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This is the year that was

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Contents Dec.2017






10 / Stormy Weather

46 / A Perfect Match

Natural and manmade disasters are a growing concern

11 / The Big Five

This month in Vietnam

BRIEFINGS 14 / Rock Island Club

Vietnam gets a world class party venue… on an exclusive island

16 / Electric Ticket Gates Vietnam’s railways start to modernise

18 / The Sneaker Head

Sole searching with a sneaker collector

20 / Punch Job

Women's boxing is punching above its weight

2 | Word December 2017 |

The tryst developing between New World wine and Vietnamese cuisine

48 / Street Portrait

Thanh Nien is one of the most iconic streets in Hanoi

52 / This Is The Year That Was Ruptured cables, cancelled concerts, three tropical storms, Kong: Skull Island and the Saigon Water Bus. 2017 in rewind

72 / The Art of Life

Vietnam and the West. Vietnam ain't that cheap any more

88 / Kitchens in the Sky

So just how easy is it to serve food 30,000 feet above sea level?

94 / Street Snacker: Banh My Kebab

The mighty doner kebab, Vietnamese style via Germany

96 / Street Snacker: Mi Hoanh Thanh

Who needs pho when you’ve got mi hoanh thanh?

The world as seen through other people's eyes

78 / Hanoi Hitmen

Survivor meets the Terminator

82 / How Much Does it Cost? Comparing food prices between


Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for a Happy New Year!

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Contents Dec.2017




120 / Bar Stool

128 / Body & Temple

100 / Taipei and Beyond


130 / Medical Buff

22 / To Do List

140 / Know Your City

28 / Just In

141 / Terrence Taylor's Saigon Stories

For a real taste of Taiwan, make your way to the outskirts of Taipei

108 / Destination Zero

Full Moon Village in Mui Ne

HANOI 34 / To Do List 40 / Just In 110 / Hanoi City Guide 114 / Day Tripper 118 / Top Eats

4 | Word December 2017 |

124 / HCMC City Guide 136 / Top Eats


138 / Bar Stool

142 / Homecoming


Returning home with Vietnamese wife in tow

112 / The Therapist

144 / Ten 10

116/ Book Buff

The man behind the HCMC Marathon, the Color Me Run and more. Meet Bady Pham

Contributors T

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

his month we asked Word contributors what their favourite or most important moment was this year. The key moment for me was building up the courage to drive a motorbike. Getting behind the handlebars for the first time ever in Saigon traffic was a daunting thought, but I finally did it and was pleasantly surprised with how much I loved it! — Olga Rozenbajgier, Staff Photographer

EDITORIAL BAO ZOAN Staff Photographer

NICK ROSS Chief Editor

AIMEE DUONG Graphic Designer

BILLY GRAY Staff Writer (Hanoi)

OLGA ROZENBAJGIER Staff Photographer

MATTHEW COWAN Managing Editor

Sitting around a fire in the Sri Lankan jungle with my best friend, with no electricity, no internet and no mosquito repellent. Then walking out of the treeline and seeing the Milky Way in the sky for the first time, clear as day. Before that night I thought all those photos on Google were Photoshopped. — Billy Gray, Staff Writer My favourite moment was spending my birthday with my parents in Vietnam. We are quite a tight-knit family, so deciding to leave home for work was a shock for my parents. Touring them around Vietnam made them feel more at ease with my decision. — JB Jance, Contributor



CHAU GIANG Office Assistant

For advertising enquiries please call Ms Bao on +84 938 609689 I have so many favourite moments, but two things immediately spring to mind. One, when my cat arrived in Hanoi from Australia. And two, meeting my boyfriend crossing a road in Saigon. — Diane Lee, Contributor

Special thanks to TK Nguyen, David Dougan, CA Studios, Harry Hodge, Marta Solanas, Bady Pham, Allan Scott, Teigue John Blokpoel, Mary Warner, Neel Sharma, Diane Lee, Brian Yost, Emily Arntsen, JB Jance, Full Moon Village, Douglas Holwerda, Truong Hoang, Phil Kelly, FMP, Dr. Ruben Martinez, Archie Pizzini, Edward Dalton and David Legard

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A recent wedding on a beach in La Gi. It wasn’t your typical whambam affair. 200 people dressed in white, barefoot on the sand. It went well into the night, but I don’t remember much else. — Matt Cowan, Managing Editor


6 | Word December 2017 |

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The Prelude


things up (literally and figuratively) and then unwinding with family and friends over boozy lunches and lively dinners. For me, it’s also the time of year that I find myself asking, “What have I achieved this year?” Sometimes it’s easy to forget, especially when the lows seem to drag on and on, and the highs seem so fleeting. But when I look back over our online catalogue of issues that we published in 2017, I realise how much work we’ve done.

For me personally, it was a watershed year in terms of my career; I’ve taken on greater responsibility, worked hours I would’ve shied away from not so long ago, and learnt some new skills along the way. The more glamourous side of my job has allowed me to meet some amazing people and hear their stories, eat and drink at some of the best Vietnam has to offer, and visit some places I never knew existed. That’s why we’re chuffed with this

month’s cover story This Is The Year That Was because it’s forced us to take a look back at the year just gone before we launch into another one, and reflect on the good things and the not-so-good things that happened in Vietnam. It’s by no means exhaustive, but we hope it prompts you to take a break from whatever you’re doing at the moment and reflect on the year that you had before it disappears. — Matt Cowan, Managing Editor

This is the year that was




017 flew by. It seems like the Christmas and Tet greeting banners screaming Chuc Mung Nam Moi have only just been taken down (although some remain and will do so in perpetuity). It will only be a matter of time before they start reappearing again for the coming festive season. Now, many of us find ourselves busy preparing for the next lot of holidays and end of year parties. It’s a time for wrapping


THIS MONTH'S COVER Design by DH Advertising Photo by David Dougan / CA Studios Model: TK Nguyen

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

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

An Apology We would like to apologize to RMIT Vietnam for not verifying the content of an article published in the November 2017 issue of Word Vietnam. The article, entitled The Tight Rope (November 2017, page 10), referred to the recent death of a Vietnam-based expat, Ian Wills, who suffered from a bipolar disorder. The expat worked for RMIT Vietnam up until mid-2014. It was stated in the article that Ian was fired by the institution for an article he had published in Word in April of the same year. In the article, Ian ‘came clean’, so to speak, about his mental health issues. While the content of The Tight Rope was based on the first-hand testimony given by Ian Wills to both the writer and a number of other friends, we accept that we should have verified this claim directly with RMIT Vietnam.

8 | Word December 2017 |

As a result, we have removed the article from our website — We would also like to apologise to RMIT Vietnam for not making this verification. The Tight Rope was originally published both as a lament and a warning. As a lament for someone who had passed away, and as a warning for expats living in Vietnam. The lack of a government-sponsored safety net in this country for when things go wrong can potentially be dangerous. Despite having the support of his friends, in Ian’s case it was fatal. — Nick Ross, Chief Editor

Talk Lead

The Tight Rope Vietnam doesn’t have a safety net. Fall and you fall hard

The Commercialisation of Sapa (October 2017, page 18) I fully agree with the writer having visited Sapa in July 2017. The culture of littering is alarming. The authorities need to step in and curb the developments. A lot of the old time charm is in real danger of being milked and amused to death. — NV Sapa is a disaster zone. Five-year-old kids, with their six-month-old siblings strapped to their back, dressed up in H’mong clothing and peddling key chains. Aggressive street sellers. Dust from construction and the roar of jack hammers. It’s so sad to see and I am ashamed to have come here and contributed to this touristic mess. Sorry, Sapa. — RT Sapa is very very beautiful. I hope that I will go there once again. — NA


n April 2014 we ran an article titled Living with Depression (republished in this issue on page 142). It was written by British expat Ian Wills. In it he talked about his struggles with depression, with lucid dreaming and with alternate realities. Realising he had issues at a young age, Ian spent much of his youth “contemplating what it would be like to be somewhere other than the world I found myself inhabiting.” Only in his late 30s did he discover that this was called lucid dreaming, a state where it becomes

English teachers living and working in this country.

‘Til Death Do Us Part On Friday, Oct. 20 Ian Wills passed away. The day before, he was discovered on his kitchen floor unconscious and in a pool of blood. He had tried calling friends, murmuring the words ‘hospital’ and ‘FV’, but he was far from lucid. So, one friend took a taxi to his apartment to find out what was going on. Ian was rushed to Cho Ray where he was

asked. “Do you think he will survive?” The answer. “It’s up to him, it depends if he wants to live or not.” Ian struggled with living, overcoming the day-to-day pressures of life. And there lies the problem. In places like Vietnam, if you don’t have your family around you, when you fall, you fall hard. There is no safety net, no welfare state, nothing to support you except the people who love and care. Ian was lucky. His friends did take care of him. But the authorities, from back home and in Vietnam,

Talk Lead Stormy Weather Natural and manmade disasters are a growing concern


n 2006 a storm hit Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Binh Thuan Provinces in southwestern Vietnam. 47 people were killed and there was widespread structural damage to the region. It was the only major storm to hit Vietnam over a number of years. Yet, this autumn alone there were three devastating storms. It started with Typhoon Doksuri, the most powerful hurricane to hit the country in a decade. Fortunately, widespread evacuations in the Quang Binh and Ha Tinh areas of North Central Vietnam kept the fatalities to a minimum — there were only 11 deaths. Then the next storm hit: Typhoon Khanun. The storm made landfall in Southern China and was downgraded to a category 2 hurricane by the time it moved into northern Vietnam. However, with parts of the north already reeling from flooding that had killed 81 people, the arrival of heavy rain only made things worse. At the beginning of November, Typhoon Damrey battered coastal Nha Trang with winds of up to 135km per hour. It killed well over 60 people and caused widespread flooding — most notably further north in Hoi An. 2,000 homes collapsed and more than 80,000 were damaged. At present the relief efforts in the wake of Damrey are ongoing. Local charities and NGOs, together with the Vietnam Disaster Management Authority, the likes of UNICEF, and aid and humanitarian assistance from Russia are all playing a part. As is often the case, those most affected live in the rural areas of Vietnam. In this

10 | Word December 2017 |

instance, the provinces of Khanh Hoa and Phu Yen.

What’s Going On? The problem with these storms is not only that they have increased in frequency, but also that they add to the growing list of environmental problems, some natural, some manmade, that are affecting Vietnam. Perhaps the most serious and least documented is the health of the Mekong River. Flowing 4,630km through Southern China and Southeast Asia, the waterway is in deep crisis, caused in part by two large-scale hydroelectric dam projects in Laos; Don Sahong in the south and Xayaburi in the north. Large dams trap nutrient-rich sediment and deprive downstream areas of vital nutrients. According to a recent report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Mekong Delta in Vietnam is already suffering from huge sediment loss; the river is presently running at 50 percent less than the regular flow. Unrestricted sand-mining in Cambodia and Vietnam has been the initial cause of the delta’s acute sediment shortage. This is being heightened by the dams. All meaning that the delta, which relies for its landmass on the natural flow of sediment down the river, is starting to shrink. According to Marc Goichot, WWF’s lead coordinator for Water and Energy Security in the Greater Mekong, the Mekong Delta is crucial to the economic future of Vietnam. “It produces 50 percent of the country’s staple food crops and 90 percent of its rice exports,” he said in 2016. “It is one of the most

productive and densely populated areas of Vietnam, home to 18 million people. Vietnam cannot lose the Delta.”

It Doesn’t Stop There Another key issue is rising sea levels. Vietnam has over 3,000km of coastline and much of the country is either just above or at sea level. This, according to Mike Hoffman, a professor of entomology and executive director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture, presents a major environmental and food security challenge for the whole of Vietnam, and in particular the Mekong Delta. Then there are growing problems with air pollution in Vietnam’s major cities, particularly Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, which frequently have readings that are two to five times above the ‘safe’ threshold for air quality set by the World Health Organisation (WHO). And as recent incidents, one in Ha Tinh, and another in West Lake in Hanoi are beginning to show, pollutants and factory waste are now affecting the general health of the country’s waterways and seas. These are just a few of the environmental problems facing Vietnam. While the storms can’t be lessened, both in severity and frequency, and climate change can’t be reversed without the will of all the international community, the decline in the health of the Mekong, worsening air quality and pollution of the country’s seas and waterways can be prevented. But to do this requires an immense effort of will on the behalf of the authorities. Whether this exists is hard to tell. — Nick Ross

Big5 The

New Year's Eve, a DJ called Tiesto, a couple of marathons and the one and only Carl Cox

Tiesto 1

My Dinh Stadium, Hanoi Saturday, Dec. 9

Dutch idol DJ and master of world class DJs Hardwell and Martin Garrix, Tiesto will be headlining the Embee Music Connection event at My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi this month. General Admission tickets cost VND770,000 while a Combo 5 set of tickets will set you back VND2.75 million. For more info and ticketing, go to

Hanoi Half Marathon 2

Ciputra, Hanoi Sunday, Dec. 10

On Sunday, Dec. 10, Hanoi Red River Runners will once again organise one of Vietnam’s longest standing running events, the Hanoi Half Marathon. Starting and finishing inside the grounds of Ciputra, various events are scheduled — the main race of 21km, plus the shorter distances of 10km, 5km, 3km and an 800m kids race. The race will be jointly organised with Hong Kong-based sports management agency Sporting Republic, who are known for organising some of Asia’s most exciting events, such as the National Geographic Earth Day Run in Hong Kong and the HCMC Skyrun in Ho Chi Minh City. For info and late registration click on HanoiHalfMarathon

Five Years of Heart Beat 3

‘The Jungle’, HCMC Friday, Dec. 15

What started out five years ago as a party on the second floor of Red Bar has turned into a Saigon institution for techno and underground music lovers. To celebrate Heart Beat’s fifth birthday, they’ve organised a night in ‘The Jungle’ on the District 2 side of Phu My Bridge featuring Heiko Lau, Javier Marimon and Chris Wolter with visuals by Erol. The venue for the party, dubbed ‘The Jungle’ because it was originally in the jungle at the base of Phu My Bridge, is now part of The Observatory’s new concept called pOp-servatory since its District 4 location’s forced closure due to redevelopment. The pOp-servatory crew intend to keep bringing local and international DJs to the public, but instead of at one fixed location like in the past, they will ‘pop-up’ at various locations around the city. For more info on the party and how to get there, go to events/1964449687108689

EPIZODE Festival Phu Quoc 4

Phu Quoc Dec. 31 to Jan. 5

EPIZODE Festival organisers have just added the final round of headliners to its epic lineup of DJs. Globally praised superstar DJ from Thailand Nakadia along with leading techno DJ Tini have been added which also includes Patrick Topping, Sofia Rodina, Eric Powell,

Sander Zhukov and many more. The one and only Carl Cox kicks things off on New Year’s Eve before a wealth of underground and local talent hit the decks until Jan. 3 when Dubfire takes over. On Jan. 4, French outfit dOP headline while on Jan. 5 Loco Dice will keep the party going. For the full line up and more info on ticketing, go to or facebook. com/epizode.official

HCMC Marathon 5

District 7, HCMC Sunday, Jan. 14

It’s now five years since the first edition of the HCMC Run. Incorporating the HCMC Marathon — last year saw the first full 42km run to take place in Saigon since the early 1990s — the race has continued to go from strength to strength to become Vietnam’s most popular event for running enthusiasts. This year it’s expected that close to 8,000 runners will lace up to pound the pavement over distances of 5km, 10km, 21km and 42km, as well as for the kids' race. The event is so popular that starting places were sold out two weeks prior to the event with an annual waiting list of 1,000 runners. For more info about the race, go to hcmcmarathon. com or facebook. com/hcmcrun. Email enquiries can be sent to or call the hotline on 0910 327323

Briefings Q&A

12 | Word December 2017 |

Up, Up and Beyond Vietnam has the fastest growing aviation sector in the region. Country manager of Cathay Pacific Vietnam, Lance Kwong, gives us his thoughts on the aviation industry, his own airline and where everything is heading. Photo by Bao Zoan How long have you been working in the aviation industry? What attracted you to the industry in the first place? I have worked in the aviation industry for more than eight years. Ever since my first long haul flight to the US, I have been fascinated by the experience of learning another culture, meeting new people and travelling to places I have never been to. I think no other job can fulfil these desires better than working for an airline.

When did you take over as country manager of Vietnam for Cathay Pacific? What fascinates you about working in this country? I took over in the second half of 2017. So far, I love living and working here because of the superbly friendly people and helpful co-workers. I think Vietnam is full of energy and opportunities, and I sense the Vietnamese have a fervent desire to learn and become better. It’s a great experience working alongside people like this.

With the industry experiencing exponential growth in the region, is now the right time to be part of it? Vietnam has the fastest growing aviation sector in the region. With a population that is just starting to ‘spread its wings’, and explore new destinations, either to regional capitals like my hometown of Hong Kong or further afield to destinations such as the US or Europe, it’s a tremendous time to be a part of this dynamic industry in this dynamic market. The potential we see in this market has underpinned a continual expansion in the number of flights we offer to Vietnam. In the past three months, we have added an additional Saigon flight — taking the weekly total to 19; two additional Hanoi flights, bringing it to up to 12 per week; and an additional freight service into Hanoi. We only make these decisions when we see the potential for growth.

With growth comes competition, and in Vietnam it is intense. How is Cathay dealing with the competition both locally and internationally? We take pride in being one of the leading airlines in the world. We have won multiple awards and are very confident in our product. There is indeed intense competition in the Asian aviation market. However, Cathay Pacific together with Cathay Dragon, which are committed to the Vietnamese market, connect

passengers to nearly 200 destinations worldwide via the Hong Kong aviation hub, using technologicallyadvanced aircraft and offering premium products and services. We see a few key competitive advantages for Cathay Pacific to capture Vietnamese travel growth that other airlines struggle to match. We have an impeccable safety record — so first and foremost this should be addressed. But aside from that, Skytrax always places us as one of the world’s top five airlines. Our passengers can expect everything from our meticulous maintenance and equipment checks by our engineers and flight crew to the delivery of 'Service Straight from the Heart' by our ground and cabin staff. To that end, we continue to offer new destinations and connections for Vietnamese tourists and business travellers; most recently this has seen us add Copenhagen, Brussels and Dublin to our map, as well as making Barcelona a scheduled destination. By communicating these messages actively to Vietnam, we are offering a product mix that is unrivalled in its service, value and destinations.

What challenges are you facing in your current role? The biggest challenge for me has been understanding Vietnam-specific situations. My teams have helped me a lot with this.

Cathay Pacific has a great name both regionally and internationally. How proud are you to be part of this airline? Exceptionally proud. It is not just the home carrier of Hong Kong, my homeland, but also a leading brand. We have a superb reputation around the world and an exceptional reputation here in Vietnam. I am thrilled by the prospects of all that we can achieve here.

What are your plans for the future — both personally and for Cathay Pacific in Vietnam? My plan is to continue to grow our services from Vietnam to help connect more Vietnamese people and goods with the rest of the world, and help them to share in our Life Well Travelled vision. We will also need to adapt quickly to the rapidly changing world and win customers’ loyalty with excellent service and operations. Personally, my plan is to learn Vietnamese as it will allow me to more thoroughly understand the people and culture. I would also love to visit the beautiful countryside of Vietnam as much as I can! | December 2017 Word | 13

Briefings National


f granted just one chance to design and build your own bar — something really special from concept to completion — what would you come up with? Would it be a dimly lit speakeasy with dark, rich timbers, plush leather upholstered furniture, private booths and a concealed entrance down a dark and gritty inner city alleyway? Perhaps a rooftop bar on the tallest building in your favourite city in the world with 360-degree uninterrupted views that go on forever? Or how about an island beach club on a small rocky outcrop in the warm tropical waters of Southeast Asia just big enough for you, 200 other party people, international DJs, and an amazing sunset to kick off an all-night party? Well, Vietnam has just got itself one, a club on an island, that is. About a 40-minute drive from Phu Quoc International Airport and a short boat trip across the island’s turquoise waters is a small island exclusively for partying. And it’s set to create a buzz on the international party scene.

14 | Word December 2017 |

Rock Island Club

Vietnam gets a world class party venue… on an exclusive island Rock Hopping Rock Island Club is Vietnam’s only club that juts out into the ocean and hovers just metres above the waterline. It offers panoramic views of Phu Quoc and the ocean. In the evenings, clubbers can sit at the bar or lounge around on sofas sipping cocktails as the sun dips below the horizon in the background, while local and international DJs spin the decks under the stars. During the day, glass panels in the decking reveal marine life and rocky crags

below. After dark, lighting penetrates from beneath creating an atmosphere like no other club in Vietnam, perhaps even Southeast Asia. There’s also a sizeable party space — lush with tropical foliage — with a bar and small beach on “land” for parties that spill out beyond the deck. The owner of Rock Island Club is Nam Nghi Phu Quoc Island, a newly-opened five-star boutique resort created by one of the founders of Chill Skybar in Saigon. Built on what they have dubbed “the finger” — a

narrow, slender tract of clifftop that affords guests with unparalleled views of the ocean in all directions — the views from the villas and rooms are stunning. It’s from the tip of “the finger” that Rock Island Club comes into view, some 300 metres offshore. From here, this craggy little outcrop looks just like any other small islet with a wooden jetty, but it’s not until you to take the boat out to the island that you can gain full appreciation of the concept of the place.

Serving Up Wow! The hope is for Vietnam’s newest island club to be an international destination, a Southeast Asian party venue that will be so famous that people will mention Rock Island Club in the same breath as Rock Bar in Bali or Café Del Mar on the Spanish party isle of Ibiza. The unique experience begins when guests board small boats that depart from the resort’s private jetty and take them 300 metres offshore to the party island. Another jetty and a pathway lead them past a small

sandy white beach, into the main bar, over a timber gangway and out onto the party deck. There’s no denying the sense of occasion the place builds as you approach, which is then topped off by an arrival that’s unmatched by any other club entrance in Vietnam. It’s early days but things are happening here. It’s expected that the club will undergo a number of incarnations as Phu Quoc’s popularity as a party destination grows. The island is developing rapidly. More resorts and entertainment complexes are in the pipeline and direct flights from London, Sweden, Russia, China and now Bangkok have already commenced. Which all makes the timing of Rock Island Club immaculate. One can only wonder what Phu Quoc will be like in three years, five years or even 10. — Matt Cowan Rock Island Club is in Nam Nghi Phu Quoc Island Resort, Hamlet 4, Cua Can Commune, Phu Quoc, Tel: (0297) 378 8889. For more info click on or go to facebook. com/rockclubphuquoc. | December 2017 Word | 15

Briefings National

Electric Ticket Gates Vietnam’s railways start to modernise


anoi and Ho Chi Minh City’s public transportation infrastructure is undergoing major developments, and while much of the story so far with the two metro systems has involved delays and skyrocketing costs, step by step these two projects trudge towards completion. A smaller-scale yet equally interesting project under way is the introduction of electric ticket barriers at major train stations in Vietnam; initially Hanoi, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City. The barriers are part of an effort to modernise the service while improving overall customer service and security. The initiative, funded by the state-owned Vietnam Railways Company, will mean that from now on, commuters will be required

16 | Word December 2017 |

to buy either a print or electronic ticket, and scan it at the new barriers in order to enter the platform, as opposed to the current system where commuters simply buy a printed ticket and then display it to the attendant on the platform before boarding the train. This is aimed at stopping passengers boarding trains without a ticket, while also keeping the platforms less busy. According to a spokesman from Vietnam Railways, this will also allow rail attendants to focus more time on helping passengers and providing customer service, rather than having to stand out on the platform checking tickets.

Modernisation The move is an attempt to bring train stations in Vietnam in line with those

in other countries with more developed railway systems, and is likely to improve the image of the country’s transportation infrastructure, if only as a small detail. According to the spokesman, attendants will be on duty to help passengers, particularly the elderly, who perhaps have limited exposure to such technologies and may get confused with the new system. The attendants will also help pregnant women, and the disabled. While other stations in the country will not be getting electric barriers just yet, a system of checking tickets before passengers enter the check-in area is being enforced across the board in what looks like an effort to better regulate ticket inspection and prevent any loss to freeloading passengers.

Vietnam’s north-to-south railway line, the Reunification Express, was built between 1899 and 1936 and covers 1,726km, along which there are 191 stations. The railway now competes with cheaper and in many cases more convenient bus routes, as well as the air option favoured by the more wealthy.

Challenge from Above Vietnam’s aviation industry saw an increase in passenger numbers of 19% from the previous year to around 45 million passengers in 2016, with the domestic sector accounting for around 23 million of those passengers — a 23% rise from the year prior. This fierce competition means that Vietnam’s railway system must modernise and improve if it hopes to maintain its share

of passengers. The introduction of electric ticket barriers is one such measure. While train travel is cheaper than air travel in the peak season — before and after Tet and during the summer — the argument for air travel still wins out, with average ticket prices ranging between VND500,000 and VND1.1 million for a 14-hour train ride from Hanoi to Danang. The convenience of flying is evident. The same route by air costs as little as VND500,000 in the off season, and only takes only one hour. The question is: How far are Vietnam Railways planning to go with modernising their service? Once major metro projects in the cities are (eventually) complete, perhaps the time will come to return to the idea of modernising the railway line itself in order to introduce

more up-to-date, faster trains that can shave travel times by rail. The idea of a high-speed rail link between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City has already been on the table for a number of years and authorities are conducting a pre-feasibility study. According to comments made by Doan Duy Hoach, deputy general director of the Vietnam Railways Corporation, in 2016, the present railway system in inadequate for the country’s needs. A high-speed line from north to south coupled with comparatively low prices compared to air travel would make rail travel a much more attractive prospect. — Billy Gray At the time of writing this article, the electric ticket barriers were due to be introduced in December, 2017. | December 2017 Word | 17

Briefings National

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The Sneaker Head Sole searching with sneaker collector Nam Quan #1 How long have you been collecting sneakers? I started in 2013. I had no idea about clothing brands and sneakers. A friend took me to a sneaker shop where I picked up my first pair. After that I took notice of the sneaker culture, studied about it online and thought it was great, so I started collecting.

#2 What do you collect? I only collect Air Max, especially the Air Max 1 because it’s a very historical design. It was the first pair of Nike with the bubble heel and the red-and-white colorway. The originals were released in 1987. To buy a pair you’re looking at US$2,000 to US$3,000.

#3 Have you always been into sneakers? I didn’t have this lifelong love for sneakers or anything, but one day I just suddenly liked the look of shoes, especially sneakers. I’ve always liked to dress well. I kind of grew up a metrosexual guy who really cared about the way I looked.

#4 Explain the attraction to collecting. I’m a shopaholic. I always want to buy something — that’s one of my problems to be honest! If I want to achieve something, if I want to own something, I work hard to get it. I like to push things, so in terms of collecting sneakers, I have to be full-on with it. I also share information and the histories about the sneakers online for other sneakerheads.

#5 Rumour has it you’ve become a celebrity in the sneaker head space? I have 13,000 followers on Facebook and 5,000 on Instagram. They message me all the time asking my advice. They will ask to meet me, which is quite funny. I don’t know what to say when they show up, it’s like, ‘Hey guys, any questions or... anything?’ Then they ask questions, usually about the kind of

sneakers they want to buy. A lot of the time they say they just want to hear it from me in-person!

#6 How do collectors find out about the release date of a limited edition sneaker? The sneaker game has become an important part of pop culture and relies on social media. Six months before a release, campaigns will run online to create a buzz. My networks in Bangkok, Singapore and France will also let me know when the next sneaker is coming out and ask if I want to place an order. There’s software now called Sneaker Bot which detects when new sneakers are being released and orders you the pair automatically. It’s worth it because very quickly a highly sought after US$140 pair of sneakers can be resold for US$500.

#7 How many pairs do you have at the moment and do you wear them all? I only have 27 pairs at the moment, but recently it was up to about 80 pairs. I sold a lot of them. I wear all of them. I have some expensive rare models that I only wear on certain occasions or on certain days when I know I’m not going to beat them up too much. I always have a pair of flip flops with me in case it rains. I tend to wear my favourite sneakers to the movies, when I expect to run into young people who I want to impress. I kind of position myself where I know I’m going to get some feedback.

#8 Are there any scams? There are a lot. When a shoe has such a high resale value, it’s inevitable that there will be fakes. It’s really hard to differentiate between fake shoes and the real ones. We do a ‘legit check’ which involves kids sending me photos of their sneakers to see if they are authentic or not. To be honest, I can’t tell unless I have a real pair in one hand and their pair in the other. That’s how good the fakes are.

#9 Could someone unwittingly buy a pair of shoes that are collectible? No. People know how to research these things online, so they never really make it to the shelves. There would be next to no chance of you unwittingly buying a pair of limited edition sneakers, especially in Vietnam because there are no stores here that stock them.

#10 What’s your favourite sneaker right now? Nike Air Max 1 OG.

