourages open participation — up to 20 people at a time contribute to each of their productions. “It’s all about building a stronger creative community. This is what drives me day to day,” Jeremy says. “The essence of GingerWork is bringing people together to build something stronger than they could do on their own.”

achieve actual engagement with the local community, not just transients dropping in, doing stuff and leaving.”

Creativity, Community, Collaboration With Hanoi being a perfect city for expats to launch creative projects, the founders of GingerWork had the opportunity to get something started. “The barrier to entry is low, so anyone can try,” says Jeremy, adding, “[Some] foreigners have more disposable income, so it is easier for them to try an idea out without fear of failure. You can put a few hundred dollars into something, and if it doesn’t work, it’s not the end of the day.” Like many other projects, GingerWork sprouted out of this ‘just-try-it-and-seewhat-happens’ mentality. However, as they move from an experimental venture into a professional production group, the importance of working with Hanoi rather than slipping through the cracks is becoming paramount. At their events, GingerWork members take

U nder the

L an T ree

Under the Lan Tree is relatively fresh to Hanoi, but their projects are already garnering attention. Alina Shine only founded the project last August, but she has already organised a variety of events, including weekly movie screenings at M adake and S on T inh L ounge B ar , the Lose Your Face Halloween party at 21N orth and the Hanoi Designer Showcase Night Market at H anoi R ock C ity . “Planning events is like owning a business,” Alina said. “Your mind is constantly thinking.” Alina’s mind works on diverse projects. Along with event planning, she also teaches children’s yoga classes, which combine classic poses with imaginative games to engage children while promoting English practice, fitness and flexibility.

L an T ree

Photos by Urban Flea Market

U nder


Under the Lan Tree is currently holding a photo exhibition at J oma on Tong Duy Tan, with 20 percent of the proceeds donated to charity organisation SympaMeals.

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horsing around

The Riding School What better moment to establish Ngua Hanoi, the capital’s first horse riding school, than in the Year of the Horse? Words by Elisabeth Rosen. Photos by David Harris


o until you hear yee ha!” From the shade of a thatched roof, Ngoc Nguyen watches her two sons ride around the dusty enclosure. Clutching the reins, they follow instructions called out in a brisk British-accented clip. “This time you're going to come down the middle and turn in front of me,” calls Louise, their teacher, her tone consistently cheerful despite the bitter cold. “Good! Keep pushing!” There are a lot of things you can do in the rapidly developing Vietnamese capital that you couldn’t 10 years ago, and you can now add to that list riding horses. Ngo Le Thang and Nguyen Thi Hoa Hop opened the riding school at the beginning of 2014 on their spacious property in Cau Giay District, where the couple lives and runs a traditional-style wooden restaurant. Bringing unusual animals to Hanoi is a bit of a family tradition: in the 1920s, Ngo’s grandfather was the first person to open a circus in then French-occupied Vietnam.

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“He’s very famous in Vietnam for training animals,” Hop says. “Lions, elephants, tigers...”

The Family Business The circus in Lenin Park is still the family business. Ngo teaches acrobatics there, and he grew up watching his mother perform dramatic feats on horseback, from doing handstands to playing the ty ba (a Chinese four-chord lute). He’s wanted to open a riding school “for a long time,” but it took six years to find the horses — there are 16 of them, brought in from Australia and Germany — and hire a medical expert to look after them. “We don't have vets for horses in Vietnam, only cows and buffalo,” Hop explains. After a broadcast on national television channel VTC featured the riding school, scores of curious families arrived, as well as couples looking for a novel place to take wedding photographs — what more auspicious location could there be in the Year of the Horse?

“This is the first time they saw a big horse that wasn’t on television,” says Hop. “In Malaysia and Thailand, they know about horses. Why not Vietnam?” Ngoc Nguyen’s sons, who started riding at eight months old in Ho Chi Minh City and continued riding as the family moved between Africa and Asia, typify the new generation of Vietnamese riders. “They have to ride every week,” she says. After she spotted Ngua Hanoi on the news, the family drove an hour from their home in Ciputra to check it out. They’re accompanied by Ngoc’s sister Diem, who works for an e-commerce company. At the age of 24, she’s never ridden a horse. Today, encouraged by her sibling, Diem climbs into the saddle. “I felt a little scared, but it was fun,” she says afterwards. “I’ll probably come back.” Ngua Hanoi is at Ngo A36 Ho Tung Mau, Cau Giay, Hanoi. A 45-minute riding lesson costs VND450,000 and a 10-minute pony ride is VND50,000. Call 0904 092827 or visit for more information

“This is the first time they saw a big horse that wasn’t on television. In Malaysia and Thailand, they know about horses. Why not Vietnam?”

Food & drink charity

Lunch for a Good Cause Amid roadside offerings that sometimes dip below the VND10,000 level, it’s something we occasionally take for granted — not everyone can afford a decent meal. Jennifer Graham searches the country for those kind souls who are looking to do something about this.


ankind has known of the connecting nature of food for millennia. For thousands of years we have held lavish banquets in honour of our victories, and feasts marking the most important dates on our calendars. Food connects us to one another, and in doing so it connects us to moments of love, passion and joy. It could even be said that food is love made manifest. Social enterprises and charities have used this positive power of food to bring hope and purpose to the lives of the impoverished and marginalised in Vietnam. The success of KOTO — ‘Know One, Teach One’ — set up in Hanoi 10 years ago to train disadvantaged youth in cooking and hospitality skills, may have influenced and paved the way for smaller and lesser-known organisations to adopt a similar model. We have looked up and down the country and have found a growing number of small organisations that have food and love at the centre of their operations. Here are some of the most inspiring.

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Ho Chi Minh City Green Bamboo Warm Shelter Restaurant (GBWS) 40/34 Calmette, Q1 The GBWS is a project of the Ho Chi Minh City Child Welfare Foundation. The project provides care, education, housing and other daily assistance to street boys aged eight to 16. The restaurant was established in April, 2013 by some of the older boys living in the shelter, who wanted to raise funds and mentor the younger boys. Each month the menu changes, but the food is generally in the style of com tam, with chicken, pork, fish and beef. There are also noodle dishes and vegetarian options. One dish is VND25,000, or the buffet

costs between VND50,000 and VND150,000 per person. After making your selection at the buffet cart, sit down at one of the metal tables to be waited on by the enthusiastic and caring young staff. When you’ve finished eating the generous portion set before you, have a chat with one of the boys about their experiences at the shelter and in the process, give them the opportunity to practise their English with you. All profits go to supporting the boys who live in the shelter. Open Monday to Saturday, from 11.30am till 1.30pm

Smile (Nu Cuoi) 6 Cong Quynh, Q1; 6/22 Nguyen Ngoc Nhut, Tan Phu; 298A Huynh Tan Phat, Q7; 132 Ben Van Don, Q4; 43B Trung Trac, Thu Duc. A Hanoi eatery is in the works. There are six Smile — Nu Cuoi — restaurants, five in Ho Chi Minh City and soon one in Hanoi, and all of them serve meals for VND2,000 each to low-income families, the elderly, disabled and students in financial difficulties. Smile was set up by the charity Love Foundation — Tu Thien Tinh Thuong — as a way to promote kindness and sustain the poor and needy. Nevertheless, all are welcome; Smile doesn’t discriminate. The simple dishes consist of rice and meat, soup, stir-fry and

great taste and the welcoming and comfortable atmosphere. The public can contribute financially to the running of Smile in many ways. For example, there are opportunities to purchase paintings from local artists with all funds going directly to the restaurants. Smile restaurants are all operated by volunteers. Some Smile restaurants’ services shift on a location-rotating basis, however, all restaurants open from 11.15am till 12.45pm. For up-to-date info, check Tu Thien Tinh Thuong on Facebook

Photos by Yves Schiepek

a dessert. Locals rave about the

SOZO Café 176 Bui Vien, Q1 SOZO started life as a cart from which a local woman was given the opportunity to sell cookies to the growing number of tourists coming to visit Ho Chi Minh City. Many poor families saw the economic benefits of this scheme and wanted an opportunity to find employment, which led to SOZO opening their threestorey cafe in the centre of Bui Vien. Still serving their mainstay of freshly baked American-style cookies, SOZO’s menu has grown and now offers full

breakfasts, western and Asian meals, smooth cappuccinos and some of the best desserts in Ho Chi Minh City — regulars can’t get enough of their cheesecake and cinnamon rolls. Every customer is helping physically challenged and disadvantaged Vietnamese to break the cycle of debt, work their way out of poverty and provide a hopeful future. All profits go back into SOZO and those they help. Open seven days a week, from 7am till 10.30pm

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Photos by David Harris



Bread of Life

Hope Club

4 Dong Da, Hai Chau

Hanoi University, 334 Nguyen Trai, Thanh Xuan

As well as serving great food, Bread of Life have been equipping 16 to 26-year-olds within the deaf community with vocational training since 2005. Depending on the needs of the individual and the business, trainees can then be offered employment in the Bread of Life restaurant. To date, there are 15 to 16 deaf staff; all baristas, bakers and cooks are deaf, with the longest-serving staff running their own departments. A popular restaurant for Danang’s expat community, Bread of Life serves all homemade western food with a varied and flexible menu while every dish uses only fresh ingredients. The bountiful selection of breakfasts comes from around the western world; Australian, American, basic English and hearty English are all firm favourites. Whether you fill your boots with a sloppy joe or slurp up your spaghetti bolognese ask to learn a few basic signs in order to communicate with servers and baristas. And being a few minutes drive from Danang Station, Bread of Life is a perfect place to stop at before or after a long train journey. All tips are equally distributed among staff, from the cleaner to the supervisor, and all profits are reinvested back into the business. Open Monday to Saturday, from 8.30am till 9.30pm

Their tagline is ‘Taking Care — Giving Love — Sharing Happiness’, and the organisers of Hope Club hope to bring sincere love and friendship to those who are disadvantaged. One of Hope Club’s most successful initiatives sees them serving vegetarian food to poor students at Hanoi University. Each portion contains rice, stir-fried vegetables, spring rolls, fried mock pork ribs or eggs, and soup. Their expenses per serving range from VND25,000 to VND30,000 — however, each student receiving a meal only

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has to pay VND5,000. Students are also provided information about the health benefits of a vegetarian diet. The club is open to the general public. People can also contribute by purchasing products made by club members. In the next phase, the project will expand to more universities in Hanoi, and there are also plans to open a vegetarian restaurant next June. Hope Club’s food stands can be found at the university every Friday morning from 10.30am

Photos by Ngoc Anh Le

SympaMeals In 2005, SympaMeals began providing patients at the National Cancer Institute of Vietnam (K Hospital) with one free meal a day by distributing coupons worth VND15,000. The coupons could be exchanged for food such as rice, porridge, noodles, soup or milk at anytime in the hospital’s canteen. SympaMeals have now expanded to include many other activities, such as providing milk powder to outpatients.

In 2012 alone, 67,000 free meal coupons and 2,000 tins of milk powder were given to the poverty-stricken patients of K Hospital. Volunteers assist staff in distributing meal coupons and milk powder, however it is difficult to obtain permission for foreigners to work in the hospital as volunteers. The public can help by spreading the word and making donations that go towards paying for coupons.

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Food & drink


Green Taste


A new eatery is trying to bring its own version of healthy, home-cooked cuisine to Tay Ho. Our anonymous food writer checks it out. Photos by Francis Roux

’d like to say that I stumbled across Green Taste while driving up Dang Thai Mai, one of the few streets in this part of Tay Ho that still feels like a country road, because this sounds way cooler and more authentic than how I actually discovered it, which was on Facebook. However, in my defense, all three tables in the small room, decorated simply with bamboo furniture and warm lighting, were also full of expats. Perhaps like me and the friend who accompanied me, they were drawn to the colourful, appetising photos that the restaurant posted on its page. The menu at Green Taste is a creative melange of Italian (linguini), Vietnamese (spring rolls), Malaysian (char kway teow) and other assorted cuisines, redone to be lighter and ostensibly healthier. We started off with fresh spring rolls (VND55,000), which were indeed light: while traditional spring rolls usually contain shrimp and pork, there was nothing to these morsels except for bun noodles, lettuce, carrots and a sprinkle of crushed salted sesame. They were reasonably tasty, but the price felt a little steep for such a dish, especially because one could easily prepare it at home.

Getting it Right This is a common feeling when

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dining at Green Taste, where the food still has the rough edges of home cooking, although it also boasts the home cook’s sense of unrestrained creativity. In your own kitchen, you can feel free to invent what you want, without following the limitations of structured cuisine. At a restaurant, this makes for a fun — if occasionally disappointing — dining experience. My stir-fried rice noodles with beef and bok choy (VND135,000) demonstrates both the pros and cons of this approach. Served in a hefty bowl, the dish includes an ample rainbow of vegetables: leafy bok choy, sliced mushroom, thin slivers of carrot. It’s the dish one might cook up after taking a spin through a local wet market. However, while it might be healthier than, say, pad Thai, it’s also blander: rather than a liquid sauce, the noodles are flavoured with only a few scattered sliced bird’s eye chillis and fermented black beans. Slurping them up, I couldn’t help thinking a bit longingly of how I could buy three massive plates of pho xao swimming in flavourful gravy for the same price. If only the noodles had been introduced to the pumpkin stirfried with garlic (VND50,000), a delicious side dish that ended up being the best part of the meal. You can’t really go wrong with the garlic stir-fry technique; when pumpkin is

added, it’s an ideal winter dish, and one that is healthy without being flavourless. I also ended up stealing bits of my friend’s teriyaki chicken (VND125,000), another enjoyable main in which tender dark meat was simmered in a slightly sweet soybased sauce and served with simple steamed rice and a bit of salad. The only dessert offered on the night we were there was creme caramel (VND40,000), which was decent but not spectacular, pretty much the same thing you’d find on Hang Than or any other street stall. The banana cinnamon yogurt drink (VND50,000), however, was a nice surprise. Thick, creamy and heavily scented with cinnamon, it was far better than your average lassi. The small kitchen, run by an Australian-Vietnamese couple, was clearly overwhelmed by the three tables. Every time one of them brought a plate out, it was accompanied by a strained, apologetic look. Perhaps the menu is too sprawling. Narrowing the selection down to the list of four daily specials written on the chalkboard might be a good idea until the kitchen gets in stride. It’s nice to have a lot of options, but not at the expense of flavour. The restaurant is called Green Taste, after all. Green Taste is at 18C Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho, and


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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

street snacker hanoi

Banh Ran


Tiny but mighty, deep-fried but light, banh ran — ‘fried cakes’ — are among the most popular snacks available in the capital. Word by Huyen Tran. Photos by Francis Roux

hile walking along Hang Dao on our way to exploring the city, my Scottish friend — who had been in Hanoi for only a few weeks — was overcome with curiosity when she saw a few peddlers selling small rice balls in their baskets. “Hey, I just saw some ladies with baskets full of small ball-shaped cake in different colours,” she said. “Some are orange, some are white like snowballs, and some others are brown. Are they all the same?” In response, I bought her a few to taste. “They’re deep-fried glutinous rice balls, or fried cake in short,” I explained. “They’re called banh ran in the North and banh cam in the South. “In general, there are two types of Vietnamese banh ran — sweet and salted,” I continued. “The ones that the street peddlers have are sweet, and they are usually ball-shaped or flat. The salted version is often oval. For both, the outer shell is made from glutinous rice flour, but for the filling, the sweet banh ran is made from sweetened mung bean paste while the salted type is made from a mixture of minced pork meat and mushroom, and is dipped into fish sauce.” It’s commonly believed that the sweet form of banh ran appeared earlier. People in Vietnam say that the traditional banh ran

of Hanoi are actually banh ran luc lac, with ‘luc lac’, meaning ‘shaking’. Traditionally, the filling was made separate from the shell so that when they’re shaken, you can hear the filling rattle against the inside of the shell. Yet, nowadays, few cooks can make this shaking banh ran.

Tiny, but Mighty But this doesn’t mean that the other types of banh ran are not as delicious as banh ran luc lac. One eatery on O Quan Chuong is famous for its banh ran, which is made from simple ingredients. The shop is consistently full of surprises, including the tiny size of the banh ran sold there. And the eatery itself is almost as small as the tiny cakes it offers, with no signage to mark it. Only a large, boiling frying pan of banh ran seems to signal customers. Yet, contrary to its size, the eatery sells thousands of the cakes every day. The high demand means that the banh ran here is sold straight out of the frying pan. The shop is well-known for its carefully selected ingredients and the glutinous rice, which creates a crispy outer shell. The filling inside is soft, light and sweet. “It has been so long since I began selling banh ran on this small corner,” says Ms. Cuc, who has been purveying her trade in this spot since the 1990s. “The banh ran

remains unchanged, but life changes so fast. [Customers] used to come here and buy banh ran for takeaway. But now, we deliver and even have name cards.” She says that although the preparation method has changed, the taste that Hanoians crave remains the same. People still prefer eating small banh ran, since, she says, “the bigger it is, the fatter you feel.”

Getting it Just Right “The secret of banh ran is in the glutinous rice,” continues Ms. Cuc. “It has to be good quality, for sure. But most important is the ratio between glutinous rice and normal rice. I have no formula or percentage — it is the sense of the experienced cook that dictates the amounts of each type of rice and how much water you use. [I know] just by looking at it.” Many say that banh ran is best during winter, since the cake will warm you up without creating a thirst or a feeling of fattiness. With the last days of winter coming to a close, now is the time to sample banh ran before the summer heat sets in. The eatery is located on O Quan Chuong, at the intersection of O Quan Chuong, Hang Dieu and Thanh Ha, between the bun oc and cha ruoi shop. Banh ran is sold at VND1,000 per piece. When the eatery is too packed for seating, they offer paper bags for takeaway

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Food & drink


Café If


Our undercover reporter heads to Café If (Café Neu) to sample the cuisine, but gets caught in the act. Photos by Kyle Phanroy


f’ is a provocative word. It’s a word of conditionals, of what could have been, what is and what could be. It’s the title of Rudyard Kipling’s best-known poem, a poem of determination that starts with the lines, “If you can keep your head when all about you / Are losing theirs and blaming it on you.” It’s a word that promotes hope and regret, and a word that in its short twoletter form says something about the human condition that no other word can do. It’s also the name of a restaurant and café on the outskirts of District 1, an Indochine-designed eatery full of quirks and little beautifully staged oddities. Which begs the question. Why the name? Why such provocation? Walk through the leafy garden, past the Imperialinfluenced statues and motifs, the plant pots constructed of broken pieces of porcelain, through the art deco-style floor tiling and you start to understand. If things could only have been different...

Art and Cuisine Café If has the past written and designed all over it, romantically so. Even the slow background jazz and classical guitar solos scream romance. Yet there’s a fun element to proceedings here. Take the art:

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oils of a man getting lost in bottle after empty bottle of wine; odd images of rare wildlife; a lily and a goldfish; lacquerware influenced by the concepts of yin and yang; an obsession with wine, good wine. I’ve eaten here twice, and my last meal was nothing short of sensational. There was a group of six people dining over lunch. The New World wine emerged, as did dishes steamed on hot stones, traditional Vietnamese-style salads, a range of dishes cooked in fruit sauces and the hot pot — a fundamental of any good Vietnamese restauranteaten meal. What was clear was the quality of the ingredients — all well-sourced. And the prices. For a place of such quirky yet highbrow ilk, very reasonable. This time round I came here alone and tried to remain anonymous — I know the people in charge. But having browsed the cleverly organised menu — there are literally only 10 main courses here, but each with vegetarian, meat or seafood options — I got caught in the act. Which meant that I could not be the mystery customer I had hoped. I still managed to pay for my bill. My two dishes were every bit as good as the taste in my memory. The hot stone grilled beef (VND138,000) came served in a black pot with the marinated beef and basil on the

side. Add the meat to the scorching hot stones, put on the lid to let it steam and after a couple of minutes the dish is cooked — a novel and enticing way of doing meat or seafood at the table. Dipped in a spicy but sweet cilantro, green chilli, lime and onion-based sauce, this was a provocative, fiery-on-the-tastebuds kind of dish. Moreish, too. I could have ordered it all over again. The vegetable curry (VND98,000) came to the table bubbling away, served in a black claypot. Like all typical Vietnamese curries, it lacked spice. For a moment I contemplated ordering some chilli, but so packed full was this dish with tofu, tomatoes, spring onions, carrots and mushrooms that I felt perhaps the chilli would do the earth-red coloured sauce an injustice. Spice needs to be added in at the beginning, and although the kick would have been nice, the dish just didn’t need it. For all the charming little foibles in its décor, Café If is a well-needed alternative to the growing roster of top-end Vietnamese restaurants in District 1. Even better, they’ve got a real wine list, not one just cobbled together for the sake of serving wine. The food’s something to talk about, too! Café If is at 38 Dang Dung, Q1, or online at

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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


27 Grill


13 Food



13 Décor

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

The restaurant above Chill Skybar is vying for a place among the top steakhouses in Saigon. So, has it made the cut? Photos by Kyle Phanroy


hen Chill Skybar first opened, the restaurant was downstairs and the bar was split over two floors, taking up both the inside space and the sensational, outdoor terrace. Much has changed. The restaurant has been moved upstairs, to the 27th floor, and rebranded — it’s now called 27 Grill. The cuisine has undergone a makeover — the focus is now on grilled meat and seafood, with a particular emphasis on all things steak. While the extensive wine list mixing mid-range entry level wines with pricey vintages remains, the seating and tables have been replaced. The white tablecloths are gone. Instead it’s subtle lighting and a more casual experience, with yellows, maroons and browns making up the visual aperture. That this restaurant and bar has been so open to transformation says much for the owners. They don’t rest on their laurels. There is a culture of improvement here, a desire and a need to simply make things better. And they’re prepared to spend money, too, which bodes well for longevity.

Simplicity When I first ate at 27 Grill it had just opened. We were in a large group and had a set menu. I went for the steak, of course, and while my

memory of the night was hazy — there was too much wine involved — I remember enjoying the meal and the general atmosphere. This time round I once again opted for steak — there is a myriad of choices and cuts here. From Australian MSA Angus through to US Choice and the dear but beautifully tender and marbled grade 4 to 5 wagyu. I chose the 250g Australian ribeye (VND690,000). The menu is nicely set up here — simple but effective. All starters cost VND175,000, regardless of ingredients, while the side dishes weigh in at VND65,000 each, irrespective of whether you opt for fries and aioli, macaroni-and-cheese or green asparagus. The desserts follow the same concept, too, at VND145,000 each. I was also greeted by a three-course special set menu going for VND1 million. Another welcome but simple option to choose from. Straight-forwardness, it seems, runs through to the cuisine, too. As an entrée I opted for the rocket salad with sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan. Tossed lightly in balsamic vinegar and perhaps a touch of olive oil, this is one of those oh-so-easy salads that can be done badly. Here, thanks to the freshness of the ingredients, it was faultless. A nice support act for the star of the show, the steak.

The steak was truly a superstar — perfectly rare, sealed with what seemed to be either rock or sea salt, and bursting with taste. But the pepper sauce tasted slightly overcooked. Was it my palate? I wasn’t sure. Was it the red wine? I also wasn’t sure. But I was determined not to settle for second best. This was a mere quibble on my part. Fortunately the two waiting staff dealt with the situation with great aplomb — a pleasure. This was international standard service. There are only a few steak restaurants in this city that I would recommend. This is one of them. Grill 27 is on Floor 27 of the AB Tower, 76A Le Lai, Q1, or on

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fashion Photos: Francis Xavier Styling: Vu Ha Kim Vy Models: Danny Wilson, Chelsea Rose, Ilgmars Valts, Thuy Anh & Lewis Baker Harley Davidson is at 800 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, HCMC KTM is at C7/2 Pham Hung, Binh Chanh, HCMC MotoWorld is at 95 Nguyen Van Cu, Q5, HCMC

THE STYLE RIDERS People talk about ‘bikers’ as if they’re a breed, a different sort of person. Our idea is that bikers are made, not born — revolutionary, we know. To test our hypothesis, we pitted two tatted-up roughriders against three of our cleanest cut models, dressing them up in the same burly bike threads. Can you tell the difference?

Plaid shirt: VND2.17 million | Denim shirt: VND2.03 million Headwrap: VND630,000 All from Harley-Davidson

Jacket: VND2.55 million at MotoWorld

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Jacket: VND14.39 million Sunglasses: VND5 million All from Harley-Davidson

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Jacket: VND3.85 million | Tank-top: VND960,000 | Necklace: VND1.85 million Gloves: VND1.1 million | Helmet: VND2.78 million All from Harley-Davidson

Jackets: VND4.9 million for each | Off-road helmet: VND1.8 million Che helmet: VND2.48 million All from KTM

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Women’s jacket: VND3.4 million Men’s jacket: VND3.36 million All from MotoWorld

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urban exploration

Dhaka by Bus Jeff Gantner rides the city bus from his expat quarters in Bangladesh to Old Dhaka, encountering some bumps along the way. Photos by Jeff Gantner and Tina Cocej


ou took the what to where?” That’s what my wife said when I told her I went to Old Dhaka on the city bus. A week earlier, I’d met Matt, a transplant from Ohio. He’d suggested — for a truly home-cooked Dhaka experience — hopping on the bus from my cushy expat ‘hood, Gulshan, to Sadarghat Boat Terminal in the old part of town. “Why not?” I’d shrugged. I’d been in Bangladesh only a few weeks and was eager to get a feel for my new home. Today is Friday and, from what I’d heard, the best day to venture outdoors in Dhaka. It’s a day of prayer for many and the streets are relatively peaceful — the operative word being relatively. Still, you need to pay attention to avoid stepping into crater-sized potholes or getting shoulder-checked by speeding SUVs.

Avoiding Dhakastrophe Matt, his roommate Tina and I walk between a pair of sad, polluted lakes and through a maze of narrow, muddy lanes behind my house to chaotic Pragati Sharani Street. If you’re going to get steamrolled in Dhaka, this is where it could happen. Buses, cars and thousands of handpainted bicycle rickshaws battle for limited pavement. Add the clamour of perpetual air horns and ad hoc pedestrian crosswalks and you’ve got a precarious recipe for a potential dhakastrophe.

We need to cross Pragati Sharani to catch our bus. Matt takes the lead, sprints to the strip in the centre. Tina goes next. I lag a bit, owing to my habit of expecting traffic to swerve and flow around me, as it did in Vietnam. Not going to happen here. I feel as if I’ve got a bullseye painted on my shirt and Dhaka’s drivers are keen archers driving arrows Buses don’t come to a complete stop, but rather slowly troll the roadside as passengers impatiently jump on and off. Timing is crucial when boarding. You have to judge whether there’s enough space before committing to flinging yourself onto the steps, desperately lunging for the grab rail. We commit. The fare collector grips my forearm and pulls me in.

“Safe” Passage I inch my way to the rear where there’s an empty window seat. The coils have long burst through the Naugahyde covering. A rope is knotted around the seat frame and riveted to the floor, providing some measure of safety if the driver slams on the brakes. The seat in front is crippled. It’s tilted almost all the way back, like a La-Z-Boy recliner. Its frame isn’t bolted to the floor and there’s no rope holding it down. Only the weight of the passengers keeps it static. My knees are pushed against my thorax. I look like a praying mantis in a hat and sunglasses. Matt grins. “I’ve been on worse buses,” I offer

stoically, if not truthfully. Like the city itself, Dhaka’s rolling rust buckets are bursting at the seams with bodies. Bus travel accounts for nearly half of all city commutes, a statistic easy to believe when I look out of my window and see overcrowded double-deckers rumbling down the road and swarms of roadside passengers denied carriage due to overcrowding. According to Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), there are almost five dozen numbered routes and 26 private bus companies operating in the city. Buses are painted with route names and numbers in Bangla, bad news for riders who only understand English. For these determined (and possibly naïve) travelers, catching the right bus depends on a combination of having a translator app (at least for numbers), a friend like Matt (who speaks fluent Bangla), and a little help from a bilingual local. Perhaps best of all would be to source one of those limited-edition colour bus route maps that US-based Urban Launchpad ( and local advocates Kewkradong ( recently distributed. These two groups have taken on the mammoth task of charting Dhaka’s public transit jumble. White foreigners on a Dhaka bus are something of a rarity, it seems. Locals stare not because they’re rude. They’re incredulous. Curious. This is what I keep telling myself. One unsheathes his

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camera to capture me as evidence. Another purposefully moves close and watches my phone as I fuss with Google Maps. Privacy, like taking the subway, isn’t an option in Dhaka. On the pavement it’s survival of the most aggressive. Our bus is near the top of the food chain, up there with the cement trucks. Three-wheeled micro taxis called CNGs — they run on compressed natural gas — shimmy and drift across the road, oblivious to the whimsical flow of larger, deadlier vehicles. Eco-friendlier cousins of the tuktuk, CNGs are kitted with steel window screens to prevent muggings. If a CNG were to get headbutted by a cement truck and flip, you’d be trapped inside. The good news is that bag snatchers would be kept at bay while you waited for the ‘Jaws of Life’ to arrive from overseas. A man across the aisle yells something in my direction, pointing to my window. Matt says that he says that I should keep my camera inside the bus. Most snatch-and-grabs occur at stoplights, and there are plenty of those. On second thought those stops aren’t

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lights, just the lurch and lull of the brutal traffic. Are we there yet?

Black-Water Rafting Sadarghat Boat Terminal is the starting point for river travel to many corners of Bangladesh. In a country of 700-plus rivers it makes sense to go by water. Plus, riverine traffic jams are far more scenic and easier on the lungs than those in Dhaka. It costs BDT4 (about VND1,000) to enter the terminal. A minimal number of children attempt to hold my hand as we hopscotch between iron moorings, sharp concrete slabs, boisterous ticket hawkers, and thousands of scurrying passengers. Not a soul asks me for money — not even the kids — unlike in my expat neighbourhood. Though there is plenty of life here at the waterfront, there is little beauty. It’s not the sort of place to grab a coffee and a bench (if you can find one) and idly watch the multilevel launches (motorised ferries) come and go while you toss your cares to the wind and sunflower seeds to the birds. That said, if you’ve got a decent SLR camera you’ll find

an abundance of unique faces and colours. From out of nowhere a man with a thick, saffron beard approaches and asks me, “What is your country?” “China, duh,” is the only thing that comes to mind. He laughs and trails off. No one can say that Bangladeshis don’t have a sense of humour — amazing really, given the perpetual stream of downers that include factory crumblings, jaw-dropping poverty and waves of political protests. We get the go-ahead to summit one of the moored launches to take pictures. It’s a wide-open view across the Buriganga River to the communities of Kathuria, Kaliganj and Char Mirre. From the action on the water below (despite this being a Friday), you really get a sense of how scarily busy Sadarghat can be. A crowded ferry from the southern beach town of Kuakata quickly approaches port. Like minnows darting from a footstep, small, wooden sampans clear the ferry’s path.

The Delights of Old Dhaka Sadarghat is located in Old Dhaka, which

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“We hit up a guy dishing out jhal muri, a tasty local treat of puffed rice coated with mustard oil, chilli powder and dried coriander leaves. Everything about this guy’s operation is homegrown, down to the paper sleeves made with old test papers from a nearby university. Nazir got 82 percent, incidentally” in the early 17th century was the capital of Mughal-ruled Bengal. Over time the city flourished as an administrative centre and trading port, specialising in exporting fine muslin cloth to Europe. Its fortunes shifted over the next 150 years, but today remnants from Old Dhaka’s glory days can still be seen in the nearby Hindu bazaars Tanti and Shakhari, famous for their skilled craftsmen. Matt is determined to help me build an iron gut by making sure I eat some street food. Banana trucks line the roadside and men in lungis (sort of tropical skirts) pitch heavy bundles of the green fruit down to a human relay chain for storage at riverfront warehouses. They won’t sell me a single banana, however. Wholesalers. Matt says bananas don’t really count as street food anyway. They’ve got natural wrappers. Farther on we hit up a guy dishing out jhal muri, a tasty local treat of puffed rice coated with mustard oil, chilli powder and dried coriander leaves. Everything about this guy’s operation is homegrown, down to the paper sleeves made with — I kid you not — old test papers from a nearby university. Nazir got 82 percent, incidentally. And who needs a plastic spoon when you’ve got a paperboard shovel (probably made from a Rice Krispies box top)? There are no worries about finding a non-existent trash bin. Just pitch everything on the ground (it’s all paper) and Mother Nature and her magical process of biodegradation will take over. A tall man wearing a white kufi (skull cap) is scraping the translucent flesh from aloe vera plants to make juice, which he’s selling at BDT15 (about VND4,000) a go. We approach and a friendly crowd of locals gathers round. Making aloe vera juice isn’t as easy as setting up a Kool-Aid stand. There’s no powder mix, for one thing. It’s a time consuming ballet, about as visually appetising as watching oyster shucking, slobber and goop flying everywhere. The end product, purportedly a cure-all, doesn’t quite beat a glass of wheat grass in the looks department. Nonetheless Matt and Tina shell out for a cup. What they’re drinking looks like

ectoplasm, a viscous concoction — a healing ointment that belongs on skinned knees, not inside stomachs. Still, I can’t resist and take a sip from Tina’s cup. Tastes like a roll of Scotch tape, which is to say not necessarily repulsive. But it’s no mango smoothie.

