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Wh at Do Y ou Thin k?

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Contents Aug.2017




THE TALK 10 / A Matter of Research

Stats compiled about Vietnam

11 / The Big Five

August in Vietnam

26 / The New VBA Season Did anyone say basketball?

INSIDER 44 / Many Faces


Christian Routin is the model of cross-cultural integration.

12 / Replica Art

46 / Moments of Truth

The man behind all the copies

14 / On the Money

A café in Saigon that accepts and converts bitcoin

18 / Have Helmet, Will Live

A new public awareness campaign is reinforcing a simple message

20 / Behind Closed Doors

Screenings of Vietnamese movies from the past

22 / School of Mosh Festival

Counter culture gets itself a mosh pit

24 / Newborns Vietnam Reducing infant mortality

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Despite being rational beings, human decision making is highly irrational

52 / What Do You Think?

90 / Design Boutiques in Hanoi

As tastes change, so a new generation of designers and design boutiques are emerging in Hanoi

96 / Tabletop Gaming

Who needs a computer to play games when you can play them the traditional way?

104 / Craft Food

Getting our readers’ thoughts on life in Vietnam

It’s not just beer that’s getting a makeover in the capital, food is too

74 / Anything But English

108 / Mystery Diner Hanoi

Not all foreign language learnt in Vietnam comes from the US…

80 / Treasure out of Trash

Repurposing discarded items to create something new

84 / eSports

The fastest growing sport in the world is getting competition status in Vietnam

S&L’s Diner

110 / Street Snacker Hanoi Bun Dau Mam Tom

112 / Mystery Diner HCMC Golden Jade

114 / Street Snacker HCMC Banh Trang Phoi Suong

ABC International School, Ho Chi Minh City, Official

Our New Secondary Campus Opening 2018

Land area 12,650m2

4G football pitch with smart shades

Fully shaded salt-water 25m swimming pool

State of the art theatre with over 400 seats

33 dedicated classrooms & 19 specialist classrooms

Two full sized air-conditioned basketball court

Located in Tran Thai -Tan An Huy Residence Area at Phuoc Kien, Nha Be District

Contents Aug.2017





150 / Top Eats 2

160 / Girl About Town

118 / Abandoned Hong Kong


162 / Medical Buff

28 / To Do List

172 / Know Your City

32 / Just In


154 / HCMC City Guide

174 / Go Home, You’re Drunk Matcha

Twenty years after its handover to China, Hong Kong still contains reminders of British colonial rule

126 / The Perfume Pagoda

A trip to one of the most iconic tourist sites in Northern Vietnam

164 / Bar Stool


168 / Coffee Cup

36 / To Do List


38 / Just In

137 / Book Buff

136 / Hanoi City Guide

142 / The Therapist

140 / Daytripper

152 / Women’s Fitness

144 / Bar Stool

153 / Pets’ Corner

146 / Top Eats 1

158 / Body & Temple

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The green substance that’s got into almost everything. Even toothpaste

176 / Ten 10

Market researcher Neil Doyle

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his month we surveyed our staff on the imminent release of Vietnam’s own Bphone2. To what extent will the Bphone2 be a success? Choose one of the options below and briefly comment. 5) Trump got in, so why not? 4) Everything cheap here’s a winner 3) The Bphone what? 2) See how the Nokia 3310 goes first 1) It’ll flop badly like a perm in Vietnam’s sun 5 — I love the idea that Vietnam is doing its own mobile phone. I mean, why not? My concern is the name. Surely B is inferior to A? — Nick Ross, Chief Editor

The editorial and design of WORD is carried out by Duong Huynh Advertising JSC


NICK ROSS Chief Editor

MATTHEW COWAN Managing Editor

BAO ZOAN Staff Photographer

MIKE PALUMBO Staff Photographer


EDWARD DALTON Staff Writer (Hanoi)

JULIE VOLA Photo Editor

AIMEE DUONG Graphic Designer

NGUYEN LOC Layout Designer

ZOE OSBORNE Staff Writer


3 — What happened to Bphone1? I’ve heard someone talking about a phone for ages. Maybe same pace as the metro project? — Mads Monsen, Creative Director

3 — Crap, I just bought myself a new phone. Oh well, I’ll have to wait for Bphone3 I guess! — Julie Vola, Photo Editor

3 — The what? Never heard of it. But I’m not exactly their target market. I buy a phone based on specifications, not because Son Tung M-TP or some other pretty boy is plastered across the ads. — Edward Dalton, Staff Writer

BAO ROSS General Director


CHAU GIANG Office Assistant



For advertising enquiries please call Ms Bao on +84 938 609689

Special thanks to Binh Nguyen, Bronwyn MacLeod, Ha My Nguyen, Shahar Lubin, Stephanie Su, Peter Winkley, George Schooling, Newborns Vietnam, Rita Hung, Eddy Chan, Bridget Griffin, Harry Hodge, Diane Lee, Sasha Arefieva, Billy Gray, Hai Vu, Christian Routin, Dang Nguyen, Malte Blas, Satori – Slack and Savor, JB Jance, Teigue John Blokpoel, Douglas Holwerda, Amazin Le Thi, Maria Skorobogatov, Truong Hoang, Phil Kelly, So Chaud, Dr. Serge Gradstein, Archie Pizzini, Matcha, Neil Doyle and David Legard.

3 — No idea what that is but I hope it’s a success! — Zoe Osborne, Staff Writer

Word is a registered trademark. No content may be reproduced in any form without prior authorisation of the owners.

3 — Can’t comment on something I know nothing about! — Diane Lee, Contributor

CHUYÊN ĐỀ DU LỊCH & ẨM THỰC ISBN: 978-604-77-3469-6

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CÔNG TY TNHH MTV NHÀ XUẤT BẢN THẾ GIỚI Trụ sở chính: 46 Trần Hưng Đạo, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội Tel: 024.3825.3841 – Fax: 024.3826.9578 Email: thegioi@ Website: www.

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In 15.000 cuốn, khổ 20.5 x 27cm In tại Công Ty Cổ Phần In Trần Phú 71 – 73 – 75 Hai Bà Trưng, Q. 1, TP. HCM. Giấy xác nhận ĐKXB số: 1736-2017/ CXBIPH/10-118/ThG. Quyết định xuất bản số: 738/QĐ-ThG cấp ngày 24 tháng 07 năm 2017. In xong và nộp lưu chiểu năm 2017. Mã ISBN: 978-604-77-3469-6 SÁCH CHUYÊN ĐỀ QUẢNG CÁO



t first, the idea of undertaking a survey is a great idea. With the aid of social media, surveys nowadays can reach far-wider audiences in a fraction of the time compared to traditional forms of gathering data such as by phone and via the post. And, you are able to collect responses and analyse results almost immediately. I can remember as a high school student

as tourism, business and economics, entertainment, architecture, arts, generation gap, immigration and social media, are all specific to the Vietnam context. That meant a lot of work was done by our team to come up with the questions and then crunch the numbers as they came in, then scouring comments for morsels of interesting information. While we had hopes and dreams of having tens of thousands of residents of Vietnam respond to our survey, in reality we were never going to get that many despite the generous prizes offered by the guys at Quest as an inducement. It’s generally accepted that when you undertake

a survey, you can expect a response rate of around just 10 to 15% of your target demographic, and that’s after you have offered up an iPad or a tropical island holiday with all expenses paid as a prize for one lucky respondent. We didn’t have that luxury, although based on clicks on the survey link and actually completing the survey, we had a 24% success rate. So with that in mind, please digest our cover story knowing that our findings aren’t definitive, but rather a mere snapshot of what our readership thinks, offering us a window into the psyche of the people who call Vietnam home. — Matt Cowan, Managing Editor



Wh a Do Y t ou Thin k?



conducting my own research. It took me an entire Sunday in the wet and cold to ride around my small country hometown (3,000 residents) on my bicycle to hand deliver a hundred or so paper surveys I had created. A week later I had to do it all again to get them back. The survey software we used for our cover story this month, What Do You Think? is well known in academia and used extensively for research. Unfortunately the software doesn’t do it all for you, although it can formulate questions based on other users’ questions before you. As it turns out, our survey is one of a kind. The questions we came up with on topics such


THIS MONTH'S COVER Design by DH Advertising Photo by Julie Vola

Have Your Say We know you’ve got feedback. So let us know on Facebook — — or via Twitter, @wordvietnam. No matter how positive or negative your thoughts, we look forward to hearing from you.

Inbox Do you have any comments that you would like to air? If so, reach out and touch us at matt@ wordvietnam. com — we’re at your fingertips.

A Tale of Two Cities

talented performers and fantastic service. big fan of their stuff. — BG

(July, 2017) Haven’t picked up your magazine for some time — usually read the articles online. Really impressed. How do you manage to do it every month? — SJ Very close to the bone this month. Clever how you managed to dig up the rivalry between Hanoi and Saigon without it getting out of control, which it sometimes does — MR Great front cover this month. Like the way the Saigon skyline is upside down and the Hanoi skyline is the correct way round. A bit like Australia and England should be. — DG

Ooops! In the article A Matter of Dialect (July, 2017, page 83), we mistakenly wrote that hai nhăm or hai mươi lăm means 15. Erm, it actually means 25. Thanks to Jeremie Courivault for pointing out the error.

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A review of this restaurant has already been published in Saigoneer. This article is plagiarism. — Troll on Facebook I think the NZ Herald reporter may have drawn some inspiration for today’s story from this month’s cover of your mag. — CP

Ryu Gyong North Korean Restaurant (July, 2017, page 122) Loved this article. The way it was written and the perfect ‘score’ at the end. Made me laugh. — DB If u’ve never been to any, worth a visit. Interesting concept. All gals from the north prettier than the south. — SW If you go you are likely providing cash to the North Korean government. Not a good plan. — GG They have one in Phnom Penh too. Phenomenal food, supremely

A Matter of Dialect (July, 2017, page 83) Response to the following tweet: So which #Vietnamese #dialect should you learn? According to some, the only one that counts is from #Hanoi @ericburdette If by “some” you mean “the government.” @wordvietnam Agree. But that is not necessarily the authorities doing that… Hanoi is 1,000 years old. Saigon is 300. @ericburdette There has been and still is a massive effort to emphasize that ppl who speak anything other than the HN dialect are “incorrect.” @ChrisGNguyen Good piece. I learned Viet from ppl from both north and south; when I first got to VN, my accent was mixed. Then I lived in Hue…

Talk Lead

A Matter of Research


any statistics are compiled about this country, both locally and around the world. We’ve gone through the data and have put together some of the most interesting.

What the stats say about Vietnam The breakdown of loans is as follows: Home purchase and home improvements — 40% Home appliances / electronics — 30% Motorbikes / cars — 15%

Agricultural Vietnam Earlier this year, market research company Cimigo released a report comparing data in 2016 with historical data from 2005. Covering a period where Vietnam’s economy has grown at over 5% a year, it’s an eye-opener. One key finding is the change of people living in agricultural regions compared to those living in urban Vietnam. All administrative areas of cities are defined as urban except for areas within the city provinces that are demarcated as communes (xa in Vietnamese). These are rural. The same distinction is used in the country’s provinces. In 2005, just 27%, or 22.1 million people, lived in urban Vietnam. By 2016 this had risen to 34%, a total of 30.9 million people. This is reflected in statistics released by the World Bank. In 1985, agriculture in Vietnam accounted for 37.2% of national GDP. By 2008 this had fallen to 18.5%. Over the same time, industry as a percentage of national GDP had risen from 26.2% to 43.2%. With an increasing number of people living in the towns and cities, a trend that is set to continue, there is constant pressure to develop new markets. On an agricultural front, Vietnam is the second-largest coffee producer in the world and vies for top spot on the rice production front with Thailand. But what about the urban setting? Dealing with the transformation from agrarian to urban-based society is an ongoing challenge. An indicator of how this transformation has affected wealth can be seen by the number of high-income urban households in Vietnam. In 2005, 1.61 million households had an income of over US$500 (VND11.4 million) a month. By 2016 this had grown by 111% to 3.41 million.

Jumping for Joy?

Motorbike Cars Home Purchase


Home Appliances

And here are the figures to show how each market has grown exponentially in the past decade: 2005 6,000 new apartments sold 25,000 new passenger car sales 437,000 new motorbike sales 2016 59,000 new apartments sold. Increase 983% 179,000 new passenger car sales. Increase 716% 3,121,000 new motorbike sales. Increase 714%

New Apartments 0

10000 20000 30000 40000 50000 60000

2015 2016

US$16 billion in consumer loans

Consumer Finance As Vietnam was largely unaffected by the credit crunch in 2008, over the past decade there has been an increased willingness of banks to give consumer loans. This has had an influence on the markets for real estate, motorbikes, cars and electronics. Here are the stats provided by Cimigo:

New Cars 0





2005 — US$1.6 billion in consumer loans. Approximately 3.6% of GDP 2016 — US$16 billion in consumer loans. Approximately 9% of GDP This is an increase of 1,000%

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New Motorbikes 0

The percentage increase in consumer loans roughly correlates to the percentage increase in apartment sales, motorbike sales and car sales. The question as ever with debt is, is it sustainable?

5000001000000 1500000 2000000 2500000 3000000 3500000

In Vietnam, the transformation from agrarian to urban society has also meant a change in lifestyle. One factor that recently came to light in a survey conducted by Stanford University was the Vietnamese indifference to physical exercise. According to the study which focused on more than 700,000 people in over 100 countries who used the same health and fitness monitoring mobile app, on average Vietnamese people walk around 3,600 steps a day, far less than the global average of 5,000. This places the country seventh from bottom in the rankings, with Hong Kong residents on top with an average of 6,880 steps per day. Such a lack of movement should surely translate into growing levels of obesity. Yet it seems Vietnam fares well on this front. According to an article published in The New England Journal of Medicine in June, together with Bangladesh, Vietnam has the joint lowest adult obesity rate in the world. With the study defining ‘obese’ as a body mass index of 30 or higher and ‘overweight’ as a BMI (body mass index) from 25 to 29, in Vietnam 8.1 million adults are considered to be overweight — approximately 9% of the population. However, only 1% are considered obese. Around the world, more than 10% of people are obese. All meaning that sedentary lifestyles, although making Vietnamese people far lazier than their counterparts elsewhere, have yet to affect obesity levels. Considering that excess weight played a role in 4 million deaths in 2015, this is good news. The real issue in Vietnam, it seems, is the other side effect of the transformation from agricultural to urban society; pollution. In particular, air quality. — Nick Ross

Big5 The

Singing superstar, Ariana Grande, hits our shores this month as part of her Dangerous Woman world tour

Why not catch a flight to Bangkok and see one of the world’s biggest bands, Foo Fighters, live on Aug. 24?

Korean guitarist Sungha Jung performs in Hanoi on Aug. 26




The Danang Marathon, charity cricket night, Ariana Grande, Foo Fighters and Sungha Jung. The top events this month


b 1

Manulife Danang International Marathon Bien Dong Park, Danang Sunday Aug. 6

5,000 runners from Vietnam and all over the world will be heading to Danang this August for the 2017 Manulife Danang International Marathon. There will be a wide range of distances available: 5km, 10km, 21km, 42km, and the course will follow a stretch of the city coastline, starting with an early morning sunrise over the sea and ending before the heat of the day. For more information, visit 2

Charity Cricket Night Pullman Saigon Centre, Q1, Saturday, Aug. 12

Merv Hughes and Geoff Marsh, two of Australia’s legends of cricket, are coming to Ho Chi Minh City for a sports dinner in aid of children’s charity, Loreto. The pair will be familiar names to fans of the sport, and the event promises to be an entertaining night full of tales from their storied careers. The event will be held at the Pullman Saigon Centre on Aug. 12 at 6.30pm. Tickets are VND2.2 million per person or VND20 million for a table of 10. This includes a buffet dinner and freeflow beer, wine and soft drinks. The two legends will be sharing stories and footage. Tickets are on sale Pullman Saigon Centre and Phatty’s Sports Bar in District 1, and DTwo Sports Bar and Meatworks in District 2. Pullman Saigon Centre is located

at 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, HCMC. For more information email Brett.malcolm@ or Lincoln.saunders@ 3

Ariana Grande

Quan Khu 7 Stadium, Tan Binh, HCMC Wednesday, Aug. 23 Vietnam can consider itself lucky to be just one of four countries in Southeast Asia to welcome singing sensation Ariana Grande on her Dangerous Woman world tour. Her concert will take place at Quan Khu 7 in what should be the ultimate music experience for all her fans. Tickets are available exclusively through Ticketbox and start at VND790,000. For more info and ticket bookings, go to or


Foo Fighters Bangkok Thursday Aug. 24

Okay, they’re not coming to Vietnam as far as we know, but it’s near enough and we couldn’t help throwing this one in. Founded intially as a one-man band by Dave Grohl (ex-Nirvana; Queens of the Stoneage) not long after the death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, Foo Fighters have gone on to win four Grammys for best rock album among a whole host of other awards. They’ve also sold more than 12 million albums in the US alone. Almost 25 years on since their formation, the ‘Fooies’ are touring their ninth studio album which was released in June, and whoever is lucky enough to go, will get blown away by their big stadium sound. For more info on tickets, go to ticketbox. vn/foo-fighters 5

Sungha Jung Live Youth Theatre, Hanoi Saturday Aug. 26


Korean guitar prodigy, Sungha Jung, will perform live at Hanoi’s Youth Theatre on Aug. 26. This will be the first time a Korean of his stature in the music world has performed in Vietnam. Jung hit paydirt as a teenager back in 2013 when his YouTube videos reached over 700 million views with 2.1 million fans subscribing to his channel. Now considered Asia’s finest fingerstyle guitarist, Jung has been feted by all the stars, even gaining the attention of Yoko Ono who has said that John would’ve loved to see him perform. Tickets to see Sungha Jung live range between VND600,000 to VND1.2 million. For more info on how to purchase tickets, go to | August 2017 Word | 11

Briefings HCMC

Replica Art Meet the man behind the copies


or decades shopkeepers in Ho Chi Minh City have been selling art by the likes of Da Vinci, Vermeer and Monet. Only there’s a catch. They were painted by local artists. Tran Anh Tru and his team are among a number of Saigon-based artisans who make their living by copying other people’s works of art. Tru has been painting copies of European artworks for almost 30 years, and he’s had his own studio in the city since the late 1970s. Come by his studio on Mac Dinh Chi, and you’ll see him sitting on his chair, with a print-out of a famous work in one hand, and a paintbrush in the other. It’s been a lifelong passion for Tru,

but it was nearly curtailed at age five by a teacher suspicious of his talent. “I’ve been in love with painting since first grade,” he says. “When I went to school I drew an oil lamp, and the teacher came by and gave it two zeroes [out of 10]. I was so mad! I said ‘My work was better than everyone else’s in the class — so why did you give me two zeroes?’ She said, ‘this drawing was drawn by an adult. This is not your work!’” He adds: “The teacher saw me crying so she brought me a box of materials and let me draw it again. And once she saw the finished work, from then on, every drawing assignment I got 10 points. It was one of the experiences in my life that I remember most.”

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Finding a Niche Tru began his career painting portraits, but one day a French tourist came by his studio and after being impressed with his work, he was commissioned to draw a panel painting — a medium which was popular in 16th century Europe. “That’s when I was exposed to western classical painting. I did the copy and through this commission I became very curious and started to explore western art.” A meeting with another French painter during the mid-1990s help turn his talent into the business which he has today. “In 1996 and 1997 there was a different Frenchman that would ask me to do copies which he’d

bring back to France to sell.” As Vietnam has become more wealthy, more Vietnamese have commissioned him for work. Until 10 years ago it was mainly international clients, but today more and more Vietnamese are coming to him requesting one of his famous master copies. Tru is happy when a client understands that copying a painting is not a straightforward exercise. Da Vinci took four years to complete the Mona Lisa, after all, and Tru will sometimes have just a few weeks to get it right. Luckily, he has a few tricks to speed up the process. “We can research, print out the original and work with that — the

original artist had to observe, do sketching. Technology has allowed us to speed up the process.”

Fulfilment For a commission, he has to please the client, but does he feel a duty to Van Gogh, Da Vinci or Picasso when he paints their work? And what does he think they would make of his master copies? “I think if I’m an artist — if I see that my painting is being copied by a lot of people I would be very happy. That means a lot of people enjoy my work. It’s a rewarding thing.” But is his work copying other works of art completely fulfilling as an artist? After a lifetime of

looking back into art’s rich history, he’s now looking forward as he hopes to create original work of his own. “I plan to retire in a couple of years,” he says. “I want to produce my own work. It’s more satisfying than doing master copies. But it’s a way of making a living. Is it truly satisfying as an artist? Not quite. What I do brings me profit and it’s an opportunity for me to learn from a variety of other artists as I try to understand how each artist communicates their style. Once I retire I want to apply this knowledge to my own work.” — Thomas Barrett Tran Anh Tru’s studio is at 57 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1, HCMC BY BAO ZOAN | August PHOTO 2017 Word | 13

Briefings HCMC

On the Money A café in Saigon that converts cash into bitcoin


alking past the B sign that hangs from 74 Bui Vien, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s just an innocuous bit of branding for yet another coffee shop. But for those who do know what it means, it’s an exciting symbol of tomorrow’s world. The B in B Coffee stands for bitcoin —a digital cryptocurrency that is already revolutionising our relationship with money. It was created in 2009, and users transfer money directly, without an intermediary such as a bank or government. The exchange from user to user is recorded in a public ledger called the blockchain. This is where other bitcoin users verify the transaction through what is known as mining, thus releasing new bitcoins into circulation. Since its inception, bitcoin’s value has skyrocketed. In June 2009, one bitcoin was valued at US$0.0001 whereas today one bitcoin is worth over US$2,000.

A Pretty Penny B Coffee has Vietnam’s first and only 24hour bitcoin ATM, which lets people insert cash into the machine before it transfers it into bitcoin. It will then appear in your digital wallet which can be used with your smartphone or device, enabling you to do all the things you’d normally do with a currency — from trading to buying goods or services. At B Coffee you can buy a coffee or a beer with Bitcoin through your device, and this could be just the beginning. Danny

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Uvdmnte, who owns B Coffee, believes it’s more than just a novelty: “Cryptocurrencies are causing a stir,” he says. “20 years ago when the internet began, people didn't know what they could do with it, then people found out what they can do with it and now people can't live without it, their whole life revolves around it. That’s what I feel bitcoin will be. My life revolves around bitcoin.” He chose a spot on Ho Chi Minh City’s famous backpacker street because more and more travellers are now using Bitcoin as a means of getting around without having to pay expensive transaction fees or suffering from fluctuations in exchange rates. Danny believes it’s not only them that can benefit from bitcoin — it has practical possibilities that could transform the lives of the Vietnamese. “A Vietnamese lady came in and bought US$68,000 of bitcoin from me,” says Danny. “Why? She wants to keep some of her savings in bitcoin. She bought them for around US$1,000 per bitcoin so today they are worth double that. I think she has balls.” He adds: “Eight or nine years ago nobody knew anything [about Bitcoin], four years ago, some people knew, most didn’t — they associated it with drugs or hackers. Now so many institutions are built around it. Attitudes are changing.”

A Cashless Society As well as being a potentially shrewd investment, bitcoin could also open up

Vietnam’s export industry to those without the financial means to send their products abroad. In bitcoin, the price in Vietnam is the same price as in the United Kingdom, or Australia. “Once they are able to accept payment by bitcoin, they can sell their handicrafts, coffee or whatever, abroad. They can sell coffee and make some money — it's better for them.” But how do governments deal with a system that essentially bypasses them entirely? Regulation is expected in Vietnam by December 2017, but nobody is quite sure what it's going to look like. In China they have gone from having a 10% share of worldwide bitcoin trading in 2012, to an almost 100% grip on the world’s Bitcoin markets. Investors there embraced it early on — and many are now reaping the rewards. For Danny, it’s a case of if you can’t beat them, join them. Bitcoin has faced criticism, with various financial experts predicting that its current rate of growth is unsustainable, which could lead to an ugly crash. Others have pointed out that you can’t touch or feel bitcoin, which could lead it open to manipulation and theft from hackers. “Diamonds have no real value, too; it’s what value people put on them. Every bitcoin is accounted for — it’s transparent — through the blockchain everyone can see everyone's transaction. It’s open.” —Thomas Barrett B-Coffee is located at 74 Bui Vien, Q1, HCMC

PHOTOS BY BAO ZOAN | August 2017 Word | 15

Briefings Hanoi

Book Cafés A café concept that is starting to spread


rom local drip coffee outlets to giants like Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Vietnam’s billiondollar coffee industry is highly competitive, forcing owners to come up with new ways to entice customers.

Enter the book café, a concept which is already becoming imitated. On entering a few of the book cafés located around Hanoi, the decor was quite impressive. But, it seems that most customers are more interesting in reading their Facebook pages rather than flipping through pages of an actual novel.

Decoration or to be Read? For some book cafés, such as the Work Café (4th Floor, Vincom Mall, Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung) the books appear to be more for decoration than for serious readers. The vertigo-inducing array of a hundred books stacked from floor to ceiling might look impressive, but good luck trying to get Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 off the ceiling. Tranquil Café, in Hanoi’s Old Quarter (5 Nguyen Quang Bich, Hoan Kiem) provides a cozy and quiet atmosphere better suited for reading. There is a small but notable selection of English-language books on the lower floor. The two-storey café has recently expanded to include a second location just across the street. The new location doesn’t have a book collection, however. Also in the Old Quarter is Hoa 10 Gio Floral and Book Café (26 Hang Voi, Hoan Kiem). It may seem like an odd mix at first, selling flowers on the ground floor and serving coffee and finger food upstairs. Yet it

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works. Rustically decorated, there is a large room dedicated to a wide assortment of Vietnamese comic books on the second floor. This is a surefire way to induce nostalgia for the 20-something Vietnamese crowd, or to keep children entertained. It should also be noted that the café will also allow you to borrow books free of charge. Outside the Old Quarter is Café Tung Book (62 Thai Thinh 2, Dong Da). This café features a beautiful semi-private sitting room filled with a compendium of new and old Vietnamese and English-language books. The owner is a collector of antique literature. After running out of space for his collection at home, he opened Café Tung Book in order to house his personal collection, many of which are apparently quite valuable and rare. And of course there is Bookworm (44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh), on the same premises as Hanoi Cooking Centre. The cooking centre has its own little courtyard café — an excellent place to relax over a coffee and a good book. Book cafés make a welcoming place for relaxation and quiet contemplation. The music is either minimal or non-existent. The bevy of stories stacked upon the café walls seem infinite, and there’s also something to be said about a backdrop of books which can drive one’s imagination. — Hai Vu

PHOTOS BY JULIE VOLA | August 2017 Word | 17

Briefings Hanoi


A ware

Have Helmet, Will Live A new public awareness campaign is reinforcing a simple message: wear a helmet


ou see it everywhere on roads in Vietnam, particularly in the north and in the countryside; Vietnamese and foreigners driving or riding as passengers on a motorcycle, and not wearing a helmet. While wearing a helmet has been mandatory in Vietnam since December 2007, drivers and passengers — including children — often forgo wearing helmets for any number of reasons, sometimes with devastating consequences. Of the 30,000 road accidents that occur annually in Vietnam, 70 percent involve motorcycles. Of this 70 percent, 30 percent result in the death of the driver or passenger or both, caused by head trauma or brain injuries. That translates to over 6,000 deaths per year. Studies have shown that wearing a helmet while driving a motorcycle reduces the risk of death by 42 percent, potentially preventing 2,500 needless deaths each year. Public awareness campaigns about the benefits of wearing a helmet from the National Traffic Safety Committee have been ongoing, with the latest campaign aimed at Vietnamese youth. This demographic often wears poor-quality helmets when riding, which is equivalent to wearing no helmet when it comes to protection.

Close to Home The death of Simon Reid on Au Co Road in Hanoi in May was a senseless tragedy that might have been avoided — alcohol consumption aside — if he had been wearing a helmet. Simon gave his helmet

to his passenger, who didn’t have one. She lived. If you’ve lived in Vietnam for some time, you will know this story or one similar. If you have heard many stories like this and know many people who have died in motorbike accidents, it won’t be a surprise. We’re all affected. Our chief editor can count over 10 people he’s known in this country who have died in motorbike accidents. After a fundraiser in Hanoi to help with repatriation expenses, Davy Reid — Simon’s father — donated the money to #BeRoadAware — a new public awareness campaign that educates youth about the importance of wearing a helmet while riding. “If I could prevent just one family going through the grief that is consuming my family, it would be worth it,” said Mr. Reid. Ellie Sanders knew Simon well, and is one of several expats who make up the small #BeRoadAware campaign team. “We want to do right by Simon, his family and our friends,” she said. “Our aim is to make it unacceptable for any one of your mates to get on a motorbike without a helmet, and to encourage the use of taxis and ride-sharing services.”

From the Bottom Up #BeRoadAware has been actively soliciting grassroots support for its campaign with local venues, particularly those in Tay Ho that attract a large, younger crowd. “We’ve been buying helmets over the past few weeks, which we will design

[with artwork] and leave at popular Tay Ho hangouts. If we, or the staff, see someone get on a bike, we want them to at least have protection on their head.” “We will also have a kitty for those who don’t have a Plan B [on how to get home]. We don’t want people jumping on the back of a bike because they spent all their cash.” Ellie said that a few venues have even offered to keep motorbikes locked up overnight to prevent drink-driving, and to alleviate the worry people have about leaving their bikes unattended. But that’s only a part of the #BeRoadAware campaign, which is ramping up across Hanoi. “From the fundraising money, we will have an experienced, licensed teacher train beginners on the dangers of Hanoi’s roads.” And for foreigners driving on Vietnam’s roads, travel insurance should be an imperative. “A Vietnamese licence is needed for most [travel insurance] policies to be accepted. #BeRoadAware will provide avenues for travellers to pursue a Vietnamese licence,” said Ellie. But it’s the focus on wearing a helmet that is at the campaign’s core, and “coolness” and “safety” should not be mutually exclusive terms. “We’ll have a design-yourown-helmet booth, where you can bring your helmet, and one of Hanoi’s skilled local artists will paint it for you. “We just want to prevent needless deaths on Hanoi’s roads.” — Diane Lee For more information about this campaign, search for #beroadaware on Facebook | August 2017 Word | 19

Briefings Hanoi


he closure of Cinematheque in November 2016 was a blow to film buffs in Hanoi, not least Friends of Vietnam Heritage (FVH), who had been screening Vietnamese films monthly at the venue for 13 years. The long-term collaboration began with the idea of bringing Vietnamese films, and films made by foreigners about Vietnamese life, society and culture to FVH’s membership base of expatriates and Vietnamese. “The closing of Cinematheque in November 2016 was the end of FVH film nights and we struggled for some months to try and revive film nights at other locations,” says John Reilly, Chairman of FVH. The struggle was real, and with dwindling attendance numbers at each screening, something had to be done fast. The solution was Vietnam Feature Film Studios. “We worked with several Vietnamese film enthusiasts [during this time], including

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Behind Closed Doors Vietnam Feature Film Studios is now holding monthly film nights former Cinematheque staff to find another location. An introduction to Vuong Duc — the director of Vietnam Feature Film Studios — was made by a fellow film director,” says John. “FVH is honoured, proud and excited to have this chance to partner with the studios

and hold our monthly film nights there. Our films will be shown in their endearing cinema room, which has such a nostalgic feel to it.”

Now Open To The Public Vietnam Feature Film Studios (VFFS) at 4

Thuy Khue, Tay Ho houses two studios among a complex network of external corridors and green shuttered single-story terraces, painted ochre yellow. Inside are studio editing suites, props and wardrobe rooms, and offices. And a movie theatre, which — up until now — has never been open to the public and is now home to FVH’s monthly film nights. The theatre holds 90 people, and up until now, was only ever used by directors and their crew to view the day’s rushes or for pre-screenings. The birth of Vietnamese cinema can be traced back to a newsreel of Ho Chi Minh’s declaration of independence, filmed by a French amateur in September 1945. In March 1953, the State Enterprise for Photography & Motion Picture was established, and in 1956, the Vietnam Cinema Department was founded under the Ministry of Culture. Two feature film

studios were established not long after; one in Saigon, and the VFFS in Hanoi, which was dubbed the big brother of Vietnam’s domestic film industry.

A Golden Era of Vietnamese Cinema The first movie made by VFFS — a love story where the two main characters were prevented from marrying by the authorities — was released in July 1959. Since that first release, more than 400 feature films, art films, documentaries and thousands of television episodes have been produced. It launched the golden era of Vietnamese cinema, and nurtured the careers of directors Nguyen Duc Viet, Nguyen Thanh Van, Quoc Trong and Tran Luc, and actors The Anh, Tra Giang, Lan Huong, Minh Chau and Thanh Quy. “The studio has always been the leader of Vietnam revolutionary cinematography,”

says John. “Many films made here have been screened at International Film Festivals, and many have won first prize in the Vietnam National Film Festival.” According to John, the benefits of the collaboration between FVH and VFFS are mutual. “For VFFS, this is a chance to show [their films] to a new audience. For FVH, this is an opportunity to show our members these classic and often rare films from [the VFFS] library, and to help with modern subtitling, and the repair and cleaning up of these great films.” He adds: “Hopefully, both VFFS and FVH will be able to continue showing important, often magical, films at this location and help preserve the history of the venue, which has its own fascinating [history].” — Diane Lee For more information about FVH film nights, visit VFFS is located at 4 Thuy Khue, Tay Ho, Hanoi | August 2017 Word | 21

Briefings Hanoi


School of Mosh Festival Metalheads, hip-hop fiends and graffiti artists get ready. This one’s for you


ard-core is making its second coming in Hanoi as School of Mosh descends this September. The music and street culture festival that made its debut last summer will return on Saturday, Sep. 16 in the grounds of Creative City and will feature live performances from local rock, hard-core, and hip-hop acts, as well as guest bands from Japan, Thailand and South Korea. Also in store is a flea market, a BMX and skateboarding performance, and a graffiti competition.

Roots Hanoi’s hard-core scene emerged as a culture shock in the 2000s as local acts drew inspiration from established metal and punk bands across the Pacific, coming together to form a subculture rooted in expression, resilience and a positive mental attitude. In the wake of the sub-culture’s ascendency among a new generation of Vietnamese fans, a number of live events were organised to bring the scene together, one such event is School of Mosh. Established in 2016 by RecRoom and First and Last Records owner Koremoto Todaka, it was chiefly inspired by the Japanese

festival Air Jam that started in 1996. After Japanese punk rock band Hi-Standard joined Vans Warped Tour in the US in 1995, they were inspired to start the now infamous Air Jam festival in Japan the following year in order to bring the punk culture they experienced abroad back to their homeland. From Air Jam came the inspiration behind School of Mosh.

Diversity Facilitating local artists’ exposure, as well as promoting the idea of street culture and belonging to a youth hampered by a lack of confidence and direction, School of Mosh has already earnt its spot on the calendar of music lovers, street artists and counterculture foot-soldiers alike after its successful debut last year. Its return this September is a sign of great things to come as part of Vietnam’s growing abundance of artistic variety. Headlining this year’s festival is Japanese hard-core band The Coastguards, who will share the stage with a diverse lineup from Japan (Blindside, Only the Last Song), Thailand (Monument X), South Korea (13 Steps), and 11 bands from Vietnam. As a condition of being involved in

the festival, each band has to release new material in 2017 to ensure that they keep up the pace in order to grow the scenes that they represent. “It’s important to have a consistent infrastructure, a community of musicians and fans, and the right spaces for them to work and enjoy the music,” says organiser Koremoto. “We’re trying to bring them all together.” During the morning of the festival there will be BMX and skateboarding contests hosted by Banana Bike Club and D-HUSTLE respectively, which will be free to the public, alongside the all-day flea market which is also free to enter. The music will kick off in the afternoon, with a graffiti contest to be held during a hip-hop set that will consist of two Hanoibased artists going head to head on a designated graffiti wall. The music and the festival will end at 10pm. — Billy Gray School of Mosh will be held at Hanoi Creative City, 1 Luong Yen, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi on Saturday, Sep. 16 from 9am to 10pm. Tickets are available via the School of Mosh Facebook page and cost VND250,000 or VND200,000 if you buy in advance. Student price is VND150,000 | August 2017 Word | 23

Charity of

the Month

Newborns Vietnam Reducing infant mortality in Vietnam


ver 500 new babies born every day in Vietnam need some form of neonatal care. Of these, one-third are born too soon and too small, and two-thirds are born sick. Although Vietnam has made much progress with reducing infant mortality rates, work still needs to be done to reduce deaths during the first day or month of life. Like any developing, middle-income country, Vietnam is somewhat behind the curve in neonatal care. Outside of high-income settings there are almost no formal neonatal nursing training programmes as well as no structured post-qualification training for junior doctors.

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This is illustrated by the fact that three quarters of all infant deaths here are within the first month of life. This compares to a global average of 44 percent.

Creating a Partnership British charity, Newborns Vietnam, has been working hard to change this. Based in Vietnam, since 2012 they have been working in collaboration with the Danang Department of Health and the Danang Hospital for Women and Children, providing specialist neonatal nurse training and postgraduate clinical training for junior doctors. The training is practically based and is provided by leading

British experts who represent the best that the UK has to offer in this specialist area of medicine. The results have been impressive. Between 2012 and 2016 there was a 50 percent reduction in neonatal mortality, and a 20 percent reduction in deaths by infection. Following this success, in February 2017 the programme was extended to the Vietnam National Children’s Hospital, Hanoi (VNCH). It was launched by Nguyen Viet Tien, the Vice Minister of Health. “The journey to high quality neonatal care in the UK took nearly 50 years,” says Suzanna Lubran, executive director of Newborns Vietnam. “We are working with local


departments, such as the Danang Department of Health, to share the knowledge of British doctors and nurses.”

A Growing Presence The recent partnership with VNCH in Hanoi has meant that Newborns Vietnam’s presence has begun to expand nationally. They already provide postgraduate training to doctors there and from 2018, the NGO has plans to extend its educational programme to specialist neonatal nurse training. Newborns also provide support with basic care needs and infection protection programmes to rural hospitals who refer cases to VNCH.

