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Chuyên đề du lịch, ẩm thực Vietnam Edition / Vol. 12 Tác Giả: Bao Ross

Contents Dec.2016




THE TALK 10 / Spiral Dynamics

24 / A Liquid Story

102 / Present Perfect

Trump, Vietnam and looking ahead

Is it a menu? Is it a book? Is it art? No, it’s cocktail art

11 / The Big Five

26 / The City Marathon

106 / Ashes & Pearls


EAT & DRINK 112 / Mystery Diner Hanoi

December in Vietnam

BRIEFINGS 12 / Amelie Lens

Saigon gets a 42km race and joins the big boys

One of Belgium’s up-and-coming DJs 64 / Gonzalo Marronkle touches down in Vietnam Forget Sergio Aguero. Vietnam’s got their own version

14 / Jose Gonzalez

He came, he saw, he played, but did he conquer?

16 / Portraits of the Past

Documenting the country’s 54 ethnic minorities

18 / Cinematheque is No More Commercialism comes up trumps

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66 / The Fishermen of Ho Tay

Christmas gifts, straight off the streets of Saigon The gem industry is big in Vietnam. Here’s some background

This month: Pacifica

114 / Hanoi’s Best Street Food Five of the capital’s best dishes and the best places to eat them

Life after death. Yes, the fishermen are back in force

118 / Mystery Diner HCMC

72 / The Word Awards

120 / Saigon’s Best Street Food

Brash, glitzy, outspoken, controversial and divisive, it’s the annual Word awards

On the menu: Baba’s Kitchen

If we can do it for Hanoi, we can do it for Saigon. The city’s best street food

Contents Dec.2016





162 / City Map

148 / The Therapist

124 / The Yangon Underground

HCMC 42 / To Do List

158 / Medical Buff

The rise of punk, metal and hip-hop in Myanmar’s capital

130 / Hon Ba

50 / Just In

A nature reserve south of Nha Trang. 164 / HCMC City Guide Get there before VinPearl does

138 / Notes From Another City HANOI 54 / To Do List 60 / Just In 140 / Hanoi City Guide 142 / Day Tripper 150 / Bar Stool 152 / Coffee Cup 156 / Top Eats

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168 / Day Tripper

178 / Terrence Taylor’s Saigon Stories 180 / Bar Stool 184 / Coffee Cup 188 / Top Eats 1 190 / Top Eats 2 196 / City Map COLUMNS 146 / The Alchemist

160 / Starting a Family 161 / Book Buff 170 / Body and Temple 172 / Location, Location, Location 174 / Know Your City 194 / A World of Good FINAL SAY 198 / $5 Helmets for $5 Heads

We like surveys. Here’s another one for you

200 / Ten 10

Hoi An-based novelist, Elka Ray


This month we asked our team to tell us about their best or worst memory of 2016. Harry Hodge Contributor My best memory is my son Payton being born on Jun. 9, healthy and big! (4.23kg) As for the worst, getting my face stitched up and bargaining for a new tooth with a local dentist a couple of days after a motorbike accident would be up there as my worst memories of the year. Edward Dalton Staff Writer My best memory must be seeing the look on my wife’s face as we unexpectedly pulled into the airport at the beginning of a surprise trip to Penang. Worst memory, which still fills me with crippling sadness to this day, was finding out Han Solo died before seeing the movie. Nick Ross Chief Editor My best was my trip to Pripyat, the abandoned Soviet city in Ukraine, 3km from Chernobyl. Worst? The loss of a loved one and its aftermath. Dealing with someone’s affairs after they’ve passed away is not straightforward. Mads Monsen Creative Director My best memory is to see Si Hoang giving Michelle Obama an ao dai using one of our custom designed lacquer boxes. My worst memory is having your moving company (that you used before) not to return from their break and telling you they are too tired to do the job. And you have to move that day and they have already moved 80% of the stuff outside by then. Billy Gray Contributor My best memory would be my trip to Mai Chau. The three-hour drive that turned into a nine-hour drive, the people I met there and ridiculous things that happened. It makes me chuckle whenever I think about it. My worst would be June. I was broke, absolutely nothing good happened in that month. I did learn to cook on a budget, though. Zoe Osborne Staff Writer All of my best, worst and most emotionally intense memories would have to be revolving around the road trip from Dalat to Kontum that Vy and I took earlier in the year. The people we met, the things we saw, the stuff we learnt, the rain we drove through... Incredible.

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EDITORIAL nick ross Chief Editor

vu ha kim vy Editorial Manager

MADs monsen Creative Director

Julie Vola Photo Editor

Bao Zoan Staff Photographer

Matthew Cowan Deputy Editor

Mike Palumbo Staff Photographer

Zoe Osborne Staff Writer

Jesse Meadows Staff Writer (Hanoi)

Nguyen Loc Layout Designer

Edward Dalton Staff Writer (Hanoi)

ADMINISTRATION bao ross General Director

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For advertising enquiries please call Ms Bao on +84 938 609689 or Ms Trinh on +84 936 269244 Special thanks to Peter Scott, Réhahn Croquevielle, Ally Muir, Gerald Herman, Nguyen Manh Hung, Vu Van Gioi, Tram Ngoc Pham, Mignon van Zyl, Richie Fawcett, Bady Pham, Richard Leech, Billy Gray, Annam Gourmet, Aurora International Preschool, REACH, Harry Hodge, Gonzalo Marronkle, Thomas Barrett, Guim Valls Teruel, Duong Manh Khang , Doan The Anh, Hai Vu, The Wordies Judges, Anupa, BIC Handmade Leather, Chum Nho T-shirt, Kolabkulture, O&M, The Bike Shop, GIA, Pacifica, Huyen Tran, Baba's Kitchen, Don Wills, Theo Lowenstein, Karen Gay, Douglas Holwerda, Nameless, Amelia Burns, Thuong Tra, Sasha Arefieva, Ke Quan, Dr. Jonathan Halevy, Lee Shayi, Truong Hoang, Phil Kelly, Greg Ohan, The Gin House, 1985 Cafe, Cafe-Restaurant, Phat's Dumpling House, Ed Haysom, Dana Mcnairn, Elka Ray and David Legard

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Mike Palumbo Staff Photographer My best memory of 2016 was when I traveled to Dalat and did a trek with friends from my hometown. The worst was losing my grandmother who was one of a kind and will be missed.

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Chuyên Đề Du Lịch & Ẩm Thực ISBN: 978-604-77-2501-4




6 | Word December 2016 |

CÔNG TY TNHH MTV NHÀ XUẤT BẢN THẾ GIỚI Trụ sở chính: 46 Trần Hưng Đạo, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội Tel: 04.3825.3841 – Fax: 04.3826.9578 Email: thegioi@ Website: www.

Chịu trách nhiệm xuất bản: TS. Trần Đoàn Lâm Biên tập: Phạm Trần Long Thiết kế mỹ thuật: Bao Ross Sửa bản in: Nick Ross Bìa: Duong Huynh Advertising JSC

LIÊN KẾT XUẤT BẢN VÀ PHÁT HÀNH Công Ty CP TM–DV–QC–Truyền Thông Dương Huỳnh 158A Võ Thị Sáu, Phường 8, Quận 3. Tp.HCM ĐT: + 84 8 3838 6908 Fax: + 84 8 3838 6971 Email: Website:

In 15.000 cuốn, khổ 20.5 x 27cm In tại Công Ty TNHH MTV In Trần Phú 71 – 73 – 75 Hai Bà Trưng, Q. 1, TP. HCM. Giấy xác nhận ĐKXB số: 1577-2016/ CXBIPH/16-86/ThG. Quyết định xuất bản số: 886/QĐ-ThG cấp ngày 24 tháng 11 năm 2016. In xong và nộp lưu chiểu tháng 12 năm 2016. Mã ISBN: 978-604-77-2501-4 SÁCH CHUYÊN đề QUẢNG CÁO



hen one of our Vietnamese staff told me that she thought all the silly awards we’ve dished out in this month’s cover story were “weird”, I found myself laughing. The comment was in response to me telling her how much I loved our Word Awards this year. Her reaction made me think. While there are awards and award ceremonies knocking around in Vietnam, rather than being the

norm, they’re a rarity. So when it comes to dishing out accolades for the best-dressed xe om driver or the angriest street seller or creating a fresh-offthe-boat award, for many people it just doesn’t make sense. For us, though, it does. There is much to laugh about in this weird and wonderful country, much that is alien to the way of life overseas yet here is seen as being normal. Likewise, there is much that happens overseas that for Vietnam is just

bizarre. So, why not comment on it — not in a negative way — but through using a system of dishing out awards? That is what we’ve tried to do. Whether you like it or not, or whether you will enjoy these awards as much as we have remains to be seen. But just in case you think we’ve been a little bit too silly, we’ve also got some serious accolades in there; the best restaurants, bars, cafes, bia hoi, fast food chains and travel destinations in Vietnam.

To put these together we created two online surveys — one for residents of Saigon and one for residents of Hanoi. Then we enlisted the help of 50 judges in each city, all of whom completed the surveys and gave us their votes. Their answers are both expected and unexpected, but they make for interesting reading. We hope you enjoy this year’s Word Awards. Wishing you all the best over the festive season! — Nick Ross, Chief Editor





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

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 nick@ wordvietnam. com — we’re at your fingertips.


Safe From Harm

November 2016 I was pleased to see the focus on women in Vietnam in your recent edition and especially the article that highlighted the issues of domestic violence in Vietnam (pages 80 to 81). However, I would like to add to the information provided under the sub heading ‘Shelters’. There are several longterm residential shelters that support women who are victims of human trafficking and domestic violence in Vietnam. The Centre for Women and Development (CWD) (a branch of the Vietnam Women’s Union) operates two shelters. Since we established the Domestic Violence Peace House Shelter we have supported over 600 women and children from 16 provinces and cities across the country. In our Human Trafficking Peace House Shelter we have supported 319 women and girls, from 16 ethnic groups from 46 provinces and cities. There are also shelters run by the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation and Hagar International. — Pam Price

(November 2016, page 10) Thank you for highlighting this issue, but it is getting worse. I am interested in getting a group of women together and holding a meeting about how woman can be more pro-active and gain a voice in Hanoi for this problem. For example, apparently pepper spray is not available to buy. You didn’t mention the Facebook group Hanoi Beautiful. It has three to four posts a week from girls who are being harassed. I would be interested in knowing if you have any ideas about how we go about this or know other interested parties who may want to help start a working group to petition authorities for more help with this issue. — RW

Great features for the Women’s issue. Sensitive but needs exposing. Bravo. — DB

It’s called rape, not ‘being taken advantage of’. Rape is a crime and should be named as such. Avoiding naming the crime minimises this woman’s experience and refuses to accept that this isn’t just a ‘problem’ for women. It’s a crime and the perpetrators should be punished accordingly. — CW After a sexual assault or rape, medical professionals in many countries follow a protocol that includes specific examinations, tests and the evidence collection to be used against any suspects. There are also trained professionals for counselling. It’s too bad that this didn’t happen in this situation. I don’t know if there are any standard protocols in place for this in Vietnam, and if not, it’s something that should be rectified. — JF | December 2016 Word | 9

Talk Lead the talk

lead article

Spiral Dynamics Trump, Vietnam and looking ahead


he worldwide reaction to the election of Donald Trump has been astonishing. Elation, grief, devastation, triumph, gloating and the resurgence of an irritating little man called Nigel Farage. But what does this mean in the grand scheme of things and how might it affect Vietnam? Certainly there is a connection to the fate of the Weimar Republic in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. The general public became disillusioned with politicians, which led to the rise of popularism and a polarisation of Germans between the extreme right and the extreme left. The extreme right came out victorious. But another concept — Spiral Dynamics — may hold even more clues.

Spiral Dynamics Spiral dynamics provides a model of worldviews based on patterns of thinking called vMemes. These patterns, each given a colour, provide a schema through which we see the world and which can be applied to people as individuals and societies. There are eight dominant vMemes — four of them are valid for this argument. Red. Exploitative, rough, might-makes-right, harsh, feudalistic, rugged authoritarianism, finds expression in slavery or virtual slavery, exploitation of unskilled labour. Generally run by a top boss and a series of proxies, with strict division between haves and have-nots. Blue. Authoritarian, loyal to the truth and absolutist. You’re with us or you’re against us. Purposeful and patriotic, leads people to obey authority and feel guilty when not conforming to group norms. Discipline is strict but fair and often public. Orange. Entrepreneurial with an orientation towards personal success. Motivations are largely economic and the hallmarks are individuality, free markets, materialism, rationalism and personal freedom.

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Green. Communitarian, sensitive and humanistic, this is the dominant mode of thought in Western Europe. Preaches diversity, cooperation, inclusivity and respect for nature. Leaders are facilitators rather than autocrats.

Back Home Again Vietnam is materialistic Orange, with a strong input from authoritarian Blue. There are still many things you “don’t do” in Vietnam and while many of this country’s Western-influenced youth have already made the transition to Green, as a country, Vietnam has yet to go down that route. In part it’s an economic issue. Green is a mindset for the well-off; you don’t think about diversity, inclusivity and protecting the environment if you are a slash-andburn agriculturalist. Green also dislikes materialistic Orange and clashes with authoritarian Blue; Green is community-building beyond their influence. Blue likes to be in control. The reason for the present outpouring of emotion towards Donald Trump is that he, like Vietnam, has a mindset that mixes Orange and Blue. In the US and Western Europe, the dominant, educated middle-class person with a ‘conscience’ is somewhere between Orange and Green. No wonder people are upset. While the overriding mindset in Vietnam is similar to the worldview of Donald Trump, this country won’t be directly affected by whoever is in the White House. As Vietnam gets more affluent, people will demand more say and there will be a greater drive towards environmental protection and conservation. But as long as the powers that be are stable, and people can make money, this country will continue along its own merry, development and construction-friendly route. As to whether if it could, would Vietnam have voted for Clinton or Trump? Based on the concept of spiral dynamics there is one clear answer to that — Trump. — Nick Ross

Big5 The


A ballet, two marathons, a hip-hop festival and a Belgian DJ. The top five events this month in Vietnam



The Nutcracker

HCMC Opera House, HCMC Dec. 9 to Dec. 11 Tchaikovsky’s much-loved ballet The Nutcracker will be performed at the HCMC Opera House from Dec. 9 to Dec. 11 by the HBSO. Choreographed by Norwegian choreographer Johann Jakhelln Constant, this particular rendition of the ballet premiered in 2011 and has since become a local favourite. Performed by the HBSO ballet dancers, French ballet dancer Chloe Glemot will also take part in the production together with the HBSO symphony orchestra, and the HBSO female choir. The orchestra will be conducted by Tran Nhat Minh. Tickets start at VND400,000 and the show will run on Dec. 9, Dec. 10 and Dec. 11 at 8pm. For tickets call (08) 3823 7419 or click on The HCMC Opera House is at 7 Lam Son Square, Q1, HCMC

Song Hong Half Marathon The Nutcracker plays in Saigon from Dec. 9

This year Saigon gets itself a full marathon




Ciputra Club, Hanoi Sunday Dec. 11

Back for its umpteenth outing, the Song Hong Half Marathon will be run through the streets of Tay Ho on Sunday, Dec. 11, a perfect opportunity for you to get out of bed on a Sunday morning and cheer on the runners. A firm fixture on the Hanoi calendar, this year’s lead sponsor is Ciputra, while all proceeds of the 5km, 10km, 21km and kids’ races will go to Education for Nature Vietnam.

For info click on redriverrunners.hanoi. And to see an article on this year’s event, turn to page 28

All in One 3

Around Hanoi Dec. 13 to Dec. 15

S.I.N.E. has been organizing hip-hop dance festivals in Hanoi for five years, and this year’s three-day event sees them partner up with the Goethe-Institut. Hip-hoppers, b-boys, b-girls and all other dance lovers will have the opportunity to participate in workshops, competitions and talks with well-known hip-hop artists both from the Vietnamese community as well as from all overseas. And of course, nobody should miss the performances. For full info turn to page 56


Amelie Lens The Observatory, HCMC Friday, Dec. 16

Belgian DJ Amelie Lens will take centrestage in the four-year

anniversary of Heart Beat Vietnam on Friday, Dec. 16. One of Belgium’s most exciting emerging techno artists, Amelie Lens debuted earlier this year with her EP Exhale and the EP’s title track swept across Belgium as a very recognisable, uptempo floorfiller. Also in the line-up is Belgian DJ Farrago and Heart Beat founding father Chris Wolter, while Erol will provide live visuals. Doors open at 9pm, with free entry until 11pm (VND150,000 after). The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4. To see an article on Amelie Lens turn to page 12

Registration for the HCMC Run Phu My Hung, HCMC

5 Registration by Dec. 29 After an absence of 25 years, Ho Chi Minh City is getting itself a full marathon again on Jan. 15. Organised by Pulse Active in partnership with Taiwan Excellence, the marathon will be an extension of the annual HCMC Run and will be put on in sync with the staple 5km, 10km and 21km runs. If you want to get involved, then register now — registration closes on Dec. 29. The popularity of the HCMC Run sees the participation of a wide range of runners: 4,000 Vietnamese and another 2,000 to 3,000 expats and tourists, meaning that this is a truly international event. To register click on And to see an article on the HCMC Run and the City Marathon, turn to page 26 | December 2016 Word | 11

Briefings HCMC


his December, Belgian DJs Amelie Lens and Sam Deliart aka Farrago will be gracing the booth at Saigon underground venue, The Observatory. Promoter and record label, Heart Beat Saigon, booked the couple earlier this year for the label’s four-year anniversary. “I was fascinated by Amelie’s music,” says Heart Beat joint founder Paul Tonkes. “I was amazed that this sound could come from her. She is very petite and yet she makes such big, powerful music.” In Ho Chi Minh City for one night, headliner Amelie and opening act Sam will bring a whole new flavour to The Observatory’s underground repertoire. Throughout her career, Amelie has always been a multitasker. “I like to keep busy, working on many different projects at once,” she says. “Before I began doing music full-time, I modelled, designed a collection for women’s line Friday, DJ’d on the weekends, and I opened a breakfast company with Sam, called Baerbar.” Unlike Amelie’s many other projects, music has always been more of a passion than a job. “Music is something I do for myself,” she says. “I never expected it to become so big, but it did and now I have quit everything to focus on it full-time.”

Loopy Growing up, Amelie was not interested in the music scene. “I didn’t have any strong feelings for music in general,” she says. “This all changed when I was 15, at the Dour Festival. People were dancing to this loopy, electronic music, most of them with their eyes closed. I just fell in love.” Now, many years later, Amelie’s rich, techno sound is inspiring new

generations of music lovers. “I write my tracks for the crowd,” she says. “When I’m in the studio I imagine myself playing or dancing to what I am writing.” Although she draws inspiration from the music she hears, Amelie is always focused on keeping her work original. “I want my tracks to be recognisable,” she says, “I like a warm and full sound, and I often build my songs around a single lyric. My voice has become one of my signatures.” To Heartbeat’s Paul Tonkes, Amelie’s tracks are the kind of music you can’t help but move to. “Heart Beat is about ‘body music’,” he says. “We book music that you feel in your body, and you just have to dance.” Amelie’s first EP, Exhale, was released in February 2016. “This track was where it all started for me,” she says, “I signed with Lyase Records when I was still working on the EP, so no one actually heard my music until it came out. I think that’s what made it so special.”

Awakening Surrounded by friends and contacts, Amelie was able to crack into the techno scene very quickly. “A few weeks before I released the EP, I saw a video of Maceo Plex playing my track at this huge venue — I literally started crying. It was the first time I had ever heard someone play my music.” Soon after, Amelie began playing her first big gigs. She signed to Second State and moved into the European festival scene. “Both Tomorrowland and Awakenings used Exhale in their promotional

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videos,” she says. “Extrema Outdoor Festival last May was my first big stage experience — I was so nervous.” Taking her music global, Amelie will be in Asia this December with her partner and fellow DJ Sam Deliart. “My boyfriend Sam (aka Farrago), taught me everything I know about producing,” she says. “We decided to make an EP together — it really is something special. It will be released in 2017.” With his own music and EP, Sam is signed to Italian record label ARTS. “Amelie is always the first one to field-test my music,” he says. “In the audience, I can really tell if I am on to something or not. I give her feedback this way too.” Amelie and Sam travel and play together both on their home circuit and abroad, supporting each other professionally and personally. “Amelie is doing so well right now and I am happy this is something we can do together,” says Sam. “We can’t wait to play in this beautiful part of the world.” They will only be playing one show in Vietnam, and as Dec. 16 draws closer, Ho Chi Minh City’s budding techno scene gets ready for them to hit the decks. — Zoe Osborne Amelie Lens supported by Farrago will be playing at Heart Beat’s fourth anniversary on Dec. 16 at The Observatory (5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC). For more information click on

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ey’re ate h t d r 6 an o celeb 1 . c t e n D ian DJs o r u lg ns fo two Be r u T eat ne but B t r o Hea in not ging brin


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Photo provided by Heart Beat Saigon | December 2016 Word | 13

Briefings Hanoi

Jose Gonzalez One of Sweden’s best known singer-songwriters performed in Hanoi in late November. Matt Cowan caught up with him on the eve of him starting his Asian Tour. 14 | Word December 2016 |


hances are Swedish singersongwriter and awardwinning folk musician Jose Gonzalez hasn’t been on high rotation on your playlist lately. The son of immigrants who moved to Sweden from Argentina in the late 1970s, Gonzalez has kept a low profile for the best part of the last decade. However, with last year’s release of his third studio album Vestiges & Claws, Gonzalez made his way back into the charts and onto the tour circuit once again. His tour of Asia kicked off in Hanoi in late November. Between sets, Gonzalez hoped to learn more about Asia’s cultures and people. “It’s my first time in Vietnam,” he said the week before his show from his Swedish home town of Gothenburg. “I’m really excited to go. I’ve played in some other Asian countries. The closest I’ve come to Vietnam is Singapore and Thailand. I always think of food when I think of Vietnam, like spring rolls and pho. Other than that, I don’t know that much about Vietnam.” This time around in Vietnam however, Gonzalez and his band didn’t get much of an opportunity to see the sights and taste much of the food. “I’m only in Vietnam for the day of the show plus one more day so it’s really short, which is almost always the case for me. Still, I’m really happy [starting his Asian tour in Vietnam] worked out. It was one of the late bookings due to some complications in bringing a show over with all my musicians, but I really wanted to make it happen.”

Acclaim It’s been 13 years since Gonzalez released his debut album Veneer to critical acclaim. The album sold over 700,000 copies worldwide off the back of his cover of Heartbeats written by fellow Gothenburg electronic duo The Knife. Following Veneer, Gonzalez

released his second album In Our Nature, again receiving widespread praise. With the memorable Down The Line and another cover, Massive Attack’s Teardrop driving its success, Gonzalez built a reputation for mastering covers. “Partly it [Gonzalez’ eclectic range of covers] is my being a music lover. I do like very different types of songs from different times and different areas around the world,” says Gonzalez, who draws inspiration from Latin American music, West African music and folk legends Paul Simon and Nick Drake. “With the covers, I wanted to do something that would surprise the audience. I was trying to do things people wouldn’t expect. I enjoyed it, not necessarily for how they sound the original way, but more because of the lyrics or how they sound when I try them out. The Kylie Minogue [cover], especially with the guitar at the end, feels like one of my favourite things that I’ve been able to do.” It took another eight years for Gonzalez to release his third and most recent album Vestiges & Claws, which claimed Impala Album of the Year for independent artists in Europe along the way.

Commitments “I enjoyed getting that prize because it’s an effort to promote independent music in Europe,” says Gonzalez, who plays down his success, including any suggestion that it has proved his critics, if any, wrong. “I wouldn’t say vindication, because I felt like I received a lot of positive attention during those early years and I don’t feel like I need to prove much. It’s not like I feel like, ‘Yes, I’ve made it’.” Gonzalez says that it took him so long to release Vestiges & Claws because of his commitments to folk rock band Junip and because he’s been trying to live a normal life. Although he’s kept himself busy doing other things outside of his music, he likes doing them in his

own time. His laid-back nature belies the image of a musician on a whistlestop tour of the world. “My life is a bit more balanced these days, so writing songs takes up very little of my time. Nowadays is more about enjoying other things in life. I feel more comfortable physically and mentally as a result.” Gonzalez’ latest music signals a departure from lyrics that told us how life was from his perspective, to lyrics that attempt to show us what’s out there if only we give in to the light. In his own words, perhaps the song that best exemplifies this is What Will with its opening What will it be? Our legacy, Lazy acceptance of them all. “It’s asking politely for us to check where we’re from, where we’re going and who we are, and to let the light lead you out with light being facts, truths and good ideas.”

The Gig Feedback from concertgoers on Gonzalez’ performance at the Youth Theatre was positive if the smiles on faces were anything to go by. Comments ranged from “great”, “loved it” to “beautiful” with one punter claiming it was “true food for the soul” and “inspirational”. A downside was the venue, which, according to some, didn’t lend itself to a gig of this kind. There were complaints that the seating arrangement wasn’t well thought out forcing some people to either stand up or sit on the floor. Others bemoaned the lack of leg space between rows. This compounded the discontent created in the week leading up to the concert which left many ticketless. Still, Gonzalez eased some of that pain by closing his set with Cycling Trivialities. As one of its lines goes, “Who cares in a hundred years from now?” Jose Gonzalez was brought to Vietnam by the Swedish Embassy and CAMA ATK. For more info on him click on | December 2016 Word | 15

Briefings National

Portraits of the Past Vietnam has 54 ethnic minorities. French photographer Réhahn Croquevielle is documenting all of them


oi An-based photographer and gallery owner Réhahn Croquevielle recently published a sequel to his 2014 best-selling coffee table book Vietnam, Mosaic of Contrasts. Now, that remarkable series of portraits of ways of life and people who have yet to be swept into the modern age has inspired him to move forward with a new project, the Precious Heritage Collection, where he shares his belief in the importance of recognising and preserving these marginalised communities. “My main focus is the people that represent this culture because without them, their unique traditions will surely die,” he says. “I take some photos of their lifestyle and their living conditions but the pride these ethnic tribes feel when they wear their traditional costumes is what fuels my passion.” This project goes further than before in documenting the lifestyles of these remote communities. “I’m documenting my own exploration of each tribe and their cultural traditions,” he says. “The

16 | Word December 2016 |

gallery museum will house their photos as well as costumes and some small treasures like jewellery and pipes.” Réhahn has visited over 40 of Vietnam’s 54 recognised ethnic minorities in the past five years, some of which are on the verge of disappearing, as the elders die off, powerless to prevent younger group members seeking out modern lifestyles elsewhere. He is especially fascinated in documenting small groups such as the Brau, which has under 400 remaining members, and the O Du of Nghe An province, which has even fewer. “When arriving at a village, I usually meet the elders because they have the most captivating stories,” he says. “When they speak of their culture, their faces light up, but when they speak of the lack of interest from the younger generation, I see sadness in their eyes. Their stories inspire me.”

The Museum The result of this effort is the Precious Heritage Gallery Museum,

being built in Hoi An. “This is a culmination of five years of my work. The concept is for people to go on an explorative journey through my lens and it will be free and open to all,” says Réhahn. “We are lucky to have the support of the local government and the community because we believe this gallery museum is significant for cultural preservation, and will add to the attraction of an already beautiful and special Hoi An.” Seeing these groups and working with them has given Réhahn a greater understanding of heritage. “Vietnam is a country that is rich in cultural diversity and I think it’s important to be proud of that heritage. Where we come from are the roots that keep us grounded and it prepares us for where we are going in life. I found myself in many ways here in Vietnam and this project is my gift to Vietnam.” Réhahn’s dedication is inspiring, but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. — Peter Scott For more information click on | December 2016 Word | 17

Briefings Hanoi

Hanoi’s arthouse cinema breathes its last


t’s always a sad day to report the end of an era. On Nov. 30, the only full-time arthouse cinema in Hanoi and all of Southeast Asia, closed its doors for good. After 14 years of providing film enthusiasts and culture vultures with a quiet, cool and classic location to enjoy a film and a lemongrass martini in the courtyard cafe, the end has come for Hanoi Cinematheque.

Arthouse Tucked away up a little alleyway in Hai Ba Trung, the 89-seat theatre was modest in size. In the courtyard protecting the entrance, a restaurant, cafe and bar hybrid ensured guests had a comfortable place to hang out before or after a screening. It became known as the go-to place for quality films presented in their original form.

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Old classics, new films and documentaries ensured that the more discerning moviegoers were well catered for, with no room for Michael Bay CGI-fests. My first experience of this wonderful venue came last year, when I saw a documentary about Long Bien Bridge, called Hard Rails Across a Gentle River. The seats were more than big enough for my generous posterior, and guests were free to take their drinks from the bar into the auditorium. No screaming kids, no teens waving selfie sticks and no one walking in 10 minutes late talking on their phone. As a members-only cinema, it was all about enjoying the art of film.

Rumour Mill Rumours of the impending closure started to circulate months ago. Even a TripAdvisor review, posted in mid-October, advised others of the need to go and enjoy it before it closes. The rumours began to trickle down through social media, and resulted in the creation of a Facebook group called Save

Hanoi Cinematheque. Within hours, hundreds of people had joined the group, united by a shared dismay that this beloved venue was facing the axe. “I heard about the destruction of the Cinematheque via a Facebook post,” says the group’s creator, Ally Muir. “I was shocked and devastated.” But soon after becoming popular, the group vanished. The Cinematheque had contacted Ally, asking for the page to be taken down. They were worried a public campaign to save it, might damage their negotiations to stay open a while longer. “I felt the Cinematheque was worth fighting for,” says Ally. “It has a really interesting history. It has so much character; there are no venues like it in Hanoi.”

Unstoppable Considering the power of the driving force behind the Cinematheque’s closure, it’s not surprising that the fight to stay open was so short-lived.

is No More

Vingroup, the mighty corporate machine behind well-known brands such as Vincom shopping centres, Vinhomes Royal City and Vinpearl resorts, has bought the property and surrounding buildings. “I am grateful to all the Vietnamese authorities who allowed us to serve Hanoi film-lovers for 14 years,” says Gerald Herman, director of Hanoi Cinematheque. “But obviously, commercial interests are a

priority in Vietnam these days.” Instead of having an independent, unique arthouse cinema run by volunteers and filmlovers, the Cinematheque and surrounding buildings will be demolished, so that Hanoi can welcome yet another copy-and-paste, sterile and characterless shopping centre. “I am heartened by all the expressions of appreciation, support and regret we have received from hundreds of Cinematheque

members,” Gerald says. “All our requests to remain open until at least the middle of next year have been denied. We can’t afford to move to another location.” Perhaps Hanoi won’t be too long without a replacement arthouse cinema. My suggestion would be an opening night featuring The Insider, Wall Street and The Constant Gardener. Let’s call it A Night of Corporate Greed. — Edward Dalton

PHOTOS BY JULIE VOLA | December 2016 Word | 19

Briefings Hanoi

Nguyen Manh Hung At the forefront of the scene

photo by Chang Suk Won

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rt is a language,” says Nguyen Manh Hung, a Hanoian-born artist at the forefront of the Vietnamese art scene. “People created art before letters,” he continues. “It’s a good way for us to connect to each other. But it’s just a door to open; the content, the story or the message we exchange holds the most value.” If art is a language, then Hung is fluent in more dialects than most. A talented painter, the 40-year-old also commands an impressive grasp of installation art, photography, performance art and sculpture. “Painting is the best skill I have,” says Hung. “Through paintings I can visualise my ideas the best.”

A Sculpted Message Disarmingly humble, he still talks about the need to improve his other disciplines. “I would like to practice more on sculpture,” he says, “because I don’t have any skill with this yet.” For anyone who has been fortunate enough to see his sculptures, this statement will come as a surprise. The Jeonbuk Museum of Art in South Korea recently presented Hung’s work, The Barricade, a 3D diorama depicting cramped apartment blocks topped by sandbags. “It’s like a high-rise village superimposed on its urban cousins,” Hung says of his detailed sculpture. “A standard apartment can be shared by two or three families,

people can’t have any secrets.” Hung was born and raised in a similar building in Kim Lien in Nghe An, and feels the sandbags represent both the stability of village life, as well as offering protection from the outside world.

Creative Seeds Hung’s journey to becoming a renowned artist started in high school. “My parents wanted me to choose something simple for them to understand,” he says. “My dad was a fighter pilot and my mum was a railway engineer.” He eventually found the support from his mum that he needed, but still had to find the classes and schools to practice art himself. “At the start of my career, I had too many influences,” says Hung. “Traditional Vietnamese culture, Chinese avant-garde artists and European surrealism.” However, Hung thinks the biggest influence that others will see in his work is that of René Magritte, with whom Hung shares a love of depicting the ordinary in an extraordinary context. “I love the way he used a subject to talk about other things; I see so many layers of meaning behind his paintings,” explains Hung.

Somewhere Out There Hung’s work was exhibited last month at Art Vietnam Gallery, where his surreal, and often comical paintings, were displayed side-by-side

with some of his wood and resin sculptures. There are several recurring themes and symbols throughout the exhibition, which is titled Somewhere Out There. One of the most striking, is Hung’s extraordinary use of snails and turtles in otherwise ordinary contexts. In his digital collage piece, Snails on the Deck, a photo of an aircraft carrier has been modified, such that the landing signal officers are guiding giant snails around the deck. For good measure, one of the officers is stroking a chicken. “It’s a touch of the familiar,” suggests Suzanne Lecht, Art Director at the gallery. “The chicken represents a piece of home, something familiar in an otherwise hostile world.” “I like using these slow animals to create hidden metaphors,” explains Hung. “They’re related to agriculture and meditation. But the speed, status and capability of the machines they replace allows me to present a strong contrast.” Hung says he can’t imagine a world where he wouldn’t be an artist. “In the future, I will keep talking more about human society,” he says. “I like talking about conflicts, with humour and sadness.” Hung’s language of art is the source of his connection to others, and he believes art is of central importance to all our lives. “We have weaker senses than animals, but they don’t have the imagination and creativity that we do,” he says. “If we lose our ability to express ourselves through art, we lose what makes us human.” — Edward Dalton

photos by julie vola

Briefings Hanoi

Blurred Lines Within the artisan there is an artist and within the artist there is an artisan


f you Google the difference between an artist and artisan, you’ll see many articles that try to make a clear distinction. Many of these are futile but two points remain constant; an artist creates for aesthetic pleasure and an artisan creates for functional value. If it was that simple, though, the artist/artisan dilemma would have been solved already. Enter Reimagine the Artist/Artisan, a collaborative art-based research project in Hanoi that encourages conversations between creators and the public. Last month, project members hosted an event at artistrun gallery Sixspace (94B Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi) to discuss the roles of an artist and artisan in traditional Vietnamese hand embroidery. The event, Thin Silk, Iridescent Fibers & Colourful Threads, consisted of an illuminating discussion between imperial embroidery artisan Vu Van Gioi and independent embroidery artist Tram Ngoc Pham.

The Artist and the Artisan Gioi was born into a family of embroiderers and learnt the techniques of imperial embroidery from his father and grandfather. Designs of dragons, lotus flowers and scenes from Vietnamese life are used in imperial embroidery to render status and to symbolise historic thinking. Gioi’s profession involves restoring these traditional techniques. He’s recognised as the only master artisan who can accurately

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respect and love nature’s beauty. That’s the uniqueness of Vietnam.”

Past, Present and Future The history of traditional embroidery in Vietnam dates back 700 years. It was reserved as a profession for the benefit of the royal family. Later it became more popular as young girls were expected to decorate pillowcases, curtains and tablecloths with hand embroidery. In Vietnamese culture, it’s customary for wedding couples to sleep on pillowcases that have their initials embroidered on them. During the war, women slipped embroidered handkerchiefs into a soldier’s hand as a symbol of love and loyalty. But like many crafts today, hand embroidery is on the verge of disappearing. What the event highlighted was not the difference between an artist and artisan, but rather the unity. An artist and artisan, in this case Gioi and Tram, create for both beauty and purpose, and for meaning; to say something about the past, present and future. There’s a message behind the creation that binds the creators and their work. There is no clear-cut line that separates one from the other. To highlight this, Gioi sums up the artist/ artisan dilemma: “Within the artisan there is an artist and within the artist there is an artisan.” — Mignon van Zyl For more information on Tram’s embroidery workshop, click on For more information on Sixspace and upcoming events click on


reproduce the embroidered robes once worn by Vietnam’s royalty. “Each detail in the embroidered design has a meaning from the past; a reflection of our ancestors’ way of life. Each represents the position of the person wearing it,” he says. Tram, on the other hand, uses embroidery as a medium for contemporary art. She is a Fine Art graduate, graphic designer and owner of a specialised hand embroidery workshop in Hoi An, Meo Meo Atelier (60 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hoi An). Her tapestries, pillowcases and other textiles are inspired by the bright colours and playful designs of folk art embroidery. She uses these techniques to exhibit contemporary Vietnamese life. “Vietnam has suffered from so many things and it’s the everyday people who suffer the most,” she says. “But they still remain cheerful and show a love and faith for a better life. That is what folk art shows. That is why I fell in love with it.” Tram’s embroidery career started three years ago. To develop her skill, she studies the techniques and concepts behind traditional embroidery under Gioi’s guidance. Their working relationship reveals a coming together of the artist and artisan; exchanging views on the skill, solving common problems of an embroidery business and sharing visions for the future. She adds, “I have learnt from his embroidery that you can’t lose culture once you keep doing this job. Even the small motifs show our very ancient knowledge to | December 2016 Word | 23

Briefings HCMC

A Liquid Story


gyptian archaeologist, photographer, mixologist, artist; all appear on the CV of Richie Fawcett, general manager of the rooftop Shri Restaurant. And if he hasn’t managed to combine all four accomplishments into his latest project, Cocktail Art of Saigon, well, two-and-a-half out of four isn’t bad. Cocktail Art is an attractive and informative coffee-table book; equally, it is a menu for Shri’s customers to choose from a distinctive list of cocktails. “Times are changing when it comes to menus,” Richie says. “Guests want to be entertained when they come to a place like Shri. The menu, art book, recipe book and history book combined concept has been created to promote the cocktails at Shri.” The mixology is in the drinks, the artist in the charming pen-and-ink drawings. The archaeology is reflected in the history focus of the menu — 41 drinks to celebrate 41 years that Vietnam has been at peace, each one named after locations and streets in Ho Chi Minh City. “Over the last three years, I have slowly and steadily been building up a collection of black-and-white sketches of the historic streets and buildings of the city in a bid to document them before they are knocked down, or the charm of Saigon street life disappears,” says UK-born Richie. “As

Photo by Bao Zoan

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Is it a menu or a coffee-table book? much of my professional working time is taken up with training bartenders, to combine these street scenes with cocktails to me seemed the obvious thing to do.” The selection of cocktails in what Richie calls “a liquid story” is not random — each is crafted in a way to reflect the location it represents. So the Thao Cam Vien is made of refreshing cucumber and elderflower, representing the Ho Chi Minh City botanical and zoological gardens; the Dinh Doc Lap (Reunification Palace) is a classic pineapple and coconut combination representing the coconut sellers that you find on nearby Nguyen Du. Or you could try the Buu Dien (Post Office), a gin French martini, served on a postcard with a postage stamp floating on the foam.

Zen Formula The same formula is applied to the streets themselves. Le Thanh Ton, the city’s Japanese enclave, is honoured with a white rice wine, cucumber, wasabi sour-style cocktail with a seaweed garnish, served on a miniature zen garden with its own minirake and stone. As well as the pen-and-ink drawings, and instructions on how to make and present the cocktail, each page of Cocktail Art of Saigon includes a history of the place it was named for. Since most Vietnamese streets are

named after national heroes and heroines such as Thai Van Lung or Hai Ba Trung, the book is an education as well as a pleasure. The cocktails themselves owe their flavours to the time that Richie spent wandering the streets to create his drawings. “It was the inspiration I took from learning about all the different traditional herbal street drinks that I tasted on the street when drawing the pictures, like nuoc sam, and pandan water,” he says. “At Shri we use as many local botanicals as possible. It’s all there to tap into the collective memory, create the nostalgia and set the atmosphere.” So the menu and the cocktail complement one another, Richie believes. “We hear guests laughing when they see the drink arrive,” he says. “I’ve said for years that people drink with their eyes and in Asia it’s becoming more and more common to see bar-tenders turn out drinks that are visually stimulating.” Does Richie himself have a cocktail recommendation? Of course. “You really need to try them all,” he says. — Peter Scott Cocktail Art of Saigon is on sale at VND500,000 a copy from Shri, 23rd Floor, Centec Tower, 72 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3, HCMC. Alternatively, pop in and try the cocktails for yourself | December 2016 Word | 25

Briefings HCMC

Photo provided by Pulse Active

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The City Marathon Next month, Saigon hosts its first full marathon in 25 years


ew York’s got one. London’s got one. Paris, Tokyo, Berlin and Vancouver, too. On Sunday Jan. 15, after an absence of 25 years, Ho Chi Minh City is joining the exclusive club of cities with marathons. We spoke to race organiser and director of Pulse Active, Bady Pham, to find out more.

which is a new category launched this year, will be composed of two different loops. The first one goes across the bridge and the second one will be a bit different where runners will pass by more parks. There are no designated spectator areas — the race route goes through an urban community which has many features that spectators can walk to and find a place to comfortably wait and watch the runners pass by.

Most sign up for the 5km distance, which is considered the perfect combination of sport and fun for first-timers. Many companies also use the run as a form of teambuilding activity. Over the past three years, Vietnamese participants are moving from the friendly, shorter distances to more competitive longer distances. For the 2017 edition, we are expecting about 4,000 Vietnamese runners.

the longer distance, before sunrise, so the temperature will be under 30 degrees. However, after sunrise, the temperatures get higher and that’s why we provide runners with cold water. We also have cooling stations with giant ice buckets that they can use to refresh themselves.

We are supporting the Orange Initiative to help people with disabilities and survivors of Agent Orange (PWD/AOS). Participants can now give these people the opportunity to run in the city event by sponsoring them with a 5km race kit. Also, then can contribute more by donating directly.

After four years of organising What have you got in place the HCMC Run, why have you decided to host The City to help runners deal with the Many people run to raise money for charity. Are you heat? Marathon this year? Our idea was always to organise a The marathon will start at 4am for expecting that this year? full-distance marathon for the city. But, in 2013 when we first organised HCMC Run, the running community was still small and not developed. We had to introduce the marathon concept step by step. So we started with three short distances; 3km, 5km and 10km. That’s why we called it HCMC Run. Over the last few years, there have been many requests for a full marathon. We’ve heeded their call. This year marks 25 years since the first international marathon was held in the city.

How difficult has it been to set up the event? When we first came up with the idea it was a new concept both for the citizens and for the authorities. However, they saw what we were aiming to do and we were able to get the support of the city. This year, the race will be supported by the Department of Culture and Sports and the Association of Athletics Federations in Ho Chi Minh City.

What will the route be? All distances will run through District 7, in Phu My Hung. In the 10km, 21km and 42km races, participants will run across Phu My Bridge, the most iconic part of the race. The full marathon distance,

How difficult is it to promote a marathon to the overseas marathon-running community? It’s difficult to reach runners overseas and our event is young compared to some other marathons. We try our best to promote it around Asia and Europe and we can see an increase in the numbers of international runners joining us. Last time out we had 2,500 international runners. Running is a lifestyle activity and participants are looking to enrich their experience by making a vacation out of their races. When you participate in an urban marathon, you are no longer a tourist, you are part of the city.

How much interest has the marathon generated locally? There has been a regular annual increase in the number of Vietnamese participants as well as in the running clubs established.

Why is the HCMC marathon important for this city? Hosting a city marathon is a great opportunity to put the city on the world map. There is also a positive impact on sports tourism to Vietnam. The race attracts around 6,500 participants every year, 37 percent are foreigners and tourists. We estimate that last year’s event had a positive impact of between US$6 million and $8 million.

What are your hopes for the future of the event? We hope to be able to offer a marathon where runners start in the heart of the city. To register for the HCMC Run or the City Marathon 2017, please click on Registration closes on Dec. 29. Donations to the event’s designated charity can also be made on the same website. The HCMC Run is organised by Pulse Active in conjunction with Taiwan Excellence | December 2016 Word | 27

Briefings Hanoi

The Song Hong Half Marathon Raising funds for conservation


anoi played host to serious monkey business last month as delegates from more than 50 countries and organizations converged on the capital’s Lotte Tower to sign an action plan to try to help some of the world’s most threatened species avoid extinction from poaching. Prince William, second in line to the British throne, flew over to Hanoi to speak in support of the endangered rhinoceros and elephants. Now runners in Hanoi can stampede like rhinos and perhaps even help save some, at the 2016 Song Hong Half Marathon in Hanoi. The marathon, which takes place on Sunday,

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Dec. 11, takes runners across northern Hanoi around Tay Ho on a 21km half marathon, although 10km and 5km runs are also scheduled. “It started off as a small bunch of guys getting together on a Saturday afternoon, and we decided to organise the event 10 years ago. It just started getting bigger and bigger,” says co-organiser Richard Leech. All fitness levels are welcome, he adds. “Some people race… and some people are walking.”

Escalation The funds raised by entry fees will go to

Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV), which aims to combat trafficking of illegal wildlife in the country. Participants can even choose to direct their funds to specific animal species protected by ENV. The environmental issues tackled by ENV are dire as poaching escalates in Vietnam and abroad to feed growing markets. Vietnam, where rhinos are extinct and elephants rare in the wild, serves as a global transit point for illegally smuggled wildlife body parts en route to the Asian market. The country is a primary hub for the illicit trade in ivory, with local criminals

Photos provided by Red River Runners

acting as middlemen between African poachers and consumers. At least 40 tons of ivory have been seized by Vietnamese customs officials since 2011, with 3.5 tons seized in October alone. Some of the ivory ends up on the local market, with many Hanoi jewellery stores along Hang Bac street openly selling the precious animal parts — a bracelet of pure ivory can fetch US$400 (VND9 million) at upscale shops alongside more conventional diamonds and rubies.

Decoration Rhino horn, although not sold as openly,

isn’t hard to find with the right contacts. The shavings are used as pseudo-medicine and a status symbol by a small segment of society in Vietnam, while the horns are used for decoration in China. Speaking at the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade on November 17, Deputy Vice-Prime Minister Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh, acknowledged the “challenges in enhancing people’s… habits with regards to consuming illegal wildlife products.” Africa’s elephant population has plummeted since an uptick in poaching that began in the last decade. The total

number of elephants has gone down by 111,000 to 415,000 since 2006, while rhino poaching in South Africa increased from 13 dead animals in 2007 to 1,175 in 2015. Prince William, who spoke at the Lotte Hotel at the conference, said the situation remained grim despite some progress. “The betting man would still bet on extinction,” he said. Prospective runners can register at ClickSpace, The Hanoi Bicycle Club or at Participants will receive shirts while supplies last. For more information on ENV, click on | December 2016 Word | 29

Briefings Hanoi

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Christmas in Hanoi Feeling festive? Here’s what to do this Christmas in the capital


f you’re looking to dine on the top rung of the ladder this year, then look no further than the Metropole Hotel. The inside of the building will be decorated to resemble a mystical-looking town in Sapa and there are a range of dinners available at the hotel’s restaurants. Five dinners will be on offer on Christmas Eve, each with their own theme including meats such as venison, lobster and coq au vin (French chicken braised in wine). On the big day there will be two lunch buffets and a dinner, and there’s an option for free flow champagne. They will also be hosting a five-course dinner at Le Beaulieu. You’re looking at VND1.6 million to VND4.25 million for this experience. The Intercontinental will be kicking off the season with a festive market on Dec. 10 at Sunset Bar; the Winter Wonderland-style market is free to enter and includes a range of entertainment. Dinners on Dec. 24 and Dec. 25 are a traditional-style roast paired with local delights and average around VND1.7 million or VND2.1 million per person including free flow beer and wine. The Sheraton will also be hosting their own seasonal menu, with dinner and free flow of drinks for VND2.4 million per person. The hotel has its own Santa stopping by to keep the children entertained.

The Christmas buffet at El Patio in the Melia Hotel is also worth looking out for. Costing VND1,390,000++ (adults) or VND819,000++ (children under 10), the Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas day lunch includes a free flow of sparkling wine, house wine, beer, soft drinks, tea and coffee.

Home Away from Home Growing up in Montreal, Canada, Christmas for restaurateur Donald Berger was the “most magical time of year, with so many great memories that I enjoy to this day”. Ever since he opened his restaurant, Don’s Bistro, he has brought the same ethos of Christmas to Vietnam. This year the offering on Dec. 24 and Dec. 25 will be a ‘Global Gastronomic Christmas Lunch & Dinner Feast’. Costing VND1,888,000++ (kids under 14 go for VND388,000++), the menu includes a Hungry Santa Tapas Platter, a lobster and caviar appetizer, oysters, goose for the main course, cheese and a chocolate and strawberry yule log for dessert. If you miss your mum’s home cooking this time of year and you’d rather have a more sentimental dining experience for the festive season, then Home38 has something for you. They’ll be doing two sittings on Christmas day, one on Christmas Eve and on Boxing Day. The menu is an

impressive three courses, with vegetarian options available and mulled wine for VND400,000. Expect some top-quality home cooking here and an intimate atmosphere. Barbecue addicts can rejoice as local favourite, the Moose & Roo Smokehouse, will be cooking up a festive menu including roast turkey with all the trimmings, bread stuffing, roast potatoes and vegetables, and a choice of apple or pumpkin pie for dessert for VND395,000.

Doing it at Home Of course, if you’re really feeling up to it then you could always invite some guests over and cook up a seasonal dinner yourself. Import stores like Oasis and L’s Place stock all kinds of herbs and spices, gravy and stuffing to get you on your way. Oasis stores are also selling turkeys leading up to the holiday. And don’t forget Annam Gourmet Market. Christmas hampers, a whole host of imported Christmas specials from around the globe, Christmas turkeys and much more will be on sale for anyone who wants to celebrate the festive season with some pizazz. Wherever you decide to eat this Christmas, the season is busy, so remember to book in advance. — Billy Gray To read more about Annam’s Christmas offerings turn to page 32 | December 2016 Word | 31


A Taste of Home


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The festive season at Annam Gourmet Market is something to write home about

PHOTOS BY BAO ZOAN Nicolas Feuillatte - Chouilly France, made in France. Alcoholic volume 12%


feature of Christmas overseas is food and drink, a time to enjoy the finer things in life and to party. Which is why a quick jaunt to the supermarket will reveal aisle after aisle of prosecco, champagne, port and fine wine. Chocolates get gold boxes with glittery bows, cheeses and other tasty morsels come packed especially for Christmas, and all those festive treats like turkey, goose, whole hams, stollen and Christmas pudding grace the shelves of almost every store. Annam Gourmet Market has always stocked food for the festive season, but this year they’re upping the Christmas ante with a range of festive season specials. Called the Festive Season Limited Edition and with the majority of the products imported from overseas, according to Annam’s head chef and F&B manager, Sakal Phoeung, the gourmet supermarket chain has been “working hard to get these collections available to serve our customers.” He adds: “Our purchasing team is continually sourcing and ordering high-quality products to offer the best to our customers, while our marketing team have prepared all the communication tools as well as special packaging only for the festive season.”