Our Unexpected Destination Islamapur Road, one of the most famous in Old Dhaka, winds its way up from the river to the transport terminus where we’d jumped off the bus hours ago. This is the street to visit when you need bed sheets, curtains, textiles, aromatic incense, cigarettes, Hindu icons or a 100 percent natural loofah. Matt chats in Banglish to a young man who’s running a micro mini-mart, the size of which might just fit inside a Japanese pod-hotel room. Next door is a long mouse hole of a passage, bathed in chiaroscuro, which in my mind leads to a golden fountain something out of Hollywood fantasy. In fact, we’re told, it leads to apartments. With a smile and a warm heart we’re invited in. For BDT2,000 (VND550,000) a month, you can rent a room. Digs are, how shall I put it… cave chic? The winding concrete staircase is straight out of a medieval watchtower. You cook in the dark, using your gas burner’s flame as a light source. How you shower and take care of other personal matters isn’t made clear. The only significant sunshine is on the rooftop, where one of the tenants keeps a flock of pigeons in an immaculately organised cage. The young man and several other spelunkers join us on the roof, politely asking questions, smiling, staring and taking our pictures (by now standard procedure), curious as to why we’ve come inside. What can I tell them? I guess the truth is sometimes it’s good to say yes. Sometimes it pays to indulge curiosity. Tina says she’s going to move in to the Yoda complex soon. She’s tired of paying more than BDT2,000 a month in the expatbubble zones. The booming sound of the azan (Muslim call to prayer) echoes off the concrete buildings. The freed pigeons dip and swirl

in an orchestral fluttering of feathers in the dusky sky as we descend to the street.

Crawl Hour I’m heading home inside another jampacked bus. Everything on wheels is jockeying for position. It seems everyone is going to the same place at the same time on the same damn roads. The incessant and irritating cacophony of horns isn’t helping anybody get anywhere faster. Perhaps only a subway or BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system, along with an en masse exchange of cars for bikes could do that. It takes two hours to travel the eight or so kilometres back to Gulshan. If my maths were better I’d say that’s about an hour-anda-half too long. There’s little comfort knowing that even if I’d travelled the modest length of Dhaka by stretch limo, pimped Honda or fullsuspension mountain bike I wouldn’t have moved any quicker. But I surely would’ve got a better seat, one without a sprung coil sticking out of it.

Information For general information about the Bangladeshi capital, Wikitravel have a fairly comprehensive travel guide to the city —

G etting


D haka

You can fly to Dhaka with Biman Bangladesh ( from Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Alternatively, you can travel with Singapore Airlines (flights from Singapore —, Malaysia Airlines (flights from Kuala Lumpur — and Thai Airways (flights from Bangkok — thaiairways. com). Alternatively you can take a train from Kolkata in neighbouring India. The line was reopened in 2008 and the journey takes around 11 hours.

A ccommodation

The likes of Trip Advisor (tripadvisor. com) and Agoda ( have information on hotel and guesthouse bookings in Dhaka.

travel Photo by Phillip Island Nature Parks


Penguins, Seals and an Echidna If you’re travelling to Melbourne, then there’s one excursion not to be missed — Phillip Island. Just two hours south of the capital of Victoria, here you will find abundant wildlife in its natural environment. And don’t forget the penguins. Words by Katie Jacobs

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penguin as it is more commonly known as in Australia. Phillip Island is one of Australia’s biggest tourist draws and every year over one million visitors come to watch these tiny creatures make their nightly march from the ocean to their burrows in the sand dunes. Despite visiting Phillip Island numerous times, I was yet to see the ‘penguin parade’ and this was going to be the trip where I would finally see what all the fuss was about. But first there were a few other things to check off my holiday list.

Photos by Katie Jacobs


n a recent balmy evening, I watched in awe as thousands of shearwater birds engulfed the coastal cliffs on which I was standing and dove awkwardly into their nests below the dense shrub. As the sun sank into Bass Strait and the clear skies swelled with the rolling fog of birds, the strangely echoing sounds of the nesting young could be heard calling to the audible whooshing of thousands of beating wings above. It had been a few years since my last visit to Phillip Island and this nightly spectacle was even more astounding than I remembered. In the week leading up to Christmas I spent a few days visiting my oldest friend on this charming island, which juts out into Western Port Bay less than two hours south of Melbourne. The island, which is accessible from the mainland by bridge, is an eclectic mix of suburban housing developments, rolling farmland and distinct small town feel. During summer months, international and domestic tourists flock, like shearwaters to a cliff, for traditional beach holidays and to glimpse some of Australia’s classic wildlife; most famously the little penguin, or fairy

Holiday Towns and Beaches The main street of Cowes, the largest town on the island, is everything you expect in a touristy seaside town. Small boutiques sell tasteful homewares and the type of light floral dresses usually bought on impulse and never worn again; tacky souvenir stores overflow with stuffed kangaroos and blow up beach toys; and sidewalk cafes, small restaurants and the customary ice cream shops are all there to ensure that holiday makers are well fed. One silly shoe purchase, a sticky mint chococolate chip cone, and a walk on the jetty later, and I was definitely in holiday mode. The famously temperamental

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Photo by Katie Jacobs

“The wildlife sightings were incredible — it was like nature had rallied together and come out in full force to welcome us. And we hadn’t even been to the penguin parade” weather of coastal Victoria was behaving and it was hard to feel anything but relaxed when surrounded by brilliant sunshine, sparkling water and sandy beaches. The temperature the next day soared to 40 degrees and with nothing else to do but enjoy the weather, we happily headed down to one of Phillip Island’s many beaches to soak up the sun and splash in the chilly bay water. San Remo, a small town that sits next to the bridge between the island and mainland, has always been a popular place for pelican feeding and jetty jumping. As I watched the screaming kids dive into the water I was reminded (not too fondly) of when, while on teenage visits with my best friend’s family, we would do the same. In order to avoid being called a wuss — my best friend’s threat — I would leap off the wooden platforms and into the clear water, eyes pressed tightly closed and desperately trying to keep my bikini top in place. Below we could see stingrays circling lazily in the sea. These days everyone knows I’m a bit of a wimp, so I chose instead to float quietly in the shallows, avoiding any stingray sightings.

Fish, Chips, Wine and Wildlife Dusting off the sand we headed off to enjoy a Phillip Island pastime we never experienced as kids, sipping cool crisp Sauvignon Blanc at the Purple Hen Winery, one of the Island’s two local wine producers. Named for the local swamp hen that inhabits the island, the winery overlooks Western Port Bay and the surrounding farmland. Looking out over the vines and watching the

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afternoon sun drift across the sky, we let the heat wash over us before continuing onto the evening activities. Stopping off at the Rhyll foreshore, another of the Island’s small towns, we indulged in some of the freshest fish and chips in memory before continuing on to The Nobbies. Located on the western tip of the Island, this is the best spot for viewing the large seal colony which spends its days sunbathing on the rocky outcrops. Following the viewing platforms across the grassy knolls that run into the ocean, we were afforded a spectacular vista of the Phillip Island coastline. Walking down to nearby Flynn’s beach, one of the many expansive strips of white sand that border the island, we came across an echidna, a small spiky marsupial, slowly burrowing her way into the sand bank. With a feeling of privilege to have seen this notoriously shy creature, we were both bowled over when this was followed by fifteen minutes watching a seal play in the calm bay water. That evening it was easy to see why Phillip Island has a reputation for wildlife. In the past 24 hours we had seen Shearwater birds, wallabies, native hens, pelicans, seals, an echidna and signs cautioning against snakes. The wildlife sightings were incredible — it was like nature had rallied together and come out in full force to welcome us. And we hadn’t even been to the penguin parade.

The Penguins Later that evening we sat out on cement platforms, excitedly watching as the penguins surfed in on the waves and slowly

made their way up the beach. The crowd buzzed as the first small group waddled up the sand, heads bent forward and little legs moving quickly. It was impossible not to be charmed by these 30cm-tall creatures marching towards us, stopping regularly to rest before starting off again with a little hop. Standing on the path in the dunes, the juveniles, who were nearly as big (or in this case small) as the adults, could be seen waiting anxiously for their parents return. Like the shearwaters, the penguins spend their days fishing at sea before returning to their burrows under the scrub where they are mauled by their hungry and impatient young. The next morning I got up for a prebreakfast walk. Still feeling elated from the previous evening’s penguin sightings, I was surprised to run into a fat seal sunning himself on the boat ramp by the beach. He seemed to flap his tail and twitch his whiskers in greeting before returning to his nap. When I excitedly told my friend later she shrugged her shoulders. Just another average morning on Phillip Island.

Information Phillip Island is an easy two hour drive from the centre of Melbourne. Although there are regular public buses from Melbourne to Cowes, you will need a car once you are on the Island. For more information on accommodation and activities go to

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Road Trip

The Bikers’ Guide to the North Thai Switchback Mountains Ed Weinberg — aka ‘Miami Twice’ — hits Thailand’s highest mountain range alongside his six fellow ‘Ratpackers’, in custom-tailored suits, with a Dean Martinesque glint in their eyes

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t was two weeks before our Tet holiday trip that we started our planning. Not route planning or hotel booking, no, nothing as inconsequential. We had started on the real work — getting incredibly flashy suits custom-tailored in Vietnam. Over those weeks of scouring the markets for fabric, jointly attending hilarious fittings and weirdly asking the still-in-Cali female member of our troupe her measurements, we began to evolve an identity for our travel, or at least some jokes. We were preparing a Tet holiday trip to end all Tet holiday trips, an epic two-week motorbike run through the 600km Mae Hong Son Loop. And we planned to wear these suits the whole time, in a show of unity or whatever. Flying into Chiang Mai on Jan. 26, on two hours of post-Singapore sleep, we encountered our first speed bump.

Chiang Mai

KM 0

We loved Chiang Mai too much. It was a problem. While waiting for the rest of our party to arrive / get suits made, we adopted a nocturnal

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schedule. Daytimes by the Eco Resort Chiang Mai (109 Bumrungrad Road, Tombon Watkate) pool, nights spent at a variety of places — and then inevitably into the funnel of regret that is late-night party spot Soi 5, a cluster of bars revolving around the generic boom-chik-boom vibe of partyplex Zoe in Yellow (Rajvithi Road). This was a bro-and-floozy nexus the likes of which Phuc Tan and Apo can only aspire to. Over four days and nights, we also managed to discover some sweet hyperculture in this picturesque walled city. During incredible jam sessions at North Gate Jazz Co-op (95/1-2 Prapokklao Road), people escaped to the fragment of 14th century wall lining the moat on the north side of the old city. Thais and expats jammed along to the driving backbeat, and I was blown away by the thought that this town of 170,000 has a healthier scene — at least in this one specific discipline — than anywhere else I’ve been in Southeast Asia. On the hip side of town, centring around university-proximate Nimmanhaemin Road, locals licked ice cream in the shadow of the absurdist 10-metre-tall nightmare creature at iBerry (Nimmanhaemin Road Soi 17,

follow the signs). I was offered a sniff at my pre-brewed grounds in the chalk-and-wood environs of speciality coffee crafters Ristr8to (15/3 Nimmanhemin Road), and found myself seconding internet coffee commenters in saying theirs was some of the best coffee I’d tasted, at least until I ran into fierce opposition on behalf of Ponganes Espresso (127/1 Soi 5, Moon Muang Road) and Akha Ama (9/1 Mata Apartment, Hassadhisawee Road, Soi 3). We took the suits to Art in Paradise (199/9 Changklan Road), a museum of trick paintings packed with the photo-ops non-touristy tourists such as ourselves love — or perhaps this is an attempt at the unpinnable logic of ‘so bad it’s good’. We hit up TripAdvisor champs Lemongrass (Loi Kroh Road, Chang Khlan) several times, choking on the spice in their exquisite Thai offerings, and made a lunchtime habit of visiting our ‘sponsors’ — people in suits get sponsors, apparently — at Free Bird Café (Manee Nopparat Rd, Si Phum) for inventive western breakfasts and delicate Burmese and Thai lunches, all vegetarian. Upstairs they run a school for Burmese refugees in Chiang Mai — we thought they were so cool we

wished we could sponsor them. We loved the 24th-ranked TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Best Destination in the World so much we found it hard to leave… until one day we did. Riding on THB180 to THB450-a-day (VND120,000 to VND290,000) rented bikes, we headed out to the mountains.

Pai We headed out to Pai late in the day, after spending the default three hours getting our party of seven sorted for motorbikes, KM bathroom breaks, books, gas, 129 lunch, directions, bungee cords, the one-guy-delaying-departure-because-hedoesn’t-feel-well and all the other little hangups that come with such an enterprise. We left an hour before sunset, sometime around 5ish. This is never a good idea. As dusk turned to tree-shrouded dark, group member ‘Gare-Bear’ — the man in the snakeskin suit — found the lights on his Vespa-esque Yamaha Fino flickering, its 115cc engine block concentrated on climbing hills. We rearranged our convoy to light his path, gave him a headlamp and shuffled around the one passenger in our group — ‘Chang’, the lass in the pyjama-esque elephant pattern — who’d been sitting on the back of his bike. By the time we made it to Pai, bonfires were already blazing. At 486m elevation, dwarfed by surrounding mountains, Pai’s chill had gotten to us on the way there. Clothed in our winteriest wear we ventured out, consuming alcohol only for its bloodwarming effects (disclaimer: there are none). In its bars and street stalls we found another place we would stay in too long. As we awaited our seventh member — ‘Key Lime’, in the late-period Monetinspired threads — we found new favourite brunch spots in Boomelicious (Soi One Corner Plaza) and Good Life in Pai (just next door). We hit some hot springs, photoop’d on the edge of canyons, went to a ‘reggae on the river’ festival. In this town of 2,200 year round residents, we found more commercially brewed kombucha — fermented, sweetened black tea — than lurks in all of Vietnam. And, for a while, it was enough. Our third night was our first as a reunited crew, and also the eve of election day in a tense nation. After 6pm, beer became hard to find. One bar tried to serve us milk. And we wandered the town, up to the brightest campfire we could find, and the same beers that greeted us that first night were there. And the same crowd. One guy asked, “You guys still wearing those suits?” Fresh off his fever, a 250cc rental to his name, Key Lime was anxious to get moving. As we tried to ingratiate ourselves to certain members of the backpacker crowd, he sat there frowning. When we asked what was wrong, he said, “I’ve been on lads’ vacations before, but I thought this was going to be a

“All through our travel, people had asked us why we wore the suits and we said things like, ‘We like looking good’ or ‘Why aren’t you?’ The truth of it is we didn’t know quite why we were doing this”

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“Swimming off the river bank, darting into the sharp current while the local kid who’d joined up with us did backflips into the water, I felt that ‘moment’ — the one which puts you completely and utterly in a place, with no past or future, no outside context” motorcycle trip.” And just like that we pulled out of town, onto the next place.

Mae Hong Son We got out late again, but with sunlight to spare. We fed our momentum curves at 90km/h, glances off mountain ridges we KM were switchbacking through. 236 We pulled into Mae Hong Son at twilight and promptly checked out the lovely central lake, the reflection of temple and mountains within. We found election day beer and a deadly feast at a local restaurant. We did not find a location to watch the Super Bowl the following day. The next morning, we packed our bikes and said goodbye to this dusty little town we would never see again.

Up Microwave Mountain I saw a sign for Microwave Mountain and followed it. It took me up 30-percent grades at my Fino’s max at such an KM angle — 20km/h, with lots of 250 chuk-chuking. Courtesy honk signs marked switchbacks so sharp I already feared the way down. Here the road changed, from the western standard blacktop of the highway to a splintering unlined grey, with traction-supplementing grooves dug in at turns. A truck took over the one lane we shared, on its way down the mountain — I put my left foot off the side of the road and waited for it to pass.

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At the top I found an isolated village. I saw school-aged children, but heard no shrieking “hellos”. No roadside stalls catered to my thirst. People shied from my camera, and I felt like an intruder. I headed down the mountain the way I’d come.

Mae Sariang Later than all the others I arrived in Mae Sariang, population 10,000, lying in a mountain valley next to a muddy river. I’d broken from KM the main route, only to reunite in 404 another small town, at another bar, across from another amused but forgettable crowd. The boys in the suits took over the open mic, we posed for some more pictures and it seemed somewhat anticlimactic to think our trip was coming to its end.

Mae Sam Laep (The End of the Rainbow) On our last day before heading back to Chiang Mai, we decided to take a river longboat ride on the KM same Salween River our delicious 452 fish dinners had been coming from (the night before, Salween ‘fish’ in tamarind sauce). It wasn’t the muddy stretch next to the town where we’d spent the night — but rather one 48km away, right on the Burmese border. Some 15km along, passenger Chang and I found ourselves separated, hitting a patch of rough that the overtaxed cruiser had difficulty on. That patch of rough turned out to be 30km of it, all of our remaining route

over broken-up asphalt and gravel-strewn earth. We began to think of the road back, and why none of our comrades — who we’d mistakenly left behind at a forgotten gas station rendezvous — had passed us yet. After two hours we arrived in perfect late afternoon light. It had been a difficult journey, but we weren’t thinking about that now, in the slow soothing atmosphere of this end-of-the-road town. Mid-kow pat gai — one of the spiciest dishes we’d yet encountered on the loop — 45 minutes later, the rest of our party arrived, tired and shaken from the road down and a wrong turn taken. The trip hadn’t left them with the feeling of new experience we’d been feeling — turning our heads at woman painted in Burmese thanaka face paint, men clothed in skirt-like longyis — they felt only the encroaching dark and the difficult way back. Avoiding nightfall would mean no river ride, no sunset. It seemed an unbearable tease. This is one of the limits of a big group, finding compromise between the needs and wants of everyone. It’s a tradeoff with your own needs and wants, and you have to know when it’s not worth it anymore. I didn’t want to leave, and Key Lime said he’d like to stay as well. Resident unpredictable ‘Bumblebee’ — with the only Chiang Mai-crafted suit in our lineup, an orange jacket-and-shorts combo — decided he’d like to stay for the longboat, then beat it back before nightfall. In the unfailing luck of meant-to-be moments, we ran into Rufus (Tel: +66 877

872392), a Burmese refugee who’d lived the 40 years of his exodus in this border town, speaking only Burmese and the English of his student days. He took us under his wing — first arranging a late-in-the-day longboat, then inviting us to stay with him when he couldn’t arrange another guest house. And we went out on that river, a short swim from the Burmese border, filled with the kind of wonder we weren’t sure we had in us anymore. Swimming off the river bank, darting into the sharp current while

the local kid who’d joined up with us did backflips into the water, I felt that ‘moment’ — the one which puts you completely and utterly in a place, with no past or future, no outside context. In that moment I knew the life I might have had in that river town. It expanded my perspective in unexpected ways, and all that night and in the days following I felt the effects of this sharp inhale of a different world. All through our travel, people had asked us why we wore the suits and we said things

like, “We like looking good” or “Why aren’t you?” The truth of it is we didn’t know quite why we were doing this. In that moment, it all made sense. We were trying to catch lightning — the energy that’s all around you when you travel, in passing sights and strangers. We wanted to take this energy and focus it around us, give it something to react to. But lightning isn’t something you catch. It’s something you watch for a second, before it fades back into the night.

March 2014 Word | 123


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Air Asia

Dalat / Around Hanoi / Hanoi - International / Hanoi – Mid-Range / Hanoi – Budget / HCMC - International / HCMC - Deluxe / HCMC - Mid-Range / HCMC - Budget / Hoi An & Danang / Hue & Lang Co / Nha Trang / Phan Thiet & Mui Ne / Phong Nha / Phu Quoc / Sapa / Vung Tau & Ho Tram / Travel Services — Hanoi / Travel Services – Elsewhere Dalat ANA MANDARA VILLAS

$$$$ Le Lai, Dalat, Tel: (063) 3555888


$$$$ 12 Tran Phu, Dalat, Tel: (063) 382 5444


$$$ Tel: 0933 446542 Experience breathtaking tours of the serene Halong Bay, aboard reproduction wooden junks. Two or three– night trips with a wide range of cabin styles: standard, deluxe, or royal.


$ Cuc Phuong, Nho Quan, Ninh Binh, Tel: (030) 384 8006

Dalat Green City Hotel 172 Phan Dinh Phung, Dalat, Tel: (063) 382 7999 Located in central Dalat, this is the perfect place for budget travellers. Quiet, newly refurbished with beautiful mountain and city views from the rooftop, features free Wi-Fi, a TV and snack bar in all rooms with a downstairs coffee shop and computers in the lobby for guest use.


$$$$ Tel: (04) 3935 1888 Reproductions, of 19th– century paddle steamers, trawl around Halong Bay in colonial style. A classic experience, complete with, overnight accommodations in impeccable cabins suites.


$$ Cu Yen, Luong Son, Hoa Binh, Tel: (0218) 385622


$ Ngoi Tu Village, Vu Linh, Yen Bai , Tel: (04) 3926 2743

Dalat Train Villa Villa 3, 1 Quang Trung, Dalat, Tel: (063) 381 6365 Located near the Dalat Train Station, the Dalat Train Villa is a beautifully restored, colonial era, two-storey villa. In its grounds is a 1910 train carriage which has been renovated into a bar and cafe. Located within 10 minutes of most major attractions in Dalat.


$$$ Mai Chau Town, Hoa Binh, Tel: (0218) 386 8959


$$ Ha Long Road, Bai Chay Ward, Ha Long City, Quang Ninh, Tel: (033) 384 8108


$ 4A Bui Thi Xuan, Dalat, Tel: (063) 382 2663


$$$ KM 8 Pham Van Dong, Duong Kinh, Hai Phong, Tel: (031) 388 0888

124 | Word March 2014

Tam Coc Garden Resort Hai Nham, Ninh Hai, Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh. Tel: (030) 249 2118 contact@tamcocgarden. com Surrounded by rice fields and spectacular karsts, Tam Coc Garden is a haven of peace, an oasis of serenity and understated luxury. Spacious rooms with rustic and chic décor, a pool with breathtaking views, a beau-

tiful garden, and panoramic views over the fields and mountains. The perfect place to relax.

Hanoi - International CROWNE PLAZA WEST INTERNATIONAL $$$ 36 Le Duc Tho, My Dinh Commune, Tu Liem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 6270 6688 This premier five-star property lies beside the My Dinh National Stadium and Convention Centre. Boasts two swimming pools, a spa, and a fitness centre in its 24 stories.

DAEWOO HOTEL 360 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3831 5555 www.hanoi-daewoohotel. com 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.

FORTUNA HOTEL HANOI 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 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.

HOTEL DE L’OPERA 29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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.

INTERCONTINENTAL HANOI WESTLAKE 1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6270 8888 www.hanoi.intercontinental. com 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.

JW Marriott 8 Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Hanoi Tel: (04) 3833 5588 The first JW Marriott hotel in Vietnam and designed by architect Carlos Zapata, this contemporary, wellappointed property is one of the most strikingly designed hotels in the capital. Set in Hanoi West adjacent to the National Convention Center.

MELIA HANOI 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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. Stateof-the-art rooms, elegant restaurants, stylish bars, fully equipped fitness centre with sophisticated service always make in-house guests satisfied.

MÖVENPICK HOTEL HANOI 83A Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3822 2800 www.moevenpick-hanoi. com With its distinctive French architecture and top end service, Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi is aimed squarely at corporate travellers. An allday 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 wellappointed rooms and suites, 93 are non-smoking.


$$$$ 40 Cat Linh, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3733 0808 With deluxe rooms and suites, a contemporary lobby, an excellent buffet, and a la carte restaurant, this Accor group property is prestigious and close to the Old Quarter.

SHERATON K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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.

SOFITEL LEGEND METROPOLE HANOI 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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.

SOFITEL PLAZA HANOI 1 Thanh Nien Road, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 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.

Air France 130 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 3825 8583

Air Mekong 1st Floor, Centre Point Building, 106 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: (08) 3846 3999

American Airlines 194 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3. Tel: 3933 0330

Cathay Pacific 5th Floor, Centec Tower, 72-74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: 3822 3203 vn

China Airlines 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 3911 1591

Japan Airlines 3rd Floor, Sheraton Hotel, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 3821 9098

Jetstar Pacific

Korean Air 34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3824 2878

Lao Airlines 93 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: 3822 6990

Malaysia Airlines Ground Floor, Saigon Trade Centre, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 3829 2529 www.malaysiaairlines. com

Singapore Airlines Saigon Tower Bulding, Room 101, 29 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3823 1588

Thai Airways 29 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3822 3365

Tiger Airways


Vietnam Airlines 27B Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1 Tel: 3832 0320


Want to add more information to your listing? Get in touch and let us see what we can do. Email us at

Hanoi – Mid-Range 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, homestyle Vietnamese fare is served up with fresh fruit juices and Lavazza coffee.


$$$ 109-111 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3928 6969 Located in the centre of the Old Quarter, this little slice of heaven offers complimentary sundries and a replenishable minibar. The Orient restaurant, serves the finest in international and Vietnamese cuisine.


$$$ 35-37 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 0999 A minute from Hoan Kiem Lake, this glowing pearl in the heart of Hanoi provides tranquility with an art gallery and piano bar.

MAY DE VILLE 24 Han Thuyen, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 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 wellappointed rooms including four suites.

Hanoi – Budget HANOI BACKBACKER’S HOSTEL 48 Ngo Huyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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.


$$$$ 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999 Winner of Robb Report’s

2006 list of the world’s top 100 luxury hotels, the Caravelle houses the popular rooftop Saigon Saigon bar, and the restaurants Nineteen and Reflections.


$$$ 63 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2999 Famous for its day–long rotating–menu buffets, the Duxton deserves luxury appellation with a pool, gym, spa, and fine dining.


$$$ 242 Tran Binh Trong, Q5, Tel: (08) 3839 7777 This massive property boasts seven dining and entertainment outlets, a business centre, meeting rooms and a comprehensive fitness centre and spa. The Equatorial also has an on-site casino.


$$$$$ 235 Nguyen Van Cu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 7777 The five-star hotel and serviced apartment complex offers: 14 instant offices, seven meeting rooms, a 600-capacity ballroom, spa, outdoor swimming pool, a gym, 24-hour fine dining, 24-hours room service, and limousine services.


$$$$$ Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 9999 In the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, resides the Asiana with signature dining options, an innovative cocktail bar, exclusive spa and health club, together with luxury boutique arcade.


$$$$ 2A–4A Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3333 Immaculate architecture, spacious rooms, and a fine selection of fine dining, with buffets specialising in Americana and Pan-Asian cuisine.


$$$$ 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8888 Former guests include U.S. presidents — two Bushes, Clinton — and K-Pop sensation Bi Rain. An ongoing event as well as a hotel, New World is one of the best luxury stops in town.


$$$$$ 2 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1234 Fabulous in style, prime in location, everything one would expect from the Hyatt. The Square One and Italianthemed Opera restaurants have garnered an excellent reputation, as has the landscaped pool.


$$$$$ 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3838 8686 Recently completed on the site of the old Metropole, this upscale, contemporary property boasts 306 signature rooms combining design, comfort and connectivity. Innovative cuisine, a great downtown location and high-tech meeting venues able to host up to 600 guests make up the mix.


$$$$ 141 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 2185 Brimming with history the Rex’s open–air fifth–floor bar is Saigon highlight. A recent renovation, of this now five-star property, boasts designer fashion and a shopping arcade.

RIVERSIDE APARTMENTS 53 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 4111 Situated on the banks of the Saigon River, a 15-minute scenic boat ride or 20-minute bus ride from town, Riverside’s complementary shuttle services take you right in the city centre. With 152 fully equipped serviced apartments, the property offers special packages for short-term stay starting at VND2.1 million per apartment per night for a onebedroom facility.

floors above the city and a live music venue on the same floor.


$$$$ 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555 This 20–story building in downtown Saigon, caters to upscale business and leisure travelers seeking a classic yet contemporary stay in Saigon.


$$$ 18 An Duong Vuong, Q5, Tel: (08) 3833 6688 The full ensemble with its own shopping hub (including a bank), fine dining, a sauna, health club, and superb panoramic views of the cityscape. Also hosts the largest Oktoberfest in the region.


$$$ 132-134 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9201 This charming old hotel has been fêted in literature and in film. In the heart of Saigon, this is the first choice to high-

light Vietnamese culture.


$$$ 1 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 5517


$$$ 117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 5368 Intimate atmosphere and excellent service, this boutique business hotel is located minutes from famous landmarks, designer shops, and is renowned for its fabulous steaks at its in-house restaurant, Corso.


$$$ 167 Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 4866 Novotel Saigon Centre has a contemporary feel, an international buffet — The Square — a rooftop bar, and a wellness centre including a swimming pool, gym, sauna and spa.


$$$ 144 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 3999 8888

The newly-built hotel is near Tan Son Nhat International Airport. With spectacular city views and a comfortablydesigned outdoor swimming pool, there is little reason not to choose this shining star.


$$ 133 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 5914

EMM Hotel 157 Pasteur, Q3 A sleek, contemporary three-star hotel that mixes vintage appeal and modern chic thanks to a subdued palette of white and grey around two ‘pop’ colours: azalea pink and green hot pepper. Part of the Thien Minh Group that includes Victoria Hotels and Buffalo Tours.


$$$ 46 and 73-75 Thu Khoa Huan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 7926


$$ 195 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2222

Joseph’s Hotel Foreign-run,boutique hotel Next to the cathedral


$$$$$ 18–19-20 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1417 This distinct French architectural wonder offers complimentary Wi-Fi, airport pickup or drop off, a 4th floor ballroom, and authentic Vietnamese cuisine at the River Restaurant.


$$$$$ 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2828 Sheraton boasts one of the best locations in town, with first–class facilities, an open–air restaurant 23

Free wi-fi, international breakfast, spacious and airy, lift, plasma TV, multi-shower, friendly service 5, Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi | Phone: 04 3938 1048 | Mob: 0913 090 446

March 2014 Word | 125

Destination Zero Villa Song


ake the Saigon River, put a villa on its edge and then transform it into a boutique hotel. It’s a concept that’s worked elsewhere, but only now has it come to Vietnam. Once a hotel that was part of the Thao Dien Village complex in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2, Villa Song has been separated from its former blood brother, refurbished and rebranded. Reopened in December 2013, the result is something unique. Wow factor unique. Modern yet with an Indochinese touch, whitewashed and with only minimal

décor, the elegant 22-room property comes with a leafy riverfront area, daybeds and a pool out back. There’s a spa and gym, too, all making it the kind of property you’d expect to find in Thailand or Bali, but not in Vietnam. It’s a sanctuary, a home away from home. And for this country it’s a first. Seeing is believing, but experiencing is something else. So I took a weekend staycation there. Speedboat from downtown Saigon; brunch by the river; an afternoon by the pool; dinner in the aircon restaurant; night in the luxury of my room. Wine, contemporary western cuisine, Asian

favourites, sun, relaxation and indulgence, all a short drive from home. It was everything you’d expect from a luxury, hideaway staycation. Tranquil yet elegant, relaxing yet with enough promise of activity to make you leave your room. It’s early days at Villa Song and details need to be ironed out. But for a countryside, riverside retreat in urban Vietnam, this hidden gem is leading the way. — Nick Ross Villa Song is at 197/2 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Ho Chi Minh City, or online at


March 2014 Word | 127

travel A colonial–style hotel and spa offers fine Italian, Thai and Japanese dining. Manicured gardens and a view that overlook the bank of the Saigon River, this is truly someplace special.


$$$ 133A Nguyen Dinh Chinh, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 08 6256 9966

HCMC - Budget DUC VUONG HOTEL $ 195 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 6992 Free Wi–Fi offered in every room. Low prices, friendly staff, clean rooms. This modern oasis is only a few steps from the backpacker’s area.

DUNA HOTEL $ 167 Pham Ngu Lao Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 3699


$ 185/28 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 1915


$ 157 Nguyen Du Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 4648

Hoi An & Danang An Bang Beach Retreat An Bang Beach, Hoi An www.anbangbeachretreat. com


$ 18A Cua Dai, Hoi An, Tel: (0510) 386 2231


$$$ Son Tra – Dien Ngoc, Hoa Hai, Ngu Hanh Son, Danang, Tel: (0511) 396 1800


$$$$ 68 Ho Xuan Huong, Danang, Tel: (0511) 384 7888


$$$$ Hoa Hai, Ngu Hanh Son, Da Nang, Tel: (0511) 398 1234 The Hyatt Regency Danang Resort and Spa is beachfront with a stunning view of the Marble Mountains. There are 182 luxurious residences and 27 private ocean villas, each with a private pool.

128 | Word March 2014

Looking for something? Missed a previous issue? Find it all online at Only a click away.


$$$ Tam Hai Island, Thon 4, Nui Thanh, Quang Nam, Tel: (0510) 354 5105


$$$ 1 Pham Hong Thai, Hoi An, Tel: (0510) 391 4555


$$$ Lot A1 Zone Green Island, Hoa Cuong Bac, Hai Chau, Danang, Tel: (0511) 379 7777


$$$$ Truong Sa, Ngu Hanh Son, Tel: (0511) 395 8888 Located on the white sands of Bac My An beach close to both Danang and Hoi An, the welcoming and modern Pullman Danang Beach Resort is an oasis of activities and facilities for a dynamic escape. Perfect for a family holiday or a romantic beach getaway.


$$$$ Hamlet 1, Dien Duong Village, Quang Nam, Tel: (0510) 394 0000 Includes three massive swimming pools, a gourmet restaurant and elegant spa on a lotus pond. Each massive room has its own espresso machine, pre– programmed iPod and both indoor and outdoor showers.