This is all part of an ambitious collaboration with the Ministry of Health to review neonatal services in the provinces. The goal is to develop a neonatal network system that provides different levels of good quality care that meet the needs of newborns, from those that need a little help to those that need very high levels of intensive care. This will ensure that every baby gets the best possible start in life. With improvements already made, and the ongoing collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Newborns Vietnam will be stopping at nothing to address some of the serious issues that exist. According to Suzanna, the key

message behind Newborns is the “passionate belief that every child, no matter where in the world they are born, deserves the chance to celebrate his or her first birthday and to grow into a healthy, independent adult who can contribute to society without being burdened by the adverse effects on the first day or weeks of their life.” She adds: “Our partnership work with the public sector would not be possible without the support of our wonderful sponsors, donors, supporters and volunteers.” — George Schooling For more info on Newborns Vietnam, to help with fundraising or provide a donation, please click on | August 2017 Word | 25

Sports Digest

The New VBA Season

to hoop it t e s is ) A B n (V nd a new Associatio a ll s a n b t io e t k a t s c a pe mB ith new ex w The Vietna , n o s e a e s econd arry Hodg H y b s d r o up for its s W franchise. 26 | Word August 2017 |

Sport in Brief Sizable Vietnam contingent eyes SEA Games glory


ntrepreneur Henry Nguyen has never been accused of thinking small. Wearing multiple hats as the co-owner of the Saigon Heat basketball team as well as being a managing partner of the new Los Angeles FC franchise in Major League Soccer, he brings a certain vision to each new venture. And this is translating into a shift about how Vietnamese fans view basketball. The six-team league has added its newest franchise, the Thang Long Warriors in Hanoi, and is a reflection of the appetite for professional basketball in that market, he says. “(Before the VBA) friends in Hanoi were asking ‘when are we going to get a team up here?’” Henry recalls during a chat at his office in downtown Ho Chi Minh City. “Hanoi and Saigon are both big enough to support two sets of fans and it’s always exciting to have an intra-city derby. “Our ambition over time is that this grows to be an eight, 10, 12, maybe a 16-team league.” This boom in the game has led to nationwide interest in local squads in Hanoi, Danang, Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho. A dispersal draft for the arrival of the Warriors led to some players

moving around, with the Warriors selecting heritage player Justin Young, and acquiring Heat forward Nguyen Van Hung, who will return to the Heat when the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) season kicks off at the end of the year. The defending champion Danang Dragons will still build on the presence of ABL veterans Stefan Nguyen and Horace Nguyen, while the Can Tho Catfish will key on Tam Dinh and his brother Sang. The rationale was to ensure every franchise has a shot at winning a title every year. “Five years ago, I looked around and kids were playing soccer and tennis,” says Henry, reflecting on the growth of the game since 2012 when he brought the Heat’s ABL team together. “It’s important for the league for there to be parity and competitiveness.” The second season of the Vietnam Basketball Association (VBA) is set to get rolling at the conclusion of the SEA Games this month in Malaysia. Several VBA players will be on the national team roster, notably Ho Chi Minh City Wings stars Trieu Han Minh and Nguyen Thanh Nhan, Hanoi Buffalo Nguyen Tien Duong, and Hung of the newly formed Warriors.

Vietnam will send more than 470 athletes to compete at the 29th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Malaysia in August, according to Vietnam News. The athletes will be supported by more than 200 coaches, experts and doctors together with thousands of supporters from Vietnam. At the 2017 event, Vietnamese competitors will take part in 32 out of 38 sports. They will meet roughly 6,000 athletes from throughout the region. The games, ASEAN’s most important sporting festival, will be held from Aug. 19 to 30. At the previous games in Singapore two years ago, Vietnam finished third with 73 gold, behind winners Thailand (95 gold) and hosts Singapore (84 gold).

First world silver for Vietnamese taekwondo artist Twenty-year-old taekwondo artist Truong Thi Kim Tuyen has become the first Vietnamese to win a silver medal at the world championships, writes Tuoi Tre. Tuyen made history at the 2017 Muju WTF World Taekwondo Championships in South Korea even though she lost to South Korean rival Jae-Young in the women’s 46kg final. The silver medal is a new benchmark for Vietnam’s taekwondo, after Vietnamese athletes had previously only finished as high as third, five times over the last 22 years. Tuyen, ranked 33rd in the world, made her way to the final after defeating world number two, Canadian Yong Yvette, in the qualifiers and world number six, Thailand’s Napaporn Charanwat, in the quarterfinals. Tuyen was born in Vinh Long Province and has had to live away from home since the age of 14 for training in Danang and Hanoi. At her maiden Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in 2015, she took gold after defeating strong rivals from Thailand and the Philippines.

Young ballers headed for Shanghai Sixteen of the best junior basketball players in Vietnam have been selected from last week’s Junior NBA National Training Camp in Ho Chi Minh

City to become a 2017 Junior NBA Vietnam All-Star and will head to Shanghai with fellow campers from Southeast Asia later this year, according to Tuoi Tre. The Junior NBA National Training Camp was part of the US National Basketball Association (NBA)’s threemonth Junior NBA development program in Hanoi, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City. The free programme was supported by local basketball federations, the Consulate General of the United States in Ho Chi Minh City and the Embassy of the United States in Hanoi. It provides participants with training in the fundamentals of basketball and lessons about the importance of proper nutrition. During the Junior NBA National Training Camp, the programme’s top 64 boys and girls were selected and coached by NBA star Willie Cauley-Stein of the Sacramento Kings.

Young athletes grab ASEAN Schools Games glory In a first, Vietnam grabbed a gold medal in swimming at the ninth ASEAN Schools Games in Singapore, according to Vietnam News. The Vietnamese swimmer triumphed in the boys’ 400m individual medley event, as Nguyen Dang Khoa came first with a time of 4:34.36 and his teammate Luong Jeremie Loic Nino was second with 4:37.74. Hoang Thi Minh Hanh claimed the gold in the girls’ 400m event, clocking 56.11sec, while Vu Thi Ngoc Ha was first in the girls’ long jump with a result of 5.87m. Runner Pham Thuy Hanh grabbed gold with a 4:47.45 in the girls’ 1,500m event, while teammate Doan Thu Hang was second. Two other silver medals went to Dang Thi Trang in the girls’ javelin and to the girls’ 4x100m relay team. Two bronze medals went to Bui Thi Kim Thoa in the girls’ 400m and Nguyen Long Chu in the high jump.

es pdatur u d n Se out yo p or ab g grou @ in ry o sp rtnt to har .com m e a ev vietn word | August 2017 Word | 27

ToDo list HCMC

Local photographer, Yatender, is the subject of an exhibition at Shyevin S’ng Gallery from Aug. 11 to Sep. 16


Mads Monsen brings present day Sapa alive through the lens of a vintage camera in his exhibition, Fragments of a Rediscovered Time,


at L’usine in August

To celebrate the opening of new Djing academy, Muse Inc, party at The Republic Club on Aug. 8


Internationally acclaimed artist, Ly Hoang Ly, will hold her first solo exhibition at The Factory from Aug. 10

A solo exhibition of oil and lacquer painting by Saigon-based artist Tran Minh Tam runs until Aug. 26 at Craig Thomas Gallery





Muted Conversations is an ongoing project by artist Dat Vu that aims to provide exhibition opportunities for Vietnamese artists


Exhibitions galore, actors’ workshops, the Heart Institute Gala and someone called Ariana Grande. This month in Saigon

Muted Conversations The Factory, Q2 Ongoing Muted Conversations is an ongoing project by Saigon based artist Dat Vu, who explores spirituality and superstitions surrounding rituals in Vietnam today. This exhibition is the first in the Materialize series, a programme that aims to provide exhibition opportunities for Vietnamese artists who have had little chance to create exhibitions of their art in Vietnam. Artists are challenged to extend their experimentation with concept and media beyond their training and general assumptions about art. The Factory is located at 15 Nguyen U Di, Q2, HCMC. For more info, visit thefactorycontemporaryartscentre or call 0283 744 2589

House of Nguyen II Craig Thomas Gallery, Q1 Until Aug. 26 Craig Thomas Gallery will present a solo exhibition of oil and lacquer

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painting by Saigon-based artist Tran Minh Tam. House of Nguyen II is part of Minh Tam’s continuing effort to capture a royal past that is now far removed from the memory of most modern Vietnamese. He seeks to achieve accuracy through attention to mute details such as the anatomy or the clothing of his characters. The exhibition runs until Saturday Aug. 26. Craig Thomas Gallery is located at 27(i) Tran Nhat Duat, Q1, HCMC. For more info, visit or email

Muse Inc and Denon Launch Republic Club, Q1 Tuesday, Aug. 8 To celebrate the launch of DJing equipment created by the much loved manufacturer, Denon, as well as to celebrate the opening of the new DJing academy Muse Inc, a party will be held at The Republic Club from 2.30pm to 5pm on Tuesday, Aug. 8. Manufacturers of the Prime Series SC5000 and X1800, professional DJing equipment that has not only

changed the experience of DJs, but has had a huge effect on the development of club-based nightlife, Denon’s new products will be unveiled at the party. As will the new DJ academy, which will be run from the same address as Republic Club. With 150 to 200 people expected to attend the event, the roster will include DJ sets, talks, food, drink, champagne and a chance to hobnob with the leading lights of the EDM and beat-based nightlife scene in Saigon. The Republic Club is at 19 Do Quang Dau, Q1, HCMC and the event will run from 2.30pm to 5pm. For more info click on

Yatender Shyeven S’ng Gallery, Q2 Aug. 11 to Sep. 16 Local photographer Yatender will be the subject of an exhibition at the relaunched Shyevin S’ng Gallery in District 2. She has been shown both locally and internationally, and most recently contributed to Saigon





Artbook 7, sharing a small teaser of her present portfolio. Yatender’s wider Tinder Project is a largely private catalogue of stolen moments and fleeting connections. Shyeven S’ng will present 2-1, a carefully curated and thoughtfully presented unveiling of stories previously untold. Some funny, some sad, a little vulnerable perhaps, and completely raw. The exhibition will open on Aug. 11 from 6.30pm to RSVP to hello@ to be added to the guest list for the opening. The gallery is at 6 Le Van Mien, Q2, HCMC

Fragments of Rediscovered Time L’usine, Q1 Aug. 17 to Sep. 17 Fragments of Rediscovered Time showcases the present day world of Sapa through the lens of a Kodak Duaflex II vintage camera from the early 1950s. With Mads Monsen’s keen eye for detail and composition, the exhibition portrays a visual documentation of Sapa in a striking and unique way never seen before.

Fragments of Rediscovered Time is born from the concept of raising awareness about sustainability through reuse. It is also intended to explore and capture the essence of the past of the Sapa culture, people, their environment and how sustainability applies in the modern day with the advancement in infrastructure and technology surrounding them. Monsen’s exhibition showcases 18 prints on sheet metal, with old metal hand-welded into custom art frames with a protective finish. Born in Norway, Monsen underwent an apprenticeship with a commercial photography studio in Bergen, Norway. He graduated from Central Saint Martin's College of Art & Design with a BA (hons) in Graphic Design. Monsen has lived and worked in Vietnam since 2000, where he runs Studio Mads Monsen, an editorial and commercial photography studio that allows him to explore and photograph a lot of the country. He is also co-founder of Oanh & Mads, providers of custom artwork and corporate gifts, specialising in

traditional lacquerware fused with modern print technology. Fragments of Rediscovered Time will be on show at L’usine’s Dong Khoi location at 151/5 Dong Khoi, Q1, HCMC. For more info contact or visit and

Ly Hoang Ly The Factory, Q2 Aug. 10 to Sep. 17 The Factory will present the first solo exhibition by Ly Hoang Ly, one of the most critically and internationally acclaimed artists of her generation. The multimedia, collaged body of work will showcase the artist’s ongoing inquiry into the epic story and continuous struggle of human (im)migration, while highlighting the contested nature of the memorization, documentation and circulation of history. The Factory is located at 15 Nguyen U Di, Q2, HCMC. For more info, visit thefactorycontemporaryartscentre or call (028) 3744 2589 | August 2017 Word | 29


Don the whites and Zumba the stress away at Saigon Saigon Bar with Latin beats on Wednesday Aug. 30

Network Girls is a monthly networking event in HCMC that offers a platform for all female working professionals to meet and exchange ideas

The seventh edition of the Heart Institute Gala will take place on Oct. 7 at the Park Hyatt to support children suffering from heart disease


Saigon Players with the support of Soul Live Project launch their 14th season with intensive actors’ workshops on Aug. 26



The Hive Saigon screens arthouse flicks at its Open Air Cinema Club every last Friday of the month



Vietnam can consider itself lucky to be just one of four countries in Southeast Asia to welcome young singing sensation Ariana Grande on her Dangerous Woman world tour. Her concert, part her third world tour, will take place at Quan Khu 7 in what should be the ultimate music experience for all her fans. Grande quickly became famous as a singer after selling close to 150,000 copies her debut album Yours Truly with her hit song The Way in collaboration with US rapper, Mac Miller, nabbing her a number of awards, including top 10 positions on the Billboard 100 and iTunes music charts. Tickets are available exclusively through Ticketbox from VND790,000. For more info and ticket bookings, go to or

Saigon Open Air Cinema Club


Singing superstar, Ariana Grande, performs at Quan Khu 7 Stadium in HCMC as part of her Dangerous Woman world tour


list HCMC

Ariana Grande Quan Khu 7 Stadium, Tan Binh, HCMC Wednesday, Aug. 23

The Hive Saigon, Q2 Friday, Aug. 25 Saigon Open Air Cinema Club is dedicated to bringing your favorites back onto the big screen. Expect films from independent arthouse titles to your favourite go-to movies and film-inspired snacks and drinks. Located on the Hive Saigon’s outdoor rooftop surrounded with a stunning view of Thao Dien, the cinema club screens movies on the last Friday of every month. Previous screenings include The Grand Budapest Hotel, Pulp Fiction and Interstellar. This month will be a screening of the classic dark comic drama, Fight Club. Tickets cost VND100,000 per moviegoer which includes snacks and drinks. Fight Clubs screens this month on Friday Aug. 25 at 7pm. For more info, go to SaigonOpenAirCinemaClub. The Hive Saigon is located at 94 Xuan Thuy, Q2, HCMC

Saigon Players Actors’ Workshops Soul Live Project Building B Dance Studio, Q3 Saturday Aug. 26 The Saigon Players with support from Soul Live Project will open their 14th theatre season in August by offering intensive actors’ workshops. The workshops will include dance, music and drama

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1 sessions, which will include theatre games, roleplays, scene study and improv activities. The event will also be an opportunity for aspiring actors and stage crew to show off their talents and skills as the Players will also use the workshops for casting and recruitment for the upcoming season. The workshops start at 6.30pm, are free and open to anyone aged 16 and above. For more info, go to SaigonPlayers and

White Zumba Night Saigon Saigon, Q1 Wednesday, Aug. 30 You’re invited to show up, smile and shake the stress away with a feelgood fitness party led by trainer and choreographer Anand Kanpet, and infectious Latin beats by the Living Cuba band. Wear white and head to the Caravelle rooftop bar for an evening of fun you won’t forget. White Zumba Night kicks off at 9pm. Saigon Saigon Bar is on the 9th floor of Caravelle Sagion at 19–23 Lam Son Square, Q1, HCMC. For more info, go to or saigonsaigonrooftopbar

Network Girls Venue TBC Thursday, Aug. 31 Network Girls is a monthly networking event held at venues across Ho Chi Minh City. It gives expat and local female working professionals a channel to meet each other and exchange ideas on life in the city, employment and business. Spots are limited so RSVP by email to reserve a place. Members of Network Girls usually meet on the last Thursday of every month for breakfast (7.30am to 9am) or cocktails and canapés (6.30pm to 9pm). The August event will be a breakfast. For more information on Network Girls visit networkgirlshcmc or contact Ms. Van Ly via email at networkgirlshcmc@

Heart Institute Gala 2017 Park Hyatt, Q1 Saturday, Oct. 7 The Heart Institute of Ho Chi Minh City and the CMI (International Medical Center) are holding their seventh edition of the Heart Institute Gala to support deprived children



6 suffering from heart diseases. Taking place on Saturday, Oct. 7 at the Park Hyatt, this year’s theme will be Havana Dream. Held to raise vital funds to finance the growing demands of deprived children needing heart surgery at the Heart Institute of HCMC, at present 30,000 children in Vietnam are waiting in Vietnam to receive the cardiac surgery that can save their lives The mission started in the 1980s when Professor Alain Carpentier, an eminent French cardiac surgeon, was

asked to develop a cardiac surgery programme for the high number of children suffering from heart disease in Vietnam. This led to the creation of the Heart Institute of HCMC in 1992, the first establishment able to treat heart disease in Vietnam. Very soon, it appeared that the families of a number of children could not afford the expense of the operations. A social welfare department at the Heart Institute was created to cover the cost for the most destitute patients along with CMI, a

well-known international standard medical centre, whose profits go to the Heart Institute. This year’s charity gala will consist of a welcome cocktail, a fivecourse French meal with a tropical twist, live and silent auctions, live performances and a whole host of other entertainment. The dress code is tropical chic. Tickets cost VND2.9 million per person. A table of 10 goes for VND25 million. For information or to purchase tickets email m.pernas@cmi-vietnam. com or call (028) 38 27 23 66/67 | August 2017 Word | 31




A co-working space in Hoi An, a gallery relaunch, L’usine expanding, F&B launches and flights to Japan. We’re all over it in the south



Hub Hoi An is a co-working space offering a one-month workcation package including accommodation and a Hub membership

L’usine is on the verge of going global as it launches it third café on District 1’s Le Thanh Ton

The JW Marriott opens in Phu Quoc

QUI Cuisine.Mixology has taken its unique concept of entertainment north to the beachside holiday town of Nha Trang






Hub Hoi An Workcation Package Hub Hoi An is the town’s first and only coworking space, run by Sarah Kuhlemann, she was inspired to open Hub after visiting similar coworking spaces in Bali, Bangkok and Chiang Mai: “My vision is to create a collaborative space in Hoi An where remote workers, traveling freelancers and Hoi An expats can achieve their professional goals while making friends”. Hub Hoi An is offering a onemonth workcation package, including accommodation in a local homestay, a bicycle, one-month hub membership and more for prices starting at US$599. The Hub Hoi An is located at 105 Le Thanh Tong, Hoi An, Quang Nam. For details contact hello@hubhoian, visit or telephone (0165) 270 2483

Shyeven S’ng Gallery Relaunch The contemporary art gallery formerly known as Vin Gallery will relaunch as Shyevin S’ng this August. Named after its owner and director, the rebranded gallery is a product of years spent as an active participant in the South East Asian Modern and Contemporary art scene. The gallery

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collaborates with both upcoming and established artists from all around the globe, especially those who have a flair for the experimental and a commitment to the conceptual. Shyevin S’ng is located at 6 Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC. For more information visit

Third L’usine Café Open F&B group L Concept has opened its third L’usine café on Le Thanh Ton in District 1. The multi-level café and retail space is the brand’s new flagship store as it reportedly gets set for overseas expansion. The café has prominent street frontage and is in a restored French colonial art deco residence that lies on the corner of Thai Van Lung. The café on the fourth floor has an updated menu with refined versions of customer favourites. L’usine’s new installment is at 19 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, HCMC. For more info about L’usine’s new store, go to

JW Marriott Phu Quoc The JW Marriot Phu Quoc, Emerald Bay, has opened on Bai Khem, a stretch of sand that at the turn of the century was touted as the most beautiful in Vietnam.

Located on Vietnam’s largest island of Phu Quoc, a hidden paradise off the southern coast of Vietnam, and designed by award-winning interior designer Bill Bensley, the hotel offers 244 guestrooms, suites and villas for an idyllic island retreat. The property joins a portfolio of more than 80 JW Marriott hotels across 25 countries. Five distinct restaurants and bars populate the resort. Tempus Fugit offers authentic Vietnamese cuisine, contemporary Japanese fare and classic French delights; French & Co is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth with its signature pastries and desserts; Red Rum features fresh, local seafood dishes served beachside; Pink Pearl is scheduled to open in 2018 and will serve Cantonese cuisine in a beachfront setting; and Department of Chemistry, offers local elixirs with views of beautiful Emerald Bay. Daily activities ranging from Vietnamese martial arts and lantern making, to cooking classes and wellness activities such as boot camp, yoga and island excursions, are also available, as are services at the Chanterelle — Spa by JW. The property also has 1,100 square-metres of indoor/outdoor meeting space designed to suit the needs of every meeting and event, including a 715 square-metre Grand Ballroom. Opening rates at JW Marriot

Phu Quoc, Emerald Bay start at VND9,000,000++ including breakfast for 2 guests and a VND 1,100,000 daily resort credit. For more info click on

QUI Opens in Nha Trang QUI Cuisine.Mixology has taken its unique concept of a dining lounge to one of the best beachside cities in Vietnam, Nha Trang. The second venue managed by VISE Hospitality is located on the ground floor of the five-star Citadines Bayfront Hotel along Nha Trang’s beachfront strip. QUI’s design is sleek and luxurious that is not only contemporary, but elegant across its 500sqm space which can cater for up to 300 guests. Alongside innovative food options, QUI offers an extensive selection of creative cocktails, premium wines and spirits to be enjoyed listening to live DJs every night. Not a night owl? QUI also does breakfast from 6am and lunch seven days a week. QUI Cuisine.Mixology is at 62 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa. For more info, go to quiloungenhatrang or call 0906 891938



Cycle to Vung Tau the Easy Way Thanks to Greenline Ferries, cyclists who like to brave the 90km of highway to travel to Vung Tau can now save their energy and go by ferry instead. Costing just VND100,000 to put your wheels on the hydrofoil (as long as the bike is accompanied by a passenger — another VND200,000), now you can save all your cycling energy for the coastal roads from Vung Tau to Ho Tram. A far safer way to see the countryside, with views included for free. For more info on Greenline Ferries, go to their ticket desk at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC or click on There are six boat services a day between Saigon and Vung Tau during the week, and seven at weekends



VietJet to Code Share Flights to Japan

Greenline Ferries now allows cyclists to take their bikes on the hydrofoil to Vung Tau and back

Hats off to VietJet. Now you can fly with them to Japan courtesy of JAL

Mad Cow Wine & Grill has opened on the 30th floor of Siagon Pullman Centre

Anupa has a new range of belts in-store for both men and women

The Studio Saigon has opened and is a departure from the norm in HCMC






Japan Airlines (JAL) and VietJet Air have reached an agreement to help expand flight networks in Asia. With JAL running direct flights between Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Tokyo, the two airlines will initially cooperate on code-sharing between Vietnam and Japan, and internally within Vietnam. Meaning that VietJetAir will now be running direct flights from Vietnam to Japan. JAL and Vietjet will also explore opportunities to develop the partnership in various areas, including a frequent flier partnership, aircraft operations and maintenance, as well as ground handling services and training. For information click on vietjetair. com or


Belt Up with Anupa Anupa Boutique will be selling a new range of belts throughout August that are suitable for both men and women. The Zoey Belt is sewn together with strips of leather using a durable stitching technique and is lined with leather, making the belt very durable. Sporting the signature Anupa design, the belts come in a range of 10 colours and prices start from VND2.5 million

a piece depending on the leather used. All belts can be adjusted so they are a perfect fit. Anupa Boutique is at 9 Dong Du, Q1, HCMC, open daily from 9am to 8pm. A second store is in the Sheraton Lobby, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, HCMC, open daily from 7.30am to 9pm

The Studio Saigon British bartender-artist Richie Fawcett has opened his first bar

Mad Cow Wine & Grill


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The newest outlet in Saigon for amazing grilled steaks or seafood, and madly priced wines opened on Aug. 2 Set on the 30th floor of Saigon Pullman Centre, Mad Cow Wine & Grill combines the best of an edgy grill restaurant with a casual urban wine bar setting. With each cut of meat prepared on a handmade charcoal grill, aside from grilled delights, Mad Cow is offering up tapas, with all ingredients sourced locally and all dishes created fresh daily. The signature dishes

include Grass Fed Angus Beef Tartar, served tableside, Lamb Gnocchi, BBQ Whole Seabass, Black Angus Beef Rib and the Mad Beef Burger. And of course, sourcing the meat is key — the restaurant is working closely with a single-origin Australian farm in Mulwarra to bring the finest free range, grass fed beef all the way from paddock to plate. Mad Cow is on the top floor of the Pullman Saigon Centre, 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, HCMC. For more info, click on or pop into the restaurant to see for yourself



in Ho Chi Minh City, The Studio Saigon. A departure from your typical watering hole, The Studio Saigon is part bar, part art gallery, displaying Richie’s intricate artworks of landmark streets, districts and bustling markets in the city. Serving up a vast selection of original cocktails named after the streets of Saigon and the city’s best known personalities throughout history, the drinks are finely styled and garnished, reflecting Richie’s eye for detail as both an artist and an inventive mixologist. His passion is to place Vietnam on the international cocktail map. The cocktail menu is a reflection of Richie’s recently completed book, the Cocktail Art of Saigon, featuring 41 original recipes each accompanied by an illustration. The Studio Saigon is open Monday to Saturday, 12 noon to 10pm, and can be found at First Floor, 42 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, HCMC. For reservations and info call 0911 906468 or tweet @ FawcettRichie | August 2017 Word | 35

ToDo list Hanoi

Celebrate America’s 241st birthday with a picnic organised by AmCham at The American Club on Aug. 13

Mosh to your heart’s content at the School of Mosh Festival coming up in September at Hanoi Creative City

Quest Festival is going to be bigger and better than ever this Nov. 10 to 12. Hurry up for tickets



the impact gaming has on societies that play them



Games & Reality_Yellow Umbrella. Caption: A new exhibition starting Aug. 3 at the Goethe Institut explores

A Goethe Institut exhibition, a picnic to celebrate America’s birthday, the School of Mosh Festival ramps up, and Quest Festival is just around the corner. Rock on in Hanoi

Games and Realities Exhibition Goethe Institut, Hanoi Aug. 3 to 27 This August, the Goethe Institut in Hanoi, with support from ZKM, brings an exhibition that explores the impact of gaming on societies that play them. This travelling exhibition on tour of many of Goethe Instituts around the world zeroes in on the scope of the computer game as a politically and socially relevant medium. The opening of the exhibition is on Thursday Aug. 8 at 6pm. The exhibition runs from Friday Aug. 4 until Sunday Aug. 27. The Goethe Institut is open from 9am to 7pm every day. The Goethe Institut is at 56-60 Nguyen Tahi Hoc, Ba Sinh, Hanoi. For more info, go to Institut.Hanoi and


American Independence Day Picnic The American Club, Hai Ba Trung Sunday Aug. 13 To celebrate America’s 241st birthday, AmCham is organising an outdoor event for everyone of all ages. There will be activities for the kids, including face painting, colouring in, a bouncing castle, fun games and contests. Acts from the popular Vietnam National Circus will also be there to amaze, including the largest snake you’ve ever seen! For the older kids at heart, there will be live music by the Nibiru Band along with some classic house from one of Camelia Lounge’s DJs. The US Embassy Marine Security Guard Detachment will march the colours, and US Ambassador, Ted Osius, will be in attendance to greet guests. Because it’s a picnic, there will be plenty of food on offer, including BBQ and traditional American comfort foods cooked up by the likes of the InterContinental, Melia, Hilton and KFC. Vietnamese favourites will also be available in what promises to be an amazing gastronomic affair. Guests will automatically go into a draw for a chance to win one of 150 prizes on offer with airline tickets, vouchers for dinner at some of Hanoi’s finest restaurants, cruises and spa packages among others. Purchase your tickets before Aug. 8 for VND500,000 (adults) and VND250,000 (children aged 2 to 12). After Aug. 8, tickets

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2 are VND700,000 (adults) and VND350,000 (children age 2 to 12). Free for children under two years old. For more info and tickets, call AmCham on (024) 3934 2790. Also, visit and

School of Mosh Festival Hanoi Creative City, Hai Ba Trung Saturday Sep. 16 School of Mosh Festival is the first outdoor music festival series in Hanoi focused on punk, hardcore, hip-hop and metal, and will coincide with other street culture activities such as skateboarding, DJs, BMX, graffiti, street art and streetwear. The brainchild of First and Last Records founder, Todaka Koremoto, School of Mosh Festival in September will be the second rendition after last year’s festival attracted bands from Thailand, Hong Kong and South Korea, along with local bands and other street culture vendors and enthusiasts. This year promises to be even bigger. Already the organisers have locked in no less than five regional bands from Japan, South Korea and Thailand, along with 10 national acts from Hanoi, Saigon and Hue.

On the day, it’s expected that over 500 people from the ages of 16 to 23 will converge on Hanoi Creative City to mosh out on the live music and activities. For more info on ticketing, go to

Quest Festival Nov. 10 to 12 Son Tinh Camp, Ba Vi With tickets already on sale for the latest instalment of Quest, the organisers have announced much of their line-up for their November festival. Headlining will be electronic music pioneers, The Orb Soundsystem (UK), who will be bringing their ethereal sounds to Vietnam for the first time. Pioneers of the ambient house genre, the industry veterans have been on the scene for almost 30 years. Rhythmically rooted in house, their music also includes liberal doses of dub and UK prog elements to help form their ambient dreamscape. Their influence in modern electronic music makes them a true legacy act and their seminal track Little Fluffy Clouds is sure to have the festival’s 5,000 participants closing their eyes and floating away. On the live music front,



Indonesian folk-pop act Stars and Rabbit (IDN) will be returning to Vietnam for an encore performance after wowing Hanoi with their unique dreamy soliloquies, while Slamboree Sound System (UK) will be bringing the ruckus with their characteristic madness. The Bay Collective (VN/DEN) will combine the talents of contemporary musician, pianist Tri Minh (VN), alongside Danish singer Nanna Bottos (DN). Adding to the live music contingent are five-piece cross cultural hip-hop crew Rebel Monk (VN / INT), local stoner rock and garage favourites Dr. Peacock (VN / INT) and unique ‘space jazz’ purveyors Mukang Fields (VN / INT), while the 20-piece Hanoi Swing Band (VN) will bring their raucous energy to Quest in what will be an explosive performance. Beat maker Tomes (AUS) will use samplers and synthesizers to meld rhythms together and will perform his unique blend of live electronica, while focusing on house and disco grooves is DJ Tung Tim (VN). Trung D (VN) will explore the deeper spectrums of house and techno. For further information on singleday and weekend ticket prices, please visit

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Sink your teeth into Hanoi Sandwich House’s new location in Tay Ho

Enjoy Pizza Belga’s wood-fired pizzas during their soft opening

New bar and café, DeN, is set to host music events and exhibitions in Tay Ho

Hanoi’s craft beer scene just got itself another taproom with the opening of Pasteur Street Brewing Co. in the Old Quarter





Hanoi Sandwich House The Tay Ho sandwich joint, wellknown for an unrivalled freshness and attention to detail, has moved down the road into a new house. The new location is bigger, features indoor and outdoor seating and is the ideal location to enjoy a peaceful meal with one of the best flat white coffees in town (VND50,000). Opened by Paul L. Mullet and Le Pham, Hanoi Sandwich House still offers the same freshly made sandwiches using their own classic homemade breads and highest quality ingredients. The sandwich menu features classics such as the salami, pesto and mozzarella-led Italiano (VND90,000), the double cheddar, apple, salad and mango chutney-filled English (VND80,000) and the mighty House Club (VND150,000) which comes with a piping hot pot of real gravy. A brand-new selection of salads, jacket potatoes and soups are coming soon, so keep checking in to make sure you don’t miss them. Find Hanoi Sandwich House at 8 Tay Ho, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open daily from 7am until 10pm. For more information, call (024) 6674 8811 or visit facebook. com/hanoisandwichhouse

Pizza Belga One of the most exciting new eateries to open in Tay Ho, Pizza Belga, is all about wood-fired pizza, homemade desserts and craft beer. Opened by Kevin Bourdeaux and Hai Linh Nguyen, they are bringing together fresh and natural ingredients to create high quality and authentic food, in a beautiful new restaurant space complete with large outdoor courtyard.

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The grand opening is planned for September, but you can enjoy the buzz of the soft opening period before then. Among the varieties being served already is the Pizza Emilio (VND220,000), topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, goat cheese, mushrooms, pancetta, garlic and olive oil. The focussed selection of pizzas and homemade al dente pastas start from VND160,000. Homemade Belgianstyle Belga Craft Beer is coming soon, with other locally-produced craft beers and ciders already available. Don’t miss the decadent homemade chocolate mousse (VND60,000). Find Pizza Belga at 225 Au Co, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 6pm until 11pm. For more information, call 01673 018883 or visit

DeN DeN is a new bar/café for cultureminded individuals, located in Yen Phu Village. It has outdoor lakeside seating, and will host an extensive range of music events, from lesser-known traditional Vietnamese artists to contemporary improvised jam sessions. The menu is small, and will focus on more obscure world dishes, with an emphasis on introducing new high quality dishes. Food options currently include shakshouka (VND95,000), a mezze platter (VND95,000) and the Touch of India (VND75,000). a curried capsicum and zucchini pizza with yoghurt and coriander. There are a variety of teas, such as Nepali chai (VND50,000) and ginger (VND40,000), a selection of coffees, and a few smoothies starting

at VND50,000, such as the Makeba, which mixes blueberry, beetroot, flaxseed and coconut flakes. Beer and soft drinks also available. Find DeN at 49 Lang Yen Phu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open daily from 10am until midnight, except Thursdays (closes at midday). For more information, email or visit facebook. com/DeNbarandcafe

Whats Up Hanoi!? Whats Up Hanoi!? is Hanoi’s newest events listing site. The goal is to help keep people up to date with what’s on in Hanoi, delivering daily listing content directly to consumers. Founded by Gary Devitt, Anton Lebed and Lizzy Twist, they offer a range of options for businesses and events promotors to advertise with, ranging from a free 24-hour daily listing, through a VND400,000 per week top banner ad, right up to a large-scale banner with a fully customisable landing page (price on request). For enquiries, contact Gary at Check out their website at, and follow them on Facebook for regular updates, at

Pasteur Street Brewing Co. Founded in late 2014 by John Reid and Alex Violette, Pasteur Street Brewing Company (PSBC) is one of the most well-known names in locally produced, American-style craft beer. Now they are expanding their presnece on Vietnam’s craft beer scene by opening their first taproom in Hanoi, in the Old Quarter. Since opening for business, PSBC


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Just Hanoi


1. Zó Project, a social business that preserves traditional Vietnamese paper making techniques, has opened a new space in Dong Da 2. Hanoi has a new creative space for art and design lovers in Hai Ba Trung, thanks to Creative Lab by UP 3. Vincom Royal City has got arty with a new gallery and exhibition space 4. La Siesta is one of the few hotels in Hanoi to have a view of Hoan Kiem Lake 5. Market by Maison de Tet décor will have a range of options to take away or eat on site

3 has brewed over 200 unique beers, available all over Vietnam as well as exporting to Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia and the US. The new PSBC taproom in Hanoi is the first time their full range of speciality and seasonal beers will be available in the capital. Customers will find classics such as the Belgian Pale Ale (VND45,000 / 175ml, VND135,000 / 500ml) on tap, among many others. American style comfort food, including their signature Nashville hot chicken (VND125,000), is available all day. Find Pasteur Street Brewing Co. at 1 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Open daily from 11am with last orders at 10.45pm. For more information, call (024) 6294 9462 or visit

Zó Project The Zó project is a social business, preserving and expanding the technique of traditional Vietnamese paper making, in a sustainable and creative way. Founded by Tran Hong Nhung, profits are reinvested into the paper making community to create job opportunities and a stable income for ethnic minority villages in northern Vietnam. They have just opened a new space where people can take part in workshops. Calligraphy or

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water colour painting workshops are VND300,000 per person, and paper-making tours in Hoa Binh are VND600,000 per person. The original shop (House 27, along the railway track from 5A Tran Phu, Hoan Kiem) sells products such as notebooks (VND160,000 to VND190,000) and posters (VND250,000). They also host workshops about paper and crafts, for both adults and children, as well as organising cultural events in collaboration with local and international artists. Find Zó Project at 32 Ngo Hang Bot, Dong Da, Hanoi. Open Monday to Saturday from 9am until 6pm. For more information, call 01666 602928 or visit

Creative Lab by UP Hanoi has a new creative space for art and design lovers, thanks to Creative Lab by UP. Visitors will have a chance to team up with others sharing similar interests, express their own ideas and turn them into actual products. Located inside Hanoi Creative City, the new space is the product of cooperation between UP Co-working Space, Hanoi Creative city and the University of Engineering and Technology. Equipment, machinery and

space for technology and science experiments are all provided, and there will be classes and workshops about creative arts and fashion. “Customers will find the much needed push to take their art and design to the next level,” says marketing executive Nguyen Long. “It will help them break into the Vietnamese creative industry.” A one month membership will start from around VND1.7 million, and workshops will start from around VND220,000. Creative Lab by UP is at 1 Luong Yen, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi. For more information, call (024) 7308 0668 or visit

Vincom Centre for Contemporary Art The VCCA has officially opened. Its first exhibition, The Foliage, will be on display until Aug. 6. Ever since the doi moi economic reforms, contemporary Vietnamese art has undergone a tremendous development. Local artworks are now included in collections all over the world. The VCCA is a not-for-profit art centre, the brainchild of the unstoppable Vingroup, one of Vietnam’s leading private enterprises. The centre, apart from aiming to become the country’s most


preeminent art space, also offers a café, gift shop and library, which is well-stocked with art and culture periodicals. Programming and critical publications will be steered by artistic director Mizuki Endo, who will be advised by a board currently being assembled, drawing on the most active Vietnamese cultural workers from the past decade. Find Vincom Centre for Contemporary Art at R3, Floor B1, Vincom Mega Mall Royal City, 72A Nguyen Trai, Thanh Xuan, Hanoi. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am until 8pm. For more information, call (024) 6666 0606 or visit

La Siesta Panoramic views of Hoan Kiem Lake, a prime Old Quarter setting and an exclusive spa are three of the many selling points at the new La Siesta Central, a 27-room boutique hotel that marks its grand opening in Hanoi on Aug. 15. The new property — owned and operated by leading Vietnamese boutique hotel brand Elegance Hospitality Group (EHG) — makes full use of its proximity to the lake.

A total of 19 rooms have views of the lake, highly uncommon in Hanoi. Dark wood paneling and the use of intricate patterned tiling characterize stately interiors, while numerous black and white artworks in public areas and rooms enhances the classic feel of the property. Guests also have access to an array of room types, all of which come with amenities and trimmings including a walkin rainforest shower and luxury toiletries from the in-house La Siesta Spa brand as standard. Other hotel highlights, include Vietnamese and international cuisine at the rooftop Red Bean restaurant and a selection of bespoke cocktails and other premium drinks and spirits at Twilight Sky bar. The latter has the additional advantage, of course, of offering the best seats in the house when it comes to soaking in one of Hanoi’s best views. La Siesta Central Hotel & Spa is at 94 Ma May, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. For more info click on hanoilasiestahotel. com or call (024) 3862 2222

Market by Maison de Tet decor Maison de Tet decor has a new sibling — Market.


