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New Year, New You

Contents Jan.2017


, r a e Y w e N u o Y New 90


THE TALK 10 / The Year of the Rooster


11 / The Big Five

January in Vietnam

28 / Centre for Women and Development

Ending domestic violence and increasing the capacity of women

106 / Mystery Diner Hanoi

INSIDER 50 / Many Faces

108 / Nem Chua Nuong


Career development counsellor, Phoenix Ho

12 / Heart of Darkness

52 / The Art of Illustration

The craft beer industry gets a new brewery

14 / Tet Treats

Gifts for the Lunar New Year

20 / East West

Talking to the brewers behind all that new beer we’re getting

22 / ATK is No More

One of Hanoi’s best bars closes shop

2 | Word January 2017 |


Sam Murdoch is more than just a graffiti artist

This month: India Palace

Grilled fermented sausage, anyone?

110 / Mystery Diner HCMC On the menu: Social Club

112 / Mi Hoanh Thanh

Chinese noodle soup with wonton

58 / New Year, New You Time to make a change

90 / The Rise of Craft

Working up a bit of a thirst

98 / Breakfast in Hanoi

When pho just doesn’t do it for you any more


Contents Jan.2017






148 / A World of Good

114 / Forever Hoi An

32 / To Do List

150 / Starting a Family

38 / Just In

151 / Book Buff

154 / HCMC City Guide

160 / Body and Temple

158 / Day Tripper

162 / Location, Location, Location

Just how much tourism can Vietnam’s most popular destination take?

128 / Notes From Another City HANOI 42 / To Do List

169 / Terrence Taylor’s Saigon Stories

46 / Just In

170 / Bar Stool

182 / Know Your City

130 / Hanoi City Guide

174 / Coffee Cup

132 / Day Tripper

178 / Top Eats

FINAL SAY 186 / The Airbnb Takeover

140 / Bar Stool

184 / City Map

142 / Coffee Cup


146 / Top Eats

136 / The Alchemist

152 / City Map

138 / The Therapist

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164 / Medical Buff

Even Vietnam’s got in on the act

188 / Ten 10

Australian-Vietnamese magician, Petey Majik


This month we asked our team to tell us how Vietnam has changed them HARRY HODGE Contributor When I lived in Toronto, I used to get riled up by trivial inconveniences. If my coffee took more than a minute to prepare, if the streetcar service ended three stops early. I had a pretty big sense of entitlement. Moving here has made me learn (some of) a new language, ride a motorbike, try different jobs. I met my wife and we have two lovely children. It was the smartest move I’ve made. EDWARD DALTON Staff Writer Where to begin? I now eat first, ask questions later. I no longer think Kia is the punchline of the automotive world. And of course, I’ve realised that geckos are my greatest allies. JULIE VOLA Photo Editor Everything… it has changed everything. I became me.

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


VU HA KIM VY Editorial Manager

MADS MONSEN Creative Director

JULIE VOLA Photo Editor

BAO ZOAN Staff Photographer


MIKE PALUMBO Staff Photographer

ZOE OSBORNE Staff Writer

EDWARD DALTON Staff Writer (Hanoi)

NGUYEN LOC Layout Designer


MADS MONSEN Creative Director I became a dad here in Vietnam. Changed my life. Totally worth it. HAI VU Contributor If you are what you eat, then Vietnam has changed me into many different things I never knew were edible. ZOE OSBORNE Staff Writer It’s taught me to relax! In Vietnam, timing is flexible by necessity, pyjamas are acceptable on the street, anything with wheels and a horn can be used on the road, and food can literally be eaten anywhere. MATT COWAN Deputy Editor These days I crave noodle soup for breakfast and rice is my staple dish. I feel dirty when I wear shoes inside and when I watch Western movies, I’m reminded that you can drink tap water in other parts of the world. BILLY GRAY Contributor It’s reduced my life expectancy by at least 10 years. But I’m still here.

BAO ROSS General Director


CHAU GIANG Office Assistant



For advertising enquiries please call Ms Bao on +84 938 609689 or Ms Trinh on +84 936 269244 Special thanks to Heart of Darkness, Annam Gourmet, Saigon Pro Wrestling Club, East West Brewing, CAMA ATK, Chef Duc, Centre for Women and Development, Harry Hodge, Manta, Phoenix Ho, Sam Murdoch, Todd Gilmore, Sophie Pham, Ha Minh, Mitch Brookman, Hai Vu, Sheereen Amran, Robin Babu, Laura Sheehan, Tieng Viet Oi, Let's Speak Vietnamese, Virgin Jokes, Diana Bailey, Brian Armstrong, Uy Le, VinSpace, Douglas Holwera, Karen Gay, Phil Kelly, Peter Scott, Furbrew, 7 Bridges Brewing, Long Bien Brew, Mignon Van Zyl, Sasha Arefieva, India Palace, Huyen Tran, Teigue John Blokpoel, Social Club, James Fircks, Heron House, Don Wills, Standing Bar, Amelia Burns, An Nam Parlour, Billy Gray, Uu Dam Chay, Bennett Murray, Dana McNairn, Lee Shayi, Truong Hoang, Greg Ohan, Dr. Jonathan Halevy, Envy Club, Thomas Barrett, Awesome Coffee, JB Jance, JJ's Fish and Chips, Ed Haysom, Petey Majik and David Legard

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

MIKE PALUMBO Contributor Vietnam changed the way I drive. It taught me how to drive offensively and to merge into a major intersection without looking or stopping first. I had to remember when I returned to the US for a week that I could not drive on the sidewalk or inch my way into traffic without consequence. Also, I’ve found that I love my motorbike horn.

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© Tất cả hình ảnh và nội dung trong Ấn phẩm này thuộc bản quyền của Ấn phẩm Word của C.Ty CP TM–DV–QC–Truyền Thông Dương Huỳnh. Mọi sự sao chép không được phép sẽ bị xem là vi phạm luật Sở Hữu Trí Tuệ hiện hành của nhà nước Cộng Hòa Xã Hội Chủ Nghĩa Việt Nam.

CHUYÊN ĐỀ DU LỊCH & ẨM THỰC ISBN: 978-604-77-2120-7

6 | Word January 2017 |

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

CHỊU TRÁCH NHIỆM XUẤT BẢN: TS. Trần Đoàn Lâm Biên tập: Phạm Trần Long Thiết kế mỹ thuật: Bao Ross Sửa bản in: Nick Ross Bìa: Duong Huynh Advertising JSC

LIÊN KẾT XUẤT BẢN VÀ PHÁT HÀNH CÔNG TY CP TM–DV–QC–TRUYỀN THÔNG DƯƠNG HUỲNH 158A Võ Thị Sáu, Phường 8, Quận 3. Tp.HCM ĐT: + 84 8 3838 6908 Fax: + 84 8 3838 6971 Email: Website:

In 15.000 cuốn, khổ 20.5 x 27cm In tại Công Ty Cổ Phần In Trần Phú 71 – 73 – 75 Hai Bà Trưng, Q. 1, TP. HCM. Giấy xác nhận ĐKXB số: 61-2016/ CXBIPH/29-01/ThG. Quyết định xuất bản số: 998/QĐ-ThG cấp ngày 21 tháng 12 năm 2016. In xong và nộp lưu chiểu tháng 1 năm 2017. Mã ISBN: 978-604-77-2120-7 SÁCH CHUYÊN ĐỀ QUẢNG CÁO



he topic we’ve covered this month, New Year, New You, has the potential for cliché. After all, we face the concept of ‘resolutions’ every year. Yet our cover story’s focus on personal transformation has avoided falling into the trap of being staid. This is due to the work of everyone involved in putting it together. From our writers, photographers, editors and designers through to the people

we’ve interviewed. Together they’ve made it interesting and relevant. Like every other business I can think of, Word is subject to change. Take a look at the writers who were publishing their material in our magazine in January, 2016, and we’ve assembled a completely new team. Emily Petsko, Kieran Crowe, Jesse Meadows, Owen Salisbury, Jon Aspin, Natalia Martinez and Sian Kavanagh — all added value to our publication, and all have since moved onto

different things. Part of the change is due to the natural transience of living in an expat-based society. Five of those writers have since left Vietnam. The other two, for whatever reasons, no longer work with us. Yet despite this, we publish every month, and continue to create a quality magazine. This is because Word is a team effort. While every individual is an important cog in the machine, so to speak, lose one or two people, and the team continues to perform. So, this month I

would like to thank all the people we work with for the effort they put in getting Word out on the streets every month. It’s another 12 months and in our present form we have now been publishing for nine years. I would also like to thank our clients and you, the reader. Because without all of you we wouldn’t exist. Wishing you a Happy Tet and a successful and prosperous Year of the Chicken. I hope you have a good one! — Nick Ross, Chief Editor





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

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

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

The Word Awards December 2017 For a number of reasons I didn’t get to see the December issue, but made a point of going out at lunchtime today to pick one up. A fabulous issue — well done! It truly is a great magazine and I loved the awards, particularly amused by the tyre repair guy in Hanoi! Only in Vietnam! — EH Another excellent issue of the Word, which I enjoyed reading immensely, although I was disturbed to read the article on Myanmar, a country I love (December issue, page 124). As I am not very mobile nowadays, your magazine keeps me in touch with the places I visited many years ago. So a big thank you. — JN

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Cinematheque is No More (December 2017, page 18) I’m currently visiting Vietnam from the US for six weeks, so I’m a sympathetic observer rather than a resident and my observations should probably be read with that in mind. I was unhappy to see that the Hanoi Cinematheque has closed, as I was hoping to pay a visit there. That said, I found the comment by your writer that the Cinematheque “will be demolished, so that Hanoi can welcome yet another copy-and-paste, sterile and characterless shopping centre” to be inappropriate. As an American, I’m intimately familiar with the proliferation of sterile shopping centres, but I assume that for many Vietnamese, those shopping centers — new,

gleaming, filled with global brands — are on some level a source of pride, and a sign that their country is fulfilling its international ambitions and leaving behind its past as a poor country where selling food in the street is an economic necessity rather than a national quirk for tourists to enjoy. I suspect that as Vietnam grows wealthier, the Cinematheque will reappear in Hanoi in some form, but only when the Vietnamese themselves, rather than expatriates, want it back. In the meantime it seems churlish to complain about economic progress for ordinary Vietnamese at the expense of a niche cultural resource that’s out of reach to many of them. It is their country, after all. — SP

Talk Lead

The Year of the Chicken Or is it in fact the rooster?


hen Michael J. Fox had his “Nobody-calls-mea-chicken” freak-out in Back to the Future II, it’s odds-on he didn’t realise that some people — in fact rather a lot of people — are born chickens. Well, to be fair, if they were born in 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969, 1957, 1945 or even earlier, according to our friends north of the border, they were born roosters. Not that Mr. Fox, who is a buffalo, would have known that. Fortunately for all you chickens (or roosters) out there, 2017 is your year and you are not cowards. Far from it, say the various websites dedicated to the Chinese zodiac. You are observant, hardworking, resourceful, courageous and talented. You are also self-confident. In the West, a part of the world that associates chickens with being headless and inveterate roadcrossers, they’ve just got it wrong. The description of chickens (sorry, roosters) continues with the following attributes. “Roosters are always active, amusing and popular among the crowd. [They] are talkative, outspoken, frank, open, honest and loyal individuals. They like to be the centre of attention and always appear attractive and beautiful.” But there are some negatives. “Roosters expect others to listen to them while they speak, and can become agitated if others don't. Vain and

10 | Word January 2017 |

boastful, roosters like to brag about themselves and their accomplishments.” Your lucky numbers are 5, 7, 8; your lucky colours are gold, brown, brownish-yellow and yellow; your lucky directions are west, southwest, northeast; and at all costs avoid the numbers 1, 3 and 9.

Yeah, Alright. But What About 2017? But what should non-roosters expect from 2017? It’s got to be more than crowing roosters and feather dusters, right? Well, it is, although everything that is supposed to happen (or not happen) in 2017 is related to the traits of the rooster. Here are some of the conclusions we unearthed on the website — If you’re going to do something, then do it perfectly — Avoid being overly eccentric or original. Stick to the known rather than the unknown — This a year for diplomacy and the achievement of psychological advantage over an adversary rather than a physical advantage. Force should only be used as a last resort. — If you’re single, because the rooster is a fertile bird, this is the year to get dating — This is also a good year for

business ventures, which means signing as many contracts as possible. However, family interests should always come first. — Expect to hear more cutting criticisms of those in public life. Indeed, feathers might well fly as pride gets dented. Nevertheless, all will benefit from the rude awakening. — Roosters like to flaunt their authority. So, while the rooster is a good administrator and a conscientious overseer of justice, expect all kinds of petty disputes… — … which means governments around the world will puff up like a rooster, flexing muscles and making threats but won’t follow through unless faced with no other solution. Most nations will be concerned with protecting the homeland; it will be a year when leaders and countrymen take offence over the smallest thing. So, in a nutshell, if you want to get through the Year of the Chicken intact, best to follow this motto; KISS — keep it simple, stupid — and don’t take offense at provocation. After all, we wouldn’t want to ruffle any feathers. Now what would Michael J. Fox say to that? — Nick Ross




Italian metal band, Hiss From The Moat

Ho Chi Minh City gets its first marathon in 25 years

British comedian Gina Yashere will be performing in mid-January




The HCMC Marathon, a metal night, lots of comedy and an experimental soul and electronic band. The top events this month in Vietnam

c b


Hiss From The Moat Saigon Acoustic Bar, Q1 Monday, Jan. 9

For all you metalheads out there, five bands — two from Vietnam, two from Indonesia supporting Italian headliners Hiss From The Moat — will be converging on Saigon Acoustic Bar on Monday, Jan. 9 for a night of metal mayhem. The line-up includes Indonesian rockers Revenge, one of the most respected Indonesian death metal bands around along with local Vietnamese death thrash metal group Onslave and heavy thrash artists Mephonic. Tickets at the door cost VND250,000 for the guys and VND50,000 for the girls. Saigon Acoustic Bar is located at 104 Hai Ba Trung (cnr. Nguyen Thi Minh Khai), Q1, HCMC. For more info go to


Amateur Comedy Competition

Standing Bar, Hanoi and DTwo Pub, HCMC Jan. 12 and Jan. 13 Who’s the best amateur stand-up comedian in Vietnam? It’s one of those questions that we’ve all been desperate for an answer to. Come mid-January we may just find out courtesy of two related competitions in Hanoi and Saigon. Organised by Stand-Up Hanoi and Brian and Diana Do Shows, and sponsored by Magners Irish Cider, Standing Bar (Hanoi) and DTwo Pub

(HCMC) will play host to up to 20 amateur comics who will have three minutes each to impress a panel of judges. The top contestants on the night will perform at the Vietnam amateur finals at La Fenetre Soleil in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday, Mar. 20. There they will fight it out for VND15 million worth of prize money. For more info turn to pages 34 and 42

The HCMC Run 2017 3

Phu My Hung, Q7 Sunday, Jan. 15

Ho Chi Minh City will be showcasing its first marathon in 25 years on Sunday, Jan. 15, with the full distance of 42km being run in conjunction with shorter distances — the staple 5km, 10km and 21km runs. This year the organisers, Pulse Active, are expecting 6,000 to 7,000 people to take part, and thousands of spectators to line the route which goes through District 7 and across Phu My Bridge. Find out more on the course and the marathon by clicking on


Gina Yashere

Standing Bar, Hanoi and Game On Saigon, HCMC Jan. 18 and Jan. 20 To kick off 2017, the team behind Stand-Up Hanoi and Saigon International Comedy are bringing in one of the biggest comedic names so far; the multiple

award-winning UK comic, Gina Yashere. Here is what the media says about her “One of the best comics in the world.” — The Guardian “One of the top 10 rising talents.” — The Hollywood Reporter “Quite simply... Brilliant.” — The Australian Stage “Her observations are as sharp as shrapnel!” — The Evening Standard Gina Yashere is class. For more info turn to pages 36 and 43


Young Magic Rec Room, Hanoi Friday, Jan. 20

An experimental soul and electronic music group from New York, the highly regarded Young Magic will be playing at Rec Room on Jan. 20. The band consists of multiinstrumentalists and vocalists Melati Malay and Isaac Emmanuel, and are known for collecting field recordings from around the world and incorporating them into their studio albums. Best known for their percussive, cinematic musical style, and for releasing eclectic mix-tapes in collaboration with London based visual artist Leif Podhajsky, this will be an gig for anyone into something a little bit different. The Rec Room is on Floor 20 of Hanoi Creative City, 1 Luong Yen, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi and entrance is VND100,000 | January 2017 Word | 11

Briefings HCMC

Heart of Darkness


hen I lived in New York I fell in love with American craft beer,” says John Pemberton, the man at the helm of the recently opened craft beer brewery, Heart of Darkness. “Then I moved to China, but there was no craft beer, so I started home brewing.” John was born in Australia and raised in the UK, is a fluent Mandarin speaker, and was flirting with the idea of opening his own brewery. However, it took a conversation in a bar in Saigon to give the idea shape. “My neighbour, Tony, said to a friend, Andrew, who I had just met, ‘We should go back to John’s place as he’s got better beer’,” he recounts. “So we went back and Andrew took a big slug of my IPA and said ‘We’ve got to open a brewery’.” Not too long after, Andrew and John together with a third, silent partner, started work on what eventually became Heart of Darkness. With their own purpose-built

12 | Word January 2017 |

Saigon gets itself a new brewhouse

brewing facility in Binh Duong and a threestorey venue in downtown Saigon, Heart of Darkness has hit the market with a bang.

Kurtz Is Insane “We take a more traditional approach to brewing,” explains John as he talks about his beer. “We do mess around sometimes with all small-batch stuff, but it’s not a focus. It’s just fun. We’re trying not to be too gimmicky.” With 13 beers on tap — they hope to increase this to 20 — made to recipes created by New Zealand brewer, Duane Morton, the Heart of Darkness serves up five core beers and one rotational beer. These include the Sacred Fire Golden Ale, the Kurtz’s Insane IPA and the Primeval Forest Pilsner, beers which are also distributed outside of the brewhouse and are made in 1,000-litre batches. So successful have early batches of the core beers been that within a week of


sending up 31 kegs to Standing Bar and The Republic in Hanoi, they were getting a new order. “Hanoi just exploded,” he says. It’s a good problem to have but it means careful planning. “We’re already having to be careful with our capacities,” he adds. “We’ve got the capacity to brew 20,000 litres [per month], which is probably one of the biggest right now on the market, but we’re at a stage where we have to plan carefully to maintain that capacity.” Besides their core beers, at present an additional seven brews are produced in small batches and are only sold at Heart of Darkness’s venue in downtown Saigon. “We’re very careful how we balance that range,” explains John. “So there’s a lot of malt-full stuff that’s not so bitter, a good entry level into craft beer. There’s a lot of lighter beers — we’ve got a nice pilsner with a hoppy twist on it which is very

drinkable and very approachable to the new craft beer consumer.”

Sacred Fire However, what John really wants to develop is interest from Vietnamese drinkers. Biacraft in Saigon’s District 3 already has 70 percent Vietnamese customers, something he wants to emulate. “We want to be a destination location for the Vietnamese,” he says. “If we can [get that same balance of customers], I will be a happy man.” To achieve this goal, Heart of Darkness has deliberately divided itself into three separate spaces — a ground-floor beer garden and tap room, a first-floor restaurant and a second-floor sports bar. They’re also looking at the beers they’ve created and how they sell them to customers. “Our [Sacred Fire Golden Ale] is definitely designed with the Vietnamese market in mind,” says John. “It’s 4.5%, very easy

drinking, but bright playful hops at the front end and not too bitter.” Using the 60-litre brewing system that they use for small batches, Duane Morton and the team at Heart of Darkness are playing around with other ideas and seeing what works for the Vietnamese market. “We just want to play around and tweak it and get feedback on it, and tweak it again,” he says. “So with the small batch system we have the ability to really play with the recipes until we can see what works.” The final cog comes with training. “It will take a while but we’ll train our teams to understand the beers, to talk with authority about the beers,” says John. “The last thing we want is for a newcomer to craft beer to walk in, ask for an IPA, and then pucker up and run screaming from the craft concept.” — Nick Ross Heart of Darkness is at 31D Ly Tu Trong, Q1, HCMC or online at | January 2017 Word | 13

COFFEE From VND300,000 per kg

TEA From VND200,000


f Christmas is the time that people give gifts to others in western countries, it’s Tet in Vietnam. However, Vietnamese normally give gifts before Tet and the gifts are generally things that you can eat or drink during the Tet holidays. Lucky money is also considered a Tet gift, given from the first day of Tet onwards and normally to younger people. To Vietnamese people, giving gifts is not only a way of showing love but also tightening the bond with the receiver. The gifts will be carefully chosen, as the giving is also intended to contain best wishes including good luck, peace and prosperity to the receiver. Here are our suggestions for Tet gifts. You can either choose one or two items or go with a basket of everything. Please note that prices will rise as Tet holiday approaches.

Year of the Rooster The ‘rooster’ has many meanings in Vietnamese culture. We always have a boiled rooster on the worship-offering tray on the eve of Tet and for other important ceremonies. Tet eve is believed to be the darkest time, when the sun hides itself in the deepest place. The rooster will cock-a-doodle-doo, waking the sun up and bringing light to the whole year. In addition, in the Vietnamese zodiac the rooster is a symbol of honesty, strength and prestige.

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NUTS From VND150,000, depending on types of nuts

WINE & LIQUOR From VND800,000 per bottle (Gressier Grand Poujeaux 2011 Moulis en Medoc. Alcoholic volume 13%)

PICKLED SCALLION HEADS From VND150,000 per jar, depending on sizes

RICE CAKE From VND300,000 per pair

Where to Shop ANNAM GOURMET 16 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 B2-11/12, Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1 PHUONG HA 58 Ham Nghi, Q1 CO.OP MART

VIETNAMESE SAUSAGE From VND300,000 per kg, depending on types of meat

BEER From VND300,000 per case

CHOCOLATE From VND300,000 per case

CANDY From VND100,000

BISCUITS From VND200,000

SWEETENED FRUIT From VND150,000 per kg depending on types of sweetened fruits | January 2017 Word | 15

Briefings Hanoi

Lunchboxes on Wheels High-quality set lunches straight to your door


ometimes there isn’t enough time to get out of work to have a proper lunch. Sometimes you can’t be bothered cooking or putting a packed lunch together. Hanoi now has several new businesses offering an answer to both problems;

fresh, high-quality set lunches, delivered daily to your office or home. Three of these companies, each with its own particular selling point, are tapping into this emerging market, united by the belief that quality and convenience shouldn’t mean breaking the bank.

16 | Word January 2017 |

Healthy and Happy “Hanoi doesn’t really have any good salad bars, unless you go to one of the big hotels,” says Hoang Ngan Ha, founder of Delisa, a new company which delivers fresh salad boxes around Hanoi. Delisa offers a variety of salad boxes, such as the beefy Delisa salad (VND89,000) and the fishy Nicoise salad (VND69,000), delivered to your home or desk. For VND325,000, you can order a package of five salads, and get a different one delivered daily on consecutive weekdays.

“We get our ingredients from the same supplier as the J.W. Marriott,” says Ha. “So our ingredients are very fresh and high quality.” Each salad also comes with its own special sauce, ensuring the taste doesn’t become repetitive. Ha hopes to tap into the growing market of Vietnamese customers and foreigners, who are willing to pay a bit more for healthier food. For ordering or more information, call 0912 050868 or visit facebook. com/realdelisa

Do You Want Rice With That? DeliBox is another new kitchen which puts together lunch sets of rice, meat and vegetables, but only for delivery. “We want to deliver the taste of a restaurant to your home or desk,” says Nguyen Giang Huong, co-founder of DeliBox. “Our chef used to work at Sofitel, so we have high standards for taste, quality and hygiene.” The grilled lemongrass chicken (VND48,000) and pork ribs (VND50,000) are two of the bestselling sets, from a wide selection.

“We never keep leftovers for the next day,” says Huong. “All of our ingredients are sourced locally, from farms certified for quality and hygiene.” English language is coming to their website soon; both Huong and her co-founder, Danny Hoang Dat, speak fluent English, so phone orders are easy. For orders or more information, visit or call (04) 7300 1588. Currently delivering to several districts (not including Tay Ho).

made dishes, with vegetarian or meat versions available. The lunchboxes contain basmati rice, yellow lentils and flat bread, plus a choice of a couple of meat or vegetable dishes. This service is available Monday to Friday, between 11am and 2pm.

Delivery is free under 5km, and the quality of the lunchboxes manages to equal the delicious clay oven and charcoal fire cooked dishes you can find in-house. For ordering or more information, visit or call (04) 3266 8453.

on popular websites like eat. vn or, the three options above all offer

a devoted lunchbox delivery service. — Edward Dalton

The Spice of Life If you like more spice with your lunch, then Dalcheeni (100 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi) has got you covered. A couple of months ago, Dalcheeni started offering prepacked lunch boxes delivered to your home or office. “In the restaurant, our guests

dine like the maharajas,” says Arun Biswal, operation manager. “Now we can bring the tastes of royal Indian cuisine to your home or office.” For VND130,000, Dalcheeni will deliver an executive lunchbox, containing a variety of freshly

The Delivery Websites While you can already find a variety of established restaurants offering delivery | January 2017 Word | 17

Briefings HCMC

Wrestling The sport finds itself a home in Vietnam 18 | Word January 2017 |



rofessional wrestling is a peculiar fit in the large and cavernous gym that is home to Saigon Pro Wrestling Club (SPWC). One hundred students in white robes practice karate behind the boxing ring that the wrestlers train in. It’s a peculiar juxtaposition — the prestigious martial art alongside a group of young lads practising body slams and headlocks, a gigantic poster of Filipino boxing demigod Manny Pacquiao hanging from the ceiling. Wrestling is often seen as the ugly stepchild of combat sports and for as long as it’s been around naysayers have shouted: “But it’s fake!” or “It’s not really a sport!” Part theatre, part sport, it’s an art form that has long been denigrated, and the founder of SPWC, Rocky, is hoping to change the perception of pro wrestling in Vietnam. He set up the club a year ago, and they have now moved to a larger gym to accommodate the growing number of recruits that wanted to learn a figure-four leglock or a powerbomb. Because the sport was previously non-existent in the city, they are all self-trained. Rocky and SPWC are building wrestling here from the ground up. “Pro wrestling was not even a thing in Ho Chi Minh City,” says Rocky. “Me and my friends would practice our moves anywhere we could, even in the park.” This led to some concerned citizens calling the police believing that it was a real fight. Rocky laughs. “We are happy to have now found a home.”

The Good, the Bad In wrestling there are the good guys, called babyfaces, versus the bad guys, or the heels.

It’s a battle between good and evil that is as old as time. To Rocky, playing the bad guy is infinitely more fun. By day he is an assistant manager at a local school and by all accounts is a warm and friendly chap. However, when he portrays a bad guy in the ring it allows him to explore the darker sides of his personality. “I want to learn new things about myself, so I want to be the heel,” says Rocky. In the ring the heel will carry himself like a villain, performing any number of dastardly tricks on their opponent — from a low blow to a cheeky eye gouge when the referee isn’t looking. “Before we set up SPWC, there were no opportunities here for people who wanted to be wrestlers,” he says. “I want to establish SPWC, we are creating a wrestling culture here in Vietnam, and we have a long way to go. Our first show was in Danang in the summer at a festival that celebrated Vietnamese and Japanese culture, that was the beginning.” SPWC doesn’t recreate the outrageous characters and over the top storylines of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in America. Instead, they lean towards a heavyhitting Japanese style which emphasizes realism over anything else. Rocky baulks at the mention of John Cena, the current megastar of American pro-wrestling. “He is a big star, but to be honest, his moves don’t impress me.”

The Ugly He stresses that they want their trainees to be safe in the ring, however, war wounds are inevitable. One of the wrestlers today sports a busted lip, and Rocky says that a back injury at the Danang show could have ended

his career. “I thought it could be all over,” he says. The most painful move he took was from veteran Japanese wrestler Ryoji Sai, who performed the “diving double foot stomp” on his chest. It does exactly what it says on the tin, and he winces as he describes how Sai dived down from the top rope right onto his sternum. Try telling Rocky that wrestling is fake after being on the receiving end of that. That said, the winners and losers of the matches are predetermined. Once it has been decided two trainees will wrestle, they spend weeks practising their moves and making sure everything is timed right. It’s not ballet, though, and the wrestlers at SPWC are encouraged to improvise as they go, depending on how the match is going or how the crowd is reacting. SPWC wrestler Sinister Sid explains the importance of listening to the audience. “It’s all about getting a reaction from the crowd. Without that, wrestling is nothing. If there is no connection with the audience and the crowd is bored, we have failed,” he says. “We have talent,” he adds, “but the hard part is how to grow that talent into something that is professional.” This year will see their first show in front of a crowd in Ho Chi Minh City, which will be a giant step forward for SPWC. This is still early days for them, and Rocky, Sinister Sid and the rest are determined to make a name for themselves in the strange world of professional wrestling. — Thomas Barrett Anyone can come and join on Sunday mornings from 9am to 11.30am at 219 Ly Thuong Kiet, Q11, HCMC. You can contact Rocky through the SPWC Facebook page, | January 2017 Word | 19

Briefings HCMC

East West Craft beer for the masses

Sean Thommen 20 | Word January 2017 |

Trung Dau


t’s as though East West Brewing Co. brewmaster Sean Thommen and his understudy Trung Dau are joined at the hip. The duo often appears together as the faces of East West in promotional work for the brewery. Today they’re together again. This time on an office block rooftop just minutes from Ben Thanh Market. It’s home to East West until their new brewpub across the street is completed. Looking on from here must be torture for the brewers. There can’t be anything much crueller than seeing your own pub from your desk each day and not being able to drink there. East West had planned to open last November, however, due to some hiccups

“We’re not reinventing the wheel. We’re all making beer, but putting our own identity behind it, our own personality.” Sean is excited by the potential of craft beer in Vietnam and can’t wait for it to “catch fire”, as he puts it. He says that beer should have a “creep” instead of trying to “shock and awe” you. That, he believes, is important for a Vietnamese market that’s being introduced to a new drink and a new way of drinking. “It’ll be important for us to retain certain cultural elements to drinking in Vietnam, like the friendship it brings, but we want to take away the getting-drunk business so that flavour and the experience becomes more central to drinking,” says Sean. To that end, East West will be offering different levels of beers to cater to different segments of the market. They’ll have some “pretty easy beers” for newcomers to beer who need a light introduction. For those looking for higher alcohol content and flavour, there will be premium beers to keep them happy, with some flavours particular to Vietnam.

Online Meeting

The team behind East West Brewing Company

(pardon the pun), they’ve had to push back the opening to January. But Sean and Trung remain unfazed. They’re putting on a happy face and they’ve used the delays as precious time to get used to working with each other and their team. Indeed, the pair embody what East West’s ambitions are for its beer. A blend of Western tradition and concepts with Eastern exuberance and flavour. Even the brewery’s slogan — Connecting Cultures through Craft Beer — is befitting of the brewers’ relationship. Everything is about balance.

Tapping Local Tastes Sean is the traditionalist in the partnership and less forward than the exuberant Trung,

but he’s no less passionate about his craft. He’s eloquent and knows what he’s talking about when it comes to craft beer. He can explain the science behind brewing to those of us who just drink the end result. When he explains it, the process of structuring a beer from ground zero doesn’t sound all that complicated. Who knew you could season a beer? “Seasoning the beer brings out the different malt and hop levels which then brings up different yeast activity. That’s how you can make every beer unique... It’s very cool.” Sean’s explanation reveals his modesty. He knows that it takes more than science to produce a distinctive beer, otherwise everyone would be doing it.

Less than a year ago, Sean was brewing beer back in the US, and Vietnam couldn’t have been further from his radar. Until Trung tracked him down online. “We found him on the internet. We saw that he was from Portland, Oregon and we knew it has one of the best craft beer industries in the US, if not the world.” Trung and his team contacted Sean and outlined their new venture to him. Sean liked what he heard and although he’d never been to Vietnam before, packed up his family and moved to Ho Chi Minh City. Trung still can’t believe it. “Crazy. We contacted him and a week later he was here.” Crazy or not, Trung believes they got their man. They’d been looking for a brewmaster who was willing to embrace East West’s mission to stand out in Vietnam’s emerging craft beer scene, and someone confident working with and mentoring an all-Vietnamese team; something that East West hopes will drive its differentiation in the market. “From the beginning it was very important for them [the partners] to make it a Vietnamese company,” adds Sean. “I wouldn’t call it straight differentiation because a lot of other craft brewers have Vietnamese staff, but I definitely think it’s connected to what our core idea is, and that’s not just to make this an expat niche beer, but make it for all people here.” — Matt Cowan For more info, check out East West Brewing Co. at The venue is located at 181-185 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, HCMC | January 2017 Word | 21

Briefings Hanoi

ATK is No More One of Hanoi’s best venues closes


J Vadim is on the decks and the small, 100-person capacity CAMA ATK is heaving. Out the back, revellers cram into the tiny, outdoor smoking terrace, taking a break from the carnage inside. Back in the main room Vadim is ramping up the tunes and the partygoers are in a frenzy. By the bar, people jostle for space as the drinks flow, the sweat pours and the party heads towards midnight. This was CAMA ATK a year ago in January 2016. And yet as of Dec. 3, 2016 this iconic event venue is no more. Not because another shopping mall has descended on Hanoi, tearing up houses and whole areas

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in its wake, but because of a rent hike. In ATK's case the rent was almost doubled.

From Promoters to Venue Owners According to joint owner Giles Cooper, ATK came as a result of event promoters CAMA bringing international acts into Hanoi and struggling with venue partners who were “viable and reliable”. “We were threatened at knife-point by venue owners looking to extort extra cash from us,” he recalls. “Another venue gave us warm beer. So… getting a venue of our own was high on the list of priorities. It would let us bring in more talent, more often, with

more confidence and security.” Standing for an toan khu which means “safety zone”, ATK opened in December 2011 after a two-month fit-out process. The place had lain unused for years. “It was difficult to work out how to reconstruct it until we tore [the walls] down,” says Giles. “We did a lot of work to it including putting the entire roof on.” In the five years that the venue was open, there were several great shows. Giles cites the first DJ Voodoo Funk night as one of the best. “It went off like mad,” he says, “and the music was incredible. Everyone had an


amazing time. The weird thing was that when he came back the next time, very few people came out for it.” Other memorable events include Kode9, DJ Vadim, RATATAT, DJ Maft Sai and Regurgitator. One of their busiest was an impromptu David Bowie memorial. Says Giles: “I couldn’t even get into the bar so I had to stand around outside all night.” The problem was how to make ATK viable. Although the staff headcount was small and the venue was only open four nights a week, traffic and turnover were lower than they needed. “Paying out-of-town artists with no local profile to perform in Hanoi means that you need to be able to subsidize one part of the business with another,” says Giles. “We envisioned ATK as a cocktail bar that did events, but it was never really perceived as that.” Other reasons include the location — ATK was in Hai Ba Trung District and people in

Hanoi can be lazy about moving around the city. So, when people came to ATK they genuinely wanted to be there and “weren’t just carousing from one spot to the next looking for a cheap beer”. Add to this the gradual drift towards West Lake, and it was hard to get daily footfall. Yet, as Giles adds: “We knew that our location was a little unusual relative to other night spots, but we were doing something a little unusual compared to them as well. To stand apart has its charms.”

The Final Weekend ATK closed with a bang that started on the Thursday night with stand-up comedy headlined by Scottish comic Stephen Carlin. With 100 people crammed in for the show, as Carlin said in his opening: “I’m great at closing comedy clubs.” “Friday saw an event that, in my mind, ATK was created for,” says Giles. “A London-based duo called Double Agent 7

who travel the world playing rare rock ‘n’ roll 45s. People were saving themselves for the Saturday night closing party so it was far emptier than it should have been.” At the closing party the CAMA All Stars (aka, the people behind ATK) played their own records, a mixture of funk, soul, hiphop and 1980s. “The place was heaving,” says Giles. “The long-suffering next door neighbour stormed in around 4am screaming and cursing us. We ran out of beer.” He adds: “I’d like to think Hanoi will miss [ATK] but I don’t think it will suffer. Hanoi is a fast-moving city and I’m sure something will spring up to take its place. That said, I’m not sure when people will be ready to put their money into left-field artists like we did every week for five years.” — Nick Ross Just because ATK is closed, it doesn’t mean CAMA is. Expect them to bring more acts into the city just in different venues. To keep updated click on | January 2017 Word | 23

Briefings Hanoi


Chef Duc

Creating Western cuisine fused with Vietnamese flavours

uality international cuisine in Vietnam is starting to make a name for itself. While much of the cuisine served up in this country is driven by chefs from overseas, increasing numbers of chefs cooking up top-end fare come from Vietnam. But they’re doing more than just replicating existing styles and flavours. They’re experimenting. Vu Duc is one of this new breed of chefs. Familiar with local ingredients and cuisine, but tutored in Western cooking by Michelinstarred chefs, he enjoys creating distinctive dishes which combine East and West. “I’ve been lucky to work with many famous chefs de cuisine,” says the 30-yearold Hanoi-born chef. “Each one has a different speciality, so I’ve had the chance to learn a variety of new skills and habits from them.” Last October, Duc was learning new techniques from Michelin-starred French chef Jeremy Gillon. He has recently been under the tutelage of Sicilian-born chef Eric Maio, who received his first Michelin star in 2005. Maio has overseen the creation of the new menu at the Hanoi Sheraton’s Hemispheres Steak and Seafood Grill, which Duc oversees.

Combining Styles Through these various collaborations, Duc has developed a distinctive cooking style which combines flavours and techniques from French, Italian and Vietnamese culinary traditions. “I love introducing our guests to Vietnamese ingredients,” says Duc, “but through Western-style dishes.”

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He suggests adding lemongrass or purple basil, two quintessential Vietnamese ingredients, to Western staples such as grilled steak. “I love cooking French and Italian-style dishes,” Duc says, “because the decoration allows me to show my creativity.” To demonstrate, he guides us through four dishes which are featured on Hemisphere’s new menu.

Truffles Galore The new menu still follows the theme of seafood and steak. Hitachi Wagyu, Black Angus, US Prime and Charolais are some of the varieties of beef on offer. On the other side of the fridge, you’ll find Japanese Hokkaido scallops, Canadian cod, Nha Trang lobster and French turbot to name but a few. The first dish Duc presents is a potato cream soup, with wild mushrooms and truffle foam. The combination of textures is spectacular; a light airy foam, a creamy base, tender mushrooms and crisp leaves. This well-seasoned, savoury soup leaves a lasting impression. Next up is a dish rarely left out of any French fine dining affair; pan-fried foie gras. “Here you can see how we combine flavours,” says Duc. “Foie gras is such a famous French dish, but I’ve added Vietnamese herbs. It works really well.” The rich, buttery foie gras is teamed with a honey citrus biscuit, which is closer in texture to a cake. To round things out, a portion of bitter, peppery Vietnamese herbs cut through the dish with well-balanced precision.

Stuffed The third dish on Chef Duc’s guided tour through the new menu is roasted scallops. A generous portion of four Hokkaido scallops sit atop a bed of crushed Jerusalem artichokes, with a few slices of black truffle. The scallops are perfect; gently seared until that appetising golden colour only just forms, but keeping warm throughout. Their mild, creamy flavour mixes well with the slightly bitter taste of the artichokes, and the salty sauce, formed by reducing poultry stock. Finally, the pièce de résistance; crust stuffed French pigeon. A neat feast for the eyes, layers of pigeon, foie gras, truffle and pine nuts come wrapped in a crispy parcel of puff pastry. “The core taste was Chef Eric’s idea,” says Duc. “But I had a lot of freedom to elaborate and expand.” That freedom has paid dividends. The pigeon was tender, and not gamey; like a cross between goose and chicken. With the addition of foie gras, it is a rich and heavy dish to manage after three courses, but Duc’s mastery of the flavours makes it more than possible. Will Duc be the next Iron Chef? Well, for that one he’ll have to enter the competition. But by fusing Western-style cuisine and cooking styles with Vietnamese flavours, he’s one of a new breed of Vietnameseborn chefs adding his knowledge of local fare to international cuisine. It’s a great combination. — Edward Dalton To experience Chef Duc’s cooking for yourself, visit Hemispheres at Sheraton Hanoi Hotel, K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. For bookings or info, call (04) 3719 9000 or email reservations.