VICTORIA HOI AN BEACH Resort and Spa Cua Dai Beach, Tel: (0510) 392 7040


$$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien Hue, Tel: (054) 369 5800 Located on Vietnam’s South Central Coast, Angsana Lang Co commands an unrivalled beach frontage of the shimmering East Sea. Traditional Vietnamese design encompasses the resort’s contemporary buildings and chic interiors.


$$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien, Hue, Tel: (054) 369 5888 lang_co Built on a crescent bay, The

Banyan Tree offers privacy and unparalleled exclusivity with all-pool villas reflecting the cultural and historical legacy of past Vietnamese dynastic periods.


$$$$ 5 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: (054) 383 7475 la–residence–


$ 48/3 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: (054) 382 6736


$$$$ Beachside Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 352 2222 destination 2.6 hectares of private beachside gardens and villa–style accommodation furnished in traditional native woods, this resort offers verandah dining, a pool bar and the signature Six Senses Spa.


$ Ninh Phuoc, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 362 2384 On a secluded promontory north of Nha Trang, this budget place is all about hammocks, the sea, the jungle and nature.


$$$$ Bai Dong, Cam Hai Dong, Cam Lam, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 398 9666


$$$ 50 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: (058) 625 6900 This four-star hotel with 154 guestrooms, all with a terrace and sea view. Complete with a pool, spa, restaurant, bar and meeting room that caters for up to 200 delegates.

SIX SENSES HIDEAWAY Ninh Van Bay $$$$ Ninh Van Bay, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 372 8222 ninh-van-bay/destination The upmarket Tatler magazine voted top hotel of 2006. The location is stunning, on a bay accessible only by boat.

SHERATON NHA TRANG HOTEL AND SPA $$$$ 26 – 28 Tran Phu, Tel: (058) 388 0000


$$$ 12–14 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: (058) 382 0999


$$ Tel: (058) 384 0501

Phong Nha Easy Tiger and Jungle Bar

$ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: (052) 367 7844 easytigerphongnha@gmail. com A hostel and street-front bar all in one. Has a pleasant, airy atmosphere in the bar and restaurant area while the 52 dorm beds — four beds to a room — go for US$8 (VND168,000) each a night.

Phan Thiet & Mui Ne Ho Khanh's Homestay ALLEZ BOO BEACH Resort and Spa

$$$$ 8 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: (062) 374 3777 This resort offers exotic Bali–style, thatched roof “honeymoon” villas, 55 spacious suites, deluxe rooms, fresh seafood, Vietnamese cuisine, Thai and international cuisine, kite surfing and parasailing.


$$$$ 54 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: (062) 384 7322


$$$$ 58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: (062) 384 7111 With charming wooden bungalows, a private beach, a swimming pool (both with attached bars) and a French restaurant, Coco Beach continues to be run by those who opened it in 1995.


$$$ 24 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Tel: (062) 384 7440

PRINCESS D’ANNAM RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Khu Hon Lan, Xa Tan Thanh, Ham Thuan Nam, Binh Thuan, Tel: (062) 368 2222


$$$$ Mui Ne Beach, Phan Thiet, Tel: (062) 381 3000 Another beachfront Victoria chain, the thatched–roof bungalows and family villas are set in exotic gardens with an infinity swimming pool, a seafood restaurant, spa, beauty salon and jacuzzi.

$$ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: 01299 597182

Pepper House

$ Tel: 01678 731560


$$$$ Bai Xep, Ong Lang, Cua Duong, Phu Quoc, Kien Giang, Tel: (077) 399 5895


$$$$ Ward 1, Duong Dong Beach, Phu Quoc, Tel: (077) 398 2988


$$ Ong Lang Beach, Phu Quoc, Tel: 0903 382207 An eco–friendly approach with a gorgeous beachside location, the bungalows are made of rammed earth, no TVs or telephones (although Wi-Fi is available). Excellent sunsets from the beach bar.

Sapa Phong Nha Farmstay

$$ Hoa Son, Cu Nam, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: (052) 367 5135 The first western-run farmstay in Phong Nha, this wellappointed travellers’ joint has a great bar and restaurant area, a swimming pool out back and views overlooking paddy fields and mountains. Rooms start at VND600,000 for a twin or double, with a family room for five costing VND1.4 million a night.

Phong Nha Lake Resort

$$ Khuong Ha, Hung Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: (052) 367 5999

Saigon - Phong Nha

$$$ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: (052) 367 7016 sgphongnhahotel@yahoo.

Thanh Dat

$ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: (052) 367 7328


$$ Ap Cua Lap, Xa Duong To, Long Beach, Phu Quoc Island, Tel: (077) 398 0998 A quaint and popular island guesthouse featuring a beachside restaurant, and includes free Wi-Fi. Motorbike rental, boat trips and tours are easily arranged. Discount rates during rainy season.


$$ Cat Cat Road, Tel: 0203 871218 The best view in town from its bar restaurant, the Cat Cat Guesthouse is paradise at very reasonable rates. The rooms have big windows, balconies, and log fireplaces.


$$ 24 Muong Hoa, Sapa, Tel: 0203 872404 For the environmentally conscientious, 25 individual lodges rest on hills overlooking valleys. Employing solar technology and a wastewater facility, the Topas also organises treks and bicycle tours.


$$$ Tel: 0203 871522

Vung Tau & Ho Tram BINH AN VILLAGE

$$$$ 1 Tran Phu, Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 335 1553


$$ Nguyen Duc Thuan, Con Dao, Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 383 0939

HO TRAM BEACH RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Tel: (064) 378 1525 This attractive property is the ideal getaway from Ho Chi Minh City. 63 uniquely

travel bungalows and villas promise a local experience complete with an excellent spa and two swimming pools.


$$$$ Ho Tram, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 378 1631 The spacious villas come with their own pool and have direct access to the beach. Extras include tennis courts, a mini supermarket, and cycling and motorbike tours.


$$ 1 Le Quy Don, Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 385 2135


$$$$ Dat Doc Beach, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 383 1222

The Grand-Ho Tram Strip Phuoc Thuan Commune, Xuyen Moc, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 378 8888 The Grand - Ho Tram Strip is Vietnam’s first large scale integrated resort and ultimately will include a 1,100-room five-star hotel, a world-class casino, restaurants, high-tech meeting space, an exclusive VIP area, as well as a variety of beachfront recreation activities. The first 541-room tower of this development opened in July 2013 with its casino including 90 live tables and 614 electronic game positions. The second 559-room tower is on track to open in 2015.

Travel Services — Hanoi BUFFALO TOURS AGENCY (BTA) 94 Ma May, Hoan Kiem Dist., Ha Noi, Tel: (04) 3828 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 timeconsuming 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: (04) 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.

HANDSPAN TRAVEL 80 Ma May, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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 wellworn destinations.

HG TRAVEL 47 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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 (

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.

INDOCHINA LAND 61 Cua Bac, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 2852 Indochina Land is a French local travel agency for expatriates and tourists who 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 vietnamsales 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.

Travel Services – Elsewhere BUFFALO TOURS AGENCY 81 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 9170 This premium travel agency helps travelers select their destinations and organize their trips. From corporate travel to small group tours, explore the world or Vietnam.

EXOTISSIMO 41, Thao Dien, Q2. Tel (08) 3519 4111, Ext. 15/17/19 A reliable and experienced travel company operating through Southeast Asia, Exotissimo brings you personalized tours across the region, many including insights into culinary customs, handicrafts and humanitarian initiatives.

MANTA SAIL TRAINING CENTRE CHUDU24 HOTEL BOOKING SERVICE 11th floor, 36 Bui Thi Xuan, District 1, HCMC Call center: 1900 5454 40 - the locally famous Vietnam hotel booking website now has an English version. The company is known for having the best prices and reliable service. If you are looking for great local deals and insightful advice then visit It has been the #1 Vietnam hotel booking service for Vietnamese people since 2008.

FLIGHT TRAVEL COMPANY 121 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 7744 Flight travel services, including global travel management, domestic and international air booking and travel insurance, to corporate companies, family and individual travelers.



108 Huynh Thuc Khang, Mui Ne, Tel: 0908 400108

TERRAVERDE 12/20 Nguyen Canh Di, Ward 4, Tan Binh District, Tel: (08) 3984 4754 If you like cycling through the Mekong Delta, trekking in the highlands, or lazing in a junk on Ha Long Bay — all while making a difference in people’s lives — then this company will suit you well.

TU TRAVEL 60 Hai Ba Trung, Can Tho City, Tel: 0713 752436

VIETNAM VESPA ADVENTURE 169A De Tham, Q1, Tel: 01222 993585 vietnamvespaadventure. com Vespa Adventure offers multi–day tours of southern and coastal Vietnam on the back of a luxury motorbike powered by clean, renewable biodiesel. English-speaking tour guides lead the way.

149/42 Le Thi Rieng, Q1, Tel: 0904 193308

SYRENA CRUISES 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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

Coco Beach Resort

58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, W. Ham Tien Phan Thiet, Vietnam +84-(0)62-3847111 / 2 / 3

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Travel Promos Promotions of the Month

Photos provided by Dalat Edensee resort

Chill Spring @Ana Mandara Villas Dalat While old colonials went to Dalat for its health benefits, these days the equally impressive mental benefits are the reason for most. And getaways like the one that Ana Mandara is offering with their Chill Spring package are a big part of that. For VND2,499,000 net per couple, you’ll spend one night in a princely Villa Room, waking up to complimentary breakfast, with 10 percent off any other food or drink purchased at the property and 20 percent discounts on spa treatments. The package is applicable through Mar. 31.

Dalat Edensee a Travellers’ Choice

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Dalat Edensee Resort & Spa has just been recognised for its efforts by the millions of reviewers whose positive vibes went into determining the winners of the 2014 Travellers’ Choice Awards. Peter H., a British traveller, summed up the reasons that Edensee was voted into the top 10 hotels for families in Vietnam by saying, “I would stay here again without hesitation and it is tremendous value for money.”

Teambuilding at Lang Co @Ansana Lang Co For meeting bookings made before Jun. 30 — for stays and bookings until Oct. 31 — Angsana has some added incentives for bringing your team to

Central Vietnam in their Two’s On Us promotion. Groups that reserve 20 room nights and a full-day meeting package qualify for two perks among the following list: choice of a 30-minute All-Terrain-Vehicle ride, archery, or water pillar paddle experience per delegate; a half-day guided meditation trip to Truc Lam Zen Monastery; a pre-dinner open bar; two 90-minute a la carte spa sessions at Angsana Spa per 20 room nights; or two 18-hole green fee waivers at the Sir Nick Faldo-designed Laguna Lang Co championship golf course per 20 room nights. Tons of other perks are involved — especially for organisers — so get cracking.


the promotions // book buff // the alchemist // the therapist // Medical buff // student eye Photo by francis roux March 2014 Word | 131


old quarter

Bars & Clubs / Cafes / Clothing & Accessories / Crafts & Furniture / Eat / Fitness & Yoga / Groceries & Liquor / Hairdressers & Salons


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.


DANCEHALL LOUNGE 15 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 4926 2177 11am to 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 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.


DJ / LATE NIGHT JOINT 25 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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.

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ELECTRO LOUNGE 2 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3292 7614 8pm to late


LATE NIGHT LOCAL / LOUNGE 32 Ma May, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0947 893232 10am to late


LATE DIVE BAR 62 Dao Duy Tu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 1943 3pm to late


IRISH PUB 4 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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.


LATIN BAR 46 Ngo Huyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0917 245155


BRITISH / INTERNATIONAL RESTOBAR 25 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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.


LATE-NIGHT GRUNGE BAR 7 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 3104

spite 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 Englishstyle 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.

ROCKSTORE LIVE MUSIC BAR 61 Ma May, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 01653 336087 Hanoi's home-made, homegrown version of Hard Rock Cafe without the stigma and the expensive prices. Nightly live music or DJing events are coupled with creative decor, a selection of Belgian Beer and a food menu.


HOLE IN THE WALL / IRISH 12A Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 2269 1107


NIGHTCLUB / LATE-NIGHT BAR 8 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 6675 7908


LATE-NIGHT BAR 2a Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 3050


LOUNGE BAR / TERRACE 47 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3935 1874 8am to midnight

Cafes 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 2009. Joma contributes 2 percent of each sale to charitable organisations.


PATISSERIE / SIMPLE CAFE 252 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3825 0216 7am to 8pm


CAFE / INTERNATIONAL 14-16 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem. (04) 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 Frenchstyled 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.


INTERNATIONAL CAFE 28 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem Housed in a two-storey converted, colonial-era villa, the concept of the third Joma is the same as at its two other cafes - fair-trade coffee, payas-you-order at the counter, and a great selection of sandwiches, bagels, salads, cakes, ice-cream and tea.

INTERNATIONAL / CAFE 16-18 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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 nosmoking 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.




COFFEE SHOP WITH A VIEW Back of 11 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3928 8153



LONG BAR 5 Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3825 0959 5pm to 2am A bit musty and jaded, de-

COFFEE/BAKERY 222 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3747 3388

SANDWICH SHOP / CAFÉ 18 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem (entrance on street behind Au

Trieu), Tel: (04) 3938 2513 7.30am to 5pm Small a cozy café hidden on the quietest of Hanoian streets. 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.


CAFÉ / CONTEMPORARY EATERY 6 Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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.

Clothing & Accessories BOO SKATESHOP

SKATESHOP 84 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3923 1147


CONTEMPORARY WESTERNSTYLE 23 Nha Chung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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.


WOMEN’S WEAR & ACCESSORIES 21 Nha Chung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 2419 The downtown store of this well-known chic boutique. Stocks women’s wear, leather bags, shoes and

handicrafts. Offers both ready-to-wear and madeto-fit clothing.


ECO-CHIC / LIFESTYLE 71 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem. A lifestyle brand that started out life in Hoi An, Metiseko’s move to the capital has seen 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.


ECO-STYLE VIETNAMESE 27 Pho Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3828 6965


AUSTRALIAN-STYLE UNISEX 5 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3828 6965 This shop’s motto “Western sizes, 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.


JEWELLERY 15 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3928 8725

Crafts & Furniture MEKONG QUILTS

HANDMADE / CHARITABLE QUILTS 58 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3824 4607; 13 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 4831 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.


ECO-CHIC 71 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3935 2645 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.


AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL 19A Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 1155 8.30am to 11pm


FRENCH BISTRO 12 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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 Parisian-styled 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.


INTERNATIONAL INDIAN 32 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3993 1399 10am to 10.30pm A slither of a joint serving up the same fare that the lakeside Foodshop 45 location in Truc Bach has become famous for. Selling an international 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.


WESTERN / VIETNAMESE 18 Hang Quat, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3928 9916 7.30am to 11.30pm


FRENCH / VIETNAMESE FUSION 48 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3825 1286 10am to 11pm daily A leafy, cobblestone courtyard with dark green castiron backed chairs greets you as you walk into this French era-built villa that houses the main section of this Indochina-styled 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.


VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL 21-23 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3828 5333 7.30am to 11pm


PAN-ITALIAN 23 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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 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.


VIETNAMESE / ETHNIC 5 Hang Tre, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 4200; 25 Bat Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 0639 10am to midnight

Little India

INDIAN / MALAY / CHINESE 32 Hang Tre, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 1859


VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL 25 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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.


IBERIAN / MEDITERANEAN 25 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3828 9052 8am to 11pm A small but eternally popular Spanish-themed 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 firstfloor terrace area with views over the cathedral. Has a second garden restaurant on Xuan Dieu.


PAN-FRENCH 11B Ngo Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3828 7207 10.30am to 2.30pm, 6pm to 10pm Clean and fresh with a finedining 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.


PAN-INDIAN 47 Lo Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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.


GOURMET VIETNAMESE 4 Ton That Thiep, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3747 8337 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 roll-yourown cha ca spring rolls and check the schedule for live traditional music.


TEX-MEX / BURGERS / INTERNATIONAL 18 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0912 223966 The successor of My Burger My, this American-run, selfstyled 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.


CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL 28 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 1979


CONTEMPORARY CAFE / CUISINE 18 Dien Bien Phu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3747 6245 Spacious, casual, energetic and beautifully designed, The KAfe serves up unfussy comfort food that aims to satisfy the modern urban diner. Preparing fresh food and drinks that show respect to natural ingredients and flavours from around the globe, this café-cum-restaurant is a popular choice for Hanoi’s metrosexual community.


CANADIAN / AUSTRALIAN RESTAURANT 42B Ma May, Hoan Kiem, Tel:(04) 3200 1289 Contemporary Australian and Canadian comfort food in a pleasant setting together with a nice bar area. Best known for their Scotch egg, poutine and burgers. Clever changing imagery on the walls.

in Hanoi to cater to vegetarians that doesn’t focus on faux meat. Features a wide range of juices and shakes in a crunchy granola backpacker atmosphere. Has 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.


FRENCH BRASSERIE/ VIETNAMESE SPECIALITIES 11B Ngo Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3828 7207 8am to 11pm


CONTEMPORARY INDIAN RESTAURANT 80 Ma May, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 0580


PAN-INDIAN 24 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3824 5359 11am to 10.30pm A long-popular, Indianfood 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.

ZENITH YOGA STUDIO II & CAFÉ 16 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3923 0253

Fitness & Yoga ZENITH YOGA

YOGA & MEDITATION 247 Au Co, Tay Ho; 16 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3923 0253 An international Yoga studio providing classes across a variety of levels and styles, including prenatal and postnatal classes, restorative yoga, pilates and tai chi. Also have a yogic shop offering incense, yoga and pilates mats, books, clothes, soaps, Himalayan products and other essential yoga equipment.

Groceries & Liquor BACCHUS CORNER


CONTEMPORARY VEGETARIAN 80 Ma May, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 0580 5.30am to 10.30pm Perhaps the only restaurant

WINE RETAILER 1C Tong Dan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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.


WINE RETAILER 59 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3928 7666 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.

Hairdressers & Salons DINH HAIR SALON

HAIR SALON 2A Cua Bac, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0987 718899

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: www.

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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hanoi L’ESPACE

hoan kiem

FRENCH CULTURAL CENTRE 24 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3936 2164

Bars & Nightclubs / Cafes / Cinemas / Clubs & Societies / Eat / Classes / Groceries & Liquor PARIS DELI g Lon

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WILD WEST THEME BAR 98B Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3942 6822


HOSTESS / LIVE MUSIC BAR 26 Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem

Zone 17

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the room and a barbecue until the early hours — there’s quite an atmosphere in this pleasant watering hole.



GAMES RESTOBAR 104 Bach Dang, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0906 210212


LATE-NIGHT GRUNGE BAR 51, To 4A Phuc Tan, Hoan Kiem



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FRENCH-STYLE CONTEMPORARY Hotel de l’Opera, 29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 6282 5555 7am to 2am La Fée Verte (or the ‘Green Fairy’) is a metaphor for the decadence of another age, an allusion to the hallucinatory effects of absinthe. The signature bar of the Hotel de l’Opéra Hanoi where, just as in Paris at the dawn of the 20th century, the making of an evening drink a lavish event of ritual and celebration. Understated lighting, a lounge atmosphere, great music and ultra-contemporary interior design combine to bring a genuine sense of occasion to after-dark in the capital.

CATWALK BAR 45 Hang Bai, Hai Ba Trung 8pm to late

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CAFÉ / BOULANGERIE 6 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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 cafécum-restaurant menu. Has a second establishment at 13 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem.

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SKYLINE LOUNGE 19th Floor, Pacific Place, 83B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3946 1901 8am to midnight


ARTS BAR / EVENT SPACE 24B Tong Dan, Hoan Kiem Located close to the Opera House, this alternative, arty bar is garnished in red and white on the outside, with warm brown and tones of blue on the inside. Creating an atmosphere merging Shanghai and San Francisco, engaging contemporary artwork lines the walls at the latest incarnation of this well-known and well-loved space.

BAMBOO BAR 17D Hong Ha, Hoan Kiem The first bar in what will eventually (hopefully) be a zone dedicated to bars and restaurants. A pool table, a square bar in the middle of


RESTO LOUNGE 2 Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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.


CONTEMPORARY / COFFEE CHAIN 5 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3936 3228; Opera House, 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem; Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem 7am to 11pm


PATISSERIE / SIMPLE CAFE 252 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3825 0216 7am to 8pm

CAFÉ / CONTEMPORARY EATERY 6 Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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.

TWITTER BEANS COFFEE 45B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3824 0760


ARTS CINEMA 22A Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3936 2648 Not a movie theatre 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.

Clubs & Societies AMERICAN CLUB

EVENT SPACE 21 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3824 1850



AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL 23L Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 7782 8.30am to 11pm


CONTEMPORARY ITALIAN Sofitel Metopole Legend Hotel, 56 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 6919 11.30am to 2.30pm and 6.30am to late (restaurant) 11am to 2am (bar)


BRAZILIAN 6A Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 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.


MEDITERRANEAN / INTERNATIONAL Hotel de l’Opera, 29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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.


ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE 11 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3824 7280 4pm to late This theme eatery combines traditional Argentinian recipes and preparation with great service in a contemporary and thoughtfully designed space over three

floors. Already with venues in Saigon and Bangkok, 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.


STEAKHOUSE / GRILL 23J Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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.


INTERNATIONAL / AUSTRALIAN Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung (4th Floor), Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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.


CONTEMPORARY FRENCH 10 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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 threecourse lunch menu.


The Promotions Promotions of the Month


ART DECO / INTERNATIONAL 58A Tran Quoc Toan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3941 3336 8am to 10pm


CLASSIC FRENCH / BUFFET Sofitel Metropole Legend, 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 6919 6am to 10am, 11.30am to 2.30pm and 6.30pm to 10.30pm


CLASSIC ITALIAN 78 Tho Nhuom, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3823 7338 11am to 11pm This old-favourite Italian uses traditional wood ovens to prepare some of the city’s finest pizzas, which range from VND80,000 to buildyour-own-skies-the-limit. Set inside a large, thoughtful space seasoned chefs also make fresh pastas, soups and cheeses — the latter often bought by other restaurants. Monthly opera nights make it well worth a visit, as does the large wine list and choice of desserts.


INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN The Opera House, 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3933 4801 11am to 2pm, 6pm to 10pm


Hanoi Daewoo Hotel Hanoi Daewoo Hotel is offering a selection of great discounts on cuisine in their restaurants this month, with deals on Japanese, Chinese and bakery fare. Edo Restaurant is offering 25 percent discounts on Japanese cuisine on Saturdays and Sundays, including a variety of special selections from Edo’s top-notch chefs. Dim Sum is the perfect group outing with Silk Road Restaurant’s ‘pay 3, get 1’ specials on dim sum buffets throughout the month. Finally, Daewoo’s deli bakery’s fresh goods are discounted 30 percent every day from 6pm until close. Hanoi Daewoo Hotel is located at 360 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Experience SingaporeStyle Chilli Crab Get a taste of Singapore with Fortuna Hotel this month. Renowned for its fragrance and tender texture, Singapore chilli crab is a favourite among seafood

lovers, distinct in its pairing with savoury red tangy sauce and deep-fried mantou bread. May Man Chinese Cuisine prepares the dish this March in perfect and authentic style. Fortuna Hotel’s May Man Chinese Cuisine is located at 6B, Lang Ha, Ba Dinh. For reservations, call (04) 3831 3333, ext. 6260/6461 or visit

The Spring Season at Café Lautrec Hotel de L’Opera is introducing a new set menu this Spring at Café Lautrec. Choose between a two and three-course set menu for VND380,000++ per person and VND480,000++ per person, respectively. For daytime dining options, impress your colleagues with a special meal in Lautrec’s cozy and private atmosphere. Enjoy Mediterranean-style set lunches with two and three-course options costing VND360,000++ per person and VND460,000++

per person, respectively. For reservations and inquiries, contact Café Lautrec at Hotel de L’Opera at (04) 6282 5555, ext. 6421

Pasta Perfection Brasserie Westlake, part of Sofitel Plaza Hanoi’s culinary collection, is starting Spring with some new pasta dishes courtesy of their resident Chef Andre. Offerings of tagliatelle, ravioli and other homemade pastas rotate on a daily basis, with a selection of sauces including carbonara, garlic cream, pesto and Bolognese featured in these dishes. And, for groups dining at Brasserie, special deals are available, including: groups of four pay for only three, and groups of six only pay for four guests. And, in celebration of International Women’s Day, a 30 percent discount is applied to all female guests on Mar. 8 and Mar. 9. Sofitel Plaza Hanoi is at 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh

PAN-ITALIAN 3 Nguyen Khac Can, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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.


CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL 3rd Floor, 59A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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

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hanoi 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-of-themonth party.

bagels. Starting in Laos in 1996, Joma moved to Hanoi in 2009 and contributes 2 percent of each sale to charitable organisations.

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Arts / Bars & Clubs / Book Shops / Cafes / Clothing / Cooking Classes / Crafts & Furniture / Cycling & Bicycle Rentals / Eat / Fitness & Yoga / Groceries, Liquor & Kitchen Products / Medical & Dental / Expat Services


CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE 29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 6282 5555 ext. 6414

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WINE RETAILER / RESTAURANT 3 Nguyen Khac Can, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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.

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ARTS STUDIO & GALLERY A place to work. A space to create. Somewhere to see something new. Work Room Four is pulling together the threads of creative endeavours across Hanoi. A collective that promotes collaboration and new ideas, exhibitions, workshops, artist studios, courses, contacts and events.

Bars & Clubs 88 LOUNGE

CONTEMPORARY WINE BAR 88 Xuan Dieu, Tay ho, Tel: (04) 3718 8029 5pm to late A wine bar with a difference, this addition to the watering hole scene in West Lake mixes contemporary design, black ceilings, subtle lighting and an international aesthetic with one of the best wine lists in town. Not surprisingly it is developing a faithful clientele. Well worth a visit.


LIVE MUSIC VENUE 27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: 01633 166170 5pm to midnight

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With a downstairs, Englishstyle 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 jimihendrix@ for more information or check out their page on Facebook.


LIQUOR LOUNGE 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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.


LAKESIDE WATERING HOLE 25 Duong Ven Ho, Tay Ho Open daily from 2pm. Located on the lakeside lane just below Xuan Dieu, this warm, quiet and friendly

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DELI / WINE SHOP 6T Ham Long, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3943 1009 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.


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SUPERMARKET 27A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem

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WINE RETAILER 96 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 2076; 65 Le Duan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3941 2789

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SUPERMARKET Ground Floor, Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 2999

Book Shops



Groceries & Liquor CITIMART



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5th Floor, Trang Tien Plaza, 24 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3824 3718 The lime green walls and bright pastel colours of Wrap ‘n Roll are just part of the theme of this homegrown, Vietnamese brand which is all about spring rolls of all types, and healthy, Hueinfluenced cuisine. Now with two restaurants in Hanoi — the second in Royal City.

ers, 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.

pub offers a selection of international and local beers, wine, cocktails and a nice view of West Lake. Serving pies and pasties from The Cart, Vietnamese food from Dieu’s next door, or delivery from nearby favorites. Nonsmoking, unpretentious, dog-friendly.


MEET-UP SPOT 100A Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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.


SPORTS BAR/GRILL 40 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho , Tel: (04) 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 burg-

NEW & SECOND-HAND BOOKS 1/28 Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3829 2322 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 second-hand fiction and nonfiction titles in stock, the shop also buys used books and offers free travel advice. Has a second shop in Tay Ho


INTERNATIONAL COFFEE HOUSE 28 Thanh Nien, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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.


ART CAFE & GALLERY 8B/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: 0912 666736 7.15am to 10pm Located on a peaceful street named after the famous painter, To Ngoc Van, La Grace is a destination for those who appreciate life’s pleasures: drinks, food, arts and sometimes live music. Clean, comfortable and friendly, the venue has a nice selection of juices and smoothies and a Vietnamese-cum-Japanese food menu put together using organic vegetables. Set lunches cost VND150,000, and the café also has strong WiFi as well as separate nonsmoking and smoking areas.


CAFE / BOULANGERIE 5 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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 nonsmoking 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.


CONTEMPORARY / COFFEE CHAIN Ground Floor, Syrena Centre, 51B Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho 7am to 11pm


COFFEE/BAKERY 43 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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


ITALIAN CAFE 36 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 0212 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 caffeinebased drinks, also does granita, teas, shakes and modern Italian fare ranging from panini and focaccia through to pizza, pasta, salads and desserts.


ART CAFÉ & ESPRESSO BAR Villa 25, 1, 3 Ha, Dang Thai, Tay Ho 8am to 6pm, Tuesday to Sunday Cloistered among the back streets of West Lake and sheltered from the noise of Xuan Dieu, TET Décor Café is a destination for those who appreciate life’s pleasures: coffee, food, art and music. Simple and unpretentious, the café has an oldfashioned warmth and rustic feel combined with unique and inspiring art installations.


SANDWICH SHOP / CAFÉ 8B, Lane 1, Au Co, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3938 2513 7.30am to 5pm Small cozy café and sandwich bar hidden away in Nghi Tam Village. 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.


CAFÉ / TAPAS BAR 44, Ngo 31, Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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!


CONTEMPORARY WESTERN-STYLE 36 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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 madeto-measure service are available at no extra cost.


WOMEN’S WEAR & ACCESSORIES 33 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6758 Stocks women’s wear, leather bags, shoes and handicrafts. This chic boutique offers both ready-to-wear and made-to-fit clothing.

Cooking Classes HIDDEN HANOI

COOKING CENTRE 147 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 VIETNAMESE COOKING CENTRE 68, Ngo 27 Xuan Dieu, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0976 848301

Crafts & Furniture LA CASA

CONTEMPORARY DESIGN Syrena Tower, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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.


HANDMADE / CHARITABLE QUILTS 9 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3926 4831 Community development nonprofit 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.

Cycling & Bicycle Rentals DON’S TAY HO

BICYCLE RENTALS 16 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 3719

Thang Long Cycling

CYCLING SHOP 152 Yen Hoa, Tay Ho, Tel: 0986 866538


CYCLING COLLECTIVE 44, Ngo 31, Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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!


AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL 98 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 5322 8.30am to 11pm


CLASSIC ITALIAN 18 Lane 50/59/17 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6317 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.


FUSION / MIDDLE-EASTERN 33 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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, Middle-Eastern twist, as well as wine, tapas, events and attractive décor.


CONTEMPORARY NORTH AMERICAN 16 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 3719 Monday to Friday, 10am to late. Weekends 8am to late This lake-facing venue with its top floor Oyster Bar 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 negro ham egg pasta served with crushed roasted garlic and manchego. Does an excellent range of imported oysters and has an extensive wine list.


ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE 99 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6991 4pm to late This theme eatery combines traditional Argentinian recipes and preparation with great service in a contemporary and thoughtfully designed space over three floors. Already with venues in Saigon and Bangkok, the es-

sence 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.


SINGAPOREAN / CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL 29 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3946 0121 Monday – Saturday 11am to 11pm. Closed on Sundays A multi-floored venue with a bar area and a refined dining space. 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. Has an extensive wine list.


CONTEMPORARY STEAK & SEAFOOD Sheraton Hotel, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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

Il Faro

ITALIAN / MEDITERRANEAN Villa 3, Cong Doan Hotel Compound, 98 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6327 1142 Hidden away in Cong Doan Hotel, this pan-Mediterranean restaurant owned by the same people behind Mediterraneo serves up an assortment of French, Spanish and Italian dishes in a pleasant, white-washed yet Italianinfluenced atmosphere.


INTERNATIONAL G2-G3 Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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.


Book Buff A Passage to India

This month Bookworm’s Truong looks at the wide selection of English language novels based on India


e get a lot of India-philes through our stores, readers who just can’t get enough of the good quality literature about the subcontinent. A lot have been introduced by authors native to India, particularly those that have won Booker Prizes like Midnight’s Children, The God of Small Things, The Inheritance of Loss and The White Tiger. Others have fallen in love between the numerous pages of A Fine Balance or A Suitable Boy. Many more were recently seduced by award winning movies such as Slumdog Millionaire and The Life of Pi. Then there are those India-philes who also like to experience India as seen through the eyes of foreign authors. Some men cut their teeth as cub scouts on Rudyard Kipling’s tales of Mowgli, the boy raised by wolves in an Indian Jungle (which have since been dumbed down by the Disney corporation in the Jungle Book animated movies). Some lived in an age when teachers still read stories to their charges and were enthralled with the exploits of Kipling’s Rikki Tickie Tavi, the snake killing mongoose, or Toomai of the Elephants. These kids probably became the juvenile India-philes wishing that they were just a little bit like Kim and desperate to traverse the plains, boat the Ganges, ride into the hill stations and adventure in the Himalayan peaks. A lot of them did this in their young adulthoods: trekking Nepal, house boating in Kashmir, ashram-ing with gurus, bathing in holy rivers and becoming temporary Hindus while romance and idealism still ran rampant in their veins. Some India-philes obsess on the stories that have their roots embedded in the British Imperial Raj, imagining themselves as sahibs and memsahibs, who were attended

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by obsequious servants called something like Gunga Din. For them the sprawling adventure-cum-romance novels of M M Kaye were addictive, particularly the first, The Far Pavilions, which is hailed as a masterpiece of storytelling and follows the 19th century exploits of an officer of the Raj who, a bit like Kim is brought up as a Hindu and who is ‘rescued’ and made British again. As an officer he falls in love with a Mogul princess and the intrigues begin. But it wasn’t all pro British Empire, and paternalistic attitudes towards India and its people. The follies of Empire are powerfully dealt with in J G Farrell’s Empire Trilogy, which were set in different parts of the Empire on which the sun never set. The novel about the British in India during the Great Mutiny of 1857, The Siege of Krishnapur, was another Booker Prize winner. It’s about the brutal and blundering attitudes of the British towards the indigenous population

favorite is the third, Towers of Silence, which deals with the decline of British influence up to the end of World War II. A follow up is Scott’s Booker prize winning novel, Staying On, which deals with those Brits who, after a lifetime in India, couldn’t face the prospect of returning to a dreary post-war England, or who just couldn’t afford to, and who settled for tenuous old age in a hill station, based on colonial Mussoorie or Darjeeling. All of Scott’s Indian works have been adapted into outstanding TV series.