What’s On Offer A flick through Annam’s Festive Season booklet reveals a range of options that not only get the juices flowing, but put the world’s supermarkets to shame — and this in Vietnam. The bakery section offers up three types of Yule logs (from VND445,000), as well as a chocolate-loving spoon cake (VND1.81 million), a New York-style cheesecake and a lychee raspberry moose cake. For those wanting something different to the traditional Christmas turkey and ham, there is an Asian section with pre-cooked meats including a fivespice roasted duck (VND299,000) and a roasted suckling pig (VND607,000/ kg). Naturally, pre-cooked turkey is on offer (VND390,000/kg including sauce and veggies) as is a roasted lamb with Provencal herbs (VND540,000/kg). And if you prefer seafood to meat, the selection of imported products is mouthwatering. Frozen Canadian lobster, Alaska king crab legs and wild black codfish are just three of the specials on offer. A selection of caviar makes the menu — naturally — as does a range of preprepared platters (the cheese platter starts at VND415,000, while the cold cuts options

starts at VND485,000). There is also a selection of champagnes, sparkling wines and French organic ciders.

Everything but the Weather According to Ngu Thi Dieu Binh, Annam’s marketing manager, the collection of festive products is targeted at two main markets. “Young Vietnamese,” she says, “especially those who travel and study abroad, people who are interested in and familiar with Western cuisine and who are open to new trends or tastes.” The other target customer, she says, is the international group. “Expats are far away from home and they always seek out places that remind them of home, from food and drink to atmosphere.” So if you’re looking for a festive season that brings back memories of a white Christmas, Yule logs on the fire, and quality food and drink consumed with family and friends, unless you’re up north, Annam won’t be able to provide the weather. But they can certainly provide everything else. — Nick Ross For more info, click on annam-gourmet. com or head down to one of Annam Gourmet Market’s many stores | December 2016 Word | 33


Learning through creativity

Photos by bao zoan


Understanding Children


ccording to Janet Souter, principal of Aurora International Preschool of The Arts, the first five to six years of a child’s life is crucial, as that’s when children establish the dispositions and characteristics in life that will stay with them into adulthood. “There is much research explaining why those foundational years are so important to get right,” says Janet. “You don’t get that second chance.” Family and preschool are the key factors that have the most influence on children. Apart from parental skills and duties that parents have to perform, when it comes to building personality, finding the right educational method and environment is vital.

Learning the Aurora Way Inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach, Aurora is bringing a new educational experience to Vietnam. The Reggio Emilia approach is an educational philosophy developed by Italian psychologist Loris Malaguzzi in the years immediately after World War II. It has gained followers all around the world. “The approach is based on creativity aesthetics, using all available tools and materials to help children understand the world,” says Trang Nguyen, general manager of Aurora. “As every region or

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country has a different culture and local material, Reggio-inspired preschools always have a distinctive character.” At this Reggio-inspired preschool, relationships between teachers and children are a key factor. “Like adults, children will grow, learn and be happier when they are in an environment where they can trust the other people around them,” says Janet. Teachers are required to listen to and observe the children, to find out what their interests are and to use those interests to create appropriate experiences and projects. “Within each of those projects and experiences is an opportunity for children to learn not just social skills and imagination,” continues Janet, “but also their critical thinking, language skills, their academic fundamentals and literacy.” In order to develop children’s imagination, Aurora has workshops that are adapted to different projects. Children are allowed to use Play-Doh, paints and other environmentfriendly materials to express their thoughts and creativity. After the projects finish, these artworks and artefacts are kept as documentary evidence of the research being undertaken by children and teachers.

A Safe Place Learning can only occur in a safe

environment, so Aurora is equipped with a modern closed kitchen to ensure a high level of hygiene, which is not always found in other preschools in this country. But Aurora goes even further in the direction of looking after the children’s needs. “We use organic food ingredients and nut milk — it’s more nutritious compared to cow or goat milk, especially for children who have food allergies,” says Trang Nguyen. There is also a swimming pool where Aurora organises two swimming sessions per week to let children learn about water safety and water-related subjects. These sessions heighten children’s awareness of the physical and social environments in which they live, and strengthen their sense of belonging to the wider world. Every child deserves an opportunity to get the best education possible, and one full of care. Says Janet: “If children have been given freedom and a chance, and the support to grow and develop to their full potential, their life journey will be much more full.” — Vu Ha Kim Vy For more information on Aurora International Preschool of The Arts and their inspiring Reggio Emilia Approach, visit Aurora Preschool of the Arts is at 13 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3744 2991












T. +84 (0) 8 3744 6632

W.THEDECKSAIGON.COM | December 2016 Word | 35

Charity of

the Month

REACH Helping Vietnam’s disadvantaged youth get their foot in the door

Photo provided by REACH


alking into REACH’s vast training centre on the outskirts of Hanoi you wouldn’t guess that nearly four years ago, the organisation was on the brink of closure. Like many NGOs in Vietnam, it was burnt by declining foreign aid, a result of the country’s progression to middle-income status. Relief came at the eleventh-hour from an anonymous donor. “It was a very challenging time; we were thinking we would have to close some centres and turn away our students. I couldn’t sleep,” says REACH founder and executive director Tam Pham. “But we adapted and bounced back even stronger.” Rebound they did, mounting an aggressive campaign to recruit donors around the globe supportive of their mission: to provide vocational training and job placement services to the most disadvantaged youth.

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Donors, mainly corporate and philanthropic foundations, rallied to the cause and provided much-needed financial stability.

poverty, social stigma or lack of education,” she says. “Just imagine what that does to their confidence or self-esteem.”

The Need

The Programmes

REACH targets it programmes towards disadvantaged youth, including human trafficking and domestic violence victims, ethnic minorities, youth with a disability, youth with or affected by HIV/ AIDS, rural migrants, and youth living in poverty. REACH marketing and fundraising officer Mai Pham says that with around 1.4 million workers entering Vietnam’s labour market each year, it is these vulnerable groups that are being left behind, unable to grasp opportunities for prosperity. “Vietnam’s job market is very competitive and these youth face significant barriers whether it is

REACH’s original programme, the Livelihood Advancement Business School, or LABS, provides 15 to 24 weeks of intensive vocational training in one of nine areas; food and beverage, hairdressing, sales and marketing, cooking, web and graphic design, 3D-modelling, housekeeping, beauty spa and nail art. The curriculum is also designed to teach important life skills (such as teamwork, financial literacy, confidence-building and work ethic), provide technical qualifications that are in high demand, and provide safe and secure entry into employment through job placement and follow up support services. According to Tam, this service


model has had dramatic results on the lives of REACH students. “One student, Huy, from REACH’s third batch, lived in poverty and came to Hanoi in search of a job. He was barely eating when he came to us. He was very shy and lacked confidence,” Tam recalls. “After graduation, he got a job with a large supermarket in Hanoi and now he is a manager. He employs our graduates and takes great care of them.” REACH works with over 1,000 businesses, ranging from SMEs to large multinationals, such as Hilton Hotels and Lotte. According to Tam, this focus on ensuring the curriculum aligns with employer demands is part of the reason why nearly 85 percent of REACH’s 13,000 graduates have found long-term employment within six months of graduating. It’s an approach that Plan

International has now replicated in over 40 countries to alleviate youth unemployment.

A Sustainable Future Keeping up with market trends and financial stability are key for survival, according to Tam. Despite a shelf crammed with awards, both from Vietnam and abroad, established NGOs like REACH can often be victims of their own success, making it difficult to reach out to more needy groups. “There are more vulnerable communities I’d like to help, but we don’t have the funds do it,” says Tam. In order to improve its financial position, REACH is setting up two new social enterprises. The first, EM Hair Salon, opened in October on Phan Huy Ich in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh District. It caters for both foreign and local clients, with REACH students learning from professional

hairdressers. Profits fund REACH’s hairdressing programme, benefiting vulnerable women and girls. The second project, a Japanese training restaurant, is a joint venture between REACH and social impact investor SMF, with input from the world-renowned Tsuji Culinary Institute and Michelinstar chef Yoshihiro Murata. The project, Mai says, could launch as early as next year depending on the success of an upcoming crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo this December. “This is new territory for us but it will open many doors for our students, so it’s worth it,” she says. — David Mann For more information, visit reach. or REACH’s Facebook Page. David Mann is an Australian Volunteer funded by the Australian Government to work with REACH in the role of Marketing and Fundraising Coach. | December 2016 Word | 37

Sports Digest



Vietnamese July Vietnam Basketball Association (VBA) a slam dunk for Vietnamese hoops fans For professional basketball in Vietnam, the Saigon Heat of the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) used to be the only game in town. How things have changed. The Vietnam Basketball Association (VBA) made its official appearance in July with teams like the Can Tho Catfish, Ho Chi Minh City Wings, Saigon Heat, Danang Dragons and Hanoi Buffaloes providing hoops fans across the country with local teams to root for. Vietnamese overseas Heat players like Stefan Nguyen and David Arnold joined a number of overseas playmakers like Can Tho’s Tam Dinh, Ho Chi Minh City’s Justin Young, and Danang’s Horace Nguyen to help grow the game here, with Danang taking the inaugural title in November. Here’s hoping the VBA

38 | Word December 2016 |

continues to thrive for years to come.

August Vietnamese shooter guns down gold, despite practising without ammunition Hoang Xuan Vinh took aim and seized Vietnam’s first-ever Olympic gold medal in what will be an enduring memory for the nation’s sports fans, according to VN Express. What makes his win even more remarkable is the fact that Vietnam’s shooters had to practice with no ammunition and had to make do with simply aiming at the target in practice. It’s amazing what the man accomplished. Vinh also won the silver in the Olympic men’s 50-metre pistol event after his historic gold medal in the 10-metre air pistol event. Vinh, a 41-year-old serving army colonel who first learnt to shoot with an AK47, made history in Rio overnight on Aug. 7

when a near-perfect final shot in the men’s 10-metre air pistol clinched him gold.

September Vietnam claims first-ever Paralympic title In a victory that goes beyond medals, Le Van Cong won a gold medal in the 49kg weightlifting category, Vietnam’s first ever at the Paralympics, and bettered his own world record in the process at the 2016 Rio Paralympics in September, according to Thanh Nien. The 32-year-old athlete from Ha Tinh Province lifted 183kg to beat Jordan’s Omar Qarada who lifted 177kg. Cong was paralyzed in both legs after his mother contracted dengue fever when she was pregnant with him. Born into a poor farmer’s family, he migrated to Ho Chi Minh City as a 19-year-old with just VND1 million (US$45) in his pocket and a few clothes.


SPORT Every year Sports Digest goes behind the scenes of sports in Vietnam. Here are five notable developments we have decided to highlight from 2016. Words by Harry Hodge

He has won several medals in national and regional events, including two golds at the 2009 and 2014 ASEAN Para Games and a gold medal at the 2015 Asian Weightlifting Championships.

October Nation indifferent to success at Asian Beach Games In October, Vietnam took the top spot at the fifth Asian Beach Games in Danang, according to Tuoi Tre. Vietnamese athletes bagged 52 gold, 44 silver and 43 bronze medals at the fifth edition of the Asian Beach Games (ABG5), while all-time ABG medal count champion Thailand was the runner-up with 36 gold medals. Sports giant China ranked third with 12 golds. However, local experts are more concerned than thrilled as it gave little indication about the development of the

country’s high performance sports stars. Indeed, it’s understandable the games were ignored by local spectators with events most Vietnamese have never seen, let alone would be able to pronounce, like sepak takraw (kick volleyball) and pencak silat (a form of Indonesian martial arts). Vietnam sent a total of 320 athletes to compete in 14 sports at ABG5, setting an initial goal of claiming between 18 and 22 gold medals and making it to the top five in terms of medal count. With so much else going on in Danang’s sports scene, from hosting an Ironman event to strong local pro sports franchises like the VBA’s Danang Dragons and soccer giants SHB Danang, it’s little wonder organizers dropped the ball on the ABG.

October Footballing teens earn nation’s first trip to World Cup

In a year of notable firsts for Vietnamese sports, the men’s U19 football team secured a ticket in the semi-finals of Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) U19 Championship, thereby qualifying for FIFA U20 World Cup 2017 for the first time in history, according to Vietnam News. The team beat Bahrain 1-0 in AFC quarterfinals in Manama City in October. A crowd of 10,610 watched as the hosts took on the last remaining Southeast Asian team on a warm evening at Bahrain National Stadium and lost after a splendid goal from Tran Thanh in the 72nd minute. While it’s not the senior squad World Cup, it’s the most prestigious event the men’s squad has qualified for in history, and for that, these Vietnamese teens deserve a thumbs-up from domestic sports fans. | December 2016 Word | 39

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ToDo list HCMC

Exhibitions, a murder mystery, live art and a marathon. This month in Saigon




Mirror Writing Prelude in D minor Op. 28 No 24 by Hoang Duong Cam. Part of the Mirror Writing exhibition at Galerie Quynh

One of the images that make up the VinGallery exhibition, Small Things

French rock band Grand Blanc at a recent gig




Galerie Quynh Dong Khoi, Q1 Until Dec. 17 Galerie Quynh is delighted to present Mirror Writing, a group exhibition featuring new and rarely-seen works by Hoang Duong Cam, Jamie Maxtone-Graham, Trong Gia Nguyen and Truc-Anh. The exhibition revolves around the idea of subversion, where the ability to decipher and understand an artwork is blocked by different intervention strategies. A reverse script cannot be read unless viewed in a mirror, and this exhibition cannot be understood without first overcoming similar challenges of relatability. The artists on view make use of various intervention strategies to challenge traditional power dynamics surrounding an artwork, in the process turning the portraiture genre on its head. Placing the viewer within the landscape of their art, the artists hint at the endless, interconnected threads that link each individual with the world around them. The exhibition runs until Dec. 17, from 10am to 7pm, Tuesday to Saturday, and by appointment. You can find

42 | Word December 2016 |

out more at or by contacting the gallery on (08) 3824 8284. Galerie Quynh is at Level 2, 151/3 Dong Khoi, Q1, HCMC

Small Things Vin Gallery, Q2 Until Jan. 14 The Small Things showcase at VinGallery is continuing into the new year, with a vibrant exhibition involving a range of engaging and eclectic contemporary artworks from both local and international artists. VinGallery has carefully selected artists that use different mediums, explore interesting concepts and create with a distinctive style, putting together an exhibition of true artistic and cultural diversity. Exhibiting artists hail from Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bermuda, the UK and the US, including Bermudian portrait and documentary photographer Chinelo Harvey, travelling artist and architect duo A+N Stiff, american photographer and architect Melissa Merryweather and many more. Good things come in small packages, and Small Things is no exception. Connect with your community, support new and

fascinating art, and treat yourself to a brilliant exhibition. The exhibition until Jan. 14 and Vin Gallery is at 6 Le Van Mien, Q2, HCMC

Grand Blanc The Factory, Q2 Thursday, Dec. 1 Hailing from Metz, France, Grand Blanc is an electro-rock band built on old Bashung records, Saturday gigs, and that Cold East paradox of great cathedrals and blast furnaces. Their French lyrics embody a dark and profound pop, influenced by this century’s new wave of music and written by Camille and Benoit. The band released their debut album, MÊmoires Vives, in February 2016, which soon after launched their first French and international tour. The Factory will be hosting their Ho Chi Minh City tour with the support of MTV Vietnam, providing an exceptional showcase for their highly anticipated performance. Doors open at 8pm. Tickets cost VND350,000 or VND250,000 for students and members of IDECAF, and they include one free drink. Get your tickets at The Factory is at 15 Nguyen U Di, Q2, HCMC | December 2016 Word | 43



list HCMC


Bittersweet Whispers

Mission 45 will be on the decks for an Everyone’s a DJ night a La Fenetre Soleil

4. Tin Man plays Observatory on Dec. 3

Skatebård… Need we say any more?



ilcompta by Mai Loan-Tu, one of the drawings on display at Bittersweet Whispers


Salon Saigon, Q3 From Dec. 2 New art space Salon Saigon is opening its doors this month and marking the occasion with its first exhibition, Bittersweet Whispers. As the first contemporary art gallery in Vietnam to focus on contemporary drawing, Salon Saigon aims to foster appreciation for this unique art form through exhibitions like Bittersweet Whispers. It will also be a space to showcase cultural heritage and other forms of contemporary art through exhibitions, performances, screenings, conferences, educational programmes, and interactions with artists. Bittersweet Whispers will feature local artist Ngo Thi Thuy Duyen whose flower drawings hint at the often-times complex nature of life where our interconnectedness with others needs to be reconciled with the solitude and aching beauty of our individually lived experiences. Other artists featured will be Le Hoang Bich Phuong best known for her delicate silk paintings, and Mai Loan Tu who works with both ink and paper cut-outs. Salon Saigon is at 6D Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, HCMC and is open every Tuesday from 9am to 6pm. Every

44 | Word December 2016 |

other day except Sunday is open by appointment only

Skatebård The Observatory, Q4 Friday, Dec. 2 Norwegian DJ and producer of all things electronic Skatebård touches down at The Observatory and will hyperskate us through the sonic cosmos on Friday Dec. 2. Connoisseurs of electronic music will know that Skatebård’s catalogue oscillates between emotional techno, neo-Italo, electro from an alternative future, and a Scando-cosmic reinterpretation of pure Detroitian house. Not a connossieur and not sure what all that means? Then hit The Observatory and find out. Skatebård will be joined by resident and cofounder of The Observatory, Hibiya Line, in what will be cutting-edge dance music guaranteed. Entrance is VND150,000 after 11pm, free before and the show starts at 9pm. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC

Mission 45 La Fenetre Soleil, Q1 Saturday, Dec. 3 Everyone’s a DJ presents Mission

45, a night of rare vinyl 45s with special guest DJs Double Agent 7 from London. This dynamic duo is known for their killer 1950s and 1960s floor fillers exclusively on vinyl 45s, with a set that brings early rock ‘n roll, rhythm ‘n blues, do wop, rockabilly and 1960s soul together. Double Agent 7 have a monthly residency in Dalston, London, and are active on the local, UK festival scene. The night will kick off with Saigon favourite Superkid, who’ll be warming you up with a whole load of classics from rock ‘n roll oldies to international ye ye. Get dressed for the era — embrace the poodle skirt, beehive that hair, and get ready to shimmy, twist and mash potato the night away. Doors open at 9pm and entry is VND100,000. La Fenetre Soleil is at 44 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, HCMC

Tin Man The Observatory, Q4 Saturday, Dec. 3 Jetting into Saigon in early December for a night at The Observatory is a little bit of acid of the house kind. Coming to shake our edifice to its core is electronic mastermind Tin Man, a key agent in the global resurgence of acid





Call Us | December 2016 Word | 45



list HCMC



house music. In what will prove to be a massive night, Tin Man will be supported by English electronic duo MadderModes. Entrance is VND150,000 after 11pm, free before and the show starts at 9pm. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC

Home(icide) for the Holidays

Saigon Players will put on a murder mystery dinner at Café-Restaurant

The Jingle Bells Joyride kicks off from The Bike Shop on Dec. 9

This month Canvas & Wine takes up lino printing

Amelie Lens plays for Heart Beat’s fourth birthday on Dec. 16





Café-Restaurant, Q1 Dec. 8 to Dec. 10 Don't miss your seat aboard the SS Calmette as she sails through a whale of a tale. Saigon Players is proud to present Home(icide) for the Holidays, an adult murder mystery dinner set on a ship, where you and your friends get to play detective while enjoying a fabulous threecourse meal at Café-Restaurant in District 1. Dig into your delicious dinner, and watch the plot unfold! Wear something nautical, naughty or pirate-inspired, the more creative the better. Home(icide) will be held over three days — Dec. 8 to Dec. 10 — from 7pm. Tickets are VND800,000 per person and are available at Café-Restaurant or at All proceeds go to two children's charities and Café-Restaurant is at 1st Floor, 171 Calmette, Q1

46 | Word December 2016 |

Jingle Bells Joyride The Bike Shop, Q2 Friday Dec. 9 The Bike Shop in District 2 is holding their free community bike ride, the annual Jingle Bells Joyride, on Friday Dec. 9 at 7pm. It’s a fun ride suitable for anyone from the age of 12 and up. Starting at The Bike Shop, joyriders will ride just 10 to 15km around the District 2 neighbourhood and then they’ll get into Christmas party mode back at The Bike Shop with drinks and food. For those who don’t own their own wheels, The Bike Shop has them for rent. For those who do, make sure it has lights (not just fairy lights) and be sure to also bring along a skid lid to protect your head. Most of all, bring along your festive attitude for a peloton of joy. The Bike Shop is at 250 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, HCMC

Canvas & Wine VinSpace, Q2 Thursday, Dec. 15 Join VinSpace for this evening of lino printing and leave with your very own prints. Scrap those ideas

of kitchen lino — it’s time to ink up! The VinSpace team will be on hand to instruct you in fine carving, rolling and other lino techniques, taking you through each step of printing from the initial design work to the final layered product. Your mighty fine lino prints will be accompanied by equally fine, free flow wine, an essential to any artist’s tool kit, as well as local produce to be announced closer to the date. Come and create your very own lino art, perhaps even make them festive. It is that time of the year after all. The workshop goes from 6.30pm to 9pm and costs VND874,000 with discounts available for teachers and groups of four +. Cost includes all materials and a free flow of wine and food. Vin Space is at 4-6 Le Van Mien, Q2, HCMC

Amelie Lens The Observatory, Q4 Friday, Dec. 16 Belgian DJs Amelie Lens and Sam Deliaert (aka Farrago) will be behind the decks on the Dec. 16 at The Observatory, to celebrate Heart Beat’s four-year anniversary. One of Belgium’s most exciting emerging techno artists, Amelie

4 | December 2016 Word | 47



list HCMC

VinSpace is holding a winter camp again, perfect if you’re kids want to get arty

Local Suicide play Observatory on Dec. 30

On Jan. 15 Saigon will get its first full marathon in 25 years

British comic Gina Yashere will be playing Game On Saigon in mid-January





Mix & Paint’s opening will see three days of live art created by both local and international artists. Images here by Jim Mahfood,


Mike Huddlestone and Pamela Campagna


Lens debuted earlier this year with her EP Exhale and the EP’s title track swept across Belgium as a very recognisable, uptempo floorfiller. The night will be opened by Sam Deliaert, a familiar face on the Belgian techno scene now working under a new name, Farrago (meaning “a perplexing mixture”) that brings together his earlier work, his new ideas and his recent development. Saigon DJ and Heart Beat founding father Chris Wolter will also be hitting the decks, performing under his well-known alias Phuc Long, and all visuals will be created by the talented one man live show, Erol, working in real time with the DJs to create flowing artscapes that move with the music. The night begins at 9pm, and it’s going to be a big one! Get yourself down to the legendary Observatory for some of the most exciting names in techno right now — it’s time to celebrate four years of Heart Beat Saigon! Doors open at 9pm, with free entry until 11pm (VND150,000 after). The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4. To see an article on Amelie Lens turn to page 12

48 | Word December 2016 |

Mix & Paint Opening Xa Lo Ha Noi, Q2 Dec. 16 to Dec. 18 The fascinating art restaurant and bar, Mix & Paint, is ready to launch this December in District 2. On the week of the launch, local live art, music, workshops and exhibitions will fill the space with artistic colour, with a range of international guests booked for the event to create live art including Artimejoe from Seoul, Dragon 76 from New York, Jim Mahfood from Los Angeles, Danis Nguyen and Le Minh Hoai Quoc from Saigon, Mike Huddleston from San Francisco, Nicolas Meda from Lille, Pamela Campagna from Bari and plenty more. Following this opening, Mix & Paint will be offering different art performances every month, from live art to meetings with artists, illustrators, authors and toy makers. The venue itself balances a vibrant tapas-style restaurant and bar dynamic, offering bites from a variety of countries, from Japanese izakaya to French bouchees, dim sum and ha cao. The bar serves a number of cocktails, beers and other beverages to compliment the restaurant menu, with prices ranging from VND50,000 to VND300,000.

The opening covers three days, from the Dec. 16 to Dec. 18. Tickets cost VND450,000 for a one-day pass and VND800,000 for a two-day pass, with a free drink and one free tapas included. Following its opening, Mix & Paint will be open for business seven days a week. Find them at MixandPaint. The venue is at 93 Xa Lo Ha Noi, Q2, HCMC

VinSpace Winter Camp VinSpace, Q2 Dec. 19 to Jan. 6 Get your kids to spend their festive season getting creative with VinSpace. This boutique art studio is opening its doors to arty campers this December and early January, offering a range of crafty distractions and fun workshops. The winter camp covers three weeks of art making, in which the VinSpace team will take participants through a variety of themes and activities, from crafting their own festive games to decorating their studio space with home-made creations. The winter camp runs from Dec. 19 to Jan. 6, 9am to 12pm Monday to Friday. The cost is VND690,000 per day or VND3,105,000 for a week’s pass. Contact VinSpace on 0907 729846 or

Corn & Flour Tortilla Factory



“ Free Video Clips” How to Make Mexican Food In English & Vietnamese


(08) 3519 4581, and find them online at VinSpace is at 4-6 Le Van Mien, Q2, HCMC

Local Suicide The Observatory, Q4 Friday, Dec. 30 Berlin duo Local Suicide are back to mesmerise us again at The Observatory with their distinct blends of cosmic disco, new wave, slow techno, acid house and chug (or what they’ve dubbed themselves as technodisco). Just as comfortable playing the grimey back alley indie bars of the Greek isles as they are playing Munich’s hip hop clubs, Local Suicide loves the tropics, too, and were one of the first international DJs to play at The Observatory when it moved to its current location. Entrance is VND150,000 after 11pm, free before and the show starts at 9pm. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC

organised run, The HCMC Run, is back in 2017 courtesy of organisers Pulse Active. This year a full distance, 42km, will be launched for the first time in 25 years, together with the staple 5km, 10km and 21km runs. Attracting a wide demographic, from children, teenagers and entire families to office workers, expats and tourists. There has been a regular annual increase in the number of local Vietnamese participants in the race, and as the race grows in reputation it also grows in size. This year the organisers are expecting 6,000 to 7,000 people to take part. The marathon warm-up day is on Jan. 14 and the actual race takes place on Jan. 15. Registration fees differ depending on the distance you race — find out more on the course and registration by clicking on To see an article on the HCMC Run and the City Marathon, turn to page 26

The HCMC Run 2017

Gina Yashere

Phu My Hung, Q7 Sunday, Jan. 15

Game On Saigon, Q1 Friday, Jan. 20

Ho Chi Minh City’s biggest

Saigon International Comedy put

on some top-notch shows last year, and to kick off 2017 they’re bringing in one of their biggest comedians yet, the irrepressible and multiple award-winning UK comic, Gina Yashere. A former Otis lift mechanic, if you want to read her accolades, then go to her website (ginayashere. com). It’s impressive, and if you follow The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, then you’ll know her for her regular appearances as Madame Yashere. As for the media, well the quotes say it all really. Here are a few: “One of the best comics in the world.” — The Guardian “One of the top 10 rising talents.” — The Hollywood Reporter “Quite simply... Brilliant.” — The Australian Stage “Her observations are as sharp as shrapnel!” — The Evening Standard Gina Yashere is pure class. Entrance is VND200,000 and includes a free drink. Doors are at 8pm and Game On Saigon is at 115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1, HCMC. To keep yourself posted and ready for some comedic fun, click on saigoninternationalcomedy

Loan 0905 333 175 Bill 0121 653 5935 So 2 Duong Nha Tho, P.Vinh Hai, TP. Nha Trang, Viet Nam



More craft beer, a novel about Saigon, Christmas getaways and a space dedicated to contemporary culture. What’s new in Saigon




Viet Kitchen opens in the newly refurbished Renaissance Riverside Hotel

Heart of Darkness is the latest brewer to enter the local craft beer scene

A bigger and better BiaCraft opens in District 3




Viet Kitchen and Rbar Five-star property Renaissance Riverside Hotel has introduced two new venues to its facility, Viet Kitchen and Rbar. Both have been built on the ground floor after months of renovation. Viet Kitchen is a place where traditional ambience meets contemporary design. The restaurant focuses on international dishes combined with local Vietnamese flavours. Inspired by European street cafes, Rbar is a lounge bar built in the lobby. It’s a new drinking and dining experience where guests can enjoy a wide variety of culinary options and a long list of drinks. Pasteur Street craft beer is also available. Renaissance Riverside Hotel is at 8 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, HCMC

Heart of Darkness Ho Chi Minh City has just welcomed a new brewery, Heart of Darkness.

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The brewery currently produces five types of craft beer including a golden ale, a pale ale, an IPA, a wheat beer and a pilsner. The beers are now available at Pizza 4P’s Ben Thanh, Bia Craft in District 2 and 3, Buddha Bar in District 2, Rogue, Malt and Caravelle Hotel’s Saigon Saigon. Visit for more info. A Heart of Darkness venue at 31D Ly Tu Trong, Q1, HCMC will be open in the coming months

Belgo Belgo Pub opened last month, offering a new space for Belgian beer and food to match. With brick walls, large windows and a wrought iron gate, Belgo has been built in the style of a country villa. Stocking more than 30 types of Belgian beer priced from VND99,000 to VND410,000 per glass, Belgian dishes run from VND45,000 to VND245,000.

From December 2016, Belgian beer produced in Vietnam will be served at Belgo. Belgo is at 159 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, HCMC

BiaCraft District 3 BiaCraft has launched its second location at the corner of Le Ngo Cat and Ngo Thoi Nhiem in District 3. Compared with the District 2 venue, this space is larger with two sections including an outside corridor and an inside non-smoking space. Industrial décor runs the roost here thanks to a steel ceiling, staircase, chairs and tables. BiaCraft District 3 has 30 taps serving only craft beer and a selection of imported bottle beer. While Fuzzy Logic Pale Ale costs VND90,000 for a large glass, a bottle of Hazelnut Brown Ale from Rogue Brewery goes for VND100,000. Food is also available. BiaCraft District 3 is at 1 Le Ngo Cat, Q3, HCMC

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Black Hole by Ngo Thi Thuy Duyen, one of the many artworks on display at Salon Saigon’s opening exhibition

Anupa opens a second store in The Sheraton

Dark by Hoi An-based novelist, Elka Ray


Designed like a speakeasy, Mbar has opened on Nguyen Hue



Just one of the many spectacular views at Banyan Tree Lang Co



The two-bedroom accommodation at Angsana Lang Co






Family Getaway to Angsana Lang Co

Banyan Tree Lang Co Winter Special Offer

Angsana Lang Co resort located midway between Danang and Hue on the central coast is offering a family getaway promotion from now until Dec.22. Get the family holiday over and done with before the hectic Christmas and New Year period by taking advantage of Angsana Lang Co’s host of recreational activities on offer. Challenge yourself to a round of golf on their championship-level 18 hole course and then wash away the angst and frustration with an award-winning spa treatment. The promotion is based on a two-night stay in the two-bedroom category from VND14 million and is open only to residents of Vietnam. Anyone taking up the offer will also receive resort credits to the value of VND1 million, including other great perks. For more information or to make a reservation, contact Angsana Lang Co directly on reservations-langco@ or call (054) 369 5800

How does this sound? Stunning views of the East Sea in one direction and equally stunning views of the Truong Son mountain range in the other. Now, think of looking at that with your special someone followed by some fine dining and maybe a rejuvenating spa treatment to help ignite (maybe even reignite) the love within. From now until Dec. 31, Banyan Tree Lang Co on the central coast of Vietnam is giving you the perfect chance to book that romantic getaway. Book a stay in their Lagoon Pool Villa at VND6.58 million plus taxes per night and get a daily buffet breakfast for two, daily in-villa afternoon tea, and replenished daily mini-bar for selected non-alcoholic beverages. For more information or to make a reservation, contact the resort directly on or call (054) 369 5888

52 | Word December 2016 |

MBar Newly-opened MBar in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City identifies itself as among the best bars and restaurants in the city. Inspired by the interior design of speakeasies in 1920s and 1930s America, MBar aims to provide its guests with new and exciting experiences that can’t be found elsewhere on our city’s entertainment scene. Guests have an extensive food menu inspired by Western and Asian cuisines to choose from which can be paired with beverages that will keep the most discerning of fine wine and liquor aficionados more than happy. Non-drinkers are also catered for with plenty of nonalcoholic drinks including mocktails, teas, and MBar’s signature shaken fruity yoghurts. DJs spin throughout the night and if you’re into cigars, this might just be the place for you. MBar also has an exclusive club membership programme. MBar is located at 125 Nguyen Hue,



6 Q1, HCMC. Check out MBar’s Facebook page at mbarsaigon

Salon Saigon A new space and the first of its kind in Vietnam dedicated to contemporary creation and Vietnamese culture has opened in District 3. Located in a twostorey historical house, Salon Saigon provides a space for art exhibitions, performances, conferences, and educational programmes. There’s also a unique collection of resources on Vietnamese culture spanning history, sciences, literature, theatre and dance, music, fashion, architecture, archaeology, cinema and visual arts in Salon Saigon’s own library. Open every Tuesday from 9am to 6pm, and every other day by appointment except Sunday, Salon Saigon also has a gallery with a permanent collection, which focuses on the practice of drawing and other mediums by

both Vietnam-based artists and Vietnamese artists living abroad. Salon Saigon offers a quiet place to visit, have tea, chat to others, initiate art projects, or just to read. Salon Saigon is located at 6D Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, HCMC. For more information or to register to receive updates, email

Anupa Boutique in the Sheraton Well-known accessories and clothing boutique, Anupa, has opened a second store in the Sheraton Saigon Hotel (88 Dong Khoi, Q1, HCMC). Selling fashion and home accessories, scarfs, bags and a unique collection of jewellery and bling, the same mix of products is available as at the main store on Dong Du. In addition, from this month both boutiques will be selling a range of new stylish but elegant products including the Doreen card holder, the Florence clutch

and the Celine executive bag. For more info pop into the boutiques or click on

Saigon Dark Good and bad. Life and death. Some choices aren’t black and white. A grief-stricken young mother switches her dead child for a Vietnamese street kid, then spends the next decade living a lie. She remarries and starts to feel safe when she gets a note: ‘I know what you did’. Can she save her daughter from her dark secret? So reads the back cover of the latest novel by Hoi An-based UK/Canadian author, Elka Ray. Now living in Vietnam for over two decades, Saigon Dark is published by Crime Wave Press ( The Kindle edition is now available on Amazon. For more info email info@ or click on To find out more about Elka Ray read the interview with her on page 200

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1. Hanoi Cooking Centre is holding a Kid’s Gingerbread House decoration cooking class and serving up Christmas treats this December 2. Hanoi International Fellowship is organising a Christmas concert, The Lights of Home, on Dec. 3 3. The VietClimb Bouldering Cup returns for its fifth outing 4. This year’s Type Directors Club exhibition kicks off on Dec. 7 5. Saigon DJ Hibiya Line will perform at Savage on Dec. 10

Christmas, New Year’s Eve and everything that comes before, after and in between



Christmas at HCC Hanoi Cooking Centre / Ba Dinh Throughout December If you are craving a taste of home this Christmas Hanoi Cooking Centre’s annual Christmas treats can be delivered direct to your home or office. Here’s a sample of the menu: 6 mince pies — VND280,000 12 mince pies — VND550,000 6 fruit mince donuts — VND150,000 Christmas Pudding — VND420,000 Custard — VND230,000 Brandy Butter — VND230,000 DIY Gingerbread House Kit — VND300,000 HCC will also be holding their annual Kid’s Gingerbread House Decoration Cooking Class on Saturday, Dec. 10 and Saturday, Dec. 17 at 2.30pm. For more info click on or call (04) 3715 0088. Hanoi Cooking Centre is at 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

The Lights of Home Vietnam National Music Academy, Dong Da Saturday, Dec. 3 Hanoi International Fellowship (HIF) is providing an opportunity to rekindle fond memories of

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childhood with its 2016 Christmas Concert, The Lights of Home, on Saturday, Dec. 3. The concert will be conducted in English and will feature a traditional Christmas story and the familiar musical motifs of the season. Performed by a global cast of singers and actors, this will be a truly international Christmas celebration. Choirs from Concordia International School and UNIS will feature onstage, along with a range of talented HIF performers. “This year will be a trip down memory lane of Christmases gone by,” says HIF’s lead pastor, Jacob Bloemberg. “Whether you are familiar with Christmas from classical movies, carols, or international experiences, you will love these performances.” The Lights of Home will be performed at the Hoc Vien Am Nhac Quoc gia Viet Nam (Vietnam National Music Academy), 77 Hao Nam, Dong Da, Hanoi from 7.30pm to 9.30pm on Saturday, Dec. 3. For tickets call 01669 475926. For more info on HIF click on

VietClimb Bouldering Cup Chez Xuan, Tay Ho Saturday, Dec. 3 It’s time for the sixth edition of

the VietClimb Bouldering Cup, Vietnam’s favourite national bouldering competition. Established in 2011, this popular climbing competition attracts athletes from Hanoi, Saigon, Cat Ba, Danang, Japan, France and other countries each year, all meeting in a friendly bouldering match to find the best climber in Vietnam. The competition aims to promote an active lifestyle encouraging physical and social well-being, providing a better public understanding of climbing and bouldering, and engaging the nation’s youth to practise recreational activities. Entry costs VND400,000 per participant, and includes a complimentary event t-shirt and quality chalk. It is free for the public. The competition will run from 8am to 6pm at Chez Xuan, 40-41 Lane 76, An Duong, Tay Ho, Hanoi. To RSVP go to the event on Facebook

Type Directors Club Exhibition Goethe-Institut, Hanoi Dec. 7 to Dec. 18 Goethe-Institut is inviting everyone to join the Type Directors Club exhibition in Hanoi from Dec. 7 to Dec. 18. On exhibition will be the


most interesting designs the world of script and graphic design has to offer. The annual Type Directors Club competition and the award winner exhibition will present the best typographic works from the whole world. The award is considered one of the most renowned prizes in this field. This year, over 2,000 works from 49 different countries were submitted to the Communication Design and Type Design competition. There were 397 winners whose works will be presented in eight different exhibitions in the US, Canada,

China, England, France, Germany, Japan, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. The exhibition is directed especially at professionals and students in the fields of graphic design, advertising, marketing, communications, multimedia, publishing and education, and to everyone else interested in typography and design. The exhibition will be held at GoetheInstitut, 56-58 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh and will be open daily from 9am to 6pm. The opening will be on Dec. 7 at 6pm. Admission is free


Hibiya Line Savage, Tay Ho Saturday, Dec. 10 Anyone following the underground music scene in Vietnam will already be familiar with Observatory cofounder and resident Hibiya Line. For the past three years, the Ho Chi Minh City-based DJ has been presiding over the electro genre here with the most eclectic sets this country has ever known. Spinning genres from house and disco to oddities in between, Hibya Line is playing at Savage this month. Here’s your chance to get along | December 2016 Word | 55




1. The Song Hong Half Marathon kicks off in Tay Ho on Dec. 11 2. German b-boy Storm will be one of the guests at the hip-hop dance festival, All in One 3. Work by Phi Phi Oanh, the artist behind the Manzi exhibition, Scry 4. Hong Kong-based DJ Trio, Sweet Talk


and support an act that has done so much to develop underground music culture in Vietnam. Entrance is free before before midnight, VND100,000 after. Savage is at 122 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. For more info, click on

Song Hong Half Marathon Ciputra Club, Tay Ho Sunday Dec. 11 The longest-running (excuse the pun) race, the annual Song Hong Half Marathon will circle around the streets of Tay Ho on Sunday, Dec. 11. A firm fixture on the Hanoi calendar, this event goes from strength to strength, offering 10km and 5km distances, and of course, a kids’ fun run. The lead sponsor, Ciputra, will host the start and finish of the race in the confines of Ciputra Club. This year’s race is billed as the Run for Wildlife as Education for Nature Vietnam continues their partnership with Red River Runners, providing race volunteers and injecting their usual level of energy to the event. Stay up to date with all the race

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information through Hanoi Red River Runner’s Facebook page, redriverrunners.hanoi. To see an article on this year’s event, turn to page 28

Hanoi Run For Children Sunday, Dec. 11 Reunification Park, Hanoi Why this year’s Hanoi Run for Children (HRC) is taking place on the same day as the Song Hong Half Marathon is baffling — it’s normally held the week before. Which is a shame, because this event, previously called the Terry Fox Run Hanoi, is staged for a worthy cause; to raise funds for underprivileged children diagnosed with cancer and heart disease. Last year, the HRC attracted nearly 10,000 participants, raised VND1.4 billion and helped hundreds of children at the National Hospital of Pediatrics, the Hanoi Heart Hospital and the Heartbeat Foundation. Let’s hope it does the same again. The Hanoi Run for Children kicks off at 7am at the Reunification Park in Hanoi. Spectators are welcome. For more info click on

All in One Around Hanoi Dec. 13 to Dec. 15 For the fifth year running, Hanoi b-boy crew S.I.N.E. is organizing a hip-hop dance festival. During the three-day event, hip-hoppers, b-boys and b-girls and all other dance lovers will have the opportunity to participate in workshops, competitions and talks with well-known hip-hop artists both from the Vietnamese community as well as from all overseas. And of course, nobody should miss the spectacular performances of various crews and individual dancers who will perform freestyle, one-on-one and in group battles. The info’s not 100 percent confirmed, but this is what we know so far: Tuesday, Dec. 13 Bboy 3 on 3 finals plus freestyle 1 on 1 finals Venue: 1900 Le Theatre, 8B Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, 12am to 11pm Wednesday, Dec. 14 1 on 1 competition Venue: Savico Megamall Long



Bien, 12am to 11pm Thursday, Dec. 15 Workshops with foreign b-boy and hip-hop artists from overseas Venue: S.I.N.E. Studio, 63 Nhan Hoa, Thanh Xuan, Hanoi As part of the event GoetheInstitut have invited Storm Robitzky and Majid Kessab, two German b-boys and choreographers, to participate in the festival as members of the jury. Each of them will conduct a workshop on Dec. 15. For information click on goethe. de/ins/vn/en/

Scry Manzi Art Space, Ba Dinh From Dec. 16 The latest exhibition at Manzi Art Space by American-born artist Phi Phi Oanh called Scry is a series of paintings that require the use of magnifying glasses to appreciate the full effect of the lacquer skins. Scrying is the act of trying to find out what the future holds through focused gazing into a

glass or a reflective medium. For this series of paintings, the dimensions of the skins emulate those of touch tablet screens. Through the use of this visual metaphor, Phi Phi loosely reflects on contemporary imagery brought about by new technologies such as drones, satellites, and nanotechnology, by which viewers experience the sensation of peering into a looking glass to better grasp an understanding of their surrounding world. The exhibition opens at 6.30pm on Friday, Dec. 16 and continues through until Monday, Jan. 17. Entrance is free. Manzi Art Space is at 14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. For more info, click on manzihanoi

Sweet Talk Savage, Tay Ho Friday, Dec. 16 Hong Kong-based DJ trio Sweet Talk are jetting in this month to play at Savage. One of the most sought after groups of DJs | December 2016 Word | 57





1. Bring the Santa out in you at HCC and Bookworm’s annual Christmas Festival 2. Christmas in Hanoi is more than just imported turkey 3. Magico and Antwork will be playing Savage on Xmas Eve 4. Six DJs will spin the night away on NYE at Savage 5. The phenomenal comic Gina Yashere will be providing the hysterics at Standing Bar in mid-January

3 in Hong Kong, Sweet Talk formed years ago after a chance meeting around a large pile of vinyl records. Since then they’ve been attracting piles of admirers of their own thanks to their large selection deep house, disco and techno tracks. Sweet Talk is legendary for transmitting positive vibes to their audiences, so hit Savage Friday Dec. 16 and get charged in a positive way. Entrance is free before midnight. VND100,000 after that. Savage is at 122 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. For more info, click on

Annual Christmas Festival Bookworm & Hanoi Cook Centre, Ba Dinh Sunday, Dec. 18 Every year Bookworm and Hanoi Cooking Centre hold a knees-up to celebrate Christmas, and this year’s is no different. From 2pm to 5pm a jazzy dance combo will perform while guests get to party on complimentary mulled wine, sangria gingerbread cookies, Xmas candies and free balloons from the Amazing Balloon Bender.

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As part of the celebration, there will be an all-day 15% discount off all of Bookworm’s books and stock as well as a 10% discount off all Cooking Centre cookbooks, Christmas puddings and mince pies. Bookworm and Hanoi Cooking Centre are at 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Christmas Around Hanoi Dec. 24 and Dec. 25 If you have a penchant for Christmas, aren’t from the Antipodes, and associate all those bright lights, turkey leftovers and expanding waistlines with winter cold, then Hanoi is the perfect place to celebrate. To help you work out what to do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we’ve put together a nice article for you. So, simply turn to page 30 and read on. It might give you some great ideas.

Magico and Antwork Savage, Tay Ho Saturday, Dec. 24 Seoul in South Korea is home to

many great clubs and DJs spanning all genres of music, but one club in particular stands out as a home to underground house and techno artists. That club is Mystik. Situated in a basement in the gritty expat neighbourhood of Itaewon, Mystik is dedicated to promoting South Korea’s underground music scene. Now Hanoi gets a taste of that at Savage this month with a Mystik showcase featuring two prominent figures of the club, Magico and Antwork. They’ll be showcasing what they’ve got to offer in what promises to be an awesome night of techno and house. Entrance is free before midnight, VND100,000 after. Savage is at 122 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. For more info, click on

New Year’s Eve Party Savage, Tay Ho Saturday, Dec. 31 Savage is eagerly awaiting New Year’s Eve to roll around so they can blast you into the new year with their first NYE party since opening. To celebrate the end of the year and


5 the beginning of another, Savage has no less than five Hanoibased DJs lined up across two different rooms creating two different atmospheres. In the bar, Ali, Maggie G and Loan will move you to the sounds of disco, while in the club, Hlib, Karina and Crump will spin the New Year in with a wide range of house and techno. Entrance is free before midnight, VND100,000 after. Savage is at 122 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. For more info, click on

Gina Yashere Standing Bar, Ba Dinh Wednesday, Jan. 18 After a long stint at Son Tinh Lounge and then a move to CAMA ATK, the international stand-up comedy shows have once again upped sticks, this time finding a new residency at Standing Bar. To kick off 2017, the team behind Stand-Up Hanoi are bringing in the biggest name so far, the irrepressible and

multiple award-winning UK comic, Gina Yashere. A former Otis lift mechanic, if you want to read her accolades, then go to her website ( It’s impressive, and if you follow The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, then you’ll know her for her regular appearances as Madame Yashere. As for the media, well the quotes say it all really. Here are a few: “One of the best comics in the world.” — The Guardian “One of the top 10 rising talents.” — The Hollywood Reporter “Quite simply... Brilliant.” — The Australian Stage “Her observations are as sharp as shrapnel!” — The Evening Standard Gina Yashere is pure class. Entrance is VND200,000 and includes a free drink. Doors are at 8pm and Standing Bar is at 170 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. To keep yourself posted and ready for some comedic fun, click on hanoicomedy

Once reserved exclusively for royalty, tranquil Westlake now boasts Hanoi’s Gold-Standard serviced residences. Minutes from the city with unobstructed lake views, Fraser Suites Hanoi offers you the award-winning service even ancient kings would envy.