PHOTOS BY JULIE VOLA | January 2017 Word | 25


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3744 7000 | January 2017 Word | 27

Charity of

the Month

Centre for Women and Development Ending domestic violence and increasing the capacity of women

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here is no law in Vietnam which specifically punishes perpetrators of domestic violence. This is one of the many challenges which the Centre for Women and Development (CWD) is up against, in their fight to increase protection for women in Vietnam. CWD is part of the central level of the Vietnam Women’s Union (VWU), and its 130 staff are currently led by director Pham Thi Huong Giang. “Most of our work focuses on social activities,” says Ms Pham. “Awarenessraising campaigns, training social workers and working on consultations.” The social workers at CWD receive special training on gender-based violence, and learn how to operate at one of CWD’s two specialised women’s shelters. This training has been helped by funding from the Australian government, in a project which finishes next year. The main intention was to train these specialist social workers, but also provide support and training for the VWU as a whole. The next major project, which began in December, is funded by the Medical Committee of the Netherlands in Vietnam (MCNV), and is focusing on building and developing visual media products on gender equality and social development.

An Uphill Battle “We collaborate as much as possible to make sure we’re raising awareness from a grassroots level,” explains Ms Pham.

They target male students across seven universities, as well as officers training at police academies, to encourage young men to join the battle against gender-based violence. “We also need to change the thinking of policy makers,” says Ms Pham. “They need to understand this is a priority issue.” Ms Pham and her colleagues lament how often domestic violence is dismissed as a private, family issue. Women are blamed, and the insinuation is that their failure as a wife is the reason they are physically or emotionally abused. “Actually, research shows that GDP can go down by nearly 4%, if domestic violence goes unchecked,” Ms Pham explains. She hopes that statistics like these will help their long-term plan to open more women’s shelters and launch a national help hotline, receive approval and government funding.

A Safe Space CWD currently operates two women’s shelters around Hanoi, under the Peace House Shelter project. One of them helps women who are victims of physical and emotional domestic violence. The other is for women who survive human trafficking. They receive victims from across Vietnam, and each shelter can accommodate up to 20 women, plus their children. Some of the victims come to them independently, while others are referred there by police, border guards, the VWU and other NGOs or charities.

In the rare case they find male victims of human trafficking, they are brought directly to the CWD, rather than to the shelters, which are maintained as safe spaces just for women and children. Each victim will meet with a counsellor, who will conduct a screening procedure to determine what type of help each individual needs. “We design an action plan, based on each victim’s needs,” explains Le Phuong Thi Thuy, the head of consulting and development support at CWD. “They might need medical treatment, psychological support and immediate safety for themselves and their children.” Once the initial process is complete, the women are taught how to empower themselves, so that they can help themselves more in the future. The perpetrators of domestic abuse are educated to recognise the intolerable nature of their previous behaviour. One victim, whom we’ll call H, was brave enough to speak to us about her experience. “Coming there made me feel loved again, and I felt safe to share the truth,” says H. “I suffered for such a long time, but now I know where I can find the support I need.” — Edward Dalton CWD is located at 20 Thuy Khue, Tay Ho, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3728 0280. For more information do a search on Google for Centre for Women and Development Vietnam. This will lead you to the English language page on the CWD website, | January 2017 Word | 29

Sports Digest

Sail Away, Sail Away, Sail Away A Mui Ne-based school has changed the face of sailing in Vietnam. Words by Harry Hodge. Photos provided by Manta


hat started as a marine conservation project, sourcing alternatives to overfishing for fishermen, has become a boon for the nation’s amateur sailors. Sail-trained fishermen now run the watersports out of Manta, Vietnam’s first and only sailing school, which is located in Mui Ne. They teach watersports survival skills and climate change reduction, for a range of local and international groups. Clients of the sailing school help sustain the alternative livelihoods for fishermen in watersports, by participating to learn watersports survival skills, allowing them to start a new career path. The school was brought to the attention of Vietnamese sports officials and in turn to the International Sailing Federation, with International Olympic Committee funding provided for the training of coaches, athletes and managers. Development was fast, and Manta’s first sailing manager now coaches

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the Vietnam team in Danang. “Based on these pilot projects, the Vietnam Olympic Committee has asked for help to kick-start watersports for Vietnam,” says Julia Shaw, National Sailing Manager of the Vietnam Canoeing, Rowing and Sailing Federation. “With Manta’s current sailing manager, who has been with Manta since the start, we train a range of people including groups of up to 60 international school kids in a morning.” The group has been involved in marine sports activities since 2008, taking Vietnam’s top windsurfers to Auckland in a bid to gather world rankings to qualify Vietnam for the Beijing Olympics. Later that year, fishermen were trained in specialised sailing skills in the Con Dao archipelago, with young amateur sailors following soon after. Sail and navigation training took place in Halong Bay after that, as well as the production of a yachtmasters’ book in

Vietnamese and English. Other watersports at Manta include windsurfing, Sup sailing and surfing on a smaller scale, plus there is collaboration with other groups in the bay for kiteboarding as well. Manta connected Vietnam’s sailing federation (VCRSF) with Kiteboard Tour Asia to support kiteboarding in the region. The school’s training programmes are individually tailored for each client following guidelines from the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), Federation Francaise de Voile (FFV) and Royal Yachting Association (RYA). Manta works in collaboration with Vietnam’s Olympic Committee, the National Sports University in Ho Chi Minh City and local schools to promote human and environmental health by encouraging people to experience the joy of sailing. The sailing school offers group rates as well as organised lessons for school groups. For more information, visit

Sport in Brief Indonesia bounces Vietnam from AFF Cup A 2-2 draw was not enough for Vietnam to advance past Indonesia last month in the AFF Suzuki Cup 2016 semi-final on home soil, according to Tuoi Tre. Adding insult to injury, Vietnamese fans left a poor impression on the Indonesian visitors by attacking their bus. Vietnam only needed a 1-0 win as they hosted Indonesia in Hanoi after a 1-2 defeat in the first-leg game the week before, but the Golden Stars fell flat in the 120-minute fight, coming up short after extra time with a 2-2 draw that allowed the visitors to advance with a 4-3 victory on aggregate. The night was an emotional rollercoaster for local fans, especially the 40,000 spectators who filled the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi. Indonesia’s Stefano Lilipaly opened the scoring, but Vietnam’s Vu Van Thanh equalized with time winding down, before Vu Minh Tuan made it 2-1 with a stunning goal in injury time, sending the game into extra time. Then, Manahati Lestusen scored a penalty for Indonesia, crushing the dreams of the home side.

Vietnamese Hockey Welcomes Local Coaches Five Vietnamese attended a hockey coaching course in Singapore last month to become Vietnam’s first hockey coaches. Luu Phan Lap Luong, Huynh Dai Phuc, Nguyen Le Quang, Ly Kim Long and Nguyen Lam Phuc all attended the course, accredited by the Asian Hockey Federation and the International Hockey Federation. “This is the first batch of Vietnamese sent to Singapore to get their hockey coaching badge,” says James Chew, CEO of the Vietnam Hockey Federation, in an email to Word. “This is an important milestone in hockey development here as Vietnam will have their own qualified hockey coaches for the first time in its history.” He adds: “The five are all seasoned hockey players and have represented Vietnam in the SEA Games and the Hockey World Cup.”

Saigon Heat drop ABL opener to Singapore Slingers The Saigon Heat hoped to open their fifth season at home with a bang, but it came off as more of a thud in early December. The Slingers won a 90-65 decision over the Heat at CIS Stadium in District 7 in Ho Chi Minh City. Former Heat big man Justin Howard was unstoppable for Singapore, dropping in 35 points and a walloping 25 rebounds despite sitting out a good chunk of the fourth quarter. Teammate Leon Kwek added another 23 points, while Xavier Alexander registered a double double with 13 points and 14 boards. All but one player for Singapore scored during the game, with the entire line-up getting minutes against the outmatched Saigon squad. Vietnamese-American playmaker David Arnold starred in the fourth quarter, but it’s worth pointing out Singapore was resting many of its starters by then. Arnold had 25 points, with an impressive 14-for-14 display from the free throw line. Teammate Lenny Daniel added a double double with 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Vien Fails to Make a Splash Top Vietnamese swimmer Nguyen Thi Anh Vien was disqualified in the women’s 400m freestyle finals at the FINA World Swimming Championship (25m) in Ontario, Canada, last month, according to Vietnam News. Katinka Hosszu of Hungary won the gold medal, while Ella Eastin and Madisyn Cox of the US won the silver and bronze medals, respectively. In the qualifying round, Vien had clocked a time of 4:32.19 to finish first in her heat, earning her a spot to compete in the final round. In the final she finished second. However, she was later disqualified for failing to touch the wall at the halfway point. Vietnam’s other star Le Nguyen Paul ranked 25th of 72 swimmers in the men’s 100m backstroke. Four Vietnamese swimmers took part in the event.

es pdatur u d n Se out yo p or ab g grou @ in ry sportnt to har .com eve vietnam word | January 2017 Word | 31

ToDo list HCMC

An amateur comedy competition, lots of DJs, pool parties and an Italian metal band. This month in Saigon




Small Things

VinSpace starts up new art classes for kids on Jan. 9

6. Barefooted Bavarian band LaBrassBanda play at Station 3A on Jan. 11

Saigon Soul Pool Parties continues to bring Saturday afternoon poolside fun to Saigon



The exhibition Life is a Game shows until Jan. 15


4. Italian metal band Hiss From The Moat will headline a headbanging show at Saigon Acoustic Bar

Small Things continues at VinGallery until Jan. 14


Vin Gallery, Q2 Until Jan. 14 The Small Things showcase at VinGallery continues until midJanuary, with a vibrant exhibition involving a range of engaging and eclectic contemporary artworks from both local and international artists. Exhibiting artists hail from Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bermuda, the UK and the US. Connect with your community, support new and fascinating art, and treat yourself to a brilliant exhibition. The exhibition runs until Jan. 14 and Vin Gallery is at 6 Le Van Mien, Q2, HCMC

Life is a Game Xua Café, Binh Thanh Until Sunday, Jan. 15 This exhibition is an art showcase of brand new collections by local Vietnamese artist Nguyen Da Quyen and Ho Chi Minh City-based Danish artist Christopher Skouenborg. Life Is A Game is based on the theme of games of childhood exhibited through different mediums such as mixed media and photography. Nguyen Da Quyen has been practising art since 2012 and has exhibited across Asia including

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in China, Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand, and in 2014 was the winner of the Asian Creative Awards Vol. 1 2014 organised by the Asian Creative Network incorporating thousands of members from 26 Asian countries. Christopher Skouenborg has been creating art since 2006 and since then his love for photography has taken him across Asia exhibiting his work. Life Is A Game runs until Jan. 15 at Xua cafe, 69 Ngo Tat To, Binh Thanh, HCMC

Saigon Soul Pool Parties New World Hotel, Q1 Jan. 7, 14, and 21 In case you’ve forgotten — and we’re sure you haven’t — them Saturday afternoon Saigon Soul Parties continue this month by the pool at the New World Hotel. An institution, Saigon Soul is the liveliest pool party in the city. Every Saturday the finest DJs that this metropolis has to offer turn up at a luxurious pool and start bangin’ out some fine tunes. From 10am to 10pm they create a “tempting oasis”, where the organisers say, “You’ll be guaranteed a sexy, water-fueled event with some fantastic house music and amazing people.” Know a better way to spend a Saturday? Don’t think so. New World Saigon Hotel is at 2F,

76 Le Lai, Q1, HCMC. Entrance costs VND150,000. Book your VIP cabana on

Hiss From The Moat Saigon Acoustic Bar, Q1 Monday, Jan. 9 Metal heads this one’s for you. Five bands — two from Vietnam, two from Indonesia supporting Italian headliners Hiss From The Moat, featuring drumming legend James Payne (ex-Vital Remans and Hour of Penance). It’s going to be metal mayhem at this festival of heavy metal on Monday Jan. 9 from 6pm at Saigon Acoustic Bar in District 1. The headbanging warms up with Indonesian melodic death metal outfit Borock, featuring members of Keringat Darrah, Sarkas and Strikes Down. Fellow Indonesian rockers Revenge, one of the most respected Indonesian death metal bands around will also be there to rattle your ribcage along with local Vietnamese death thrash metal group Onslave and heavy thrash artists Mephonic. Tickets at the door cost VND250,000 for the guys and VND50,000 for the girls. Saigon Acoustic Bar is located at 104 Hai Ba Trung (cnr. Nguyen Thi Minh Khai), Q1, HCMC. For more info go to




VinSpace New Term VinSpace, Q2 Monday, Jan. 9 Art studio VinSpace in District 2 has released its syllabus for the New Year starting Jan. 9. Over 22 weeks, VinSpace is offering 2D and 3D classes in which children of all ages have the opportunity to explore paint, craft, sculpture and more. VinSpace’s classes allow for learning at your own pace, which helps to accommodate individual creative endeavours and capabilities with the ulitmate aim of everyone enjoying making art. Classes cost VND345,000 per hour and VND505,000 for two hours, including materials.

VinSpace is located at 4-6 Le Van Mien, Q2, HCMC. For more details on their new syllabus, head to

LaBrassBanda Station 3A, Q1 Wednesday, Jan. 11 What do you get when you mix Bavarian folk music, ska punk, techno, reggae and brass? You get seven barefooted, young Bavarian men blowing you away with their high-octane instrumentals and vocals with an energy unmatched on stage. Based in small town Bavaria, LaBrassBanda have performed at music festivals the world over, including in the US, Russia and

England, and achieved legendary status during the 2008 European Football Championship when they toured Austria on vintage mopeds and a tractor. Now they’re coming to Vietnam, although don’t expect them to bring the tractor. Supported by the Goethe-Institut, these guys can’t be missed. See them perform at Station 3A in District 1 on Jan. 11 at 8pm. Tickets are free and are available from Jan. 5 at the Goethe-Institut, HCMC and Station 3A. Station 3A is located at 3A Ton Duc Thang, Q1, HCMC. For more info, contact Ms Nguyen Thu Hanh at hanh. or go to | January 2017 Word | 33



list HCMC



The Big V Comedy Competition

Photos from last year’s Big V Comedy Competition. This year’s edition kicks off on Jan. 13

Hamburg-based Phuong Dan will take over Observatory on Jan. 13

Marseille-born DJ UVB will play Obs on Jan. 14




DTwo Sports Pub, Q2 Friday, Jan. 13 Who’s the best amateur stand-up comedian in Vietnam? It’s one of those questions that we’ve all been desperate for an answer to. Come Friday, Jan. 13, we may just find out. Sponsored by Magners Irish Cider, DTwo Sports Pub in Thao Dien will play host to up to 20 amateur comics who will have three minutes each to impress a panel of judges. The show will be hosted by last year’s winner, Adam Palmeter. Stakes are high. The top contestants on the night will take part in the semi-finals on Friday, Feb. 17 at Game On Saigon. Joined by the winners of the Hanoi heats, the top Saigon-based comedians will then fight it out for VND15 million worth of prize money in the grand final at La Fenetre Soleil on Monday, Mar. 20. The overall winner will be flown to Singapore to perform in the regional Big V final — the top comic at this show gets an all-expenses paid trip to the Edinburgh Fringe — and will also perform at the Magners International Comedy Festival which starts on Tuesday, Mar. 21. Hosted by Brian and Diana Do

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Shows in conjunction with Saigon International Comedy and Stand-Up Hanoi, this is the first in a series of shows that form part of the Magners International Comedy Festival. So, laugh yourself silly and support local comedy. Now’s the time to make sure Vietnam can hold its head in pride at the regional finals in Singapore. The Big V Comedy Competition will kick off at DTwo Sports Pub (55 Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC) on Friday, Jan. 13 at 8pm. Entrance is VND100,000. For further info email brianjarmstrong41@ or

Phuong Dan and AN-I The Observatory, Q4 Friday, Jan. 13 What can only be described as one of the most impressive line-ups to ever feature at The Observatory on a single night, three key agents of global underground dance music take control in what is going to explode with delicious sonic power. Phuong Dan, hailing from Hamburg, headlines what should be another night at The Observatory where anything goes. Even Phuong Dan himself has described his own shows as “a bit mental and psychedelic.” Looks like the best thing to do

would be to show up and see where it goes. Entrance is free before 10pm. VND150,000 after. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC. For more info, go to

UVB and Madder Modes The Observatory, Q4 Saturday, Jan. 14 The Observatory is at it again this time showcasing a rising force of the resurgent French techno scene, UVB. Originally from Marseille, UVB (aka Sebastien Michel) has been producing since 2009, which has taken him to the clubs of Berlin, including Urban Spree and Tresor. In 2014, UVB released his first EP on the Rotterdam based label MORD, followed by Second Life, which have both been supported by some of the biggest names in the techno scene such as Surgeon, Marcel Dettmann and Tommy Four Seven. In 2015, he toured Europe, Asia and South America. UVB is joined on Jan. 14 by resident techno entity Madder Modes. Entrance is free before 10pm. VND150,000 after. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC. For more info, go to | January 2017 Word | 35

ToDo list HCMC




The HCMC Run 2017

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

Canvas & Wine series continues on Thursday, Jan. 19

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

Swedish DJ Par Grindvik drops in at The Observatory this month

Just before Tet, iconic DJ Jane Fitz will lead the line at The Observatory






Phu My Hung, Q7 Sunday, Jan. 15 Ho Chi Minh City’s biggest organised run, The HCMC Run, gets out of the starting blocks on Sunday, Jan. 15. This year a full distance, 42km, will be launched for the first time in 25 years, together with the staple 5km, 10km and 21km runs. Attracting a wide demographic, there has been a regular annual increase in the number of local Vietnamese participants in the race, and as the race grows in reputation it also grows in size. This year the organisers are expecting 6,000 to 7,000 people to take part, and thousands of spectators to line the route which goes through District 7 and across Phu My Bridge. The marathon warm-up day is on Jan. 14 and the actual race takes place on Jan. 15. Find out more on the course and registration by clicking on

Canvas & Wine — Spring Season VinSpace, Q2 Thursday, Jan. 19 Every third Thursday of the month starting in Spring, VinSpace art studio in District 2 will be holding Canvas & Wine — a monthly boutique event exhibiting the works of their in-house art tutors who are practicing artists themselves. Canvas & Wine brings a range

36 | Word January 2017 |


of mediums to the table, from clay sculpture to silk painting. It’s a chance to kick back in creative comfort and take part in an art class with instructors and students from around the world with a glass of vino or two in hand. Cost for the evening is VND874,000 which includes free flow wine and nibbles. VinSpace is located at 4-6 Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC. For more info go to facebook/vinspaceartstudio or

Gina Yashere Game On Saigon, Q1 Friday, Jan. 20 To kick of 2017, Saigon International Comedy is bringing in one of their biggest comedians yet, the irrepressible and multiple awardwinning UK comic, Gina Yashere. A former Otis lift mechanic, if you want to read her accolades, then go to her website ( It’s impressive, and if you follow The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, then you’ll know her for her regular appearances as Madame Yashere. As for the media, well the quotes say it all. Here are a few: “One of the best comics in the world.” — The Guardian “One of the top 10 rising talents.” — The Hollywood Reporter “Quite simply... Brilliant.” — The Australian Stage “Her observations are as sharp as

shrapnel!” — The Evening Standard Gina Yashere is class. Entrance is VND200,000 and includes a free drink. Doors are at 8pm and Game On Saigon is at 115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1, HCMC. To keep yourself posted and ready for some comedic fun, click on saigoninternationalcomedy

Par Grindvik The Observatory, Q4 Friday, Jan. 20 Heartbeat presents another central figure in the electronic scene this month with Swedish DJ Par Grindvik dropping in at The Observatory on Friday Jan. 20. Grindvik has been around the Swedish electronic scene since the 1990s and has released music with scores of acclaimed electronic labels, including a string of hits on his own Stockholm LTD imprint, as well as with Drumcode alongside frequent collaborator Hardcell. Recently, Grindvik has contributed music to labels such as Semantica, Marbacka, Sinister, and Dystopian. Touring the world as DJ Par, Grindvik transports his deft and dynamic DJ sets to techno fans across the globe who appreciate not only his skills and versatility, but also his energy. Catch Par Grindvik at The Observatory on Friday Jan. 20. Entry is free before 11pm. VND150,000 after. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen


Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC. For more info, go to events/219258438502717/ or aspx?908199

Jane Fitz, Hibiya Line, Nic Ford The Observatory, Q4 Friday, Jan. 27 UK festival Freerotation resident Jane Fitz drops at The Observatory this Jan. 27 for a night of real sonic magic. Fitz has been a DJ for over 20 years and plays tracks from UK acid, deep, spacey house to modern psychedelic techno or ambient textures. She’s played in some of the more eclectic sites around the world — try the alps of Japan, the beaches of Montenegro, the warehouses of Birmingham, and the lofts of NYC. She’s also played some of the world’s most credible clubs, think Tresor and Panoramabar. A DJ’s DJ par excellence, Jane Fitz brings a truly celestial, obscure but flawless approach to the art and is supported by residents Hibiya Line and Nic Ford. Jane Fitz hits The Observatory on Friday Jan. 27 from 9pm. Free before 10pm. VND150,000 after. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC. For more info, go to theobservatoryhcmc/


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New boats to Vung Tau, a trampoline centre, craft beer breweries and restobars. What’s new in Saigon



US chain Café Sweet Street comes to Saigon

Ipa-Nima opens a new retail store

Aurora Preschool of the Arts is the latest educational institution to open in District 2


Newly opened restobar, Layla



Beers sold at the new Heart of Darkness Brewery



Jump for your life (or just for fun) at the newly opened Jump Arena


Jump Arena We’re bound by rules, fenced in at work, and jaded by the opinions of others. The world is a tiring place full of things that drag us down. Sometimes you just want to jump off something. Well now you can, but without the mess. Jump Arena is the first trampoline park in Vietnam where everyone can jump for fun, fitness or to conquer fears. There’s a ton of activities for the whole family, including a Spider Wall, Foam Pit, Leap of Faith, Sky Ladder and a designated place for kids called Junior Jump. Jump Arena is open seven days a week from 9am to 8pm. Jumping sessions are a minimum of 30 minutes and start on the hour and half hour. Sessions start at VND80,000 for 30 minutes on weekends and weeknights, and VND60,000 for 30 minutes on weekdays until 4.30pm. Jump Arena is located at 63 Hanoi Highway, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC. For more info and bookings go to jumparena. vn, or check it out at

38 | Word January 2017 |

Heart of Darkness Brewery Exit the light and enter the night at newly-opened Heart of Darkness on Ly Tu Trong. Paying homage to the novel written by Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness has named their signature craft beers Kurtz’s Insane IPA, Primeval Forest pilsner, Pitiless Folly pale ale, Patient Wilderness wheat, and Sacred Fire golden ale, among others. In all, there are 20 taps on the ground floor showcasing all of Heart of Darkness’ offerings. Whether you’re new to craft beer or a seasoned professional, local or expat, the friendly Vietnamese staff are well-trained and well-versed in the language of craft beer and will sort you out right away. Heart of Darkness also has a sports bar and another floor dedicated to live performances with plans for regular live music. They have food covered with pizzas made and cooked on-site in their resident P4G kitchen, the sub-brand of the wickedly tasting 4Ps pizza. It’s time to enter the darkness.

Heart of Darkness Brewery is located at 31D Ly Tu Trong, Q1, HCMC. For more info, head to or Alternatively, check out our article on page 12

Layla Decked out on the second floor of a former apartment, Layla joins the growing selection of restobars in this city. With an outdoor garden overlooking Dong Khoi, and an indoor space furnished with a long bar counter and wooden high tables and chairs, there is also a U-shaped couch area for after work drinks or private parties. While wine starts at VND65,000 per glass, cocktails are set at VND95,000 for any option. There is also beer on tap including Stella Artois (VND50,000) and Hoegaarden (VND60,000). Layla is on Floor 2, 63 Dong Du, Q1, HCMC and opens from 4pm to 1am every day




Brix Wine Bar Situated next to Number 5 Bar on Pasteur, Brix is a smoke-free space in an old colonial building, filled with wood and bricks. It has nine types of wine by the glass and a walk-in wine cellar. Wine is served by glass, carafe and bottle. A showcase of four glasses of white and red with one sparkling is priced between VND90,000 and VND160,000. There are six types of cheese on the cheese menu with two different sized platters (VND270,000 for a small platter). While salad starts at VND100,000, traditional salmon tartare is at VND285,000 and mains like chicken cordon bleu cost VND240,000. Brix Wine Bar is at 42 Pasteur, Q1, HCMC

Cafe Sweet Street Tristan Ngo, the face behind Skewers and The Elbow Room, has just opened a café serving cakes made by the USA-based

chain Sweet Street. According to Tristan, Sweet Street uses products that are GMO free, cage free eggs, and fresh from local farms and straight out of Pennsylvania where the headquarters is located. The café has a wide range of desserts, such as chocolate peanut butter (VND90,000), sixlayer carrot cake (VND140,000), brownies (VND90,000) and classic blueberry pancake (VND180,000). Coffee and various wine options are also part of the deal. Café Sweet Street opens from 8am to 10pm and is located at 54 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, HCMC

Ipa-Nima Retail Store Well-known bag brand, IpaNima has just opened a new retail shop on Ly Tu Trong. The shop stands out with walls decorated with artworks by 90 KINS and Liar Ben. The shop is currently stocking a wide selection of bags and

clutches, including the latest fallwinter 2016 to 2017 collection called Urban Rhapsody. Ipa-Nima is at 26 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, HCMC

Aurora Preschool of the Arts Thao Dien has just welcomed a new preschool, Aurora Preschool of the Arts, to its growing collection of educational institutions. Opened towards the end of 2016, Aurora is an environment where your children will approach life through learning and play at the same time. It’s also a place where you can motivate and inspire your children’s sense of arts through the Reggio Emilia Approach to learning. Set up in a space covering over 1,000sqm, Aurora has a big garden and a swimming pool where children can learn about water safety and water-related subjects. Aurora Preschool of the Arts is at 13 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2, HCMC






Kitchen District Two opens in The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre

The HCMC-Vung Tau hydrofoil service gets new boats

Sol Beach House opens up on Phu Quoc Island




Kitchen District Two Set up in The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, Kitchen District Two is an eatery installed in a repurposed container structure. Although, Kitchen’s menu includes lamb, pork and seafood dishes, the restaurant has a strong vegetarian focus, with a penchant for using local ingredients. It has a wide range of salad mixed with cheese, yoghurt and other classic dressings, starting from VND70,000. While taro and sweet potato chips are priced at VN65,000, lamb bulgogi goes for VND350,000 and a soft shell crab taco will set you back VND130,000. The drink selection is also extensive, from bubbles and wine (VND175,000 for a glass of Tyrel’s shiraz) to soda and beer (VND30,000 for a Saigon red). There is also coffee, tea, smoothies and juices. Kitchen District 2 opens from 11am to 10pm and is at 15 Nguyen U Di, Q2, HCMC

New Hydrofoil to Vung Tau Local hydrofoil operator, Greenlines, has upgraded its service to Vung Tau courtesy of new boats with

40 | Word January 2017 |

comfortable seating that depart from the District 4 dock close to downtown Saigon, before finishing up by the cable car port in Front Beach, in downtown Vung Tau. Running three times a day, the boats depart Ho Chi Minh City at 9.30am, 11.30am and 3.30pm, with the journey taking 80 minutes. The return journey from Vung Tau departs daily at 9am, 11.30am and 3.30pm. The price per ticket is VND200,000 (adults) and VND120,000 (children aged six to 11), with under-fives going for free. For information and tickets call (08) 6258 1136. The boat in Ho Chi Minh City departs from Nha Rong Port (Ben Tau Khach Nha Rong), 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC

Sol Beach House Leading Spanish hotels and resorts operator, Meliá Hotels International, has launched its first Sol resort in Vietnam. Located on Truong Beach on Phu Quoc Island, Sol Beach House Phu Quoc is an ideal destination for laid-back couples, single travellers, families, groups of friends and young-at-heart seniors

looking to enjoy fresh experiences. The casual yet chic and modern property has 284 rooms and suites, a beach club Spanish-style bar serving up Mediterranean-style seafood dishes, a free-form infinity swimming pool overlooking the sea, a fully-equipped gym, an inhouse yoga instructor, comfortable hammocks and Bali beds, a library with communal table, a kids’ club and free Wi-Fi throughout the property. There is also a heavy focus on experience. Included in the list of activities are programmes to balance the mind and body such as yoga retreats, meditation and tai-chi, local culture and cuisine workshops, outdoor activities, such as surfing, paddle boarding and diving, as well as live and acoustic music and sunset performances by the in-house DJ. The resort has an opening special starting from VND2,310,000 per room, per night, including breakfast for two and 5% service charge and 10% VAT. This offer is valid until Apr. 27, 2017. For info visit or call (077) 386 9999 or email reservations@ | January 2017 Word | 41





1. The Last Ride by Nguyen Phuong Linh will open on Jan. 7 2. Rising from Broken is an exhibition of self-portaits by women and children affected by trafficking and domestic abuse 3. Amateur stand-up comedy gets itself a competition at Standing Bar on Jan. 12 4. Shekon will be playing at Savage on Jan. 14 for their first mo:sa:ic party 5. Gina Yashere, one of the biggest comics to ever step foot in Vietnam, performs on Jan. 18 6. Storytelling event Hanoi Slam returns on Jan. 18

Comedy festivals, installations, lots of DJs, storytelling and a Tet Festival at Bookworm and HCC


The Last Ride Goethe-Institut, Ba Dinh Jan. 7 to Jan. 21 Part of the art project Skylines with Flying People 3 by Nha San Collective, artist Nguyen Phuong Linh will conclude one year’s research on Vietnamese history during the French colonial period and its consequences on the presentday Central Highlands with the installation, The Last Ride. Opening on Jan. 7 at 6pm, using the elephant — a significant symbol of power and holy spirits in the ethnic culture of the region — as a point of departure, the artist explores the process during which the animal, as well as the people and their culture and land, have been tamed, controlled and exploited throughout time. The artist will also give a guided tour through her exhibition in English and Vietnamese on Jan. 14 and Jan. 21 at 2.30pm. Both tours are free of charge. To register please email The Goethe-Institut is at 56-58

42 | Word January 2017 |

Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Rising from Broken Korean Cultural Center, Hai Ba Trung Jan. 9 to Jan. 14 Hagar International, an organisation that provides support for women and children affected by human trafficking, domestic violence and sexual abuse, will be holding an exhibition with an opening on Monday, Jan. 9 at 5pm. On display will be self-portraits by women and children affected by human trafficking, domestic violence and sexual abuse. The exhibition will run until Jan. 14 and will be open daily from 9am to 6pm. The Korean Cultural Center is at 49 Nguyen Du, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi

The Stand-Up Hanoi Comedy Competition Standing Bar, Ba Dinh Thursday, Jan. 12 Who’s the best amateur stand-up

comedian in Hanoi? It’s one of those questions that we’ve all been desperate for an answer to. Come Thursday, Jan. 12, we may just find out. Organised by Stand-Up Hanoi and sponsored by Magners Irish Cider, Standing Bar will play host to up to 20 amateur comics who will have three minutes each to impress a panel of judges. The top contestants on the night will be flown down to the Vietnam amateur finals at La Fenetre Soleil in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday, Mar. 20. There they will fight it out with their fellow gagsters down south for VND15 million worth of prize money. The overall winner will then be flown to Singapore to perform in the regional final — the top comic at this show gets an all-expenses paid trip to the Edinburgh Fringe — and will also perform at the Magners International Comedy Festival which starts on Tuesday, Mar. 21. Hosted by Stand-Up Hanoi in conjunction with Brian and Diana



Do Shows and Saigon International Comedy, this is the first in a series of shows that form part of the Magners International Comedy Festival. So, laugh yourself silly and support local comedy. Now’s the time to make sure Vietnam can hold its head in pride at the regional finals in Singapore. The Stand-Up Hanoi Comedy Competition will kick off at Standing Bar, 170 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi, on Thursday, Jan. 12 at 8pm. Entrance is VND50,000. For further info email For more info on the Magners International Comedy Festival click on or go to

mo:sa:ic Savage, Tay Ho Saturday, Jan. 14 One of the pioneers of Vietnam’s underground music scene, mo:sa:ic will bring their unique, infectious sound to Savage on Saturday, Jan. 14. Creating a balanced and danceable fusion between opposing musical


elements, expect their first party at Savage to be thought provoking and groove nurturing. Taking to the decks as part of the party will be Shekon (France) and Noches (Spain). Entrance is free before midnight, VND100,000 after. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi

Gina Yashere Standing Bar, Ba Dinh Wednesday, Jan. 18 After a long stint at Son Tinh Lounge and then a move to CAMA ATK, the international stand-up comedy shows now have a new residency at Standing Bar. To kick off 2017, the team behind Stand-Up Hanoi are bringing in one of the biggest names so far; the multiple award-winning UK comic, Gina Yashere. If you want to read her accolades, then go to her website ( — they’re impressive. Here is what the media has to say: “One of the best comics in the world.” — The Guardian

“One of the top 10 rising talents.” — The Hollywood Reporter “Quite simply... Brilliant.” — The Australian Stage “Her observations are as sharp as shrapnel!” — The Evening Standard Gina Yashere is class. Entrance is VND200,000 and includes a free drink. Doors are at 8pm and Standing Bar is at 170 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. To keep yourself posted and ready for some comedic fun, click on

Hanoi Slam Red River Tea Room, Tay Ho Wednesday, Jan. 18 Hanoi Slam returns to Red River Tea Room on Wednesday, Jan. 18. Sign up or come along on the night for some great entertainment. Entry is free for speakers and VND100,000 for non-speakers with all proceeds going to the Blossom Foster Home for Girls at Humanitarian Services for Children of Vietnam. Doors are at 7.30pm. Story Slams involve contestants | January 2017 Word | 43



listHanoi 1

1. Experimental soul and electronic group Young Magic play at Rec Room on Jan. 20 2. French DJ Miya will be spinning at Savage for the new monthly night, Snug 3. Get yourself down to the Tet Festival at Bookworm and Hanoi Cooking Centre on Jan. 22 4. Russian DJ Shumkov will be playing Savage on Jan. 27


telling stories relating to a set theme in a competitive format. The stories must be told live, without notes over a six-minute period. A panel of house judges and invited guests will score the stories and award fantastic prizes to the top three performances of the night. The theme for this slam is “Oops”. Do you have a story-worthy “oops” moment? Contact hanoistoryslam@ or click on HanoiSlam. Red River Tea Room is at 25 Tu Hoa, Tay Ho, Hanoi

Young Magic Rec Room, Hai Ba Trung Friday, Jan. 20 An experimental soul and electronic music group from Brooklyn, New York, Young Magic will be playing at Rec Room on Jan. 20. The band consists of multiinstrumentalists and vocalists Melati Malay and Isaac Emmanuel, and are known for collecting field recordings from around the world and incorporating them into their studio albums. Original members Melati Malay, Michael Italia and Isaac Emmanuel met in New York City during 2010. After travelling abroad separately and recording material, the group

44 | Word January 2017 |

rented a space above a speakeasy in Brooklyn in 2011 and began collaborating. Melati Malay was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, Michael Italia and Isaac Emmanuel in Australia. The band began touring in Europe and North America after releasing a series of limited edition seven inches in 2011, releasing their debut fulllength, Melt, on Carpark Records on in February, 2012. The band is well known for their percussive, cinematic musical style, and for releasing eclectic mix-tapes in collaboration with London based visual artist Leif Podhajsky. The Rec Room is on Floor 20 of Hanoi Creative City, 1 Luong Yen, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi and entrance is VND100,000. Support to be announced closer to the date of the show

Snug Savage, Tay Ho Friday, Jan. 20 A cosy and welcoming night described by Savage as being for the “fabulous, dancers, kissers, huggers, homos, queers, posers, bitches, flexible, curious, tops, bottoms and in betweens,” Snug is a new, monthly event on the Savage calendar.