Elitism The arrogant superiorities of the Raj in the lead up to Indian Independence were elegantly portrayed in E M Forster’s, A Passage to India, which is always included in the top 100 of the all time best English language novel compilations. The book, through the tale of an alleged rape of an English woman by an Indian in the 1920s, emphasizes the racial tensions and prejudices between Indians and British colonialists in the early 20th century. It’s also a brilliant movie. Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet novels are in the same vein. The first in the series, The Jewel in the Crown, almost rewrites Forster’s novel and the others follow on until India is partitioned and the British leave with their tails between their legs. My particular

For more information on Bookworm go to Besides their original store on Chau Long, 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


Thach, Dong Da

IBERIAN / MEDITERANEAN 53 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 5656 8am to 11pm


INTERNATIONAL CAFE FARE 30 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 2679 7am to 9pm Set inside a newly renovated house with a large courtyard, Kitchen is 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, smoothie-style drinks.


RESTOBAR / LIVE MUSIC 256 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6295 8215 Now on its third location, this watering hole 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 area houses a classic bar that gives a finishing touch to the friendly community environment.


SINGAPORE PERANAKAN CUISINE 185 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3715 2992 5pm to midnight This Singapore Peranakan Restaurant serves up authentic, Straits fusion fare emanating from Singapore, Malacca and Penang. Boasting the mouthwatering nasi lemak as its signature dish, all the fare here is homecooked by the owner / partner who spent five years living and studying in Singapore. This is tasty, home-cooked, well-priced fare in a pleasant but tranquil setting.


BOULANGERIE / BISTRO 5 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3933 2355 7am to 10pm Decked out in maroon, dark browns and cream, this bakery and French-style bistro is best visited in the morning when that Gallic, freshcooked aroma of bread, croissants and patisseries hits you as you walk through the door. The downstairs space is split into the bakery on one side with a small non-smoking dining space on the other. The upstairs lounge area has standard tables as well as sofa seating. Simple French and international fare is served at meal times. Has additional venues at 31 Thai Phien, Hai Ba Trung and Unimart, 8 Pham Ngoc

THBC SPANISH TAPAS BAR 44, Ngo 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 8246 Tuesday to Sunday 8am to 9.30pm. Closed Monday Spanish fare is available elsewhere in town, but this is the only place where it is authentic. Has a great selection of sandwiches, tapas and Mediterranean salads. To top off the menu are a range of drinks including enormous gin and tonics, Tinto de Verano, carajillos and Catalan-style hot chocolate.

The Pie Shop

TAKEAWAY PIES 2nd Floor (on the left), Syrena Center, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 1507 Classic Aussie and Kiwi-style savoury pies and rolls. Available in three convenient sizes (mini, regular and large). Enjoy them hot as a takeaway, or frozen to keep for later.

Expat Servies Maid in Vietnam

HOUSEKEEPING SERVICES Suite 201, 5 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 3112 Offering a licensed hire service for trained domestic and office housemaids, cooks and nannies. Courses include health checks, housekeeping, safety, basic 1st Aid, courses for external maids and household management for Vietnamese wives of foreigners.

Fitness & Yoga ELITE FITNESS

TOP-END HEALTH CENTRE 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6281 The luxury gym features topof-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.


COUNTRY CLUB 76 Yen Phu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3823 8115



40 Ngo 76 An Duong, Tay Ho, Tel: 0914 143185 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.


YOGA & MEDITATION 247 Au Co, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3923 0253 An international Yoga studio providing classes across a variety of levels and styles, including prenatal and postnatal classes, restorative yoga, pilates and tai chi. Also have a yogic shop offering incense, yoga and pilates mats, books, clothes, soaps, Himalayan products and other essential yoga equipment.

Groceries, Liquor & Kitchen Products


GROCERIES / DELI First Floor, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 4487


SUPERMARKET Second Floor, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 1791


KITCHENWARE 38 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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.

L's Place

GROCERY SHOP 3 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 9911


ORGANIC / NATURAL PRODUCTS 4 Lane 67, Alley 12, To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6674 4130 Offers food and beverage produced in Vietnam with full traceability and strict food safety controls. Meat, egg, milk, fish, veggies, honey, jams, fruit juices, liquors, coffee, water, ice cream. Also, every Saturday from 8.30am to 12.30pm, the team convert the store yard into the Tay Ho Weekend Market, a cross-cultural outdoor shopping and socialising hotspot for expats and Vietnamese.


COFFEE MACHINES 62 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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.


WINE RETAILER 28 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. Tel: (04) 3719 8337


ITALIAN DELI 24 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 1196 A great place to get all kinds of imported groceries and homemade foods. All of the breads and pastas are made in the inhouse kitchen. A great variety of fresh sauces, a limited, but wellchosen selection of wines and a fantastic deli and cheese case. Free delivery.


WINE RETAILER 27 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3718 3701 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.


MEDICAL / DENTAL CLINIC 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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.

One Dental Clinic

DENTISTS 8 Quang An, Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6168

WESTCOAST INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC DENTAL CLINIC 2nd Fl, Syrena Center, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3710 0555 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.


The Alchemist Motorbike Zen


have to admit that it’s been a while since I read, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. To be honest I don’t recall finishing it but I do recall being confused. Was I confused because I didn’t know much about motorcycles or did the book cross my path too early on my journey to ‘zendom’? It was probably a combination of both. Using the approach to motorcycle maintenance as a metaphor on how to approach life, the author, Robert Pirsig, surmises that it is our perspective that determines how we experience life. Filled with philosophical tidbits, the book’s message is as pertinent now as ever. Pirsig outlines what he views as two opposing approaches to life, classical and romantic. The classical person searches for details and logic, and has an analytical approach to life. The romantic seeks a holistic viewpoint and, as the name suggests, has a romantic approach to life. The advice that Prisig and many other New Age or spiritual teachers have is to find the middle ground between the

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By Karen Gay

two and thus ‘achieve an inner peace of mind’.

Yin and Yang There are several comparisons one may draw from the classical/romantic characteristics described by Pirsig. Right brain versus left brain, for example; Yin and Yang; and to venture further, the body and the soul as represented in the symbol of the Ouroboros. Just as none of these can exist one without the other, Pirsig determines that we cannot sacrifice the classical for the romantic and vice versa, and stresses the importance of bringing the two into harmony. I see this as the quintessential pursuit of balance in all that we do. Yet with the advancement of technology, many of us tend to spend more time in an analytical state of mind. The challenge, more than ever, is to access the creative, intuitive mind. Unplugging from our devices and tapping into our creative mind allows new perspectives to be cultivated. From

this expanded viewpoint comes a greater opportunity to find inner peace and along with it, a higher state of being.

Pay Attention Pay “continual attention”, suggests Pirsig. I suppose it is in this way he hopes we spiritualise everyday life, by being in the moment, appreciating the now. Through the observance of the present moment we come to the mindful practice of living, a concept on which, I am sure, Pirsig and Thich Nhat Hanh, the revered Zen monk, would see eye to eye. Pirsig suggests that it is our attitude towards life that determines how we approach it. As Einstein says, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Pay attention to the miracles in life. Karen Gay, A-Roaming Bodyworker, is a holistic health practitioner practicing in Hanoi. For information on the types of services provided, visit

hanoi Reservations recommended.

ba dinh


Bars & Nightclubs / Bookshops / Cafes / Clubs & Societies / Cooking Classes / Eat / Fitness & Yoga / Hairdressers & Salons / Medical & Dental

Bars & Nightclubs BARBETTA

ARTSY BAR & CAFE 34C Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3734 9134


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.


ROOFTOP LOUNGE BAR 20th Floor, Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3823 8888 ext. 5314 4pm to Midnight Sunday to Wednesday, 4pm to 2am Thursday to Saturday

Bookshops BOOK SHOP 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 3711; 1/28 Nghi


ARTS CAFÉ 56 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3734 7395


LEFTIST ARTSY CAFE 32 Dien Bien Phu, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 2247 0602 8am to 10pm With a kitsch, communistdriven 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.

Đà n


CONTEMPORARY / COFFEE CHAIN 28A Dien Bien Phu, Ba Dinh (Next to the Flag Tower) Tel: (04) 3823 3339 7am to 11pm


ARTS CAFÉ & GALLERY 14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3716 3397 A stunningly designed contemporary café and events space that screams out the words ‘modern art’. Housed in a converted colonial-era villa, a continuous flow of exhibitions, talks, experimental music and game shows make up the mix here. Great cuisine, too.

Clubs & Societies GOETHE INSTITUT

GERMAN CULTURAL CENTRE 58 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh Tel: (04) 3734 2251


COOKING CENTRE 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 0088 Hanoi Cooking Centre is a school, retail outlet and café, where you can find classes on not just Vietnamese

VIETNAMESE / ETHNIC 575 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3771 6372 10am to midnight Đinh T iên H o àn g

Hàng Bài

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Nguyên Tri Phươ ng

Bà Tr iệ u


Tam Village, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3829 2322 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 second-hand fiction and nonfiction titles in stock, the shop also buys used books and offers free travel advice. Has a second shop in Tay Ho




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Hoàng Quốc Việt

ing an international 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.

n Yê


Trần Nhân Tông

cooking, but international cuisine, held in a beautiful setting. They also offer culinary tours.


BRAZILIAN 6A Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 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.


INTERNATIONAL INDIAN 59 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 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. Sell-



RESTAURANT / CAFÉ / BAR 59 Van Mieu, Dong Da, Tel: (04) 3747 0337 Monday: 7am 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.


INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE 40 Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3734 3098 11am to 11pm


PAN-CHINESE Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3831 3333 11am to 2pm, 5.30pm to 10pm Elegant and luxurious, May Man has long been regarded as one of the best Chinese restaurants in Hanoi. Showcasing a selection of authentic Chinese culinary delights and Yum Cha at its finest, with seven private dining rooms this is a place to get dressed up for. Has extensive a la carte menus, dim sum menus and set menus.

PAN-CHINESE Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 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.


FRENCH FLAIR 2/2c Van Phuc, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 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.

Fitness & Yoga N SHAPE FITNESS

MID-RANGE FITNESS CENTRE 5th Floor, 71 Nguyen Chi Thanh, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 6266 0495

Hairdressers & Salons DINH HAIR SALON

HAIR SALON 2A Cua Bac, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0987 718899


MEDICAL 298 I Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3843 0748 vietnammedicalpractice. com 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.

Do you think you should be listed on these pages? If so, simply email us on and we’ll see what we can do. We can’t promise but we’ll try our best

March 2014 Word | 141


The Therapist

This month Douglas Holwerda, American trained and licensed mental health counsellor, answers the issue of relationships affected by a time limit. Dear Douglas, I’m 29 and I’ve been dating a guy for the past four months whose contract is up in July, when he will move back to Canada, where he is from. We have agreed to keep the relationship focused on the present. I am actually surprised at how much I like him and how good it feels to have a boyfriend after two-and-a-half years of being single. I thought it has been going well until Valentine’s Day. I made him a special dinner, gave him a small gift and wrote him a card which shared my feelings for him. He, on the other hand, didn’t do a thing. Then, as a response to my disappointment, he told me that it was destined to be a temporary relationship and that I shouldn’t get too attached. I felt like I couldn’t explain myself and it got so awkward I asked him to leave. My feelings are hurt and my head is spinning. I like this guy, but somehow I expected something different. I am so confused. What should I do now? — Mazzy (not my real name) Dear Mazzy, I suspect if you asked 10 people what you should do, you would get several different

142 | Word March 2014

answers. No one can answer that question for you. I feel like your situation and question are quite relevant for many people who live abroad or date someone who is from another place and plan to stay for a while. When people know that there is an end date to the time they will be somewhere it creates a different dynamic in the way that they create relationships. Without foreseeing an endpoint, a person is likely to assume that finding a partner to be a good match, with emotional connection and compatibility, will have implications on their future together. Relationships tend to develop towards (or away from) a continued desire to be together. Knowledge and understanding, trust and connection, mutuality and shared decision-making are part of what determines how we are relating to one another. The time people have together helps them to answer a number of good questions. Are we a good match? Do I continue to desire this relationship? Is our relationship sustainable? For many people this is an underlying assumption and helps them determine how open and trusting they can be.

So what is the process when we enter a relationship that we believe will be ‘for now’ and have no sustainable future? One way is to become involved in the same way that one would as if the relationship won’t end — using denial for as long as possible — and then be willing to deal with the emotional pain of losing someone you have become close to. Another way is to restrict the ways in which one allows oneself to feel close, or to open up to another. It is an agreement to care, but not too much. It is predicated on the assumption that we can control the way we feel and can manage emotional connection, and possibly intimacy. ‘For now’ has its upside. It allows us to keep living in the present and experiencing life as we live it. But, the danger is that ‘for now’ can become a way to think and function and we lose a deeper sense of who we are and how to have what we want. The choice is yours. Good luck! — Douglas Do you have a question you would like Douglas’s help with? You can email him at Personal details will not be printed

hanoi (04) 3577 1100



Bars & Clubs / Cafes / Eat / Medical & Dental / Recreation

Bars & Clubs CAMA ATK

MUSIC & ARTS BAR 73 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.


CZECH MICROBREWERY 1A Tang Bat Ho, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3972 5088


MODERN BEER HALL 2A Tran Thanh Tong, Hai Ba Trung


LEFTIST ARTSY CAFE 152D Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung 8am to 10pm With a kitsch, communistdriven 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.



FRENCH 63 Ngo Hue, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3976 1667 11am to 2pm, 6pm to 10pm. Closed Monday A cozy recently opened space to taste fine French food and excellent wines

without draining your wallet. Using high quality fresh ingredients, the cuisine is simple including anything from a traditional omelette or steak tartare-frites to coq au vin or foie gras. Has two floors and a patio.


SUSHI RESTAURANT 288 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3974 5945

CAFÉ 129

MEXICAN/COMFORT FOOD 129 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3821 5342 7.30am to 9.30pm

French Grill JW Marriott, 8 Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Tel: (04) 3833 5588 / facebook. com/frenchgrill Simplistic yet contemporary design creates the ambience at this top-end, classy restaurant in the JW Marriott. Serves up Vietnamese cuisine, classic French fare and a range of items off the grill. A great wine selection and private dining options make up the elegant mix.


VIETNAMESE / ETHNIC 54 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3796 2647 10am to midnight

166 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3978 1386 11.30am to 1.30pm, 5pm to 10.30pm, closed Sunday


CONTEMPORARY FRENCH 19 Ngo Van So, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 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.



Trung, Tel: (04) 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.


CONTEMPORARY ASIAN / VIETNAMESE 55A Nguyen Du, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3943 9342

Medical & Dental FRENCH HOSPITAL



SWIMMING POOL Landmark 72 Tower, Pham Hung, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 3772 3801


ICE SKATING Royal City, 72A-74 Nguyen Trai, Thanh Xuan, Tel: 0936 469799


LASER TAG 77 Hong Mai, Bach Mai, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3627 7106

Do you think you should be listed on these pages? If so, simply email us on and we’ll see what we can do. We can’t promise but we’ll try our best

Electronics A Dong Photo Co 128 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem . Tel: 3826 0732

Alpha Laptop 95D Ly Nam De, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3747 4418

Fuong May Anh 5 Trang Thi, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3213 1568

Nguyen Cau 1 Ba Trieu, Hoan Kiem

DK Computer 29 Ngoc Kha, Ba Dinh Tel: 3772 4772

Hi-Tech USA 23 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3938 6261

Pico Plaza 35 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem

Professional Computer Care and IT Services No 3, Alley 8, Hoa Lu, Hai Ba Trung. Tel: 0983 011081

Vietsad 34B Ly Nam De, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3747 8771

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 KOTO ON VAN MIEU

RESTAURANT / CAFÉ / BAR 59 Van Mieu, Dong Da, Tel: (04) 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.


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


March 2014 Word | 143


Medical Buff Five Tips to Improve Your Health

By Dr. Brian McNaull


t is the beginning of a New (Lunar) Year, which means whether warranted or not we are all more aware of our health and fitness. Gyms and sports shops are the first to capitalize on this shared anxiety, but if you can (briskly) walk past the ‘10 percent off a lifetime membership’ or the pair of trainers that can tell you how far you need to run to burn off the doughnut you’ve just scoffed, there are some alternatives to improve your health. Here are five tips to get you started.

break, don’t push yourself too hard at first. Your body is a great natural thermometer, try to understand what it is telling you, it will be the first to shout out if it is being over-exerted.

1) Set attainable goals.

4) Turn off your phone, tablet or laptop. While staying active is beneficial,

Whatever you are doing, be it exercise or reducing your intake of fatty foods, you are more likely to stick to your regime with small reachable steps. Keep a record of your accomplishments so you can see your progress, which in turn will motivate you even more. But make sure whatever you do, you set goals. They just need to be realistic.

2) Listen to your body.

If exercise is new to you or you are returning after a long

144 | Word March 2014

3) Listen to the law.

Well, specifically, try and follow the ban on smoking in public places that was introduced in Vietnam last year. If you can cut out the sneaky cigarette in the toilet cubicle at work it is one step closer to not needing the cigarette before and after bed.

so is rest. Make room for downtime. You might tell yourself that checking your emails while on the sofa means your body is resting. However your head needs time off, too. An hour off in the evening will help you unwind, but don’t stop there. A good night’s sleep means no bleeping interference. Switch off. Stop the 3G and the auto-sync working. Put your phone on silent. You need a break.

5) Don’t be afraid to share! You will be surprised by how many of us feel the same way about our bodies and health. Talk to friends and family, they might have the same goals and the journey is much easier if you have support. If you are not comfortable speaking to people close to you, consider consulting a professional counselor. Don’t rely on Google, which can only inflame anxiety. Good luck for a healthier new year. Receive more tips for improving your health by attending the Health for Life event hosted by Family Medical Practice and California Fitness and Yoga at the Royal City Centuryon Club (L2 Tower R3, Royal City, Hanoi) on Sat Mar. 29 from 2pm to 6pm. Attend to receive healthy benefits, gift bags and a chance to win in our prize draw. Family Medical Practice is located in Vietnam’s major cities. For information or assistance call (04) 3843 0748 (Hanoi), (08) 3822 7848 (Ho Chi Minh City) or (0511) 3582 699 (Danang). Alternatively, click on



Business Groups / Corporate Services / Insurance / International Schools / Language Schools / Management Training / Market Research / Relocation & tracking agents / Serviced Apartments Business Groups

keychains, card holders and menu covers.

ICHAM Sofitel Plaza, Ground floor, 1 Thanh nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 2229 The Chamber has the main purpose of undertaking activities to support commercial exchanges with Italy and to assist economic agents, as well as to foster the developmew nt 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.

CCIFV Sofitel Plaza, No 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 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.

EUROCHAM G/F, Sofitel Plaza Hanoi, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 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.

SINGAPORE BUSINESS ASSOCIATION VIETNAM Business Center, Ground Floor, Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha, Dong Da, Tel: (04) 4772 0833

Corporate Services ENDO 79, Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3783 2085 Endo offers garment manufacturing for local resorts, restaurants, hotels, golf courses, travel agencies and apparel shops. They also manufacture giftware from polos and hoodies to

Insurance AIG Suite 5-01, Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3936 1455

IF CONSULTING CCIFV/Eurocham, Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 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.

International Schools BRITISH VIETNAM INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (BVIS) H3-H4, Hoa Lan, Vincom Village, Long Bien, Tel: (04) 3946 0435

CONCORDIA INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HANOI CMC Building, Duy Tan, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 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 , Ba Dinh With schooling available for students studying at the elementary through to 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.

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF VIETNAM 6-7 Nguyen Cong Thai, Dai Kim Urban Area, Dinh Cong,

Hoang Mai, Tel: 3540 9183 The International School of Vietnam (ISV) is a not-forprofit, Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12 school serving the international and local community of Hanoi. ISV accepts students of any nationality aged 3 and up. ISV offers an international education experience. Highly qualified and experienced international educators are supported by a 21st-century campus with the latest in educational technology plus excellent resources for learning. Class sizes are small.

Foundation Programme. A strong curriculum combines the best aspects of the Singaporean, Australian and Vietnamese curricula, all taught by qualified teachers. Runs various co-curricula activities and prepares students for internationally recognised qualifications: iPSLE, Cambridge IGCSE & AS/A Level, GAC

UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (UNIS) Ciputra International Village, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3758 1551

Unit 9 – 10, Shophouse CT17, Ciputra, Tel: (04) 3743 0360 3rd Floor, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 7243 C5-C11, 1st Floor, The Manor Building, My Dinh, Me Tri New Urban, Tu Liem District, Tel: +84 4 3794 0209 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: (04) 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 (SIS) 2D Van Phuc Diplomatic Compound, 46 Van Bao, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3726 1601; Block C3, Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel: 3758 2664; Dilmah Building, Duy Tan, Cau Giay, Tel: 3795 1036 www, SIS provides international education for students from Primary up to University

Hanoi Resco Building, 521 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3726 1460 A leading international provider of skills training and professional staff development, RMIT offers both short and long-term 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.

Suite 821, Vietnam Trade Hotel, 14 Tran Binh Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3941 0805 With over 150 offices around the world, Santa Fe offers local and international moving, pet transportation, relocation services including home search, orientation, cultural training, immigration services and records management. For more information email info@santaferelo.

Market Research

Serviced Apartments




Language Schools APOLLO 67 Le Van Huu, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3943 2051 Established in 1994, Apollo offers high-quality and costeffective 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: (04) 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.

LANGUAGE LINK VIETNAM 62 Yen Phu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3927 3399 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.

Management Training G&H MANAGEMENT SERVICES HKC Building, Suite 701, 285 Doi Can, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3762 3805

142 Le Duan, Dong Da, Tel: (04) 3518 6696

Relocation & tracking agents ALLIED PICKFORDS Room 302, 12A Ho Xuan Huong, Tel: (04) 3943 1511 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 Deport Area (ICD), Pham Hung, My Dinh, Tu Liem, Tel: (04) 3768 5882 Asian Tigers Group is committed to its mission of moving households without disruption ti family life. They also offer pre-move advice regarding customs and shipping.

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.

FRASER SUITES 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 8877 hanoi.frasershospitality. com

SEDONA SUITES No. 96 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 0888

SOMERSET GRAND HANOI 49, Hai Ba Trung, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3934 2342 Internationally-managed accommodation with personalised services and extensive facilities. 185 fully furnished apartments, car park, 24hour reception and central location.

JVK INDOCHINA MOVERS 6 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04)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.

Do you think you should be listed on these pages? If so, simply email us on and we’ll see what we can do. We can’t promise but we’ll try our best


March 2014 Word | 145


Student Eye The Field Trip


n a couple of weeks, we’ll be sitting through the tortuous bus ride to a miserable-yet-still-exciting hotel in Ba Be, or on the bunk bed train to Sapa. If we’re lucky, we’ll even be flying to Hue and Hoi An, to tailor our own clothes and enjoy a place few of us have seen. We will have spent the previous night struggling to fall asleep, after checking our luggage again and again, ticking through the checklist, looking for the snacks buried amongst the clothes. We will have been extra careful not to catch a cold, because it’s the worst time to be sick — the worst time to get in any trouble. It’s the night before the field trip. Like all the other things they teach at school, field trips are also meant to have an educational value. When we visit museums, we’re given questions to answer or short essays to write about the trip, sat down in a courtyard and told to sketch the old architecture we came to see. And then there are those field trip journals, which have to be filled up every evening with reflections on the day’s experience. Despite the good intentions of our teachers, not many of us put much effort into these attempts to impose meaning. We race through the exercises, filling up the spaces, jotting down brief answers just to be done with them. We’re too excited to be studying, and what we really wait for — the highlight of these field trips — are those few hours of free time that we’re given, the dark quiet hours when our lights are supposed to be out.

Finding True Experience For teens these days, whose lives are dependent on laptops and smart phones, field trips allow us to experience things not with our phone cameras or through Facebook, but through our own eyes, skin and nose. They teach us how to have real fun. To many teens, sitting around a campfire with a guitar, having a mud fight in a rice field or whispering to a friend on a nearby bed seems unusual, strange even. But once we let go of these mechanical habits, we become creative with our play: making a ‘boysonly nightclub’ by jumping to music in the dark, waving our flashlights and pretending they’re disco lights. Or after lights-out, knocking on the walls, finding joy in merely communicating our

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existence to the other side. Field trips give us a chance to realise that off-pitch singing filled with giggles is sometimes better than our iPods, scary stories around a campfire sometimes better than a movie, a treasure hunt sometimes better than Grand Theft Auto.

Although the meaning they get may be completely different from that which the teachers and school staff expect, to students, field trips are educational. They aren’t simply trips, but lessons as valuable as mathematics or history, if not more so. — Tae Jun Park

Ho Chi Minh City business buff // coffee cup // top eats // body and temple // medical buff // a world of good // food promos Photo by yves schiepek



Accounting & Auditing / Advertising & Mktg / Business Consulting / Business Groups / Corporate Gifts & Services / Event Management / Expat Services / Housing & Real Estate / Insurance / Interior Design / Investment & Finance / Language Schools / Legal Services / Management Training / Market Research / Photography Services / Public Relations / Recruitment & HR / Relocation Agents / Serviced Apartments Accounting & Auditing GLOBALEYE FINANCIAL ADVISORS 4th Floor, Unit 17, Saigon Center, 65 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 0220

PRICEWATERHOUSE COOPERS Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 0796

Advertising & Mktg BBDO VIETNAM 74/3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 6662

COWAN — STRATEGIC BRAND DESIGN 16th Floor, Bitexco Office Tower, 19–25 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 3064


SAIGON-EXPAT TAX SERVICES 6th Floor, Me Linh Point Tower, 2 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: 0938 220 255

TMF GROUP Unit 501, 5th Floor, Saigon Trade Center, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 2262

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AB TOWER, 23rd Floor, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 9005

GREY GROUP 404 Vo Van Tan, Q3, Tel: (08) 3929 1450

INDUSTRIAL DESIGN ASIA Duong So 12, Tran Nao, Q2, Tel: (08) 3740 6388

MARKETEERS VIETNAM FPT Tower, 153 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3933 3493

OGILVY & MATHER 12th Floor, Centec Tower, 72–74, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q13, Tel: (08) 3821 9529

PHIBIOUS 7th Floor, 11bis Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 3933 3377 An independent, creative– led communications company helps brands connect and grow across Southeast Asia. Clients include The Coca–Cola Company, Asia Pacific Breweries, Piaggio and UPI.

PURPLE ASIA 9 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 6277 7050


Floor 14, Citilight Tower, 45

Vo Thi Sau, Q1, Tel: (08) 3820 0169 Long-established branding consultancy and marketing agency. The Red team creates and shapes unique marketing strategies that add impact to international and local brands from Vietnam to Australia.

RIVER ORCHID 10th Floor HDTC Building, 36 Bui Thi Xuan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 2538

SAATCHI & SAATCHI 26 Tran Cao Van, Q3, Tel: (08) 3824 1207 Ranked among the top 100 global advertising agencies, S&S has worked with over half of the 50 best–known brands in the world, providing advertisement planning, direct marketing, marketing consulting and graphic design.



4th Floor, Saigon Finance Center, 9 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 5315

4th Floor, YOCO Building, 41 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 7305 0905

Business Consulting BDG VIETNAM 11th Floor, Capital Place, 6 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 7858

ROUSE 6th Floor, Abacus Tower, 58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 6770



161A/1 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3911 0965

33 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3911 1481

38 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2, Tel: 0904 410884



28th Floor, Saigon Trade Center, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 9100

164 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 2205


35A-1-2 Grandview, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 3402 31st Floor, Saigon Trade Centre, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Tel: (08) 3911 0454

Villa 15, Duong 58, Phu Nhuan, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0916 352573



Business Groups AMCHAM New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 3562. 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.

AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE 2nd Floor, Eximland Building, 179EF Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3, Tel: (08) 3832 9912 A licensed foreign business group established to represent and promote the interests of Australian businesses operating in Vietnam, AusCham coordinates topical breakfast seminars, social networking functions, governmental relations meetings and charity events.

BRITISH BUSINESS GROUP OF VIETNAM 25 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 8430


Room 305, New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 3754 Open to all nationalities, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce aims to create an effective network of business associates together and to facilitate discussion forums about business in Vietnam.

NORDCHAM 17th Floor, Petroland Tower, 12 Tan Trao, Q7, Tel: (08) 5416 0922

PHILIPPINES BUSINESS GROUP VIETNAM 40/4 Pham Viet Chanh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3518 0045

SINGAPORE BUSINESS GROUP 6th Floor, Unit 601, Tran Quy Building, 57 Le Thi Hong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3046

SWISS BUSINESS ASSOCIATION 42 Giang Van Minh, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6996

Corporate Gifts & Services AMBRIJ VIETNAM LTD 14-16-18 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8364

ENDO 406/16 Cong Hoa, Tan Binh, Tel: (08) 6292 2045 Endo offers garment manufacturing for local resorts, restaurants, hotels, golf courses, travel agencies and apparel shops. They also manufacture giftware from polos and hoodies to keychains, card holders and menu covers.

Event Management EVECOO Tel: 0988 297990

Housing & Real Estate

ONE WORLD TOURISM CO, LTD 268/3 Nguyen Thai Binh, Tan Binh, Tel: (08) 6299 0880



12th Floor, Me Linh Point Tower, 2 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 6125

46D Vuon Lai, Tan Phu, Tel: (08) 3812 6901 Offers everything from canapés and cocktails, buffets and set menus to barbeques and wedding catering. Combines excellent food, event management and exclusive venues to make any kind of event a success.

Expat Services CHUM’S HOUSE

121/21 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 7237


32-34 Ngo Duc Ke, Suite 701, Q1, Tel: 01659 419916


Unit 601 48 Hoa Su, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 2226 8855


vn for info.

63 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6048

SANTA FE RELOCATION SERVICES 8FL, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 3933 0065 With over 150 offices around the world, Santa Fe offers local and international moving, pet transportation, relocation services including home search, orientation, cultural training, immigration services and records management. Email

JONES LANG LASALLE 26th Foor, Saigon Trade Center, 37 Ton Duc Thang Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 3968 Jones Lang LaSalle (NYSE:JLL) is a professional services and investment management firm offering specialized real estate services to clients seeking increased value by owning, occupying and investing in real estate. As a truly global firm, they work and collaborate closely with their colleagues across Asia Pacific and around the world to bring best-inclass services, people, and systems to their clients in Vietnam. Their offices in Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Noi offer: Tenant Representation, Office Leasing, Retail Services, Valuation and Advisory, Research and Consulting, Investment Sales and Acquisitions, Residential Agency, Industrial Agency, Project and Development Services, Property Asset Management Services, Hotel Investment and Consultancy Services, Integrated Facilities Management.


Business Buff The Science of Marriage


ocial scientists have been studying marriage and marriage happiness for over a hundred years. It is often forgotten that the idea of marriage for anything but economic or political reasons is still relatively new in the world, and still rare in many places, particularly in developing nations. So if you’re thinking of popping the question, read on and get the more interesting research findings regarding marriage and how it affects our happiness.

The Happy Marriage Based on one 20-year study from the UK, marriage initially leads to a two-year boost in happiness after which time the couples’ happiness levels return to what they were prior to the engagement. The happiest people in their marriages tend to have been (a) married less than five years (b) Do not have children (c) Have college degrees and (d) the husband is employed.

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A happy marriage is like having an additional US$105,000 (VND2.2 billion) a year in income in terms of similar life satisfaction. Having a child can greatly affect a marriage, and the research shows that after baby number one arrives, 67 percent of couples experience a drop in marriage satisfaction. This unhappiness tends to peak around pre-school age and then happiness tends to increase as the youngest child grows up. One common thread in the happiest couples are those that share new experiences together such as dining at new restaurants, travelling, cooking or listening to live music. In the bedroom, couples who share intimacy two to three times a week are the happiest, while people are 55 percent more likely to be happy with intimacy twice a week and 44 percent once a week. The most important factor to satisfaction in a marriage ranked higher than sex,

By Shane Dillon

romance and passion. It is the idea that there is a true feeling of friendship with their partners. In one study, this was crucial in over 70 percent of satisfied couples. And finally couples that experience a ratio of 5:1 positive interactions to negative ones are the happiest. While for those couples that eventually end in divorce, the ratio falls to 0.8:1. Happy couples also report spending on average five hours a week together talking and sharing each other’s company. Also couples who talk about previous happy experiences together tend to maintain happiness in their relationship longer. Many of these things may be something that husbands and wives know intuitively, but now there’s science to back up their hunches. Shane is happily married with one child and studies economics. He can be contacted at

HCMC Cinemas Showcasing the latest Hollywood blockbusters and 3D cinematic sensations, chains such as Megastar Media, Lotte and Galaxy Cinema offer the most up-to-date and modern cinema-going experiences in Saigon. For those partial to more esoteric and independent flicks, smaller outlets such as Cinebox and Idecaf carry little known Vietnamese and European efforts.