The Lingo Terms you need to know to keep you on your sneaker game

Legit Check. An authenticity or ‘legitimacy’ check for fakes OG. Original Gangster or ‘Gangsta’ refers to someone who has been in the game for a long time or to refer to the original colorway of a sneaker Rich Kid. A kid with lots of money who’s new to the game, buys lots of shoes but knows little about sneaker culture Sneaker Head. Someone into collecting sneakers Sneaker Freaker. Popular Australian sneaker magazine The Game. The sneaker collecting lifestyle Colorway. Used to describe the various configurations for the colour scheme of sneakers Sneaker Bot. Collectors can use this software to automatically order sneakers online Air Max 1. The sneaker that started Nam Quan’s obsession Vans. Brand of skateboarding sneakers Cons. Converse sneakers. Need we say more? Collaborate. When a sneaker brand and celebrity or athlete team up to release a limited edition sneaker | December 2017 Word | 19

Sports Digest Sport in Brief Former Man U star signs with Local Academy Manchester United legend and former Wales international Ryan Giggs was named director of football for a Vietnamese football academy. The ex-Man Utd superstar was appointed Director of Football at PVF Football Academy last month, when it inaugurated a new training centre in the northern Vietnamese city of Hung Yen. Giggs’ former teammate, Paul Scholes, attended the ceremony. PVF, known fully as the Promotion Fund of Vietnamese Football Talents, is owned by Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup. The Welsh football coach and former English premier league player will take charge of both coach and player development for PVF. Aided by Giggs’ wealth of knowledge of the game, PVF aims to become one of the best academies in Vietnam, competitive with the rest of the world. Besides leveraging the experience of the Manchester United legend, PVF has also employed Hoang Anh Tuan, who over the last two years has had a fruitful spell in charge of the Vietnamese Under-19 as its head coach.

Vietnam qualifies for Asian Cup Vietnam has secured a place in the finals of the AFC Asian Cup for the first time since 2007 after sharing a goalless draw with Afghanistan last month at My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi. The AFC Asian Cup is an international football tournament run by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). It is the second-oldest

continental football championship in the world after the Copa America. The winning team qualifies for the FIFA Confederations Cup. Afghanistan needed to beat Vietnam to make it to the finals, scheduled for Jan. 2019 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but failed to break the deadlock. Twenty of the 24 teams that will be competing at the finals have already been decided, with Vietnam and Thailand the only Southeast Asian representatives. Vietnam surprised football fans by making it to the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup in 2007, the first year the country had ever made it to the finals of the tournament.

Cycling event to roll through Binh Duong The Binh Duong Television Cycling Tournament, Ong Nhua Hoa Sen Cup, will run from Dec. 3 to Dec.12 in the southern province of Binh Duong. The event will attract the 10 strongest teams in the country, including Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Thap, An Giang and Dong Nai with nearly 70 cyclists, more than 20 of whom are members of the national team. They will compete in nine stages, with the total length of nearly 1,100km via the provinces of Binh Thuan, Ninh Thuan, Khanh Hoa, Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Dak Nong, Binh Phuoc, and Binh Duong. The tournament has a total prize of VND400 million (US$17,400), of which the winners of the overall yellow jersey will earn VND60 million ($2,600). The event’s organizers will hold charity activities on the sidelines of the event, including giving 900 gifts to disadvantaged households and 90 bicycles for poor students in the provinces the cyclists will pass through.

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Punch Job The bell has rung for boxing in Vietnam. And women are flocking to the sport nationwide. Words by Harry Hodge


among women in Vietnam. Fighting disciplines as a whole are becoming more popular in places like Ho Chi Minh City, with the newly opened UFC gym in District 2 as well as octagon training at certain California Fitness locations. Kickboxing and Muay Thai-styled classes are also surging in popularity. But for Duyen, nothing compares to the sweet science of boxing. “I started practicing at age 14 and now it’s been 10 years,” she says. “I love boxing. Boxing does not have a limit for me.” Boxing is no longer saddled with the view of being a savage bloodsport, but in fact a strong discipline for healthminded individuals who don’t necessarily need to fight to enjoy its fitness benefits. This may be what has made inroads among Vietnamese women, looking to diversify their fitness routines. These include elements like: Fat burning; increased muscle tone; stronger bones and ligaments; increased cardiovascular fitness; better strength; and the immediate stress relief of going a few rounds with the heavy bag, or a live opponent. “My goal in the future will be many championships,” says Duyen. “And I will teach what I have learned for everyone in the future.” | December 2017 Word | 21


ietnamese women’s boxing continues to punch above its weight, with an impressive showing at the recent Asian Women’s Amateur Boxing Championship last month in Ho Chi Minh City. The event featured 10 categories for athletes ranging from U48kg to over-81kg, with athletes like Luu Thi Duyen in the 60kg and Le Thi Bang at 54kg making impressive showings. Both were medalists at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. Nguyen Thi Tam made Vietnamese boxing history after bringing home the gold medal at the event, defeating Pang Chol-mi of North Korea in the women’s 51kg division. It was the first time a Vietnamese female boxer has won a gold medal in the Asian event. Apart from Tam’s gold medal, the host nation claimed four more silver medals thanks to Duyen and Bang, Nguyen Thi Huong at 81kg, and Tran Thi Oanh Nhi at over 81kg. The event drew 107 boxers from 22 countries and territories, competing in all 10 categories. Duyen, who won gold at the most recent SEA Games in Malaysia this summer, sees the sport on the upswing

ToDo list HCMC

Exhibitions, dinners, talks, meetups, laughs and even a vegan festival are just some of things on this month in Ho Chi Minh City Slices Exhibition Craig Thomas Gallery, Q1 Until Monday, Dec. 4 Slices is a solo exhibition of wood burn, acrylic on wood paintings by Hanoi-based artist, Ngo Van Sac. It’s his third solo exhibition at CTG and is a follow up to his 2015 exhibition In Opposite, which was collage and acrylic on canvas paintings. With Slices, Sac continues the evolution of his wood burn practice with the introduction of more acrylic paint and calligraphy and a change in primary subject matter from a focus of self-portraiture to the portrayal of the peoples of Vietnam’s ethnic minority groups. What remains of his previous work, however, are Sac’s working method which demonstrates a mastery of his materials and the exciting outcomes of his experiementation. Craig Thomas Gallery is at 27(i) Tran Nhat Duat, Q1, HCMC. For more information, go to

TRG Talks PJ’s Coffee, Q2 Dec. 7, 12, 20 and 27 A series of events co-organized monthly by TRG International and PJ’s Coffee Vietnam, TRG Talks aim to promote the latest trends in not only the IT and

Talent industries but also other rising and upcoming notions in the HR world. Entrance to the talks is free of charge and all the talks take place at PJ’s Coffee Sala (145 — 147 Nguyen Co Thach, Q2, HCMC). Here’s the schedule: Project Management Thursday, Dec. 7 8am to 9.30am A monthly meet up that allows project managers to discuss in detail what it takes to become great at what you’re doing. The speakers are Rick Yvanovich (Founder & CEO, TRG International) and Brian O’Reilly (Managing Director, SEA Management Consulting Company) AICPA-CIMA Member Meetup Tuesday, Dec. 12 8am to 9.30am The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) join forces and meet up once a month, every second Tuesday. The speaker is Rick Yvanovich (Founder & CEO, TRG International). Cloud Computing Wednesday, Dec. 20 8am to 9.30am Presenting the ideas of experts in

both cloud computing and IT, the talk will include myth debunking, tips and tricks to help you build a stronger, better IT infrastructure for your business. The speaker is Lex Nguyen (Territory Manager, Amazon Web Services Vietnam Limited Company). Talent Wednesday, Dec. 27 8am to 9.30am A platform where leaders can openly share their experience in managing talent, and how to create and maintain a healthy working environment where everyone of any background, belief, and identity can work harmoniously. The speaker is Rick Yvanovich (Founder & CEO, TRG International).

Remnant Exhibition The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, Q2 Dec. 9 to Feb. 11 Remnant pictures Le Them Lam’s inner world wherein lies psychological anxiety brought about by society booming with economic and technological advancements in spite of its post-war, unreconciled memories. The exhibition opens on Saturday, Dec. 9 with an artist talk to follow on Friday, Jan. 5 at The Factory

Epicurean Christmas Dinner Le Bordeaux Restaurant, Binh Thanh Thursday, Dec. 7 It’s that time of the year again already to loosen the belt a notch or let out the hemline to make room for the Christmas cheer. One option to kick the festive season off is a seven-course dinner at Le Bordeaux Restaurant hosted by the Disciples Escoffier International Asia. The menu will be crafted by Chef Phuc and paired with wine especially chosen for the occasion by The Warehouse. Items on the menu will include salmon rolls, duck foie gras, pan-fried scallops and lobster medallions, Black Angus fillet and dessert including a souffle with Grand Marnier. The dinner is limited to just 25 people only at a cost of VND2.2 million for members and VND2.5 million for non-members. For bookings and more information, email

Empty Forest Exhibition The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, Q2 Dec. 9 to Feb. 11 This solo exhibition by Tuan Andrew Nguyen is a menagerie of animalistic forms where the voices of the endangered are enshrined, sitting on the edge of extinction between the spirit world and the human consciousness. The exhibition opens on Saturday, Dec. 9 with an artist talk to follow on Wednesday, Dec. 13 at The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre in District 2. The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre is at 15 Nguyen U Di, Q2, HCMC. For more info, go to thefactorycontemporaryartscentre | December 2017 Word | 23

ToDo list HCMC

Comedy w/ Ro Campbell and Grem Wood Game On Saigon, Q1 Wednesday, Dec. 13 After last month’s show, which saw comedic legend Phil Kay play to a sell-out crowd, Saigon International Comedy are promising more of the same, this time with two comedians who are veterans of the Southeast Asian club circuit. Headlining is UK-based, award-winning Australian comic Ro Campbell who was once controversially crowned Scottish Comedian of the Year. Returning to the stage in Vietnam for the third time, Ro has performed at the last 10 Edinburgh fringe festivals and in well over 30 countries. He’s one of those comics who makes people laugh, more than just out loud, and has even been described in the press as “one of the funniest men on earth”, “top notch” and

New Park Lounge Singer at Hyatt Park Hyatt Saigon, Q1 Until Mar. 15 Following jazz singer Rie Furuse’s successful performances at Park Hyatt Saigon earlier this year, she returns to the Park Lounge. Having been involved in music from a young age, Rie has been living in Paris since 2009. She regularly performs in Paris at the legendary Sunset Sunside Jazz Club and frequently travels to London to perform at reknown jazz venue Ronny Scott’s. Rie’s prominence in the jazz scene extends beyond Europe having built a reputation for her work in Japan, Seoul and Singapore. Rie performs at the Park Lounge from Friday to Wednesday weekly from 8pm to 11.45pm. For more info, go to ParkHyattSaigon

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“effortlessly brilliant”. Joining him is UK comic Grem Wood. Best known for his dry style and British wit, Grem has become a crowd favourite across Asia and was one of the founders of the Bangkok comedy scene. A trail blazer in what is now one of the hottest comedy scenes in Asia, Grem’s unique take on Thailand, Southeast Asia and how he sees the world will leave you with a smile on your face long after the show is over. Entrance is VND200,000 in advance and VND250,000 on the door. For further information or to purchase advance tickets, email nick@ or go to Game On Saigon, 115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1, HCMC. Advance tickets are available at Game On Saigon or online at

Christopher Hancock Exhibition and Residency Soma Art Cafe, Q2 Dec. 8 to Dec. 30 Christopher Hancock creates striking, surreal and twisted pieces exploring the human condition. His work aims to deliver raw and honest subject matter in a captivating and unconventional way, leaving behind pre-meditated construction. His work embodies a process of applied chance and appreciation for the unanticipated. During this three week residency at Soma Art Cafe, Hancock will reflect on various elements of Asian culture, and mentally digest recent experiences onto canvas. He will be expanding on the limitations of creating artworks whilst travelling, using minimal colour palletes, loose and expressive strokes giving the work a strong sense of energy, much like the pocket of the world he finds himself in. To see Hancock's work, pop into Soma Art Cafe, 6B Le Van Mien, Q2, HCMC. The exhibition and residency opens at 8pm on Friday, Dec. 8. For more info click on


Vinpace Children’s Winter Camp Vinspace, Q2 Dec. 18 to Jan. 6 Vinspace studio has been transformed into an autumn camp in readiness for it Children’s Winter Camp where kids will be able to learn how to make cross-cultural holiday crafts and participate in group projects mentored by a team of international teachers. The price per student for a week’s worth of five three-hour lessons is VND3,105,000. For a single class the cost is VND690,000. Drop-ins and advanced bookings are both welcome. Vinspace Art Studio is located at 4 Le Van Mien, Q2, HCMC. For more info, go to vinspacestudio or email info@vin-space. com | December 2017 Word | 25

ToDo list HCMC

Five Years of Heart Beat ‘The Jungle’, Q2 Friday, Dec. 15 What started out five years ago as a party on the second floor of Red Bar (now closed) on Ngo Duc Ke Street has now turned into a Saigon institution for techno and underground music lovers here. To celebrate the occasion of Heart Beat’s fifth birthday, they’ve organised a night in ‘The Jungle’ on the District 2 side of Phu My Bridge featuring Heiko Laux, Javier Marimon and Chris Wolter with visuals by Erol. The venue for the party, dubbed ‘The Jungle’ because it was originally in the jungle at the base of Phu My Bridge, is now part of The Observatory’s new concept called pOp-servatory since its District 4 location’s forced closure due to redevelopment. The pOp-servatory crew intend to keep bringing local and international DJs to the public, but instead of at one fixed location like in the past, they will ‘pop-up’ at various locations around the city. For more info on the party and how to get there, go to events/1964449687108689 and check out the location here: iedk3xfEJRA2

Network Girls Event Mad Cow Wine & Grill, Q1 Thursday, Dec. 14 Join the Network Girls for their end of year bash before everyone heads off on their holiday travels. Join the holiday festivities at one of HCMC’s newest venues, Mad Cow Wine & Grill at Pullman Saigon Centre. Network Girls is a monthly event in HCMC that provides foreign and local female working professionals a channel for meeting each other and exchanging ideas on life in Vietnam’s biggest city, employment and business. The event runs from 6.30pm to 9pm. For more information, contact Ms Van via email at or go to




Saigon Vegan Festival 2018

Contemporary Arts Centre in District 2. The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre is at 15 Nguyen U Di, Q2, HCMC. For more info, go to thefactorycontemporaryartscentre

Pathway International School, Q2 Jan. 6 to Jan. 7

Cook & Dine w/ Luke Nguyen Grain Cooking Studio, Q1 Friday, Dec. 15 Here’s your chance to get hot in the kitchen with celebrity Australian chef Luke Nguyen at his venue Grain Cooking Studio on Hai Ba Trung Street in District 1. The evening kicks of with welcome drinks followed by a four-course meal with a wine pairing demonstration. There are only 70 seats available, which are expected to get snapped up quickly. Tickets are VND2.5 million per person. Grain Cooking Studio is on the 3 rd floor at 75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, HCMC. For bookings and more info, email or go to

Live Cooking Master Class w/ Luke Nguyen Grain Cooking Studio, Q1 Saturday, Dec. 16 We’ve all looked at Luke Nguyen’s cooking at some stage and thought we could cook that. Chances are we can, but not nearly as well. Here’s your chance to pick up on some of Luke’s secrets in the flesh with his Live Cooking Master Class. For VND2 million per person, you get to test (and improve) your cooking skills on Luke’s very own creations.

There are just 40 seats available at Grain Cooking Studio and they are filling up fast. Grain Cooking Studio is on the 3 rd floor at 75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, HCMC. For bookings and more info, email or go to

Public Talk at Factory The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, Q2 Wednesday, Dec. 20 Meet Hanoi-based photographer Morgan Ommer at his public talk A Cinemagraph by Morgan Ommer. Listen to what he has to say about his latest project Madame Ching — the untold story of Ching Shih, a 19th century Chinese woman who commanded the greatest armada of pirates in history and was a feminist before feminism existed. Undefeated, she eventually negotiated her retirment from piracy. The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre is at 15 Nguyen U Di, Q2, HCMC. For more info, go to thefactorycontemporaryartscentre

For a better Earth and better health, that is the concept behind the second Saigon Vegan Festival which will run from Jan. 6 to Jan. 7. Offering up a vast choice of both Vietnamese and international vegan fare, besides the food there will be yoga activities, movies, workshops, cooking classes, onstage entertainment, a Miss Vegan and Mister Plant Power contest, dating games, a talk show, a vegan kids corner, a foosball tournament and a grand raffle. The festival will run from 4pm to 8.30pm on Saturday, Jan. 6 and 8.30am to 2.30pm on Sunday, Jan. 7. Entrance is VND100,000 and all proceeds of the event will go to two charity groups that help poor kids go to school and kids with congenital disorders. The festival will take place at the Pathway International School, 1/5 Luong Dinh Cua, Binh Khanh, Q2, HCMC. For further information email or click on



Plenty of awards, freebies, openings and celebrations this month in the big city

Sherwood Suites Opening Sherwood Suites, a new 20-storey property in a prime location near the heart of Saigon that aims to offer travellers luxury and flexibility has opened. The suites offer five-star hotel services and amenities including an outdoor covered pool, an international delicatessen and restaurant, a 24-hour gym with sauna and steam room along with 157 self-contained luxury suites and apartments ranging in size from 61sqm to 118sqm. Each apartment features elegant, contemporary Italian designer furniture, fully-equipped kitchens, marble-clad bathrooms and floor to ceiling windows. Sherwood Suites is at 192 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, HCMC. For more info, go to or sherwoodsuitessaigon

Anupa Christmas Collection

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Anupa Boutique has put together a special Christmas collection that according to Anupa herself has been inspired by ‘Dear Santa’. Included in the range are silver leather bags, silk and linen dresses, bamboo cashmere scarves and pillows from Age of Reason. For more info email or pop into one of the shops: 9 Dong Du, Q1, HCMC or in the Sheraton Lobby, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, HCMC

Ba Na Hills On-Par If the 18th Asian Golf Awards was a round of golf, it would have been a nearperfect one for Vietnam. Not only did the country — and Danang, in particular — host the prestigious awards for the first time ever in November, representatives of its golf industry took home some awards for themselves. In addition to Vietnam claiming the award for Asia Pacific’s best golf destination, Ba Na Hills Golf Club, BRG Kings Island Golf Resort and Montgomerie Links took home silverware for finishing as the top vote-getters in the category of best golf course in Vietnam. During the evening Vietnamese entrepreneurs and golf-course owners were recognised — Nguyen Thi Nga became the first woman to be inducted into the Asia Pacific Golf Hall Of Fame, while Le Van Kiem was honored as the first recipient of the Asia Pacific Golf Pioneer Award. The Asian Golf Awards, which are billed as the regional golf industry’s equivalent of the Oscars, wrapped up the 11th Asia Pacific Golf Summit (APGS), a three-day conference attracting golf business leaders from all around the world. This year 100,024 votes were cast online covering 51 categories — the most ever for the Asian Golf Awards, the only continent-wide poll of the golf industry in Asia. The evening was also a celebration of sorts for IMG, which co-designed and built Ba Na Hills and Montgomerie Links.

Happy Hour at 2 Lam Son 2 Lam Son (aka Martini Bar) has launched its new signature cocktail collection inspired by Vietnamese culture and ingredients, including betel, lotus, tamarind and pumpkin blossoms. The Saigon Coffee Martini — a ca phe sua da inspired coffee and coconut flavoured cocktail — and the Vietnamese Flower Tea, a cognac-based cocktail infused with three teas and soaked with a lotus flower for 24 hours really should be on any list when on a night out on the town. Happy hour is 5pm to 8pm Monday to Friday, and 3pm to 8pm at weekends with 51% off drinks from the cocktail list. 2 Lam Son is located on the Ground Floor of Park Hyatt Saigon, Q1. For more info, go to or page 138 for our review | December 2017 Word | 29


Caravelle New Events Space


The Caravelle Saigon launched its new events space on its rooftop last month. On the 26th floor, the 215sqm events space is covered in turf and decorated with fairy lights, creating a fresh, new option for exclusive events and private occasions. ‘Events on 26’ has the capacity to cater for up to 150 people for stand-up cocktails and up to 60 people for sit-down dinners. In its opening phase, a standard package for the venue is VND20 million exclusive of tax and other charges, which includes a red-carpet welcome, spotlights, plants and fairy lights, ambient music and speakers. The Caravelle Saigon can also help with other add-ons. From now until Tet, a special introductory offer of 20% off is applicable for all bookings. For further details or photo enquiries about Events on 26, contact Ms Yen at yen.truong@ For bookings, call (028) 3823 4999 or email events@caravellehotel. com


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British International School Achieves Top Results 15 students from the British International School, Ho Chi Minh City (BIS HCMC) have received prestigious awards from Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) to acknowledge their outstanding performance in the Summer 2017 IGCSE Cambridge examination series. Two students at BIS HCMC Emily Kim and Rahul Sharma shared the honour of the Top in the World award, achieving the highest standard mark in the world for Mathematics (without coursework), after undertaking

the exam a year early. Seven other students from BIS HCMC received the Top in the Country award, referring to the learners who gained the highest standard mark in Vietnam for a single subject. An additional four students were given the High Achievement award for obtaining outstanding results in subjects which are not so widely taken and which, under the current criteria, would not qualify for Top in the Country Awards. For more info about BIS HCMC click on

Brodard Gourmet Opens Flagship Store Much-loved Brodard Bakery opened its flagship Brodard Gourmet store in November. Brodard Bakery was a pioneer of French baking techniques in Vietnam and has long been regarded as at the top of the game in this country for almost 70 years. The extensive Brodard Gourmet menu features a wide selection of speciality breads such ciabatta, dark rye and pastries including brioche and croissants as well as cookies and cakes.

Salads and sandwiches can be made to order and there is a range of coffees, speciality teas, juices, smoothies and a selection of over 40 flavours of gelato. To celebrate the opening of Brodard Gourmet’s flagship store, there is a 10% discount on all menu items until Dec. 16. Brodard Gourmet is located at 55 Dong Khoi, Q1, HCMC and is open daily from 7am to 9pm. For more info, go to



Talentnet Turns 10

Developing out of the Human Resources Services unit of PricewaterhouseCoopers Vietnam, last month Talentnet celebrated 10 years of providing HR consulting and total HR solutions to firms throughout Vietnam. Thanks to partnerships with Mercer & ADP Streamline, two leading global HR service organizations, Talentnet has become the preferred choice for total HR solutions in Vietnam. The consultancy also maintains a close relationship with the Singapore Human Resources Institute and Human Capital Leadership Institute. According to Talentnet, the 10-year anniversary is not only an opportunity for them to review what they have achieved in a memorable decade, but to appreciate their partners, excellent leaders and members, and to serve as the momentum for them to keep growing and improving into the future. For more info, click on

Saigon Children’s Charity Rebrands As part of their 25-year celebrations, Saigon Children’s Charity has changed its name to saigonchildrenTM. Raising funds and providing educational support for disadvantaged children in Vietnam, according to the charity’s executive director, Tim Mullett, a new dynamic branding system demonstrates the charity’s strong development strategy over the next 5 years. “At saigonchildrenTM we believe that every child in Vietnam deserves an equal and fair opportunity to develop and reach their full potential,” said Mullett at the charity’s 25-year anniversary celebrations early in November. “We will continue to break down barriers to education for disadvantaged children.” Over the past quarter of a century, the charity has provided more than 35,000 scholarships for children in need. It has supported over 10,000 students attending annual courses in English, computer studies and other activities and more than 6,000 students obtaining career orientation via vocational training. 186 schools have been built with a total of 480 classrooms, and 55 projects have cultivated special skills in education for over 1,500 teachers and parents. In total, more than 10,000 disabled children have benefited from the projects. For more information, click on

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Saigon Saturday Stories Club Vietnam-based American children’s book author, Curtis Norris has now turned his club into a free service as part of his larger objective to promote reading and literacy in Vietnam. Curtis is making his books available for all children in Vietnam and he has already given away four of his books through his service. He will be releasing his 12-book series Magipelago through the club soon. Parents can join the

club by sending an email to SaigonSaturdayStoriesClub@ to receive a new, printable ebook each week. Curtis has also set up a Gofundme page to get support for the club in the hope that he can print 1,000 copies of his books for free distribution to schools and libraries in the most disadvantaged rural areas. Funds raised will also go towards translation, artwork, printing and distribution costs. To contribute, go to gofundme. com/childrens-literacy-in-vietnam | December 2017 Word | 33

ToDo list Hanoi

Exhibitions, a comedy show, concerts and Christmasthemed events to light-up December and beyond

Machinedrum Savage, Tay Ho Tuesday, Dec. 12 North Carolina-born artist Travis Stewart, known as Machinedrum, occupies a unique place in US electronic music. A pioneer and a populariser, Stewart brings together coasts and continents in projects which are both conceptual and heartfelt, clever and banging. He has produced and composed over a dozen albums under various aliases since his first independent release in 1999. Covering an astonishing variety of styles, through solo Machinedrum work and with collaborative projects, Stewart has established himself as electronic music's true Renaissance man. His debut as Machinedrum, Now You Know, was released in 2001 on Merck Records and gained worldwide attention and praise from musicians, fans and critics. A number of LPs and Eps then followed, including his boldest release, the full-length LP Vapor City on Ninja Tune, a conceptual universe which included an interactive website, digital citizenship programme for fans, and an art exhibit in NYC that launched with the album. Having Machinedrum on the decks at Savage is a special event. Expect this one to be sold-out, so get your tickets early. Support on the night comes from L A K E S, Quan, Min8 and Ali. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Advance tickets are VND150,000. Entrance on the door is VND200,000 after. For more info click on

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Electronic Masterclass Savage, Tay Ho Thursday, Dec. 7 In collaboration with the Goeth-Institut, Berlin based electronic music producer Al Kassian will be holding an electronic masterclass at Savage Club on Thursday, Dec. 7 at 8.30pm. Designed to create synergies between the electronic music scenes of Germany and Vietnam, the team welcome anyone interested in electronic music and producing in general. Al Kassian is the founder of the record label Planet Sundae, and has worked on numerous projects, including releasing the single Diamonds on Jupiter, and the live performance Opal Sunn, with his studio partner Hiroaki Oba. Together with producer Nguyen Do Minh Quan, over the previous four weeks prior to the masterclass, Al has explored Hanoi, recording the many sounds that the city has to offer. The two will then create one or several electronic tracks using the sounds that they record. During the masterclass the duo will showcase their music and recordings, and answer any questions on the project or on producing electronic music in general. Savage is located at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Admission is free

Don’s Xmas Menu Throughout December Don’s Bistro, Tay Ho Over the years members of this magazine have had the pleasure of eating much of the cuisine dished out at Don’s. Besides Thanksgiving — the patron is Canadian after all — one of the best feasts this comfort foodobsessed restaurant serves up is for Christmas. And by the looks of it, this year will be no different. Egg nog, a lobster and caviar appetizer, a duet of Canadian

oysters, pan seared Sapa goose breast, a chocolate and matcha Yule log and strawberry Santas. The menu is awash with tasty, Christmas-influenced fare, and costing VND1,488,000++ for the full five-course meal (with the egg nog of course), this is one hell of a good deal. Even better, the under-12s menu costs just VND188,000++. If you really want to indulge, don’t forget New Year’s Eve. There’s a special extravagant menu set up for the last night of 2017. Think oysters, Canadian lobster, pan-seared foie gras and Canadian AAA beef fillet, and you’ll get the idea. Don’s Bistro is at 16 Quang An, Tay Ho, Hanoi. For information, email, and for bookings, call (024) 3719 2828

Revolve Launch Party Secret Location in Hanoi Saturday, Dec. 2 Eight DJs, a secret, secluded location surrounded by trees, and a carefully tailored musical venture that has been put together by key members of the Hanoi underground scene. Add to this a a mighty sound system, a unique dancing environment, striking visuals and an augmented experience that will run for 15 hours, and you have the concept behind the first Revolve party. If it’s your cup of tea — or can of Red Bull — then head to the Revolve Facebook page. At the time of writing the secret location had just been revealed, just 15 minutes drive from the Old Quarter. Advance tickets (VND250,000) are available at Ke Quan (81B Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi), Savage (112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi) and DeN (49 Lang Yen Phu, Tay Ho, Hanoi). Entrance on the door is VND350,000 and the experience starts at 9pm. For full info click on RevolveHanoi | December 2017 Word | 35

ToDo list Hanoi

Comedy w/ Ro Campbell and Grem Wood Standing Bar, Ba Dinh Thursday, Dec. 14 After last month’s show, which saw comedic legend Phil Kay play to a sell-out crowd, Stand-Up Hanoi are promising more of the same, this time with two comedians who are veterans of the Southeast Asian club circuit. Headlining is UK-based, award-winning Australian comic Ro Campbell who was once controversially crowned Scottish Comedian of the Year. Returning to the stage in Vietnam for the third time, Ro has performed at the last 10 Edinburgh fringe festivals and in well over 30 countries. He’s one of those comics who makes people laugh, more than just out loud, and has even been described in the press as “one of the funniest men on earth”, “top notch” and “effortlessly brilliant”.