With a focus on dancing, and joining the community together over good drinks and good company, the opening DJs will be Frenchborn, Hong Kong-based Miya together with Savage’s very own DJ, Ouissam. Entrance is free before midnight, VND100,000 after. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi

Tet Festival Bookworm and HCC, Ba Dinh Sunday, Jan. 22 Bookworm and Hanoi Cooking Centre will be holding their annual Tet Festival from 1pm to 5pm on Sunday, Jan. 22. Activities and entertainment include a Vietnamese traditional music ensemble, a banh chung (Tet cake) making demonstration, Tet calligraphy, Tet horoscopes, a to he (sticky rice sculpture) demonstration and a Tet balloon bender. Free mulled Tet wine and Tetthemed sangria will be served together with Tet-themed sweet treats. Hanoi Cooking Centre and Bookworm are at 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. On the day of the festival there will be a 15% discount off all Bookworm’s books and stock and 10% off all HCC cookbooks and class vouchers


Massa and Shumkov Savage, Tay Ho Friday, Jan. 27 Savage will be showcasing two passionate DJs who will be bringing a unique vibe to the city, Shumkov and Massa. A key figure on the Russian electronic music scene, Shumkov has played the international music festival circuit and is a co-founder of — the biggest Russianlanguage internet project covering the nightlife culture. Expect groovy, atmospheric house with a ring of deep techno. Massa is a Melbourne DJ who has been travelling Southeast Asia for the past year, having fallen in love with Vietnam. Trained in classical music, he eventually discovered a love for deep house and techno. Since moving into the electronic world he creates atmosphere and space with organic textual sounds mixed with solid grooves. Entrance is free before midnight, VND100,000 after. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi

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Just Hanoi

Souvenirs, relocations, a sustainable fishing challenge and a seafood shop. What’s new in Hanoi


1. Hanoia specialises in quality lacquerware 2. Tranquil opens a second location on the edge of the Old Quarter 3. Bohemian fashion gets a new home at Nelipot 4. Rosemary relocates to To Ngoc Van 5. West Lake gets itself a specialised seafood shop 6. The prototype created by Team HQT, the winners of the TIC Challenge






Hidden amongst the Old Quarter maze of tacky souvenir shops and poor replicas of big brands, Hanoia is an oasis of genuine quality and craftsmanship. Specialising in lacquer work by artisans they refer to as “living handbooks” of ancient techniques, Hanoia sells products for people who can enjoy and appreciate the highest quality lacquer products, including home décor, jewellery and various boxes. The workshop in Ha Thai village, Ha Tay, takes two months to churn out a single tea pot, after it is patiently put through 27 individual steps on its journey to perfection. “We entered the market quite late,” says Bui Hong Hanh, corporate sales manager, “so this extreme level of quality helps us to be unique.” The prices reflect the quality, and a single piece of table décor can sell for more than US$150 (VND3.8 million). Open daily from 9am to 8pm, visit their new heritage shop at 38 Hang Dao, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. For more information visit or call (04) 3710 0819

Lovers of books, coffee and silence will be pleased to know that Tranquil, the much adored book-filled café, has just opened at a second location. The new space can be found on the second and third floors at 18B Nguyen Bieu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. The dilapidated stone staircase needed to access it gives no hint to the quaint, charming café which lays at the top. “The books aren’t for sale or to lend,” explains co-founder Khuat Tuan Anh. “They’re just for people to enjoy here.” The new café will host live music nights every Wednesday, with the piano and violin to feature prominently. A latte, made with Dalat beans, costs VND52,000, while the signature apple pie frappe costs just VND58,000. The menu also includes a variety of teas, blended juices and hand drip coffee. Open daily from 8am to 10.30pm. For more information, call 0989 384541 or visit

46 | Word January 2017 |

Nelipot Sisters Bohemian fashion just got a new Hanoian home, with the opening of Nelipot Sisters at 7 Tho Xuong,

Hoan Kiem. “I’m still looking up what Bohemian actually means,” says owner Ding Linh. “But Nelipot is an old English word which means one who walks without shoes.” The store is a cosy space, cute and colourful from wall to wall. It currently offers a mix of goods handmade by Linh, along with clothes imported from neighbouring countries. VND160,000 will get you a handmade bag, perfect for cosmetics or toiletries. Stitched together by Linh, the colours are beautiful and richly saturated. The traditional baggy elephant trousers hanging from the hips of every backpacker from Phu Quoc to Patpong can also be found at Nelipot Sisters. However, with an intricate handwoven belt, and the overall quality turned up to 11, the price gets turned up too, to VND300,000. Browse daily from 10am to 8pm. Call 0168 3112544 or visit nelipot.sisters for more information

Rosemary Kitchen and Sandwicherie One of Hanoi’s favourite sandwich








shops has moved. Rosemary Kitchen and Sandwicherie has ceded its old location on Tho Xuong to its Just In neighbour, Nelipot Sisters. The new restaurant can be found at 60 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi. For the directionally challenged, that’s opposite Joma. Best of all, it now includes a spacious outdoor courtyard seating area. “The rent is cheaper here,” laughs the waiter. “Plus, most of our customers are in Ba Dinh and Tay Ho, so it’s more convenient for them.” The menu, however, hasn’t enjoyed the same renovation. That’s not a bad thing, as it means favourites such as the Olympian’s choice sandwich (VND70,000) and Thai beef salad (VND55,000) are still available. Open daily from 8am to 9.30pm, with deliveries available between 10am to 6pm. For orders and more info, visit or call (04) 6259 2206

devoted to the fruits of the sea. Thanh Long Seafood Shop is just a couple of doors up from its five-year-old meat specialist cousin, and can be found at 1 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho. “I wanted to separate the meat and seafood for a long time,” says Long, the owner. “It’s better for business and better for the customers!” With a whole store devoted to fish and seafood, the variety on offer has gone up substantially. Whole sides of thick salmon brought in from Norway sell for just VND55,000 per 100g, while fresh tuna from Phu Yen province costs VND45,000 per 100g. Scallops from Japan and Canada sit beside enormous Blue King Alaskan crab legs, which sell for VND1.9 million per kilo. Open daily from 7am to 7.30pm, Thang Long Seafood Shop is at 1 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho, Hanoi

Thanh Long Seafood Shop

The Targeted Innovation Challenge (TIC) Challenge Day, held in early December in

Popular meat supplier Thanh Long has just opened a new shop

TIC Challenge

Danang, was a roaring success. After a course of eight weeks, innovator teams submitted their final work product aimed at solving issues with handline tuna fishing in the East Sea. The challenge was featured in the November issue of Word. Four shortlisted teams pitched their invention in front of a panel of ten judges, consisting of both international and domestic industry, innovation and entrepreneurship experts. Team HQT (from Duy Tan University) with a prototype — consisting of three bright young inventors: Le Quang Thanh, Le Nhat Hung and Nguyen Ngo Anh Quan — went home with a prize of US$1,000 (VND22.8 million). The runner-up team from University of Science and Technology of Hanoi, went back to Hanoi with US$400. The winning entry will now be prototyped with the hope of turning it into a commercial product that will not only be profitable, but will also deal with the issues of bad handling and the overfishing of tuna. For more information click on


Many Faces: Phoenix Ho / The Art of Illustration / New Year, New You / The Rise of Craft / Breakfast in Hanoi / Mystery Diner Hanoi / Nem Chua Nuong / Mystery Diner HCMC / Mi Hoanh Thanh / Forever Hoi An / Destination Zero : Heron House / Notes From Another City: Nha Trang Photo by Teigue John Blockpoel

48 | Word January 2017 | | January 2017 Word | 49




Phoenix Ho From immigrant to the US to career development counsellor, Phoenix Ho’s life has come full circle. Words by Zoe Osborne. Photo by Bao Zoan


orn into a Vietnamese family as the war ended, career development counsellor Phoenix Ho knew change at a very early age. She spent the first four years of her life in the Mekong Delta as her father and eldest brother attempted to flee the country, moving back to Ho Chi Minh City to live when they escaped, until she and the rest of the family could join them 10 years later. “My dad was a political refugee to America,” she says. “He was a teacher and if he had stayed here [life would have been very difficult].” Now many years later, to Phoenix, change is what you make of it.

Learning Arriving in America, the family were hit with culture shock and with the strangeness of seeing each other again. “It was like a dream come true to finally go, but reuniting was a big challenge,” she says. “My parents had been apart for so long and it was hard for all of us.” While she enjoyed her life in the US, Phoenix also missed her home in Saigon. “I think depression had always been in me, but moving to the US was definitely the trigger,” she says. “I form deep attachments to people and places and I am quite emotional by nature, so it was hard when I left and there was no proper goodbye.” She returned to Vietnam for the first time in 2002 having just completed her first Masters, a degree in education. “I had always wanted to come back and my partner at the time was in Vietnam, so I thought why not,” she says. “I also felt drawn to charity work. I began to sponsor a group of kids from District 7, a very poor area at the time.” Unsure of how to help, she began by teaching them English. “I never intended to help them make change in their life, it was about goodwill,”

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she says. “I thought English was most useful but I soon realised that what they really needed was to learn life skills — how to behave, manners, ethics, the moral lessons, etc.” In 2003 Phoenix and her partner married, moving back to the US the following year. She continued her work with the kids while in America, leaving a good friend to run the project in Saigon, and it would be another six years before she made the move back to Vietnam. “I had just finished my second Masters, in career counselling, and I was offered a job at RMIT,” she remembers. “My husband had always wanted to return, so we did.” By the end of the first half of the year, the two had divorced. Looking back, Phoenix sees this separation as one of her biggest life lessons. “Change happens for a reason,” she says. “The divorce gave me the skills to become a good counsellor, and because I am a good counsellor, I am now able to be a better partner.”

Doing Many years later, Phoenix continues to live and work in Ho Chi Minh City, now managing the internal unit of the RMIT Career Centre and training aspiring career counsellors at Hon Viet. At RMIT, Phoenix and her team use a range of teaching programmes, individual counselling and consulting to help their students move from the education system to the workforce. “We make sure students are ready for work and for life,” she says. “We give them the tools, passion and encouragement they need to help themselves.” In her experience, students often face one of two main barriers when moving to the working world. “The first is that they know exactly what they want but are afraid they will fail and

don’t have their parents’ support, and the other issue is that people don’t know what they want to do because they never tried things out growing up,” she says. “I work to give them the message that it’s ok to try, to make mistakes, even to fail — the only thing that is not ok is to be passive.” To her, these issues have a lot to do with parenting — Vietnamese young people will often allow their overprotective parents to make the decisions for them. Phoenix’s own experience of change has deeply informed the way she works with her students now. “It has made me more empathetic, but also more firm,” she says. “I listen and care for my students, but I give them a very realistic idea of what’s reasonable and what is not. Young people often want independence without the responsibility that goes with it.” She believes that any change can be good or bad depending on how you view it, using the ‘Planned Happenstance Theory’ to teach students on how to make change into a positive. “The theory teaches us that something seemingly bad can be made into something good if we react to it with positivity and an open mind,” she says. “This will plant the seed for luck in our own future.” At Hon Viet, Phoenix works with a group of recent graduates in education and counselling, training them in career counselling. “If you do career counselling, career coaching or personal development education, it is important to have a background in psychology,” she says. “These young people have to learn to understand their clients’ situations properly in order to help with their life changes.” Recently engaged, Phoenix looks forward to a full life with her new partner and her son Ian, and to continuing her work with the young people of Ho Chi Minh City.




The Art of Illustration 52 | Word January 2017 |

The work of Hanoi-based artist Sam Murdoch is more than the graffiti for which he is best known. Words by Julie Vola


am Murdoch has an acute sense of observation that he transcribes with a personal style on murals with Mau Colour collective, with digital illustration or on sketchbooks. “An approach I often take with my personal work is drawing scenes, characters or objects I find interesting or beautiful, and interpreting them in my own graphic style,”

says Sam. “This may involve distorting part of the image to enhance a visual or experiential aspect. In turn it sometimes produces a surreal outcome.” Sam is currently showing his travel illustrations of Sri Lanka and Myanmar at Spacebar — the exhibition runs until Dec. 15. You can follow his work on his website or instagram @mudrok | January 2017 Word | 53

Hanoi Movements “If you have lived in Hanoi for more than a few months, you might have noticed how the locals take full advantage of the public spaces throughout the city. ‘Hanoi movements’ is a series of character animations I am working on based on the movements

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of people during the early and late hours of the day when the air is at its coolest and the streets are at their quietest. From T’ai chi, strength training and evening techno aerobics, these scenes will always be vivid in my mind and make me smile.”

Vases “My parents used to own some white and blue Chinese ceramics. I always found the artwork striking and since then have always loved the artwork painted on Asian ceramics and the pieces themselves as objects. These studies of vases are some graphic experiments looking at Vietnamese ceramics.� | January 2017 Word | 55

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Sketchbooks “I tend to be most productive with my sketchbook when I travel. I think it’s because when you are on the move you experience new scenes and people every day, meaning that there are a lot of new and exciting things to draw. Due to this rich source of new information my illustrations and ideas can flow quite naturally. Sometimes I will draw something and later develop it into a print or build on it to develop an animation.” | January 2017 Word | 57

Cover Story

New Year, New You


hen Linda (name changed) passed away, she left behind her an extraordinary life. Orphaned at 13, as an adult she qualified and worked as a social worker. Then she married, got divorced, dropped everything and became a lawyer. But law didn’t suit her so she moved into acting and then stand-up comedy. After 15 years on the stage she made another change and became a medium. Later in life she took a CELTA course and became an English teacher, not before an attempt or five at writing a novel and learning to play the ukulele. She showed that through drive, willpower and a determination to succeed, she was able to change. She wasn’t making small amendments to her life, but large-scale transformations that for better or worse made the impossible possible. Life for her was full of infinite possibilities. She was and is an inspiration. New Year’s resolutions are fine things. The concept tells us that in our lives there is always something that can be done better. But they are also there to be broken. The stories on the following pages are of people who have made substantial life changes. Whether it’s a change in career, getting healthy or changing their lifestyle, these people have shown that resolutions are not there to be broken, but to be kept. With the Western New Year followed closely by Tet, this is a time when people look back over the past 12 months and look forward. What was good, what can be done better, what dreams do we have for the future, how can we make these dreams happen? We hope these stories inspire you to make positive change as much as they have inspired us.

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Todd Gilmore The Triathlete


hen the then 34-year-old Todd Gilmore decided to make a life change, it wasn’t because of any sudden, thunderbolt-like moment of clarity. Weighing 92kg and living the oiland-gas industry lifestyle, the reason was far more simple. “It was my brother,” says the Canadianborn engineer who has now spent 14 years living in Vietnam. “It had been a year since I last saw him. He had dropped 10kg and was looking really good. I figured if he can do it so can I.” Now, 11 years later the serial triathlete and Ironman-certified coach spends much of his time either training for triathlons or coaching others to compete in one of the most gruelling sports around. It was a transformation that took years.

The Regime

“I started with one hour [a day] on an elliptical cross trainer and a few swims a week,” he recalls. “My initial weight loss diet was the Atkins diet. I did an extreme version of it with no sugar, carbs and alcohol. I ate the same eggs, salads and protein meals for six weeks. I dropped weight fast as I was exercising as well.” Four years in and despite having adjusted his diet and exercise habits, he was struggling. He needed something new to aim for. This changed in early 2009. “A friend of mine challenged me to do a

local triathlon in Mui Ne,” he says. “It was a ‘you train I’ll train’ type of gamble. I bought a bike only a week before the race and I did all my training in a gym. [During the triathlon] I went from nearly last out of the water to sixth in a small field. After this, a different friend said, let’s go and do the Singapore Ironman 70.3. I registered without knowing any distances or the needs and training required to finish.” After that he was hooked. He now races between two and five triathlons a year.


For Todd, the key motivator is having strong goals. “Goals are what motivate many people,” he explains. “Often a personal goal of reaching a certain weight or crossing a finish line results in the ‘what-to-do-after’ syndrome. This is why it is so common for people to gain weight again. Steady exercise with additional finish line plans keeps an individual active and moving forward.” Reminding himself of his goals is also what keeps him motivated when he struggles to keep up his gruelling training regime. With one day of rest, every week he trains 10 times. Each triathlon discipline — running, swimming and cycling — gets three sessions a week, while the final session is devoted either to strength training or Pilates. “Six early mornings [a week] and most lunches are spent exercising,” he says. “I have

also done a lot of commuting by bike or foot rather than waste 30-plus minutes in a car.” He adds: “The habit of exercise has become a food habit as well about when to eat, and what to have. I often schedule snacks or meals or my training to get the most out of [my diet].”

From Competitor to Coach

With the oil and gas industry in slowdown, in early 2016 Todd started coaching and took his Ironman certifications. Working first with three athletes, he now has 10 triathletes on his books “with room for more”. “The coaching is emotionally rewarding,” he says, “but not necessarily financially so. I am working on this and a few other means as the growth of endurance sports in Asia is significant.” As for giving advice to would-be triathletes, Todd is clear that the issue is motivation. “The sport can be intimidating from the distances and the three-sport equation,” he explains. “Get a coach, team or mentor, or even all three. If you can easily motivate yourself, a coach may be all you need. If you need the accountability of a group or team, then seek that out as well.” — Nick Ross Every time Todd competes he raises money for Newborns Vietnam. Since 2009 his efforts have helped the lives of 42 children. For more info click on You can contact Todd by email —

Sophie Pham The Introvert


t wasn’t until she understood her past that Sophie Pham was inspired to pursue her future. Born into a first-generation Vietnamese family on the rougher side of Melbourne, Australia, she had to grow up fast. When she was five, her father developed a heroin addiction that was to end, 13 years later, with a lonely overdose in a housing commission flat. Her parents soon separated and, witnessing her mother’s sexual vulnerability and submission in successive relationships, Sophie learnt to protect herself. In her adolescence, Sophie sank ever deeper into self-destruction. At age 14 she was victim to what she later recognised to be rape, and she retreated from her social life, falling into a five-year battle with depression, alcoholism, sex addiction, anorexia and bulimia. At the same time, she was under pressure to succeed academically. “I was going to become a doctor,” she says. “I was determined to become a psychiatrist, and I managed to make the cut-off for biomedicine at The University of Melbourne.” Sophie would reach rock bottom during her years of tertiary education. Disengaged and lonely, she sought power and company in sexual encounters and would go out each night to meet and drink with new people. One night she was found drunk, crying and alone, by a prostitute, who promised to help her and delivered her to a brothel. At only 19, she decided to join them. “I figured if I was going to be a slut, I might as well get paid for it.”

Waking Up

Sophie left the brothel when the madam

abandoned it, running away with heavy debt and taking much of her and the other girls’ money. Moving back to Melbourne, she was ready to reinvent herself, but she eventually fell back into sex work and took up a job in erotic massage. It was here that she met her long-term partner, who she refers to as The Man. “I was attracted to him even though he wasn’t physically striking,” she says. “I became shy and awkward when I was with him. He saw this vulnerability and he accommodated for it, becoming more and more loving.” At the time she was also learning to take better care of her health and as she became better she became happier. “Spending time with The Man also made me happier,” she says. “While he certainly had a bad side, the good parts of him were really good and I was drawn to them.” She gradually let go of the defensive facade she had protected herself with. In August 2013 Sophie attended a Tony Robbins seminar, learning about masculine and feminine energies. In the context of her relationship with The Man, this talk had a huge impression on her. “I realised that I had based my entire external self on blatant masculinity, covering the softer, feminine me,” she says. “I was quite afraid of being feminine.” Sophie decided that it was time to leave The Man, severing ties to her past in order to embrace her future. She wrote him a letter to express her love and thanks, a process that she found hard. “I had a panic attack,” she says. “I had been protecting myself from my

vulnerability all these years, and now I was about to expose it.”


The panic was followed by elation as Sophie found a new lust for life. “Letting go of my fear allowed me to experience truths that were new to me,” she says. “I finally had love for myself, for others and for life.” She found purpose in sharing her experience with other people and began to change her previous fascination with mental illness into a passion for selfrealisation and spiritual philosophy. To Sophie, life now is about remembering this purpose. “It’s less of a pursuit and more of a recognition,” she says. “It’s about constantly reminding myself of my truth — I try to allow purpose to penetrate everything that I do.” She sets aside time for introspection each morning, starting her day with yoga, music and meditation and setting herself up for the day. Driven to share her message, she has just released her first book, Pain is Potential, which documents her life story. The book is a precursor to The Introvert Project, a conference centred around the idea of life purpose. “It’s a space for the introvert in all of us to share our stories and inspire one another to reach our potential. I figured I had to share my own story first.” — Zoe Osborne For more info on Sophie’s book, Pain is Potential, click on book

Ha Minh The Woman


ne year ago, Ha Minh embarked on a journey of personal transformation. She knew from as young as two years old that despite being born physically male, she was really a girl. “In kindergarten, I wanted the others to see me as one of the girls,” says Ha, now 22. “People think little boys are naughty; so I always followed the rules, like the other girls.” Ha’s transition into a woman started in earnest when she began taking hormones in 2015. Her brother was the first to know that she wanted to live as a transgender woman. A couple of months after revealing her intention to her family, she moved out. “There was no way I could transition in my dad’s house,” Ha says, “because in his house, it’s his rules.” There was no clear reason why she began the transition when she did. “The timing was just right,” she suggests. “I tried in 2013, but I had to go back to high school, and the environment there wasn’t right.”

The Same Person

Aside from taking hormones, Ha knew nothing about the practical side of being a woman. “People had been treating me like a boy

for so long, I didn’t know how to be a girl,” says Ha. It could take hours to feminise her face, and she often felt frustrated with her own features. “Slowly, I got better at using cosmetics. Now, I mostly use it as a tool to express my creativity,” she says. Ha’s wardrobe, however, still contains many of her old favourite clothes. “My mum once asked me if I was wearing a new jacket,” she recalls. “It was the same jacket I’d always worn before. It’s just that now people look at it and see a woman’s jacket.” When looking at old pictures, Ha still sees the same person in the mirror today as she’s always been.

New Challenges

Ha has faced many challenges, but thinks the most difficult ones can be the everyday things. “Sometimes just going out is so hard,” says Ha, “because I feel so self-conscious.” Blouses don’t fit her comfortably, but instead of giving up, she intends to start making clothes for herself. With a background in fashion, she intends to start her own fashion business one day, and create a lifestyle brand. “My brand will stand for androgyny. I

want to create chic and sexy clothing, to help empower people,” she says. Clothing plays a big role in how confident she feels. Ha says she often feels vulnerable when she goes out, but she tries to make herself look confident. “I know I shouldn’t care what people think, but I can’t help feeling like that,” says Ha. She tries talking to girls about girl things, and seeks a natural chemistry with boys; but only so she can feel more like a woman. She doesn’t want attention, but somehow still wants approval. “Just for my insecurity,” she says. “I guess it’s going to take some time to get used to it.”

Looking Forward

Ha is content living one day at a time. She has no intention of going back on her transition, and is happy with where she is now. “My only regret is that I wasn’t strong enough to do this sooner,” she says. For others who feel like they want to follow Ha in making this change, she knows what they will need. “I could be a friend to them,” she says. “But I feel like I couldn’t relate to them, because I don’t think of myself as trans. I’m a woman.” — Edward Dalton

Mitch Brookman The Hairdresser


s there ever a suitable time to say, “I’ve made it,” and feel comfortable resting on your laurels? Not for artist and Austin, Texas native Mitch Brookman. For him, such a day will never exist. Mitch first found success with his intricate ceramic portraits. His creations spread through word of mouth and piqued the interest of celebrities such as Johnny Depp, Willie Nelson, Debbie Harry and Carlos Santana, all of whom have commissioned Mitch to immortalize their faces in porcelain. Mitch’s successful career creating art and hobnobbing with celebrities would be a distant dream for most people. Therefore, it came as a surprise eight months ago, when Mitch pulled a 180 and relocated his life and career to Vietnam to pursue a different kind of art — the art of hairdressing. “I flew to Taiwan to do a commission for a wealthy man for his penthouse apartment,” he says. “After the project wrapped up, I decided to visit Vietnam for a vacation. While I was here, I met a young woman who needed a haircut. I owned a salon for 17 years, and I have had my [hairdressing] license since 1987.”

Hello, Beautiful

Who could have known that that one

fateful coif would change Mitch’s life trajectory? The young woman he served posted her new ‘do’ on a Facebook group called Hanoi Beautiful. A popular womenonly group, Hanoi Beautiful boasts a membership of over 2,000 foreigners and locals sharing their beauty secrets. Mitch’s fame seemed to grow overnight, and he now works in a small local hair salon in Truc Bach Lake. “I was offered a position at an upscale salon in Hanoi Tower, but I declined. I love the salon I work in on the quiet street on Truc Bach Island. The owner and assistants are like family to me. I am committed to improving their standard of living. I pay them very well and have made their salon something to talk about on the island.” In just over half a year, Mitch has managed to fully settle into a new life and now considers Vietnam his home. “I fell in love with Hanoi and I am nesting quite happily in my beautiful apartment in the Old Quarter. I don’t plan on leaving, and my husband will join me eventually.”

Home Base

So, what made the 59-year-old Mitch want to uproot his home base after reaching a

comfortable stage in his life? “It’s more of a life change, really. My time here [in Vietnam] escalated so quickly. As the hair appointments piled on, my art took a more relaxed approach. But I love the artistic licence the girls are willing to hand over to me when they sit in the chair.” Those on the waiting list for art pieces from Mitch back in the States, will know he has already missed a few deadlines. “The clients have been patient as people tend to buy the art as well as the artist,” he says. Although Mitch has already begun to build a solid foundation for himself, his husband, and their dog, he hasn’t quite given up on his passion for art just yet. The beauty of Vietnamese culture has sparked anew his long-forgotten love of oil painting. “I am a goal-seeking mechanism and you will be seeing my art one day in high-end galleries around town. I am already making connections. I feel as though I am living in a foreign film,” Mitch continues, when asked about his future plans. “Having been here for only eight months, I have embraced what I think is a gift. I can see clearly that this chapter of my life will be spent here in Hanoi.” — Hai Vu

Sheereen Amran The Pastry Chef


oming here was a bit of a shock,” says Singaporean Sheereen Amran, 21. “You rarely get racism straight up in your face back home.” The blatant prejudice Sheereen faced during her first two months in Hanoi as a budding ESL teacher was not something she had prepared for. “No one wanted to look at my qualifications, just because I’m not white,” says Sheereen. “I tried sending out resumés to a lot of schools, but it always left me in tears.” Instead of packing up and going back to Singapore, much to the inevitable delight of her mum, Sheereen made a new plan, and made a big change she hadn’t expected or intended.

Bake it ‘Til you Make it

Coming to Hanoi was a big step. Sheereen doesn’t deny that a chance to reunite with her boyfriend, Ian, after 21 months in a longdistance relationship, was a major factor. “I couldn’t take it any more,” she says. “I just thought I’d come here and have fun; save some money, teach English.” After coming to terms with the issues of getting into teaching ESL — parents who send their kids to language schools associate English teachers with people who are Caucasian — Sheereen’s boyfriend

introduced her to the CEO of the KAfe Group. “I used to sell cakes to my schoolmates, and they loved it,” says Sheereen. “By 16, I had a part-time job as a cake decorator.” Before leaving Singapore, Sheereen was teaching others how to bake and decorate cakes in public schools and private cooking schools. After baking a few demo cakes, Sheereen was hired. The disappointment of the ESL world had pushed her into the position of executive pastry chef at The KAfe, within two months of arriving in Hanoi.

Buttercream Dreams

Making this sudden change was easy for Sheereen. Growing up somewhere as conservative as Singapore always grated against her natural, rebellious side. “I just thought… I want to experience life, and learn with my hands,” says Sheereen. “I never fitted in; years of school to end up in a nine-to-five job isn’t my idea of what life should be.” Meeting Ian made her realise just how much more of the world there is than Singapore. The youthful instinct of having no commitments or responsibilities was all the catalyst she needed to change plans so easily. “I’m now in charge of coming up with new menu items and improving current recipes at

The KAfe,” says Sheereen. Since coming to Hanoi and getting this job, she is much happier. “Western society is so fast, and you’re always worried about where the money will come from,” she says. “Here I have a better life balance. I love my job, and I take pride in it.”

No Regrets

Now living with no regrets, even Sheereen’s mum has come to accept her choices. “At first she didn’t understand, because she thinks Singapore is such a safe and perfect country,” says Sheereen. “But when I got my job here, mum was reassured; she’s changed her mind now.” Sheereen does her job for the passion, not the pay cheque. Even on her days off, she wants to make the best of it. “In Singapore, I was more petty about doing more than I had to; that’s changed now,” Sheereen says. “I put everything into what I create.” She doesn’t expect her change to be permanent, however, and still harbours a desire to save up and go back to school, to pursue her goal of getting a pastry diploma. “Maybe in Australia,” says Sheereen. “I believe qualifications are secondary to experience, but I do still want to learn; I like learning.” — Edward Dalton

Robin Babu The Fitness Dude


obin is huge and stands out in any crowd with his muscled body. People know him through badminton, cricket and also as the man behind the much loved Indian restaurant, Baba’s Kitchen. He was never overweight: “I just wanted to make myself healthy,” he says. This is why he decided to take part in the first Word fitness challenge in 2009, where contestants who made the most impressive body transformation in 12 weeks would win a prize of US$2,009. Not only the challenge but the seven years since have proved that Robin has a mind (and body) of steel.

The Transformation

Robin was one of the first people who registered for the challenge. He was 98kg but felt heavy and wanted to make a change. “[Trainer Ben Dell of] Ben Style helped me out with training sessions and diets,” says Robin. Together with Ben’s strict diets, he trained three times a day for 12 weeks under the instruction of the trainer. “I was not allowed to eat sugar, butter, cheese and other fatty and unhealthy food,” he adds. “I eventually lost 16kg.”

Robin admits he used to drink and eat a lot, and learnt that quitting a long-time habit is never easy. “But you know when you really want to stop doing something, you will do it,” he says. And of course, he won the challenge.


Although it has been more than seven years since the transformation took place, Robin still goes training twice a day and follows a strict diet. “I wake up at 5am, go to the gym at 6am and stay there for 45 minutes,” he says. “Then again 5pm at the gym, and have dinner after 6pm.” Even if he travels for business or holidays, Robin keeps to his daily exercise routine. In order to spice it up, he has a running session every Saturday morning instead of going to the gym. “[I run] about 12km in one hour,” he says. “I start from the Manor and go to Saigon bridge, District 2, then Vincom Mall and come back to the Manor.” “Training to me is like working,” he adds. “You work six or seven days a week and you don’t feel tired as your body gets used to it. Training is the same.” All this is to maintain a body weight of between 78kg and 82kg.

The Secrets

One of the notable things about Robin is his ability to control his appetite despite owning the two popular Baba’s Kitchen venues in Saigon and Hoi An, where he sees, smells and handles food every day. When you’re training, he says, people can eat whatever they want. But the most important thing lies in the amount of the food they eat. “You can eat every two hours but the amount must be small,” he says. “That’s also the main problem of many people, they tend to eat a lot of what they love.” Robin also admits people can eat all kinds of foods but they have to do training to burn off all the calories. “Just like construction workers,” he says. “They eat a lot but they are still fit because they work a lot, too.” However, many people misunderstand training — believing that the longer they stay in the gym, the faster they lose weight. According to Robin, it’s the exercises that are important. “They must be serious and intense,” he says. “With the right exercises, a 45-minute session is enough.” “All you need is a strong mind. Focus on what you are doing and what you are going to do.” — Vu Ha Kim Vy

Laura Sheehan The Mentor


oving to a foreign country is among of the most stressful things a person can do. And, since 70 percent of Word’s readership consists of foreigners living in Vietnam, we can assume that many readers of this article have faced the taxing toll of international relocation at least once. American lawyer, wife, and mother-of-two Laura Sheehan, has faced this daunting task five times. Laura’s most recent endeavour has led her to Vietnam, and she is again ready to start the next chapter in her evershuffling life. “My husband’s job is what brought us [to Hanoi],” Laura explains. “He is a diplomat with the US Embassy, so we must move every couple of years. This is my sixth overseas posting and his seventh. We are going to be here for at least two years.”


Laura, who has grown accustomed to having to reinvent herself personally and professionally, now finds herself once again having to assimilate into a new city. All of Laura’s previous stints have been in the Middle East. During that time, she often found work in the US embassies stationed in those respective countries, with jobs ranging from administrative work to organising presidential visits for the Obama family. But throughout her itinerant lifestyle, Laura has always been diligent about maintaining her law degrees, and she still

holds practising licenses in both Virginia and Washington, DC. “I have always gone back to law. I started my own firm [while we were in Cairo]. There was a large community of Americans living there that had zero access to an American lawyer who could deliver personal legal services, wills and divorce counselling. It was not the most uplifting thing to do, but it was the most practical.” Having spent 15 years shuffling throughout the Middle East, Vietnam is Laura’s first placement in Southeast Asia. With new surroundings comes renewed motivation for change, and word of mouth led Laura to her next calling. While taking lunch with her new Hanoian friends, she was referred to a job position which suited her well. “There is a programme that the Department of State runs out of Washington,” she says. “Their main goal is to help family members of US government families find employment in whatever country they are in. I sent in my resumé, and I got the job. “I am now an independent contractor hired by a US-based company to help promote and facilitate the Global Employment Initiative of the US Department of State, by offering a full range of career counselling to the family members of US diplomats posted abroad.”


Through happenstance, Laura, who has

often been facing her own major life changes, is now in a position to mentor and support other American families who have to do the same. “It was so hard and depressing,” Laura says, as she reflects on her years of relocating. “I was angry for so long about feeling I had no options.” It seems that Laura has found the fulfilment she has been searching for. She is coaching a dozen clients, many of whom are from Hanoi; but, since she oversees the entire Asian region, Laura also has clients in Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Mongolia and China. “I get to go and meet with family members. That is where I find the most joy,” she says. “My favourite part is talking to somebody about their life and you can see where they light up. From there, I help them see where their next steps might lie.” As Laura strives to find permanence and stability for displaced families, her usual two-year resettlement schedule is also looming. So, what will Laura’s next career move be when a new posting calls on her family to relocate homes yet again? “This has been the best job I have ever had,” Laura says. “I am absolutely going to take this wherever I go. When we move as much as we do, we sometimes feel lost and stuck. Even if you only do it once, it’s still hard, and anything I can do to help [families] get through it makes all the hardships that I have endured worthwhile.” — Hai Vu

A NEW YOU. What changes can you make to your life? Can your resolutions be long-lasting? Can you alter your balance enough to create a new you? Here are some ideas for you. From living a healthy lifestyle through to taking art classes, getting up on stage or learning Vietnamese, to watching what you eat or even getting some counselling. There are many ways we can change past habits and patterns, take on new hobbies, change jobs and recreate who we are. Read on and you might find something that piques your interest.

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LEARNING VIETNAMESE And learn something about this country’s culture

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earning a new language can be both rewarding and intimidating, not least for people who have only ever spoken their mother tongue. For people living abroad, learning the language of their temporary or adopted home can be a doorway into the deepest corners of a new culture. If you’re tired of needing help to arrange appointments, or you want to understand why Vietnamese people look offended when you mispronounce the word for “big”, the opinions which follow offer the motivation you’re looking for.

Stop Staying, Start Living

Tieng Viet Oi is a Hanoi-based company dedicated to teaching Vietnamese to foreigners. It was founded by Nguyen Thanh Lan and Phan Hoang Anh, who felt frustrated by the language centres who only cared about profits. “Learning Vietnamese is just a bonus,” says Lan. “The main benefit is learning more about our culture and etiquette.” Lan’s students are often taken outside, where they are given challenges to help build their confidence. Combined with the café-based lessons, the whole experience feels more social than academic. Lan has students who quit after just one lesson, but she doesn’t take it to heart. “Learning any language is hard,” she says. “People always have their strengths, and some are just not into languages.” One of the main challenges can be the lack of support from Vietnamese people. “Vietnamese don’t encourage foreigners enough,” Lan says. “They often laugh, or don’t make any effort to understand when a foreigner tries speaking Vietnamese.” To overcome this, Lan instructs her students to spend the first half of their journey focusing on the tones, which are often a source of anxiety. Lan accepts that Vietnamese people

can be less than friendly when dealing with foreigners in shops, restaurants or markets. “If you go there and speak even a bit of Vietnamese,” Lan says, “you will get more than a big smile. People will be more helpful, and they’ll remember you when you go back.” For more information on one-on-one, group and Skype classes, visit tiengvietoi or call 0164 9583167.

Persist, Thrive, Succeed

Let’s Speak Vietnamese (LSV) burst onto the Hanoi language teaching scene four years ago, founded by Phung My Hanh and Valentin Constantinescu. “Lonely Planet won’t help you understand the culture,” says Valentin, the Romanian co-founder who has lived in Vietnam for 12 years, and speaks fluent Hanoi Vietnamese. Valentin has found one of the most effective ways to motivate foreigners is by making them jealous; when he chats and jokes with Vietnamese people around him, others wish they could join in. “I show them how people respect foreigners more when they speak Vietnamese,” adds Hanh. In the beginning, LSV operated small lessons in cafés. These days, they have a proper centre with a syllabus, organised classes and custom designed textbooks for all levels. “Sometimes we combine students of different levels,” says Hanh, “so the students can learn from each other, and see the progress between levels.” Their classes never have more than eight students, so the teacher is able to focus on individual students and find the methods which work best for them. Overcoming the first stage is always the most difficult, because people struggle to persist when faced with laughter or

misunderstandings. “Making this change permanent is the same as with any language,” says Valentin. “Watch Vietnamese movies, listen to Vietnamese songs and keep in touch with Vietnamese friends.” As the Vietnamese economy continues to grow, the Vietnamese language will increase in importance. Valentin believes learning Vietnamese is just another way to open doors and create opportunities. “You’ll always find a reason to use Vietnamese.” — Edward Dalton For more information on LSV check out, call 0121 6076061 or visit their centre at 89/173 Hoang Hoa Tham, Ba Dinh, Hanoi.

Learning Vietnamese in Saigon


o Chi Minh City has a number of language schools. However, the best known is VLS ( Running since 1994, the school’s founder Dr. Vo Xuan Trang wrote the first Vietnamese textbook for learners of the local language. The school has since been taken over by his daughter. Key to VLS’s success is an understanding of a need to teach both the southern and northern dialects. They’re quite distinct — as distinct as Swedish is from Norwegian — but the problem of living in Ho Chi Minh City is that learning northern Vietnamese doesn’t quite work. You won’t understand the majority of people when they talk to you and they won’t understand you. To be a successful Vietnamese language speaker you need to have knowledge of both dialects. | January 2017 Word | 77

10 hot tips that won’t get you laughed off stage (hopefully) 1) Know your audience to draw from a shared frame of reference 2) Practice your routine out loud in front of a mirror 3) Study the cultures behind the English language 4) Perform in front of an audience as often as possible 5) Focus on being funny first, not controversial 6) Don’t be afraid of hecklers — audiences hate them too 7) Aim for laughs every 20 seconds or more often 8) Write down things you say or hear that are funny immediately 9) Don’t use your friends to gauge how funny your jokes are 10) Have a go yourself

If you want to have a crack at Virgin Jokes, contact Diana at with the subject VIRGIN JOKES. For Hanoi, contact Mike Ellis through Facebook or join the Facebook group, Stand-Up Hanoi and send them a message

GET INTO STAND-UP COMEDY Some people have even made careers out of it 78 | Word January 2017 |


e’ve all heard the one about the research that confirms people are more afraid of public speaking than death. True or not, that public speaking and death are even compared underscores the anxiety that builds in most of us at the prospect of standing up in front of people and telling a story. This fear is said to stem from a primal level where it’s not so much a fear of being embarrassed or judged, but the greater fear of being rejected from our tribe and left to fend for ourselves. Armed with that knowledge and some lived experience, why anyone would entertain the idea of getting up on stage and telling jokes is baffling. Provoking those fears and living down the possible rejection of a joke all alone on stage in front of others doesn’t seem like a laugh by any stretch.

The First Time

But Ho Chi Minh City-based comic and founder of Virgin Jokes, Diana Bailey, disagrees. She came up with the concept of Virgin Jokes as a platform for aspiring comics to try out their material for the first time on stage in front of a crowd in a friendly environment.

“It’s a show where everyone’s doing it for the first time, so nobody’s any better than anyone else and everyone feels comfortable doing something scary for the first time — and they can bring their friends.” While Diana’s definition of what takes place at a Virgin Jokes show sounds suspiciously more like how one might feel at a swingers’ party for the first time, her partner and fellow comic Brian Armstrong agrees with her. “It’s not really that big of a deal to do stand-up for the first time,” he says. “The great thing about Virgin Jokes is that you have the opportunity to do at least two or three minutes up there in front of your friends. If you suck, they’ll laugh at you. If you’re funny, great. You’re safe no matter what.”

Keeping the Day Job

One well-known success story on the local comedy circuit is 23-year-old Saigon native Uy Le. In his first year doing stand-up, Uy has already won the opportunity to tour with a professional in Cambodia after his performance in The Big V comedy competition last year, and he warmed up the audience for UK comic Stephen Carlin when he performed in Vietnam last November.

“Thanks to Virgin Jokes, I was able to try out my material and win second prize at Big V,” explains Uy, who is a graphic designer by day. “But before that, I didn’t know there was a comedy scene in Vietnam, so I just watched YouTube clips of comedians like Eddie Murphy, Jim Carrey and George Carlin, who have really inspired me.” Uy says that for a Vietnamese person toying with the idea of doing stand-up on the expat scene, being able to speak English fluently isn’t enough to get laughs. He says that you also need to understand that while humour knows no bounds, the type of content and the way it’s delivered does. “I have to select jokes that are more universal, not something specific to a certain culture or belief. When I’m preparing for an English-speaking show, I have to make sure that I’m up with what’s happening in English-language speaking countries. I need to know who Woody Allen is, for example.”

Up North

Another comic hoping to take his craft further is Hanoi-based Mike Ellis from the UK. Mike echoes Uy’s tip on universality and tends to draw on his experiences of living in Vietnam to create a connection with his audiences.

“Comedy is all about a shared frame of reference. Vietnam is a funny place to live and people love to laugh at how ridiculous this place can be sometimes,” says Mike. “It’s difficult to come up with a shared frame of reference in a room full of English, Australians, Americans, and Canadians, but the one thing we all have in common is where we live.” — Matt Cowan

The Big V


ponsored by Magners Irish Cider, the Big V Amateur Comedy Competition will return this month to Saigon (Jan. 13 at DTwo) and Hanoi (Jan. 12 at Standing Bar). With the winners competing in the grand final on Mar. 20 at La Fenetre Soleil in Saigon, this is the chance for amateur comics to really strut their stuff. Last year’s winner got to compete in Singapore at the grand final. The trip was all expenses paid. To get involved contact Diana Bailey (Saigon) and Mike Ellis (Hanoi). See the other breakout box for info. | January 2017 Word | 79

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TAKE ART CLASSES And get in touch with your creative side


o VinSpace studio manager Ben Wayman, art classes bring more than a new skill to its students. “I think the benefits can surprise people,” he says. “Not only are you learning a physical skill, you’re also developing your ability in communication, problem solving and creative thinking.” Founded in 2009, VinSpace is a boutiquestyle art studio catering to a range of Saigon residents from age five and up. “It was founded by Shyevin S’ng and after collaborating with our Vietnamese partner Hong Anh, it has grown into an international project, with a hand-picked team of practising artists and creators from across the world,” says Ben. A pioneer in Saigon art classes, the VinSpace team aim to bring students an introduction to the discipline that they cannot find anywhere else. “We’re not really an informal art club and we’re not a school,” says Ben. “VinSpace is a studio-based experience that focuses on the appreciation of art as a whole.”