Cinebox 240 Ba Thang Hai, Q10 Tel: (08) 3862 2425

Lotte Cinema 13th Floor, Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 38227897 3rd Floor, Lotte Mart, 469 Nguyen Huu Tho, Q7 Tel: (08) 3775 2521

Galaxy Cinema 230 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3920 6688 116 Nguyen Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 5235 246 Nguyen Hong Dao, Tan Binh Tel: (08) 3849 4567

IDECAF 31 Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 5451

Megastar Cinema Level 5, Crescent Mall, Nguyen Van Linh, Phu My Hung, Q7 Tel: (08) 5412 2222 Level 10, CT Plaza, 60A Truong Son, Tan Binh Tel: (08) 6297 1981 Level 5, Parkson Paragon, 3 Nguyen Luong Bang, Phu My Hung, Q7 Tel: (08) 5416 0088

COLLIERS INTERNATIONAL VIETNAM Bitexco Office Building, 7th Floor, 19-25 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 5665

CREATION International Plaza Building, Room 16B8, 343 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 7553

CUSHMAN & WAKEFIELD VIETNAM Unit 16, 14th Floor, Vincom Center, 72 Le Thanh Ton Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 7968

EASY SAIGON Tel: 0932 112694 The Easy Saigon website is a useful real estate website helping expats to find apartments in Ho Chi Minh City. Enquiries via their website are welcome.

KNIGHT FRANK Suite A, level 7, VTP Office Building, 8 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 6777 Founded in 1896, Knight Frank has grown to become the world’s largest privately owned global property agency and consultancy. In Vietnam, they offer commercial, residential and residential development services.

NAMHOUSE CORPORATION 48A Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0989 007700 Expert in providing rental properties, constructions and interior decoration, especially in District 2. Supports professional services and aftersales.

SAVILLS VIETNAM LTD Fideco Tower, 18th Floor, 81-85 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 9205 Savills Vietnam is a leading property service provider in Vietnam since 1995, providing research, advisory

services, residential sales, commercial leasing, asset management, retail advisory, valuation, investment advisory and other services.

BLUE CROSS VIETNAM SNAP 32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4282 Owners of Snap Café in District 2, Snap offers a web– based real estate search service with information on rental properties all around the city, as well as an advisory service for those averse to wading into the internet depths for their needs.

SOTHEBY’S INTERNATIONAL REALTY Suite 1905, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 2000

THE NEST 369/6 Do Xuan Hop, Phuoc Long B, Q9, Tel: 0903 198901 Well–known property search and real estate agency with a useful website listing properties available for rent and sale, orientated towards expats. Website is in English, French and Spanish.

Insurance BAOVIET INSURANCE 49D Phan Dang Luu, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3510 1661

IF CONSULTING IFC Building, 3rd Floor, 1A Me Linh Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7362 Independent advisors that represent top reputable medical insurers provide you with the best suitable medical cover for individual, family or company needs.

8th Floor, River View Tower, 7A Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 9908 Blue Cross Vietnam is part of the Pacific Cross group of companies with over 60 years’ experience in providing health and travel insurance to people and businesses who call Asia home. Their reputation for transparent, honest and reliable service means they are the strength behind your insurance. To make sure you are getting the most out of your insurance contact them for a free quote.

Hawk) Thinking about upgrading a bathroom? Perhaps a new colour in the living room? Maybe even a new wood floor? Professional Painting and Remodeling can help with these and many other projects. Provide international standards of quality as well as professional and timely service at reasonable rates. Call today to schedule a free evaluation.


Investment & Finance


DRAGON CAPITAL 1901 Me Linh Point, 2 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 9355



27 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0907 ethicalinvestmentgroup.

Tel: 0934 874271



66/11 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3, Tel: (08) 3820 0623

15th Floor, Kumho Asiana Plaza, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3812 5125

PRUDENTIAL 25th F, Saigon Trade Centre, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 1660

TENZING PACIFIC SERVICES VIETNAM Huu Nghi Building, 35 Le Loi, Q1 An independent agency representing local and international insurance companies in Southeast Asia. A trusted partner for health, employee benefits and life insurance, the team at Tenzing has over 30 years’ experience providing insurance advice.

Interior Design PROFESSIONAL PAINTING AND REMODELING Tel: 0936 330869 (Darren

L’ATELIER 33/19 Quoc Huong, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0908 381492

VIETNAMESE LANGUAGE GARDEN 135/10 Nguyen Cuu Van, Binh Thanh, Tel: 0916 670 771

45 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 0168 Offers courses ranging from basic conversational Vietnamese to upper elementary, intermediate and advanced levels, as well as special courses including Vietnamese literature, composition or a 6-hour survival crash course.

VNC VIETNAMESE LANGUAGE TRAINING & TRANSLATION 37/54 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6678 0914



17th Floor, Sun Wah Tower, 115 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 9930 A leading investment fund management company with extensive experience in the emerging Vietnam market. Manages the Vietnam Opportunity Fund (VOF), which is a US$839 million investment fund.

189 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 9800

Language Schools ILA VIETNAM 146 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 3521 8788 A foreign-owned education and training company that offers a range of educational programmes, such as English-language tuition, university pathway programmes, corporate training, teacher training and overseas study consultancy and placement

Legal Services ALLENS Suite 605, Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 1717

BAKER & MCKENZIE 12th Floor, Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 5585

FRASERS LAW COMPANY Unit 1501, 15th Floor, The Metropolitan, 235 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 2733

GIDE LOYRETTE NOUEL A.A.R.P.I. 18 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8599

March 2014 Word | 151


Coffee Cup Urban Station Coffee


he idea of just wandering off to a cafe with a notebook and writing and seeing where that takes me for awhile is just bliss” — J.K. Rowling Sometimes it feels like cafes are a dime a dozen in Ho Chi Minh City — when you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. It’s hard to differentiate. Some copy the concept of already established brands, others are simple affairs. Yet it’s not always like this — there are a growing number of exceptions. And I was able to visit one that stood out in its style. An up-and-coming franchise, Urban Station entices its customers with vibrant colours and inexpensive prices. Before you even walk in, the first thing you see is the bright red, Londonstyle telephone door. As you cross the threshold, the word that comes to mind is ‘cosy’ — the architecture certainly reflects that. Imagine what a quaint subway or underground station might look like if it were half as small and painted electric blue. The white tables and chairs have a metallic sheen to them and the sides of the main room are curved, forming a comfortable cubby that makes you want to curl up with a book and a blanket. The theme is modern without being lifeless and certainly has a refreshing style. J.K. Rowling may even be happy here.

Photos by Francis Xavier

A Specific Market The clientele at the time were mostly older office workers, but Brenda, who’s from the UK, and who bought the franchise last July, says the target demographic are teens. When asked why teenagers would rather come here than elsewhere, Brenda says, “We have drinks like other places... the prices are good, the location is comfortable. It’s not as ‘intimidating’ as, say, Coffee Bean.” The more expensive cafes can certainly be ‘intimidating’, given that some drinks go for as much as VND100,000,

152 | Word March 2014

something the average teenager might struggle with. Yet at Urban Station costs are more reasonable, as the most you’ll pay for a drink is VND35,000. The drink list is extensive, ranging from ice blends, to espressos, even Italian soda and sorbets. The particular Urban Station I visited, one of 15 in Ho Chi Minh City, was a little hard to find. But that lends itself to its charm. A little gem nestled in the rough. — Thiago Nunes Urban Station Coffee is all over, go to to find one close

HCMC INDOCHINE COUNSEL Unit 4A2, 4th Floor, Han Nam Building, 65 Nguyen Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 9640

fessional team of photographers, stylists. shooting administrators, casting managers and retouchers. They make photos on various topics, from business to sport.

MAYER BROWN JSM 17th Floor, Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8860

Management Training EMBERS ASIA


38/ 6G Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 6292 9288

Level 5, 273-273B Ben Chuong Duong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3838 5517 Providing public relations and communications support to international and local firms operating in Vietnam. Specialising in corporate communications, media relations, corporate social responsibility and media and issues management and training.



80-82 Phan Xich Long, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 3822 4728


6th Floor, Yoco Office Building, 41 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 9919 A 100 percent foreign–invested company focusing on management services and consulting with in–house programmes to meet the particular requirements of its clients. Offers teambuilding and academic–based business and management programmes.

XAGE CONSULTANCY 35A-1-2 Grandview, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 3402; 31st Floor, Saigon Trade Centre, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3911 0454

Market Research CIMIGO 9 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3822 7727 An independent marketing and brand research specialist operating in the Asia Pacific region. Services include auditing and optimising research programmes, knowledge management, developing marketing plans and business models and assessing market opportunities.

INDOCHINA RESEARCH 3rd Floor, 140 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 6965

MEKONG RESEARCH 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 6258 6314


7th Floor, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 0462

Recruitment & HR ADECCO VIETNAM 11th floor, Empire Tower, 26 - 28 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 3430 Adecco is the world leader in human resources solutions. Established in Vietnam in 2011, Adecco offers a wide array of global workforce solutions and specialises in finance & legal, sales, marketing & events, IT, engineering & technical, and office.

HR2B/TALENT RECRUITMENT JSC 1st Floor, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 6288 3888

G.A. CONSULTANTS VIETNAM CO., LTD. Ho Chi Minh Office: Room 2B-2C, 2nd Floor, 180 Pasteur, District 1, HCMC. Ha Noi Office: Room 603, 6th Floor, 535 Kim Ma Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi. VieclamBank is a brand of G.A. Consultants Vietnam - a Human Resources Consulting company with 100% Japan investment. Established in 2006 in Vietnam, the company focuses on recruiting executive and senior level, providing Vietnamese and Japanese candidates with experience studying abroad or working in foreign companies. A quick, effective and competitive service suitable for many types of business.

CentrePoint Building, Level 4, 106 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhan, Tel: (08) 3997 8088




58 Vo Van Tan, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 6631 With over 11 years in the marketplace, TNS Vietnam offers all three major market research services — customisation, access panels and media monitoring — to a range of local and international clients.

Photography Services DRAGON IMAGES Crescent Plaza, 105 Ton Dat Tien, Q7, Tel: 01643 172 660 Dragon Images production studio is a pro-

8th Floor, Resco Building, 94-96 Nguyen Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3911 0950

130 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 5000

OPUS VIETNAM 5th Floor Vitic Building. 6B Nguyen Thanh Y, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 8209

VIETNAMWORKS.COM 130 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 5404 1373

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HCMC Relocation Agents

Kids Classes & Sports

AGS FOUR WINDS (VIETNAM) 5th Floor, Lafayette De Saigon, 8A Phung Khac Khoan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 0071 A global leader in international removals and relocations, with 130 offices globally, we can move your property to and from any location.

DANCENTER 53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4490 Children and teenagers can enjoy jazz, ballet, hip-hop, funk, belly dancing, salsa and in multi-level classes at this modern dance studio.

HELENE KLING OIL PAINTING 189/C1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0903 955780


ALLIED PICKFORDS 12th floor, Miss Ao Dai Building, 21 Nguyen Trung Ngan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 1220 With more than 800 offices in over 45 countries, Allied Pickfords is one of the worldwide leaders in removal services. In Vietnam, Allied also provides tailored relocation services.

79/7 Pham Thai Buong, Q7; 27/3 Ha Huy Tap, Q7, Tel: 0908 460267

MINH NGUYEN PIANO BOUTIQUE 94A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 7691

PERFORMING ARTS ACADEMY OF SAIGON 19A Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 9679 Has a range of music-based programmes teaching kids in anything from guitar and drums to piano, clarinet and saxophone. Also provides musical assessment and a mixture of private and group classes.

PIANO CLASSES Tel: 01225 636682

SAIGON MOVEMENT Tel: 0987 027 722

SAIGON SEAL TEAM 55 Nguyen Dang Giai, An Phu, Q2, Tel: 0905 098 279

SAIGON PONY CLUB 38, Lane 42, Le Van Thinh, Q2, Tel: 0913 733360

SAIGON SPORTS ACADEMY 28 Tran Nao, Q2, Tel: (08) 7303 1100 International coaches provide training in soccer, basketball, tennis and swimming for children aged four to 16 years and private lessons for children and adults. Youth soccer league Sundays from 2pm to 6pm in District 7.

TAE KWON DO BP Compound, 720K Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0903 918 149

VINSPACE 6 Le Van Mien, Q2, Tel: 0907 729 846

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ASIAN TIGERS MOBILITY Unit 9.3, Floor 9, Ree Tower, 9 Doan Van Bo, Ward 12, District 4, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3 826 7799 www.asiantigers-mobility. com Asian Tigers is one of the largest regional move management specialists, with services including door-todoor moving, housing and school searches, local and office moves and pet relocations.

CROWN RELOCATIONS 2nd Floor Coteccons Office Tower, 236/6 Dien Bien Phu, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3840 4237

JVK INTERNATIONAL MOVERS 1st Floor, Saigon Port Building, 3 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Tel: (08) 3826 7655 Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is a leader in the field.

LOGICAL MOVES — VIETNAM 396/4 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Tel: (08) 3941 5322 Specialists in international, local, domestic and office moves for household goods and personal effects

swimming pool, a gym, sauna and steam room, as well as two on-site restaurants.


Unit 601 48 Hoa SU, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 2226 8855


SAIGON EXPRESS AGENCY LIMITED 7th Floor, 6-8 Doan Van Bo, Q4, Tel: (08) 3826 8850

Serviced Apartments CAM LY HOTEL & APARTMENT

37 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0932 737700


through our global partner network. Experts in exporting used scooters that do not have documentation.

656 Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3, Tel: (08) 3993 1587 camlyapartment@hcm.


12 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 1111

INTERCONTINENTAL ASIANA SAIGON RESIDENCES Crn. of Nguyen Du & Le Van Huu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 8888 Adjacent to the InterContinental Asiana Saigon you’ll find 260 luxurious and spacious residential suites. The residences offer panoramic views of the downtown area.

NORFOLK MANSION 17–19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 6111 Offers a wide choice of luxurious and modern furnished accommodation with attentive and discreet service. Facilities include an outdoor

Tel: 0906 912730 restaurants-ben-style Healthy, calorie-counted sandwich and deli fare

Chez Guido



65 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9666


No 01 – Street No.104-BTT, Quarter 3, Binh Trung Tay, Q2. T: 0968 293388 / (08) 3742 5678 Diamond Island Luxury Residences offers 68 fullyfurnished apartments, from two to four-bedroom units with spectacular panoramic views of the city. Each apartment comes with a fullyequipped kitchen, en-suite bathrooms, separate work and living areas, a balcony, modern amenities, elegant furnishings and carefully chosen trimmings.

Ben Style

53 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 4111 Over four Saigon Riverbank hectares, Riverside Apartments combines a resort lifestyle with the amenities of a fully serviced-apartment. Located minutes from downtown by high-speed boat shuttle.



127 Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (08) 3823 2288 Sherwood Residence is a luxurious serviced apartment property where modern living spaces meet prime location, comfort and class, with five–star facilities and service.

Tel: (08) 3898 3747 Vietnamese, international fare, pizza, pasta, sandwiches

Domino’s Pizza Tel: (08) 3939 3030 Pizzas, wings, desserts Delivery service website for local restaurants

el gato negro Tel: (08) 6660 1577 Californian-style burritos

HUNGRYPANDA.VN Delivery service website for local restaurants

KFC Tel: (08) 3848 9999 Fried chicken, chicken burgers, sides


SOMERSET SERVICED RESIDENCES 8A Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8899; 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9197; 628C Hanoi Highway, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 6255 9922 Somerset Chancellor Court, Somerset Ho Chi Minh City and Somerset Vista Ho Chi Minh City serviced residences combine the space and privacy of an apartment with the services of a top-rated hotel. They come with separate living and dining areas, as well as a fully equipped kitchen where guests can prepare a meal for themselves, their family and friends.

Tel: (08) 3910 0000 Burgers, fried chicken, sides

Pizza Hut (PHD) Tel: (08) 3838 8388 Pizzas, wings, pasta, appetizers

Scoozi Tel: (08) 3823 5795 Pizzas, pasta, salad, antipasti, desserts

Taco Bich Homemade Mexican fare

willy woo’s Tel: (08) 3941 5433 US-style chicken and waffles


THE LANDMARK 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2098 65 serviced apartments located in the city centre overlooking the river. Also has a comprehensive health club for tenants and members, a squash court and a 16th floor swimming pool. Delivery service website for local restaurants

Do you think you should be listed on these pages? If so, simply email us on and we’ll see what we can do. We can’t promise but we’ll try our best



DISTRICT 1 Downtown Pham Ngu Lao

Bars & Clubs / Cafes & Ice-Cream / Clothing & Accessories / Cooking Classes / Crafts & Furniture / Eat / Fitness, Dance & Yoga / Galleries / Groceries, Liquor & Wine / Hairdressers / Medical & Dental / Salons & Spas


DANCE / NIGHTCLUB 2B-C-D Thi Sach, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6124


MODERN BEER HALL 92 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1 Tel: 0945 858034


RESTOBAR / NIGHTCLUB 95 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: 0909 028293


MINIMALIST CAFÉ BAR 9 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: 0907 609202. Reminiscent of a New York or London underground watering hole, this is a great place to enjoy Mediterranean influenced breakfasts, lunch by day and a variety of DJ sets by night.


HOTEL LOUNGE BAR Saigon Sofitel Plaza, 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555

LIVE MUSIC / BAR 8 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 7699


LOUNGE BAR Hem 36, Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: 0908 033982


EXPAT / SPORTS BAR 58 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 2853 Subtle lighting, a pleasant ambience, a pool table and darts, this skinny but pleasant expat bar has the feel of a drinking man's pub. A place to have fun, drink beer or spirits and get in with the party mood. Known for its 15 shooter challenge.


TECHNO / DANCE / HIP-HOP 3A Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: 0919 206461

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District 4


CUBAN / MUSIC BAR 6 Cao Ba Quat, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 5180 Cuban-themed bar and restaurant selling an exciting range of Spanish and Cuban cuisine, as well as a few German favourites such as curry wurst and Wiener schnitzel. Nightly live music and regular salsa classes.


FRENCH / JAPANESE RESTOBAR 44 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 5994 A seductive watering whole in a great corner location thanks to its old Saigon glamour, Japanese-Vietnamese fusion cuisine, imported beer, classic cocktails, and entertaining music events / DJ sets.


SPORTS BAR 115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1 Tel: (08) 6251 9898


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EXPAT BAR 54 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2644 Expats keep returning to this smoky dive bar, largely due to its amicable service, brewsky-downing atmosphere, and spirited dart games. A mainstay in the local darts league.

District 3


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LIVE MUSIC / WESTERN RESTOBAR Kumho Asiana Plaza, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 7595

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TOP-END INTERNATIONAL Park Hyatt, 2 Lam Son, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1234 International décor blends seamlessly with local themes. Style joins forces with a wide-ranging drink menu and hip dance tunes to create one of the most tasteful if pricier bars in Saigon.

COCKTAILS / ROOFTOP 41 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 6838 Broma’s medieval rooftopcocktail lounge conglomeration is a magnet for the city’s weirdest and coolest events/random moments. A sophisticated cocktail menu and quite possibly the best lamb burger in town. Check out their bun bo Hueinspired cocktail.

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59 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3122 If you’re in need of dense, soulful atmosphere and maybe an artisanal cocktail on your way back from wherever, Last Call is your stop — and fast becoming that of the similarly inclined. Great happy hour deals for early evening starters.

Le Rendez-Vous de Saigon

FRENCH BISTRO / WINE BAR 9A Ngo Van Nam, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 0396 With such a meaningful name - the meeting point - this wine bistro boasts a relaxed, friendly ambience, perfect for unwinding with an after work drink or to enjoy time with friends. Reasonably priced, has a sharing French-cuisinestyle menu and an extensive

old and new world wine list.


ROOFTOP LOUNGE BAR Level 23, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2828


LOUNGE BAR / NIGHT CLUB Level 23, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2828


PROGRESSIVE / MAINSTREAM 2 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 2496


IRISH BAR / INTERNATIONAL 74/A3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 3198 This Irish-themed sports

bar with classic pub décor is widely appreciated for its excellent international fare, large whiskey selection and upstairs pool table. Great pizzas. And for a real treat, check out their zesty rolls.


SPANISH RESTOBAR / LIVE MUSIC 97 Hai Ba Trung , Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6024 Legs of Iberian ham hang from the ceiling in the downstairs bar of this multistorey homage to everything Spanish. Regular first-floor live music and excellent eats makes it a mainstay for the wining, dining and tapaseating crowd.


AUSTRALIAN / SPORTS 46-48 Ton That Thiep, Q1,

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HCMC Tel: (08) 3821 0796 From its roots as the famed Café Latin, Phatty’s has become the go-to, Aussie beer-guzzling / sports viewing emporium, showing everything from international cricket to Aussie rules and serving an array of pub grub favourites.


HOTEL MUSIC BAR 9th floor, Caravelle Hotel, 1923 Lam Som Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999


DANISH / INTERNATIONAL 5B Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 4738

subtle lighting and loungestyle atmosphere makes this a great drinking and dining venue


WINE BAR / TAPAS The Square, 74/17 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 6299 1315 1 Duong 2, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 9059 This downtown wine shop’s terrace is a popular after work drinking spot, where one can select from 10 wines by the glass, a range of imported beer, and an excellent tapas menu. Alternatively, buy from the great selection of wines in the shop and pay a small corkage.


MUSIC / LOUNGE BAR The Square, 74/7D Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 2888 A veteran fixture of Saigon’s nightlife scene, Vasco’s offers a softly lit downstairs patio, and an upstairs Blue Room chill out lounge area with regular live music.


DANCE/HIP HOP 26 Ho Huan Nghiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2262 com


INTERNATIONAL Landmark Building, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9698 Headed up by well-known chef Andy Ertle, Vesper Bar is a sophisticated yet downto-earth wine and cocktail bar. Serving creative, Japanese-influenced tapas to supplement the drinks, the

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MUSIC & SPORTS BAR 70 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: 0907 890623 A small but popular bar with all the shenanigans of the nightlife scene set to a backdrop of classic 60s, 70s and 80s tunes. Has a darts area out back and is a popular space for watching the live English Premier League.


CONTEMPORARY WINE BAR 38 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 3968 With a huge selection of self-imported wines from Bordeaux, this classy but contemporary venue is a wine bar downstairs, and a lounge on the first floor. Has a French-Asian menu paired to all the wines, with a huge selection of the good stuff sold by the glass.


CONTEMPORARY WINE BAR 13 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 7827 A two-storey, contemporarydesigned wine bar serving 30 wines by the glass, all at reasonable prices. Has an excellent food menu to complement the old and new world wines.


CAFÉ / LOUNGE BAR 71-75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8468 This iconic upmarket downtown bar is known for its cocktails and wine list. It serves a range of international and Vietnamese dishes to be enjoyed in its richly decorated interior. Regular DJ nights.


LOUNGE BAR & RESTOBAR 19-21 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 7375 Creative cocktails, an extensive wine list, subtle lighting, international tapas and a laid-back, lightbox-lit ambience are all part of the offering at the all-new ZanZBar on the river end of Dong Khoi. Popular with a businessy, international crowd.

Cafes & Ice-Cream


EUROPEAN / MEDITERRANEAN 23 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 2772 Set in a shophouse-style building, Au Parc offers a chic colonial space to indulge in sensibly priced European and Mediterranean food complemented with

good coffee and excellent desserts.


ICE CREAM PARLOUR / CAFE 26-28 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 2707


ICE CREAM PARLOUR 1 Truong Dinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 7308 3131


MIDDLE EASTERN 59 Nguyen Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 5130 This secluded Middle Eastern coffeehouse has both cozy indoor and rooftop seating to admire views of the city. With such a prime downtown location, expect prices to match.


ITALIAN / CONTEMPORARY CAFE 11-13 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 5946 Conveniently located near the Caravelle Hotel, this casual cafe serves one of the best lattes in town with a mid-range Italian menu including panini and other typical fare.


INTERNATIONAL Metropolitan Building, 235 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3508 7285 Large portioned coffee lures customers into the flagship store of this international café chain. The contemporary, yet generic atmosphere is bolstered by comfortable seating and a menu to satisfy any sweet tooth.


FRENCH 5 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9117 Known for it’s fantastic street-side seating opposite the park on Le Duan and savoury crepes, this hang out café will impress you with its location as much as its food. French-style wooden decor compliments the spacious, whitewashed contemporary interior of L’Usine. A simple, creative menu combines with reasonably priced coffee, and a fashion store and art gallery out back. Second location on Le Loi.


Magonn The Cafe

ICE CREAM PARLOUR / CAFE 29-31 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 1633


INTERNATIONAL 80 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 3704


ICE CREAM PARLOUR / CAFE 133 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9339


ICE CREAM PARLOUR / CAFE 11 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 6683 5899; 20 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0066


INTERNATIONAL / MEDITERRANEAN 39-41 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 6799 Kita’s colonial-era building and bistro-style decor will have you thinking you’ve been transported to the streets of Europe. Pair your experience with an espresso-based Italian coffee from their Mediterranean-based menu. Excellent sandwiches and salads.


CONTEMPORARY / FRENCH First Floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6674 9565; 70B Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 0703

109 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9672 Nested above Magonn boutique, is a bright and inviting space for everything from drinks to bites. Coming with a crowd? The attic is a quaint little spot to fit a cozy gathering.

M2C Cafe 44B Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2495 At M2C (Modern Meets Culture), everything gets a touch of modernity. From the rich menu of Vietnamese food and drinks, shows immense local culture, done with a modern flare. Be seen here at one of the latest popular joint in town.

The Morning Cafe 2nd Floor, 36 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: 0938 383330 Have a book to read? Pick a bright spot by the window and get snuggly with the comfy upholstery in this second-floor cafe. With a cup of well-brewed coffee, accompanied by some background jazz, it is an afternoon well-spent.


CONTEMPORARY CAFE 158 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4990 Second-storey coffeehouse

offers a quiet atmosphere to chill out or read from their book-nook collection. Comfortable couch seating, open table space and a cappuccino costs VND40,000.




INTERNATIONAL 5 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3911 5599 This two-storey building with a mezzanine level boasts an industrial style complex with block walls, steel structures and huge glass windows. The mid-range menu offers over 40 options from appetizers to desserts.

Clothing & Accessories ANUPA ECO LUXE

LEATHER & JEWELLERY 9 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2394 Monday to Sunday, 9am to 8pm This centrally located unique boutique has been converted into an eco-boutique which exclusively retails the complete Anupa leather and semi-precious jewellery range as well as other unique eco brands such as bamboo eyewear, pendant scarves and cushion covers.


ADULT & CHILDREN’S WEAR Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 7592


DESIGN & JEWELLERY 35 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8162 9.30am to 8pm This retail-cum-gallery space specialises in contemporary and exclusive handcrafted jewellery made from handpicked gemstones and raw materials. Exhibitions and gallery talks run every month.


CASUAL & EVENING WEAR 85 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4004 Contemporary ranges of casual and evening wear fused with Asian designs. The apparel includes floral dresses, jean skirts, printed tees and street-style bags. Enjoy a cup of coffee at their café after.

First floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6674 9565 Exclusive labels, elegant and sophisticated clothing and casual high-quality cottons are stocked at this boutique/café. Lifestyle accessories include shoes, homewares, knickknacks, cameras, stationery and a range of vintage bicycles.


BAGS & ACCESSORIES 77-79 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 3277; 71 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 2701 9am to 9pm



SOUVENIRS 38 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4408 8am to 9.30pm


FAIR TRADE CRAFTS 35-37 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 2210 3110


TAILOR-MADE SHOES 171 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 5267


FACTORY OUTLET 43 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 8019 9am to 9pm This designer fashion outlet sells a variety of clothing and shoes produced in Vietnam. All designs are brand new, delivered from the factory weekly and sold at factory outlet prices.


A Ta ste of Authenticity

NIK-NAKS / CRAFTS 2 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 9459 8am to 8pm


EMBROIDERED PRODUCTS 83 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 9079; 42 Le Loi, Q1. (08) 3824 7456




ASIAN / FRENCH BOUTIQUE 1st Floor, Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1; 75 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 4088


HAND-MADE QUILTS 1st Floor, 68 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 2210 3110



TAILORS 39 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 4556

HOME FURNISHINGS 2nd Floor, Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 6115



VESPA PRODUCTS / HELMETS Unit 66, Saigon Square, 7-9A Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Stocks a wide range of Vespa-inspired tidbits and memorabilia including t-shirts, riding gear, Italian helmets, Respro face masks, DVDs, books, bags, magazines, posters and more. Rental scooters and bikes available.

EUROPEAN-STYLE FURNITURE 3B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 6657 0788

Cooking Classes SAIGON COOKING CLASSES BY HOA TUC 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8485 Learn to cook quality Vietnamese cuisine with local specialist Hoa Tuc. The three-hour lesson, conducted by an English-speaking Vietnamese chef, includes a trip around Ben Thanh Market to gather fresh ingredients for the class.

VIETNAM COOKERY CENTRE Suite 45, 4th Floor, 26 Ly Tu Trong, Q1,Tel: (08) 3827 0349


VIETNAM-THEMED CLOTHING 10 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 8755 Quality, original, Vietnam-themed tees are the showpiece at this airy French-run store. Designs are inspired by anything from the Vietnamese flag, local telecom wires and motorbikes to creative, Siddharta-style imagery.


Crafts & Furniture BELLAVITA

HIGH-END FURNITURE Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 4201


DANISH FURNITURE 68-70 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 6604; The Crescent Mall, 101 Ton Dat Tien, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 7357


FURNITURE & ACCESSORIES 13 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1803 9am to 8pm

36 Tong Huu Dinh Street, Thao Dien Ward, District 2, HCMC Tel: 08 6253 2828 |Fax: 08 6253 2888 Email: Delivery service available daily, from 11:00 AM - 10:00 PM

87 Nguyen Hue St., District 1, HCMC Tel: (84.8) 3821 8181 Email: Monday to Friday: 11.00 - 14.00, and 18.00 - 22.00 Saturday and Sunday: 11.30 - 22.00


Top Eats The Secret Garden


e careful or you’ll miss it. The alley that leads to the rooftop restaurant is easily passed. It’s narrow, lined with small eateries and full of parked motorbikes. Walk towards the end. On the left side, you’ll find a doorway leading into an apartment building. Above the entrance is the restaurant sign. Go up the steps. Pass the signs that promise the lift is coming soon. Look down the hallways — you’ll be reminded that this is a residential building. Continue up the stairs, four flights. At the top, you’ll find The Secret Garden. A respite from the street noise and pollution, here you can find home-cooked Vietnamese cuisine, including steamed snakehead. A small garden, potted plants and several trellises holding vines divide the dining area into sections. There might be a caged rooster. The atmosphere is calm, even with the flashing lights of nearby Vincom Center B. Covers of songs from the early 1980s play over the sound system. A koi fish is painted on the wall,

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and multi-coloured curtains hang by the only portion with a ceiling, where you may want to sit if it looks like rain.

The Cuisine Most of the dishes are a combination of sweet, sour and salty, though some are more balanced than others. The stir-fried corn with green onion and shrimp, and the grilled lemongrass pork rolls are especially good appetisers. Pork bits are mixed with the corn and add a little more saltiness, and the slightly pickled carrots served on the side complement the savoury pork rolls. Fish is another strength. The potbraised basa catfish is sweet without being excessively sugary, and the veggies and red snapper hotpot is excellent, especially if you like vegetables. A small hotpot with two or three appetisers serves two nicely, and if you look confused when the hotpot arrives, someone will help, or will just cook the fish and vegetables in the broth for you and dish out the first helping. Wine and beer are also served, and

when I visited, a glass of the December wine-of-the-month Frontera Sauvignon Blanc went well with the dishes. The penny-wort with soy milk isn’t bad either. It may or may not be as healthy as the internet blogs suggest, but it sure tastes healthy. You might be reminded of a freshly-mowed lawn — it’s earthy and grassy, and it’s served with a side of simple syrup. However, if you drink it along with one of the sweeter dishes, such as the braised chicken with fish sauce, you may not wish to add any syrup at all. If your sweet tooth still isn’t satisfied after the appetisers and entrees, you can opt for one of the iced desserts. The seaweed and nuts is deceptive as it consists more of grapes and other fruit than nuts, but that probably makes it even better. On Facebook The Secret Garden is listed as ‘Home-Cooked Vietnamese Restaurant & Tea House’. Just don’t forget to check the weather forecast before you go. — Heather Momyer The Secret Garden is at 158 bis Pasteur, Q1, Ho Chi Minh City


VIETNAMESE BBQ Top Floor, 29 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 1631


INTERNATIONAL 27 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 38238424 The downtown outlet of one of Vietnam’s most successful restaurant chains, Al Fresco’s offers international, Australian-influenced comfort fare in a pleasant environment with efficient, friendly service to match. Excellent delivery service.


NORTH INDIAN / CHINESE INDIAN 17/10 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1372 33 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel : (08) 3744 4177 Long-running, award-winning Indian restaurant famed for its excellent kebabs, creamy curries and Chinese-Indian fare.

cuisine using fresh products bought early morning at the market by Bibi himself. Delicious meats and fish dishes together with the famous tarte tatin.