Giving customers the ability to create a delicious meal at home with a few key ingredients made at Maison de Tet décor, Market was created to bring guests traditional Vietnamese and contemporary fusion deli style take-out meals in the West Lake area of Hanoi. The plan with the grab-andgo market space is to curate a collection of hot and cold items to eat on site or take away in combination. Whether that’s fresh juices, micro batch roasted coffee, cakes, sandwiches, wraps, full salads, fresh rice paper rolls, gluten free items or even full dinners to heat up at home, there’s a full of array of fare on offer. Market has a large takeaway case for pre-made meals and ingredients as well as an extensive array of home-made condiments and their very popular micro batch roasted range of coffee. Organic vegetables will also be available to purchase by the kilo. Market by Maison de Tet decor is open daily from 10am to 10pm, and will open this month on the ground floor of Maison de Tet Décor. Maison de Tet Décor is at Villa 156 Tu Hoa, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho, Hanoi. For info click on


Many Faces: Christian Routin / Moments of Truth / What Do You Think? / Anything But English / Treasure out of Trash / eSports / The Rise of Design Boutiques in Hanoi / Tabletop Gaming / Craft Food / Mystery Diner Hanoi / Bun Dau Mam Tom / Mystery Diner HCMC / Banh Trang Phoi Suong Photo by Julie Vola

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Christian Routin

Born in Saigon and then raised in France, Christian Routin is the model of cross-cultural integration. Words by Edward Dalton. Photo by Julie Vola


f anyone knows the importance of cross-cultural integration, it’s Christian Routin. Born and raised in Saigon, he moved to Paris aged nine. After an initial two-year stint at the French Embassy in Hanoi in 1991, he’s now been back in Vietnam since 2009, having previously lived in 12 countries. Christian specialises in smoothing out the relationships between foreign and local businesspeople. He irons out the bumps caused by cultural clashes to facilitate better working relationships, allowing success and happiness to flourish.

Courage “It was April 1975 when we moved to France,” says Christian, 50. “We took the last plane out of the country.” In an effort to hold onto his Vietnamese cultural identity, Christian asked his mother to keep using Vietnamese around him; as a result, it’s his first language and culture, despite being half-French and one quarter Italian. “My parents did not prepare us for the departure in 1975,” Christian recalls. “Leaving Vietnam left an open wound in my soul.” The two-year period of working in Hanoi in 1991 only served to reopen and disturb that wound, so in the time between 1993 and 2009, Christian grew restless, living and working in 10 other countries, while trying to forget about Vietnam. “I was scared of coming back, being happy and having to leave again,” says Christian. “Eventually, I overcame my fear and decided to come back for good in 2009.” After getting back to his country of birth, he felt he could finally realise himself and express all he can be; even if it meant saying goodbye to proper French pastries.

Fitting In Christian’s ambition to realise and express himself is something he feels could only have been achieved in Vietnam. “I love Vietnamese people for their friendliness, kindness and warm hearts,” Christian says. “Their will to enjoy life to the fullest, their playfulness and relaxed lifestyle, their sense of sharing and family.” It’s a society in which someone like Christian can thrive; despite lamenting the lack of respect he sees people show each other in public places. The issues of respect and ethics play a large

role in Christian’s work with training and consulting businesspeople. “I went through culture shock when I first interacted with local businessmen,” explains Christian. “I was surprised and saddened to see that the level of ethics was really low.” He quickly identified the Vietnamese business mindset, and summarises it with one sentence: “I want to make money, a lot of money, as fast as possible, by all means.” “It’s win-lose,” Christian says. “I win, you lose.” However, awareness of this enabled Christian to develop effective strategies for integrating foreign and local businesspeople, by focusing on developing strong personal relationships.

Dog Eat Dog Most of Christian’s clients are large global businesses operating in Vietnam, for whom the dog-eat-dog approach to success has long been dismissed as short-sighted. “I consult, train, facilitate, coach and speak on cross-culture, soft skills and happiness,” Christian says. “I help expats and Vietnamese understand each other and work successfully together.” Through his work, Christian enables foreign workers and companies to adapt their working environment for Vietnamese culture. As someone who speaks five languages, Christian’s 10 Truths of Lasting Happiness workshops bring together a deep understanding of various cultures and working practices. “Vietnamese respect teachers, as it’s a facet of Confucianism,” explains Christian. “It makes it really enjoyable to teach them.” In his cross-cultural workshop, he puts expats and Vietnamese together, helping each side to understand the other, bridging their cultural gaps. “I learnt how to break the ice with Vietnamese professionals in five seconds,” claims Christian. “Transforming the training into a game with teams and prizes is the best way; I love their childlike spirit and the informal, fun atmosphere.”

Life Path Driven by the joy of living in Vietnam, Christian finds most pleasure and motivation in helping others to change and improve themselves.

“There are two types of people; those who lead a successful life, and those who are successful,” says Christian. “I’m the first type.” Christian encourages people to do what they love, and wait for success to follow. “We all have an inner voice telling us what to do,” he explains. “Every time you listen to it, it will lead you to follow your life path.” Unfortunately, Christian sees the louder voices of our personal stakeholders trying to shout above our instincts, but listening to his inner voice has led to where he is today; a life filled with joy and contentment. “With every step, I am fulfilling, expressing and realising myself,” he says. “With every step, I am growing; following my path fills me with a sense of achievement.” Identifying peace of mind as the ultimate goal, Christian has sought to build his life around it. Unlike many expats, who after many years in Vietnam begin to grow jaded or frustrated, Christian finds living in Vietnam keeps getting easier, the longer he stays. Will he still be here in five years? “I am focusing on the present,” Christian says. “We can’t change the past or control the future; if you focus your mind on the present, you will be the creator of your life and enjoy every moment of it.” | August 2017 Word | 45


“A young woman’s scream was the only warning he got before she ran into him on her motorcycle”

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nts of Truth NATIO NAL | August 2017 Word | 47

Despite being ‘rational’ beings, humans constantly make irrational decisions. As Matt Cowan discovers, this is something marketers exploit for both good, and what some might say, evil. Photos by Mike Palumbo


t was 9.30pm on a Wednesday evening and Steve McGrath was returning home on his motorcycle from his teaching job when he entered one of Saigon’s busy intersections. “I was really tired and not concentrating as intently as I should’ve been,” recalls Steve, an Australian who has been living in Ho Chi Minh City for almost a decade. “The lights had been green for about 10 seconds and I wasn’t paying enough attention to the traffic stopped on my left.” A young woman’s scream was the only warning he got before she ran into him on her motorcycle. She had run a red light and hit Steve while he was crossing the intersection at around 30km/h. “She hit my front wheel which spun my motorbike around and threw me onto the road,” says Steve. “I landed on my backside first but then I hit my head twice on the road.” Although he was wearing a helmet, Steve was dazed after which he remembers bystanders coming to his aid. “By then the young woman had left the scene and I was left thinking that I’d cracked a hip bone.” Steve chose not to seek medical attention, instead waiting to see the extent of his injury. It turned out to be only deep bruising. “In the end I was okay, but I only use my motorbike during the day now,” he says. Although Steve hadn’t sought medical assistance, he was covered by health insurance provided by his new employer. Had the accident happened just six months earlier and the injuries been more serious, he wouldn’t have been covered for the cost of medical attention. “I’d never had health insurance before I started with my current company this year, other than the basic stuff Vietnamese companies must give by law,” he explains. “I was put off by the costs and caveats

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associated with taking out health insurance of my own.”

Doing Dumb Stuff Steve’s decision not to take out his own health insurance isn’t an isolated one among the more than 82,000 foreigners living in Vietnam; surprising given motorcycles are the most common form of transport and 9,000 lives are lost annually to traffic-related accidents. It raises the question why seemingly rational, well-educated people who choose to live in Vietnam, take the risk and opt out of buying health insurance in such a highrisk environment. “We all do dumb stuff,” says Neil Doyle, the regional director of DeltaMV Knowledge Solutions, an Australian company that helps marketers overcome challenges in consumer behaviour by developing behaviour strategies. “It’s about understanding the biases at play that drive human behaviour. I call this the science of dumb stuff.” According to Neil, humans are “substandard decision makers.” “We are predictably irrational,” explains Neil, at his District 7 office in Ho Chi Minh City. “Why else would so many doctors smoke?” Our irrationality, he says, explains why people try to economise on health care, even when it should be a fundamental thing to have in their lives. This irrationality is also exploited by marketers, as understanding human behaviour is central to devising effective campaigns. “If you want to influence behaviour, you need to make it emotional, you need to make it social, and you need to make it easy,” he says. “If you like, that’s the new marketing mantra.” Most of the work in which DeltaMV engages is in the healthcare space, but

Neil also has extensive experience with companies who market fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs), a field where something called moments of truth are fundamental to the success, or failure, of a product. “In FMCG land, it’s when you walk into a supermarket and you’ve got Kellogg’s and you’ve got Nestlé, and you have a moment of truth,” explains Neil. Neil is referring to the moment when consumers choose one brand over another on the supermarket shelf. Although a seemingly simple decision, it has been influenced by a number of factors over time, like price, brand awareness, and brand loyalty, and is the work of marketers who try to nudge you towards their product. “A marketer will talk about the power of brand, and how it’s important to build strong, emotionally compelling brands,” adds Neil. In the public health sector, a moment of truth might be when someone is torn between seeking medical attention or not. This may be for a host of reasons, but one of the main ones is the potential cost involved in seeing a doctor for something that may turn out to be minor anyway. In Vietnam, it might be deciding whether or not to eat food from a street vendor on a night out, or allowing a complete stranger to drive you home on the back of their motorbike.

Making Better Choices To make marketing campaigns emotional, social and easy, marketers work on choice architecture. As generally poor decision makers, humans will almost always choose the easier option, especially on impulse. This explains why EOA and POP (End Of Aisle and Point Of Purchase) displays are fiercely contested spaces among brands in supermarkets. Research has found that shoppers are likely to throw that last-minute chocolate bar or tabloid magazine into their shopping basket as they check out. In public health, it’s more serious. Choice architecture is about equipping the public with the right tools to make the right decisions when they run into a moment of truth in their day. It could be the difference between accepting the offer of a recreational

drug at a dance party, or choosing to abstain from sex with a stranger without a condom. Whatever the situation is, it’s important that people are not only better educated to make the right decisions, but that the resources are in place to help them follow through on positive decision making. “What we know is that humans always have an emotional response before a ‘thinking’ response,” explains Neil, whose doctoral thesis investigated how the construction of gender and identity in the south of Vietnam impacts sexual health communication. “The thinking bit of your brain is slower than your instinct, or what some might call your gut feeling. Then your prefrontal cortex, the area of your brain responsible for decision making, catches up but it doesn’t work nearly as well because it’s biased to whatever the visceral response was.” While marketers have used this knowledge to great effect to boost sales — perhaps to the disdain of consumers who may sometimes feel cheated or deceived into purchasing unwanted items — it has been beneficial to public health, including safe sex campaigns.

Breaking Down Barriers “Choice architecture is about shaping the environment in a way that allows people to make positive choices,” says Dang Nguyen, an associate lecturer in Professional Communication at RMIT Vietnam, whose study in 2011 investigated the barriers consumers in Vietnam confront, both physical and cultural, when purchasing condoms. “It’s about eliminating all the choices that aren’t desirable, and making that standard practice.” In her study, Dang and her colleagues observed how readily available condoms were at condom boutiques, like Gunshop and Golden Boy, pharmacies, convenience stores, and street vendors, often women on the street who sell condoms along with cigarettes. “We found that convenience stores are the best at making condoms readily available to customers,” explains Dang, who holds an MSc from Oxford University. “They don’t

lock them away so people have to ask for them, rather they are conveniently placed at the counter so they can discreetly mix them in with whatever else they’re buying without even having to talk to the shop assistant.” While stores like Gunshop have largely been successful, one of Dang’s findings highlights the complications involved in implementing strategies for safer sex in a society that feels uncomfortable discussing it openly. “From talking to people who sell condoms at places like Gunshop, we discovered that couples would go into these shops together, but they would always keep their air-pollution masks on,” says Dang, whose study was called Understanding the Condom Landscape in Vietnam. “Then, if they went to a particular store often enough, they would give their phone numbers and addresses so that they could have the condoms delivered to their homes rather than run the risk of being identified in public as a regular customer of a condom retailer.” Neil agrees that condom retailers like Gunshop are successful because they work at a choice architecture level; they are nearby, convenient and have made the narrative around condom use more socially accepted, and thus, more normalised. “If discussion about condom use and safe sex is able to be raised in everyday conversation, then it will mean the topic will have become less of a taboo,” he says. “And then if you happen to be at that moment of truth in the bedroom with your partner, you’ll be able to make the right decision for you and them.”

sent “quite rational messages” to a public that has since been proven for the most part to be irrational in its decision-making processes. “In terms of sexual health, the message used to be ‘use a condom because otherwise you’ll get a horrible disease, you’ll get AIDS, you’ll die,’ so there was, and still is, a very kind of rational parent-to-child style of communication,” says Neil. Neil also points to anti-smoking campaigns as a good example of this. “We still have 20 to 30 percent of the adult population globally who smoke,” he explains. “Do they know that it will give them cancer? Of course they know, so what it means is that there are limits to how compelling a rational message is from a behavioural perspective.” Indeed the figures stack up. According to WHO estimations, there are more than one billion smokers in the world with tobacco killing more than seven million people a year. “If you want to communicate something, you have to be clear on its strategic intent,” adds Neil, who says that billboards at large traffic junctions are effective if it’s clear what’s trying to be achieved, “but if you’re trying to build emotionally competent associations in people’s minds or trying to trigger a behaviour like trying to prevent the spread of HIV through condom use [or the use of drugs], then I’d say it’s much more inappropriate because you want to say that in a bar or bia om.” As for Steve, he is more circumspect about life in Vietnam. “Not having health insurance played on my mind, but I tried my best to ignore it and hoped for the best,” he says. Would he recommend others get insurance if they were living in Vietnam? “No question about it. They’d be dumb not to.”

“If you want to influence behaviour, you need to make it emotional, you need to make it social, and you need to make it easy”

Sending the Wrong Message But this hasn’t always been the strategy for bringing about behavioural change at a public level, particularly in Vietnam. Neil points out that traditional strategies wrongly | August 2017 Word | 51

Cover Story

What Do You Think? Vietnam doesn’t have national surveys that canvas opinion, or obtain people’s thoughts on issues that affect their daily lives


hat surveys the country does have are conducted by market research companies like Nielsen, Cimigo, Decision Lab, Epinion and TNS, and are mostly for private clients to gain snapshots into buyer behaviour, market growth and consumer confidence. The stats they produce are intriguing but business-driven. So we had the idea to do our own research and to find out what our readers think about a number of topics. Over a period of five days our survey — titled What Do You Think? — was posted online. While we had well over 700 clicks on the survey, we managed to get 170 completed responses. We had been hoping (optimistically) for 200. So, the final number was pretty good. The survey covered a range of topics. From architecture through to tourism, from the growing generation gap through to the arts, the nature of our questions ensured that we got both quantitative and qualitative responses. The results are fascinating. So to find out what our readers think about a range of issues that affect our everyday lives, turn the page and read on. You’ll be surprised.


THE QUESTIONS We asked respondents to answer five questions and rate their answers from poor to excellent. Here are the questions: 1) Service at airports 2) Taxi service from the airport to your destination 3) Hospitality service from hotel or resort staff 4) Hospitality service at cafes and restaurants 5) Interaction with local people

TOP COMMENTS “If you expect [Vietnamese people] to speak your native language, be prepared for some awkward silences and misunderstandings.” “[The Vietnamese are] excellent outside of tourist areas, mixed experience within tourist areas.” “[The Vietnamese are] excellent except when they're driving cars and bikes. Then beyond poor.” “I'm always impressed with how fast it is to get through Noi Bai airport — maybe I just fly at the right times!” “The airport taxis are generally pretty good if you stick to the known brands.”

STAT ATTACK — 2 in 5 people said the airport taxi service is either poor or very poor — While only one third of people said the same of Vietnam’s airports — More than 9 in 10 people say the service in resorts and hotels ranges from good to excellent — This dropped to 83% when people were asked the same question of cafes and restaurants – More than nine tenths of respondents say their interactions with local people ranged from good to excellent

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From international pariah 30 years ago to must-visit destination, tourism in Vietnam is booming. So when it comes to welcoming people from overseas, how does Vietnam fare? Words by Nick Ross


any years ago Thailand was branded as The Land of Smiles. Vietnam, it seems, is also doing well on the gettingalong-with-foreigners front. This was one of the key facts that came out of the tourism section of our survey. 93% of our respondents reported either a good, very good or excellent set of interactions with Vietnamese people. Out of this figure, 38% said the interaction was very good while 40% said it was good. This suggests the people in this country are a friendly lot. As one person pointed out, “[The Vietnamese] are the friendliest I've encountered in Southeast Asia so far.”


Service in the food and beverage industry is also deemed to be good. A whopping 53% of people rated it as good, 31% said it was either very good or excellent. This represents a departure from Vietnam’s reputation of 10 years ago when this country was notorious for its poor service. Dishes would come out to the table at the wrong time and the idea of service with a smile was, well, no more than an idea. The change suggests an understanding that good service can make the difference between a good restaurant, bar or hotel and a bad one. Yet, it’s not all rosy. As one respondent wrote: “The service in Vietnam is getting better. Yet often there are too many employees and no real service is being done. They just flirt with each other. Drinks and food tend to take longer to come than other countries.” Said another: “Service is usually effective, but staff are unaware of international standards and faux pas like waiting next to you while you read the menu and being afraid to say no.”


One criticism of the tourism industry has

always been the airports. But with the upgrading of Noi Bai, Tan Son Nhat and the airports in Dalat, Cam Ranh and Danang, things are on the up. 64% of people rated the service at airports either good, very good or excellent. Although people did point out “a lack of etiquette among the staff and locals” and the fact that it’s “difficult to get explanations when things go wrong”. Said another respondent: “[The service is] below average internationally but getting better. Have had vendors in the store intentionally try to rip me off.” As for the airport taxis — once the source of tourists being ripped off the moment they stepped in Vietnam — only 39% rated them as poor or very poor, with 61% saying they were now good, very good or excellent. This suggests that authorities have worked hard on ensuring that the airport run is no longer an opportunity for unscrupulous taxi drivers to extract money from unwitting tourists, although work still needs to be done. As one person pointed out: “[There are] many stories of friends not familiar with Vietnam being overcharged.” Said another: “There are still fake taxis that really let the airport down.”


The biggest success story on the tourism front is the service provided by hotel and resort staff. With such a huge rise in tourism numbers over the past decade, and a similar rise in the number of hotels, there has been concern that Vietnam will not be able to cope with the needs of the tourist industry. However, it seems that this country’s resort and hotel staff have upped their game. A whopping 46% of respondents now said that service was good, while 34% said it was very good. Said one respondent: “[The service in hotels and resorts is] generally ok, but once again, basic English skills are often lacking.”



Business Although the majority of readers are confident Vietnam’s economy is on the up, getting down to business and putting their money where their mouth is, is a whole different thing. Words by George Schooling


key word we often hear in the business world is stability. The vast majority of businesses thrive in a stable, safe and consistent economy, where they know the rules and what is happening next. The results of our poll suggest uncertainty rather than stability. With 82% of respondents saying they are either confident or very confident the economy will improve in the years to come, the concerns are about the underlying fundamentals of doing business in Vietnam.


Any resident of Saigon or Hanoi will notice the huge developments in parts of their respective cities and 40,000 condominiums are being launched in 2017 and 2018 in Saigon alone. Such is the pace of growth in terms of supply, there are some genuine concerns of a bubble. As one respondent simply says: “So many properties going up. It’ll crash soon, surely.” There is also confusion about the laws of property ownership, with one suggesting “sketchy laws make this kind of investment tricky,” together with the fact the government owns 100% of the land means just 28% of respondents would feel confident or very confident investing in property. The difference becomes more stark when the results are broken down into Vietnamese and foreigners. 46% of the Vietnamese who replied feel confident or very confident in investing in property in Vietnam.


In the survey we asked two separate questions on whether respondents would start a business with a Vietnamese partner or a non-Vietnamese partner. The results were fairly similar for both questions. 56% of those who replied said they would not feel confident about starting a business with a non-Vietnamese partner, while 53% would not be confident about doing so with a Vietnamese partner. The underlying issue seems to be one of trust and competence rather than nationality, with one suggesting “trust would be the greatest obstacle.” There are

mentions of the need for local knowledge, too, with another commenting, “things are definitely harder for you if you do not have a Vietnamese partner.” One of the interesting stats is that Americans and New Zealanders are the only groups who were more confident than not about working with a non-Vietnamese partner.


Working with banks around the world is often fraught with complicated terms and conditions, however, the majority of respondents (56%) said they were confident in dealing with a local bank. “I bank with Vietcombank,” says one participant “and have no problems with local banking or transferring money back home.” There are tales of caution though, with some suggesting “banking laws are beyond frustrating” and mixed communication in terms of regulations and practice.


Almost mirroring the results on investing in property, 70% of those who replied would have no or very little confidence in investing in a franchise in Vietnam. The Vietnamese were more enthusiastic about the prospect of franchise investment than foreigners, with 46% saying they would be confident in doing so. The underlying cause of the lack of confidence among foreigners is the lack of understanding or knowledge on how franchises can operate in Vietnam. “Without an IRS or SEC,” says one respondent, “the health of business financials are impossible to judge for accuracy.”

CONCLUSION: DOING BUSINESS IN VIETNAM IS COMPLICATED The overall sense is that the Vietnamese economy will continue to grow and improve, but there is the inescapable feeling of doubt over certain aspects of the economic picture, particularly with property and the speculation of a bubble in the offing. As one person says simply; “Does anyone really know the true economic situation of Vietnam?”

THE QUESTIONS We asked people how confident they were in the following areas of business in Vietnam: 1) Investing in property 2) Starting a business with a non-Vietnamese partner 3) Starting a business with a Vietnamese business partner 4) Banking with a local bank 5) Investing in a franchise 6) Improvement in the economy in the near future

TOP COMMENTS “[Banking] regulations are constantly changing, and decided upon without prior notice. International banks are slowly gearing away from Vietnam because of these.” [On setting up a business with a Vietnamese partner] “Always draw up a contract with a lawyer or para-legal and sign and notarise it. It’s not that difficult and will save you headaches in the future.” “7% for the next 30 years is not likely, but the rise of the middle class is happening right here, right now.” “[The economy is) only going up… Well, until the housing market crashes.”

STAT ATTACK — Three quarters of respondents are not confident in investing in property — 4 in 10 people say they would be confident of doing business with a non-Vietnamese partner — However, almost one half of respondents would be confident doing business with a Vietnamese partner — Less than 1 in 5 people are not confident in the Vietnamese economy in the future — 30% of people say they’d be confident enough to invest in a franchise in Vietnam | August 2017 Word | 57

THE QUESTIONS Respondents were presented with the following five statements focussing on entertainment, and asked whether they agree, disagree or don’t care. 1) There are more entertainment options where I live than five years ago 2) The entertainment options are better where I live than five years ago 3) Tickets for live international acts are too expensive 4) I am satisfied with the entertainment options where I live 5) I support local celebrities more than international celebrities

COMMENT SPOTLIGHT “Vietnam continues to surprise me with cool gimmicks.” “In the last few years, the quality and frequency of shows, gigs and nights out appear to have nosedived greatly.” “R.I.P. Hanoi Cinematheque.” “There’s much to choose from, which will cater to your fancy.” “There aren’t any international acts I care about seeing.” “CAMA and other groups like Saigon International Comedy go to great lengths to get people here.” “I have an iPhone and an internet connection; why would I need to go out?” “I live in District Two, and love the options I have!” “I would like to support local celebrities, but I just can’t understand them.” “International and local acts are both limited; for example, the drag scene in Hanoi has yet to find footing.”

STAT ATTACK — Four fifths of respondents say that there are more entertainment options where they live than there were five years ago — A similar amount, 68%, say that they are better quality, too — 3 in 10 people say that tickets to see international acts are too expensive — Almost half of respondents say they are not satisfied with the entertainment options available — More than 50% of respondents don’t care about local celebrities

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Entertainment There are more things to do in Vietnam these days, but are they entertaining? Words by Edward Dalton


ietnam has heaps of options for entertainment; karaoke bars, live music, theatre, comedy shows and an expanding nightlife, to name but a few. Here’s what our survey respondents make of the entertainment scene, and how it has changed in recent years.


Nearly 80% of respondents either agree or strongly agree that there are more entertainment options where they live in Vietnam than five years ago. Although it seems the majority still view Ho Chi Minh City as more of an entertainment and nightlife hub, there is a general consensus that Hanoi is catching up. For example, Hanoi’s 11pm curfew is not enforced so strongly any more, and now has options such as paintball, ice-skating and a range of modern cinemas and bars. Is it really progress, though? “Three hundred more karaoke bars is technically more entertainment options,” said one respondent, “but I personally find all that wailing a bit too much.”


With the expanded quantity and variety of entertainment options generally accepted as progress, the number of people who think the options are better than they were five years ago sits at just below 70%. Several respondents cite the closure of Hanoi Cinematheque as an example of the declining quality of options. The nightlife isn’t really tickling many taste buds, either, it seems. “Not everyone wants to hear boom boom music,” says one respondent. “Too much of people mistaking things that are trippy for things that are actually cool,” adds another.


When it comes to buying tickets for live international acts, an equal number of respondents agree and disagree that tickets are too expensive. The majority, 43% to be exact, answered “don’t care.” There are multiple reasons for this, but most of them follow the following reasoning:

“It’s not like I want to see The Scorpions, Kenny G or Boney M, anyway,” says one. “It’s rare for a worthwhile international act to come here,” adds another. Ciaran O’Connell, CEO and founder of Vibration Hanoi, one of the biggest music event planners in Vietnam, has his own theory on this. “The Vietnamese market is a bit behind the rest of the world in music taste,” he suggests. “Local tastes are expanding, and subcultures are forming; but at this point it’s still in an infant stage.” Because of this, Ciaran believes big international artists do not see a big enough market to support the costs of bringing a tour here.


Overall, 45% of respondents report feeling satisfied with the entertainment options where they live, while 43% report the opposite. “I live in southern Dong Da, Hanoi… pretty boring,” says one respondent. Well, move somewhere more interesting then. Several comments suggest a lack of good live music, and a priority for thumping club music over more cultural or artistic entertainment. Others, however, are more optimistic. “It’s what you make it,” suggests one happy-go-lucky respondent. “There are a good number of music venues,” says one respondent, “but many of the bands are underwhelming.”


The indifference in the room is palpable; an impressive 53% of those we surveyed couldn’t care less about local or international celebrities. “Not interested in celebrities at all,” says one. “Local celebrities are just as bad as international ones; but with less leaked sex tapes,” adds another. Several people put their indifference down to a matter of taste, suggesting that perhaps a whole flock of Vietnamese music stars singing the same song about mending a broken heart or how beautiful the valleys of Ha Giang are, isn’t so appealing. — Edward Dalton



Architecture Construction within Vietnam is a hot topic. From modern to French-era colonial, environmental sustainability to motorcycle parking, we asked people exactly what they think about the architectural choices that are being made within Vietnam. Words by Bridget Griffin FRENCH-ERA COLONIAL VS MODERN

Most people who responded to the survey agreed that French-era colonial buildings should be preserved: 64% strongly agreed and 24% agreed. One reason listed is that these buildings are a part of what makes Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi different from other Southeast Asian cities. Looking to the future, 51% disagreed with the statement that, the more our cities look modern, the better, 18% strongly disagreed and 12% didn’t care. A practising architect in Vietnam, who wanted to remain anonymous, commented: “Among the decision makers and even the general population, there is a general belief that modern towers are proofs of prosperity.” Comments on our poll suggested that while people don’t mind modern buildings, they wanted to see a balance of architectural styles.


It seems as if construction never stops in Vietnam’s big cities. So, we included the following statement in our survey for feedback. ‘I’m happy with the types of buildings being constructed where I live’. 43% disagreed, and 24% agreed. The additional comments told a more detailed story. One respondent said: “Some buildings are just big blocks, not really attractive.” However, the majority of commenters were not concerned with the type of building. They were more worried about the number of buildings and the rate at which they are being constructed. The architect we spoke to said: “The main motivation behind the current pace of construction is profit.”


Choosing environmentally sustainable options is a concern for many countries. A high 76% of responders strongly agreed, followed closely by 18% who agreed, that environmental sustainability should be a priority for Vietnam’s urban planners. “Currently, it is not high on the priority list amongst the developers and the city planners. I do not see how it will change in the near future,” said the architect. There was also comment that advocates an increase in green spaces and greater awareness of environmentally sustainable options. Said one person, “Environmental sustainability is the way of the future. If Vietnam doesn’t start doing this better, population pressure combined with swelling middle and upper classes, will lead to a very dirty and depleted country.”


The biggest question in terms of split opinion was in response to the statement that motorcycle parking ruins the aesthetic appeal of buildings. 27% disagreed, 23% strongly agreed, 20% didn’t care, and 19% agreed. People cite both the convenience and the nuisance motorbike parking has within their life. Additional comments suggested the main concern is not so much to do with the aesthetic value, but the practical elements of life that are affected by using a motorbike. But when it comes to looks, respondents suggested that parking them underneath apartment buildings would be better aesthetically. If parking garages aren’t constructed, then what is the alternative? As one respondent said: “If not on the side of the street, then where?”

THE STATEMENTS We asked respondents if they strongly agree, agree, don’t care, disagree or strongly disagree to the following statements: 1) French-era colonial architecture should be preserved 2) The more our cities look modern, the better 3) I’m happy with the types of buildings being constructed where I live 4) Environmental sustainability should be a priority for Vietnam’s urban planners 5) Motorcycle parking on the pavements ruins the aesthetic appeal of buildings where I live

TOP COMMENTS “We can be happy with modern, while keeping the old” “Too much, too fast, too much dust” “I’d love to be able to walk” “I’d love to be able to walk a kilometre — even half a kilometre — on a sidewalk without disruption...” “[Motorbikes] makes the flair” “Parking my motorbike in your reception area will look worse…”

STAT ATTACK — 9 in 10 people believe that French colonial architecture in Vietnam should be preserved — However, only 18% thought that the more modern our cities look, the better — This resonated with the type of buildings being built. Three fifths of respondents say they are not happy with them — Likewise, 95% of respondents feel that environmental sustainability should be a priority for urban planners — As for motorbike parking on the sidewalk, two fifths of people feels it ruins the aesthetic appeal of buildings where they live | August 2017 Word | 61

THE QUESTIONS Our respondents answered five questions about the arts in Vietnam. While our questions were broad, there were recurring themes, namely censorship of artistic expression, poor promotion of the arts and artists, and lack of knowledge about Vietnamese art forms. 1) What are the opportunities for artists? 2) How regularly do you visits art galleries and museums? 3) How often have you read a book by Vietnamese authors? 4) Is traditional Vietnamese art dying? 5) Is graffiti is art?

TOP COMMENTS “Every time I pass an alley with artwork, I always take time [to appreciate it]. Even the small paper pop-out cards always amaze me.” “Some specific fine arts are disappearing and that’s sad, but I think if anything, artists are excessively focused on traditional imagery.” “I believe Saigon should follow Hong Kong in making certain areas available for graffiti artists.” “I don’t really understand ‘art’. I don’t think the lazy, desperate, unemployed people who call themselves artists do either.”

STAT ATTACK — Just under one half of respondents said there are opportunities for Vietnamese artists to express themselves in Vietnam — Two thirds of people say they’ve visited an art gallery or museum in Vietnam in the past six months — Two in five people say that traditional Vietnamese art is dying — 21% percent said they don’t care if traditional Vietnamese art dies out — A massive three quarters of the people surveyed say that graffiti is a form of art, although from the comments we received, tags are not viewed as art whereas murals are

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The Arts From freedom of expression through to the importance of traditional Vietnamese art and graffiti, our questions on arts took on a wide focus. Words by Diane Lee THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

Central to a thriving arts community is funding and freedom of expression, yet this not always the case in Vietnam. More people disagreed that there were opportunities for artists in Vietnam as agreed, at 39% and 33%. As one respondent said: “There are issues that [artists] cannot freely talk about or debate about on a public platform. With restrictions as such, it hinders real freedom of expression.” Others see promotion as a problem: “There are a huge number of galleries and spaces. The problem is promotion of the arts.” Another said the art community — outside elite, fine art — was relatively small and “not accessible to [the] masses”.


According to our respondents, visiting an art gallery or museums is a fairly regular activity with only 28% saying they hadn’t visited one for more than six months. Of the people surveyed, only 7% say they have never visited a gallery or museum in Vietnam. There were mixed responses about the quality of museums and art galleries in Vietnam, with comments ranging from “sad” and “small, boring” to the “Fine Arts Museum is not good”. On the flip side, one respondent said that the “Vincom Centre for Contemporary Art in Royal City was very good.” Another respondent pointed a finger at poor promotion as a reason for nonattendance, saying: “They should advertise for different exhibitions better.”


Reading books by Vietnamese authors was not popular among respondents, with almost 40% of respondents saying they hadn’t done so. A further 26% said they hadn’t read one for a long time. One respondent suggested that access and interest was an issue: “Availability of books in English is lower. Interest among the local

community in Vietnamese culture is also quite low.” Another said that reading didn’t aid crosscultural communication: “[Poetry] didn’t really help me understand my host nation’s culture any deeper than having a beer with a friendly old guy on a corner would.”


Opinions about the death of traditional Vietnamese art were almost evenly split with 32% disagreeing and 39% agreeing. A further 20% said they didn’t care. Some thought Vietnamese art wasn’t dying but evolving, and acknowledged there was difficulty engaging young people in traditional art forms. Another said there is still hope for Vietnamese art, but it must change because “it will [die] unless it brings itself forward, stops repeating the same old, same old and brings something new to the tradition to entice the younger generation, as well as tourists.”


There was strong support for graffiti with 51% agreeing and 21% strongly agreeing that it was an art form. There was an understanding that there’s a big difference between tagging and graffiti as art. One respondent focused on the community development aspect of graffiti, saying that “Projects such as the mural village of Tam Thanh near Hoi An is a great example of how wall art can change a whole community.” Another was struck by one particular piece: “I’ll never forget the graffiti I saw at Nha Trang — the girl looked so alive. I wanted to take the wall home”. Graffiti, while controversial, was generally supported as art in Vietnam, with suggestions that “walls are the people’s book” and “[It] should be commissioned across cities to bring some public art for everyone to enjoy.”



Generation Gap Is the gap getting bigger HOPPING TO IT notion of work remains in flux, and do the oldies really The perhaps now more than ever. Globalisation, change and innovations in know what’s best? generational technology mean that workers can no Your guess is as good as longer expect to stay in the same job, or industry for that matter, with the same ours, but we come up with company until they retire. GenXers and Millennials change jobs a lot some interesting results more than their parents did and have given to the term jobhoppers. trying to find out. rise“Young people nowadays tend to between jobs too often,” says one Words by Matt Cowan jump young Vietnamese respondent working in hospitality. Indeed, these days it’s likely the average person will change jobs 15 to 20 times during their careers.

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This is reflected in our survey which reveals that 32% of respondents have had four or more jobs over the last five years. While just 7% of those represent Vietnamese respondents, they are still more likely than foreign residents in Vietnam to have changed jobs four or more times over the past five years. This seems to fit the anecdotes about young Vietnamese of today who are highly mobile, connected online, increasingly better educated, and on the look-out for better-paying jobs and conditions. The profile of these jobhoppers is that they are evenly split between the sexes, with females just slightly more likely to have changed jobs more often than males.

Jobhoppers are more likely to be in a relationship (56%) without children (85%), live in Hanoi (56%), and be between the ages of 20 and 29 years old (48%). Among foreign resident jobhoppers, they are more likely to be new to Vietnam, having lived here for one year or less (37%), although quite a few foreign residents living here for more than 10 years (17%) have had four or more jobs in the past five years. As for those who have had just one or two jobs in the past five years (47%) — the stayers — they are more likely to be male, in a relationship with no children, aged 30 to 49, based in Saigon and have been living in Vietnam for more than 10 years.


A recent article in The Australian newspaper by demographer Bernard Salt refers to what he calls the KIPPER generation (Kids In Parents’ Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings) in Australia which represents 25% of Australian 18 to 35-year-olds living with their parents. The article reports that the group continues to grow and maintains the same proportion as those still living at home back in 2006, indicating that the KIPPER generation is there to stay for a while yet. It also revealed that VietnameseAustralians top the list of 20 to 29-yearold Australians living with their parents, closely followed by Filipino-Australians and then Chinese-Australians. Here in Vietnam, perhaps change is moving the opposite way. One of our young female Vietnamese respondents commented: “They should be independent from their parents so they can gain essential skills to start their own family.” This sentiment is somewhat reflected in the responses, where 73% of Vietnamese respondents indicated that they either disagreed or strongly disagreed that children should live with their parents until they are married. This is higher than the overall response of 71% and perhaps indicates the changing values of Vietnamese families today, particularly as the necessity to migrate to the big cities for work increases. “Although as Asians it is our practice [to live at home until married],” says a female Filipino respondent living in Saigon, “children should learn to be independent.” Still, 8% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that children should live with their parents until they are married, including respondents from Western Europe, Oceania and Asia, with the overwhelming majority of those being male.


Perhaps the surprise of our survey was that the majority of respondents (62%) spend just one to three hours online each day outside of work, of which 13% are Vietnamese. While 27% of respondents indicated that they spend four to six hours online per day outside of work. Interestingly, a very small number (1%) indicated that they never spend time online outside of work, while 11% indicated that they spend seven or more hours per day online. Who are these people? Typically they are foreign females in a relationship without children who live in Saigon and are between the ages of 20 and 29. They spend most of their time on social media and say that the top five priorities in their life are family, friends, work, money and holidays. Not to be outdone, 3% of respondents who report spending seven or more hours online are between 40 and 60 years of age, male, European and living in Saigon. As one of our respondents, a young British male living in Hanoi, says, “The fact that ‘more than 10 [hours]’ is an option, is terrifying.”


We asked respondents if they thought same-sex marriage should be legally recognised in Vietnam. While its banning was officially abolished in 2015, same-sex unions aren’t legally recognised here. “Don’t understand why this is still an issue in the world,” comments a middleaged British male living in Saigon. Respondents overwhelmingly agreed or strongly agreed (75%) that same-sex marriage should be legally recognised in Vietnam, however, other responses (20%) indicate that perhaps there is still a sizable part of the community who are ambivalent towards its legalisation indicating that they don’t care. One 30-something male Italian respondent living in Hanoi felt the urge to comment: “I think clean water should be a topic, more than gay marriage.” Among the small percentage of respondents who disagreed or strongly disagreed (5%), three-quarters of them have lived in Vietnam for more than 10 years. “It would be a long way [off] as the Vietnamese are still not open about these topics,” says one young Vietnamese female respondent living in Hoi An. If only she knew that 86% of the respondents who disagreed with legally recognising same-sex marriage in Vietnam were Western.

THE QUESTIONS 1) How many jobs have you had in the past five years? 2) Should children live with their parents until they are married? 3) Should same-sex marriage be legally recognised in Vietnam? 4) How many hours per day do you spend online (not including work hours)? 5) Rank in order from 1 to 10 the priorities in your life.

STAT ATTACK — 14% of our respondents said that in their free time they check their mobile phone more than 10 times an hour — However, three fifths said they check their phones between two and five times an hour — Outside of work, three in five people spend between one and three hours online every day — One tenth said that they spend more than seven hours online every day outside of work — 70% of respondents feel that children should not live with their parents until they’re married | August 2017 Word | 65

Immigration THE QUESTIONS We asked people to respond to five statements and rate their answers as agree, strongly agree, don’t care, disagree or strongly disagree. These questions focused on immigration and life in Vietnam for foreigners. Here are the questions respondents were asked to rate: 1) Vietnam is a better place with foreigners. 2) Foreigners respect Vietnamese culture. 3) I feel good when I see interracial couples. 4) Vietkieu are foreigners, they are not Vietnamese. 5) Vietnam treats foreigners well.