Joining him is UK comic Grem Wood. Best known for his dry style and British wit, Grem has become a crowd favourite across Asia and was one of the founders of the Bangkok comedy scene. A trail blazer in what is now one of the hottest comedy scenes in Asia, Grem's unique take on Thailand, Southeast Asia and how he sees the world will leave you with a smile on your face long after the show is over. Entrance is VND200,000 in advance and VND250,000 on the door. For further information or to purchase advance tickets, email info@ or go to Standing Bar, 170 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. You can also check out Stand-Up Hanoi by clicking on standuphanoi. com

HIMM Connect Clickspace, Tay Ho Thursday, Dec. 7 Hosted by the Hanoi International Men’s Meet Up group, HIMM Connect is a series of short talks by people who moved to Hanoi with their significant other, and achieved their personal and professional goals in the process. The event is largely aimed at ‘accompanying partners’ — people who moved to Hanoi because their partner has a job that is the reason they are in Hanoi. The short, casual presentations are essentially to shed light on how to ‘make things happen’ for you in Hanoi, and while it’s a professional networking event, guests are encouraged to kick back and drink beer without any actual pressure of a professional networking event. The team highlight that while it’s labelled as a men’s meet up, women are also welcome to attend. The event kicks off at 7.30pm. Admission is free. Clickspace is located at Villa 15, 76 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi

Vestige of a Land Goethe-Institut, Ba Dinh Dec. 14 to Jan. 12

No & Meaning Exhibition Manzi Art Space, Ba Dinh Dec. 9 to Jan. 8 Manzi and Vietnam Art Gallery will be co-hosting the No & Meaning exhibition by prominent contemporary Vietnamese visual artist Nguyen Minh Thanh from Dec. 9. The exhibition consists of 20 paintings incorporating mainly Chinese ink and watercolour on traditional Vietnamese do paper, with Buddhist themes on detachment and escape. Thanh was one of the first Vietnamese avant-garde artists to

experiment with less traditional methods of art-making, and his melancholy style paintings have been exhibited nationally and internationally in Japan, Australia and Switzerland. However, this particular exhibition is the first from Thanh in five years, and explores his new approach to painting where he ignores concepts, plans and idealism. Manzi Art Space is located at 14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. Entrance is free

Held at the Goethe-Institut, Hanoi, between Dec. 14 and Jan. 12, the exhibition Vestige of a Land is the result of six months of research by artist Le Giang, and Sino-Nom researcher Nguyen Dinh Hung on the changing role of communal houses in villages on the northern delta in Vietnam. The exhibition will explore how political changes and education reforms are effecting the role of the communal houses, and ultimately leading to their disrepair or modification. Questions raised will deal with the topic of preserving the communal houses as a corner-stone of Vietnamese cultural history. Artist Le Giang’s work has been exhibited in Hanoi as well as in London, and she has participated in numerous international art events. The event will open on the evening of the Dec. 13 at 6pm, and will be concluded with a talk by Le Giang and Nguyen Dinh Hung on Dec. 20 where they will give insights into their six months of research. Admission is free throughout. Goethe-Institut is located at 56-58 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. The exhibition will run daily between 9am and 7pm

ToDo list Hanoi

German Christmas Market

Christmas Concert

Cua Bac Church, Ba Dinh Dec. 16 to Dec. 18

Cua Bac Church, Ba Dinh Thursday, Dec. 21

For the first time in Hanoi, the Goethe-Institut, in collaboration with the German embassy of Vietnam, will host a Christmas market at Cua Bac Church from Dec. 16 to Dec. 18. The event will give you the chance to get some last-minute Christmas shopping done, before the final bout of Christmas shopping that you’ll inevitably do on Christmas Eve (or even on Christmas Day, as the case may be). There will be mulled wine, stollen pastry, a whole host of wares and an opening concert of Christmas songs for you to joyfully sing along to (after several glasses of mulled wine). Admission is free and open to all. The market will be followed up by a Christmas Concert by the same organisers in Cua Bac Church on Dec. 21. Cua Bac Church is located at 56 Phan Dinh Phung, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

In case their Christmas market wasn’t enough to raise your festive spirit, the Goethe-Institut, in collaboration with the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra, will hold a Christmas concert on the evening of Thursday, Dec. 21 at Cua Bac Church. The event is part to celebrate the festive season, but also to mark the 20-year anniversary of the Goethe institute in Hanoi. The orchestra will play Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Johann Sebastian Bach’s Orchestra Suite in D Major. The Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1959 and has since become the country’s foremost symphony orchestra. They perform 60 times per year, and have played in various countries across the region and round the world, and while they include the standard orchestra works in their repertoire, they also regularly

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include pieces from Vietnamese composers as well. The concert will begin at 8pm. Entrance is from 7.15pm, and admission is free. Cua Bac Church is located at 56 Phan Dinh Phung, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

diskonnected Savage, Tay Ho Saturday, Dec. 23 A rising techno guru from Taiwan, diskonnected is the current resident DJ at Taipei’s Smoke Machine, a club known for promoting techno and all things subculture. After joining Smoke Machine in 2010, diskonnected got involved in a series of projects and parties that led to the birth of the much celebrated Smoke Machine Podcast. Throughout the years, diskonnected's music and taste has sculpted the style and vibe of this much loved, Taipei club. At Savage, he will be performing all night long. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Entrance is free before 11pm and VND100,000 after. For more info click on

NYE at Savage Savage, Tay Ho Sunday, Dec. 31 New Year’s Eve parties at Savage are a sweaty, all-night-long smorgasbord of sounds, music and people. This year the underground Hanoi-based club for all things electronic will be bringing in one of the best known DJs to emerge out of Southeast Asia — Jonny Vicious. Spinning anything from deep house and techno through to funk and disco, Viscious’s rise has been meteoric. Starting off in Kuala Lumpur in 2013, he gradually brought his intuitive and diverse mix of sound to other venues in the region, playing residencies and gigs in Singapore, Indonesia and further afield. With the Savage DJs also on hand for the night, expect this one to be banging. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. From 9pm to 10pm, entrance is VND50,000. From 10pm to 11pm it rises to VND150,000. After 11pm entrance is VND200,000 after. For more info click on | December 2017 Word | 39


Just Hanoi

Juice bars, new collections, arts education, jewellery and Zara

Zara Opens in the Capital One year after the opening of their flagship store in the Vietnam, in Ho Chi Minh City, Spanish fashion brand Zara are now open for business in Hanoi too. Their November opening came at the same time H&M opened a flagship store in Hanoi, located in Royal City, and is another milestone for Hanoi towards becoming a desirable location for shoppers in the region. The opening of both international brands in the capital will increase pressure on local fashion brands, who have until recently enjoyed very little competition. Easily recognizable from the street thanks to a giant block letter model logo adorning the pavement outside, the sleek white Zara store in Vincom

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Center Ba Trieu encompasses a 4,500sqm shopping area spread over three floors, and features clothes for men, women, children and a basics range. The store features the best of the Spanish brand’s international fashion concept, and the whole collection can be viewed online on their website, where orders can be placed. Zara is located at 191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi. Opening hours are 9.30am to 10pm

Errand Running Service Finally you don’t have to feel guilty about not doing any of your errands! ERS Hanoi (Errand Running Service Hanoi) does exactly what it says on the label, helping you to negotiate your day to day errands

— buying groceries, helping to move furniture, providing information, printing paper and business cards, they can even assist you with legal requests. So you can stop hassling your Vietnamese friends every time you need something done. The venture was established by Khuyen Tuong, a Hanoian who has spent years working with expats in Hanoi, and thus is well versed on the kinds of services that the expat community struggles to ascertain. Prices are reasonable — assistance moving furniture to a new house or apartment is VND300,000, so if you’re too lazy to go to the market, then this is definitely for you. ERS Hanoi is operational from Monday to Sunday 9am to 9pm. You


can find them on Facebook as Errand Running Service Hanoi

Mirandas Jewelry Inspired by the cultural values of Vietnam, the recently opened Mirandas Jewelry in central Hanoi sells handcrafted jewellery modelled on the well-known cultural symbols of Vietnam. With an opening collection themed on the lotus flower and conical hats — non la — the majority of the jewelry brooches, rings, earrings and necklaces are crafted out of silver. An additional collection takes inspiration from bamboo, lac birds and Dong Son drums. Costing from VND500,000 to VND6,000,000 per item, the

jewellery is available on Au Co Cruises in Halong Bay, Zen Spa (164 Tu Hoa, Tay Ho, Hanoi) and at the recently opened Mirandas Jewelry flagship store (43 Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi). For further info click on or call 0911 587755.

Naked Juice Bar Sitting on the corner of Ba Trieu and Hai Ba Trung, and just a stone’s throw from Hoan Kiem Lake, is Naked Juice Bar. Catching on to the increasing demand for fruit juice, their collection of fruit juice mixes are squeezed on site, from fruits that you can pick for yourself out of

their fridge. The café has two floors, with a balcony and a view of Ba Trieu. Drinks range from VND50,000 to VND80,000, and include ten cold pressed juice mixes, lassis (VND45,000) and single juice drinks. We recommend you try the Number 5 Mix — watermelon, strawberry, lime and mint (VND60,000), and the Number 9 Mix — apple, strawberry and lime (VND80,000). They also sell dried organic fruit, ranging between VND60,000 to VND180,000. Naked Juice Bar is located at 13 Ba Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Opening hours are 7.30am to 11.30pm.


Just Hanoi

The Gentlewoman Collection The new fall / winter collection at WEPHOBIA is inspired by the brand’s signature “menswear like clothes for women” style, made for women who like to suit up and project an ambitious, independent and detail-orientated image. The collection is fit for bitter winter days, and includes garments such as the York Blazer — designed for a straight, slightly boxy fit (VND2,150,000), the Checked Coat — a baggy, three quarter sleeve coat with drop shoulders and a checked pattern (VND2,850,000) and the Edin Coat — a long, body fit coat with a fabric belt at the waist (VND2,950,000). You can purchase items in store or on their Facebook page. They also have a men’s collection — WEPHOBIA Man. WEPHOBIA is located at 247 Pho Hue, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi. Opening hours are 9am to 9.30pm

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Work Room Four Education To improve the quality of their service and offer the opportunity of learning and creating to a wider audience, Work Room Four has recently expanded and launched a new, 350sqm purpose-built creative learning and exhibition space in the centre of Hanoi. Called Work Room Four Education, the new facility at 28 Phan Boi Chau, Hoan Kiem will open this month with a range of Winter One Day Art workshops. Held between Dec. 18 and Jan. 5 for students from Grade 7 up to Grade 12, the full day workshops run from 9am to 4.30pm and include an art making skills workshop painting, drawing, printing, mixed media and photography — as well as a guided gallery tour of a new art exhibition. The one day art workshop, artist talk and art gallery guided tour costs VND1,250,000 per student and is inclusive of all materials, morning and afternoon snacks and lunch. Students who book more than one workshop will get 50% off the second or third booking. Work Room Four is a fully foreign-owned company established in 2013 and registered to two English artist, designer educators living in Vietnam for over seven years. Having a collective 20 years of art and

design education experience ranging from middle school to university level in London and international institutions, the Work Room Four vision is to improve the quality of creative life in Vietnam and beyond for makers, students and purveyors of the arts. For info on the winter one day art workshops, email And for more info on Work Room Four, click on | December 2017 Word | 43


A Perfect Match / Street Portrait: Thanh Nien / This Is The Year That Was / The Art of Life / Hanoi Hitmen / How Much Does it Cost? / Kitchens in the Sky / Banh My Kebab / Mi Hoanh Thanh Photo provided by Pulse Active 44 | Word December 2017 | | December 2017 Word | 45




The Perfect Match Winemaker Allan Scott has been coming to Vietnam since 2004. Over the years he's seen a tryst developing between New World wine and Vietnamese cuisine. Words and Photo by Matt Cowan


t’s a long way from the trellises of New Zealand’s Marlborough wine region for award-winning winemaker Allan Scott, but he looks relaxed posing for photos on the corner of one of Ho Chi Minh City’s busiest streets. He has visited Vietnam numerous times over the years. His indifference to the calamitous traffic conditions in the streets behind him is on display; evidence enough to prove this is indeed not his first time. In between poses, he appears comfortable speaking freely and openly about the relationship between wine and food here. “At first, I loved the lack of sophistication and naivety with matching food and wine together in Vietnam,” says Allan of his first visit to Vietnam in 2004, over the din of the traffic. “I was struck by the friendliness of the locals and their willingness to learn about combining wine with food.” However, the thing that struck him the most on his first visit, he says, was Vietnam’s obsession with red wine — “It seemed so out of whack with typical

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Vietnamese cuisine.” “I could immediately see that fresh, fruity, clean Marlborough-style wines were perfect to pair with Vietnamese food, so I couldn’t get why red wine was so popular, it seemed so wrong. Then I realised it was the ability to appreciate reds in much warmer climates. But thank God for refrigeration!” It won’t be the first or last time that Allan scorns the Vietnamese penchant for full-bodied red wines during our chat. It’s not that he dislikes reds — he produces and sells lots of it — but it reveals the enduring frustration he appears to feel when his product isn’t given the chance it deserves, starting with being paired with the right food. “Marlborough wines, particularly sauvignon blanc and riesling, always have a hint of citrus, and with Vietnamese cuisine, it really accentuates the flavours,” explains Allan. “Even though the wines are generally ‘bone dry’ or ‘off dry’, there’s always underlying fruit sweetness, which makes for perfect balance.”

Playing the Field Yet, despite the Vietnamese love affair with cabernet sauvignon and merlot varieties, Allan, who is visiting Vietnam this time as a guest of Mad Cow Wine & Grill at the Pullman Saigon Centre, has noticed during recent visits that the preference for red wine is beginning to fade in the eyes of Vietnamese wine drinkers who, he says, are becoming more used to having wine with food or simply appreciating it on its own. They are beginning to explore more. In the time that Allan has been visiting Vietnam, the country has undergone significant economic growth which, according to a EU-Vietnam Business Network (EVBN) report this year on market trends in the luxury goods sector, has generated an increasing appetite for luxury goods among a young rising middle class that has a desire to flaunt its social status with conspicuous consumption. It is becoming much more common to see Vietnamese people quaffing wine.


But it’s not just that. The EVBN report says that the Vietnamese have become better educated as consumers and are therefore becoming more selective and demanding with their choices. It has been reported that wine sales are estimated to be close to US$1 billion per year already and that by 2025, it’s forecasted that the Vietnamese will on average drink seven litres of wine per person each year. “Vietnam has changed massively in that time,” says Allan. “I can’t believe how much more it’s changed even since I was last here 18 months ago. My first visit was made with some trepidation because of all the unknowns, including the history and its unsophisticated food and wine industry, but Vietnam threw open its doors and showed us there was a place for them — as risky as it was at first. Quickly, both sides foresaw the perfect match and the market growth that lay ahead. Vietnam gave Allan Scott Wines that insight, accepted and embraced us and we will always be indebted for that.”

The Last Laugh It was one day in 1973 as a young man that Allan found himself as part of a small team that began planting the first grape vines in the Marlborough region on the South Island of New Zealand. In a recent interview he said that he had had no interest in wine and “just happened to be in the right place at the right time.” He is now the only person remaining from that first day almost 45 years ago when news of someone planting wine grapes in the area was met with laughter and derision. Now his name appears on over 1.5 million bottles of wine sold around the world each year produced at his own winery that he established in 1990. “It’s amazing to think it has gone from nothing into a multi-billion dollar industry and has brought international fame to the region.” When asked if the same thing could happen in Vietnam, he had this to say: “To be honest, we looked and tried the wines and vineyards of Dalat and I can’t

say I was overwhelmed. I just don’t think the climate is suitable, and given we are told the climate is going to get hotter and wetter, the chances for wine grapes here are slim.” Not encouraging words, but nor were the ones Allan heard all those years ago when the odds were seemingly against him.

A Great Match We asked Allan to match his wines with some of Vietnam’s most common dishes:

goi cuon — pinot gris or sparkling wine bun cha — pinot noir bo luc lac — pinot noir banh xeo — sauvignon blanc or riesling pho bo — riesling or sauvignon blanc cao lau — full-bodied chardonnay goi ngo sen tom thit — sauvignon blanc | December 2017 Word | 47




Thanh Nien Running between two of Hanoi’s most iconic lakes, Thanh Nien is one of the most attractive streets in the city. Words by Billy Gray. Photos by Teigue John Blokpoel

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here’s a whole list of ancient streets in Hanoi, most of them located in and around the city’s Old Quarter. Thanh Nien, or the ‘land bridge’ as some have taken to calling it, sits in the middle of West Lake and Truc Bach Lake, acting as a link between the two lakes. The street is renowned in Hanoi for its beauty — the blackboard trees that line it give shade to the pavements, and the ancient temples and Buddhist flags hanging off of the trees give a sense of spirituality and tranquillity. Of an evening Thanh Nien is popular with couples who come to walk down the breezy street and look out onto the surrounding lakes. It’s also a popular hangout for young Hanoians who, after all, it derives its name from; Thanh Nien in Vietnamese means ‘youth’. The name was given to the street by Ho Chi Minh after a group of students and young people helped to widen it in 1960.

Alive with History Thanh Nien is home to Hanoi’s oldest pagoda, Tran Quoc Pagoda, which was

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built in the 6th century. The temple sports a recognisable tower that is illuminated at night, along with several other surrounding ancient structures, giving the street its reputation for beauty. Also present is a fig tree that was grown from a cutting of the Bodhi tree under which Buddha is said to have found enlightenment. The tree was a gift from the first President of India, Rajendra Prasad, in 1959. The pagoda was originally built on the banks of the Red River, but when the water started to encroach on it, it was moved to Thanh Nien, where it now sits on a small Island in West Lake. You can visit the temple for free between 7.30am and 11.30am, and 1.30pm to 5.30pm, every day. On one side, Thanh Nien Street curves around Truc Bach Lake. Even outside Vietnam, the lake is famous. It was the site where the now US politician John McCain crash-landed after being shot down by an anti-air missile during the war. McCain was captured and was a prisoner of war in the 'Hanoi Hilton' for the remainder of the conflict. Unlike other lakes in the capital where planes were shot into, McCain’s

aircraft has not been turned into a war memorial. If you want to get a real sense of Truc Bach, you can take a giant swan out for a romantic paddle (or a cheeky BYOB session) from the jetty next to the floating Highlands Coffee on the lake. At the bottom of the street close to Ba Dinh Square is Quan Thanh Taoist Temple. Dating back to the 11th century it is considered one of four sacred temples in Hanoi. The temple is open to the public and entrance is VND10,000. Inside is an impressive bronze statue towering four meters high, and an art gallery, where original paintings are on sale to the public, averaging around VND750,000 a piece.

Sweet Tooth Thanh Nien is well known for its abundance of bo bia sellers (despite the name, unfortunately bo bia involves neither beef, nor beer). These crunchy treats are made from sugar cane, shredded coconut and sesame seeds rolled up in a corn wrap. While a little dry, they’ll certainly satisfy a sweet tooth, and cost VND10,000 a serving.

Once the sun gets eaten up, the youth of the city descend on the Kem Ho Tay, opposite Tran Quoc Pagoda, to satisfy their craving for ice creams at between VND6,000 and VND7,000. Further up the road, and just off on to Truc Bach Road, is Bao Oanh Café, which is renowned for its kem dua (coconut ice cream, VND70,000), as well as its stunning five-storey view of Thanh Nien, West Lake and Truc Bach. For those with a more savoury tooth, at the bottom of Thanh Nien, on the corner of Quan Thanh Street mobile vendors dish up banh xiu pao for VND7,000 a serving. The mix of meat, egg and fruit in a pastry wrap is a great way to fill up on the cheap while you wander around.

What to Buy It’s impossible not to glimpse the flower traders going about their rounds with an abundance of colours, a bouquet of which is yours for VND100,000. It’s often equally irresistible to buy a good bit of tat from one of the sellers outside Tran Quoc Pagoda, with wares including

beads, incense, little ornaments, and redeared slider turtles, small ones which cost VND30,000 to VND50,000, and bigger ones (the size of your hand) which cost between VND200,000 and VND300,000. A popular tradition has been to raise the turtles for a couple of weeks and then release them back into the lake for good luck. The turtles have to be released on a specific day laid down by a fortune teller. The turtles are then in all likelihood fished straight back out of the lake and resold. For your shopping and grocery needs, Dan’s Bistro (28 Thanh Nien) specializes in imported goods, and on the opposite side of the street, the café at number 5 Thanh Nien, serves up some of the finer tra tranh (lemon tea) and mia da (sugarcane juice), both for VND10,000 a glass.

One for the Bucket List Thanh Nien Street has a lot to offer visitors, being one of the most aesthetically pleasing streets in the capital. Boasting a fair amount of cafes, it’s a great spot to bring a date, learn about the city’s past, or play bumper swans on Truc Bach Lake.

“The street is renowned for its beauty — the blackboard trees give shade to the pavements, and the ancient temples and Buddhist flags hanging off of the trees give a sense of spirituality and tranquillity” | December 2017 Word | 51

Cover Story


This is the year that was

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2017. A year when cables split, superstars cancelled concerts, dengue fever spread like wildfire, and the country got hit by not one but three tropical storms. It doesn't make good reading, right? But take a look back at the events of the past 12 months and there's a lot of good to add to the bad — positive changes that may well have huge ramifications for the future of Vietnam. Over the next few pages we revisit 16 events that have been the talking point of Vietnam over the past year. It's not comprehensive by any means — as we were putting this together it became clear that we were leaving a lot of things out. APEC anyone? The rise of Grab and Uber? The decline of ANZ in Vietnam? But it's certainly been an interesting 12 months. Now that it's almost over, though, time to bring on 2018. | December 2017 Word | 53


mcdonald's opens in hanoi Years of speculation over whether the fast food behemoth would ever enter Hanoi are now at an end



t’s here, the day you thought would never come: McDonald’s has landed in Hanoi. Bearing civilization and the word of God, Ronald McDonald has set up his shrine next to Hoan Kiem Lake, in the heart of the capital, and has hired dedicated minions to flip burgers and serve fries. Probably the most anticipated fast food event to happen in Hanoi since KFC came to town in 2006 (a whopping nine years after its first branch in Ho Chi Minh City), McDonald’s opening on the Dec. 2 sticks to the capital’s habit of stubbornly not allowing western

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franchises to open here until they’re normalized elsewhere in the country. It started with large billboards and posters around town telling the Hanoi populace that McDonald’s was hiring. Applicants sought after to work in Hanoi’s latest dating hotspot would have been between 18 to 35 years of age, would have considered themselves ‘hip’ and while not necessary, would have previous experience in toting capitalist slogans and working as a cog on a production line.

Change of Pace

The fast food giant’s opening came a few weeks after world leaders

descended on Vietnam, making trade and business deals, and promising investment. The poster child for capitalism, Ronald McDonald’s appearance in Hanoi at this time is a sign of changing times. Hanoi is caving in to openness and jumping on to the bandwagon of developed cities around the world, filling its streets with fat-soaked, fast-served salty foodstuffs. Vietnamese people are generally considered to be comparatively slim compared to their western brothers and sisters, but with all this fast food coming to town, we’ll see how far those genes go before those jeans go. — Billy Gray

Em Chua 18 Makes Record Box Office Sales The Vietnamese film industry has experienced a Renaissance over the past few years. Em Chua 18 is the latest movie to woo the the crowds


ietnamese cinema took a leap into new grounds with its highest-grossing blockbuster yet, romantic comedy Em Chua 18, also known by its badly translated English title — Jailbait. The movie focuses on a middle-aged playboy who unwittingly sleeps with a girl who isn’t yet 18, and then must appease her to avoid having her report him to the authorities. With a budget of VND16 billion (approx. US$700,000), the film is the second by director Thanh Son Le, and grossed an overall US$10 million, the highest of any Vietnamese film so far. Hailed by national media as the first evolution of Vietnamese cinema, Em Chua 18 just might be what the industry needs to propel itself into a new golden era of film-making.



The number of films produced in Vietnam has yet to recover from its drop in 1987. After the opening up of the economy, the industry failed to keep up with TV and video imports — American and Korean films and sitcoms remain the most popular flicks among the Vietnamese. If Vietnam can follow similar models of cinematic evolution from across the region — producing films that highlight its culture and capture audiences through playing on a set of strengths that differentiate it from Hollywood — then the country could one day have its own thriving Hanoiwood. Korean films settled on a formula of violence, an emphasis on characters’ emotions, and weird storylines that make you question the writer’s sanity. This has proven to be an effective tool when it comes

to reaching global audiences. However, the country also benefits domestically from limiting the amount of days per year that foreign films can be shown in its theatres, and did at one point exempt the film industry from tax in order to encourage its growth.


Vietnam doesn’t yet take such measures, as the government is more concerned with staving off environmental catastrophe and keeping up economic growth. Still, the interest that Em Chua 18 evoked in the media and the public shows that Vietnam has a hungry market for domestic film production. Films that can play off Vietnamese culture and humour and do it well, will no doubt break the box office. — Billy Gray | December 2017 Word | 55

When Hardwell Came to Vietnam Thousands flocked to My Dinh Stadium to get a piece of the artist called the world's biggest DJ


n May 20, thousands descended on My Dinh stadium to see the man that Mixmag has coined the world’s biggest DJ. Hardwell was performing in Vietnam for the second time, the first being in Ho Chi Minh City in September 2014. Somewhat ironically the event was hosted by Vinaphone. No doubt this has something to do with the inseparable connection between Vietnamese phone shops and the blasting of EDM music on the biggest speaker the store has available in the middle of a weekday afternoon. Maybe not. Regardless, both tours drew the crowds in their droves, and the return of the world’s biggest

DJ looks like it will be a taste for what’s in store. Vietnam is increasingly becoming a point of interest for touring DJs given the country’s fervent, almost cult-like appreciation for EDM, where kindergartens play Skrillex to entice children to exercise. Tiesto, voted by Mixmag fans as “the Greatest DJ of All Time” will be descending on Hanoi on the Dec. 9. He will be playing My Dinh stadium alongside R3HAB, as part of the Budweiser tour 2017.

Loud Noises

The increasingly regular visits by top DJs shows just how far the country has come in the last two decades. No-one was inviting Faithless to play here 20 years ago.

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If the concept of trickle-down still retains any relevance, then the top dogs’ performances could help to establish Vietnam as a regular fixture on the tour lists of musicians from all classes, not to mention give the local music industry a firm instruction to bury Vinahouse under the most enormous landfill and produce something more relevant to human civilization. With the country becoming a frequent stopping-off point for massive house DJs, time will tell just how long it is before other genres also consider coming to spread the vibrations — Jose Gonzalez’s free performance last year is an example of what could be, while the youth of a nation plug in their headphones to the outside world. — Billy Gray


Vietnam U20 Football Team Play in World Cup But despite the optimism, the team doesn't make it past the group stage


he reason why Vietnam’s national football team fares so badly, you will often be told, is because of size. Vietnamese players just aren’t big enough. While physical size and strength does matter, you don’t need to be big to be a successful footballer. Lionel Messi is only 1m70 and Neymar isn’t much taller, reaching the dizzy heights of 1m75. Pele, that Brazilian superstar who may be the best player to ever grace a football field, was slightly built and a little shorter than Neymar. Then there were the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Gary Lineker and George Best. None of them were particularly tall. All meaning that when Vietnam’s U20 side played in the World Cup back in May, they broke with perceived local wisdom.

High Hopes


modern history had qualified for a FIFA event, the squad went into the 24-nation tournament in South Korea with high hopes. The year before, the national under-19 team had reached the semi-finals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup. It was the furthest any Vietnamese team had progressed in this tournament and many of the team members were in the squad for the Under-20 competition. Yet the fairy tale was not to be. While the first game saw the Vietnamese team notch up a 0-0 draw with New Zealand, they were less effective against France (lost 4-0) and Honduras (lost 2-0), meaning an early exit. Still, the U-20 team could hold their heads high. Although not that high. As anyone from Vietnam will tell you, they need to be a bit taller for that. — Nick Ross

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Kong Premiere Ignites Social Media The movie that made Jordan Vogt-Roberts' name in Vietnam has been both a resounding success and a bit of a disaster

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iant flaming ape, check. Hundreds of people scurrying in panic, check. Director getting bottled in a nightclub, check. The premiere of Kong: Skull Island in Ho Chi Minh City may not have gone to plan, but it was quite a spectacle none the less. Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ actionpumped, massively over-the-top instalment in the King Kong franchise was a resounding hit in Vietnam, despite receiving mixed reviews elsewhere. The feature was largely shot in the UNESCO heritage site, Halong Bay, as well as the mountainous area of Ninh Binh, and the mountains, rivers and caves of Phong Nha. Its promotion of these destinations led to director Vogt-Roberts being named a tourism ambassador for Vietnam.

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With all the hype surrounding the film’s release, crowds flocked to the premiere outside a CGV cinema in Ho Chi Minh City, where they were greeted with a VND1 billion (US$40,000) stage complete with a 16-foot statue of King Kong himself, dinosaurs… and fire dancers. During their opening performance one of the dancers accidentally set fire to the set, subsequently engulfing the entire stage in a blazing inferno. Crowds, including delegates from embassies and the local government were sent fleeing in panic as a 16-foot Kong turned into a 16-foot Balrog. The situation was quickly brought under control by the local fire brigade. Later, director Vogt-Roberts was attacked in a nightclub in District 1.

His assailants smashed a bottle over his head and punched him in the face, hospitalizing him in what he described as “a brutal and malicious attack by several men.” The incident was big news on social media, and highlighted the need for much tighter safety regulations in Vietnam, especially when famous people show their faces in public. On a brighter note, having a major Hollywood production filmed and premiered in Vietnam shows that the country is edging closer to becoming an established spot on the map for entertainment and culture. Having exposure through entertainment, culture and tourism has a tendency to increase trust in a place, and Vietnam is seeing this boom on an increasing scale. Still, there’s a way to go yet. — Billy Gray

the storms Three months, three storms and a death toll of almost 300


ietnam’s location on the edge of the Pacific means that the country has always been susceptible to tropical storms. Indeed, October to January in central Vietnam is known as the storm season, such is the frequency of the tropical depressions that gather in the nearby ocean. This year’s disasters started with the arrival of Typhoon Doksuri in mid-September. The most powerful storm to hit the country in a decade, widespread evacuations in the Quang Binh and Ha Tinh areas of North Central Vietnam ensured the death toll was kept to a minimum — there were only 11 fatalities. Then the next storm hit: Typhoon Khanun. The storm made landfall in Southern China and was downgraded to a category 2 hurricane by the time it moved into northern Vietnam.