AMERICAN 13 Phan Van Dat, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 2055 Creatively named burgers, tasty Vietnamese-styled sandwiches, spiced up cocktails, mains and more, all served up with a Californian edge at this small but popular twostorey eatery close to the river.


JAPANESE / SOUTH AMERICAN The Courtyard, 74/3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8793 The work of former Nobu chef Martin Brito, the Japanese-South American fusion cuisine at Blanchy Street is among the tastiest and most unusual in the city. All complemented by fresh, contemporary decor and a leafy terrace out front.


EUROPEAN / CAFÉ 23 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 2772 Consistently tasty European café fare — think deli-style sandwiches, salads and mezzes, plus coffees and juices — served at a popular park-side Le Duan location with classic cream and green-tiled décor.

INDIAN MALAY 57-59 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: 0903 863114


GERMAN / RESTOBAR Level 1, Kumho Link, 9 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 4206

Bun Cha Ha Noi

BUN CHA 26/1A Le Thanh Ton, Q1

BAHDJA 87-89-91 Ho Tung Mau, Q1, Tel: 0122 763 1261 Located just beneath Au Lac Saigon Hotel, Bahdja is Saigon’s first ever Algerian restaurant, serving authentic, multi-ethnic Berber North African and Mediterranean cuisine cooked and served in a traditional Algerian style. Best experienced in a group, this small but pleasant restaurant’s soothing ambience is matched by the owners’ genuine hospitality and complimented by an array of tasty tajines and couscous-based dishes. Make sure to try the excellent Moroccan wine, too.


VIETNAMESE / BARBECUE 135A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3340


CONTEMPORARY ITALIAN Ground Floor, Kumho Plaza, Cnr. Nguyen Du and Le Van Huu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 9099


LEBANESE The Courtyard, 74/13D Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2188

BIBI@ALIBI 5A Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6257 The legendary chef Bibi’s newest creation, a convivial restaurant serving Mediterranean

CENTRAL PARC BANH MI 7 Bis Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8549 Part of the Au Parc group, this miniscule, New York-themed sandwich shop does creative lunchtime fare at excellent prices — think baguettes, wraps, focaccia and bagels. Excellent delivery service.


NEW YORK-ITALIAN 11 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 3329 New York-style Italian restaurant offering a range of tasty and affordable antipasti, pastas, and pizzas. Friendly staff and rustic bare brick walls adorned with Hollywood film legends make for a relaxed and attractive setting.


STEAKHOUSE / INTERNATIONAL 117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 5368 Although a hotel restaurant, the enticing range of US and Australian steaks plus great grill and comfort food menu in this contemporary eatery make for a quality bite. Decentsized steaks start at VND390,000.


JAPANESE NOODLES 29 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 0008


AMERICAN 52 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 4327 The comfort food on offer at this striking

HCMC US-style diner ranges from meatball baguettes to chilli burgers, pizzas, blackened chicken salads and a selection of more expensive international mains.


ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE 5D Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1879 A pleasant downtown eatery mixing an Argentinian steakhouse theme with pork, chicken, lamb, homemade spicy sausage, skewers, burger dishes and everything that can come off a grill.


AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL Ground Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 6066 Mixing hearty pub grub such as burgers, salads and prime rib steaks with a sports bar atmosphere, this Australian chain also offers regular promotions and a 4pm to 7pm happy hour. Excellent outdoor terrace.


SUSHI / SASHIMI 4 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 0326


NORTH / SOUTH INDIAN 38 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4786 The ubiquitous mint sauce is thick and creamy and the curries are both authentic and smoky. Ganesh is rated by many as the best Indian in town. Very friendly service.


CLASSIC THAI 34 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8554


ROAST KITCHEN CANTONESE Unit 15, 1/F, Kumho Asiana Saigon, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 8181


AIRCON STREETFOOD 122 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 7901 Take a New York-style industrial atmosphere, add to it a range of grilled dishes, typical of the barbecue fare you’d find on the street, and then add in three types of rice and a range of organic products. Close to Ben Thanh Market, this is com binh dan


CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE The Square, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1676 Highly rated restaurant with stunning outdoor terrace. Specialities include pink pomelo squid and crab salad, mustard leaf prawn rolls, fishcake wraps and barbecue chicken in ginger, onions and a lime leaf marinade.


PAN-VIETNAMESE 7 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1101

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INTERNATIONAL FUSION The Square, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 0931 Although a chain restaurant, the international offerings here are consistently good and creative. Excellent service, an attractive outdoor terrace area, and a good kids menu. Check out their pepper steaks.


CANTONESE Renaissance Riverside Hotel, 8–15 Ton Duc Thang. Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0033 Offers authentic, gourmet Cantonese cuisine in an elegant, classic setting, with striking décor and the bonus of views over the Saigon River. Dishes range from VND80,000 to VND900,000.


CONTEMPORARY THAI FUSION Level 1, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4423 Modern Thai fusion restaurant serving Thai classics alongside tom yam cappuccinos and more. Koh Thai’s creative cocktails merge Thai flavours with local seasonal fruits and herbs.

LE BANH MI 12 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 1036


FRENCH/MEDITERRANEAN Sofitel Saigon Plaza, 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555 Exuding a southern Gallic atmosphere with its tiled veranda, pastel-coloured walls and ficus trees, this traditional French restaurant has quarterly Michelin star promotions and an award winning pastry team.


FRENCH / MEDITERRANEAN 48 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 2229 8882 This intimate, open-kitchened restaurant bathed in white specialises in a mix of contemporary Mediterranean and French cuisine. Has a small but well thought out menu, backed up with an extensive wine list.


TRADITIONAL ITALIAN 17B Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1080 This downtown hideaway with rustic–style decorative trawls features fresh, light regional cuisine from across Italy. Try the carpaccio misto di pesce and agnello d’antico. Also specializes in excellent wood-fired pizzas.

(08) 3520 9999


mosque with Islamic-style white dome décor and comfortable, cushioned seating. Authentically Turkish cuisine with a sprinkling of western fare thrown in.



PAN-AMERICAN / TEX-MEX 50 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1311

HUE CUISINE 136/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 38 250261; 116 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 9996


VILLA DINING / STREETFOOD 160 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7131


INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN Ground floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999


CLASSIC FRENCH / EUROPEAN FUSION 40 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9263 A sociable and popular French bistro serving up 100 percent organic, traditional Gallic staples such as French onion soup, escargot, and moules marinières, plus European fusion dishes, and competitively priced world wines.


CLASSIC FRENCH 31 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8465 Unpretentious but tasty French fare in a relaxed garden setting within the French cultural centre. The robust, bistro-style cuisine is very well-priced, and excellent, cheap house wine is served by the carafe.


TRATTORIA-STYLE ITALIAN 88 Ho Tung Mau, Ben Nghe, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 3691 A contemporary trattoria in the heart of Saigon, serving home-cooked Italian cuisine with New York flair in a beautifully designed space with high ceilings. The menu features both traditional antipasti and substantial main courses.


PAN-VIETNAMESE 31 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1330


INTERNATIONAL BUFFET Ground Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, Crn. of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1, Tel:

FUSION CUISINE / LOUNGE BAR Top Floor, 15-17-19 Nguyen An Ninh, Q1 A contemporary and attractive rooftop restaurant with a lounge bar just 50m from Ben Thanh Market. Features a glass shell modeled in the image of the Eiffel Tower, a jungle-like atmosphere and views over central Saigon.


JAPANESE NOODLES 18 Thai Van Lung, Q1; SD04, Lo H29-2, KP My Phat, Phu My Hung, Q7


CONTEMPORARY ITALIAN Ground Floor, Park Hyatt Hotel, 2 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1234 Unpretentious, casual but elegant restaurant with a tried–and–tested Italian menu backed up by a compact wine list from regions like Umbria, Toscana and Veneto. Regular specials and impressive open kitchens.


SPANISH / EUROPEAN 97 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6924 Legs of Iberian ham hang in the downstairs bar at this multi-story bodega serving Spanish-styled tapas. Attractively decorated in warm reds, yellows and oranges, Pacharan’s food menu is traditionally Spanish.


TURKISH / INTERNATIONAL 25 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 3677 Sumptuous, Turkish-themed restaurant close to the

PAN-ITALIAN 36 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel: (08) 6253 2828 Opening out into a large, leafy terracotta-tiled garden area, this trattoria-style Italian restaurant serves up quality homemade pasta, risotto, gnocchi, excellent pizza and grilled dishes. Another branch downtoan at 87 Nguyen Hue, Q1.


EUROPEAN/ASIAN FUSION 8/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9838 This quirky but highly rated Italian / Japanese fusion pizza parlour serves wacky yet delicious pies such as tuna curry pizza and calamari seaweed pizza, as well as more traditional varieties.


CLASSIC VIETNAMESE / BISTRO 21 Han Thuyen, Q1 Part of the group that includes Au Parc and Refinery, Propaganda serves up classic Vietnamese cuisine in an atmosphere of barebrick walls interposed with Propaganda Art murals and prints.


TRADITIONAL VIETNAMESE 17A Ngo Van Nam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 1515 With its leafy roof garden and chic interior, Quan Bui offers a wide selection of Vietnamese cuisine which is cooked in their open kitchen.

8–15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0033 Offers versatile all–day dining of international quality, with the bonus of being able to watch the action on the river sidewalk. Features western, Asian and Vietnamese buffets.


INTERNATIONAL / BUFFET Level 1, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2828


KOREAN 33 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4297


PAN-CHINESE / CANTONESE Norfolk Mansion, 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 2221 Featuring over 200 dishes and 50 kinds of dim sum prepared by chefs from Hong Kong, Shang Palace has nine private dining rooms and a main dining area seating over 300. Good for events.


INTERNATIONAL / MEDITERRANEAN 9A Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 4798 Simple, unpretentious Greek-influenced, international cuisine ranging from the zucchini carpaccio through to the saganiki, a range of dips, mousaka, osso buco and lamb chop skewers. Also has an excellent upstairs cigar room.


NORTH / SOUTH INDIAN 74/6 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3930 4839


FRENCH BISTRO / INTERNATIONAL The Square, 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 0509 A slightly retro feel pervades this popular French-style bistro and wine bar which once housed the city’s opium refinery. The cuisine runs from creative salads through to Mediterranean influenced mains.


INTERNATIONAL / FINE DINING 3rd floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999


INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN Renaissance Riverside,

PAN-VIETNAMESE 29-31 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9244 Once a hotel for Indian dignitaries visiting old Saigon, the elegant and atmospheric Temple Club is one of the city’s best-preserved buildings. Serving quality Vietnamese and Indochine cuisine at reasonable prices.


INTERNATIONAL 43 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 0094


JAPANESE BARBECUE 15A6 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2527



HCMC Landmark Building, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9698 Headed up by well-known chef Andy Ertle, Vesper Bar is a sophisticated yet downto-earth wine and cocktail bar. Serving creative, Japanese-influenced tapas to supplement the drinks, the subtle lighting and loungestyle atmosphere makes this a great drinking and dining venue


MIDDLE-EASTERN 71/7 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3822 The deep colours, Arabic décor and cushioned outdoor terrace area give this popular venue its unique touch. The food is good, too, taking in tabouleh, houmous, falafel and mutabbal, shwarmas and more. Sells authentic shisha.



GENERAL FITNESS 2B1 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8560 Offers fitness classes and personal training with excellent facilities. Group classes include power yoga, pilates, circuit training, martial arts and spinning. There is also a spa and a restaurant serving calorie–calibrated meals.


HEALTH CLUB & GYM 8–15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0033


HEALTH CLUB & GYM New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8888

SHERATON FITNESS Wrap & Roll 62 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2166; 111 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 8971 The lime green walls and bright pastel colours of Wrap ‘n Roll are just part of the theme of this homegrown, Vietnamese brand which is all about spring rolls of all types, and healthy, Hueinfluenced cuisine.


JAPANESE / OKINAWA 13/1 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8433 yamaneko– Funky Yamaneko — down an alley off Le Thanh Ton — offers delicious, unpretentious Okinawan fare alongside mainland staples. Does a great set lunch deal.


TOP-END PAN-CHINESE 1st Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, crn.of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3520 9999 Skillful chefs prepare authentic hand-pulled noodles, fresh dim sum and hot wok dishes within an impeccably designed open kitchen, as diners look on. Stylish and spectacular.

Fitness, Dance & Yoga ANUPA YOGA

HEALTH CLUB & GYM Level 5, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2828


HEALTH CLUB & GYM 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555


GYM, POOL, SQUASH The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2098 ext. 176 In addition to the squash court, facilities include a fully–equipped gym room, a rooftop swimming pool and separate male and female saunas.

Galleries BLUE SPACE & PARTICULAR ART GALLERY 97A Pho Duc Chinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 3695

DOGMA 8A/9C1 Thai Van Lung, Q1 The home of Vietnamese propaganda art and a collection put together over the last two decades by art collector Dominic Scriven, the majority of the work comes from the war period when provocative poster art was used to inspire and motivate. Sells prints of the originals and related products.

9 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2394



97A Pho Duc Chinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4441

FITNESS CENTRE Queen Ann Building, 28–30– 32 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291

PHUONG MAI ART GALLERY 129B Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3181 07 Phan Chu Trinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 3166

Groceries, Liquor & Wine


GROCERY & DELI 16–18 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9332 Attractive and spacious French–owned grocery shop stocking a large range of foods, organic fruit and vegetables, imported beers and wines. Also sells luxury branded products from the likes of Fauchon. The deli upstairs in the Hai Ba Trung branch serves tasty baguette rolls in a comfortable lounge area with free Wi–Fi, and offers probably the best selection of cheese and cured meats in town. Free delivery for Districts 1, 2 and 3.


WINE SHOP 158D Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 3306 A range of spirits, whiskies and wines at affordable prices. Wines come from all over the world with an especially good selection from France, Chile and South Africa. Also has an excellent range of single malts, top shelf tequilas and has an on–site wine tasting machine, the Enomatic, the first of its kind in Vietnam.


WINE SHOP 74E Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 5404 3575


BUTCHERS 73 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 4376


GROCERS 58 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 1318


WINE SHOP 22 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 0021


GROCERS 60 Ham Nghi, Q1


WINE SHOP 15/5 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8826 One of the busiest wine retailers in town. In addition to their excellent range of wines, they also stock imported beers, bottled mineral water and spirits.

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Have you got the stomach for it?


id you realise that you have more bacteria in your gut than cells in your body? 100 trillion microorganisms… 10 times more bacteria than the combined number of cells in the human body. With this knowledge you could really say that we are more bacteria than human. Hippocrates said “all disease begins in the gut” and it’s taken us 2,000 years to start to figure out that he was correct. Optimal gut flora and digestive function is crucial for your health and fat loss. Among other things, healthy gut flora promotes proper gastrointestinal function, regulates your metabolism and makes up more than 75 percent of your immune system. A lot of people go through their days, weeks, months, years and entire life with joint pain, sleep disturbances, arthritis, fever, skin irritations, fatigue, night sweets, headaches, depression, an so on. A lot of the time I find people accept the fact that they feel ‘crappy’ and believe ‘such is life’. But this is not the case. All these symptoms or feelings are, for the most part, a result of poor diet and lifestyle. Ryan Andrews of Precision Nutrition puts it like this: “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Substitute ‘gut’ for ‘mama’ and you pretty much get the picture”. Poor gut health is a big problem in modern day society yet one of the easiest to counteract.

Get Some Guts Have you got the stomach to achieve

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By Phil Kelly

optimal health and wellbeing? The majority of modern day food products were unknown to our systems 100 years ago. If you think 100 years is a long time, when we are talking about the evolution or the development of humans it’s like a blink of an eye. Our guts simply can’t handle these new foods. This is not to say that some time in the future we can’t adapt to them, just that in the present time our bodies are not coping. And experts reason that the introduction of these new or modified foodstuffs explains the increase in allergies and food intolerances now common place and increasing in society. There is now a condition called Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS). Cases of this syndrome are increasing, but the scary thing is that a lot of people have this issue and don’t even know it. LGS is caused when there is irritation or inflammation of the gut wall, where the tight junctions between the stomach’s cells loosen up and allow compounds to pass through when they shouldn’t. Hence, the gut is leaking compounds into our system. Food additives such as MSG, which is in widespread use here in Vietnam, can influence the junctions of the gut and weaken their bonds, thus exposing you to all types of nasty pathogens. Stress is another major player in the cause of leaky gut syndrome along with antibiotics (and other pharmaceuticals, as they upset the balance of good bacteria), malnutrition (not

obtaining the nutrients to build a strong gut lining) and foodstuffs like gluten, casein, lectins, fructose — all can cause inflammation within the gut. Experts agree that a healthy gut barrier depends on good levels of intestinal bacteria, intact mucosa and a healthy immune system. All of which are influenced through your diet and lifestyle choices.

Keep Mama Happy Here are 3 quick tips for improving your gut health and keeping ‘Mama’ happy: 1) Promote good bacteria levels by eating fermented foods that will support good gut flora or take a high-quality, multi-species probiotic 2) Manage your stress levels. If you are mentally or physically stressed, your gut will be, too. Take time to de-stress and relax regularly 3) Remove all toxins or food intolerances from your diet: toxins put your body under a lot of stress and food intolerances cause your system to be inflamed. By eliminating these from your diet your body can operate in a true state of homeostasis The bottom line is that something as simple as taking care of your gut health could improve your health, feeling of wellbeing and appearance. Have you been nice to your gut lately? Phil is founder & master trainer at Body Expert Systems. Contact him on 0934 782763 or at his website or through Star Fitness (


GROCERS & DELI 29A Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8526


WINE SHOP 7 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 0860


WINE SHOP 74/17 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 6299 1315 Professional advice on selecting and tasting wines. Also offers regular popular wine courses. The outdoor terrace area is the perfect spot to sample a new vintage.

Hairdressers VENUS 41 Nguyen Trung Ngan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 6298

Medical & Dental ACCADENT

INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC Kumho Asiana Plaza, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8800


FRENCH MEDICAL CLINIC 1 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2366 This French medical clinic provides general practice and a range of specialties including cardiology, gynecology, psychotherapy and traditional medicine.


INTERNATIONAL CLINIC Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 7848 vietnammedicalpractice. com Full–service 24–hour healthcare provider with highly–qualified doctors handling everything from emergencies to tests and X–rays, in–patient and out– patient care, check–ups, travel medicine and medical evacuations.


INTERNATIONAL CLINIC 3rd Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6290 6167 State–of–the–art medical centre located in District 1. Experienced American, French, and Vietnamese doctors provide the full spectrum health care. Plus sports medicine, cosmetic treatments, skin care and surgical consultations.


SKIN CARE / COSMETICS Level 2, 71-79 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 6999 The Australian and Canadian managed SIAN Clinic offers a wide range of skincare medical therapies to treat problems by an experienced dermatologist and facial care team. The clinic utilises the latest therapies.

WESTCOAST INT’L DENTAL CLINIC INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC Ben Thanh Clinic, 27 Nguyen Trung Truc, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6999 The Practice, Level 1, 71-79 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6777 An international dental clinic equipped with the latest technology, the comfortable clinics offer cosmetic and implant dentistry with a focus on making each patient’s experience anxiety and pain free.

Salons & Spas AQUA DAY SPA Level 5, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2828

FAME NAILS SALON 3 Truong Dinh, Q1, Tel: 0909 682 827

GLOW SPA 129A Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8368 Modern and bright downtown spa, offers massages lasting from 30 minutes, to two-hour hot stone therapy, includes one suite with a Jacuzzi bath; offers hand and foot care and a hair styling area.

INDOCHINE SPA 69 Thu Khoa Huan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7188 Indochine Spa provides a peaceful and serene atmosphere with aromatic scents and lulling melodies. Customers are pampered by qualified therapists using natural French products in a clean and pleasant environment.

45 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2737 Spa–related salon with a good reputation for quality and comfort offers washes and leisurely haircuts from VND330,000 plus a range of related services including massage and some excellent treatments.

MEKONG BLISS SPA 112, Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 6299 0563 10am to 10pm (last booking 9.30pm)

Q SPA & SALON 31Q Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3905 4609 An old world, Indochineesque interior complete with wooden floors, flowers and flowing drapes makes this an excellent atmosphere in which to enjoy a massage. Also offers hair styling and facials.

ROSA BLANCA BEAUTY 23C Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Specialising in all forms of skincare, this is well–designed, ambient and outfitted day spa offers body treatments as well as facials and foot treatments.

SPA INTERCONTINENTAL AND HEALTH CLUB 3rd Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, crn.of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 9999

THANH SANCTUARY Nguyen Du Villas, 111 Nguyen Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0885

THE SPA AT 1960 PRESIDENTIAL CLUB 22nd floor, Sailing Tower, 111A Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 2220 2600

THE SPA Saigon Pearl, 92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3514 9007 Saigon Centre, 3M Floor, 65 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 1800

THE SPA AT NEW WORLD HOTEL 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8888

XUAN SPA Park Hyatt, 2 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1234

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A World



International Women’s Day: Towards Freedom


nternational Women’s Day is a major day of celebration for the economic, political and social achievements of women around the world. Vietnam has much to celebrate in its efforts to tackle domestic violence and sexual discrimination. Commemorative days are crucial to raising awareness of situations that affect women and children, like human trafficking. Yet, myths in Vietnam persist. Myth 1: Trafficking victims are poor and from the countryside. Fact: Poverty is often prevalent in victims’ backgrounds, but poverty doesn’t cause trafficking and victims come from all socioeconomic walks of life. Myth 2: People are only trafficked for sex. Fact: Exploitation in the form of involuntary servitude through force, fraud or coercion affects women, men, girls and boys who are used for yes, for sexual exploitation, but also criminal activity, forced labour, debt bondage, and early or forced marriage domestically and internationally. Victims are found in legitimate and illegitimate industries, including sweatshops, massage parlours, nail salons, agriculture, restaurants, hotels and domestic service. Myth 3: If the trafficked person agreed to the labour or the sex then they ‘know better’ and

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By Dana McNairn

therefore gave consent. Fact: A victim cannot give consent because trafficking is defined by the use of force or deception. Put another way, UNICEF says two million kids are sexually exploited around the world annually. I’m fairly sure those children didn’t give consent. On the upside the Vietnamese government has passed new anti-trafficking legislation and a five-year national action plan on trafficking, but this is not just a developing world issue. According to the Human Trafficking Foundation, there are more people in slavery now globally than during the entire nearly four centuries of the transatlantic slave trade.

Take Action Want to do something? Know that human trafficking is modern day slavery. Be a conscientious consumer by encouraging companies to investigate their supply chains to eliminate modern day slavery. Don’t buy things from kids on the street — you don’t know why they’re really there. Donate funds, needed items or hold a fundraiser for an anti-trafficking organisation. Make anti-trafficking messages part of your professional associations, conferences and training. Be a media activist by joining Twitter

conversations such as #humantrafficking or #modernslavery. Above all, educate yourself. Understand that many overseas trafficked persons are typically not identified as victims, but rather as criminals if they don’t have legal identification papers or immigration status. Anti-Slavery International says this results in trafficked persons being more likely to be detained and removed from the country they were arrested in, rather than being legally protected. If the victims are not recognised, then the crime is not recognised and the criminals go unpunished. Let us continue to (daily) celebrate the significant contributions of women and their inalienable right to freedom from violence and coercion. We just must also remember that women, men, girls and boys everywhere — possibly right in your neighbourhood — are being forced against their will to work illegally in dangerous and exploitative environments. Like drugs and arms trafficking, human trafficking is a market-driven criminal industry based on supply and demand. Those little girls selling gum don’t seem so cute any more, do they? Dana McNairn works at KOTO, a nonprofit social enterprise and vocational training programme for at-risk youth. She can be contacted at


pham ngu lao

Bakeries / Bars & Clubs / Cafes / Clothing & Accessories / Crafts & Furniture / Eat / Galleries Bakeries CRUMBS

BAKERY 117 Cong Quynh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 1992 Dubbed “the local bakery”, Crumbs serves up a variety of baked goods including baguettes, muffins, cheese and garlic–based buns and loafs, meat–filled pastries, sweet pastries, health–conscious breads and more. There is also a breakfast menu and variety of sandwiches available.


KOREAN BAKERY 59 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 4350

Bars & Clubs BIA TUOI 33

BIA HOI 33 Bui Vien, Q1


INTERNATIONAL / COMFORT FOOD 40/24 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 8452 With a free book exchange, and tasty Sunday night roasts, the tiny Bread & Butter is a perfect place for homesick expats and beer enthusiasts (excellent HueBrewed Huda beer served here exclusively in Ho Chi Minh City).


INTERNATIONAL / RESTOBAR 187 De Tham, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 9575


RESTOBAR / VIETNAMESE / WESTERN 129 Cong Quynh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3832 4589 Only a couple blocks from the bru-haha of Bui Vien, Godmother’s is a small watering hole with big attractions including excellent mojitos, good food, and the weekly Optimus Club featuring international DJ’s.


INTERNATIONAL / RESTOBAR 175/22 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 7679 Warm colors, artsy décor and a friendly ambiance combine to create a perfect

setting for enjoying tasty international and Vietnamese cuisine. Check out their daily drink specials and Tuesday night pub quizzes.


FRENCH / RESTOBAR 207 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 2704 French-run but universally appealing, Long Phi has been serving the backpacker area with excellent cuisine and occasional live music since 1990. Excellent late-night bistro cuisine.


THEMED MUSIC BAR 103A Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 0007 Wild West-themed bar doubles as a music venue, where three talented Filipino bands (B&U, Wild West and Most Wanted) play covers of rock icons like Bon Jovi, U2 and Guns n’ Roses. Top shelf spirits and friendly, hostess style table service are the name game here.


INTERNATIONAL / SPORT 111 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 7670 Spotted Cow delivers the fun-loving atmosphere that its playfully decorated black and white spotted interior promises, as well as decent international comfort food, a range of happy hours, live sports, and darts.


BAR, ART & MUSIC SPACE Cnr. Le Lai and Ton That Tung, Q1, Tel: 0906 359440 The Observatory is DJ Hibiya Line's new youth culture hub, just off Pham Ngo Lao. With its two-floor, nook-andcranny setup, it combines café culture, cocktails, art, DJ nights — now the home base for the Optimist Club — live music and various "happenings", sprinkling them throughout its cozy corners.


LIVE MUSIC / LOUNGE 224 De Tham, Q1, Tel: (08) 2210 2929


DIVE BAR 57 Do Quang Dau, Q1, Tel: (08) 3838 9839


LIVE MUSIC / RESTOBAR 90 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 01633 343933


INTERNATIONAL 45 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 4090 Choose from a full range of café beverages and a fast-food style menu as you watch the latest Hollywood hits in their upstairs lounge. Check website for movie locations and schedule.


CONTEMPORARY CAFÉ BAR 213 Bui Vien, Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: 0902 514757 An up and coming hole-inthe-wall cafe, Chicco Dicaff serves an extensive menu of coffee, ice blended drinks, lattes and Italian sodas at affordable prices. Delivery available.


INTERNATIONAL 157-159 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 9347 Large portioned coffee lures customers into the flagship store of this international café chain. The contemporary, yet generic atmosphere is bolstered by comfortable seating and a menu to satisfy any sweet tooth.

Clothing & Accessories BAM SKATE SHOP

SKATEWEAR / STREET 174 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 0903 641826


SOUVENIRS / CLOTHING 1B Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 2210 2084 8am to 10.30pm


VIETNAM-THEMED CLOTHING 54-56 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 6270 5928

Quality, original, Vietnamthemed tees are the showpiece at this airy French-run store. Designs are inspired by anything from the Vietnamese flag, local telecom wires and motorbikes to creative, Siddharta-style imagery.



Sisters Cafe

BUDGET CLOTHING 147 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 7442; 123A Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3838 0019




BUDGET CLOTHING 152 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3820 2620 9am to 10pm


TRAVEL GEAR 163 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1, Tel: 0978 967588

Crafts & Furniture SAPA

ETHNIC ACCESSORIES / SOUVENIRS 209 De Tham, Q1, Tel: (08) 3838 9780


NORTH / SOUTH INDIAN 164 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3838 6661 This pleasant, airy Indian does the full range of fare from all ends of the subcontinent, from dosas and vadas through to chicken tikka masala, kormas, kebabs and fiery vindaloos.

Burrito Revolution

TEX-MEX / STREET STALL 124 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 0902 714882


INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE 40/31 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 2502 This affable café is a rarity in the backpacker area for its genuinely good musical playlist. Excellent, buildyour-own breakfasts, baked potatoes, toasties, Vietnamese fare and more. Has a popular motorbike rental service.


THAI / VIETNAMESE 16 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 1311

JJ’s Fish ‘n Chips

FISH & CHIPS / STREET STALL Cnr. 38B Tran Hung Dao & De Tham, Q1

TEX-MEX / VIETNAMESE 175/3 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 0760


ITALIAN / TEX-MEX 175/1 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 0760

VIETNAMESE/WESTERN 185/30 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: 0903 643446 Light wood paneling, beige walls and locally themed artwork help to create a fresh and airy ambience in this café-cum-restaurant that is owned by the woman behind Chi’s Café. Also does visa extensions and motorbike rental.


GREEK / KEBAB 164 Cong Quynh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 3248


AMERICAN / TEX-MEX 169A Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 3897 vietnamvespaadventures. com/cafe_zoom This corner-located Vespainfatuated venue is a café and restaurant by day and a sidewalk drinking joint by night. Friendly staff and American deli-style and Cajun fare makes it a regular expat haunt.



ITALIAN / VIETNAMESE 119-121 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 9220 Two-storey Stella serves very reasonable Italian food — antipasti, pasta, pizza, insalata plus meats and fish — at reasonable prices. Also has Wi-Fi, cool aircon, and one of the best lattes around. Now no-smoking indoors.


BACON BAR / CAFE 144 Cong Quynh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 4533 Think bacon, bacon and more bacon, all set in airy, spacious atmosphere, and you get The Hungry Pig, an eatery specialising in anything from the bacon butty through to the bacon Caesar. A popular hangout.


VEGAN 9 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 2538 One of the city’s oldest eateries (established in 1925) does some of the cheapest and tastiest vegan cuisine in town, all cooked up without onions, garlic or MSG.

65 De Tham, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 8019 In addition to working with artists based in Vietnam, Galerie Quynh also exhibits the work of artists from around the world. This wellestablished gallery supports education through talks, lectures and publications.

Tattoo Artists With tattoos becoming increasingly popular, over the past few years there has been an increase in the number of tattoo studios around the city. Customers have the choice of picking their own tattoo out of the many look books on offer in the studios or bringing in their own design. Most of the studios offer bodypiercing services as well. Pricing depends on size and style.

Lac Viet Tattoo 608

Dien Bien Phu, Q10 Tel: (08) 3830 4668 106 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 7068

Saigon Body Art

135 Cong Quynh, Q1 Tel: 0908 443311

Saigon Ink Wrap & Roll 226 De Tham, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 5097 The lime green walls and bright pastel colours of Wrap ‘n Roll are just part of the theme of this homegrown, Vietnamese brand which is all about spring rolls of all types, and healthy, Hueinfluenced cuisine. Check out the second floor, junglein-the-wall décor at this particular branch. Unique and refreshing.

26 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 1090

Saigon Tattoo

31B Nguyen Du, Q1

Saigon Tattoo Group 81 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 0908 573339

Tattoo Saigon

128 Nguyen Cu Trinh, Q1 Tel: 0938 303838

Tattoo Tam Bi

209 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 0919 034383

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district 1

DISTRICT 1 Downtown Pham Ngu Lao

Bars & Clubs / Cafes / Clothing & Accessories / Cooking Classes / Crafts & Furniture / Eat / Fitness, Dance & Yoga / Galleries / International Schools / Medical & Dental / Salons & Spas


CONTEMPORARY BEER HALL 37 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1, Tel: 0906 780081


LOUNGE RESTOBAR & TERRACE Rooftop, AB Tower, 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2372 Chill’s view has only been improved by the addition of a magnificent VIP terrace. A substantial wine list and specialities from the owner’s native Denmark complement the primarily French-influenced cuisine.


CZECH BREWHOUSE 28 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8605


LIVE MUSIC / NIGHTCLUB 56A Bui Thi Xuan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 5258

Shooters Beer House



INTERNATIONAL 235 Nguyen Van Cu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3833 3648 Large portioned coffee lures customers into the flagship store of this international café chain. The contemporary, yet generic atmosphere is bolstered by comfortable seating and a menu to satisfy any sweet tooth.


INTERNATIONAL 79/2/5 Phan Ke Binh, Q1, Tel: (08) 6271 0115 Trendy without pretense, this two-floor, relaxed café offers beautiful decor and unique original events like live music, film screenings, and art exhibits. Great prices and food with daily specials.


CONTEMPORARY BEER HALL 11 Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 2281

Cafes (a) cafe 15 Huynh Khuong Ninh, Da Kao, Q1, Tel: 0903 199701 Settle into the Javanesestyle interior and enjoy possibly one of the best brews in Saigon. Using own grown and specially sourced Dalat beans, speciality coffee such as cold drip, siphon, and Chemex are must haves for the avid coffee drinker.