Just Hanoi

More businesses in West Lake, Hanoi gets a new Vincom, a skin care shop and a café in Dong Da. What’s new in the capital

Photos by Sasha Arefieva

Tiny’s Sushi & Bar Tiny’s has just opened at 40 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. With two successful Hoan Kiem restaurants already under their belt (Fresh Sushi at 68 Cau Go and 14A Luong Ngoc Quyen), the new space introduces a fresh format of booze with your sushi. Beers start at VND25,000 and cocktails go for around VND85,000. The drinks menu also includes mocktails (VND60,000 to VND85,000) fruit juices (VND35,000 to VND65,000), soft drinks (VND25,000) and a variety of teas and coffees (VND25,000 to VND80,000). Seating is focused around two bars; one has a view of the liquor, the other offers a view of the street. The sushi selection (VND10,000 to VND80,000) includes sashimi, temaki, nigari, handrolls and gunkan, along with various combo sets. Other Japanese favourites, such as noodles and fried dishes can also be found, with prices ranging from VND40,000 to VND150,000. Open daily from 10am to 11pm, Tiny’s is at 40 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Call 0122 938 8263 for more information





1. Tiny Sushi & Bar serves up Japanese cuisine with an extensive range of drinks 2. Hanoi Mix has been reborn out of the ashes of Mau Dich 81 3. Époque serves up coffee in a setting surrounded by original Indochina furniture 4. Maison de Blanc is a new bakery-café serving up great sandwiches to go with all the cakes 5. Vincom Centre opens in Dong Da. Let’s shout for joy 6. Rosso Café in Dong Da serves up cheap but tasty coffee 7. Authentic Store is the place to go for all your skincare needs

Hanoi Mix Hanoi Mix is officially open, reborn on Xuan Dieu from the ashes of Mau Dich 81. The owner is the same, but he’s brought in a new chef, refocussed the food menu and tidied up the décor. The new restaurant is a bright and comfortable space, thanks to wall-towall glass on each end. Customers will find delicious Vietnamese cuisine and an extensive drinks menu. Most of the cocktails will set you back VND75,000, but you can also get a few in jugs for around VND250,000 to VND300,000. Beers start from VND25,000, and there’s plenty of non-alcoholic stuff for the designated drivers. The food menu, all seven pages of it, contains local favourites such as fried spring rolls (VND80,000) and BBQ ribs (VND195,000/400g), as well as sharing platters and hot pots. Hanoi Mix is at 81 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Set lunches start from VND40,000 and the restaurant is open daily from 9.30am to 11.30pm. Call (04) 6276 6665 for more details

Époque If you’ve ever craved the nostalgic smell of old furniture with your morning coffee, then look no further. Recently opened on Xuan Dieu, Époque is a self-described neighbourhood consignment store. It just also happens to have a little

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kitchen which serves up high quality Arabica brews. A latte will set you back just VND40,000, while VND30,000 gets you a double espresso; no spoon, no sugar, no takeaway. It’s all about the coffee. The original Indochina furniture is mostly between 60 to 150 years old, and the prices reflect the quality and heritage. Pieces cost from VND1 million for wooden stools to VND30 million for a high-quality cabinet. The furniture comes from all over Vietnam, and Époque endeavours to share as much information about its backstory as possible. Époque is at 178B Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi and is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm. For info click on

Maison de Blanc There’s a new bakery-café on the block. Just opened in a beautiful white villa at 5 Tay Ho, Maison de Blanc is already wowing customers with Korean-themed beverages and homemade bread and cakes. The outdoor patio boasts seven tables in a beautiful and quaint

setting, while the house has three floors of seating, with Wi-Fi access throughout. A whole cake will set you back around VND400,000, and varieties include black sesame chiffon and green tea sake tiramisu. Fresh bread, baguettes and bagels are also available. If you’re just stopping off for a drink and need a slice of calories to go with it, single slices of cake or tarts go for between VND30,000 to VND80,000. Drinks include Korean tea in three favours (VND65,000), honey beer (VND60,000) and yogurt fruit smoothies (VND70,000). A selection of sandwiches makes this a great lunch spot, and the bulgogi potato ciabatta (VND100,000) is seriously good. There is also a small range of brunch sets for VND150,000 each. Maison de Blanc is at 5 Tay Ho, Tay Ho, Hanoi and is open daily from 9am to 10pm

Vincom Centre Have you ever thought, “I love Vincom Centres, but I wish I didn’t


5 7

have to drive more than 250m to find one”? If so, you’re in luck. The commercial takeover of Vietnam’s cities currently underway by Vingroup, has taken another giant stride forward with the opening of Hanoi’s sixth Vincom Centre. Just in case you’re worried, this one is exactly the same as all the others, and includes the obligatory Vinmart and cinema. Elite Fitness have also set up shop on the seventh floor, and shoppers will be pleased to find new stores for big brands, including Guess, Ecco, Adidas, Geox and New Look. If you like food, however, seek nourishment elsewhere. The dining options are just as soulless as the décor, and include Dairy Queen, Starbucks and Tous Les Jours. Find it at 2 Pham Ngoc Thach, Dong Da, Hanoi

Rosso Cafe Caffeine fiends rejoice, Hanoi has a new coffee shop, and it’s

awesome. Rosso Café opened last month at 296 Tay Son, Dong Da. “I want to make sure we have real, good quality coffee — but keep the prices as low as possible,” says the owner, Nguyen Quoc Viet. Mr Nguyen is no stranger to the coffee business, and Rosso is his second café. The latte (VND35,000) is made with a satisfying blend of Vietnamese Arabica and Robusta beans, and is as smooth to taste as it’s beautiful to see; my full name was written perfectly onto the foam. A more traditional nau da only costs VND20,000, which is amazing considering this is a modern three floor café, with good Wi-Fi and beautiful décor. Other drinks include ice blended coffees, Italian sodas, fruit chillers and fruit juices, with nothing on the menu costing more than VND45,000. Rosso Café is open daily from 7am to 11pm. For info, visit

Authentic Store Authentic Store is a shop specialising in imported skincare, cosmetic and health products. With one store at 47 Chua Lang, Dong Da, a new one has just opened at 70 Thai Ha, Dong Da. The store is an illuminous paradise for anyone who is looking for the best quality products to keep their skin and body healthy, happy and beautiful. Whatever type of skin you have, Authentic Store has something for you. Moisturisers, exfoliators, toners and make-up are all neatly arranged by country of origin, and then by brand. Big name brands in beauty and skincare such as Innisfree from Korea, The Body Shop from the UK and St. Ives from America are all available here, among others. Prices are reasonable, with the popular St Ives Apricot Scrub costing just VND160,000. Authentic is open daily from 8am to 10pm. For info email info. or call 0916 516738


Many Faces: Gonzalo Marronkle / The Fishermen of Ho Tay / The Word Awards / Present Perfect / Ashes & Pearls / Mystery Diner Hanoi / Hanoi's Best Street Food / Mystery Diner HCMC / The Best Street Food in Saigon / The Yangon Underground / Hon Ba / Notes From Another City: Happy Driving Photo by Julie Vola

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’m actually very shy,” Gonzalo Marronkle says. When watching the big Argentinian centreforward maraud around the Hang Day stadium in Hanoi you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise. He is Hanoi T&T’s talisman, and has been scoring goals for fun in Vietnamese football’s premier division — the V-League 1 — since 2009. Hanoi T&T celebrate its 10th birthday this year. Small change for the grand old clubs of European and South American football, perhaps, but in that short time they have made a habit of winning, with three league titles and four runners-up medals to their name. The most recent of their titles came in a nail-biting final day showdown against Thanh Hoa FC in August. Four teams went into the day with a chance of lifting the trophy. It was the kind of drama Sky Sports television would dream of writing. Marronkle scored both goals in their titlewinning game to clinch the trophy, and in his six years in Vietnam he has become a deity-like figure to the Hanoi supporters. For Marronkle, the tightness of the campaign brought a bond within the squad that saw them over the line. “It was a very hard league this year,” he says. “We had a poor start that made it very difficult to be champions. But as the games kept passing, and as this team has very good players, we then saw that it was not impossible.”

Many Faces


Gonzalo Marronkle There are many foreign footballers playing in the V-League. Some have an impact, some don’t. Thomas Barrett speaks to Vietnam’s very own version of Sergio Aguero, Argentinian striker Gonzalo Marronkle. Translation by Guim Valls Teruel

Low-key With the season now over I speak to Marronkle from his home town of Cordoba, Argentina. It’s clear he does not conform to the playboy reputation of footballers. He tells me the title celebrations were lowkey. Dinner with his wife and a quiet toast with the rest of the team. Football is a more relaxed affair in Vietnam, with many of the excesses and temptations that are on offer to those in Europe not available here. Cordoba is the second largest city in Argentina and is surrounded by the rolling hills of the Sierras Chicas. Ossie Ardiles is perhaps its most famous son to kick a ball. Ardiles found fame in England, and I am fascinated by Marronkle’s less trodden path from South America, to Vietnam via Portugal. He confesses that he didn’t know much about the country before he signed. When he got the call that Hanoi T&T were interested in signing him, panic set in. “I thought I was coming to war!” He admits that this initial reaction was unfair as he did “not know how beautiful this country was.” A perk of the job for Marronkle is travelling around Vietnam, especially when the team gets to enjoy the beaches of Danang.

Determined Football was always his dream and it is this single-mindedness and determination to make it that led him to Vietnam. “I always

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wanted to be a player,” says Gonzalo. “I started when I was four years old in Bell Ville. When I was 15 I tried my luck in Buenos Aires at Club Lanus in the First Division.” But like many players from South America, the lure of European football drew him across the Atlantic and FC Porto in Portugal came calling. A fruitful spell for Portuguese lower division outfit Portinomense was his final port of call in Europe before heading to the unknowns of Vietnam. Marronkle admits that the financial incentive in Vietnam was attractive to him. “I thought Hanoi was an interesting economic offer. In Portugal if it is not a big team there are many difficulties in economic terms.” Luckily for Gonzalo, the supporters embraced him from the start and his swashbuckling style of play has endeared him to the locals as well as to his teammates. As the star foreign striker, he doesn’t see himself as above his Vietnamese allies on the pitch. “What I feel is that people respect me and like the way I play. I have always tried to give my best, and without my teammates nothing will be achieved.”

Beautiful Game “I do not speak Vietnamese, I can only understand a little. And we communicate through a translator and the language of football — that is the most beautiful.” The fortified barriers that exist between fan and player in Europe are weaker here. To Marronkle it’s a liberating aspect of life as a player in Vietnam. The fans have helped make Hanoi home to Gonzalo and his wife. “They are very different here,” says Gonzalo. “They want to please you all the time. They invite you to drink coffee or maybe a beer. I think it’s the weirdest thing. It is an easy country to adapt to and it grows very fast. My wife and I, we feel very good and comfortable here. But traffic is a real challenge.” At 32, he’s ready to give the twilight years of his career to Hanoi T&T. The wanderer has finally become settled and Gonzalo Marronkle is hungry for more success in Hanoi. “My goal here is to win more titles and train harder to be able to give my best and help the club.”

Photos provided by Hanoi T&T




The Fishermen of Ho Tay

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After all the dead fish in West Lake, what happened to the fishermen? As it turns out, they’re still there. So are the fish. Words by Edward Dalton. Photos by Julie Vola


ake a drive around the shores of West Lake and you’ll notice two things. First, the rancid smell of dead fish has subsided. Second, there are still dozens of men casting their lines into the lake. Often standing knee-deep in the water, or balancing on slapdash piers constructed from insecure pieces of rock and timber, they spend hours at a time using makeshift fishing gear to reel in the scaly denizens of the murky deep. It looks like hard work, even boring; but as someone who has never even touched a fishing rod, perhaps I was missing the point. Were these guys doing it for fun, or was there a more economic motive?

From Dawn ‘til Dusk Everyone knows about the elderly Vietnamese people who rise with the sun to perform their morning exercises. Tai chi,

68 | Word December 2016 |

yoga or just a brisk power walk; all common sights around West Lake before most people have wiped the morning crust from their eyes. But in the background, beyond the exercising masses on the shores and sticking up from the water’s edge like tiny pylons, dozens of men are searching for their first catch of the day. Duong Manh Khang is 48, and has been fishing at West Lake since he was old enough to hold a rod. “I always loved the lake so much,” he says. “When I first started fishing, I was too small to use a rod, so I just had a simple net.” Khang’s eyes fall to the bamboo rod and tattered plastic reel in his hands. “I’ve only ever used rods like this,” he says, “because they’re so cheap — it used to be hard work reeling in the line, but I’m used to it now.” As we talk, several other nearby fishermen | December 2016 Word | 69

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watch us with curiosity. “We’re all friends around the lake, there’s no competition between us at all,” Khang says. “We learn how to fish together and share techniques. And if you want to know the best places to stand, follow the old men — they always know best.”

Duty Before Pleasure Even without touching them, it’s plain to see how rough Khang’s hands have become. “I used to work in construction, but now I’m unemployed,” he says. “That’s why I come here to fish every day. I have too much free time.” Despite being without a job, he doesn’t eat or sell the fish he catches; he releases them all back to the lake. “I’m a Buddhist,” says Khang, as he looks over to the nearby Tay Ho Temple. “I go there often. I feel bad about hurting the fish, but coming here keeps me happy and healthy.” Looking down at the water lapping against the embankment, the yellow-green colour and floating rubbish makes for a disheartening sight. “The lake didn’t used to be like this. The colour was more blue,” Khang says. “But I still think the fish are OK for eating. People around here eat them every day, and they’re still alive!” I ask Khang why he doesn’t try to make a full-time living out of fishing, only to be met

with a sad look and a shake of the head. “My parents are both over 80,” he explains. “I have to help feed them every day, and they’re nearly blind. I spend most of my time looking after them.” So will Khang ever stop fishing? “Only if the police stop me!”

Surprised to learn there are rules, I press The Anh for more details. “Between the fishermen around the edges, it’s first come first served for the best spots,” he explains. “But people are usually friendly. There are enough enemies outside, we don’t need to fight each other.”


A Bleak Outlook

Doan The Anh doesn’t like to stay in one place for too long. “I get bored easily,” he says, fidgeting with his tackle. “So I change jobs a lot.” He doesn’t fish for a living, but the passion for it runs in the family. The Anh’s kids are just four and nine years old, but they’ve both already started fishing with him on weekends. “We usually sell what we catch to our neighbours,” he says. “But if we catch anything really big, we’ll keep it for dinner.” The Anh used to be a financial consultant, but now works as a taxi driver. “I’d love to be a commercial fisherman, and work on a boat,” he says. “That lifestyle is really attractive to me.” At 34, he accepts fishing will never be more than a hobby for him now, as his young family depends on him to bring in a strong income. “I enjoy it so much, I even invested in a real fishing rod,” says The Anh. “Most of the men around the lake don’t want to risk any expensive equipment being confiscated.”

Enemies is a discreet way of referring to local officials and the company which owns the lake and has exclusive fishing rights. “Fishing is not permitted, unless you’re friends with the right people,” The Anh tells me. “We have to be careful, otherwise we will be fined, and our equipment will be taken away.” The Anh doesn’t have much hope for the future of fishing at West Lake. “As the city develops, the lake will get more polluted,” he says. “The recent mass fish deaths were just the beginning.” He looks down towards the grimy water. “There used to be clams, snails, and thousands of shrimp,” says The Anh. “But now, there’s only a few shrimp left. The clams and snails are nearly all gone, and most of the fish near the shore are too small to be worth anything.” Khang and The Anh are just two faces in a sea of stories. It’s sad to think how many lives will be affected if West Lake doesn’t start receiving the investment and care it needs. | December 2016 Word | 71

Cover Story

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The Word Awards


rash. Glitzy. Outspoken. Controversial. Divisive. Yes, it’s the annual Word Awards again, our contribution to the vast treasure trove of miniature statues and dusty trophies that adorn the world’s mantlepieces, outdoor sheds and smallest rooms. But are we the Oscars, the Grammys, the Emmys or the BAFTAs? Not a chance. Not a movie or TV programme in sight. And are we dishing out industry awards like the ‘Best NonSeven Star Beachside Boutique Resort in Non-Urban Vietnam’? You can bet your bottom dollar we aren’t. Perhaps we are taking money for ensuring the votes are fair, well, at least fair from a commercial perspective. Oh, now that’s a thought… Or perhaps we’re getting involved in the racial concerns raised on the eve of the 2016 Oscars. No, none of that. Instead we have our third annual Wordies. Our very own version of back-patting and kudos-giving, we know how important it is for Vietnam to have a system of handing out laurels and accolades. Which is why we have

created something that is designed with our favourite country in mind. Some of the awards have been selected by our team of knowledgesavvy writers and photographers. You know, all the good ones like the Thank You For All the Sushi Award or the Best Dressed Xe Om Driver Award. With friends in high and ignominious places, we’ve even got a few celebrities involved. Gordon Ramsay has had his say on the The Rudest Street Food Seller Award in Vietnam while John Cleese aka Basil Fawlty has chosen the award for the worst customer service experience in the history of mankind. But we haven’t stopped there. Wanting to know what our readers think about the restaurants, bars, cafés and bia hoi they frequent in Vietnam, or where they love travelling to most, we’ve worked with over 100 judges to come up with a list of the ‘Best Of’. Some of the voting is surprising. Some of it isn’t and some it is just, well, collective opinion. So, dear reader. In all its fine upstanding glory we give you: The Wordies | December 2016 Word | 73

The Wordies The award for being fresh off the boat; the ‘I Don’t Care’ award; the compass award for taxi drivers; the best expat slang award; the prize for the best underwater project in Vietnam or perhaps the tastiest burrito in Hanoi. Over the following pages we answer all those things you’ve always dared to ask but never wanted to know. Interested? Well better read on, then. You may even find out who won the award for the grubbiest-looking craft brewer in Vietnam.

The award for an Important Perspective on Vietnam goes to…..

Michael Herr M

ichael Herr’s death at the age of 76 in June 2016 led to worldwide tributes to someone who became synonymous with Vietnam. Dispatches, a masterpiece that chronicled his time spent writing on the war for Esquire magazine from 1967 to 1969, is regarded as one of the greatest books on war ever written. He writes in Dispatches that “everywhere you went people said: ‘Well, I hope you get a story,’ and everywhere you went you did.” But unlike many reporters covering the war, Herr wasn’t interested in political posturing or operational minutiae. Rather, he focused on the human stories of war. Warts and all. Herr famously chose to avoid press conferences from the generals and assorted higher-ups in favour of immersing himself with the troops who were fighting on the front line. He became part of the brotherhood, and the vignettes that pepper the narrative are heartbreaking and full of pathos. From the naive Mayhew cheerily singing among the bloodshed, “When you get to San Francisco, be sure

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and wear some flowers in your hair”, to the 19-year-old soldier who grimly tells Herr that “he’s gotten too old for this shit”. The American troops were battling the landscape, too. Herr’s descriptions of “ghastly mists fuming out of the valley floor, ingesting light” are hardly love letters to the countryside that many of us have fallen in love with. It’s a travel diary as much as it is a brutal account of war and his poetic prose is like Shelley and Byron infused with the beat poet. Wartime Saigon is described as being like “inside the folded petals of a poisonous flower”. The cloying atmosphere seeps off the pages. For Americans the war represented the final, fatal full stop to the optimism of the 1960s and Herr masterfully captured this loss of innocence through a generation of war’s lost boys. Dispatches offered a perspective on war, Vietnam and human nature that was uncompromising and essential. “I realized that the only corpse I couldn’t bear to look at would be the one I would never have to see.” — Thomas Barrett

The award for The Best View in Hanoi goes to...

The Lotte Center “B

est views” can be subjective. For some, staring at the organised chaos of people and motorbikes during Hanoi’s rush hour is captivating. Others prefer the serenity of watching the sun disappear under West Lake while fishermen reel in the day’s catch for their dinner. In Hanoi, Hoan Kiem Lake and West Lake are the standard visual draws. But to fully appreciate the sprawling landscape that is the country’s capital, you need to rise above the everyday perspective and take in views of the entire city. One place where you can see the

patchwork of city and nature with perspective is the Lotte Observation Deck on top of the Lotte Center. With a bird’seye view, 65 storeys above the ground, you’ll witness the stark contrast between the city of old and the urban sprawl of future skyscrapers edging ever closer. The floor-to-ceiling windows that surround the Lotte Observation Deck fully capture an almost 360-degree view of Hanoi. The only difficulty is timing your trip to fall on a clear day, which at times can be few and far between. It is also best to visit during the day, as there are better places to view Hanoi by

night. Being this high up goes a long way in tempering Hanoi’s calamitous atmosphere. For the adventurous, the Observation Deck features three glass floors that you can step out onto and feel the sense of standing in open air. Looking down is optional; however, if fine dining and cocktails are more your style, the Top of Hanoi bar — which is also on the 65th floor of the Lotte Center — is a better choice. Unlike the pricy Observation Deck, getting up to the Top of Hanoi bar is free. But when you factor in food and drinks, both options cost around the same. — Hai Vu | December 2016 Word | 75

The award for Being Fresh off the Boat goes to...

Read on and find out W

e all have to go through it. When we start living in another culture, we’re going to make some rookie errors along the way. Fresh Off the Boat-ers (FOBs) try to survive on what they already know about their previous world. They assume all banking can be done online, people form queues, and that expat Facebook groups are supportive. How they deal with those challenges will be the difference

between the experience of a lifetime and a living hell. This award celebrates all those little things we could’ve researched just a little bit more thoroughly, but didn’t, and instead relied upon our assumptions. As someone once said, assumption is the mother of all f**k ups. From our very long list of things FOBs assume wrongly, here are some highlights: — Can wear shorts and flip flops to a police check

— A new tailored suit will fit — Can get things done between 12pm and 2pm — Consulates will help — Should arrive at weddings on time — Two passport pics are enough — All taxis are worth a try — Planes will leave on time — Trains won’t leave on time — Workers will fix things properly — First dates will be with just

the two of them — Believe that shirts are really XL — US$1 manicure/pedicures at Ben Thanh won’t lead to ingrown toenails — Five minutes means five minutes And the winner goes to… X-ray machines don’t exist beyond the baggage carousel Please note: Leave your sex toys and porno mags at the plane door. — Matt Cowan

The award for the Taxi Drivers Most in Need of a GPS System goes to..…

Almost all of them U

ber, Grab Taxi, Vinasun, Mai Linh. They’re all services we love or hate. But how often have you been in one of their fine, upstanding vehicles to discover that they don’t have a clue where they’re going? Unless Lady Luck is on form, the answer will be “many”. So this month we did a little survey. We amassed all our taxi journeys — that’s all the

journeys taken by our staff and freelancers — and gave a tick mark for how often our taxi driver either took the long route or said ‘yes, yes, yes’ and then proceeded to go completely the wrong way. And the winner of the award? All of them. Here’s the stat. One in two taxi drivers don’t know where they are going.

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That’s 52%, the same percentage of people who voted for Brexit. In many cities on this planet, before you can become a registered taxi driver you have to spend six months or even a year getting to know the streets of the city in which you will work. Then you get your licence. Unless you work for Uber.

So, to all those taxi drivers out there, getting behind the wheel of a Toyota with taxi plates on it isn’t enough. Nor is signing up with Uber or Grab Taxi. And nor is having a driver’s licence. Know where you’re working, please, and it will save you a lot of arguments. It might keep your customers happy, too. — Nick Ross

The award for "I don 't care! " goes to...

Workers on rooftops T

here are a number of things in Vietnamese society that have not changed and probably never will. Why? Because no one thinks they need to. These things are perfectly legal and are not particularly bad, but they display such a brazen show of “I don’t care” that no onlooker can help but look twice. 5) Coming in at number five is the “Ice ice baby” award for most questionable beverages. When ordering a cool drink, beware. Your ice may or may not have been slept on, stood on, dropped, melted, hugged or spat on before it finds its way to your glass. But what does it matter anyway? Mot Hai Ba Dzo!

4) Number four, the bulbous belly’s right to exposure. If you are male, over 30 and the weather is hot, your stomach is completely entitled to air itself. The more rotund your belly is, the better it is for exposing. Get a tan! Practice sticking it out and balance your ca phe sua da just under your chest. Think of it as your very own peacock’s tail — a stamp of true success. 3) Number three seems the same, but is totally different. In Vietnam, everything is available as a knockoff. Shoes, phones, handbags, probably fish too — if it looks like a goldfish, swims like a goldfish and gawps like

a goldfish, it might just be a sardine. You never know. But does it matter? 2) And number two: once you reach about 60 you have the undisputable right to wear whatever pyjamas you fancy at whatever time of day you like and in whatever context you choose. There is no limit to this, in fact the more adventurous you are, the better. 1) And number one? First prize, the Great Wallenda Award, goes to the scaffolding men. For their silent, mandatory bond to not, at any point, show concern for their health and wellbeing. There might even be a points system for

how many life-risking activities you can maintain at once. Welding on a rooftop? 10 points. Welding on a rooftop with no shoes on? 15. Welding, shoeless, at the very edge of a rain slick piece of roof tiling? 20 points, two chickens and a round of beers at the end of the day. — Zoe Osborne

The award for the Worst Mechanic goes to..…

The bloke who repairs bikes on Xuan Dieu, Hanoi H

e’s only a little guy, but he’s got some spunk about him and a smile that says, “Hey, you got problem with motorbike? I fix it for you.” My problem was a little one, a puncture to my front wheel. So I brought the bike along and got him to fix it. Fine. The only issue was that once back in town I got another flat. So after part driving with a flat / wheeling my bike back to West Lake / pumping it up with air so I could actually get back to Xuan Dieu, I found my motorbike repair guy again and said: “Hey, I’ve got another puncture.” This time he showed me all the holes in the inner tube. I needed a new one. “Why didn’t you tell me that last time,”

I said. It was going to cost VND250,000. A rip off but I had no choice, unless I wanted to wheel my bike to somewhere else. Inner tube replaced, I shake his hand and leave. Two days later I’m driving in Long Bien and get a flat. It’s the same front wheel. I take the bike to the nearest roadside repair shop, they check the inner tube. Two punctures. Then they check the tyre. There’s a nail inside it. My mechanic had forgot to check the inside of the tyre of sharp objects. So, to the little guy who repairs motorbikes on Xuan Dieu close to Quang An, The Worst Mechanic Award goes to you. Just never let me set eyes on you again. — Nick Ross | December 2016 Word | 77

The award for the Best Underwater Project in Vietnam goes to...

The Ho Chi Minh City Metro System I

t’s the rainy season. The whole of Saigon is flooded. The city’s French-built sewerage system is working overtime. But the talk of the town is not wading knee-high through rivers of dirty rainwater. Nor is it the frustrations of starting up a motorbike stranded in the middle of a flood. Nor is it the need to buy another new raincoat because the last one (the expensive one) disappeared off the bike in the underground parking lot in Vincom.

No, talk is of the underconstruction, next-decade-tobe-inaugurated metro system. How will it cope with the rain? For those who picture state-of-the-art trains cruising through water-filled tunnels under the heart of Saigon, don’t worry. And for those saying that now is the time to learn to swim or to scuba dive, think again. Here’s something to ease your mind. Most of the metro system is built like a skytrain — same as in Bangkok, right? It’s only when you get to Van Thanh

Station on the south side of the Saigon River that it goes underground, which means all the trains running from the Saigon Bridge will be fine. Hmmm. Here’s another thing to ease your mind. There’s a tunnel between England and France that runs under the English Channel (La Manche to those of you still tied to the EU). The tunnel goes under the sea and it’s 50.5km long, and it never gets flooded. Although there has been the odd fire or four, not that anyone cares about

that. Point is, the trains going under the sea never cruise like submarines. So the Ho Chi Minh City Metro System is going to be fine, too, right? Not according to Saigonese who are already talking of a mass boycott of an urban rail system that hasn’t even been built. Which is why we’ve decided to name the Ho Chi Minh City Metro System the Best Underwater Project in Vietnam. After all, it is being built in the middle of a former swamp. — Nick Ross

The award for the Biggest Shambles on Facebook goes to...

Hanoi Massive A

few years ago Word set up a Facebook profile called Word Vietnam. It allowed us to post to everyone’s favourite social media site without using our real names. But at the beginning of 2015 a post on gay marriage in Vietnam went viral, and someone reported us to Facebook. The social media site sent us an email requiring us to prove (passport, driving licence) that we were a person called Word Vietnam.

We couldn’t and we lost the profile. This year Hanoi Massive also got it wrong. Created one hungover Saturday between a group of friends to sort out dinner plans, drinks and work, the Facebook group soon grew to 1,000 members and then 10,000. In a short time it was reaching more than 40,000 people. “The success can be attributed to how difficult this city can be at times, and the lack of [easilyaccessible online resources],”

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said founder Jules Talbot back in late 2014. “Most of us come from very easy-to-organise lives, and when you have to find everything out the hard way in a new city, something like Massive is pretty handy.” The problem was how to make money out of it. One answer was to sell the top banner on the group page to whoever was interested. For a while it meant free beer, free bottles of vodka, and the odd meal or five thrown in for the

admins. But early this year Massive hired a sales rep to bring in the cash. Facebook is averse to such commercialism — you can only use it to make money under rigid criteria. Someone reported the group to Facebook. It was closed down. The group has been reinvented and is now called Hanoi Massive — A New Era. But as for membership, at present it’s 15,000. Still some way to go. — Nick Ross

The Thank You For All The Sushi award goes to..…

West Lake F

igures vary, but according to some over 70 tons of dead fish were collected out of West Lake when they started dying en masse in early October. The story is well-known; overnight, thousands of dead fish appeared on the surface of West Lake, Hanoi’s largest body of water. As the clean-up got under way, theories multiplied about just why the second dead fish tragedy in a year had blighted Vietnam. Like everyone else we wanted answers. So we asked someone

in the water industry if they were able to do some tests. They discovered that the ammonia levels in the water were off the scale — 10 times the standard amount. According to the website,, excess ammonia causes fish to suffer a loss of equilibrium, hyperexcitability, increased respiratory activity and oxygen uptake, and increased heart rate. At extreme levels, fish experience convulsions, coma and death. Experiments

have shown that the lethal concentration for a variety of fish species ranges from 0.2 to 2.0 mg/l. The level found in West Lake was 2.79 mg/l. So how did all the ammonia get into West Lake? No-one is telling, but according to the website purewateroccasional. net, the most frequent cause is from “runoff in agricultural areas where it is applied as fertilizer and… finds its way into underground aquifers from animal feedlot runoff.” — Nick Ross

The award for The Best Adaptation of Another Idea goes to…..


omparing present-day Vietnam to what the city looked like just five years ago, the difference is striking. From the introduction of McDonald’s and Starbucks only a few years ago, to the younger generation shifting from American culture to Korean culture, this country continues to change. With mega-chains taking over Hanoi’s prime real estate locations, there are still some multinational conglomerates that have yet to arrive. One

such corporation is Ikea. At least, while they manufacture in Vietnam, there’s no retail. Who doesn’t want a slice of the largest furniture manufacturer in the world? So, until Ikea lands in this country, bring on those who’ve taken their concept and adapted it. One such company looking to fill the void is Vietnamesebased retailer UMA. Although UMA has adopted Ikea’s buyand-build flatpack business model, UMA’s products stand

on their own quality-wise. The products, mainly designed in-house and some imported from Japan and Korea, all have whimsical “Ikea-esque” names such as Narbonne (a couch) or Lipizzan (a shelf). As far as pricing goes, the goods sold at UMA are a bit more expensive than traditional Vietnamese wares, but customers can trade higher prices for more interesting modern designs. UMA is hands-down the

closest thing Vietnam has to the Scandinavian furniture juggernaut. The only discernible difference might be that UMA has swapped Ikea’s trademark blue and yellow colour scheme for a red and white one. Whether or not UMA’s minimalistic take on furniture and housewares appeals to you, it is definitely worth a visit, if only for the novelty of seeing Vietnam’s take on Swedish-style furniture. — Hai Vu | December 2016 Word | 79

The award for the Grubbiest Looking Brewer goes to..…

Thomas Bilgram


his award celebrates the victory of substance over style. Unless your style is modelled after a hipster Viking. Vietnam has seen the craft beer industry explode into life in the past two years, and one of the pioneers rocking onto the Hanoi scene brings a look which lies somewhere between Professor X and Grizzly Adams. Word is proud to award this

greatest of honours to Thomas Bilgram, the bearded BrewMeister General at the helm of the great Furbrew (8b/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi) ship. Here’s what Thomas had to say on learning that looking like the Wicked Wizard of Copenhagen is the secret to producing some of the best craft beer in the country. “Grubby? I’ll have to Google that,” he said, before erupting

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into laughter. “Well I’m too old to be a hipster, and too young to be a Viking.” “It’s great to know my brand is working out,” he continued, “Fur + brew!” Instead of hipster Viking, Thomas prefers bøeuf. “It’s a Danish term for a guy who’s like an elephant in a porcelain shop; good-spirited, but unsubtle,” explains Thomas. “Just like my beers;

they’re punchy, and unsubtle in flavour.” At Furbrew, Thomas and his team produce a medley of highquality ales and beers which would keep even the rowdiest of Misty Mountains Dwarves happy. Just think about how hairy the selfies would be if Gimli, son of Gloin, took his chums for a night of grog at Furbrew. — Edward Dalton

The Basil Fawlty award for Best Crap Customer Service Experience goes to..…

Beer2Ku on Nguyen Dinh Thi M

ost people have either worked in the service industry, or know someone who does. Most people understand these hard-working individuals do their best to provide customers with satisfying service. Despite this, most people have a story about bad customer service. In a country where barking em oi at an underpaid restaurant worker without even looking up is considered the norm, it’s not surprising that many Vietnamese restaurant staff lack the ‘customer is always right’ mentality of their Western counterparts. With this in mind, the Basil Fawlty Award goes to the trendy lakeside Beer2ku bar and restaurant on Nguyen Dinh Thi. An order of grilled rabbit with a side of fried rice should

have been an uneventful affair, considering they’re such popular dishes there. However, only around 10 percent of the meat dish contained edible meat, the rest was either stone cold, or chunks of bone. Worst of all though, was the fried rice. After finding an unwelcome creepy-crawly in the middle of the dish, the waitress was called over. She inspected it and apologised. Most people would have expected the dish to be remade, or even the whole meal to be free. Instead, the waitress spooned out the offending insect, and left the rest of the dish to be eaten. Bon appetit, indeed. Was the fried rice still on the bill? Of course it was. Welcome to Vietnam. — Edward Dalton

The Gordon Ramsay award for The Rudest Street Food Seller goes to...

The Bun Ca Joint on Yen Phu E

veryone loves street food, but not everyone shares a love of being called fat and crazy, or having their bill thrown at them with a special foreigner tax added on top. Some street food sellers lose their cool if you don’t dip your meat in the right sauce. Some are offended if you take the food away, while others will throw insults at you just for asking how long until there will be a free table. The winner of this award though, is no longer in the business. Maybe her blood pressure reached immeasurable new levels and she exploded in a cloud of fury and impatience.

At 66 Yen Phu, Hanoi there was a popular bun ca place. It changed hands a few months ago, but the original owner and chef that so many grew to love and hate was like something from the pages of a comic. Ingredients would be furiously tossed into a bowl with her bare hands, carrying the extra marinade of her spit, an unavoidable addition, courtesy of the constant shouting. If you asked her where to park, you’d be lucky to get anything more than a grunt and a shrug; she didn’t care if you stayed or went. Something about her loud,

angry shouting, and her blunt indifference gave people a sort of masochistic pleasure; so you kept going back for more. Let’s

put it down to the food, because she did make one mean bowl of fish noodle soup. — Edward Dalton | December 2016 Word | 81

The award for the Most Wrong Thing Done in Vietnam goes to..…

Dognapping I

f you find something done wrong in Vietnam, ask a local for an explanation. Why do people pee in public? Easy. It’s because of the nice open space, cool breeze and fresh air and, of course, someone’s got to water the trees, right? And why do bus passengers suddenly fall asleep when a pregnant woman, an elderly or disabled person gets on a crowded bus? Perhaps it’s because of the comfortable seats. Or maybe not. Vietnam finds new things to do wrong each year, especially

when the people have full access to all fields of endeavour via the Internet. In August, people found similarities between We don’t talk anymore by Charlie Puth (released in Jan. 2016) and Chung ta khong thuoc ve nhau by Son Tung MTP (released in Aug. 2016). The explanation was given that the two artists had the same mood and inspiration. Online shopping also makes it onto the list, when what you ordered looks different from what they deliver. Instead of that perfect pink lace dress that could

highlight your body curves as advertised in the photos, you get a dress for your grandmother with fluorescent green fabric and clumsy sewing lines. The downside is you cannot get it refunded and you waste of your time. The upside? You might not have to worry what to wear for Halloween any more. However, the worst thing done in Vietnam this year is stealing dogs for meat, or worse, for ransom. It may sound trivial and amusing, but in Vietnam it is serious.

There are stories of dog owners chasing and beating the thieves, and likewise there are stories of thieves, when they are cornered, finding a way to retaliate. Instances of this have already been reported in Bac Giang, Quang Ninh, Nghe An and Dong Nai. While stealing dogs is considered illegal, there is no real criminal deterrent to deter the thieves. In the meantime, make sure your dogs are safe indoors when you’re not at home, and keep an eye on them when you take them for a walk. — Vu Ha Kim Vy

The award for the Worst Road in Ho Chi Minh City goes to..…

Nguyen Hue Walking Street H

o Chi Minh City’s road system is getting worse every year. If last year we avoided rush hour to go to work, this year we had to change direction. If last year we tried to stay dry during rainy season, this year we were thinking about buying boats. Street and metro construction sites are part of the reason. Many streets in the centre, like Pasteur, have construction sites taking up more than a half of

the street space, causing traffic jams all day. Suburban roads around industrial zones such as in Thu Duc, District 9 and District 7 have been ploughed up by container trucks, driving people away. This year fatal traffic accidents have also been on the rise in District 7 and on the highways of District 2 and District 9. The culprit? Those container trucks. However, the worst road award goes to Nguyen Hue. Not

because as a road itself there’s anything terrible about it. As a walking street this central thoroughfare is rather pleasant. But that’s the problem. Pedestrianising the central part of Nguyen Hue has meant creating a one-way traffic ring causing congestion not just for itself but on the streets nearby. You can’t cross Nguyen Hue any more. It’s not allowed. Now you have to drive round. The result is that at all times

of the day nearby Ton Duc Thang, Pasteur, Ly Tu Trong and Le Thanh Ton are chock full of traffic. Going to District 2, or simply to the other side of District 1, has become so complicated and frustrating you want to scream. Several solutions have been suggested, like, for example allowing people to drive across Nguyen Hue again. Is this likely to happen? Not a chance. — Vu Ha Kim Vy

The award for the Worst Road in Hanoi goes to..…

Tay Son O

h Tay Son, you vast, hot, dusty artery through south Hanoi, how we wish we could avoid you. Perhaps other roads are more crowded or more potholed, but there’s something about the length and breadth of

this one, the way motorbikes criss-cross multiple lanes out of nowhere, the glaring sun reflecting off the tarmac, and the dust from construction that covers everything that makes it a nightmare. There is no worse fate than

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being stuck here during rush hour in the rain, surrounded on all sides by hot motorbikes as far as the eye can see, feeling like you’ve entered the seventh circle of hell and perhaps, this is the end. But there’s a light at the end

of Tay Son’s tunnel. If you can make it all the way past the half-built metro line and out of Hanoi, there is beauty to be found in the countryside — but 45 minutes of chaos and despair is the price you pay. — Jesse Meadows

The Environmentally Friendly award goes to..…

Keep Hanoi Clean H

anoi is pollution, pollution is Hanoi. The environment here is in such a poor state that you can imagine Kazaks living around the Aral Sea lowering their heads in pity. It’s not that the authorities aren’t doing anything to change this, as they are doing a lot. But the roots of the problem run deep, and the powers that be can only do so much. At the end of the day, ordinary people have to pull their weight too. Our environmentally friendly award goes to a group who have been getting

their hands dirty cleaning up dumping spots around the city. Keep Hanoi Clean was founded in May 2016 by James Joseph Kendall as a form of positive action to give back to the city that he now considers home. Since its incarnation it has amassed almost 9,000 followers on Facebook, and has brought people together to give back to the areas where they live. First, the group finds a spot where people are dumping rubbish. Then, they approach the owner of the land for permission

to clean the area. Then they roll up their sleeves and get cleaning. “The aim is to clean up the area, and then build something like a stall where someone can sell cha da, or install a vertical garden to make the area look more appealing,” says James. “That way, people can make sure the area isn’t used for dumping in the future, and it gives something positive to the community there.” While they can’t get to every trash pile in Hanoi (and shouldn’t be expected to) the message that the group is sending is having a

knock-on effect. “When people see us down in the river or on the sidewalk, cleaning up, it is bound to affect their thinking,” says James. “It’s really important that we spread awareness and get local people involved.” With luck, more people will get involved in positive action to combat environmental degradation in the city that they call home. Keep Hanoi Clean has been a shining example of people taking power in their own hands. — Billy Gray | December 2016 Word | 83

The award for the Best Burrito goes to..…

Rico Taco (Saigon) and Hanoi Taco Bar (Hanoi) Hanoi In what was once a burrito desert, Hanoi now has several quality options to appease tortilla-rolled cravings. Of course, Salt N Lime has been holding it down for a while now, and arguably makes the most consistent Tex-Mex-style burrito in town. Newcomer Anita’s Cantina gets an honourable mention for their trifecta of hot salsa options, homemade tortillas, and use of refried beans (a rarity). But first place this year goes to a restaurant that doesn’t conform to the traditional, instead using ingredients available in the city to create a delicious fusion of East and West: The Hanoi Taco Bar. Founders Leo Smith, Will Reeve and Charles Jeammot

see many similarities between Vietnamese and Latin cuisine, and they regularly comb Hanoi’s local markets for inspiration. Their pico de gallo uses the traditional tomato and cilantro, but they’ve also added a fruit called cu dau (or jicama in Mexico) for a sweet twist. The stand-out winner is their Jamaican jerk chicken burrito, but other options like kimchi pork and fried seabass with potato and pineapple are also well worth a try. — Jesse Meadows

Ho Chi Minh City Choosing the best burrito in Saigon is like expecting a mother to choose her favourite child. She loves them all in their own special way, but deep down she

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has her favourite. Revealing who wouldn’t be fair. That’s how we feel with this award. Eating them is one thing. Choosing between them is another.

The Finalists Burritos were judged on tortilla, beef, salad, extras, and taste. How hard could it be? But the thing we found is that they’re all distinctive. No two are the same in Ho Chi Minh City, but the quality is good. As the juice wars rage on in District 7 and the craft brewers continue to out-infuse each other, the burrito battle bubbles away as hombres jostle for advantage in search of a differentiator. Take Diego’s Tacos, they’ve

gone as far as using pandan extract to colour and flavour their tortillas green. La Fiesta rolls the guacamole and sour cream in with a side of black beans and rice. Then there’s Sancho Cantina’s. For whatever reason, size matters to them. Maybe it’s in the name? Over at Rico Taco, they roll theirs up nice and tight, something Hiro from Hiro Dreams of Sushi would be proud of. Another new name perhaps, Hiro Taco? Tippy’s are neat and tidy and fit snug in your hand, while Al Fresco’s dazzle with all the sides. By barely one shake of a maraca, the award goes to Rico Taco. — Matt Cowan

The award for the Best Expat Slang goes to..…

‘What the heo’ and ‘Hannoiing’ A

land of brilliant cultural and linguistic diversity, Vietnam is a rich playground for multilingual wordplay. Expats of all ages and types come to this country, not knowing that when they leave they will be armed with a militia of Viet-English slang. And each year new gems are added to the unofficial Expat Hall of Expressions. Looking back over 2016, we dished up the finer details of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City’s most used and most loved slang. They make us giggle. But which two take gold?

Ho Chi Minh City Saigon is full of dad jokes. The typical Ho Chi Minh expat will be a regular user of dong and its many connotations, and may occasionally enjoy the odd Viet phonetic equivalent to an English phrase or word. For example, “I don’t know” is never quite as satisfying as “Ai Dong Nau”. To the Saigon expat, everything is “Nguyen Nguyen” and although no day goes by without at least one occurrence of “crazy”, TIV — This is Vietnam. Crazy is what this country does best. The typical foreigner living

in Saigon will have his arsenal of Vietnamese puns, but of all the options out there “What the Heo” is by far the most tickling. To the person who decided to turn “hell” into “pig”, Saigon thanks you and will never forget your beautiful legacy. — Zoe Osborne

Hanoi Expats love to complain, and in Hanoi, we have our own special word for all those things that irk us. Eyebrows full of dust after a 20-minute drive in any direction? Spitting drizzle that’s

just enough to make everything damp, but not enough to put your poncho on? The mould that reclaims shoes if you don’t wear them once a week? It’s all so “Hanoiing”. The term even has its own hashtag, and one anonymous expat has dedicated an entire twitter feed to the idea. But still, it doesn’t matter how hanoiing life can be, it’s not enough to make us leave. Because for every special Hanoian thing that bothers us, there are a hundred other things we love. — Jesse Meadows

The tech award for the Best App of 2016 goes to..…

PokEmon GO P

okémon GO needs no introduction. Launched in the US, Australia and New Zealand on Jul. 6, 2016, according to, within 24 hours on the same day in Vietnam, there were 200,000 Google searches, 192,000 tweets with #pokemon and 74,500 photos posted on Instagram. National television station VTV1 also had a two-minute documentary on Pokémon GO. In order to play the game, many Vietnamese players even created fake IPs through VPN and GPRS programmes. On Aug. 6, it was officially launched in Vietnam. Pokémon GO is granted the tech award because of not only the US$200 million it has earned game developer Niantic and the 100 million downloads it hit in its first month, but also how it has affected Vietnamese society and economics.

had their eyes glued to their smartphones playing Pokémon GO while driving. A week later, LED traffic signs displayed: “Don’t play Pokémon GO while driving” in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. On Aug. 15, a toddler in a trolley was blown into Xuan Huong lake, Dalat as the mother was busy catching Pokémon.

Boosting purchases There have been reports that some players have lost their mobile devices to thieves. These thieves usually approach their prey from behind or work in groups to distract their victim. The result is that sales of smartphones have gone up, mainly victims buying replacement devices.

Helping people deal with natural disasters

Culling the population In the middle of August, Hanoi According to, two days after the launch in Vietnam, a few traffic accidents happened when players

was hit by a tropical storm with heavy rain and whirlwinds. Yet with Pokémon GO to hand, the emotional havoc wrought

by this natural disaster was nowhere to be seen. Instead, young Hanoians took to the city’s parks for hours, huddling under their ponchos, trying to catch some Pokémon.

Encouraging Vietnamese to read maps In the same month, Google in Vietnam called for protection of the data source of Vietnam’s map on Google Maps, as a number of Vietnamese players created fake public places near their houses to catch Pokémon without having to leave their beds. Some of them even brought a park home. If almost everyone posted about the level of their Pokémon trainer or showed off how many rare Pokémon they had caught on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on the first day in Vietnam, no one mentions it much these days. Pokémon GO might be just a craze, but it drove Vietnam nuts for a while. What next? A mannequin challenge? — Vu Ha Kim Vy | December 2016 Word | 85

The award for Best Dressed Xe Om Driver goes to..…

The mute xe om driver on Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi A

re you looking to roll up to that hot date or defining corporate event in a way that says: “I’m ready to take risks and meet any challenge?” We’ve found three dapper xe om drivers who’ll make your arrival known. In third place is Uber driver Tu, who alongside driving, works part-time for an insurance company and is a full-time student. He’s donning an Armani shirt and jeans and says that his appearance alerts customers to his friendliness and professional manner. Coming in second is 59-yearold Toan. A former electrician, Toan has been driving for 26 years and insists that people in Vietnam don’t actually care how xe om drivers dress. He’s gone for a full-denim look because it’s sturdy material and

doesn’t rip when he’s carrying packages around town. Notice the matching white shirt and hat combo, which Toan insists he paid no attention to when he was getting dressed (yeah right). Our award for best-dressed xe om driver this year, however, goes to… the other guy… whose name we don’t know because he lost his ability to speak years ago. He’s formally dressed in black trousers, a plaid shirt and smart shoes, and frankly, he looks the part. His friend tells us that he’s been driving for 20 years, and that he has a difficult life because of being a mute. He has no wife or family. To the mute xe om driver on Hai Ba Trung Street, we give this award to you. Thanks for taking us all where we needed to be. — Billy Gray

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the best of Over 100 judges, many different categories, lots of entries and a whole lot more criteria. In this year’s ‘Best Of’ awards we asked a carefully chosen cross-section of our readers to be our judges. They were tasked with choosing their favourite places in a number of categories; international restaurants, Vietnamese restaurants, bars and clubs, cafés and travel destinations. Providing them with a list of criteria to help them make their decisions, we also asked them additional questions on bia hoi and fast food chains. | December 2016 Word | 87

The Top International Restaurants in Vietnam Well, the top international restaurants Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, really, as we didn’t include the rest of this country. Some of the results are surprising. Words by Nick Ross

The Ho Chi Minh City Results The Top 10

1) Pizza 4P’s 2) Au Parc 3) Ciao Bella 4) El Gaucho 5) Ganesh 6) Quan Ut Ut 7) Sorae Sushi Lounge 8) The Deck 9) Stoker =10) Baba’s Kitchen =10) Boat House

Just Outside The Top 10 Relish & Sons Blanchy Street MAD House The Racha Room Elbow Room Lubu Soul Burger Refinery Mekong Merchant

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Ho Chi Minh City


ow can a pizza restaurant, no matter how quirky and offbeat, be voted the top restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City? This is a question we asked ourselves last year. Now we ask it again. Does it mean the quality of international restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City is below par? Or does it mean that Pizza 4P’s, which once again tops our restaurant list, has a damn good product? We go for the latter. With five restaurants in the country and counting, Pizza 4P’s has brought a much-loved Japanese twist to the art of making a fine pizza. An overwhelming 61.7% of our judges included them in their top 10 list making 4P’s the runaway winner. Heading the rest of the pack was the

archetype of culinary consistency, Au Parc, which gained 42.6% of our judge’s votes, and then the New York-style Italian, Ciao Bella, a percentage point behind. Also making the Top 10 in Saigon was Ganesh, one of the best Indian restaurants in Vietnam, The Deck, which sells Asian fusion cuisine on the banks of the Saigon River, and one of our own favourites, Stoker. It’s not only their steak which gets the juices flowing, but their gin cocktails as well. And coming in at equal 10th was Boat House with its riverside setting and its TexMex, American-influenced cuisine. After a few years struggling to know how to bring in the customers, the last 12 months has brought this restaurant a renaissance. They should be proud.

Voting Criteria We asked our judges to vote on their favourite restaurants based on the following criteria: — Quality of Food — Value for Money — Service — Decor — Overall Experience 107 judges took part in our survey.


ietnam is an eating and drinking country and customers vote with their feet. But which eateries do they like the most? And what do these restaurants do to make the customers happy? This is the task we gave our 100-plus

judges living in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Tell us which restaurants you like the most, and if possible, tell us why. We didn’t get much on the ‘why’ front — more a case of how we can improve our questionnaire — but we asked for people’s top tens. Here is how the voting went.

The Hanoi Results The Top 10 1) Cousins 2) French Grill 3) Moose & Roo Smokehouse =4) Hanoi Taco Bar =4) La Badiane 6) Maison de Tet 7) Da Paolo =8) Chops =8) Don’s Tay Ho =8) Foodshop 45



f we look at the voting criteria we asked our judges to use, then Hanoi’s Top 10 makes sense. Quality of food was top of the list, but we included value for money, service, décor and the overall experience. This year’s top three reflected all these criteria, but in contrasting ways. Cousins, coming in at number one, is known for its laid-back atmosphere and excellent, French-inspired comfort food cuisine. French Grill, voted a close second, is one of only a few restaurants in the city that is top-end. Despite its out-of-theway location in My Dinh, it’s one of the best options in the capital if you want to

go five-star. Moose & Roo Smokehouse provides another contrast. Its outdoor ambience in the American Club and its downtown location are aided by excellent smoked and barbecued meats with smooth service and prices that don’t break the bank. Also making the top 10 were newcomer, Hanoi Taco Bar, and the French favourite, La Badiane. Da Paolo was there once again, although this year it slipped out of the top two, while Canadian-inspired Don’s Tay Ho, long-running Indian restaurant Foodshop 45 and Chops fill up what we believe to be a representative list of Hanoi’s best.