Then at the beginning of November, Typhoon Damrey battered coastal Nha Trang with winds of up to 135km per hour. Killing well over 60 people and causing widespread flooding, 2,000 homes collapsed and more than 80,000 were damaged.

Who’s Affected?

The worry is not so much that Vietnam will be hit by storms — this is an accepted part of life. Rather, it is the growing frequency of these storms and concern for the people who are most at risk. In 2006 a storm hit Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Binh Thuan Provinces in southern Vietnam. 47 people were killed — most were from small fishing villages and rural areas up the coast. There was also widespread structural damage to the region. However, it was the only

major storm to hit Vietnam that year. More than 10 years on and three typhoons have made landfall in a matter of months, and as in the past the people most affected are the poor. In the impoverished district of Van Ninh, 40km north of Nha Trang, Typhoon Damrey killed eight people alone. People’s livelihoods — homes, fishing boats and crops — were swept away. According to UNICEF in a statement in early November, four million people including one million people were affected by Damrey alone, of whom over 30,000 were displaced. If storms are going to be more frequent then another question needs to be answered: How do you protect those who are most at risk? — Nick Ross



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When Ariana Had a Flu 'problem' Ariana Grande cancels her concert, disappointed fans


riana Grande made it to Vietnam, but not to the stage, in August when she stopped by Ho Chi Minh City on the Asian leg of her Dangerous Woman tour to promote her third album. Citing heath issues, which were later described as the flu, she canceled her concert just four hours before showtime. She offered an apology and promised to make it up to fans at a later date via an Instagram story: “My babes in Vietnam, I apologize from the bottom of my heart but I’m really dealing with some health problems at the moment,” she wrote. “I came here to Vietnam, so excited to perform, my doctor won’t allow me to do the show for you tonight.” Fans, or “Arianators” as they call themselves, took to social media to voice their concern, disappointment, and in some

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cases, anger about the news. “Ariana Grande, we love you and we understand your circumstance. We hope you will get well soon. Love you from the bottom of our hearts,” wrote the administrator of the Ariana Grande Vietnam Facebook page.

A Growing Trend?

In fact, it was not the first cancelation of a Grande concert this year. Following the Manchester bombing of her concert in Manchester, Grande cut the remaining stops on the European leg of the tour, and also canceled a Mexico concert for unspecified reasons. No word yet on when Grande will return. She recovered from the flu and went on to perform the rest of the Asian leg of the tour. — Mary Warner

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three cables down Simultaneous break causes internet traffic jam




he internet came to a grinding halt for a large number of users in August when three out of four internet undersea cables linked to Vietnam quit functioning. Viettel, the country’s largest internet provider, confirmed the they were the SEA’s Asia-America Gateway (AAG) and Intra Asia (TGN-IA) undersea cables, with breaks in both lines near the cable station in Hong Kong, and the SEA-ME-WE3 (SMW3) cable line, whose break was eventually determined to be between Perth and Singapore. Accounting for 60 percent of the internet connection between Vietnam and the rest of the world,

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the AAG line is one of the longest submarine cables in the world, stretching more than 20,000 km across the Pacific Ocean. While the TGN-IA cable is nearly a third of the length of the AAG line, it’s responsible for connecting five Asian countries and their territories including Vietnam, Singapore, the Philippines, Japan and Hong Kong. The final line, SMW3, connects the three regions of East Asia, the Middle East, and Western Europe.

Up but not running

The incident in August was remarkable in that it involved the simultaneous breaking of all three submarine lines. Experts cited the

tropical storms and typhoons that had recently passed through the area for the cause of the problem, but nothing was ever confirmed. In the past, shipping vessels, underwater salvage or even sharks have been blamed for damage to the undersea cables. Repair to the cables lines takes months and contribute to an overall slow-down of the internet in most parts of Asia. There’s no telling when another break will happen. Case in point: In November, the AAG line broke again — for the fifth time this year — just weeks after its last repair. In other words, don’t get too hooked on fast download speeds. Sabotage, anyone? — Mary Warner


the saigon water bus New public transport service about to float your boat


y the time you read this, Saigon’s new water bus service will have launched. Initially planned to begin operations in June, the service has been highly anticipated; in some quarters heralded (or hexed?) as a panacea for the city’s increasingly congested streets and motorways (cross fingers, look to the sky). The first phase (Route 1) is an 11km, seven-stop service that will take commuters from Bach Dang Wharf in District 1 on Ton Duc Thang to Linh Dong Ward in Thu Duc. The second phase (Route 2) is 10km long and will pass through the canals of Ben Nghe and Tau Hu via Districts 1, 4, 5, 6 and 8. Rumours that a route to District 7 will open up in 2018 were also

confirmed by a spokesperson for the project just days prior to the Nov. 25 launch. The price of a ticket is a flat VND15,000 per person, whether commuters ride one stop or go the full distance. Up to 10 boats that can comfortably accommodate 60 passengers each will be part of the phase one rollout.

Sneak Peek

Word was invited to a media event prior to the official Nov. 25 launch to experience the Route 1 service from Bach Dang Wharf to Kinh Dong Ward and back. The powerful twin diesel engine, twin-hulled vessels are spacious inside with practical seating and ample headroom for most

commuters. There are bathroom facilities onboard with rumours that light snacks will also be available. Inside the cabin there is plenty of standing room and space for commuters travelling with luggage and strollers. However, it’s unclear as to whether cyclists will be able to transport their bikes onboard. There’s no doubting the potential for the water bus service with people living along Route 1 the lucky ones to test it out first. The two routes are expected to serve up to 5,000 passengers a day, a small drop in the ocean compared to the number of commuters coming in and out of Saigon. But it’s a massive step forward towards finding a solution to the gridlock that currently chokes the city. — Matt Cowan

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Dengue For Days and Days


Well over 100,000 cases of dengue fever reported in 2017


anoi and Ho Chi Minh City became the real life setting of a would-be medical thriller with an outbreak of dengue fever over the summer. By the middle of August, a staggering total of 90,626 people had been infected across the country, with 10,000 of those cases reported over the span of one week alone. The number of cases reported increased by 67.8 percent over last year and the areas most affected were Vietnam’s two largest cities. Many blame a combination of the rise of urbanization where construction sites often leave standing water for mosquitos to breed, warmer temperatures, and more rain, as the reason for an increase in dengue

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fever. Around their homes, people were encouraged to empty containers of sitting water, but that wasn’t enough. Throughout the summer, the government conducted large-scale spraying campaigns at night, focusing on busy areas, such as markets, schools, construction sites, and abandoned properties, to combat the problem. During the day, smaller spraying sites included residential areas. Restaurants around Hanoi offered insect repellent in their outdoor seating areas. Despite the efforts by the government and community, by October more than 148,260 cases of dengue had been documented since the outbreak began earlier in the year. Thirty people died.

The Good News?

In Hanoi and the north, at least, it’s getting cooler, so mosquitos aren’t as active. As a result, since November, the overall number of new dengue cases reported has declined in the capital. Mosquitos aren’t dead though, so people are still advised to use insect repellent whenever they go outside, wear long sleeves and long trousers to cover arms and legs, and to use mosquito nets while sleeping. While mild symptoms of dengue fever don’t require a trip to the hospital, those with compromised immune systems, children and the elderly should seek medical treatment if symptoms persist. — Mary Warner

food street Street food grows up with designated areas for street-side vendors


retain Vietnam’s famous street food culture), special areas were designated for street stalls which could be used by vendors, providing they had permits.

The Dish

Proponents of Food Street say that vendors are required to show prices and follow appropriate food hygiene practices learnt as part of food safety courses during the permitting process. They also say that regular inspections by city officials ensuring food hygiene standards are upheld can only be a good thing given the concern with “dirty food” allegedly being served across the city. The vendors are said to be happy as well, as all of the equipment, including tents and tables and chairs, has been provided by the government. Detractors of the initiative have,

however, cited the location as being a significant factor in the Food Street’s slightly disappointing popularity; it’s obscured by Diamond Plaza shopping centre and out of view for tourists visiting Saigon landmarks such as Notre Dame Palace, the GPO and the Reunification Palace. The opening times of 6am to 9am, and 11am to 2pm have also raised eyebrows when it’s generally accepted that Saigon’s street food culture is at its most vibrant at night. As Word reported in October, city planners in Saigon have long held an envious gaze on Singapore, a city famous for its food courts and zeal for public order. While the government’s support for street food vendors is admirable, it will be the people voting with their feet that determines Food Street’s success or failure. Watch this space. — Matt Cowan



n October Word reported on the previous month’s opening of Food Street on Nguyen Van Chiem Street in District 1, right behind Diamond Plaza shopping centre. Depending on your perspective, its inauguration was one of the few positive public relations stories to come out of the footpath clearing campaign/ controversy that lit up social media back in February. At the time, it was reported that an estimated 500 businesses were affected by the purging of the paths, many of them street food vendors who were moved on. In some cases they were left with hefty “fines” to pay for the recovery of their belongings after they were scooped up in a series of aggressive street games of cat and mouse. As a way of allowing vendors to continue selling (and in theory | December 2017 Word | 65

Vietnam Scraps the Ho Khau The family book and ID card are being replaced with a new system


n 2009, Ngo Thu Huong (name changed) was walking down a District 1 street in Saigon when she had her bag snatched. She had just been to the bank and was carrying a large sum of cash. More important were the documents she lost: her ID card (chung minh nhan dan) and her ho khau, or family book. When in November the authorities made a landmark decision to scrap both the ho khau and ID card, there was widespread jubilation. Huong would have been equally happy. At the time she lost her documents she was making changes to her company registration. Without her ID card and ho khau, the two most important legal identification documents in Vietnam, she had to put the changes on hold. She also had to return home to her native province for three days to get new documents issued. After that she had to wait a fortnight before a family member could pick up the replacements and send them to her in Saigon.

11/17 Your Place of Residence

Introduced in the 1960s, the ho khau is issued to the house owner and contains information about family members who stay at the same address. At first it was used for public security, economic planning, migration control, food rationing and as a system of surveillance. This ensured that people were sleeping at the address they had registered as their own. No extra-marital affairs, then. Since Doi Moi in the 1980s, ho khau has been a required document of identification when it comes to school admission, job application, marriage and company registration, and most other administrative procedures. It defines four types of residence, KT1 to KT4. All are based on your KT1 registration which denotes your primary residential address. If, for example, your primary residential address is in Quang Binh but you actually live in Hanoi, then you will need to return to your home town in Quang Binh to do all your legal work — even work as simple as registering a motorbike. And if you live and work in Ho Chi Minh City but your KT1 registration is in Binh Duong, then your children will only be allowed to go to school in Binh Duong.

A Thing of the Past

The decision in November to scrap the ho khau and the ID Card by 2020 will stop people having to return to their place of KT1 registration to have access to public services. Instead a new system will be put in place where each Vietnamese citizen will be issued with a unique 12-digit personal identification number. All information regarding a person’s identity will then be stored in an accessible online database that can be easily updated, allowing people to get access to public services by providing their 12-digit number. Huong’s story is far from unique. Almost everyone in Vietnam has experienced problems with their ho khau. Soon it will be a thing of the past. — Nick Ross

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one million trees in hanoi


Trees breathe life into the capital’s “concrete jungle”


ooking to ditch its “concrete jungle” moniker and embrace the more favourable “Paris of the Southeast”, the city of Hanoi launched a campaign in February to plant one million trees by 2020. A project that began years before is starting to bear fruit. In its effort to become a sustainable city, the Hanoi government approved a plan to create a path for Hanoi to become a green and clean city by 2030. Thousands of camphor, orchid and date palm trees now line Vo Nguyen Giap Street, which stretches from Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport to Nhat Tan Bridge. Pockets of land around residential areas, including Tu Hoa, the zone between the InterContinental and Sheraton hotels, have been groomed into bona fide walking gardens. It’s part of the Vietnamese story,

Secretary of the Municipal Party Committee Hoang Trung Hai pointed out at the Feb. 4 ceremony in the Tay Ho district of Hanoi, recalling how President Ho Chi Minh planted trees in a park 57 years before. It’s symbolic of a connection to nature the Vietnamese have celebrated every year since then as part of a green festival.

A Positive Effect

The effect of one million trees added to the environment is more than just optics. Rising temperatures and diminished air quality can all be improved with the addition of trees. Today, the greening of Hanoi is far more comprehensive than a focus on its parks with the addition of trees to areas around office buildings, residential areas, schools and individual houses. To add trees, however, some have had to

be removed, a fact that initially didn’t sit well with locals concerned about air quality and rising temperatures. Large, old trees, as well as diseased ones, have been identified for removal by Hanoi Green Tree Park Company, the organisation overseeing the tree project. Throughout Hanoi, they’ve posted signs on trees slated for replacement to give residents a chance to stop their removal if a compelling argument can be made. According to the Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, Nguyen Duc Chung, Hanoi is aiming to grow more than 430,000 trees. With a recent study confirming that trees grow faster in urban versus rural environments, there’s a good chance Hanoi will reach its goal of one million trees by 2020. Maybe then, we’ll all be able to breathe a little more easily. — Mary Warner | December 2017 Word | 67

the hcmc marathon A marathon returns to Ho Chi Minh City for the first time in 25 years


hile infrastructure developments in Ho Chi Minh City attract all the attention from the media, and keyboard warriors citywide seemingly vent their spleens on a daily basis online, one healthy aspect of Vietnam’s development is quietly taking off in leaps and bounds and continues to grow: marathoning. The HCMC Marathon returned for the first time in 25 years this January. Staged as part of the annual HCMC Run, the overall event attracted over 7,000 runners. Because marathons are a relatively new phenomenon in Vietnam — the first ever timed running event in HCMC was in 2013 — participation in the full (42.2km) and half (21.1km) marathons still remains more popular among foreign participants. However, Vietnamese participants represented 70% of runners overall in this year’s event. It’s an

encouraging sign for the organisers, Pulse Active, who are also behind the Danang International Marathon and Color Me Run. Marta Solanas from Pulse Active expects 15,000 participants for Color Me Run’s next edition in the new year. That’s a big gig to organise. While those numbers remain impressive, they don’t include the number of people involved behind the scenes that have got the events like the HCMC Marathon to where they are today. This year’s event deployed 800 university student volunteers, 450 security and police officers, 1,000 staff connected to sponsors and partners, 200 government representatives, and an estimated 20,000 people who lined the streets to cheer the runners on.

No Finish Line in Sight The stats above are impressive indeed, but not only that, they

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measure the sense of community that huge events like these engender. But it’s the growth in the number of Vietnamese participants in the longer distance events making up the HCMC Run that’s most impressive. In the first edition in 2013 when the longest distance was 10km, just 468 Vietnamese runners completed the race. In the four years since, that number has increased 142%, with this year’s 10km race attracting 1,135 Vietnamese runners. Vietnamese participation in the full and half marathons is showing excellent growth as well. This is not only encouraging for the organisers but also for the community at large, especially given the coverage lifestyle diseases such as Type-2 diabetes have had recently, and the escalation in the number of diabetes (among others) diagnoses predicted to come in the decade ahead. — Matt Cowan


TEDX Ba Dinh Hanoi gets a repeat performance of the hugely popular conference on ideas


ED Talks are a part of culture the way going to a college lecture once was — only these are lectures you want to replay over and over again. That’s why it was big news when TEDx returned to Hanoi with TEDx Ba Dinh for a third time. Founded by Long Le, who created the first TEDx in Hanoi after quitting his job to produce TEDx conferences, he was invited by the TED organization to attend a conference in the United States after they got news of his successful event. Building on his experience at the TED conference abroad, Le and co-organizer Brian Nathan, gave the 2017 event the theme IDEA to highlight the “Inspiration, Direction, Execution, and Appreciation” of ideas “bubbling up” in the community. It was the largest TEDx event, to date, in Vietnam. While last year’s TEDx event included recent U.S. Ambassador Ted Osius, this year’s speaker list brought acclaimed American film and television director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Kong: Skull


Island; The Kings of Summer), as well as others with experience ranging from architecture and entrepreneurship to humanitarianism.

More than just an event Le and co-organizer Nathan, stress the importance of TEDx Ba Dinh being a living, breathing, entity that lives beyond its online venue after each event. The all-day event created opportunities for networking, as well as a bevy of workshops, yoga and art exhibitions. To round out the experience, this year’s event also offered a two-hour lunch included in the ticket price, that allowed participants the chance to network with speakers.

What’s up for next year?

Although a date has not been officially set, according to founder Le, a 2018 TEDx is in the works. Until then, people can view previous TEDx events in Hanoi by visiting tedxbadinh. com — Mary Warner

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bui vien turned into walking street Saigon’s legendary party street ditches the vehicles


any of us thought we would never see the day that something so progressive would hit the streets of the backpacker district, Pham Ngu Lao. We’re more accustomed to broken bottles and glasses, errant vomit and the well-worn high heels of ladies of the night hitting that street (sorry, couldn’t help it). Following a month-long delay (it could’ve been more), Bui Vien’s Walking Street was officially opened in August. On opening night, two stages were set up featuring performances, alongside street food stalls and the usual shenanigans of the strip, creating a carnival-like atmosphere. The People’s Committee of District 1 had piloted a vehicle ban from 7pm until 2am at weekends in the period leading up to the official opening of the walking street to test the waters — they obviously liked what they saw. Drainage pipes were also replaced, along with the footpaths that run the length of the street in an improvement project that to this point has received the tick of approval from just about everyone. There are reportedly 146 businesses operating along the nightlife strip, including hotels, restaurants, bars and small clubs, coffee shops and clothing and souvenir stores that will benefit from the development.

Walk This Way

The Bui Vien Walking Street follows the 2015 redevelopment of Nguyen Hue Street (HCMC’s main drag) into a walking street and the gradual pedestrianisation of streets around Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake over the past few years. Ultimately, Bui Vien’s transformation into a walking street is part of a bigger plan to pedestrianise a larger swathe of the streets of District 1. If and when that happens is anyone’s guess, but if Nguyen Hue and Bui Vien are anything to go by — projects that the government touted would happen — they will in fact happen... at some stage. Then, expect more zones in central Saigon in the future where shoppers, travellers and workers can walk around safely without the prospect of getting run over by those pesky little motorbikes. — Matt Cowan

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PHOTO BY OLGA ROZENBAJGIER | December 2017 Word | 71





The Art of Life When we see images of Vietnam, we see them through the eye of the beholder. Rarely do we see them through other people's eyes. Words by Nick Ross. Photos provided by Neel Sharma

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hanks to smart phones and digital cameras, over the past decade the visual documentation of Vietnam has undergone a sea change. No longer is this country plagued by stereotyped images of poor Vietnamese working in fields wearing conical hats, young boys riding buffalos and attractive women in ao dai. Instead, the photography and video coming out of this country has taken on angles which show a different side to Vietnam as we know it today. One such artist who has given his own take on the visual image of Vietnam is American-born creator, Neel Sharma. A graduate in Mechanical Engineering and Biomechanics, rather than pursuing a career in engineering, in the four years since finishing his studies Neel has spent three years living overseas, focusing on a variety of music and film-based projects that document the “micro living experiences” in each country that he stays. This, he says, allows him to “immerse [himself] culturally, while organically finding ways to build

community and create projects with the local community.” One of his endeavours which is gaining attention is The Art of Life project. A collection of short, one to two-minute videos shot from a first person, point-ofview perspective, the series “creates… an immersive viewing environment [that] provides an intimate window into the lives of others.” “The purpose of The Art of Life isn’t so much to tell individual stories as it is about sharing the concept that there are many different ways of living life,” says Neel. “The first-person point of view helps reinforce this.” He adds: “I intentionally remove myself from the content as I want the participants to share their perspective without any interference or narration from my end. The idea was; see what this person sees on a daily basis.”

Creating Trust One of the big problems Neel faces is finding subjects for his videos; it’s a selection process | December 2017 Word | 73

Insider “‘I intentionally remove myself from the content as I want the participants to share their perspective without any interference or narration from my end’”

that he describes as “serendipitous and quite personal”. To find his subjects, he needs to build trust, enough for them to allow him to create the video. This is doubly difficult due to the places he generally ends up living; areas of towns or cities that aren’t so developed, and where English speakers are in short supply. However, he says, by living in each place for an extended period of time, learning a little bit of the language, and getting to know people, he has found he is able to form the trust necessary to get a window into people’s lives and most importantly, persuade them to wear a GoPro while going about their daily work. One of Neel’s Vietnam videos is of Tam, a keymaker working in Hanoi. Neel and his girlfriend lived in Hanoi for four months in an area of the city that hadn’t housed many foreigners before. As a result, he says, he and his girlfriend became quite close with their neighbours, and people working in the neighbouring cafés and restaurants. When Neel approached Tam, they had never spoken before, “but, on a daily basis we would acknowledge each other either through a head nod, wave, or smile, which

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was exploring the country, I was told about a monk living in a city called Meiktila who allowed people to stay in a monastery with him for extended periods of time. At the time, Meiktila was not a tourist destination. So I made my way to the city, eventually found the monastery, and ended up living with Uvi and a few other monks for about a week. “What’s really powerful about this video is seeing the way the community interacts with him while he is receiving donations.”

The Final Cut

is more than enough to form a bond.” Tam agreed to wear the GoPro and do the video. Another of Neel’s videos — one of his most striking — is of Uvi, a monk in Myanmar. The film starts with the monk putting on his robe before going off on his daily alms round. “Back in 2014 I travelled through Myanmar for a month,” says Neel. “While I

The next part of the process is finding the background music — which is licensed from a handful of platforms online — and then the editing. Fortunately, due to the richness of the content, the editing process is quite simple. “The most challenging and time intensive part is processing hours of footage and then condensing the footage down to a couple of minutes,” says Neel. The shortness of the videos is intentional: Neel’s purpose is to get “people to swap out their eyes for a couple of minutes at a time and then get back to their day.” But as

“Shot from a first person, point-of-view perspective, the series ‘creates… an immersive viewing environment [that] provides an intimate window into the lives of others’” STILLS FROM 6 VIDEOS IN THE ART OF LIFE SERIES | December 2017 Word | 75



the series evolves, he hopes to incorporate longer content. In the meantime, it means a delay between shooting and getting the final cut online. Indeed, once he has gone through the hours of footage, coming up Neel has a video of Sean Thommen, the brewmaster at East West Brewing Co. in Ho Chi Minh City. “Watching and learning more about the brewing process was both inspiring and eye opening,” says Neel. “There’s truly an art to it.” Having filmed 50 different people from seven countries, videos in the pipeline include stories of a Vietnamese barista, a fish net thrower, a painter, someone making nem cuon, and a mechanic. The Art of Life is an ongoing series and Neel hopes to collect and map as many perspectives from around the world as possible. To see the videos, click on or follow the series at If you have a video idea for The Art of Life, please email

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“Coming up Neel has a video of Sean Thommen, the brewmaster at East West Brewing Co. in Ho Chi Minh City. ‘Watching and learning more about the brewing process was both inspiring and eye opening’”





Hanoi Hitmen Survivor meets the Terminator in a game that’s rocking Hanoi. Words by Diane Lee. Photos provided by Brian Yost


hen your obsession with war board games is coupled with those games being difficult to source, the solution is to make your own. And that’s exactly what Brian Yost did, except he levelled up — taking the game from the board to the street. The 33-year-old English teacher from Philadelphia is the brains behind Hanoi Hitmen, which has run two seasons in Hanoi in 2017, with a third planned for 2018. Originating in Istanbul where Brian lived for six years, the concept is simple; it’s a 24/7 assassination tournament. Players register as hitmen, attend an assassins’ party where they are handed a dossier on a “target” they are required to “kill” while participating in various challenges and earning “blood money”. The last man, woman or team standing after 30 days wins $US800. “The idea for the game is not new,” said Brian. “It existed before in a Michael Anthony Hall movie from the 1990s, and I

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played something like this in summer camp when I was a kid.” Participants can play solo or in teams, and the “weapon” can be any toy weapon — popular choices are pink water guns — as long as it looks like both a toy as well as a gun. There is a “kill” quota, rewards and special events over the 30 days to stop the game becoming dull. And Brian changes the rules to keep things interesting, as well as mixing up each season because veterans return to play. Brian’s role is host, creator of challenges and enforcer of the rules, of which there are many — and necessary because most of the players are “pedantic English teachers.”

Trust No-One The fun of the game is in the “kill” and the more creative, the better. “Winners are patient, strategic and think like the enemy. They are devious and are good at getting people to trust them,” said Brian. According to the rules of the game, the only place a kill cannot occur is inside

someone’s place of work, although Brian said that one of the most creative kills occurred at a conference. “One target was giving a speech at a conference at a hotel. The guy who was hunting him got a fake press pass and organised a photographer to come with him and talked his way past the security guard. He was taken out while he was presenting his keynote. The security guard was not happy!” Surviving the 30 days and being crowned the winner is all about trust, or rather, trusting no one — including potential love interests. Brian says that kills have even occurred on Tinder dates. “Why would you believe anyone is interested in you after the assassin’s party?” The nature of the game means that it is more popular with men than women, but Brian says the game is about assassination, not about physical strength or action heroes. “The first two seasons [in Istanbul] were won by women because they have an advantage. They are better at strategic alliances and disguising themselves with

make-up. Guys generally don’t bother.” While only a relatively few Vietnamese play — around 20 percent — locals also have an advantage because they can blend into their environment better than foreigners. Indeed, one hitman disguised himself as a Grab driver and waited outside his target’s workplace to take him out. “During the season, any white person [who approaches a player] should be ‘shot’ on sight,” said Brian.

Patience is a virtue Nicolas Viau has played both seasons, with his team — Hanoi Cleaning Inc. — coming second in season one and first in season two. Nicolas also has bragging rights over his take-out record, racking up six kills in season one and five in season two. Despite this impressive record, he says that the coolest part of season one was when he was killed. “It was a massive fight. The other team still had three surviving team members — my team members were my eyes outside — and they besieged

“Surviving the 30 days and being crowned the winner is all about trust, or rather, trusting no one — including potential love interests. Brian says that kills have even occurred on Tinder dates”

my school. There was only one exit, so I had to face them all. I recruited my students to create chaos. I was dressed as a schoolgirl and planned to use the chaos to kill as many as I could. I was badly outnumbered.” Nicolas managed to escape and took out the closest hitman, shooting him in the face. He then aimed for the second hitman, but he had retreated to get a better position. Nicolas turned to deal with the third hitman, but he was a second too late, and was shot in the face just as he was raising his gun. “I died and lost, but it was still fun.” It’s the feeling after a successful kill that is the best thing about playing. “Sometimes you wait for hours and then finally get it. All your efforts are rewarded and you feel like a badass,” Nicolas said. And while Rene Cordier — another member of Hanoi Cleaning Inc. — has not taken anyone out in either season, he was the eyes and ears of the team. “I was Mr Clean, as I didn’t have a single kill in those | December 2017 Word | 79

two seasons,” said Rene. “I was more like the support guy; scouting, backing up, collecting and managing all the information of the team during the game, like targets and their information, blood money accounting and the achievements of the members.”

Relax and you die It’s this escalating paranoia that makes the game fun. “[The paranoia] is a love/hate thing,” said Nicolas. “During the game, it starts getting heavier and heavier. But when the game is over, that’s what I miss the most.” The feeling of paranoia is real, allowing no time for relaxation. Those who relax, die. “The feeling that of being able to sleep without worrying about someone outside waiting to blow your head off is what I miss most during the game,” said Trung Nguyen, who is Nicolas’ teammate and played both seasons. Trung’s survival strategy was simple: he was an early bird. “I always go to work early: two or three hours early. In the first season, I was the first person to come to the office. After work, I go straight home. I only get to go out with my team. In the second season, I convinced my boss to let me work from home, so I could stay inside as much as possible.” A self-proclaimed video game nerd, Trung wasn’t sure that the game was for him. “After I made the first kill [with my

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“It’s this escalating paranoia that makes the game fun. ‘[The paranoia] is a love/ hate thing. During the game, it starts getting heavier and heavier. But when the game is over, that’s what I miss the most’”

teammate], I was hooked,” he said. “That feeling when you follow someone and wait for the right moment to jump at them is awesome. My killer senses were tingling. After that, we spent all our free time hunting and scouting and doing anything necessary to win.” Finding out about Hanoi Hitmen via Facebook, Jacob Mutert has played two seasons, and despite not winning, is in the top tier for the most kills. In season one, he played solo before joining a team in season two. “I never thought I’d win, especially when it turned out most people were playing on teams of three or four and I was by myself,” he said. “So I just set little goals for myself to achieve and try and get the most fun out the experience. I had a pretty hectic [work] schedule the first three days of the game, so step one was just survive until I could hunt. Then it was get a kill. Then it was buy a special perk to target the big, bad teams.” For Jacob, the most enjoyable part of the game is pitting his wits against the other players. “I’ve played or hunted solo both seasons, so it’s just me and them and they know I’m coming. My wits versus theirs. It’s the purest competition I can think of and it really makes me feel amazing when I’m able to formulate a plan based on what I perceive and then execute it and have it succeed.” For more information about playing Hanoi Hitmen for the third season, visit groups/HanoitHitmen. | December 2017 Word | 81


Did You Know? According to the website, expatistan. com, Ho Chi Minh City is 64% cheaper than London, while Hanoi is even cheaper — 70% cheaper. This would be fine if relative salaries were even between Vietnam and the UK, but they’re not. In the UK, the average annual salary is GBP27,000 (VND810 million), about 10 times the VND80 million annual average in Vietnam’s big cities. So, if everything was relative, the cost of living in Vietnam would be just a tenth of the UK. It’s not. This means that spending power for the average Vietnamese is very low compared to the same type of person in the UK. Not good when you consider the growing pressure in Vietnam to purchase ‘luxury’ goods — anything from branded clothes and smart phones through to holidays overseas and meals in expensive restaurants. With so little spending power, and an average take-home salary of just VND200,000 a day, how do Vietnamese survive? The answer is they club together as family groups or as groups of friends, and they avoid wastage. Now, if the extravagant West could do that, wouldn’t that be a fine thing?