TOP COMMENTS “Less than 5% of people I know can pronounce Vietnamese names correctly.” “We live in a bubble and not really privy to most social or political events... unless we really dig.” “Compared to other countries, foreigners in Vietnam get a great deal.” “I just think that it is sad to see the huge gap between some expats living in a villa, and people just living in the same street.” “Love is beautiful and colourful.”

STAT ATTACK — 7 out of 10 people believe that Vietnam treats foreigners well — Only 7% of people think that Vietnam is a worse place with foreigners — Three quarters think that Vietnam is a better place with foreigners — Just over two fifths of people think that foreigners don’t respect Vietnamese culture — 7 out of 10 respondents feel okay when they see interracial couples

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With Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, the rise of Macron in France, and the Syrian refugee crisis, when it comes to immigration, nations around the world seem to be pulling in one of two directions. So, which is it to be, Vietnam? Words by Thomas Barrett.


ention immigration to most people these days and you’re bound to elicit an emotional response, no matter where in the world you are — and our Vietnam-based readers were no different.


57% of our readers agreed with this statement, with a further 17% strongly agreeing that an influx of foreigners is a good thing, believing that variety is the spice of life. A miniscule 2% strongly disagreed. Interestingly, 62% of Vietnamese respondents said that this country is a better place with foreigners, with only 12% disagreeing. Bearing in mind that the survey was written in English, the opinion of the Vietnamese respondents will not represent your everyday person on the street. Rather it will be the opinion of the bilingual middle class who may well have spent time overseas. There was a caveat, however. The wealth that foreigners can bring has exposed the divide between rich and poor in Vietnam. One respondent wrote: “I just think that it is sad to see the huge wealth difference between some expats living in a villa, and people just living in the same street.” Another warned: “There is no doubt that foreigners have helped to shape the economy and the opportunities for Vietnamese people, not always in a good way of course.”


There is no manual on Vietnamese culture on arrival, and there have been recent stories in the press such as the girls who lost their function for common sense and went sunbathing on Hoan Kiem lake in Hanoi. In some quarters, their act of ‘indecency’ caused outrage. Of course, this question varies depending on the foreigner. Ask a Vietnamese whether they think a visiting Chinese respects their culture compared to a Briton, and the response will likely be wildly different. 40% of readers disagreed with the statement,

which suggests there is work to be done, whereas 43% of respondents went in the other direction. “I agree the majority do, but there are some bad apples,” said one respondent. Another bluntly put it: “I mean it’s a case-bycase thing, but many expats are arseholes.” One respondent probably hits the nail on the head when they wrote: “I think that most of foreigners want to respect it, make some mistakes sometimes (which is normal) but don’t learn it enough.”


Encouragingly, our survey indicates that love has no boundaries for our readers. “Don’t care” came out top for this question with 38% of the vote, with 33% agreeing and 27% strongly agreeing. Even Vietnamese respondents seemed to follow this line, with only 4% saying they disagree with this statement. You might see some age gaps between interracial couples that make you cringe, but it seems to be a nonissue for most of our respondents. We were preaching to the converted with one respondent, who said: “I am married to a Vietnamese girl, who cares?” There were some critical comments, however, with one person writing: “It’s their own business. Unless it’s a white older guy with yellow fever being predatory on a young Asian girl.” One forward respondent added “You got 46 chromosomes? Me too. Wanna get a coffee?”


In such a large and diverse country, it’s pretty unfair to generalise — but a whopping 62% of respondents agreed that foreigners are treated well. But as the recent spate of online videos have shown; don’t get into any motorcycle disputes though as it could get hairy. One respondent said: “Very inviting and welcoming to strangers.” Whereas another said “Despite the occasional over-charging and scams, I think foreigners are well liked.” Viet-Kieu are Foreigners, they are not Vietnamese.


Responses were mixed for this issue with 24% disagreeing and 31% agreeing. One respondent said “Some are very Vietnamese, and others are very foreign. All depends on their upbringing among the diaspora.” One respondent clearly felt different, writing: “I consider most Viet Kieu who return

to Vietnam to work as foreigners, as most of them are second or third-generation Viet Kieu.” 34% chose ‘don’t care’, with plenty of comments suggesting that cultural identity is something that can only be decided by the individual. | August 2017 Word | 67


THE QUESTIONS Here are the six questions we put to our participants: 1) How many hours per day do you spend on social media (not including work hours)? 2) Have you ever been bullied online? 3) Have you ever bullied anyone online? 4) Have you ever developed a sexual relationship with someone online?

Social Media Does the social media scene in Vietnam differ from that elsewhere in the world? Words by Zoe Osborne


espite regular shark attacks on the country’s Wifi, Vietnam remains well-connected on all things social media. Ask the average citizen, from teen to celebrated grandparents, and most will own a smartphone complete with Facebook, Viber, WhatsApp, Instagram, you name it. From accommodating simple social interaction to connecting future lovers, social media serves a purpose in Vietnam today. Despite this, the average amount of time spent on social media compared to elsewhere in the world seems to be relatively low. The majority of people spent about one to three hours online each day, not including work hours, while 21.3% spent four to six and a small percentage even more. One of our survey respondents pointed out that “any more [than 15mins per day] is just procrastination” and another suggested that a better source of entertainment is often the outside world. Social media is notorious for distracting and isolating its users, and in a country where life is lived in such fascinating proximity, a lot can be said for putting the phone down.


The internet troll features regularly across Vietnam’s expat Facebook groups, but when we look at Vietnam as a whole, cyber abrasiveness seems to be a fairly small issue. Around 76% of our survey participants said that they have never been bullied online and the 24% who have, seemed more inclined to pity their online oppressors rather than dislike them. One described their troll encounters as being with “sad lonely people [who] perversely get joy from anonymously laughing at my online gardening tips.” Interestingly, our survey answers showed

that the majority of participants’ unpleasant internet interactions were with foreign social media users rather than Vietnamese. One participant referred to the trolls on expat group “Hanoi Massive and its jobless members,” and another stated outright that they had “only [been bullied] one time and not by a Vietnamese.” When asked if they had ever been the bully rather than the recipient, 91.7% of our participants said no, but many referred to their online interactions as “harmless banter” or “a little sarcastic”, stating that “there are some very sensitive flowers out there.” It seems that it can be all too easy to deny responsibility for how we affect people online, perhaps because the wide web makes social interaction far less tangible.


When asked, 36.7% of our surveyed Vietnam residents said that yes, they had developed a sexual relationship with someone online. One participant said they had ended up marrying an online date and they are celebrating their 16th anniversary this year. In their comments, most people delineated between dating apps like Tinder and online sexual interactions, saying that they had just met or dated online rather than holding a sexual relationship via the internet. As one participant said: “We did consummate it in a bed...” But when asked whether dating apps and websites are a good way to find meaningful relationships, an overwhelming number of our survey participants said they don’t know. To most, the issue is not black and white, and the longevity of a relationship doesn’t rely so much on how you start it but on who you are. As one survey participant said, “it works for some.”

5) To what extent are Tinder, Grinder, Blued and other dating apps / sites great for finding meaningful relationships? 6) To what extent is it fine for parents to post photos of their children online?

WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS? While most of our surveyed adults seem perfectly willing to share their lives online, even to the extent of love, their answers show division over whether children should have social media presence at all. However, when asked if it is fine for parents to post photos of their children online, a very slight majority said yes. The general consensus seems to be that modesty is the key — if your kids are clothed and not too many details are divulged, then post away. Here are some of the more interesting comments we received about parents posting photos of their children online. “Within limits of course and with private setting (friends only for example). Some parents post too much details of [their] kids’ life [online] and it could stay on record forever.” “Not these crazy parents posting naked pictures of their child every freakin’ 10 minutes!” “As long as they are not shitting in the street.”

STAT ATTACK — Only 4% of respondents don’t use social media — A quarter of people spend more than four hours on social media a day — A whopping 1 in 4 people say they have been bullied online — Two fifths of people say they have developed a sexual relationship with someone online — However, less than 20% say that dating apps or websites are great for finding meaningful relationships | August 2017 Word | 69

Spurious Correlations With apparently so much fake news around, we wanted to get in on the act. Here are some correlations from our survey that we just couldn’t help but share with you. So, what do you think? Words by Matt Cowan

“Vietnamese respondents made up 15 percent of all respondents to our survey, which isn’t a bad effort, and they’ve provided us with some cracking comments” 70 | Word August 2017 |


k, we admit it. The idea isn’t ours. The inspiration for this article comes from who has a page called spurious correlations. One of our favourites from that website is the correlation between the release of a Nicholas Cage movie and the number of people in the US who drown by falling into a pool. It’s compelling reading. The deaths by drowning go up. So, when the opportunity came up to survey our readers this month, we jumped at the chance to use some of our own data to deduce some (spurious) correlations of our own. Here they are.


Cafés and restaurants regularly cop a pasting on social media in Vietnam, usually related to service or food. Hmm, nothing new there, so when we asked our respondents to rate service at cafés and restaurants in Vietnam, we expected the flood gates to open up and drown us in a deluge of potty-mouthed negativity. Turns out that it’s far from the case. Most respondents recognised that wait staff generally try very hard to please their customers and that the quality of service varies greatly from place-to-place. Perhaps therein lies the issue — consistency? “Staff are nice and do their best,” says a 40-something divorced American male in Saigon who has lived in Vietnam for more than 10 years. “Can just one restaurant train their staff to check in and ask, ‘How’s everything? Can I get you anything else?’” One of the more surprising and recurring complaints, however, was that there are people out there who actually think that wait staff in Vietnam are too attentive. Yes, you read that correctly. Says a young respondent in Hanoi who rates service very good: “My only complaint would be the lingering waiting staff at restaurants.” But not all agree. “Depends on where you eat,” says a female Canadian respondent in her sixties who’s been living in Vietnam for more than a decade. “But customer service seems to include getting your

meal to you and then buggering off.” What’s bemusing is that she rated service as good. Overall, 75 percent of respondents in our survey rated service as good, very good, or excellent. So what’s the likely profile of these seemingly easy-to-please people? — Western — Female — Aged 20 to 29 — Lives in Saigon — In a relationship — No children — Has lived in Vietnam three years or less — Works in education — Rides a Honda motorbike — Enjoys mixing with locals — Spends one to three hours per day online in their free time — Believes young people should be independent — Satisfied with entertainment options where they live


Perhaps Rihanna’s song We Found Love (in a hopeless place) is the anthem of this generation after 18% of respondents in our survey said that dating apps and sites like Tinder, Grinder, Blued and others are great for finding meaningful relationships. Just ask one young male Cuban respondent living in Saigon: “I met my loved one on Tinder,” he says. And this from a young American market researcher who’s been living in Saigon for a year: “I’ve been in a committed relationship with Tinder for one year now.” Yet, according to other respondents, dating apps are great for meeting types who are typically after your money. “They are great for finding hookers and real estate agents,” says a 40-something American male living in Ba Ria. Okay, we’ll take his word for it. In what appears to be a sign of the times, finding love online mightn’t be the hopeless place we thought it was. But will it ever knock the bars on Saigon’s Pasteur Street off their perch as the number one place where love can be found in hopeless



“‘We don’t need to be given an English name just because you can’t pronounce ours. Or is that just the Americans?’”

places? Time (and cash) will only tell. Anyway, what do these hopeless romantics probably look like? — Western — Male — Aged 20 to 29 — Lives in Hanoi — In a relationship — No children — Has lived in Vietnam for three years or less — Works in education — Rides a Honda motorbike — Has developed sexual relationships online — Believes that Vietnam treats foreigners well — Has never read a book by a Vietnamese author — Likes interacting with locals — Believes strongly in preserving French colonial-era architecture and that environmentally sustainable buildings should be a priority for Vietnam’s urban planners


If only we could find a way to get more Vietnamese to respond. Raffle a motorbike perhaps? Having said that, Vietnamese respondents made up 15 percent of all respondents to our survey, which isn’t a bad effort, and they’ve provided us with some cracking comments. On the topic of whether it’s fine for parents to post photos of their children online, one 30-something Vietnamese unmarried farmer without children from somewhere out in the sticks says: “Not these crazy parents posting naked pictures of their child every freaking ten minutes.” Perhaps photos of their goats would be more to his liking? And this on the topic of whether foreigners respect Vietnamese culture or not: “Sadly no,” says a young Vietnamese female teacher from Saigon. “We don’t need to be given an English name just because you can’t pronounce ours. Or is that just the Americans?” Ouch. Then there’s some sage advice for travellers experiencing the service joys at Vietnam’s airports: “It’s fairly good if you mind your own business and don’t ask for anything,” says a young male Vietnamese artist from Hanoi. “Remember to look like your passport, too.” So what are these people probably like? — Female — Aged 20 to 29 — No Children — Lives in Saigon — Single — No children — Businesswoman — Rides a Honda motorbike — Thinks motorcycles on the pavements are ugly and that French colonial-era buildings should be preserved — Cares about the environment — Thinks tickets for live international acts are too expensive

— Not confident doing business with a foreigner, but confident in Vietnamese banks — Says that service at cafes, restaurants, hotels and resorts is good, but not particularly fond of taxis from airports and service within airports


We’ve all heard how the Vietnamese have a crush on Singapore and that urban planners, especially in Saigon, want to create their very own version of the tiny island nation, while the rest of us wonder why. Ask any young Vietnamese finding their way in this world where they would travel if given the chance. Singapore, they say. Why? Because it’s modern. One Canadian male respondent in his thirties living in Saigon exclaims: “Make Saigon great again!” Then tells us what he’d do if he were president. “First things first — fix the road conditions and traffic.” Not bad. But it takes a middle-aged British chef based in Hanoi and living in Vietnam for less than year to raise the elephant in the room and talks BS — Bangkok and Singapore that is. “Bangkok and Singapore have no soul,” he says. And it seems that pretty much everyone else agrees with him as just 18% of respondents agree or strongly agree that the more our cities look modern, the better they are. “Cities have always modernised,” says a young British writer living in Saigon who agrees. Unsurprisingly, 32%of the respondents who agree or strongly agree that it’s better for our cities to look modern, are Vietnamese. But, none of them commented on why. So with that, we share the profile of what the 18% who dream of a modern life are probably like. — Vietnamese — Female — Aged under 40 — Single — No children — Rides a Honda motorbike, but maybe a Yamaha too (phew!) — Believes foreigners respect Vietnamese culture and that Vietnam is a better place with foreigners — Family is their priority in life — Believes that graffiti is art and that Vietnamese art isn’t dying — Thinks that motorbikes parked on the pavement ruin the aesthetics of buildings, and that our French colonial-era buildings should be preserved — Agrees that same-sex marriage in Vietnam should be legally recognised — Likely to have had three to four jobs in the past five years — Likely to be still living with their parents, but disagrees that children should live with their parents until they are married — Hasn’t visited an art gallery or museum for a long time

THE WINNERS Everyone who took part in the survey had their name put into a hat for a chance to win one of four prizes. Using the website, we drew out the winners at random. Here they are and their prizes:


Wins: A double pass with accommodation and bus transportation to Quest Festival in early November


Wins: Two individual tickets to Quest Festival in early November


Wins: A 12-month subscription to the print edition of Word Vietnam


Wins: A 6-month subscription to the print edition of Word Vietnam A special thanks to Quest Festival for providing prizes. For more information on the upcoming festival in November, click on | August 2017 Word | 73



Anything But English There are plenty of languages other than English being learned in Vietnam. Edward Dalton tracks down some people learning them. Photos by Julie Vola


ietnam is a wellestablished destination for unqualified foreigners in baggy elephant pants to earn a living teaching English, such is the constant demand for new classes. However, the Vietnamese appetite for learning new languages goes well beyond paying too much for an

unplanned lesson delivered by someone who can’t define a gerund. We spoke to a dozen Vietnamese language learners who can already speak English, to find out more about which other languages they are studying, why they chose them, what their goals are, and what nuggets of advice they have for any other potential linguists.

Pham Van Anh, 26 Van Anh has been studying Korean for five months, in a class taught by her friend


’m an editor at a publishing company, so knowing Korean is very helpful for my work. I’m also interested in K-pop and K-drama, so I’d like to understand them more. “English is one of the easiest languages to learn; we had to


learn it in school, and it’s very popular. German was hard, the gender of nouns made me crazy. “Japanese is definitely the most difficult; but there are so many benefits to speaking more than one language, I can’t list them all.”

Bui Phi Long, 26

Duong Thi Van, 29

Long has studied Thai for nearly a year, learning by himself at home

Van has studied Spanish for two years, at a language centre and with the Memrise app

he number of Vietnamese who speak Thai is pretty small, so there will be more job opportunities for me. Also, I love Thai food and movies and I have a lot of Thai friends. “The shortage of Vietnamese people learning Thai means there’s a dire shortage of materials, but

luckily we have the internet. “Speaking more than one language is so important, because every country and every person is overwhelmingly affected by globalisation. I would love to live in Thailand and open some restaurants serving traditional Vietnamese dishes.”

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started learning Spanish because I really liked a Spanish guy. After travelling to Spain, I started learning more seriously. “I think sooner or later, speaking a third language will be a requirement. Speaking languages develops your memory and brainpower, and it’s good for

business too; customers are always happier when you can speak in their language. “There is a very limited community of Spanish native speakers in Vietnam, or qualified Spanish teachers, so studying or doing a language exchange is a real challenge.”

Le Thi Khanh Linh, 23 Linh is in her fourth year of studying Japanese, at Hanoi’s Thang Long University


really love Japanese culture, especially manga and movies. “In Vietnam, we have a lot of foreign investors. I think if I can speak Japanese, I’ll have the opportunity for a better job and better salary at a Japanese company. “Communicating with

Japanese native speakers is a real challenge; the textbook Japanese I study at university doesn’t always work in the real world. “I would love to study abroad in Japan for a while, maybe through an exchange programme or internship. Then I can come back to Vietnam and try to work for a Japanese company.”

Nguyen Tra My, 25 My has studied Russian for nine years, at Hanoi Amsterdam High School, Hanoi University and Tula State Pedagogical University in Russia


y love for Russian began when I was a little girl trying to perform a Russian song at the Children’s Cultural Centre. When I had a chance to seriously study Russian at high school, I took it without the slightest hesitation. “Learning Russian has several challenges, such as

the Cyrillic letters, three noun genders and lots of irregularities to memorise. “Speaking more languages opens up a ton of job opportunities, and also helps you to truly understand other cultures. It can also make you more confident when adapting to new environments.”

“‘English is one of the easiest languages to learn; we had to learn it in school, and it’s very popular. German was hard, the gender of nouns made me crazy’”

Nguyen Linh Anh, 25 Linh Anh has studied French on and off for one year, a bit at university, then at L’Espace, and now at home with online videos and software


love learning languages; I’ve attempted German and Korean as well, but French is widely used worldwide, and there are so many resources for a self-learner. “I think it’s a personal choice to learn another language; bilingual people are not even


that rare these days. “Charlemagne (8th to 9th century French Emperor) said that to have another language is to possess a second soul; that’s something I totally agree with. “All languages have words for things that can’t be translated, isn’t that a beautiful thing?”

Nguyen Thi Van Trang, 31

Ngo Thi Quynh Trang, 22

Trang started studying Dutch 10 years ago, and recently picked it up again with a private tutor

Trang has studied German for four months, mostly in a language centre, but also with a tutor

currently work for the Dutch Embassy in Hanoi, and even though English is our official office language, Dutch makes it easier to work with Dutch colleagues and customers. “I feel language is much more than a means of communication;

it’s the true expression of culture. “I enjoy learning something new, and learning a language keeps my brain fit. I’ve tried Dutch, Spanish, French and English, and I think English is the easiest to learn, because it’s everywhere.”


have loved Germany ever since I was small, and I plan to join a culture exchange in Germany in the future, so I can learn the language better. “Knowing a foreign language is often the first and foremost requirement to work for a foreign company

in Vietnam, so it’s a huge advantage. “Learning the gender of nouns in German is a tough challenge; if you don’t get the noun gender correct, then you’ll get the wrong form of adjective and the wrong article!” | August 2017 Word | 77

“‘I think sooner or later, speaking a third language will be a requirement. Speaking languages develops your memory and brainpower, and it’s good for business too’”


Le Hoa Binh, 25 Binh has been studying Italian for seven years, first at university and then at Dante Alighieri Hanoi


taly is known for its art, architecture and fashion, so their style attracted me to give Italian a try. And also, who doesn’t love pizza? “In Italian, irregularity is regular; things tend not to follow the rules. I’ve now been teaching Italian at university for a year; I

hope in the future I can continue to spread this language. “Speaking more languages makes people more open-minded to different points of view, and improves your mental reflexes, as your brain gets used to switching between languages. And being multilingual is super cool!”

Dao Hong Ha, 25

Hanh Mai, 23

Ha has been studying Mandarin Chinese for five years, through self-study and a language centre

Mai has studied Swedish for over a year, both online and at home

’m interested in the ancient culture of China. The modernday trade between Vietnam and China shows there’s a lot of potential business for bilingual workers. “Learning a new language helps you adapt when you go to new places; it can also help to

avoid conflict, as you are able to recognise multicultural differences. “Chinese writing is quite difficult to learn, but it is so genius to capture a whole concept in a single written character. I would love to become a Chinese teacher, so I can promote the spirit of learning Chinese to others.”

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spent a year on an exchange programme in Gothenburg, Sweden. I only picked up Swedish as a hobby, to speak with Swedish friends and know how to read street signs or supermarket labels. “Even though Swedes speak perfect English, I didn’t want

to waste the chance to immerse myself better in their culture. “I still struggle with the ‘r’ sound in Swedish; the pronunciation is the most difficult part, among countless challenges! “But not many Vietnamese pick up Swedish, so I feel like I have a unique secret weapon.”

Nong Thi Thuy Dung, 24 Dung studied Portuguese at Hanoi University for four years


y parents wanted me to study accounting, but my entrance exam score wasn’t high enough; I decided to try Portuguese, because it’s a rare language to learn in Vietnam. “The amount of multilingual people these days is making the cultural distance between countries smaller; it’s also helping business, tourism and education. “I only use Portuguese when chatting with my Brazilian friends on Facebook, but I hope one day I can use both Portuguese and English for my job.”

Top Tips from our Top Learners 1) Change the language on your social networks to the one you’re learning 2) Take your homework seriously 3) Have realistic goals, so you’re not demotivated by failure 4) Patience, practice and passion 5) Make it into a daily habit 6) Watch foreign language films without subtitles 7) Watch TV with the subtitles on of the language you’re learning 8) Make use of free mobile apps 9) Check YouTube — there are so many free videos 10) Communicate with native speakers frequently | August 2017 Word | 79




Treasure out of Trash

The repurposing of what others may view as trash has taken off in the capital. Words by Diane Lee. Photos by Sasha Arefieva


t mightn’t be obvious at first glance, but Vietnam has a strong tradition of recycling and repurposing. At any one time, trash is picked over multiple times for anything that can be reused or resold. From broken glass repurposed into bia hoi tumblers to coconut shells turned into lacquered bowls, rarely does anything have a single use.

Squared Furniture and Art Like many creators, Dan Henneberry started making furniture out of necessity. “My wife and I moved into this house six years ago and there was no furniture,” he said. “I was originally a musician that had gotten into painting, and I’d started painting a lot on wood — salvaged wood — and I thought I’d make myself a desk. And that was the start of it.” Sourcing his materials is one of the biggest challenges for making his furniture. “Originally, I would try and salvage stuff,” he said. “But it’s very difficult, because Vietnam has a huge culture of collecting and recycling and reusing, and I wouldn’t really find much useful stuff. So, I buy pretty much everything, even if it’s an old shuttered door, or the stair railings or the pallets. I try to stockpile stuff.” A tour of Dan’s workshop, which occupies the top floor of his house, reveals large pieces of wood and offcuts that will

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be turned in furniture. “Obviously there are limitations with transport, the size of my house and the patience of my wife.” Dan’s work is inspired by Hanoi and the do-it-yourself attitude he sees everywhere in the city. “One of the big lessons here is that the best way to get something done is to do it yourself.” Dan’s next exhibition will be at ClickSpace Coworking & Spacebar Café (Villa 15, 76 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho) in August.

The Sidewalk Hanoi Look around Sidewalk (199D Nghi Tam, Tay Ho), and it’s filled with objects that would have been dumped, but have been repurposed into décor items. A computer monitor over the bar is a light, as are large water-cooler bottles and wine glasses. Rows of cans in gold and silver support the bar, and tyres and plastic soft drink bottles are nurturing homes for thriving plants. Tables are large, wooden cable reels. “The cans are Mao’s [part-owner] idea. He’s still working on a project and wants to take even more cans and do that whole back side there [the stage area],” said part-owner, Eduard Aggenbach. The current fitout is accidental, although a lot of the furniture was already in place when Eduard bought in. “Huong [another part-owner] found this place. It was part of

the car wash next door. [Huong and Mao] built it from scratch, and it was operational within a month.” Sidewalk was decorated from scrapyards and junk shops out of the city. “At that stage, they [the owners] were trying to save money,” said Eduard. “There’s a furniture store outside of Hanoi that’s very good. And they do the wooden benches and tables. There’s a wooden scrapyard and the guy there makes cheap, easy furniture, and we buy it from them. It doesn’t cost us a lot of money and it’s effective.”

The Junk Shop Half way down Dang Thai Mai Street is The Junk Shop (2F Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho). Run by former teacher and tour guide Dong Nguyen, the unassuming shop is a bargain hunter’s delight, chock full of eclectic items ranging from water puppets to wedding dresses to motor cycle helmets. Rummaging through items stacked high and deep is where patience is rewarded as treasures — highly individual — are unearthed. “We have been here for six years. Both locals and expats bring their goods here [for us to buy], but we don’t take everything.” While Facebook groups are popular for reselling items, Dong said that his shop resells at 30% of cost. “And 80% of what we have here are collectibles. It’s a lottery. It’s about perceived value.”


“Global revenue is expected to top US$1 billion by 2020�

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eSports Strap yourself into your couch, as eSports becomes the fastest-growing sport in the world. Words by Thomas Barrett. Photos by Bao Zoan


hoosh! go the giant eruptions of steam that shoot out of the ground, scantily clad dancers with toy guns attack the stage, and a giant construction featuring four huge screens hangs over the middle of the Nguyen Du Stadium. Welcome to the world of eSports, no longer the domain of the solitary bedroom dweller. It’s big business now, and Vietnam wants a piece of the action. eSports is competitive video gaming, and — if you consider it a sport — it’s comfortably the fastest-growing sport in the world. Global revenue is expected to top US$1billion by 2020, and games such as League of Legends, Dota 2 or FIFA | August 2017 Word | 85

“…the champions of this game alone could pocket around VND1 billion in a single year”

17 attract huge worldwide numbers as millions either watch live streams or fill stadiums around the world. The 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China will include them alongside traditional sports for the first time. Could an Olympic gold medal for gaming be on the horizon? The best players in Vietnam might be sitting next to you on the bus, or in the coffee shop as they play on their phone. Anyone can play, providing you have a smart phone, a PC or console and an internet connection. Take a look around Ho Chi Minh City and you won’t have to look far before you see one of these gaming centres, usually packed full of young people with a headset on and their faces

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fixated on a screen. The spirit of competition is there, but you don’t have to move from your backside. It’s a 21st-century phenomenon.

Best Of The Best Crossfire Legends has been out for two months. It’s a mobile version of the smash hit, first-person shooter, Crossfire — a 2007 release made by South Korean publishers which is the second-highest grossing eSport of all time, behind League of Legends. The debut tournament in Ho Chi Minh City in June brought together a community of professional, semi-professional and casual players from all over Vietnam. The muscle that is pumping cash into

eSport is sponsorship, and a Chinese mobile phone manufacturer attached itself to the event, which will see the game included on its new mobile phone handsets. Hao is here as a fan of Team Ahihi, and just like a fan of Barcelona goes to the Camp Nou to admire the skills of Messi and the others, he’s here to watch the best. “I like the way they play,” he says. “They attack really fast. The way they defend and catch the enemies is really skilful. This is the most professional event that I have ever seen in Saigon. It’s awesome.” It’s team-based action, and two teams of five players each line up against each other, with each member having a different role

to play in their squad. During the breaks in between matches, a hyperactive compere keeps the crowd entertained with Chinese chess games, quizzes and a slightly odd competition where people line up to see who can hold a singing note for the longest. For people who might be puzzled as to why people go and watch other people play video games, it’s clear an effort has been made to make the experience more inclusive. The tournament runs from 11am all the way through to 10pm, and admittedly the neon glowsticks that have been handed out earlier in the day are being shaken with less vigour once the sun has set, but the host refuses to let anyone in the crowd flag,

and he continues playing more games with the audience. At around 6pm the motor mouth commentators that have called the action in the arena since 10am rest their eyes for a little on the plinth that looks over the gamers; you can’t blame them, if they were getting paid by the word, they’d be rich men by now.

More Than A Game Speaking to Pol, the organiser of the event, it’s clear that he’s excited to be part of the upward trend. He’s been working in eSports for seven years, and in that time has seen it grow to what it is today. “It’s better the players can live their passions,” he says. “It’s my aim. eSports

didn’t have enough money in it before. It’s growing every year.” He explains that the champions of this game alone could pocket around VND1 billion in a single year. Nice work if you can get it, and as long as sponsors see value in attaching themselves to these events, the riches on offer will only grow. Ho Chi Minh University of Sport now even include an eSport major as part of their programme. It teaches them about the games, the tournaments and how you can organise them. It’s part of the strive towards legitimacy that has been the biggest obstacle in its growth. There are naysayers that refuse to accept video gaming as a respectable career path. | August 2017 Word | 87

Compared to China, Thailand and South Korea, the gaming infrastructure in Vietnam is way behind, but is gradually catching up. Vietnam doesn’t have many game publishers, which has made the industry harder to grow. Unlike in other Asian countries, eSports in Vietnam haven’t had backing from the government. The older generations have also been slow in understanding its appeal. Pol explains that for Team Ahihi, which had two young players, he had to go and see their parents to get their permission to

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come and play in today’s tournament. “I had to convince them [to let them play] — it took three days. I showed them that this is a good job. The parents are really happy now.”

Winner Takes All Vietnam’s reliably unreliable internet connection poses the biggest threat to the action on the day, and it threatens to throw the event into chaos, as the four internet lines they had prepared all fail before the final round of action. A move over to

mobile internet saves the day, and the final can proceed. After a tense final which goes down to a deciding round, Team Ahihi win and take home today’s prize money of around US$5,000 (VND114 million). Confetti rains from the ceiling and the winning team’s players embrace each other in a rare show of emotion, as their opponents sink their heads in disappointment. This is what makes it feel like sport to an outsider — the elation of victory and crushing lows of defeat. Hao, the Team Ahihi fan I spoke to

earlier in the day, pumps his fists wildly into the air. He’s going home happy.

A Real Sport? Hieu, one of the players of Team Ahihi, talks afterwards of the special emotions that came with their big win, and the man with the golden thumb predicts big things for eSports in Vietnam: “I believe eSports will become more and more popular, like traditional sports such as football or basketball,” he says. But could the popularity of eSports come at a price? After all, the physical exertion

“Compared to China, Thailand and South Korea, the gaming infrastructure in Vietnam is way behind, but is gradually catching up”

required is minimal. Another fan tells me that he plays eSports because he doesn’t have time to go outside and play traditional sports. Are we getting too lazy? Ultimately it’s down to personal choice, and Pol, the tournament organiser, is excited by the opportunities that eSports can present to young people in Vietnam. “I want to make Vietnamese players better than they are today. I want to make superstars so they can live with their passion, really live, get more money and show that eSports is real sport.” | August 2017 Word | 89




The Rise of Design Boutiques in Hanoi A new generation of designers and design boutiques is arising in Hanoi. Words by Malte Blas. Photos by Julie Vola 90 | Word August 2017 | | August 2017 Word | 91


s the Vietnamese middle class swells with disposable income, interest in modern design and custom interiors is on the rise. The many craft villages surrounding Hanoi have long supplied the city’s elites with bespoke luxury goods, using traditional techniques handed down within established families of craftspeople. These days, imported foreign design has become the new indicator of wealth and the market has been flooded with mass-produced furniture manufactured by or in imitation of foreign brands. However, a new trend towards modern design with a distinctly Vietnamese style, using locally sourced craftsmanship, is creating new opportunities for both manufacturers and designers in Hanoi.

East and West One design store that has witnessed this change first-hand is YNOT Design (1/22 Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho). Located in Tay Ho, it is currently celebrating its fiveyear anniversary. Tay Ho has always had a demand for modern interiors, mainly

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thanks to the expat community, but YNOT says that these days over 50 percent of its business is from Vietnamese customers. YNOT is renowned for its glossy and brightly coloured furniture, produced using local bamboo and traditional techniques, which are popular both in Vietnam and abroad. The founder of YNOT, Marie Hautecoeur, believes that one of the charms of Hanoimade design is that it uses less industrial production than elsewhere. “In Hanoi, we are still working with families, small carpenters and workers, this makes a big difference in terms of design and creation,” she says. “You cannot do the same things with a machine as you can with traditional methods. The handicrafts are very good here; the Vietnamese have an incredible know-how that Hanoi continues to promote while Saigon tends towards an industrialisation of everything.” Marie has noticed the demand shifting more and more towards Western design, and attributes part of YNOT’s recent success to its distinctly Western style with an Asian touch.

“We have a real demand for design coming from the West rather than from Asia. With our creations mixing the two, we are reaching far more clients than before.”

Tradition, Character and Economics Until last year, souvenir shops selling tacky glitter-encrusted lacquerware to tourists dominated the otherwise charming streets surrounding St. Joseph’s Cathedral. Now they are giving way to a new breed of more sophisticated boutiques catering to both local and foreign customers. One example of this is Collective Memory (20 Nha Chung, Hoan Kiem) a tiny store with a rustic interior, selling ceramics, art prints, pillowcases and a variety of knick-knacks collected from all over the country. While many of Collective Memory’s products are still designed in Ho Chi Minh City, a city that is often viewed by the Vietnamese as having a stronger foreign influence than Hanoi, the founders Tran and Hoang feel that Hanoi design has a unique spirit and authenticity. “Hanoi is more traditional than Ho Chi Minh City, it is slower to adopt new trends

“In Hanoi, we are still working with families, small carpenters and workers, this makes a big difference in terms of design and creation� | August 2017 Word | 93

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“Hanoi is more traditional than Saigon, it is slower to adopt new trends but it has more character”

but it has more character,” says co-founder Tran. “One of the difficulties is that in Ho Chi Minh City a shop will change its collections regularly, while in Hanoi things move slower. There is still not as much choice compared to Ho Chi Minh City, but we hope to change that.” In a small workshop on the outskirts of Hanoi’s Long Bien District, two young designers are trying to carve their way in this booming market. Woodecor (529 Ngo Gia Tu, Long Bien) is a bespoke furniture company run by two sisters, who do all the work from designing products and operating heavy machinery, to marketing their products online. “I think we may be the only girls in Vietnam who do this kind of work,” says elder sister Thu. “I work every day of the week, from 8am to 8pm, and it is very hard. I hope that in the future we can make enough money to hire some help. I was an architect for four years and quit my job to pursue my

passion for woodwork and design.” Although Woodecor furniture is all handcrafted out of sustainable and locally sourced wood, with each piece being designed according to client specifications, most customers are still unwilling to pay much more than they would for massproduced furniture imported from China. “People don’t realise how much work we put into it, they want unique furniture and they like our designs, but they don’t think it should cost as much as foreign brands,” says Phuong, a graduate from the Foreign Trade University. Woodecor mainly sells to small cafes and family owned furniture shops. In the future they hope to sell to more private homes and increase their production.

Expansion? So what is the future of design in Hanoi? Some local design boutiques are also finding success abroad. An example of this

is Hanoia (38 Hang Dao, Hoan Kiem), a luxury boutique selling upscale lacquer jewellery and decor. This design company was originally founded near Ho Chi Minh City, but moved north to be closer to the traditional centre of lacquer production. Hanoia operates out of several ancient houses in Hanoi’s Old Quarter and has collaborated with numerous European luxury brands, such as Hermes. Similarly, new shops such as The Dreamers (1A Au Co, Tay Ho) who produce and sell their own wooden products, furniture and ceramics out of their spacious Tay Ho boutique, are seeking to expand south. However, one of the many benefits of running a design brand in Hanoi is the relatively cheap rent and low overheads, compared to other major cities. Only time will tell if Hanoian design brands are able to translate their success to foreign markets and expand their reach beyond Hanoi. | August 2017 Word | 95




Tabletop Gaming

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Hanoi | August 2017 Word | 97

“The surge in the popularity of tabletop gaming… comes during an age of ultra-advanced video games, with toddlers learning to use smartphones or tablets before they reach kindergarten”

Who needs a computer to play games when you can play them the traditional way? Words by Edward Dalton and George Schooling. Photos by Sasha Arefieva and Bao Zoan


he last two years have seen a surge in the popularity of tabletop gaming in Vietnam. This comes during an age of ultra-advanced video games and with toddlers learning to use smartphones or tablets before they reach kindergarten, making it all the more amazing. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City now both host a selection of board game cafés, with specialist locations devoted to popular tabletop game Warhammer 40,000 and old school role-playing favourite Dungeons and Dragons.

The Games Master The Cube has been Hanoi’s go-to board game café for over a year. “I wanted to have a place for people to come and have a coffee, play their favourite games and learn about new ones,” says manager Tran Tuan Anh. “But we also sell games, for people to take home and play.” Board games only came to Vietnam in any meaningful way around five or six years ago, so one of The Cube’s biggest challenges is making people aware of them. “Most people play games with more simple rules, as they’re quick to learn,” says Anh. “But we have many customers who love to play role-playing or battle games such as Battlelore, or more hard-core games with complicated rules, such as Pandemic Legacy.” The Cube has dozens of games, all of which are free to use; although the unwritten rule that customers buy drinks

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may be enforced on any over-thrifty visitors. The most important employees at The Cube are known as games masters; it’s their job to explain the rules of the games to customers, and encourage them to look after the box and all contents. Find it at 168A Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. Open daily from 9am until 11pm. For more information click on

The Dungeon Master At just three months old, The Nest is one of the newest spaces for playing board games in Hanoi. “It’s often so boring when people go to cafés; they just hold their phones, check in on Facebook, and don’t talk much,” says owner, Hoang Dinh. “I opened a board game café, so everyone would put down their phones and socialise.” The Nest is a bright and spacious café, with a huge selection of board games to play, some for free, others for a small fee. However, the most recent development has seen it play host to weekly sessions of the legendary role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons. “I knew about D&D for a while, but had never played before,” says Hoang. “I hope it gets more popular here; it helps people open up and develop their imaginations.” The social side of board game cafés is the area Hoang enjoys dabbling in the most. A group of eight excitable employees sit on the floor; they’re testing a new game, Hoang says. “We need to know the rules. Games like

Werewolves attract groups of 10 to 12 people to one game; they help to cultivate a very social atmosphere.” Find it on the second floor at 4A Trang Thi, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Open daily from 9am until 10.30pm. For more information, call 01236 487633 or visit

Play Your Cards Right If D&D is considered obscure to Vietnamese gamers, then early 1990s trading card game Magic: The Gathering (MTG) could be considered almost completely unknown. “I only found out about it when I visited Hong Kong,” says MTG player Vu Dinh Tuan. “I’ve introduced all of my friends to it; but it’s such a deep game, with so many rules to learn, so only a few of them still play.” Both The Cube and The Nest have many card games available to use, such as Exploding Kittens, Cards Against Humanity and Uno; but neither stock MTG cards. “MTG cards can become really expensive,” says Tuan, “if people really get into collecting them.” That’s not to say trading card games are without any local fans; Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon are both popular with local gamers, Tuan says, especially in schools, where card trades can dominate break times. For the adult players, however, popular pub Red River Tea Room has a selection of board games and big tables to use, while trendy new bar Chávez hosts games nights every Sunday.