And although students often work with a range of talented industry professionals, VinSpace classes are for everyone, no matter what your artistic ability or skill level. Classes are organised into age, with the majority of classes offered for kids aged five to 14 years. Ben also runs a weekly portfolio class introducing older students and adults to new types of art, and there are a number of events every month such as canvas-andwine nights, arty parties and team building for art-loving adults. “We’re excited as we’re launching a new syllabus in spring 2017 that’s hopefully going to offer a broader range of art to the youngsters,” says Ben. “For adults, the weekly portfolio sessions are a chance to get a fix of something new. “The classes really act as an opportunity

to find something new, whether it’s a particular art-form or something about yourself. Some students can really come out of their shell just by having a creative space to come back to.” School students Katerina and Linh come to VinSpace to practise and enjoy art outside of what they are offered at school. “This class provides the chance to learn things we wouldn’t study at school,” says Katerina. “I love to make art, and at VinSpace I can explore so many different ways of expressing myself.”


The emphasis at VinSpace is on introducing people to something new and exciting, rather than guiding them along a career path. “Even those who won’t go on to work in a creative industry get to take away their own art and the knowledge that they can do something unexpected,” says Ben. For one student, Laura, VinSpace was a great opportunity to discover new interests. “My fiancé and I moved here three months ago and I was looking for something new to try,” she says, “I came to this class, and kind of fell into printmaking.” She is now working on her technique, while students around her study other methods of art making, from tonal painting to silk-screen making. The classes can also be useful for students looking to move up in the art world. “The portfolio classes are particularly good as they have a knock-on effect for students’ career and university opportunities,” says Ben. “A few of our portfolio students have been accepted into international universities. We also have a steady stream of returning students who join us for our in-house classes and camps, and watching them grow and develop is fascinating.”

Budding fashion designer Sasha came to VinSpace with an interest in broadening her design scope. “My mum found the class and when I came I told Ben what I was interested in,” she says. “He suggested silkscreen painting. This class is great because it’s all about what we would like to learn, catering to each person rather than working to a set, group syllabus.” — Zoe Osborne If you would like to get involved, VinSpace will be offering all-new classes, a schedule and season of Canvas & Wine with the New Year, as well as some new independent print and life drawing projects. Check out their website ( for more information, or email for details on classes, or to tailor your own

Art Classes in Hanoi


hen it comes to ‘quantity’ in art classes terms, Hanoi excels. Here are a few options for anyone wishing to get creative in the capital. Art Nights for Grown-Ups The Hanoi Life Drawing Society Art Classes at Work Room Four Art Classes at Blossom Art House There is also a Facebook Group that acts as a resource for finding art classes in the capital. Simply click on facebook. com/groups/hanoiARTclass and join the group. | January 2017 Word | 81

GET PROFESSIONAL HELP And deal with those problems you need to resolve 82 | Word January 2017 |


e speak to two of our columnists, psychotherapist Douglas Holwerda and alternative therapist, Karen Gay, about how both conventional and unconventional counselling can create change and help you resolve issues.

DOUGLAS HOLWERDA How long have you been living in Vietnam? Where do you work? How long have you been in your profession? I have been living in Vietnam for almost seven years, six of them in Hanoi. I currently see clients at Family Medical Practice in Hanoi. I have been practicing as a psychotherapist since 1996.

How can counselling help people? Sometimes clients have experiences in their past which have influenced how they feel in negative ways. These can become core beliefs that, unwittingly, shape a person’s day-to-day choices. By looking at one’s life and bringing awareness to what we are feeling, what we believe, what we expect, and how we make choices, we can create change.

What kinds of cases have you dealt with while living in Vietnam? What are the most common issues? People seem to be coming to me most these days with anxiety. Then there are people who are suffering, struggling, lost, angry, depressed. Most of them are dealing with intense emotion. These are all normal people from everywhere in the world.

What methods do you use with your clients / patients? Psychotherapy works best when people feel safe and trusting of the therapist and the process. When that is true, clients can more easily open up to share why they are there and what

they are feeling. It allows them to go to deeper levels of insight and understanding. It is never about getting “fixed”, it is always about growing through increased awareness and acceptance of what is true. On average I see clients eight to 10 times. Some clients I have seen for several years on a weekly basis. Many clients come for two or three sessions to find out how it is for them.

What would you say to people who are considering counselling but aren’t sure if it’s the right thing for them? I would say make an appointment with the idea of giving it a try. Tell the psychotherapist that you want one session and then you will decide whether to continue on or not.

Sometimes counselling fails. Why do you think this is the case? The truth is that life is hard, it is harsh, it is painful and, sometimes, there is no one or nothing that can change that. But, more than anything else, psychotherapy is for the purpose of saying “we are in it together” and you can bring your problems here. It would be wrong to think that a psychotherapist can fix a person or the state of the societies that affect us. For a list of therapists operating in Hanoi, click on For Ho Chi Minh City, contact the various medical clinics or click on

KAREN GAY How would you describe what you do? People usually come to me with physical issues and if I sense they are open to it, we explore beyond the symptoms and look at metaphysical reasons for the challenge they’re having. Examples of this are their relationship with others, (family, friends, co-workers, etc.), with their body, with their emotions, thoughts, etc. From there it’s a process of shifting perspective — recognizing that they are greater than the story that surrounds them, which is in fact one that they create. Because emotions get locked into the body, in the cells, bodywork becomes helpful in releasing trauma showing up as symptoms. The sessions start to resemble a counselling session for some part of it, if not the whole thing. A lot of it is getting them to change the relationship they have with their body, to listen to what it might be telling them and perhaps figure out connections in with other aspects of their life. This topic gets deep really quickly and it also goes beyond conventional thinking, so I expose people to other ways of seeing things, help them to unload the burden of guilt, self-blame, inadequacy, etc. The following is what a client wrote about why they’d like to see me: “I’d like to work on my belly/gut as related to emotions and loyalties linked

to my family, my neck is also often blocked.” This is a classic case where undoing the social imprinting/ programming is necessary for healing. How this gets done takes various forms by different practitioners.

How do you help people realise where their issues are coming from? I listen to what the person tells me, I listen to what they don’t tell me. I observe their body language, their way of carrying themselves, their speech, their environment, etc. and from there I draw the established metaphysical correlations for disease. Not everybody is ready to hear that their sore back could be related to some deeperrooted emotional issue, or that their anxiety or depression could be coming not only from a biochemical imbalance but from societal or ancestral imprinting or programming. Those who are open to those concepts recognize that there may be something deeper going on, especially if they have chronic or recurring issues.

What body work do you do to release trauma? Emotional Freedom Technique, (EFT) also known as tapping, craniosacral therapy, jin shin jyutsu, reiki, deep tissue massage, shamanic energy healing. For a list of holistic practitioners based in Hanoi, click on | January 2017 Word | 83

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GET HEALTHY And change how you feel and look


lot of people say they want to get fit,” says fitness trainer and Word columnist Phil Kelly. “So they jump on a treadmill. The reason they want to get fit is because their body isn’t as healthy as it should be, but if their body is already unhealthy and in crisis, exercise is a stresser.” He adds: “You don’t get fit from the exercise. You get fit from recovering from the exercise.” According to Phil, the key to getting healthy is to look at four aspects of changing who you are and changing your lifestyle. But you always need to bear in mind the body’s need for recovery. “When you’re doing exercise,” he explains, “you’re breaking your body. It’s when your body recovers from doing that exercise that it repairs itself and you start getting more healthy.”

Lifestyle and Nutrition

To help with recovery, the first two changes to focus on are lifestyle and nutrition. This, says Phil, reduces the stress you put on your body when you exercise. But, he warns: “If you improve your nutrition yet are staying up to two or three in the morning and only getting two or three hours sleep, it’s not going to really do much. Your health will improve but the work you put in won’t have the maximum benefit. Likewise, if you’re totally stressed out and under the gun at work, you’re going to be held back.” Finding the right equilibrium means ensuring you get enough sleep and that your diet is balanced. So, consume less carbohydrates or “empty calories” like potatoes, rice, beer and pasta, and instead increase the amount of fibrous vegetables you eat. Fibrous vegetables are

high in vitamins and minerals, and include anything which is green; asparagus, Brussels sprouts, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, ochre, salad vegetables and so on. Also, avoid processed food and most importantly, make sure you have variety. For lifestyle, if you’re out drinking five times a week, cut it down to two or three. If you’re job is stressful, then take breaks, time out when you do something completely different to relieve the stress.

The Mental Aspect

“Everyone has a subconscious image of themselves,” says Phil. “So you have to have a strong mindset to be able to stick with [getting healthy]. It’s not the exercise or changing what you eat, it’s the habit change.” One key challenge is peer pressure. You need to ensure you don’t let your friends affect what you’re trying to achieve. “By changing who you are it sometimes threatens how other people see you,” he explains. “A lot of people will tell their friends, oh I’m doing this healthy thing, but their friends will say, oh no, eat, drink with us. Because when you change, it affects your relationship with them, because they are still doing the same thing.” To get over this, and to create positive habits, Phil suggests making a plan. “People don’t set clear goals or write them down,” says Phil. “So, write down exactly what you want to achieve each week.” He adds: “You’ve got to make sure that these goals are specific. And each week you change something.” When you make this plan, you need to ask yourself: “How long do I need to recover before I train again?” If you can’t recover properly, you can’t get fitter and you’re going to get strained.

“People often push too hard too soon,” warns Phil. “So they don’t gain too much. And they’re eating less, too. So, eat less, do more but not recovering is a huge recipe for disaster. They crash and burn out after a few months.”

Changing Goals

Once you’ve achieved your initial goals, you need to revise them. “The key word is periodisation,” says Phil. “You should be looking month in, month out, at revamping your training plan. Because if you’re doing the same thing again and again, the body’s getting better, but it’s adjusting to that particular workload. This will mean you’re going to be fit for that workload and nothing else.” Phil suggests building sport into any long-term plans, something that has an element of play. “Sports are good because you’re socialising,” he explains. “They’re multi-directional, fun, and require good coordination. They’re mentally stimulating and quite often if you go to the gym, it’s not interesting. For long-term success there has to be some form of play, some form of socialisation.” So, let’s take cycling — a huge part is the social side. Cycling with friends, the lifestyle, the clothing, accessories, chatting to people about cycling. It’s the same with every sport. Adds Phil: “People think they should just go to the gym and that’s it. But why? Why not do gym and cycling as well? Play football or squash? There’s no reason for just doing the gym, because you’re missing out on the benefits of everything else.” Phil is founder and master trainer at Body Expert Studio, Hem 215, B19A Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, HCMC. For more info click on | January 2017 Word | 85


o topic is as full of contradictory information as what we should eat, how much we should eat, and how we should eat to be as healthy as possible. And foreigners in Vietnam face an added problem. Many of the healthy foods they are used to are hard to find in Vietnam, and some of the local foods, healthy or not, are not appealing to Western tastes. Antoine Yvon, the former dietician and nutritionist at the Centre Médical International (CMI) Ho Chi Minh City is a fan of Vietnamese cuisine. “Vietnamese food is one of the most healthy and balanced in the world,” he says. “As a professional, I have seen that dishes and ingredients used in Vietnamese cuisine can cover all the dietary needs on protein, lipids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. It is this diversity and variety that are the foundations of a healthy and balanced lifestyle.” Jonathan Halevy, paediatrician at FMP, agrees, with some caveats. “Most traditional Vietnamese dishes are very healthy and balanced. It all depends on how much of it you eat,” he says. “Try not to consume too much fried food and most important, make sure you eat in a place that keeps good sanitary conditions.”

Saturation Point

The warning against too much fried food is echoed by Dr Nguyen Viet Quynh Thu, of FV Hospital.

“[We should] reduce energy from lipids, particularly from saturated fats and trans fat. Steamed or boiled food should be chosen, fried food should be avoided,” she says. “Saturated lipids are also found in animal fat, butter, skin, animal organs and full cream milk.” Dr Thu also places emphasis on choosing foods with a low glycemic index (GI). Low-GI foods are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolised and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose, with positive effects on our blood chemistry. Dr Thu recommends low-GI fruits like dragonfruit, avocado, strawberry, apple, pear, grapefruit. The less-favoured highGI fruits include durian, jackfruit, longan, mangosteen, banana and watermelon. If you’re looking for vitamins and anti-oxidants, Yvon recommends lychee and rambutan, guava, papaya, kiwi and dragonfruit. His favourite, though, is the little-known gac fruit (or red melon). “It has the highest concentration of carotenoids, a precursor to Vitamin A, in the world. The gac contains 75 times more lycopene, an antioxidant, than tomatoes.” Dr Halevy rates a varied vegetable intake as one of the healthiest approaches. “When it comes to vegetables — the more the better, all shapes, colours and tastes,” he says. “All types of fruits are good but you need to limit the amount to one to two servings a day. Prefer eating

ALL ABOUT BALANCE Is it easy to create and maintain a healthy diet in Vietnam? Three nutritionists give their views.

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the whole fruit, which has more vitamin and fibre, and not juice.”

Stapled down

Rice is everywhere in Vietnamese cuisine, so it’s important to get the best from eating it, and understand any downside. Dr Thu suggests brown rice (or noodles and pasta) for their low-GI qualities, but Halevy, with his focus on children’s health, has a Vietnam-specific warning. “There is a big problem with consuming rice — arsenic,” he says. “I make a recommendation for reducing rice consumption, especially in children. Brown rice has much higher levels of arsenic than white rice.” Another big issue for visitors to Vietnam is MSG. While scare stories abound on the internet, Halevy dismisses them. “MSG can be found naturally in foods such as tomatoes and cheese,” he says. “Many side effects were attributed to MSG but there is no evidence that it causes any harm. “ Dr Thu agrees that MSG is safe, but adds a caveat. “We should remember that the MSG in soy sauce, fish sauce, etc. contains an amount of sodium,” she says. “For example, MSG contains one-third the sodium amount of salt, hence only consume a moderate amount of it daily.” For a healthy traditional Vietnamese meal, Yvon says we need to look no further than pho. “Pho is one of the most balanced dishes I know. It contains carbs, good proteins (beef or chicken), little fat, a lot of water, a lot of dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals (herbs and vegetables) and antioxidants (spices, chili, lemon). “ There is one more reason why the traditional Vietnamese diet is healthy, which has nothing to do with the food itself, Yvon notes. “The way of eating food is also a very important factor that can influence the nutritional value,” he says. “Eating with chopsticks, using multiple dishes, and sharing with people allows you to eat more slowly, to chew the food longer and in the end causes a better digestion and assimilation of nutrients, without overloading the digestive system. “Therefore, the social and cultural aspect of eating Vietnamese food is [one] reason why eating Vietnamese food is healthy.” — Peter Scott | January 2017 Word | 87

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THE POWER OF HABIT Making substantial, lasting change in our lives has several aspects. One key element is recognising bad habits and replacing them with new ones. Words by Nick Ross and Peter Scott

shown in time-lapse videos, changing habits actually rewires the brain. The old circuits wither, and the new circuits grow, like building muscles in the gym. So when two of our featured interviewees, Ironman trainer Todd Gilmore and restaurateur Robin Babu decided to change ingrained habits and become much fitter, they were not just changing their bodies, but their brain chemistry as well. We also recount the story of Ha Minh, whose implacable desire to change gender faced opposition from society as well as difficulties with abandoning her learned habits as a male.

Broad View


ead through the stories on the previous pages and you’ll notice a common thread — the concept of change. When Linda, who we mention in the introduction, dropped law in favour of stand-up comedy, she was doing no more than changing career. Being a chameleon was instinctive; it was a natural behaviour, as was following her dreams and her desires. However, throughout her life there was other change she was unable to make, change that came from more negative, deeplying patterns of behaviour. In particular, was her propensity to overeat. Despite periods of losing 20kg or 30kg, she could never keep it off and over time always returned to her obese state. Her stumbling block was her ability to change behavioural patterns. This would have required her to alter deep-set subconscious habits that she had developed as a child and a young adult. In a sense, we’re all Linda. We have our good habits and bad habits, learned responses to external triggers. We get stressed, we reach for a cigarette; the person next door starts playing some awful music at volume 11, and we reach for an imaginary machine gun. We share many beliefs about ourselves — ask anyone, and they will tell you that they have a terrible memory, good judgment and a terrific sense of humour. To change habits and beliefs requires unlearning those automatic responses and that first means recognising them.

Changing Patterns

Habits can be anything from shooting

up heroin, to constant complaining, procrastinating or feeling unloved. There are also behaviours which are unfamiliar which we would like to turn into habits — eating healthy food, praising ourselves, or learning compassion and forgiveness. In the words of British therapist Marisa Peer, we need to “make the familiar unfamiliar, and the unfamiliar familiar.” So when we criticize ourselves, she says, flip that around, and make self-praise the familiar behaviour and self-criticism the unfamiliar one. It’s not always easy to spot a habit, as we have conditioned ourselves into believing that it’s normal or even “right”. The talented employee who is always 30 minutes late to meetings doesn’t believe their lateness is caused by a habit. It’s always the traffic, a trivial fault with their motorbike, a lost shoe, an unexpected meeting with a friend. They justify the lateness with excuses to avoid looking squarely at the habit. But once we recognise how most of what we do is habitual, change becomes possible, and easier than we thought. What we have learned, we can unlearn.

Building Muscle

As the American author Charles Duhigg notes in The Power of Habit: “Once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom — and the responsibility — to remake them. Once you understand that habits can be rebuilt, the power becomes easier to grasp, and the only option left is to get to work.” Moreover, these changes are not trivial. As the neuroscientist Dr. Joe Dispenza has

Even if you have overcome all your bad habits, it is probable that those around you are not so lucky. Habits exist in families, in schools and in companies, where it’s known as “corporate culture”. Paul O’Neill, who took over as CEO at the faltering aluminium manufacturer Alcoa in 1987, horrified investors in his first speech by saying he would make worker safety his priority. They reported there was “a crazy hippie” in charge of the company who would destroy it. But profits reached a record high the next year, and net income increased five-fold over the next decade. O’Neill later highlighted the importance of understanding habit: “I knew I had to transform Alcoa. But you can’t order people to change. So I decided I was going to start by focusing on one thing. If I could start disrupting the habits around one thing, it would spread throughout the entire company.” The squabbles at the family meal, office politics and staffroom arguments are all forms of habitual behaviour, and so lend themselves to analysis and improvement. Habits are everywhere and so is the potential for betterment. It’s not always easy. Dispenza says that habits are akin to addictions, so that even if we know that compassion towards others is a good trait to acquire, that old resentment we used to harbour still feels good, like that calming first drag of a cigarette. If you, too, have the ability to overcome your demons and change your habits, then change is truly possible. The only person holding yourself back is you. As Linda would say: “If you get given a lemon, make lemonade”. | January 2017 Word | 89


The Rise of Craft Over the past two years, craft beer has exploded on the market. But who’s drinking it and will Vietnamese drinkers get on board? Words by Matt Cowan and Edward Dalton. Photos by Mike Palumbo and Julie Vola

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he last few years in beer in Vietnam have been a whirlwind. First came the explosion of beer clubs which announced the arrival of a maturing market between the ages of 18 to 35 looking to drink beer, but in a different way. It was new, and it was very loud, but the product was the same. Now it’s craft beer on the rise, driven for the most part by expat brewers who have worked out that Vietnamese drinkers are ready to drink something new and in a completely different environment. There are already at least 10 craft beer brands in Ho Chi Minh City, up from zero in 2013. In Hanoi, there are close to six with that number set to rise even further. While regular craft beer drinkers in both cities are familiar with what’s available and where to get it, newcomers to craft beer, often Vietnamese, are less so, and this is the target segment craft brewers are looking to convert.

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Creating Value The marketing tactics being employed by craft breweries in Vietnam make for some interesting analysis. A lot of planning goes into concepts that aim to tempt drinkers away from their regular drink towards craft beer. In countries like Vietnam where cheap beer is plentiful everywhere, this is challenging. Why should someone who’s happy drinking Tiger for VND20,000 start drinking something they’re unfamiliar with for four or five times the price? This is when marketers talk of “value propositions” and how companies create value for target customers. Craft breweries will always find it tough to create value in the eyes of blinkered customers who are looking for cheap beer and nothing else. However, the smart brew pub, rather than ignoring this segment, will have something up its sleeve to tempt those who are tightfisted to at least give craft beer a go.

For example, one of Biacraft’s strategies for tempting its target demographic — Vietnamese males aged from 25 to 35 years old — is to make craft beer as accessible as possible in price, location and taste. It offers beers starting at VND40,000, including samplers which are cheaper. This is not a high mark-up, and as brewer Tomas Bilgram of Furbrew in Hanoi says: “There are plenty of cheap beers out there already for people who just want to get drunk, but good beer needs good ingredients, lots of love and some playful experimentation.” Because quality craft beer is difficult to produce on a small budget, Furbrew targets beer lovers at the high end of the market. Plus, they only brew small batches, including one-offs and seasonal beers. Furbrew experiments using a combination of high-quality imported essentials with local ingredients. There aren’t too many places where you can find beers made using seahorse, squid ink and hand-cleaned

“Furbrew experiments using a combination of high-quality imported essentials with local ingredients. There aren’t too many places where you can find beers made using seahorse, squid ink and hand-cleaned fish-sauce salt crystals” | January 2017 Word | 93

“[East West Brewing Co.] hopes to have an immediate impact on the culture of Vietnamese drinking which has been more about getting drunk and enjoying friendship rather than appreciation of beer itself”

fish-sauce salt crystals. At Heart of Darkness in Ho Chi Minh City, they’re also positioning themselves as a premium beer brand. Their raw ingredients are imported, their brewer is from New Zealand, and their brewery is state of the art. “I think we have a fair price point and we believe in our price point,” says John Pemberton, a co-founder of Heart of Darkness. “We’ve invested a lot of time and money making sure our product lives up to the premium brand we market ourselves as.” Despite perceptions, drinking at craft beer pubs like Heart of Darkness won’t break the bank because they offer a range of beers in different sizes that vary in price. Besides, the idea behind craft beer is quality over quantity. Smaller breweries like 7 Bridges Brewing Co. and Long Bien Brew in Hanoi, who are now coming into the market, are following an unoriginal but logical strategy by offering premium beers along with what industry insiders call ‘entry-level’ beers designed to nurture the tastebuds of newcomers to craft. “Mass-produced beers are like plain white bread. Anyone can enjoy it, but no

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one craves it,” says Simon Johansson, one of the three co-founders of 7 Bridges Brewing Co. “Our beers won’t be made for everyone to love each one, they’ll go in different directions.” Over at Long Bien Brew, founder and brewer Andrew Kirwan says that he’s already getting positive feedback from Vietnamese drinkers on his range of beers, which include an IPA, a stout, an Irish red ale, a Scottish amber ale, and a German wheat beer. “I’m going for a balance between sweet and bitter, as the bitterness of many craft beers often masks the overall flavour.” Back at Biacraft there are 30 taps and 40 different beers on rotation at any given time. At Heart of Darkness, they have 20 taps showcasing their offerings. This means that venues can cater for entry-level drinkers all the way through to seasoned ale professionals. Given the Vietnamese palate for beer is said to be different from that of nonVietnamese, this is a smart strategy. One of the brains behind Biacraft’s strategy, Albin Deforges, says that it’s needed a lot of

patience, research, and trust in his gut to get where his company is now. “Our marketing was initially based on our knowledge of the Vietnamese market for beer. Then we opened a teaser in District 2, which gave us greater insights into the market, followed by the establishment of Quan Ut Ut, which has worked as a tasting ground for our beers. What we discovered was that our Vietnamese customers were ready to try something different.” Biacraft selected its second location in District 3 to increase the likelihood of capturing their target demographic. It’s located just off Cach Mang Thang Tam in a quiet street. There are a number of coffee shops and traditional Vietnamese restaurants in the area, where Biacraft’s target demographic is likely to go. It makes perfect sense to plonk a pub right where they’re likely to hang out anyway. East West Brewing Co. in Ho Chi Minh City, while not up and running yet, have located themselves thick in the heart of their target demographic, too. Like Heart of Darkness, it’s located on

Ly Tu Trong, a block or so from Ben Thanh Market, and is hoping to capture the higher end of the Vietnamese market and tourists in the area. East West, as its name suggests, will target Asian and Western customers with its beer and food menus. It hopes to have an immediate impact on the culture of Vietnamese drinking which has been more about getting drunk and enjoying friendship rather than appreciation of beer itself.

Same But Different With so many beer offerings, exotic names, and flavours for the average drinker to remember, craft beer as a concept runs a risk of losing value. The temptation to call any of the beers just “craft beer” is too great. So what are some of the things craft breweries are doing to create brand recognition to differentiate themselves? 7 Bridges Brewing Co. draws inspiration from the famous bridges which span Danang’s rivers. “Our Fire IPA incorporates local tastes like chilli, ginger and other spices, and is inspired by the fire-breathing dragon bridge in Danang,” says Simon of 7 Bridges. | January 2017 Word | 95

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f , the origin o s s r e d a e r id v “For a s name need rs s e n k r a D f o Heart here are bee lly, T … n io t c u d no intro e, Pitiless Fo ith n a s In ’s z t r u such as K eval Forest, wtch” im r P d n a , e Sacred Fir reative images to ma c For avid readers, the origin of Heart of Darkness name needs no introduction. It’s apparent that co-founder John Pemberton is keen to push brand recognition hard, something done by naming beers after characters and imagery in the novel from which his brewery gets its name. There are beers such as Kurtz’s Insane, Pitiless Folly, Sacred Fire, and Primeval Forest, with creative images to match. Unlike Biacraft, which has positioned itself as a place where customers know they can try almost any craft beer brewed in Vietnam, Heart of Darkness sells only its own beer on the ground floor of its Ly Tu Trong venue. For Heart of Darkness, aside from choice and variety, another important aspect of its brand recognition strategy is about

education, not just for new drinkers, but for staff as well. “We want our staff to be able to talk our customers through the experience of having one of our beers and ensure they don’t get wiped out in the process,” says John. “It’s important for someone having their first craft beer experience to enjoy it, so they’ll come back.” Heart of Darkness has also been able to partner with P4G, the sub-brand of the popular Pizza 4Ps, to provide food for customers different from other breweries. While East West plans to offer its customers dining as well as drinking, they will be the only venue that brews its own beer onsite. Customers will be able to dine on Asian and Western food while watching the next batch

of beer brew. That’s something East West’s Trung Dau is excited about. “It’s kind of like a new revolution in drinking. It’s just the beginning. It’s going to be great in the future.” Whatever the marketing strategy, whatever the plan, how the rise of craft beer in Vietnam plays out will continue to be interesting and attract attention outside the country. The exciting thing for brewers here is that Vietnam is embracing craft beer and creating an environment for experimentation, which can only mean good things for the continued rise of craft beer into the future. To read more about Heart of Darkness and East West Brewing Company, turn to pages 12 and 20 | January 2017 Word | 97

Food and Drink EAT & DRINK


Breakfast in Hanoi When you don’t want pho, where do you go for your morning food fix? Words by Mignon Van Zyl. Photos by Sasha Arefieva


he thought of eating a steaming bowl of beef noodle soup first thing in the morning is not everyone’s idea of the ideal breakfast, especially foreigners whose tastes lie more in the direction of bacon and eggs, waffles or croissants. Here are some options if you want to give noodle soup a break.

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Bancong Deli 18 Quang Khanh, Tay Ho, Hanoi Many people agree that one of the key ingredients to a memorable breakfast is crispy, flavourful bacon. Head to Bancong Deli and that’s what you’ll get. All their bacon and ham is smoked in their selfmade brick smoker on the deli’s rooftop. Catering to Western breakfast palates, the brunch menu includes: full English breakfast (VND130,000), American-style pancakes (VND110,000), vegetarian

breakfast (VND90,000), corn fritter stack (VND120,000), sweet or savoury French toast (VND110,000) and granola with natural yoghurt (VND110,000). We tried the eggs Benedict — soft poached eggs with sautéed watercress on a toasted English muffin, homemade Hollandaise sauce and smoky rind bacon (VND90,000) —the bacon was the star of the meal. Bancong’s quiet location provides an intimate alternative to the usual chaotic street-eating experience. Great for an undisturbed meal with a partner or close friend. Brunch is served all day.

Don’s — A Chef’s Bistro 16 Quang An, Tay Ho, Hanoi Vietnam meets Canada at Don’s — A Chef’s Bistro. Originally from Montreal, owner Don’s breakfast menu reflects typical Montreal dishes. We savoured every bite of the lotus blossom tea smoked salmon on a toasted bagel with Philly cream cheese, shaved onion, capers, potato pancake and salad (VND199,000). The salmon is imported from the Faroe Islands and is as fresh as it gets. If you’re feeling particularly hungry try

the Canadian breakfast (VND179,000) with two eggs, toast, bacon, sausage, ham, potato hash browns, baked beans, tomato gratin and fresh fruit. Anything with a bagel is also recommended as Don is a bagel fanatic (by virtue of his Canadian roots) so the bagels are top-notch. This is the kind of place you visit to splurge on quality food that’ll be worth every cent. Breakfast is served daily from 9am to 3pm and includes free Illy coffee or tea. | January 2017 Word | 99

Hanoi Social Club 6 Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi Alternative ingredients for alternative diets is part of what makes Hanoi Social Club so popular. The breakfast menu is no different. The polenta quinoa porridge with pistachios, dried apricots, blackcurrants, cream and other seasonal fruits (VND120,000) is a must-try. The mix of polenta and quinoa creates a gooey consistency that’s both nutritious and delicious. Also on the menu is bircher muesli (VND85,000), black rice and chia pudding (VND110,000), various breads with homemade jam (VND50,000), avocado and ricotta on sourdough toast (VND120,000), poached eggs on toast with morning glory (VND100,000), potato fritters and chorizo (VND140,000), spiced french toast (VND130,000) and croissant with jam (VND30,000). Be warned, a full breakfast belly combined with the laid-back atmosphere and cosy set up might have you lingering until lunch time.

home38 38 Quang Ba, Tay Ho, Hanoi For an inexpensive, straightforward and simple English breakfast look no further than home38. One of only two Western restaurants on this street, it’s a peaceful spot that overlooks a lotus pond (dammed off from Tay Ho lake) and serves quality food. The full English breakfast with two fried eggs, imported British sausage, bacon, grilled tomato, Heinz baked beans, hash browns and two slices of thick homemade toast (VND110,000) is reminiscent of a wholesome, home-cooked meal. There’s also the bacon butty (VND60,000), full veggie breakfast (VND90,000), light breakfast (VND60,000), light veggie breakfast (VND60,000) and French toast with honey (VND35,000). Breakfast is served all day. If you’re after some good comfort food, this is where you’ll find it.

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Maison de Têt Décor Villa 156 Tu Hoa, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho, Hanoi There’s something about a healthy, organic meal that leaves you feeling in top form. Add to that a French villa and a holistic approach to both food and service and you’ll get the full Maison de Têt Décor experience. Their smashed avocado on toast with feta, roast tomato, rocket, mint, olive oil and lemon (VND180,000) looks simple but it’s the fresh ingredients and familiar flavours that make it one of Maison’s top sellers. Other popular breakfast dishes include the lemon soufflé pancakes (VND150,000), gluten-free breads (VND80,000), breakfast bowls (VND120,000) and smoked salmon Benedict (VND160,000). A meal at Maison would not be complete without one of their on-site micro batch roasted coffees. The Heaven blend is a favourite — a combination of Colombia Arabica, Sumatra Arabica, Vietnam Arabica and Vietnam Robusta. | January 2017 Word | 101

Oven D’or Sheraton Hanoi Hotel, K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi If you enjoy a buffet style breakfast then we recommend trying the Sheraton Hotel’s Sunday brunch (VND1.1 million). It costs more than what you’d usually pay for breakfast/brunch but the array of food choices and the five-star dining experience makes it worthwhile. Options include Canadian lobster claw, baked lobster, French oysters, Nha Trang oysters, three kinds of smoked fish, steamed flower crab, Japanese sushi and sashimi, a selection of cold cut chorizo, dried sausage, white ham, salami, pastrami and saucisson, imported cheese, salads, soups, BBQ meat, foie gras terrine and more. We tasted the prime rib with potato and melted Swiss cheese and a mixed garden salad. The meat was cooked to perfection (soft but not bloody nor chewy) and the potato and cheese combination was comfort food at its best. We’d recommend treating yourself to this classic dining experience. Brunch is every Sunday from 11.30am to 3pm.

Panam Creperie 26 Truong Han Sieu, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi “When I returned home from my studies in France, I was craving a crepe so bad,” says co-owner Linh Dang. “There was only one place that sold them in West Lake but it was too far to drive. We wanted to open a place that served crepes in the centre of Hanoi.” And so Panam Creperie was born. Crispier than a pancake but just as versatile, crepes are a great option for breakfast. We had the classic savoury crepe, the Campagnarde, with bacon lardon, egg, mushrooms in a cream sauce and a side salad (VND125,000). Quintessential French flavours in a dish that’s big enough to share, what’s not to love? There’s a variety of both sweet and savoury dishes on the menu, including Forestière (ham, egg, mushrooms in cream sauce, tomatoes and Emmental cheese —VND150,000) and Pomme d’Armour (salted butter caramel and caramelised apple — VND85,000). The set brunch menu (VND150,000) is available daily from 10.30am to 2pm and includes a savoury pancake and dessert or a salad and dessert. Panam is frequented by embassy folk for its food, elegant decor and Parisin-Vietnam feel.

The Republic 7A Quang An, Tay Ho, Hanoi Although thought of as more of a place to go to in the evenings, The Republic’s all-day breakfast menu and lake views is rather appealing for a morning meal. The Republic egg muffin with crispy bacon, any style eggs, cheddar cheese and hash browns (VND100,000) is an easy-to-eat and light option. My definition of a flawless poached egg is determined by the speed at which the egg yolk seeps out after it’s been cut into. Our yolks didn’t run, they danced. Other

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options are the healthy start (fruit, muesli, yogurt, etc. — VND100,000), blueberry and banana pancakes (VND140,000), eggs Benedict (VND190,000), The Republic omelette (VND150,000), The “Bomb” (poached eggs on toasted sourdough rye with smashed avocado, baby feta and hollandaise — VND160,000) and The “Stack” (veggie fritter, baby spinach, smoked salmon, poached egg, goats cheese and hollandaise — VND180,000).

Xofa Café 14 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi Located on the busy ‘street food street’, Xofa Café is one of the only cafés in Hanoi that’s open 24 hours a day. Frequented by night owls and freelancers, Xofa invites customers to make themselves at home and even allows them to sleep on their sofas (blankets are provided). If you’re a fan of breakfast at 3am then this is the place for you. The healthy breakfast with muesli, fresh milk, fresh fruit salad, butter and jam (VND88,000)

is a light and fresh option if you’re not craving eggs. Other choices include a full breakfast (VND140,000), scrambled eggs (VND75,000), ham and cheese omelette (VND120,000) and vegetable omelette (VND68,000). There’s a relaxed and inviting atmosphere here and the outside courtyard area is great for a kitchen tea or business breakfast meeting. | January 2017 Word | 105

Food and Drink



India Palace India Palace has a reputation for good food, but is that enough to keep our mystery diner happy? Photos by Sasha Arefieva


ndia Palace is squeezed between some of West Lake’s most popular restaurants. If you weren’t paying attention, you could easily walk right past the narrow, four-storey white building. Inside, pale peach-coated walls, dark wood trimmings and a couple of black-framed artworks challenge my ideas of what an Indian restaurant is supposed to look like. What India Palace lacks in décor is made up for in the food. The menu is extensive, with a variety of starters, kebabs, rice, vegetarian curries, non-vegetarian curries, bread, juices, salads and desserts. Familiar dishes such as vegetable samosa (VND50,000), chicken tikka kebabs

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(VND115,000), mixed vegetable curry (VND85,000) and mutton vindaloo (VND139,000) are on the menu. But there are also many items that are less familiar, including aloo tikki (VND60,000), dhaba da gosht (VND139,000) and lacha paratha (VND49,000). Short descriptions in the menu explain that many of these are northern and southern Indian specialities.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Get A menu like this can be overwhelming for someone who isn’t very familiar with Indian food. For me, having to risk choosing something new and regretting it later was too stressful. My answer

was to ask the waitress for a recommendation. “Do you like hot or mild,” she asked. “Do you want meat or are you a vegetarian?” A good place to start. I settled on the gobi manchurian (VND70,000) as a starter and the chicken kesar badam (VND119,000) with plain pilau (VND69,000) as a main and a glass of house red wine (VND95,000) to wash it all down. The starter, an Indian-Chinese dish, consisted of fried cauliflower florets covered in a spicy red sauce and was served with a mint-yogurt side. It was hot. The kind of hot that makes your lips feel numb — in my opinion, the best kind of hot. There was more than enough to


13.5 FOOD





share and it paired well with the (cold but good) house red wine. The only problem was that the mains came soon afterwards so there wasn’t much time to enjoy the dish properly. Going from spicy to mild was not the best idea. After the gobi manchurian, it was difficult to taste the saffron-flavoured cashew and almond sauce of my chicken kesar badam. I’m sure that with a milder starter, the main would have been appreciated more, but my taste buds were far too fired up. My friend’s chicken tikka masala (VND119,000) with garlic naan (VND40,000) on the other hand was a far better followup. The creamy tomato and spicy

masala worked well with the crispy and salty garlic naan. The chicken in both dishes was moist and tender, but the masala sauce was the winner. Dessert choices included gulab jamum (a milk-solid based dessert with cardamom and saffron flavoured syrup, VND55,000), kulfi (Indian home made ice cream, VND55,000) and carrot halwa (a dessert made from grated carrots, sugar, milk, nuts and ghee, VND55,000). I chose the carrot halwa and was happy with it. It was small enough to enjoy after a big meal yet large enough to satisfy a sweet tooth. And who can feel guilty for eating a dessert that has carrots as its main ingredient?

Overall, I think India Palace is a good restaurant. The service is good and so is the food. What’s missing is the ambience. The “traditional Indian culture with warm and soothing interiors to the classical Indian tunes” mentioned on the website was absent. It was a Wednesday evening and we were the only people in the restaurant. So perhaps that had something to do with it. It’s a pity but it also speaks to India Palace’s potential. The most important part of any restaurant is the food and India Palace has that well covered. With a décor face lift and perhaps some incense, this could become my favourite Indian restaurant.

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



Nem Chua Nuong It’s cold and you need to warm up. So what better way to beat the winter chills than a dish of fermented pork sausage? Words by Huyen Tran. Photos by Teigue John Blokpoel


n the cold of a Hanoi winter, it is easy to find street vendors selling a variety of winter specialities such as grilled corn, fried bread sticks, boiled snails, fried banana cakes and grilled fermented pork sausage. In particular, Vietnamese fermented pork sausage or nem chua is a favourite among young Hanoians. And as famous as the cheap bia hoi at the international crossroad Ta Hien, nem chua joints nearby have become a place where young Hanoians and foreign tourists head for the best nem chua in town. Wandering around Ly Quoc Su in the Old Quarter of an evening, you will encounter the appetizing aroma of sizzling fermented pork roll grilled on barbecue over charcoals.

Sweet and sour The aroma will lead you to nem chua joints hidden in an alley on Au Trieu where people squeeze into the tiny space, sitting on tiny plastic stools at dimly-lit stalls enjoying grilled and fried nem chua. This dish combines sweet and sour tastes, spiced up by local home-made chilli sauce. Plates of nem chua are paired with fruits, like green mango, jicama and various types of grilled

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dried fish or fried potatoes. Nem chua is a meat roll made from rustic ingredients, including ground pork thigh, minced pork skin, chilli, garlic, fish sauce, sugar, salt, which is pressed, then cured and fermented by tender fig or guava leaves until ready, with no cooking needed. Being a traditional snack across Vietnam, nem chua differs from place to place. Most versions of Vietnamese nem chua can be distinguished by the name of the area it originated from, such as nem chua Thanh Hoa, nem chua Khanh Hoa, etc. Nem chua Thanh Hoa is particularly favoured by northern people, including Hanoians, thanks to its flavour of a sour taste and subtle fragrance.