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How Much Does it Cost? We like to think that Vietnam is a cheap place to live. But is that really the case? Words by Nick Ross. Additional reporting by Thomas Barrett


ne of the beauties of living in Vietnam is that the cost of living is pretty cheap. If you go local you can eat out for well under VND50,000 a meal, and as for bia hoi or bottled beer in a quan nhau, US$5 should be about enough to get you drunk. But here comes the problem. The moment you eat or drink anything deemed to be ‘international’, and prices go up — substantially. Yet, we all tell ourselves that Vietnam is a cheap place to live. So, we decided to do a little survey to get a barometer of exactly how low-cost this country is. We took three dishes — one Vietnamese, one Asian and one international — and compared the cost of cooking these dishes in Vietnam with the cost in the West, in this instance the UK.

Would Vietnam still come out cheaper than its Western counterpart? Or would there be some surprises in store? Here are our three dishes: — Pho bo — Thai green curry and rice — Homemade quarter pounder with cheese and chips

To Market, To Market Heading out to a bustling Ho Chi Minh City morning market on Vo Duy Ninh in Binh Thanh, we managed to source the majority of our ingredients for the three dishes in one place, avoiding the need to plough through endless indoor isles in a supermarket. Navigating through the pho bo ingredients list was easy. Everything cost under

VND10,000 except for 250g of fillet steak which went for VND70,000, while 1kg of fresh pho noodles set us back VND15,000. Similarly, the vegetables needed for a Thai green curry were all easy to find, although 50g of Thai curry paste was picked up at a nearby Big C for VND18,500, along with other Thai curry necessities such as coconut milk and Thai fish sauce. For the burger and fries, the 250g of minced beef to make a hamburger was bought at the wet market, with most of the accompanying ingredients also available. It was a trip back to Big C to buy the remaining necessities such as processed cheese and burger buns.

How it all Compares Except for a couple of specialist ingredients for the pho bo, all the produce in the UK was sourced online via the UK’s largest | December 2017 Word | 83

Pho Bo For this classic Vietnamese dish, we used the following ingredients: – 2 onions, thinly sliced –2  litres beef stock — made from pho bo stock cubes – 1 tbsp fish sauce – 2cm fresh ginger, finely sliced – 1 star anise – 4 handfuls bean sprouts, washed – 250g fillet steak, thinly sliced –L  arge bunch Vietnamese mint or halfbunch local mint – 1kg fresh pho noodles – 2 limes, quartered

Vietnam cost: VND98,000 UK cost: VND260,000 Main price differentials: The beef in the UK cost VND109,000 while in Vietnam it went for VND60,000. The big cost differentials were the fresh herbs like mint (VND1,000 versus VND21,000 in the UK), beansprouts (VND1,000 as opposed to VND15,000) and pho noodles. In Vietnam they were just VND15,000. In the UK they were almost triple, at VND42,000.

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Two quarter pounders with cheese and chips A typical Western dish should in theory be cheaper in Vietnam, but is it? Here are the ingredients. – – – – – – – – – – –

250g minced beef 2 free range medium eggs 2 burger buns 2 tsp mayonnaise 1 pickled cucumber 2 squeezes mustard 4 lettuce leaves 2 slices of tomato 2 slices processed cheese 500g potatoes 3 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil

Vietnam cost: VND119,000 UK cost: VND83,000 Main price differentials: Except for the eggs, which are cheaper in Vietnam, almost every other ingredient is cheaper in the UK. Take the minced beef — VND25,500 for 250g in the UK compared to VND60,000 in Vietnam. The reason is that except for the tomatoes, which are a Vietnamese standard ingredient, the rest of the ingredients are not typically eaten on a day-to-day basis in Vietnam, making them more expensive.

“Our findings showed that the gap in food prices between the country with the fifth-largest GDP in the world and the 47th-largest is slimmer than you might think”

Thai Green Chicken Curry This Thai dish that has made its way around the world was cooked up with the following ingredients:

supermarket chain, Tesco’s, where they publish all their prices. In most cases, the expensive items in the UK were the meat items. The beef for the pho cost £3.62 (VND110,000), the chicken cost £2.77 (VND84,000) and the minced beef for the burgers cost £0.85 (VND26,000). More specialist produce such as the noodles was costly although the pho bo stock cubes and the Thai green curry paste were relatively cheap. Our findings showed that the gap in food prices between the country with the fifth-largest GDP in the world and the 47th-largest is slimmer than you might think. While a bowl of pho bo cost VND98,000 in Vietnam, the UK equivalent was VND260,000, making it only 2.5 times more expensive. The differential between Thai green chicken curry was even less

— VND139,500 versus VND190,000. And the ingredients for the two hamburgers were cheaper to source in the UK than in Vietnam; VND83,000 in the UK compared to VND119,000 in Vietnam.

That Doesn’t Make Sense One reason for the differential is import tariffs. The more Vietnam develops a taste for imported, non-standard ingredients, the more they have to pay. Imported foodstuffs are expensive. To deal with this, Vietnam needs to get its trade deals sorted out. This is something the country is working on. Add to this a premium placed on luxury products — anything in Vietnam deemed to be ‘extravagant’ attracts expensive pricing — and you get a sense that anything that is not local, is costly. So, is Vietnam cheap? Yes, it is. But only if you go local.

– – – – – – – – –

225g new potatoes 100g green beans, trimmed and halved 1 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil 1 garlic clove, chopped 1 rounded tbsp Thai green curry paste 400ml can coconut milk 2 tsp Thai fish sauce 1 tsp caster sugar 450g boneless skinless chicken (breasts or thighs) – 2 fresh kaffir lime leaves – good handful of basil leaves – boiled rice

Vietnam cost: VND139,500 UK cost: VND190,000 Main price differentials: The cost of the chicken in both countries was surprisingly close — VND55,000 in Vietnam and VND83,000 in the UK. However, ingredients like coconut milk were the same while Thai green curry paste was cheaper in the UK — VND4,000 as opposed to VND18,500. Once again, however, it was the fresh herbs and vegetables grown locally in Vietnam that proved much cheaper than in the UK. | December 2017 Word | 87

Food and Drink


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Kitchens in the Sky With the holidays just around the corner, we asked some of the airlines flying in and out of Vietnam how they manage their kitchens in the skies. Edited by Matt Cowan How do you plan your menus? “We tailor our menu depending on the end destination. It’s changed each month and features a wide variety of dishes — we try to include everything. However, we tend to avoid food like souffles and deep dishes as they don’t deliver that same experience when reheated. It’s important to balance great dining with food that travels well.” — Emirates “A meal presentation is conducted in-house to fine tune the menu before our meals are offered onboard our flights. We refresh our menu offerings regularly, and when we receive feedback that certain dishes are wellreceived, we take this into consideration and feature them again on future flights.” — Singapore Airlines

How do you manage complaints about food? “There will always be differences in taste with people having different preferences.

Our menus offer different choices, such as the “Tradition”, “Ocean”, “Italia”, “Le Norte Selection” and “Jean Imbert” meal options, and they can be ordered from 90 days to 24 hours before the flight’s departure.” — Air France “The team classifies complaints under more specific categories like hygiene, preparation, substitution, standards, etc. The team then investigates and asks for an explanation regarding the matter. A database keeps track of caterers’ performances that helps us avoid the same problem happening again.” — Philippine Airlines

What considerations do you have to take into account when serving food in pressurised environments? “Altitude can have an impact, however, modern fleets like ours are more advanced than older ones. Even so, we have to think carefully about which flavours work well. We find that dishes rich in tomato work well,

as certain savoury tastes don’t appear to be impacted by altitude.” — Emirates

How do you offset the impact that your in-flight food service has on the environment? “We take the weight of our tableware into consideration to reduce our impact on the environment. We’re committed to eco-design of our tableware, reducing the weight of materials is associated with a cut in CO2 emissions by one third.” — Air France “We serve over 100 million meals annually across our network, so we place great emphasis on simple, healthy dishes that use fresh and sustainable ingredients. We work closely with suppliers. For example, the olive oil we use onboard is from a carbon neutral producer in Italy and a catering partner in Japan that offers a farm-to-table experience where freshly-picked vegetables are sourced from within a one-kilometre radius from their facility.” — Emirates | December 2017 Word | 89


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“In October this year, we affirmed our commitment to sustainability with the launch of our From Farm to Plane initiative. This initiative promotes environmental sustainability and supports local farming communities with the use of local produce whenever possible.” — Singapore Airlines

How do your food options differ between long-haul and short-haul flights? “Food choices solely depend on the flight’s origin or route. The flying time determines the number of meal services a flight has. Given onboard constraints but with the priority of providing the best possible dining experience, our team came up with a Dine at Your Leisure programme for business class passengers flying haul, which gives passengers the freedom to choose what food items they want served first.” — Philippine Airlines

meals for customers to select before their flights. — Singapore Airlines

How do you manage customer behaviour in-flight? For example, in economy, space is tight. Is it fine for a passenger to recline during the meal service? “The ability to recline a seat is something that all customers value, but we ensure each passenger travelling in the economy cabin is sitting upright during the meal service.” — Air France “How a passenger behaves in-flight is of no one’s control. The best thing that the team can do is provide a heart-warming Filipino travel experience to all passengers. During the meal service, the crew are tasked with politely asking passengers to straighten their seat for the convenience of passengers seated behind them.” — Philippine Airlines

What are the different touches between each service level tier on your airline?

How long does it take for your food to get onboard before it’s served?

“In-flight meals are planned according to the route, duration of the flight, the type of customers onboard, and the time of departure and arrival. Short-haul flights within France are traditional French dishes created by leading French chefs.” — Air France

“Preparation for hot items starts 48 hours prior to departure, while with cold items it’s 24 hours. The food items are cold-soaked for at least two hours before delivery to the aircraft. They are then delivered to the aircraft two hours before its departure.” — Philippine Airlines

“In first class, passengers can order a la carte multi-course meals created by top international chefs. The order can be placed at any time during the flight. The meals are served with the finest Royal Doulton china dinnerware and exclusive Robert Welch cutlery, with linen napkins and tablecloths.” — Emirates

What does the future look like for economy passengers in terms of food service with your airline?

“Our economy class passengers are offered a choice of two or three meal options. Premium economy class passengers have the option to select a main course from the premium economy Book The Cook service at least 24 hours before departure complete with a selection of wines and champagne. Whether it is for religious, dietary or allergy reasons, we also offer a variety of special

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“We are seeing a bigger focus on, and expectation of, healthier options. Increasingly we are focusing on simple, well-cooked dishes that emphasise fresh core ingredients of the highest quality. Given the cosmopolitan customer base with our airline, there is a focus on offering more regional and seasonal options.” — Emirates “Giving our goal of becoming a five-star airline, we strive to deliver a five-star quality menu and food service. We are always looking to strengthen the quality of food offered whether it’s in business class or economy. “ — Philippine Airlines.


Food and Drink

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Banh My Kebab The mighty doner kebab has been feeding hungry people in Hanoi since the turn of the century. But where it arrived from is unknown. Words by Emily Arntsen. Photos by Teigue John Blokpoel


hen you think of Vietnamese street food, naturally doner kebab is not the first thing that comes to mind. Originally a Turkish dish, doner kebabs have undergone many variations and adopted numerous nationalities, including Vietnamese. Over the past decade, the banh my kebab has become incredibly popular in Hanoi, earning itself credit as a staple street food. So what exactly distinguishes a banh my kebab from its Turkish predecessor? Most importantly, the meat in a banh my doner kebab is usually pork, a sacrilegious take on an originally halal dish of beef or lamb. The meat, however, is still cooked in the traditional rotisserie fashion. The other most notable difference is the bread. Instead of using pita to hold the ingredients like the popular version found around the world, the Vietnamese rendition uses the popular German variation — toasted flatbread. The rest of the sandwich is more or less the same as any adaptation. In addition to pork, banh my kebabs are also filled with a mix of fresh and pickled vegetables and some kind of oniony mayonnaise sauce.

2 Hang Bac Banh my kebab stalls are everywhere in

Hanoi, but there is talk that the eatery at 2 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem was the first shop in the city to serve the sandwich. Their kebabs are by far the best. For VND30,000 customers get a hefty sandwich filled with sliced pork, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, onion, and seasoned mayo sauce. Seating is limited, but there are a handful of plastic stools out front to enjoy your sandwich on the spot. The stand is technically open daily from 7.30am to 11.30pm, but if you’re looking for a late-night snack, you better get there before 10pm on the weekends because sandwiches run out quickly on Friday and Saturday nights. Once the rotisserie is gone, it’s time to close up shop.

4 Luong Ngoc Quyen At 4 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem you’ll find the Duc Long Banh My Doner Kebab shop, a joint that boldly claims to be chinh goc 2 Hang Bac cu or the original 2 Hang Bac, which means that if they are, they were the people who brought the German version of the doner kebab to Hanoi. Whether that’s true is up for debate; regardless, the slogan is a testament to 2 Hang Bac’s good reputation. Duc Long’s offers a wide variety of sandwiches including vegetarian banh my kebab (a slight oxymoron, VND20,000),

doner kebab with rice (VND45,000), banh my kebab on a baguette instead of flatbread (VND30,000) and of course a regular banh my kebab (VND30,000). The shop also offers a choice of chicken and pork. 2 Hang Bac might beat them for reputation, but Duc Long’s wins for seating. There are plenty of tables and stools out front and in the small room behind the prep stand for customers to enjoy their meals. They’re open daily from 9.30am to 11.30pm.

5 Ma May Across the street from the Old Quarter’s infamous Bia Hoi Corner on Ma May there is more often than not a woman selling banh my kebabs from a portable stand. There’s only one thing on the menu; classic pork banh my kebabs for VND30,000. While this stand may not seem like anything extraordinary, it is a convenient snack for when you’re having a beer on the corner.

Outside the Old Quarter While the Old Quarter might have some of the best banh my kebab shops, it’s not always the closest option. Alternatively, look for shops at 178 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho or 471 Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho for less elaborate but equally delicious sandwiches. | December 2017 Word | 95

Food and Drink



Mi Hoanh Thanh Who needs pho when you’ve got mi hoanh thanh? Words by JB Jance. Photos by Bao Zoan


ho is peerless among Vietnamese noodle dishes and is much loved globally. Not surprisingly it is a go-to comfort food for both locals and foreigners living in Vietnam. However, another comfort-giving noodle dish running a close second is mi hoanh thanh or wonton noodles. First appearing in Vietnam in the 1930s courtesy of immigrants from Guangdong, mi hoanh thanh gradually made its way around Vietnam. Sold by Chinese street peddlers, who made their presence known by beating bamboo sticks against each other, the dish became adapted to local tastes. It even got two versions of the same name — mi hoanh thanh down south and my van than in Hanoi.

The Saigon Version Down south the broth was sweetened and the key ingredient, the wonton dumplings, were filled with a mixture of pork and shrimp. The broth was also only lightly flavoured so that vinegar, fish sauce, soy sauce and chilli could be added to taste. A local version of char sieu roasted pork (xa xiu) was added to the dish and the mi noodles were cooked fresh. The final dish was served up with spring onion stalks and in some cases, fresh coriander. After eating this dish for breakfast and lunch on two consecutive days, it is clear why it can be found in almost every city and

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province in Vietnam. It may be less popular than pho, but it is equally satisfying. So satisfying that it’s easy to finish a bowl or even two in a single sitting. Each eatery or restaurant has its own version of this dish. Some serve fried wonton with the noodles, while some serve the wonton steamed. Yet in all cases the sweet-savoury roasted slices of pork appear on top.

Hu Tieu Mi Hoanh Thanh 44 44 Le Quoc Hung, Q4 This eatery, as its name suggests, serves up hu tieu and mi hoanh thanh and, found along a residential area in District 4, is a crowd favourite. It is only open for breakfast and lunch, from 6am to 1pm. Each bowl is served with a plate of quay breadsticks, which you pay for only if eaten, otherwise they are left for the next person. Surprisingly, lunchtime isn’t too busy here. The place is simple. It’s a home turned into an eatery. Stainless steel tables and chairs are spread out on the ground and first floors; spilling out onto the pavement as well. The menu is posted on the wall of the ground floor. Diners are kept cool with ceiling fans and the occasional breeze; something quite rare during Ho Chi Minh City’s warmer months.

Shell out around VND30,000 to VND60,000 for a bowl of either their hu tieu or mi hoanh thanh to start your day or to fill you up for your afternoon activities.

Hu Tiu Nam Vang Thuy Dung H19-2P Parkview, Dang Duc Thuat, Phu My Hung, Q7 A Vietnamese and Cambodian restaurant on the ground floor of Parkview apartments satisfies hungry office workers in Phu My Hung. Aside from the usual Vietnamese and Cambodian dishes, it also serves mi hoanh thanh. Diners are given dumplings or ha kao prior to the main order being served. For these additional bites, you only pay for what you consume. You can politely ask the servers to put it back in the kitchen right away if you’re not interested. Thuy Dung is an open space eatery. Diners have a choice of eating inside or on the sidewalk. Each table has a tray filled with condiments to tweak the flavour of their dishes to your liking. A bowl of their mi hoanh thanh is priced at VND48,000 and it is served with a plate of beansprouts and greens. The wonton is quite small, but tasty, and the soup has a mix of sweet and savoury flavours. Initially, the serving seems small but after downing a glass of tra da, it does fill you up. Pay VND2,000 for an extra glass of tra da. | December 2017 Word | 97


Taipei and Beyond / Full Moon Village Photo by Emily Arnsten

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Taipei and Beyond If you’re heading to Taipei, then after you’ve visited the standard tourist traps, for a real taste of Taiwan, make your way to the outskirts. Words and photos by Emily Arntsen

“The modern infrastructure of downtown Taipei gives the illusion of a futuristic city, but disembark at the final stop of any MRT line and you may feel like you’ve stepped off a time machine into a previous decade” | December 2017 Word | 101


f the heart of the city is in the centre, then the soul of the city lies just beyond the end of the subway line. For Taipei, the heart of the city might be Taipei 101, the defining building of the city’s skyline, or the Shilin Night Market, a touristy must-do for anyone who loves street food. But while these sights might characterize Taipei on a superficial level, they merely scratch the surface as far as true Taiwanese experiences go. For Taipei, the soul of the city rests in the outskirts, not the city proper. Fortunately, the city’s peripheries are very easy to access. Taipei’s subway, the Mass Rapid Transit or MRT, is efficient, clean, and conveniently bilingual in Chinese and English. Depending on where you start, somewhere between NT$20 (US$0.66) and NT$65 (US$2.15) will get you to any station. The modern infrastructure of downtown Taipei gives the illusion of a futuristic city, but disembark at the final stop of any MRT line and you may feel like you’ve stepped off a time machine into a previous decade. Because of their somewhat secluded locations, these places remain largely untouched by tourists or modern developments. Here you can find the true spirit of Taipei.

Wulai Via MRT Station: Xindian About 15km south of Xindian Station, the last stop on the green line, you’ll find a foggy mountain village called Wulai. The village is home to the Atayal people, one of Taiwan’s indigenous tribes. Here you can experience some of their culture by trying the local food, which is sold by street vendors along the main path. Some of the most popular dishes are wild boar sausages, fried taro, and muah chee, which is mulled, gelatinous rice covered in honey. Built between the Nanshi River and a hot springs site, Wulai is famed for its baths.

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What seem like once-luxurious hotels have since fallen into charming disrepair, only adding to the appeal of this sleepy town. There are still dozens of spas here where visitors can pay to use the pools. However, the locals can’t be bothered with pricey, artificial baths. Instead, people here dig their own pools on the riverbank that become naturally filled with scalding hot spring water and are then cooled by the river water. To have an authentic Wulai experience, walk down to the riverbank and join them for a dip in their DIY hot tubs. Rest your feet in the river and a school of tiny fish will happily nibble the dead skin off your toes. You can even scrub your body with the black river mud for the full faux-spa effect. If you dress modestly and introduce yourself, the old men who maintain the pools will surely invite you to join. Once your skin starts to prune, it’s probably time to move on. Head back to the village and climb one of the many narrow staircases that wind through the tightly packed homes built right into the mountainside. At the top, you’ll find a quaint train track that loops through the village. Follow the tracks for a while and eventually you’ll arrive back at the main part of town. If you’re keen for more exploring, check out the Wulai Waterfall, which is an easy 20-minute walk clearly marked from the main road. It’s not the most impressive waterfall in the world, but it is peaceful to sit on the benches nearby and enjoy the dull hum of crashing water. Before leaving, take a walk across the red suspension bridge and appreciate how beautifully the scarlet paint contrasts the green mountains in the background. To get there, take the MRT to Xindian Station and look for bus 849 near the taxi line on the Formosa Freeway. The bus costs $NT15, and runs every 15 minutes. Wulai is the last stop and should take about 30 minutes to get there. You can catch the same bus back to Xindian Station.

“To have an authentic Wulai experience, walk down to the riverbank and join [the locals] for a dip in their DIY hot tubs. Rest your feet in the river and a school of tiny fish will happily nibble the dead skin off your toes� | December 2017 Word | 103

“The main road will be filled with visitors, street vendors, and the iconic red lanterns that inspired the setting of Spirited Away” Jiufen & Jinguashi Via MRT Station: Zhongxiao Fuxing Just an hour northeast of Taipei, there are two former gold mining villages left over from the Japanese occupation, Jiufen and Jinguashi. Nestled between the coastline and the mountains, both towns have the misty, ethereal atmospheres of a time long ago. Jinguashi is located at the top of the mountain and should be visited first so you can work your way down the mountain to Jiufen later. A mix of gloomy ocean clouds that whirl in from the coast and the old Japanese prisoner-of-war camp located here give this town a quiet, sombre mood. When you arrive, you’ll find yourself facing a humble temple. Follow the road further uphill and you’ll arrive at the base of Teapot Mountain, named for the appearance of its peak. The hike takes about two-and-a-half hours to complete, but if you don’t have the time, there are plenty of lookout spots nearby that have good views.

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Explore around the mountain base some more and you’ll find an abandoned track that used to bring barrels of resources from the shore to the mountainside. Sit in one of the empty window frames and enjoy the view and the cool breeze. Walk, bus, or hitch-hike down to Jiufen once you get hungry, and prepare for something much more lively. The main road will be filled with visitors, street vendors, and the iconic red lanterns that inspired the setting of Spirited Away. Here you can try some of Taiwan’s signature dishes like fish ball soup, tea-soaked eggs, or rou yuan, which is red pork inside a gelatinous pouch that looks like a jellyfish. To satiate your sweet tooth, try some classic desserts like pineapple cake, ice cream and peanut burritos, and sweet potato tapioca. Walk down the main road for a bite to eat, but otherwise avoid the crowds and venture off into the quieter parts of the village. Keep wandering up the mountain, and eventually you’ll stumble upon a black, wooden teahouse with bright red lanterns

that actually looks like it was reincarnated from Miyazaki’s animation. Put a record on the record player and have a cup of tea by the enormous window overlooking the ocean — you’ll probably be the only one there. Afterwards, keep walking up the mountain until you find a small alley unofficially marked by strands of film negatives hanging up to dry. Pay a visit to Paco Chiu’s studio, and thumb through the waist-deep stacks of his black and white photographs. He is a well-travelled wealth of knowledge and an incredible artist. Staying for sunset is absolutely worth it. There are plenty of cafés with outdoor terraces that face west for a good view. But most importantly, wait for the lanterns to illuminate after sundown — you will not be disappointed. To get there, take the MRT to Zhongxiao Fuxing station and use Exit 1. Take bus 1062 (Keelung) to Jinguashi. The bus costs $NT100 and takes about one hour. Take the last bus back to Taipei from Jiufen before 9.30pm. | December 2017 Word | 105

Travel DALAT DALAT GREEN CITY HOTEL 172 Phan Dinh Phung, Dalat, Tel: (0263) 382 7999 Located in central Dalat, this is the perfect place for budget travellers. Quiet, newly refurbished with beautiful mountain and city views from the rooftop, features free Wi-Fi, a TV and snack bar in all rooms with a downstairs coffee shop and computers in the lobby for guest use.

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

DALAT TRAIN VILLA Villa 3, 1 Quang Trung, Dalat, Tel: (0263) 381 6365 Located near the Dalat Train Station, the Dalat Train Villa is a beautifully restored, colonial era, two-storey villa. In its grounds is a 1910 train carriage which has been renovated into a bar and cafe. Located within 10 minutes of most major attractions in Dalat.

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

Tel: (024) 3831 5555

over the lake. Great gym and health club.



$ 48 Ngo Huyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3828 5372 hanoibackpackershostel. com Probably the cheapest, European-style hostel in town, with bunk-style beds mixed or single-sex dorms starting at VND150,000, plus a couple of double suites from VND250,000. A place to meet like-minded fold in the Old Quarter.

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

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

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

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

MAISON D’HANOI HANOVA HOTEL $$$ 35-37 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3938 0999 A minute from Hoan Kiem Lake, this glowing pearl in the heart of Hanoi provides tranquility with an art gallery and piano bar.

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


41, Thao Dien, Q2. Tel (028) 3519 4111, Ext. 15/17/19 reliable and experienced travel company operating through Southeast Asia, Exotissimo brings you personalized tours across the region, many including insights into culinary customs, handicrafts and humanitarian initiatives.


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venue for conferences and wedding receptions. Stateof-the-art rooms, elegant restaurants, stylish bars, fully equipped fitness centre with sophisticated service always make in-house guests satisfied.

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

minutes from downtown. In addition to the luxurious rooms, the hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool and great relaxation and fitness facilities, including a tennis court and spa. There are well equipped conference rooms and a newly refurbished Executive Club Lounge.

Equatorial also has an onsite casino.



15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3826 6919 The finest hotel of the French colonial period is probably still the finest in today’s Hanoi. Anyone who is (or was) anyone has stayed at this elegant oasis of charm, where the service is impeccable and the luxurious facilities complement the ambiance of a bygone era. Definitely the place to put the Comtessa up for a night.


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

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




$$$$ 40 Cat Linh, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3733 0688 With deluxe rooms and suites, a contemporary lobby, an excellent buffet, and a la carte restaurant, this Accor group property is prestigious and close to the Old Quarter.

$$$$ 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 4999 Winner of Robb Report’s 2006 list of the world’s top 100 luxury hotels, the Caravelle houses the popular rooftop Saigon Saigon bar, and the restaurants Nineteen and Reflections.



$$$$ K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3719 9000 Surrounded by lush gardens, sweeping lawns and tranquil courtyards, this peaceful property features picturesque views of West Lake and is less than 10

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

$$$$ 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 8888 Former guests include U.S. presidents — two Bushes, Clinton — and K-Pop sensation Bi Rain. An ongoing event as well as a hotel, New World is one of the best luxury stops in town.

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



$$$$$ 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (028) 3838 8686 his upscale, contemporary property boasts 306 signature rooms combining design, comfort and connectivity. Innovative cuisine, a great downtown location and high-tech meeting venues able to host up to 600 guests make up the mix.

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



has the landscaped pool.

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

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

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

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

this a great, non-city centre choice.


pre–programmed iPod and both indoor and outdoor showers.


$$$ 120 Vo Nguyen Giap (Intersection of Tran Huu Tuoc and Vo Nguyen Giap), Phuoc My, Son Tra, Danang, Tel: (+84) 236 268 7979 With beautiful views of My Khe Beach, the Danang CBD, and the Son Tra peninsula, Luxury Apartment is perfect for both long and short-stay guests. The one to twobedroom apartments come with a kitchen and all the amenities needed for a great time in Danang city.

$$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien Hue, Tel: (0234) 369 5800 Located on Vietnam’s South Central Coast, Angsana Lang Co commands an unrivalled beach frontage of the shimmering East Sea. Traditional Vietnamese design encompasses the resort’s contemporary buildings and chic interiors.


$$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien, Hue, Tel: (0234) 369 5888 en/lang_co Built on a crescent bay, The Banyan Tree offers privacy and unparalleled exclusivity with all-pool villas reflecting the cultural and historical legacy of past Vietnamese dynastic periods.

$ 544, Cua Dai, Hoi An, Tel: (0235) 386 2231

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

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

THE NAM HAI $$$$ Hamlet 1, Dien Duong Village, Quang Nam, Tel: (0235) 394 0000 Includes three massive swimming pools, a gourmet restaurant and elegant spa on a lotus pond. Each massive room has its own espresso machine,


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

NHA TRANG COSTA NHA TRANG HOTEL & RESIDENCES 32 – 34 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: (0258) 3737 222 Located in the heart of the city, The Costa Nha Trang Hotel & Residences is a symbol of modern living thanks to its luxury oceanfront residences.