Just Outside The Top 10

The Republic The Fat Pig Salt ‘n Lime Linguini Fini Jackson’s Steakhouse | December 2016 Word | 89

The Best Vietnamese Restaurants in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City Over 100 judges, lots of restaurants and many opinions. Here’s how the voting went. Words by Nick Ross

Hanoi The Top 10

1) Highway 4 2) Quan An Ngon 3) Pots 'n Pans =4) Cau Go =4) Chim Sao 6) May Taste 7) Madame Hien 8) Dieu's Cuisine 9) Green Tangerine 10) Ray Quan

Just Outside The Top 10 Koto on Van Mieu 1946

Voting Criteria We asked over 100 judges to vote on their favourite restaurants based on the following criteria: — Quality of Food — Value for Money — Service — Decor — Overall Experience



he winner this year comes as a surprise but also suggests a return to form. Open since December 2000, Highway 4 was once the go-to restaurant for tasty infused rice wine and country-style Vietnamese cuisine. Yet with competition, time and a difficulty staying fresh, the homegrown chain went into decline. Until 2015, that is, when the owners decided to take Highway 4 back to basics, get rid of dead wood and push on all those things that made them popular in the first place. It’s worked. Second is the much-lauded and everpopular Quan An Ngon, with their streetfood concept in a restaurant setting,

while Pots ‘n Pans, a restaurant that has put a twist on Vietnamese cuisine and placed it in a contemporary, international setting, has finished a very commendable third. Cau Go and Chim Sao, two other restaurants with good reputations, come in at equal fourth, while Madame Hien and Green Tangerine, two restaurants popular with the tourist market, also make the top 10. Also on the list are two favourites — May Taste and Dieu’s Cuisine — both popular spots for expats wanting to dose out on Vietnamese flavours without leaving the comfort of West Lake, while just missing out on the Top 10 is training restaurant Koto on Van Mieu.


n the 1990s, savvy entrepreneurs tried to rehouse Vietnamese cuisine in a restaurant setting. It didn’t always work. Customers, particularly Vietnamese customers, stuck to their street food, com binh dan or rice restaurants, bia hoi and quan nhau (drinking halls). The restaurants that survived were often aimed at tourists. Over the past decade the Vietnamese restaurant scene has developed momentum. Twists on well-known dishes, new cooking styles, imported ingredients, fusion with dishes from overseas — all have found their place in the growing

number of quality Vietnamese restaurants in big cities. Yet when it came to voting for the top Vietnamese restaurants in Hanoi and Saigon, some of our judges voiced a concern. Most of the restaurants on our shortlist, they said, were foreigner-friendly. Meaning that we haven’t got a true sense of the Vietnamese restaurant scene in this country’s two major cities. They’re both right and wrong. They’re right because we’ve focused on places that attract an international clientele — not every Vietnamese restaurant is aiming for that market. They’re wrong because we’ve

made a distinction between an eatery, a quan nhau and a restaurant. An eatery focuses on street food or is a place to eat without all the frills, airs and graces of a typical restaurant. Quan nhau and bia hoi are Vietnam’s answer to the continental European beer hall — places to drink beer or rice wine with food served up to dilute the alcohol. Restaurants, however, place a focus on the food and drink — plus presentation, décor, service, lighting, ambience and the overall environment. They’re a level or three up. So, what did our 100 judges make of the Vietnamese restaurants now on offer in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City?

Ho Chi Minh City The Top 10

Ho Chi Minh City


hat Cuc Gach Quan has finished in top spot is no surprise. The décor, setting and quality of the cuisine here made this restaurant an instant favourite from when it first opened. What is a surprise is that Propaganda has taken second spot. Here the contemporary propaganda art décor is as vital to the concept as the cuisine, which is something our judges appreciated. Also high up the rankings is Xu Restaurant and Lounge, with its sophisticated take on modern Vietnamese cuisine, while the elegant Hoa Tuc with its courtyard setting also gets the thumbs up. The classic, Indochine-styled Temple Club continues to draw in the votes, as does the

forever busy Quan An Ngon, which comes in equal fourth. Making up the list is the excellent hideaway Mountain Retreat, downtown favourite Urban Kitchen, Secret Garden on Pasteur Street with its focus on home-style Vietnamese cooking, and the vegetarian restaurant and café, Hum. A final mention must go to Quan Bui, which finished seventh. Cooking up MSG-free food and mixing authentic Vietnamese cuisine with traditional home cooked fare, had their votes not been split between their garden restaurant in District 2 and their downtown location on Ngo Van Nam, they may have taken top spot.

=1) Cuc Gach Quan =1) Propaganda 3) Xu Restaurant & Lounge =4) Hoa Tuc =4) Quan An Ngon =4) Secret Garden 7) Quan Bui =8) Temple Club =8) Urban Kitchen =10) Hum =10) Mountain Retreat

Just Outside The Top 10 BBQ Garden Hoang Yen Mon Hue 5KU Wrap 'n Roll | December 2016 Word | 91

The Best Bars in Hanoi and Saigon Which watering holes do you like the most? After getting the results from over 100 judges, Matt Cowan and Nick Ross reveal all

The Ho Chi Minh City Results The Top 10

= 1) The Deck = 1) Xu =3) BiaCraft =3) The Racha Room 5) Glow 6) Pasteur Street 7) Malt 8) Chill Skybar 9) Qui 10) Vesper Bar & Lounge

Just Outside The Top 10 Cuba Del Casa De La Mojito La Fenetre Soleil Martini Bar (2 Lam Son) Saigon Outcast Hard Rock Café Game On Snuffbox

Ho Chi Minh City


u has scored itself a triple — for the third year running it’s finished on top as the best bar in Ho Chi Minh City. But this year, it has to share the award with District 2’s riverside venue The Deck. A veteran on the scene and especially popular among the Japanese tourist selfie-taking set, The Deck’s investment in a new space is paying off. Both bars attracted 20 votes each. In equal third place with 16 votes each are young bucks Biacraft and Racha Room. If you haven’t been to at least one of these bars over the past couple of years (or weeks), come out from under your rock. Biacraft has two drinking hotspots — one in District 2 and one in District 3. Downtown’s Racha Room is the darling of bars for meet-ups with just about anyone. In outright fifth place for the second year in

a row is Glow with 16 votes. Still teasing us with their Facebook updates of the beautiful (and intoxicated) people cavorting in the ‘O’, Glow looks to have struck the right formula. We can look forward to more Facebook action next year. Pasteur Street Brewing Co. has finally missed out on a top award. It seems everything they enter, they win, but this time they come in sixth with 14 votes. At least the trophy cabinet gets a breather this month. Shuffling in in seventh place is Malt. These guys look like they’re doing everything right by our judges and getting recognised for their support of local beers and the community at large. Rounding out the top ten of bars we have Chill Skybar, Qui and Vesper on 12 votes each.


ietnam is a nation of beer drinkers, the biggest in the region. In 2015, total beer consumption in Vietnam hit 3.5 billion litres. For scale, Sydney Water, which prides itself on providing drinking

water to metropolitan Sydney, Australia’s largest city, boasts that it supplies 1.4 billion litres of water per year to people in Sydney and its surrounds. Which leads us to our award. If we’re going to drink so much alcohol and spend

a fair amount of time doing it, then we’re going to need somewhere nice to do it. At last count, we came up with no less than 84 bars in Ho Chi Minh City at which our readers typically drink and party. In Hanoi there are nearly as many.

The Hanoi Results The Top 10

1) Tadioto 2) CAMA ATK 3) Furbrew 4) The Republic 5) Red River Tea Rooms =6) Barbetta =6) Sidewalk =6) 88 Lounge =9) Sunset Bar =9) HRC

Just Outside The Top 10 Top of Hanoi Don's Oyster Bar



anoians are creatures of habit, and except for three newcomers, this year’s Top 10 looks similar to last year’s offering, only with some of the rankings moved around. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the outright winner. After four (or is it five) different locations over eight years, Tadioto seems to be firmly lodged both in its present downtown space and at the top of the pile when it comes to everyone’s favourite bar. Coming in at number two is the leftfield event, DJ and live music venue CAMA ATK (last year they finished fifth), while

following close on their tail is newcomer, Furbrew. A testament to the craft beer revolution that is sweeping Vietnam, Furbrew brews it themselves and, it seems, people like all those infusions and IPAs they’re coming out with. Next up are West Lake mainstays The Republic and Red River Tea Rooms, while like last year, two of the more upmarket watering holes take up spots in the Top 10 — 88 Lounge and Sunset Bar. Making up the list are two newcomers to the Top 10 — events venue HRC and expat favourite, Sidewalk.

The Criteria We asked 107 judges living in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi of different ages, backgrounds and nationalities to choose their top 10 bars in no particular order. The criteria were as follows: — Drinks quality — Value for money — Service — Decor — Overall experience

Best Cafes in Hanoi and Saigon Where do you like to take your dose of caffeine and settle down in front of your computer? Jesse Meadows and Nick Ross tell us what our judges said


o the delight of coffee addicts everywhere, Vietnam is ripe with great cafés. So much so that when travelling to other Southeast Asian cities, we sometimes expect to be able to trip and fall over a coffee house every few metres, and are surprised to find it isn’t the same. So we come back home, head to our favourite coffee corner, and breathe a sigh of relief.

The Hanoi Results The Top 10

1) Cong Caphe 2) Maison de Tet 3) Spacebar 4) Manzi 5) O’ Douceurs Tay Ho 6) O’ Douceurs Hoan Kiem 7) Hanoi Social Club 8) Joma =9) Café Giang =9) Oriberry

Just Outside The Top 10 Xofa Starbucks Annam Café Duy Tri Café Lam Café Pho Co KAfe Tranquil



hen we’re not on the sidewalk, it seems the coffee drinkers of Hanoi are at Cong Caphe — the popular chain, started in 2007, was the favourite last year, and is still holding on to the number one spot for its delicious coconut coffees and distinctive Communist decor. Maison de Tet’s locally-sourced, home-roasted brews and impeccable interior design earnt it second place, followed by the co-working hub and art venue Spacebar, a daily stop for the city’s digital nomads, and host of regular art and music nights during the week. Had O’Douceur’s votes not been split between two locations, it would have taken first place. The French patisserie opened a second store in Tay Ho this year, and its custom-made cakes and cheap, delicious sandwiches are keeping the neighbourhood fed and happy. In Ba Dinh, artspace Manzi provides a place for people to gather in a French villa that hosts regular exhibitions, poetry readings, and artist talks. The Hanoi

Social Club is a favourite in Hoan Kiem for its homey feel and spectacular menu full of vegan comfort foods. Stop by on a Tuesday to catch the Tiny Music Club, a regular night of live music on the rooftop. Southeast Asian chain Joma provides organic fair-trade coffee from Laos, and Western fare like turkey sandwiches and pumpkin pie, with 10% of profits supporting community initiatives and NGOs like Hagar International. No café list would be complete without Café Giang, which claims to have invented the egg coffee in Hanoi when milk was scarce in 1946. The small café is tucked away in the Old Quarter on Nguyen Huu Huan, so visitors may have to hunt for it if they want a taste of history. Oriberry has the best views on the list, with a second-storey balcony that looks out over West Lake, locally-sourced Vietnamese coffee, and a large collection of handmade pottery for sale. Fair warning; their banana cake is known to be addictive.

The Ho Chi Minh City Results The Top 9

1) L’Usine 2) Mekong Merchant 3) Kokois 4) The Workshop 5) Café RuNam =6) Starbucks =6) The Loop 7) Dolphy 8) Phuc Long

All With the Same Votes at Number 10

Ho Chi Minh City


ike last year, the runaway winner for top café in Saigon was L’Usine. Despite recently being sold to a foreign investor, it seems the overall product — the food, coffee, décor and space — still woos our readers in both the Le Loi and Dong Khoi locations. Also enticing our judges is another long-time favourite — Mekong Merchant in District 2 — while industrial-style café and restaurant, Kokois, also brings in the punters and the votes. Two other District 2 purveyors of caffeine and more make the list — The Loop and the popular, Vietnamese-run Dolphy Café — while back over the river in District 1, The Workshop with its rustic, open plan,

top-floor space is a hot favourite. Unlike their compadres in Hanoi, Saigonese, however, seem to like their chains, and Starbucks, RuNam and Phuc Long have found themselves a spot in the top nine, while Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Urban Station and Khanh Casa nestle into joint tenth. The only surprise is the lack of votes for Trung Nguyen and Highlands Coffee. Once the biggest, best and brightest of the café chains in this country, these days they seem to have lost their appeal. Time to mourn? We don’t know. What we do know is that these two café chains have had an enormous impact on the industry. The problem for them is that everyone else has now caught up.

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Khanh Casa Loft Café Urban Station WORK Saigon The Coffee Factory

The Criteria Over 100 judges took part in this survey. We asked them to vote on the following criteria: — Quality of Coffee — Value for Money — Service — Decor — Food and additional drinks — Overall Experience | December 2016 Word | 95

Most Popular Restaurant Franchise in Saigon From McDonald’s to Wrap ‘n Roll through to Dunkin’ Donuts. Chain restaurants are everywhere. But how much are they appreciated? Words by Matt Cowan


ietnam and fast food don’t go together. Or do they? Vietnam is sold worldwide as a healthy street-food destination. And thanks to celebrity chefs like Luke Nguyen and Anthony Bourdain, they’ve only enhanced that reputation. So what a bunch of healthy eaters we are. Wrong. Vietnam is on the verge of an obesity epidemic. The growing popularity in Vietnam of fast-food chain outlets selling high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt processed foods is, according to the International Diabetes Federation, driving up the instances of obesity-related health problems. Already, 20 percent of children living in urban areas in Vietnam are obese. Doctors correlate much of this with the opening of fast-food chain outlets. According to a 2016 Decision Lab report based on a sample size of 16,000 Vietnamese respondents, health concerns don’t play a significant role when it comes to eating out. Only 5 percent of respondents indicated that they choose a restaurant because of health factors. Decison Lab has also uncovered the birth of what they call ‘Cheesemania’ in Vietnam thanks to Korean popular culture and Western favourites such as pizzas and burgers. Fair enough you might say. Cheese tastes damn good. But a rock salt cheese milk tea, a new combination of cheese and bubble milk tea, is taking it just a little bit too far, don’t you think?

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The Results How about our readers then? How much have they embraced fast food? Where are they most likely to eat it and how often? And do they think fast food restaurants are good for Vietnam? We asked 53 judges (response rate 100%) living in Ho Chi Minh City of different ages, backgrounds and nationalities their opinions. Here’s what they told us.

Do You Eat at Chain Restaurants? Yes: 69.8% No: 30.2%

How Often Do You Eat at Chain Restaurants? 1) Once a month: 45.3% 2) Once a fortnight: 15.0% 3) Once a week: 7.6% 4) 2 to 3 times a week: 3.8% 5) 4 to 5 times a week: 0% 6) Never: 28.3% (Really?)

Where Are You Most Likely to Eat? A surprising statistic emerged — there are at least 17 different fast-food chain outlets in Ho Chi Minh City. Our judges were able to add another four to that list later on. No wonder we’re getting fat. We asked our judges to choose their top five in no necessary order.

Helping us increase our skinfolds for the past 20 years has been local favourite Al Fresco’s. It was voted the most likely place our judges would eat with 18 votes. It’s not surprising. Take a look at their website. There’s something for all tastes and all budgets. And look at all that cheese. But, sorry to burst your bubble Al Fresco’s. You don’t get to have this award all to yourself. You’ll have to share it with newcomers in Vietnam McDonald’s which also attracted 18 votes. How you lovin’ that? A surprise in third place is Carl’s Jr. Apologies to Carl and their marketing department, but what’s with the name? Still, you can’t judge a burger by its... anyway, they attracted 13 votes. Charbroiled apparently never tasted so good. Next came Popeye’s with local Vietnamese chain Wrap n Roll on 12 votes. Now, they sell the healthy stuff. As for the rest, we can tell you, but they’ll kill you. We can’t wrap this award up without making mention of the comments we received. There’s nothing quite like the topic of fast food to rile the expat community. We’ve been able to divide comments into two distinct camps. Those who say fast food signals Vietnam’s arrival into modernity. And those who see its embrace as downright stupid. But our favourite was this: “Who am I to deny the Vietnamese people the right to a bad cheeseburger?” — Matt Cowan | December 2016 Word | 97

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The Best Bia Hoi in Hanoi That amber nectar peculiar to Vietnam is as popular as ever, but what are your thoughts about that beer lasting only 24 hours, bia hoi? Words by Edward Dalton


ietnam has become the biggest beer consumer in Southeast Asia, with consumption increasing to over 3.4 billion litres in 2015. Hanoi is awash with bia hois. Choosing the best one is like trying to choose your favourite child; you think they’re all equal, until one day, one of them invents time travel. Most people have a favourite bia hoi, and will swear by it. It has the best bo luc lac, the best goi sua, the best icy cold brews or the best cat. Whatever the reason, people find themselves going back to the same bia hoi again and again. For this award, we recruited a gaggle of 54 judges, and asked them to tell us what they think about bia hois. Apart from the one closet alcoholic who wrote they go to a bia hoi four to five times a week, the majority of the judges were much more miserly in their visits. Around 40 percent of them go once a month, and the rest go either once, or a few times, per week.

And the Winner is... The most interesting aspect of the results is in the variety and breadth of nominations. 32

different bia hois are mentioned by name by our judges, stretching from Tay Ho to Thanh Xuan. The clear winner is Bia Hoi 68, on Quang An, Tay Ho. Obviously having nothing to do with the high number of judges who live around the corner from it, Bia Hoi 68 takes the Best Bia Hoi crown with more than double the number of votes than the secondplaced venue. Speaking of which, and in slight disbelief, the silver medal goes to anywhere in Ta Hien. If nothing else, the ambiguity of this winner just goes to show that our judges recognise that bia hoi is very much about the atmosphere. The bia hoi in third place receives its award posthumously. The now-demolished Bia Hoi Hanoi at 5 To Ngoc Van was held in high regard by locals and foreigners alike, who gathered just as much for a glimpse of Soda Kid as they did for the brews.

Stay Classy One detail shining out from our data is that less than half of the judges say they would choose to drink at a bia hoi over other types of bar. This says a lot about the quality of the

food on offer at even the average bia hoi. “The best local food is often served in bia hois,” says one judge. “The Pork Ribs at Bia Hoi Thu Hang are to die for!” adds another. There are other benefits to drinking at bia hoi, besides the grub. “Hot girls and cheap beer,” says one exemplary member of society. “Cheap, and always a great atmosphere,” says one judge. “The perfect Hanoi experience!” But not everyone is sold on bia hois. One common complaint from our judges is the lack of proper chairs, as well as a more general need for comfort — this includes less noise, better music and fewer cockroaches. “Bia hois are not comfortable for women,” is another complaint. Understandable, considering the loutish behaviour on display once a few glasses of brew have been knocked back. Several of the judges also write of their preference for good wine and a gentler ambience, while others are more direct about the problem of hygiene. “Bia hois give you the scoots,” says one judge. | December 2016 Word | 99

The Top Travel Destinations in Vietnam The Top 5 Travel Destinations in Vietnam Overall Hanoi and HCMC votes combined Hoi An Sapa Phu Quoc Danang Dalat

Voters from Hanoi Hoi An Phu Quoc Ha Giang Sapa Danang

Voters from Ho Chi Minh City Hoi An

Dalat Sapa Danang Halong Bay

The Voting Criteria We asked our 100-plus judges to base their votes on the following criteria: — Transportation and Connections — Location — Natural Beauty — Range of Activities — Quality of Accommodation — Shopping Opportunities — Quality of Food — Nightlife

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What are your favourite travel destinations in Vietnam? This is the question we posed our judges. Here is how they responded. Words by Nick Ross


ccording to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), by the end of 2016, 9 million overseas visitors will have arrived in Vietnam, the majority from China, South Korea, Japan, the US and Taiwan. This represents a 25 percent increase on last year. With the tourism industry accounting for 7 percent of national GDP in 2015, this will have a positive effect on the local economy. Wind the clock back to 2000 and Vietnam was a very different place. The overseas image of this country was one of conical hats and paddy fields, Communism and a war which involved America. Just 2 million foreign visitors crossed the country’s borders, and those who did would have most likely spent their time in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Halong Bay, Dalat, Nha Trang, Vung Tau, the Mekong Delta and Hue. Places like Sapa, Hoi An, Phu Quoc and Mui Ne were only just starting to take shape, while other modern day destinations of choice such as Phong Nha, Ha Giang and Con Dao were off the radar altogether.

The Survey The purpose of our annual travel survey is not to look at inbound tourism from overseas, but to get a different insight — into domestic tourism and in particular the travel preferences of our readership. We target our publication at English speakers living in Vietnam. Based on

recent readership surveys, that means 70 to 75 percent of our readership will be from overseas — the rest will be educated, English-speaking Vietnamese, many of whom will have spent time living abroad. Combined, this is a market segment with spending power. While there are no statistics available, our guess is that educated, English-speaking Vietnamese will earn far more than their non-English speaking compatriots. Likewise, due to salary differentials, foreigners tend to have more to spend on leisure. One form of leisure that most people from overseas take seriously is travel.

The Results This year Hoi An was the runaway winner — almost two-thirds of our judges put the central Vietnamese town in their top five favourite destinations in Vietnam. There is a reason for Hoi An’s dominance — the destination has a bit of everything. Beaches, old architecture, shopping, eating, drinking, nightlife, countryside and culture. It’s also easy to get to from Danang and accommodation ranges from budget to fivestar — one of Vietnam’s top resorts, the Nam Hai, is a 15-minute drive from Hoi An. However, what our judges voted for next showed a different preference based on where people live. For Hanoians, Phu Quoc is a great place to visit. The beaches, the island life, the azure blue sea and the striking sunsets all provide a certain tropical

flavour that you don’t get up north, even in the summer. You voted it as your second favourite destination in Vietnam. For people living in Saigon, though, Phu Quoc doesn’t even hit the top five. Voters from down south maintain a love of Halong Bay. Yet if you live in Hanoi, once you’ve done the trip for the first time you’re unlikely to go back. Transportation there is difficult, the sea is polluted and the attitude of people working in the tourist industry is businesslike and brusque. Another interesting destination is Ha Giang. Nestled at the foot of the Himalayas, we’ve said it before and we’ve said it again — Ha Giang is the most beautiful place in Vietnam. People living in Hanoi know this, and for many, a trip to the most northerly province in Vietnam is a rite of passage. Yet down south, few know about the natural beauty of this place so far up north. It’s not surprising. Ha Giang has no marketing. Our biggest disappointment, though, was the response to Phong Nha. It got nowhere near our top five. For years Vietnam has been crying out for a destination which is focused on jungle trekking and outdoor pursuits. Phong Nha is that destination. Unfortunately, too many people associate the area with the caves and make comments like: “I couldn’t think of anything worse than spending time in a cave.” As we can testify, Phong Nha is far more than just a destination for visiting caves. And as it develops, it’s starting to get a bit of everything. The only thing it really lacks right now is top-end accommodation. But give it a few years and it will arrive. So, where are you going to visit in 2017? The top destinations are a must, but we hope you’ll spare a thought for Ha Giang, Phong Nha and all those other amazing spots this country has to offer. | December 2016 Word | 101


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Ashes & Pearls From rubies to quartz, topaz to sapphire, Vietnam is blessed with a wide range of semi-precious stones. Zoe Osborne traces the background of the country’s gemstone industry. Photos by Bao Zoan | December 2016 Word | 107


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hile sun-browned fishermen dip for pearls on the winding Vietnamese coastline, men hunt for gems inland, high in the mountains. Vietnam is home to over 70 gemstone deposits and produces thousands of precious and semi-precious stones every year, to be bought as glimmering high-end jewellery or strung onto a thick, round-bead bracelet and sold in a local market.

are found as far south as Dong Nai. Like all precious and semi-precious gems, Vietnam’s glistening stones are not sparkly when they’re first found. According to a 2013 GIA study, most of the rubies and sapphires found at Luc Yen in Yen Bai province are formed in marble or gravel. Their crystals are of varying shapes and sizes, quality and worth, and once a deposit is found the country’s mining community swoops in to see what they can make of it.



According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), thousands of years of geological events across Southeast Asia created the perfect conditions for different gems to form, leaving large deposits of metamorphic rocks. “Vietnam is known for its quartz, topaz, tourmaline, peridot, aquamarine, ruby, sapphire, garnet and spinel,” says Anupa Horvil, gemstone jewellery designer and founder of Anupa Eco Luxe Boutique. “And various types of pearls.” A 2012 article in the journal Gems and Gemology states that, while creamy, cultured pearls are found all along the Vietnamese coastline, the rare and beautiful melo pearl is found only in the far south and the far north, near Cat Ba Island. Rubies, spinel and peridot tend to form in the central and northern Highlands, and Vietnam’s most vibrant sapphires are also sourced here. Other semiprecious gems and less-bright sapphire stones

Yen Bai has been the centre of Vietnam’s gemstone trade since 1987, when the first high-quality rubies were found there by local farmers. Soon after, three large state-owned corporations were established to oversee gemstone production at Luc Yen, but these companies had dissolved by early 2000 and the state has not taken part in the mining sector since then. The GIA states that, in 2012, mining and pearl farming activities were still mostly small-scale operations run by individuals or small companies. Vincent Pardieu, a leading field gemologist at GIA, visited the Luc Yen area in 2010. He noted that: “The most modern gem mining operations typically consisted of 10 or so miners, working with a small pump and a locally made jig.” At that time fine gems were rare in Luc Yen, but there was a flourishing local market for small, low-quality stones which kept the

miners in business. “The miners know they will get some income even if they don’t find fine gems,” wrote Pardieu. “Not much, but enough to keep them mining.” Studying the local way of life, Pardieu also found that many people chose the hard life of gemstone mining because it gave them hope. “Many people in Luc Yen hope to get lucky,” he wrote. “They know that they will never be rich farming rice, but gemstone mining might change their life.” These miners use a range of excavation techniques, depending on what they’re mining. In Luc Yen, ruby forms in bands of marble. Having located the vein, men drill a deep hole to set an explosion and excavate the host rock. Peridot is mined in deep, hand-dug pits, while pale blue spinel is extracted using hand tools and a jackhammer. Heavy machinery is rare in the Vietnamese gem mines. According to the GIA: “Excavators and high-pressure water hoses are used in some places, but most of the miners use basic tools, washing with rattan buckets and picking the gemstones by hand.” Once mined, earth-dug gemstones must be transported to the valley. Local men and women, often from ethnic minorities, are hired to carry the rocks on their shoulders for as little as VND3,000 per kilogram. Miners tend to be between 17 and 35 years old, and although the terrain is treacherous, one man or woman can carry up to 80kg.

“Once mined, earth-dug gemstones must be transported to the valley. Local men and women, often from ethnic minorities, are hired to carry the rocks on their shoulders… Although the terrain is treacherous, one man or woman can carry up to 80kg” | December 2016 Word | 109

“‘If there’s one thing you have got to do before you leave Vietnam, it’s to buy yourself some bling’”

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Unlike gemstones, melo pearls are usually found by accident as a by-product of common fish trawling. During his visit to Cat Ba Island in 2009, Pardieu found that these snails and their pearls are becoming less and less common. He wrote in his journal that: “The melo pearls are produced by a mysterious orange sea snail — the melo melo. According to local fishermen, melo snails are not as common as before and large snails are becoming rare.”

Shine Once the gems are found, they must be cut. In the late 20th century, most of the rubies and sapphires mined were sold and cut in Bangkok. Now, many of Vietnam’s gems are cut locally, on-site and often as part of a family business. There are also a number of private corporations that specialise in more elaborate cuts, carving gems into decorative shapes and ornaments. “Vietnam has an incredibly talented cutting industry,” says boutique designer Anupa Horvil. “They produce such highquality, careful cuts, but many people don’t realise this.” Anupa only sells naturally cut gemstones, all from Vietnam. “Highly-skilled gem cutters can produce beautiful stones without chemically enhancing the colour or clarity,” she says. “Unlike chemically enhanced gems, a naturally cut stone will sparkle under sunlight.”

After cutting, a gem is traded to designers and sellers looking for something special. During the 1990s most business was conducted in local marketplaces, selling to Vietnamese customers or traders from other areas of Southeast Asia. Today these markets still

“‘Vietnam has an incredibly talented cutting industry. They produce such high-quality, careful cuts, but many people don’t realise this’” thrive, but many professional traders will go straight to the miners to find the region’s higher-quality stones. The GIA states that most local rubies are dark red and opaque. Spinel comes in a range of colours from brownish-red to a deep purple, but most blue spinel is dull in colour and low in transparency. Vietnamese sapphires are blue to bluegreen, and tourmaline is found in shades of red or pink.

Design By the time Vietnam’s gemstones reach the storefront displays and marketplace stalls, they glint like they’d never been in the earth. While most quality cuts are sold to designers and dealers, lower-quality gems and offcuts are often used to create glistening gemstone paintings. As Sandra Kynes details in her 2002 book, Gemstone Feng Shui: Creating Harmony in Home & Office, these gems are also used in phong thuy, Vietnamese for feng shui, applying crystal therapy to typical feng shui techniques. Some of these carvings and beads are also sold at bustling local markets across the city. Many are strung on bracelets for good luck or good health, to be sold for as low as VND100,000. Vietnam’s higher-quality gemstones tend to end up in the country’s top-end jewellery stores and boutiques. A very wide range of boutique designers, local businesses and largescale corporations sell both domestic and imported stones in Vietnam. The gemstone jewellery market here is based largely on trust, and to gemstone designer Anupa Horvil, it is among the best in the world. “If there’s one thing you have got to do before you leave Vietnam, it’s to buy yourself some bling.” To Anupa, buying a piece of gemstone jewellery is very personal. “I get many different customers in my store, but my advice is always the same,” says Anupa. “Fall in love with a piece, and it is yours.” | December 2016 Word | 111

Food and Drink Mystery Diner



A new restaurant in a newly rebranded five-star hotel, which according to our mystery diner is already singing a pretty tune. Photos by Julie Vola


aking a fresh start in one of the best-known buildings on Hanoi’s skyline, Pacifica at Pan Pacific Hotel is making waves as the newest five-star hotel eatery in town. The facelift has been exquisitely done, and is refreshing to behold. The new brand colours at Pan Pacific, bright shades of cyan against urban greys, make for a visual feast. The dining area is bright and pleasant, and the buffet area doesn’t dominate or distract from the fact this is also an a la carte

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restaurant open to anyone, hotel guests or others.

Brand New The changes are not only cosmetic; there are new chefs and a number of new staff keeping things moving in front of house. Even though I’m here to try the new a la carte menu, I can’t help but cast an eye over the buffet as I’m escorted to my table by a waitress resplendent in a crisp ao dai. There’s a cooking station staffed by a couple of chefs busy preparing new dishes to add to the selection. Rows

of hot food stand ready, alongside mountains of fresh bread, cheeses, seafood and salad. It looks good enough to deserve a return visit. The drinks menu boasts a selection of Pacific-inspired cocktails which combine fresh local ingredients with up-to-date mixology techniques, so soft drinks will have to be side-lined for this evening’s meal.

These Colours Don’t Run First up was the Pacific Colour (VND150,000), a long drink combining Havana rum, blue


12 Food



14 Décor

curacao, pineapple juice and coconut cream. Imagine a pina colada but coloured Avatar-blue and a bit zestier. Starting off the food were the roast duck rolls (VND130,000). Pacifica claims to embrace recipes from around the Pacific Rim, and this signature starter dish went down a treat. A little heavy with the herbs, the flavour of the duck still shone through. Combined with pickled onions and a thick, sweet and savoury dipping sauce, they were a superb start to the meal.

The second cocktail, the Tropical Island (VND210,000), was even more fluorescent than the first. Gin, Midori, peach schnapps, pineapple juice and cucumber creating a tropical paradise in my mouth. The main course, grilled pork spare ribs (VND330,000), was more Vietnamese in its execution than I had expected; tougher than the meaty slow-cooked ribs favoured by most foreigners, and served with fried rice and seasonal vegetables. Despite this, the dish featured a crispy well-done exterior, over pork marinated with pickled ginger and

scallions, which more than made up for the less-than-exciting side dishes. Apple pie (VND150,000) finished off the meal. Pacifica has solved the dilemma of ice cream or custard, by serving it with both. The pie is warm and generously filled with soft apple and raisins. Overall an excellent meal punctuated by professional and friendly service, in a new and delightful setting. Pacifica is on the first floor of the Pan Pacific Hotel, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. Open daily from 9am to 11pm. Bookings available on (04) 3823 8888

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 Street Snacker


Hanoi’s Best Street Food What is the best street food available in Hanoi? Here’s what we think. Words by Huyen Tran

Photo by julie vola

Pho Bo


ietnam and Hanoi’s best-known dish, this well-known (and much tampered with) noodle soup is sold almost everywhere you go in the capital. But for us there are a few standouts. Pho Gia Truyen (49 Bat Dan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi) has made all the guidebooks and online street food guides. You may have to queue in line to pick up your bowl on steaming pho, but hell does it taste good. Everything, from the sweet and salt balance

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of the broth through to the quay and even the condiments works like a dream. The only thing however, on a busy morning you may have to wait half an hour or more for a bowl of the good stuff. Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su (10 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi) is also rated by those in the know, and on our visits the offerings, whether the meat is tai, nam, gau or anything else, are exquisite. The place is almost always packed and the service is brusque, but then

what do you expect from an eatery that has forged its way into the hearts of Hanoians? Our final standout is Pho Thin (13 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi). It’s not a traditional pho bo place — the beef is sautéed with spring onions — but why should that matter when the final bowl of beef, noodles and sauce taste so much like heaven? This is a working man’s kind of eatery with no frills, and no bells and whistles, and the recipe here has been copied again and again.

Pho Ga


hen it comes to perfecting the taste, it is not that simple to excel at this simple dish. So where can you find excellent pho ga? Pho Ga Ba Lam (7 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi). A living legend, Pho Ga Ba Lam is run by four siblings who inherited their mother’s myth of cooking pho ga. It is also famous for aloof ladies who are indifferent to their customers. But the taste of their pho ga will make you forget any downside. It is a bowl of delightful and natural sweet chicken broth, highlighted by shining chicken fat, and chopped green onion pieces, served with noodles and topped by fresh spring onion. The chicken meat is rich and sweet on the palate. Pho Ga Hang Dieu (1 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi) is also recommended by locals and expats. It’s a small streetside eatery that is always crowded. Diners sit outside on the sidewalks and parking area, and sometimes you have to wait and come

back later. The chicken broth is rich and lightly salted, providing enough leeway to add condiments to get that perfect taste, but the standout ingredient here is the meat. Sensational. The flavours are subtle. Their pho bowl is also served with chicken pieces, chicken breast and thigh, interspersed with yellow chicken skin. Pho Ha (15 Hang Hom, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi) is another small pho ga outlet in the Old Quarter, which gets crowded. Many locals head for Pho Ha for dinner. Inside, there is a large counter displaying yellow cooked chicken, a glass cabin containing separate parts of chicken, a pot of hot broth and some plastic tables and chairs. The place serves delicious broth, tender and tasty chicken pieces, while the noodles come slightly more al dente than elsewhere. At good prices, it also serves chopped-chicken dishes and delicious chicken sticky rice.

Photo by julie vola | December 2016 Word | 115

Banh Cuon


aten for breakfast or a light dinner, banh cuon places are easy to find when riding around the streets of Hanoi. Yet it’s not easy to find ones that keep the traditional Hanoi taste. Instead of the recommendations on the travel sites, head to the small eateries. They do this dish the best. Banh Cuon Hang Bo (72 Hang Bo, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi) is a family eatery that has sold banh cuon for more than 25 years. Plump and

Photo by trung del

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glossy, the rice pancakes get rave reviews from locals, who say this is the best place in Hanoi for banh cuon prepared without using the food additive borax. You can get banh cuon with chicken fillings besides the normal pork, or order a portion of egg banh cuon. The flavourful meat wrapped in the thin rice flour pancake is unforgettable. Each rice roll here is made to order on the steamer, meaning you could have a little wait. Banh Cuon Phuong (68 Hang Cot, Hoan

Kiem, Hanoi). Besides traditional banh cuon with a filling of pork and dried mushroom, this eatery’s signature dish is shredded shrimp banh cuon with Vietnamese sausage and cinnamon — cha que. Dipping sauce is placed in a big pot on each table, free for diners to take as much as they want. The sauce is also distinct from other eateries, as there is sliced shiitake mushroom in it. Arrive here early and enjoy the peace and silence of the Old Quarter before it busies up for the coming day.

Bun Cha


ocal people joke that if tourists miss bun cha during their first visit to Hanoi, their trip doesn’t count. There are many good bun cha restaurants in the capital, but I recommend the following: Bun Cha Hang Than (Bun Cha Tuyet, 34 Hang Than, Ba Dinh, Hanoi) is popular among locals, with diners occupying half the pavement outside on the street. Regardless of the crowd, you’ll find it’s rewarding to wait and enjoy their bun cha. The pork patties are well-cooked and tender, the betel leaves wrapping the pork adding extra flavour. The aromatic and flavourful fish sauce broth, which is hot enough to warm the rice noodles, even makes your craving worse. Don’t forget to spice up your bowl with some garlic and chilli. The spring rolls are of the smaller variety, but are perfect for soaking in your sauce. Bun Cha Dong Xuan (Dong Xuan Market, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi) — Food outlets pack into every possible centimetre of this alley, while customers claim any remaining space. Yet, after

Photo by julie vola

squeezing in between unsmiling merchants in the crowded ngo adjacent to Dong Xuan Market, you can taste pork being grilled in a way that hasn’t changed since the 1950s. Clamped between bamboo skewers and grilled in betel leaves, the strips of fatty pork have a remarkable tenderness. If you don’t mind a cramped market lane, then try Bun Cha Ngo Si Lien (Ngo Si Lien Market, Dong Da, Hanoi). It is

a rustic bun cha place with a few simple plastic stools. Preparing the grilled pork in the old-fashioned way, the chef-owner is well-known for marinating her pork with a secret recipe. As usual, the pork patties are grilled in betel leaves, creating an aromatic bite, and are served up with a bowl of fish sauce and a hefty pile of noodles. The herbs add freshness and some zing to the delicious warm dipping sauce.

a very nice variation if you prefer something both traditional yet modern for an evening meal. White sticky rice is thinly spread out and placed into a small pan to be fried on both sides. While the yellow shining outside is crispy, the rice inside is still sticky and delicious. You can choose egg, sausage, meat, or paté to pair with your xoi ran. Xoi Xiu (145E Yen Phu, Tay Ho) is the place to go if you love the modern version of xoi with a wide range of mix-ins. The eatery

offers the normal, white version of xoi with various add-ons such as char-siu pork, Vietnamese sausage — gio and cha and slow-cooked pork — Chinese sausage paté, whole egg or omelette. The main ingredient, xoi, is always the star of the show. The sticky rice is fragrant and well-seasoned with the right amount of salt. It’s a winner for both taste and texture. Recommended toppings here are char-siu pork, which is tender, juicy and flavourful.



Photo by Leah Rolando

ticky rice with a wide range of meat mix-ins, which is found at the famous go-to-place Xoi Yen, is the modern version of xoi. There’s also another side to xoi — the original and rustic version. This is simple sticky rice with natural ingredients grown in the villages of Vietnam, like beans, peanuts and corn and without added meat. So where can you find both versions of this quintessential dish in Hanoi? Xoi Hang Hom (peddlers sitting in front of 44 Hang Hom, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi) — If you are in search of some of the tastiest, cheapest and most traditional xoi available in the capital, head to Hang Hom. At less than VND10,000 a portion, you can pick any among the various types; Hanoi original sticky rice with mung beans, sticky rice with peanuts, or with corn, or red sticky rice with coconut. Wrapped in lotus leaf and boasting a distinct fragrance and flavour, xoi Hang Hom is sold on the street pavement by two ladies from Phu Thuong. A warming and cheap breakfast for the Hanoi winter. Xoi Ran De La Thanh — (various places at the beginning of De La Thanh street, Dong Da, Hanoi) is said to be where xoi ran or fried sticky rice first appeared. This is | December 2016 Word | 117

Food and Drink Mystery Diner


Baba’s Kitchen Highly rated by its regulars, Baba’s is one of those Indian restaurants that draws in the customers. So what’s the secret? Our mystery diner finds out. Photos by Bao Zoan


he verdict is unanimous among those I ask about Baba’s Kitchen on Bui Vien. My Indian friends rate it, as do my vegetarian friends. Baba’s has two floors. The ground floor on Saturdays is for a la carte while upstairs is for the buffet. My Indian companion and I point to the ceiling like a cricket umpire giving someone out and a cheery waiter shows us up the steep, narrow wooden stairs. Anyone with trouble walking will not get up there.

The Buffet At the top, there’s a room full of punters taking on the buffet. It’s hot despite the air-con doing its best and the fans on max rattling in their wall mounts. But it’s hotter outside. Baba’s has al fresco dining big enough for a cricket team, but at this time of day, it would be suicide out there. Back inside, we get our first sight of the buffet. I’ll have to come back another day to road test the a la carte menu downstairs because the buffet can’t wait. For VND150,000 (not including drinks), it looks to be a steal. There are five curries to choose from, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, and pakora. Naan and rice are included, so are the condiments synonymous with Indian food. You even get a small dessert at the end.

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On our first plate, my friend tells me the curries taste authentic and remind him of his mum’s. They’re typical of what’s eaten at home. To be honest, I’m finding the daal curry and steamed rice bland, so he suggests a pinch of pickled mango. What a revelation. It jumps to life. It’s hard to believe it’s the same curry. Most of the buffet curries aren’t on the a la carte menu and they’re named just as mum would name them. Potato curry, eggplant curry, chicken curry, fish curry and daal curry. They might seem unimaginative, but they’re worth a try and there’s plenty to eat. With almost two plates done each, we pay our bill and leave. Back down those stairs we go.

A La Carte Another night, another curry. I’m back at Baba’s on a Monday night. Mondays are slow in Ho Chi Minh City, so some restaurants don’t bother opening. Not Baba’s. It’s 7pm and starting to fill up. The a la carte menu is extensive. Despite the South Indian offerings on the menu — think dishes like the dosa — I stick with cuisine from the north. The obvious place to start is the vegetable samosa (VND40,000). They come in twos and are crispy on the outside, firm and moist on the inside. Baba’s versions don’t crumble apart nor are they

packed solid with just potato. I add a dash of tamarind sauce to sweeten things up. The best I’ve had. At Baba’s there is a range of 23 curries. The house favourite mutton roganjosh is the most expensive at VND115,000. Mutton pieces are sparse, but it’s tender and with some pickled mango stirred in, my tongue is dancing. The smell of mutton isn’t overpowering either. From the tandoor there are seven choices and I choose the half chicken tandoori with bone (VND135,000). It’s half a chicken, but it must’ve been a big one. This time I splash it with some green mint chutney. Each bite is succulent, smokey and tangy. The plain naan (VND30,000) is hot and buttery and doesn’t wilt under the pressure mopping up the palaak paneer (VND80,000). I find the sweet mango chutney goes well with this dish. The texture of the cheese offers difference from the other curries. The steamed rice (VND22,000) is fresh. I finish off with a mango lassi (VND40,000) and a complimentary sweet dessert. The bill comes to less than VND450,000. It’s tons of food and for one of those rare occasions, it’s worth believing everything you hear about a place that has great food. Baba’s Kitchen is open 11am to 10pm, 7 days a week and is located at 164 Bui Vien, Q1, HCMC


14 Food





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 Street Snacker


The Best Street Food in Saigon We’ve chosen five dishes that are found everywhere in the city. But where serves them up the best? Zoe Osborne, Matt Cowan and Nick Ross tell all

Photo by Francis xavier

Banh Mi


ince its beginnings in the French era, banh mi has been a celebrated Vietnamese staple. Every street seller has their own precise combination of paté, protein and crunchy vegetables, and sources their own fluffy bread rolls. But whose version is best? Banh Mi Huynh Hoa (26 Le Thi Rieng, Q1, HCMC) is perhaps the meatiest. This tourist and local hotspot serves six different styles of pork, plus a generous helping of tasty paté and pork floss. At VND32,000, these bread rolls are

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the definition of hearty. Perfect for meat lovers, it may disappoint those who favour balance, since the subtleties of fresh, fragrant coriander and crunchy salad get lost beneath a tide of meaty extravagance. Banh Mi Thanh Mai Hoang (107 Truong Dinh, Q3, HCMC) is another meat-famous banh mi place, but not for its quantity. Serving a balanced banh mi roll with the usual coriander, cucumber, pickled vegetables, paté and salty butter, this vendor is known for the tender, sliced, roast pork. Cooked like a slowroasted brisket — tender, moist and soft in the

mouth — add a fried egg and you’ve got a breakfast for kings. All for under VND20,000. Banh mi would be nothing without its white bread roll. And for this, Banh Mi Hong Hoa (62 Nguyen Van Trang, Q1, HCMC) takes gold. This shop bakes its bread on-site so it is warm, crisp and fragrant. Many of the ingredients are homemade, and the banh mi is filled with three styles of tasty pork. Sprigs of coriander and long cuts of cucumber lift the otherwise rich meat, paté and mayo. Costing VND17,000, what more could you want?

Pho Bo


ack in 2014, we went on a mission to find Ho Chi Minh City’s most authentic pho. We were brave. We knew our northern friends would scoff. Why? Because pho originated in Nam Dinh less than 100km from Hanoi. We acknowledged authenticity is a gold standard for rating quality. But things change. If it tastes good, so what? Here are some knockout bowls of pho... according to us. Pho Hoa (260C Pasteur, Q3, HCMC) has been open since the 1960s. Their bowls of the good stuff are huge, with tons of everything piled inside. Offers banh quay and a flavour that is somewhere in between north and south; not too sweet, not too savoury. Costs VND65,000 to VND75,000 a bowl. Pho Phu Gia (146E, Ly Chinh Thang, Q3, HCMC) serves up traditional, northern, savoury and unfatty pho. A rarity in a city which likes its broths sweet, this is the best version of Hanoi-style pho that you’ll

find in Saigon. A bowl costs VND65,000 to VND80,000. Pho Dau (288/M1 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, HCMC) is a favourite with Viet Kieu. The broth has a northern edge to it, and the meat is fatty, rich and tender. But instead of fresh herbs, here the good stuff comes with sliced onions. So make sure you bring some breath freshener. A bowl costs VND70,000 to VND80,000. Pho Quynh (323 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, HCMC) is where most backpackers try pho for the first time. This magazine isn’t a fan of their standard pho bo, but as for their pho bo kho, now that’s a little special. Open 24 hours, this place is Saigon’s answer to the mighty late-night fast food joint. Pho Phu Vuong (339 Le Van Sy, Tan Binh, HCMC) serves up quintessential southernstyle pho. Spicy, sweet, unfatty but bursting with flavour, this, as one member of our staff pointed out, is exactly how pho tastes in California. A bowl costs from VND50,000 to VND70,000.

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Bo Kho


here would Vietnamese cuisine be without the influence of the French? Well, it would still be tasty as hell, but certain dishes wouldn’t exist. Take bo kho, a local version of boeuf bourguignon. The beef is stewed for hours together with herbs and spices like star anise, coriander seeds, lemongrass and cinnamon. Add in some carrots and serve with banh mi, sliced onions and fresh herbs or pour over hu tieu noodles, and you’ve got the perfect Vietnamese-style breakfast, lunch or even dinner. Here are the places we reckon do the best bo kho in Saigon. Bo Kho Ut Nhung (109/7 Nguyen Thien Thuat, Q3, HCMC) only starts serving bo kho at 1pm (in the morning they make pho bo). Fresh and flavoursome, the beef is good quality and sliced thin, with a tasty light gravy to match. Bo Kho Vo Van Tan (Hem 194, Vo Van Tan, Q3, HCMC) is down an alleyway, and they only start serving in the early afternoon. But they sure do a good bo kho. The stew is hearty and bursting with taste, reminiscent of the kind of dish you’d eat in a European winter, and it comes with oodles of carrots. The beef is cooked to perfection — very little fat, it falls apart at the touch.

However, we reckon the offering at Ba Nam (162 Tran Nhan Tong, Q10, HCMC) might be the best in the city. The broth is deep, complex and hits all the right notes.

And the beef is perfect — barely a morsel of fat and lots and lots of meat. Open at 7am, there’s a reason why Ba Nam is sold out by 10am. Photo by kyle phanroy

Com Tam


n Saigon, eating com tam is an obsession. The dish — bitty rice and barbecued pork with untold variations — can be found everywhere. Yet, com tam has such character that no place does it quite like the next. Here are some great spots to get a dose of this Saigonese stomach-filler. If you want it big and full on and you want the heat of the streets of Saigon breathing down your face, then head to Ba Ghien (84 Dang Van Ngu, Phu Nhuan, HCMC). This is the place to go when you’re hungry. Huge chicken drumsticks and heavy weight-sized slabs of pork rib come off the BBQ, the perfect burst of protein to satisfy your lust for large-portioned, tasty com tam. This place is an institution. These days there are too many Com Tam Thuan Kieu joints to count. But we still like the garish outlet in District 1 (114 Yersin, Q1, HCMC). Serving up some of the softest, sweetest-tasting barbecued pork you’ll ever put your teeth into, with a range of tasty pickles on the side, prices here are reasonable if not budget. A plate of the good stuff comes with a bowl of pork broth on the side. A nice, palate-cleansing touch. Every area has its local com tam joint or five. In District 2, there’s Com Tam 40A (40A Quoc Huong, Q2, HCMC). It’s messy, it’s in the front room of someone’s house, but it’s in the heart of Thao Dien. Always crowded, the rice is perfectly steamed, the ribs are meaty without being too thickly cut, and every portion is served up with some tasty pickled cabbage.

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Photo by nick ross

Bun Bo Hue


nyone who knows this city knows that Saigon serves up a mean bowl of bun bo Hue. Made with lemongrass, chilli and shrimp paste, the broth is citrusy and strong and comes with thick cuts of meat and white rice noodles. So good are the offerings in Ho Chi Minh City, that if you go to Hue and you’ll be disappointed. We certainly have been. So who does the best bun bo in Saigon? There are so many options that it’s difficult to tell. Maybe you like the Mon Hue version. When it’s done well, it’s tasty, but there are so many restaurants in the chain now that the quality varies from place to place, and day to day. Bun Bo Hue Dong Ba (110A Nguyen Du, Q1, HCMC) gets a good write-up as does Bun Bo Hue Thanh Noi (47 Tran Cao Van, Q3, HCMC). But we have a penchant for the bun bo served up at Nam Giao (136/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, HCMC). An eatery specialising in cuisine from Hue rather than a street-food place, the bun bo here is quite classic — not a twist or variation in sight. Yet the broth always manages that fine balance between being too rich and too spicy, with the taste of shrimp paste never overpowering the palate. Unless you order otherwise, the cuts of meat are lean and each table comes with a plate of cha and nem in banana leaves. Unwrap and chuck the contents directly into your bowl of soup.