Inventive It is said that many years ago, there was a vendor selling snacks for schoolchildren on Ly Quoc Su. One winter day, while the vendor was grilling a dried fish, a boy with a nem chua in his hand asked the lady to heat up the nem chua for him. Both were then surprised by the awesome taste of the grilled nem chua. That is supposed to be the origin of the famous nem chua nuong on Au Trieu Alley. And for more than 15 years, Au Trieu

has become famous thanks to Nem Chua Nuong Phuong (named after one of the two stall owners). While you may take time to appreciate the sticky texture of nem chua nuong, you will be immediately taken in by the tasty and hot nem chua ran, with the crispy coat and hot and tender fillings. Served on a banana leaf with local chilli sauce, potatoes and fruit, plates of nem chua replenish the body during the winter cold. Making the taste even better, the stalls offer iced tea with lime. For many years, this combination has been said to be the best snack for Hanoi’s bitter winter. Open from around 2pm, the nem chua restaurant in the tiny alleyway becomes crowded in the evening, until it closes around midnight. Besides young locals gathering for snacks and chitchat, you’ll notice a lot of travellers sitting on tiny chairs tasting this special local food. Nem Chua Nuong Phuong on Au Trieu alley is open from 2pm until midnight. Each plate of nem chua is VND50,000. Lime tea is VND12,000 per cup. Note: There are two different nem chua joints in the alley — Nem Chua Nuong Phuong is the one with tiny blue plastic stools | January 2017 Word | 109

Food and Drink



Social Club Located in Hotel des Arts, the restaurant and lounge bar, Social Club, comes with top-end clout (and a swimming pool). So what did our mystery diner make of it all? Photos by Mike Palumbo


his is going to sound odd, but Social Club may lay claim to serving the best fries in town. It sounds odd because it’s a top-end restaurant on the 23rd floor of five-star property Hotel des Arts in Ho Chi Minh City. Not your regular burger and fries joint. The black pepper parmesan fries with truffle dip (VND150,000) are a fantastic starter for two. Sure, dip anything in truffle and it’s going to taste divine, but what Social Club serves up had me questioning whether I was ever going to be able to eat fries without it again. Our waitress for the evening was more than happy to give us two servings of the truffle dip gratis so

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we could finish off the fries in style. In fact, her service was friendly and accommodating all evening. Even when we had a slight problem with one of our dishes, which was no more than a miscommunication, she was able to sort it out with the kitchen and arrive at a speedy resolution without any drama. Social Club claims to be stylish and vibrant and a place that brings a new sense of sophistication and swagger to Ho Chi Minh City. Most of that is true, but where it falls down on that claim is that it can be rather loud. This isn’t a problem if you’ve come with a small group after work and are taking advantage of happy hour where all drinks are 50% off from 5.30pm to 8.30pm.

Open for Business When the two of us arrived just before 8pm, the place sounded more like a department store cafeteria at lunchtime than a sophisticated fine dining lounge. At times we had to yell at one another across the table just to ask what each of us was ordering. Part of the problem is the open-plan kitchen where the chefs are in full view and making cheftype noises. The bell on the counter they ring when the food is ready is particularly annoying. For a quieter and more relaxing space, guests can retreat to the opposite side of the restaurant where smokers light up their cigars from Social Club’s stash. Their cigars range in price from VND780,000 to







VND1.2 million. I’m not a smoker so that wasn’t an option. Still, any anxiety that had built up from the grating sounds filling the dining room was soon alleviated with a Love & Day cocktail (VND250,000) made from Mount Gay rum mixed with lime and pineapple. Its tropical flavour teleported my thoughts to the calm of a Barbadian tropical isle complete with metal drums.

The Best in Town I ordered the 200g grass-fed Charolais beef tenderloin (VND700,000). It came out looking very small alongside a sautéed onion and some spinach, but it was cooked medium, just how I’d requested. Unfortunately, it turned out to be

tough around the edges. But maybe I was being picky because of the food envy I was beginning to have with my companion’s choice. She’d chosen the pork belly with baby calamari and roasted bell pepper (VND290,000). On her first taste she was already on world record pace for the number of OMGs counted in the space of a minute. When I managed to get a taste of it, I understood. The pork belly was crispy, tender and juicy. It was loaded with flavour thanks to its pairing with baby calamari and smoky bell peppers, and a sauce encircling the whole dish. Without a doubt this was the best pork belly I’ve had. It’s one of those dishes that can turn a scowl

into a smile very quickly. This dish alone is worth a visit to Social Club. Because I’m a non-smoker, but wanted to pretend, we ordered the Crispy Cigar (VND180,000) to share, a cannoli dessert which is a clever play on the gentleman’s club theme Social Club is trying to cultivate. Thankfully smoking doesn’t taste this good. Dinner for two will set you back around VND2 million at Social Club, but there’s an option to spend a whole lot more if you’re a whisky drinker or cigar connoisseur. Couples would do well to reserve the table by the window. Social Club is on the 23rd floor of Hotel des Arts at 76-78 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3, HCMC. For reservations, call (08) 3989 8888

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

Food and Drink

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Mi Hoanh Thanh Thanks to the large Chinese minority living in Saigon, mi hoanh thanh, or egg noodles with wonton, have become a local mainstay. Words by James Fircks. Photos by Vu Ha Kim Vy


mong the myriad restaurants and stalls in Ho Chi Minh City selling Vietnamese staples like pho, bun bo Hue and mi quang are places selling out-and-out Chinese dishes, a legacy of the long shared history of the two countries, and the presence of a million-strong ethnic Chinese minority. One dish in particular is mi hoanh thanh. Mi hoanh thanh is a wonton noodle soup that’s Cantonese in origin, but can now be found in variations across Southeast Asia. Here in Ho Chi Minh City, the dish is prepared with steamed wontons of pork that sit in a hot broth with egg noodles, garnished with leafy vegetables, chopped spring onion and coriander. There are quite a few places in Districts 1 and 3 to go for this dish, but a friend suggested Hung Ky Mi Gia on Le Anh Xuan in District 1, which is just off Le

Thanh Ton, close to the New World Hotel. The place offers authentic Hong Kong cuisine, and has been doing it without falter for 16 years. At first the eatery seemed quite clinical — a bright, fluorescent rectangle with whitish tiles, metal tables and chairs, and a garish flower painted on the back wall. Six fans droned in unison and the quiet chatter of a few patrons floated around the room.

Enticement Yet there was charm. Every employee was smiling and the customers looked happy and relaxed. Steam rose from the kitchen to the left and the hearty aromas enticed. Sometimes it’s easy to mistake functionality with lack of character. The food came hot and fast, and no time was wasted adding the recommended soy and chilli paste to the brimming bowl.

The wontons were biggish and slippery, and took some cunning and skill with the chopsticks to eat with the noodles and vegetables. The flavours and textures came through; the seasoned pork in the soft wonton hit first, then the fresh cut of vegetables, onion and coriander, and finally the salty starch of the egg noodles to round it off. After a few questions it appeared that mi hoanh thanh, although popular among Vietnamese, isn’t that well known in the expat community. That’s a pity, because it’s an excellent lunch or breakfast choice for a dreary day that’ll fill you up, keep you warm, and is full of those sensuous flavours typical of the cuisine in this country. Hung Ky Mi Gia is at 36 on Le Anh Xuan, Q1, HCMC. A bowl of mi hoanh thanh is VND65,000 | January 2017 Word | 113



H r e v e r o F

n A oi


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Matt Cowan visits Hoi An and asks the question: How much more tourism can the most popular destination in Vietnam take? Photos by Mike Palumbo


oi An remains arguably Vietnam’s most popular tourist destination. Situated on the central coast by the banks of the Thu Bon River, it needs very little introduction. Once a major trading port dating back to the 15th century, its old town is recognised as being of significant cultural heritage and was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1999. Even if you haven’t been there, you’ve most likely heard of it. It’s not hard to understand why Hoi An is such a draw. In the old town, there are houses dating back 500 years, and at night, lanterns illuminating the narrow streets bounce warm light off the butterscotchcoloured walls of the houses lulling even the least sentimental of us into enchantment. But are we loving Hoi An to death?

History and Architecture Word readers recently ranked history and architecture as the two best reasons for visiting Hoi An. This comes as no surprise. No other town or city in Vietnam can lay claim to the effect it has on its visitors like Hoi An can through its architecture and its atmosphere. Who can deny sensing the romance as paper lanterns are released from Hoi An bridge in the evenings? As far as impact, Hanoi perhaps comes closest, since Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s largest city, has embarked headlong on a journey into modernity that has little time for the past. Although Hanoi is also struggling to balance the needs of the present with the heritage of the past. In Hoi An, French colonial-era architecture stands alongside Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese structures. In Ho Chi Minh City, they are being torn down in favour of characterless office blocks and apartment complexes. Indeed, our survey revealed Hoi An’s effect on travellers as 33% of readers who

responded indicated they felt happier compared to usual during their last stay in Hoi An, and 15% felt less stressed. Perhaps one of the main reasons for this is Hoi An’s most recognisable site, and most photographed, the iconic wooden and stone Japanese Bridge at the intersection of Tran Phu and Bach Dang streets in the old town. Said to have been constructed around the 1590s to connect the Japanese and Chinese quarters of Hoi An, the bridge is one of those sites that no matter how many times you’ve

visited the old town, it’s reassuring to see it’s still standing and in reasonable condition. Its faded pink abutments offer a delightful contrast to the surroundings on either bank. However, the downside is that with beauty comes attraction. Stealing a photograph of the bridge these days without a selfie sticktoting tourist bombing it, is rare in itself. It also has the highest concentration of touts in the old town pestering people to buy useless plastic knick-knacks. The latest is a spinning disco ball-type top.

“It’s not hard to understand why Hoi An is such a draw. There are houses dating back 500 years, and at night, lanterns illuminating the narrow streets bounce warm light off the butterscotchcoloured walls of the houses”

Nevertheless, the bridge remains a charming landmark (despite the stagnant water beneath) and a reminder of the positive impact immigrants and traders have had on Vietnam over the centuries. The concern for the bridge now, however, is whether it can withstand the hordes of tourists trampling over it for much longer. There are already rumours circulating that there are plans to dismantle it for restoration. Equally photogenic are the terraced houses in the old town, which escaped unscathed during the war. It’s hard not to stop wishing you owned one for yourself. Whatever the time of day or year, they’re not only uplifting, but they offer a fleeting glimpse into the mood of life centuries ago without having to actually visit a museum. There are reportedly over a thousand of such timber-framed structures in Hoi An, including monuments, the market, the quay, pagodas and family homes. Their tiled roofs and carved wooden motifs add yet another layer of curiosity. Some of the more famous houses are Duc An House (129 Tran Phu), Tan Ky House (101 Nguyen Thia Hoc) and Phung Hung

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House (4 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai). Yet their beauty, like the Japanese bridge, may actually be contributing to a decline in the old town’s authenticity. There’s concern among locals that since Hoi An has became a highlight of a visit to Vietnam, non-local investors have bought up most of the properties to cash-in on tourism. Some say this has lead to a cultural shift among remaining local residents who have had to discontinue traditional ways of earning a living for something else. Some have found the offers for their properties too irresistible to refuse and have simply sold up and left Hoi An. Local youth have fewer options for employment despite the growth in tourism. These changes are noticeable when you walk down the streets of the old town. It’s rare to see an artisan at work as business houses have been converted into coffee shops, restaurants, tailors and bars. It’s also believed to be having an impact on the quality of stay at guesthouses and B&Bs. With the inception of homestay networks like Airbnb allowing residential property owners to rent out their lodgings, it’s meant

that people inexperienced in hospitality can now become accommodation suppliers often with the effect of damaging the reputation of suppliers who are experienced hospitality professionals. Nowadays, a visit into the old town isn’t free. Visitors are expected to purchase a ticket (VND120,000) to gain entry into five heritage sites in the precinct. However, these tickets continue to raise the ire of tourists and locals alike as their method of sale, or at times lack thereof, remains bewildering. On the opposite bank of the old town on Nguyen Phuc Chu, official ticket sellers turned Word staff away who had intended to dine at one of the many restaurants on the street facing the old town. Because one was unable to produce a ticket, and the other refused to buy another one, one ticket seller turned nasty and suggested they leave despite an intention to spend considerably more money than the value of the ticket in the area.

Food It’s not only history and architecture that draw tourists to Hoi An. Food ranked as the

third best reason for visiting among Word readers who responded to our survey. In fact, 20% rated it the second best reason. Hoi An is renowned for its cuisine and is considered by many to have some of the best in Vietnam. The most famous local dish is cao lau, a noodle dish made from rice flour. Cao lau isn’t ubiquitous outside of Quang Nam province. While it’s available in other cities and provinces, its regarded to be of poorer quality mostly because authentic Hoi An cao lau is said to gain its distinctive texture and flavour from a freshwater aquifer beneath the town. There are believed to be at least 80 wells throughout Hoi An, which are thought to have been bored around the 10th century by the Cham. But perhaps the most famous and accessible is Ba Le Well off Phan Chau Trinh. It’s located about 50 metres down an alley behind a small shop and residence. The well itself is uneventful and those looking for a marker to identify it as ancient will be disappointed. But seeing is believing, and so is tasting. The water is surprisingly warm and if you were to describe water as

sweet, then that’s what the water from Ba Le well is. A good place to try out cao lau is at Hoi An market which runs from Tran Phu down to Bach Dang by the river. It’s busy most of the day and there are no less than 36 different vendors who do a great job at charming you to their stall. At Lieu’s, a bowl of cao lau with a plate of nem ran (fried spring rolls), banh xeo and a couple of drinks will set you back about VND120,000. Not bad for a tourist town. Another place that can’t go unmentioned is Madam Khanh’s banh mi at 115 Tran Cao Van. ‘The Queen of Banh Mi’ has got it all happening and appears to have wrested the mantle from Ms Phuong at 2B Phan Chau Trinh made famous by Anthony Bourdain’s visit a few years back. How? Now that would be something to find out. As for more formal dining, restaurants such as the well-known Mango Rooms (111 Nguyen Thai Hoc) add an interesting twist to local and pan-Vietnamese cuisine, while the more recently opened Bep1919 (108 Nguyen Thai Hoc) focuses on home-style

Reasons for Visiting Hoi An Respondents to our survey ranked the reasons for visiting Hoi An in the following order: 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8) 9) 10) 11) 12) 13)

History Architecture Food Environment Beach Exotic culture Cost Recommendation from others Tailors Romance (including weddings) Hospitality services Nightlife Close proximity to major airport

* No. of respondents = 60

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fare, adding to the already extensive range of dining options in the area. This is just the start of it. Cuisine in this town, whether it’s on the street or in a more formal dining environment, is a huge draw.

Environment and the Beach The environment and the beach were the next best reasons for visiting Hoi An according to Word readers responding to our survey; surprising given the highly publicised erosion issue with Cua Dai Beach. Not too long ago, Cua Dai Beach was beautiful. Now, much of it is sandbagged and resorts on the water have had breakwaters constructed to prevent further erosion. Vendors walking what’s left of the foreshore reminisce about the days when the surf was 100m from the shore. Tourists to Hoi An are fortunate enough, however, to have access to more than one stretch of sand. For now, this appears to be keeping travellers content. Word readers ranked the beach as the fifth best reason for visiting Hoi An, and 45% of them indicated that Hoi An had matched their expectations, with 38% indicating it exceeded them.

With Cua Dai’s fate seemingly sealed as a swimming destination, An Bang Beach a further 10 minutes north by motorbike is the next best option. There are also some very good dining options with The Hmong Sisters on the beach attracting excellent reviews. Still, concerns about the environment haven’t gone unnoticed. Environmental damage, too many tourists and development are the three biggest challenges facing Hoi An as a tourist destination according Word readers who responded to our survey. Anyone who has driven the stretch from Danang to Hoi An will testify to the scale of resort development underway. While the official number of tourists who visited Hoi An last year is unavailable to the general public, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has reported that over 9 million international tourists visited Vietnam this year, a 25% increase on 2015. And, according to our survey results, 60% would definitely return if given the opportunity, while 33% probably would. Clearly, Hoi An still has it as a tourist destination, but who knows for how long?

The Biggest Challenges Facing Hoi An In our recent survey we asked respondents about the issues that Hoi An has to overcome as a tourist destination. Ranked from one to 13, here is how they replied. 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8) 9) 10) 11) 12) 13)

Environmental damage Too many tourists Development Increasing costs Pollution Other destinations Too many sellers & touts Unprofessional business practices Transport Too many shops Too many hotels Not enough hotels Weather

* No. of respondents = 60 | January 2017 Word | 121


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

DALAT GREEN CITY HOTEL 172 Phan Dinh Phung, Dalat, Tel: (063) 382 7999

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

DALAT TRAIN VILLA Villa 3, 1 Quang Trung, Dalat, Tel: (063) 381 6365

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

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

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

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This enormous structure offers the most modern of amenities, and with four restaurants and two bars, the events staff is well equipped to handle any occasion. Close to the National Convention Center, and a favourite of the business traveller, Daewoo even boasts an outdoor driving range. Shortly to become a Marriot property. FORTUNA HOTEL HANOI 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3831 3333 This 350-room four-star set up in the heart of Hanoi’s financial district has a variety of rooms on offer, a “capital lounge” and three restaurants that serve Japanese, Chinese and international cuisine. And like you’d expect, there’s a fitness centre, night club and swimming pool, too, and even a separate spa and treatment facility for men and women. Set to the west of town, Fortuna often offers business deals on rooms and spaces to hold meetings, presentations and celebrations. HOTEL DE L’OPERA 29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 6282 5555 Resting just a step away from the Opera House, the hotel mixes colonial architectural accents and theatrical interior design to create a contemporary space. The first boutique five star in the heart of Hanoi, the lavish, uniquely designed 107 rooms and suites contain all the mod cons and are complimented by two restaurants, a bar and complimentary Wi-Fi. HILTON GARDEN INN HANOI 20 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel (04) 3944 9396 With 86 fully-equipped guestrooms and suites, this is the first Hilton Garden Inn property in Southeast Asia. Centrally located and a short stroll from the historic Old Quarter, the hotel offers a full service restaurant, a stylish bar, along with complimentary business and fitness centres making it perfect for the international business or leisure traveller. HILTON HANOI OPERA 1 Le Thanh Tong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3933 0500 Situated next to the iconic Hanoi Opera House and a short stroll from the Old Quarter, this five-star hotel is a Hanoi landmark. With 269 fully-equipped rooms and suites, there’s plenty for the discerning business and leisure traveller to choose from.

INTERCONTINENTAL HANOI WESTLAKE 1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6270 8888 This stunning property built over West Lake falls in between a hotel and a resort. Beautiful views, great balcony areas, comfortable, topend accommodation and all the mod-cons make up the mix here together with the resort’s three in-house restaurants and the Sunset Bar, a watering hole located on a thoroughfare over the lake. Great gym and health club. JW MARRIOTT HANOI 8, Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3833 5588 From the expressive architecture outside to the authentic signature JW Marriott services inside, this Marriott hotel in Hanoi is the new definition of contemporary luxury. Lies next door to the National Convention Centre. MAY DE VILLE OLD QUARTER 43/45/47 Gia Ngu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3933 5688 The largest four-star hotel in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, 110 rooms, a swimming pool, a top floor terrace bar and a location just a stone’s throw from Hoan Kiem Lake make this a great choice for anyone wanting a bit of luxury in the heart of the action. MELIA HANOI 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 3343 Excellently located in central Hanoi, Melia Hanoi draws plenty of business travellers and is also a popular venue for conferences and wedding receptions. State-of-the-art rooms, elegant restaurants, stylish bars, fully equipped fitness centre with sophisticated service always make in-house guests satisfied. MÖVENPICK HOTEL HANOI 83A Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3822 2800 With its distinctive French architecture and top end service, Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi is aimed squarely at corporate travellers. An allday restaurant and a lounge bar are available to satiate their clientele while the kinetic gym and wellness studio offer an excellent range of equipment. Massage and sauna facilities are available for guests seeking to rejuvenate. Of the 154 wellappointed rooms and suites, 93 are non-smoking. NOVOTEL SUITES 5 Duy Tan, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 3576 6666 Suites and apartments with all the mod cons and attrac-

tive décor you’d expect of an Accor property. Located close to My Dinh and 20 minutes from downtown Hanoi, this new property with an inhouse restaurant and bar is perfect for business professionals or travellers looking to mix a stay in Hanoi with the feeling of being located in a place you can call home. PULLMAN HANOI HOTEL $$$$ 40 Cat Linh, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3733 0688 With deluxe rooms and suites, a contemporary lobby, an excellent buffet, and a la carte restaurant, this Accor group property is prestigious and close to the Old Quarter. SHERATON K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 9000 Surrounded by lush gardens, sweeping lawns and tranquil courtyards, this peaceful property features picturesque views of West Lake and is less than 10 minutes from downtown. In addition to the luxurious rooms, the hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool and great relaxation and fitness facilities, including a tennis court and spa. There are well equipped conference rooms and a newly refurbished Executive Club Lounge. SOFITEL LEGEND METROPOLE HANOI 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 6919 The finest hotel of the French colonial period is probably still the finest in today’s Hanoi. Anyone who is (or was) anyone has stayed at this elegant oasis of charm, where the service is impeccable and the luxurious facilities complement the ambiance of a bygone era. Definitely the place to put the Comtessa up for a night. PAN PACIFIC HANOI 1 Thanh Nien Road, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3823 8888 Boasting Hanoi’s best views of West Lake, Truc Bach Lake and the Red River, Pan Pacific Hanoi soars 20 storeys above the city skyline. Each of the 329 rooms, suites and serviced suites is furnished with stylish interiors, modern amenities and magnificent views, while the 56 serviced suites offer fully equipped kitchens and separate living spaces for the comfort and convenience of the extended-stay traveller.

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

porary and fresh with handicrafts and antique. Breakfast is included and in the long, lounge restaurant on the second floor, home-style Vietnamese fare is served up with fresh fruit juices and Lavazza coffee. GOLDEN SILK BOUTIQUE HOTEL $$$ 109-111 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3928 6969 Located in the centre of the Old Quarter, this little slice of heaven offers complimentary sundries and a replenishable minibar. The Orient restaurant, serves the finest in international and Vietnamese cuisine. JOSEPH’S HOTEL $$ 5 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3938 1048 Located next to the cathedral, this popular well-appointed, airy and spacious boutique hotel mixes comfort with a nice ambience and great Western or Vietnamese breakfasts. All the modern amenities at reasonable prices. MAISON D’HANOI HANOVA HOTEL $$$ 35-37 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 0999 A minute from Hoan Kiem Lake, this glowing pearl in the heart of Hanoi provides tranquility with an art gallery and piano bar. MAY DE VILLE 24 Han Thuyen, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 2222 9988 Set in the old French Quarter a short walk from the Opera House, May de Ville City Centre is a welcome new addition to the capital. Combining contemporary architecture with traditional Vietnamese style and materials, this elegant property has 81 well-appointed rooms including four suites.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOVOTEL SAIGON CENTRE $$$ 167 Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 4866 Novotel Saigon Centre has a contemporary feel, an international buffet — The Square — a rooftop bar, and a wellness centre including a swimming pool, gym, sauna and spa. VILLA SONG SAIGON $$$ 197/2 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6090 Deliberately located away from the city centre in Thao Dien, this riverside boutique villa-style hotel is a sanctuary of peace and calm — a rarity in Ho Chi Minh City. Beautiful, Indochine-influenced design, a great setting and good drinking and dining options make this a great, non-city centre choice.

Free wi-fi, international breakfast, spacious and airy, lift, plasma TV, multi-shower, friendly service 5, Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi | Phone: 04 3938 1048 | Mob: 0913 090 446 | January 2017 Word | 123



nlocking ourselves from the daily grind is a luxury for most, but Loic and Van Anh Diels, the hosts at Heron House, hold the key. Their bed and breakfast, located 3km from Hoi An’s old town market, is set among rice fields and a small farming community a short bicycle ride from Cua Dai Beach on Vietnam’s central coast. The grandeur on the other side of Heron House’s solid teak gates awaits as you step onto the property for the first time. The house appears much bigger than shown online and commands attention. The plunge pool, just steps from the verandah, tempts even in the chilly early December air. It’s a surprising introduction to what is supposed to be just a

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bed and breakfast. Sitting on a 500 sqm plot and at almost 250sqm facing north towards the East Sea, Heron House is a two-story three-bedroom building inspired by the French colonial. While the ocean can’t be seen from here, when the wind blows, you can smell it, letting you know you’re on holiday.

Out of Town The lane to Heron House is barely the width of a buffalo across. It meanders its way 600m from Cua Dai road through some of Cam Chau commune, past villagers tending gardens, cows grazing on haystacks and chickens scurrying for cover. At its end, the coconut palms and quaint

Vietnamese farmhouses give way to views of rice fields interrupted only by the next commune a kilometre off in the distance. The quiet is broken at times by lowing buffalos, foraging ducks and croaking frogs. In winter, much of the rice fields are in flood after the monsoon and are being handtilled in preparation for next season. Small embankments form mini lakes attracting storks and herons, the bird after which Heron House borrows its name. Rafts of ducks ply the waters and locals can be seen trying their luck at fishing in the shallows. Inviting you in from Heron House’s landing is the kitchen and living room. Like rural farmhouses the world over, the front doors are always open and the kitchen bench takes centre

Heron House


stage. Here is where your complimentary Western or Vietnamese breakfast is made each morning. And on request, perhaps a Mediterranean salad for lunch, or a Thai curry for dinner. There are just three rooms at Heron House, one on the ground floor and two on the second. All are named according to the colour of their floor tiles. A room can be booked for around US$120 per night in the off-season, or you can have the whole house for around US$300 per night depending on the season.

Discovering Authenticity There’s no room envy here. The rooms are all the same size (65sqm) and have the same layout with a verandah affording enchanting views,

king-size beds, and baths big enough for two. Yet, there are subtle differences. The greentiled room is just a skip to the pool, while the rooms above offer greater privacy. The red room is rustic and evokes thoughts of Hoi An’s old town. The building’s high ceilings and windward aspect means there’s no need for air-conditioning. A guest favourite is the yellow room at the western end of the house on the second floor. Its shuttered doors and windows open out onto the verandah, and frame the setting sun across the rice fields. It captures cooling sea breezes and is best enjoyed with a cocktail from Heron House’s cocktail list. Ask for Loic's pomelo ginger gin made from fresh local ingredients. Great care is taken to improve guest

experiences at Heron House. Loic and Van Anh personally respond to enquiries and bookings and ensure guests are ‘matched’ to minimise disturbances. The staff are unobtrusive, but attentive. After a while, you forget they are there. Perhaps the irony of a stay at Heron House is that while tourists come to Hoi An in search of an authentic Vietnamese experience in its old town, Heron House guests may discover greater authenticity in Loic and Van Anh’s warm hospitality and the welcoming farming community and its surrounds. — Matt Cowan You can find Heron House on and Better still, contact Loic and Van Anh directly on Facebook at HeronHouseHoiAn. Alternatively, click on | January 2017 Word | 125

Resort and Spa is beachfront with a stunning view of the Marble Mountains. There are 182 luxurious residences and 27 private ocean villas, each with a private pool.


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

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


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

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and unparalleled exclusivity with all-pool villas reflecting the cultural and historical legacy of past Vietnamese dynastic periods. LA RESIDENCE $$$$ 5 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: (054) 383 7475 la–residence– PHUONG HOANG HOTEL $ 66 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: (054) 382 6736

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

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

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

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

M M M PHONG NHA EASY TIGER AND JUNGLE BAR $ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: (052) 367 7844 easytigerphongnha@gmail. com A hostel and street-front bar all in one. Has a pleasant, airy atmosphere in the bar and restaurant area while the 52 dorm beds — four beds to a room — go for US$8 (VND168,000) each a night. HO KHANH'S HOMESTAY $$ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: 01299 597182

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

M M M PHU QUOC BEACH CLUB RESORT $$ Ap Cua Lap, Xa Duong To, Long Beach, Phu Quoc Island, Tel: (077) 398 0998 A quaint and popular island guesthouse featuring a beachside restaurant, and includes free Wi-Fi. Motorbike rental, boat trips and tours are easily arranged. Discount rates during rainy season. MANGO BAY $$ Ong Lang Beach, Phu Quoc, Tel: 0903 382207 An eco–friendly approach with a gorgeous beachside location, the bungalows are made of rammed earth, no TVs or telephones (although Wi-Fi is available). Excellent sunsets from the beach bar. SALINDA RESORT PHU QUOC ISLAND $$$$ Cua Lap Hamlet, Duong To Commune, Phu Quoc, Kien Giang Tel: (08) 3929 3097 Hotline 0907 99 55 02 Set on the sea and only 4km away from Phu Quoc International Airport, Salinda is inspired by an interplay of rustic local heritage with

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRAVEL SERVICES — ELSEWHERE BACK OF THE BIKE TOURS Tel: (08) 6298 5659 Offer motorbike tours combined with the finest street food to give customers a truly immersive Vietnamese experience. BEENINASIA.COM Online travel in Southeast Asia. Offers you selection of best hotels and great tours. Create your own trip or we can tailor make your itinerary. TU TRAVEL 60 Hai Ba Trung, Can Tho City, Tel: 0713 752436 tutrangtravel-mekongfeeling. vn Want to set up non-standard tours in the Mekong with local guides who’ve got extensive local knowledge? This might be the place to contact. | January 2017 Word | 127


Despite erosion and blast fishing, diving in Nha Trang still affords a great insight into the world under the sea

Nha Trang has a bit of everything. It's also got probably the best municipal beach in Vietnam


n a country with 3,444 km of shoreline, a beach would have to be pretty special to stand out, right? So what’s so special about Nha Trang? OK, tick the boxes. Six kilometres of fine white sand set against a backdrop of forested hills. Clear turquoise water. Excellent swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving. Catamarans, diving equipment, surf boards, paddle boards, kayaks, para-sails, and wind kites up for hire. Massages and beauty treatments available at the wave of a hand. Food and cold beer on demand. Seafood galore — what’s not to like? I could go on and on. In fact I think I will. A cool sea breeze. Vendors willing and more than happy to braid your hair, tell your fortune, or paint your nails at the drop of a hat. Stately coconut palms. Sun umbrellas and beach chairs. No hassles, no pressures, no reminders of home. Sheer bliss. Are you convinced yet? The people

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at Travel and Leisure magazine certainly are. They have voted Nha Trang beach as one of the world’s best.

Something for Everyone

By Don Wills

The city, conveniently spread out along the shoreline, boasts a cultural centre, night market, countless restaurants (Nha Trang’s birds-nest soup is said to be the best in Vietnam), bars, museums, galleries, chic beachwear boutiques, and shopping malls. Two kilometres north of the city centre are the centuries-old Cham towers. One of the top attractions on the beach is the Nha Trang Sailing Club. It started out in 1994 as a small rustic beach bar, and has since grown to become one of the largest entertainment complexes in south-east Asia, with a head-spinning selection of dining and entertainment options. By day it’s a sprawling beach bar with a choice of three international restaurants laid out in

Nha Trang

Sun, sea and sand anyone? It's what Nha Trang does well

a Mediterranean-style setting; by night it reverberates to non-stop music and dancing. Towering over the city is the 53-floorhigh Best Western Premiere Havana Nha Trang, its top floor occupied by the Skylight Rooftop Beach Club, a venue that rivals anything Las Vegas has to offer. The rooftop club has three bars, a skydeck with 360-degree views, a swimming pool and, for the fearless, a glass skywalk. At night the nightclub rocks to local and international DJs and live music. Perched on top of the building is the world’s highest lighthouse.

Vinpearl For families, the jewel in Nha Trang’s crown is Vinpearl Land. Back in the 1980s, Vietnamese billionaire Pham Nhat Vuong had a billion or so dollars surplus to his needs, and decided to buy Hon Tre island, a former prison colony just off the coast of Nha Trang, and build a 200,000

On the rides at the VinPearl Amusement park, a place visited by over 200,000 people a year

square-metre amusement complex there. Before too long, Vinpearl Land began to take shape. A water park, aquarium, amphitheatre, swimming pool (the largest in Southeast Asia), a selection of hair-raising rides, a dolphin show, an entertainment park for kids, food village, shopping mall, 4D movie theatre, five-star hotel, night club, and a world-class golf course were put into place. Only one problem remained; how to get to the island? No problem. A 3,320-meterlong cable car system was constructed, the longest sea-crossing cable car in the world. Thus Vinpearl Land came into being. And did it prove popular? Just ask the 220,000 people who visit it every year. Or if that seems like too much hard work, just ask my family.

Don’t Forget Nha Trang has hot springs, thermal spas,

saunas and mud baths by the score. One of note is the 100-Egg Mud Bath. Only it’s not egg yolks you immerse yourself in; the mud is in egg-shaped receptacles. There are a number of interesting museums to visit too. The Oceanographic Museum of Vietnam has 20,000 species of weird and wonderful sea creatures, and the Impressions Museum displays wacky art and freakish, out-of-this-world optical illusions. As I said earlier on, Nha Trang is Vietnam’s premier beach resort, and well worth a visit. Except at the height of the rainy season, that is. In October and November the rain buckets down, typhoons are regular unwelcome visitors, and the sea water turns murky-brown. Born in New Zealand, Don Wills lives in Vung Tau. He’s been writing his way around the region for decades | January 2017 Word | 129


Day Tripper: Ho Ham Lon / The Alchemist / The Therapist / Bar Stool / Coffee Cup / Top Eats / A World of Good / Starting a Family / Book Buff Photo by Teigue John Blockpoel

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Hanoi Essentials

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


HANOI HOLISTIC HEALTH GUIDE A guide to various holistic health practitioners in Hanoi. Only available online, but a great information source.


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

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


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

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





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






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

M M M BUSINESS GROUPS AMCHAM 4th Floor, InterContinental Hanoi, 1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3934 2790 AUSCHAM 4th Floor, 100 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 0909 710994

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


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





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


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



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


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



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




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


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



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




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


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


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

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



Although there’s not much to do, Ho Ham Lon offers a welcome respite from the chaos in the city. Or in our case, an unplanned adventure… Words by Mignon van Zyl. Photos by Teigue John Blockpoel


o Ham Lon is a campsite about 40km north of Hanoi. It’s known for being popular with Vietnamese students who enjoy the opportunity to do karaoke in the forest. Hikers planning to ascend Fansipan are also attracted to Ho Ham Lon for its challenging hiking trails. It’s a simple drive from Hanoi; straight on the highway towards Noi Bai Airport, a right turn after the airport, and then a left turn at the Ho Ham Lon sign. It’s impossible to miss unless you’re three South Africans with very limited Vietnamese.

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After trying to get directions from a local man along the way, we turned off the main road and onto a dirt road. What followed was an undertaking that could have been filmed for a Top Gear Special. Let’s put it this way; driving a Yamaha Mio Classico and a Honda Wave on a dirt road is doable. Driving these bikes up and down a steep mountain road covered with rocks and manoeuvring through dried rivulets, narrow paths and over an unreliable bamboo foot bridge is apparently doable too. We had turned too early and ended up driving on the hiking trail. Silence, fresh air, untamed bush, pine forests — nature at its

finest. Plus three lost foreigners on noisy motorbikes. It was thrilling but dangerous too. We drove like this for over an hour until we got to where we were meant to be.

Simple and Straightforward The campsite is located at the base of Ham Lon (Pig Jaw) Mountain — a 462m high pine-covered peak that forms part of the Doc Ton mountain range. The massive Nui Bau Lake sits in the centre of the campsite with numerous spots alongside it for camping, fishing, barbecues and picnics. There are no manicured lawns, ablution blocks or clear signposts. It’s the

Ho Ham Lon

way a campsite should be, simple and straightforward. No frills. No electricity. Just you and nature. And the sound of karaoke in the background. There are two hiking trails. The first takes around two-and-a-half hours to complete while the second is more of a challenging trek and can take up to four hours. They weave in and out of pine forests and have rocky terrain. It’s not clear where they start but it’s quite easy to navigate once on the trail. You can rent tents, tarpaulin coverings, sleeping bags and other camping equipment from the motorbike valet

for an overnight stay (VND70,000 for a two-person tent or VND100,000 for a four-person tent). There are camping spots available next to the lake or higher up on the mountain. Day trippers pay a VND15,000 parking fee. The campsite’s website says that tour guides and map books are available and food and drinks (including beer) can be bought on site. What’s great about Ho Ham Lon is that it doesn’t offer much else. There’s a lake and a mountain and that’s it. For the outdoorsy type, that’s perfect. But for those in need of activities or entertainment to have fun, it isn’t recommended. Despite the excitement from

the motorbike rendezvous, our day at Ho Ham Lon left us feeling peaceful and happy, the result of fresh air and sunshine.

Getting There From West Lake, there are three options. The easiest is to take Nhat Tan Bridge and travel towards the airport. Turn right about 19km after the airport (past Thanh Chuong Viet Palace). Continue for about 4km (past the dirt road) and you’ll see the large sign for Ho Ham Lon on your left. | January 2017 Word | 133


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




16 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 3719 GREEN BIKE CANNONDALE & JETT STOCKIST

15 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh IBIKE SALES


70 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0904 244941 THBC (THE HANOI BICYCLE COLLECTIVE) RENTALS & SALES

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


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

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


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


Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 4487 DA LOC


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



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


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





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

162A Hoang Hoa Tham, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3847 3366






48A Ly Thuong Kiet , Hoan Kiem, Tel: 04 3939 3907

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

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





Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3266 8190


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







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

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

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

10 Da Tuong, Hanoi Tel: (04) 3943 7226; 28 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. Tel: (04) 3719 8337 THE OASIS ITALIAN DELI

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

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.


17 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 3854





99 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 4630

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


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


1 Phuong Mai, Dong Da, Tel: (04) 3577 1100



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


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


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

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

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


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


cnr. Hang Bai and Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi VINCOM CITY TOWERS

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



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



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

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


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

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

M M M INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, HANOI Hoa Lan Road, Vinhomes Riverside, Long Bien, Tel: (04) 3946 0435 A selective, independent, co-educational day school. Provides a British-style education following the National Curriculum for England, with students taking IGCSE and A Level. Pending authorization, will offer the IB programme from 2016 onwards. CONCORDIA INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HANOI CMC Building, Duy Tan, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 3795 8878 A non-profit entity, Concordia has highly performing schools in both Hong Kong and Shanghai at the top tier of the educational system. All instructors and teachers are native English speakers and admission applications are accepted throughout the year. HANOI INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 48 Lieu Giai , Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3832 8140 With schooling available for students studying at elementary through to secondary levels of education, HIS is one of the few private, international education options in the capital. Offers Cambridge IGCSE and IB Diploma for students at the secondary level. INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF VIETNAM 6-7 Nguyen Cong Thai, Dai Kim Urban Area, Dinh Cong, Hoang Mai, Tel: 3540 9183 A not-for-profit, pre-kindergarten to Grade 12 school serving the international and local community of Hanoi. ISV accepts students of any nationality aged 3 and up. Highly qualified and experienced international educators are supported by a 21st-century campus with the latest in educational technology plus excellent resources for learning. Class sizes are small. KINDERWORLD INTERNATIONAL KINDERGARTEN Unit 9 – 10, Shophouse CT17, Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel (04) 3743 0306; 3rd Floor, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel (04) 3934 7243; C5 – C11, 1st floor, The Manor Building, My Dinh, Tu Liem, Tel (04) 3764 0209 Classes are kept small with a foreign teacher leading the class with the assistance of a Vietnamese teacher according to the teacher-student ratio. KinderWorld provides pre school education for children from 18 months to below 6 years. QSI INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF HANOI #17 Lane, 67 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6418 QSI International School of Hanoi is next in a long line of ‘quality schools’ established by the Quality Schools International. The institution specialises in instructing preschool and lower elementary age students.

SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 2D Van Phuc Diplomatic Compound, 46 Van Bao, Ba Dinh, Tel (04) 3726 1601; Block C3, Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel (04) 3758 2664; Road 2, Gamuda Gardens, Km 4.4 Phap Van, Hoang Mai, Tel (04) 6666 1818 Provides an international education for students from primary up to university level. A strong curriculum provides core subjects from the Singaporean and Vietnamese curricula, as well as specialist programmes from Britain, America and Canada, all taught by qualified teachers.

to be fully qualified, Australian-certified motorbike mechanics. Does sales, restoration, repairs and rentals.