Banksy Cafe 1st Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 01699 990003 A small but swanky cafe, Banksy promises a young and vibrant hideout in an old 1960s-era apartment

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INTERNATIONAL / FRENCH 97 Nguyan Huu Cau, Q1, Tel: (08) 3844 3295


ICE CREAM PARLOUR 4 Truong Han Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6674 6763


CONTEMPORARY CAFE 34D Thu Khoa Huan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2910 Centrally located near Ben Thanh Market, i.d offers casual café dining with a wide variety of food and beverages. Where modern design and a warm ambience meet for coffee.



FRENCH 112 Pham Viet Chanh, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 2067

The Other Person Cafe 2nd Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 0909 670272 Fancy being served up by maids in costume? Call for a booking and enjoyed customized service to your liking while spending an afternoon in this candy-land inspired cafe.

Things Cafe 1st Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: (08) 6678 6205 Feel the calm and serenity of this rustic little quiet corner tucked away in an Old Apartment. The quaint and relaxing atmosphere sets for some alone time, or quality conversations held over a drink or two.

Clothing & Accessories BOO

STREETWEAR 134 Nguyen Trai, Q1


UNISEX CASUAL WEAR 22 Nguyen Trai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3839 2292


CHILDREN’S CLOTHING 90 Vo Thi Sau, Q1, Tel: (08) 3820 9881


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Mockingbird Cafe 4th Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 0935 293400 Sitting atop of a number of cafe establishments in an old apartment complex, Mockingbird is just the place for a romantic time over mojitos, or good ol’ caffeine-infused relaxation.

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QUAN NHAU 18A/31/B22 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1

159A Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: 0918 115657 Veer off the street and find yourself plunging straight into lush greenery. Cafe Thoai Vien serves up a spacious and airy setting to enjoy a quiet sip. From small eats to big bites and everything to drink, it’s a great place to unwind from all that buzz.

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CONTEMPORARY BEER HALL 79 Nguyen Cong Tru, Q1, Tel: 0919 584884

76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 2718 The outdoor, well-aired terrace is the centrepiece of this popular, contemporary café. Enjoy live music on weekends as you sip on reasonably priced Vietnamese or espresso-based coffee.

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WOMEN’S CLOTHING 89A Nguyen Trai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 5164


HAND-MADE / DESIGNER Le Lai Corner, 1 Nguyen Van Trang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 1495 Clothing is designed and tailor-made by renowned designer Romyda Keth, and concentrates mainly on women’s wear. Gaya sells colourful, sexy evening dresses, embroidered floral skirts and cute chiffon tops.


BOUTIQUE LADIES’ WEAR 61 Nguyen Trai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 9993


BUSINESSWEAR / CASUAL 19-21 Vo Thi Sau, Q1, Tel: (08) 3820 3574 8am to 8pm

Cooking Classes OVERLAND CLUB 35Bis Huynh Khuong Ninh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3820 9734 Sunday 1.30pm to 5pm The Overland Club organises pottery classes, VietnameseJapanese cooking classes, cultural art events and monthly special activities, such as the Soba Festival, pottery painting classes, the art of decorating paper and multinational cuisine days.

Crafts & Furniture GAYA

CONTEMPORARY FURNISHINGS 1 Nguyen Van Trang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 1495 Set in one of the most attractive post-World War II buildings in the city, Gaya has a reputation for chic and sophisticated indoor and outdoor sofas, pod seats, lamps and tableware, with all products both constructed and designed locally. You can find a wide range of mirrors and lacquerware with bowls, vases and contemporary Asian-style boxes as well as a fantastic selection of linenembroidered bedding in all colours and designs. Prices here match the quality of the products.


DECO / REPRO FURNITURE 152 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 3648



ROOFTOP RESTOBAR Floor 30-31, Pullman Saigon Centre, 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3838 8686 A tapas-style contemporary international menu in an equally modern chic space, Cobalt also has panoramic views over the city thanks to its 30th-floor location. Has a focus on wine matching and tasting. A hotel restaurant with a difference.


COM TAM (BITTY RICE) 26 Ton That Tung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 0935


CANTONESE / PAN-CHINESE New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8888 Elegant surroundings, top quality ingredients, attentive service and comfortable, roundtable dining makes Dynasty one of the top Chinese restaurants in town, with a classic dim sum menu.


BANH XEO / HUE CUISINE 46A Dinh Cong Trang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1110


VIETNAMESE FRENCH 38 Dang Dung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3846 9853 MSG-free traditional Vietnamese cuisine with a French twist, cooked fresh to order. Dishes include noodle soup, steamed ravioli and beef stew, stir fries, hot pots and curries.


SINGAPOREAN 45 Le Anh Xuan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8371 Friendly, authentic fivestorey Singaporean eatery, plating up the likes of nasi lemak, mee rebus, and awesome chicken curry, as well as specialities like frog porridge, chilli crab and fish head curry.


INDOCHINE VIETNAMESE 3/5 Hoang Sa, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 1277 Meaning ‘Cloud’, May utilises homemade recipes and broths developed by the restaurateur’s father, such as pan-fried duck breast served with nuoc mam and ginger, and 1940s style spring rolls. This is the Saigonese cooking of old set in an Indochine atmosphere.


PAN-SOUTHEAST ASIAN 1 Cao Ba Nha, Q1, Tel: (08) 6290 8899 Traditional pan-Southeast Asian favourites served in a visually arresting setting within a French colonial-era villa, just minutes from the backpacker area. Reasonably priced, with healthy juices and smoothies.


AMERICAN / FRENCH 25–27 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 7373 NYSW is well known for serving up formidable prime signature cuts of New York strip steak, rib eye, double strip loins and chateaubriands along with sophisticated sides, in a glitzy, Hollywood-esque atmosphere.


INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8888 Flagship restaurant of The New World Hotel, serving lavish buffets all day. Many cooking stations ranging from Chinese to Italian, sushi and seafood, to salads, cold cuts, cheese plates and desserts.


VEGETARIAN 200 Nguyen Trai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3839 5893


TRADITIONAL VIETNAMESE 8 Nguyen Van Nguyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3602 2241 Make sure to try the sautéed shrimps with cashew nuts and crispy fried tofu with lime wedge, at this popular, high-quality eatery where all food is served in traditional crockery.


PAN-CHINESE / NOODLES 162 Nguyen Trai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 0824


CHINESE / VIETNAMESE BINH DAN 67 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 7751

Fitness, Dance & Yoga STAR FITNESS GYM

HEALTH CLUB & GYM Manor Apartments, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3514 0253 Steve Chipman, who had a hand in establishing gyms at the Sofitel hotels in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, is behind Star Fitness — one of Vietnam’s largest and bestequipped gyms.


HEALTH CLUB & POOL Ruby Towers — Saigon Pearl, 92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3514 9009

Galleries CRAIG THOMAS GALLERY 27i Tran Nhat Duat, Q1, Tel: 0903 888431 Located in a quiet corner of District 1, Craig Thomas Gallery offers a compelling mix of up-and-coming and established local artists. In operation since 2009, its founder has been promoting Vietnamese art for a decade.

SAN ART 3 Me Linh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3840 0183 San Art is an independent, artist-run exhibition space that offers residency programmes for young artists, lecture series and an exchange programme that invites international artists/ curators to organise or collaborate on exhibitions.

International Schools CITYSMART Horizon Tower, 214 Tran Quang Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3526 8833 CitySmart delivers a range of diverse, internationallyrecognised educational programmes, as well as life skills and character building for comprehensive development.

GYMBOREE PLAY & MUSIC OF VIETNAM Somerset Chancellor Court, 1st Floor, 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7008

VAS 23 Tran Cao Van, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 7278


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& Dental


INTERNATIONAL CLINIC Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 7848 vietnammedicalpractice. com Full–service 24–hour healthcare provider with highly–qualified doctors handling everything from emergencies to tests and X–rays, in–patient and out– patient care, check–ups, travel medicine and medical evacuations.

VICTORIA HEALTHCARE INTERNATIONAL CLINIC INTERNATIONAL CLINIC 79 Dien Bien Phu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 4545 Well-regarded clinic offering general examinations and specialising in pediatrics, digestive diseases, cardiology, women’s health and internal medicine. Offers a membership programme and cooperates with most insurance companies in Vietnam and abroad.


COUNSELLING 64 Ho Hao Hon, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 2900 Psychological counselling services for individual, group and family. Diverse counsellors and therapists, using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Art Therapy, Systemic Family Therapy. For adolescents and adults. Vietnamese, English, French and Spanish spoken.

Salons & Spas

CAT MOC SPA 63 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6295 8926 Aimed exclusively at ladies and couples only, treatments at this Japanese spa include facial, body and foot care, and Japanese-style haircuts, as well as steamsauna, paraffin and waxing services.


79 Phan Ke Binh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 5575 Spa Tropic is a stylish boutique spa housed in the refurbished former Chilean Consulate. Spa Tropic has a long-standing reputation among expats and visitors alike for its professional quality service.

37/54 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1, Tel:

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HCMC furniture. All products are samples, so it’s limited and exclusive with only one or two pieces of each particular item. Also has a great range of imported fabrics up on the 2nd floor and an in-house sewing room for cushions, sofas and curtains. Offers custom-made furniture and delivery within four weeks. Home décor orders are also available.

district 2

Bakeries / Bars & Clubs / Cafes / Clothing & Accessories / Crafts & Furniture / Eat / Fitness, Dance & Yoga / Groceries, Liquor & Wine / Hairdressers / International Schools / Medical & Dental / Salons & Spas


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BAKERY 244 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 8392 The baking arm of the wellknown Bakers on Thao Dien, Voelker. Provide flash frozen breads and patisseries such as croissants, pain au chocolat, pain raisins, pizza dough, pates feuillete and much more. Serves the hospitality industry in Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Phan Thiet and Ho Chi Minh City.


BAKERY / CAFE 5, Street 11, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3519 4118


FRENCH BAKERY 25 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3743 2445

DISTRICT 2 SPORTS BAR / PAN-THAI CUISINE 55 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 5453 A bar and a Thai restaurant all in one, the focus here is not just the cuisine but a contemporary bar area and live sports. Lots of live sports. The Thai cuisine is cooked up by no-holds-barred Thai chefs.

BMV PUB & GRILL 38 Quoc Huong, Q2 Tel: 01299 839314 With its seven TVs, full-size mezzanine area, pool table and aircon lounge space, BMV is the perfect place in District 2 to relax and watch the sports. Has live music on Thursday and Friday nights, and is home to the only German Hofbrau Beer Garden in Thao Dien.


BAKERY 39 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6296 0066 French–run bakery selling probably the tastiest range of patisseries, breads, quiches and pies in town. The signature passion–fruit tart is a must try.

Bars & Clubs BAAN THAI

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RESTOBAR 7 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3345 6345 Just across the lane from Mc’Sorley’s, this pub with an eccentric European tilt and some nice, authentic cuisine draws an older crowd with darts, pool and weekly poker tourneys.

HOME FURNISHINGS 175 Ha Noi Highway, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4543 This well-known Vietnamese furniture brand is a good choice for most families with its respected high-quality designs and competitive prices. Located on the corner of Pham Ngoc Thach and Dien Bien Phu, the spacious showroom specialises in sofas and other furniture such as table sets, shelves and kitchen cabinets. There is a large selection of carpets as well as numerous choices of curtains and accessories.


IRISH BAR 4 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0126 9026006 Standing in the former home of Gaudi, McSorely’s is full of surprises, including a beautifully backlit swimming pool, reggae parties, comedy nights, and sporting events projected onto the patio wall.

and intimate.


LAID-BACK CAFÉ / RESTAURANT 230A Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3512 3888

Clothing & Accessories LITTLE ANH-EM


EVENTS / MAKESHIFT CAFÉ BAR 188/1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0122 4283198 Up-cycling and innovative design form the foundation for this bar / arts venue / mini- skate park. Come for barbeque and reasonably priced drinks, stick around for entertaining events and adorable puppies.



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COFFEE & FLOWER HOUSE 11A-B Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 9772 A cozy and comfortable cafe in Thao Dien serving excellent fresh coffee from Dalat, smoothies, juices, pastries and desserts all day. Offers a western-fare breakfast, lunch and dinner menu with a number of creative TexMex dishes mixed in with salads and more typical international cuisine. Now open until 10pm, the nighttime ambience is relaxed

BABY & CHILDREN CLOTHING 37 Thao Dien, An Phu, Q2, Tel: 0917 567506 In addition to a varied selection of garments for babies and children up to 10 years old, Little Anh-Em stocks sleeping bags and other accessories.


VESPA PRODUCTS / HELMETS 80 Xuan Thuy, Q2 Stocks a wide range of Vespa-inspired tidbits and memorabilia including t-shirts, riding gear, Italian helmets, Respro face masks, DVDs, books, bags, magazines, posters and more. Rental scooters and bikes available.

Crafts & Furniture AUSTIN HOME

REPRO FURNITURE / FABRICS 20 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 0023 Located in a villa-style building, this An Phu-based shop stocks antique repro

FURNITURE & ACCESSORIES 51 Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2181 8am to 6pm, closed Sundays Specialising in interior designs and landscaping, this three-storey building is so packed full of items for sale that it doesn’t seem to have enough space for all of its products. The basement storey carries outdoor furniture such as bamboo-imitation and mosaic table sets, while the second level stocks all types of indoor furniture except beds. Accessories are found on the level above. Special orders are taken for delivery within three weeks. Also offers a rental service.


HOME FURNISHINGS 81 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4640/4643


CAFÉ FARE / TEX-MEX 11AB Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 9772 A cozy and comfortable café offering up a western-fare breakfast, lunch and dinner menu with a number of creative Tex-Mex dishes mixed in with salads and more typical international cuisine. Open until 10pm.


PAN-THAI 55 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 5453

Shopping Malls Diamond Plaza 34 Le Duan, Q1. Tel: (08) 3825 7750 9am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court

Hung Vuong Plaza 126 Hung Vuong, Q5. Tel: (08) 2222 0383 9.30am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court

Parkson Plaza 35-45 Le Thanh Ton, Q1. Tel: (08) 3827 7636 9.30am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court

Saigon Centre 65 Le Loi, Q1. Tel: (08) 3829 4888 9am to 9pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court

Saigon Square 77-89 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1 9am to 9pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics

Saigon Tax Trading Centre 135 Nguyen Hue, Q1. Tel: (08) 3821 3849 9am to 9.30pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Souvenirs, Restaurant

Vincom Center 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1. Tel: (08) 3936 9999 9am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court

Zen Plaza 54-56 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 0339 9am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court Subtle lighting and comfortable sofa-like seating at this An Phu eatery. The menu has a whole page dedicated to tom yum soup as well as firey larb moo and Laotian som tam. Thai cuisine cooked up by no-holdsbarred Thai chefs.



AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL 40 Lily Road, An Phu Superior Compound, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6790 Live music, mini-festivals and functions are regular events at this spacious restobar in An Phu on the banks of the Saigon river. The menu offers seasonal dishes, classic mains and sharing plates.


BUN DAU / BUN BO HUE 40 Quoc Huong, Q2


COM TAM 40A Quoc Huong, Q2

Cricket ECCS (THE ENGLISH CRICKET CLUB OF SAIGON) Richard Carrington, Tel: 0909 967 353

ICCS (INDIAN CRICKET CLUB OF SAIGON) Deeptesh Gill, Tel: 01228 770 038

ISCS (INDIAN SPORTS CLUB IN SAIGON) Munish Gupta, Tel: 0986 973 244

PSSC (PAKISTAN SAIGON CRICKET CLUB) Samie Cashmiri, Tel: 0976 469 090 samie.cashmiri@gmail. com

SACC (SAIGON AUSTRALIA CRICKET CLUB) Steve Treasure, Tel: 0903 998 824 SSC (SRI LANKA SPORTS CLUB) Suhard Amit, Tel: 0988 571 010

UCC (UNITED CRICKET CLUB) Asif Ali, Tel: 0937 079 034

VIETNAM CRICKET ASSOCIATION (VCA) Manish Sogani, Tel: 0908 200 598




024 or Viet Luu 0909 500 171.


SAIGON RUGBY CLUB RMIT University, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phong, Q7 saigonrugbyfootballclub@






SAIGON SHOOTERS NETBALL CLUB saigonshootersnetball.

La Closerie d’Elisa

FRENCH / GARDEN RESTAURANT 52 Ngo Quang Huy, Q2 A tropical garden ambience that is at once French yet contemporary Indochinese is the home of this table d’hote style restaurant and bar. Classic French cuisine at reasonable prices in the heart of Thao Dien.

LA PLANCHA 25 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 8521


CONTEMPORARY MEDITERRANEAN 97B Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 6281 8371 Drawing inspiration from the great cuisines of Europe, The Mediterranean and The Orient, this contemporary, Australian-run restaurant bathed in white focuses on wholesome, fresh ingredients, with breads, cheeses, pickles, pastas and preserves made on site daily from scratch. A well-conceived wine list supplements the excellent fare. Has petanque on the terrace.

28 Tran Nao, Q2, Tel: (08) 7303 1100

SQUASH The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2098 ext 176

TORNADOS HOCKEY CLUB 436A/33 Ba Thang Hai, Q10, Tel: 0938 889899


Tel: 0937 683 230

RMIT, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7

MODERN ASIAN FUSION 38 Nguyen U Di, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6632 Set on the banks of Saigon River across from Thanh Da Island, this innovative restaurant serves up modern Asian fusion cuisine in a Bali-style atmosphere, complemented by great cocktails and a long wine list.


HEALTHY CAFÉ FARE / BAGELS 49 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel. (08) 3602 6385

Fitness, Dance & Yoga AQUAFIT

AQUABIKING 65 Truc Duong, Lang Bao Chi, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0909 008985

BOXING / MARTIAL ARTS / FITNESS 49A Xa Lo Ha Noi, Q2, Tel: 0947 771326 This sports centre in An Phu, started by fitness guru Cyril Terrones, features the same personalised mentorship Cyril’s clients love. Includes Zumba, salsa, boxing and fitness for kids and adults every day. No membership fees. Pay for classes in installments of 10.


BOXING / MARTIAL ARTS 100 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0909 540030


GENERAL FITNESS 34 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6672 A well-appointed gym also offering fitness classes and personal training with excellent facilities. Group classes include power yoga, pilates, circuit training, martial arts and spinning. Also has a restaurant serving calorie–calibrated meals.

Groceries, Liquor & Wine 100% DANCENTER

DANCE & PERFORMANCE 53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4490 A professionally run dance studio close to District 1. Children age 4+ can learn jazz, ballet, tap, hip hop, acro dance and break dance, while adult classes are available from beginner to advanced. International team of qualified dance instructors. Free trial first week of the month for newcomers.



GROCERY & DELI 41A Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2630 Attractive and spacious French–owned grocery shop stocking a large range of foods, organic fruit and vegetables, imported beers and wines. Also sells luxury branded products from the likes of Fauchon. The deli upstairs in the Hai Ba


INTERNATIONAL CAFE FARE / SEAFOOD 23 Thao Dien, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6478 The rustic looking, bananaleaf roofed Mekong Merchant has long been the place in An Phu. Set around a cobble-stoned courtyard the cuisine includes gourmet seafood and pastas. Bakerystyle Bistro out front.



FRENCH BISTRO / COCKTAILS 18 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q3, Tel: (08) 6252 1333


7Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 6278 5794


Contact Fred on 0919 709






39 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 4634 Located on the main drag in Thao Dien, Tamago has indoor and out door seating, a terrace and private rooms. They have a ladies’ night on Tuesdays as well as a Teppanyaki themed night on Saturday evenings. Have a second restaurant in Mui Ne.


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HCMC Trung branch serves tasty baguette rolls in a comfortable lounge area with free Wi–Fi, and offers probably the best selection of cheese and cured meats in town. Free delivery for Districts 1, 2 and 3.


GROCERIES & IMPORTER No. 17, Street 12 (perpendicular to Tran Nao street), Q2, Tel: (08) 3740 7105 Supplier for the city’s five– star hotels, also distributing brands like San Pellegrino, Rougie foie gras, Galbani cheese, fresh poultries, meat, live seafood and vegetables. You can now find all the products at the gourmet shop on location.


WINE SHOP Corner of Thao Dien & Duong 2, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 9059 Professional advice on selecting and tasting wines with a portfolio spanning old and new world as well as everything in between. The outdoor terrace area is the perfect spot to sample a new tipple.

Hairdressers ANTHONY GEORGE FOR LONDON HAIR & BEAUTY Fideco Riverview Building, 14 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6475 anthony@aglondonsalon.

CONCEPT COIFFURE 48 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4625 Open daily from 9am to 8pm Hair stylist and colourist specialist Sandrine has relocated her long-standing flagship salon Venus Coiffure to a villa in Thao Dien. A full range of services is offered including a dedicated kids salon.

International Schools AUSTRALIAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (AIS) Xi Campus, 190 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 2727; Thao Dien Campus, APSC Compound, 36 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6960; Thu Thiem Campus, 264 Mai Chi Tho (East-West Highway), An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 3742 4040

170 | Word March 2014 The Australian International School is an IB World School with three world-class campuses in District 2, offering an international education from kindergarten to senior school with the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), Cambridge Secondary Programme (including IGCSE) and IB Diploma Programme (DP).

BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (BIS) 246 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2335 Inspected and approved by the British Government, BIS provides a British style curriculum for an international student body from pre-school to Year 13. The school is staffed by British qualified and trained teachers with recent UK experience. Fully accredited by the Council of International Schools and a member of FOBISIA, BIS is the largest international school in Vietnam.

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HO CHI MINH CITY (ISHCMC) 28 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3898 9100 The only fully authorized IB World School in Ho Chi Minh City, ISHCMC has been awarding graduates with an IB Diploma and sending them off to high-profile overseas universities since 1999.

MONTESSORI INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 42/1 Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2639 Aiming to encourage children’s engagement with their surroundings, MIS offers children from age three to 12 a classic Montessori education as well as a variety of extra–curricular activities.

SAIGON KIDS EDUCATIONAL CHILDCARE CENTRE 15 Street 12, perpendicular to Tran Nao, Q2, Tel: (08) 3740 8081 saigonkidskindergarten. com SKECC has evolved over 10 years to create a creative, playful learning environment for children ages two to six. Limited class sizes and highly engaged teachers ensure personal attention for all students.

SAIGON STAR INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL Residential Area No. 5, Thanh My Loi, Q2, Tel: (08) 3742 7827 Supported by the Cambridge International Primary Programme, SSIS integrates Montessori methods into nursery and kindergarten programmes to create a stimulating learning environment. Small class sizes allow experienced teachers to cater to individual needs.

SMARTKIDS 1172 Thao Dien Compound, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6076; 26, Street Nr. 10, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3898 9816; 15 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4236 This international childcare centre provides children ages 18 months to six years with a high quality education in a playful and friendly environment.

THE AMERICAN SCHOOL OF VIETNAM 172-180 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0903 952223


INTERNATIONAL CLINIC 95 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2000 vietnammedicalpractice. com Full–service 24–hour healthcare provider with highly–qualified doctors handling everything from emergencies to tests and X–rays, in–patient and out– patient care, check–ups, travel medicine and medical evacuations.


THERAPY 34 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: 01268 654 202 gregbealetherapyfitness. com

Salons & Spas AUTHENTIC SPA Thao Dien Village, Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 3744 2222

AVEDA HERBAL SPA Villa 35A, Street 41, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel:(08) 3519 4671

QUYNH BEAUTY SALON 104A Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3512 4321

district 3

Bars & Clubs / Cafes & Ice-Cream / Clothing & Accessories / Crafts & Furniture / Eat / Fitness, Dance & Yoga / Hairdressers / International Schools / Medical & Dental / Salons & Spas Bars & Clubs ACOUSTIC

LIVE MUSIC 6E Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 2239 Though only 1km from the city centre, Acoustic is well off most foreigners’ radars. Come see the Vietnamese house band play nightly, as well as performances from overseas bands and guest artists.


LOUNGE BAR & TERRACE 6th & 7th Floor, 2bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, Q3, Tel: 0907 502951


LIVE MUSIC / EVENTS VENUE 224A Pasteur, Q3, Tel: 0948 031323


MUSIC BAR / CAFE 41 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 3154 Showcases a variety of different types of music — anything from rock, pop and rap to Latino — as well as the everlasting songs of Metallica, Bon Jovi, Scorpions, Santana and Guns ’n Roses. Covered live by well-known, Vietnambased Filipino bands. Music starts at 8.30pm.


CONTEMPORARY BAR 147 Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: 0987 684761


ROCK BAR 25C Tu Xuong, Q3, Tel: (08) 6290 7489

Cafes & Ice-Cream AN’S INTERIOR CAFÉ

VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL 40C Tran Cao Van, Q3, Tel: (08) 3823 3398


ICE-CREAM PARLOUR 171 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3932 2778


INTERNATIONAL 41/1 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 4222 Hidden in a colonial building with an outdoor courwrd, the ample soft, sofa seating renders a great spot to

relax. The mouth-watering western menu is on the expensive side.


TEA ROOM 335/31 Dien Bien Phu, Q3, Tel: 0169 3583563 Traverse a wooden bridge over a bamboo-shaded goldfish pond to enjoy high quality tea, starting at VND35,000, in this quaint, open-air tearoom. Tea and tea-ware available for purchase.

Clothing & Accessories BAM SKATE SHOP SKATEWEAR / STREET 148 Dien Bien Phu, Q3, Tel: 0903 641826

BOO STREETWEAR 187A Hai Ba Trung, Q3 Crafts

& Furniture


ECO-FRIENDLY FURNITURE SR1: 268B Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Dist.3, HCMC, Tel: (08) 39326455 SR2: 30A Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, HCMC, Tel: (08) 38403946 Filled with the scent of nature, is it what you are looking for to spice up the living space of your home? Come to ATC FURNITURE, you will find a wide range of modern-designed products (sofas, chairs, beds...) manufactured from eco-friendly materials (water hyacinth & rattan). Our outdoor (poly rattan) wicker-furniture range is suited to your balcony or garden space. A hanging (hammock) chair is irresistible for complete relaxation after a long day at work.


INDOOR FURNITURE 222 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 4190


BRAZILIAN / BUFFET 238 Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (08) 3820 7157 Latino ambiance with great meat dishes and attractive, spacious décor. The churrasco, with 12 cuts of barbecued and cured meats plus unlimited salad, is hand carved at your table. Can get busy.

Banh Canh Hoang Ty



VIETNAMESE STEAKHOUSE 200 Bis Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3; 157 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 3917


NORTHERN / PAN-VIETNAMESE 101 Vo Van Tan, Q3, Tel: (08) 3602 2069 Named after the mountain highway that skirts the Chinese-Vietnamese border to the north, Highway 4 serves up authentic north Vietnamese cuisine. Also does excellent Son Tinh branded rice wine.


WESTERN / FRENCH 292/10, Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3 Tel: (08) 6260 0066


PHO EATERY 260C Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 7943


CONTEMPORARY EUROPEAN 23rd Floor, Centec Tower, 72–74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3, Tel: (08) 3827 9631 A breezy terrace, indoor bar and separate dining room with sweeping views over central Saigon make up this enormous, comfortable space. A well-thought out and romantic venue, with excellent food.


SUSHI / SASHIMI 53-55 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 0039

HUE / VIETNAMESE 187 Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 7242





7 Street 2, Cu Xa Do Thanh, Q3, Tel: (08) 3832 8488 CitySmart delivers a range of diverse, internationallyrecognised educational programmes, as well as life skills and character building for comprehensive development.


Hairdressers YKC HAIR STUDIO 219 Dien Bien Phu, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 2791


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Fitness, Dance & Yoga

BELLY DANCE No 96, Street 2, Cu Xa Do Thanh, Q3, Tel: (08) 3832 9429


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INTERNATIONAL CLINIC / MEDIVAC 167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 8424 The world’s leading provider of medical assistance and international healthcare offers primary health care, diagnostic services and 24/7 emergency care. Specialist care is available in many fields.


INTERNATIONAL CLINIC 254 Dien Bien Phu, Q3, Tel: (08) 3932 1090 Stamford Medical Clinic offers services in internal medicine, dermatology, aesthetic medicine, infectious diseases, and general medicine.



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Sushi Dining AOI offers fullblown Japanese-style sushi, sashimi, and other dishes such as tempura, pork cutlet and cold soba noodles in a warm and friendly atmosphere. Good value set lunches. Probably the best sushi in town.


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2 Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 6222 Long–established, modern clinic with French, Canadian, Belgian & Vietnamese dentists. A favourite of the foreign residential community due to its modern and effective treatments allied with extremely reasonable prices.


CHIROPRACTOR 161-161A Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3939 3930 A clinic provides world class Chiropractic, Physiotherapy and Foot Care. We specialize in provides effective treatment for back, neck and knee pain, sports injuries, and all

types of foot problems. We also provide effective treatment for Flat foot syndrome in children and adult.


INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC 167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 8424 Globally renowned provider of medical assistance and international healthcare offers full dental services in the clinic. Foreign and Vietnamese dentists provide high skilled dental service. Orthodontics is also available.

SKIN CARE / COSMETICS 254 Dien Bien Phu, Q3, Tel: (08) 3932 1090 Stamford Skin Centre offers a broad range of medical and aesthetic skin treatments. Their international dermatologists and doctors ensure accurate diagnosis and safe treatment procedures. It houses excellent equipment for a variety of procedures.


EASTERN MEDICINE 187 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3932 6579

Salons & Spas AVEDA HERBAL SPA Villa 35A, Street 41, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel:(08) 3519 4671

YKC SPA 219 Dien Bien Phu, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 2791

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Food Promos Promotions of the Month

Romantic Earth Hour @Hotel Equatorial From 8.30pm to 9.30pm on Mar. 29, the lights will go down and the candles will come out all over Ho Chi Minh City to mark Earth Hour 2014, an environmental awareness-raising campaign celebrated the world over. Hotel Equatorial wants to ask, why waste such an opportunity for romance at home? This Earth Hour both Chit Chat and Orientica will celebrate the occasion in their own way, with dinners priced at VND798,000++ including a free flow of wine and beer in

172 | Word March 2014

Chit Chat’s case, and a complimentary glass of champagne at Orientica.

perfection by Chill’s top-tier bar staff.

Aloha Cocktail Feast

Half Off Singapore’s National Dish

@Chill Saigon For the jolly types out there, Chill is a happy hour or nightcap stop most nights. Now on Mondays, from 8pm to 11pm every Monday, Chill is offering five speciality cocktails in the tiki tradition at VND150,000++ each. You’ll find ample islandy tastes and fruit juices splashed among mixologist favourites like Aperol and Pampero Rum, tweaked to

@Lion City If you’ve been waiting till now to try Lion City’s legendary frog porridge — one of Singapore’s national dishes — we don’t know what to tell you. Except this: for the first time, Lion City’s daily 50 percent-off dish is this clay pot-delivered delicacy. Try it now, and keep it in your repertoire for when you next splash out on Singaporean cuisine.

Fitness, Dance & Yoga

phu my hung


GYM, POOL, SQUASH 3rd Floor, Crescent Plaza, 105 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung, Tel: (08) 5412 1277 Overlooking the Crescent complex’s lagoon, this centre offers modern facilities, a gym with Technogym equipment allowing users to track their progress. Includes fitness classes, yoga, squash courts, pool, steam bath and nutrition bar.

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INTENSIVE / FULL-BODY WORKOUTS 206 Tran Van Tra, Q7, Tel: 01654 058401 / 01629 546534

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Bakeries L’AMOUR

BAKERY & CAFE Hung Phuoc 2, Le Van Thiem, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 4072


BAKERY Grand View, SD 4-1, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7


BAKERY SL15-1 Grand View, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7, Tel: 0908 828552

Bars & Clubs BANANA BAR

EXPAT BAR SA8-1 Parkview, Nguyen Duc Canh, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 3282 A downstairs pool table, an open, street side terrace and specials on Tiger draft, this fun but slightly run-down joint is a local haunt for many a resident of Saigon South.


CURRY PUB S57-1 Sky Garden 2, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 0999 Known as the ‘Curry Pub’, this pleasant Saigon South watering hole mixes the beer with all things curry — anything from Goan fish curries to beef rendangs and more.

A popular local haunt.


CARTOON BAR S52-1 Sky Garden 2, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 3900

THE TAVERN EXPAT & SPORTS BAR R2-24 Hung Gia 3, Bui Bang Doan, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 3900 The first bar established in Saigon South, great food, great music and loads of laughs. Has regular live music nights, theme nights and a variety of live sports events to please everybody. Big screens and outdoor seating add to the mix, with BBQs available for parties and events.

Crafts & Furniture BELLAVITA

HIGH-END FURNITURE The Crescent Mall, 101 Ton Dat Tien, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 7355


FAIR TRADE CRAFTS 35-37 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 2210 3110; S17 – Sky Garden, Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, Tel: (08) 6271 7758

at their state–of–the–art campus.


HAND-MADE QUILTS S17-1 Sky Garden , Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, Tel: (08) 6271 7758


HOME FURNISHINGS CR3, The Crescent Mall, 111 Ton Dat Tien, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 6657


spicy sausage, skewers, burger dishes and everything that can come off a grill.


PAN-VIETNAMESE The Crescent, 103 Ton Dat Tien, Q7, Tel: (08) 2210 2304


LAVISH CHINESE / VIETNAMESE 23 Nguyen Khac Vien, Q7, Tel: (08) 5411 5555


INTERNATIONAL / GRILL CR2 3-4, 107 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 6592 Australian themed but Singaporean-owned eatery and bar on The Crescent with great terraced seating specializing in huge-portioned international fare, all set in a contemporary, spacious environment.