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The Yangon Underground Jesse Meadows heads to Myanmar and gets a taste of the growing underground music scene, a scene where punk, metal and hip-hop blossom hand in hand. | December 2016 Word | 125

“‘They took us as their enemies. We can spread a message, and once we say something on stage, it can’t be undone’”


did not make any notes in Myanmar. I was too distracted by Yangon’s charming, but often horrifying, beauty. Stains black as mould climb up every building face, a rotting legacy of struggle. In 2010, the country once known as Burma emerged from five decades of military rule. Now, it is bursting with character. On a sidewalk next to Bo Gyoke Road, a man chops samosas into a soup. Here South and East Asia meet. Who was it that told me the food in Myanmar is terrible? God only knows what they were eating. I almost don’t want to tell you that every meal was better than the next. “You should go to Shan state,” says KP, lead singer of the Burmese band Big Bag. We’re sitting at dinner in the suburbs and I’ve posed the ultimate of tourist questions — where’s the best food? On the table in front of us is a sort of elaborate hot pot, filled with sticks of questionable meat parts.

Control KP lifts a tattooed arm to swig his cheap draught beer and passes me a copy of his book, a bedtime story for adults, about a rogue who teaches an uptight town to loosen up with a new drug. “When you grow up in this kind of country, you have to make fun of everything. You have to make yourself happy,” he says. The 33-year-old musician was born in a time when everything was controlled — even CDs had to be smuggled in and copied to tapes for fans to buy. KP had to record his first albums on VHS reels, and was limited to singing covers of popular songs — a clever way to circumvent censorship. When he released his first selfmade album, called Villain, only three of the 14 songs he sent to the censor board were approved. “If they thought something was suspicious, they’d call me up and make me explain, [and I’d have to say] no, no, this is about my lover… you have to lie,” he remembers. “But the Burmese language is twisted, and if you twist it enough, you can get away with it.” The government banned him from playing several times — the longest stint lasting six months. “They took us as their enemies. We can spread a message, and once we say something on stage, it can’t be undone. That’s what they are scared of the most.”

Wordplay His days of wordplay are over now — the censor board was abolished at the end of 2010, once Myanmar held its first election in 20 years, and it’s become much easier for bands to get permission to play public shows. In fact, I’ve caught KP on a rare two-week vacation. Big Bag is fully booked across Myanmar. Before we finish dinner, two men approach the table and ask KP for a photograph. At first he jumps, visibly on guard. “You cool?” he asks them. Not

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everyone is nice, he explains. But these are just fans, and they’ve been listening to his music for nearly 10 years. It was this moment we realised, we were eating fried rice with a Burmese rockstar. The next night, we got a chance to see one of Yangon’s free rock shows underneath the Hledan bridge — an overpass next to a sparkling shopping mall. A crowd of Burmese kids rocking studded jackets and bright red mohawks gather in the wide concrete space between two busy lanes of traffic to watch their favourite bands — Kultureshock, No U-Turn and Y.A.K. From the outside, the crowd looks rough, angry, unapproachable; but as I sit and watch, the music starts and their faces brighten. They leap and twirl each other around the concrete, singing along. Greenhaired, toothless, tattooed and thrashing, they have massive smiles. This is Kultureshock’s first album release since lead singer Skum got out of jail in 2009. “We didn’t expect much, but we are really happy,” he says, when I catch him after the show. They’ve completely sold out of the 90 albums they pressed. He invites me to a beer station — the Burmese bia hoi — and once again I find myself at dinner with leaders of the Burmese music scene.

Therapy Someone fills a pint for me from the beer tower on the table, and I ask Skum why he thinks his music is important to his fans. “Bands from the US, they have very little issues to speak of,” he replies. “But

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here, there are too many things to speak of, too many things to fight for, too much injustice... we’ve got real issues.” I probably didn’t have to ask that question; the feeling of release had rippled through the crowd with every scream and power chord. The mosh pit was therapy — and it was full of joy. At the other end of the table, Thazin Nyunt Aung, half of female rap duo Y.A.K., laughs as No U-Turn guitarist and music promoter Eaiddhi shows her a video from the night’s performance. Thazin and Skum had closed out the show together with a collaborative finale.

In 2012, Eaiddhi launched a party called Jam It!, which has become a bridge between the music scenes. “Before, at a punk concert, they never invited hip-hop guys. When we started jamming, we invited everyone. Hip hop guys, metal bands, punk bands ...we were all friends. We wanted to show [everyone] that we were performing on the stage together,” Eaiddhi says. It’s late, and all the beer is gone. Eaiddhi stands up and screams: “Where are we going?” So we all pile into a cab and end up at the night’s most fitting after-party; a hip-hop dance-off. My own favourite kind of therapy.

“From the outside, the crowd looks rough, angry, unapproachable; but as I sit and watch, the music starts and their faces brighten. They leap and twirl each other around the concrete, singing along�


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Hon Ba Rising high southwest of Nha Trang is a mountain covered by a primitive forest that carries a mysterious story about Doctor Yersin. Words and photos by Vu Ha Kim Vy | December 2016 Word | 131


on Ba soars more than 1,500 metres above the coastal plains of Khanh Hoa Province, 60km southwest of Nha Trang. The peak can be seen from Ngoan Muc Pass in Lam Dong on clear sunny days, but cannot be seen in Khanh Hoa as it’s always cloudy and humid, with frequent rain all year round. “If you go to the mountain, make sure you come back before dark,” the hotel driver warned me. From Highway 1A, at Suoi Cat, Cam Lam district, turn onto the small road at the foot of the mountain next to Suoi Dau Lake to begin the journey to Hon Ba. It is about 37km from the foot to the top along a snaking mountain road — an unusual experience when having a holiday in Nha Trang.

Suoi Dau Lake Suoi Dau Lake is a reservoir, providing water to 3,700 hectares of rice fields and fruit gardens and other industrial zones including Suoi Dau and Cay Cay. Formed by the Suoi Dau River and Da Giang stream running from Hon Ba, the lake has a surface area of 320ha. Some Nha Trang people call the mountain after the name of the lake, others don’t know where it is. The lake looked like a giant blue crystal, surrounded by different shades of green. I pulled my bike over and gazed at the island far away in the lake. The water was calm, reflecting some fishermen sitting on the dyke. A man on his bike was driving around to check the floodgates, while three kids were herding their buffaloes. “Go to the end of the dyke and you will see the road leading to Hon Ba,” a man told me while pointing in the opposite direction.

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The Mountain The 37km road leading to the top is concreted, and greeted my eyes with untouched scenery of a primitive forest on one side and the Da Giang stream on the other. Rags of mist floated around tall trees standing on the slope of the mountain. The further I drove up, the cooler the weather became, with houses lying scattered along the road. Hon Ba was discovered by Swiss physician Dr. Alexandre Yersin in the early 20th century. In 1915, he built a

research station where he conducted many experimental programmes and had a medicinal garden at the top. He is remembered for his effort to find quinine, the first effective remedy for malaria, by growing the cinchona tree. To pay tribute to Dr. Yersin, the provincial government has restored and preserved his house, and established Hon Ba Nature Reserve in 2005. The reserve boasts 41 precious varieties of plants and 59 rare types of animal listed in Vietnam’s Red Book of Endangered Species. It's

also home to 592 varieties of tropical plants and 255 kinds of animals.

Km 19 If you have ever taken a road trip to Dalat, you will find the road up to Dr. Yersin’s house not too different, with cool air, birdsong and the gurgling sound of the Da Giang stream. The stream winds along the mountain walls and splits into many smaller currents threading between rock ranges in many shapes and sizes, where tourists can

have a swim or set up their camping area. “You have to turn back, it’s closed,” the security guard told me when I was trying to pass the barrier at Km19. According to the guard, the provincial government discovered construction irregularities carried out by Yasaka Co. in March this year. Yasaka built a resort consisting of a stilt house, five bungalows and three 100sqm camping sites next to the Yersin house without licence. A large area of trees was cut down to get wood and make space for the resort,

according to Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper. “Come back next summer as it will reopen,” the guard said as I turned my bike around. “Vinpearl is taking care of the peak and will build a cable line from Yang Bay. It will be easier.” Driving downhill was strange. I was disappointed not to see the top but also felt lucky. When I come back next time, Hon Ba will not be the same. You never know, there might even be an amusement park built up there. | December 2016 Word | 133


Dalat ANA MANDARA VILLAS $$$$ Le Lai, Dalat, Tel: (063) 3555888 DALAT PALACE $$$$ 12 Ho Tung Mau, Dalat, Tel: (063) 382 5444

Dalat Green City Hotel 172 Phan Dinh Phung, Dalat, Tel: (063) 382 7999

Located in central Dalat, this is the perfect place for budget travellers. Quiet, newly refurbished with beautiful mountain and city views from the rooftop, features free Wi-Fi, a TV and snack bar in all rooms with a downstairs coffee shop and computers in the lobby for guest use.

Dalat Train Villa Villa 3, 1 Quang Trung, Dalat, Tel: (063) 381 6365

Located near the Dalat Train Station, the Dalat Train Villa is a beautifully restored, colonial era, two-storey villa. In its grounds is a 1910 train carriage which has been renovated into a bar and cafe. Located within 10 minutes of most major attractions in Dalat.

TRUNG CANG HOTEL $ 22 Bui Thi Xuan, Dalat, Tel: (063) 382 2663

M M M Hanoi – International CROWNE PLAZA WEST INTERNATIONAL $$$ 36 Le Duc Tho, My Dinh Commune, Tu Liem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 6270 6688 This premier five-star property lies beside the My Dinh National Stadium and Convention Centre. Boasts two swimming pools, a spa, and a fitness centre in its 24 stories. DAEWOO HOTEL 360 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3831 5555

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This enormous structure offers the most modern of amenities, and with four restaurants and two bars, the events staff is well equipped to handle any occasion. Close to the National Convention Center, and a favourite of the business traveller, Daewoo even boasts an outdoor driving range. Shortly to become a Marriot property. FORTUNA HOTEL HANOI 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3831 3333 This 350-room four-star set up in the heart of Hanoi’s financial district has a variety of rooms on offer, a “capital lounge” and three restaurants that serve Japanese, Chinese and international cuisine. And like you’d expect, there’s a fitness centre, night club and swimming pool, too, and even a separate spa and treatment facility for men and women. Set to the west of town, Fortuna often offers business deals on rooms and spaces to hold meetings, presentations and celebrations. HOTEL DE L’OPERA 29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 6282 5555 Resting just a step away from the Opera House, the hotel mixes colonial architectural accents and theatrical interior design to create a contemporary space. The first boutique five star in the heart of Hanoi, the lavish, uniquely designed 107 rooms and suites contain all the mod cons and are complimented by two restaurants, a bar and complimentary Wi-Fi. Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi 20 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel (04) 3944 9396 With 86 fully-equipped guestrooms and suites, this is the first Hilton Garden Inn property in Southeast Asia. Centrally located and a short stroll from the historic Old Quarter, the hotel offers a full service restaurant, a stylish bar, along with complimentary business and fitness centres making it perfect for the international business or leisure traveller. Hilton Hanoi Opera 1 Le Thanh Tong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 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: (04) 6270 8888 This stunning property built over West Lake falls in between a hotel and a resort. Beautiful views, great balcony areas, comfortable, topend accommodation and all the mod-cons make up the mix here together with the resort’s three in-house restaurants and the Sunset Bar, a watering hole located on a thoroughfare over the lake. Great gym and health club. JW Marriott Hanoi 8, Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 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. May de Ville Old Quarter 43/45/47 Gia Ngu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3933 5688 The largest four-star hotel in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, 110 rooms, a swimming pool, a top floor terrace bar and a location just a stone’s throw from Hoan Kiem Lake make this a great choice for anyone wanting a bit of luxury in the heart of the action. MELIA HANOI 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 3343 Excellently located in central Hanoi, Melia Hanoi draws plenty of business travellers and is also a popular venue for conferences and wedding receptions. State-of-the-art rooms, elegant restaurants, stylish bars, fully equipped fitness centre with sophisticated service always make in-house guests satisfied. MÖVENPICK HOTEL HANOI 83A Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3822 2800 With its distinctive French architecture and top end service, Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi is aimed squarely at corporate travellers. An allday restaurant and a lounge bar are available to satiate their clientele while the kinetic gym and wellness studio offer an excellent range of equipment. Massage and sauna facilities are available for guests seeking to rejuvenate. Of the 154 wellappointed rooms and suites, 93 are non-smoking. Novotel Suites 5 Duy Tan, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 3576 6666 Suites and apartments with all the mod cons and attrac-

tive décor you’d expect of an Accor property. Located close to My Dinh and 20 minutes from downtown Hanoi, this new property with an inhouse restaurant and bar is perfect for business professionals or travellers looking to mix a stay in Hanoi with the feeling of being located in a place you can call home. PULLMAN HANOI HOTEL $$$$ 40 Cat Linh, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 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. SHERATON K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 9000 Surrounded by lush gardens, sweeping lawns and tranquil courtyards, this peaceful property features picturesque views of West Lake and is less than 10 minutes from downtown. In addition to the luxurious rooms, the hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool and great relaxation and fitness facilities, including a tennis court and spa. There are well equipped conference rooms and a newly refurbished Executive Club Lounge. SOFITEL LEGEND METROPOLE HANOI 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 6919 The finest hotel of the French colonial period is probably still the finest in today’s Hanoi. Anyone who is (or was) anyone has stayed at this elegant oasis of charm, where the service is impeccable and the luxurious facilities complement the ambiance of a bygone era. Definitely the place to put the Comtessa up for a night. Pan Pacific Hanoi 1 Thanh Nien Road, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3823 8888 Boasting Hanoi’s best views of West Lake, Truc Bach Lake and the Red River, 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.

Hanoi – Mid-Range 6 ON SIXTEEN 16 Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem Another boutique hotel to grace Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the six rooms here mix contem-

porary and fresh with handicrafts and antique. Breakfast is included and in the long, lounge restaurant on the second floor, home-style Vietnamese fare is served up with fresh fruit juices and Lavazza coffee. GOLDEN SILK BOUTIQUE HOTEL $$$ 109-111 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3928 6969 Located in the centre of the Old Quarter, this little slice of heaven offers complimentary sundries and a replenishable minibar. The Orient restaurant, serves the finest in international and Vietnamese cuisine. Joseph’s Hotel $$ 5 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 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. All the modern amenities at reasonable prices. MAISON D’HANOI HANOVA HOTEL $$$ 35-37 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 0999 A minute from Hoan Kiem Lake, this glowing pearl in the heart of Hanoi provides tranquility with an art gallery and piano bar. MAY DE VILLE 24 Han Thuyen, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 2222 9988 Set in the old French Quarter a short walk from the Opera House, May de Ville City Centre is a welcome new addition to the capital. Combining contemporary architecture with traditional Vietnamese style and materials, this elegant property has 81 well-appointed rooms including four suites.

Hanoi – Budget HANOI BACKPACKER’S HOSTEL 48 Ngo Huyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3828 5372 Probably the cheapest, European-style hostel in town, with bunk-style beds mixed or single-sex dorms starting at VND150,000, plus a couple of double suites from VND250,000. A place to meet like-minded fold in the Old Quarter.

HCMC – International CARAVELLE HOTEL $$$$ 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999

Winner of Robb Report’s 2006 list of the world’s top 100 luxury hotels, the Caravelle houses the popular rooftop Saigon Saigon bar, and the restaurants Nineteen and Reflections. EQUATORIAL $$$ 242 Tran Binh Trong, Q5, Tel: (08) 3839 7777 This massive property boasts seven dining and entertainment outlets, a business centre, meeting rooms and a comprehensive fitness centre and spa. The Equatorial also has an on-site casino. HOTEL NIKKO SAIGON $$$$$ 235 Nguyen Van Cu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 7777 The five-star hotel and serviced apartment complex offers: 14 instant offices, seven meeting rooms, a 600-capacity ballroom, spa, outdoor swimming pool, a gym, 24-hour fine dining, 24-hours room service, and limousine services. INTERCONTINENTAL ASIANA SAIGON $$$$$ Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 9999 In the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, resides the Asiana with signature dining options, an innovative cocktail bar, exclusive spa and health club, together with luxury boutique arcade. Le Méridien Saigon $$$$ 3C Ton Duc Thang, Q1, HCMC Tel: (08) 6263 6688 Marking the brand’s debut in Vietnam, Le Méridien Saigon is the gathering place for curious and creativeminded travellers. Located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City next to the Saigon River, the property is close to the metropolis's entertainment and commercial areas, making it an ideal base for exploring the local culture and community. Experience this cosmopolitan city in stimulating surroundings. LOTTE LEGEND HOTEL SAIGON $$$$ 2A–4A Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3333 Immaculate architecture, spacious rooms, and a fine selection of fine dining, with buffets specialising in Americana and Pan-Asian cuisine. NEW WORLD HOTEL $$$$ 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8888 Former guests include U.S. presidents — two Bushes, Clinton — and K-Pop sen-

sation Bi Rain. An ongoing event as well as a hotel, New World is one of the best luxury stops in town. PARK HYATT $$$$$ 2 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1234 Fabulous in style, prime in location, everything one would expect from the Hyatt. The Square One and Italianthemed Opera restaurants have garnered an excellent reputation, as has the landscaped pool. PULLMAN SAIGON CENTRE $$$$$ 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3838 8686 Recently completed on the site of the old Metropole, this upscale, contemporary property boasts 306 signature rooms combining design, comfort and connectivity. Innovative cuisine, a great downtown location and hightech meeting venues able to host up to 600 guests make up the mix. RIVERSIDE APARTMENTS 53 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 4111 Situated on the banks of the Saigon River, a 15-minute scenic boat ride or 20-minute bus ride from town, Riverside’s complementary shuttle services take you right in the city centre. With 152 fully equipped serviced apartments, the property offers special packages for short-term stay starting at VND2.1 million per apartment per night for a onebedroom facility. Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon $$$$ 8-15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1117 This distinct French architectural wonder offers complimentary Wi-Fi, airport pickup or drop off, a first-floor ballroom, and authentic Vietnamese cuisine at the River Restaurant. SILA Urban Living 21 Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3930 0800 Stylish apart-hotel with 217 apartments (from studios to one and two bedrooms) for short and long stays, close to the Reunification Palace on the edge of District 1. Facilities include a 24-hour reception, a 24-hour gym with a 20-meter swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. Western and Eastern specialties are served daily at Twenty-One restaurant and bar. SHERATON $$$$$ 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08)

3827 2828 Sheraton boasts one of the best locations in town, with first–class facilities, an open–air restaurant 23 floors above the city and a live music venue on the same floor. SOFITEL SAIGON PLAZA $$$$ 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555 This 20–story building in downtown Saigon, caters to upscale business and leisure travelers seeking a classic yet contemporary stay in Saigon. WINDSOR PLAZA $$$ 18 An Duong Vuong, Q5, Tel: (08) 3833 6688 The full ensemble with its own shopping hub (including a bank), fine dining, a sauna, health club, and superb panoramic views of the cityscape. Also hosts the largest Oktoberfest in the region.

HCMC – Deluxe CONTINENTAL $$$ 132-134 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9201 This charming old hotel has been fêted in literature and in film. In the heart of Saigon, this is the first choice to highlight Vietnamese culture. NORFOLK HOTEL $$$ 117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 5368 Intimate atmosphere and excellent service, this boutique business hotel is located minutes from famous landmarks, designer shops, and is renowned for its fabulous steaks at its in-house restaurant, Corso.

STAR CITY SAIGON HOTEL $$$ 144 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 3999 8888 The newly-built hotel is near Tan Son Nhat International Airport. With spectacular city views and a comfortablydesigned outdoor swimming pool, there is little reason not to choose this shining star.

HCMC - Mid-Range

room. Low prices, friendly staff, clean rooms. This modern oasis is only a few steps from the backpacker’s area. DUNA HOTEL $ 167 Pham Ngu Lao Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 3699 HONG HOA HOTEL $ 185/28 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 1915

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

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

LAN LAN HOTEL 1 AND 2 $$$ 46 and 73-75 Thu Khoa Huan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 7926


THE ALCOVE LIBRARY HOTEL $$$ 133A Nguyen Dinh Chinh, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 08 6256 9966

HCMC – Budget DUC VUONG HOTEL $ 195 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 6992 Free Wi–Fi offered in every

Hoi An & Danang An Bang Beach Retreat An Bang Beach, Hoi An CUA DAI $ 544, Cua Dai, Hoi An, Tel: (0510) 386 2231 DANANG BEACH RESORT $$$ Truong Sa, Hoa Hai, Ngu Hanh Son, Danang, Tel: (0511) 396 1800

FURAMA RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Vo Nguyen Giap, Khue My, Ngu Hanh Son, Danang, Tel: (0511) 384 7888

PULLMAN DANANG BEACH RESORT $$$$ Vo Nguyen Giap, Khue My, Ngu Hanh Son, Danang Tel: (0511) 395 8888 Located on the stunning white sands of Bac My An Beach, the stylish Pullman Danang Beach Resort is an oasis of activities and facilities for the modern traveller. With an idyllic setting, this luxury property is perfect for a family holiday or romantic beach getaway. And with extensive function facilities, Pullman Danang also provides the a great location for your next incentive getaway or event.

HYATT REGENCY DANANG RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Hoa Hai, Ngu Hanh Son, Da Nang, Tel: (0511) 398 1234 The Hyatt Regency Danang

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

NOVOTEL SAIGON CENTRE $$$ 167 Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 4866 Novotel Saigon Centre has a contemporary feel, an international buffet — The Square — a rooftop bar, and a wellness centre including a swimming pool, gym, sauna and spa. Villa Song Saigon $$$ 197/2 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 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, Indochine-influenced design, a great setting and good drinking and dining options make this a great, non-city centre choice.

Free wi-fi, international breakfast, spacious and airy, lift, plasma TV, multi-shower, friendly service 5, Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi | Phone: 04 3938 1048 | Mob: 0913 090 446 | December 2016 Word | 135


Resort and Spa is beachfront with a stunning view of the Marble Mountains. There are 182 luxurious residences and 27 private ocean villas, each with a private pool. MERCURE DANANG $$$ Lot A1 Zone Green Island, Hoa Cuong Bac, Hai Chau, Danang, Tel: (0511) 379 7777 Set on the Han River, this well-appointed, Accormanaged property is one of the nicest hotels in Central Danang. Kitsch but contemporary design and some phenomenal views over the city make up the mix. THE NAM HAI $$$$ Hamlet 1, Dien Duong Village, Quang Nam, Tel: (0510) 394 0000 Includes three massive swimming pools, a gourmet restaurant and elegant spa on a lotus pond. Each massive room has its own espresso machine, pre–programmed iPod and both indoor and outdoor showers.

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

Photo by vu ha kim vy

BANYAN TREE LANG CO $$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien, Hue, Tel: (054) 369 5888 Built on a crescent bay, The Banyan Tree offers privacy

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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: (054) 383 7475 la–residence– PHUONG HOANG HOTEL $ 66 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: (054) 382 6736

M M M Nha Trang EVASON ANA MANDARA AND SIX SENSES SPA $$$$ Beachside Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 352 2222 2.6 hectares of private beachside gardens and villa–style accommodation furnished in traditional native woods, this resort offers verandah dining, a pool bar and the signature Six Senses Spa. JUNGLE BEACH RESORT $ Ninh Phuoc, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 362 2384 On a secluded promontory north of Nha Trang, this budget place is all about hammocks, the sea, the jungle and nature. MIA RESORT NHA TRANG $$$$ Bai Dong, Cam Hai Dong, Cam Lam, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 398 9666 NOVOTEL NHA TRANG $$$ 50 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: (058) 625 6900 This four-star hotel with 154 guestrooms, all with a terrace and sea view. Complete

with a pool, spa, restaurant, bar and meeting room that caters for up to 200 delegates. SIX SENSES HIDEAWAY Ninh Van Bay $$$$ Ninh Van Bay, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 372 8222 The upmarket Tatler magazine voted top hotel of 2006. The location is stunning, on a bay accessible only by boat. SHERATON NHA TRANG HOTEL AND SPA $$$$ 26 – 28 Tran Phu, Tel: (058) 388 0000

M M M Phan Thiet & Mui Ne Ninh Chu Bay Beach Club & Bar Hwy 702, Ninh Hai, Phan Rang, Ninh Thuan, Tel: (068) 627 2727 Enjoy the private beach with excellent facilities and have a massage. Evenings are sublime at this beach club, soon to become a fully fledged resort. Grilled seafood, European sausages, sangria, draught beer, and specialityinfused vodka all make this one of a kind destination. Blue Ocean Resort $$$$ 54 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: (062) 384 7322 COCO BEACH $$$$ 58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: (062) 384 7111 With charming wooden bungalows, a private beach, a swimming pool (both with attached bars) and a French restaurant, Coco Beach con-

tinues to be run by those who opened it in 1995. Joe’s Garden Resort $$ 86 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ham Tien, Mui Ne, Tel: (062) 384 7177 A leafy, seafront bungalow resort and café with nightly live music all in one. Reminiscent of the type of places you’d find on the Thai islands, an international and Asian food menu together with a cheap happy hour on beer make up the relaxing mix. MIA RESORT MUI NE $$$$ 24 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Tel: (062) 384 7440 VICTORIA PHAN THIET RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Mui Ne Beach, Phan Thiet, Tel: (062) 381 3000 Another beachfront Victoria chain, the thatched–roof bungalows and family villas are set in exotic gardens with an infinity swimming pool, a seafood restaurant, spa, beauty salon and jacuzzi.

M M M Phong Nha Easy Tiger and Jungle Bar $ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: (052) 367 7844 easytigerphongnha@gmail. com A hostel and street-front bar all in one. Has a pleasant, airy atmosphere in the bar and restaurant area while the 52 dorm beds — four beds to a room — go for US$8 (VND168,000) each a night. Ho Khanh's Homestay $$ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: 01299 597182

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

M M M Phu Quoc BEACH CLUB RESORT $$ Ap Cua Lap, Xa Duong To, Long Beach, Phu Quoc Island, Tel: (077) 398 0998 A quaint and popular island guesthouse featuring a beachside restaurant, and includes free Wi-Fi. Motorbike rental, boat trips and tours are easily arranged. Discount rates during rainy season. MANGO BAY $$ 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. Salinda Resort Phu Quoc Island $$$$ Cua Lap Hamlet, Duong To Commune, Phu Quoc, Kien Giang Tel: (08) 3929 3097 Hotline 0907 99 55 02 Set on the sea and only 4km away from Phu Quoc International Airport, Salinda is inspired by an interplay of rustic local heritage with

contemporary design. The property has 121 rooms and villas with private balconies, and provides a luxury experience that embodies the understated beauty and enchanting spirit of the pearl of Asia.

M M M Sapa CAT CAT VIEW HOTEL $$ Cat Cat Road, Tel: 0203 871946 The best view in town from its bar restaurant, the Cat Cat Guesthouse is paradise at very reasonable rates. The rooms have big windows, balconies, and log fireplaces. Topas Ecolodge $$$ Thanh Kim, Sapa, Lao Cai Tel: (04) 3715 1005 (Sales) With its panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valley, Topas Ecolodge is the perfect place to experience the remoteness and quiet of the Northern Vietnamese mountains — the landscape, the fresh air and the ethnic peoples. Guests stay in private bungalows with dinner served in a local stilt house restaurant.

M M M Vung Tau & Ho Tram BINH AN VILLAGE $$$$ 1 Tran Phu, Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 335 1553 CON DAO RESORT $$ Nguyen Duc Thuan, Con Dao, Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 383 0939 HO TRAM BEACH RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Tel: (064) 378 1525 This attractive property is the ideal getaway from Ho Chi

Minh City. 63 uniquely bungalows and villas promise a local experience complete with an excellent spa and two swimming pools. HO TRAM SANCTUARY $$$$ Ho Tram, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 378 1631 The spacious villas come with their own pool and have direct access to the beach. Extras include tennis courts, a mini supermarket, and cycling and motorbike tours. REX HOTEL $$ 1 Le Quy Don, Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 385 2135 SIX SENSES CON DAO $$$$ Dat Doc Beach, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 383 1222 The Grand-Ho Tram Strip Phuoc Thuan Commune, Xuyen Moc, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 378 8888 The Grand-Ho Tram Strip is Vietnam’s first large scale integrated resort and includes a 541-room five-star hotel, a world-class casino, restaurants, high-tech meeting space, an exclusive VIP area, as well as a variety of beach-front recreation activities. Is located next to the Greg Norman-designed golf course, The Bluffs, one of the best golf courses in Vietnam.

M M M Travel Services — Hanoi BUFFALO TOURS AGENCY (BTA) 94 Ma May, Hoan Kiem Dist., Ha Noi, Tel: (04) 3828 0702 A boutique Travel Agency at the service of all Vietnamese and expatriate residents in Vietnam offering easy, hassle-free travel around the world and in Vietnam.

BTA customizes leisure and corporate travel plans while offering a selected range of small group tours. Exo Travel 66A Tran Hung Dao, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3828 2150 A one-stop, all-in-one travel agency with an extensive operational track record in the Indochina region and beyond. Providing up-market services, Exotissimo brings their clients close to culture through personalised tours. Also find travel desks at the Hilton, Sofitel Plaza and Intercontinental hotels, which are open on weekends and holidays. HANDSPAN TRAVEL 78 Ma May, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3926 2828 Established in 1997, Handspan provides customers with safe, high quality, diverse, small-group adventure tours to both popular and isolated locations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Has a focus on off-the-beaten-track sustainable and responsible tourism initiatives. Also provides to excursions to more well-worn destinations. HG TRAVEL 47 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3944 8844 Travel company specialising in small-group tours around Vietnam and further afield in Indochina. Is also the sole representative agent for Kenya Airways (for 40 cities in Africa — kenya-airways. com), American Airlines (aa. com) and Turkish Airlines ( INTREPID TRAVEL VIETNAM 57A Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0904 193308 Intrepid Travel Vietnam is an international travel company operating in Vietnam since 1992, offering innovative day tours, short breaks and small group adventures. With expert guides and guaranteed

departures, Intrepid focuses on real life experiences in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Mekong Delta, Halong Bay, Sapa and beyond to get you up close to Vietnam’s people, cuisine, history and culture. Travel Sense Asia Suite 8, 2nd Floor, 103 Nguyen Truong To, Ba Dinh, Hanoi Tel: (04) 3715 3977 A homegrown travel agency providing small group journeys and tailor-made holidays to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand. Voted in Trip Advisor’s Top 10 of best tours in Hanoi since 2010.

Travel Services — HCMC BUFFALO TOURS AGENCY 70-72 Ba Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3828 0702; 157 Pasteur, Q3, Ho Chi Minh City, Tel: (08) 3827 9170 This premium travel agency helps travellers select their destinations and organise their trips. From corporate travel to small group tours, explore the world or Vietnam. Exo Travel 41, Thao Dien, Q2. Tel (08) 3519 4111, Ext. 15/17/19 A reliable and experienced travel company operating through Southeast Asia, Exotissimo brings you personalized tours across the region, many including insights into culinary customs, handicrafts and humanitarian initiatives. FLIGHT TRAVEL COMPANY 121 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 7744 Flight travel services, including global travel management, domestic and international air booking and travel insurance, to corporate companies, family and individual travelers. Grasshopper Adventures Tel: 0946 704095

Escape the bustle with Southeast Asia’s top rated bike tour company. Run guided day tours to the Mekong Delta and Cu Chi Tunnels. Also organize longer, two to 14-day tours throughout Vietnam. TERRAVERDE 12/20 Nguyen Canh Di, Ward 4, Tan Binh District, Tel: (08) 3984 4754 If you like cycling through the Mekong Delta, trekking in the highlands, or lazing in a junk on Ha Long Bay — all while making a difference in people’s lives — then this company will suit you well. VIETNAM VESPA ADVENTURE 169A De Tham, Q1, Tel: 01222 993585 Vespa Adventure offers multi–day tours of southern and coastal Vietnam on the back of a luxury motorbike powered by clean, renewable biodiesel. English-speaking tour guides lead the way.

Travel Services — Elsewhere Back of the Bike Tours Tel: (08) 6298 5659 Offer motorbike tours combined with the finest street food to give customers a truly immersive Vietnamese experience. Online travel in Southeast Asia. Offers you selection of best hotels and great tours. Create your own trip or we can tailor make your itinerary. TU TRAVEL 60 Hai Ba Trung, Can Tho City, Tel: 0713 752436 tutrangtravel-mekongfeeling. vn Want to set up non-standard tours in the Mekong with local guides who’ve got extensive local knowledge? This might be the place to contact. | December 2016 Word | 137

Notes From Another City

The traffic in Ho Chi Minh City. Motorbike drivers are 40 more times likely to die on the roads than car drivers.


ou can drive carefully, you can drive defensively, you can drive at a sedate 30kph, but sooner or later you’re going to come to grief on Vietnam’s roads. It was my turn early last year. I was en route back to Vung Tau after a week’s holiday in Vinh Long. It was around 10pm, and a few kilometers before Ho Chi Minh City I pulled out to pass another motorcycle. For no apparent reason, it pulled out at the same time. Next moment I was sliding along the road at 60kph with my motorbike sliding alongside me. Now I can’t claim that it was altogether unexpected. You know, you just know, that sooner or later your number will come up. The statistics prove it: Vietnam averages 29 traffic fatalities a day, which is a pretty sobering figure. (In my country there’s around one a day.) There comes a time when

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your slow, ultra-careful, defensive driving isn’t enough. Then — blam — you’re another victim. Friends of mine in Vung Tau have all had their mishaps; lots of grazed elbows and knees, one with a broken collarbone, and one comatose for three days.

A Lucky Escape

By Don Wills

Back to my predicament. Here I am, sliding along the road and thinking, “Oh God, is this it? Is this goodbye cruel world? Even if this contact with the hard, unforgiving road doesn’t kill me, will I become pancake under the wheels of the truck hurtling along behind me?” But my slide does come to a halt, and the truck behind me does manage to stop in time, and I’m left lying on the road in a daze. A crowd quickly gathers around me. There are lots of loud opinions being voiced, but nobody seems exactly sure

Happy Driving

A recent motorbike accident in Dong Nai in Southern Vietnam. When accidents occur, there are rarely ambulances on hand to take the injured to the nearest hospital.

what to do next. I try to sit up but can’t, and roll back onto the road. Two men help me to my feet, then to the side of the road. I’m hurting. My shoulder, my elbow, my knuckles, and my knee are throbbing and dripping blood. Oh shit, what to do next? Getting away from the scene is a good idea, before the police arrive, and things like driving licences, negligence and liability become unwelcome issues. Some onlookers have righted my bike and wheeled it to the side of the road. “Can I still ride it?” I ask the man beside me. He shrugs. I swing my leg over it. Five minutes earlier this would have been an effortless, automatic move; now it’s a slow, painful feat that has me gritting my teeth and groaning. The handlebars are slippery with blood, the mirrors and speedo splattered with it. I press the starter. The

bike starts straight away, and that’s one compensation at least.

Hospital? What Hospital? Now, where to go? Hospital? Doctor? No, it would take an age to track one down, especially at this time of night. I’ll go to a chemist shop to get something for the wounds. There’s one nearby, and I park in front of it and with difficulty ease myself off the bike and limp into the shop. I hold out my trembling hand to the pharmacist, showing her the bloody knuckles. She tuttuts and nods, then reaches for antiseptic cleaning fluid, iodine, bandages, and band-aids. “And some painkillers too”, I say. “The strongest you’ve got.” I pay with blood-stained banknotes, and ask where the nearest hotel is. She waves a hand down the road. “Near or far?” I ask. “Near.”

Once in the hotel room I get my shirt and jeans off, and study my wounds in the bathroom mirror. Shoulder, like a red, oozing tennis ball. Knuckles, a mish-mash of raw flesh, dripping blood on the tiled floor. Elbow, more red meat. Knee, twice its normal size, and stiffening fast. I dash antiseptic fluid onto the wounds, gasping with pain as I do so. I gingerly towel the wounds dry. I apply iodine to all four injuries, bandage the elbow and knee, and put three band-aids on the knuckles. I take two Panadol and get myself onto the bed. I sleep fitfully for five hours, waking intermittently to take more Panadol, then get up at 7.30am. I check out of the hotel, and drive ever-so slowly, shakily, back to Vung Tau. Born in New Zealand, Don Wills lives in Vung Tau. He’s been writing his way around the region for decades | December 2016 Word | 139


Day Tripper: Van Phuc Silk Village / The Alchemist / The Therapist / Bar Stool / Coffee Cup / Top Eats / Medical Buff / Starting a Family / Book Buff Photo by Julie Vola

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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.


Hanoi Holistic Health Guide A guide to various holistic health practitioners in Hanoi. Only available online, but a great information source.


44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 3711; 1/28 Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3829 2322 Bookworm has been the cornerstone of Hanoi’s literary scene since 2001. It has been around the block quite a bit and now shares a space with Hanoi Cooking Centre. With over 15,000 new and secondhand fiction and nonfiction titles in stock, the shop also buys used books and offers free travel advice. Has a second shop in Tay Ho

British Business Group Vietnam (BBGV) 193B Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: (04) 6674 0945 The chamber of commerce for all things relating to the UK and British-born expats living in the capital. Puts on monthly networking events, gala dinners, fundraising events and much more. CCIFV Pan Pacific Hanoi, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 2229 Eurocham Pan Pacific Hanoi, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 2228 Icham Sofitel Plaza, Ground floor, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 2229 Singapore Business Association Vietnam Business Center Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh

M M M Cinemas Cinematheque ARTS CINEMA

23/67 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3726 4896

22A Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3936 2648 Not a movie theatre per se, but a private film club that charges a membership fee in return for entrance to a wide selection of movies, new and old. The management has an eclectic taste and shows films and opera from all over the world. Call to arrange membership.

Trang Tien Bookstore


Librairie Française de Hanoi FRENCH BOOKSHOP


44 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3936 2151

Clubs & Societies





32 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3825 4068

M M M Business Groups Amcham 4th Floor, InterContinental Hanoi, 1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3934 2790 Auscham 4th Floor, 100 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 0909 710994

21 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3824 1850 GOETHE INSTITUT GERMAN CULTURAL CENTRE


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

Hanoi Ois




5 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3828 6965 This shop’s motto “Western sizes, Vietnamese prices”, says it all. While mostly retailing women’s separates in soft cotton jersey and linen, the store also carries a range of accessories like embroidered canvas totes and printed tees. Has a good selection of unique men’s shirts.


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



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


Chula 43 Nhat Chieu, Tay Ho; 24 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0904 258960 The work of Spanish couple Laura and Diego, this homegrown Hanoi brand describes themselves as creating wearable art. Designing pieces that are trendy, elegant, Western and yet distinctly Asian, their shop and arts space focuses on lifestyle, with regular events and more. CONTRABAND



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




44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 0088 Hanoi Cooking Centre is a school, retail outlet and café, where you can find classes on not just Vietnamese cooking, but international cuisine, held in a beautiful setting. They also offer culinary tours.


23 Nha Chung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3928 9891 Launched in Hanoi in 2007, Contraband targets young hip working women. Garments are made from versatile fabrics that are comfortable to wear and easy to look after – making them ideal for work and travel. New styles are introduced each month with limited production runs, offering a sense of exclusivity.



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

M M M Crafts & Furniture



36 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6233 With new styles arriving in store every second day, this shop offers a huge range of dresses, shirts, pants, skirts and accessories in local and imported fabrics. Clothes fit all sizes, from petite to average to the generous figure. Alterations and a made-tomeasure service are available at no extra cost.


8 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Fair trade or bought directly from the artisans who made them, Betterworld stocks unusual handicrafts from around the world as well as second-hand books, DVDs and more. Mekong Quilts HANDMADE / CHARITABLE QUILTS


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

9 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3926 4831; 58 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3824 4607; 13 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 4831 Community development non-profit quilt shop featuring handmade quilts and accessories. Styles vary from traditional to patterned and Asian-inspired. Founded in 2001 and with outposts in


Day Tripper Located on the outskirts of suburban Hanoi, Van Phuc is officially designated ‘the most ancient silk village in Vietnam’. Words by Edward Dalton. Photos by Theo Lowenstein


anoi is home to over 90 officially designated handicraft villages. One of the most famous, Van Phuc, has a historical connection to the silk trade which dates back more than 1,200 years. At 8km from the city centre, it’s one of the most convenient destinations for a fleeting visit, and offers ample opportunity for picking up souvenirs.

Fancy Threads The convenience is one of the best things about Van Phuc. If anything goes wrong, you will find yourself repeating the phrase: “At least it wasn’t far.” It’s the first day trip I’ve been on in Hanoi

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which doesn’t need any map checking; and at just under 30 minutes to get there, it’s also the first time I’ve arrived at the destination without an aching arse. Van Phuc used to be a village in its own right, but like many others, has now been swallowed into the expanding mass of Greater Hanoi. Nestled against the nourishing bank of the Nhue River, it holds the title of most ancient silk village in Vietnam. After you enter from the main road, you feel transported into a different world. It’s no longer Hanoi, 2016. It’s Van Phuc Village, and the year is 1802. The Nguyen dynasty has just begun, and the streets are filled with the sights and sounds of a bustling handicraft trade.

Souvenirs, Anyone? As you pass beneath the welcoming arch, to the left sits Van Phuc Temple. The sacred well hidden behind its ancient walls is said to bring peace to all those who pray before it. All it brought me was the smell of stagnant water, so I moved on to the main market street. Arriving at the entrance to the main trading area, you should prepare your ears for some confusion. There’s a repetitive, mechanical sound which becomes more than just a background whirring as you move deeper into the area. And yet, the sounds of haggling customers, shouting sellers and everyone caught in between; nowhere to be heard. It’s low season, no one’s around. Despite

Van Phuc Silk Village

this, the sellers aren’t snapping at our heels to try and make a sale. Everyone looks pretty laid back, enjoying an ice tea, smoking a pipe or watching the dogs playing on the road. This is good news for us, as it feels like we have the place to ourselves. The shops feel a bit copy and paste, some older or bigger than others, but stocking the same stuff. Shirts, ties, scarves and dresses, all available in a huge variety of colours, styles, weights and textures.

Luddites The most interesting sections are hidden away from the main road. By chance, we wander up one of the many side streets,

drawn by the increasing volume of that earlier mechanical racket. After the previous disappointment of finding the old-fashioned silk-weaving machines abandoned and covered with plastic, it was an exciting relief to find a silk warehouse in full swing. The workings of the weaving machine were hypnotic. But the moment was somewhat ruined by a combination of remembering the film Wanted and seeing the silk weaver playing Candy Crush Saga. Van Phuc is a sweet place to visit, especially for first-time visitors to Hanoi, as it’s the perfect place to pick up souvenirs. For everyone else, there are worse places to spend a few hours.

Getting There From Hanoi city centre, follow Giang Vo south. Keep going straight as it changes first to Lang Ha, then to Le Van Luong and finally to To Huu. When you get to the crossroads with Van Phuc, turn left. Continue along Van Phuc until you reach Van Phuc Temple, which is on the left. Just after it, the main entrance into Van Phuc Silk Village is under a well-marked archway at the beginning of Pho Lua, again on the left. | December 2016 Word | 143

Hanoi Essentials

several locations around the region, the shop employs women in rural areas, enabling them to make an income and care for their families.


Tel: (04) 3928 5190 Established in 2002, this American-run gallery has championed Vietnamese contemporary art for more than two decades. Holds regular exhibitions and artist talks.

Duan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3941 2789 Linhmart 116, D4 Dormitory, Giang Vo, Ba Dinh (near Ha Noi Hotel) Tel: 0936 491136 or 0916 504548 Stocks organic vegetables from Sapa, Soc Son and Dalat; seafood from Hai Phong and Quang Ninh; Norwegian salmon and highlands pork and beef. Also offers foreign spices and convenience store products from Japan and Thailand. Free delivery for any purchase above VND400,000.





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


14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3716 3397 Founded in 2012, this independent contemporary art centre holds regular exhibitions, workshops and a wide range of art events. Manzi promotes emerging artists while presenting established artists from Vietnam. The space also sells works by leading contemporary Vietnamese artists at affordable prices.

70 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0904 244941

Nha San Collective




24 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0985 870316 The first experimental art space in Hanoi, the non-profit, artist-led space has given contemporary Vietnamese artists the chance to nurture their talent and experiment. Holds regular exhibitions and artist residences.

38 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6680 2770


15 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh iBike SALES

34 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho; 53 Ly Nam De, Hoan Kiem Quan’s Rentals

THBC (The Hanoi Bicycle Collective) RENTALS & SALES

29 Nhat Chieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 3156

Dental Care Australian Dental Clinic DENTAL CLINIC

Vietnam Arts Museum

3 Nguyen Du, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 0906 200434


Peace Dental Clinic DENTAL CLINIC

2nd floor, 51A Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 2286 peacedentalclinic.wordpress. com

66 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3733 2131 Maintains and promotes the treasures of Vietnamese cultural and artistic heritage, allowing visitors to appreciate and understand the entire history of Vietnamese fine arts.

Serenity International Dental Clinic



Packexim Building Tower 1, 23rd Floor, No. 49 Lane 15, An Duong Vuong, Tay Ho A place to work. A space to create. Somewhere to see something new. Work Room Four is pulling together the threads of creative endeavours across Hanoi. A collective that promotes collaboration and new ideas, exhibitions, workshops, artist studios, courses, contacts and events.


2nd Fl, Syrena Center, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3710 0555 The Westcoast International Dental Clinic is composed of dental professionals who deliver modern, high-level dental services throughout Vietnam. The clinic provides the highest quality technology, comfort and after-service care to patients.

Galleries Art Vietnam Gallery GALLERY & EXHIBITION SPACE

24 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem,

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6T Ham Long, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3943 1009

L's Place


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

162A Hoang Hoa Tham, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3847 3366 WOMEN’S HAIRDRESSER

48A Ly Thuong Kiet , Hoan Kiem, Tel: 04 3939 3907 Lan Salon Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3266 8190

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. Bumrungrad International Hospital




4 Lane 67, Alley 12, To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6674 4130

136G Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 3717


24 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 1196 WESTERN CANNED FOODS GROCERY STORE

17 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 3854 Veggie’s GROCERIES, FRUIT & VEG

99 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 4630 THE WAREHOUSE WINE RETAILER

59 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3928 7666; 27 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 3701

Hairdressers & Salons





96 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 2076; 65 Le

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

The Manor, Me Tri Street, My Dinh, Tu Liem Tel: (04) 3787 5500

Indochina Plaza

241 Xuan Thuy, Cau Giay, Hanoi, Tel: 1900 555596

Lotte Center

54 Lieu Giai, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3333 6016 Parkson

Viet Tower Plaza, 198 Tay Son, Dong Da Tel: (04) 3537 8666

Pico Mall



Garden Shopping Center

RED APRON 10 Da Tuong, Hanoi Tel: (04) 3943 7226; 28 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. Tel: (04) 3719 8337

Shopping Malls


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





Groceries & Liquor

Hair Stream

Japan International Eye Hospital (JIEH) INTERNATIONAL EYE HOSPITAL 32 Pho Duc Chinh, Ba Dinh, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3715 3666 JIEH is a 100% Japaneseinvested eye hospital. Using the latest technology and built according to Japanese standards, the facility is the first in Vietnam to use Mel 90 (Carl Zeiss - Germany), and is one of first three eye hospitals in the country using Visumax (Carl Zeiss - Germany) for refractive surgery. Top-end customer service and a friendly, contemporary environment add to the mix.


298 I Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3843 0748 On the little street directly below Kim Ma, with all sorts of specialists including OB/ GYN, Pediatricians and ENT. A Medium-sized practice with both Vietnamese and international doctors, but they are

229 Tay Son, Dong Da, Tel: (04) 6682 0400

Syrena Shopping Center

51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 7214

Trang Tien Plaza

cnr. Hang Bai and Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi Vincom City Towers

191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3974 9999

Vincom Royal City

72A Nguyen Trai, Thanh Xuan, Tel: (04) 3974 3550

used to treating expats. Also a 24-hour emergency service. FRENCH HOSPITAL

IGCSE and A Level. Pending authorization, will offer the IB programme from 2016 onwards.


1 Phuong Mai, Dong Da, Tel: (04) 3577 1100 Hong Ngoc Hospital PRIVATE GENERAL HOSPITAL

55 Yen Ninh, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3927 5568; Keangnam Office Tower, Khu B1 Pham Hung, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 7305 8880 INTERNATIONAL SOS 24-HOUR CLINIC MEDICAL / DENTAL CLINIC

51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3934 0666 Well-known medical clinic also known for its quality emergency services. Doctors and consultants also provide a range of services from standard GP-style check-ups through to vaccinations, paediatrics and specialist care. Vietnam-Korea Friendship Clinic KOREAN CLINIC & HOSPITAL


458 Minh Khai, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3974 3556

Insurance IF Consulting CCIFV/Eurocham, Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3936 5370 Liberty Insurance 16th Floor, Hoa Binh International Towers, 106 Hoang Quoc Viet, Cau Giay Tel: (04) 3755 7111 Regency International Insurance 5th Floor, Press Club, 59A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0966 857 488

M M M International Schools British International School, Hanoi Hoa Lan Road, Vinhomes Riverside, Long Bien, Tel: (04) 3946 0435 A selective, independent, co-educational day school. Provides a British-style education following the National Curriculum for England, with students taking

Concordia International School Hanoi CMC Building, Duy Tan, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 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: (04) 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, Dinh Cong, Hoang Mai, Tel: 3540 9183 A not-for-profit, pre-kindergarten 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.

of ‘quality schools’ established by the Quality Schools International. The institution specialises in instructing preschool and lower elementary age students. Singapore International School 2D Van Phuc Diplomatic Compound, 46 Van Bao, Ba Dinh, Tel (04) 3726 1601; Block C3, Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel (04) 3758 2664; Road 2, Gamuda Gardens, Km 4.4 Phap Van, Hoang Mai, Tel (04) 6666 1818 Provides an international education for students from primary up to university level. A strong curriculum 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: (04) 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: (04) 3758 1551 Established in 1988, 1,050 students from 60 nationalities follow the IB programme from aged 3 through to aged 18. A notfor-profit entity, UNIS aims for its students to emerge as responsible stewards of our global society and natural environment.