ST. PAUL AMERICAN SCHOOL HANOI Khu Do Thi Bac AnKhanh, An Khanh, HoaiDuc, Tel: (04) 3399 6464 St. Paul Hanoi has developed a strong reputation for providing a high quality American education. An international school that collaborates with schools around the globe to set high expectations and align with rigorous standards so that students will have a wonderful opportunity to attend a great university in the future.


UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (UNIS) G9 Ciputra, Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3758 1551 Established in 1988, 1,050 students from 60 nationalities follow the IB programme from aged 3 through to aged 18. A notfor-profit entity, UNIS aims for its students to emerge as responsible stewards of our global society and natural environment.


37 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0915 066096 MR CAO MOTORBIKE RENTAL


6 Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6332 GIA LONG HOUSING RENTALS

R714, Blg CT13B Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3743 0589 HANOI RENTING No. 809, Ct13b building, Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 6294 4828 LANLINH PROPERTY RENTALS

38 Hang Hom, Hoan Kiem, Tel: Tel: 0933 534999 VIETLONG HOUSING RENTALS

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

M M M RELOCATION AGENTS ALLIED PICKFORDS Room 302, 12A Ho Xuan Huong, Tel: (04) 3943 1511 The largest home moving company in the world, Allied Pickfords moves over 1,000 families in over 175 countries every day. Has a full range of services — domestic moves, office moves and storage — both inside and outside of Vietnam. JVK INDOCHINA MOVERS 6 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04)3826 0334 Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is currently a leader in the field. Has offices in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.


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

13 Ngo Huyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 1105 VIP BIKES SOCIAL ENTERPRISE RENTALS & REPAIRS

17 Ve Ho, Xuan La, Tay Ho, Tel: 0914 931390 Trains disadvantaged youth

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

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

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

51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6281 The luxury gym features top-of-the-line fitness equipment, separate cardio and spinning areas and an indoor swimming pool with a retractable roof. The spacious studios and natural light make it a welcoming place to squeeze in a work out, but be prepared to pay. This place is top of the range. N SHAPE FITNESS MID-RANGE FITNESS CENTRE

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

5th Fl, 135 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung. Tel: (04) 6263.1515 VIETCLIMB CLIMBING CENTRE

40 Ngo 76 An Duong, Tay Ho, Tel: 0914 143185 Although a little hard to find, VietClimb is a French-owned, 200-meter climbing gym with state-of-the-art courses. There are 100 different climbing routes within the gym that are changed every few months. They offer clinics, classes and children’s events. Membership and group rates are available, but be sure to check out the three-month pass. | January 2017 Word | 135



ultures around the world have similar customs at the start of the New Year. There is a time of reflecting on the year that has passed and a setting of intentions for the year to come. Many people use the occasion to make resolutions for selfimprovement and transformation. As we look beyond our own lives we see that humanity and the Earth are going through a major period of transformation. Many people look at the events taking place in the world and are fearful of the potential outcome.

Evolutionary Catalyst Political and societal upheavals are forcing us to look squarely at the underbelly of human relations. The health of the planet is necessitating an environmental paradigm shift. Although these two situations appear unrelated, they are intimately connected and are acting as a catalyst for human evolution.

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The events in the macrocosm are inviting us to examine our relationship to the planet, to one another, as much as to ourselves. They are an invocation for humanity’s transformation.

A New Paradigm Our current model for existing on this planet is broken. The paradigm of competition and struggle has created a world of separation and fear. To counteract these energies we need to transform our thinking. We have been taught that we are separate from the world around us. However, the science of quantum physics teaches us that we are all interconnected with each other, with the animals, as well as with the earth. We have been trying to fix our global dilemmas with the same systems that created them. Albert Einstein said: “You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew.”


Take Ownership As we watch our current systems fail, it becomes necessary, now more than ever, for each person to take responsibility for their thoughts and actions and the ramifications they have on society and the planet. It is time to change our thinking and recognise the interconnectivity of the universe and see that for humanity to prosper it is cooperation that must prevail and not competition. There is no denying that we are in dynamic times, the question is, can we transform our thinking so that we shift the energies of separation to higher vibrational energies of oneness? A new year is presenting us with the opportunity to make this humanity’s resolution, one we cannot afford to break. Karen Gay, A-Roaming Bodyworker, is a holistic health practitioner practicing in Hanoi. For information on the types of services provided, visit

Hanoi Essentials


247 Au Co, Tay Ho; 62 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem; Tel: 0904 356 561 The oldest and most professional Yoga Studio in Hanoi, Zenith offers a vast variety of classes and levels in Iyengar, Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga and Pilates while also offering Restorative, Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga, Meditation sessions, and Kundalini classes. Also have a yogic shop offering incense, clothes and yoga props, as well as a café serving up the homemade vegetarian meals, cakes and coffee.


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

84 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3923 1147 HANOI SPORTS SHOP 146, Mai Dich, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 2218 5757

SUPERMARKETS BIG C 222 Tran Duy Hung, Cau Giay; Garden Shopping Centre, The Manor, My Dinh, Tu Liem CITIMART Ground Floor, Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 2999

FIVIMART 27A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem

INTIMEX 22-23 Le Thai To, Hoan Kiem

METRO THANG LONG SCORE-TECH 44, Ngo 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 8246

Pham Van Dong, Co Nhue, Tu Liem, Tel: (04) 3755 1617 Apparel company offering personalised sport garments for companies, schools and professional sports clubs using the latest printing technology with a design team from Barcelona. Score-Tech controls the whole production process from fabric production and printing to sewing. Big and small orders for all sporting and commercial needs.


13 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3771 3305 | January 2017 Word | 137



Dear Douglas, I have depression and I am not able to do things I did before. I was a good student, but now I cannot concentrate and I procrastinate a lot. I feel unmotivated. Subjects that used to make me interested seem very boring… nothing can make me feel excited or curious. I miss a lot of school because I just want to sleep. But the biggest problem for me now is that I feel so guilty for being a burden on my parents. They are paying for a good school and I make them worry. I think they are getting frustrated with me. My father yelled at me last night telling me that I am lazy and that I don’t know what a hard life is… I should be thankful, but I am wasting it. It makes me feel like it would be better if I wasn’t here. I don’t know what to do. — Down to the Ground Dear Down, Yes, you are depressed and it is not your fault. Depression is a mood disorder that affects millions of people. Almost 50% of people will have some form of depression at some point during their lifetime. Because it is invisible, we often don’t see it as a medical illness, the same way we see diabetes or asthma, both of which limit the way a person functions. While sometimes people go through bad days and feel “blue” for a short period, depression is when those feelings last longer and affect motivation. It can cause sadness, sleep problems, low energy, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, difficulty concentrating, difficulty making decisions and can sometimes generate suicidal thoughts. Often, when we look closely at what happens with depression, we see how it creates a downward spiral. Because we feel bad we are less able to function normally and meet the expectations of parents, teachers, friends and ourselves. So feeling bad leads to feeling worse. We try to do things but become frustrated with ourselves, even angry or self-critical. We feel out of control, a feeling no-one likes. Life becomes more like an obligation, a chore. We try to make ourselves do things, but never really feel like we are fully present or enjoying ourselves. Our sense of humour disappears. We start seeing things through the lens of our depression, how bad life is. Every day feels like we are walking up hill, it takes so much effort. One important aspect to depression is the way it affects the relationships we have with family and friends. It is

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clear that your father, like many family members and loved ones, does not fully understand the impact of depression on a person’s ability to function normally. He is interpreting your behaviour as a choice you are making, being lazy and not appreciating the good life you have. I am sure that it is because he loves you that he wants the best for you, and also suffers when he sees you suffering. To me it is an indication that you have gone past the point where you should seek professional help and get treatment for your mood disorder. These days, mental health professionals know a lot about treating depression, both with talk therapy and with medications that can influence one’s mood. If you are having thoughts of suicide or wondering if you will ever feel better, you should contact someone whom you can talk to that is trained to help. It is not uncommon to have thoughts of wanting to escape the bad feelings of depression and the thought of killing one’s self occurs to many people. It is a strong indicator that it is time to seek professional help. I will include some brief suggestions that are intended for your family and friends who might want to help but do not know how. 1) Educate yourself about depression so that you have realistic expectations about what happens and how long it might last and what can be done to overcome it.

2) Provide unconditional love and support. It is not the person’s fault that they are depressed. 3) Take care of yourself, while being supportive of the depressed person. Your wellness is an important part of what helps the person you are supporting. 4) Talk about your feelings, how hard it is and what you worry about, to people who can support you. 5) Don’t take the symptoms of a depressed person personally. Example: someone who is depressed might not want to do the same things they used to enjoy with you. Don’t take their withdrawal as a rejection of your friendship. 6) Try to be a team which is defeating depression, together with the help of professional support. The good news is that people who go through depression usually get better. Some say that it is a painful, but healthy way for people to go through changes in their inner world, something some of us need to do from time to time. I am glad that you wrote about what is true for you and I hope you take the next steps to get the help and support you need. No more feeling guilty about something that is not your fault. — Douglas Do you have a question you would like Douglas’s help with? You can email him at Personal details will not be printed

Hanoi On the Town


23 Ngo Van So, Hoan Kiem Housed in a colonial building, bare brick, comfortable sofa-like seating and grungy decor related to a past make up the mix at this venue put together by the people behind Barbetta. 88 LOUNGE CONTEMPORARY WINE BAR

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

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

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

34C Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3734 9134 Set in a colonial villa, when it comes to design, the funky but comfortable Barbetta with its roof terrace is difficult to beat. A great place for coffee, beer or even a bite to eat. CAMA ATK MUSIC & ARTS BAR

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


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

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

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

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

27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: 01633 166170 Has a downstairs, Englishstyle pub garden area and an upstairs space dedicated to live music and live production. Weekly live events feature bands and DJs both from Vietnam and overseas — established and up and coming. HOA VIEN BRAUHAUS CZECH MICROBREWERY

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


5 Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3825 0959 5pm to 2am Probably the closest thing Hanoi has to an authentic English-style pub, Polite is frequented by a steady mix of locals and expats who find solace in the nightly conversations at the long bar, pool and live football matches. RED RIVER TEA ROOM


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


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

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


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

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

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

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






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

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


Syrena Tower, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho A trendy, deli-style café connected to Annam Gourmet next door. Bright and fresh décor is complemented by shelves stocked with imported gourmet goods and cafeteria-style furniture. An eye-catching temptation for weary shoppers. CIAO CAFÉ RESTO LOUNGE

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

28 Thanh Nien, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3715 4240 This American-style chain cafe is a multilevel, indoor/ outdoor café overlooking Westlake. With its LA coffee and office feel, when you walk in you might just forget that you’re in Hanoi. CONG CAPHE LEFTIST ARTSY CAFE

152D Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung; 32 Dien Bien Phu, Ba Dinh; 27 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem; 15 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh; 100A Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho With a kitsch, communistdriven theme saturating this quaint cafe, most patrons are young Vietnamese bohemians and artsy expats. Sip on a blended cup of joe with beans from the Central Highlands, knock back one of the many different types of tea available or sip on freshly squeezed juice from the Spartan cups in one of the hippest café chains in town. D’ALICE BOUTIQUE CAFE

89 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung Put together coffee and cake and you get one of those timeless combinations. And if you really want to binge on the cake-end, then check out | January 2017 Word | 139



ocated on Tran Vu, Standing Bar is Hanoi’s newest craft beer bar, with a picturesque view of Truc Bach Lake in the afternoon sunset and plenty of space to hang out for a beer. Add 19 ever-changing taps at the bar, and there’s nothing for beer lovers to get bored about. Standing Bar stocks a range of craft beers from Vietnam including IPA-style beer, pilsners, ales and also cider. Giles Cooper, one of the owners, is a huge craft beer enthusiast, who has always jumped at the opportunity to “grab a bottle of beer from here and there and bring it back into Vietnam.” Chris Vella, who is part owner of The Republic, had already been

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making moves to start pushing craft beer in Hanoi when they were talking together with Dan Dockery, the man behind Highway 4, about opening a craft beer bar. Soon that idea became a reality, and one week after broaching the concept, they had found the space they wanted and were beginning to strip it back and turn it into a bar. Three months later, the bar had its grand opening.

Something for Everyone Although Standing Bar was opened just two months ago, the watering hole is well-timed, with craft beer culture growing in Hanoi. In the last year or so, craft beer has been introduced to the capital thanks to Pasteur

Standing Bar


Street Brewery and Furbrew; Standing Bar continues the trend with the beers all costing between VND50,000 and VND100,000. The tapas, a selection of tasteful seafood, sausages and bacon, and cheese and olives, are available for VND30,000 to VND120,000. If you find yourself there with friends, yet you’re not a huge beer drinker, ask them about their house wines and spirits. Keep an eye out for the beer cocktails, to come soon. No beer or food is fixed on the board, as the menu changes day to day. Craft beer changes with the seasons, and with that comes tastes for different foods. This was considered when Standing Bar was created, and the thought-out tapas menu is created to complement each

beer. The knowledgeable and efficient staff are up-to-date with the current menu, and are fast with the service, as well as being happy to answer any questions about the beer.

Stand Up and Be Counted The concept of Standing Bar was drawn from the Japanese tachinomiya, which literally means a stand-up bar. The purpose of this open, spacious drinking haunt, with limited seating available, is to keep the atmosphere mobile. They want people moving around and talking, rather than sitting down with the same group and not mixing. The old house was stripped back to create a modern-rustic bar area using furniture

that is all upcycled. This gives the bar a warm, homey feel to it, almost as if you were attending a casual party at a friend’s house, with chill upbeat music creating the ambiance. The space is also set up for events, with a stage area fit for a band, a DJ or even a comedy set or two. From this month Standing Bar will be hosting the comedy shows that were previously staged at CAMA ATK and Son Tinh Lounge, and expect live music to also enter the fray. Standing Bar is also set up and equipped for private events that may need a stage area, projector, speakers or just good beer. — Amelia Burns Standing Bar is at 170 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi and is open daily from 4pm to 12pm | January 2017 Word | 141



n Nam Parlour is a peaceful retreat from motorbike horns, yelling vendors and clumsy backpackers of the Old Quarter. The name hails from the colonial era, when the French used to call the country ‘An Nam’. The owners of the café are Japanese, and most of the guests that visit it are travellers from Japan, seeking a slice of home while abroad. This heritage is present in the design of the building; the glass entrance gives a sense of modernity, and from inside is the perfect vantage point for watching the world buzz past while taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the area.

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Distinctive The space inside is rather simple, and yet there’s a lot to grab your attention. The walls are home to guest photo exhibitions, and there are several displays of jewellery, souvenirs and rusk crackers to browse through. An Nam Parlour collaborates with a number of local craftsmen who produce these distinctive gifts, and two warehouses that produce rusk cookies from bread. The rusks come in cinnamon, coriander, coffee and butter sugar, and mango flavours, the recipes for which are made by the staff at the café. A box of An Nam rusks costs VND105,000. They also sell handmade ceramics from

An Nam Parlour


Bat Trang Village, located around 10km from the city centre. The village has been making ceramics since the 15th century and most of the residents still make a living in this trade. The plentiful bounty of products available at An Nam Parlour makes it well worth a visit even if you don’t plan on staying for a drink. Its still and relaxing atmosphere means that it’s also a good place to get some work done, and its centrality in town makes it an ideal spot to take a break while on the clock.

The Drinks Coffee is served in two forms;

Vietnamese-style coffee is VND50,000 and uses beans from Lam Dong Province in the Central Highlands. Arabica coffee is VND60,000 for a large cup, and uses beans from Son La Province in the northwest. Ca phe trung — egg coffee — is VND68,000. Tea is served by the pot, and flavours include lotus tea for VND100,000, homemade ginger tea for VND60,000 and jasmine, hibiscus and oolong flavours come in at VND40,000. If you’re feeling peckish, then you’ll want to look over the Vietnamese desserts on the menu. The special An Nam fruits che, a mix of blended fruit, yoghurt and condensed milk, is VND80,000. A pot of

coconut jelly is VND50,000, and a fresh mango pudding is VND50,000. In all, An Nam Parlour is an ideal spot to meet a friend for a drink and dessert, but its delicate atmosphere means it isn’t the best spot for large groups, so bear that in mind when you’re making plans. If you’re not looking for a new café to frequent, then it’s still worth a visit to browse through the selection of handmade crafts and jewellery, or pick up a box of delicious rusks. — Billy Gray An Nam Parlour is located at 24 Hang Vai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi | January 2017 Word | 143

Hanoi On the Town

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

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

If you like your coffee brewed in different styles and made with hard-to-find blends, this on-the-edge of the Old Quarter cafe is a dream. When it comes to good old caffeine, this small yet homely, vintage-styled cafe stands on its own. Also boasts and excellent selection of teas. KINH DO PATISSERIE / SIMPLE CAFE

252 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3825 0216 One of the longest-running cafes in town, this hole-inthe-wall, no frills café-cumrestaurant home-makes its patisseries and is renowned for its excellent yoghurt.


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

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

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

22 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3747 3388; 43 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6071 Popular café with a contemporary western feel to the counter-style service and atmosphere. The food is all there, too: breakfasts, salads, soups, ice cream, muffins, cakes, cereals and bagels. Starting in Laos in 1996, Joma moved to Hanoi in 2009. Joma contributes 2 percent of each sale to charitable organisations. KAFEVILLE COFFEE SPECIALIST & CAFE

22 Nguyen TrungTruc, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0906 221030

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

36 Tu Hoa, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3823 9722 On-site coffee roasting, comfortable seating arrangements, rustic style furnishings and décor, and a focus on healthy, non-processed foods. This is the concept behind Maison de Tet Décor, and it’s a popular one, too, as witnessed by the size of the clientele. Also run occasional farmers’ markets. MOC CAFE CAFE / INTERNATIONAL

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





5 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3933 2355 This cafe and French-style boulangerie is best visited in the morning when that Gallic, fresh-cooked bakery aroma hits you as you walk through the door. The downstairs space is split into the bakery on one side with a small non-smoking dining space on the other. The upstairs lounge area has standard tables as well as sofa seating. Simple but tasty French and international fare is served at meal times. SPACEBAR COWORKING CAFE

Nha 15, 76 To Ngoc Van, TayHo A pleasant, ground floor cafe with an outdoor terrace that sits below offices and a co-working space. Serves up coffee, juices, breakfasts and western-style cafe fare. Perfect for work, Wifi, a bite to eat and coffee. TET DÉCOR CAFÉ ART CAFÉ & ESPRESSO BAR

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

6 Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 2117 A cozy midsize café/restaurant where you can forget the heat and bustle of Hanoi. The atmosphere is relaxed and here you can imagine, for a second, that you’re sitting in a European café. The ood is fresh and internationally inspired, and has an excellent top-floor terrace. YOLO FUNKY LIVE MUSIC CAFE


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

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

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


24 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3938 1155 AMATO TAPAS / FRENCH CUISINE

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

AU LAC DO BRAZIL BRAZILIAN 6A Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3845 5224 A Brazilian churrascaria offering all-you-can-eat grilled meat and seafood on the skewer. In typical Brazilian rodízio fashion, waiters bring cuts of meat to the table for patrons to pick and choose, all for a set price. They also offer wine pairings, a salad bar and an a la carte menu, with a creative selection of fruit caipirinhas.


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

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

4 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6292 1044 Finally Hanoi has a dedicated gourmet burger joint, and

this West Lake eatery with its fan-cooled atmosphere get it just about right. This is comfort food at its finest. Served up with locally brewed craft beer, and this one’s a bit of a winner. COUSINS CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL

3 Quang Ba, Tay Ho, Tel: 01238 670098 A contemporary, Frenchinfluenced restaurant selling international cuisine at reasonable prices in a spacious, airy atmosphere. Blackboards, whitewashed, bare-brick walls, period tiles, a well-chosen wine list and an outdoor terrace overlooking the lake make up the formula. DA PAOLO CLASSIC ITALIAN

18 Lane 50/59/17 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6317 This airy, contemporary looking Italian restaurant next to the famed lawn chair and coconut café on West Lake has all the right ingredients to become a classic. Run by the long time former manager of Luna D’Autunno, it features scrumptious woodfired oven pizzas from VND120,000 and other Italian delicacies. Open every day for lunch and dinner, delivery is also available. DALUVA FUSION / MIDDLE-EASTERN

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

16 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 3719 This lake-facing venue with its top floor Oyster Bar is the work of charismatic Canadian restaurateur and wine connoisseur Donald Berger. Focusing on comfort food done well, the main restaurant menu includes anything from wood-grilled rare tuna steak with fragrant Chinese black bean beurre noir to gourmet pizza and pasta dishes Excellent range of imported oysters, great breakfasts and an extensive wine list. EL GAUCHO STEAKHOUSE ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE

11 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3824 7280; 99 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6991 With venues in Saigon and Bangkok, the essence of El Gaucho is quality top grade

meats off the grill. Steak is the mainstay — the USDA cuts are to die for — but everything from chicken, pork and seafood is also up for grabs. Add to this a backdrop of low Latin music, low, subtle lighting, an extensive wine list and slick service. There’s a reason El Gaucho is so successful — everything’s being taken care of. FOOD EXCHANGE INTERNATIONAL BUFFET RESTAURANT

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

59 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3716 2959 Lakeside location and low bamboo seating, this eatery is one of the most popular Indians in town. Selling an international version of the mighty curry — they even sell pork and beef here — the menu keeps to the northern part of the subcontinent with masala, dopiaza, korma and the more Goan vindaloo taking centre stage. FRENCH GRILL A leafy, cobblestone courtyard with dark green castiron backed chairs greets you as you walk into this French era-built villa that houses the main section of this Indochina-styled restaurant. Serving up an enticing mix of classic and contemporary French cuisine, blended in with Vietnamese ingredients and cooking styles, the resultant fare has had customers coming back again and again. A traditional Vietnamese and kids menu is also available, as is a wine list focusing mainly on French wines. HIGHWAY 4 VIETNAMESE / ETHNIC

5 Hang Tre, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 4200; 25 Bat Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 0639; 575 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3771 6372 The home of Son Tinh liquor, Highway 4 is also known for its communal dining and ethnic food menu taking in dishes from around the regions of northern Vietnam. Try out their catfish spring rolls. Phenomenal! INDIA PALACE NORTH INDIAN

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


JW Marriott Hanoi, 8 Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Tel: (04) 3833 5588 With unique decor, contemporary ambience, a walk-in wine cooler and a delectable seafood bar, this classy restaurant offers guests a service experience with crafted food difficult to find in the capital. GREEN TANGERINE FRENCH / VIETNAMESE FUSION

48 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3825 1286


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

functions. Periodic buffets and drink specials are also offered.

and booth-like seating on the upper floors.





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

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

59 Van Mieu, Dong Da, Tel: (04) 3747 0337 The restaurant arm of Koto, an F&B training school for disadvantaged youth. Authentic Asian and European cuisine is served over four big floors of restaurant space. It’s cushioned, comfortable and has a rooftop terrace, too. Wrap it yourself nem, bun bo Nam bo, Koto burgers, pastas, fish and chips, chicken Kievs and sandwiches all under one homely roof. KY Y JAPANESE RICE EATERY

166 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3978 1386 Not to be mistake for a sushi joint, this wonderful restaurant is your typical, Japanese working person’s rice eatery. Has a bar area downstairs

10 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3942 4509 On entering La Badiane, you are instantly caught by the multitude aromas coming from the open front kitchen. Then, surrounded by leaf plants, and predominantly white walls, the customer is struck by this venue’s calm and elegance. Although the dining experience at la Badiane is about the food, great attention is also paid to the ambience so you can enjoy every aspect of your meal. Voted one of Miele Guide’s Top 500 Restaurants in Asia. LA SALSA IBERIAN / MEDITERANEAN

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

19 Ngo Van So, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3944 6317 Situated in an art-deco villa, this establishment is run by the most famous French chef in the country. With modestly priced set lunches and subtle Vietnamese touches on the dishes, the up market establishment lures in its high class customers with quality Vietnamese-French fusion cuisine. LE BEAULIEU CLASSIC FRENCH / BUFFET

Sofitel Metropole Legend, 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 6919 The Metropole’s signature restaurant serving up both classic and contemporary

French fare. Buffet options mix with an a la carte menu and an ambience that could be straight out of Paris. LINGUINI FINI ITALIAN-AMERICAN

36-38 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3266 8968 With branches in Hong Kong and Manilla, the contemporary Italian-American Linguini Fini pulls no punches with its first outlet in Vietnam. Sleek modern décor, high quality cuisine, home-made pasta, reasonable prices and dishes cooked up with the freshest ingredients available are part of the deal, as are some damn fine pizzas. LUNA D’AUTUNNO CLASSIC ITALIAN

27 Nam Ngu, Tel: (04) 3823 7338 This old-favourite Italian uses traditional wood ovens to prepare some of the city’s finest pizzas, which range from VND100,000 to buildyour-own-skies-the-limit. Set inside a large, thoughtful space seasoned chefs also make fresh pastas, soups and cheeses. Has regular live music and a great Italian wine list. MAY MAN CHINESE CUISINE PAN-CHINESE

Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3831 3333 Elegant and luxurious, May Man has long been regarded as one of the best Chinese restaurants in Hanoi. Showcasing a selection of authentic Chinese fare together with dim sum, May Man boasts extensive a la carte menus, dim sum menus and set menus. Reservations recommended.

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

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

11 Hang Hanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3828 7207 A contemporary and chic three-storey restaurant with a terrace and views over one of Hanoi’s best-known alleys. Serves up quality French cuisine such as: snails, foie gras, lobster, scallops, chateaubriand and tournedos Rossini. Does an excellent set menu and also has a daily specials board. MOOSE AND ROO CANADIAN / AUSTRALIAN RESTAURANT

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





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

The American Club, 19-21 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3939 2470



ven if you’re not vegetarian yourself, you’ve perhaps tried shepherding a vegetarian friend through Vietnamese cuisine. While the more flexible may be able to turn a blind eye to an occasional dab of fish sauce, finding reliable meat-free dishes can be something of a crap shoot. The new Uu Dam Chay restaurant, however, will meet the wishes of even the most pure-minded vegans. Everything is 100 percent animal product-free, offering a slice of reprieve for the non-meat inclined.

Veganism Located in an airy French-era colonial mansion with a post-modern makeover, the restaurant hopes to spearhead a trend toward veganism in Vietnam, according to owner Do Thu Ha. “With these home-raised vegetables and ingredients, maybe I can make them into great vegan cuisine,” she said. Ha said she was drawn towards vegetarianism after spending time in the nation’s Buddhist pagodas. “When I was there, I discovered that the

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food in the pagodas among the monks is quite delicious,” she said, referring to the vegetarianism observed in the monkhood. While it’s a misnomer to equate Buddhism with vegetarianism — most Buddhists around the world do eat meat — the Mahayana Buddhism practiced in Vietnam forbids meat for monks (the same can’t be said elsewhere in Southeast Asia, where Theravada Buddhist monks may be obliged to eat meat offered as alms). Using the monks’ recipes as a starting point, Ha took their vegetarianism one step further and created a 100 percent vegan menu.

Food with Flair The menu walks a tightrope between offering vegan dishes while also appealing to the aesthetics of meat lovers. “I appreciated the deliciousness of some of the meat,” says Ha of her meat-eating days, adding that she tried to adapt meat dishes without copying them. The Uu Dam Hot Pot (VND325,000), for instance, provides a plate of tofu in place of beef or chicken to be cooked in a veggie broth. The guso seaweed salad (VND135,000)

provides mineral rich, multi-coloured strains of seaweed that invokes sashimi on the plate. And the pine nut soup (VND95,000), served with freshly baked bread, somehow invokes the creamy wholesomeness of tomato soup with cream. The prize for most innovative item on the menu ought to be the durian pizza (VND185,000). While it won’t win over the king of fruit’s most avid haters, the meat-like consistency and pungent flavour lends itself well to high-temperature baking.

A New Trend? Ha says that veganism isn’t taking off in Vietnam just yet. She even still eats meat herself for social functions despite an otherwise meatless lifestyle, she admits. But in a country where consumers are becoming wary of chemical-laced meat and fish in the wake of high-profile news stories of contamination, she has hopes that her brand of organic meatlessness will catch on. “We are one of the trendsetters,” she says. — Bennett Murray Uu Dam Chay is at 34 Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

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A group of school girls campaign for the release of girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria


s I look back on the past year, my lens is “radical hope”. It’s Dominican Junot Díaz’s advice and comfort to his sad and scared sister in a letter the author wrote her soon after the US presidential election last November. I’m borrowing this framework (and Díaz got it from philosopher Jonathan Lear) because despite what many feel, this past year is not just all bad news. So it’s worth providing a reminder of the pretty cool things that also happened.

What to Remember One of the under-reported stories last year was the women who won on Nov. 8. These include the first Somali-American Muslim legislator; the first Indian-American elected to Congress, the first Indian-American and the second black woman ever elected to the Senate; the first Thailand-born senator in the US upper house; and the first Vietnamese-American elected to Congress. Another overlooked story was the 4,500 women across the US who registered to run for office after the US presidential election. Women signed up with the recently launched incubator program She Should Run to learn how to enter politics and hone

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leadership skills. In Nigeria, 21 kidnapped girls were freed by the extremist group Boko Haram. About 200 girls were kidnapped two years ago, and more women, men and boys remain in captivity, but the unrelenting protests from women’s groups locally and around the world forced the Nigerian government to act. A Guatemalan court sentenced two former members of the military to a combined 360 years in jail for crimes against humanity. The two men were found guilty of holding 15 indigenous women in sexual and domestic slavery, murder and forced disappearances. This is a “historic ruling for rape survivors” says the Global Fund for Women, because it is a significant step toward ending impunity for sexual violence in conflict.

Rights and Leadership Supporting women to run for office was also an initiative in the Asia-Pacific region. A four-year outreach programme that ended last year provided civics and leadership training for over 200,000 women. Vietnam can attest that its female labour force participation is one of the highest in the region (73%), while the country wrangles with closing the wage gap and

eliminating gender-based violence. Although it happened in late 2015, it bears repeating that for the first time in Canadian history, a loud and proud feminist prime minister made his cabinet gender balanced. Around the world, women’s rights activists made legal and political advances in Brazil, Palestine, Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, Poland and elsewhere. This year this column visited bandwagons, effective altruism, targets, indicators, MEALs, opera houses, raggedy children, the meanings of words, panties, bacon, hybridity and ended up here… on hope. Radical hope is not something you have but something you practice, says Díaz. There is much work to be done, but progress has been made. It needs to be celebrated as a vital fillip in our commitment to protecting the rights and dignity of all. This is also my last column. Thank you to the Word editors and readers for the lively debate and tremendous feedback. I am grateful to have been able to help start a conversation or two. Dana McNairn is the CEO of KOTO, an award-winning nonprofit social enterprise and vocational training programme for at-risk youth


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.

On the Town


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

46 Tho Nhuom, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3935 2400 The well-loved Namaste specialises in dishes from both northern and southern India — using Halal meat throughout. Hosted by the gregarious Gopi, a meal will cost you between VND150,000 and VND300,000 and everything is there, from curries and breads to soups and desserts. NAN N KABAB 49 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 0922 087799 Specialising in Pakistani cuisine and of course nan bread and kebabs, this semioutdoor, bamboo tabled, laid back eatery also sells fare from Afganistan and India. In a sentence? Curry, but not as you know it. NINETEEN 11 INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN


4 Ton That Thiep, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3747 8337 Gordon Ramsay once filmed a show at this restaurant in a renovated French villa and now the ribs carry his namesake. But it’s the twist on old world favourites, think fried snail spring rolls and miniature vegetarian banh xeo, all in a casually elegant setting that make this spot near the train tracks a standout. PANE E VINO PAN-ITALIAN

3 Nguyen Khac Can, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 9080 Just a stroll away from the Hanoi Opera House, Pane e Vino serves up authentic Italian food and has done for as long as anyone can remember. Renowned for the highly rated, oven fresh pizzas and large variety of pasta and salad dishes — look forward to fine food done well at this eatery that has the feel of Europe. Huge wine lists, friendly staff and a loveable owner. PIZZA 4P’S JAPANESE PIZZA JOINT

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

57 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3944 0204 Brought to you by a group of former disadvantaged youth from Hanoi’s own KOTO, this unique fine dining restaurant, bar and lounge blends the old with the new. Vietnamese fusion cuisine, like profiteroles with green tea and café fillings, a private

chef’s table with a kitchen view, and an extensive wine list combined with modern formal styling bring a unique experience to Hanoi. SAINT HONORE BOULANGERIE / BISTRO

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

8B, Lane 1, Au Co, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3938 2513 Small cozy café and sandwich bar hidden away in Nghi Tam Village. Serves and delivers tasty baguettes, homemade juices, quiches, pies, muffins and cakes. The delivery service is quick and reliable, which makes this lunchtime favourite ideal for when you need to eat at the desk. THE KAFE CONTEMPORARY CAFE / CUISINE

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

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

china Plaza, 241 Xuan Thuy, Cau Giay Waffles, but not as you know it. Here it’s about taking this humble dish and recreating it in a contemporary environment in as many ways as is humanly possible. Ever had a matcha waffle? What about a waffle stuffed with cream cheese and smoked salmon? How about a banoffee pie or a pizza waffle? Wannawaffle serves up all these creations and much more. WRAP & ROLL 5th Floor, Trang Tien Plaza, 24 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3824 3718 The lime green walls and bright pastel colours of Wrap ‘n Roll are just part of the theme of this homegrown, Vietnamese brand which is all about spring rolls of all types, and healthy, Hue-influenced cuisine. Now with two restaurants in Hanoi — the second in Royal City. ZENITH VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT HOLISTIC VEGETARIAN

247Au Co, Tay Ho, Tel: 0904 356561 zenith-cafe A vegetarian and vegan café connected to Zenith Yoga that respects yoga philosophy. Simple living, mindful thinking and 100 percent natural ingredients, all the food here is served up without additional additives or MSG and using only fresh seasonal products. All dishes are made in house.




67 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem BUN CHA DAC KIM BUN CHA

1 Hang Manh, Hoan Kiem; 67 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem KCC (KIEN CAN COOK) COM RANG DUA BO



54 Hang Chieu, Hoan Kiem PHO BO CU CHIEU PHO BO

48 Hang Dong, Hoan Kiem PHO CUON HUNG BEN PHO CUON

26 Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh PHO GA BA LAM PHO GA

7 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem PHO GA HANG DIEU PHO GA


49 Bat Dan, Hoan Kiem PHO LY QUOC SU PHO BO



18 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho

13 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung PHO TRON MIXED PHO

14 Hang Ga, Hoan Kiem

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






6 Ngo 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho

23 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem





25 Hang Ca, Hoan Kiem

44 Hang Hom, Hoan Kiem


The Opera House, 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3933 4801 Named after the completion date of the Hanoi Opera House, this upscale yet casual restaurant maintains an ambience of elegance, luxury and mystery. The cuisine mixes international fare with twists on Vietnamese cuisine and comes complete with a formidable wine list and an

in-house sommelier. | January 2017 Word | 149







f you’re new to Hanoi, then first and foremost, welcome to your new home. I sincerely hope that you will make true and lasting friends and memories in your time here. There is a lovely community of parents with children that will warmly welcome you and assimilate you into this place we now call home. As a new mother with a newborn, my first priority is vaccines. We are currently insured with FMP in Hanoi and we love it. They are a small, intimate family clinic, with great service and honest prices. They have a fantastic new paediatrician who has received rave reviews. The service in the clinic also comes in several languages and I’ve had nothing but great experiences there. There are other clinics and hospitals in Hanoi. International SOS is a clinic and also comes highly recommended, has a wonderful reputation and also administers vaccines. However, there has been a shortage of several vaccines lately. So if you’re looking to have vaccines administered here in Hanoi, please check out these clinics’ webpage online and contact them and see what they have available.

ready to leave. Age-group: Newborns to 24 months.

Making Contact


Whether you’re a working or stay-athome parent, moving to a new city is tough with children in tow and even tougher when you don’t know anyone. But there are plenty of groups and playgroups to help you find your place in this city. There are two recommendations, the first being my favourite:

Every Friday from 10am to when you’re ready to leave. Age-group: 24 months and older. If you’re looking for a nanny or a daytime play school to send your child to, there are numerous options. The best ones are always referred and this will take a bit more research and some time in Hanoi to decide what is best for you and your family. But between the Facebook group pages and the new mothers you will meet, you will find all your needs met.

Mommies and Babies of Hanoi This Facebook group is all about support, sharing, selling and helping, and is all round wonderful.

Hanoi Kids This Facebook group deals with events and more swapping and sharing of information. If you would like to meet some parents and their babies, there are two well-attended playgroups.

The Kitchen Every Tuesday from 9am to when you’re

150 | Word January 2017 |

Services Here are a few services, teachers and professionals and their contact details if you would like to introduce your children to any new activities to meet other children and of course for you to mingle with other adults too.

Alexia Berta Swimming teacher for kids and Aqua, pre- and post-natal yoga. More info on

Chi Nguyen Baby music classes, private guitar, piano, drums, voice and more music lessons. Workshops and events space. 83 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi.

Kelly Havlin Registered nurse, midwife and lactation consultant. Licensed, adult, child and infant CPR and first aid instructor. Child birth educator. Contact kellyhavlin@ or call 01296 425628.

Elizabeth Lucy Registered nurse and health visitor. Maternal mental health, child development and immunizations. Specializing in children aged up to five. Call 0936 091487.

General Info Click on the Concordia International School’s information page — Good luck with the move, I hope to meet you soon at one of the playgroups and welcome to Hanoi. If you have any comments or queries, please email me at



ur Bookworm staff usually read fiction and biography, so to get an insight into recommended non-fiction books we polled three of our customers who always choose fascinating titles. They collaborated with us to mini-review their favourite reads for 2016.

An Unregulated Experiment on Humanity

It’s an easy-to-read book that tries to open public debate in an online world that puts us into an unnavigable maze that is abuzz with irresistible enticements. It’s a book that will make work for the spin doctors of tech industries and may cause some readers to occasionally switch off their devices and intelligently talk to each other about how the unregulated experiment may be affecting their social and psychological lives.

Populism and Democracy

Crimes Against Humanity

A father with three young children recommended THE CYBER EFFECT: A pioneering Cyberpsychologist Explains How Human Behaviour Changes Online by Mary Aitken, who is an expert in a new psychological discipline that combines psychology, criminology and technology. She looks into how digital technology changes the way we operate and communicate. One of the author’s most arresting assertions for our father was about technology’s potential effect on babies and children. She studies how parental attachment to devices that prevent making eye contact with children can seriously affect a child’s emotional development. She warns about very young children being exposed to so-called ‘educational’ games that increase the child’s need to be constantly stimulated. She points to a multimillion dollar industry making computer games for infants aged 12 to 18 months. She suggests that in a world of selfies and social media, teenagers frequently can’t establish a sense of identity. She investigates how hard-core internet game users may develop antisocial and deviant behaviours, and she researches the effects that trolls and cyberbullies manifest.

A recent release involves characters who had a close relationship to a street in what is now Lviv in the Ukraine (formerly Lwow, Poland) when two of them formulated their philosophies about genocide and crimes against humanity and where the author’s maternal grandparents lived. It was a street in a city that witnessed mass killings — including scores of relatives of all three. EAST WEST STREET: on the origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity by Phillippe Sands, a human rights lawyer, tells of how two academics, unknown to each other, escaped Nazi persecution by fleeing abroad, and after the war tried to influence the Nuremberg war crimes trials to accept their individual premises as law. One was successful and many war criminals were prosecuted for crimes against humanity while the other had to wait until the United Nations accepted genocide as a punishable crime. The book threads its way through the mass murders of many minorities in Poland by way of specific characters like Nazi governor Hans Frank, The Butcher of Poland, and his son Niklas who reviled his father and recently made a documentary about the crimes of his father, titled What Our Fathers Did. Thanks to Rafael Lemkin and Hersch Lauterpacht, crimes against humanity and genocide are prosecuted at the International Criminal Court in The Hague but, as the author pointed out in an interview, the court is rapidly losing its teeth as the major world powers refuse to recognize the court’s jurisdiction over mass crimes committed by their citizens.