From a beautiful day on the beach to the great nightlife of Tran Phu Street, this is the perfect place to experience the best of Nha Trang.

EVASON ANA MANDARA AND SIX SENSES SPA $$$$ Beachside Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (0258) 352 2222 destination

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

SIX SENSES HIDEAWAY NINH VAN BAY $$$$ Ninh Van Bay, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (0258) 372 8222 ninh-van-bay/destination The upmarket Tatler magazine voted top hotel of 2006. The location is stunning, on a bay accessible only by boat.

SHERATON NHA TRANG HOTEL AND SPA $$$$ 26 – 28 Tran Phu, Tel: (0258) 388 0000

PHAN THIET & MUI NE COCO BEACH $$$$ 58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet,

Tel: (0252) 384 7111 With charming wooden bungalows, a private beach, a swimming pool (both with attached bars) and a French restaurant, Coco Beach continues to be run by those who opened it in 1995.

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

VICTORIA PHAN THIET RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Mui Ne Beach, Phan Thiet, Tel: (0252) 381 3000 Another beachfront Victoria chain, the thatched–roof bungalows and family villas are set in exotic gardens with an infinity swimming pool, a seafood restaurant, spa, beauty salon and jacuzzi.

PHONG NHA EASY TIGER AND JUNGLE BAR $ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: (0252) 367 7844 easytigerphongnha@ A hostel and street-front bar all in one. Has a pleasant, airy atmosphere in the bar and restaurant area while the 52 dorm beds — four beds to a room — go for US$8 (VND168,000) each a


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: (0232) 367 5135 The first western-run farmstay in Phong Nha, this well-appointed travellers’ joint has a great bar and restaurant area, a swimming pool out back and views overlooking paddy fields and mountains. Rooms start at VND600,000 for a twin or double, with a family room for five costing VND1.4 million a night.

PHU QUOC BEACH CLUB RESORT $$ Ap Cua Lap, Xa Duong To, Long Beach, Phu Quoc Island, Tel: (0297) 398 0998 A quaint and popular island guesthouse featuring a beachside restaurant, and includes free Wi-Fi. Motorbike rental, boat trips and tours are easily arranged. Discount rates during rainy season.

MANGO BAY $$$ Ong Lang Beach, Phu Quoc, Tel: 0903 382207 An eco–friendly approach with a gorgeous beachside location, the bungalows are made of rammed earth, no TVs or telephones (although Wi-Fi is available). Excellent sunsets from the beach bar. | December 2017 Word | 107

Destination Zero


ui Ne has been a popular beachside destination for years, especially among water sports enthusiasts and holidaymakers looking to get away from Ho Chi Minh City for a few days. But there is more to the area than just Ham Tien, the well-known seafront tourist strip between Phan Thiet and Mui Ne that’s lined with resorts, bars and restaurants. Further up the coast past the township proper of Mui Ne is another stretch of coastline that has remained much less developed and offers a more laid-back ‘Mui Ne experience’ for holidaymakers. And there’s one accommodation option worth the extra drive for.

Tradition with Comfort At Suoi Nuoc Beach, approximately 10km

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from Mui Ne township and midway along a stretch of unspoiled beach, is Full Moon Village, a resort that offers exceptional villa accommodation, amenities and watersports activities. Full Moon Village has two and threebedroom villas with their own gardens set on 200sqm blocks. My villa for three nights is villa number two Custard Apple (the villas are named after fruit), a two-bedroom, selfcontained villa right across from the resort pool (which is one of the best I’ve seen in Vietnam) and a short walk to the beach and resort restaurant. In the mornings, onshore breezes carry the sound of the gentle shore break into your bedroom, inviting you to hit the beach. In the evenings, an almost deafening cacophony of frogs can be heard in the resort grounds as they call out to each other for a suitor.

Each villa has a small gate at its entrance that borrows from the more traditional and bigger temple gates that you might see in Hoi An or Hue. At night, red lanterns illuminate the entrance giving it an ethereal feel that you don’t often come by at other accommodations in and around Mui Ne. Through the gate winds a short path that takes you to the spacious front porch via a neatly manicured garden with small frangipani and fruit trees. On the porch is a large inviting Jacuzzi and day lounge, but it’s at the door into the villa where you’re swept away with thoughts of life of the old Vietnam. Inside the front door, the open-plan living room and kitchen harks back to traditional Vietnamese architectural designs with dark, solid timber columns that support beams and trusses holding up the

Full Moon Village


gabled terracotta-tiled roof. Traditionalists will love the mortice and tenon joinery that’s been used to pull the place together. The beams are inlaid with intricate oyster-shell motifs while the timber window frames and front sliding door keep the space light and airy. Perhaps the only thing that breaks from tradition are the modern ceiling fans, but given the climate, this is easily forgiven. The villa is beautifully decorated with wooden furniture; the centrepiece being a low-set traditional table positioned in the middle of the living room where guests — small families or couples — might come together to enjoy a light meal or afternoon tea before heading out to explore the area. There’s a positive feng shui to the place. The bedrooms are less traditional and spacious but their simplicity is

a thoughtful counterbalance to the intricacies of the living area and the rest of the villa. I’m fond of an afternoon nap, especially on holidays, and these bedrooms do the trick nicely. I’d imagine anyone with kids would be grateful that the bedrooms are tucked away and can be sealed off from noise with a solid timber door.

Something For Everyone Full Moon Village has a spacious twostorey restaurant and lounge space overlooking the beach that offers meals at all times of the day. The buffet breakfast is plentiful and the menu offers a broad range of Vietnamese and international dishes served up by friendly local staff. There’s no need to leave, really. This resort has a little bit of everything

for everyone. Romantics can hide away in their villas and request that everything comes to them (including massages), parents can throw a surfboard or kayak at teenagers who can’t sit still, and people looking for adventure can hit the highway and visit the sand dunes nearby or ride aloft in a hot-air balloon to see them from the sky. But perhaps one of the best things about Full Moon Village and Suoi Nuoc Beach is that they challenge your perceptions of what Mui Ne is, which too often is the one of touts trying to coax you into their seafood eateries, hot and flustered tourists suffering from sunstroke traipsing the main road, and tourist coaches bullying others off the road like they own it. — Matt Cowan For info click on | December 2017 Word | 109


The Therapist / Day Tripper / Book Buff / Top Eats / Bar Stool Photo by Teigue John Blokpoel 110 | Word December 2017 |

Hanoi Essentials

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




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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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





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


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

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



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

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

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


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

MEDICAL / DENTAL CLINIC 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3934 0666 Well-known medical clinic also known for its quality emergency services. Doctors and consultants also provide a range of services from

standard GP-style checkups through to vaccinations, paediatrics and specialist care.


M M M INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS CONCORDIA INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HANOI Van Tri Golf Compound, Kim No, Dong Anh. Tel: (024) 3795 8878 A non-profit entity, Concordia has highly performing schools in both Hong Kong and Shanghai at the top tier of the educational system. All instructors and teachers are native English speakers and admission applications are accepted throughout the year.

HANOI INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 48 Lieu Giai , Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3832 8140 With schooling available for students studying at elementary through to secondary levels of education, HIS is one of the few private, international education options in the capital. Offers Cambridge IGCSE and IB Diploma for students at the secondary level.

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


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


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


Dinh Cong, Hoang Mai, Tel: (024) 3540 9183 A not-for-profit, prekindergarten to Grade 12 school serving the international and local community of Hanoi. ISV accepts students of any nationality aged 3 and up. Highly qualified and experienced international educators are supported by a 21st-century campus with the latest in educational technology plus excellent resources for learning. Class sizes are small.

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

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


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


Suite 821, 8th floor, Vietnam Trade Union Hotel, 14 Tran Binh Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3941 0805 ith over 150 offices around the world, Santa Fe offers local and international moving, pet transportation, relocation services including home search, orientation, cultural training, immigration services and records management.

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Dear Douglas, I have been dealing with depression on and off for much of my life. I am a 44 year-old expat living in Hanoi, working in an English language centre. I love my work but it causes me to work too much and to ignore developing a social life and other interests. The problem is I feel so depressed that I am missing work a lot and feeling totally unmotivated to face the growing amount of unfinished work that is piling up. I just want to sleep and to avoid everything and hope it goes away. My boss and colleagues have been supportive and patient, but I am afraid that will run out soon. My apartment is a mess and I cannot organize myself to even go get groceries when I need them. I feel exhausted and am feeling more and more desperate. What should I do? — Mary Dear Mary, It does look like you are headed for a crisis unless you find a way to get support from a mental health professional who can help you develop a plan and strategy to work your way out of the downward spiral you are in. So, the first step is to go to the website for the Hanoi Counseling Psychology Group to see who is trained to help you. Depression feeds off our tendency to avoid aspects of life that we must inherently face if we are to find a balanced and healthy life. Responsibilities are part of adulthood, but can sometimes overwhelm us when life throws us challenges or we don’t know our boundaries and limitations. You share that you love your job and that it has become a big percentage of what you do to the detriment of other parts of your life. While many of us do what you do — throw ourselves into our work with passion — it is a recipe for the kind of depression that causes us to feel overwhelmed. There is more to say about the value of a balanced life, but you might already be beating yourself up for having gotten into this mess. The important part is to find a way out. There is not a script that tells us what to do, so we have to make changes that are steps in the right direction and that are based on what is needed and what is realistic. It strikes me that it is important to have a discussion with your boss to ask them to work with you in order to find steps

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that lead to a good outcome. A letter from your psychologist or a medical report that validates your mental health issue can help the employer, or school, understand the serious nature of what is happening. That report would offer a recommendation about what the treatment plan might be. If a person comes in for therapy early enough, the depression can be managed and the person is able to continue to function to a reasonable level. They may need to create a structure that helps them set good boundaries, address their own expectations, and identify ways to integrate restorative activities into their life. When a person is overwhelmed and has shut down, all activities seem to be too much and their instinct is to curl up in bed and try to sleep time away. This calls for a more radical intervention that structures either a partial break or a full break from the responsibilities of life. A partial break might be for a week or two or might be to reduce the daily hours or responsibilities at work or school. This can be planned as a “see how it goes” strategy to find what is realistic. If that proves to be too demanding, it is best for a person to be admitted somewhere to be cared for and to be given realistic tasks that offer them a chance to

reclaim the benefits of taking responsibility. In Vietnam, there are few, if any, of these types of facilities for English speakers. It means sometimes returning to one’s home country. The disruption to one’s work or school life adds another layer to what feeds the depression, but is sometimes needed in order to get daily life in order and to fully recover. Psychologists and other mental health counsellors would also work toward gaining insights that help understand if the depression is rooted in one’s personal history, self-concept, traumatic experiences or other forms of dysfunctional coping. Mary, avoidance is a short-term strategy and now is the time to seek help to find support. Many people overcome depression. It is the most diagnosed mental health problem and no one is at fault for becoming depressed. It is rarely easy, but with support, you will find your way out of it. I wish you wellness. — Douglas Do you have a question you would like Douglas’s help with? You can email him at Personal details will not be printed.

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

JVK INDOCHINA MOVERS 6 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (024)3826 0334 Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is currently a leader in the field. Has offices in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

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

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






What Do You Think?

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

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




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



Bites 80

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


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





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




Word is Stopping Subscriptions Our magazines are disappearing fast out of our distribution outlets. So fast in fact that as a result we have decided to stop all subscriptions. We don’t have enough copies. Anyone who is an existing subscriber will continue to receive their monthly copy of the magazine. So no need to worry! And for everyone else, you can see a list of our distribution outlets by clicking on: Alternatively, you can find the digital version of our magazine online at: Once again, a big thank you for all your support. It’s you, the reader, who allows us to make this magazine happen.

Any questions or queries, please drop us a line on | December 2017 Word | 113

Day Tripper Emily Arntsen gets on her motorbike with no particular destination in mind and winds up crossing the Red River on Tho An Ferry, about 30km out of downtown Hanoi


ne man’s work commute is another man’s adventure. That’s the kind of attitude you need to have when taking a trip across the Red River aboard the Tho An industrial ferry. This is not a tourist attraction — you will almost certainly be the only person crossing the river for fun. Most people use the ferry as a way to commute to Hanoi without driving to the nearest bridge 24km away. So why bother going? This experience is not about where the ferry takes you, because if it were you might be disappointed by the charming but average farm town that awaits on the other side. Instead, the ferry ride is about enjoying the river and doing something out of the ordinary. Drive your bike right onto the boat’s deck, and for VND10,000 you can get a one-way pass to

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the other side. The ferry departs from a dock marked on Google maps as Ben Pha Tho An, which is an hour-and-a-half drive from central Hanoi. Instead of running on a regular schedule, it seems as though the ferry leaves whenever there are enough passengers to justify a trip. While underway, sneak a peak into the cockpit or sit in the shade just behind the steering area. Sit back and relax for the 15-minute ride.

Bungalow Bia Hoi When you arrive at the other dock, the closest town is Xom Mot. Head off in the direction of the temple where there’s no telling if you’ll find people praying or playing badminton in the makeshift court out front. Keep driving through the town and

admire the impressive sea of corn stocks and banana trees that grow in Xom Mot. The town is dusty and romantically oldfashioned — if you had no context, you might guess you were in the middle-ofnowhere Vietnam 20 years ago, not an hour outside the capital in 2017. Pick up some fruit in town and head to a little bungalow bia hoi off of De Ta Song Hong in the direction of Hanoi. Once you come to a cemetery on your left, also clearly marked on Google maps, take your next right turn. Before even getting onto the main road, you’ll see a dirt path that takes you to a little restaurant in the trees. A gaggle of geese and the delightful owner will greet you. Have a drink, some peanuts, and maybe the fruit you brought, while you sit on the terrace suspended by stilts above the pond. It’s likely you’ll have

Across the River

the place to yourself. Enjoy the calm quiet before heading back to noisy Hanoi. Keep in mind this trip is for people who prefer to see where the wind takes them. Get on the ferry and leave the rest to chance for an interesting adventure.

Getting There To get to Tho An Ferry Port, take An Duong Vuong out of Hanoi. When you get to Thang Long Bridge, keep on going straight under the bridge and along the river road for about 24km until you get to the village of Tho An. At Tho An, turn right when you see the signs for Ben Pha Tho An. | December 2017 Word | 115



uality children’s picture books, published by top Vietnamese publishing houses, used to be renowned for their brilliant and vibrant illustrations, executed in watercolours by talented artists. One of my favourites is Ta Huy Long, a long-time artist with the Kim Dong Publishing House, and I am an avid collector of any books that he has illustrated. Of his large output there aren’t many translated into English, but it’s the delightful artwork that is the drawcard for me and other aficionados of his work. In translation there is the famous Diary of a Cricket, a text by the famous author To Hoai, who recently passed away. It was originally published in 1941 and has been brought back to vivid life by Ta Huy Long’s illustrations. In 2009, L’Espace, the French Cultural Center in Hanoi, hosted an exhibition of Ta Huy Long’s work and it was a huge hit. If you are really fortunate you may chance upon a collection of works from the show, sold as sets of postcards. Some of the pieces in the exhibition feature in a newly released, translated book, Luoc Su Nuoc Viet Bang Tranh (Vietnam: A Brief History in Pictures), which takes the reader on a fascinating, illustrated journey from the Vietnamese creation myth of Lac Long Quan and Au Co to the present day. Long’s illustrations of historical tales about real and mythical heroes are compelling and a recent (not yet translated) book about the myths and legends that are part and parcel of Vietnam’s cultural and literary fingerprint is full of wonderful art. Linh Nam Chich Quai is a masterpiece. My all-time favourite of Ta Huy Long’s

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output is Cua So with its vitally alive watercolour drawings of Hanoi before modernisation changed the city.

A First Journey Last year, two young Saigonese illustrators won the Asia-wide Scholastic Picture Book Award. Phung Nguyen Quang and Huynh Kim Lien follow in the footsteps of Ta Huy Long with their intricate artwork, but employ modern techniques, with Quang using a pigment liner for outlines and

Lien using a digital painting program to colour the pictures. Together the results are brilliant. It has a minimal but effective text in English that tells the tale of little An who lives in a village somewhere along the Mekong. His parents have to leave home very early and, on this day, An makes his way alone by small boat to school. Today is his first solo journey into the river during the ‘floating season’, when the swollen river submerges the countryside; hence the book’s title The First Journey. Through a small boy’s eyes the short scull


becomes a journey worthy of Odysseus with illustrations to make any small kid’s heart beat fast. In fact, every small kid we’ve read the book to has been enthralled, as has every adult who loves reading aloud to those kids. One double-page illustration of the boy and boat being tossed on waves is deliberately reminiscent of Hokusai’s famous print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa. The book is now available to Vietnamese reading kids via the Kim Dong Publishing House.

Red Friendship Bridge Some Western expats who write books set in Vietnam manage to escape perpetuating stereotypes in their manuscripts. One is Kylie Dunstan, an award-winning children’s author and illustrator who taught in an international school in Hanoi. In 2011 she had The Red Bridge published by Windy Hollow Books. In it she tells a tale of a small western girl named Claire who has arrived in Hanoi to start an expat lifestyle with her parents. She’s sad because she’s left all of her friends behind. When out with Mum and Dad exploring the bewildering city she gets separated but is rescued near the red bridge on Hoan Kiem Lake by a Vietnamese child of similar age. Thus, begins a new and valuable friendship, even without a common language. For me, a huge appeal of the book lies in the illustrations, which are from clothing materials found in markets around the city. Truong Hoang is behind the bookshop, Bookworm. For more info click on bookwormhanoi. com or visit their shop at 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Hanoi.

Hanoi On the Town

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

88 LOUNGE CONTEMPORARY WINE BAR 88 Xuan Dieu, Tay ho, Tel: (024) 3718 8029 A wine bar with a difference, this mainstay on the watering hole scene in West Lake mixes contemporary design, black ceilings, subtle lighting and an international aesthetic with one of the best wine lists in town. Not surprisingly it is developing a faithful clientele. Well worth a visit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TADIOTO LOUNGE BAR AND CAFE ARTS BAR / EVENT SPACE 24B Tong Dan, Hoan Kiem Located close to the Opera House, this alternative, arty

bar is garnished in red and white on the outside, with warm brown and tones of blue on the inside. Creating an atmosphere merging Shanghai and San Francisco, engaging contemporary artwork lines the walls at the latest incarnation of this wellknown and well-loved space.

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

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

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

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

COFFEE BEAN & TEA LEAF INTERNATIONAL COFFEE HOUSE 28 Thanh Nien, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3715 4240 This American-style chain cafe is a multilevel, indoor/ outdoor café overlooking Westlake. With its LA coffee and office feel, when you walk in you might just forget that you’re in Hanoi.

CONG CAPHE LEFTIST ARTSY CAFE 152D Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung; 32 Dien Bien Phu, Ba Dinh; 27 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem; 15 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh; 100A Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho With a kitsch, communistdriven theme saturating this quaint cafe, most patrons are young Vietnamese bohemians and artsy expats.

Sip on a blended cup of joe with beans from the Central Highlands, knock back one of the many different types of tea available or sip on freshly squeezed juice from the Spartan cups in one of the hippest café chains in town.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

COFFEE/BAKERY 22 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3747 3388; 43 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3718 6071 Popular café with a contemporary western feel to the counter-style service and atmosphere. The food is all there, too: breakfasts, salads, soups, ice cream, muffins, cakes, cereals and bagels. Starting in Laos in 1996, Joma moved to Hanoi

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

PUKU | December 2017 Word | 117

Top Eats


ince opening four months ago, Pizza Belga has developed a solid reputation for its Neapolitanstyle pizzas, all made using fresh ingredients and imported Italian cheese, and its thick, creamy ice-cream that has customers coming back for more. The warm atmosphere in this pizzeria is complemented by steaming pizzas straight out of a wood-fired oven, and is housed in a casual setting, with red brick walls sporting pictures of Tintin, and a soundtrack that could come out of a Quentin Tarantino movie.

Cheese, Tomatoes and Dough On arriving we were taken to the second floor by an attentive waitress who spoke

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fluent English, and sat at a table overlooking Au Co on one side, and an outside dining area on the other that was hosting a party of around 20 guests. There’s no appetizer menu yet, though this is currently being designed by the former owner of Daluva restaurant, Shahar Lubin, and is expected to appear in the near future, alongside additions to the existing menu such as lasagna, tortellini, and a range of salads. Our appetizer took the shape of a 34cm Margarita pizza (VND160,000), topped with a generous amount of high-quality Fior di Latte mozzarella, extra-virgin olive oil and fresh basil. The mozzarella, tomato and basil were of equally strong flavour and mix to make an unforgettable eat.

The restaurant’s Belgian owner, Kevin Boudreaux, takes pride in the fact that all of the dough and pasta is homemade using fresh ingredients, and while currently most of their cheese is imported from Italy, they’ve already begun making it on site, and plan on eventually making all of their cheese themselves. Cooking time for all pizzas is two minutes, and they’re served piping hot, on a thin, crispy base, with an airy crust. “Because we use a wood-fire oven, the best time to come is around 8.30pm,” says Kevin. “This is when the oven has had a chance to heat up; that’s when the pizza is at its best.”

Refreshments, Pizza 'n Ice Cream For a bit of refreshment we ordered a Tay

Pizza Belga


beer (VND80,000) from Furbrew brewery, and a glass of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon (VND120,000). The wine list is short and easy to digest, offering a selection of new and old-world wines by the bottle ranging from VND700,000 to VND1.3 million. A glass of the house white or red cost VND110,000 and VND120,000 respectively. Next we ordered the Raffaello pizza (VND180,000), another whopper of a pizza, this time topped with tomato, mozzarella, spicy salami Calabrese piccante and a nice touch of red bell pepper. As with the earlier offering, each ingredient presented a strong flavour, and the spicy salami makes this a real treat for anyone who likes their food with a bit of a kick.

After this was the clams fettuccine pasta (VND180,000), made up of homemade pasta cooked al dente, a generous amount of clams, white wine and fresh parsley sauce, topped with extra-virgin olive oil. The clams were soft and their flavour balanced well with the parsley sauce and white wine present in the dish, and while they’re still in their shells, the extra elbow work is well worth it. The dish is a reasonably priced alternative to the pizzas (or a sizeable side for one, depending on how you look at things). For dessert we chose the dame blanche (VND70,000); homemade vanilla ice cream made from real vanilla beans, buried in fresh cream and presented with a jug of Belgian chocolate sauce.

“Often people come in here just to eat the ice cream,” says Kevin. “We use more cream than milk, and the ice-cream is denser than gelato.”

The Road Ahead Pizza Belga has already established a strong reputation for its food and service. With upcoming additions to the food and drinks menu, and plans to produce even more of their own ingredients, it looks like they could easily expand outside of Hanoi. — Billy Gray Pizza Belga is located at 225 Au Co, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Opening hours are 6pm to 11pm, Wednesday to Sunday. | December 2017 Word | 119

Bar Stool


fter establishing itself on Hanoi’s bar scene seven months ago, Chavez has quickly earned a spot on Hanoi’s nightlife checklist, bringing in punters from all corners of the globe and entertaining them with live music, Disney pub quizzes, and rotating specials that won’t break the bank. Founded by former ESL teacher Paul Lavelle, and former owner of Nameless Bar and Alley Pub, Tan Vu, Chavez draws from experience and community to create a warm and chilled atmosphere, welcoming anyone through its giant steel door. The space is bursting with colour and

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quirky decoration, with an overall South American feel. More or less everything in the bar was made by the team and their friends. “Everyone has their own little piece in here,” says Paul. “My friend hung that birdcage on the wall and painted the moon behind it, some artist friends painted the mural on the front door.” Even the tables are made from old doors they painted, that were originally just lying around when they leased the property, and the multitude of coloured ‘day of the dead’ themed flags hanging from the ceiling are also handmade. “It took about 10 or 20 of us two nights to

make all those flags,” says Paul. “Everyone got involved and we stayed up for two nights drinking and making them.”

Weekly Entertainment With the bar running down the length of the main room, and a stage area at the back, it’s an ideal spot to stage musicians and spoken word artists. The team have capitalized on this, hosting open-mic jam nights every Thursday, where guests are encouraged to join in whether they’re a novice or a pro. This is complemented by an open mic night for spoken word, stand-up comedy and an a cappella rap on Tuesdays, while



Wednesday is pub quiz night; recent themes have been Disney and Pixar. The quiz kicks off at 8pm and includes a creative round and a bonus round picked from team suggestions. Prizes are given out for each round in the form of free drinks, and the overall winners are given a free bottle of spirits to celebrate with. Come the weekend, Chavez hosts live music on a Friday and a DJ on Saturday night, usually spinning tunes with a Motown / northern soul, funk and soul type vibe.

The Refreshments With three ales on tap, including one rotating

guest ale, beer lovers can guarantee a good fix. The Platinum Pale Ale (VND90,000 / pint) is a permanent fixture, as is the East Sea Summer Ale (VND75,000 / glass). The rotating guest ale runs between VND35,000 to VND55,000 per glass, with previous guests being amber ales and wheat beers as well as others. Bottled beers are also available and include beers from Hanoi-based Barett brewery (VND65,000) and Long Bien Brew (VND75,000). A bottle of Magners cider is VND65,000. Cocktails include the frozen margarita (VND120,000), the Ronaldinho (VND90,000) and the Old Fashioned

(VND110,000), as well as other favourites. The team plans to add food in the near future, intending to serve up mostly one-pot meals like chilli, daal or curry, and also some bar snacks, such as dumplings. It looks like it’ll be a good year ahead for Chavez. So far it has managed to find its feet and build up a good reputation for the casual, chilled-out atmosphere and regular entertainment. — Billy Gray Chavez is located at 19 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Opening hours are 5pm till late, Tuesday to Sunday. | December 2017 Word | 121

Hanoi On the Town

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

SAINT HONORE CAFE / BOULANGERIE 5 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3933 2355 This cafe and French-style boulangerie is best visited in the morning when that Gallic, fresh-cooked bakery aroma hits you as you walk through the door. The downstairs space is split into the bakery on one side with a small non-smoking dining space on the other. The upstairs lounge area has standard tables as well as sofa seating. Simple but tasty French and international fare is served at meal times.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

M M M EAT — INDIAN FOODSHOP 45 INTERNATIONAL INDIAN 59 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3716 2959 Lakeside location and low bamboo seating, this eatery is one of the most popular Indians in town. Selling an international version of the mighty curry — they even sell pork and beef here — the menu keeps to the northern part of the subcontinent with masala, dopiaza, korma and the more Goan vindaloo taking centre stage.

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

DON’S TAY HO CONTEMPORARY NORTH AMERICAN 16 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3719 3719 This lake-facing venue with its top floor Oyster Bar is the work of charismatic Canadian restaurateur and wine connoisseur Donald Berger. Focusing on comfort food done well, the main restaurant menu includes anything from wood-grilled rare tuna steak with fragrant Chinese black bean beurre noir to gourmet pizza and pasta dishes Excellent range of imported oysters, great

breakfasts and an extensive wine list.

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

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

J.A.F.A. INTERNATIONAL G2-G3 Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3758 2400 J.A.F.A. is a great place for drinking cocktails by the pool. The beverages are not the cheapest, but this is made up for by service and ambiance. They also have a full menu featuring familiar western dishes such as pizza and cheeseburgers and cater for large parties or dinner functions. Periodic buffets and drink specials are also offered.

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

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

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

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

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

MOOSE AND ROO CANADIAN / AUSTRALIAN RESTAURANT 42B Ma May, Hoan Kiem, Tel:(024) 3200 1289 Contemporary Australian and Canadian comfort food in a pleasant setting together with a nice bar area. Best known for their Scotch egg, poutine and burgers. Clever changing imagery on the walls.

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

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

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

THE CART SANDWICH SHOP / CAFÉ 8B, Lane 1, Au Co, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3938 2513 Small cozy café and sandwich bar hidden away in Nghi Tam Village. Serves and delivers tasty baguettes, homemade juices, quiches, pies, muffins and cakes. The delivery service is quick and reliable, which makes this lunchtime favourite ideal for when you need to eat at the desk.

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

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

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

M M M EAT — ITALIAN DA PAOLO CLASSIC ITALIAN 18 Lane 50/59/17 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3718 6317 This airy, contemporary looking Italian restaurant next to the famed lawn chair and coconut café on West Lake has all the right ingredients to become a classic. Run by the long time former manager of Luna D’Autunno, it features scrumptious wood-fired oven pizzas from VND120,000 and other Italian delicacies. Open every day for lunch and dinner, delivery is also available.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




GOURMET VIETNAMESE 4 Ton That Thiep, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3747 8337 Gordon Ramsay once filmed a show at this restaurant in a renovated French villa and now the ribs carry his namesake. But it’s the twist on old world favourites, think fried snail spring rolls and miniature vegetarian banh xeo, all in a casually elegant setting that make this spot near the train tracks a standout.

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


PHO CUON 26 Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh

CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE 57 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (024) 3944 0204 Brought to you by a group of former disadvantaged youth from Hanoi’s own KOTO, this unique fine dining restaurant, bar and lounge blends the old with the new. Vietnamese fusion cuisine, like profiteroles with green tea and café fillings, a private chef’s table with a kitchen view, and an extensive wine list combined with modern formal styling bring a unique experience to Hanoi.