Motorbike Rental & Repairs Anh Dung MOTORBIKE RENTALS

37 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0915 066096 Mr Cao Motorbike Rental

VIP Bikes Social Enterprise RENTALS & REPAIRS

17 Ve Ho, Xuan La, Tay Ho, Tel: 0914 931390 Trains disadvantaged youth to be fully qualified, Australian-certified motorbike mechanics. Does sales, restoration, repairs and rentals.

M M M Property Rentals Fair Real Estate RENTALS

6 Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6332 Gia Long Housing RENTALS

R714, Blg CT13B Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3743 0589 Hanoi Renting RENTALS

No. 809, Ct13b building, Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 6294 4828


106 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0912 094464 Phung Motorbike MOTORBIKE RENTALS

13 Ngo Huyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 1105

LanLinh Property RENTALS

38 Hang Hom, Hoan Kiem, Tel: Tel: 0933 534999

KinderWorld International Kindergarten Unit 9 – 10, Shophouse CT17, Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel (04) 3743 0306; 3rd Floor, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel (04) 3934 7243; C5 – C11, 1st floor, The Manor Building, My Dinh, Tu Liem, Tel (04) 3764 0209 Classes are kept small with a foreign teacher leading the class with the assistance of a Vietnamese teacher according to the teacher-student ratio. KinderWorld provides pre school education for children from 18 months to below 6 years. QSI International School of Hanoi #17 Lane, 67 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6418 QSI International School of Hanoi is next in a long line | December 2016 Word | 145

The Alchemist Namaste


e are in the season of religious festivities. This was my thought as I started this article but then I looked at interfaith celebration dates throughout the year and saw that from one month to the next the number of holy days is fairly equal and is surprisingly high. Whether you subscribe to any particular faith or not, you’re bound to know someone celebrating one religious festivity or another. With all the religious reverence around the world one would think that there would be more peace on our planet.

No More Excuses Far too often, faith in one’s religion is used as an excuse to separate oneself from others who hold another belief system. With this separation often comes fear, judgment or intolerance. Instead of recognizing similarities some people choose only to focus on differences and cultivate fear in the unknown. A few years ago when I was teaching yoga in a private international school one of the students approached me

146 | Word December 2016 |

before class one day to ask if we would be meditating. Confused by the question and wondering if the student wanted me to include meditation, she went on to state that her parents did not want her to meditate because it was against their religious beliefs. I wonder what her parents would think of the following quote from the Dalai Lama? “If every eight-year-old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”

Forget About Semantics Meditation was not intended to be part of my school programme but it was interesting to be made aware that some people would feel threatened by an activity that in its essence is the same as their own. Whether it is called prayer or mediation, each of these two practices is a way to communicate with Divine Source. People from different faiths call the Source by various names: God, Allah, Buddha, for example. Here, too, we see

By Karen Gay

different names to express the same phenomenon. What is important, however is the action, the communication.

The Art of Communication I recently learnt that the drum was created as a way to communicate with God, as a response to the thunder that was thought to come from God. Similarly, wind instruments were created in attempts to respond to the blowing wind, also thought to be an expression of God. The Hindu greeting, namaste, acknowledges the God spirit within each individual. In this regard, there are 7 billion-plus aspects of God on earth. As we communicate with each other, what would this world look like if we acted as if we were speaking with Divine Source, with God? Words have the power to transform, let us use them to help transform this world into a more peaceful place. Karen Gay, A-Roaming Bodyworker, is a holistic health practitioner practicing in Hanoi. For information on the types of services provided, visit


Vietlong Housing RENTALS

21 Alley 1/22 Au Co, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 5203



Relocation Agents ALLIED PICKFORDS Room 302, 12A Ho Xuan Huong, Tel: (04) 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: (04)3826 0334 Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is currently a leader in the field. Has offices in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

SANTA FE RELOCATION SERVICES Suite 821, Vietnam Trade Hotel, 14 Tran Binh Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3941 0805 With over 150 offices around the world, Santa Fe offers local and international moving, pet transportation, relocation services including home search, orientation, cultural training, immigration services and records management.

MMM Sports, Fitness & Yoga & Spas Body&Soul 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

AGS Four Winds

PHOTO BY Julie Vola

41A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 8762 A worldwide leader in international removals and relocations, with 130 offices globally. Have the capacity to move property to and from any location.

51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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.


5th Floor, 71 Nguyen Chi Thanh, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 6266 0495 STUDIO FIVE YOGA & WELLNESS

5th Fl, 135 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung. Tel: (04) 6263.1515 VIETCLIMB 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. Zenith Yoga & Café YOGA & NUTRITION

247 Au Co, Tay Ho; 62 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem; Tel: 0904 356 561 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.

Sportswear & Equipment Adidas Football FOOTBALL & SPORTS

19 Nui Truc, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 6273 3095 Boo Skateshop SKATING EQUIPMENT & CLOTHING

84 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3923 1147 Hanoi Sports Shop 146, Mai Dich, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 2218 5757

Supermarkets Big C 222 Tran Duy Hung, Cau Giay; Garden Shopping Centre, The Manor, My Dinh, Tu Liem Score-Tech 44, Ngo 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 8246 Apparel company offering 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.

Umove Travel and Outdoors TRAVEL EQUIPMENT & CLOTHING

13 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3771 3305

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

FIVIMART 27A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem

INTIMEX 22-23 Le Thai To, Hoan Kiem

Metro Thang Long Pham Van Dong, Co Nhue, Tu Liem, Tel: (04) 3755 1617

The Therapist That Sinking Feeling

Dear Douglas, Last week my American friends and I watched the results come in for the presidential election. One of my friends was crying even before Donald Trump was declared the winner. All of us are in shock, not expecting this outcome at all. I feel like I could get depressed, like a dark cloud hangs over our future and that so many problems will come from this election. He is a man I don’t respect or trust and I don’t see how so many people could have chosen him. Do I need counselling? I haven’t been able to concentrate at work. How can I make sense of this and feel better? I am so disappointed. — Sinking Dear Sinking, Whenever we experience loss, particularly a sudden or shocking loss, we go into a process of grief. This election result is a loss for you and your friends…the loss of a vision for the future, the loss of leaders you believe in, the loss of the hope that comes from mistrust, and the loss of the ideals that governed your choice. We also can feel confused when our perception of reality, the way we see things, is challenged by those who see the world quite differently. This election challenges us to answer: “How can others see things so differently?” The process I am talking about is how we move towards acceptance and find an equilibrium where our emotions are not interfering with our ability to function. It is more difficult to accept something we do not approve of, than a change that is in line with what we desire.

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Acceptance and approval are not the same thing. Acceptance is what it means to be in reality, how things are, rather than resisting reality because it does not fit

what we want it to be. Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States. Sometimes it helps to think of that process as integrating new truth into our old ways of seeing things. It is also important to realize how we have a tendency to live in the future. The election was about two people telling us what they would do, if elected, in the future. We all start creating images and ideas about what that future could be or will look like, but if we pause for a moment; we can realize that the future cannot be accurately anticipated. So it is important to be careful now, not to start creating hypothetical scenarios about what will happen. There are too many variables to consider which are outside our control. What is more important to do is to look more closely at what is inside our control; to see how we might respond to the new information that we are integrating into our reality. We can choose a healthy response based on frustration, fear and anger, if we use those to guide our choices rather than to react

By Douglas Holwerda

by letting our intense emotions override our thought process. Fear plus imagination is a dangerous combination if it leads us to react to what we think will happen in a hypothetical reality. It is always important to come down to earth and to find a way to ground ourselves in day-to-day, here-and-now living. We can feel feelings, but not when our feelings become too intense that they distort our reality. Lastly, we can realise that strong emotional reactions have a tendency to pull things out of perspective. We become focused on the feelings and the thoughts they generate. When we deflate those feelings, but not ignore them, we can find more room inside us to factor in considerations, to put it into perspective. Sometimes it helps to identify what we feel, rather than simply following our thoughts. Just naming that you are disappointed, angry, frustrated, fearful, and so on is a way to reduce the intensity of those feelings. Remember… this takes time and is not so easy to do. I hope this is helpful and might help you understand a process. People can get stuck in a process like this. Righteous indignation (a form of anger) can be a trap for people because it is anger that is easy to hold on to because it is justifiable. It may be helpful to work with a therapist if this process is one that leads to depression, disillusionment or influences one’ ability to function. It is a challenge. — 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, Clubs & Beer Clubs +84 Bar CONTEMPORARY DECOR BAR

23 Ngo Van So, Hoan Kiem Housed in a colonial building, bare brick, comfortable sofa-like 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: (04) 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. ANGELINA CONTEMPORARY ITALIAN

Sofitel Metopole Legend Hotel, 56 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 6919 Top-end bar and Italian restaurant all in one. Five star prices, but has an atmosphere to match and a great cocktail selection. The kind of place you’ll order a wagyu and eat it at the bar. Backyard Bia Hoi UPMARKET BIA HOI

15/50 Quang Khanh, Tay Ho From the Tet Lifestyle collection, this outdoor, hideaway, garden-based bia hoi is every bit as attractive (and popular) as its café peers in the West Lake area. A Vietnamese-style food menu and regular live music make up the mix. BARBETTA ARTSY BAR & CAFE

34C Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 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. CAMA ATK MUSIC & ARTS BAR

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


End of 264 Au Co, Tay Ho When it comes to outdoor parties, big outdoor parties, the setting at Eden makes this place difficult to beat, with well over a 1,000 revellers packing in at the weekends. Check out their Facebook page for the party list. 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. FATCAT BAR DJ / LATE NIGHT JOINT

25 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0986 495211 A small establishment from the minds behind the party and event organisers, LinkHanoi. The bar has tables filling the first floor and spilling onto the sidewalk as well as a small loft area for lounging. Furbrew CRAFT BEER BAR

8B/52 To Ngoc Van, TayHo 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. HOA VIEN BRAUHAUS CZECH MICROBREWERY

1A Tang Bat Ho, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3972 5088 Le Soleil DDJ BAR / LATE NIGHT

284 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: 0915 663993 Open late, Le Soleil has become a place to be seen,

especially if you’re the dancing-into-the-early hours kind of person. Sofas, bar stools, menus on blackboards and neon-coloured lighting, there’s a grunge-style feel to the place, but it’s an ambience that Le Soleil’s customers seem to love. Has a pizza joint, Paolo and Chi, upstairs.

anyone looking for some good conversation. Cheap beers, oodles of Jameson’s and often open late. Oh, and check out the Danish hotdog stand out front. To die for. TADIOTO LOUNGE BAR AND CAFE

from the US with a beer hall, drinking food and a DJ booth, it created the start of a new scene — beer clubs. The original Vuvuzela on Tran Thanh Tong is still going strong, but it’s so popular that it’s best to book your table in advance. For a full list of Hanoi locations, check their website.



7 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 3104 There’s only one Mao and there’s only one red lounge. This late-night bar has been going for years, and despite its Old Quarter dive status, it still packs in the drinkers. POLITE PUB

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.


5 Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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


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.


25 Duong Ven Ho, Tay Ho Located on the lakeside lane just below Xuan Dieu, this warm, quiet and friendly pub offers a selection of international and local beers, wine, cocktails and a nice view of West Lake. Serving pies and pasties from The Cart, Vietnamese food from Dieu’s next door, or delivery from nearby favourites. Unpretentious, dog-friendly. ROCKSTORE LIVE MUSIC BAR

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


19th Floor, Pacific Place, 83B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3946 1901 The first up-on-high bar and restaurant in the capital and still a leader in its field. With DJs spinning EDM and great views of the city, this is a must for a more Vietnamese, top-shelf experience. The Unicorn Bar COCKTAIL BAR & LOUNGE

2A Hang Than, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0904 886266 The latest offering of wellknown champion bartender, Pham Tien Tiep, Unicorn offers up a lounge space, a small bar area and an attractive seating space out front. Now, as for the cocktails… TRACY’S PUB AND GRILL SPORTS BAR/GRILL

199D Nghi Tam, Tay Ho A bar and grill with an eclectic, DIY-style semi-outdoor setting. Regular DJ nights and live music add to the great ambience. Check out their grill fare. Tasty.

114 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6675 9838 A miniscule sports bar on the main drag of Xuan Dieu is perpetually crowded with regulars drinking out front on plastic stools. Notorious for its burgers, cooked fresh to order, Tracy’s is also famous for their draft beers, claiming to serve the coldest draft beer in Hanoi.






12A Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0932 373802 A cheap, cheerful and welcoming slither of a watering hole popular with expats and

2A Tran Thanh Tong, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3972 8922 When Vuvuzela opened up, mixing the Hooters concept


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. CIAO CAFÉ RESTO LOUNGE

2 Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 1494 A stone’s throw from the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake, this Saigonese franchise offers a variety of different western dishes at reasonable prices. Loaded with booths and a steady, young Vietnamese crowd, the establishment is a great place to squash a sandwich or bowl of pasta and people watch. They also do coffee. COFFEE BEAN AND TEA LEAF INTERNATIONAL COFFEE HOUSE

28 Thanh Nien, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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. D’Alice BOUTIQUE CAFE

89 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung Put together coffee and cake and you get one of those timeless combinations. And if you really want to binge on the cake-end, then check out | December 2016 Word | 149

Bar Stool


estled between aluminium walls and busy advertisements on the corner of Au Co and Xuan Dieu is a bar that has no name. Nameless opened a year ago, and since then it’s gained a small but loyal following of regulars. It sits on top of Der Imbiss, a German-style street food restaurant. The red walls are scattered with empty bottles and model planes, wine glasses hang from the ceiling and pictures of Bob Dylan and other figures from that era hang from rusty nails. The dim lighting resonates around the room creating a warm glow

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while through big windows you can gaze at the world’s characters scurrying along Au Co to some unknown story. Giang, the owner and bartender works around the clock to keep her customers in high spirits. On a quiet night, pull up a stool at the bar and you can count on the next person that orders a drink to strike up a conversation, there’s a social feel here that makes you want to get involved. Once the clock has struck midnight you might have made some new friends, played a game of darts and at least one person in Hanoi has woken up with a model plane in their jacket pocket (an



artefact that Giang would like to see again, if you have it, reader). On a weekend you can expect it to get a little claustrophobic. It’s a compact place, and if you don’t turn up until 11pm on a Friday, you’ll be standing.

Selection You can’t get draught beer here as there isn’t enough space to install pumps, so bottles will have to do. Apart from Bia Hanoi, Bia Saigon and Tiger at VND30,000 for a 330ml bottle, the bar’s real muse is Na Da beer — a locally brewed, German-inspired beer

that comes in a metal canister-style bottle that looks like it should be loaded into a howitzer. It’s VND50,000 for a glass, or VND100,000 for a two-litre bottle. They also sell Portishead Cider, a new and locally brewed cider courtesy of the owners of Home38 restaurant, for VND55,000 a bottle. All spirits with a mixer are VND50,000 and cocktails range from VND70,000 to VND100,000.

Character Now that winter has come, you want

somewhere that’s cosy and welcoming, with a laid-back atmosphere, good company and good drinks — and just a stone’s throw from authentic German sausages. This bar has something that others in town don’t have, it’s not that you can’t find a certain localism elsewhere, but the way that customers are treated in Nameless makes it feel like you’re more than just a profit-making punter. The service delves into the best of bartending — it’s more than just someone making a drink, you’re made to feel at home. — Billy Gray Nameless Bar is at 53 Au Co, Tay Ho, Hanoi | December 2016 Word | 151

Coffee Cup


lthough Thuong Tra opened only three months ago, the concept dates back to 2010, when Nguyen Viet Bac opened his first teahouse. Inspired while travelling through the mountainous areas of northern Vietnam, Bac knew he needed to bring the traditional tea culture to Hanoi, while giving the practice the respect it deserved. He admired the art of tea ceremonies, and decided to create his own place where everyone could enjoy tea from all around Vietnam, in the heart of Hanoi. Though he wanted to bring the flavours

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of northern Vietnam to Hanoi, his real passion lies in protecting the tea fields that are in danger of being destroyed. As well as an appreciation for the tea culture, he felt he needed to acknowledge where the tea came from, and aims to help preserve the tea crops before they get distributed, by “helping the tea farmers change cultivation and harvest methods to ensure the tea’s best growth.” The teahouse’s speciality for this autumn is daisy tea. This warm floral brew costs VND50,000 for a pot for two people, or VND150,000 for the traditional ceremony

tea set, which is suitable for up to six. The winter tea speciality will be ginger, perfect for those winter throats.

The Source All of the teas stocked are sourced from trusted suppliers, and the owner himself makes the seasonal speciality tea in house. The Yet Te tea, an ancient white tea from Tay Con Linh Mountain, is their most exclusive and finest product. It is available to take home at VND380,000 per 100g. The Long Dau green tea from Tan Cuong, Thai Nguyen, is cheaper at VND150,000 for

Thuong Tra

PHOTOS BY Sasha Arefieva

100g. And the Lac Son green tea harvested from hundred-year-old trees growing in the mountains of Ta Xua, Son La costs VND220,000 per 100g.

The Ceremony The tea ceremony is a special thing to witness, both traditional and precarious. The tea set comes with a chrome kettle over a fire, two small teapots, and a tea scoop, containing the leaves. The leaves are placed into a teapot, and the boiling water is poured over the top. This is then placed into the teacups, though not to drink just yet.

There are two purposes of this first pour, to ‘wake up’ the tea leaves from their sedentary dry state, and to heat the teacups to an ideal temperature so as not to affect the quality of the second pour. The water from the pot is discarded into a bowl and the boiling water is again poured over the leaves into the pot. The tea is then poured into the teacups ready for the consumer to enjoy. All of this is happening while a single stick of incense is burning in the centre. This ceremony dates back through the history of Vietnam and other Asian countries.

The entrance is through a street-side restaurant, hard to spot unless you are looking for it, up the old staircase into a peaceful, tucked-away room filled with traditional images, architecture and music. The service is friendly, with the knowledgeable staff happy to talk about the tradition of the tea making, and the atmosphere peaceful, with quiet classical Asian compositions playing in the background. — Amelia Burns Thuong Tra is located at Level 3, 2E Tong Dan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. It’s open daily from 8am to 10pm | December 2016 Word | 153

Hanoi On the Town

d’Alice and its quirky interior. Perfect for that more modern combination of sweet tooth and iThingy. Duy Tri VIETNAMESE CAFÉ

43 Yen Phu, Tay Ho The longest-running café in the capital, this 1936-established, three-floored 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. Hanoi Cooking Centre Café

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: (04) 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.


44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh Relax in a leafy courtyard, aircon 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 all-day 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 colonialera 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. HIGHLANDS COFFEE CONTEMPORARY / COFFEE CHAIN

5 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3936 3228; Opera House, 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem; Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem With numerous locations around town, what originally started as a fourth-floor joint overlooking the lake has become one of the most popular, home-grown cafes in Vietnam. Joma COFFEE/BAKERY

22 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3747 3388; 43 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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 in 2009. Joma contributes 2 percent of each sale to charitable organisations. Kafeville COFFEE SPECIALIST & CAFE

22 Nguyen TrungTruc, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0906 221030

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14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3716 3397 A stunningly designed contemporary café and events space that screams out the words ‘modern art’. Housed in a converted colonial-era villa, a continuous flow of exhibitions, talks, experimental music and game shows make up the mix here. Great cuisine, too. Maison de Tet Décor LIFESTYLE CAFE

36 Tu Hoa, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3823 9722 On-site coffee roasting, comfortable seating arrangements, rustic style furnishings and décor, and a focus on healthy, non-processed 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. Moc Cafe CAFE / INTERNATIONAL

14-16 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem. (04) 3825 6334 Set in a slightly run down colonial villa, the faded but charmingly run down Frenchstyled retro interior, good WiFi and some of the best coffee in town makes this a great spot to while away a couple of hours. The food menu mixes Vietnamese fare with sandwiches, western and pan-Asian mains.


Zenith Vegetarian Cafe



5 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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, TayHo A pleasant, ground floor cafe with an outdoor terrace that sits below offices and a co-working space. Serves up coffee, juices, breakfasts and western-style cafe fare. Perfect for work, Wifi, a bite to eat and coffee. TET DÉCOR CAFÉ ART CAFÉ & ESPRESSO BAR

Villa 25, 1, 3 Ha, Dang Thai, Tay Ho Cloistered among the back streets of West Lake and sheltered from the noise of Xuan Dieu, TET Décor Café is a destination for those who appreciate life’s pleasures: coffee, food, art and music. Simple and unpretentious, the café has an old-fashioned warmth and rustic feel combined with unique and inspiring art installations. The Hanoi Social Club CAFÉ / CONTEMPORARY EATERY

6 Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 2117 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


16-18 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 1745 This spacious spot on Food Street is open around the clock, offering Aussie-inspired comfort food along with more eclectic Irish nachos, cottage pies and pan-Asian fare. Upstairs is fit for social gatherings and live music while the no-smoking downstairs space is filled with people working and socialising. Serves as community centre, especially late at night.

32C Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh Boasting an abundance of communal seating, funky decor and a full roster of regular live music performances, this rollicking café-slash-bar has quickly earned a place in the hearts of Hanoi’s young and trendy. Fun, unpretentious and unashamedly quirky, it’s endearing use of recycled furniture — antiques and colourful artwork create a vibrant atmosphere — make for a popular hangout. Open 24 hours.

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.


24 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3938 1155 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: (04) 3845 5224 A Brazilian churrascaria offering all-you-can-eat grilled meat and seafood on the skewer. In typical Brazilian rodízio fashion, waiters bring cuts of meat to the table for patrons to pick and choose, all for a set price. They also offer wine pairings, a salad bar and an a la carte menu, with a creative selection of fruit caipirinhas.


288 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3974 5945 CAFÉ 129 MEXICAN/COMFORT FOOD

129 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3821 5342 Long-running, slightly incongruous hole-in-the-wall café and restaurant that has served up up a Western menu since the late 1990s. Check out their and their excellent breakfasts, all scoffed down in a traditional, Vietnamese environment. Chops GOURMET BURGER & CRAFT BEER

4 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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 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. DA PAOLO CLASSIC ITALIAN

18 Lane 50/59/17 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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 woodfired oven pizzas from VND120,000 and other Italian delicacies. Open every day for lunch and dinner, delivery is also available. DALUVA FUSION / MIDDLE-EASTERN

33 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 5831 A popular hang-out for expats and trendy Vietnamese in the Xuan Dieu area on West Lake. This bar and restaurant offers casual dining with a classy, Middle-Eastern twist, as well as wine, tapas, events and attractive décor. DON’S TAY HO CONTEMPORARY NORTH AMERICAN

16 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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. EL GAUCHO STEAKHOUSE ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE

11 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3824 7280; 99 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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. Food Exchange INTERNATIONAL BUFFET RESTAURANT

5 Duy Tan, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 3576 6666 Food Exchange offers up a well-priced international buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a live cooking station. Excellent Asian and Western cuisine set in a contemporary restaurant with trendy décor and a chilled out ambiance. FOODSHOP 45 INTERNATIONAL INDIAN

59 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 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. French Grill A leafy, cobblestone courtyard with dark green castiron backed chairs greets you as you walk into this French era-built villa that houses the main section of this Indochina-styled restaurant. Serving up an enticing mix of classic and contemporary French cuisine, blended in with Vietnamese ingredients and cooking styles, the resultant fare has had customers coming back again and again. A traditional Vietnamese and kids menu is also available, as is a wine list focusing mainly on French wines. HIGHWAY 4 VIETNAMESE / ETHNIC

5 Hang Tre, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 4200; 25 Bat Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 0639; 575 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 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! India Palace NORTH INDIAN

10B Quang An, Tay Ho Tel: 01247 668668 Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, so India Palace has once again returned to Tay Ho, this time on the strip between Don’s and The Warehouse. Tasty North Indian fare in a pleasant environment from the team behind Tandoor.


JW Marriott Hanoi, 8 Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Tel: (04) 3833 5588 With unique decor, 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: (04) 3825 1286


G2-G3 Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3758 2400 One of the larger and more comfortable bars in Hanoi, J.A.F.A. is a great place for drinking cocktails by the pool. The beverages are not the cheapest, but this is made up for by service and ambiance. They also have a full menu featuring familiar western dishes such as pizza and cheeseburgers and cater for large parties or dinner

functions. Periodic buffets and drink specials are also offered.

and booth-like seating on the upper floors.





23J Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 8388 An all-day eating and drinking lounge fit for all occasions, with of course, a focus on steak. Has three floors all with different vibes, the kind of slick service you’d expect from the Al Fresco’s Group and an extensive wine list. JASPA’S INTERNATIONAL / AUSTRALIAN

Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung (4th Floor), Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 8325 Recently refurbished, the Australian-influenced Jaspa’s is known for its attentive service, tasty food and large portions. Popular with both the western and Asian expat communities who come back again and again. The comprehensive menu is a fusion of western and Asian cooking. The cocktails come large and the wine is mainly New World. KOTO ON VAN MIEU RESTAURANT / CAFÉ / BAR

59 Van Mieu, Dong Da, Tel: (04) 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. KY Y JAPANESE RICE EATERY

166 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 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

10 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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 SALSA IBERIAN / MEDITERANEAN

5 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3995 0950 A small but eternally popular Spanish-themed café and bar with an extensive list of reliable cuisine. Tapas are available, as well as full courses such as veal, and duck with currant sauce. Known for its good, European-style coffee and first-floor terrace area with views over the cathedral. LA VERTICALE CONTEMPORARY FRENCH

19 Ngo Van So, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 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: (04) 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. Linguini Fini ITALIAN-AMERICAN

36-38 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3266 8968 With branches in Hong Kong and Manilla, the contemporary Italian-American 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: (04) 3823 7338 This old-favourite Italian uses traditional wood ovens 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. MAY MAN CHINESE CUISINE PAN-CHINESE

Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 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.

serves all the traditional Italian fare you could need — homemade mozzarella and fresh pasta, spinach and ricotta ravioli, cold cut boards, soups, salads and fish. Boasts an extensive wine list and a traditional wood fire oven. MING PALACE CANTONESE & DIM SUM

Pan Pacific Hanoi, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3823 8888 A fine dining destination at the Pan Pacific serving Cantonese fare in a sleek modern setting with private dining rooms. With more than 80 dim sum selections available along with Chinese entrees, Ming’s is an ideal eatery for those hungry for higher end Chinese fare. Millenium-Café des Arts PAN-FRENCH

11 Hang Hanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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. MOOSE AND ROO CANADIAN / AUSTRALIAN RESTAURANT

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


Moose and Roo Smokehouse



23 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 6288 This long-running, cozy restaurant near the cathedral

The American Club, 19-21 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3939 2470 | December 2016 Word | 155

Top Eats


e Quan fills a niche in Tay Ho, where street food abounds, but quality, affordable Vietnamese fare with style is missing. A joint project between Cesar Aubry of Le Soleil, Bui Thi Dong Thanh, or Te, of Ray Quan, and designer Ha Huu Tam, the place is as diverse as its ownership. The first floor is one part art gallery, one part café, and one part bar, decorated in tapestries, trinkets, posters, and luscious dark wooden tables, open to look out on the quaint pond hiding behind rows of buildings on Xuan Dieu. Downstairs, a small terrace is tucked among fruit trees, romantic and quiet (save for the chatter of

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a next door neighbour’s parrot). It’s cosy like the house of a friend with great taste. “It was very difficult to find a place in Tay Ho like this,” says Te. She’s been at the helm of the ever-popular Ray Quan since 2013, but wanted to bring her medicinal rice wines and Vietnamese fare to West Lake. After remodelling the entire space, Te opened Ke Quan in June this year. Te travels Vietnam in search of traditional cuisine, and nothing on her menu is an accident. “Everything has a meaning,” says Cesar. As we sit around the table family-style, Te explains her lunch set, which adheres to the Vietnamese principle of culinary balance; every meal

must have an element of fire, water, earth, metal, and wood.

On to the Food Today’s VND60,000 set lunch features beef cooked in ginger and pepper, a seasonal soup of mustard greens, steamed vegetables, and fried vegetarian spring rolls, all the elements arranged around a bowl of spicy, sweet dipping sauce in the centre. I take an instant fancy to the fried tofu with black sesame (VND65,000), a perfect crispy shell wrapped around a soft, creamy interior. We try two kinds of spring rolls, classic Hanoi style (VND75,000) and a fish

Ke Quan


and dill variety (VND95,000), which caused a fight between my photographer and I for the last one. The steamed vegetables (VND65,000) are a pleasant surprise — where most Vietnamese restaurants rarely branch out from morning glory, Ke Quan cooks up a colourful array of broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms and carrots, with a spicy shrimp and pork dip from the south of Vietnam called kho quet, and a “dry sauce” of crushed peanut and sesame (a food of monks, Te explains). For the mains, we have cha ca (VND150,000), crispy grilled Lang fish from the Da river with turmeric and dill, and a

deconstructed, health-conscious bun cha (VND50,000). Te explains that they remove the skin and fat from the pork to make the dish leaner. She often tweaks traditional dishes to please foreign palates, and health is an important factor in her menu.

Remedial Her favourite way to heal the body is through homemade ruou — she currently stocks 15 varieties, at VND180,000 per bottle. She pours a shot of apricot wine, which isn’t sickly sweet like I’m used to. There’s no added sugar, but Te stirs in a bit of honey upon request. We try another shot of mulberry wine, made from the fruit that

feeds silkworms. “This is good for the liver, and for coughs,” Te explains. Then there’s trai nhau, an island fruit that tastes earthy, like a root vegetable, and a spicy green pepper wine with a bite. Te’s unique creations even extend to her coffee. In Buon Ma Thuot, she came across a curious addition to the roast — fish sauce. “They add [it] to the beans and after, they fry them,” she says, bringing out a tea cup and prompting me to try her newest experiment. Savoury, salty, bitter, sweet and rich, it’s a great combination of all the essential elements, much like Ke Quan itself. — Jesse Meadows Ke Quan is at 81B Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi | December 2016 Word | 157

Medical Buff Arsenic and Rice


n April, the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a recommendation for parents to limit the exposure of their babies to rice, rice cereals, rice pasta, rice milk and other rice containing foods due to very high levels of arsenic found in rice.

What is Arsenic? Arsenic is a heavy metal found in the environment (water, soil, air) which readily dissolves in water. It occurs in two forms — organic (such as in seafood) and inorganic (often from water). The inorganic type is much more harmful, although in high doses the organic arsenic can also cause harm. Prolonged exposure to high levels of arsenic has been connected to the development of certain cancers (skin, bladder, kidney, lung), brain development disorders, infertility, miscarriages, diabetes and heart disease. Arsenic is also found in cigarette smoke.

Why Rice? Rice absorbs high levels of arsenic from water and soil because of the unique way rice is cultivated in water flooded paddies. Arsenic is also found in high levels in pesticides, animal feeds and fertilizers, which increases soil contamination of arsenic on which rice is grown.

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Many types of fruits and vegetables also contain arsenic but at lower levels. Fruit juices (especially apple and grape juices) were found to contain higher levels of arsenic. Brown rice has much higher levels of arsenic than white rice. There was no significant difference between organic rice and non-organic rice.

Why Children? Children absorb higher levels or rice because their body size is much smaller, which puts them at higher risk from prolonged exposure.

What is a Safe Level? There is no safe level. The FDA recommends limiting the amount of arsenic in babies’ rice products (rice cereals, rice pasta and cookies, rice milk) to less than 100ppm (parts per million). But most of the rice grains that were tested had much higher levels and most of the rice products for babies had levels up to 1.5 to six times higher (brown rice products higher than white).

How Much Rice Can Babies Take? This is a very difficult question to answer in a country like Vietnam where rice is the staple food. Small babies, children and pregnant women are at higher risk and

By Dr. Jonathan Halevy

should be more careful to limit the amount of rice they eat. Here are a few FDA recommendations that will help limit your child exposure to arsenic: — Avoid giving rice milk to your child. There are many other alternatives, if you choose not to give regular milk or if your child is allergic to cow’s milk — Avoid rice cookies, pasta and foods containing brown rice syrup. — Avoid brown rice. — Infants should consume only one serving of rice cereals a day. (One serving = 1.5 cups of prepared cereals). — Children should eat up to 1.5 servings of rice a week. (1 serving = half a cup of cooked rice) — Choose basmati or jasmine rice. (they contain less arsenic than other rice types) — Use other grains such as oatmeal, barley, bulgur wheat, buckwheat and quinoa. — Avoid fruit juice (especially apple and grape). Give your child whole fruit to eat and water. — Wash vegetables and fruit thoroughly. It will reduce arsenic residue (and other toxic chemicals). Dr. Jonathan Halevy is a senior pediatrician at the Family Medical Practice in Ho Chi Minh City. For more info click on

Hanoi On the Town

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. Moto-San UBER NOODLES

4 Ly Dao Thanh, HoanKiem Ramen, stewed pork banh my, ha cao dumplings and banh my trung, all served up in an eclectic, Berlinesque setting a stone’s throw from the Opera House. Add in a beer, a G and T or a coffee, and this is the perfect munchie-satisfying joint to keep you going at any time of the day. NAMASTE HANOI PAN-INDIAN

46 Tho Nhuom, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 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 49 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 0922 087799 Specialising in Pakistani cuisine and of course nan bread and kebabs, this semioutdoor, bamboo tabled, laid back eatery also sells fare from Afganistan and India. In a sentence? Curry, but not as you know it. NINETEEN 11 INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN

The Opera House, 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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


4 Ton That Thiep, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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. PANE E VINO PAN-ITALIAN

3 Nguyen Khac Can, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 9080 Just a stroll away from the Hanoi Opera House, Pane e Vino serves up authentic Italian food and has done for as long as anyone can remember. Renowned for the highly rated, oven fresh pizzas and large variety of pasta and salad dishes — look forward to fine food done well at this eatery that has the feel of Europe. Huge wine lists, friendly staff and a loveable owner. 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. POTS ‘N PANS CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE

57 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 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. SAINT HONORE BOULANGERIE / BISTRO

5 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3933 2355 This bakery and Frenchstyle bistro is best visited in the morning when that Gallic, fresh-cooked aroma of bread, croissants and patisseries hits you as you walk through the door. The downstairs space is split into the bakery on one side with a small non-smoking dining space on the other. The upstairs lounge area has standard tables as well as sofa seating. Simple French and international fare is served at meal times. THE CART SANDWICH SHOP / CAFÉ

8B, Lane 1, Au Co, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 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. THE KAFE CONTEMPORARY CAFE / CUISINE

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

27 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem; 138 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung; Unit 108, Indo-

china Plaza, 241 Xuan Thuy, Cau Giay 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. WRAP & ROLL 5th Floor, Trang Tien Plaza, 24 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3824 3718 The lime green walls and bright pastel colours of Wrap ‘n Roll are just part of the theme of this homegrown, Vietnamese brand which is all about spring rolls of all types, and healthy, Hue-influenced cuisine. Now with two restaurants in Hanoi — the second in Royal City. Zenith Vegetarian Restaurant HOLISTIC VEGETARIAN

247Au Co, Tay Ho, Tel: 0904 356561 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.



20A Hoe Nhai, Ba Dinh Bun Bo Nam Bo BUN BO NAM BO

67 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem Bun Cha Dac Kim BUN CHA

1 Hang Manh, Hoan Kiem; 67 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem KCC (Kien Can Cook) COM RANG DUA BO

57 Quoc Tu Giam, Dong Da Mien Tron Hanh MIXED GLASS NOODLES

7B Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem My Van Than WONTON NOODLES

54 Hang Chieu, Hoan Kiem Pho Bo Cu Chieu PHO BO

48 Hang Dong, Hoan Kiem Pho Cuon Hung Ben PHO CUON

26 Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh Pho Ga Ba Lam PHO GA

7 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem Pho Ga Hang Dieu PHO GA

1 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem Pho Gia Truyen Bat Dan PHO BO

49 Bat Dan, Hoan Kiem Pho Ly Quoc Su PHO BO

10 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem Pho Thin Lo Duc SAUTEED BEEF PHO


18 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho

13 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung Pho Tron MIXED PHO

14 Hang Ga, Hoan Kiem

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

Banh Da Tron

Pho Tu Lun



Banh Cuon Hang Ga BANH CUON

6 Ngo 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho

23 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem

Banh Mi 25

Xoi Hang Hom



25 Hang Ca, Hoan Kiem

44 Hang Hom, Hoan Kiem | December 2016 Word | 159




Brangelina or Trump?


o Donald Trump is the new president-elect of the USA and people are acting like the world will come to an end. Using the tactics of “us” against “them” and separating Americans as a people is not a new tactic — it has been proven to work time and time again. The media has done a wonderful job in helping instil fear into the minds of people, all Trump had to do was play on that. Yes, the man is vulgar, among other things, but perhaps someone whose faults are out in the open may prove to be a better option. How many world leaders and role models have come across as clean-cut and holierthan-thou, family men and women, only to have a scandal with their secretary, drugs, fraud or embezzlement, Ashley Madison, Panama Papers and more come out? How many of Donald Trump’s stated policies he gets to carry out, is still unknown. I dare say his bark is worse than his bite — men like him are about power and money, and those will always come first. His election is distracting us from what really piques my interest. So how is it, that the breakup of Brangelina has more hits on the Internet but less people are publicly talking about it?

Brad and Angelina The reason why their breakup affects more

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people, is because it is about relationship. Everyone, all over the globe, no matter who you are and where you live, can relate to love and to family, the two cornerstones for most people in the world. Brangelina represented something in this world we can all relate to and look up to. They were the modern-day family without being married, having adopted three children and then had three of their own. Despite the outside scrutiny and pressures of the world, they seemed to have found their happily-ever-after. This power couple, with their incredible fame and fortune, gave back to charity, were inspirational humanitarians and were trying to make this world a better place. They never shunned the people that gave them everything they had, but also were never fame and camera greedy. With their separation comes the end of an era, and the end of a love that seemed to be made to stand the test of time. They seemed to have it all, money, power, love, family, children, and if they can’t make it work, what hope is there for the rest of us? Anyone in a relationship, married or with children, can relate to divorce, to heartbreak, to starting over, losing the person whom was once the most important thing, to the new vacuum that occupies your soul. And everyone can relate to love, the most powerful force of all. And those

By Lee Shayi

innocent children that don’t deserve this, how can we not feel sadness?

What Really Matters You can turn up your nose at the news or pretend you care, you write your mininovel on Facebook and talk about how disappointed you are in the world and Trump’s election, though really you have to ask yourself; when was the last time that your meat- eating, avocado-toastmaking, leather-wearing, zoo-visiting, animal products in your cosmetics, CO2emitting soul did anything for the world? And when you realize the most significant thing you’ve done lately is posted about your amazing weekend, your upcoming travel plans and taken another selfie with your new dog, maybe now is the time to admit that you care, but you can’t actually be concerned enough to make a real change. And that you’re not that appalled by Trump’s election and if you are, what are you going to do about it? Mind you, the two events are similar in that we all felt the same thing. Because many of us lost something on both days. We lost a little bit of hope that the world was not such a bad place and there was still some goodness left. If you have any comments or queries, please email me at

Book Buff In Praise of Strong Women


ow that the US Presidential election is over, and with it, Hillary Clinton’s political career, it is a good time to examine books which reflect her belief that women can achieve what they want and more. As she said in her moving and gracious acceptance speech after losing the election: “And to all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.” While Clinton shuffles off into the twilight, having narrowly missed out shattering “that highest and hardest glass ceiling”, she added that she was sure that some woman, sooner rather than later, would succeed where she failed. “Always aim high, work hard, and care deeply about what you believe in. And when you stumble, keep faith. And, when you’re knocked down, get right back up and never listen to anyone who says you can’t or shouldn’t go on.”

Be What You Want to Be These themes were underlined by a list recently compiled for the Guardian newspaper by authors of young adult fiction, Sarah Alderson and Maria Turtschaninoff — who grew up reading about strong, brave, scared, feisty girls. To them, a literary feminist hero is a girl who gets to be anything she wants. She’s not just strong and brave; she’s a

well-rounded person with real assets and flaws who makes her own choices good or bad. Her story does not revolve around a man and his wishes. Using the Guardian lists we paraphrase information about young feminists residing on our shelves. Of course all female children should cut their feminist teeth on Pippi Longstockings, the unassuming, smalltown, Swedish super-hero in the series by Astrid Lindgren. Pre-teen Pippi defies authority, lives by herself and lifts horses in her quest for nonconformist freedom. Her loyalty to her friends is legendary. After Pippi they could follow the same author’s hero Ronia in Ronia the Robber’s Daughter. Ronia has her own individual sense of morality and stands up to patriarchal authority even when it means living in isolation. In the end she helps the robbers to make other lifestyle choices. In the mould of Ronia is Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Katniss is best of all with a bow and arrow, believes in equality and, thus, has to defy the dictates of patriarchal society. She deliberately makes strong friendships with less advantaged women and children.

Not Just Hermione Weirdness can be a great asset if you can embrace it, and weird and quirky Luna Lovegood is one of J K Rowling’s most memorable female characters in the Harry

Potter series. Luna may not be as up-front as Hermione but is as brave and smart. She’s loyal and unapologetically refuses to give in to bullying or peer pressure. She shows compassion towards those who wrong her. Six female teen heroes are given the task of saving the world in The Circle trilogy by Sara Bergmark Elfgren and Mats Strandberg. The girls are real human beings. They are strong and weak. They are mean, unkind, loyal and forgiving to each other as moods dictate. They love and hate. They are important because they are not the usual fantasy lone heroine surrounded by men who are ready to take over control at the hint of a hissy fit. One of our favorite fictional feminist heroes is Melinda Sordino in Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Melinda is a mute (which is the Italian translation of her last name). After a rape attack, she decides to ensure that her attacker is brought to justice and she finds her voice in the process. As is not uncommon in many patriarchal societies, she has to find the courage to defy the pressures heaped on her to keep quiet and go about her business as though nothing traumatic had happened. As it should be, she becomes a symbol of courage and power to victims of sexual abuse. All these books are available at the muchloved book shop, Bookworm. For more info click on or visit their shop at 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Hanoi | December 2016 Word | 161

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an Xu ng Do u oc gL Han Hang Cot

Ngoc H




gK Han

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Doi Can

e Ho

Hoang Va n Thu


Long Bien Market Long Bien Bus Station





u nT uy e Ng an cT Phu

Hung Vuo


Hanoi Palace

han Hang T

AM TH A Bach Thao HO NG OA Ho Chi Minh Park

Ng oc

Quan Thanh

Thuy Khue

Nguyen Can h

o nH

Ng uy e nK Pha h mH ong ac Nh T ha u i

Xa An a cX P hu



i Nu


Quan Thanh Temple Tran Vu




Truc Bach Lake

Th u y

Ng hia Du Co n Xa g

D uc

Th an hN ie n

Bac h

9 So


Tru c


1 So

i Nu




Tay Ho Weekend Market Van goc To N

Dam Tri



Ho Chi Minh City

Day Tripper: Dinh Quan / Body & Temple / Location, Location, Location / Know Your City / Terence Taylor’s Saigon Stories / Bar Stool / Coffee Cup / Top Eats A / Top Eats B / A World of Good Photo by Zoe Osborne

164 | Word December 2016 |

HCMC Essentials



ABC Bakery




223 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1 Baguettes, croissants, pizza, cakes, muffins, donuts and brownies, this bakery and café all in one is a popular stop for those heading through the Backpacker District. Online ordering available. Bread Talk

40 Nguyen Hue, Q1; 60-62 Le Loi, Q1 Selling up a good selection of English language books — in a range of reading areas — this multi-storied bookshop also does stationery, toys and a range of related products. Has a good selection of ESL texts.

fective network of business associates together and to facilitate discussion forums about business in Vietnam. NORDCHAM 17th Floor, Petroland Tower, 12 Tan Trao, Q7, Tel: (08) 5416 0922 PHILIPPINES BUSINESS GROUP VIETNAM 40/4 Pham Viet Chanh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3518 0045


106 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3; 2 Cao Thang, Q3; Vivo City, 1058 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 A Singaporean bakery chain that is vying for the Vietnam cake and bread market. Produces Asian-friendly patisseries and cakes in a spacious, airy atmosphere. Has eight locations and counting. Harvest Baking

Librairie Francaise Nam Phong 82 Truong Dinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 7858 Nam Phong Bookstore was founded at the of end 2002 in Ho Chi Minh City as the first and only francophone bookshop in the whole of Vietnam. Only books written in French are for sale, covering for all ages and tastes. A catalogue is available at

AMERICAN BAKERY With a production facility in Thu Duc, Harvest Baking focuses on both the retail and non-retail trade, cooking up the best American-style bakery products in the city. Has an excellent home delivery service. Check the website for details. L’AMOUR BAKERY & CAFE

Hung Phuoc 2, Le Van Thiem, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 4072 TOUS LES JOURS


2A Le Duan, Q1; 2nd Floor Parkson Center, 35-45 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Although there are some English-language texts in this modern, well laid out bookstore, the focus here is on all things Vietnamese. Worth checking out, thought, for the occasional gem.

M M M Business Groups


180 Hai Ba Trung, Q1; 59 Tran Hung Dao, Q1; 187 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1; 66B Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3; Lotte Mart, 469 Nguyen Huu Tho, Q7; 17/14 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 The background of this Korean bakery chain makes interesting reading. Established in 1996, in 2004 they opened in the US, 2005 in China and 2007 in Vietnam. French-styled with an Asian touch, the bare-brick décor makes this a popular joint. Has over 25 locations in Vietnam. VOELKER BAKERY

39 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6296 0066 French–run bakery selling probably the tastiest range of patisseries, breads, quiches and pies in town. The signature passion–fruit tart is a must try.

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American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 3562. AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (AusCham) 2nd Floor, Eximland Building, 179EF Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3, Tel: (08) 3832 9912 BRITISH BUSINESS GROUP OF VIETNAM (BBGV) 25 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 8430 Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CanCham) Room 305, New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 3754 Open to all nationalities, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce aims to create an ef-

SINGAPORE BUSINESS GROUP 6th Floor, Unit 601, Tran Quy Building, 57 Le Thi Hong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3046

M M M Clothing & Accessories


37 Thao Dien, An Phu, Q2, Tel: 0917 567506 In addition to a varied selection of garments for babies and children up to 10 years old, Little Anh-Em stocks sleeping bags and other accessories. L’USINE LIFESTYLE / ACCESSORIES

First floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6674 9565 Exclusive labels, elegant and sophisticated clothing and casual high-quality cottons are stocked at this boutique/ café. Lifestyle accessories include shoes, homewares, knickknacks, cameras, stationery and a range of vintage bicycles. MANDARINA TAILOR-MADE SHOES

171 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 5267





9 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2394 Monday to Sunday, 9am to 8pm This centrally located unique boutique has been converted into an eco-boutique which exclusively retails the complete Anupa leather and semi-precious jewellery range as well as other unique eco brands such as bamboo eyewear, pendant scarves and cushion covers.

152 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3820 2620 9am to 10pm PAPAYA BUDGET CLOTHING


39 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 4556


174 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 0903 641826


163 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1, Tel: 0978 967588


1B Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 2210 2084 GINKGO VIETNAM-THEMED CLOTHING

10 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 8755; 54-56 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 6270 5928 Quality, original, Vietnamthemed tees are the showpiece at this airy French-run store. Designs are inspired by anything from the Vietnamese flag, local telecom wires and motorbikes to creative, Siddharta-style imagery. IPA-NIMA BAGS & ACCESSORIES

77-79 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 3277; 71 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 2701


80 Xuan Thuy, Q2 Stocks a wide range of Vespa-inspired tidbits and memorabilia including t-shirts, riding gear, Italian helmets, Respro face masks, DVDs, books, bags, magazines, posters and more. Rental scooters and bikes available.

M M M CORPORATE GIFTS Ambrij 14-16-18 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8364 A one-stop-shop concept company providing marketing services including POSM, corporate gifts and luxury ranges of business gifts

Shopping Malls Diamond Plaza 34 Le Duan, Q1. Tel: (08) 3825 7750 9am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court

Hung Vuong Plaza

126 Hung Vuong, Q5. Tel: (08) 2222 0383 9.30am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court

Parkson Plaza

35-45 Le Thanh Ton, Q1. Tel: (08) 3827 7636 9.30am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court

Saigon Centre

65 Le Loi, Q1. Tel: (08) 3829 4888 9am to 9pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court

Saigon Square 77-89 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1 9am to 9pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics

Vincom Center 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1. Tel: (08) 3936 9999 9am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court

Zen Plaza

54-56 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 0339 9am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court

from international brands like Swarovski, Cerruti 1881, Nina Ricci, Christian Lacroix, Ungaro and more. Also do event management services.

M M M Cooking Classes


OVERLAND CLUB 35Bis Huynh Khuong Ninh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3820 9734 The Overland Club organises pottery classes, VietnameseJapanese cooking classes, cultural art events and monthly special activities, such as the Soba Festival, pottery painting classes, the art of decorating paper and multinational cuisine days. SAIGON COOKING CLASSES BY HOA TUC 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8485 Learn to cook quality Vietnamese cuisine with local specialist Hoa Tuc. The threehour lesson, conducted by an English-speaking Vietnamese chef, includes a trip around Ben Thanh Market to gather fresh ingredients for the class. VIETNAM COOKERY CENTRE Suite 45, 4th Floor, 26 Ly Tu Trong, Q1,Tel: (08) 3827 0349




175 Ha Noi Highway, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4543 This well-known Vietnamese furniture brand is a good choice for most families with its respected highquality designs and competitive prices. Located on the corner of Pham Ngoc Thach and Dien Bien Phu, the spacious showroom specialises in sofas and other furniture such as table sets, shelves and kitchen cabinets. There is a large selection of carpets as well as numerous choices of curtains and accessories. EM EM SOUVENIRS

38 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4408 8am to 9.30pm FEELING TROPIC FURNITURE & ACCESSORIES

51 Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2181 Specialising in interior designs and landscaping, this three-storey building is so packed full of items for sale that it doesn’t seem to have enough space for all of its products. The basement storey carries outdoor furniture such as bamboo-imitation and mosaic table sets, while the second level stocks all types of indoor furniture except beds. Accessories are found on the level above. MEKONG CREATIONS FAIR TRADE CRAFTS

Crafts & Furniture

35-37 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 2210 3110


268B Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Dist.3, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3932 6455; 30A Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3840 3946


2 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 9459 8am to 8pm MEKONG QUILTS




42 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 0023 This An Phu-based shop stocks antique repro furniture. All products are samples, so it’s limited and exclusive with only one or two pieces of each particular item. Also has a great range of imported fabrics up on the 2nd floor and an in-house sewing room for cushions, sofas and curtains. Offers custom-made furniture and delivery within four weeks.