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Passion for Gaming When Irishman Eoghan Quinn moved to Saigon four years ago, he brought his passion for board games with him, playing with his friends around the city. “The tables were too small,” says Eoghan, “and the light was never quite right.” He eventually plucked the courage to set up a games café in District 1, which opened in April 2016. Board Game Station is a light and airy café, complete with sound proofing, and has over 100 games for the players to choose from. At VND56,000 for three hours of gaming with a free drink, customers can take advantage of a comfortable, relaxing environment. The tables are larger than usual with plenty of room for four people. If you are ever struggling with the rules, or perhaps having a disagreement with a fellow player, a member of staff can step in and guide you along the way. “We encourage our staff to learn new games whenever they can,” says Eoghan. “Most of the players are local, in their midto-late 20s.” Social deduction games such as Werewolves prove most popular. Such is the success of his first branch in District 1, Eoghan decided to open a second branch a few months ago, located at 140/1 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7. Find it a 21 Trinh Van Can, Q1, HCMC. Open Monday to Thursday from 11am to

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10.30pm, and Friday to Sunday from 9am to 10.30pm. For info, call 0909 361556 or visit

Life Lessons Vesta Bookstore originally opened just as a bookstore in April 2016, but game-loving owner Duc Nguyen decided to open a games section within the store in May this year. “I was introduced to Monopoly by a Belgian teacher,” says Duc. After further developing his interest in games while studying in the US, the entrepreneur decided to turn his hobby into a business. Located in the heart of the expat community in Thao Dien, it is little surprise the majority of customers are foreigners hankering after a small piece of home. “The board game community in Vietnam is growing,” Duc says. “I met my best friend through gaming.” Duc believes that games are a fun way to learn life’s lessons. Vesta Bookstore offers a relaxed and peaceful environment to embrace that philosophy; until one player takes the game a little too seriously. Tables for four can be rented at VND80,000 an hour. Find it at 37 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC. Open daily from 9am to 9pm. For more information, call 01696 249650 or visit facebook. com/vestabooks

There Is Only War Warhammer 40,000 (W40K), a staple hobby

for many young people across the world, is making a splash in Vietnam. Founded by Ha Nguyen on his return from studying in America, Empire Capital opened in April 2017. Just four months later and they planning a move to a new, specially designed premises (16 Quach Van Tuan, Tan Binh) to cope with demand. “W40K is a game where the future is at all-out war,” explains Ha. “It’s a dark, extreme universe where humanity is fighting with aliens and with each other.” Despite having such a dark storyline, the gamers are remarkably jovial and Ha reassures us that the W40K community is very open and welcoming to new members. “I’m a hobbyist,” says Ha, “so it’s been an interesting experience connecting with people through a shared passion.” He estimates the W40K community in Vietnam only stands at between 5070 people, mostly in their mid to late twenties. “Not all enthusiasts actually play,” Ha says. “Some simply enjoy collecting and painting the figures, to place on their shelves at home.” With the impending move to their new shop, Ha is very confident the market will continue to grow. Find it at 609/12 Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q10, HCMC. Open Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 5pm, and on Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 6pm. For info, call 0933 774883 or visit


Food and Drink



Craft Food It’s not just beer that’s getting a makeover in the capital, food is too, with a number of artisan producers entering the scene. Words by Edward Dalton. Photos by Sasha Arefieva

Haus of Smoke Started up by Cao Cuong just over a year ago, Haus of Smoke dedicated over a year to researching the perfect flavours for smoked meat and other items. “Our inspiration comes from northern Vietnam, where smoked meats are very traditional and special for the local people,” says Cuong. “We noticed a trend where people living in the city would crave new cultural products.” Using only natural ingredients, the secret

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comes down to marinades, timing and the wood used in the smoker. Current products include hand-selected cuts of smoked pork, buffalo, chicken, duck and tofu. “Our quality control is personal, and food safety and hygiene is our number one priority,” says Cuong. Delivery is available. For more information, visit or call 0982 158871


he craft beer phenomenon has its feet well and truly grounded in Vietnam. Hoping to tap into the craze for small batch, high-quality produce, a number of home bakers and chefs are now offering delivery on a number of craft food products.

Fermented Founded in January 2017 by VietnameseAustralian Nguyen Tan Hung, Fermented specialises in artisan sourdough breads. The current range consists of over 10 varieties, from plain wheat to wholemeal, buckwheat to organic rye, and various seeded loaves. Prices range from VND35,000 to VND130,000 a loaf. Hung is not just the founder, he’s also the whole labour force. “Less people involved means better control over quality,” says Hung. “My focus is on health and high-quality homemade products.” To this end, all of Fermented’s products are made with purified water to ensure safety and prevent arsenic contamination. Orders can be made on Facebook or through their Google doc form. Delivery or pick up available. For more information, visit facebook. com/fermentedhanoi or call 0936 047305

BreadWinner Founded just two months ago by South African Daniel Boshoff, BreadWinner produces artisan breads and offers baking courses. “I want to show people that it’s easier than they think to bake amazing breads at home, with minimal equipment,” says Daniel.

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The range of loaves vary in price from VND55,000 to VND80,000, while baking courses start at VND1.8 million. “My product is better than something mass produced,” says Daniel. “I don’t cut corners to save costs.”

Despite being the only person involved in the business, Daniel is confident he can teach people to bake bread in just a few hours. Delivery or pick up available. For more information, visit or call 01268 710943

Gusto Hanoi Italian chef Antonio Damiano and his wife Quach Thi Phan Thanh are makers of artisanal pizza slices, delivered to your door in single vacuum-packed portions. Founded in December 2016 with the help of Gianfranco Stella, current slices

in the range of eight varieties include the spicy salami-topped Diavola (VND40,000), Shibuya beef (VND55,000) and spicy garlic prawns (VND65,000). “Our product is made by hand in the traditional Roman style,” says Antonio. “Our focus is on bringing the real taste of



Founded last year by local chef Nguyen Anh Da, DaanChefs specialise in smoked meat infused with the delicate aromas of green tea. “Most of our products are new to the Vietnamese market,” explains Da. “As such, most of our customers are restaurants, hotels or expats; but I hope we can serve the Vietnamese in the future.” One of the most popular products is the green tea smoked bacon (VND250,000 per kilo), but they also have sausage (VND280,000 per kilo), pancetta (VND280,000 per kilo) and ham (VND350,000 per kilo), all smoked with green tea. Delivery only. For more information, visit

FamilyCheese was set up last year by Ngo Trung Quan and Josefina Hejzlarova, and as the name suggests, they’re a family business producing homemade cheese with a team of just three people. Current products include the queso blanco (VND60,000/100g), blue cheese (VND90,000/100g) and Jack cheese (VND100,000/100g). If they can overcome the high cost of good quality materials, Quan is hoping one day to become the number one local cheese supplier in Vietnam. Delivery and pick up available. For more info click on or call 0949 781770 / 0906 166030

Italian pizza to your home.” Gusto pizzas can last up to a year in the freezer and can be cooked in eight minutes, making them the ultimate home convenience. Delivery only. Check out their Facebook page or call 0912 650819 | August 2017 Word | 107

Food and Drink



S&L’s Diner

A diner in the Old Quarter is on a mission to bring American-style comfort food to the masses. But does it do its job? Photos by Julie Vola


&L’s Diner is Hanoi’s very own American-style diner, and is on a mission to spread the word about chef-inspired American comfort food. As soon as you step inside S&L’s, you are no longer in Hanoi. American tunes are in the air, licence plates from various American states hang from the walls and swathes of red and white dominate the interior. It’s got a very cool, retro all-American vibe, thanks to founders Steven Kaczerski and Loan Vu, a young couple who met in college back in Pennsylvania. My first impression, when I have to ask if the place is open due to my not being noticed or greeted, is quickly forgiven, thanks to the waitress handing me a note with the WiFi password, without me even asking; how very 2017. Service throughout the meal is friendly and attentive, so I’m putting the initial hiccup down to me arriving in the twilight period between breakfast and lunch service.

Plus Size Menus The menus are both new in terms of size

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and quality, and include a few new dishes such as New York strip steak, grilled pumpkin and walnut salad and blueberry pancakes. As I browse the giant menu, my drink arrives; a soda float (VND65,000) consisting of coke and a scoop of vanilla ice cream; it elicits a child-like excitement. Even though every sip pushes me closer to diabetes, I couldn’t care less; it’s sweet, sinful and spectacular.

Plus Size Appetite The first word which comes to my naïve mind when thinking of American cuisine is “big”. The waitress tells me the VND210,000 party platter appetiser I order serves two to three people. I assure her it’s not a problem. The loaded potato skins could do with a little less potato, and a lot more “loaded”. The several sizeable onion rings are great for dipping, and are crispy without being at all greasy. The mozzarella wedges, which are



literally just huge triangles of deep-fried mozzarella cheese, are amazing when paired with the marinara sauce dip. The party platter highlight, however, is the chicken wings. I opt for the honey mustard sauce option, which is sticky, sweet and doesn’t overwhelm the taste of chicken.

The Best Regret When my main course arrives, the VND135,000 chili cheese dog, I’m not full, but also not hungry. However, the combination of melted cheddar on top of flavourful beef chili is too good to deny, and it disappears in moments. The crusty bread is soft inside, and hosts a frankfurter-like sausage, thick and full of smoky goodness. My only complaint would be that the fries taste like frozen oven chips; they are saved by excellent table condiments, and go down well after a dousing of Sriracha chili sauce. As I walk towards the door, a fully satisfied customer, I look down at the food another table just received and suddenly feel a deep regret; I should have had the ribs. Next time. S&L’s Diner is located at 22 Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Open daily from 9am until midnight. For more information, call 0437 100529 or visit Please note the phone number may change to 0243 7100529 soon.




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

Food and Drink

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Bun Dau Mam Tom If you like your noodle dishes to come with a smell, then look no further than bun dau mam tom. Get your nose around it, and it tastes amazing. Or so says Diane Lee. Photos by Sasha Arefieva


ention bun dau mam tom and this dish will elicit a strong response. Diners — Vietnamese and expats — either love it or hate it. There is no middle ground. It’s not so much the bun (rice vermicelli noodles) or the dau (deep-fried tofu) or the rau thom (herbs) but the mam tom which people either recoil from or regale. Mam tom is a dipping sauce of fermented shrimp paste — thick and purplish-grey in colour — and it has an ultra-strong, fishy flavour that puts the humble anchovy to shame. It’s so strong that those with welldeveloped umami (savoury) taste receptors dip their tofu, herbs and rice noodles into the mam tom with glee. Made from moi (tiny shrimp) and salt, the fermentation process takes six months. Haling from the province of Thanh Hoa — around 150 kilometres south of Hanoi — bun dau mam tom was traditionally a lunch dish served to the working poor because of its simple, cheap ingredients. It’s still a lunch dish, and even now it can be as cheap as VND20,000, including tra da (iced tea). Hanoi has now claimed it as its own, and it is considered one of the capital’s signature dishes.

A Chance Find I first discovered bun dau mam tom on a street food tour around the Old Quarter during my first week in Hanoi, except this dish wasn’t part of the tour. Walking past a vendor cooking on a tiny stove on the footpath, I was fascinated by the perfectly sliced, white vermicelli noodles, the basket of salad greens and the golden squares of fried tofu. I’m always up for trying new vegetarian dishes and my curiosity got the better of me. “What’s that?” I asked. “Bun dau mam tom. Do you want to try it?” I was handed a plate of steaming hot, fried tofu, cold noodles and greens — and a small dish of purple-greyish sauce, topped with a thin layer of oil which I found out later was oil used to fry the tofu. I did as I was instructed and squeezed lime into the sauce, added chilli and stirred it with my chopsticks until it foamed. I tentatively dipped my tofu into the sauce and popped into my mouth. I was hit with a flavour so strong and salty that I nearly fell off my stool. I didn’t know if I liked it or not. I tried it with the noodles, then the

herbs. Then again with tofu. The more I had, the more I liked it. I was sold. I was officially a fan of mam tom. Although opinions vary as to the best place to eat bun dau mam tom, I favour a vendor off Alley 19, To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, still, it is as available in Hanoi as pho or lau or bun cha. The large yellow and red placard points diners in the right direction — towards the end of a small alley — where, under clear plastic roofing, they will find six blue plastic tables with accompanying tiny plastic stools, and a small outdoor stove where the magic happens. Ordering bun dau mam tom with such glee, I have become something of a novelty, particularly with the customers — mostly young office workers — who are equally surprised at my order. I’m vegetarian(ish) so choose the khong thit (no meat) option, but meat lovers could have theirs served with fried spring rolls or meat. Indeed, I’ve been told that mam tom is delicious with cho (dog) — not something I’d be keen to try even if I were a meat eater. Those who aren’t keen on mam tom can have their bun dau with nuoc mam (fish sauce). But why would you? | August 2017 Word | 111

Food and Drink



Golden Jade The dim sum at Ocean Palace in District 1 has become the stuff of legend. So how does its offshoot fare in District 7? Photos by Mike Palumbo


ituated on the ground floor of popular shopping mall Vivo City, is the Chinese inspired Golden Jade Restaurant. Long mirrors hang from the white brick walls to accentuate the height of the ceiling. Furniture comes in shades of brown, green and grey. Designed for comfort and

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serving big numbers, my initial feeling from the decor was that I had stepped into a 1970s-style diner that had been touched up by a trendy fairy. A diner for dim sum. Access is via the ground floor of the mall. I dined at Golden Jade on a Saturday night and was struck, first, by the menu. Boasting an extensive collection of

dumplings with a wide range of fillings, from shrimp to crab, this place has you covered. But if you only order one, make sure it is the steamed minced pork dumpling Shanghai-style (VND80,000 for a set of six). Arriving in a bamboo steamer, these delicately wrapped dumplings were filled




SERVICE with a broth that packs a salty punch to offset the tender pork inside. No uncooked dough, no chewy mystery meats, just a dumpling that melts in your mouth with one bite. Delicious! An impressive selection of congee, crispy noodles, vermicelli and fried rice are also on offer for between VND120,000 to VND150,000 to supplement if you don’t want to overdose on mini-food.

Feeling Special Dim sum is not for everyone. Allocated to the area of the menu entitled Specialty Dishes are a set of mains considered by some to be more daring than others. There is fish head, pig stomach and chilled jellyfish to name a few. Priced between VND150,000 to VND500,000, these items are a little more expensive. If adventure is your game, but you still want to experience all of the traditional dumpling tastes, you could add the deep-fried crab claw to your order. I tried it. It’s crunchy and set on a bed of sweet and sour sauce, which creates a milder crab taste. This item is VND100,000 per claw. This place gets loud and busy.

Large round tables and deep booths are designed to sit groups of six or more. As I discovered, Saturday night at 6pm will guarantee the presence of children running from table to table. The restaurant is laid out in the shape of a giant L. Sitting near the shopping mall entrance means you have no access to a window, creating a feeling similar to when you dine inside a casino. On my visit the service was quick and fuss free. I ordered the palate cleansing jasmine tea for VND 25,000 and received constant refills throughout the meal.

Hidden Dessert On the menu with other dim sum treats is the Baked Cheese Tart. But don’t let the mention of cheese cause you to think it’s savoury. This is a dessert item and was the perfect way to end my meal. The taste is a mix of yoghurt and cream cheese with a slight tang, as if lemon rind has been stirred through the mixture. The tart is served fresh from the oven. The pastry that cups the hot liquid crumbled like a warmed biscuit as I carved the tart in half. VND120,000 got me three identical baked cheese

flavour bombs. They were perfect for satisfying my sweet tooth and had me leaving the restaurant walking and satisfied, rather than rolling because I got too carried away with dessert. Golden Jade Restaurant is located on the ground floor of Vivo City Shopping Mall at 1058 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, HCMC and is open from Monday to Saturday 9am to 9.45pm and Sunday 8:30am to 10pm



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

Food and Drink



Banh Trang Phoi Suong If any dish fulfils the Vietnamese obsession of rolling it yourself, it’s banh trang phoi suong, the ‘moon cake’ of Tay Ninh. Words and photos by Zoe Osborne


anh trang phoi suong is a variety of rice paper that is left overnight rather than dried under the hot sun. According to Phan Van Gan, head of Tan Tien Handicraft Cooperative, this thick, soft rice paper can be traced back to one housewife in Trang Bang district, Tay Ninh province, who left a basket of regular banh trang outside one night by mistake. When she found it in the morning she expected it to be ruined by the dew, but instead a whole new variety of rice paper was born. There are a few other accounts of how Tay Ninh’s “moon cake” originated and while they attribute the discovery to different stories and different members of the local community, they all share a common theme — the discovery was a complete accident. Like other forms of rice paper, the first banh trang phoi suong was left in the sun before being forgotten overnight. Today, it is made with a touch of salt, often in two layers, briefly sun-dried and baked in an oven where it is cooked until the paper turns opaque and small bubbles appear on its surface. After that, it is laid on a truss and left outside overnight, before being wrapped in banana leaves to keep it soft and spongy. Unlike other typical types of Vietnamese rice paper, banh trang phoi suong doesn’t need to be dipped in water before being eaten — it

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is naturally quite flexible and easy to bite into. Just 40 years ago, this strange new rice paper was known only in Tay Ninh, but as infrastructure developed and Vietnam became more integrated, the concept of banh trang phoi suong began to spread through the country. Today, it is typically eaten with Vietnam’s standard fresh herbs and vegetables, and paired with boiled pork and sweet, pickled carrots, or with local Trang Bang soup.

Where to Eat It Hoang Ty is a well-known Ho Chi Minh City restaurant chain dedicated to Trang Bang cuisine. I visited one particularly beautiful outlet that looks out onto the Saigon River and is blessed with a healthy population of non-stinging bees. The restaurant has a large, roofed spot for parking as you drive in and some wide steps leading up to the eating area — a sprawling arrangement right next to the water. The bees, as bright yellow as they are, do not sting. They simply eat with you as you enjoy your meal, something I found a bit alarming but most people seem to accept as part and parcel of the banh trang phoi suong experience. Take a seat at one of the long, black tables and ask for a tray of rice paper and assorted side dishes, perhaps with some delicious fresh juice or that

Vietnamese favourite — tra da. Your meal arrives as a smorgasbord of rice paper, juicy boiled pork meat, pickled vegetables, fish sauce, bean sprouts and cucumber, topped with a mountainous pile of fresh herbs, chives and lettuce. To eat, simply peel off a piece of the banh trang and add your own mix of ingredients, before dipping it into the fish sauce and taking a bite. The rice paper itself is not crunchy. It has a chewy, spongy softness to it and is thicker than you would expect, providing an interesting textural balance with the fresh, crisp vegetables inside. The fish sauce is sweet, perhaps too sweet, but that is a matter of taste. When this dish is prepared at home, all variations of sweet, salty, spicy, juicy or dry will be arranged according to how you like it, which is perhaps why it is so widely liked. At the end of the day, banh trang phoi suong is simply another of Vietnam’s delicious gardens on a table, but with a frosty rice paper twist that makes people want to come back again and again. Hoang Ty 1 — Dac San Trang Bang is at 113/9 - 10 Binh Quoi, Binh Thanh, HCMC. There are also restaurants on Vo Van Tan and Nguyen Huu Cau. A portion of banh trang phoi suong costs between VND60,000 to VND110,000 depending on what you have with the dish. The eatery is open daily from 9am to 11pm | August 2017 Word | 115


Abandoned Hong Kong / The Perfume Pagoda Photo by Julie Vola

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Abandoned Hong Kong Twenty years after its handover to China, Hong Kong still contains reminders of British colonial rule, but for how long? Words by Thomas Barrett. Barrett. Photos by Rita Hung and Eddy Chan | August 2017 Word | 119

“The development in Hong Kong has been dramatic since its days as a trading port for the British Empire… space is famously scarce here”


hat images do you think of when you picture Hong Kong? Endless skyscrapers? Dazzling neon lights and shopping malls built inside walls of glass? Only there’s a hidden side to this futuristic metropolis, a side that has been left behind. Rita Hung has been exploring this forgotten side of her home for a few years and she shares her photography through social media page, City Not Found, which she runs with some friends. To her, these places are more than just ruins, they help connect her to the Hong Kong that once was. “I like to go to abandoned mansions or apartments from around 40 or 50 years ago,” she says. “In Hong Kong, there’s not many old buildings because developers want to take over and build luxury houses. I can find many old things [in them]. I imagine that it’s my grandmother’s or grandfather’s. It’s like knowing what the old Hong Kong was like.” The development in Hong Kong has been dramatic since its early days as a trading

port for the British Empire. It’s now the world’s fourth most densely populated sovereign state or territory, and space is famously scarce here. Older buildings have been razed to the ground in order to build ultra-modern new world towers. The urban architecture has moved from a colonial style to a global one. Sound familiar?

Unearthing Little Treasures To Rita, trips to abandoned spaces can throw up surprises and little mementoes of lives lived. “One thing [I found] was an engagement certificate. It was not official. It was cited by the parents of the girl and boy and it was 40 or 50 years old. I know from their documents they had a child. They will be elderly now,” she says. “Another thing I found was a love letter. The woman wrote a letter to the man and she talked about what she regretted in the relationship. It’s heart-breaking.” Even in the face of such explicit and rampant modernity, Hong Kong still

provides a veritable treasure trove of abandoned spaces for urban explorers like Rita to visit. One of her favourite places is the abandoned TV studio. “The TV studio is interesting. You can find the place where, when we were kids, we watched every night. You can go into this kind of world. You can imagine the TV people performing. You can find movie posters, cassettes — it’s amazing. The entertainment industry is not easy to reach now so you can go into this building to track what it was about.”

Haunting Remnants During my own visit to Hong Kong in early July, I go to the abandoned Hong Kong central hospital. It closed its doors in 2012 after 46 years, and calendars from that year still hang on the walls as if time has stood still. A severed head from a first aid dummy lies on the fourth floor, and the empty beds and wheelchairs in the operating theatre are even more unnerving. It was a low-cost private hospital owned by the Anglican | August 2017 Word | 121

“Empty abandoned places should have a better usage. They may have to change. They could be a museum or a place for homeless people to sleep; they should have a better purpose� | August 2017 Word | 123

“Even in the face of such explicit and rampant modernity, Hong Kong still provides a veritable treasure trove of abandoned spaces for urban explorers like Rita to visit” Church, and it provided healthcare to many lower income Hong Kongers, including around 6,000 abortions every year. A US$800 million museum and gallery was slated to replace it, but five years later, it’s still empty. I also take the ferry to the Cheung Chau, an island famous for its seafood and more grimly, its history of suicides. Spirits of those who escaped the densely populated main island to take their own life here during the 1990s are said to haunt the island. I visit an abandoned villa that is hidden high up on top the island. It’s overgrown, and all that’s left inside is a moth-bitten settee and a large, unbroken mirror. A rope that has been cut hangs from a tree outside.

Disappearing Heritage Back on the main island, Rita is pessimistic about the chances of these places being around for much longer.

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“They [the authorities] don’t care,” she says. “They want to earn money more than to conserve or preserve the heritage. They think there is no value in conserving it. We try to find this old stuff to take photos. We have the responsibility to talk to the Hong Kong people to protect the old stuff for future generations. She adds: “Empty abandoned places should have a better usage. They may have to change. They could be a museum or a place for homeless people to sleep; they should have a better purpose.” If you visit Hong Kong this year, there are posters everywhere reminding people that it has now been 20 years since the British handed Hong Kong back to the Chinese, beginning a new era of ‘one country, two systems’. This has accelerated much of the architectural change, and Rita believes the government can’t just use

their wrecking balls like an eraser. “It’s become more modern,” she says. “There’s no more British style. But I don’t feel that the architecture has become more of a Chinese style — just more modern. Some furniture or interior design of the British Hong Kong is going to disappear. The Hong Kong government want to remove the British style. They want people to forget the time under British rule.” She adds: “We can’t give up our identity to China. It is the history of Hong Kong. For me, for other explorers and for people who were born before 1997, we are unhappy with the [authorities]. For the young people born after 1997, they might not have this strong feeling about it. So that’s what we are trying to do.” To see more of Rita’s photography visit her page on or find her on




The Perfume Pagoda It’s one of the most popular attractions in northern Vietnam, and yet we’ve never been there. So, avoiding the standard tour buses, we do the trip by motorbike. Words by Edward Dalton. Photos by Julie Vola 126 | Word August 2017 | | August 2017 Word | 127


hua Huong, or the Perfume Pagoda, is a complex of Buddhist temples and shrines spread throughout the Huong Tich Mountains, around 70km southwest of Hanoi. Although there are a wealth of tour agencies offering organised day trips and overnight stays, going by motorbike is guaranteed to provide a few more funny (or scary) stories to what is destined to be a memorable visit to one of Vietnam’s most important spiritual sites.

Long Road to Ruin Although officially belonging to Hanoi’s My Duc District, to say the Perfume Pagoda is in Hanoi feels misleading; it’s a long journey made longer by rough roads and an abundance of construction traffic. The first section of the journey just

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involves getting out of Hanoi, which at 8.30am means doing battle with a million coffee-fuelled commuters. If you survive this morning melee and escape the boundaries of the urban centre, the second phase of the journey is dominated by dusty single-lane roads and lorry drivers who often forget they are not Lewis Hamilton. The silver lining to this mass of road rage and near misses, of course comes in the form of food. For some reason, a bowl of pho bo always tastes better in the countryside, perhaps buoyed by the cheaper price and fresher air. Once back on the road, a series of small towns and villages whose borders all overlap pass by, each one offering the chance for respite, with shops selling tea or repairing motorbikes, and a community temple or pagoda to check out.

For example, Dinh Ba Thon, or Three Village Temple, won’t appear in any guide books, but this ancient temple, found in Lien Bat, Ung Hoa District, is just about as picture perfect as any temple can be. The peeling paintwork, crumbling concrete and worn wooden carvings on the doors, combined with the lily pond and absence of other visitors make this the perfect place to take a rest before the final phase of the journey in which the postcardworthy rice fields finally reveal themselves.

Pilgrim’s Way The journey to the Perfume Pagoda is an integral part of the experience, which is why planning and executing a motorbike trip feels like the right decision, despite certain hardships. Every year, pilgrims travel from across the country to join the Perfume Pagoda | August 2017 Word | 129

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Festival. Starting on the sixth day of the first lunar month and ending during the last week of the third lunar month, it’s Vietnam’s longest festival. “Catholics have the Vatican, Muslims have Mecca,” explains local woman Nguyen Linh Anh. “Vietnamese Buddhists have Chua Huong.” People make the pilgrimage to ask for prosperity, happiness and health in the new year; although many also come to visit the innermost shrine, Chua Trong, found inside Huong Tich Cave, where they will seek a blessing of fertility. The popularity of the Perfume Pagoda around Vietnamese New Year means it’s the least desirable time to enjoy a casual visit, as the intensity of the devout crowds will detract from the spiritual ambience and peaceful atmosphere. As with any site of spiritual significance,

there are a number of legends connected to the Perfume Pagoda. According to one such legend, the Bodhisattva Quan Am (or Guanyin) stayed in Huong Tich Cave in order to help save human souls; there is even a stone relic at Phat Tich Temple said to contain her preserved footprint.

Ride the River Getting to the base of the complex is best achieved by taking a 45-minute boat ride along Suoi Yen, or the Placid Stream. The boats, which are ache-inducing metallic vessels, follow the lotus-lined stream from Yen Vi Pier, all the way to the base of the main complex of temples and pagodas. Even in the low season, there is a small battalion of boat operators and touts awaiting your arrival, each one trying to outdo the other.

The champion among them, however, is a shirtless chap covered in tattoos and missing a few teeth. He interrupts another’s pitch by giving us a handwritten note, in near-perfect English, explaining that all the others were cheats and scammers, and only he was honest. Not suspicious at all. After getting off the boat, there’s a bit of a vertical walk to get to the cable car station and the entrance to Thien Tru Pagoda, location of the Hall of the Triple Gem, where a large statue of Quan Am can be found. During the high season, the walk from the base of the complex to the top of the mountain is lined by restaurants, tea stops and souvenir shops; but at this time of year, only a few remain open. The view from the cable car station, however, is available all year round, and is rather spectacular. | August 2017 Word | 131

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Sacred Stalagmites The cable car itself is quite a mixed experienced. Anyone with a fear of heights would hope to see the most high-tech, wellorganised and spotless equipment before they ascend a mountain in a booth hanging from a wire erected by the lowest bidder. Unfortunately, this is not the case at the Perfume Pagoda, and the whole operation comes across as both amateur and poorly maintained. However, we make it to the top, having enjoyed more stunning views, and complete the final walk to the entrance of the Huong Tich Cave. An inscription on the granite slab at the entrance to the cave bears a quote from Trinh Sam, an 18th century ruler of Northern Vietnam, which translates to “the most beautiful grotto under the southern sky.” Inside the cave is the most sacred place of the whole complex. Statues of Lord Buddha and Quan Am can be found deep

inside, along with statues of various Arhats. However, perhaps the most interesting features are the numerous stalagmites and stalactites, given names such as dun tien (heap of coins), dun gao (rice stack) and buong tam (basket of silkworms). The three most important formations, however, are Nui Co (the girl) and Nui Cau (the boy), where pilgrims seek fertility; and a stalactite resembling a breast, which leaks droplets of water. Pilgrims try to catch the droplets in the hope of being blessed with health from the “milk of the breast.” During the low season, the bat-inhabited cave possesses a mysterious and spiritual energy which even a non-believer can’t shrug off as being nothing but the wind; it really does feel like this site has been revered for the last 2,000 years, as the legend claims.

Getting There Follow Nguyen Trai out of Hanoi, and turn left onto the QL21B road. Follow it all the way down to the intersection with the DT74 road, and turn off right, following DT74 all the way to Yen Village, where the Yen Vi Pier is. A one-way cable car ticket, always sold separately, costs VND100,000. Boat prices can vary, but around VND130,000 is about right, if your boat has the maximum six people. If you want a boat for yourself or a smaller group than six, expect to pay more. Organised tours usually cost between VND300,000 to VND600,000. There are lots of hotels, homestays and guesthouses in and around Yen Village for overnight stays. | August 2017 Word | 133

Travel DALAT DALAT GREEN CITY HOTEL 172 Phan Dinh Phung, Dalat, Tel: (0263) 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.

DALAT PALACE $$$$ 12 Ho Tung Mau, Dalat, Tel: (0263) 382 5444

DALAT TRAIN VILLA Villa 3, 1 Quang Trung, Dalat, Tel: (0263) 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.

HANOI DAEWOO HOTEL $$$ 360 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh,

Tel: (024) 3831 5555

over the lake. Great gym and health club.



$ 48 Ngo Huyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3828 5372 hanoibackpackershostel. com 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.

HILTON HANOI OPERA $$$$$ 1 Le Thanh Tong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (024) 3933 0500 Situated next to the iconic Hanoi Opera House and a short stroll from the Old Quarter, this five-star hotel is a Hanoi landmark. With 269 fully-equipped rooms and suites, there’s plenty for the discerning business and leisure traveller to choose from.

INTERCONTINENTAL HANOI WESTLAKE $$$$$ 1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 6270 8888 This stunning property built over West Lake falls in between a hotel and a resort. Beautiful views, great balcony areas, comfortable, top-end accommodation and all the mod-cons make up the mix here together with the resort’s three inhouse restaurants and the Sunset Bar, a watering hole located on a thoroughfare

$$ 5 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (024) 3938 1048 Located next to the cathedral, this popular well-appointed, airy and spacious boutique hotel mixes comfort with a nice ambience and great Western or Vietnamese breakfasts. Modern amenities at reasonable prices.

JW MARRIOTT HANOI $$$$$ 8, Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Hanoi, Tel: (024) 3833 5588 From the expressive architecture outside to the authentic signature JW Marriott services inside, this Marriott hotel in Hanoi is the new definition of contemporary luxury. Lies next door to the National Convention Centre.

MAISON D’HANOI HANOVA HOTEL $$$ 35-37 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 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.

MELIA HANOI $$$$ 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3934 3343 Excellently located in central Hanoi, Melia Hanoi draws plenty of business travellers and is also a popular


41, Thao Dien, Q2. Tel (028) 3519 4111, Ext. 15/17/19 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.


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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.

PAN PACIFIC HANOI $$$$ 1 Thanh Nien Road, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3823 8888 Boasting Hanoi’s best views of West Lake, Truc Bach Lake and the Red River, Pan Pacific Hanoi soars 20 storeys above the city skyline. Each of the 329 rooms, suites and serviced suites is furnished with stylish interiors, modern amenities and magnificent views, while the 56 serviced suites offer fully equipped kitchens and separate living spaces for the comfort and convenience of the extended-stay traveller.

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.

Equatorial also has an onsite casino.



15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 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.


INTERCONTINENTAL ASIANA SAIGON $$$$$ Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (028) 3520 9999 intercontinental. com/saigon

$$$$S 3C Ton Duc Thang, Q1, HCMC Tel: (028) 6263 6688 Located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City next to the Saigon River, the property is close to the metropolis's entertainment and commercial areas, making it an ideal base for exploring the local culture and community. Experience this cosmopolitan city in stimulating surroundings.




$$$$ 40 Cat Linh, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3733 0688 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.

$$$$ 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.



$$$$ K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3719 9000 S u r ro u n d e d b y l u s h gardens, sweeping lawns and tranquil courtyards, this peaceful property features picturesque views of West Lake and is less than 10

$$$ 242 Tran Binh Trong, Q5, Tel: (028) 3839 7777 This massive property boasts seven dining and entertainment outlets, a business centre, meeting rooms and a comprehensive fitness centre and spa. The

$$$$ 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.

PARK HYATT $$$$$ 2 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (028) 3824 1234 Fabulous in style, prime in location, everything one would expect from the Hyatt. The Square One and Italian-themed Opera restaurants have garnered an excellent reputation, as



$$$$$ 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (028) 3838 8686 his 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.

169A De Tham, Q1, Tel: 01222 993585 espa 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.



has the landscaped pool.

RENAISSANCE RIVERSIDE HOTEL SAIGON $$$$ 8-15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 1117 T h i s d i s t i n c t F re n c h a rc h i t e c t u r a l w o n d e r offers complimentary WiFi, airport pickup or drop off, a first-floor ballroom, and authentic Vietnamese cuisine at the River Restaurant.

SHERATON $$$$$ 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 2828 Sheraton boasts one of the best locations in town, with first–class facilities, an open–air restaurant 23 floors above the city and a live music venue on the same floor.

SOFITEL SAIGON PLAZA $$$$ 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (028) 3824 1555 This 20–storey building in downtown Saigon, caters to upscale business and leisure travelers seeking a classic yet contemporary stay in Saigon.

VILLA SONG SAIGON $$$ 197/2 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 6090 Deliberately located away from the city centre in Thao Dien, this riverside boutique villa-style hotel is a sanctuary of peace and calm — a rarity in Ho Chi Minh

City. Beautiful, Indochineinfluenced design, a great setting and good drinking and dining options make this a great, non-city centre choice.

HOI AN & DANANG CUA DAI $ 544, Cua Dai, Hoi An, Tel: (0235) 386 2231

DANANG BEACH RESORT $$$ Truong Sa, Hoa Hai, Ngu Hanh Son, Danang, Tel: (0236) 396 1800

PULLMAN DANANG BEACH RESORT $$$$ Vo Nguyen Giap, Khue My, Ngu Hanh Son, Danang Tel: (0236) 395 8888

THE NAM HAI $$$$ Hamlet 1, Dien Duong Village, Quang Nam, Tel: (0235) 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.

HUE & LANG CO ANGSANA LANG CO $$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien Hue, Tel: (0234) 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.

BANYAN TREE LANG CO $$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien, Hue, Tel: (0234) 369 5888 en/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.

LA RESIDENCE $$$$ 5 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: (0234) 383 7475 la–residence–

NHA TRANG COSTA NHA TRANG HOTEL & RESIDENCES 32 – 34 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: (0258) 3737 222 Located in the heart of the city, The Costa Nha Trang Hotel & Residences is a symbol of modern living thanks to its luxury oceanfront residences. From a beautiful day on the beach to the great nightlife of Tran Phu Street, this is the perfect place to experience the best of Nha Trang.


Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (0258) 352 2222 destination

JUNGLE BEACH RESORT $ Ninh Phuoc, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (0258) 362 2384 On a secluded promontory north of Nha Trang, this budget place is all about hammocks, the sea, the jungle and nature.

SIX SENSES HIDEAWAY NINH VAN BAY $$$$ Ninh Van Bay, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (0258) 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: (0258) 388 0000

PHAN THIET & MUI NE COCO BEACH $$$$ 58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: (0252) 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.

JOE’S GARDEN RESORT $$ 86 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ham Tien, Mui Ne, Tel: (0252) 384 7177 A leafy, seafront bungalow resort and café with nightly live music all in one. Reminiscent of the type of places you’d find on the Thai islands, an international and Asian food menu together with a cheap happy hour on beer make up the relaxing mix.

VICTORIA PHAN THIET RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Mui Ne Beach, Phan Thiet, Tel: (0252) 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.

PHONG NHA EASY TIGER AND JUNGLE BAR $ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: (0252) 367 7844 easytigerphongnha@ 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.


Binh, Tel: 01299 597182

PHONG NHA FARMSTAY $$ Hoa Son, Cu Nam, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: (0232) 367 5135 The first western-run farmstay in Phong Nha, this well-appointed 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.

PHU QUOC BEACH CLUB RESORT $$ Ap Cua Lap, Xa Duong To, Long Beach, Phu Quoc Island, Tel: (0297) 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.

MANGO BAY $$$ 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.

$$ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang | August 2017 Word | 135


Book Buff / Day Tripper: Tho Ha / The Therapist / Bar Stool / Top Eats A / Top Eats B / Women's Fitness / Pets' Corner Photo by Teigue John Blokpoel

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ne of the most popular young children’s authors in the UK is Laurence Anholt. In tandem with his artistic wife he’s produced more than 200 kids’ books which are usually humorous and deal with issues that young children face in their daily lives. The books generally have distinctive hand-drawn water-colour illustrations.