Lemkin realised that the Minorities Treaty imposed by the League of Nations after the First World War was flawed, and would probably ignite nationalist resentment against minority groups. And he was proved right. Jan-Werner Muller also discusses this phenomenon within today’s democracies in What is Populism? in which he attempts to analyse the rise of populism in democracies this century. The author asserts that populists have not changed much through the history of democracies. They are usually antielite (anyone with more money, power or education than themselves) and are anti-pluralist, often discriminating against refugees, newly arrived migrants, minority groups and non-mainstream religions. However, populists are easily manipulated by politicians who insert themselves into the dialogue of the dominant culture and inflame fears and resentments to offset and further their own agendas. “Populists do not just thrive on conflict and encourage polarization; they also treat their political opponents as enemies of the people and seek to exclude them altogether.” The author suggests solutions to the contemporary rise of populism and in conclusion suggests that it is necessary to talk with populists — not about them. He argues that somehow, demagoguery that is fuelled by the uncertainties that manufacture populists and who often allow political deviants to take control, can be calmed. Truong Hoang is behind the much-loved book shop, Bookworm. For more info click on or visit their shop at 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Hanoi | January 2017 Word | 151

152 | Word January 2017 |


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Day Tripper: Go Cong / Body & Temple / Location, Location, Location / Medical Buff / Terence Taylor’s Saigon Stories / Bar Stool / Coffee Cup / Top Eats A / Know Your City Photo Provided by Envy 154 | Word January 2017 |

HCMC Essentials







223 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1 Baguettes, croissants, pizza, cakes, muffins, donuts and brownies, this bakery and café all in one is a popular stop for those heading through the Backpacker District. Online ordering available. BREAD TALK

40 Nguyen Hue, Q1; 60-62 Le Loi, Q1 Selling up a good selection of English language books — in a range of reading areas — this multi-storied bookshop also does stationery, toys and a range of related products. Has a good selection of ESL texts.

fective network of business associates together and to facilitate discussion forums about business in Vietnam. NORDCHAM 17th Floor, Petroland Tower, 12 Tan Trao, Q7, Tel: (08) 5416 0922 PHILIPPINES BUSINESS GROUP VIETNAM 40/4 Pham Viet Chanh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3518 0045


106 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3; 2 Cao Thang, Q3; Vivo City, 1058 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 A Singaporean bakery chain that is vying for the Vietnam cake and bread market. Produces Asian-friendly patisseries and cakes in a spacious, airy atmosphere. Has eight locations and counting. HARVEST BAKING

LIBRAIRIE FRANCAISE NAM PHONG 82 Truong Dinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 7858 Nam Phong Bookstore was founded at the of end 2002 in Ho Chi Minh City as the first and only francophone bookshop in the whole of Vietnam. Only books written in French are for sale, covering for all ages and tastes. A catalogue is available at

AMERICAN BAKERY With a production facility in Thu Duc, Harvest Baking focuses on both the retail and non-retail trade, cooking up the best American-style bakery products in the city. Has an excellent home delivery service. Check the website for details. L’AMOUR BAKERY & CAFE

Hung Phuoc 2, Le Van Thiem, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 4072 TOUS LES JOURS


2A Le Duan, Q1; 2nd Floor Parkson Center, 35-45 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Although there are some English-language texts in this modern, well laid out bookstore, the focus here is on all things Vietnamese. Worth checking out, thought, for the occasional gem.



180 Hai Ba Trung, Q1; 59 Tran Hung Dao, Q1; 187 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1; 66B Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3; Lotte Mart, 469 Nguyen Huu Tho, Q7; 17/14 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 The background of this Korean bakery chain makes interesting reading. Established in 1996, in 2004 they opened in the US, 2005 in China and 2007 in Vietnam. French-styled with an Asian touch, the bare-brick décor makes this a popular joint. Has over 25 locations in Vietnam. VOELKER BAKERY

39 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6296 0066 French–run bakery selling probably the tastiest range of patisseries, breads, quiches and pies in town. The signature passion–fruit tart is a must try.

156 | Word January 2017 |

AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (AMCHAM) New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 3562. AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (AUSCHAM) 2nd Floor, Eximland Building, 179EF Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3, Tel: (08) 3832 9912 BRITISH BUSINESS GROUP OF VIETNAM (BBGV) 25 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 8430 CANADIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (CANCHAM) Room 305, New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 3754 Open to all nationalities, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce aims to create an ef-

SINGAPORE BUSINESS GROUP 6th Floor, Unit 601, Tran Quy Building, 57 Le Thi Hong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3046



37 Thao Dien, An Phu, Q2, Tel: 0917 567506 In addition to a varied selection of garments for babies and children up to 10 years old, Little Anh-Em stocks sleeping bags and other accessories. L’USINE LIFESTYLE / ACCESSORIES

First floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6674 9565 Exclusive labels, elegant and sophisticated clothing and casual high-quality cottons are stocked at this boutique/ café. Lifestyle accessories include shoes, homewares, knickknacks, cameras, stationery and a range of vintage bicycles. MANDARINA TAILOR-MADE SHOES

171 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 5267





9 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2394 Monday to Sunday, 9am to 8pm This centrally located unique boutique has been converted into an eco-boutique which exclusively retails the complete Anupa leather and semi-precious jewellery range as well as other unique eco brands such as bamboo eyewear, pendant scarves and cushion covers.

152 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3820 2620 9am to 10pm PAPAYA BUDGET CLOTHING


39 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 4556


174 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 0903 641826


163 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1, Tel: 0978 967588


1B Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 2210 2084 GINKGO VIETNAM-THEMED CLOTHING

10 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 8755; 54-56 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 6270 5928 Quality, original, Vietnamthemed tees are the showpiece at this airy French-run store. Designs are inspired by anything from the Vietnamese flag, local telecom wires and motorbikes to creative, Siddharta-style imagery. IPA-NIMA BAGS & ACCESSORIES

77-79 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 3277; 71 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 2701


80 Xuan Thuy, Q2 Stocks a wide range of Vespa-inspired tidbits and memorabilia including t-shirts, riding gear, Italian helmets, Respro face masks, DVDs, books, bags, magazines, posters and more. Rental scooters and bikes available.

M M M CORPORATE GIFTS AMBRIJ 14-16-18 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8364 A one-stop-shop concept company providing marketing services including POSM, corporate gifts and luxury ranges of business gifts

SHOPPING MALLS DIAMOND PLAZA 34 Le Duan, Q1. Tel: (08) 3825 7750 9am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court


126 Hung Vuong, Q5. Tel: (08) 2222 0383 9.30am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court


35-45 Le Thanh Ton, Q1. Tel: (08) 3827 7636 9.30am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court


65 Le Loi, Q1. Tel: (08) 3829 4888 9am to 9pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court

SAIGON SQUARE 77-89 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1 9am to 9pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics

VINCOM CENTER 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1. Tel: (08) 3936 9999 9am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court


54-56 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 0339 9am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court

from international brands like Swarovski, Cerruti 1881, Nina Ricci, Christian Lacroix, Ungaro and more. Also do event management services.



OVERLAND CLUB 35Bis Huynh Khuong Ninh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3820 9734 The Overland Club organises pottery classes, VietnameseJapanese cooking classes, cultural art events and monthly special activities, such as the Soba Festival, pottery painting classes, the art of decorating paper and multinational cuisine days. SAIGON COOKING CLASSES BY HOA TUC 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8485 Learn to cook quality Vietnamese cuisine with local specialist Hoa Tuc. The threehour lesson, conducted by an English-speaking Vietnamese chef, includes a trip around Ben Thanh Market to gather fresh ingredients for the class. VIETNAM COOKERY CENTRE Suite 45, 4th Floor, 26 Ly Tu Trong, Q1,Tel: (08) 3827 0349




175 Ha Noi Highway, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4543 This well-known Vietnamese furniture brand is a good choice for most families with its respected highquality designs and competitive prices. Located on the corner of Pham Ngoc Thach and Dien Bien Phu, the spacious showroom specialises in sofas and other furniture such as table sets, shelves and kitchen cabinets. There is a large selection of carpets as well as numerous choices of curtains and accessories. EM EM SOUVENIRS

38 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4408 8am to 9.30pm FEELING TROPIC FURNITURE & ACCESSORIES

51 Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2181 Specialising in interior designs and landscaping, this three-storey building is so packed full of items for sale that it doesn’t seem to have enough space for all of its products. The basement storey carries outdoor furniture such as bamboo-imitation and mosaic table sets, while the second level stocks all types of indoor furniture except beds. Accessories are found on the level above. MEKONG CREATIONS FAIR TRADE CRAFTS


35-37 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 2210 3110


268B Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Dist.3, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3932 6455; 30A Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3840 3946


2 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 9459 8am to 8pm MEKONG QUILTS




42 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 0023 This An Phu-based shop stocks antique repro furniture. All products are samples, so it’s limited and exclusive with only one or two pieces of each particular item. Also has a great range of imported fabrics up on the 2nd floor and an in-house sewing room for cushions, sofas and curtains. Offers custom-made furniture and delivery within four weeks.


1st Floor, 68 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 2210 3110 NHA XINH HOME FURNISHINGS

2nd Floor, Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 6115 REMIX DECO INDOOR FURNITURE

222 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 4190 THE FURNITURE HOUSE HOME FURNISHINGS

81 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4640/4643 | January 2017 Word | 157

DAY TRIPPER Vu Ha Kim Vy heads southwest in search of old houses and an untouched beach in Go Cong.

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Go Cong



o Cong is a town and district of Tien Giang Province, 70km southwest of Saigon in the Mekong Delta. According to locals, Go Cong means “mound of peacocks”, referring to the birds that lived in the area a long time ago. To reach Go Cong, you have to cross My Loi bridge — a 2.6km structure crossing the Vam Co river, which was opened to the public last year, linking Tien Giang to Long An and Saigon. Go Cong’s beauty is hidden in its old houses located in the centre, and fresh seafood from nearby Tan Thanh Beach.

Old Houses According to a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) report from 2006, Tien Giang has 350 old houses, of which two-thirds are located in Go Cong. Most of the old villas and houses were built from brick and oil extracted from o duoc trees mixed with honey, from 1800 to 1900. The villa of the former governor Nguyen

Phu Hai (49 Hai Ba Trung, Go Cong) is the best known in town. It’s a combination of French colonial architecture on the outside with a traditional southern Vietnamese interior. It was built in 1890 and boasts a main hall, two square apartments and a barn. In 1994, it was listed as a national relic. Other old architectural sites include Truong Dinh Temple, the villa of the first provincial chief of Go Cong, the Trung communal house and the royal mausoleums. As Go Cong is a small town, all are worth visiting.

Tan Thanh Beach Tan Thanh is a 7km stretch of sand located 13km west of Go Cong. Although it is not a pristine white beach with a long green line of palm trees, Tan Thanh is still charming with an untouched landscape and a sense of stillness. The beach has a 300m long dock where you can either catch the first rays of the sun or enjoy the salty breeze from the ocean. Or you can wait until the afternoon when the

tide goes down and you can join the locals to catch clams. When visiting Tan Thanh, you shouldn’t miss out on the seafood. You can either stop by the wooden stilt houses along the beach to try the food while looking out to sea or pick your own favourite seafood at the market at the welcome gate, and have it cooked according to taste. If you are interested in having a seafood BBQ with friends at home, before leaving Go Cong, drive 10km west to Vam Lang Market — a wholesale market, stocking a wide range of seafood at reasonable prices.

Getting There Follow QL50 (Highway 50) out of District 7 to reach Go Cong. When you get to Go Cong, take highway DT862 towards the sea. This will bring you to Tan Thanh Beach. | January 2017 Word | 159




f you’re like most people, the quest to be in shape and manage weight feels overwhelming. And, as if the quest to be fit isn’t hard enough, there are often other obstacles to overcome; health/injury problems, time management, mustering up courage or energy. Even if you’ve been exercising for a long time, there are always new barriers to be broken. Losing weight and maintaining the weight loss for an extended period of time requires some simple lifestyle adjustments. As long as you keep your adjustments within reasonable reach, you should be able to lose weight and keep it off without much shock and interruption to your daily life. With the New Year upon us here are four tips to help you get in better shape for 2017.

Get Perspective Decide on what you want. How important is your fat loss, fitness and/ or health goal? It is a simple question of what is more important to you… that beer? The 30 seconds of satisfaction from eating your favourite treat? Or the satisfying feeling when you accomplish your goal and when people compliment you on how good you look. Train your mind to believe no mountain is too high or any goal is too difficult to attain. There will always be barriers to impede your exercise and diet plan. It can also be about meeting your fears and facing them head-on. Ask yourself what is it that makes you uncomfortable? Have you let yourself get out of shape and are afraid you’ll never get back? Do you have an injury that’s caused you to be afraid of exercise? If you can visualize creatively, then you can put your fears in check. See yourself as you’d like to be. Acknowledge how good it will feel to achieve your goal.

Exercise Daily Daily activity will make a big difference to your body shape and to the way your body processes calories. You will become more efficient at burning fat for fuel. You will build your muscle mass, which in turn will increase your metabolism. You also increase your endorphin flow, which means that you will note an improvement in mood and attitude. Physical activity does not need a large amount of time to receive all of the above benefits. You simply need to move daily with regular workouts. Whatever the activity is, keep in mind

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that it should elevate your heart rate and it should make you breathe a bit heavier than usual. Workouts can be as short as 10 to 15 minutes, so time is not an issue. However, these short bouts of exercise need to be intense.

Eat in Moderation When you are trying to lose weight or sustain lost weight, it is vital that you allow yourself to eat all foods, but eat the unhealthy ones in moderation at restricted times. The primary reason that many diets fail is that people reduce the foods that they allow themselves to eat so much that they feel anxious after eating the same things time and time again. When you allow yourself to give into simple cravings, every now and then, you are rewarding your subconscious and making it less tempted to crave larger portions of the bad foods. Most people need time to wean themselves off chemically loaded, junk foods from both physiological and psychological standpoints.

Have a Buddy Studies prove that having a support network increases your chances of maintaining a diet, exercise routine, or long-term weight loss. Buddies are fabulous motivators. They will keep you attuned to your habits and help you be accountable throughout the day. If you must, enlist the help of a partner to be an appointed weight-loss guardian. He or she will be tasked with ensuring that you stick to your weight-loss goals by encouraging you to report your progress several times a week. It is hard to change your lifestyle. It can be painful to begin to exercise. It takes time to adjust to new habits and for your body to start to feel the benefit and enjoy exercise. It will not be easy… but it will be worth it. Phil is founder and master trainer at Body Expert Systems. Contact him on 0934 782763, at his website bodyexpertsystems. com or through Star Fitness (

HCMC Essentials


3B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 6657 0788 vn

M M M CYCLING FIRSTBIKE VIETNAM FirstBIKE balance bikes for two to five-year-olds eliminate the need for training wheels or stabilisers, and support proper balance development. JETT CYCLES OWN-BRAND CYCLING SHOWROOM

384 Tran Phu, Q5; 168 Vo Thi Sau, Q3 The showroom home of Jett Cycles, a homegrown cycling company with all products designed in Vietnam. Sells up budget bicycles to high-end product, with the full range of accessories in between. Also stocks GT and Cannondale. SAIGON CYCLES CYCLING & ACCESSORIES

44 Phan Van Nghi (S51-1 Sky Garden 2), Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 3114 Specialising in Trek and Surly, Saigon Cycles is also famed for its Sunday morning rides. Sells the full range of accessories and also does bicycle repairs. THE BIKE SHOP CYCLING & ACCESSORIES

250 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6405 The go-to location for all your cycling needs in District 2. Sells a range of brands including Cannondale, Jett, GT and Aluboo, as well as the full selection of accessories. Organises regular cycle rides, does repairs and rentals. Check for more details.


Kumho Asiana Plaza, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8800

ELITE DENTAL GROUP. 57A, Tran Quoc Thao, Q3, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3933 3737 Elite Dental is an international and well-equipped clinic, which provides specialized dental services including ALL-ON-4 Implants, ALL-ON-6 implants, dental implants, prosthodontics, Invisalign & orthodontics. Luxury design and our dental experts will bring you an extremely comfortable experience.


167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 8424 Globally renowned provider of medical assistance and international healthcare offers full dental services in the clinic. Foreign and Vietnamese dentists provide high skilled dental service. Orthodontics is also available. MINH KHAI DENTAL CLINIC INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC


2 Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 6222 24, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6282 8822 Long–established, modern clinic with French, Canadian, Belgian & Vietnamese dentists. A favourite of the foreign residential community due to its modern and effective treatments allied with extremely reasonable prices.

WESTCOAST INT’L DENTAL CLINIC INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC Norfolk Mansion, 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6999 Thao Dien Clinic, 27 Nguyen Ba Lan, Q.2, Tel: (08) 35 191 777 An international dental clinic equipped with the latest technology, the comfortable clinics offer cosmetic and implant dentistry with a focus on making each patient’s experience anxiety and pain free. | January 2017 Word | 161



s property developers offer attractive payment terms, banks providing affordable mortgage rates and increased talk allowing expatriates to take out mortgages, more and more local and foreign Vietnamese property investors have begun building a nest egg. And while you begin to shift your investment dollar away from gold and green back to bricks and mortar, make sure you consider the following steps before you start: Know what you want to achieve. Where do you see property investing taking you over the short and long term? Would you like to build equity now and establish a passive income stream later, or do you need more cash flow in the near future? Write out your end goal — the thing you would like to achieve by investing in property — and define it in as much detail as possible. Break it down further into steps and give each step a time frame. You now have a skeleton for your strategy. Know where you stand financially and develop a strategy. Enlist the help

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of an independent financial advisor or consultant to help you identify your savings capacity. If you don’t have enough savings to make the minimum payments or for other purchase costs, look at ways you can increase savings until you do. Build a success team. In addition to finding a property investment expert and an independent financial advisor or banker, make sure you find an accountant and solicitor who are all on the same page with you and each other. Buy properties strategically and in the right order for your goals. For my own investing, I developed three principles that I have stuck by and still stick by today. 1) Each property should be bought below market value to allow for a buffer to mitigate risk. 2) They should be bought in an area with strong growth prospects (e.g. close proximity to Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi CBD, new infrastructure and consistent renter demand). 3) In the event the property is bought with a mortgage, they should also offer a neutral to positive cash flow so that they


are paying themselves off. Make sure you are not in the red. If a property is missing one or two of these qualities, I won’t buy it. The other thing to keep in mind is that in order to build a property portfolio in the quickest and most beneficial way, it’s critical to buy properties in the right order to achieve your goals. Different properties offer different things to different people. Some are better at achieving capital growth, while others are better at delivering a good rental return. Depending on your needs and strategy, you will find that purchasing in a specific order will benefit you the most, while buying haphazardly may prevent you from achieving your goals. Keep your finger on the pulse and stay committed. Building a property portfolio is not for the faint-hearted but if you jump in at the boom, make sure you can also weather any potential bust. Greg Ohan is the Vietnam director of JLL, a leading global real estate services firm. Email your questions to or visit

HCMC Essentials


Md6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7 (across from FV Hospital), Tel: Tel: (08) 5410 0100 Specialising in healthcare, dental services and chiropractic medicine, the recently opened Maple Healthcare comes replete with the latest technology together with efficient and comfortable service.

M M M GALLERIES CRAIG THOMAS GALLERY 27i Tran Nhat Duat, Q1, Tel: 0903 888431 Craig Thomas Gallery offers a compelling mix of up-andcoming and established local artists. In operation since 2009, its founder has been promoting Vietnamese art for a decade. Now has a second newer gallery at 165 Calmette, Q1, HCMC DOGMA 8A/9C1 Thai Van Lung, Q1 The home of Vietnamese propaganda art and a collection put together over the last two decades by art collector Dominic Scriven, the majority of the work comes from the war period when provocative poster art was used to inspire and motivate. Sells prints of the originals and related products. GALERIE QUYNH 65 De Tham, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 8019 In addition to working with artists based in Vietnam, Galerie Quynh also exhibits the work of artists from around the world. This wellestablished gallery supports education through talks, lectures and publications. HO CHI MINH CITY FINE ARTS MUSEUM 97A Pho Duc Chinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4441 Set in one of the finest remaining buildings of colonial-era Vietnam, this multi-storey museum houses collections spanning centuries of Vietnamese art. Has regular exhibitions. SAN ART 48/7 Me Linh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 6294 7059 San Art is an independent, artist-run exhibition space that offers residency

programmes for young artists, lecture series and an exchange programme that invites international artists / curators to organise or collaborate on exhibitions.


many a supermarket in this country to shame. As well as a dizzying selection of imported foods, also sells frozen meat and fish, fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices and a wide selection of dairy products. THE WAREHOUSE




16–18 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9332; 41A Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2630 Attractive and spacious French–owned grocery shop stocking a large range of foods, organic fruit and vegetables, imported beers and wines. Also sells luxury branded products from the likes of Fauchon. The deli upstairs in the Hai Ba Trung branch serves tasty baguette rolls in a comfortable lounge area with free Wi–Fi, and offers probably the best selection of cheese and cured meats in town.

15/5 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8826 One of the busiest wine retailers in town. In addition to their excellent range of wines, they also stock imported beers, bottled mineral water and spirits. VEGGY’S


No. 17, Street 12 (perpendicular to Tran Nao street), Q2, Tel: (08) 3740 7105 Supplier for the city’s five– star hotels, also distributing brands like San Pellegrino, Rougie foie gras, Galbani cheese, fresh poultries, meat, live seafood and vegetables. You can now find all the products at the gourmet shop on location.

MEATWORKS BUTCHERY BUTCHERS 1 Street 2, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2565 Focusing on the retail trade, the meat at this Australianmanaged butcher comes pre-prepared and, if you so wish, pre-marinated. Sells up some of the best imported meats in town together with homemade sausages, free-range products and excellent Australian grassfed steak.


58 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 1318 A small yet amazingly wellstocked store that puts

ECCS (THE ENGLISH CRICKET CLUB OF SAIGON) Adam Zakharoff Email: adamzakharoff@


29A Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8526 Courtesy of a farm in Dalat, Veggy’s retails some of the best quality fruit and veg available in the city. Also has a wide selection of imported food products including USDA beef, the same beef served up at El Gaucho.



HAIRDRESSERS, SALONS & SPAS AVEDA HERBAL SPA Villa 35A, Street 41, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel:(08) 3519 4671 CAT MOC SPA 63 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6295 8926 Aimed exclusively at ladies and couples only, treatments at this Japanese spa include facial, body and foot care, and Japanese-style haircuts, as well as steam-sauna, paraffin and waxing services. CONCEPT COIFFURE 48 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4625 Hair stylist and colourist specialist Sandrine has relocated her long-standing flagship salon Venus Coiffure to a villa in Thao Dien. A full range of services is offered including a dedicated kids salon. FAME NAILS SALON 3 Truong Dinh, Q1, Tel: 0909 682 827 GLOW SPA 129A Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8368 Modern and bright downtown spa, offers massages lasting from 30 minutes, to two-hour hot stone therapy,

ICCS (INDIAN CRICKET CLUB OF SAIGON) Deeptesh Gill, Tel: 01228 770 038 ISCS (INDIAN SPORTS CLUB IN SAIGON) Munish Gupta, Tel: 0986 973 244 PSSC (PAKISTAN SAIGON CRICKET CLUB) Samie Cashmiri, Tel: 0976 469 090 samie.cashmiri@gmail. com SACC (SAIGON AUSTRALIA CRICKET CLUB) Steve Treasure, Tel: 0903 998 824 SSC (SRI LANKA SPORTS CLUB) Suhard Amit, Tel: 0988 571 010 UCC (UNITED CRICKET CLUB) Asif Ali, Tel: 0937 079 034 VIETNAM CRICKET ASSOCIATION (VCA) Manish Sogani, Tel: 0908 200 598

FOOTBALL & RUGBY AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL Tel: 0937 683 230 LES GAULOIS DE SAIGON OLYMPIQUE SAIGON Contact Fred on 0919 709 024 or Viet Luu 0909 500 171.

SAIGON RAIDERS SAIGON RUGBY CLUB RMIT University, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phong, Q7 saigonrugbyfootballclub@ SAIGON SAINTS

SPORTS — GENERAL HASH HOUSE HARRIERS RANGERS BASEBALL TEAM SAIGON INTERNATIONAL DARTS LEAGUE SAIGON INTERNATIONAL SOFTBALL LEAGUE SAIGON SHOOTERS NETBALL CLUB saigonshootersnetball. SAIGON SPORTS ACADEMY 28 Tran Nao, Q2, Tel: (08) 7303 1100 SQUASH The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2098 ext 176 TORNADOS HOCKEY CLUB 436A/33 Ba Thang Hai, Q10, Tel: 0938 889899 ULTIMATE FRISBEE RMIT, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 X–ROCK CLIMBING 7Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 6278 5794 | January 2017 Word | 163



ietnam is among the world’s worst countries for overuse of antibiotics. Much has been written about the worldwide epidemic of antibiotic abuse and the rise of “superbugs”, but even against a backdrop of international attention, the excessive use of antibiotics in Vietnam is alarming. The misuse of antibiotics puts us all at risk and the ease with which babies are prescribed with antibiotics here is frightening. I once treated a Vietnamese baby who, at the age of one, had been given more courses of antibiotics than I have received in my entire lifetime. And this child is not an exception. The overuse of antibiotics leads to a surge of bacteria which are resistant to multiple drugs. An audit of all of Family Medical Practice’s children’s urine cultures over an entire year revealed that over 25% of the paediatric urine infections were caused by multi-resistant bacteria. According to studies done in Vietnam, in local hospitals the prevalence of multi-resistant bacteria is up to 70%. By comparison, in developed countries, this figure is generally under 2 percent.

Interaction Besides creating ‘super-violent bacteria,’ antibiotics abuse damages our immune system function. The ‘good bacteria’ in our guts interacts with the immune system cells and plays an important role in balancing immune system functions. Too many antibiotics kills the ‘good

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bacteria’ and destroys this balance. This can lead to the development of allergies, asthma, atopic dermatitis and other chronic inflammatory conditions. There are several factors contributing to antibiotics abuse in Vietnam. Quite often we see doctors prescribing antibiotics, medicines which attack bacteria, for viral conditions, even when they do diagnose the infection as viral (e.g. flu, bronchitis). Antibiotics are completely ineffective in these cases. And even when prescribed for bacterial infections, the choice of antibiotics and length of treatments are often wrong. Another important factor is the fact that up to two-thirds of antibiotics in Vietnam are sold over the counter by pharmacies. People simply skip the doctor and go straight to the pharmacist — who is not qualified to make diagnoses, but nonetheless, will sell antibiotics to patients based on their symptoms alone. Parental demand also has a role to play. Sometimes parents expect antibiotics and are dissatisfied when they don’t get them. They are conditioned to receive a bag-full of medicine each time they visit a doctor, whether they need it or not. They demand antibiotics, and sometimes doctors break and prescribe, just to pacify the parents.

Shopping Spree Another major problem in Vietnam is shopping around for doctors. If a doctor still insists on not prescribing antibiotics, some parents will go to another doctor.


Many times, a child will not improve after a day or two and the parents, instead of going to the same doctor, will try a different one. That doctor in turn will prescribe yet another antibiotic. It is common in our clinic to see babies who have visited three or four doctors in a short period of time before coming to us. Super-resistant bacteria are a concern for the whole community, because it affects even children who have never received antibiotics in their lives. Bacteria can share genetic information in the same way we share digital information using a USB flash drive. This is called a ‘plasmid’. It’s a little ring of DNA that bacteria can send to each other. A plasmid can contain genes that help other bacteria resist the effect of antibiotics. When a child receives antibiotics and the bacteria develop resistance, this can be spread to other children who come in close contact with them — for example at school or kindergarten. We should all participate in the effort to reduce antibiotic overuse. We need to educate both our doctors and our parents on the appropriate use of antibiotics. Governments should be responsible for controlling antibiotic access, making sure pharmacies are not allowed to sell antibiotics without proper prescription from the doctor giving treatment. Dr. Jonathan Halevy is a senior pediatrician at the Family Medical Practice in Ho Chi Minh City. For more info click on

HCMC Essentials

includes one suite with a Jacuzzi bath; offers hand and foot care and a hair styling area.

features a rooftop terrace and a great little drinks and wine selection. Open daily from 10am to 9pm.


SPA TROPIC 79 Phan Ke Binh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 5575 Spa Tropic is a stylish boutique spa housed in the refurbished former Chilean Consulate. Spa Tropic has a long-standing reputation among expats and visitors alike for its professional quality service.


68 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (FREEPHONE) 1800 1108 A unique themed hair salon where stylists use no scissors but styling equipment only, giving female clients the opportunity to get their hair done on the run. Of course, they have to look fabulous, too. Fortunately this is one of Hair Bar’s specialities. Check the salon out on Facebook: hairbarvn. INDOCHINE SPA 69 Thu Khoa Huan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7188 Indochine Spa provides a peaceful and serene atmosphere with aromatic scents and lulling melodies. Customers are pampered by qualified therapists using natural French products in a clean and pleasant environment. JASMINE 45 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2737 Spa–related salon with a good reputation for quality and comfort offers washes and leisurely haircuts from VND330,000 plus a range of related services including massage and some excellent treatments. MERCI 17/6 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8799 A unique nail spa and bistro where you can pamper your nails, enjoy a massage, meet your friends, enjoy a meal and sip a cocktail. Provides only waterless nails treatments to avoid bacteria and dry skin as well as Zoya and Kure Bazaar non-toxic varnishes. QUYNH BEAUTY SALON 104A Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3512 4321 A District 2 favourite, this is the salon to head to for anything from massage to haircuts, hairwashing to nails. Cheap prices, too. SOI SPA 6th & Rooftop, 44 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8678 A lovely little place with nail services, shampoo head massages, and other simple treatments for a quick getaway experience. Also


161-161A Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3939 3930 ACC provides effective chiropractic, physiotherapy, acupuncture and foot care treatments through the use of cutting edge technology for back, neck and knee pain, sports injuries as well as all types of foot related problems without the need of drugs or surgery. AMERICAN EYE CENTER 5th Floor, Crescent Plaza, 105 Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Tel: 5413 6758 / 5413 6759 American Eye Center is located in the heart of Phu My Hung, providing eye care services to Adults and Children by an American Board-certified ophthalmologist with 17 years of experience. The American-standard facility is equipped with state of the art equipments for the early detection and treatment of important eye diseases from Lasik and cataract surgeries to presbyopia, glaucoma and diabetic eye disease treatments. Cosmetic procedures such as eyelid surgery and Botox injections are also available. CENTRE MEDICAL INTERNATIONALE (CMI) FRENCH MEDICAL CLINIC

1 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2366 This French medical clinic provides general practice and a range of specialties including cardiology, gynecology, psychotherapy, ophthalmology, paediatrics and acupuncture. FAMILY MEDICAL PRACTICE INTERNATIONAL CLINIC

34 Le Duan Street, Q1; 95 Thao | January 2017 Word | 165

HCMC Essentials

Dien Q2, Tel: (08) 3822 7848 Family Medical Practice (FMP) is the largest and one of the oldest foreign, privately-owned, international health care providers in Vietnam. As the only health care provider that can offer a countrywide network of integrated clinics for foreign and local populations, FMP’s main specialties include family medicine, pediatrics and emergency medicine as well as health checks and work permit health-tests.

My Hung specialising in acupuncture. Established in Ho Chi Minh City for over a decade. INTERNATIONAL SOS HCMC MEDICAL CLINIC INTERNATIONAL CLINIC / MEDIVAC

167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 8424 The world’s leading provider of medical assistance and international healthcare offers primary health care, diagnostic services and 24/7 emergency care. Specialist care is available in many fields.

FV HOSPITAL INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL 6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Saigon South Parkway, Q7, Tel: (08) 5411 3333

Emergency: (08) 5411 3500 International hospital whose standard of health care matches that found anywhere, with 19 full–time French doctors and 58 Vietnamese doctors, providing expertise in 30 medical and surgical areas, especially maternity care.


3rd Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6290 6167 State–of–the–art medical centre located in District 1. Experienced American, French, and Vietnamese doctors provide the full spectrum health care. Plus sports medicine, cosmetic treatments, skin care and surgical consultations. HANH PHUC INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL

Binh Duong Boulevard, Thuan An District, Binh Duong Tel: (0650) 363 6068 Claiming to be the first Singapore-standard hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, this institution based on the outskirts of town is gaining a growing reputation for service and treatment. Specialises in providing healthcare to women and children. Has a clinic at 97 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 HAPPINESS ORIENTAL MEDICINE ACUPUNCTURE CLINIC ACUPUNCTURE

432 Pham Thai Buong, Q7, Tel: 0906 684969 Well-known traditional Chinese medicine clinic in Phu

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SIAN SKINCARE CLINIC SKIN CARE / COSMETICS 27 Nguyen Trung Truc, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 6999 The Australian and Canadian managed SIAN Clinic offers a wide range of skincare medical therapies to treat problems by an experienced dermatologist and facial care team. The clinic utilises the latest therapies.


99 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 1990 Stamford Skin Centre offers a broad range of medical and aesthetic skin treatments. Their international dermatologists and doctors ensure accurate diagnosis and safe treatment procedures. It houses excellent equipment for a variety of procedures. TRADITIONAL MEDICINE HOSPITAL EASTERN MEDICINE


79 Dien Bien Phu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 4545 Well-regarded clinic offering general examinations and specialising in pediatrics, digestive diseases, cardiology, women’s health and internal medicine. Offers a membership programme and cooperates with most insurance companies in Vietnam and abroad.


INSURANCE PACIFIC CROSS VIETNAM 4th/12th Floor Continental Tower, 81-83-85 Ham Nghi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 9908 Pacific Cross Vietnam recently changed names, from Blue Cross Vietnam, to align with their regional sister companies. Together they form the Pacific Cross group of companies with over 60 years’ experience providing health and travel insurance to people who call Asia home. Their reputation for transparent, honest and reliable service means they are the strength behind your insurance. Contact them now for a free quote. IF CONSULTING IBC Building, 3rd Floor, 1A Me Linh Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7362 Independent advisors that represent top reputable medical insurers provide you with the best suitable medical cover for individual, family or company needs. For emergencies call 0903 732365 LIBERTY INSURANCE 15th Floor, Kumho Asiana Plaza, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: 1800 599 998 International insurance firm providing the full range of services to the individual — car insurance, travel insurance, health insurance, home insurance and much more. NOAH JAMES INSURANCE AGENCY Mobile: (1) 617 676 7858 Skype: A full service broker offering expatriates and local Vietnamese customized solutions from highly rated insurers for life, health, travel, as well as speciality cover for student travel, medevac, international marine, extreme athletics and adventure. For details contact: TENZING PACIFIC SERVICES 181 Dien Bien Phu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 5367 A full-service insurance broker offering a wide range of insurance solutions from the best local and international providers. Recommendations are based exclusively on client needs.


KIDS CLASSES & SPORTS DANCENTER 53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4490 Children and teenagers can enjoy jazz, ballet, hip-hop, funk, belly dancing, salsa and in multi-level classes at this modern dance studio. HELENE KLING OIL PAINTING 189/C1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0903 955780 INSPIRATO MUSIC CENTER 37 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0932 737700 MINH NGUYEN PIANO BOUTIQUE 94A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 7691 PERFORMING ARTS ACADEMY OF SAIGON 19A Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 9679 Has a range of music-based programmes teaching kids in anything from guitar and drums to piano, clarinet and saxophone. Also provides musical assessment and a mixture of private and group classes. PIANO CLASSES Tel: 01225 636682 SAIGON MOVEMENT Tel: 0987 027 722 SAIGON SEAL TEAM 55 Nguyen Dang Giai, An Phu, Q2, Tel: 0905 098 279 SAIGON PONY CLUB 38, Lane 42, Le Van Thinh, Q2, Tel: 0913 733360 SAIGON SPORTS ACADEMY 28 Tran Nao, Q2, Tel: (08) 7303 1100 International coaches provide training in soccer, basketball, tennis and swimming for children aged four to 16 years and private lessons for children and adults. Youth soccer league Sundays from 2pm to 6pm in District 7. TAE KWON DO BP Compound, 720K Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0903 918 149 VINSPACE 6 Le Van Mien, Q2, Tel: 0907 729 846

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS ABC INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (ABCIS) Saigon South Campus 1 (Primary & Secondary), Tel: (08) 5431 1833/34/35/36; Saigon South Campus 2 (Foundation Stage & Early Primary), Tel: (08) 5431 1833/34/35/36 Rated as ‘outstanding’ by British Government Inspectors, academic results puts ABCIS among the top 8% of schools worldwide. ABCIS is accredited by CIE, AQA, the Education Development Trust and members of COBIS and FOBISIA. Provides education for two to 18 year olds in a supportive and friendly environment. BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (BIS) 246 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2335 Inspected and approved by the British Government, BIS provides a British style curriculum for an international student body from pre-school to Year 13. The school is staffed by British qualified and trained teachers with recent UK experience. Fully accredited by the Council of International Schools and a member of FOBISIA, BIS is the largest international school in Vietnam.

fied teachers implement the internationally recognised Ontario curriculum to create a student-centred learning environment promoting academic excellence. Has a newly built campus.

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HO CHI MINH CITY — AMERICAN ACADEMY 16 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3898 9100 ISHCMC — American Academy is a U.S. curriculum secondary school for students aged 11 to 18 years old. Early university credits, a 1:1 University Counseling Program, and an extensive EAL program set our graduates on the road to 100% acceptance rate at overseas universities and a US$1 million scholarship fund.

KIDS CLUB SAIGON 79/7 Pham Thai Buong, Q7; 27/3 Ha Huy Tap, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 5944 Early childhood centres in Phu My Hung offering creative play-based programmes for children ages two to five. Known for unique facilities, experienced staff, highquality learning resources, and small class sizes.

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HO CHI MINH CITY 28 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3898 9100 HCMC’s most established international school offers three International Baccalaureate programmes for students from two to 18 years old. ISHCMC will be launching a new secondary campus in 2017, featuring Vietnam’s first Innovation Center, a 350-seat professional theatre, NBA-sized basketball courts and a 25m competitive swimming pool.

CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 7 Road 23, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 3456 The first Canadian international school in Vietnam serves local and foreign students from Kindergarten to grade 12. Talented, certi-

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL SAIGON PEARL 92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 2222 7788/99 Vietnam’s only international school offering a U.S. curriculum for children aged 18 months to 11 years old. With 100% English language immersion, a library containing over 13,500 English books and more than 60% of students achieving above grade level English, ISSP students are well prepared for secondary school at ISHCMC or ISHCMC - American Academy.

EUROPEAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HO CHI MINH CITY (EIS) 730 F-G-K Le Van Mien, Q2, Vietnam, Tel: (08) 7300 7257

The European International School offers a supportive and challenging academic education from Early Years to Grade 12 based on the IB curriculum. EIS is a Nobel Talent School and is part of the Nobel Education Network. The school educates global citizens to enjoy learning, inquiring and caring for others. MONTESSORI INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 42/1 Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2639 Aiming to encourage children’s engagement with their surroundings, MIS offers children from age three to 12 a classic Montessori education as well as a variety of extra–curricular activities. RENAISSANCE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL SAIGON 74 Nguyen Thi Thap, Q7, Tel: (08)3773 33171 ext 120/121/122 Renaissance is an International British school providing an inclusive curriculum based upon the British curriculum complemented by the International Primary Curriculum and International Baccalaureate. It is a family school with first-class facilities including a 350-seat theatre, swimming pool, mini-pool, play-areas, gymnasium, IT labs, music and drama rooms, science labs and an all-weather pitch. SAIGON KIDS EDUCATIONAL CHILDCARE CENTRE 15 Street 12, Q2, Tel: (08) 3740 8081 SKECC has evolved over 10 years to create a creative, playful learning environment for children ages two to six. Limited class sizes and highly engaged teachers ensure personal attention for all students. SAIGON SOUTH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (SSIS) 78 Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 0901 Offers an American-style education (SAT, IB and AP) from elementary to high-school, emphasizing a multi–cultural student environment and a commitment to well–rounded education at all levels. SAIGON STAR INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL Residential Area No. 5, Thanh My Loi, Q2, Tel: (08) 3742 7827 Established in 2006, Saigon

Star is a British School and one of only four schools in Vietnam to adopt the International Primary Curriculum (IPC). A combination of experienced, UK qualified teachers and a maximum of 16 students per class means learners receive the individual attention they deserve. A secondary school is opening in August 2017. SMARTKIDS 1172 Thao Dien Compound, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6076; 26, Street Nr. 10, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3898 9816; 15 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4236 This international childcare centre provides children ages 18 months to six years with a high quality education in a playful and friendly environment. THE AMERICAN SCHOOL 172-180 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0903 952223 Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), TAS represents 20 nationalities and provides an American-based curriculum with rigorous performance standards and a variety of academic offerings. Runs advanced placement courses and university credit courses through their partnership with Missouri State University, as well as an Intensive ESL Program for English Language Learners.