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


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

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


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



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



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


BANH CUON 14 Hang Ga, Hoan Kiem




SAUTEED BEEF PHO 13 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung

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

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


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



Ho Chi Minh City

Body and Temple / Medical Buff / Top Eats / Bar Stool / Know Your City / Terrence Taylor's Saigon Stories Photo by Bao Zoan 124 | Word December 2017 | | December 2017 Word | 125

HCMC Essentials

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

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

BRITISH BUSINESS GROUP OF VIETNAM (BBGV) 25 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (028) 3829 8430

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


STAMFORD SKIN CENTRE SKIN CARE / COSMETICS 99 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (028) 3925 1990 tamford Skin Centre offers a broad range of medical and aesthetic skin treatments. Their international dermatologists and doctors ensure accurate diagnosis and safe treatment procedures. It houses excellent equipment for a variety of procedures.



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


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




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

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


INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC Norfolk Mansion, 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (028) 3825 6999 Thao Dien Clinic, 27 Nguyen Ba Lan, Q.2, Tel: (028) 35 191 777 n international dental clinic equipped with the latest technology, the comfortable clinics offer cosmetic and implant dentistry with a focus on making each patient’s experience anxiety and pain free.



INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC 167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (028) 3829 8424 Globally renowned provider of medical assistance and international healthcare offers full dental services in the clinic. Foreign and Vietnamese dentists provide high skilled dental service. Orthodontics is also available.

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

Long–established, modern clinic with French, Canadian, Belgian & Vietnamese dentists. A favourite of the foreign residential community due to its modern and effective treatments allied with extremely reasonable prices.

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


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

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


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



246 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 2335 nspected and approved by the British Government, BIS provides a British style curriculum for an international student body from pre-school to Year 13. The school is staffed by British qualified and trained teachers with recent UK experience. Fully accredited by the Council of International Schools and a member of FOBISIA, BIS is the largest international school in Vietnam.


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


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

SIAN SKINCARE CLINIC SKIN CARE / COSMETICS 27 Nguyen Trung Truc, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 6999 he Australian and Canadian managed SIAN Clinic offers a wide range of skincare medical therapies to treat problems by an experienced dermatologist and facial care team. The clinic utilises the latest therapies.


Body & Temple 2017 IN REVIEW



ecember is a time to reflect on the past 11 months and look forward to and plan for the up-and-coming year. 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 below? 1) Magnesium deficiency can contribute to fat storage in the abdominal region = True | False 2) Poor gut health can prevent you from losing weight = True | False 3) High Intensity Interval Training is more effective at burning fat than steady state cardio = True | False 4) Body weight or callisthenic exercise is more beneficial than equipment-based exercise = True | False 5) Vegetable-based oils (like sunflower, sesame, canola, etc) are healthy = True | False 6) One of the biggest mistakes made with vegetarian diets is the amount of starch consumed = True | False 7) The follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, when oestrogen is high and progesterone low, is a time to focus on cardio training = True | False 8) The statement “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is based on science = True | False 9) Your metabolic rate is set and only changes with your weight = True | False 10) One of the most effective exercises for toning the glutes is the Donkey Kick = True | False

Answers 1) True. Research suggests that magnesium deficiency is a big contributor to an enlarged waist. Magnesium plays a very important role in glucose regulation, it has the ability to decrease inflammation and anxiety, lower cortisol, improve HDL cholesterol levels, and adequate levels are absolutely critical for a lean body.

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2) True. It’s very difficult to lose weight and be healthy if you don’t have a healthy gut. If your gut is not healthy, it will negatively affect the production of the neurotransmitters, leading to poor cognitive function, low mood, feelings of depression, and low motivation as well as poor digestion that prevents your body receiving the nutrients it requires. 3) True. HIIT training burns more fat due to a) improved insulin sensitivity b) anabolic effect and c) afterburn effect. 4) True. Movement-based exercise focuses on increasing range of motion, increasing mobility and strengthening joints. Movementbased exercises, or calisthenics, not only increase your range, they strengthen your secondary system, which includes ligaments, tendons, interconnective tissue and fascia. By strengthening your secondary system this type of exercise massively helps in preventing injuries. 5) False. Vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and usually contain large amounts of trans fatty acids. Many studies have now demonstrated that vegetable oils can cause serious harm to your health. Omega-6 oils are pro-inflammatory — inflammation leads to chronic disease. 6) True. The term vegetarian, to me, means someone who predominantly eats vegetables. However, what I regularly see many people following a vegetarian diet consisting mainly of pasta, bread, rice, dairy and other nonvegetable foods. To me this is a ‘starchetarian’ — a huge mistake! Starchy foods hold very

little mineral and vitamin content = empty calories. 7) False. The best time to focus on resistance training is in the follicular phase of the menstruation cycle. The follicular phase has more oestrogen, which means less fat storage, more fat burning and is a muscle gaining time. In this phase carbohydrate intake can be a little higher due to better insulin sensitivity which also helps with lean tissue development. 8) False. It is not fact at all but rather a slogan. Seventh Day Adventists James Caleb Jackson and John Harvey Kellogg invented “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” in the mid 19th century to sell their newly developed breakfast cereal foodstuffs. Kellogg was incredibly eccentric with his thoughts about breakfast believing that bland food would curb masturbation. 9) False. The metabolism is adaptive and reactive to food, exercise and mood. We must continually vary our inputs and outputs, so that our bodies continue to adapt and change. 10) False. The donkey kick exercise works core stability, in particular the Transversus Abdominis (TVA). The general mistake is to think that this exercise works the glutes. However, there is no resistance applied, so the glutes will not be overloaded sufficiently to cause significant “toning”. Phil is founder and master trainer at Body Expert Systems. Contact him on 0934 782763, at his website or through Star Fitness (

HCMC Essentials

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

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

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

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

INTERNATIONAL SOS HCMC MEDICAL CLINIC INTERNATIONAL CLINIC / MEDIVAC 167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (028) 3829 8424 The world’s leading provider of medical assistance and international healthcare offers

primary health care, diagnostic services and 24/7 emergency care. Specialist care is available in many fields.

STD WALK IN CLINIC INTERNATIONAL CLINIC Family Medical Practice, 34 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 7848 vietnammedicalpractice. com Family Medical Practice offers confidential walk-in and appointment service for STI / STD consultations. Private testing, lab analysis, diagnosis, and treatment are also available at their D1, D2 and Care 1 clinics. Call for more information.



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

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

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

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

MONTESSORI INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 42/1 Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 2639 Aiming to encourage children’s engagement with their surroundings, MIS offers children from age three to 12 a classic Montessori education as well as a variety of extra–curricular activities.

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

SAIGON KIDS EDUCATIONAL CHILDCARE CENTRE 15 Street 12, Q2, Tel: (028) 3740 8081 saigonkidskindergarten. com SKECC has evolved over 10 years to create a creative, playful learning environment for children ages two to six. Limited class sizes and highly engaged teachers ensure personal attention for all students.

M M M PROPERTY RENTALS CHUM’S HOUSE 121/21 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (028) 3920 7237

EASY SAIGON Tel: 0932 112694


SAIGON STAR INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL Residential Area No. 5, Thanh My Loi, Q2, Tel: (028) 3742 7827 Established in 2006, Saigon Star is a British School and one of only four schools in Vietnam to adopt the International Primary Curriculum (IPC). A combination of experienced, UK qualified teachers and a maximum of 16 students per class means learners receive the individual attention they deserve. A secondary school is opening in August 2017.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JVK INTERNATIONAL MOVERS 1st Floor, Saigon Port Building, 3 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Tel: (028) 3826 7655 Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is a leader in the field. | December 2017 Word | 129



My wife has been bugging me to get this checked out for a while, what do you think?” I lean forward and peer at the dark, ugly mole. It appears to be what we call a seborrheic keratosis, something completely harmless. But clinical experience tells me that it pays to be thorough, so I fetch my dermatoscope from my pocket. My patient suddenly appears nervous. “What’s that, doctor?” he asks. “Will it hurt?” “Not at all,” I reassure him. “This will just help me to distinguish if you have a good or a bad mole.” “Is it like a biopsy?” “No, but it’s almost as accurate as a biopsy in good hands,” I tell him. “This is just an augmentation lens with polarized light so that I can get a closer look. If your mole looks benign under the dermatoscope, then we don’t need to make a cut.” “That’s great!” he says.

Dermoscopy He’s certainly not the only patient I’ve had this conversation with. Skin tumours are probably the most common cancers in the world, and one of my most frequent tasks is to examine moles such as these. The skin is a very large organ, frequently exposed to the sun and to viral infections — these two factors put together are chiefly responsible for the emergence of skin cancer. The danger is especially high in fairskinned people of northern European origins who live and work in the subtropical zone (as do many Western expatriates in the community here) because their skin is not genetically prepared for solar radiation levels in these

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parts. For these people in particular, early diagnosis of melanoma is critical. This is why dermoscopy is so important. A dermatoscope is a magnifying lens with a polarizing light. The way you position the lens and whether or not you use polarization reveals different tissue structures within the mole with great clarity. This simple instrument makes it much more straightforward to diagnose and distinguish melanomas that need to be removed from benign lesions, which do not need to be removed at all. When I place the dermatoscope on the patient’s mole, I get a very different picture of the seemingly benign tumour. Through the lens, I see variations in colour. I see irregular blue-white veil. I see a honeycomblike structure at the edges. I see whitish areas of atrophy. All of this tells me that there is nothing benign about this mole after all. This patient is in fact harbouring a malignant melanoma in his skin — a mass of cancerous tissue that will certainly kill him if he doesn’t have the whole tumour removed as soon as possible. My point is this: you can’t always trust the naked eye when it comes to distinguishing a melanoma from a harmless mole. That’s a problem, because there are people out there with hundreds of moles all over their body, and you can’t simply dig them all out. I had another patient who was covered in moles, and there was melanoma history in her family, which meant that her risk was higher than normal. When I examined her, I did indeed find a lesion that I suspected to be a melanoma, which had to be removed. But there were also other lesions that may or may not have been cancerous; it was too hard to tell just by looking.


On the Safe Side You’d think that a dermatologist would carry a dermatoscope like a cardiologist would a stethoscope, but in fact the whole field of dermoscopy isn’t widely practised outside of Europe and Australia. I would say that probably half of American dermatologists wouldn’t use it regularly. This is a pity, because it’s an incredibly effective diagnostic method. Dermoscopy has been known since the 17th century, but consistent research really got going around 40 years ago. It was conducted to increase the accuracy of skin cancer diagnosis by classifying structures in moles that are visible under a dermatoscope against biopsy findings from confirmed melanomas and other cancers. By slowly matching their data to the results of tissue examination, these researchers confirmed that dermoscopy could be used to accurately identify a melanoma. This is why we can trust this medical field, because it has been subjected to a rigorous scientific process. Screening the moles on your body reduces the chances of succumbing to skin cancer thanks to early diagnosis. If a melanoma grows unchecked into the skin to a depth of 4mm, this reduces your chances of survival by 20% at five years. Dermoscopy helps doctors cut out early malignant tumours rather than benign lesions. Early diagnosis is only possible if you check suspicious moles regularly, at least once a year. Dermoscopy ensures that you will only get a biopsy if necessary. Our facility is one of the few in Ho Chi Minh City that offers this diagnostic opportunity. Dr. Ruben Martinez works for Family Medical Practice and specialises in internal medicine. For more information click on

HCMC Essentials

LOGICAL MOVES — VIETNAM 396/4 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Tel: (028) 3941 5322

M M M SPORTS & FITNESS 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. All activities are safe and run by Cyril and his trained staff.


Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 2828

GENERAL FITNESS 34 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 6672 A well-appointed gym also offering fitness classes and personal training with excellent facilities. Group classes include power yoga, pilates, circuit training, martial arts and spinning. Also has a restaurant serving calorie–calibrated meals.

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


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

SHERATON FITNESS HEALTH CLUB & GYM Level 5, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88


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



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



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


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


THE LANDMARK CLUB GYM, POOL, SQUASH The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 2098 ext. 176 In addition to the squash court, facilities include a

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

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


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



8FL, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: (028) 3933 0065 ith over 150 offices around the world, Santa Fe offers local and international moving, pet transportation, relocation services including home search, orientation, cultural training, immigration services and records management. Email for info.

fully–equipped gym room, a rooftop swimming pool and separate male and female saunas.


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



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


BODY AND MIND FITNESS 9A Xa Lo Ha Noi, Q2, Tel: 0947 771326 his sports centre in An Phu, started by fitness guru Cyril, features the same personalised mentorship Cyril's clients love. Includes yoga, boxing and fitness for kids and adults every day. No membership fees. Pay for classes. All activities are safe and run by Cyril and his trained staff.

T | December 2017 Word | 131

HCMC On The Town

BARS 2 LAM SON (MARTINI BAR) TOP-END INTERNATIONAL Park Hyatt, 2 Lam Son, Q1, Tel: (028) 3824 1234 International décor blends seamlessly with local themes. Style joins forces with a wideranging drink menu and hip dance tunes to create one of the most tasteful if pricier bars in Saigon.

ACOUSTIC BAR LIVE MUSIC 6E Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, Tel: (028) 3930 2239

APOCALYPSE NOW DANCE / NIGHTCLUB 2B-C-D Thi Sach, Q1, Tel: (028) 3825 6124

BIA CRAFT CRAFT BEER BAR 90 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 2588; 1 Le Ngo Cat, Q3 As craft beer continues to take over watering holes

around Ho Chi Minh City, so bars dedicated to all things ‘craft’ and ‘real ale’ are pretty sensible, right? With wooden tables perfect for sharing, and beer both on tap and by the bottle, Bia Craft sells up a delectable range of the good stuff. Looking for Tiger? Go take a hike. Also has a decent food menu.


GASTROPUB / CRAFT BEER 159 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: (028) 3910 0485 TheBelgianCraftBeerBrewery Located within a lion’s roar of Saigon Zoo and a block or two from Dien Bien Phu, Belgo is a craft beer pub specialising in Belgian beer and food. With barebrick walls and decor with an industrial edge, Belgo also caters for parties, is good for groups, and has outdoor seating.



CONTEMPORARY THAI RESTOBAR 12-14 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel (028) 6253 7711 he Racha Room delivers Thai accented Pan-Asian cuisine with a focus on high quality ingredients. Racha features a large selection of spirits at a seated bar and high table to ensure drinking along with eating remains central to the experience. The current and future of Asian-inspired drinking and dining is right here at the Racha Room.



CONTEMPORARY STEAKHOUSE 44 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel (028) 3826 8691 ne of the world’s oldest culinary techniques — grilling over a wood fire. Stoker kitchen uses different woods to infuse foods with different smoky flavours. These techniques revolutionize live fire cooking by providing precise heat control through the use of a grilling surface that can be adjusted to different cooking heights above the hot coals.


MAD COW WINE & GRILL WINE & GRILL Pullman Saigon Centre, 148 Tran 30th Floor, Pullman Saigon Centre, 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (028) 3838 8639 five-star setting with breathtaking views of Saigon provides mouthwatering steaks together with handpicked wines at retail prices. The Mad Cow signature dishes include Grass Fed Angus Beef Tartar, served tableside, Lamb Gnocchi, BBQ Whole Seabass, Black Angus Beef Rib and the Mad Beef Burger.


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Tel: (028) 3836 8452

BROMA, NOT A BAR COCKTAILS / ROOFTOP 41 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 6838

BUDDHA BAR RESTOBAR 7 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 3345 6345 Just across the lane from Mc’Sorley’s, this pub with an eccentric European tilt and some nice, authentic cuisine draws an older crowd with darts, pool and weekly poker tourneys.

CHILL SKYBAR TOP-END BAR & TERRACE Rooftop, AB Tower, 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 2372 For the spectacular views alone, Chill Skybar remains the place to go to mix topend, outdoor terrace drinking around an oval-shaped bar with cityscapes of Saigon. One of the top watering holes in the city.

SPORTS BAR 55, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 5453 What does the Thao Dien area of Saigon seriously lack? A sports bar. And this is the Al Fresco Group’s answer to a distinct shortage hole in the market. Sleek lines, modern décor, elegant and spacious, dartboards and of course, lots of large screens to watch the televised sports. Check out their daily food specials.

DUBLIN GATE IRISH PUB & RESTAURANT 19 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (028) 6656 1103 irishpubsaigon Typical of Irish pubs the world over, The Dublin Gate has a fun, welcoming atmosphere and offers a break from the craft beer scene taking a hold over the city. The Dublin Gate is just a short walk from the Opera House, is open from 7.30am and has a pool table for a break between football matches, live bands and all that Irish charm.


GOURMET BURGER BAR 44 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: 01207 214294; 105-107 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: 0909 004294 elish & Sons burgers are lovingly made with a healthy food philosophy in mind and fresh high quality ingredients. The beef patties are 100% Australian grass-fed; the buns are made with a reduced sugar and salt content. Burger relishes such as chutneys are all made in-house from scratch.



APPAREL COMPANY 1870/3G An Phu Dong 3, Q12, Tel: (028) 3719 9588 p p a re l c o m p a n y o ff e r i n g personalised sport garments for companies, schools and professional sports clubs using the latest printing technology with a design team from Barcelona. Score-Tech controls the whole production process from fabric production and printing to sewing. Big and small orders for all sporting and commercial needs.


EAST WEST BREWING CO. VENUE & BREWERY 181-185 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 If you love craft beer and want to catch a glimpse of the brewing process in a contemporary yet vast and thoughtfully constructed environment, head to East West. A tasty range of on-site brewed craft beer mixes with an excellent food menu and an impressive vibe.

EON HELI BAR LOUNGE BAR Level 52, Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (028) 6291 8750

ENVY NIGHTCLUB 76 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1, Tel: (028) 3913 8168 envyclubsaigon Located a short stroll from Ben Thanh Market, Envy has taken nightlife in Saigon to a whole new level with its


BUTCHERS 1 Street 2, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 2565; 401 Pham Thai Buong H11-2, My Khanh 3, Q7, Tel: (028) 5412 5228 ocusing on the retail trade, the meat at this Australian-managed butcher comes pre-prepared and, if you so wish, pre-marinated. Sells up some of the best imported meats in town together with homemade sausages, free-range products and excellent Australian grass-fed steak.


theatrical performances and beautiful people swinging by the ankles tethered from the ceiling. Attracts international DJs and the rich and famous, but expect to pay for the experience.

GAME ON SPORTS BAR 115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1 Tel: (028) 6251 9898 A fresh feel thanks to the large space and light-wood tables makes this Australian-influenced watering hole a popular bar for televised sports, pub food, darts, pool and more.


night off or end it in a chilled atmosphere.

46-48 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1


EXPAT BAR 44 Pasteur, Q1 The original expat bar, this institution of a place gets packed every night thanks to its drinking hall atmosphere, attractive bar staff and German food menu. Has regular live music.

CUBAN / MUSIC BAR 152 Le Lai, Q1, HCMC, Tel: (028) 3925 9838 Cuban-themed bar and restaurant selling an exciting range of Spanish and Cuban cuisine, as well as a few German favourites such as curry wurst and Wiener schnitzel. Located just across the park from De Tham, this popular watering hole brings in expats and tourists alike.


CRAFT BEER PUB 31D Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: 0903 017596 heartofdarknessbrewery The home of its eponymously named craft beer, Heart of Darkness features up to 20 different beers on tap at any given time with each one having a name that pays homage to Joseph Conrad’s novel. There’s also a sports bar and a space for live shows with pizzas cooked onsite by 4Ps. Enter the darkness.

BAR & EATERY 63 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 2279 LaylaEateryandBarHCM Housed on the 2nd floor of a former apartment overlooking Dong Khoi, Layla is a nice option for a bottle of wine, a few cocktails and carefully crafted sharing dishes. Here you can lounge after work on a comfy couch or pull a surprise party for a loved one. Behind the 11-metre-long bar mixologists create their magic.



CZECH BREWHOUSE 28 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1, Tel: (028) 3825 8605 The original microbrewery, this large, wooden-panelled, brasskegged Czech Brewhouse is as popular as it was 15 years ago when it was first opened. Does a great food menu to accompany the home-brewed beer.

INDIKA BAR, CAFÉ & RESTAURANT 43 Nguyen Van Giai, Q1, Tel: 0122 3994260 IndikaSaigon From movie screenings, DJs, acoustic sessions, and open mics, Indika just about has it covered for all types throughout the week. Located just away from the inner city mangle, Indika is still close enough to kick your

AFTERHOURS LOUNGE 59 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 3122 If you’re in need of dense, soulful atmosphere and maybe an artisanal cocktail on your way back from wherever, Last Call is your stop — and fast becoming that of the similarly inclined. Great happy hour deals for early evening starters.

LE PUB INTERNATIONAL / RESTOBAR 175/22 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (028) 3837 7679

LONG PHI FRENCH / RESTOBAR 207 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (028) 3837 2704



O’BRIEN’S IRISH BAR / INTERNATIONAL 74/A3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 3829 3198 This Irish-themed sports bar with classic pub décor is widely appreciated for its excellent international fare, large whiskey selection and upstairs pool table. Great pizzas. And for a real treat, check out their zesty rolls.

PHATTY’S AUSTRALIAN / SPORTS 46-48 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (028) 3821 0796 From its roots as the famed Café Latin, Phatty’s has become the go-to, Aussie beer-guzzling / sports viewing emporium, showing everything from international cricket to Aussie rules and serving an array of pub grub favourites.

PITCHERS SPORTS AND GRILL SPORTS BAR & GRILL RESTAURANT C0.01 Riverside Residence C, Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7, Tel: (028) 6274 1520 Located in the heart of Phu My Hung, this spacious restobar with an affection for showing televised sports has a family friendly edge thanks to its kids play area. Does a great grill menu and of course, lots of very cold beer for those developing a thirst in the Saigon heat.

QUI LOUNGE INTERNATIONAL BAR & LOUNGE 22 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (028) 3828 8828 A recently opened, stylish top-

end bar with a house DJ that is the plaything of Saigon’s jetset and anyone who is prepared to pay for atmosphere and one of the most hedonistic venues in town. Has an excellent food menu and a tasty brunch.

ROGUE SAIGON CRAFT BEER PUB 13 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: 0902 365780 Hidden on the upper floors of a crumbly old building in the heart of the city, Rogue Saigon is a hideout for craft beer lovers. Tricky to find, once you’re at the address, look up and you’ll see it. There’s a rooftop bar with excellent views of the neighbourhood and plenty of local craft brews on tap. Finger food tops off a chilled atmosphere with live music out in the open air.

RUBY SOHO CARTOON BAR S52-1 Sky Garden 2, Q7, Tel: (028) 5410 3900 A Phu My Hung mainstay thanks to its cartoon décor and light but fun ambience. Has a reasonable food menu to complement the drinks.

SAIGON SOUL POOL PARTY POOL & DAY CLUB New World Saigon Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1 The ultimate in poolside entertainment, Saigon Soul is defined by its great party atmosphere. Booming house music, cold drinks and beautiful people. What better way to spend a Saturday? Runs every Saturday from late November until mid May.

SAIGON OUTCAST EVENTS / MAKESHIFT CAFÉ BAR 188/1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0902 365780 Up-cycling and innovative design form the foundation for this bar / arts venue / mini-skate park and graffiti space. Home to numerous events and markets, Saigon Outcast also houses a | December 2017 Word | 133

HCMC On The Town

Push outdoor climbing wall, providing courses and a variety of climbimg activities.


5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 9698 vespersaigon

renders a great spot to relax. The mouth-watering western menu is well-priced and maintains a creative flair.



ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT 5/7 Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (028) 7300 0559 saigonranger

MUSIC & SPORTS BAR 70 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: 0907 890623

CONTEMPORARY CAFE 34D Thu Khoa Huan, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 2910




LIVE MUSIC / ROOFTOP BAR 9th Floor, Caravelle Saigon, 19-23 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 4999



CAFÉ / LOUNGE BAR 71-75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 3824 8468 This iconic upmarket downtown bar is known for its cocktails and wine list. It serves a range of international and Vietnamese dishes to be enjoyed in its richly decorated interior. Regular DJ nights.

DANISH / INTERNATIONAL 5B Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 4738




BAR, ART & DJ SPACE 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, (Opposite Elisa Boat) Known for its late night parties and focus on international artists, Observatory is now at a bigger space in District 4. Complete with a new balcony overlooking the Saigon River and an even larger sound system, The Observatory is a key node in the Asian underground music circuit.

THE SOCIETY GRILL AND LOUNGE BAR 99 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (028) 3914 3999 TheSocietyHCM Designed as a Lanewaystyle restobar, the kind of place found in Hong Kong, London, New York or Central Melbourne, thanks to its indoor and outdoor ambience, The Society brings dining and drinking to a new level. Phenomenal cocktails, steaks, grilled fare and seafood make this a place to go for drinks, a full-blown meal or a mixture of both.


EXPAT & SPORTS BAR R2-24 Hung Gia 3, Bui Bang Doan, Q7, Tel: (028) 5410 3900 The first bar established in Saigon South, great food, great music and loads of laughs. Has regular live music nights, theme nights and a variety of live sports events to please everybody. Big screens and outdoor seating add to the mix, with BBQs available for parties and events.


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DALAT COFFEE HOUSE 11A-B Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 6281 9772 A cozy and comfortable cafe in Thao Dien serving excellent fresh coffee from Dalat, smoothies, juices, homemade desserts. Offers up tasty breakfasts, lunch and dinner all the way through until 9pm.


159A Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: 0918 115657


INTERNATIONAL 157-159 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1; Metropolitan Building, 235 Dong Khoi, Q1 Large portioned coffee lures customers into the flagship store of this international café chain. The contemporary, yet generic atmosphere is bolstered by comfortable seating and a menu to satisfy any sweet tooth.

GUANABANA SMOOTHIES CONTEMPORARY JUICE BAR 23 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: 0909 824830 An American-style juice bar and café dedicated to healthy, nutricious smoothies that avoid the local obsession with sugar and condensed milk. A pleasant, contemporary environment adds to the theme.

HIDEAWAY INTERNATIONAL 41/1 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3, Tel: (028) 3822 4222 Hidden in a colonial building with an outdoor courtyard, the ample soft, sofa seating

CAFE AND ON-SITE ROASTING 40 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (028) 6685 4160

L’USINE CONTEMPORARY / FRENCH First Floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (028) 6674 9565; 70B Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (028) 3521 0703 French-style wooden decor compliments the spacious, whitewashed contemporary interior of L’Usine. A simple, creative menu combines with reasonably priced coffee, and a fashion store and art gallery out back. Second location on Le Loi.

MOCKINGBIRD CAFE 4th Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 0935 293400 mockingbirdcoffee

THE LOOP HEALTHY CAFÉ FARE / BAGELS 49 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel. (028) 3602 6385 Low-key yet nice-on-theeye décor helps create the café-style atmosphere at this European-influenced café and restaurant. Sells excellent coffee and if you like bagels, here you’ll be in heaven.

THE MORNING CAFE 2nd Floor, 36 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: 0938 383330

THE OTHER PERSON CAFE 2nd Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 0909 670272 TheOtherPersonCafe

THE PRINT ROOM CONTEMPORARY CAFE 158 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 4990

THINGS CAFE 1st Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: (028) 6678 6205

M M M EAT - CHINESE KABIN CANTONESE Renaissance Riverside Hotel, 8–15 Ton Duc Thang.

Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 0033

SAN FU LOU CANTONESE KITCHEN Ground Floor, AB Building, 76A Le Lai, Q1 Tel: (028) 3823 9513

SHANG PALACE RESTAURANT PAN-CHINESE / CANTONESE Norfolk Mansion, 1719-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 2221

YU CHU TOP-END PAN-CHINESE 1st Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, crn.of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (028) 3520 9999 intercontinental. com/saigon

EAT – FRENCH L’OLIVIER FRENCH/MEDITERRANEAN Sofitel Saigon Plaza, 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (028) 3824 1555 Exuding a southern Gallic atmosphere with its tiled veranda, pastel-coloured walls and ficus trees, this traditional French restaurant has quarterly Michelin star promotions and an award winning pastry team.

BABA’S KITCHEN NORTH / SOUTH INDIAN 164 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (028) 3838 6661 This pleasant, airy Indian does the full range of fare from all ends of the subcontinent, from dosas and vadas through to chicken tikka masala, kormas, kebabs and fiery vindaloos. Has a delivery outlet in District 2.

GANESH PAN-INDIAN 74 A2 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 38229366 padamjivietnam@ Located opposite Martini Bar, this relative newcomer to the dining scene with its bright decor serves up mainly North Indian cuisine with a large vegetarian selection as well as South Indian curries, dosa, vada and uthapam.Meat curries cost from VND100,000 to VND120,000.


FRENCH / MEDITERRANEAN 48 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (028) 2229 8882

INTERNATIONAL 27 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (028) 38238424 The downtown outlet of one of Vietnam’s most successful restaurant chains, Al Fresco’s offers international, Australianinfluenced comfort fare in a pleasant environment with efficient, friendly service to match. Also has an excellent garden-style branch at 89 Xuan Thuy, Q2.




CONTEMPORARY FRENCH 5D Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 0671 Open for lunch and set dinner, this beautifully designed restaurant and bar seamlessly mixes contemporary and with classic. With a menu cooked up by reputed chef Sakal Phoeung, and with a contemporary twist to traditional French fare, this is a place to enjoy the luxuries of fine cuisine and even finer wine.