Art History with a Personal Touch Anholt’s recent series about famous artists have become must-have items for culturally minded parents and are usually a hit with their offspring who often heave a resigned sigh when offered similar themed books by their elders. So far, his quirky books have dealt with real or imagined episodes in the lives of Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, Degas, Leonardo da Vinci, Matisse, Cezanne, Frida Kahlo and Chagal. His fictional story about Van Gogh and a young village child named Camille — Camille and the Sunflowers — has been adapted as a stage musical and is touring worldwide. His story about Degas and a young ballerina, Marie — Degas and the Little Dancer — has been animated by the creators of Polar Express and Spiderman and has been adapted by an American ballet company. My favourite is about Leonardo da Vinci and a young boy, Zoro, who disastrously testruns Leonardo’s flying machine — Leonardo and the Flying Boy — though the biographical tale about Sylvette, who became the 73-yearold artist’s favourite model, runs a close second. To accompany the series, Anholt has produced an art instruction book that tutors youngsters through seven art projects in the same way that they might have been taught by the masters. The emphasis is on freedom and creativity and includes making

a funky junk sculpture that resembles several Picassos; painting a portrait in the style of Van Gogh; constructing a colourful cut-out a la Matisse; working with wild, wet watercolours in imitation of Monet; designing a marvellous machine like those constructed by da Vinci, and drawing in charcoal in the style of Cezanne. Creatively minded parents will love Anholt’s Artists Activity Book and art teachers will think it is a bit of heaven.

Babies Love Books Any intelligent parent knows that if you are to get a child interested in books you have to start them as early as possible, and one of the best and earliest is the Anholts’ Babies Love Books. It’s one of those simple picture books that jump off the shelves yelling ‘take me home with you!’ The book shows a couple of babies, all of the places (likely and unlikely) where and with whom they can read. Like all the best baby books it’s constructed in memorable rhymes and the end joke, that it builds up to, is delightful. As one mother put it: “Every page is bursting with life, making it a real joy to pore over. The style is gentle, charming and sweet. It’s a book for the youngest of children and it’s perfectly pitched. Until children are old enough to declare that they’re not babies — when they’re looking for books with a stronger central narrative — they’ll lap up Babies Love Books and make it one of the first books that they love.” Lots of parents will follow up with follow-ons from the Anholt series about the ups and downs of family life as experienced by toddlers. Nine titles include Good Days Bad Days, Sophie and the New Baby and The New Puppy.

Seriously Silly When the kids are pre-schoolers and into


more plot-heavy but funny books, parents all over the world (the books have been translated into over 40 languages) often discover the Seriously Silly Series. These belly-laugh stories have titles like: Snow White and the Seven Aliens and Daft Jack and the Bean Stack. After getting their minds wrapped up in the first silly story they encounter with their parents, the young readers will appreciate the latest addition, a collection of all the tales in one entertaining, keepsake book. It’s just about impossible to enter a good kids’ book shop and not find a plethora of books by the Anholts. They are also in the top 150 authors borrowed from UK libraries.

Very Seriously Silly American comedian Michael Ian Black, produced a satirical picture book for kids and adults during last year’s Presidential election campaign that highlighted the Americus Trumpus, described its features and outlined its campaign for world domination… oops, sorry… President of the United States. The book’s PR explains: “The Trump is a curious creature, very often spotted in the wild, but confounding to our youngest citizens. A business mogul, reality TV host, and politician? Kids might have difficulty discerning this thing that’s been dominating news coverage. Could it actually be real? Are those… words coming out of its mouth? Why are its hands so tiny? And perhaps most importantly, what on earth do you do when you encounter an American Trump?” Truong Hoang is behind the bookshop, Bookworm. For more info click on or visit their shop at 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Hanoi | August 2017 Word | 137

Hanoi Essentials

ALTERNATIVE HEALTH A-ROAMING BODYWORKER Provides various holistic healing modalities. Services include craniosacral therapy, deep tissue massage, prenatal massage, healing stones massage, as well as energy healing including Reiki and Jin Shin Jyutsu. Workshops are also available.




BUSINESS GROUPS AMCHAM 4th Floor, InterContinental Hanoi, 1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3934 2790

AUSCHAM 4th Floor, 100 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 0909 710994 hanoiholistichealth A guide to various holistic health practitioners in Hanoi. Only available online, but a great information source.



193B Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: (024) 6674 0945

Pan Pacific Hanoi, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3715 2229

M M M HOSPITALS & MEDICAL CLINICS AMERICAN CHIROPRACTIC CLINIC (ACC) CHIROPRACTORS & PHYSIOTHERAPISTS 44 Nguyen Du, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (4) 3265 6888 ACC provides effective chiropractic, physiotherapy and foot care treatments through the use of cutting edge technology for back, neck and knee pain, sports injuries as well as all types of foot related problems.

PEACE DENTAL CLINIC DENTAL CLINIC 2nd floor, 51A Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3715 2286 peacedentalclinic.

EUROCHAM Pan Pacific Hanoi, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3715 2228

ICHAM BOOK SHOP 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3715 3711 Bookworm has been the cornerstone of Hanoi’s literary scene since 2001. It has been around the block quite a bit and now shares a space with Hanoi Cooking Centre. With over 15,000 new and second-hand fiction and nonfiction titles in stock, the shop also buys used books and offers free travel advice.

AUSTRALIAN DENTAL CLINIC DENTAL CLINIC 3 Nguyen Du, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 0906 200434


COOKING CENTRE 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3715 0088 Hanoi Cooking Centre is a school, retail outlet and café, where you can find classes on not just Vietnamese cooking, but international cuisine, held in a beautiful setting. They also offer culinary tours.





The Westcoast International Dental Clinic is composed of dental professionals who deliver modern, high-level dental services throughout Vi e t n a m . T h e c l i n i c provides the highest quality technology, comfort and after-service care to patients.


Sofitel Plaza, Ground floor, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3715 2229

DENTAL CLINIC 19 Nguyen Truong To, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0989 067888



Business Center Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh

FAMILY MEDICAL PRACTICE MEDICAL CLINIC 298 I Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3843 0748

FRENCH HOSPITAL INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL 1 Phuong Mai, Dong Da, Tel: (024) 3577 1100


DENTAL CLINIC 2nd Fl, Syrena Center, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3710 0555 westcoastinternational. com

MEDICAL / DENTAL CLINIC 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 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 checkups through to vaccinations, paediatrics and specialist care.


M M M INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS CONCORDIA INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HANOI Van Tri Golf Compound, Kim No, Dong Anh. Tel: (024) 3795 8878 A non-profit entity, 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, Tel: (024) 3832 8140 With schooling available for students studying at elementary through to secondary levels of education, HIS is one of the few private, international education options in the capital. Offers Cambridge IGCSE and IB Diploma for students at the secondary level.

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF VIETNAM 6-7 Nguyen Cong Thai, Dai Kim Urban Area,


19th Floor, VCCI tower, 9 Dao Duy Anh, Dong Da, Tel: (024) 7308 6699 acific Cross Vietnam brings a first class level of service and expertise to the health and travel insurance market in Vietnam. Part of the Pacific Cross group of companies with over 60 years’ experience providing health and travel insurance to people who call Asia home, their reputation for transparent, honest and reliable service means they are the strength behind your insurance. Contact them now for a free quote.


41A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3938 8762 worldwide leader in international removals and relocations, with 130 offices globally. Have the capacity to move property to and from any location. Has offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh CIty.


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Dinh Cong, Hoang Mai, Tel: (024) 3540 9183 A not-for-profit, prekindergarten to Grade 12 school serving the international and local community of Hanoi. ISV accepts students of any nationality aged 3 and up. 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.

KINDERWORLD INTERNATIONAL KINDERGARTEN Unit 9 – 10, Shophouse CT17, Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel (024) 3743 0306; 3rd Floor, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel (024) 3934 7243; C5 – C11, 1st floor, The Manor Building, My Dinh, Tu Liem, Tel (024) 3764 0209 Classes are kept small with a foreign teacher leading the class with the assistance of a Vietnamese teacher according to the teacherstudent ratio. KinderWorld provides pre school education for children from 18 months to below 6 years.

SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 2D Van Phuc Diplomatic Compound, 46 Van Bao, Ba Dinh, Tel (024) 3726 1601; Block C3, Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel (024) 3758 2664; Road 2, Gamuda Gardens, Km 4.4 Phap Van, Hoang Mai, Tel (024) 6666 1818 Provides an international education for students from primary up to university level. A strong curriculum


Hoa Lan Road, Vinhomes Riverside, Long Bien, Tel: (024) 3946 0435 selective, independent, coeducational day school. Provides a British-style education following the National Curriculum for England, with students taking IGCSE and A Level. Also offers the IB programme.


Suite 821, 8th floor, Vietnam Trade Union Hotel, 14 Tran Binh Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3941 0805 ith 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.


provides core subjects from the Singaporean and Vietnamese curricula, as well as specialist programmes from Britain, America and Canada, all taught by qualified teachers.

ST. PAUL AMERICAN SCHOOL HANOI Khu Do Thi Bac AnKhanh, An Khanh, HoaiDuc, Tel: (024) 3399 6464 St. Paul Hanoi has developed a strong reputation for providing a high quality American education. An international school that collaborates with schools around the globe to set high expectations and align with rigorous standards so that students will have a wonderful opportunity to attend a great university in the future.

UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (UNIS) G9 Ciputra, Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3758 1551 Established in 1988, 1,050 students from 60 nationalities follow the IB programme from aged 3 through to aged 18. A not-for-profit entity, UNIS aims for its students to emerge as responsible stewards of our global society and natural environment.

M M M PROPERTY RENTALS FAIR REAL ESTATE RENTALS 6 Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3718 6332

GIA LONG HOUSING RENTALS R714, Blg CT13B Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3743 0589

HANOI RENTING RENTALS No. 809, Ct13b building, Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho Tel: (024) 6294 4828

LANLINH PROPERTY RENTALS 38 Hang Hom, Hoan Kiem, Tel: Tel: 0933 534999



RENTALS 21 Alley 1/22 Au Co, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3718 5203

MID-RANGE FITNESS CENTRE 5th Floor, 71 Nguyen Chi Thanh, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 6266 0495




YOGA & WELLNESS 5th Fl, 135 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung. Tel: (024) 6263.1515

Room 302, 12A Ho Xuan Huong, Tel: (024) 3943 1511 The largest home moving company in the world, Allied Pickfords moves over 1,000 families in over 175 countries every day. Has a full range of services — domestic moves, office moves and storage — both inside and outside of Vietnam.

JVK INDOCHINA MOVERS 6 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (024)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.

M M M SPORTS & FITNESS BODY&SOUL SPA SPA House 71, Ngach 2 Dam Tri, Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho, Tel: 0904 241314 Body&Soul Spa Hanoi is located in a relaxing environment on the lotus ponds of West Lake, away from the confusion of Hanoi’s busy streets. Provides treatments including oriental ritual, massage, facial and waxing.

ELITE FITNESS TOP-END HEALTH CENTRE 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3718 6281 The luxury gym features top-of-the-line fitness equipment, separate cardio and spinning areas and an indoor swimming pool with a retractable roof. The spacious studios and natural light make it a welcoming place to squeeze in a work out, but be prepared to pay. This place is top of the range.

w ne r fe f o

THE FITNESS VILLAGE 68, Alley 50, Lane 310 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: 01627 333078 Set in a tranquil garden, The Fitness Village is Hanoi’s most unique gym. Offers fitness, dance, yoga, and Pilates classes along with a fitness room and a swimming pool a few minutes from West Lake.


Read in Comfort

CLIMBING CENTRE 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.

We know, we all make tough choices every day.


But, we know you will make the right decision.

YOGA & PILATES 247 Au Co, Tay Ho; Floor 6, No. 2 Lane 371 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh Tel: (024) 3266 8125 The oldest and most professional Yoga Studio in Hanoi, Zenith offers a vast variety of classes and levels in Iyengar, Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga and Pilates while also offering Restorative, Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga, Meditation sessions, and Kundalini classes. Also have a yogic shop offering incense, clothes and yoga props, as well as a café serving up the homemade vegetarian meals, cakes and coffee.


The luxury of always having the latest Word edition available. At your home. Surprise yourself and have it delivered at your doorstep. Subscribe now or regret it later.


6 mon th s VND 5 0 0, 0 0 0 or 12 mon th s VND 1, 0 0 0, 0 0 0 Email: *Only valid for central Districts of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. | August 2017 Word | 139


This peaceful village and its people, just outside Hanoi charm the socks off Edward Dalton. Photos by Teigue John Blokpoel


very now and then, we all stumble upon a place which serves as a reminder of why we chose to live in Vietnam. Tho Ha is one of those places. A tiny, ancient village located in Bac Giang, right on the border with Bac Ninh, it would be easy to overlook on a map. Only 35km northeast of Hanoi, it is one of the most charming, warm and fascinating villages in northern Vietnam.

No Photos Getting to Tho Ha is as easy as pronouncing it, and once out of Long Bien, most of the route is on one straight road, which for the most part, has three lanes and fresh tarmac. Much of the journey goes through a series of towns and villages, so this is far

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from an “off the beaten track” trip; you will never be too far away from a petrol station, repair shop or source of nuoc mia (sugarcane juice). Our first stop is Bac Ninh Town, Tho Ha’s bigger neighbour. We scout a starshaped formation on the map, right in the middle of the town. Thanh co Bac Ninh, a citadel which imposes itself on the surrounding area, has hundreds of gleaming reviews online, and we can’t wait to check it out. As we approach the front gate, a guard lifts a hand from his AK-47, signalling for us to halt. “Stop!” he declares, in clear English. “No photos!” Our Vietnamese companion finds out that the army has moved into the citadel, and

turned it into offices and barracks. The guard says it may reopen to the public next year.

Lady of the Storehouse All is not lost, however, as Bac Ninh is also the home of Ba Chua Kho Temple, one of the most important temples in northern Vietnam. Located adjacent to Dong Tram Lake, it sits on the northeast edge of the town. Ba Chua Kho is a goddess known as the Lady of the Storehouse, who according to legend, cultivated the wild fields around Bac Ninh, and took care of food stocks during conflicts with the Tong Dynasty. On the 14th day of the first lunar month, the temple holds a festival in her honour, where symbolic money is borrowed from her, and worshipers pray for prosperity.

Tho Ha

Ba Chua Kho Temple is awash with symbolism, so expect to see lots of frogs, fish and bats. There’s a good mix of ancient and modern areas of worship here, and even a resident turtle living in the waters around an ornate bonsai tree.

Rice Paper Families The final stop is Tho Ha Village. After alighting from the rusty ferry across the Cau River, we are told to head up the nameless alley to the left, in search of families who make rice paper and banh da; the two exports Tho Ha has been known for since 1990. Before long, we find what we’re looking for; the rice paper sheets, mounted on racks of bamboo, are drying up against the walls, on rooftops and above the alleyways.

“We’ve been in this business for 20 years,” says Nguyen Thi Mai, head of one rice paper family. “We have around 1,000 bamboo racks, and only six people working here.” That’s not including their kids, of course, who start helping out when they are just five years old. “The whole process takes 24 hours,” explains Mai, “from the long wet sheets of rice paper, to the dry papers cut into shape.” Before leaving her home, we buy some freshly cut papers; only VND8,000 for a stack of 50. The whole village is a maze of metrewide alleyways and charming shophouses, and we are invited to stop for tea on more than one occasion. There’s an ancient community hall and

the obligatory pagoda, but the real charm of this town is in its peaceful nature and its people. — Edward Dalton

Getting There Take Long Bien Bridge out of the city, and follow Ngoc Thuy/Gia Thuong until you cross Duong Bridge. From here, follow the road straight, through Tu Son, until you hit Bac Ninh Town. Tho Ha is northwest of the town, nestled in a meander of the Cau River. Take the DT286 highway out of Bac Ninh; once you reach Duong De Street, look out for the Cau River ferry crossing on your right; it’s just before Co Bo Temple. Ferry tickets are VND10,000 per motorbike. | August 2017 Word | 141



Dear Douglas, I always read the article you write in The Word each month. I think you understand many things about how to help people and give good advice. My friend is feeling very bad because her boyfriend, who is a foreigner, broke up with her after more than three years of being together. She says she feels abandoned and betrayed because she put so much into being with him and now he just ended it because he said he did not want to have a future with her, but for no real reason she can understand. She thought that they would get married and have a family, but that he was just not ready yet. She is 28 years old now. She feels embarrassed with her family because she told them that it would work out, even though they did not really like him. I worry about her because I have never seen her feeling so bad and saying her whole life is not good. Can you help me help her? — The pain of a friend Dear Friend, Your friend is fortunate to have you to listen to her and help her go through the painful time after a breakup. While nothing can take away the pain of a loss, it is so different when we are not alone and we feel the love and support of others in our life. Before I address the issue, I would like to say a few things about the dynamics I often see that lead to the kind of pain your friend is feeling. When Vietnamese women have boyfriends who are living here from foreign

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a country, they might discover that they have different expectations about what the relationship means to each of them. It is likely that a Vietnamese woman would expect that a relationship is headed towards marriage if it lasts more than one year. Vietnamese women would likely need to assure their parents that what they are doing is trustworthy. It is not always the same for foreign men who come to Vietnam. It might be part of an adventurous chapter in their lives, away from home and discovering new things. A girlfriend might be something they want “for now” without the clear idea that it will lead to marriage, a family and commitment. That combination is a recipe for a lot of pain, particularly when the relationship extends beyond a year. I have heard from foreign guys who tell me that they have been upfront with their girlfriend all along, not being interested in a serious relationship. I have heard from Vietnamese women who have believed that their boyfriend would change when she could prove her love and devotion to him. Too many times I have heard from couples who have not talked about what they are doing, what the expectations are, and proceed with little clarity about the relationship that they have. Your friend is suffering the loss of connection and the loss of the “dream” of spending her life with her boyfriend. There is no quick fix for the grief that comes with loss of this kind. It is very difficult to accept things we do not want for our lives, or the loss of

what we do want. Many people go through stages of grief that include shock, denial, anger, bargaining and, ultimately, acceptance. It can take a year or more to move through these stages. Many people have to re-think the question, “Who am I now without my partner in my life?” Your friend said she feels betrayed and abandoned, meaning that her trust in him is gone. This can challenge her ability to trust others as well. As a friend you can help her by being empathetic and understanding that her pain is real; feelings are facts. After you have shown empathy you can also help her to move on by reminding her of the positive aspects of her life beyond that of her relationship with him. She will need to split time between allowing herself to feel bad, withdrawing from life and continuing onward to find ways to bring joy and pleasure into her life. Time is the greatest healer, but we can also participate in our own healing process with the right attitude and outlook on life. We learn by living; each painful experience is an opportunity for growth. I hope this is helpful to you and your friend, and maybe a bit of a warning for those who take the risk of not knowing what they are getting into. Communication is the key. I wish you well, — 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 On the Town

BARS +84 BAR CONTEMPORARY DECOR BAR 23 Ngo Van So, Hoan Kiem Housed in a colonial building, bare brick, comfortable sofalike seating and grungy decor related to a past make up the mix at this venue put together by the people behind Barbetta.

88 LOUNGE CONTEMPORARY WINE BAR 88 Xuan Dieu, Tay ho, Tel: (024) 3718 8029 A wine bar with a difference, this mainstay on 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.

BARBETTA ARTSY BAR & CAFE 34C Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3734 9134 Set in a colonial villa, when it comes to design, the funky but comfortable Barbetta with its roof terrace is difficult to beat. A great place for coffee, beer or even a bite to eat.

ETE BAR FRENCH LOUNGE 95 Giang Van Minh, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0976 751331 A favourite among those who roam further west of the city centre, this multistorey 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.

FURBREW CRAFT BEER BAR 8B/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho You like your home-style brews and you have a craving for an IPA, a pale ale or a wheat beer that you can’t get anywhere else. Furbrew is your answer. Six craft beers from the tap, all brewed by the venue, with a pleasant West Lake-like vibe to match.

HANOI ROCK CITY LIVE MUSIC VENUE 27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: 01633 166170 Has a downstairs, Englishstyle pub garden area and an upstairs space dedicated

to live music and live production. Weekly live events feature bands and DJs both from Vietnam and overseas — established and up and coming.

MAO’S RED LOUNGE LATE-NIGHT GRUNGE BAR 7 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3926 3104

POLITE PUB LONG BAR 5 Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3825 0959 5pm to 2am Probably the closest thing Hanoi has to an authentic English-style pub, Polite is frequented by a steady mix of locals and expats who find solace in the nightly conversations at the long bar, pool and live football matches.

RED RIVER TEA ROOM LAKESIDE WATERING HOLE 19 Xom Chua Kim Lien, Ngo 1 Au Co, Tay Ho Red-River-Tea-Room Recently relocated to a quiet alley past the InterCon and Kim Lien Pagoda, this unpretentious wine pub with a social conscience continues to offer reasonably-priced beer, wine, whiskey and cider served by the same happy staff.

ROCKSTORE LIVE MUSIC BAR 61 Ma May, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 01653 336087 RockstoreHanoi

SIDEWALK HANOI DIY BAR & EVENTS VENUE 199D Nghi Tam, Tay Ho sidewalkhanoi

SPY BAR HOLE IN THE WALL 12A Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0932 373802

STANDING BAR CRAFT BEER / EVENT SPACE 170 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh Located in Truc Bach, this craft beer drinking haunt has 16 craft beers on tap together with a daily changing menu of tapas dishes and small plates. Relaxing sofas, high tables, a terrace area and an event space, this popular venue is also the home of comedy shows organised by Stand-Up Hanoi.

TADIOTO LOUNGE BAR AND CAFE 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 wellknown and well-loved space.

THE REPUBLIC MODERN SPORTS BAR 7A Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: 0904 010116 A contemporary mid-range bar and eatery showing live sport and boasting a convivial atmosphere. Has a creative comfort food menu, excellent breakfasts, daily specials and a popular second-floor outdoor terrace.

TRACY’S PUB AND GRILL SPORTS BAR/GRILL 114 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 6675 9838

VUVUZELA MODERN BEER HALL 2A Tran Thanh Tong, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (024) 3972 8922

M M M CAFES & ICE-CREAM ANNAM CAFE DELI / INTERNATIONAL CAFE Syrena Tower, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho A trendy, deli-style café connected to Annam Gourmet next door. Bright and fresh décor is complemented by shelves stocked with imported gourmet goods and cafeteria-style furniture. An eye-catching temptation for weary shoppers.

COFFEE BEAN & TEA LEAF INTERNATIONAL COFFEE HOUSE 28 Thanh Nien, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3715 4240 This American-style chain cafe 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 Hanoi.

CONG CAPHE LEFTIST ARTSY CAFE 152D Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung; 32 Dien Bien Phu, Ba Dinh; 27 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem; 15 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh; 100A Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho 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 café chains in town.

DUY TRI VIETNAMESE CAFÉ 43 Yen Phu, Tay Ho The longest-running café in the capital, this 1936-established, threefloored space is simplicity at its finest. Even the coffee here sticks to its roots — it’s made using the same blend of Arabica and Robusta cooked up by its founders. Unpretentious, endearing and old-fashioned.

EMM CAFE URBAN CAFÉ & BRASSERIE 110 D1 Tran Huy Lieu, Giang Vo, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 6293 6361 An urban café and brasserie serving international and French-Mediterranean cuisine in a casual and cozy atmosphere. A popular social hub in Ba Dinh District featuring a wide selection of coffees and wines from around the world.

HANOI COOKING CENTRE CAFÉ COURTYARD CAFE 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh Relax in a leafy courtyard, air-con dining room or under a covered roof terrace with a Vietnamese ca phe, Italian coffee, beer, wine or freshly squeezed juice. Order from a seasonally changing menu or try one of the allday breakfast specials for VND110,000, including juice and coffee or tea.

HANOI HOUSE HIDEAWAY CAFE 2nd Floor, 47A Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem Set in a colonial-era building with equally colonial-era styled furnishings, this hidden away family house café is one of those gems synonymous with Hanoi. Quiet, intimate and simple, the staff will treat you like you’re a guest in their home.

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

KAFEVILLE COFFEE SPECIALIST & CAFE 22 Nguyen TrungTruc, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0906 221030 If you like your coffee brewed in different styles and made with hard-to-find blends, this on-the-edge of the Old Quarter cafe is a dream. When it comes to good old caffeine, this small yet homely, vintage-styled cafe stands on its own. Also boasts and excellent selection of teas.

KINH DO PATISSERIE / SIMPLE CAFE 252 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3825 0216 One of the longest-running cafes in town, this hole-inthe-wall, no frills café-cumrestaurant home-makes its patisseries and is renowned for its excellent yoghurt.

MANZI ARTSPACE ARTS CAFÉ & GALLERY 14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3716 3397 A stunningly designed contemporary café and events space that screams out the words ‘modern art’. Housed in a converted colonialera villa, a continuous flow of exhibitions, talks, experimental music and game shows make up the mix here. Great cuisine, too.

MAISON DE TET DÉCOR LIFESTYLE CAFE 36 Tu Hoa, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3823 9722 On-site coffee roasting, comfortable seating arrangements, rustic style furnishings and décor, and a focus on healthy, nonprocessed foods. This is the concept behind Maison de Tet Décor, and it’s a popular one, too, as witnessed by the size of the clientele. Also run occasional farmers’ markets.



CAFE / INTERNATIONAL 14-16 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem. (024) 3825 6334

COFFEE/BAKERY 22 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3747 3388; 43 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3718 6071 Popular café 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

INTERNATIONAL / CAFE 16-18 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3938 1745 This spacious spot on Food Street is open around the clock, offering Aussieinspired comfort food along with more eclectic Irish nachos, cottage pies and pan-Asian fare. Upstairs is fit for social gatherings and live music while the no-smoking downstairs space

PUKU | August 2017 Word | 143



he place to be seen with the hippest crowd in town, where Hefner’s playboy lifestyle is in full swing, Playboy Establishment is doing its best to redefine the boundaries of the socalled conservative city of Hanoi. Located on the edge of Hoan Kiem Lake, in the basement of the Apricot Hotel, Playboy Establishment is an up-market lounge, restaurant, function venue and entertainment spot, with daily performances from some of the best dancers in town, as well as guest DJs and live acts. Keeping the Playboy spirit intact, the establishment is decorated with elegance, and boasts top-notch service, and before

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you ask, yes, they do have bunnies.

Entertainment Hotspot With performances every evening including cabaret and DJs, you can be sure that a night spent here will be anything but dull. Professional dancers, both male and female, put on shows that will please anyone with an eye for the lifestyle, and this is just the beginning. The establishment’s plans for the future are all the more exciting, with burlesque lined up alongside international live acts, and a theatrical lighting rig to add to the ambience. Crowd-pleasing dancers, erotically whipping off overrated layers of clothing, work their way out into the audience and bring lucky guests back on stage with them for a social that

they won’t soon forget. All the while Playboy’s famous bunnies mingle their way around tables, chatting with guests and making sure they’re well looked after. In a word, this is a sexy venue. That being said, it’s worth noting the establishment’s commitment to supporting local social causes and women’s empowerment initiatives; it’s not all just about entertainment.

Playboy Originals A team of dedicated bartenders have put together a list of Playboy original cocktails to spice up your evening, each coming in at VND295,000, and with names to suit the mood. The Playmate, a gin and crème de cassis base

Playboy Establishment


with fresh raspberries and kaffir syrup; The Black Pearl, a mix of rum, chocolate absinthe, baileys and Nutella; and the December 53 — the date of the first ever Playboy magazine published, is an eye-catching mix of whiskey, cinnamon, jasmine and vanilla. The establishment also has an extensive wine list, whisky selection, and a choice of fine cigars to accompany your drink or meal. Expect to pay upmarket prices for most drinks. A glass of 12-year-old Chivas costs VND170,000 and the wine menu comes in at around VND2 million to VND3 million a bottle.

Fine Dining Alongside drinks and cigars, five-star chef Le

Van Ninh leads a nine-strong kitchen team that is attempting to rival any of the established restaurants in town. Food options are centred around tapas, with dishes ranging between VND800,000 to VND1 million. Also available are the aesthetically delightful bunny canapés which feature 20 different bite-size pieces, including salmon, bruschetta with prawn, and Vietnamese duck salad and cost VND1.2 million. The establishment is currently expanding its dinner options, and is already developing a reputation for top quality dining among crowds of ambassadors, businessmen and guests looking for a good time. Of course, no meal is complete without

a giant cigar, and they average around the VND1.2 million mark here. Overall, you can expect your wallet to take a hit at the Playboy Establishment, it’s certainly not one to visit if you’re used to hitting the bia hoi on a Saturday night. But you can expect to receive top quality service, food and drinks, and entertainment like nowhere else in Hanoi — or Vietnam, for that matter. It will be interesting to see how the venue develops once they have their own burlesque group together, more theatrical lighting equipment, and of course, more bunnies. — Billy Gray Playboy Establishment is at 136 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. For more info, go to | August 2017 Word | 145



ocated on Dien Bien Phu close to the junction with Hang Bong is Satori – Slack and Savor, a restaurant and café that might just be that perfect city centre brunch spot we’ve all been looking for. Built on the same location as a once well-known café, the new incarnation is an oasis of calm. With its hidden garden and focus on greenery, entering Satori creates a sense of relaxation that is in stark contrast to the busy streets outside. All making this beautiful and calming space a perfect escape from the bustle of the city.

A Greener Era “I wanted to create a green environment,” explains owner Linh Nguyen. “The scent of lemongrass, the trees and plants; it feels refreshing when you enter.”

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There are pleasant shades of green throughout the interior thanks to four main spaces, each one possessing a unique personality. The room overlooking Dien Bien Phu is bright and cheerful, with hanging wall plants and masses of natural light bursting in through the all-glass front. The huge main room towards the back has a real warmth, helped in part by its rustic, dark wooden tables. Beyond that, there’s the large outdoor garden area — the hidden garden — with tables, benches and an abundance of flora. All is to a backdrop of a soundtrack of jazz and bossa nova, with the atmosphere enhanced by fresh flowers in every space. However, the green and healthy vibe goes deeper than just appearances. “We have a promotion for vegetarian and

vegan food or people arriving by bicycle,” says Linh. “10 percent off, and they can be combined!”

Freshly Made The new executive chef, Nguyen Thanh Tam, brings a wealth of experience in cooking Western dishes, from his time working at KOTO Saigon. “Our focus is on Western food here,” says Linh. “I could eat it all day! Our chef is also an expert in cooking Western cuisine.” The brand new menu is full of Western classics using real homemade ingredients, such as the pastas and dark rye bread. Making good use of the homemade bread is that brunch superstar, eggs benedict (VND129,000). Served with

Satori — Slack and Savor


spinach, flavoursome smoked ham and a thick, rich Hollandaise, it’s as good as any you’ll find around town. “It's not easy to find a place serving brunch in the centre of Hanoi,” says Linh. Not any more. The quality of the bread and the perfect, yolk-spilling eggs, sound the arrival of a new brunch heavyweight.

Peaceful Oasis Inspired by Linh’s time in Morocco, the grilled salmon and passionfruit sauce (VND229,000) is served with couscous; the fish is of the highest quality, lightly grilled and well matched by the sweet and zesty passionfruit sauce. The drinks are as refreshing and delicious as they are colourful; the apple mint tea and watermelon lychee fusion

(VND69,000) are both packed with fresh fruit and ice. The best surprise of the meal is the grilled halloumi cheese and rocket salad (VND129,000). The thick balsamic glaze cuts through the peppery leaves and saltiness of the halloumi, to create a wellbalanced and light dish. Service is delightful throughout, and the infectious smiles of our young servers don’t go unnoticed. “I told my staff they must be happy if they want the customers to be happy,” explains Linh. Rounding off the meal is the bread pudding (VND49,000). Soft and lightly spiced with cinnamon, it’s not as rich or heavy as the huge dollop of whipped cream on top would suggest.

Chill Out The word satori is Japanese; the name is the same as that used for Satori Homestay. The two businesses are part of a chain of leisure destinations in Hanoi. Satori means “enlightenment”, which applies perfectly to both entities. It’s impossible not to feel peaceful and relaxed inside Satori; from the pleasant design, through to the varied and delicious menu, to the delightful staff; it all adds up to the ideal dining experience for a busy city centre. — Edward Dalton Satori — Slack and Savor is on the second floor at 18 Dien Bien Phu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. The restaurant is open daily from 8.30am until 11pm. For more information, call 0904 866996 or visit | August 2017 Word | 147

Hanoi On the Town

is filled with people working and socialising. Serves as community centre, especially late at night.

SAINT HONORE CAFE / BOULANGERIE 5 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3933 2355 This cafe and French-style boulangerie is best visited in the morning when that Gallic, fresh-cooked bakery aroma 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 but tasty French and international fare is served at meal times.

SPACEBAR COWORKING CAFE Nha 15, 76 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho A pleasant, ground floor cafe with an outdoor terrace that sits below offices and a coworking space. Serves up coffee, juices, breakfasts and western-style cafe fare. Perfect for work, Wifi, a bite to eat and coffee.

THE HANOI SOCIAL CLUB CAFÉ / CONTEMPORARY EATERY 6 Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3938 2117 thehanoisocialclub A cozy midsize café/ restaurant where you can forget the heat and bustle of Hanoi. The atmosphere is relaxed and here you can imagine, for a second, that you’re sitting in a European café. The ood is fresh and internationally inspired, and has an excellent top-floor terrace.

YOLO FUNKY LIVE MUSIC CAFE 32C Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh YoloCoffeeShops

ZENITH VEGETARIAN CAFE VEGETARIAN / VEGAN 247 Au Co, Tay Ho, Tel: 0904 356561 A vegetarian and vegan cafe respecting the philosophy of yoga — simple living, mindful thinking. Using 100 percent natural ingredients, the cuisine has no additional additives or MSG and is cooked using the minimal amount of oil. The stress is instead on eating whole food in its natural state.


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EAT — CHINESE MAY MAN CHINESE CUISINE PAN-CHINESE Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3831 3333 Elegant and luxurious, May Man has long been regarded as one of the best Chinese restaurants in Hanoi. Showcasing a selection of authentic Chinese fare together with dim sum, May Man boasts extensive a la carte menus, dim sum menus and set menus. Reservations recommended.

M M M EAT — FRENCH FRENCH GRILL TOP-END GRILL JW Marriott Hanoi, 8 Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Tel: (024) 3833 5588 W i t h u n i q u e d e c o r, contemporary ambience, a walk-in wine cooler and a delectable seafood bar, this classy restaurant offers guests a service experience with crafted food difficult to find in the capital.

GREEN TANGERINE FRENCH / VIETNAMESE FUSION 48 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3825 1286

LA BADIANE CONTEMPORARY FRENCH 10 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3942 4509 On entering La Badiane, you are instantly caught by the multitude aromas coming from the open front kitchen. Then, surrounded by leaf plants, and predominantly white walls, the customer is struck by this venue’s calm and elegance. Although the dining experience at la Badiane is about the food, great attention is also paid to the ambience so you can enjoy every aspect of your meal. Voted one of Miele Guide’s Top 500 Restaurants in Asia.

LA VERTICALE CONTEMPORARY FRENCH 19 Ngo Van So, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (024) 3944 6317 Situated in an art-deco villa, this establishment is run by the most famous French chef in the country. With modestly priced set lunches and subtle Vietnamese touches on the dishes, the up market establishment lures in its high class customers with quality Vietnamese-French fusion cuisine.

LE BEAULIEU CLASSIC FRENCH / BUFFET Sofitel Metropole Legend, 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3826 6919 The Metropole’s signature restaurant serving up both classic and contemporary French fare. Buffet options mix with an a la carte menu and an ambience that could be straight out of Paris.

MILLENIUM-CAFÉ DES ARTS PAN-FRENCH 11 Hang Hanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3828 7207 A contemporary and chic three-storey restaurant with a terrace and views over one of Hanoi’s best-known alleys. Serves up quality French cuisine such as: snails, foie gras, lobster, scallops, chateaubriand and tournedos Rossini. Does an excellent set menu and also has a daily specials board.

M M M EAT — INDIAN FOODSHOP 45 INTERNATIONAL INDIAN 59 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3716 2959 Lakeside location and low bamboo seating, this eatery is one of the most popular Indians in town. 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.

INDIA PALACE NORTH INDIAN 10B Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: 01247 668668

NAMASTE HANOI PAN-INDIAN 46 Tho Nhuom, Hanoi, Tel: (024) 3935 2400 The well-loved Namaste specialises in dishes from both northern and southern India — using Halal meat throughout. Hosted by the gregarious Gopi, a meal will cost you between VND150,000 and VND300,000 and everything is there, from curries and breads to soups and desserts.

NAN N KABAB INDIAN & AFGHAN 49 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 0922 087799



AMATO TAPAS / FRENCH CUISINE 1A Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 01227 367470 Located next to Binh Minh Jazz Club, Amato is a fusion tapas bar by night and a French restaurant during the day. Tiny, hip and yet surprisingly spacious, Amato offers an international dining and drinking experience in the heart of Hanoi.

AU LAC DO BRAZIL BRAZILIAN 6A Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3845 5224

CHOPS GOURMET BURGER & CRAFT BEER 4 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 6292 1044 Finally Hanoi has a dedicated gourmet burger joint, and this West Lake eatery with its fan-cooled atmosphere get it just about right. This is comfort food at its finest. Served up with locally brewed craft beer, and this one’s a bit of a winner.

COUSINS CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL 3 Quang Ba, Tay Ho, Tel: 01238 670098; 7 ngo 58, Dao Tan, Ba Dinh cousins.hanoi A contemporary, Frenchinfluenced restaurant selling international cuisine at reasonable prices in a spacious, airy atmosphere. Blackboards, whitewashed, bare-brick walls, period tiles, a well-chosen wine list and an outdoor terrace overlooking the lake make up the formula. Has a second restaurant in Ba Dinh.

DON’S TAY HO CONTEMPORARY NORTH AMERICAN 16 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3719 3719 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 Excellent range of imported oysters, great

breakfasts and an extensive wine list.

EMM CAFE URBAN CAFÉ & BRASSERIE 110 D1 Tran Huy Lieu, Giang Vo, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 6293 6361 An urban café and brasserie serving international and French-Mediterranean cuisine in a casual and cozy atmosphere. A popular social hub in Ba Dinh District featuring a wide selection of coffees and wines from around the world.

EL GAUCHO STEAKHOUSE ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE 11 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3824 7280; 99 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3718 6991 With venues in Saigon and Bangkok, the essence of El Gaucho is quality top grade meats off the grill. Steak is the mainstay — the USDA cuts are to die for — but everything from chicken, pork and seafood is also up for grabs. Add to this a backdrop of low Latin music, low, subtle lighting, an extensive wine list and slick service. There’s a reason El Gaucho is so successful — everything’s being taken care of.

J.A.F.A. INTERNATIONAL G2-G3 Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3758 2400 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.

JACKSON’S STEAKHOUSE STEAKHOUSE / GRILL 23J Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3938 8388

JASPA’S INTERNATIONAL / AUSTRALIAN Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung (4th Floor), Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3934 8325

KOTO ON VAN MIEU RESTAURANT / CAFÉ / BAR 59 Van Mieu, Dong Da, Tel: (024) 3747 0337 The restaurant arm of Koto, an F&B training school for disadvantaged youth. Authentic Asian and European cuisine is served over four big

floors of restaurant space. It’s cushioned, comfortable and has a rooftop terrace, too. Wrap it yourself nem, bun bo Nam bo, Koto burgers, pastas, fish and chips, chicken Kievs and sandwiches all under one homely roof.