LUXURY INDOCHINA 2 Phan Van Chuong, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 9999


ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE Unit CR1-12, The Crescent, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 6909 A pleasant downtown eatery mixing an Argentinian steakhouse theme with pork, chicken, lamb, homemade


THAI / VIETNAMESE S9 Hung Vuong 3, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 0822


International Schools ABC INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 2, 1E Street, KDC Trung Son, Binh Hung, Binh Chanh, Tel: (08) 5431 1833 Serving students from 32 nations, ages two to 18, ABC delivers a curriculum wholly based on UK standards, culminating in IGCSE’s and A levels (awarded upon graduation by Cambridge University examinations board).

CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 13C Phong Phu Commune, Binh Chanh, Tel: (08) 5412 3456 The first Canadian international school in Vietnam serves local and foreign students from Kindergarten to grade 12. Talented, certified teachers implement the internationally recognised Ontario curriculum to create a student-centred learning environment promoting academic excellence.


PAN-ITALIAN The Crescent, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 4848

Crescent Residence 2, 107 Ton Dat Tien, Q7, Tel: 0907 099 480



INTERNATIONAL 15-17 Cao Trieu Phat, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: 0948 901465 scottbinhs.php Serving creative, all homemade comfort food, this restaurant boasts a full bar, ice-cold beer and an international wine list to complement meals. Has a focus on the creative use of local ingredients.

102 My Kim 2, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5421 1052

RENAISSANCE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL SAIGON (RISS) 74 Nguyen Thi Thap, Q7, Tel: (08) 3773 3171 RISS provides students from over 25 nations with a British / international education. Students ages two to 18 enjoy classes taught by qualified native English speakers

SAIGON SOUTH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (SSIS) 78 Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 0901 Offers an American-style education (SAT, IB and AP) from elementary to highschool, emphasizing a multi–cultural student environment and a commitment to well–rounded education at all levels.

Medical & Dental

American Eye Center 5th Floor, Crescent Plaza, 105 Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Tel: 5413 6758 / 5413 6759 www.americaneyecentervn. com American Eye Center is located in the heart of Phu My Hung, providing eye care services to Adults and Children by an American Boardcertified ophthalmologist with 17 years of experience. The American-standard facility is equipped with state of the art equipments for the early detection and treatment of important eye diseases from Lasik and cataract surgeries to presbyopia, glaucoma and diabetic eye disease treatments. Cosmetic procedures such as eyelid surgery and Botox injections are also available.


INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL 6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Saigon South Parkway, Q7, Tel: (08) 5411 3333 Emergency: (08) 5411 3500 International hospital whose standard of health care matches that found anywhere, with 19 full–time French doctors and 58 Vietnamese doctors, providing expertise in 30 medical and surgical areas, especially maternity care.


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March 2014 Word | 173

Bức Họa Việt Nam Word trò chuyện với nhiếp ảnh gia kiêm chủ nhà hàng tại Hội An, Réhahn Croquevielle, cũng là tác giả của cuốn sách Việt Nam: Một bức tranh của sự tương phản


ỗi nhiếp ảnh gia đều hiểu được sự khó khăn của công việc biên tập ảnh. Đó là một công việc miệt mài không chỉ liên quan tới việc chỉnh sửa, làm việc với những phần mềm Lighroom, Bridge hoặc Photoshop. Nó liên quan tới việc lọc trong số khối lượng ảnh đồ sộ để ra một bộ sưu tập nhỏ, một lượng ảnh có thể sử dụng được và được lựa chọn hoàn hảo. Đối với Réhahn, công việc này khá công phu. Chỉ hơn một năm ở Việt Nam, anh đã có 30.000 bức ảnh chụp trên khắp cả nước. Khi anh quyết định sẽ tập hợp lại thành một quyển sách với tên gọi Việt Nam: Một bức tranh của sự tương phản, anh đã phải biên tập xuống còn 145 bức ảnh. “Việc này rất khó,” anh nói. “Tôi mất hai tháng cho lần lọc ảnh đầu tiên. Tôi đã nghĩ rằng mọi việc đều tốt đẹp, nhưng rồi lại nhận ra mình mới lọc ra được 300 bức, và có nghĩa rằng tôi phải tiếp tục loại đi một nửa trong số đó!” Sinh ra và lớn lên tại Normandy, cũng giống như nhiều người rời đất nước của mình để đến với những xứ sở khác, Réhahn đã tới Việt Nam để tìm những cơ hội mới. Đã đi qua trên 30 nước, càng đi nhiều, anh càng ít có ý muốn trở về Pháp. Vì thế, năm 2012, anh quyết định nắm lấy cơ hội và chuyển tới sống tại Hội An khi ở tuổi 32. Anh cũng mở một nhà hàng tên là ENJOY (tạm

174 | Word March 2014

dich: Thưởng thức), tại đây vừa có một cửa hàng sách nhỏ, vừa là một phòng trưng bày tranh. Sau khi rời bỏ công việc văn phòng nhàm chán, anh đã có được một cơ hội mới – được đi du lịch và theo đuổi niềm đam mê nhiếp ảnh của mình. Kết quả là anh đã có một tác phẩm với những bức ảnh về Việt Nam trong quá khứ, ấn tượng của một đất nước với nhiều điều sẽ sớm không còn tồn tại.

Tựa đề của cuốn sách có hàm ý gì vậy?

Việt Nam là một bức tranh với những màu sắc, sự tương phản, ánh sáng và những dân tộc khác nhau. Hàng trăm những khuôn mặt khác nhau, hoàn toàn khác biệt tạo nên một đất nước. Cũng giống như phong cảnh ở đây. Màu xanh của biển Bãi Sao ở Phú Quốc, màu của những thửa ruộng ở Mù Căng Chải hay Sa Pa, màu đỏ của những cồn cát ở Mũi Né, màu vàng của những bức tường tại Hội An, hay kể cả màu trắng của những cánh đồng muối ở Nha Trang. Tất cả đều tạo nên một đất nước này. Rất nhiều tác phẩm của anh sử dụng ảnh chân dung. Điều gì đã làm anh có nguồn cảm hứng như vậy ở những gương mặt của con người ở đây? Một bức ảnh chân dung tốt là một bức chụp có sắp đặt hay nên là tự nhiên? Tôi nghĩ để có một bức ảnh chân dung đẹp,

bạn phải mất nhiều thời gian với nó. Một bức chân dung đẹp không thể chỉ có được trong vòng 5 phút. Đôi khi tôi mất tới một tiếng để chụp nhân vật của mình. Tôi là người rất thích giao tiếp. Tôi thích tìm hiểu, học hỏi và khám phá về những người mà tôi làm việc với. Kết quả là mọi khoảnh khắc tôi chụp đều tự nhiên và đến trong lúc tôi nói chuyện với họ. Đối với tôi, một bức chân dung tốt bao gồm hai nhân vật: một người là mẫu và

người kia chính là người chụp. Chính sự giao tiếp và chuyện trò giữa hai người đó sẽ tạo ra một hiệu ứng tự nhiên.

Làm sao anh có thể tìm hiểu về nhân vật của mình? Anh có nói tiếng Việt không hay anh có phiên dịch? Tôi đang học tiếng Việt và đôi khi tôi đi du lịch với người bạn Việt Nam. Tôi tiếp xúc với nhiều người Việt ở nhiều tầng lớp nên tôi đã học được cách làm quen với họ. Bạn cần có thời gian để làm việc này. Và khi họ nghe thấy người nước ngoài nói chuyện bằng tiếng Việt, họ thường cười phá lên và như thế nhiều cánh cửa đã được mở ra.

Những bức ảnh về cuộc sống hàng ngày trong cuốn sách của anh có vẻ khá tập trung vào khu vực nông thôn Việt Nam. Tại sao anh chọn những vùng quê và những người dân tộc thiểu số hơn là cuộc sống ở những thành phố lớn?

Tôi không thích cuộc sống ở những thành phố lớn, vì tôi nghĩ chúng đang bắt đầu giống với những thành phố ở các nước phát triển. Ngoài ra, ở đó người ta không có nhiều thời gian dừng lại và chuyện trò, hoặc ngay khi họ có thể, họ cũng đòi phải trả tiền. Ở những vùng núi, chúng ta có thể tìm thấy một Việt Nam rất truyền thống và thật thà – những trang phục sặc sỡ, con người sống chậm và dịu dàng. Họ có nhiều thời gian để trò chuyện với bạn hơn. Tôi cũng rất thích những khuôn mặt của những người dân tộc: nước da, màu mắt và cả những khuôn mặt có râu. Tôi thích đi trên chiếc xe máy tới những vùng xa xôi, nơi không có nhiều người tới.

Có phải mục đích của cuốn sách của anh là để thể hiện một Việt Nam của hiện tại hay là một Việt Nam đang dần bị mất đi?

Tôi nghĩ rằng thật không may mắn cho những nhiếp ảnh gia và những du khách, những dân tộc thiểu số đang dần hòa lẫn vào cuộc sống của đại đa số. Rất nhiều người đã từ bỏ trang phục của họ và thay vào đó họ mua quần bò hay áo phông. Đây là điều không tránh khỏi. Trong tương lai, không ai sẽ còn mặc những trang phục thiểu số nữa – mặc dù chúng rất sặc sỡ và thật đẹp.

Anh đã bắt đầu công việc chụp ảnh của mình như thế nào?

Tôi bắt đầu việc chụp ảnh này 3 năm trước đây, nhưng tôi chỉ thực sự nghiên cứu sâu về nó khi tôi chuyển tới Hội An. Trước đây tôi đã không có nhiều thời gian. Khi bạn chỉ chụp ảnh trong vòng 5 tuần khi bạn đi nghỉ mỗi năm (ở Pháp, điều này là bình thường), bạn không có thời gian để nâng cao tay nghề của mình. Tuy nhiên ở đây tôi có thể chụp ảnh hàng tháng, đôi khi là hàng tuần.

Anh có lời khuyên nào cho những ai muốn bắt đầu nghề nhiếp ảnh?

Điều này phụ thuộc vào việc người đó muốn làm việc gì. Quy tắc lớn nhất của tôi là: Luyện tập! Đọc sách về những kỹ thuật chụp hay nói chuyện trên những forum không có nhiều tác dụng, Tuy nhiên, lấy camera ra và chụp, đó chính là lúc bạn có thể tiến bộ nhiều. Để biết thêm thông tin hoặc mua cuốn sách này, bạn có thể vào hoặc

March 2014 Word | 175

Làng Tôi

Bạn thấy gì về một lảng quê truyền thống miền Bắc qua một gánh xiếc Việt Nam? Một cái gì đó rất lạ.


hắc đến “gánh xiếc”, hầu hết chúng ta đều nghĩ tới những dụng cụ phức tạp, những pha nguy hiểm táo bạo và những trang phục lộng lẫy. Chúng ta tưởng tượng đến những màu sắc sống động và pha mạo hiểm chết người làm khán giả hổi hộp nín thở. Nhưng buổi biểu diễn xiếc Làng Tôi - sản phẩm trí tuệ của đội ngũ sáng tạo À Ố Show được biểu diễn tại Nhà hát lớn Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh trong tháng này – lại không giống như hầu hết các buổi biểu diễn xiếc khác. Cũng giống như những chương trình xiếc khác, Làng Tôi có phần mở đầu thông thường bằng màn nhào lộn và rồi khác biệt hoàn toàn. Những màu sắc sống động và hào nhoáng đang thay thế bằng màn tung hứng những con dao sắc nhọn màu nâu đất đầy căng thẳng. Nó đơn giản, nhưng nó có chủ ý. Mặc dù Làng Tôi giới thiệu các pha nhào lộn nguy hiểm tuyệt đẹp làm nhiều người hồi hộp khó thở, nhưng trên hết chương trình vẫn là về văn hóa và lịch sử của nông thôn miền Bắc Việt Nam, nơi mà sự đơn giản ngự trị tuyệt đối.

Một Góc Nhìn Khác

"Những màu sắc và [pha nguy hiểm] trong chương trình được lấy cảm hứng từ công việc hằng ngày của người dân địa phương và trong [cảnh quan thiên nhiên] ở miền bắc Việt Nam," giám đốc sáng tạo Lê Tuấn, cũng là giám đốc đứng đằng sau À Ố, cho hay. Hợp tác với Nhất Lý, Nguyễn Lân và Tấn Lộc, Lê Tuấn bắt đầu dự án Làng Tôi vào năm 2005 với một dàn

176 | Word March 2014

diễn viên hoàn toàn đến từ Liên Đoàn Xiếc Việt Nam. Trong năm 2009, dàn diễn viên của chương trình đã bắt đầu một loạt các buổi biểu diễn với số lượng lên hơn 300 buổi trên thế giới, và chỉ gần đây đã trở lại sân khấu Sài Gòn năm 2014. Giống như À Ố Show, Làng Tôi sử dụng chủ yếu là tre và làm việc cùng nhau trong những pha nguy hiểm nhào lộn, các diễn viên giữ thăng bằng thường đo lường khoảng cách trong khi đang đứng trên những ống tre được đỡ trên vai. Tuy nhiên, không giống như À Ố Show miêu tả cả hai lối sống nông thôn và đô thị của Việt Nam, Làng Tôi lại chỉ kể chuyện về cuộc sống ở nông thôn trong một thời gian cụ thể của Việt Nam. "[Làng Tôi] minh họa một quan điểm khác cho khán giả. Đối với những khán giả đã xem À Ố Show, [Làng Tôi] là một cơ hội khác cho những khán giả muốn nhìn thấy một thế giới khác", anh Lê Tuấn nói.

Hình Ảnh và Âm Thanh của Miền Bắc

Với ly do đó, một bộ sưu tập các nhạc cụ truyền thống nhằm tạo ra âm thanh sử thi để minh họa cho âm thanh của mưa chứ không phải là âm thanh giao thông của thành thị, và ống tre được chế tác để miêu tả nước và sóng chứ không phải là các tòa nhà cao tầng ồn ào. Mặc dù cốt truyện phần lớn đều để tự khán giả cảm nhận và trải nghiệm, Làng Tôi vẽ một bức tranh sống động về miền Bắc Việt Nam, cuộc sống và kinh nghiệm của người dân trong vùng.

Giám đốc Lê Tuấn hy vọng sự trở lại của chương trình trên sân khấu địa phương sẽ tạo một cơ hội cho cả khán giả Việt Nam lẫn nước ngoài để trải nghiệm. Mặc dù nó được đúc kết ra từ nguồn cảm hứng cùng làm tỏa sáng nền văn hóa của Việt Nam thông qua nghệ thuật trình diễn, Làng Tôi muốn đem đến một cái gì đó mới lạ cho khán giả . "[Làng Tôi] quan trọng. Nó chia sẻ với khán giả một phiên bản sản phẩm khác của chúng tôi với cùng một khái niệm và tầm nhìn," anh nói. Để biết thêm thông tin về chương trình cũng như thời gian biểu diễn trong tháng Ba và tháng Tư , vào

Maft Sai Khơi Dậy Sự Hoang Dại

Maft Sai không đơn thuần là một DJ nào đó – người nghệ sỹ nhạc funk đến từ Thái Lan này tái tạo lại thế giới và khoảnh khắc của những bản nhạc nổi tiếng thời ấy. Đông Nam Á có đủ may mắn để xem anh như một tài năng thật sự của riêng khu vực, Maft Sai đã trở thành một chuyên gia của dòng nhạc Thái tuyệt vời – luk thung, molam và nhạc dance Isan – tất cả đều được tái hiện lại trong bản nhạc xuất sắc phát hành bởi hãng Zudrangma. Một DJ với bề dày kinh nghiệm hơn 12 năm, âm nhạc của Maft là sự pha trộn của các thể loại âm nhạc khác lạ từ khắp nơi trên thế giới. Anh mong đợi sẽ đem đến một đêm biểu diễn âm nhạc đậm chất Châu Âu với sự hài hòa của nhạc molam, breakdown của Châu Phi, luk thung uyển chuyển và nhạc cuts của Trung Đông ở The Observatory vào ngày 7/3. Maft Sai sẽ biểu diễn tại The Observatory – góc Lê Lai và Tôn Thất Tùng, Q1, Tp. Hồ Chí Minh lúc 10 giờ tối ngày 7/3. Giá vé vào cổng là 150,000 đồng.

Đêm nhạc “Don’t Feed the Monkey”

GingerWork Mừng Một Tuổi

Chương trình Melting Pot tháng trước đã nhắc chúng tôi nhớ rằng có rất nhiều đêm âm nhạc sôi động trong những ngày gần đây ở Sài Gòn. Mười ban nhạc bao gồm UGWAE, Space Panther, Cat Pylon, The 67s, GrowSound, Freckled Gypsies, Applesauce và những nhóm nhạc tương tự như thế sẽ biểu diễn ở Cargo Bar – với hiệu ứng ánh sáng tuyệt vời được thực hiện bởi Daniel Day Long - một thành viên của nhóm Space Panther. Buổi biểu diễn sẽ bắt đầu từ 4 giờ chiều cho tới khuya. Don’t Feed the Monkey sẽ diễn ra vào ngày 15/3 ở Cargo Bar, 7 Nguyễn Tất Thành, Q4. Giá vé vào cửa là 150,000 đồng và chương trình sẽ bắt đầu lúc 4 giờ chiều.

Nếu như bạn đã sống ở Hà Nội khá lâu và vẫn chưa biết gì về GingerWorks, bạn có thể đã sống ở đâu đó một vùng hẻo lánh. À, cũng có thể là không. Nhưng nhóm chuyên tổ chức các sự kiện này là một đối tượng đáng nể. Nếu bạn muốn chúc mừng 12 tháng của sự kết hợp giữa âm nhạc và nghệ thuật, nghệ thuật sắp đặt, và tất cả những sự sáng tạo của âm nhạc, hãy đánh dấu thứ Bảy ngày 29/3 cho tiệc kỷ niệm tròn một năm của họ. Thông tin chi tiết chưa được thông báo, nhưng anh chàng chủ tóc đỏ, Mark Harries đảm bảo các thông tin sẽ được cập nhật trên trang Facebook của họ - wearegingerwork.

Các sự kiện trong tháng của L'Espace

L’Espace sẽ chào đón mùa Xuân bằng những bản nhạc tiếng Pháp hay nhất được biểu diễn bởi những nghệ sỹ Pháp nổi tiếng xuyên suốt tháng Ba. Nghệ sỹ đầu tiên, Celina Ramsauer – một nhạc sỹ đã biểu diễn ở khắp năm châu, sẽ có mặt tại L’Espace vào thứ Hai ngày 17/3. Với album “Together”, cô mang những kinh nghiệm từ những chuyến đi của mình thể hiện trong âm nhạc – nơi gợi lại những kỷ niệm và khám phá những điều đã làm mọi người trên thế giới vừa khác biệt vừa tương đồng. Ngay sau đó, vào thứ Năm ngày 20/3, L’Espace

sẽ đón chào Brigitte, một bộ đôi nghệ sỹ nhạc Rock đến từ Pháp hứa hẹn mang lại những buổi nhạc hấp dẫn tại sân khấu L’Espace ở Hà Nội. Lấy cảm hứng từ sức mạnh của phụ nữ quyến rũ của thập niên 50, cặp đôi tóc vàng và tóc nâu này sẽ kết hợp giọng hát và lời nhạc đầy khiêu khích cùng những âm điệu rock tràn đầy năng lượng của họ. Superpoze sẽ biểu diễn cuối cùng vào thứ Bảy ngày 29/3, buổi biểu diễn của anh cũng là sự kiện then chốt của tháng với tất cả nguồn năng lượng của thể loại âm nhạc điện tử. Gần đây nhận được nhiều nhận xét tích cực từ khán giả của Liên

Hoan Vieilles Charrues, Superpoze kết hợp nguồn cảm hứng âm nhạc điện tử với phong cách hòa trộn giữa jazz và hip-hop để tạo ra những kiệt tác âm nhạc của mình. Celina Ramsauer sẽ có mặt ở L’Espace vào thứ Hai ngày 17/3 với giá vé 120,000 đồng. Ngay sau đó, Brigitte sẽ biểu diễn vào thứ Năm ngày 20/3 với giá vé 120,000 đồng. Kết thúc tháng với đêm biểu diễn của Superpoze vào thứ Bảy ngày 29/3 với giá 60,000 đồng cho một cặp vé. Tất cả các chương trình sẽ bắt đầu lúc 8 giờ tối. Vé được bán tại L’Espace, 24 Tràng Tiền, Hoàn Kiếm

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The final say

The E-Bike David Mann gives us a crash course in buying an electric bike (excuse the pun). Popular in Hanoi and spreading further afield, are they the answer to a country increasingly struggling with exhaust fumes? Photos by Andy Crompton


ou’d have to be living under a rock not to notice the rising number of electric bicycles now zipping their way around Vietnam’s bustling streets, particularly in Hanoi. With the post-Tet buying stampede now in full flow, bike dealers are lining the pavements with the latest imports from around Asia. What follows is the inside word on the e-bike craze.

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The Pros

The Cons

1) Cheap to Run

3) Easy to Use

1) Kinda Uncool

While your weekly trip to Petrolimex will wind up costing you around VND100,000, electric bikes will smugly glide their way around town for a couple of VND10,000 charges per week, depending on how aggressively you use them. A conservative cost-benefit analysis shows that electricity for e-bikes costs less than VND80,000 per month — riders can budget for annual fuel costs well under VND1 million. Hoang from Nghia Hai Electric Bikes says e-bike riders are not only insulated from volatile petrol prices, but they also bypass the hefty registration, license and maintenance costs incurred by their gasguzzling equivalents. “Expenses really add up,” he says. “Those savings are probably the largest reason why people are looking at e-bikes.”

Pham Hong, who runs Thanh Tung Bikes on Hanoi’s Ba Trieu, pins the popularity of e-bikes down to their ease of use. “The seats are lower and so is the centre of gravity on most electric bikes, such as the Giant M133 (VND12.5 million),” he explains. “This makes them far easier for beginners to learn.” This also might be a plus for the older or vertically privileged customers considering taking the plunge.

Although there are no official statistics on e-bike riders, anecdotally it is clear that school-aged kids still account for the vast majority of the market. And with prices starting from as low as VND8.5 million for a Honda Cool, it’s little wonder that thousands of parents are opting for electric bikes in a bid to keep their children away from motorbikes. Sure, more adults are gliding through Vietnam’s thoroughfares on e-bikes, but they’re having to deal with hordes of teenage girls holding up traffic in their three-bikewide processions. This image problem might explain why plenty of adults (particularly the imageconscious Gen Y-ers) remain hesitant to jump behind the hybrid handlebars. “They also don’t look as cool as a motorbike, which is more powerful, expensive and can go faster,” says Trang Nguyen, a student at Hanoi University. She adds: “If they run out of battery you can look a bit silly pushing them home.”

2) ‘Green’ But this shouldn’t just be about protecting your hip pocket. In fact, buyers opting for e-bikes are helping to trim the number of motorbikes belching carbon dioxide into Vietnam’s already hazy atmosphere. With motorbike exhaust fumes the top contributor to air pollution in Vietnam, environmentalists are optimistic that the shift to battery-powered bikes may help reduce emissions.

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4) The Cool Factor Turn the clock back two years and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone over 16 riding e-bikes around the city. Fast-forward to 2014 and in Hanoi everyone, from office workers to the elderly, are joining the morning commute on shiny-coloured e-bikes, albeit without the streamers and gaudy attachments you may find in school parking lots. The demand for e-bikes has exploded in the past three years, according to Hoang, with electric bikes even outselling nonelectric models in his shop. “They’re perfect for the average commute around the city, which is around 1km to 3km,” he says. “More adults, including myself, are using them to get to work because they are so convenient.”

2) The Weight Considering Vietnam’s temperamental climate, the idea of pushing a bike home doesn’t sound appealing to anyone — let alone when some bikes can weigh up to 50kg.

The Final Word That’s the typical weight of popular e-bike models like the Nijia Mau Cam (VND12.5 million) or the Honda Hurricane (VND10.5 million). Shoppers will find reprieve in high-end brands, although these can still be double the weight of a normal bicycle. The Nishiki 26 (VND12.5 million), for example, is disguised as a traditional pedal-powered bike with a lithium battery under the saddle — but it still weighs upwards of 25kg. As e-bike owner Bup Be Quy says, “If you’re going long distances and it runs out of electricity, you have to push it on foot and it is very heavy. If you have an e-bike with pedals, it’s still far heavier than normal bicycles. It’s like being at the gym!”

3) The Sound of Silence In China, electric bikes have a nickname — ‘silent death’. The quiet running electric motors on e-bikes come with the chilling reality that few people on the road can actually hear you coming. Motorbikes, cars and pedestrians included.

The added perception of e-bikes as ‘slow’, despite reaching speeds of up to 40km/h, also means people are less inclined to wear helmets. Manufacturers including Honda, Yamaha and Giant have catered for this by adding lights, horns and more engine noise to give e-bikes a stronger presence on the roads.

4) Not so ‘Green’ While newer and more expensive models will offer greenies satisfaction in being environmentally friendly, e-bikes at the bottom of the price bracket aren’t exactly guilt-free. A recent statement by the Vietnam Association for the Conservation of Nature and the Environment shows that lead acid batteries, most commonly found in cheaper e-bikes under VND 10 million, are difficult to dispose of and pose indirect impacts on the environment. On the other hand, lithium-ion batteries have a longer battery life, require less time to recharge and can be recycled, leaving a better environmental footprint.

“Buyers opting for e-bikes are helping to trim the number of motorbikes belching carbon dioxide into Vietnam’s already hazy atmosphere”

With plenty of options to suit a wide range of budgets, e-bikes are a nifty, efficient and cost-effective way to make daily commutes around Vietnam’s major cities. Just look at the capital. Here they’re driven in droves. Here are our top tips for buyers looking to enter the e-bike market:

1) Consider pedal-battery powered

hybrids that won’t leave you stranded on the highway

2) Lithium-ion batteries usually require

less time charging and will run longer distances — sometimes up to 80km per charge

3) If you’re tall, opt for a model with a

longer platform and bigger wheels to help with balance, like the Yamaha Metis X (VND12 million) or the Bridgestone QLI (VND13.1 million)

4) With top speeds reaching up to

40km/h, wear a helmet and add horns and lights to make your presence known

5) Go to reputable and certified

distributors to avoid inflated prices and counterfeit bikes

6) Look at the weight capacity of different bikes if you’re ferrying passengers. This ranges from 70kg to 130kg

The final say

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Do-Gooders, Money Makers and Misfits

Are you a foreigner living in Vietnam? Could you, too, be a misfit or a do-gooder? Or perhaps you’re just here for the financial gain? Prepare yourself for some hard truths. Words by Nick Ross. Illustration by Yanneth Alboroz


ur species has an obsession with categorisation. From plants and animals through to simple and complex ideas, humans like to give everything around them a label, and then fit these labels into groups. Such categorisation has lent itself to a theory talked about by Vietnam-based expat, John Cole. Picking it up in the mid-1980s in Papua New Guinea, both tongue-incheek and yet daringly close to the bone, Cole places the foreigners living in this country into three categories: missionaries, mercenaries and misfits. While there is a rhythm of the words — three ‘m’s and two words with the suffix, ‘ary’ — in Vietnam’s case there are negative historical connotations attached to the labels ‘missionary’ and ‘mercenary’. So, we’ve updated the labels to take into account modern-day Vietnam. But the question remains. Could this categorisation hold some truth?

The Do-Gooder When I first came to Vietnam I was brimful with good intentions. I saw the poverty, was shocked and tried to help. There was a badly treated Cambodian street kid, perhaps only 12 years old. Together with my partner we tried unsuccessfully to get her off the streets. Then there were the booksellers in the backpackers’ area. I taught them English, for free. We had a few lessons and then they stopped turning up. Although my wellmeant intentions ended in failure, I was trying to do some good, make a difference. I was a do-gooder. But only partly so. There are thousands of foreigners living in Vietnam full of good intentions. A small minority are truly selfless — altruists. They give themselves almost 100 percent. Michael Brosowski of the Hanoi-based Blue Dragon Foundation is of this ilk. His life revolves around helping young, disadvantaged people in trouble. Saigon-based Trish Franklin of Loreto Vietnam is similar, having given up everything for the sake of those in need. These two people, along with a few other like-minded souls, are the real do-gooders. They have a simple cause — to help give people better lives. Other people with this mindset — the NGO workers, the volunteers, the diplomatic workers, the people who go to fundraising

events and the teachers who believe that imparting their skills will help people in Vietnam to better opportunities — are driven by charity-based motivations in this theoretical setup. But this categorisation only partly describes their raison d’etre, the work they do in Vietnam.

The Money Makers With the possibility of earning a relatively large salary in Vietnam while enjoying the cheap cost of living, there is a money-making element to the lives of many expats living in this country. While it’s not so fruitful as in the past — when expat packages and add-on benefits were often outrageous — salaries for most foreigners remain relatively high. The money-maker is someone who takes advantage of the place where they work or live. In the traditional sense — that of the mercenary — they are highly-paid fighters motivated only by financial gain. The modern world puts them in a different environment, but the motivation is the same — money. At various times in this country I have been motivated by money. There was one period where I was particularly ‘bad’, if earning money can be seen as negative. I was working all the hours that both daylight and night could send, but I was on a roll and stashing the cash. Even with a decade’s worth of inflation, what I was earning at the end of 2002 far surpasses what most foreigners here earn today. There is a period when most people living here become driven by financial gain. The key is to balance the desire to earn with a sense of morality. Earning money is positive, but earning large amounts of money at the expense of others is unjust.

The Misfit Changing visa and work permit regulations mean that there are less misfits from overseas making a living in Vietnam. Now you have to prove you are here for the right reasons. In the past anyone could rock up and start afresh. But the fact remains — countries like Vietnam attract people who cannot make it back home. Here you can reinvent yourself. If you teach, you are treated with respect. While back home you might be a nobody, in Vietnam you can become a big fish. The sea

here is just that small. We’ve all met this type, all known the teacher whose previous job was as a cleaner at a fast food restaurant in the US. We’ve also met the corporate worker who can’t hold down a job, but due to an overseas background gets hired (and then fired), when they are just not cut out for management. Then there is the opposite factor. People like myself who have lived here so long that going home may no longer an option. In reality it is. But finding the work I do in Vietnam back in London would be impossible. In London, 200 people going for the same job will have my level of experience, if not more. They know the city, have local knowledge and bring with them a portfolio of contacts that I just don’t have. The word misfit is not necessarily negative. It can also apply to people who have felt the urge to broaden their horizons, seek new opportunities and try life overseas. This was how I originally came to Vietnam — I think most foreigners here may have a similar story. We are not misfits as such, but our life choices are motivated by the need to search out something different. So, maybe it’s better to describe people like ourselves as simply not run-of-the-mill. Regardless, this is where we fall in the view espoused by Cole.

Stereotypes The categorisation talked of by John Cole describes behavioural extremes. In the same way that most people are moderates, with only small amounts of edge-of-society individuals becoming extremists, so the people who are truly misfits, do-gooders and money makers are in a minority. Aspects true to most of us fit into a mixture of all three categories. To deny that is to deny the reasons why we live in a place such as Vietnam. However, the longer you live in this country and acclimatise to the culture, the way of life and the belief systems, for many people such categories cease to apply. Ultimately everyone, regardless of background, is influenced by the unique characteristics of the place they live. Foreigners living long-term in Vietnam are no different. Do you have any comments on this article? If so, please email

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The last call Hanoi-based social enterprise, Betterday, sells anything from organic green tea to coffee, natural beauty products and organic spices. Owner Nguyen Tuyet Minh explains how her business is able to focus on fair trade and organic produce, a rarity in Vietnam. Photo by David Harris Before Betterday… I worked for development projects in the northern part of Vietnam to help farmers produce safe and good-quality products. I started Betterday because...

development projects only have a short time frame and cannot support and work together with farmers over the long-term. So we decided to open our own company to work closely and long-term with ethnic minority farmers who live in remote areas.

Starting a business is… a big challenge. Before we started our business, we made a business plan and we thought that it would not be so hard. But when you start, it’s harder than you expected. It’s like a type of big school without any teachers — you have to learn yourself every day from real life. Every day is your exam. On the other hand, it also makes you become more creative, more patient and sometimes more tough. We teach farmers… to grow and produce organic or safe

products and develop their teamwork and management skills. After that we buy their products to sell in the local and international market.

Farmers in Vietnam… are hardworking. Especially the farmers our company works with. They are also honest and friendly. We work mostly with… ethnic minority people. So when

we work with them we can learn about their culture, which is very different from [the majority Kinh culture], even though we are in the same country.

Fair trade food in Vietnam is...

still not common. Our company is one of the first companies doing fair trade. We face a lot of difficulties, such as how to support farmers to work well as a group, and keeping good records of their production. It is also difficult fulfilling the complex requirements of the fair trade system.

If I could change one thing in the world, I'd... stop people using chemicals in food production, so that everyone could stay healthy. My biggest regret is...that my hands are too small to give a hand to all the people who need help. My dream is... to have a green world. Life... is sometimes hard, sometimes smooth, but for me I think it’s fair.

Betterday is at 114 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi or online at

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Word Vietnam March 2014  

Everything you need to know about Vietnam and a little bit more

Word Vietnam March 2014  

Everything you need to know about Vietnam and a little bit more