1st Floor, 68 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 2210 3110 NHA XINH HOME FURNISHINGS

2nd Floor, Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 6115 REMIX DECO INDOOR FURNITURE

222 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 4190 THE FURNITURE HOUSE HOME FURNISHINGS

81 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4640/4643 | December 2016 Word | 167

Day Tripper Vu Ha Kim Vy heads northeast to Dinh Quan in search of volcanoes.


ould you be surprised if I told you there are at least three volcanoes located close to Ho Chi Minh City? Not to worry, though — these volcanoes in the Dinh Quan District of Dong Nai have not erupted for about 400,000 years. A mountainous area situated along Highway 20, the road to Nam Cat Tien and Dalat, Dinh Quan is 80km northeast of Bien Hoa and 110km from Ho Chi Minh City. You will know you have arrived at Dinh Quan when you see Da Ba Chong (three giant rocks stacked on top of each other) that lie next to the highway. However, tourists are not allowed in this area as there is a military camp nearby.

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A Confusing Area A volcano at Km118 of Highway 20 was all I could find on Google, and I confidently departed with that small piece of information. Thanks to shop signs, I knew I’d made it to Km118. I looked around but there was no mountain to be seen. “You have to go on a bit further and then turn right down that small clay path,” said a passer-by. Following his advice, I found myself surrounded by pepper and coffee plantations. But there was still no sign of the volcano. However, volcanic rocks started to appear along the path, giving me hope that I was going in the right direction. I asked eight local people and six of them

gave me different directions. The other two just responded: “Don’t know!” Two hours driving around turned me off and urged me to give up, but I decided to check Google Maps one last time. Giving it a closer look, I saw three dark green areas on the screen — one was next to my location, two others were further away. That was when I realised Dinh Quan has more than one volcano.

The Volcanoes Discovering the locations of the three volcanoes explained why the locals gave me different directions. Following Google Maps, I drove to the volcano at Km119 that lies right next to the path and was the easiest to find.

Dinh Quan

PHOTOS BY vu ha kim vy

“There is nothing up there, just coffee trees. You can climb up through that narrow uphill path,” said Manh, sitting at his farm hut next to the volcano. Leaving the bike at the hut, I walked to the path. The volcano was covered with a rug of different shades of green that came into my view as I arrived at the slope. Despite the modest height of the hill, it was steep enough to make me short of breath. “If you want to check out the two other volcanoes, you have to leave your bike at the highway then walk through coffee plantations to reach the foot of them,” continued Manh. Suddenly the sky turned grey and it started pouring with rain. So I left Dinh

Quan without checking out the other two volcanoes. The volcanoes in Dinh Quan might not be enough to lure you out of Ho Chi Minh City, but if you’re on a road trip to the jungle of Nam Cat Tien or Dalat, don’t miss them.

Getting There Take either Highway 1A or Highway 51 towards Dau Giay. At the big intersection turn left onto Highway 20 until you see Da Ba Chong. Follow the road about 5km until you reach Km118. Then, well, good luck! | December 2016 Word | 169

Body & Temple The Year in Review


ecember is a time to reflect on the past 11 months and look forward to and plan for the up-and-coming 12 months. Instead of writing another article, I’d like to see if you’ve been paying attention. How do you score on the below True or False quiz? 1) Body type categorizing is an effective method to understand what diet and exercise is best to achieve fat loss = True | False 2) Eating at night will pile on the pounds = True | False 3) Dietary fat keeps you feeling full longer, so you’ll eat less = True | False 4) Lifting weights can be better than cardio for burning fat = True | False 5) When people have stubborn fat or weight that they can’t lose… they are being lazy and should eat less and do more = True | False 6) Half of all new health club members quit in the first six months of signing up and 90% of those who join health and fitness clubs will stop going regularly with the first three months = True | False 7) Hormones are the most important component when trying to build muscle, focusing on eliciting testosterone, human growth hormone and IGF-1 response = True | False 8) Our Paleolithic ancestors were primarily carnivores = True | False 9) The best time to have coffee is before a workout and when you feel tired = True | False 10) Static stretching is not the best way to improve your range of motion = True | False

Answers 1) True. Body typing will provide a good initial understanding the basic guidelines regarding how your body’s metabolism, nervous system, hormones and fuel systems

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operate. It is important to realise that all these types can become obese. Think of these types as underlying ways your bodies prefer to work but through lifestyle, nutrition and exercise you can affect the natural tendencies of your body. The four types we categorize people into are: ectomorph (muscle burner/thyroid), mesomorph (mixed burner/adrenal), endomorph (sugar burner/pituitary) and gonad (mainly female — pear shape) 2) False. Putting on fat has more to do with the quality of food you consume, the nutrient-to-calorie ratio, the timing of starch and total energy over a 24-hour period or over a week. The total picture matters more than trying to reduce calories in the evening — or other times of the day — calories are only one piece of many in the puzzle. 3) False. The fat-satiety rule came into existence due to the fact that fat takes longer to digest, but it will not help you control your appetite. Foods containing protein are better at fighting off hunger for longer. Staying well hydrated also has a big impact on controlling your ghrelin levels and therefore maintaining satiety for longer. 4) True. Weight training burns a lot of calories and raises resting metabolic rate. Resistance exercise makes the muscles become more sensitive to insulin — equates to less fat storing. In addition, strength training resets the part of the brain that is involved in releasing hormones, so that cortisol balance (stress) improves. It also elevates the most beneficial fat burning hormones — testosterone, human growth hormone, adrenaline and lactic acid when performed properly. 5) False. Working harder and eating less creates more stress, which can make your body hold onto fat. Nutrient deficiencies

By Phil Kelly

and hormone imbalances are quite often the underlying issue holding people back from losing and maintaining fat (weight) loss. 6) True. The International Health Club Association reported these statistics. Modern sedentary lifestyles are killing us. How we approach and think about fitness as a society needs to be adjusted to focus on social aspects to drive adherence and make people remember how fun it is to move. 7) False. Today we know that these anabolic hormones are not the driving force for muscular growth. Instead researchers have found that mechanical tension, muscle damage and metabolic stress are the primary causes of muscle development. 8) False. A paper called Calcium in Evolutionary Perspective by S. Boyd Eaton and Dorothy A. Nelson states that our ancestors were largely insectivorous. We survived by eating creepy crawlies with a bit of meat, vegetables and fruit on the side. 9) False. Coffee is not a good answer for tiredness. If tired, instead of having a coffee, you should get more sleep. Coffee will work best when your adenosine receptors are functioning well and not under stress. A coffee pre-workout is acceptable. 10) True. The common perception is that if you’re flexible you also have good range of motion and vice versa. But this is incorrect. Mobility refers to how a joint moves (the range of motion), where as the term flexibility refers to the elasticity of muscles. A flexible muscle doesn’t always equate to an increase in range of motion at joints, which is the functional representation of the common term flexibility. Phil is founder and master trainer at Body Expert Systems. Contact him on 0934 782763, at his website or through Star Fitness (

HCMC Essentials


3B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 6657 0788 vn

M M M Cycling FirstBIKE Vietnam FirstBIKE balance bikes for two to five-year-olds eliminate the need for training wheels or stabilisers, and support proper balance development. Jett Cycles OWN-BRAND CYCLING SHOWROOM

384 Tran Phu, Q5; 168 Vo Thi Sau, Q3 The showroom home of Jett Cycles, a homegrown cycling company with all products designed in Vietnam. Sells up budget bicycles to high-end product, with the full range of accessories in between. Also stocks GT and Cannondale. Saigon Cycles CYCLING & ACCESSORIES

44 Phan Van Nghi (S51-1 Sky Garden 2), Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 3114 Specialising in Trek and Surly, Saigon Cycles is also famed for its Sunday morning rides. Sells the full range of accessories and also does bicycle repairs. The Bike Shop CYCLING & ACCESSORIES

250 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6405 The go-to location for all your cycling needs in District 2. Sells a range of brands including Cannondale, Jett, GT and Aluboo, as well as the full selection of accessories. Organises regular cycle rides, does repairs and rentals. Check for more details.


Kumho Asiana Plaza, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8800

Elite Dental Group. 57A, Tran Quoc Thao, Q3, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3933 3737 Elite Dental is an international and well-equipped clinic, which provides specialized dental services including ALL-ON-4 Implants, ALL-ON-6 implants, dental implants, prosthodontics, Invisalign & orthodontics. Luxury design and our dental experts will bring you an extremely comfortable experience.


167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 8424 Globally renowned provider of medical assistance and international healthcare offers full dental services in the clinic. Foreign and Vietnamese dentists provide high skilled dental service. Orthodontics is also available. Minh Khai Dental clinic international dental clinic


2 Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 6222 24, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 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.

WESTCOAST INT’L DENTAL CLINIC INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC Norfolk Mansion, 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6999 Thao Dien Clinic, 27 Nguyen Ba Lan, Q.2, Tel: (08) 35 191 777 An international dental clinic equipped with the latest technology, the comfortable clinics offer cosmetic and implant dentistry with a focus on making each patient’s experience anxiety and pain free. | December 2016 Word | 171

Location, Location, Location Urban Evolution

By Greg Ohan

Vinhomes is trying to solve the public space issue by building green areas into their latest developments


ietnamese have long been accustomed to considering their doorsteps and streets as a natural extension of their homes. With ground floor shops overflowing onto the street and homes open to the passer-by’s view, what will happen to the Vietnamese daily soap opera that is life, as the urban landscape changes? As residents begin to move from shop-house to apartment building, what does this mean for the urban evolution of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi? More than an architectural change, Vietnam is experiencing an economic and social movement across the country. The evolution of Vietnam’s urban lifestyle drives a need for urban public spaces. Street life has been a way to assess the “Asian-ness” of a city. In the case of Vietnam, the typical street has been the closest form of an urban public space. Unlike classical European cities, Vietnam doesn’t really have squares, just a few parks located in the inherited colonial city centres. Although Vietnam has ambitious infrastructure projects underway such as airports and industrial development, almost none are for open, green public spaces. As Vietnam’s cities experience

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first-world problems such as traffic congestion, pollution and over-population, the government and city dwellers are beginning to stand up and take a greater interest in the development and enhancement of urban public spaces — but much more is needed if Vietnam is to build true global cities.

Fresh Thinking in Developing Cities The United Nations is committed to providing public space in the heart of the world’s developing cities. Its 2016 to 2030 Sustainable Development goals describe making cities “provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities.” This goal will have a significant impact in Asia, which now accounts for 53 percent of the world’s urban population, and is home to 16 of the world’s 28 megacities. Vietnam is beginning to see the first stages of this urban concept, such as the opening of the first walking street Nguyen Hue in Ho Chi Minh City in April 2015, and the expansion of the walking street around Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi in September, a huge attraction for locals and foreigners alike.

Investing for the Future As urbanisation leads to denser cities and higher demand for available land, the pressure is on to create and maintain public spaces. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The construction and development of public spaces in urban life remains a challenge for Vietnam. Some of Vietnam’s neighbours are taking a communal approach by crowdsourcing ideas. Bangkok’s city government, for one, has launched the Inclusive Bangkok project, while Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority runs an annual Ideas for Public Spaces competition. Malaysia has created an annual arts and culture event known as Urbanscapes that showcases Kuala Lumpur’s public spaces and artistic endeavours. Creating such spaces, particularly green ones, is just the start; as a long-term commitment, they require regular investment and government support to keep them fit for purpose. The benefits will outweigh the costs, so let’s hope that, for Vietnam’s cities and the people who live in them, more is done as the urban landscape evolves. Greg Ohan is the Vietnam director of JLL, a leading global real estate services firm. Email your questions to or visit

HCMC Essentials


Md6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7 (across from FV Hospital), Tel: Tel: (08) 5410 0100 Specialising in healthcare, dental services and chiropractic medicine, the recently opened Maple Healthcare comes replete with the latest technology together with efficient and comfortable service.

M M M Galleries CRAIG THOMAS GALLERY 27i Tran Nhat Duat, Q1, Tel: 0903 888431 Craig Thomas Gallery offers a compelling mix of up-andcoming and established local artists. In operation since 2009, its founder has been promoting Vietnamese art for a decade. Now has a second newer gallery at 165 Calmette, Q1, HCMC DOGMA 8A/9C1 Thai Van Lung, Q1 The home of Vietnamese propaganda art and a collection put together over the last two decades by art collector Dominic Scriven, the majority of the work comes from the war period when provocative poster art was used to inspire and motivate. Sells prints of the originals and related products. GALERIE QUYNH 65 De Tham, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 8019 In addition to working with artists based in Vietnam, Galerie Quynh also exhibits the work of artists from around the world. This wellestablished gallery supports education through talks, lectures and publications. HO CHI MINH CITY FINE ARTS MUSEUM 97A Pho Duc Chinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4441 Set in one of the finest remaining buildings of colonial-era Vietnam, this multi-storey museum houses collections spanning centuries of Vietnamese art. Has regular exhibitions. SAN ART 48/7 Me Linh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 6294 7059 San Art is an independent, artist-run exhibition space that offers residency

programmes for young artists, lecture series and an exchange programme that invites international artists / curators to organise or collaborate on exhibitions.

M M M Groceries & Liquor

many a supermarket in this country to shame. As well as a dizzying selection of imported foods, also sells frozen meat and fish, fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices and a wide selection of dairy products. THE WAREHOUSE




16–18 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9332; 41A Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2630 Attractive and spacious French–owned grocery shop stocking a large range of foods, organic fruit and vegetables, imported beers and wines. Also sells luxury branded products from the likes of Fauchon. The deli upstairs in the Hai Ba Trung branch serves tasty baguette rolls in a comfortable lounge area with free Wi–Fi, and offers probably the best selection of cheese and cured meats in town.

15/5 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8826 One of the busiest wine retailers in town. In addition to their excellent range of wines, they also stock imported beers, bottled mineral water and spirits. VEGGY’S


No. 17, Street 12 (perpendicular to Tran Nao street), Q2, Tel: (08) 3740 7105 Supplier for the city’s five– star hotels, also distributing brands like San Pellegrino, Rougie foie gras, Galbani cheese, fresh poultries, meat, live seafood and vegetables. You can now find all the products at the gourmet shop on location.

Meatworks Butchery BUTCHERS 1 Street 2, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2565 Focusing on the retail trade, the meat at this Australianmanaged 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 grassfed steak.


58 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 1318 A small yet amazingly wellstocked store that puts

ECCS (THE ENGLISH CRICKET CLUB OF SAIGON) Adam Zakharoff Email: adamzakharoff@


29A Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8526 Courtesy of a farm in Dalat, Veggy’s retails some of the best quality fruit and veg available in the city. Also has a wide selection of imported food products including USDA beef, the same beef served up at El Gaucho.



Hairdressers, Salons & Spas AVEDA HERBAL SPA Villa 35A, Street 41, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel:(08) 3519 4671 CAT MOC SPA 63 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6295 8926 Aimed exclusively at ladies and couples only, treatments at this Japanese spa include facial, body and foot care, and Japanese-style haircuts, as well as steam-sauna, paraffin and waxing services. CONCEPT COIFFURE 48 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4625 Hair stylist and colourist specialist Sandrine has relocated her long-standing flagship salon Venus Coiffure to a villa in Thao Dien. A full range of services is offered including a dedicated kids salon. FAME NAILS SALON 3 Truong Dinh, Q1, Tel: 0909 682 827 GLOW SPA 129A Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8368 Modern and bright downtown spa, offers massages lasting from 30 minutes, to two-hour hot stone therapy,

ICCS (INDIAN CRICKET CLUB OF SAIGON) Deeptesh Gill, Tel: 01228 770 038 ISCS (INDIAN SPORTS CLUB IN SAIGON) Munish Gupta, Tel: 0986 973 244 PSSC (PAKISTAN SAIGON CRICKET CLUB) Samie Cashmiri, Tel: 0976 469 090 samie.cashmiri@gmail. com SACC (SAIGON AUSTRALIA CRICKET CLUB) Steve Treasure, Tel: 0903 998 824 SSC (SRI LANKA SPORTS CLUB) Suhard Amit, Tel: 0988 571 010 UCC (UNITED CRICKET CLUB) Asif Ali, Tel: 0937 079 034 VIETNAM CRICKET ASSOCIATION (VCA) Manish Sogani, Tel: 0908 200 598

Football & Rugby AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL Tel: 0937 683 230 LES GAULOIS DE SAIGON OLYMPIQUE SAIGON Contact Fred on 0919 709 024 or Viet Luu 0909 500 171.

SAIGON RAIDERS SAIGON RUGBY CLUB RMIT University, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phong, Q7 saigonrugbyfootballclub@ SAIGON SAINTS

Sports — General HASH HOUSE HARRIERS RANGERS BASEBALL TEAM SAIGON INTERNATIONAL DARTS LEAGUE SAIGON INTERNATIONAL SOFTBALL LEAGUE SAIGON SHOOTERS NETBALL CLUB saigonshootersnetball. SAIGON SPORTS ACADEMY 28 Tran Nao, Q2, Tel: (08) 7303 1100 SQUASH The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2098 ext 176 TORNADOS HOCKEY CLUB 436A/33 Ba Thang Hai, Q10, Tel: 0938 889899 ULTIMATE FRISBEE RMIT, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 X–ROCK CLIMBING 7Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 6278 5794 | December 2016 Word | 173

Know Your City Freedom of the City


continuing interest to me is understanding how cities work or don’t work. What shapes cities and how is it that they attain their special character? And what elements of cities most influence their character? You can make a comparison to the IT industry and the notion of hardware and software. Hardware is the infrastructure that makes computers operate, and software is what gives the computer its particular character. Thus it is possible to have an Apple computer that runs Windows software using the same hardware. So what of Ho Chi Minh City? A unique city. A city designed by the French in Asia, built in the image of France and its cultural values but functioning now in a completely different way to how its founders intended. I was reflecting on this the other day when I was in Singapore. You cannot help but admire what the Singaporeans have achieved. Their city, like Ho Chi Minh City, was founded by a foreign power and bequeathed to its inhabitants. Singapore is an Asian city but elements of it feel like any international city. I was reflecting on this and came to a conclusion firstly after using the Singapore subway to get around and secondly trying to get a taxi on 4.30pm on a Friday evening. In Singapore you cannot hail a taxi from the street during rush hour.

To Plan or Not to Plan? Cities acquire their character from things

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being unregulated from time to time. Singapore is highly regulated, while Ho Chi Minh City is not. In Singapore, strict planning controls have led to development occurring around transport nodes. The city is a series of nodes interconnected by public transport and cars, in turn leading to largescale developments that in turn mean largescale tenants. Despite the large amount of retail in Singapore there is less choice than in Ho Chi Minh City because with the larger-scale centres, retail tenancies become less the province of the family-owned business and more of the corporation. Ho Chi Minh City is fortunate in some way, as it has not had the benefit of the planners’ vision and things have grown naturally. The absence of a reliable and extensive public transport system and the low cost of motorbikes has had an enormous influence on the city shape because on a motorbike you have freedom of movement. You are unconstrained. The motorbike also allows goods to be carried cheaply on a smaller scale and delivered right to the door. This has enabled many smaller businesses to flourish because overheads are lower. The lack of an effective public transport system has removed the need for the concentration of retail activities into large centres. This, together with the unregulated use of the ground floor, has spawned a unique pattern, as businesses, left to their own devices, place themselves where they

By Ed Haysom

are needed, grouping themselves around associated uses. It leads to a diverse and exciting city shape.

The Law of Evolution Urban planners believe that there is an inevitable progression from bicycle to motorbike to car. Public transportation systems are designed to move people in the most efficient way possible and reduce the reliance on personal transport. If successful, urban development will be built to suit the commuter, perhaps putting at risk the city’s diversity and character. But it remains to be seen how effective the Ho Chi Minh City metro will be in reducing the reliance on personal transport. There are more than 7.43 million motorbikes in the city now with nearly 1,000 new bikes added every day. Will that freedom be given up? This overwhelming number of bikes and the lack of enforcement of road rules has led to an unsustainable situation. While the motorbike represents a freedom of movement and choice that other cities are unable to match, and is a significant contributor to its unique character, the challenge for Ho Chi Minh City is to curb the motorbikes’ excesses while preserving their benefits. That is a big challenge. Ed Haysom is the general director of Mode / Haysom Architects and is based in Ho Chi Minh City. You can contact him on ehaysom@

includes one suite with a Jacuzzi bath; offers hand and foot care and a hair styling area.

features a rooftop terrace and a great little drinks and wine selection. Open daily from 10am to 9pm.

Hair Bar

SPA TROPIC 79 Phan Ke Binh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 5575 Spa Tropic is a stylish boutique spa housed in the refurbished former Chilean Consulate. Spa Tropic has a long-standing reputation among expats and visitors alike for its professional quality service.


68 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (FREEPHONE) 1800 1108 A unique themed hair salon where stylists use no scissors but styling equipment only, giving female clients the opportunity to get their hair done on the run. Of course, they have to look fabulous, too. Fortunately this is one of Hair Bar’s specialities. Check the salon out on Facebook: hairbarvn. INDOCHINE SPA 69 Thu Khoa Huan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7188 Indochine Spa provides a peaceful and serene atmosphere with aromatic scents and lulling melodies. Customers are pampered by qualified therapists using natural French products in a clean and pleasant environment. JASMINE 45 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2737 Spa–related salon with a good reputation for quality and comfort offers washes and leisurely haircuts from VND330,000 plus a range of related services including massage and some excellent treatments. Merci 17/6 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8799 A unique nail spa and bistro where you can pamper your nails, enjoy a massage, meet your friends, enjoy a meal and sip a cocktail. Provides only waterless nails treatments to avoid bacteria and dry skin as well as Zoya and Kure Bazaar non-toxic varnishes. QUYNH BEAUTY SALON 104A Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3512 4321 A District 2 favourite, this is the salon to head to for anything from massage to haircuts, hairwashing to nails. Cheap prices, too. Soi Spa 6th & Rooftop, 44 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8678 A lovely little place with nail services, shampoo head massages, and other simple treatments for a quick getaway experience. Also


161-161A Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 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 American Eye Center is located in the heart of Phu My Hung, providing eye care services to Adults and Children by an American Board-certified ophthalmologist with 17 years of experience. The American-standard facility is equipped with state of the art equipments for the early detection and treatment of important eye diseases from Lasik and cataract surgeries to presbyopia, glaucoma and diabetic eye disease treatments. Cosmetic procedures such as eyelid surgery and Botox injections are also available. Centre Medical Internationale (CMI) FRENCH MEDICAL CLINIC

1 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2366 This French medical clinic provides general practice and a range of specialties including cardiology, gynecology, psychotherapy, ophthalmology, paediatrics and acupuncture. FAMILY MEDICAL PRACTICE

Dien Q2, Tel: (08) 3822 7848 Family Medical Practice (FMP) is the largest and one of the oldest foreign, privately-owned, 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 HOSPITAL INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL

6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Saigon South Parkway, Q7, Tel: (08) 5411 3333 Emergency: (08) 5411 3500 International hospital whose standard of health care matches that found anywhere, with 19 full–time French doctors and 58 Vietnamese doctors, providing expertise in 30 medical and surgical areas, especially maternity care. FV SAIGON CLINIC INTERNATIONAL CLINIC

3rd Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6290 6167 State–of–the–art medical centre located in District 1. Experienced American, French, and Vietnamese doctors provide the full spectrum health care. Plus sports medicine, cosmetic treatments, skin care and surgical consultations. Hanh Phuc International Hospital INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL

Binh Duong Boulevard, Thuan An District, Binh Duong Tel: (0650) 363 6068 Claiming to be the first Singapore-standard hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, this institution based on the outskirts of town is gaining a growing reputation for service and treatment. Specialises in providing healthcare to women and children. Has a clinic at 97 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Happiness Oriental Medicine Acupuncture Clinic ACUPUNCTURE

432 Pham Thai Buong, Q7, Tel: 0906 684969 Well-known traditional Chinese medicine clinic in Phu My Hung specialising in acupuncture. Established in Ho Chi Minh City for over a decade.


34 Le Duan Street, Q1; 95 Thao | December 2016 Word | 175

HCMC Essentials


167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 8424 The world’s leading provider of medical assistance and international healthcare offers primary health care, diagnostic services and 24/7 emergency care. Specialist care is available in many fields.

SIAN SKINCARE CLINIC SKIN CARE / COSMETICS 27 Nguyen Trung Truc, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 6999 The Australian and Canadian managed SIAN Clinic offers a wide range of skincare medical therapies to treat problems by an experienced dermatologist and facial care team. The clinic utilises the latest therapies.

Stamford Skin Centre SKIN CARE / COSMETICS

99 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 1990 Stamford Skin Centre offers a broad range of medical and aesthetic skin treatments. Their international dermatologists and doctors ensure accurate diagnosis and safe treatment procedures. It houses excellent equipment for a variety of procedures. TRADITIONAL MEDICINE HOSPITAL EASTERN MEDICINE

187 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3932 6579 VICTORIA HEALTHCARE INTERNATIONAL CLINIC

cently changed names, from Blue Cross Vietnam, to align with their regional sister companies. Together they form 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. IF CONSULTING IBC Building, 3rd Floor, 1A Me Linh Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7362 Independent advisors that represent top reputable medical insurers provide you with the best suitable medical cover for individual, family or company needs. For emergencies call 0903 732365 LIBERTY INSURANCE 15th Floor, Kumho Asiana Plaza, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: 1800 599 998 International insurance firm providing the full range of services to the individual — car insurance, travel insurance, health insurance, home insurance and much more. Noah James Insurance Agency Mobile: (1) 617 676 7858 Skype: A full service broker offering expatriates and local Vietnamese customized solutions from highly rated insurers for life, health, travel, as well as speciality cover for student travel, medevac, international marine, extreme athletics and adventure. For details contact:


79 Dien Bien Phu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 4545 Well-regarded clinic offering general examinations and specialising in pediatrics, digestive diseases, cardiology, women’s health and internal medicine. Offers a membership programme and cooperates with most insurance companies in Vietnam and abroad.

Tenzing Pacific Services 181 Dien Bien Phu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 5367 A full-service insurance broker offering a wide range of insurance solutions from the best local and international providers. Recommendations are based exclusively on client needs.




International Schools

Pacific Cross Vietnam 4th/12th Floor Continental Tower, 81-83-85 Ham Nghi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 9908 Pacific Cross Vietnam re-

ABC International School (ABCIS) Saigon South Campus 1 (Primary & Secondary), Tel: (08) 5431 1833/34/35/36; Saigon

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South Campus 2 (Foundation Stage & Early Primary), Tel: (08) 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, the Education Development Trust and members of COBIS and FOBISIA. Provides education for two to 18 year olds in a supportive and friendly environment. AUSTRALIAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (AIS) Xi Campus, 190 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 2727; Thao Dien Campus, APSC Compound, 36 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6960; Thu Thiem Campus, 264 Mai Chi Tho (East-West Highway), An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 3742 4040 The Australian International School is an IB World School with three world-class campuses in District 2, offering an international education from kindergarten to senior school with the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), Cambridge Secondary Programme (including IGCSE) and IB Diploma Programme (DP). ETONHOUSE INTERNATIONAL PRE-SCHOOL @ AN PHU 1st and 2nd floor, Somerset Vista, 628C Hanoi Highway, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 6287 0804 Following an international curriculum for children aged 18 months to six years, in the early years, an Inquire-ThinkLearn approach is followed, inspired by the Reggio Emilia Project of Northern Italy. It is a play-based, inquiry model in which children co-construct their learning in close, respectful collaboration with their teachers. This helps us provide an environment where children take responsibility for their own learning, allowing them a head start in life. BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (BIS) 246 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2335 Inspected and approved by the British Government, BIS provides a British style curriculum for an international student body from pre-school to Year 13. The school is staffed by British qualified and trained teachers with recent UK experience. Fully accredited by the Council of International Schools and a member of FOBISIA, BIS is the largest international school in Vietnam.

Kids Classes & Sports DANCENTER 53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4490 Children and teenagers can enjoy jazz, ballet, hip-hop, funk, belly dancing, salsa and in multi-level classes at this modern dance studio. HELENE KLING OIL PAINTING 189/C1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0903 955780 INSPIRATO MUSIC CENTER 37 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0932 737700 MINH NGUYEN PIANO BOUTIQUE 94A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 7691 PERFORMING ARTS ACADEMY OF SAIGON 19A Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 9679 Has a range of music-based programmes teaching kids in anything from guitar and drums to piano, clarinet and saxophone. Also provides musical assessment and a mixture of private and group classes. PIANO CLASSES Tel: 01225 636682 SAIGON MOVEMENT Tel: 0987 027 722 SAIGON SEAL TEAM 55 Nguyen Dang Giai, An Phu, Q2, Tel: 0905 098 279 SAIGON PONY CLUB 38, Lane 42, Le Van Thinh, Q2, Tel: 0913 733360 SAIGON SPORTS ACADEMY 28 Tran Nao, Q2, Tel: (08) 7303 1100 International coaches provide training in soccer, basketball, tennis and swimming for children aged four to 16 years and private lessons for children and adults. Youth soccer league Sundays from 2pm to 6pm in District 7. TAE KWON DO BP Compound, 720K Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0903 918 149 VINSPACE 6 Le Van Mien, Q2, Tel: 0907 729 846

CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 7 Road 23, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 3456 The first Canadian international school in Vietnam serves local and foreign students from Kindergarten to grade 12. Talented, certified teachers implement the internationally recognised Ontario curriculum to create a student-centred learning environment promoting academic excellence. Has a newly built campus.

and small class sizes. EUROPEAN International School Ho Chi Minh City (EIS) 730 F-G-K Le Van Mien, Q2, Vietnam, Tel: (08) 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.

International School Ho Chi Minh City 28 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3898 9100 HCMC’s most established international school offers three International Baccalaureate programmes for students from two to 18 years old. ISHCMC will be launching a new secondary campus in 2017, featuring Vietnam’s first Innovation Center, a 350-seat professional theatre, NBA-sized basketball courts and a 25m competitive swimming pool.

International School Ho Chi Minh City — American Academy 16 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3898 9100 ISHCMC — 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.

Kids Club Saigon 79/7 Pham Thai Buong, Q7; 27/3 Ha Huy Tap, Q7, Tel: (08) 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,

International School Saigon Pearl 92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 2222 7788/99 Vietnam’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.

MONTESSORI INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 42/1 Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2639 Aiming to encourage children’s engagement with their surroundings, MIS offers children from age three to 12 a classic Montessori education as well as a variety of extra–curricular activities. Renaissance International School Saigon 74 Nguyen Thi Thap, Q7, Tel: (08)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 350-seat 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: (08) 3740 8081 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 SOUTH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (SSIS) 78 Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 0901 Offers an American-style education (SAT, IB and AP) from elementary to high-school, emphasizing a multi–cultural student environment and a commitment to well–rounded education at all levels. SAIGON STAR INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL Residential Area No. 5, Thanh My Loi, Q2, Tel: (08) 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: (08) 3744 6076; 26, Street Nr. 10, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3898 9816; 15 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4236 This international childcare centre provides children ages 18 months to six years with a high quality education in a playful and friendly environment. THE AMERICAN SCHOOL 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 American-based 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. | December 2016 Word | 177

HCMC Essentials

M M M Property Rentals CHUM’S HOUSE 121/21 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 7237 EASY SAIGON Tel: 0932 112694 The Easy Saigon website is a useful real estate website helping expats to find apartments in Ho Chi Minh City. Enquiries via their website are welcome. HAPPY HOUSE 32-34 Ngo Duc Ke, Suite 701, Q1, Tel: 01659 419916 Nam House 48A Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0989 007700 Expert in providing rental properties, constructions and interior decoration, especially in District 2. Supports professional services and aftersales.

town with over 200 bikes and a range of models and makes. Rents by the day or by the month. Call or check the website for details. Also does visa extensions. Saigon Bike Rentals Tel: 0972 451273 Rents out a range of models including Honda Waves, Yamaha Nouvos, Classicos, Luvias, SYM Attilas and Excels. Call for details and prices. Saigon Scooter Centre RENTALS / CLASSIC SCOOTERS

77a Hanoi Highway, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0903 013690 Just relocated to its new home in District 2, Saigon Scooter Centre is more than just the place to go for all your classic scooter needs. Also does accessories, quality imported helmets and bike rentals.

M M M Recruitment & HR

RESIDENT VIETNAM Unit 601 48 Hoa Su, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 2226 8855 SNAP 32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4282 Owners of Snap Café in District 2, Snap offers a web– based real estate search service with information on rental properties all around the city, as well as an advisory service for those averse to wading into the internet depths for their needs. THE NEST 216/4 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0938 580800 Well–known property search and real estate agency with a useful website listing properties available for rent and sale, orientated towards expats. Website is in English, French and Spanish.

M M M Motorbikes Chi’s Café RENTALS

185/30 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: 0903 643446 Probably the best-known motorbike rental joint in

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ADECCO VIETNAM 11th floor, Empire Tower, 26 - 28 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 3430 Adecco is the world leader in human resources solutions. Established in Vietnam in 2011, Adecco offers a wide array of global workforce solutions and specialises in finance & legal, sales, marketing & events, IT, engineering & technical, and office. HR2B/TALENT RECRUITMENT JSC 1st Floor, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 6288 3888 G.A. CONSULTANTS VIETNAM CO., LTD. Ho Chi Minh Office: Room 2B-2C, 2nd Floor, 180 Pasteur, District 1, HCMC. VIETNAMWORKS.COM 130 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 5404 1373 The best-known recruitment website in Vietnam. Post you’re the position you’re looking for and wait for the responses. You’ll get many. Also a good site for expat jobseekers.

M M M Relocation Agents

pet transportation, relocation services including home search, orientation, cultural training, immigration services and records management. Email Vietnam@santaferelo. com for info.

M M M AGS FOUR WINDS (VIETNAM) 5th Floor, Lafayette De Saigon, 8A Phung Khac Khoan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 0071 A global leader in international removals and relocations, with 130 offices globally, we can move your property to and from any location.

Serviced Apartments

DIAMOND ISLAND LUXURY RESIDENCES No 01 – Street No.104-BTT, Quarter 3, Binh Trung Tay, Q2, Tel: (08) 3742 5678 Diamond Island Luxury Residences offers 68 fullyfurnished apartments, from two to four-bedroom units ALLIED PICKFORDS 12th floor, Miss Ao Dai Build- with spectacular panoramic ing, 21 Nguyen Trung Ngan, views of the city. Each apartment comes with a fullyQ1, Tel: (08) 3910 1220 equipped kitchen, en-suite With more than 800 offices bathrooms, separate work in over 45 countries, Allied and living areas, a balcony, Pickfords is one of the world- modern amenities, elegant wide leaders in removal ser- furnishings and carefully vices. In Vietnam, Allied also chosen trimmings. provides tailored relocation services. INTERCONTINENTAL ASIANA SAIGON RESIDENCES ASIAN TIGERS MOBILITY Unit 9.3, Floor 9, Ree Tower, 9 Crn. of Nguyen Du & Le Van Doan Van Bo, Ward 12, District Huu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 8888 4, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3 826 7799 Asian Tigers is one of the Adjacent to the InterContilargest regional move man- nental Asiana Saigon you’ll agement specialists, with ser- find 260 luxurious and spavices including door-to-door cious residential suites. The moving, housing and school residences offer panoramic searches, local and office views of the downtown area. moves and pet relocations. JVK INTERNATIONAL MOVERS 1st Floor, Saigon Port Building, 3 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Tel: (08) 3826 7655 Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is a leader in the field.

NORFOLK MANSION 17–19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 6111 Offers a wide choice of luxurious and modern furnished accommodation with attentive and discreet service. Facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, a gym, sauna and steam room, as well as two on-site restaurants.

LOGICAL MOVES — VIETNAM 396/4 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Tel: (08) 3941 5322 Specialists in international, local, domestic and office moves for household goods and personal effects through our global partner network. Experts in exporting used scooters that do not have documentation.

RIVERSIDE APARTMENTS 53 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 4111 Over four Saigon Riverbank hectares, Riverside Apartments combines a resort lifestyle with the amenities of a fully serviced-apartment. Located minutes from downtown by high-speed boat shuttle.

SANTA FE RELOCATION SERVICES 8FL, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 3933 0065 With over 150 offices around the world, Santa Fe offers local and international moving,

SHERWOOD RESIDENCE 127 Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (08) 3823 2288 Sherwood Residence is a luxurious serviced apartment property where modern living spaces meet prime location, comfort and class,

Tattoo Artists With tattoos becoming increasingly popular, over the past few years there has been an increase in the number of tattoo studios around the city. Customers have the choice of picking their own tattoo out of the many look books on offer in the studios or bringing in their own design. Most of the studios offer bodypiercing services as well. Pricing depends on size and style.

Exile Ink 608

57 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: (08) 6675 6956 Saigon Body Art

135 Cong Quynh, Q1 Tel: 0908 443311 Saigon Ink

26 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 1090

Saigon Tattoo 31B Nguyen Du, Q1

Spirit Tattoo

206B Le Van Sy, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 01204 738939 (Fiona) spirittatts

Respected tattoo and body-piercing studio specialising in traditional Japanese, black and grey, portraiture, realism, western traditional, neo-traditional, dot work and geometric.

Tattoo Saigon

128 Nguyen Cu Trinh, Q1 Tel: 0938 303838

with five–star facilities and service.

Cinemas Showcasing the latest Hollywood blockbusters and 3D cinematic sensations, chains such as CGV, Lotte and Galaxy Cinema offer the most up-to-date and modern cinema-going experiences in Saigon. For those partial to more esoteric and independent flicks, smaller outlets such as Cinebox and Idecaf carry little known Vietnamese and European efforts.


240 Ba Thang Hai, Q10 Tel: (08) 3862 2425

Lotte Cinema

13th Floor, Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 38227897 3rd Floor, Lotte Mart, 469 Nguyen Huu Tho, Q7 Tel: (08) 3775 2521

SOMERSET SERVICED RESIDENCES 8A Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8899; 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9197; 628C Hanoi Highway, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 6255 9922 Somerset Chancellor Court, Somerset Ho Chi Minh City and Somerset Vista Ho Chi Minh City serviced residences combine the space and privacy of an apartment with the services of a top-rated hotel. They come with separate living and dining areas, as well as a fully equipped kitchen where guests can prepare a meal for themselves, their family and friends.

M M M Sports & Fitness Chiara Squinzi Tel: 01278 163620 Experienced health coach and corporate & school wellness coach. Can help clients achieve health and weight goals through an innovative holistic approach of food, body and mind. Email for info.


31 Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 5451


Level 5, Crescent Mall, Nguyen Van Linh, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 2222; Level 10, CT Plaza, 60A Truong Son, Tan Binh, Tel: (08) 6297 1981; Level 2, Thao Dien Mall, 12 Quoc Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 3000; Level 5, SC VivoCity, 1058 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, Tel: (08) 3775 0555; Level 7, Hung Vuong Plaza, 126 Hung Vuong, Q5, Tel: (08) 2222 0388


Level 5, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2828 SOFITEL PLAZA FITNESS CENTRE HEALTH CLUB & GYM

17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555 A small but well-appointed gym with regular fitness classes, a steam room and sauna. Has a small but consistent membership. STAR FITNESS GYM HEALTH CLUB & GYM

Manor Apartments, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3514 0253 Steve Chipman, who had a hand in establishing gyms at the Sofitel hotels in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, is behind Star Fitness — one of Vietnam’s largest and bestequipped gyms.


Galaxy Cinema



230 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3920 6688 116 Nguyen Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 5235 246 Nguyen Hong Dao, Tan Binh Tel: (08) 3849 4567

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.

BODY AND MIND 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. Tuesday to Friday every week at 5pm. All activities are safe and run by Cyril himself.


34 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6672 A well-appointed gym also offering fitness classes and personal training with excellent facilities. Group classes include power yoga, pilates, circuit training, martial arts and spinning. Also has a restaurant serving calorie– calibrated meals.

The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2098 ext. 176 In addition to the squash court, facilities include a fully–equipped gym room, a rooftop swimming pool and separate male and female saunas. Vertical Academy CLIMBING GYM

Truc Duong, Q2, Tel: 0966 920612 A bouldering gym and pro climbing wall replete with a showroom and café offers something that this area has never experienced before, a place to climb. Has a number of climbing sections, runs training courses and also sells daily climbing passes for VND150,000 (for a 10-visit pass pay VND1 million).

Veterinary Clinics Animal Doctors International 1 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2. (08) 6260 3980 Offers the very highest levels of compassionate, competent and professional veterinary medicine and surgery to all pets in Ho Chi Minh City with international veterinary surgeons. Upholding international standards, the team works tirelessly to help clients with the support of a dedicated surgical suite, digital X-Ray and comprehensive diagnostic facilities.

M M M Vietnamese Classes VIETNAMESE LANGUAGE GARDEN 135/10 Nguyen Cuu Van, Binh Thanh, Tel: 0916 670 771 vietnameselanguagegarden. com VLS SAIGON 45 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 0168 Offers courses ranging from basic conversational Vietnamese to upper elementary, intermediate and advanced levels, as well as special courses including Vietnamese literature, composition or a 6-hour survival crash course.

M M M Sports Garments

Score-Tech 1870/3G An Phu Dong 3, Q12, Tel: (08) 3719 9588 Apparel company offering 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.

M M M | December 2016 Word | 179

Bar Stool


he heat in Ho Chi Minh City can often feel oppressive, so visiting a bar to escape it all while being accompanied by that most refreshing of drinks — the gin and tonic — sounds like a great fit. The Gin House is the first bar in the city to specialise in the spirit and has been opening its doors to a wide array of gin-based drinks and cocktails since August 2016. Opening at 6pm every evening, it offers 18 different flavours, but there’s no need to worry, says owner and head bartender Luan. “If you can’t look at the menu and choose

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your favourite cocktail, talk to the bartender and let them take you on a journey.” Long day at work? Try the refreshing green tea and pomegranate gin infusion and tonic. Wanting to kick-start a party? Go for the heavy duty vanilla and orchid and tonic. Happy hour daily from 6pm to 8pm offers these gin infusion and tonics for VND75,000. Gin has had a chequered history, and in recent years has had a serious revival. Luan is part of the gin vanguard in Ho Chi Minh City. New distributors are popping up all the time in the country. “I’m excited by the prospect of gin’s upward trend,” says Luan.

Essentials Gone are the days of the humble G&T with ice and a slice, and Luan is passionate about bringing the drink into the 21st century. He says adapting the drink to fit the customer’s needs will be essential to the success of the bar. When designing the menu Luan was meticulous in choosing the herbs and fruity flavours that accompany the London Dry Gin which forms the basis of all the gin and tonic infusions. I try the Swiss apple gin infusion and tonic which is a refreshing treat, and the super berry

The Gin House


infusion G&T (VND130,000) is even better, with the hint of raspberry feeling like a tickle. It is delicious. A congenial atmosphere between bartender and customer is encouraged which is as refreshing as the drinks that are served up. Luan even invites customers to try their hand behind the bar and fulfil any Tom Cruise in Cocktail fantasies they might have. “Anyone can come behind the bar here,” he says. Well-coiffured expats mix with stylish locals at the tastefully lit bar, as bartenders show off their flair on the other side.

Spirit of the Times The gin infusion is The Gin House’s bread and butter, but there is also a separate menu offering traditional cocktails with a twist (VND180,000), as well as the Gin House’s own signatures, the centrepiece of which is the Ben Thanh (VND150,000). With the famous market a few blocks away, Luan wanted to recreate its spirit in drink form. He chose ingredients from all over Vietnam, including berries from the north, apricots from the centre, cilantro leaf from the south. “Ingredients and culture combine

together” to create the drink, Luan tells me. It sounds like a fitting end to the hustle and bustle of shopping in the market. In designing the decor for The Gin House, Luan was inspired by the speakeasies of prohibition-era United States. It’s tasteful and the vintage style has soul and purpose. Perky modern day swing music comes out of the speakers. With a mezzanine level with extra seating due to open soon, exciting times are ahead for this 21st century gin palace. — Thomas Barrett The Gin House is located at 28/3A Ton That Tung, Q1, HCMC | December 2016 Word | 181

HCMC On The Town


Park Hyatt, 2 Lam Son, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1234 International décor blends seamlessly with local themes. Style joins forces with a wide-ranging drink menu and hip dance tunes to create one of the most tasteful if pricier bars in Saigon. ACOUSTIC BAR LIVE MUSIC

6E Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 2239 Though only 1km from the city centre, Acoustic is well off most foreigners’ radars. Come see the Vietnamese house band play nightly, as well as performances from overseas bands and guest artists. APOCALYPSE NOW DANCE / NIGHTCLUB

2B-C-D Thi Sach, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6124 An institution and the kind of place you end up drunk after midnight. Famed for its notso-salubrious clientele, this two-floor establishment with DJs and occasional live music is also famed for its hotdogs, which are served up in the garden terrace out back. Bia Craft CRAFT BEER BAR

90 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2588 As craft beer continues to take over watering holes around Ho Chi Minh City, so a bar dedicated to all things ‘craft’ and ‘real ale’ seems like a pretty sensible idea, right? Well, it is. Only small, but with wooden tables perfect for sharing, 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. BLANCHY’S TASH RESTOBAR / NIGHTCLUB

95 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: 0909 028293 A multi-storey bar with décor and atmosphere more akin to such an establishment in New York or London. Has a reputation for bringing in big-name DJs. And when we say big, we mean big. Check their website for details. BREAD & BUTTER INTERNATIONAL / COMFORT FOOD

40/24 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 8452 With a free book exchange,

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and tasty Sunday night roasts, the tiny Bread & Butter is a perfect place for homesick expats and beer enthusiasts (excellent HueBrewed Huda beer served here exclusively in Ho Chi Minh City). Broma, Not a Bar COCKTAILS / ROOFTOP

41 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 6838 Broma’s medieval rooftopcocktail lounge conglomeration is a magnet for the city’s weirdest and coolest events/ random moments. A sophisticated cocktail menu and quite possibly the best lamb burger in town. Check out their bun bo Hue-inspired cocktail.

EON Heli Bar




Level 52, Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8750 Breathtaking views require a vantage point and EON Heli Bar is by far the highest spot in Saigon for a spectacular cityscape, appealing drinks and a vibrant ambience. Night live music and DJs.

175/22 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 7679 Warm colors, artsy décor and a friendly ambiance combine to create a perfect setting for enjoying tasty international and Vietnamese cuisine. Gets busy at weekends with a clientele made up of hip, young Vietnamese and the occasional foreigner.


115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1 Tel: (08) 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.


207 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 2704 French-run but universally appealing, Long Phi has been serving the backpacker area with excellent cuisine and occasional live music since 1990. Excellent late-night bistro cuisine.

Delivery Ben Style

Tel: 0906 912730

www. restaurants-ben-style Chez Guido

Tel: (08) 3898 3747


7 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3345 6345 Just across the lane from Mc’Sorley’s, this pub with an eccentric European tilt and some nice, authentic cuisine draws an older crowd with darts, pool and weekly poker tourneys. Champion Sports Bar SPORTS BAR

45-47 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 4202 A recent addition to the sports-and-watering-hole drinking scene, Champion is located in the Backpackers’ area and shows all the major televised sports. Also has a pool table, darts, tasty Western and Vietnamese food, great cocktails and ice cold beer. Western managed, wonderful local staff. #BeAChampion.


28 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8605 The original microbrewery, this large, wooden-panelled, brass-kegged 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. ICE BLUE EXPAT BAR

24 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 One of this city’s longest running watering holes — and the original home of the darts league — has recently reopened in its new premises. Naturally, darts are still key here, with each of the bottom three floors having elements devoted to this most pub-friendly of sports. LA FENETRE SOLEIL


Rooftop, AB Tower, 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 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.


55, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 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.


46-48 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Malt is a non-smoking bar in downtown Saigon offering shuffleboard, darts, craft beers on tap, signature cocktails and delicious tapas and pub grub. Its unpretentious vibe and casual atmosphere will have you feeling at home. May Restaurant & Bar LOUNGE BAR & RESTOBAR

19-21 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 3686 An international comfortfood menu mixes with excellent cocktails and an extensive winelist at this attractive, international bar and restaurant. Dine at the bar or upstairs in the restaurant space. Number Five

44 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 5994 A seductive watering whole in a great corner location thanks to its old Saigon glamour, Japanese-Vietnamese fusion cuisine, imported beer, classic cocktails, and entertaining music events / DJ sets.

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.


OMG! LAST CALL 59 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3122 If you’re in need of dense, soulful atmosphere and maybe an artisanal cocktail on your way back from wherever, Last Call is your stop — and fast becoming that of the similarly inclined. Great happy hour deals for early evening starters.

Domino’s Pizza Tel: (08) 3939 3030 Eat.Vn


Tel: (08) 3848 9999



Tel: (08) 3910 0000

Pizza Hut (PHD)





Tel: (08) 3838 8388 Scoozi

Tel: (08) 3823 5795

Taco Bich


Top Floor, 15-17-19 Nguyen An Ninh, Q1 A contemporary and attractive rooftop restaurant with a lounge bar just 50m from Ben Thanh Market. Features a glass shell modeled in the image of the Eiffel Tower, a jungle-like atmosphere and views over central Saigon. O’BRIEN’S IRISH BAR / INTERNATIONAL

74/A3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 3198


This Irish-themed sports bar with classic pub décor is widely appreciated for its excellent international fare, large whiskey selection and upstairs pool table. Great pizzas. And for a real treat, check out their zesty rolls. OnTop Bar Novotel Saigon, 167 Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 4866 Located on the 20th floor with stunning views of the city, houses an upscale, contemporary interior and an outdoor terrace. A good venue to chill out in a relaxed and casual, yet hip ambience. PEACHES CURRY PUB

S57-1 Sky Garden 2, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 0999 Known as the ‘Curry Pub’, this pleasant Saigon South watering hole mixes the beer with all things curry — anything from Goan fish curries to beef rendangs and more. A popular local haunt.

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: 0122 4283198 Up-cycling and innovative design form the foundation for this bar / arts venue / mini-skate park and graffiti space. Come for barbeque and reasonably priced drinks, stick around for entertaining events and markets. Saigon Ranger

shelf spirits and friendly, hostess style table service are the name game here. STORM P DANISH / INTERNATIONAL

5B Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 4738 Named after the Danish artist Storm P, this long-running bar is the home of Saigon’s Scandinavian community thanks to its laid-back atmosphere and excellent food menu. A good place to watch the live sports. The Cube Bar


46-48 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 0796 From its roots as the famed Café Latin, Phatty’s has become the goto, 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: (08) 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.