LA SALSA IBERIAN / MEDITERANEAN 5 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (024) 3995 0950

MOOSE AND ROO CANADIAN / AUSTRALIAN RESTAURANT 42B Ma May, Hoan Kiem, Tel:(024) 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.

MOOSE AND ROO SMOKEHOUSE AMERICAN GRILL The American Club, 19-21 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3939 2470 There’s a reason for Smokehouse’s popularity — the excellent, on-site smoked meats together with all the typical, American-style sides. Set in the American Club, dining is both indoors and out, and comes with the best bourbon selection in town.

NINETEEN 11 INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN The Opera House, 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3933 4801 Named after the completion date of the Hanoi Opera House, this upscale yet casual restaurant maintains an ambience of elegance, luxury and mystery. The cuisine mixes international fare with twists on Vietnamese cuisine and comes complete with a formidable wine list and an in-house sommelier.

PIZZA 4P’S JAPANESE PIZZA JOINT 24 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 01208 034444 Famed for its home-made mozzarella and Japaneseinspired pizzas that break all the rules, the Hanoi outlet of Pizza 4P’s is as popular as its Saigon branch, a restaurant that has been greeted by accolades by all asunder. All pizzas are cooked in a woodfired oven and use fresh, local ingredients.

THE CART SANDWICH SHOP / CAFÉ 8B, Lane 1, Au Co, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3938 2513 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.

WANNAWAFFLE WAFFLES 27 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem; 138 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung; Unit 108, Indochina Plaza, 241 Xuan Thuy, Cau Giay wannawaffle Waffles, but not as you know it. Here it’s about taking this humble dish and recreating it in a contemporary environment in as many ways as is humanly possible. Ever had a matcha waffle? What about a waffle stuffed with cream cheese and smoked salmon? How about a banoffee pie or a pizza waffle? Wannawaffle serves up all these creations and much more.

ZENITH VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT HOLISTIC VEGETARIAN 247Au Co, Tay Ho, Tel: 0904 356561 zenithyogavietnam.

com/zenith-cafe A vegetarian and vegan café connected to Zenith Yoga that respects yoga philosophy. Simple living, mindful thinking and 100 percent natural ingredients, all the food here is served up without additional additives or MSG and using only fresh seasonal products. All dishes are made in house.

to prepare some of the city’s finest pizzas, which range from VND100,000 to buildyour-own-skies-the-limit. Set inside a large, thoughtful space seasoned chefs also make fresh pastas, soups and cheeses. Has regular live music and a great Italian wine list.

MEDITERRANEO PAN-ITALIAN 23 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3826 6288



DA PAOLO CLASSIC ITALIAN 18 Lane 50/59/17 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3718 6317 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.

LINGUINI FINI ITALIAN-AMERICAN 36-38 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3266 8968 With branches in Hong Kong and Manilla, the contemporary ItalianAmerican Linguini Fini pulls no punches with its first outlet in Vietnam. Sleek modern décor, high quality cuisine, home-made pasta, reasonable prices and dishes cooked up with the freshest ingredients available are part of the deal, as are some damn fine pizzas.

LUNA D’AUTUNNO CLASSIC ITALIAN 27 Nam Ngu, Tel: (024) 3823 7338 This old-favourite Italian uses traditional wood ovens

PAN-ITALIAN 3 Nguyen Khac Can, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3826 9080

M M M EAT — JAPANESE ASAHI SUSHI SUSHI RESTAURANT 288 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (024) 3974 5945

KY Y JAPANESE RICE EATERY 166 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (024) 3978 1386 Not to be mistake for a sushi joint, this wonderful restaurant is your typical, Japanese working person’s rice eatery. Has a bar area downstairs and booth-like seating on the upper floors.




GOURMET VIETNAMESE 4 Ton That Thiep, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3747 8337 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, all in a casually elegant setting that make this spot near the train tracks a standout.

BUN CHA 1 Hang Manh, Hoan Kiem; 67 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem


PHO CUON 26 Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh

CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE 57 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (024) 3944 0204 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.


PHO BO CU CHIEU PHO BO 48 Hang Dong, Hoan Kiem


PHO GA BA LAM PHO GA 7 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem

PHO GA HANG DIEU PHO GA 1 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem


PHO LY QUOC SU PHO BO 10 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem



PHO GA / BUN BO NAM BO / COM 18 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho



VIETNAMESE / ETHNIC 5 Hang Tre, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3926 4200; 25 Bat Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3926 0639; 575 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3771 6372 The home of Son Tinh liquor, Highway 4 is also known for its communal dining and ethnic food menu taking in dishes from around the regions of northern Vietnam. Try out their catfish spring rolls. Phenomenal!


BANH CUON 14 Hang Ga, Hoan Kiem




SAUTEED BEEF PHO 13 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung

PHO TRON MIXED PHO 5 Phu Doan, Hoan Kiem; 47 Ma May, Hoan Kiem; 2 Hang Hom, Hoan Kiem; 6 Luong Van Can, Hoan Kiem

PHO TU LUN PHO BO 23 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem


BUN BO NAM BO BUN BO NAM BO 67 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem

16 Quang An - Tay Ho - Hanoi | Tel: (84-24) 3 719 2828 | 3 719 3719 | | August 2017 Word | 149



ocated in the former residence of the Italian ambassador, in the heart of Hanoi’s French quarter, Casa Italia is as authentic Italian food as you’ll find in the capital. The colonial mansion that houses the restaurant is still owned by the Italian embassy, and doubles up as the Italian Country Promotion Centre and a Vespa museum, meaning that you won’t necessarily find the romantic décor of other downtown dining options, but it’s evident that the emphasis here is on the food, not the wallpaper. The Italian ambassador frequently chooses the spot for his lunch, as do a number of other Italians working in Hanoi, so you

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can rest assured that you’re being served authentic fare. The restaurant’s owner, Giulia De Piaggi, is the sister of Paulo from Hanoi’s Da Paulo and restaurant, and her kitchen staff have worked with the family for the last decade.

Authentic Italian Fare Two things will strike you when you scan the menu; first, its simplicity, with just four pasta options, eight pizzas, and a handful of appetisers, salads and desserts. It’s laid out on a single leather-bound board, and is refreshingly easy to read. Second are the reasonable prices, the most expensive dish on the menu costing VND250,000. At a table in a room decorated with

pictures of Italian cultural heritage and Vespa motorbikes from different eras, we wait for our starter to arrive — focaccia (VND60,000), a freshly baked pizza-style bread topped with olive oil and rosemary. The taste of rosemary stands out before melting in with the flavour of the hot bread. The next leg of our meal, the antipasto (VND250,000) is a collection of premium Italian cold cuts and cheeses, accompanied by tomatoes and fresh basil. The cold cuts are sublime, and the mix of mozzarella and homemade cheese along with fresh tomatoes and coated in pepper and olive oil goes down a treat. Out of the pizza selection comes the calzone pizza with ham and mushroom (VND140,000).

Casa Italia


Originating in Naples, and literally translating to ‘trousers’, the calzone is a pizza folded and sealed together to make a giant pie. Once opened, the steaming pizza melts in the mouth.

Eyes on the Specials Complementing the menu is the weekly rotating specials board, with around a dozen options to choose from. This is where the dishes become more acquired tastes, with options such as asparagus soup (VND150,000), brie and pancetta pizza (VND250,000) and a 200g tenderloin (VND350,000). Our next dish is the off the specials menu; salad with avocado and goat’s cheese wrapped in speck, (similar to prosciutto)

for VND220,000. The portion is generous and consists of a bed of salad topped with olive oil and vinegar, with crumbled goat’s cheese hidden under every leaf, and the soft avocado and goat’s cheese wrapped in smoked speck. The flavour from the cheese brings the whole salad to life, and is very satisfying. Two more dishes from the specials board arrive midway through the salad, hand-made ravioli with smoked speck and smoked ricotta, on a bed of rocket (VND250,000) and linguini with fresh tomatoes, black olives and a topping of burrata cheese (VND260,000). Both dishes exhibit strong flavours balanced with the accompanying ingredients to form a delicate finish.

Onto Dessert The dessert menu keeps to the theme of simplicity with five options including crème bruleé (VND90,000), panna cotta (VND80,000) and tiramisu (VND80,000). The restaurant’s extensive coffee selection is a good companion to the end of your meal, with an espresso starting at VND45,000, and an affogato coming in at VND80,000. Casa Italia’s central location makes it suitable for lunch or dinner. With the French Quarter lit up outside, it’s a good bet for a romantic date also. Bear in mind that closing time is 9pm. Casa Italia is located at 18 Le Phung Hieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi and is open daily from 9am to 9pm. | August 2017 Word | 151




toned and flat midsection is what most of us aim for so we can fit into our swimsuit over summer. Two questions I’m always asked are “I do endless floor crunches but still can’t seem to see my abdominals” or “I’m doing endless floor crunches, so why isn’t my stomach tight, toned and terrific?” The myth that doing hundreds of crunches everyday will flatten your midsection has been around longer than I’ve been exercising. It’s important to realize that your abdominals are a muscle and require specific exercises that will tone and strengthen the area along with adequate rest between exercise sessions so as not to over-train. A flat stomach begins in the kitchen, because an exercise programme without a healthy eating plan will only slow your progress to achieve your desired health and fitness goals. If you are carrying excess body fat around your stomach region, endless crunches will only strengthen and tone the muscle underneath the layer of fat. Through the combination of a lowfat and low-salt healthy eating plan, combined with aerobic training and abdominal exercises, you can achieve a toned and flat midsection where you can finally see your abdominal muscles. This 10-minute abdominal circuit workout can be performed three times a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Eating Your Way to a Flat Stomach From the internet to nutritional apps on your smart phone there are plenty of ways these days to find out information about which foods are good for you and those that are not. Low-fat, salt and calorie-reduced products are also now widely available in most supermarkets. Yet, despite this, obesity has become a major problem in western society and even in Vietnam, caused by a combination of inactive lifestyles and fast food. It’s important to understand that gaining weight isn’t just caused by overeating, you also need to take into account your lifestyle, your cultural background and the reasons behind why you eat the food that you do. Also think of the language that you use around weight control and food. Simply think of the way you eat as a “healthy eating plan” rather than a “diet”, which conjures up the

Workout 1 Exercise





Floor abdominal crunch


20 – 25

body weight


Air bike crunch


20 – 25

body weight


Swiss ball crunch


20 – 25

body weight


Workout 2 Exercise





Swiss ball crunch


20 – 25

body weight


Ab machine crunch


15 - 20

medium weight


Cross-Body Crunch


20 – 25

body weight


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image of severe regimens and eating habits that don’t control or maintain your weight. Research suggests that the location of body fat is an important factor in health risks for children and adults. Excess fat around the stomach area is a greater health risk than excess fat on the hips or thighs. Abdominal fat also includes visceral fat, which lies deep inside your abdomen, surrounding your internal organs. Having a high percentage of belly fat increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, type two diabetes, high blood pressure and certain types of cancer. Smoking and too much alcohol both increase abdominal fat as well.

A Balanced Daily Eating Plan Guideline — Carbohydrates: 45-65 % of your daily intake — Proteins: 20-35 % of your daily intake — Fat: No more than 10% of your daily intake — Vitamins and minerals: From a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables — Water: At least two litres of water a day — more when exercising and in hot weather Amazin is a Prana Samyana meditation Yin Yoga teacher and performance coach having trained Olympic athletes to special forces. She is also a former natural competitive bodybuilder and the first Vietnamese internationally published health and fitness author and DNA fitness trainer. For more info click on



ringing home a new puppy is a thrilling time for everyone. Puppies are ecstatic little sponges, eager to soak up all the rules of the house — and now’s your opportunity to set them on the right path. Thankfully, good habits are easy to install and should begin the minute your pup steps inside your home.

Confinement Confinement now, means more freedom your pup can enjoy as she grows into an adult. Dogs are naturally den creatures and having a confinement area such as a small doggy den or crate to use for short periods, is a great temporary tool for shaping your pup’s next few weeks at home. If she’s used to having unrestricted access to you at all times, she’ll fall apart when you’re gone (hello, excessive barking!) So, while you’re home, confine your puppy to her doggy den along with a few hollow chewtoys stuffed with her favorite treats and diet. This will help prevent any mistakes around the house and maximizes the likelihood that she will learn to rely on chewtoys (instead of your favorite shoes).

Housetraining Dogs naturally avoid soiling their den, and confining them temporarily inhibits

pooping and peeing. It lets your pup strengthen her flabby bladder muscles and helps you predict when she’ll need to use the toilet. By giving her plenty of opportunities to go outside, (every hour or so if she is under three months old) to relieve herself, and heavily rewarding her with treats for doing so in the right spot, you’ll be able to play with her indoors knowing she won’t have an accident after.

Socialization Socialization is a critical period in which a puppy’s temperament and behaviour are shaped. Most owners don’t realize the considerable urgency that’s involved with socialization — this window closes for puppies around 12 to 13 weeks of age. If a dog isn’t properly introduced to all manner of people, other dogs, and loud objects (hello, scary vacuum!) it will take much more time to build up their confidence so they don’t become fearful or aggressive. For the first few weeks at home, every time someone enters the home who isn’t immediate family (workers, cleaners) have them toss food to your pup. By training your pup to “sit” first, others can ask for a “sit” before tossing the tasty treat, thereby teaching your new pup some door etiquette and greeting manners in the process. They’ll learn to look forward not only to new people coming to the home, but also to


the door bell ringing or someone knocking, as this sound now precedes fun and tasty things to come.

Bite Inhibition Paws down, the most important thing for a puppy to learn is bite inhibition, towards people as well as dogs. Bite inhibition doesn’t mean dogs don’t bite. Rather, it means that when they do bite, they don’t hurt or seriously injure. It’s something which must be acquired in the first few weeks of life and is the reason why puppies are so mouthy; they need to learn appropriate feedback on what their bite strength should be. Whenever your pup bites too hard, simply say “ouch!” and remove your hand. Then praise her for having a softer mouth when she plays again. You’ll be giving her valuable feedback so that she learns to have a gentle mouth at all times, with all people. Puppies grow up far too quickly and what you do in the first few days at home, will set the precedent for your dog in the weeks, months, and even years to come. Maria Skorobogatov is an animal behaviourist with 10-plus years of applied training and behaviour experience. Focusing on family pets, she uses humane, science-based training and behaviour modification techniques that can be easily followed at home. For more info email | August 2017 Word | 153

Ho Chi Minh City

Body and Temple / Girl About Town / Medical Buff / Bar Stool / Coffee Cup / Know Your City / Terence Taylor’s Saigon Stories Photo by Bao Zoan 154 | Word August 2017 | | August 2017 Word | 155

HCMC Essentials

BUSINESS GROUPS AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (AMCHAM) New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (028) 3824 3562

2nd Floor, Eximland Building, 179EF Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3, Tel: (028) 3832 9912



MD6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7, Tel: (028) 5410 0100 10 Tran Phu, Q5, Tel: (028) 3832 1843 107B Truong Dinh, Q3, Tel: (028) 3930 0498 aple Healthcare is a chiropractic clinic with chiropractors who are experts in providing effective treatments in patient healthcare. Uses the latest technology, techniques and practice to ensure top results.


STAMFORD SKIN CENTRE SKIN CARE / COSMETICS 99 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (028) 3925 1990 tamford 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.



Room 305, New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (028) 3824 3754


NORDCHAM 17th Floor, Petroland Tower, 12 Tan Trao, Q7, Tel: (028) 5416 0922


25 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (028) 3829 8430


PHILIPPINES BUSINESS GROUP VIETNAM 40/4 Pham Viet Chanh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (028) 3518 0045

SINGAPORE BUSINESS GROUP 6th Floor, Unit 601, Tran Quy Building, 57 Le Thi Hong, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 3046


INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC Norfolk Mansion, 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (028) 3825 6999 Thao Dien Clinic, 27 Nguyen Ba Lan, Q.2, Tel: (028) 35 191 777 n 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.



INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC 167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (028) 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.

STARLIGHT DENTAL CLINIC INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC 2 Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, Q3, Tel: (028) 3822 6222 24, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 6282 8822

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.

M M M GALLERIES COULEURS D'ASIE BY RÉHAHN Floor 1, 151/7 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (028) 6889 4376 dAsie.Saigon Couleurs d'Asie is a permanent gallery featuring the work of French photographet, Réhahn, from his time in Vietnam and the region. Located next to L’Usine Café, the gallery is open every day from 7.30am to 10.30pm.


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HOSPITALS & MEDICAL CLINICS AMERICAN CHIROPRACTIC CLINIC CHIROPRACTOR 161-161A Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (028) 3939 3930 ACC provides effective chiropractic, physiotherapy, acupuncture and foot care treatments through the use of cutting edge technology for back, neck and knee pain, sports injuries as well as all types of foot related problems without the need of drugs or surgery.

AMERICAN EYE CENTER 5th Floor, Crescent Plaza, 105 Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Tel: 5413 6758 / 5413 6759


INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL 6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Saigon South Parkway, Q7, Tel: (028) 5411 3333 Emergency: (028) 5411 3500 V Hospital is one of Vietnam’s leading, healthcare facilities, receiving international recognition from the global leader of accreditation, the JCI (Joint Commission International). With over 950 service staff, including 130 doctors, FV Hospital provides care in over 30 medical specialties in a complete, one-stop modern hospital.



246 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 2335 nspected 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.


6th Floor, Fimexco Building, 231-233 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Hotline: 0909 240809 |


worldwide mover with offices in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, Vietnam Moving is one of the fastest growing moving companies in Vietnam. Services include office relocation, household moving, warehousing and storage, truck leasing, office furniture liquidation and office reinstatement. With Vietnam Moving you will minimise costs and headaches, while maximising trust and satisfaction.

SIAN SKINCARE CLINIC SKIN CARE / COSMETICS 27 Nguyen Trung Truc, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 6999 he 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.




bet at some time or another you said, or had a friend tell you: “I am doing everything properly but I still can’t lose weight.” I have heard this sentence, or variations of it, over and over since I first started working as a health and fitness specialist over 22 years ago. Why do so many find it hard to lose weight? In my experience there are three common and very clear reasons people fail. Reasons that are very simple yet we’d rather follow a celebrity, listen to something your grandmother said or follow a crazy magazine article.

Reason 1: Diet for All Most people wrongly believe that there is one perfect way to eat, exercise and live for fat loss and health. We are all human, our bodies have the same parts, and these parts are all connected in the same way, so what works for one must work for all. We are as chemically different on the inside, as we are physically different on the outside. The need to follow rules, off-the-shelf meal plans, shopping lists and recipes is the main problem. Most think there is a right way and a wrong way to lose weight. If you just follow the right way then you are sure to succeed. The problem? There is no right way. There is only your way. A nutrition plan designed for your unique metabolic expression, psychology and personal preferences. Your metabolism is different and requires

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a slightly different approach compared to everyone else.

Reason 2: It’s Only About Diet and Exercise Diet and exercise are important but they are only half of the equation. There are two other factors that are equally, if not of greater, importance. Dr Jade Teta the founder of Metabolic Effect calls it the total equation the four Ms: Meals (the diet), Metabolics (the exercise), Movement and Mindset. Dr Teta has written: “There is something researchers call Non-Exercise Associated Thermogenesis (NEAT). NEAT is all the movement you do in a day that is not exercise. Standing rather than siting, walking, doing the dishes, doing the laundry, fidgeting… Basically all forms of movement. Metabolics (exercise) only takes up about 5% of your changeable metabolic rate, while NEAT constitutes 15%.” That makes non-exercise thermogenesis three times more important than exercise. If you want to lose weight, and be successful at maintaining that loss, you need to think of movement and exercise as two different things. As Dr Teta says: “The idea is to move as much as possible and exercise just enough.” Mindset is the fourth and most overlooked of the four Ms. Avoiding catabolic state and lowering stress hormones is essential for truly successful weight loss. Stress contributes to overeating, insulin


resistance and metabolic slow down. The mindset component helps combat stress. If you are not considering all the four Ms you are not doing everything right.

Reason 3: Keep Doing the Same Thing Again and Again The metabolism is adaptive and reactive. The last thing you want to do to a system that is changeable is keep doing the same thing without deviation. We must continually vary our inputs and outputs, so that our bodies continue to adapt and change. When you approach weight loss by thinking: “I will just eat less and exercise more,” you will get results, but only for a very short time. After about four to 10 days the metabolism begins to compensate for dietary and physical activity alterations. We promote a metabolic mix-up approach with great success. We mix up your metabolic routine constantly to achieve your desired result by utilizing four different models: — ELDM (eat less, do more) — ELDL (eat less, do less) — EMDM (eat more, do more) — EMDL (eat more, do less). Each of these models has a purpose, and can be used to keep the metabolism humming and guessing. That is the way the metabolism prefers to work. Phil is founder and master trainer at Body Expert Systems. Contact him on 0934 782763, at his website or through Star Fitness (

HCMC Essentials

CENTRE MEDICAL INTERNATIONALE (CMI) FRENCH MEDICAL CLINIC 1 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 2366 This French medical clinic provides general practice and a range of specialties including cardiology, gynecology, psychotherapy, ophthalmology, paediatrics and acupuncture.

FAMILY MEDICAL PRACTICE INTERNATIONAL CLINIC 34 Le Duan Street, Q1; 95 Thao Dien Q2, Tel: (028) 3822 7848 Family Medical Practice (FMP) is the largest and one of the oldest foreign, privatelyowned, international health care providers in Vietnam. As the only health care provider that can offer a countrywide network of integrated clinics for foreign and local populations, FMP’s main specialties include family medicine, pediatrics and emergency medicine as well as health checks and work permit health-tests.

FV SAIGON CLINIC INTERNATIONAL CLINIC 3rd Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (028) 6290 6167 FV Saigon Clinic offers international standard primary care for patients of all ages right in the heart of District 1 in the iconic Bitexco Financial Tower. The clinic provides consultations in a variety of specialities; as well as vaccinations, blood tests, and diagnostic imaging.

HANH PHUC INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL Binh Duong Boulevard, Thuan An District, Binh Duong Tel: (0650) 363 6068

INTERNATIONAL SOS HCMC MEDICAL CLINIC INTERNATIONAL CLINIC / MEDIVAC 167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (028) 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.



M M M INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS ABC INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (ABCIS) Saigon South Campus 1 (Primary & Secondary), Tel: (028) 5431 1833/34/35/36; Saigon South Campus 2 (Foundation Stage & Early Primary), Tel: (028) 5431 1833/34/35/36 Rated as ‘outstanding’ by British Government Inspectors, academic results puts ABCIS among the top 8% of schools worldwide. ABCIS is accredited by CIE, AQA and the Education Development Trust, and are members of COBIS and FOBISIA. Provides education for two to 18 year olds in a supportive and friendly environment.

CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 7 Road 23, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (028) 5412 3456

KIDS CLUB SAIGON 79/7 Pham Thai Buong, Q7; 27/3 Ha Huy Tap, Q7, Tel: (028) 5412 5944 Early childhood centres in Phu My Hung offering creative play-based programmes for children ages two to five. Known for unique facilities, experienced staff, highquality learning resources, and small class sizes.

EUROPEAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HO CHI MINH CITY (EIS) 730 F-G-K Le Van Mien, Q2, Vietnam, Tel: (028) 7300 7257 The European International School offers a supportive and challenging academic education from Early Years to Grade 12 based on the IB curriculum. EIS is a Nobel Talent School and is part of the Nobel Education Network. The school educates global citizens to enjoy learning, inquiring and caring for others.

MONTESSORI INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 42/1 Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Tel: (028) 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.

RENAISSANCE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL SAIGON 74 Nguyen Thi Thap, Q7, Tel: (028)3773 33171 ext 120/121/122 Renaissance is an International British school providing an inclusive curriculum based upon the British curriculum complemented by the International Primary Curriculum and International Baccalaureate. It is a family school with first-class facilities including a 350seat theatre, swimming pool, mini-pool, play-areas, gymnasium, IT labs, music and drama rooms, science labs and an all-weather pitch.

SAIGON KIDS EDUCATIONAL CHILDCARE CENTRE 15 Street 12, Q2, Tel: (028) 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: (028) 3742 7827 Established in 2006, Saigon Star is a British School and one of only four schools in Vietnam to adopt the International Primary Curriculum (IPC). A combination of experienced, UK qualified teachers and a maximum of 16 students per class means learners receive the individual attention they deserve. A secondary school is opening in August 2017.

SMARTKIDS 1172 Thao Dien Compound, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 6076; 26, Street Nr. 10, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 3898 9816; 15 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 3519 4236

THE AMERICAN SCHOOL 172-180 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0903 952223 Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), TAS represents 20 nationalities and provides an Americanbased curriculum with rigorous performance standards and a variety of academic offerings. Runs advanced placement courses and university credit courses through their partnership with Missouri State University, as well as an Intensive ESL Program for English Language Learners.

Tel: 0932 112694

HAPPY HOUSE 32-34 Ngo Duc Ke, Suite 701, Q1, Tel: 01659 419916

RESIDENT VIETNAM Unit 601 48 Hoa Su, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (028) 2226 8855

SNAP 32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 3519 4282

THE NEST 216/4 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0938 580800

M M M RELOCATION AGENTS ALLIED PICKFORDS 12th floor, Miss Ao Dai Building, 21 Nguyen Trung Ngan, Q1, Tel: (028) 3910 1220

ASIAN TIGERS MOBILITY Unit 9.3, Floor 9, Ree Tower, 9 Doan Van Bo, Ward 12, District 4, HCMC, Tel: (028) 3 826 7799

JVK INTERNATIONAL MOVERS 1st Floor, Saigon Port Building, 3 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Tel: (028) 3826 7655 Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is a leader in the field.




396/4 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Tel: (028) 3941 5322



121/21 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (028) 3920 7237

SPORTS & FITNESS BODY AND MIND | August 2017 Word | 159





anoians living away from their home town tend to miss the romantic image of sellers riding around the city on their bicycles carrying huge bouquets of fresh, locallygrown flowers. Few things feel as convenient and satisfying as being able to see, smell, and buy fresh buds and blooms the moment you spot them on the street or at the market. Plus, they are always fresh, nice and cheap. Sometimes we need more than a random assortment of flowers put together in a rush. Sometimes, we need our bouquet to count, to make a difference in someone else’s life. That is when specialist florists come in, those with distinctive signature styles who can create gorgeous flower arrangements that can take the breath of your significant other away. So here we go — modern and trendy florists to know.

In Hanoi Bong by Catt Bong by Catt is one of my favourites. Founded two years ago, Bong by catt was the pio-

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neer in bringing to the market the Instagramwide popular flower boxes. Nothing screams sophistication, chic, and luxury more than a rounded, mini-matte black box topped with overflowing blooms of pastel peonies, seductive English roses, or hydrangeas. Both fresh and intricate silk flowers are available, in case you want your floral gift to someone (or yourself) to last more than five days. Boxes come in black or white, round-shaped or low-edged rectangles, in various sizes, and there are also options for flower-and-gift duo packaging. My personal pick would always be the matte black rounded box. Prices range from VND500,000 to over a VND1 million — or more depending how you are going to customize your box of blooms. Bong by Catt has a showroom at 17 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. For more info, go to

Xophoatanni Xophoatanni is another distinctive florist whose style is one of a kind and cannot be mistaken for anyone else. If you are a fan of current popular Korean flower arrangement

styles, with easily recognizable wrapping in neutral, muted colour palettes combined with semi-transparent wrapping papers, you will adore Xophoatanni. Their signature products include transparent flower cake boxes and humongous bouquets of baby’s breaths or hydrangeas. They also offer the enchanted rose in that tall domed glass case like the one in Beauty and the Beast at a Disney fairytale kind of price at VND3.5 million. Well, as it lasts up to five years, perhaps you can justify the splurge for a single rose. Xophoatanni has gone as far as creating bouquets of strawberries (as you can see on Pinterest and have always wished for), Snickers, and money notes. Depending on the choice of flowers and the size of the bouquet, be ready to spend somewhere between VND250,000 to VND1.5 million for one order. Xophoatanni is at P113-B12 Khu Tap the Kim Lien, Dong Da, Hanoi. For more info, go to

No.23 Floral Compared to Bong by catt and Xo-




phoatanni, No.23 Floral offers a wider range in terms of both flowers and wrapping paper. They incorporate some less popular choices like alliums or those with a more local feel, such as white lotus and sunflowers. While diversification gives customers more options, it makes it harder to tell a bouquet by No.23 Floral apart from other florists. However, this store tends to go for the girlie and rustic feel most of the time. No.23 Floral is at Ngo 1, Au Co, Hanoi. For more info, go to

In Saigon FlowerBox


38 Degree Flowers

Novembre makes beautiful rose bouquets using soft-looking semi-transparent and patterned wrapping paper for a romantic and dreamy feel. This floral shop seems to really favour roses above any other type of flower, which makes it a great choice if you have already set your mind on the classic symbol of love. Novembre is located at 158 Phuong Liet, Thanh Xuan, Hanoi. For more info, go to

38 Degree Flowers was the first florist in Vietnam to bring premium and expensive imported blooms to town, including Ecuadorian roses, peonies, English roses and French lavender. They started in Ho Chi Minh City but now have a second location in Hanoi. 38 Degree Flowers was once associated with everything luxury and extravagant when it comes to flowers. However, to better accommodate popular demand they have launched a more budget-friendly line, in

Flower Box has long been a trusted name in downtown Ho Chi Minh City. They offer a wide range of flowers and prices with a strong focus on roses and orchids. There is something for everyone at this humble yet diverse shop, whether you are looking for roses, poppies, carnations, dahlias, daffodils, lotus, or sunflowers in various colours, including the rare and mysterious shade of black. Flower Box is at 182A Pasteur, Q1, HCMC. For more info, go to

which all designs are at VND290,000. 38 Degree Flowers is at 58 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, HCMC. For more info, go to facebook. com/38degreeflowers

Padma de Fleur Among those listed in this florists collection, Padma de Fleur has the most identifiable designs with their signature Asian/Oriental touch and feel. Padma de Fleur adore their pink or white lotus, autumn crocus, and present their vivid blooms in such a way that brings out their raw natural beauty without any overpowering influence of any other accessories. This approach seems to bring about more zen in their floral arrangements and designs than any other florist, as everything feels effortless. Padma de Fleur is at 55/6 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1, HCMC. For more info, go to SoChaud runs an online channel born out of her passion for food, travel and everything in between. Follow her at sochaudchannel and on Instagram at @ sochaudchannel. | August 2017 Word | 161




eople are far more worried about contracting HIV than they are about getting any other sexually transmitted infection (STI). Maybe that’s because this disease is better known than any other STI, but it’s also because of the seriousness of HIV and the implications of contracting it. This doesn’t mean that the rest of the STIs can be safely ignored — the others are not only much more common, they’re far more infective too. The thought of getting an STI tends to freak people out. From the moment it strikes them that whatever risky behaviour they’ve enjoyed may have realworld consequences, they tend to seek a diagnosis and solution immediately. That panic is usually out of proportion to the severity of whatever they may have picked up, and it’s often brought on by a mixture of stigma and a lack of knowledge — but when you know the facts, that’s part of the solution. At my STI clinic, the conditions I see most often are bacterial urethritis and vulvovaginitis — both of which are the unpleasant result of an infection by either one or a cocktail of bacteria — usually chlamydia and/or gonorrhea. These bacterial infections are more symptomatic in men than in women; there will be discomfort, pain, or an unusual discharge that alerts the infected person that they have an STI. Gonorrhea tends to be more severe — more pain, more discharge, and eventually a higher risk of systemic symptoms like fever, dissemination and rash — but it’s very difficult to tell just by looking at the symptoms alone what the infection is. In both sexes, it can also be entirely asymptomatic, and you can be a carrier without knowing at all.

Transmission The problem with being infected without having any symptoms is that you can pass a disease on to someone else — and even if you are just keeping it to yourself, the effects of carrying a long-term bacterial STI that you don’t even know you have can be very serious. In short, if you’ve had any kind of risky contact at all, it’s not a bad idea to get tested for these infections so that you can be sure you’re clear. The stakes are even higher now that another bacterial STI is making a big comeback — syphilis. This disease had its heyday in the era before there were antibiotics. It’s super-easy to treat, as the bacteria isn’t particularly resistant to any

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antibiotic (even penicillin will do the trick) but because it has been off the scene for so long, neither patients nor doctors are looking for the signs anymore, and so it can often be missed. While it’s really the bacterial infections I see most often, they’re still not the most common STIs around. That honour goes to HPV genital warts, with the majority of cases being entirely invisible. I would say that roughly only 2% of people who contract the infection will get the warts, so the vast majority of people don’t know they have it at all. This is why it’s spreading so much — it can infect up to 70% of sexually active adults. The good news is that genital warts resolve themselves spontaneously — at least the warts do, if not the infection itself. They’re also quite different from the female genital tract lesions that can eventually become cancerous, which are caused by a different strain of the HPV virus. They’re contracted the same way and they are related, but they’re not the same thing at all.

Easy Treatment If your diagnosis is positive for an STI, the treatment is usually straightforward. HIV is treatable, even though it’s still not curable. This is a far better prognosis than it was 15 years ago when HIV was considered a death sentence — with medication, you can now expect to live an

(almost) normal life, and it seems likely that a cure will be developed within your lifetime. All the bacterial diseases can be resolved with antibiotics, including syphilis, as long as it’s diagnosed early enough. Chlamydia in particular is important to treat, because you can still infect other people and it may cause complications, such as pelvic inflammatory disease or sterility — at least in women. With HPV genital warts, there’s no reason to treat the infection, but you can still burn off the warts with liquid nitrogen. I try to reassure people with warts by welcoming them to the club — “you’re among the 70% of people who carry the virus!” At the same time, I advise them to do a screening for everything else. If you’re in my clinic, you’ve proved you’re not a monk or a virgin — at least once in your life, you’ve done the deed, and here we are. Warts may be the least of your problems. I always tell people that in my view, it’s more dangerous to cross the street in Saigon than it is to engage in sexual relations. However, the simple fact that you’ve been exposed (whether you have symptoms or not) should prompt some kind of screening. Dr. Serge Gradstein specialises in sexually transmitted infectious diseases following his work at Kaplan Hospital’s largest HIV center in Israel. He runs a confidential walk-in STI clinic at Family Medical Practice

HCMC Essentials

BOXING / FITNESS 49A Xa Lo Ha Noi, Q2, Tel: 0947 771326 This sports centre in An Phu, started by fitness guru Cyril, features the same personalised mentorship Cyril's clients love. Includes yoga, boxing and fitness for kids and adults every day. No membership fees. Pay for classes. All activities are safe and run by Cyril and his trained staff.

NUTRIFORT (NTFQ2) GENERAL FITNESS 34 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (028) 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.

SAIGON HASH HOUSE HARRIERS Sunday 2pm sharp, Caravelle hotel. Bus out to the county with a walk, usually 4km and a run around 8km. VND150,000 for locals and VND220,000 for expats. Bus, water, snacks and freeflow beer after the run.

SHERATON FITNESS HEALTH CLUB & GYM Level 5, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 2828

SOFITEL PLAZA FITNESS CENTRE HEALTH CLUB & GYM 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (028) 3824 1555 A small but well-appointed gym with regular fitness classes, a steam room and sauna. Has a small but


28 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (028) 3898 9100 SHCMC is a leading IB school with a rich history, yet is always innovating. Students from over 50 nationalities are taught in modern learning environments, developing a passion for searching beyond what is asked in the classroom, and becoming adults equipped for the future. The 2017/18 academic school year will see the new Secondary Campus open and the continued refurbishment in the Primary Campus.


consistent membership.

STAR FITNESS GYM HEALTH CLUB & GYM Manor Apartments, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (028) 3514 0253

4th/12th Floor Rubyl Tower, 81-85 Ham Nghi, Q1 Tel: (028) 3821 9908 acific Cross Vietnam brings a first class level of service and expertise to the health and travel insurance market in Vietnam. Part of the Pacific Cross group of companies with over 60 years’ experience providing health and travel insurance to people who call Asia home, their reputation for transparent, honest and reliable service means they are the strength behind your insurance. Contact them now for a free quote.




THE LANDMARK CLUB GYM, POOL, SQUASH The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.

PETCARE VETERINARY HOSPITAL 124A Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 2505

SAIGON PET VETERINARY CLINIC 33 Street 41, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0909 063267

VERTICAL ACADEMY CLIMBING GYM Truc Duong, Q2, Tel: 0966 920612


16 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (028) 3898 9100 SHCMC — American Academy is a U.S. curriculum secondary school for students aged 11 to 18 years old. Early university credits, a 1:1 University Counseling Program, and an extensive EAL program set our graduates on the road to 100% acceptance rate at overseas universities and a US$1 million scholarship fund.



8FL, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: (028) 3933 0065 ith 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 for info.



92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (028) 2222 7788/99 ietnam’s only international school offering a U.S. curriculum for children aged 18 months to 11 years old. With 100% English language immersion, a library containing over 13,500 English books and more than 60% of students achieving above grade level English, ISSP students are well prepared for secondary school at ISHCMC or ISHCMC - American Academy.



5th Floor, Lafayette De Saigon, 8A Phung Khac Khoan, Q1, Tel: (028) 3521 0071 global leader in international removals and relocations, with 130 offices globally, we can move your property to and from any location. Has offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

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aspas on Dong Khoi is a bit of an institution in Ho Chi Minh City; a drinking and eating staple on the famous street for 12 years and counting. The Al Fresco Group-owned bar and restaurant has recently reopened after a thorough makeover. The refurbishment has seen the space open up — with much larger windows and cleaner, more neutral colours befitting the more international outlook they are hoping to

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achieve. Photos of the old Saigon on the walls remind the clientele that it’s not a total break from the past— but the design is much more modern and in keeping with the 21st century.

Upstairs, Downstairs Nathan, the brand manager of Jaspas, says that with so much change going on in Ho Chi Minh City, it was the right time to give the place a facelift. This spirit has extended to their food and drinks menu too; Nathan says that

they’ve been influenced by healthy food from Hong Kong, alongside their familiar favourites such as their New Zealand Waikato beef (VND450,000 for a 250g sirloin) and Australian black angus (VND625,000 for a 200g rib-eye). Burgers start at VND225,000 with thick chips and a side salad. Upstairs caters more for diners, while downstairs focuses on drinkers. Nathan says they are not trying to compete with the highend cocktail bars in the city, but the selections



on offer from the eclectic cocktail menu are very good. I try the Banoffi Scotch (VND145,000) which is excellent. Banana and scotch whisky don’t seem like the most natural bedfellows but they complement each other well, beneath the smattering of nutmeg powder. I also try the Jaspas ginger spice — which is a gin-based cocktail featuring ginger ale, fresh ginger and a sizeable jalapeno chilli perched on the glass. It manages to be both spicy and refreshing.