LE JARDIN CLASSIC FRENCH 31 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (028) 3825 8465

EAT – INDIAN ASHOKA NORTH INDIAN / CHINESE INDIAN 17/10 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 1372; 33 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel : (028) 3744 4177 ashokaindianrestaurant. com

BRAZILIAN CHURRASCO 238 Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (028) 3820 7157

AU PARC EUROPEAN / CAFÉ 23 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (028) 3829 2772 Consistently tasty European café fare — think deli-style sandwiches, salads and mezzes, plus coffees and juices — served at a popular park-side Le Duan location with classic cream and greentiled décor.

BOAT HOUSE AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL 40 Lily Road, An Phu Superior Compound, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 6790 A revamp has seen this riverside restaurant get a new management and a new menu — think American-style burgers, sliders and Tex-Mex together with soup and salad and you’ll get the idea. Excellent nachos and frozen margaritas.



INTERNATIONAL / GRILL CR2 3-4, 107 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (028) 5413 6592

INTERNATIONAL FUSION The Square, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 0931 Although a chain restaurant, the international offerings here are consistently good and creative. Excellent service, an attractive outdoor terrace area, and a good kids menu. Check out their pepper steaks.

CHI’S CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE 40/31 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (028) 3837 2502 This affable café is a rarity in the backpacker area for its genuinely good musical playlist. Excellent, build-your-own breakfasts, baked potatoes, toasties, Vietnamese fare and more. Has a popular motorbike rental service.

CORSO STEAKHOUSE / INTERNATIONAL 117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (028) 3829 5368

ELBOW ROOM AMERICAN 52 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (028) 3821 4327

EL GAUCHO ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 2090; Unit CR1-12, The Crescent, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (028) 5413 6909

EON51 FINE DINING TOP-END EUROPEAN / ASIAN Level 51, Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (028) 6291 8750

HOG’S BREATH CAFÉ AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL Ground Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (028) 3915 6066

LA HABANA CUBAN / GERMAN 152 Le Lai, Q1, HCMC, Tel: (028) 3925 9838 Although themed as a Cuban restaurant, this long-running local favourite also serves up hard-to-get German favourites such as curry wurst and Wiener schnitzel. With a food menu that combines Cuban dishes with Spanish-style tapas, and a bar that serves up great mojitos, La Habana attracts an eclectic crowd of tourists and expats.

LU BU CONTEMPORARY MEDITERRANEAN 97B Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (028) 6281 8371 Drawing inspiration from the great cuisines of Europe, The Mediterranean and The Orient, this contemporary, Australian-run restaurant bathed in white focuses on wholesome, fresh ingredients, with breads, cheeses, pickles, pastas and preserves made on site daily from scratch. A well-conceived wine list supplements the excellent fare.

MAD HOUSE CONTEMPORARY CAFE, BAR, RESTAURANT 6/1/2 Nguyen U Di, Q2, Tel: (028) 3519 4009; Duong C — Bac, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (028) 5417 1234 Set over a pool in a leafy, tropical garden, the beautiful rustic décor is matched by a darkwood, aircon interior. Subtle lighting and an attention to details is matched by some of the best contemporary cuisine in the city, all with a European influence. Also has an extensive wine list, a good selection of imported beers and a happy hour. Has a second restaurant in Phu My Hung.

NINETEEN INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN Ground floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 4999

PITCHERS SPORTS AND GRILL SPORTS BAR & GRILL RESTAURANT C0.01 Riverside Residence C, Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7, Tel: (028) 6274 1520 Located in the heart of Phu My Hung, this spacious restobar with an affection for showing televised sports has a family friendly edge thanks to its kids play area. Does a great grill menu and of course, lots of very cold beer for those developing a thirst in the Saigon heat.

Pizza LOGiC L5-18, Floor 5, Saigon Centre, 92-94 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1, HCMC Tel: (028) 3821 8319 “Pizza is not meant to be tasted, but to be eaten”. At Pizza LOGiC, we aim to make pizza a more familiar dish in Vietnam. Come and try our specialties: pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven, roasted chicken prepared in a rotisserie oven, mouthwatering beef, or pasta dishes for crab lovers. The Number 1 Pizza In The World.

PIZZA 4P’S EUROPEAN/ASIAN FUSION 8/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 9838

QUAN UT UT US-STYLE BARBECUE 168 Vo Van Kiet, Q1, Tel: (028) 3914 4500

REFINERY FRENCH BISTRO / INTERNATIONAL The Square, 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 0509 A slightly retro feel pervades this popular French-style bistro and wine bar which once housed the city’s opium refinery. The cuisine runs from creative salads through to Mediterranean influenced mains.

RIVERSIDE CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN Renaissance Riverside, 8–15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 0033

SAIGON CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / BUFFET Level 1, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (028) 3827 2828

SANCHO CANTINA TEX-MEX 207 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 0901 268226 sanchocantina This hole-in-the-wall sized Mexican cantina is located bang on party street Bui Vien towards the Cong Quynh end. It maybe small, but it’s big in flavour. Sancho’s will quell those Mexicali cravings once and for all — the burritos are huge. It’s also an excellent place to watch the mayhem unfolding on the street over

a craft beer or three.

SKEWERS INTERNATIONAL / MEDITERRANEAN 9A Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 4798

SHRI CONTEMPORARY EUROPEAN 23rd Floor, Centec Tower, 72– 74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3, Tel: (028) 3827 9631

THE SOCIETY GRILL AND LOUNGE BAR 99 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (028) 3914 3999 TheSocietyHCM Designed as a Lanewaystyle restobar, the kind of place found in Hong Kong, London, New York or Central Melbourne, thanks to its indoor and outdoor ambience, The Society brings dining and drinking to a new level. Phenomenal cocktails, steaks, grilled fare and seafood make this a place to go for drinks, a full-blown meal or a mixture of both.

VESPER GOURMET LOUNGE INTERNATIONAL Landmark Building, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 9698 vespersaigon Headed up by well-known chef Andy Ertle, Vesper is a sophisticated yet downto-earth cocktail bar and restaurant with subtle lighting and a great spirit selection. Serves creative, Japanese and German-influenced cuisine to supplement the drinks and has a separate dining space.

ZOOM CAFÉ AMERICAN / TEX-MEX 169A Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (028) 3920 3897 vietnamvespaadventures.

com/cafe_zoom This corner-located Vespainfatuated venue is a café and restaurant by day and a sidewalk drinking joint by night. Friendly staff and American deli-style and Cajun fare makes it a regular expat haunt.

EAT – ITALIAN CIAO BELLA NEW YORK-ITALIAN 11 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 3329 saigonrestaurantgroup. com

PENDOLASCO PAN-ITALIAN 87 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (028) 3821 8181; 36 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel: (028) 6253 282 Opening out into a large, leafy terracotta-tiled garden area, this trattoria-style Italian restaurant serves up quality homemade pasta, risotto, gnocchi, excellent pizza and grilled dishes. Has a second branch in District 2.

EAT – JAPANESE INAHO SUSHI / SASHIMI 4 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: (028) 3829 0326

OSAKA RAMEN JAPANESE NOODLES 18 Thai Van Lung, Q1; SD04, Lo H29-2, KP My Phat, Phu My Hung, Q7

SORAE SUSHI SAKE LOUNGE Level 24, AB Tower, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: 0938 687689 Set over two floors, this astonishing, no-expensespared Japanese restaurant and lounge brings to Saigon the type of environment and | December 2017 Word | 135

Top Eats


eople have become familiar with Korean cuisine through barbecue, kimchi, and fried chicken. Yet there is much more to Korean food than this, and Mint & Paul in District 7 steps outside the Korean cuisine box that most people know. This newly relocated restaurant in Phu My Hung offers Western and Korean fusion dishes.

Simple and Sophisticated Mint & Paul is on Cao Trieu Phat, and is hard to miss. The black, grey, and white exterior of the building is complemented with a few plants for more colour. As you enter the garden-like, open-air ground floor, you’ll see the counter to your left and a

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selection of desserts and drinks on display to your right. Mint & Paul has modern-meets-vintage interiors. Reflecting the name of the restaurant, which is after the owner’s nickname and her husband’s name, the walls are painted pastel grey, and accented with mint green and white decor. The tables match the walls, and the garden chairs were sourced in Korea. Paintings and art pieces are displayed on each floor. The overall atmosphere is sophisticated, yet simple and comfortable. For groups with children, it’s best to dine on the second floor, while for private gatherings, make a call and book the tables on the fourth floor in advance. Walk-in

customers are also welcome, although the restaurant gets quite busy during lunch hours, especially on the weekends.

East Meets West Having lived in Korea, Vietnam and America for a number of years, Kim Seong-Hyun was inspired to open a restaurant serving food from the places she has called home. The four-page menu covers all cravings, from starters to desserts and a long list of drinks. They serve pork, chicken, beef, fish, seafood, and a range of greens and other vegetables as healthier options. Mint & Paul don’t have a signature dish, but it is known for its ricotta cheese salad (VND230,000). It’s a perfect starter, fresh

Mint & Paul


and light. It has slices of avocado, pomelo, papaya, cherry tomatoes, nuts and lettuce. For the mains, choose from a variety of noodle and pasta dishes that are priced from VND210,000. The seafood tomato pasta has a nice kick of spice and will set you back VND250,000. Other rice dishes like fried rice and risotto can be enjoyed from VND250,000. You can choose from mushroom, chicken, salmon or beef. For those who want to load up on carbs, try the squid-ink paella for VND270,000. The dish may not look appealing because of its colour, but the freshness of the squid and the surprise crunch of the rice makes it worth a try. Another filling dish is the sweet potato pizza (VND250,000). The size might seem

small, but this square-shaped pizza is thick; they don’t scrimp on the sweet potato filling. Mexican food is a new addition to Mint & Paul’s menu. For VND230,000, enjoy three servings of shrimp tacos with jumbo shrimps enveloped with diced mangoes, tomatoes, lettuce, inside a crunchy, hard-taco shell. A side of guacamole, diced tomatoes, and sour cream sauce are served with it. Coffee is priced from VND60,000, with fresh juices and smoothies from VND60,000. Mint & Paul also has alcoholic drinks for celebrations or nightcaps. Anything from their frozen beer list is a crowd favourite. A whole bottle of beer of your choice is turned upside-down on a big snifter filled with fruity flavours and ice. A glass of this drink

can be shared between two people and it is priced from VND230,000. As they appear on the menu, the dishes at Mint & Paul look a little on the pricy side, but once they are served, you’ll realize that they are worth the cost. The servings are big and each dish can be shared between two diners. The clean and comfortable atmosphere, tasty food and efficient service make Mint & Paul a good venue for solo dining, date nights, business meetings, or simple celebrations. — JB Jance Mint & Paul is located at 48 Cao Trieu Phat, Phu My Hung, Q7. Open daily from 8am until 10pm. For more information, call (028) 5413 0770 or (028) 5413 0707. | December 2017 Word | 137

Bar Stool


t’s Friday evening, 6pm, and I’ve just ordered a drink at one of Saigon’s most premium bars, 2 Lam Son (also known as Martini Bar). Outside the streets are clogged with traffic. In here it’s cool, the lighting is soft, like the decor, and the music is at the right tempo; the DJ doesn’t start till later. The bar staff are fussing about as bar staff do at the start of a shift; polishing, wiping, shaking, stirring, watching. They clamber and jostle. At this hour, there seems to be more of them than guests. Meanwhile, the manager roves about, dapper in his tailored suit. “Sir, your Vietnamese Flower Tea.” My attention is diverted to my cocktail. It costs VND390,000 and in front of me sits a

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snifter glass on a slate tile. Inside it is a soggy lotus flower soaking up a caramel-coloured liquid. Next to it is a small teapot. Some star anise and an assortment of other things for decoration are scattered about the tile. I pay little attention to those details. The barman, describes the drink’s ingredients and how it’s made. I take my first sip. It’s spectacular. The Vietnamese Flower Tea is served warm, so its floral aromas shoot up my nostrils when I point my nose into the glass for a sniff. It’s dizzying. Then as I take a deep breath in my mouth fills with the heady vapours of Hennessy VSOP, dried jasmine

flowers, honey and a lotus flower left to soak and infuse for 24 hours. The drink is smooth, almost light, which is contrary to how it smells; undertones of sweetness come through from the honey, there’s no burning of the throat, it warms from the inside out. The legs running down the inside of the glass are rich and viscous. This is a gentleman’s drink, a must-have, and a most fitting one for 2 Lam Son’s new Indochina concept.

See and be Seen I request something else to try. By now the bar is busier. I recognise a famous Vietnamese fashion designer; she’s here with a friend for a quick drink. A small group of 20-somethings

2 Lam Son


have taken up a table by the front window; a solo businessman with silver hair sits staring intently at his phone at the end of the bar, while two young couples order drinks behind me in one of the private booths. This place attracts all types. Two young ladies tell me they come here for the music, while the bar manager on his rounds tells me that people come here to see and be seen. But I’m also reliably informed it’s a place women can be left alone with their drinks; something quite rare in Saigon. “Sir, this is your Saigon Coffee Martini (VND310,000).” Again, this would not have been my choice, but I roll with it. In front of me is a champagne coupe — a shallow, broad-bowled stemmed

glass — with a drink that looks not unlike a Guinness but with a small layer of condensed milk settled on the bottom; a tell-tale sign that inspiration has come from that most ubiquitous of Vietnamese drinks — the ca phe sua da. Floating above the condensed milk is a shot of Belvedere vodka, Kahlua and Vietnamese coffee topped with a half-inch fluffy head of ‘homemade’ coconut foam. Already I can smell the coconut but it’s when I’m advised to give it a stir that the cocktail’s aromas are truly released. It’s beautiful. The mixture feels thick and rich to the spoon but to the palate it’s not, it’s gentle and smooth. The coffee doesn’t overpower the coconut; it’s not too sweet, not too creamy. Sensuous comes to mind. This

drink is impressive. Looking back over my notes, I read: “If only I could bathe in it.” The traffic outside has abated somewhat, so it’s time to move on. It’s 9.30pm, the beautiful people are filing in and the DJ has arrived. I leave certain that 2 Lam Son should be on everyone’s list when on a night out in Saigon, if only for those two magical cocktails. — Matt Cowan 2 Lam Son is on the Ground Floor of the Park Hyatt Saigon at 2 Lam Son Square, Q1, HCMC. Happy Hour (51% off) is from 5pm to 8pm Monday to Saturday, and from 3pm to 8pm on Sundays. All prices are subject to 5% service charge and 10% VAT. For more information or reservations, call (028) 3824 1234 or email | December 2017 Word | 139



s December approaches, some of us from northern climates may miss the changing of the seasons and the anticipation of the coming holiday season. Luckily, Ho Chi Minh City has an antidote for holiday melancholy. There are celebrations if you know where to find them — traditional in origin, but wholly Vietnamese in their incarnation.

Hoang Sa Making is in the soul of old Vietnam, and examples of ingenious enhancements to homes and work places are still relatively easy to find in the denser parts of the city. As Christmas approaches, however, ingenuity and improvisation combine with imagination to produce fantastic temporary landscapes in certain neighbourhoods. Mountain caves of tinfoil or painted paper topped with snowdrifts of cotton and glitter rise improbably from the pavements of our tropical river delta city. Populated with snowmen and angels (and the occasional Disney figure), lit with megawatts of drama and verve, fringed with foil and glass icicles, exuberant scenes spring up in a matter of days forming a temporary landscape of glowing grottos. My favourite stretch (there are several in the city) is along Hoang Sa Street by the canal in District 3. The winding street, the nearby waterway with its trees and grassy spaces give the neighbourhood an easy, airy feel. It’s not a dense agglomeration

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of grottos, some strolling or rolling is required, but it does hang together as a local scene with a sincerity to it that feels as if it were produced by the neighbourhood for the neighbourhood, though visitors are welcome. Start dropping by in the evenings around mid-December to watch the temporary mountains and stages under construction. Rehearsals for the Christmas Eve performances can be as entertaining in their own way as the pageantry of The Big Night. Groups of neighbourhood kids, both on and off the stage give a home-grown vibe to the scene.

District 8 The relaxed atmosphere of District 3 contrasts sharply with the motorbike mob scene in District 8 on Pham The Hien, west of Cau Nhi Thien Duong Bridge. This area is a heavily visited stretch of Nativity scenes that is definitely shooting for a city-wide reputation (though I’ve heard of a cluster in District 6 that is also said to be formidable). The District 8 stretch is essentially a single street, which produces the smoking and choking traffic jam that adds the extra element of ordeal to the event. This scene is crowded, full on and in your face, but that in itself is also an authentic Ho Chi Minh City experience, but I suggest you park your motorbike before you get to the main stretch and walk in to have a better time. Don’t go alone, this kind of event is best


experienced with one or several friends — and of course, try the street food (if you’ve been here long enough to get acclimatised). Typical Vietnamese streetfood carts and stands are everywhere, augmented with tasty regional treats from Thailand and Malaysia and western festival sweets like cotton candy. Eating before you go means you will miss half the experience. The endless thrumming of motorbikes is punctuated with heartfelt karaoke as pavement and in-home celebrations heat up. Selfie mania is unleashed as everyone jockeys for a photo op in front of a snowman or a reindeer. Some of the grottos seem tailor made for seasonal photos with frames and captions integrated into the construction. For an occasional respite, follow the strings of lights down some of the narrow alleys that come off the main street to find the surprising snow scenes hidden in the hems. As the evening winds down and the lights start to go out, resist the urge to miss Christmas at home, wherever that may be. It’s true, you weren’t there to experience it, but it would be difficult for those back home to imagine what you will have seen here in the city. Archie Pizzini, PhD, is a design principal at Hoanh Tran Archie Pizzini Architects and has practiced and taught in Ho Chi Minh City for several years. He studies the urban landscape of Vietnam with a special focus on making and improvisation. Archie can be contacted at archie.


On The Town ambience you’d expect of New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai. With the décor comes a modern take on Japanese fare. A place to see and be seen.

EAT – THAI CORIANDER THAI / VIETNAMESE 16 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (028) 3837 1311 A small, homely Vietnameseowned Thai restaurant that over the past decade has quite rightly gained a strong local and expat following. Try their pad thai — to die for.

KOH THAI CONTEMPORARY THAI FUSION Level 1, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 4423 Modern Thai fusion restaurant serving Thai classics alongside tom yam cappuccinos and more. Koh Thai’s creative cocktails merge Thai flavours with local seasonal fruits and herbs.

EAT – VIETNAMESE 3T QUAN NUONG VIETNAMESE BBQ Top Floor, 29 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (028) 3821 1631 The original, on-the-table barbecue restaurant still goes strong thanks to its rooftop atmosphere, excellent service and even better fish, seafood and meats. An institution.

CAFÉ IF VIETNAMESE FRENCH 38 Dang Dung, Q1, Tel: (028) 3846 9853

MSG-free traditional Vietnamese cuisine with a French twist, cooked fresh to order. Dishes include noodle soup, steamed ravioli and beef stew, stir fries, hot pots and curries.

a lime leaf marinade.

HOANG YEN PAN-VIETNAMESE 7 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 1101; The Crescent, 103 Ton Dat Tien, Q7, Tel: (028) 2210 2304 If you’re looking for midrange, aircon Vietnamese restaurants that just seem to do every dish perfectly, then Hoang Yen really is the place to go. The atmosphere may be a bit sterile, but its amply made up for by the efficient service and excellent cuisine. Now with a number of restaurants around town.

KOTO TRAINING RESTAURANT CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE 3rd Floor Rooftop, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1. Tel: (028) 3822 9357 The restaurant associated with the KOTO vocational training school. All the staff — from bar tenders and waiting staff through to the chefs — come from disadvantaged backgrounds and are being trained on the jon in hospitality. Serves up tasty Vietnamese cuisine, to boot!

LUONG SON PAN-VIETNAMESE 31 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (028) 3825 1330 A typical Vietnamese-style quan nhau, this fan-cooled downtown eating and drinking haunt is famed for two things: it’s on the table, grill-it-yourself bo tung xeo (marinated beef) and oddities such as sautéed scorpion. A great place to take out-of-town guests.

NAM GIAO HUE CUISINE 136/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (028) 38 250261; 116 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (028) 3925 9996 If you want to take friends, relatives or people out of town to eat Hue-style street food in a hygienic yet downto-earth environment, Nam Giao is the place. Not only is it well-priced, but the bun bo Hue, bun thit nuong, com hen, banh bot loc and other such dishes are excellent.

HOA TUC CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE The Square, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 3825 1676 Highly rated restaurant with stunning outdoor terrace. Specialities include pink pomelo squid and crab salad, mustard leaf prawn rolls, fishcake wraps and barbecue chicken in ginger, onions and


QUAN BUI TRADITIONAL VIETNAMESE 8 Nguyen Van Nguyen, Q1, Tel: (028) 3602 2241; 17A Ngo Van Nam, Q1,

Tel: (028) 3829 1515

TEMPLE CLUB PAN-VIETNAMESE 29-31 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (028) 3829 9244


Minh Khai, Q3; 157 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (028) 3930 3917

BUN CHA HA NOI BUN CHA 26/1A Le Thanh Ton, Q1


VEGAN 9 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (028) 3821 2538




62 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 2166; 111 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (028) 3821 8971; 226 De Tham, Q1, Tel: (028) 3837 5097



COM TAM 40A COM TAM 40A Quoc Huong, Q2


MI QUANG 38 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1



BUN BO HUE 189 Bis Bui Vien, Q1

BO KHO Alleyway to the left of 162 Tran Nhan Tong, Q10









PHO BO 288/M1 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3

PHO HOA PHO BO & PHO GA 260C Pasteur, Q3

PHO LE PHO BO 413-415 Nguyen Trai, Q5

PHO PHU GIA PHO BO 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


TIEM COM GA HAI NAM HAINANESE CHICKEN RICE 67 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1, Tel: (028) 3821 7751Orum


BEEFSTEAK NAM SON VIETNAMESE STEAKHOUSE 200 Bis Nguyen Thi | December 2017 Word | 141





ll good things must come to an end. After a very privileged fourand-a-half years of slumming it in a lake-view apartment, eating out every day, taking multiple holidays and working a back-breaking two to three weeks a month, it’s time to go home. The initial clichéd year of teaching English abroad/putting off growing up was thrown into the air after meeting someone who gave me a reason, other than bacon, to get out of bed in the morning. After more than three years together, neither of us can tolerate Hanoi’s pollution, unsanitary cuisine, or daily dicing with motorised death any longer. Plus, I miss Greggs, proper queuing and place names like Pratt’s Bottom.

Saying Goodbye Moving to the UK is something both my wife and I had wanted and planned for over a year, but when the time actually came around, it hit us very suddenly. In the time it takes to open an envelope, we went from not knowing where we’d be spending Christmas, to having just over three weeks to shut down our lives in

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Vietnam, and get on a plane to London; all thanks to the limited entry window on the visa vignette. The ensuing rush of preparation and planning meant that we would spend the first couple of weeks focussing on looking ahead, without fully considering what we were leaving behind. But then it hits. For my wife, Huong, the obvious one is family, friends and a career she’s given over six years of her life to. “It’s making me appreciate even more what I’ve got now; seeing loved ones, enjoying cheap Vietnamese food,” says Huong, 28. “This is a huge change. Careerwise, I’m scared I’ll have to start again from the bottom.” For me, I’m saying goodbye to a country that has given me far more than I’ve given it. Our weeks of preparation include goodbye dinners with all of our favourite people, but my hardest goodbyes remain unspoken; those things which tipped the balance and made the annual decisions to stay for just one more year so easy. Huong’s family have been incredible about the whole thing; at no point did they try to demotivate us or change our minds.

Huong’s dad even coughed up the cash for the visa application. That kind of support is priceless. “It feels great,” Huong says, “but I was quite surprised. In the beginning, my parents didn’t like this idea much.” “What? Dating me or moving to England?” “Both. Now they’re so proud of us, and supportive of our life choices. They understand it’s a good opportunity,” Huong says.

Applications Galore Over recent years, the UK hasn’t had a comfortable relationship with immigration. One side effect of this, which had a direct impact on us, was reported by The Independent in July 2017, several months after we had submitted the settlement visa application. “Producing new rules has triggered a backlog of 5,000 applications from foreign spouses,” the article said. Combined with plans to hike the required income threshold for the applicant’s spouses, the Conservative government is making sure things will only get harder for anyone who

After a fruitful year writing for Word, and a further threeand-a-half living it up in Hanoi, Edward Dalton returns to his homeland, the UK. But going home with Vietnamese wife in tow is not as straightforward as it may seem

fell in love abroad, to come home with their partner or family. However, we were in the lucky group. After months of waiting, and more application forms, tests and fees than you can shake a stick at, we got what we wanted. The next step involves even more admin. CVs which haven’t been used for years need to be updated. Online job search accounts and LinkedIn profiles need to be made. Vietnam is a country where positive prejudice goes a long way; being young and beautiful, or being white, is often all it takes to get a cushy job. That won’t cut it any more; two weeks before we take our flight, and we’ve already applied for a dozen jobs each.

Fitting In As I write this, there are only a couple of days left before we leave. We’re already Googling potential new favourite cafés in what will be our home for at least the next few years. Repatriation or a fear of reverse culture shock are not really issues for me. I know full well how intolerable British people can be, and how differently certain aspects of

“Vietnam is a country where positive prejudice goes a long way; being young and beautiful, or being white, is often all it takes to get a cushy job. That won’t cut it any more”

society operate, compared to Vietnam. I’m easy. Even leaving Vietnam isn’t really that difficult; I know I’ll be back again someday, definitely to visit, and maybe even to settle down; just not in Hanoi. Vietnam will always be in my heart. For Huong, however, settling in to life in a foreign country will be a much more complex process. “Blending in is so important,” Huong says. “I don’t want to be considered as an outsider. I want to be a part of British society, understand it, and contribute to it.” In Hanoi, most foreigners gravitate towards Tay Ho, and the established community of foreign workers living there. “I feel like I don’t need to be near a community of Vietnamese expats,” says Huong. “I have a good support network already, from my husband and in-laws. Even being near a Vietnamese restaurant is not necessary; as nice as it would be.” A new Vietnamese restaurant has in fact just opened up quite near our new home; only VND250,000 for a bowl of pho. Bargain. | December 2017 Word | 143

The Final Say



Bady Pham The co-founder of Pulse Active and the man behind the HCMC Marathon, the Color Me Run, the Prisma Run and the Danang International Marathon, Bady Pham’s goal is to make this country more active. Photo by Olga Rozenbajgier When you co-founded Pulse Active, what concept did you have in mind? At the time there was a lack of sporting events and activities in Vietnam — all we wanted was to create an event. Yet as it became a reality and we saw people participating, it created an addiction to put on

more events. To do this we needed to convert our energies into a business so that we could connect with different people in the sports industry, and find the right sponsors.

What did you do before Pulse Active? I was born and grew up in Germany — both my parents are Vietnamese. As I was surrounded by mostly non-Vietnamese, I was always curious about my origins. Before coming to Vietnam I worked for a TV broadcasting company. The original plan was to stay for six months, but I quickly realized that is a dynamic country full of energy, a country full of opportunities. I wanted to be part of it. Eleven years later I am still here.

Why has the focus been on running? Running is the most accessible sport in Vietnam. Whether you’re rich or poor, you just need a pair of shoes. You can also run at any time, in groups or alone. So, it’s easy to practice.

How easy or difficult is it to promote running in Vietnam? When we first started it was a huge challenge because we needed to educate the market. Running events were a completely new concept. No-one wanted to run outdoors — it’s hot, it’s sunny, you get tanned — all the things that the Vietnamese dislike. So, we helped establish and expand a host of running clubs, and we also held seminars and did other sessions with potential runners like Zumba and CrossFit so they could see it wasn’t only about running, but a healthy lifestyle in general.

Do you ever take part in the events? When I lived in Germany I was into action sports like snowboarding, wake boarding, and mountain biking. When I came to Vietnam I got more into cycling, and shorter runs, I also had a period of being addicted to CrossFit. These days I work 12 hours a day and am not as active as I once was.

Of all the events you put on, which one is your favourite? Why? Each event has its own beauty but if I had to choose one, I would say the HCMC Marathon. Last year I was able to follow and see how people evolved from starting at zero and then seeing them overcoming the challenge and cross the finish line.

What hopes do you have for the HCMC Marathon in January? Our dream is to make this one of the major marathons on the Southeast Asian circuit, and having more runners from overseas to run and discover the culture of the country and the charm of Vietnamese people.

Does the growing Vietnamese interest in running reflect a change in attitude towards fitness? Many runners start running to keep being active, do some sport and even just for the fun of it. However, the longer you practice and train, the more you want to improve your performance and results. You learn more about what habits or nutrition can help you improve, and somehow you end up being much more conscious of the importance of health and fitness.

Do you see Pulse Active as being part of this changing attitude? That’s one of our goals and the running events have certainly helped change this attitude. Because of that, we always try to be beginner-friendly and make it easier for those people who might not be so sportively active.

What are your plans for Pulse Active over the next five years? We are trying to grow our events by making them bigger and better and inviting more people globally to join and experience Vietnam. We also hope to bring our events to other countries and find more ways to engage people in a healthy and sporty way. For info on the forthcoming HCMC Marathon on Jan. 14, 2018, click on or turn to page xxx

144 | Word December 2017 |


Word Vietnam December 2017  

A look back at 2017 in Vietnam. The good, the bad and the ugly.

Word Vietnam December 2017  

A look back at 2017 in Vietnam. The good, the bad and the ugly.