5/7 Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 7300 0559 Aspiring to be a focal point for artistic activities, the space at Saigon Ranger has been established to create encounter and dialogue between different forms of art. Boasts concrete floors, dark wooden furniture, quirky wall designs and a stage for live music and other types of performance.


22 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 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. RUBY SOHO CARTOON BAR

S52-1 Sky Garden 2, Q7, Tel: (08) 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.


70 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: 0907 890623 A small but popular bar with all the shenanigans of the nightlife scene set to a backdrop of classic 60s, 70s and 80s tunes. Has a darts area out back and is a popular space for watching the live English Premier League. WINE BAR 38

31B Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: 0903 369798 A sleek, industrial looking restobar with edgy décor and just a hint of Spanish style. Tapas, sangria, Iberian-influenced cocktails and an emphasis on all things Latin.


The Observatory



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.

38 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 3968 With a huge selection of self-imported wines from Bordeaux, this classy but contemporary venue is a wine bar downstairs, and a lounge on the first floor. Has a French-Asian menu paired to all the wines, with a huge selection of the good stuff sold by the glass.


71-75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8468 This iconic upmarket downtown bar is known for its cocktails and wine list. It serves a range of international and Vietnamese dishes to be enjoyed in its richly decorated interior. Regular DJ nights.


9th Floor, Caravelle Saigon, 1923 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999 This iconic bar is a great place to watch the sun go down over the city and relax for a few drinks with friends. Has live entertainment six nights a week courtesy of resident Cuban band, Q’vans, from 9pm Wednesday to Monday. Shrine Bar

Qui Lounge





Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9698 A sophisticated yet down-to-earth cocktail bar and restaurant with subtle lighting and one of the best spirit selections in town. Serves creative, Japanese and German-influenced cuisine to supplement the drinks.


61 Ton Thap Thiep, Q1 Shrine creates a drinking and dining experience in a temple-like atmosphere. Inspired by Bantay Srei, a temple from the ancient Angkor kingdom, the walls are covered in statues depicting ancient Khmer gods and kings. With ambient lighting and town tempo music, here it’s all about good cocktails and an even better atmosphere. SEVENTEEN SALOON THEMED MUSIC BAR

103A Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 0007 Wild West-themed bar doubles as a music venue, where three talented Filipino bands (B&U, Wild West and Most Wanted) play covers of rock icons like Bon Jovi, U2 and Guns n’ Roses. Top

The Society GRILL AND LOUNGE BAR 99 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 3999 Designed as a Laneway-style 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.


R2-24 Hung Gia 3, Bui Bang Doan, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 3900 The first bar established in Saigon South, great food, great music and loads of laughs. Has regular live music nights, theme nights and a variety of live sports events to please everybody. Big screens and outdoor seating add to the mix, with BBQs available for parties and events. Vesper Gourmet Lounge INTERNATIONAL

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Coffee Cup


miniature artery from District 1 to District 5, Pham Viet Chanh is one of Saigon’s most hectic streets. Motorbikes scream down this road, cars make no apologies, local businesses line one side, a rather alarming hospital sits back from the tarmac, and in the middle of it all is a little slice of quiet, polite delicacy — 1985 Cafe. Cafe founder and owner, Hoang Nguyen, created The 1985 in August 2014. “I love baking and Japanese culture,” she says. “I wanted to create a cafe based on this.” The cafe is small, spread over two floors, each just big enough to fit a few

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tables and chairs, and everything is baked and prepared on-site, behind the serving counter. There is plenty of warm, natural light, and the general atmosphere is what you might expect from a vintage European living room, only with imitation cherry blossoms and a display of Japanese tea. Hoang’s staff pay attention to detail — tissues sit in one corner, the Wifi name and password are clearly visible, free iced water comes with your order and the toilet is clean and quaint — although a little small.

Have Your Cake… The front door to The 1985 is painted

white with big, glass panes. A wide, glass cabinet full of tempting desserts sits inside the door, and the whole café is filled with soft whiffs of butter pastry and rich, sugary cream. In fact, as my photographer and I make our way to the serving counter I start to wonder if we are here for the coffee or for that majestic Stant Honore to my left... “Actually, 95% of our customers come to eat cake,” says Hoang. “They often prefer to enjoy it with one of our Japanese teas rather than a coffee.” The 1985 does sell a wide range of tempting coffees, as well as sodas,

1985 Café


smoothies and many other original creations. Prices range from VND35,000 for a cappuccino to VND65,000 for a matcha latte special, and from VND38,000 for a tasty creme brulee to VND75,000 for a chocolate lava cake. Serving sizes are generous, and as people roll out of the café at the end of a satisfying snack, their wallets remain as full as their stomachs.

Vanilla Cream and Biscuits Having studied the menu, we ordered two desserts and a big pot of orange tea. Fruit paradise Japanese tea is as fragrant

as it sounds, and is served on a raised glass tray with its base resting above a tea candle. In theory, this keeps it warm, in practice it spreads gold light through the glass pot, creating an enchanting effect. Our first dessert was the towering Stant Honore, with its puffs of vanilla cream, light and airy, nestled in piles on top of a round, crisp butter-biscuit, and a delicate chocolate button sitting on top of it all, bearing the name “The 1985”. But the mango passion cheesecake was a clear favourite — a three-layered construction with a buttery, crumbly base, a thick centre and a final sliver of tart,

passionfruit jelly to balance it all. Hoang established her first café on Pham Viet Chanh almost two years ago now, and has just opened a new, sister branch on Dong Khoi. In the future, Hoang hopes to open a third café in District 2, as well as a separate project to link all three places together. “I want to create The 1985 Cooking Studio,” she says. “People could learn about our baking techniques, Japanese foods, and maybe Vietnamese foods too.” — Zoe Osborne 1985 Café is at 223/2k Pham Viet Chanh, Q1, HCMC | December 2016 Word | 185

HCMC On The Town

Cafes & Ice-Cream (a) cafe 15 Huynh Khuong Ninh, Da Kao, Q1, Tel: 0903 199701 Settle into the Javanesestyle interior and enjoy possibly one of the best brews in Saigon. Using own grown and specially sourced Dalat beans, speciality coffee such as cold drip, siphon, and Chemex are must haves for the avid coffee drinker. Agnes Cafe DALAT COFFEE HOUSE

11A-B Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 9772 A cozy and comfortable cafe in Thao Dien serving excellent fresh coffee from Dalat, smoothies, juices, homemade desserts. Offers up tasty breakfasts, lunch and dinner all the way through until 9pm. Banksy Cafe 1st Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 01699 990003 A small but swanky cafe, Banksy promises a young and vibrant hideout in an old 1960s-era apartment building. Remember to head up the steep stairs within to dig into their secret stash of clothes and accessories. Cafe Thoai Vien 159A Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: 0918 115657 Veer off the street and find yourself plunging straight into lush greenery. Cafe Thoai Vien serves up a spacious and airy setting to enjoy a quiet sip. From small eats to big bites and everything to drink, it’s a great place to unwind from all that buzz. COFFEE BEAN & TEA LEAF INTERNATIONAL

157-159 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1; Metropolitan Building,

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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. DECIBEL INTERNATIONAL

79/2/5 Phan Ke Binh, Q1, Tel: (08) 6271 0115 Trendy without pretense, this two-floor, relaxed café offers beautiful decor and unique original events like live music, film screenings, and art exhibits. Great prices and food with daily specials. Guanabana Smoothies

for coffee. Klasik Coffee Roasters CAFE AND ON-SITE ROASTING

40 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6685 4160 Nitro cold brew coffee, single origin coffee and healthy food. Klasik Coffee Roasters is a small coffee shop with a passion for seeking high quality coffee beans from around the world to roast in Saigon. Holding the belief that each cup tells its own story, drinking coffee at Klasik is all about pleasure and experience: the aroma, the taste, the warmth and the senses inspired by each and every cup. Open daily from 7am to 10pm.



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.



First Floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6674 9565; 70B Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 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.


41/1 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 4222 Hidden in a colonial building with an outdoor courtyard, the ample soft, sofa seating renders a great spot to relax. The mouth-watering western menu is well-priced and maintains a creative flair. I.D. CAFÉ CONTEMPORARY CAFE

34D Thu Khoa Huan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2910 Centrally located near Ben Thanh Market, i.d offers casual café dining with a wide variety of food and beverages. Where modern design and a warm ambience meet

apartment complex, Mockingbird is just the place for a romantic time over mojitos, or good ol’ caffeine-infused relaxation.

M2C Cafe 44B Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2495 At M2C (Modern Meets Culture), everything gets a touch of modernity. From the rich menu of Vietnamese food and drinks, shows immense local culture, done with a modern flare. Be seen here at one of the latest popular joint in town. Mockingbird Cafe 4th Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 0935 293400 Sitting atop of a number of cafe establishments in an old

Plantrip Cha TEA ROOM

8A/10B1 Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: 0945 830905 Tea, tea and more tea, all in a contemporary, quirky environment. At Plantrip Cha customers go on a sensory journey to experience the tastes and smells of teas from across Asia, Europe, America and the Middle East. THE LOOP HEALTHY CAFÉ FARE / BAGELS

49 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel. (08) 3602 6385 Low-key yet nice-on-the-eye décor helps create the caféstyle 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 Have a book to read? Pick a bright spot by the window and get snuggly with the comfy upholstery in this second-floor cafe. With a cup of well-brewed coffee, accompanied by some background jazz, it is an afternoon well-spent. The Other Person Cafe 2nd Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 0909 670272 Fancy being served up by maids in costume? Call for a booking and enjoyed customized service to your liking while spending an afternoon in this candy-land inspired cafe.


158 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4990 Second-storey coffeehouse offers a quiet atmosphere to chill out or read from their book-nook collection. Comfortable couch seating, open table space and a cappuccino costs VND40,000. Things Cafe 1st Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: (08) 6678 6205 Feel the calm and serenity of this rustic little quiet corner tucked away in an Old Apartment. The quaint and relaxing atmosphere sets for some alone time, or quality conversations held over a drink or two.


Top Floor, 29 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 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. 27 Grill GRILL-STYLE RESTAURANT

Rooftop, AB Tower, 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2372 Besides the spectacular views, the cuisine at 27 Grill is a real draw, with steaks and other international grillstyle fare in a refined yet contemporary atmosphere. Subtle lighting and an extensive wine list make up the mix. AL FRESCO’S INTERNATIONAL

27 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 38238424 The downtown outlet of one of Vietnam’s most successful restaurant chains, Al Fresco’s offers international, Aus-

tralian-influenced comfort fare in a pleasant environment with efficient, friendly service to match. Also has an excellent garden-style branch at 89 Xuan Thuy, Q2. 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.

bar on The Crescent with great terraced seating specializing in huge-portioned international fare, all set in a contemporary, spacious environment. CAFÉ IF VIETNAMESE FRENCH

Au Lac Do Brazil


BRAZILIAN CHURRASCO 238 Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (08) 3820 7157 Au Lac Do Brazil is home to the city's best Churrasco menu with a wide variety of meats from Calabrian sausage and picanha through to D-rump steak and smoked hams. Pioneering the eat-asmuch-as-you-can theme in Vietnam, passadors bring the meat skewers to your table, and you, the customer then choose your accompaniments from the salad bar. Best washed down with red wine or a caipirinha or five.



23 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 2772 Consistently tasty European café fare — think deli-style sandwiches, salads and mezzes, plus coffees and juices — served at a popular park-side Le Duan location with classic cream and green-tiled décor. ASHOKA NORTH INDIAN / CHINESE INDIAN

17/10 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1372; 33 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel : (08) 3744 4177 Long-running, award-winning Indian restaurant famed for its excellent kebabs, creamy curries and Chinese-Indian fare. BABA’S KITCHEN NORTH / SOUTH INDIAN

164 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3838 6661

13 Phan Van Dat, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 2055 Creatively named burgers, tasty Vietnamese-styled sandwiches, spiced up cocktails, mains and more, all served up with a Californian edge at this small but popular two-storey eatery close to the river. BLANCHY STREET JAPANESE / SOUTH AMERICAN

The Courtyard, 74/3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8793 The work of former Nobu chef Martin Brito, the Japanese-South American fusion cuisine at Blanchy Street is among the tastiest and most unusual in the city. All complemented by fresh, contemporary decor and a leafy terrace out front. BOAT HOUSE AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL

40 Lily Road, An Phu Superior Compound, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 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. BOOMARANG BISTRO SAIGON INTERNATIONAL / GRILL

CR2 3-4, 107 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 6592 Australian themed but Singaporean-owned eatery and

38 Dang Dung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3846 9853 MSG-free traditional Vietnamese cuisine with a French twist, cooked fresh to order. Dishes include noodle soup, steamed ravioli and beef stew, stir fries, hot pots and curries. CHI’S CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE

40/31 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 2502 This affable café is a rarity in the backpacker area for its genuinely good musical playlist. Excellent, build-your-own breakfasts, baked potatoes, toasties, Vietnamese fare and more. Has a popular motorbike rental service. Chris Food Online TRADITIONAL FRENCH / DESSERTS

Tel: 0909 365525 (English) / 0909 320717 (French) chrisfoodonline.blogspot. com or Traditional French cuisine and exotic dishes from the Reunion Island served up in Ho Chi Minh City and delivered to your door. All dishes are prepared with fresh ingredients, nothing is frozen. Options include cheesecake, tiramisu, lasagna, chicken curries and muffin. All speciality foods are cooked to order. CIAO BELLA NEW YORK-ITALIAN

11 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 3329 New York-style Italian restaurant offering a range of tasty and affordable antipasti, pastas, and pizzas. Friendly staff and rustic bare brick walls

adorned with Hollywood film legends make for a relaxed and attractive setting. CORIANDER THAI / VIETNAMESE

16 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 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. CORSO STEAKHOUSE / INTERNATIONAL

117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 5368 Although a hotel restaurant, the enticing range of US and Australian steaks plus great grill and comfort food menu in this contemporary eatery make for a quality bite. Decent-sized steaks start at VND390,000. ELBOW ROOM AMERICAN

52 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 4327 The comfort food on offer at this striking US-style diner ranges from meatball baguettes to chilli burgers, pizzas, blackened chicken salads and a selection of more expensive international mains. Situated on level 51 of the most iconic building in town, Eon51 Fine Dining offers a unique fine dining experience accompanied by unparalleled 3600 picturesque views of Saigon. The sky-high restaurant proffers the taste of Europe in Asia, orchestrated from the finest local foods and top-quality imported ingredients. GANESH PAN-INDIAN

74 A2 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 38229366 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. HOA TUC CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE

The Square, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1676 Highly rated restaurant with stunning outdoor terrace. Specialities include pink pomelo squid and crab salad, mustard leaf prawn rolls, fishcake wraps and barbecue chicken in ginger, onions and a lime leaf marinade.





74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2090; Unit CR1-12, The Crescent, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 6909 A themed eatery mixing an Argentinian steakhouse theme with pork, chicken, lamb, homemade spicy sausage, skewers, burger dishes and everything that can come off a grill. Slick service, a good wine menu, and caramel vodka teasers at the end of the meal. Probably serves up the best steak in town.

7 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1101; The Crescent, 103 Ton Dat Tien, Q7, Tel: (08) 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.

EON51 Fine Dining



Level 51, Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8750

HOG’S BREATH CAFÉ Ground Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 6066 | December 2016 Word | 187

Top Eats


tacked above Maison Marou Chocolate, Café-Restaurant occupies a sought-after location in a French colonial building on Calmette. With a spectacular view over Ben Thanh Market and the northwestern part of District 1, the building has been carefully restored and preserved. It’s a combination of old architecture and contemporary décor, with traditional tiles interleaved with a modern resin floor, oak furniture with blue cushions, large windows and classic hanging lamps. There is also an open kitchen set up next to a long marble dining counter, a lounge area, an inviting L-shaped bar, and a spacious

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terrace upstairs. While the second floor works as a café-cum-restaurant, the terrace functions as a night-time hangout with a large selection of cocktails and local craft beers including Platinum and Pasteur Street.

A Package of Everything At Café-Restaurant, you can either start the new day with a hot cup of espresso while enjoying a healthy breakfast, or have a sip of tea with a Dutch syrup waffle while catching the last rays of the evening sun. Thanks to the spacious area, Café-Restaurant has become a favourite place for networking events and meetings, served with authentic northern European cuisine and drinks.

“We had a wedding here with more than 100 people a few months ago,” says Martijn Vermaire, one of the owners. “But if you prefer a romantic night for two, we can do that too.” According to Martijn, the restaurant also organises special events, from Latin dance and DJ nights to oyster tasting and a grand Sunday roast. “Our aim is to give people a cozy space where they can have everything, from food and drinks to entertainment.”

A Healthy Cuisine At Café-Restaurant, the food emphasises the healthy side of European cuisine. Under the skilful direction of chef Steven Long,



a finalist of Top Chef Vietnam 2014, the dishes come out fresh, flavourful and wellseasoned, in eye-catching arrangements. “European cuisine has a lot of healthy dishes with vegetables and sandwiches,” says Steven. “The point is we have to pick the best ones out of them.” The first dish we try is a pumpkin salad (VND190,000), a mix of goat cheese, pumpkin, lentil, mushrooms and hazelnut. It’s a big portion and packs a combination of freshness and crunchiness from the lentil and hazelnuts. Our second dish is bocconcini with pici pasta (VND160,000 for a small plate). The pasta is hand-made, creating an interesting

texture when it comes together with the roasted capsicum and cherry tomatoes. By the time I am having a sip of a refreshing lychee cooler (VND80,000), our roasted pulled pork sandwich with English cheddar, red cabbage and fried onions (VND280,000) arrives. This combo is an ideal size for sharing as it comes with a small portion of French fries and two options of dipping sauce. The final dish is the irresistible Australian lamb chops with hasselback carrot (VND480,000). The lamb is tender, juicy and rare in the centre. The hasselback carrot gives a visual effect, upgrading the dish. If wine is your favourite tipple, there’s a wide selection ranging from VND980,000 to

VND4.2 million a bottle. Beer and cider are available starting from VND60,000. Don’t miss out on the cocktail menu, (starting from VND80,000) and a wicked experience with a list called Calmette’s Experiments (from VND180,000). And if you want to bring your meal to the next level, cigars (from VND440,000) are also available. “The idea is for Café-Restaurant to be accessible to everyone in town,” says general manager Sanders Smits. “We offer quality food and service without making everyone broke after the meal.” — Vu Ha Kim Vy Café-Restaurant is at Floor 2, 171 Calmette, Q1, HCMC. Visit for their weekly events and promotions | December 2016 Word | 189

Top Eats


f you’re looking for tradition with your dim sum, don’t bother going to Phat’s Dumpling House in District 2 because that’s not what it serves. Instead, Phat’s serves a modern interpretation of dim sum that works. For example, the menu features a crispy duck leg wonton with Thai red curry (VND60,000). In all, there are three small parcel-shaped pieces in one serving, deepfried with curry drizzled about the edges and beneath, then garnished with shredded red cabbage. For anyone watching their waistline, the sight of the wontons is cause for gentle alarm. But when you bite into them, there’s a puff of steam followed by relief, because they happen to be light

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but packed with flavour. And the hint of coconut in a wonton isn’t something you taste every day.

Consuming Passion This is the effect that wanderlust and a love of food can have on a chef. Chris Donnellan, chef and co-owner of Phat’s, has had an affinity with Southeast Asia for some time. He has travelled extensively round the region, a few years ago winding up in Vietnam. But it wasn’t until his early 20s (Chris is now 33) and newly installed as head chef at acclaimed Melbourne restaurant Gingerboy, that he began to look at Asian food in a different way. “I’ve always had a love for food,” says

Chris. “But my passion for Asian food comes from Gingerboy. I’ve carried that on at Phat’s. It’s about getting the perfect balance of flavours, but having fun at the same time.” The simplicity behind Phat’s menu is probably the closest it comes to traditional dim sum that’s available across Ho Chi Minh City. Small dishes, one to three pieces, one or two gulps each. That’s where the similarities end. Take the roasted pork bao with slaw (VND60,000). It’s roasted pork belly, coleslaw and spiced hoisin sauce in a delicate fluffy-white bun. Barely palmsize, it’s a pleasure to sink your teeth into. The pork bao is tangy and sends all sorts of flavours whizzing around your tongue.

Phat’s Dumpling House


But be warned. Their size is a trap and may have you over-ordering.

Rising Sun Phat’s suggests punctuating stuffing yourself with any one of their beverages, of which there are plenty, both with and without alcohol. Two years as a chef at Michelinstar holder, Nobu Parklane in London, has left a mark on Chris, as Phat’s has a chrysanthemum tea for VND35,000 or, if you want to hit the top end of the scale, you can have a 120ml glass of Gekkeikan chilled sake for VND160,000. While the winter melon and cucumber juice (VND50,000) is refreshing, Phat’s cocktails (VND100,000) better complement the flavours already buzzing around in your

mouth and are recommended instead. Phat’s punch with dark rum, passionfruit, lime, ginger, mint and honey does as its name suggests. But so does the sakerinha (sake, lychee, kaffir lime) and the Blushing Dragon (gin, red dragon fruit, watermelon, kumquat). Phat’s Hot Toddy (whisky, lemon, honey, spices) rounds out the cocktail list. The Japanese inspiration doesn’t end there. The scallop and edamame steamed dumplings with ginger and soy (VND70,000) along with the roasted eggplant, white miso and sesame (VND35,000) are a pleasant segue before into a more Vietnameseinfluenced soft-shell crab bao (VND90,000) with apple slaw and wasabi mayo. The pork and prawn-steamed dumplings with Sichuan chilli soy

(VND55,000) encouraged another long sip of a cocktail, but the award for ingenuity goes to the bo kho pan-fried dumplings (VND65,000). They’re a clever take on a quintessential Vietnamese breakfast dish. The braised Australian beef, carrot and spiced bo kho sauce is reduced then wrapped and lightly fried. Phat’s is lively, but small. Still, it can seat up to 22 people and it’s a funky place to dine, especially with its Asian cinemainspired decor. And the best thing about it, is that there are plans to roll out more Phat’s across the city in the New Year. — Matt Cowan Phat’s Dumpling House is open every day from 11am to 11pm and is located at 111 Xuan Thuy, Q2, HCMC | December 2016 Word | 191

HCMC On The Town Mixing hearty pub grub such as burgers, salads and prime rib steaks with a sports bar atmosphere, this Australian chain also offers regular promotions and a 4pm to 7pm happy hour. Excellent outdoor terrace. INAHO SUSHI / SASHIMI

4 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 0326 A sushi bar needs a good chef, and the chef-owner of Inaho is one of the best. Sit downstairs at the low-key bar or upstairs in the private VIP rooms. Either way, this is one of the best sushi and sashimi joints in town. JASPA’S WINE & GRILL INTERNATIONAL FUSION

The Square, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 0931 Although a chain restaurant, the international offerings here are consistently good and creative. Excellent service, an attractive outdoor terrace area, and a good kids menu. Check out their pepper steaks. KABIN CANTONESE

Renaissance Riverside Hotel, 8–15 Ton Duc Thang. Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0033 Offers authentic, gourmet Cantonese cuisine in an elegant, classic setting, with striking décor and the bonus of views over the Saigon River. Dishes range from VND80,000 to VND900,000. KOH THAI CONTEMPORARY THAI FUSION

Level 1, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4423 Modern Thai fusion restaurant serving Thai classics alongside tom yam cappuccinos and more. Koh Thai’s creative cocktails merge Thai flavours with local seasonal fruits and herbs. KOTO Training Restaurant CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE

3rd Floor Rooftop, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1. Tel: (08) 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! L’OLIVIER FRENCH/MEDITERRANEAN

Sofitel Saigon Plaza, 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555 Exuding a southern Gallic atmosphere with its tiled veranda, pastel-coloured

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walls and ficus trees, this traditional French restaurant has quarterly Michelin star promotions and an award winning pastry team. LA CUISINE FRENCH / MEDITERRANEAN

48 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 2229 8882 This intimate, open-kitchened restaurant bathed in white specialises in a mix of contemporary Mediterranean and French cuisine. Has a small but well thought out menu, backed up with an extensive wine list. Le Corto CONTEMPORARY FRENCH

5D Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 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: (08) 3825 8465 Unpretentious but tasty French fare in a relaxed garden setting within the French cultural centre. The robust, bistro-style cuisine is very well-priced, and excellent, cheap house wine is served by the carafe.

great cuisines of Europe, The Mediterranean and The Orient, this contemporary, Australian-run restaurant bathed in white focuses on wholesome, fresh ingredients, with breads, cheeses, pickles, pastas and preserves made on site daily from scratch. A well-conceived wine list supplements the excellent fare. Has petanque on the terrace. LUONG SON PAN-VIETNAMESE

31 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 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. MAD House CONTEMPORARY CAFE, BAR, RESTAURANT

6/1/2 Nguyen U Di, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4009 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. MARKET 39 INTERNATIONAL BUFFET


45 Le Anh Xuan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8371 Friendly, authentic fivestorey Singaporean eatery, plating up the likes of nasi lemak, mee rebus, and awesome chicken curry, as well as specialities like frog porridge, chilli crab and fish head curry. Loveat MEDITERRANEAN

29 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6260 2727 Located bang opposite the Bitexco Tower, Loveat serves up three floors’ worth of Mediterranean cuisine mixed in with continental favourites like moules frites. A great place for dinner, cocktails and wines in a contemporary Saigon atmosphere. LU BU CONTEMPORARY MEDITERRANEAN

97B Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 6281 8371 Drawing inspiration from the

Ground Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, Crn. of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 9999 May Restaurant INTERNATIONAL COMFORT FOOD

19 – 21 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 3686 may.restaurant19@gmail. com Casual yet stylish, May places international-style wining and dining in the heart of historic Saigon. Subtle lighting, comfortable seating, an extensive wine and cocktail list, and beautifully crafted comfort food from Europe, the Antipodes and Asia all make up the mix at this multi-floored restaurant and bar. Check out their set lunches and happy hour. MEKONG MERCHANT INTERNATIONAL CAFE FARE / SEAFOOD

23 Thao Dien, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6478 The rustic looking, bananaleaf roofed Mekong Merchant has long been the place in

An Phu. Set around a cobblestoned courtyard the cuisine includes gourmet seafood and pastas. Bakery-style Bistro out front. MONSOON PAN-SOUTHEAST ASIAN

1 Cao Ba Nha, Q1, Tel: (08) 6290 8899 Traditional pan-Southeast Asian favourites served in a visually arresting setting within a French colonial-era villa, just minutes from the backpacker area. Reasonably priced, with healthy juices and smoothies. NAM GIAO HUE CUISINE

136/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 38 250261; 116 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 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. NINETEEN INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN

Ground floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999 One of the top three buffet restaurants in town. Although the selection is small, the meats, fishes and seafoods are all fresh, and everything you eat here is quality. OSAKA RAMEN JAPANESE NOODLES

18 Thai Van Lung, Q1; SD04, Lo H29-2, KP My Phat, Phu My Hung, Q7 If you fancy dosing out on ramen and soba noodles, then Osaka Ramen is noodle soup heaven. A typically Japanese aircon environment mixes bar-style seating with booths and private dining. Open late. PENDOLASCO PAN-ITALIAN

87 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 8181; 36 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel: (08) 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. Pitchers Sports and Grill SPORTS BAR & GRILL RESTAURANT

C0.01 Riverside Residence C,

Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7, Tel: (08) 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. PIZZA 4P’S EUROPEAN/ASIAN FUSION

8/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9838 This quirky but highly rated Italian / Japanese fusion pizza parlour serves wacky yet delicious pies such as tuna curry pizza and calamari seaweed pizza, as well as more traditional varieties. Pop Fries CALIFORNIAN-STYLE FRIES

14M Quoc Huong, Q2, Tel: 0938 754251; 273 Phan Xich Long, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 0938 754851 A street food eatery concept that originates from Los Angeles and New York, and born from a passion for sharing, here it’s all about the loaded fries. The potatoes are twice-cooked and come piled high with a range of inventive toppings. Funky décor and long benches make up the mix. Propaganda CLASSIC VIETNAMESE / BISTRO

21 Han Thuyen, Q1 Part of the group that includes Au Parc and Refinery, Propaganda serves up classic Vietnamese cuisine in an atmosphere of barebrick walls interposed with Propaganda Art murals and prints. QUAN BUI TRADITIONAL VIETNAMESE

8 Nguyen Van Nguyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3602 2241; 17A Ngo Van Nam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 1515 Make sure to try the sautéed shrimps with cashew nuts and crispy fried tofu with lime wedge, at this popular, high-quality, chicly designed eatery where all food is served in traditional crockery. One of the best Vietnamese restaurants in town. Quan Ut Ut US-STYLE BARBECUE

168 Vo Van Kiet, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 4500 It’s a no-brainer, right? American-style barbecue in a contemporary Vietnamese, quan nhau-style setting. Of course it is, which is why Quan Ut Ut is constantly packed with grill-obsessed diners going for the burgers, meats off

the barbecue and Platinum pale ale served on tap.

Racha Room CONTEMPORARY THAI RESTOBAR 12-14 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel (08) 6253 7711 The 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.



Level 1, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2828 If you like your buffet selections to be big, then here it is gargantuan, with every type of option under the sun. A great place to catch up on your seafood addiction or to pig out over a Sunday brunch. San Fu Lou CANTONESE KITCHEN

Ground Floor, AB Building, 76A Le Lai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 9513 Open until 3am, this popular, contemporary Cantonese dining hall mixes contemporary with traditional, in a space that takes Chinese dining in Saigon to a new level. And if you like your dim sum, look no further.


The Square, 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 0509 A slightly retro feel pervades this popular French-style bistro and wine bar which once housed the city’s opium refinery. The cuisine runs from creative salads through to Mediterranean influenced mains.


33 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4297 The longest running Korean restaurant in town, with all the Koreans moving out to the hinterland, the clientele here are mainly Vietnamese. Fortunately the food preparation remains traditional. An excellent place for group dining.

Stoker CONTEMPORARY STEAKHOUSE 44 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel (08) 3826 8691 One 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.


Level 24, AB Tower, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: 0938 687689 Set over two floors, this astonishing, no-expensespared Japanese restaurant 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. TAMAGO


Relish & Sons GOURMET BURGER BAR 44 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: 01207 214294; 105-107 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: 0909 004294 Relish & 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 inhouse from scratch.


Renaissance Riverside, 8–15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0033 Offers versatile all–day dining of international quality, with the bonus of being able to watch the action on the river sidewalk. Features western, Asian and Vietnamese buffets.

Norfolk Mansion, 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 2221 Featuring over 200 dishes and 50 kinds of dim sum prepared by chefs from Hong Kong, Shang Palace has nine private dining rooms and a main dining area seating over 300. Good for events.


39 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 4634 Located on the main drag in Thao Dien, Tamago has indoor and out door seating, a terrace and private rooms. They have a ladies’ night on Tuesdays as well as a Teppanyaki themed night on Saturday evenings. Have a second restaurant in Mui Ne. TEMPLE CLUB PAN-VIETNAMESE


9A Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 4798 Simple, unpretentious Greekinfluenced, international cuisine ranging from the zucchini carpaccio through to the saganiki, a range of dips, mousaka, osso buco and lamb chop skewers. Also has an excellent upstairs cigar room.

29-31 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9244 Once a hotel for Indian dignitaries visiting old Saigon, the elegant and atmospheric Temple Club is one of the city’s best-preserved buildings. Serving quality Vietnamese and Indochine cuisine at reasonable prices. THE DECK MODERN ASIAN FUSION


23rd Floor, Centec Tower, 72–74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3, Tel: (08) 3827 9631 A breezy terrace, indoor bar and separate dining room with sweeping views over central Saigon make up this enormous, comfortable space. A well-thought out and romantic venue, with excellent food.

38 Nguyen U Di, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6632 Set on the banks of Saigon River across from Thanh Da Island, this innovative restaurant serves up modern Asian fusion cuisine in a Bali-style atmosphere, complemented by great cocktails and a long wine list. | December 2016 Word | 193

A World


What Are We Fighting For?


hat a month it’s been. I was wrong; the polls were wrong; the pundits were wrong. There has been a maelstrom of emotion surrounding the recent US election, as you are no doubt aware. The connection to the development sector is very clear. How might we claim to be anti-oppression, anti-poverty and champions for social justice when the world’s most powerful nation (and one of the biggest aid providers) has voted in a man who many have called a bullying racist who brags about being a sexual predator? So needless to say, I was pretty bummed out by the election because the work I do — and millions of people like me around the world — causes us to ask: “What were we fighting for?” What is the point of educating girls or digging water wells or training new arrivals to our cities? These are development issues just as prevalent in the United States as they are in Vietnam. As the biggest supplier of foreign aid in the world, the US (US$23 billion in 2012) donates almost twice as much as the next largest donor, the UK. This figure does not include financial programmes from entities such as World Bank or the International Monetary Fund. Last year the US sent Vietnam US$89 million in development assistance for things like disaster resilience, disability

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programming and disease control. This is a significant amount of money.

Setbacks This victory for the right wing feels like a huge setback for progress and gives rise to real concerns about future aid and assistance flows. So while I am genuinely concerned and still have to shake off feeling dazed by events, I’ll leave it up to others to determine whether the election results are “business as usual” (for the wealthy elites) or an “antiestablishment backlash” (presumably for the rest of us). But I believe it is indeed time to get down to business — the continuation of our work to support and champion the marginalised and vulnerable. We’ve had setbacks before (missing key targets in the Millennium Development Goals springs to mind, or failures in the green revolution and in eradicating tuberculosis). But nothing should be allowed to reverse decades of progress for the poor around the world. We must continue our business to defend one another. While referring to egregious corporate practice, American criminal justice expert Christopher Stone notes that: “Nothing in society is a continuing problem because of itself, per se; something becomes and remains a problem because of shortcomings in the institutional arrangements we rely on to deal with it”. Stone’s observation just as readily applies to elections or development.


By Dana McNairn

As this is the time of year when some take holidays and exchange gifts, there are many ways to stay hopeful and committed. Start or keep volunteering. Your brain and your community need your activism. What can you do and advocate for that delivers human, economic, social and cultural impact? Support immigrants (we’re all from somewhere else!), stand up to rape culture, and work for climate change. As more people become more engaged and active we increase not only networks, but friendships and empathy. Instead of gift-giving, why not donate to groups and organisations working to protect the vulnerable? Cash is always gratefully received and allows the non-profits the ability to direct it where the need is greatest. A friend mentioned to me that powerful advocacy can be delivered by donating to or subscribing to the media sites that champion progressive and objective news. Quality journalism costs money; online rumour-mongering is free. I believe in and will continue to support ideas and action that are essential to creating the reality that includes all humans. Here’s to you and your holiday spirit; however you may celebrate or act on it. Peace. Dana McNairn is the CEO of KOTO, an award-winning nonprofit social enterprise and vocational training programme for at-risk youth

On The Town

Photo by kyle phanroy



The Society GRILL AND LOUNGE BAR 99 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 3999 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.


9 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 2538 One of the city’s oldest eateries (established in 1925) does some of the cheapest and tastiest vegan cuisine in town, all cooked up without onions, garlic or MSG.

164 Cong Quynh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 3248 The service is often slow, and the staff are often surprisingly lazy, yet the food here is so good and so unique to this city, that no-one seems to mind. The perfect place to feast out on gyros and all things off a skewer. Cheap, too. ZOOM CAFÉ AMERICAN / TEX-MEX

169A Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 3897 vietnamvespaadventures. com/cafe_zoom This corner-located Vespainfatuated venue is a café and restaurant by day and a sidewalk drinking joint by night. Friendly staff and American deli-style and Cajun fare makes it a regular expat haunt.

Khai, Q3; 157 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 3917

Mi Quang My Son

Pho Phu Gia



Bun Cha Ha Noi

Nam Giao



26/1A Le Thanh Ton, Q1

M M M Street Food

38 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1

189 Bis Bui Vien, Q1

Chi Thong

Pho Dau



195 Co Giang, Q1

288/M1 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3

Com Ga Xoi Mo Su Su




Ba Ghien COM TAM

84 Dang Van Ngu, Phu Nhuan

55 Tu Xuong, Q3

260C Pasteur, Q3

Com Tam 40A

Pho Le

Ba Nam Vesper Gourmet Lounge INTERNATIONAL

Landmark Building, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9698 Headed up by well-known chef Andy Ertle, Vesper is a sophisticated yet down-toearth 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.


Alleyway to the left of 162 Tran Nhan Tong, Q10


40A Quoc Huong, Q2


413-415 Nguyen Trai, Q5

146E Ly Chinh Thang, Q3 Pho Phu Vuong PHO BO

339 Le Van Sy, Tan Binh Sushi Ko STREET SUSHI

122/37/15 Vinh Khanh, Q4 The Lunch Lady DAILY CHANGING DISHES

23 Hoang Sa, Q1


67 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 7751


70 Vo Van Tan, Q3

Banh Cuon Hai Nam BANH CUON

11A Cao Thang, Q3 Banh Khot Co Ba Vung Tau BANH KHOT

Wrap & Roll 62 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2166; 111 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 8971; 226 De Tham, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 5097 The lime green walls and bright pastel colours of Wrap ‘n Roll are just part of the theme of this homegrown, Vietnamese brand which is all about spring rolls of all types, and healthy, Hueinfluenced cuisine.

102 Cao Thang, Q3 Banh Mi Hong Hoa VIETNAMESE BANH MI

62 Nguyen Van Trang, Q1 Banh Mi Huynh Hoa ‘LESBIAN’ BANH MI

26 Le Thi Rieng, Q1 Banh Mi Sau Minh VIETNAMESE BANH MI


1st Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, crn.of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3520 9999 Skillful chefs prepare authentic hand-pulled noodles, fresh dim sum and hot wok dishes within an impeccably designed open kitchen, as diners look on. Stylish and spectacular.

Banh Mi Thanh Mai Hoang VIETNAMESE BANH MI

107 Truong Dinh, Q3 Banh Tam Bi To Chau BANH TAM


200 Bis Nguyen Thi Minh | December 2016 Word | 195

BridalWEAR 3 Thang 2 C1

Paintings Tran Phu D1 Bui Vien D3

Cameras Ton That Thiep C4


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District 11 2km

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University of Natural Sciences



StationEry Nguyen Dinh Chieu B3




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Binh Tay Market 3km






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Tho ng

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196 | Word December 2016 |


Than h


h Ma H uyn

Guitars Nguyen Thien Thuat D1, D2

Ng u yen


Flowers Le Thanh Ton C4

Minh Quye n



Fabrics Hai Ba Trung A3




Everything Ben Thanh Market C4

nh Van


Lan Anh Sports & Leisure Club


Shoes Nguyen Dinh Chieu C1, C2 Luu Van Lang C4





Cooking Ingredients Ham Nghi C4, C5

H uy

Saigon Train Station

Minh Quye n

Tan Binh 0.5km


Seafood Vinh Khanh D4, D5



Truo ng


Computers Ton That Tung C2, C3


Ba H

han To

Safes Vo Van Tan C3


Ky D

B Tran


Tran Van Dang

Plaques Nam Quoc Cang C2, D2

Car Components Tran Quang Khai A3 Ky Con C4, D4




Motorbikes Ly Tu Trong C3



Le V an S y


Bike Maintenance Nguyen Du C3

Huynh Van Banh


Luggage Le Lai C3, C4




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anh Th

Japanese Restaurants Le Thanh Ton B4, B5



Antiques Le Cong Kieu C4

in Ch

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D en

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Phan Dinh Phung Phan Ke Binh Phan Van Han Pho Duc Chinh Phung Khac Khoan Suong Nguyet Anh Tan Vinh Thach Thi Thanh Thai Van Lung Thi Sach Thu Khoa Huan Ton Dan Ton Duc Thang Ton That Dam Ton That Thiep Ton That Tung Tran Binh Trong Tran Canh Chan Tran Cao Van Tran Dinh Xu Tran Hung Dao Tran Huy Lieu Tran Khac Chan Tran Khanh Du Tran Minh Quyen Tran Nhan Tong Tran Nhat Duat Tran Phu Tran Quang Khai Tran Quoc Thao Tran Quoc Toan Tran Van Dang Truong Dinh Truong Quyen Truong Sa Tu Xuong Vinh Hoi Vinh Khanh Vo Thi Sau Vo Van Tan Vuon Chuoi Xo Viet Nghe Tinh Xom Chieu Yersin

Tran N

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Ngo Van Nam B5 Nguyen Bieu E2 Nguyen Binh Khiem A4, B5 Nguyen Cong Tru C4, C5, D4 Nguyen Cu Trinh D2, D3 Nguyen Dinh Chieu A4, B4, C2, C3, D1 Nguyen Dinh Chinh A1 Nguyen Du B4, C3 Nguyen Gia Thieu B3 Nguyen Hue C4, C5 Nguyen Huu Canh B5 Nguyen Huu Cau A3 Nguyen Huy Tu A4 Nguyen Khac Nhu D3 Nguyen Khoai E3 Nguyen Ngoc Phuong A5 Nguyen Phi Khanh A3 Nguyen Sieu B5, C4, C5 Nguyen Son Ha C2 Nguyen Tat Thanh D5 Nguyen Thai Binh C4, D4 Nguyen Thai Hoc C3, D3 Nguyen Thi Dieu C2, C3 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai A5, B3, B4, C2, C3, D2 Nguyen Thien Thuat C1 Nguyen Thong B1, B2 Nguyen Thuong Hien C2 Nguyen Trai C3, D2, E1 Nguyen Trung Truc C4 Nguyen Truong To D5 Nguyen Van Cu D2, E2 Nguyen Van Lac A5 Nguyen Van Mai A2 Nguyen Van Nguyen A2 Nguyen Van Thu A4, B3, B4 Nguyen Van Troi A1 Pasteur B3, B4 Pasteur C4 Pham Hong Thai C3 Pham Ngoc Thach B3 Pham Ngu Lao C3, D3 Pham Viet Chanh D2



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VinaExpress - The Hydrofoil Service

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Saigon Bridge & Highway 1 3km


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Opera House

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Ton Duc Thang Museum

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Saigon Bus Station

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Central Post Office


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Thai Binh Market Con gQ uyn h

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Zoo & Botanical Gardens UY EN BIN HK HIE M





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Re-unification Palace

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HTV Television



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Labour Culture Chu HCMC Palace a Conservatory of Music


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Saigon South 4km | December 2016 Word | 197

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Gia Dinh Hospital 1.5km

The Final Say the final say

When in Rome, do as the Romans do? Maybe. But if you do on the roads in Vietnam as the Vietnamese do, then watch out. Words by Edward Dalton


$5 Helmets


t wouldn’t make for uplifting reading, but we could accurately publish an article in every issue with the headline: “Nearly 700 people killed on Vietnam’s roads this month.” That’s according to the General Statistics Office, which reported the deaths of 5,728 people in the first eight months of 2016. The World Health Organisation estimates that road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for Vietnamese citizens aged 15 to 29. In the face of such statistics and obvious danger, it boggles the mind how people continue to put so little value on life. Young guys swerving around, standing up or wearing nothing on their heads except embarrassing amounts of hair gel. “Look at how manly and cool we are,” says the cartoon bubble over their heads. “This is definitely the best way to impress girls!”

The First Pillar of Shame:


The Second Pillar of Shame:

Personal Safety

Not Cool The girls they’re trying to impress are no better. New hairstyles or drying hair often swamp the need to wear a helmet. Those who do obey helmet laws often opt for a plastic baseball cap with a hole in the back. This hole is for the remnants of their scrambled brain to leak out of after a crash. Or for their ponytails, I’m not sure. These girls might be thinking how cute they look, while I am thinking: “Why aren’t they more embarrassed to advertise their stupidity so publicly?” Here lies the problem. The national psyche needs a major shift. Such behaviours are not cool, cute, manly or no big deal. They are stupid and dangerous. I therefore present the Four Pillars of Shame. While not a comprehensive list of all the ways people endanger themselves and others on the roads, they are some of the most common examples. Locals and foreigners alike are guilty of many of the sins listed. If you have committed any of the sins listed even once, it counts. Add up your score and then check the analysis. My own score is 85. I’ve laughed about jumping a red light because of being hungry, and I’ve gone well over the speed limit when there are fewer people around. Pathetic reasons and utterly inexcusable. I am ashamed of myself. Please join me in evaluating your own shame, and decide; is the risk really worth it?

198 | Word December 2016 |

10 Driven without a helmet 10 Used a bendy baseball cap

10 Stood up or swerved needlessly to show off


10 Overtaken someone on the inside

10 Helmet has a hole in back for

10 Sent a text message while driving

long hair

10 Helmet costs less than VND1 million

10 Wore a helmet without the straps fastened

5 Helmet says “Hello Kitty” on it 5 Used a dropped or old helmet

5 Used his and hers helmets (points for cringe)

5 Used the excuses “it’s not far” or “drying my hair”

10 Made or taken a call while driving 10 Driven under the influence of alcohol or drugs

10 Exceeded the speed limit 5 Driven on the pavement to avoid queues

5 Driven with earphones listening to music

5 Don’t wear a good quality filtering mask

for $5 Heads Shame Analysis The Third Pillar of Shame:

Lights and Sounds

The Fourth Pillar of Shame:

Carrying Loads

0 to 59 You’re practically a saint. Everyone makes a mistake sometimes, but yours are rare and scented with cinnamon and vanilla. You’re a shining beacon of hope we can all look up to.

10 Waited in the wrong lane for your turning direction

10 Carried anything bigger than a large rucksack

60 to 149

10 Jumped a red light

10 Carried a bicycle/electric bike/ another motorbike

You should be blushing with shame. Your lack of basic driving skills and road etiquette are troubling, but it’s not too late to change.

10 Knowingly driven with faulty lights 10 Driven with full beams or headlamp up constantly 5 Delayed traffic at green light due to being on phone, chatting 5 Parked on street at a traffic light 5 Blocked right turn green light while at a red light 5 Used horn excessively

10 Carried a shop/café 10 Carried a fishing rod/spear/ similar-shaped object 10 Carried more than three passengers

5 Hung carrier bags from handle bars

5 Carried more than one passenger 5 Carried animals (dead or alive)

150 to 269 You are a daily menace to yourself and those around you. You’re an accident waiting to happen. Your shame is the result of a complete lack of common sense and self-preservation.

270+ You’re dead already. Everyone has moved on, and the huge fatal accident you caused sparked a road safety revolution. An eternity of reading War & Peace in the afterlife is your punishment. | December 2016 Word | 199

The Final Say


With her latest novel Saigon Dark published in November, we speak to Hoi An-based novelist, Elka Ray. When did you first come to Vietnam? What brought you here? After high school I spent six months backpacking around Southeast Asia and loved it so much that, along with journalism, I studied Asian Studies back home in Canada. I moved to Vietnam on New Year’s Eve 1994 “for one year”.

What were you doing in Vietnam prior to writing creative fiction? Writing, editing and communications work.

When did you move to Hoi An? Why Hoi An? My family moved to Hoi An the summer

before last. We wanted to live near the beach. After nine years in Hanoi and 11 in Ho Chi Minh City, we craved cleaner air, more natural surroundings and a place where our kids could run around.

Hanoi Jane was your first novel — published in 2011. What were you trying to depict in the novel? How successful has it been? Hanoi Jane is a light, funny romantic mystery about a young American reporter, Jane, who becomes obsessed with her ex-fiancée’s new girlfriend, who seems too perfect to be true. What starts as a bid to recapture the past takes Jane on a wild adventure. I wrote the book when my kids were tiny. I was exhausted and needed distraction. While the story is 100 percent fiction, it was inspired by my years of being young and single in Hanoi. Hanoi Jane was originally released in Singapore and the UK, then republished in the US. A Vietnamese-language edition came out a few years back. I was really happy to get some local readers.

Many people associate Hanoi Jane with the actress and activist Jane Fonda and her 1972 visit to Hanoi. How have you dealt with the Jane Fonda connection? The book’s cover makes it obvious that it’s light entertainment, not biography.

Your recent book of short stories, What You Don’t Know, focuses on the crime genre. What interests you so much about this genre? I’ve always been fascinated by what motivates people, especially when their actions seem illogical. The tag line of What You Don’t Know is “Tales of obsession, murder and mystery set in Southeast Asia”. The 10 stories in the collection feature characters motivated by dark emotions like jealousy, greed, lust, fear and revenge. It came out last summer and is getting good reviews on Amazon.

The protagonist in your latest novel, Saigon Dark, is American-Vietnamese. What problems did you encounter trying to understand the mind and outlook of a Viet Kieu living in Vietnam? This book came out from Crimewave Press in mid-November. The story follows Lily Vo, a Vietnamese-American pediatrician, recently divorced and living in Ho Chi Minh City. When tragedy strikes, Lily is very isolated and makes a choice that requires her to keep a dark secret. I made Lily Viet Kieu to emphasize her isolation — she’s always on edge, feeling like she should understand things she doesn’t. I have a lot of Viet Kieu friends and a Viet Kieu husband. But good fictional characters are like people — you can generalise to a point but they’re all different, with their own strengths, flaws and problems. Lily’s my favorite character so far — a strong and in many ways admirable woman trying to cover up a major crime.

Because of the Vietnam focus, your work has a natural audience of people who either live or have lived in Vietnam, and people who’ve got some other connection to the country. What makes Vietnam and How difficult is it to Southeast Asia such a good attract readers who don’t have the same setting for your work? A story requires conflict — good versus bad, connection? I’d guess that many of my readers have some connection to Asia, or at least like to travel. For Hanoi Jane, most readers are women. But I’ve also gotten emails from guys saying they found it hilarious. I read fiction set in places I’ve never been and suspect others do to.

right against wrong — and there are more moral grey areas in developing countries.

If you were to discover photocopied versions of your work on sale in the tourist areas of Hanoi or Saigon, how would you react? As well as writing fiction for adults, I write and illustrate a line of kids’ books about Vietnam ( I’ve found rip-offs of my illustrations — modified with dodgy slogans in an ugly font. If you’re going to steal from me, don’t add insult to injury! To see more of Elka Ray, click on

Sách Chuyên Quảng Cáo - Not For Sale

Word Vietnam December 2016  

Everything you want to know about Vietnam and a little bit more. This month? The 3rd Annual Word Awards.