Beer and Smoothies Tiger draught (VND55,000) and Heineken (VND60,000) are available, along with the other bottled beers you’d expect to find at a bar that caters to a mainstream clientele. They’ve also expanded their wine list, which now includes almost 70 different reds or whites. To draw in the after-work crowd, there is a 4pm to 7pm happy hour, with a buy-two-get-one-free offer on a range of spirits and beer.

Jaspas also has a range of speciality smoothie flavours such as avocado and coconut, aloe vera and mixed fruit and frozen berry delight (VND90,000). As it begins its new chapter, Jaspas still has its prime location on a corner of one of Saigon’s most famous streets, and it’s still a good place to stop by for a drink or bite to eat with friends. Jaspas is located at 33 Dong Khoi, Q1, HCMC | August 2017 Word | 165

HCMC On The Town

BARS 2 LAM SON (MARTINI BAR) TOP-END INTERNATIONAL Park Hyatt, 2 Lam Son, Q1, Tel: (028) 3824 1234 International décor blends seamlessly with local themes. Style joins forces with a wideranging drink menu and hip dance tunes to create one of the most tasteful if pricier bars in Saigon.

ACOUSTIC BAR LIVE MUSIC 6E Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, Tel: (028) 3930 2239

APOCALYPSE NOW DANCE / NIGHTCLUB 2B-C-D Thi Sach, Q1, Tel: (028) 3825 6124

BIA CRAFT CRAFT BEER BAR 90 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 2588; 1 Le Ngo Cat, Q3 As craft beer continues to take over watering holes

around Ho Chi Minh City, so bars dedicated to all things ‘craft’ and ‘real ale’ are pretty sensible, right? With wooden tables perfect for sharing, and beer both on tap and by the bottle, Bia Craft sells up a delectable range of the good stuff. Looking for Tiger? Go take a hike. Also has a decent food menu.


GASTROPUB / CRAFT BEER 159 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: (028) 3910 0485 TheBelgianCraftBeerBrewery Located within a lion’s roar of Saigon Zoo and a block or two from Dien Bien Phu, Belgo is a craft beer pub specialising in Belgian beer and food. With barebrick walls and decor with an industrial edge, Belgo also caters for parties, is good for groups, and has outdoor seating.



CONTEMPORARY THAI RESTOBAR 12-14 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel (028) 6253 7711 he Racha Room delivers Thai accented Pan-Asian cuisine with a focus on high quality ingredients. Racha features a large selection of spirits at a seated bar and high table to ensure drinking along with eating remains central to the experience. The current and future of Asian-inspired drinking and dining is right here at the Racha Room.



CONTEMPORARY STEAKHOUSE 44 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel (028) 3826 8691 ne of the world’s oldest culinary techniques — grilling over a wood fire. Stoker kitchen uses different woods to infuse foods with different smoky flavours. These techniques revolutionize live fire cooking by providing precise heat control through the use of a grilling surface that can be adjusted to different cooking heights above the hot coals.


MAD COW WINE & GRILL WINE & GRILL Pullman Saigon Centre, 148 Tran 30th Floor, Pullman Saigon Centre, 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (028) 3838 8639 five-star setting with breathtaking views of Saigon provides mouthwatering steaks together with handpicked wines at retail prices. The Mad Cow signature dishes include Grass Fed Angus Beef Tartar, served tableside, Lamb Gnocchi, BBQ Whole Seabass, Black Angus Beef Rib and the Mad Beef Burger.


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Tel: (028) 3836 8452

BROMA, NOT A BAR COCKTAILS / ROOFTOP 41 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 6838

BUDDHA BAR RESTOBAR 7 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 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.

CHILL SKYBAR TOP-END BAR & TERRACE Rooftop, AB Tower, 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 2372 For the spectacular views alone, Chill Skybar remains the place to go to mix topend, outdoor terrace drinking around an oval-shaped bar with cityscapes of Saigon. One of the top watering holes in the city.

SPORTS BAR 55, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 5453 What does the Thao Dien area of Saigon seriously lack? A sports bar. And this is the Al Fresco Group’s answer to a distinct shortage hole in the market. Sleek lines, modern décor, elegant and spacious, dartboards and of course, lots of large screens to watch the televised sports. Check out their daily food specials.

DUBLIN GATE IRISH PUB & RESTAURANT 19 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (028) 6656 1103 irishpubsaigon Typical of Irish pubs the world over, The Dublin Gate has a fun, welcoming atmosphere and offers a break from the craft beer scene taking a hold over the city. The Dublin Gate is just a short walk from the Opera House, is open from 7.30am and has a pool table for a break between football matches, live bands and all that Irish charm.


GOURMET BURGER BAR 44 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: 01207 214294; 105-107 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: 0909 004294 elish & Sons burgers are lovingly made with a healthy food philosophy in mind and fresh high quality ingredients. The beef patties are 100% Australian grass-fed; the buns are made with a reduced sugar and salt content. Burger relishes such as chutneys are all made in-house from scratch.



APPAREL COMPANY 1870/3G An Phu Dong 3, Q12, Tel: (028) 3719 9588 p p a re l c o m p a n y o ff e r i n g personalised sport garments for companies, schools and professional sports clubs using the latest printing technology with a design team from Barcelona. Score-Tech controls the whole production process from fabric production and printing to sewing. Big and small orders for all sporting and commercial needs.


EAST WEST BREWING CO. VENUE & BREWERY 181-185 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 If you love craft beer and want to catch a glimpse of the brewing process in a contemporary yet vast and thoughtfully constructed environment, head to East West. A tasty range of on-site brewed craft beer mixes with an excellent food menu and an impressive vibe.

EON HELI BAR LOUNGE BAR Level 52, Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (028) 6291 8750

ENVY NIGHTCLUB 76 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1, Tel: (028) 3913 8168 envyclubsaigon Located a short stroll from Ben Thanh Market, Envy has taken nightlife in Saigon to a whole new level with its


BUTCHERS 1 Street 2, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 2565; 401 Pham Thai Buong H11-2, My Khanh 3, Q7, Tel: (028) 5412 5228 ocusing on the retail trade, the meat at this Australian-managed butcher comes pre-prepared and, if you so wish, pre-marinated. Sells up some of the best imported meats in town together with homemade sausages, free-range products and excellent Australian grass-fed steak.


theatrical performances and beautiful people swinging by the ankles tethered from the ceiling. Attracts international DJs and the rich and famous, but expect to pay for the experience.

GAME ON SPORTS BAR 115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1 Tel: (028) 6251 9898 A fresh feel thanks to the large space and light-wood tables makes this Australian-influenced watering hole a popular bar for televised sports, pub food, darts, pool and more.


night off or end it in a chilled atmosphere.

46-48 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1


EXPAT BAR 44 Pasteur, Q1 The original expat bar, this institution of a place gets packed every night thanks to its drinking hall atmosphere, attractive bar staff and German food menu. Has regular live music.

CUBAN / MUSIC BAR 152 Le Lai, Q1, HCMC, Tel: (028) 3925 9838 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. Located just across the park from De Tham, this popular watering hole brings in expats and tourists alike.


CRAFT BEER PUB 31D Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: 0903 017596 heartofdarknessbrewery The home of its eponymously named craft beer, Heart of Darkness features up to 20 different beers on tap at any given time with each one having a name that pays homage to Joseph Conrad’s novel. There’s also a sports bar and a space for live shows with pizzas cooked onsite by 4Ps. Enter the darkness.

BAR & EATERY 63 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 2279 LaylaEateryandBarHCM Housed on the 2nd floor of a former apartment overlooking Dong Khoi, Layla is a nice option for a bottle of wine, a few cocktails and carefully crafted sharing dishes. Here you can lounge after work on a comfy couch or pull a surprise party for a loved one. Behind the 11-metre-long bar mixologists create their magic.



CZECH BREWHOUSE 28 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1, Tel: (028) 3825 8605 The original microbrewery, this large, wooden-panelled, brasskegged Czech Brewhouse is as popular as it was 15 years ago when it was first opened. Does a great food menu to accompany the home-brewed beer.

INDIKA BAR, CAFÉ & RESTAURANT 43 Nguyen Van Giai, Q1, Tel: 0122 3994260 IndikaSaigon From movie screenings, DJs, acoustic sessions, and open mics, Indika just about has it covered for all types throughout the week. Located just away from the inner city mangle, Indika is still close enough to kick your

AFTERHOURS LOUNGE 59 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (028) 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 PUB INTERNATIONAL / RESTOBAR 175/22 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (028) 3837 7679

LONG PHI FRENCH / RESTOBAR 207 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (028) 3837 2704



O’BRIEN’S IRISH BAR / INTERNATIONAL 74/A3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.

PHATTY’S AUSTRALIAN / SPORTS 46-48 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.

PITCHERS SPORTS AND GRILL SPORTS BAR & GRILL RESTAURANT C0.01 Riverside Residence C, Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7, Tel: (028) 6274 1520 Located in the heart of Phu My Hung, this spacious restobar with an affection for showing televised sports has a family friendly edge thanks to its kids play area. Does a great grill menu and of course, lots of very cold beer for those developing a thirst in the Saigon heat.

QUI LOUNGE INTERNATIONAL BAR & LOUNGE 22 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (028) 3828 8828 A recently opened, stylish top-

end bar with a house DJ that is the plaything of Saigon’s jetset and anyone who is prepared to pay for atmosphere and one of the most hedonistic venues in town. Has an excellent food menu and a tasty brunch.

ROGUE SAIGON CRAFT BEER PUB 13 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: 0902 365780 Hidden on the upper floors of a crumbly old building in the heart of the city, Rogue Saigon is a hideout for craft beer lovers. Tricky to find, once you’re at the address, look up and you’ll see it. There’s a rooftop bar with excellent views of the neighbourhood and plenty of local craft brews on tap. Finger food tops off a chilled atmosphere with live music out in the open air.

RUBY SOHO CARTOON BAR S52-1 Sky Garden 2, Q7, Tel: (028) 5410 3900 A Phu My Hung mainstay thanks to its cartoon décor and light but fun ambience. Has a reasonable food menu to complement the drinks.

SAIGON SOUL POOL PARTY POOL & DAY CLUB New World Saigon Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1 The ultimate in poolside entertainment, Saigon Soul is defined by its great party atmosphere. Booming house music, cold drinks and beautiful people. What better way to spend a Saturday? Runs every Saturday from late November until mid May.

SAIGON OUTCAST EVENTS / MAKESHIFT CAFÉ BAR 188/1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0902 365780 Up-cycling and innovative design form the foundation for this bar / arts venue / mini-skate park and graffiti space. Home to numerous events and markets, Saigon Outcast also houses a | August 2017 Word | 167



afés need to find their own particular niche, and Mockingbird Cafe has done just that. Sat on the fourth floor of the first apartment building ever built in Saigon, the space mixes retro with funky vibes and is both a hideaway and a place to meet friends. The building which Mockingbird calls home is on Ton That Dam and was built in the 19th century. It used to be a residential block but has now been turned into a space for a number of artsy cafés and stores. The entrance to the building may seem a bit shady as you are welcomed by fuse boxes and electric wires on your left, and an old staircase on the other side. To help the patrons and newcomers, a handmade

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directory of the stores and cafés in the building is found on the right side of the staircase.

Comfort and Simplicity The three owners of Mockingbird Café come from different backgrounds. Dong Lam Thanh Tung is an urban planner. Co-owner Duong Ngoc Thuy has worked in the education and PR industries, while Pham Thi Anh Phuc is an interior designer. They mashed their ideas, and together with their love of Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, they created their first and only café in Saigon. “We don’t have other branches because we want to focus on this one. We want to sell a good

atmosphere to our customers.” The café entrance is quite dim, only lit by fairy lights with a bit of natural light coming from the balcony. On the right, there’s a shelf filled with a collection of handmade paper action figures and old CDs; on the left is the café bar. The walls seemed unfinished yet the effect goes well with the overall atmosphere. It is also accented with wooden frames and some calligraphy work written in chalk made by Tung. Right past the bar and just before the door to the balcony is a corner with a small round table and woven benches that double up as containers. The wall is also plastered with pages from old books. Walk a bit further to your right and

Mockingbird Cafe


you’ll reach the main seating area of the café which sits in complete contrast to the entrance. This main area is bright as it has a wide glass window giving you a view of the buildings nearby and the Saigon River. Tables and chairs are mismatched, adding to the vintage vibe.

Vietnamese Coffee The café celebrates Vietnamese-style coffee. Thuy’s personal favourite is their version of ca phe sua da, which is sweeter if compared to other cafés and costs VND40,000. If you want something stronger, then get their ca phe da for VND37,000. Their often-photographed drink is the coffee with ice cream, which

is a ca phe sua da topped with coconut ice cream. This drink and dessert in one is both eye candy and a thirst quencher; it goes for VND60,000. These drinks are best paired with a cake, like passion fruit cheesecake, tiramisu, Oreo mousse, and green tea mousse, which are priced at VND40,000 for a slice. One of the first establishments opened in the building and one of the longest running, Mockingbird Café is well known by students and workers. They have hot or iced fruit teas and juices that are priced from VND45,000 to VND60,000, and yoghurt mixed drinks which can cost from VND50,000 to VND60,000. Office workers also swing by before or after dinner for a

nightcap and to enjoy some cocktails that are priced from VND65,000. If you can’t decide between coffee or liquor, you can try their coffee with rum for VND55,000 or the coffee with Baileys for VND60,000. There are no elevators in the building, and it may be quite a workout getting up the stairs, but once you arrive at Mockingbird Café you will feel that it’s worth it. It can be a hideout for those who want to get some work done or enjoy some alone time, as well as a great meeting place. — JB Jance Mockingbird Café is at 4th Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, HCMC and is open from 9am to 11pm. For more info visit mockingbirdcoffee | August 2017 Word | 169

HCMC On The Town

Push outdoor climbing wall, providing courses and a variety of climbimg activities.


5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 9698 vespersaigon

renders a great spot to relax. The mouth-watering western menu is well-priced and maintains a creative flair.



ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT 5/7 Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (028) 7300 0559 saigonranger

MUSIC & SPORTS BAR 70 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: 0907 890623

CONTEMPORARY CAFE 34D Thu Khoa Huan, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 2910




LIVE MUSIC / ROOFTOP BAR 9th Floor, Caravelle Saigon, 19-23 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 4999



CAFÉ / LOUNGE BAR 71-75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.

DANISH / INTERNATIONAL 5B Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 4738




BAR, ART & DJ SPACE 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, (Opposite Elisa Boat) Known for its late night parties and focus on international artists, Observatory is now at a bigger space in District 4. Complete with a new balcony overlooking the Saigon River and an even larger sound system, The Observatory is a key node in the Asian underground music circuit.

THE SOCIETY GRILL AND LOUNGE BAR 99 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (028) 3914 3999 TheSocietyHCM Designed as a Lanewaystyle restobar, the kind of place found in Hong Kong, London, New York or Central Melbourne, thanks to its indoor and outdoor ambience, The Society brings dining and drinking to a new level. Phenomenal cocktails, steaks, grilled fare and seafood make this a place to go for drinks, a full-blown meal or a mixture of both.


EXPAT & SPORTS BAR R2-24 Hung Gia 3, Bui Bang Doan, Q7, Tel: (028) 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.


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DALAT COFFEE HOUSE 11A-B Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 6281 9772 A cozy and comfortable cafe in Thao Dien serving excellent fresh coffee from Dalat, smoothies, juices, homemade desserts. Offers up tasty breakfasts, lunch and dinner all the way through until 9pm.


159A Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: 0918 115657


INTERNATIONAL 157-159 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1; Metropolitan Building, 235 Dong Khoi, Q1 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.

GUANABANA SMOOTHIES CONTEMPORARY JUICE BAR 23 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: 0909 824830 An American-style juice bar and café dedicated to healthy, nutricious smoothies that avoid the local obsession with sugar and condensed milk. A pleasant, contemporary environment adds to the theme.

HIDEAWAY INTERNATIONAL 41/1 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3, Tel: (028) 3822 4222 Hidden in a colonial building with an outdoor courtyard, the ample soft, sofa seating

CAFE AND ON-SITE ROASTING 40 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (028) 6685 4160

L’USINE CONTEMPORARY / FRENCH First Floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (028) 6674 9565; 70B Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (028) 3521 0703 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.

MOCKINGBIRD CAFE 4th Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 0935 293400 mockingbirdcoffee

THE LOOP HEALTHY CAFÉ FARE / BAGELS 49 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel. (028) 3602 6385 Low-key yet nice-on-theeye décor helps create the café-style atmosphere at this European-influenced café and restaurant. Sells excellent coffee and if you like bagels, here you’ll be in heaven.

THE MORNING CAFE 2nd Floor, 36 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: 0938 383330

THE OTHER PERSON CAFE 2nd Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 0909 670272 TheOtherPersonCafe

THE PRINT ROOM CONTEMPORARY CAFE 158 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 4990

THINGS CAFE 1st Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: (028) 6678 6205

M M M EAT - CHINESE KABIN CANTONESE Renaissance Riverside Hotel, 8–15 Ton Duc Thang.

Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 0033

SAN FU LOU CANTONESE KITCHEN Ground Floor, AB Building, 76A Le Lai, Q1 Tel: (028) 3823 9513

SHANG PALACE RESTAURANT PAN-CHINESE / CANTONESE Norfolk Mansion, 1719-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 2221

YU CHU TOP-END PAN-CHINESE 1st Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, crn.of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (028) 3520 9999 intercontinental. com/saigon

EAT – FRENCH L’OLIVIER FRENCH/MEDITERRANEAN Sofitel Saigon Plaza, 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.

BABA’S KITCHEN NORTH / SOUTH INDIAN 164 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (028) 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. Has a delivery outlet in District 2.

GANESH PAN-INDIAN 74 A2 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 38229366 padamjivietnam@ Located opposite Martini Bar, this relative newcomer to the dining scene with its bright decor serves up mainly North Indian cuisine with a large vegetarian selection as well as South Indian curries, dosa, vada and uthapam.Meat curries cost from VND100,000 to VND120,000.


FRENCH / MEDITERRANEAN 48 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (028) 2229 8882

INTERNATIONAL 27 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (028) 38238424 The downtown outlet of one of Vietnam’s most successful restaurant chains, Al Fresco’s offers international, Australianinfluenced comfort fare in a pleasant environment with efficient, friendly service to match. Also has an excellent garden-style branch at 89 Xuan Thuy, Q2.




CONTEMPORARY FRENCH 5D Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 0671 Open for lunch and set dinner, this beautifully designed restaurant and bar seamlessly mixes contemporary and with classic. With a menu cooked up by reputed chef Sakal Phoeung, and with a contemporary twist to traditional French fare, this is a place to enjoy the luxuries of fine cuisine and even finer wine.

LE JARDIN CLASSIC FRENCH 31 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (028) 3825 8465

EAT – INDIAN ASHOKA NORTH INDIAN / CHINESE INDIAN 17/10 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 1372; 33 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel : (028) 3744 4177 ashokaindianrestaurant. com

BRAZILIAN CHURRASCO 238 Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (028) 3820 7157

AU PARC EUROPEAN / CAFÉ 23 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (028) 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 greentiled décor.

BOAT HOUSE AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL 40 Lily Road, An Phu Superior Compound, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 6790 A revamp has seen this riverside restaurant get a new management and a new menu — think American-style burgers, sliders and Tex-Mex together with soup and salad and you’ll get the idea. Excellent nachos and frozen margaritas.



INTERNATIONAL / GRILL CR2 3-4, 107 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (028) 5413 6592

INTERNATIONAL FUSION The Square, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.

CHI’S CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE 40/31 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (028) 3837 2502 This affable café is a rarity in the backpacker area for its genuinely good musical playlist. Excellent, build-your-own breakfasts, baked potatoes, toasties, Vietnamese fare and more. Has a popular motorbike rental service.

CORSO STEAKHOUSE / INTERNATIONAL 117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (028) 3829 5368

ELBOW ROOM AMERICAN 52 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (028) 3821 4327

EL GAUCHO ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 2090; Unit CR1-12, The Crescent, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (028) 5413 6909

EON51 FINE DINING TOP-END EUROPEAN / ASIAN Level 51, Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (028) 6291 8750

HOG’S BREATH CAFÉ AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL Ground Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (028) 3915 6066

LA HABANA CUBAN / GERMAN 152 Le Lai, Q1, HCMC, Tel: (028) 3925 9838 Although themed as a Cuban restaurant, this long-running local favourite also serves up hard-to-get German favourites such as curry wurst and Wiener schnitzel. With a food menu that combines Cuban dishes with Spanish-style tapas, and a bar that serves up great mojitos, La Habana attracts an eclectic crowd of tourists and expats.

LU BU CONTEMPORARY MEDITERRANEAN 97B Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (028) 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.

MAD HOUSE CONTEMPORARY CAFE, BAR, RESTAURANT 6/1/2 Nguyen U Di, Q2, Tel: (028) 3519 4009; Duong C — Bac, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (028) 5417 1234 Set over a pool in a leafy, tropical garden, the beautiful rustic décor is matched by a darkwood, aircon interior. Subtle lighting and an attention to details is matched by some of the best contemporary cuisine in the city, all with a European influence. Also has an extensive wine list, a good selection of imported beers and a happy hour. Has a second restaurant in Phu My Hung.

MEKONG MERCHANT INTERNATIONAL CAFE FARE / SEAFOOD 23 Thao Dien, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 6478 info@mekongmerchant. com The rustic looking, bananaleaf roofed Mekong Merchant has long been the place in An Phu. Set around a cobblestoned courtyard the cuisine includes gourmet seafood and pastas. Bakery-style Bistro out front.

NINETEEN INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN Ground floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 4999

PITCHERS SPORTS AND GRILL SPORTS BAR & GRILL RESTAURANT C0.01 Riverside Residence C, Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7, Tel: (028) 6274 1520 Located in the heart of Phu My Hung, this spacious restobar with an affection for showing televised sports has a family friendly edge thanks to its kids play area. Does a great grill menu and of course, lots of very cold beer for those developing a thirst in the Saigon heat.


Tel: (028) 3822 9838


Tel: (028) 3822 4798


US-STYLE BARBECUE 168 Vo Van Kiet, Q1, Tel: (028) 3914 4500

CONTEMPORARY EUROPEAN 23rd Floor, Centec Tower, 72– 74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3, Tel: (028) 3827 9631


MODERN ASIAN FUSION 38 Nguyen U Di, Q2, Tel: (028) 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.

FRENCH BISTRO / INTERNATIONAL The Square, 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.

RIVERSIDE CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN Renaissance Riverside, 8–15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 0033

SAIGON CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / BUFFET Level 1, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (028) 3827 2828

SANCHO CANTINA TEX-MEX 207 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 0901 268226 sanchocantina This hole-in-the-wall sized Mexican cantina is located bang on party street Bui Vien towards the Cong Quynh end. It maybe small, but it’s big in flavour. Sancho’s will quell those Mexicali cravings once and for all — the burritos are huge. It’s also an excellent place to watch the mayhem unfolding on the street over a craft beer or three.



THE SOCIETY GRILL AND LOUNGE BAR 99 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (028) 3914 3999 TheSocietyHCM Designed as a Lanewaystyle restobar, the kind of place found in Hong Kong, London, New York or Central Melbourne, thanks to its indoor and outdoor ambience, The Society brings dining and drinking to a new level. Phenomenal cocktails, steaks, grilled fare and seafood make this a place to go for drinks, a full-blown meal or a mixture of both.

VESPER GOURMET LOUNGE INTERNATIONAL Landmark Building, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 9698 vespersaigon Headed up by well-known chef Andy Ertle, Vesper is a sophisticated yet downto-earth cocktail bar and restaurant with subtle lighting and a great spirit selection. Serves creative, Japanese and German-influenced cuisine to supplement the drinks and has a separate dining space.

ZOOM CAFÉ AMERICAN / TEX-MEX 169A Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.

EAT – ITALIAN CIAO BELLA NEW YORK-ITALIAN 11 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 3329 saigonrestaurantgroup. com

PENDOLASCO PAN-ITALIAN 87 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (028) 3821 8181; 36 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel: (028) 6253 282 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. Has a second branch in District 2.

EAT – JAPANESE INAHO SUSHI / SASHIMI 4 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: (028) 3829 0326

OSAKA RAMEN JAPANESE NOODLES 18 Thai Van Lung, Q1; SD04, Lo H29-2, KP My Phat, Phu My Hung, Q7

SORAE SUSHI SAKE LOUNGE Level 24, AB Tower, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: 0938 687689 Set over two floors, this astonishing, no-expensespared Japanese restaurant | August 2017 Word | 171



hat makes a place a city? Is a city a collection of roads and buildings or the area within a line drawn on a map? What makes a place urban? The density of large buildings? The density of people?

A Web of Relationships Ms. Thao had a café in the alley behind our building. Every morning when I arrived at our small office, I would walk to the back window and call down to her. She made my morning coffee in her own kitchen (exactly as I liked it with extra condensed milk) and brought it up to my desk in one of her own cups with a saucer and a tiny tin spoon. Her brother, Mr. Hieu, was a xe om driver who worked in front of our building. A consummate professional, he drove his Honda Cub motorcycle with economy and precision, just aggressively enough to balance safety with speed. He rode old school — straight backed in a neatly pressed blue shirt, quickly delivering whatever needed delivering (sometimes myself) wherever it needed to go, near or far, rain or shine, desk to desk. In free moments, he played chess under the tree, sometimes at the centre of 10 or 12 onlookers, slapping the pieces down with cheerful authority, though I suspect he wasn't a grand master. When I got my own motorbike I rode less with Mr. Hieu, though he remained essential

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for lunch and deliveries. Eventually I needed a bike mechanic. Mr. Thiep worked outside of a café I frequented. The café is now gone, but Thiep still patches my flat tyres, checking them in a pan of water collected from nearby air-conditioner runoff pipes, then slipping off his sandals to expertly work the tyre back onto the rim with his feet. Sometimes he disassembles my bike in front of my eyes to clean obscure engine parts I have immersed in floodwaters. A man with a seemingly instinctive knowledge of bikes, he is restless unless he is working. Down the street, Mr. Cuong sells reclaimed newspapers and magazines. He knows my favourites, finding and saving them for me, occasionally presenting me the rare prize of a New Yorker magazine. He is relentlessly energetic, with a high-pitched cry that cuts through the traffic sounds to catch my attention. Nearby, an older couple sells com tam bi on the sidewalk in the morning. They recognize me, the lady prepares my food and the old man speaks a few words to me in English as he brings me my breakfast. I sit and contemplate the Art Deco buildings across the street as people quickly pass through, eat and go off to work.

A Landscape of Humanity Maybe a city is an urban landscape that

promotes personal relationships between human beings. Perhaps a city is a product of its urban design and architecture, but the buildings themselves are not the actual city. The true city is a landscape of humanity where you can live your daily life among people — you can know them and be known by them. Here, small-scale shophouses enable family-owned businesses. The loose definition of public space promotes mobile micro-businesses. The tiny winding hems naturally slow down traffic, enabling them to become social spaces rather than simply thoroughfares. The sheer number of people relaxing, socializing and doing business on the streets makes life a cooperative process. It’s more convenient, less isolated and much safer. Unfortunately, cities like these are becoming more and more rare in the world, but happily, Ho Chi Minh city remains rich in its humanity. So, take a walk. Have coffee on the street and enjoy your city. Archie Pizzini, PhD, is a design principal at Hoanh Tran Archie Pizzini Architects and has practiced and taught in Ho Chi Minh City for several years. He studies the urban landscape of Vietnam with a special focus on making and improvisation. Archie can be contacted at


On The Town and lounge brings to Saigon the type of environment and ambience you’d expect of New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai. With the décor comes a modern take on Japanese fare. A place to see and be seen.

EAT – THAI CORIANDER THAI / VIETNAMESE 16 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (028) 3837 1311 A small, homely Vietnameseowned Thai restaurant that over the past decade has quite rightly gained a strong local and expat following. Try their pad thai — to die for.

KOH THAI CONTEMPORARY THAI FUSION Level 1, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.

EAT – VIETNAMESE 3T QUAN NUONG VIETNAMESE BBQ Top Floor, 29 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (028) 3821 1631 The original, on-the-table barbecue restaurant still goes strong thanks to its rooftop atmosphere, excellent service and even better fish, seafood and meats. An institution.

CAFÉ IF VIETNAMESE FRENCH 38 Dang Dung, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.

HOA TUC CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE The Square, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 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: (028) 3823 1101; The Crescent, 103 Ton Dat Tien, Q7, Tel: (028) 2210 2304 If you’re looking for midrange, aircon Vietnamese restaurants that just seem to do every dish perfectly, then Hoang Yen really is the place to go. The atmosphere may be a bit sterile, but its amply made up for by the efficient service and excellent cuisine. Now with a number of restaurants around town.

TRADITIONAL VIETNAMESE 8 Nguyen Van Nguyen, Q1, Tel: (028) 3602 2241; 17A Ngo Van Nam, Q1, Tel: (028) 3829 1515

KOTO TRAINING RESTAURANT CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE 3rd Floor Rooftop, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1. Tel: (028) 3822 9357 The restaurant associated with the KOTO vocational training school. All the staff — from bar tenders and waiting staff through to the chefs — come from disadvantaged backgrounds and are being trained on the jon in hospitality. Serves up tasty Vietnamese cuisine, to boot!

LUONG SON PAN-VIETNAMESE 31 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (028) 3825 1330 A typical Vietnamese-style quan nhau, this fan-cooled downtown eating and drinking haunt is famed for two things: it’s on the table, grill-it-yourself bo tung xeo (marinated beef) and oddities such as sautéed scorpion. A great place to take out-of-town guests.

NAM GIAO HUE CUISINE 136/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (028) 38 250261; 116 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (028) 3925 9996 If you want to take friends, relatives or people out of town to eat Hue-style street food in a hygienic yet downto-earth environment, Nam Giao is the place. Not only is it well-priced, but the bun bo Hue, bun thit nuong, com hen, banh bot loc and other such dishes are excellent.




PAN-VIETNAMESE 29-31 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (028) 3829 9244

VIETNAMESE STEAKHOUSE 200 Bis Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3; 157 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (028) 3930 3917




VEGAN 9 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (028) 3821 2538

BUN CHA 26/1A Le Thanh Ton, Q1



62 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 2166; 111 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (028) 3821 8971; 226 De Tham, Q1, Tel: (028) 3837 5097






COM TAM 40A Quoc Huong, Q2



COM TAM 84 Dang Van Ngu, Phu Nhuan

MI QUANG 38 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1


BUN BO HUE 189 Bis Bui Vien, Q1

BO KHO Alleyway to the left of 162 Tran Nhan Tong, Q10





PHO DAU PHO BO 288/M1 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3

PHO HOA PHO BO & PHO GA 260C Pasteur, Q3

PHO LE PHO BO 413-415 Nguyen Trai, Q5


BANH KHOT 102 Cao Thang, Q3

PHO BO 146E Ly Chinh Thang, Q3



VIETNAMESE BANH MI 62 Nguyen Van Trang, Q1



PHO BO 339 Le Van Sy, Tan Binh

SUSHI KO STREET SUSHI 122/37/15 Vinh Khanh, Q4






VIETNAMESE BANH MI 107 Truong Dinh, Q3

HAINANESE CHICKEN RICE 67 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1, Tel: (028) 3821 7751 | August 2017 Word | 173

The Final Say

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Go Home Matcha, You’re Drunk Edward Dalton declares war on matcha, and anything else green for that matter. Photos by Julie Vola


ear Matcha, What is the point of you? You are green tea; why do you insist on trying to be more than that? Why do you want to ruin everything, and infect every Instagram post with your incessant, intolerable shade of goblin-vomit green?

Nothing Good is Green Type “green things” into Google images and you’ll see the first problem. Green things, in general, tend to suck. Broccoli and the Starbucks logo? Check. Venomous reptiles and the most irritating of all The Muppets? Check. And nobody ever threw a party themed around avocado, the bane of good breakfasts and nemesis of any millennial at the foot of the property ladder. A latte should be a magical thing; a caffeinated cup of bliss, where rich, brown espresso meets white, foamy milk, perhaps bedecked with a lopsided leaf or wonky heart. Thanks to places like Urban Station (2B Pham Ngoc Thach, Dong Da), you can now get a matcha latte, an abomination which looks like Shrek has sneezed into it. No thanks. It’s still summer, so maybe an iced drink would be more appealing. No dice, I’m afraid; matcha has stuck its grubby little claws into that refreshing retreat, too. Bubble tea from Coco (19 Le Dai Hanh, Hai Ba Trung), or an iced tea from Hanoi Sandwich House (8 Tay Ho, Tay Ho) were once things we could look forward to. But no longer, as their matcha bubble tea or iced matcha are now yours to enjoy; if anyone can enjoy a drink which looks like it was made by mixing water with the Hulk’s dandruff.

The Dessert Destroyer The matcha invasion goes to show that nothing is sacred anymore. Crème brûlée and tiramisu, two classic staples of the French

and Italian dessert menus, have now been tainted by that pointless powder. If you don’t believe me, I invite you to torment your taste buds with the matcha tiramisu at Xofa Café (14 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem) or the matcha crème brûlée at Jouri Dessert and Tea (10 Khuc Hao, Ba Dinh). Even ice cream hasn’t gone untarnished by the gross green brush. I agree that gelato can come in all flavours and colours. I just don’t agree that one of those flavours or colours should be Yoda’s Ballbag. If you disagree, then head to Gelato Italia (31 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho) and try their matcha gelato. Less creamy than gelato, but equally vile, the good name of ice cream has been desecrated at Fanny Ice Cream and Sorbet (2 Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem) where you will find matcha ice cream sitting alongside the proper flavours, thinking it belongs there. The popular Korean import, patbingsu, or “snow ice cream”, is traditionally made with shaved ice and red beans, while other varieties made with fruit or cookies are known as bingsu. However, if you’d prefer to try a variety of bingsu, which is to desserts what Scotland is to football, then check out the matcha bingsu at Pow Pow Snow (166E Doi Can, Ba Dinh) or Swaffles House (20 Hang Manh, Hoan Kiem).

be found on sale at most Circle Ks or big supermarkets, and is of course the loathsome matcha Kit Kat. As a semi-professional fat man, cake is one of the most important things in my life. Unfortunately, The Grinch has sprinkled his evil into the mixing bowl, resulting in the repulsive matcha cakes you can find almost anywhere around town.

Give a Gift of Hate I’m sorry matcha, but I will always hate you. The next time someone I despise has a birthday, I will buy them a matcha birthday cake from Madame Huong Dessert (39 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem) and laugh as they cry into it, wondering why it’s not chocolate or another real flavour. So in the meantime, matcha, keep gathering your strength at one of Hanoi’s many matcha cafes, such as Kool Off (54 Hoang Ngoc Phach, Dong Da), Yamamoto (65 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem) or Matcha Coffee 2NE1 (6 Le Van Huu, Hoan Kiem), and I will keep rallying individuals of more discerning taste to my cause. The Matcha Crusade is coming. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and don’t necessarily reflect those of Word Vietnam

Snot-Coloured Snacks Just like everyone knows that Bulbasaur, that unloved green mutant, is the worst of the grass-type Pokemon, it’s about time everyone knows that matcha is the worst variety of Kit Kat. Kit Kat have had some cracking varieties and special editions over the years; orange, mint, white or dark chocolate, peanut butter and strawberry have been some of the highlights. The indisputable low point, however, can | August 2017 Word | 175

The Final Say


Neil Doyle worked in market research in Vietnam in the 1990s. After a stint in Australia he’s returned. Here are his thoughts on the industry. Photo by Mike Palumbo When you started working in market research in Vietnam, what was the state of the industry here? In 1994 it was all very basic. Although the lead companies could offer the usual qualitative and quantitative approaches, the level of strategic insight was not very good. Looking back, our work was not great — but clients were typically starting from a very low level of knowledge about their customers, so even a fairly basic level of insight was appreciated.

What kind of projects did you work on? How interesting was it researching a new market? Market research generally is fascinating. Even a category that seems quite mundane can lead to amazing discussions. For example, a project on something as everyday as washing powder; you start by talking about blue speckles in washing powder and end up exploring really fascinating topics as to what it means to be a Vietnamese woman in their role in family and society. Some of my favourite FMCG work was in alcohol. The beer and spirit companies were some of our big clients and I spent many an evening in bia hoi bars around the country drinking and chatting to men in the name of ethnography.

At the time, what difficulties did you have getting people to respond to surveys? In the early days, we had excellent response rates. People were more likely to be at home for face-to-face interviews and open to take part. This has changed as response rates have dropped significantly. Vietnam needs to get up to speed with what is happening in the rest of the world in terms of data collection. Surveys are still way too long and are delivered in ways that are just not convenient or interesting.

How easy or difficult was it to get local firms to understand the benefits of market research? Many companies saw research as a cost rather than an investment. This still remains a key challenge not only in local but also many global companies here. The research industry is partly at fault. Too much research is still focussed on describing behaviour and attitudes rather than telling our clients how to influence it.

What led you to shift your work focus towards healthcare? When I started my business in Australia 10

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years ago, the focus on healthcare was partly a business decision and partly based out of personal interest. We felt that there were not many research companies that really understood the healthcare business and saw this as a far less competitive space. I think this is even truer in Asia, and we are very optimistic about what we can do in this part of the world.

How different was working in Australia to working in Vietnam? The big difference is the relationship you have with a client. Most of our clients in Australia are global health science companies and typically making multi-million dollar decisions based on the behavioural insights we deliver. They respect us and we respect them and we really feel a trusted partner. In Vietnam, clients can be quite prescriptive in the type of research they want to do rather than sharing what the business problem actually is.

What made you decide to come back? Much as I love my adopted home of Australia, Vietnam remains one of the most exciting places I have ever lived and worked in. There are few places in the world with the same amount of energy. Even though I was away for 12 years, I always felt I would be back here at some point. I see massive potential here in terms of not only the market but also the talent.

In terms of your industry, how much has Vietnam changed? One of the sad things about coming back is how little has changed. The market research industry globally is undergoing massive shifts in developing not only better methods but also better models of understanding human behaviour. Little of this is being applied here in Vietnam.

With so many firms now in the industry, how difficult is it to survive in market research in Vietnam? The market research industry has got itself into a dead-end. Too much focus on simply describing rather than understanding and influencing means as an industry we are not seen to add much value. Therefore, market research inevitably gets treated as a commodity. Because we are seen as a commodity we get beaten up on pricing.

What key insights are you able to give into this country’s present state of healthcare? As a healthcare marketer in Vietnam there are considerable challenges around cheaper generics and parallel imports. However, there is still scope for adding value in the face of similar and often cheaper products. The healthcare market in Vietnam is highly fragmented and we are finding that business opportunities are often in specific niches; a particular clinician personality and/ or patient profile. Meaningful segmentation is going to be critical to identify where you can win and where you cannot. Dr. Neil Doyle PhD works for DeltaMV. For more info click on

ISBN: 978-604-77-3469-6


Word Vietnam August 2017  

Everything you need to know about Vietnam and a little bit more. This month we survey our readers to get their thoughts on life Vietnam. The...

Word Vietnam August 2017  

Everything you need to know about Vietnam and a little bit more. This month we survey our readers to get their thoughts on life Vietnam. The...