M M M PROPERTY RENTALS CHUM’S HOUSE 121/21 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 7237 EASY SAIGON Tel: 0932 112694 The Easy Saigon website is a useful real estate website helping expats to find apartments in Ho Chi Minh City. Enquiries via their website are welcome. HAPPY HOUSE 32-34 Ngo Duc Ke, Suite 701, Q1, Tel: 01659 419916 NAM HOUSE 48A Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0989 007700 Expert in providing rental properties, constructions and interior decoration, especially in District 2. Supports professional services and aftersales.

RESIDENT VIETNAM Unit 601 48 Hoa Su, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 2226 8855 SNAP 32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4282 Owners of Snap Café in District 2, Snap offers a web– based real estate search service with information on rental properties all around the city, as well as an advisory service for those averse to wading into the internet depths for their needs. THE NEST 216/4 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0938 580800 Well–known property search and real estate agency with a useful website listing properties available for rent and sale, orientated towards expats. Website is in English, French and Spanish.


185/30 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: 0903 643446 Probably the best-known motorbike rental joint in town with over 200 bikes and a range of models and makes. Rents by the day or by the month. Call or check the website for details. Also does visa extensions. SAIGON BIKE RENTALS Tel: 0972 451273 Rents out a range of models including Honda Waves, Yamaha Nouvos, Classicos, Luvias, SYM Attilas and Excels. Call for details and prices. SAIGON SCOOTER CENTRE RENTALS / CLASSIC SCOOTERS

77a Hanoi Highway, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0903 013690 Just relocated to its new home in District 2, Saigon Scooter Centre is more than just the place to go for all your classic scooter needs. Also does accessories, quality imported helmets and bike rentals.

RECRUITMENT & HR ADECCO VIETNAM 11th floor, Empire Tower, 26 - 28 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 3430 Adecco is the world leader in human resources solutions. Established in Vietnam in | January 2017 Word | 167

HCMC Essentials

2011, Adecco offers a wide array of global workforce solutions and specialises in finance & legal, sales, marketing & events, IT, engineering & technical, and office. HR2B/TALENT RECRUITMENT JSC 1st Floor, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 6288 3888 G.A. CONSULTANTS VIETNAM CO., LTD. Ho Chi Minh Office: Room 2B-2C, 2nd Floor, 180 Pasteur, District 1, HCMC. VIETNAMWORKS.COM 130 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 5404 1373 The best-known recruitment website in Vietnam. Post you’re the position you’re looking for and wait for the responses. You’ll get many. Also a good site for expat jobseekers.

M M M RELOCATION AGENTS ALLIED PICKFORDS 12th floor, Miss Ao Dai Building, 21 Nguyen Trung Ngan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 1220 With more than 800 offices in over 45 countries, Allied Pickfords is one of the worldwide leaders in removal services. In Vietnam, Allied also

provides tailored relocation services.

AGS FOUR WINDS (VIETNAM) 5th Floor, Lafayette De Saigon, 8A Phung Khac Khoan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 0071 A global leader in international removals and relocations, with 130 offices globally, we can move your property to and from any location.

ASIAN TIGERS MOBILITY Unit 9.3, Floor 9, Ree Tower, 9 Doan Van Bo, Ward 12, District 4, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3 826 7799 Asian Tigers is one of the largest regional move management specialists, with services including door-to-door moving, housing and school searches, local and office moves and pet relocations. JVK INTERNATIONAL MOVERS 1st Floor, Saigon Port Building, 3 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Tel: (08) 3826 7655 Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is a leader in the field. LOGICAL MOVES — VIETNAM 396/4 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4,

Tel: (08) 3941 5322 Specialists in international, local, domestic and office moves for household goods and personal effects through our global partner network. Experts in exporting used scooters that do not have documentation. SANTA FE RELOCATION SERVICES 8FL, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 3933 0065 With over 150 offices around the world, Santa Fe offers local and international moving, pet transportation, relocation services including home search, orientation, cultural training, immigration services and records management. Email Vietnam@santaferelo. com for info.

M M M SERVICED APARTMENTS DIAMOND ISLAND LUXURY RESIDENCES No 01 – Street No.104-BTT, Quarter 3, Binh Trung Tay, Q2, Tel: (08) 3742 5678 Diamond Island Luxury Residences offers 68 fullyfurnished apartments, from two to four-bedroom units with spectacular panoramic views of the city. Each apartment comes with a fullyequipped kitchen, en-suite bathrooms, separate work and living areas, a balcony,

modern amenities, elegant furnishings and carefully chosen trimmings. INTERCONTINENTAL ASIANA SAIGON RESIDENCES Crn. of Nguyen Du & Le Van Huu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 8888 Adjacent to the InterContinental Asiana Saigon you’ll find 260 luxurious and spacious residential suites. The residences offer panoramic views of the downtown area. NORFOLK MANSION 17–19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 6111 Offers a wide choice of luxurious and modern furnished accommodation with attentive and discreet service. Facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, a gym, sauna and steam room, as well as two on-site restaurants. RIVERSIDE APARTMENTS 53 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 4111 Over four Saigon Riverbank hectares, Riverside Apartments combines a resort lifestyle with the amenities of a fully serviced-apartment. Located minutes from downtown by high-speed boat shuttle. SHERWOOD RESIDENCE 127 Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (08) 3823 2288

TATTOO ARTISTS With tattoos becoming increasingly popular, over the past few years there has been an increase in the number of tattoo studios around the city. Customers have the choice of picking their own tattoo out of the many look books on offer in the studios or bringing in their own design. Most of the studios offer bodypiercing services as well. Pricing depends on size and style.


57 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: (08) 6675 6956 SAIGON BODY ART

135 Cong Quynh, Q1 Tel: 0908 443311 SAIGON INK

26 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 1090



206B Le Van Sy, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 01204 738939 (Fiona) spirittatts


Respected tattoo and body-piercing studio specialising in traditional Japanese, black and grey, portraiture, realism, western traditional, neo-traditional, dot work and geometric.


128 Nguyen Cu Trinh, Q1 Tel: 0938 303838

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Sherwood Residence is a luxurious serviced apartment property where modern living spaces meet prime location, comfort and class, with five–star facilities and service.

CINEMAS Showcasing the latest Hollywood blockbusters and 3D cinematic sensations, chains such as CGV, Lotte and Galaxy Cinema offer the most up-to-date and modern cinema-going experiences in Saigon. For those partial to more esoteric and independent flicks, smaller outlets such as Cinebox and Idecaf carry little known Vietnamese and European efforts.


240 Ba Thang Hai, Q10 Tel: (08) 3862 2425


13th Floor, Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 38227897 3rd Floor, Lotte Mart, 469 Nguyen Huu Tho, Q7 Tel: (08) 3775 2521

SOMERSET SERVICED RESIDENCES 8A Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8899; 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9197; 628C Hanoi Highway, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 6255 9922 Somerset Chancellor Court, Somerset Ho Chi Minh City and Somerset Vista Ho Chi Minh City serviced residences combine the space and privacy of an apartment with the services of a top-rated hotel. They come with separate living and dining areas, as well as a fully equipped kitchen where guests can prepare a meal for themselves, their family and friends.

M M M SPORTS & FITNESS CHIARA SQUINZI Tel: 01278 163620 Experienced health coach and corporate & school wellness coach. Can help clients achieve health and weight goals through an innovative holistic approach of food, body and mind. Email for info.


230 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3920 6688 116 Nguyen Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 5235 246 Nguyen Hong Dao, Tan Binh Tel: (08) 3849 4567 IDECAF

31 Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 5451


Level 5, Crescent Mall, Nguyen Van Linh, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 2222; Level 10, CT Plaza, 60A Truong Son, Tan Binh, Tel: (08) 6297 1981; Level 2, Thao Dien Mall, 12 Quoc Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 3000; Level 5, SC VivoCity, 1058 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, Tel: (08) 3775 0555; Level 7, Hung Vuong Plaza, 126 Hung Vuong, Q5, Tel: (08) 2222 0388

circuit training, martial arts and spinning. Also has a restaurant serving calorie– calibrated meals. SAIGON HASH HOUSE HARRIERS Sunday 2pm sharp, Caravelle hotel. Bus out to the county with a walk, usually 4km and a run around 8km. VND150,000 for locals and VND220,000 for expats. Bus, water, snacks and freeflow beer after the run. SHERATON FITNESS HEALTH CLUB & GYM

Level 5, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2828 SOFITEL PLAZA FITNESS CENTRE HEALTH CLUB & GYM

17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555 A small but well-appointed gym with regular fitness classes, a steam room and sauna. Has a small but consistent membership. STAR FITNESS GYM HEALTH CLUB & GYM

Manor Apartments, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3514 0253 Steve Chipman, who had a hand in establishing gyms at the Sofitel hotels in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, is behind Star Fitness — one of Vietnam’s largest and bestequipped gyms. THE LANDMARK CLUB GYM, POOL, SQUASH

BODY AND MIND BOXING / FITNESS 49A Xa Lo Ha Noi, Q2, Tel: 0947 771326 This sports centre in An Phu, started by fitness guru Cyril, features the same personalised mentorship Cyril's clients love. Includes yoga, boxing and fitness for kids and adults every day. No membership fees. Pay for classes. Tuesday to Friday every week at 5pm. All activities are safe and run by Cyril himself.


34 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6672 A well-appointed gym also offering fitness classes and personal training with excellent facilities. Group classes include power yoga, pilates,

The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2098 ext. 176 In addition to the squash court, facilities include a fully–equipped gym room, a rooftop swimming pool and separate male and female saunas. VERTICAL ACADEMY CLIMBING GYM

Truc Duong, Q2, Tel: 0966 920612 A bouldering gym and pro climbing wall replete with a showroom and café offers something that this area has never experienced before, a place to climb. Has a number of climbing sections, runs training courses and also sells daily climbing passes for VND150,000 (for a 10-visit pass pay VND1 million).

VETERINARY CLINICS ANIMAL DOCTORS INTERNATIONAL 1 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2. (08) 6260 3980 Offers the very highest levels of compassionate, competent and professional veterinary medicine and surgery to all pets in Ho Chi Minh City with international veterinary surgeons. Upholding international standards, the team works tirelessly to help clients with the support of a dedicated surgical suite, digital X-Ray and comprehensive diagnostic facilities.

M M M VIETNAMESE CLASSES VIETNAMESE LANGUAGE GARDEN 135/10 Nguyen Cuu Van, Binh Thanh, Tel: 0916 670 771 vietnameselanguagegarden. com VLS SAIGON 45 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 0168 Offers courses ranging from basic conversational Vietnamese to upper elementary, intermediate and advanced levels, as well as special courses including Vietnamese literature, composition or a 6-hour survival crash course.


SCORE-TECH 1870/3G An Phu Dong 3, Q12, Tel: (08) 3719 9588 Apparel company offering personalised sport garments for companies, schools and professional sports clubs using the latest printing technology with a design team from Barcelona. Score-Tech controls the whole production process from fabric production and printing to sewing. Big and small orders for all sporting and commercial needs. | January 2017 Word | 169



nvy is a recent addition to the burgeoning after-hours scene in Ho Chi Minh City and it hopes to stand out from the pack due to its focus on live entertainment to complement the EDM, trance and hip-hop DJs that take to its stage. Situated on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, off Ham Nghi in District 1, Envy caters for the high-end segment of the marketplace. So, if you’re looking for any buy-one-get-one free sambuca shots, or wallet-busting happy hour offers, Envy is not the right place. But if you’re feeling flash and want to celebrate an event with a bottle of champagne or

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vodka, this might be your scene. It’s very hip-hop.

The Talent The Art Deco styling is deliberate, as manager Vu explains: “Art Deco brings a luxury feel to the club. We chose a colour scheme of gold and purple to complement this — it’s warm. We want the customers to feel completely at ease.” It’s a good-looking crowd in here and the place is very loud. Neon lights and strobe lights mingle with dancing bodies. Stepping inside feels like an assault on

the senses. It’s clear that they want the customers to leave in the early hours with a lasting impression. Envy has already attracted worldrenowned DJs to the club, in the form of Japanese star Ksuke and Norwegian producer and DJ Alan Walker. Vu says that this year they hope to fly in a couple of different international DJs every week. With the sound covered, they also hope that Envy will be a complete sensory experience for its customers. There is a 30-foot LED screen that dominates the main room, as imposing as it is impressive, and fully customisable.

Envy Club


“Our design team creates different visuals for each show,” says Vu.

Off the Shelves Envy is a nightclub first and foremost, but the venue can also be rented out for events. “From birthday parties, to press conferences, to weddings — we want the experience to be personal to them,” says Vu. The fridges and shelves are stocked with bottles of spirits and champagne ready to shift, and Vu explains that their customers tend to prefer a bottle for the table, which enables a bit more relaxation than endless trips to the bar.

Whiskey connoisseurs are particularly well served, with prices starting at VND2,900,000 for the much liked blend, Chivas Regal. For those intimidated by the sight of a bottle of spirits on your table, the usual standards such as vodka, rum and cognac are available by the glass, which will set you back VND240,000 a pop plus VND90,000 for a coke mixer or VND150,000 for juice. Here you’re paying for the atmosphere and the entertainment.

Performance The tagline of the club is “the art of nightlife”,

and it’s clear that they want this to be more than a catchy soundbite. Vu says that what makes it different from other nightclubs in the city is the performance aspect of the club. “We have an in-house team of 20 dancers. They are professionals. Do you know Cirque de Soleil? We are hoping to bring a bit of that experience to the nightclub.” The dancers drop down from the ceiling and it’s an arresting sight. It’s cabaret with a modern, 21st-century twist. — Thomas Barrett Envy Club is at 74-76 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1, HCMC | January 2017 Word | 171

HCMC On The Town


Park Hyatt, 2 Lam Son, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1234 International décor blends seamlessly with local themes. Style joins forces with a wide-ranging drink menu and hip dance tunes to create one of the most tasteful if pricier bars in Saigon. ACOUSTIC BAR LIVE MUSIC

6E Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 2239 Though only 1km from the city centre, Acoustic is well off most foreigners’ radars. Come see the Vietnamese house band play nightly, as well as performances from overseas bands and guest artists. APOCALYPSE NOW DANCE / NIGHTCLUB

2B-C-D Thi Sach, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6124 An institution and the kind of place you end up drunk after midnight. Famed for its notso-salubrious clientele, this two-floor establishment with DJs and occasional live music is also famed for its hotdogs, which are served up in the garden terrace out back. BIA CRAFT CRAFT BEER BAR

90 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2588 As craft beer continues to take over watering holes around Ho Chi Minh City, so a bar dedicated to all things ‘craft’ and ‘real ale’ seems like a pretty sensible idea, right? Well, it is. Only small, but with wooden tables perfect for sharing, both on tap and by the bottle, Bia Craft sells up a delectable range of the good stuff. Looking for Tiger? Go take a hike. Also has a decent food menu. BLANCHY’S TASH RESTOBAR / NIGHTCLUB

95 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: 0909 028293 A multi-storey bar with décor and atmosphere more akin to such an establishment in New York or London. Has a reputation for bringing in big-name DJs. And when we say big, we mean big. Check their website for details. BREAD & BUTTER INTERNATIONAL / COMFORT FOOD

40/24 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 8452 With a free book exchange,

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and tasty Sunday night roasts, the tiny Bread & Butter is a perfect place for homesick expats and beer enthusiasts (excellent HueBrewed Huda beer served here exclusively in Ho Chi Minh City). BROMA, NOT A BAR COCKTAILS / ROOFTOP

41 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 6838 Broma’s medieval rooftopcocktail lounge conglomeration is a magnet for the city’s weirdest and coolest events/ random moments. A sophisticated cocktail menu and quite possibly the best lamb burger in town. Check out their bun bo Hue-inspired cocktail.





Level 52, Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8750 Breathtaking views require a vantage point and EON Heli Bar is by far the highest spot in Saigon for a spectacular cityscape, appealing drinks and a vibrant ambience. Night live music and DJs.

175/22 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 7679 Warm colors, artsy décor and a friendly ambiance combine to create a perfect setting for enjoying tasty international and Vietnamese cuisine. Gets busy at weekends with a clientele made up of hip, young Vietnamese and the occasional foreigner.


115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1 Tel: (08) 6251 9898 A fresh feel thanks to the large space and light-wood tables makes this Australian-influenced watering hole a popular bar for televised sports, pub food, darts, pool and more.


207 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 2704 French-run but universally appealing, Long Phi has been serving the backpacker area with excellent cuisine and occasional live music since 1990. Excellent late-night bistro cuisine.


Tel: 0906 912730

www. restaurants-ben-style CHEZ GUIDO

Tel: (08) 3898 3747


7 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3345 6345 Just across the lane from Mc’Sorley’s, this pub with an eccentric European tilt and some nice, authentic cuisine draws an older crowd with darts, pool and weekly poker tourneys. CHAMPION SPORTS BAR SPORTS BAR

45-47 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 4202 A recent addition to the sports-and-watering-hole drinking scene, Champion is located in the Backpackers’ area and shows all the major televised sports. Also has a pool table, darts, tasty Western and Vietnamese food, great cocktails and ice cold beer. Western managed, wonderful local staff. #BeAChampion.


28 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8605 The original microbrewery, this large, wooden-panelled, brass-kegged Czech Brewhouse is as popular as it was 15 years ago when it was first opened. Does a great food menu to accompany the home-brewed beer. ICE BLUE EXPAT BAR

24 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 One of this city’s longest running watering holes — and the original home of the darts league — has recently reopened in its new premises. Naturally, darts are still key here, with each of the bottom three floors having elements devoted to this most pub-friendly of sports. LA FENETRE SOLEIL


Rooftop, AB Tower, 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2372 For the spectacular views alone, Chill Skybar remains the place to go to mix topend, outdoor terrace drinking around an oval-shaped bar with cityscapes of Saigon. One of the top watering holes in the city.


55, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 5453 What does the Thao Dien area of Saigon seriously lack? A sports bar. And this is the Al Fresco Group’s answer to a distinct shortage hole in the market. Sleek lines, modern décor, elegant and spacious, dartboards and of course, lots of large screens to watch the televised sports. Check out their daily food specials.


46-48 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Malt is a non-smoking bar in downtown Saigon offering shuffleboard, darts, craft beers on tap, signature cocktails and delicious tapas and pub grub. Its unpretentious vibe and casual atmosphere will have you feeling at home. MAY RESTAURANT & BAR LOUNGE BAR & RESTOBAR

19-21 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 3686 An international comfortfood menu mixes with excellent cocktails and an extensive winelist at this attractive, international bar and restaurant. Dine at the bar or upstairs in the restaurant space. NUMBER FIVE

44 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 5994 A seductive watering whole in a great corner location thanks to its old Saigon glamour, Japanese-Vietnamese fusion cuisine, imported beer, classic cocktails, and entertaining music events / DJ sets.

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


OMG! LAST CALL 59 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3122 If you’re in need of dense, soulful atmosphere and maybe an artisanal cocktail on your way back from wherever, Last Call is your stop — and fast becoming that of the similarly inclined. Great happy hour deals for early evening starters.

DOMINO’S PIZZA Tel: (08) 3939 3030 EAT.VN


Tel: (08) 3848 9999



Tel: (08) 3910 0000






Tel: (08) 3838 8388 SCOOZI

Tel: (08) 3823 5795



Top Floor, 15-17-19 Nguyen An Ninh, Q1 A contemporary and attractive rooftop restaurant with a lounge bar just 50m from Ben Thanh Market. Features a glass shell modeled in the image of the Eiffel Tower, a jungle-like atmosphere and views over central Saigon. O’BRIEN’S IRISH BAR / INTERNATIONAL

74/A3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 3198


This Irish-themed sports bar with classic pub décor is widely appreciated for its excellent international fare, large whiskey selection and upstairs pool table. Great pizzas. And for a real treat, check out their zesty rolls. ONTOP BAR Novotel Saigon, 167 Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 4866 Located on the 20th floor with stunning views of the city, houses an upscale, contemporary interior and an outdoor terrace. A good venue to chill out in a relaxed and casual, yet hip ambience. PEACHES CURRY PUB

S57-1 Sky Garden 2, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 0999 Known as the ‘Curry Pub’, this pleasant Saigon South watering hole mixes the beer with all things curry — anything from Goan fish curries to beef rendangs and more. A popular local haunt.


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

188/1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0122 4283198 Up-cycling and innovative design form the foundation for this bar / arts venue / mini-skate park and graffiti space. Come for barbeque and reasonably priced drinks, stick around for entertaining events and markets. SAIGON RANGER

shelf spirits and friendly, hostess style table service are the name game here. STORM P DANISH / INTERNATIONAL

5B Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 4738 Named after the Danish artist Storm P, this long-running bar is the home of Saigon’s Scandinavian community thanks to its laid-back atmosphere and excellent food menu. A good place to watch the live sports. THE CUBE BAR


46-48 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 0796 From its roots as the famed Café Latin, Phatty’s has become the goto, Aussie beer-guzzling / sports viewing emporium, showing everything from international cricket to Aussie rules and serving an array of pub grub favourites. PITCHERS SPORTS AND GRILL SPORTS BAR & GRILL RESTAURANT

C0.01 Riverside Residence C, Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7, Tel: (08) 6274 1520 Located in the heart of Phu My Hung, this spacious restobar with an affection for showing televised sports has a family friendly edge thanks to its kids play area. Does a great grill menu and of course, lots of very cold beer for those developing a thirst in the Saigon heat.

5/7 Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 7300 0559 Aspiring to be a focal point for artistic activities, the space at Saigon Ranger has been established to create encounter and dialogue between different forms of art. Boasts concrete floors, dark wooden furniture, quirky wall designs and a stage for live music and other types of performance.


22 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3828 8828 A recently opened, stylish top-end bar with a house DJ that is the plaything of Saigon’s jetset and anyone who is prepared to pay for atmosphere and one of the most hedonistic venues in town. Has an excellent food menu and a tasty brunch. RUBY SOHO CARTOON BAR

S52-1 Sky Garden 2, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 3900 A Phu My Hung mainstay thanks to its cartoon décor and light but fun ambience. Has a reasonable food menu to complement the drinks.


70 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: 0907 890623 A small but popular bar with all the shenanigans of the nightlife scene set to a backdrop of classic 60s, 70s and 80s tunes. Has a darts area out back and is a popular space for watching the live English Premier League. WINE BAR 38

31B Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: 0903 369798 A sleek, industrial looking restobar with edgy décor and just a hint of Spanish style. Tapas, sangria, Iberian-influenced cocktails and an emphasis on all things Latin.





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

38 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 3968 With a huge selection of self-imported wines from Bordeaux, this classy but contemporary venue is a wine bar downstairs, and a lounge on the first floor. Has a French-Asian menu paired to all the wines, with a huge selection of the good stuff sold by the glass.


71-75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8468 This iconic upmarket downtown bar is known for its cocktails and wine list. It serves a range of international and Vietnamese dishes to be enjoyed in its richly decorated interior. Regular DJ nights.


9th Floor, Caravelle Saigon, 1923 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999 This iconic bar is a great place to watch the sun go down over the city and relax for a few drinks with friends. Has live entertainment six nights a week courtesy of resident Cuban band, Q’vans, from 9pm Wednesday to Monday. SHRINE BAR






Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9698 A sophisticated yet down-to-earth cocktail bar and restaurant with subtle lighting and one of the best spirit selections in town. Serves creative, Japanese and German-influenced cuisine to supplement the drinks.


61 Ton Thap Thiep, Q1 Shrine creates a drinking and dining experience in a temple-like atmosphere. Inspired by Bantay Srei, a temple from the ancient Angkor kingdom, the walls are covered in statues depicting ancient Khmer gods and kings. With ambient lighting and town tempo music, here it’s all about good cocktails and an even better atmosphere. SEVENTEEN SALOON THEMED MUSIC BAR

103A Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 0007 Wild West-themed bar doubles as a music venue, where three talented Filipino bands (B&U, Wild West and Most Wanted) play covers of rock icons like Bon Jovi, U2 and Guns n’ Roses. Top

THE SOCIETY GRILL AND LOUNGE BAR 99 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 3999 Designed as a Laneway-style restobar, the kind of place found in Hong Kong, London, New York or Central Melbourne, thanks to its indoor and outdoor ambience, The Society brings dining and drinking to a new level. Phenomenal cocktails, steaks, grilled fare and seafood make this a place to go for drinks, a full-blown meal or a mixture of both.


R2-24 Hung Gia 3, Bui Bang Doan, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 3900 The first bar established in Saigon South, great food, great music and loads of laughs. Has regular live music nights, theme nights and a variety of live sports events to please everybody. Big screens and outdoor seating add to the mix, with BBQs available for parties and events. VESPER GOURMET LOUNGE INTERNATIONAL

Landmark Building, 5B Ton Duc | January 2017 Word | 173



ound along the roadside, Awesome Coffee is a simple yet standout establishment among a strip of banks, real estate agencies and other businesses on District 7’s Nguyen Van Linh. Having been in Vietnam, a coffee and café filled country, for around 10 years, owner Hyun Do Song only got the idea of opening a café after a friend made him taste Mandheling coffee from Sumatra, Indonesia. The impact that made on him drove him to open his own café. Awesome Coffee resembles a living room where family and friends gather, having conversations while sipping coffee or tea,

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and enjoying a plate of dessert or two. “I’m Korean but my coffee is a mix of different styles,” says Mr. Song. The beans used for his coffee is mainly from Dalat, but he also has some beans from Latin America, Africa and other Asian countries. His friends, who also share the same passion for coffee, give him beans from all over the globe. He uses rapid coffee roasters from Petroncini Impianti and The San Franciscan Roaster Co., which are from Italy and the US. The small roasting space is at the back of the café, but Mr. Song says that they roast about 300kg of beans per day.

Preservation Mr. Song’s zeal to provide a one-of-a-kind coffee experience to his customers led him to study more about coffee for two years. Now, his interest and knowledge about coffee is something that he likes to share with others. When his customers buy his roasted coffee beans, he sees to it that he teaches them how to prepare it so the quality of coffee is preserved. The café has an open bar so customers can see how each coffee is made by hand. The staff also maintains the homey atmosphere by letting the customers mind their own business and not overloading

Awesome Coffee


them with questions or loud music. The café has an eclectic theme, yet exudes comfort; the tables and chairs are mismatched but still go well together. On the left, there is a white wall adorned with blackand-white art pieces, and a cabinet filled with a wide variety of well-decorated coffee or tea cups and camera accessories owned by the photography enthusiast owner.

Concoction On the right is a full chalkboard wall, which also serves as the menu. Mr. Song opts to not have any flyers or printed out menus for he wants his café to be environmentally

friendly. Mr. Song and his team curate the menu. These new concoctions become crowd favourites, just like his wife’s tiramisu which costs VND70,000 a slice. The tiramisu satisfies your sweet cravings without being over the top. If a slice isn’t enough, take a whole tray home for VND470,000. For drinks, the best seller is the caramel macchiato, which can be enjoyed both hot at VND70,000 and cold at VND80,000. The macchiato is smooth and gives you just the right kick to keep you awake for a couple of hours to finish some tasks for the day, and not keep you awake until the small hours

of the morning. Other hot coffees are also served with prices ranging from VND40,000 to VND70,000, and cold coffees from VND55,000 to VND80,000. The ground and first floors of the café are complete opposites. The ground floor of the café is welcoming as it has glass walls and doors, which makes it a good place to finish some studying or have business done. The first floor, however, is a lot more intimate. The room is dimmed suitable for some têteà-tête or some alone time. — JB Jance Awesome Coffee is located at D2-21 Khu My Toan 3, 994 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, HCMC and is open every day from 9am to 10pm | January 2017 Word | 175

HCMC On The Town

CAFES & ICE-CREAM (A) CAFE 15 Huynh Khuong Ninh, Da Kao, Q1, Tel: 0903 199701 Settle into the Javanesestyle interior and enjoy possibly one of the best brews in Saigon. Using own grown and specially sourced Dalat beans, speciality coffee such as cold drip, siphon, and Chemex are must haves for the avid coffee drinker.


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


11A-B Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 9772 A cozy and comfortable cafe in Thao Dien serving excellent fresh coffee from Dalat, smoothies, juices, homemade desserts. Offers up tasty breakfasts, lunch and dinner all the way through until 9pm.

41/1 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 4222 Hidden in a colonial building with an outdoor courtyard, the ample soft, sofa seating renders a great spot to relax. The mouth-watering western menu is well-priced and maintains a creative flair. I.D. CAFÉ CONTEMPORARY CAFE

BANKSY CAFE 1st Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 01699 990003 A small but swanky cafe, Banksy promises a young and vibrant hideout in an old 1960s-era apartment building. Remember to head up the steep stairs within to dig into their secret stash of clothes and accessories.

34D Thu Khoa Huan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2910 Centrally located near Ben Thanh Market, i.d offers casual café dining with a wide variety of food and beverages. Where modern design and a warm ambience meet for coffee.

CAFE THOAI VIEN 159A Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: 0918 115657 Veer off the street and find yourself plunging straight into lush greenery. Cafe Thoai Vien serves up a spacious and airy setting to enjoy a quiet sip. From small eats to big bites and everything to drink, it’s a great place to unwind from all that buzz.



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. DECIBEL INTERNATIONAL

79/2/5 Phan Ke Binh, Q1, Tel: (08) 6271 0115 Trendy without pretense, this two-floor, relaxed café offers beautiful decor and unique original events like live music, film screenings, and art exhibits. Great prices and food with daily specials.

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KLASIK COFFEE ROASTERS 40 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6685 4160 Nitro cold brew coffee, single origin coffee and healthy food. Klasik Coffee Roasters is a small coffee shop with a passion for seeking high quality coffee beans from around the world to roast in Saigon. Holding the belief that each cup tells its own story, drinking coffee at Klasik is all about pleasure and experience: the aroma, the taste, the warmth and the senses inspired by each and every cup. Open daily from 7am to 10pm. L’USINE CONTEMPORARY / FRENCH

First Floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6674 9565; 70B Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 0703 French-style wooden decor compliments the spacious, whitewashed contemporary interior of L’Usine. A simple, creative menu combines with reasonably priced coffee, and a fashion store and art gallery out back. Second location on Le Loi. M2C CAFE 44B Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2495 At M2C (Modern Meets Culture), everything gets a touch of modernity. From

the rich menu of Vietnamese food and drinks, shows immense local culture, done with a modern flare. Be seen here at one of the latest popular joint in town. MOCKINGBIRD CAFE 4th Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 0935 293400 Sitting atop of a number of cafe establishments in an old apartment complex, Mockingbird is just the place for a romantic time over mojitos, or good ol’ caffeine-infused relaxation. PLANTRIP CHA TEA ROOM

8A/10B1 Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: 0945 830905 Tea, tea and more tea, all in a contemporary, quirky environment. At Plantrip Cha customers go on a sensory journey to experience the tastes and smells of teas from across Asia, Europe, America and the Middle East. THE LOOP HEALTHY CAFÉ FARE / BAGELS

49 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel. (08) 3602 6385 Low-key yet nice-on-the-eye décor helps create the caféstyle atmosphere at this European-influenced café and restaurant. Sells excellent coffee and if you like bagels, here you’ll be in heaven. THE MORNING CAFE 2nd Floor, 36 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: 0938 383330 Have a book to read? Pick a bright spot by the window and get snuggly with the comfy upholstery in this second-floor cafe. With a cup of well-brewed coffee, accompanied by some background jazz, it is an afternoon well-spent. THE OTHER PERSON CAFE 2nd Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 0909 670272 Fancy being served up by maids in costume? Call for a booking and enjoyed customized service to your liking while spending an afternoon in this candy-land inspired cafe. THE PRINT ROOM CONTEMPORARY CAFE

158 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4990 Second-storey coffeehouse offers a quiet atmosphere to chill out or read from their book-nook collection. Comfortable couch seating, open table space and a cappuccino costs VND40,000.

THINGS CAFE 1st Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: (08) 6678 6205 Feel the calm and serenity of this rustic little quiet corner tucked away in an Old Apartment. The quaint and relaxing atmosphere sets for some alone time, or quality conversations held over a drink or two.


Top Floor, 29 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 1631 The original, on-the-table barbecue restaurant still goes strong thanks to its rooftop atmosphere, excellent service and even better fish, seafood and meats. An institution. 27 GRILL GRILL-STYLE RESTAURANT

Rooftop, AB Tower, 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2372 Besides the spectacular views, the cuisine at 27 Grill is a real draw, with steaks and other international grillstyle fare in a refined yet contemporary atmosphere. Subtle lighting and an extensive wine list make up the mix. AL FRESCO’S INTERNATIONAL

27 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 38238424 The downtown outlet of one of Vietnam’s most successful restaurant chains, Al Fresco’s offers international, Australian-influenced comfort fare in a pleasant environment with efficient, friendly service to match. Also has an excellent garden-style branch at 89 Xuan Thuy, Q2.

AU LAC DO BRAZIL BRAZILIAN CHURRASCO 238 Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (08) 3820 7157 Au Lac Do Brazil is home to the city's best Churrasco menu with a wide variety of meats from Calabrian sausage and picanha through to D-rump steak and smoked hams. Pioneering the eat-asmuch-as-you-can theme in Vietnam, passadors bring the meat skewers to your table, and you, the customer then choose your accompaniments from the salad bar. Best washed down with red wine or a caipirinha or five.


23 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 2772 Consistently tasty European café fare — think deli-style sandwiches, salads and mezzes, plus coffees and juices — served at a popular park-side Le Duan location with classic cream and green-tiled décor. ASHOKA NORTH INDIAN / CHINESE INDIAN

17/10 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1372; 33 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel : (08) 3744 4177 Long-running, award-winning Indian restaurant famed for its excellent kebabs, creamy curries and Chinese-Indian fare. BABA’S KITCHEN NORTH / SOUTH INDIAN

164 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3838 6661 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. BLACK CAT AMERICAN

13 Phan Van Dat, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 2055 Creatively named burgers, tasty Vietnamese-styled sandwiches, spiced up cocktails, mains and more, all served up with a Californian edge at this small but popular two-storey eatery close to the river. BLANCHY STREET JAPANESE / SOUTH AMERICAN

The Courtyard, 74/3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8793 The work of former Nobu chef Martin Brito, the Japanese-South American fusion cuisine at Blanchy Street is among the tastiest and most unusual in the city. All complemented by fresh, contemporary decor and a leafy terrace out front. BOAT HOUSE AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL

40 Lily Road, An Phu Superior Compound, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6790 A revamp has seen this riverside restaurant get a new management and a new menu — think American-style burgers, sliders and Tex-Mex together with soup and salad and you’ll get the idea. Excellent nachos and frozen margaritas. BOOMARANG BISTRO SAIGON INTERNATIONAL / GRILL

CR2 3-4, 107 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 6592 Australian themed but Singaporean-owned eatery and bar on The Crescent with great terraced seating specializing in huge-portioned international fare, all set in a contemporary, spacious environment. CAFÉ IF VIETNAMESE FRENCH

38 Dang Dung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3846 9853 MSG-free traditional Vietnamese cuisine with a French twist, cooked fresh to order. Dishes include noodle soup, steamed ravioli and beef stew, stir fries, hot pots and curries. CHI’S CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE

40/31 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 2502 This affable café is a rarity in the backpacker area for its genuinely good musical playlist. Excellent, build-your-own breakfasts, baked potatoes, toasties, Vietnamese fare and more. Has a popular motorbike rental service. CHRIS FOOD ONLINE TRADITIONAL FRENCH / DESSERTS

Tel: 0909 365525 (English) / 0909 320717 (French) chrisfoodonline.blogspot. com or Traditional French cuisine and exotic dishes from the Reunion Island served up in Ho Chi Minh City and delivered to your door. All dishes are prepared with fresh ingredients, nothing is frozen. Options include cheesecake, tiramisu, lasagna, chicken curries and muffin. All speciality foods are cooked to order. CIAO BELLA NEW YORK-ITALIAN

11 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 3329 New York-style Italian restaurant offering a range of tasty and affordable antipasti, pas-

tas, and pizzas. Friendly staff and rustic bare brick walls adorned with Hollywood film legends make for a relaxed and attractive setting. CORIANDER THAI / VIETNAMESE

16 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 1311 A small, homely Vietnameseowned Thai restaurant that over the past decade has quite rightly gained a strong local and expat following. Try their pad thai — to die for.





Level 51, Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8750 Situated on level 51 of the most iconic building in town, Eon51 Fine Dining offers a unique fine dining experience accompanied by unparalleled 3600 picturesque views of Saigon. The sky-high restaurant proffers the taste of Europe in Asia, orchestrated from the finest local foods and top-quality imported ingredients.





117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 5368 Although a hotel restaurant, the enticing range of US and Australian steaks plus great grill and comfort food menu in this contemporary eatery make for a quality bite. Decent-sized steaks start at VND390,000. ELBOW ROOM AMERICAN

52 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 4327 The comfort food on offer at this striking US-style diner ranges from meatball baguettes to chilli burgers, pizzas, blackened chicken salads and a selection of more expensive international mains. EL GAUCHO ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE

74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2090; Unit CR1-12, The Crescent, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 6909 A themed eatery mixing an Argentinian steakhouse theme with pork, chicken, lamb, homemade spicy sausage, skewers, burger dishes and everything that can come off a grill. Slick service, a good wine menu, and caramel vodka teasers at the end of the meal. Probably serves up the best steak in town.

74 A2 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 38229366 Located opposite Martini Bar, this relative newcomer to the dining scene with its bright decor serves up mainly North Indian cuisine with a large vegetarian selection as well as South Indian curries, dosa, vada and uthapam.Meat curries cost from VND100,000 to VND120,000. HOA TUC CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE

The Square, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1676 Highly rated restaurant with stunning outdoor terrace. Specialities include pink pomelo squid and crab salad, mustard leaf prawn rolls, fishcake wraps and barbecue chicken in ginger, onions and a lime leaf marinade. HOANG YEN PAN-VIETNAMESE

7 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1101; The Crescent, 103 Ton Dat Tien, Q7, Tel: (08) 2210 2304 If you’re looking for midrange, aircon Vietnamese restaurants that just seem to do every dish perfectly, then Hoang Yen really is the place to go. The atmosphere may be a bit sterile, but its amply made up for by the efficient service and excellent cuisine. Now with a number of restaurants around town.

Ground Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 6066 Mixing hearty pub grub such as burgers, salads and prime rib steaks with a sports bar atmosphere, this Australian chain also offers regular promotions and a 4pm to 7pm happy hour. Excellent outdoor terrace. INAHO SUSHI / SASHIMI

4 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 0326 A sushi bar needs a good chef, and the chef-owner of Inaho is one of the best. Sit downstairs at the low-key bar or upstairs in the private VIP rooms. Either way, this is one of the best sushi and sashimi joints in town. JASPA’S WINE & GRILL INTERNATIONAL FUSION

The Square, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 0931 Although a chain restaurant, the international offerings here are consistently good and creative. Excellent service, an attractive outdoor terrace area, and a good kids menu. Check out their pepper steaks. KABIN CANTONESE

Renaissance Riverside Hotel, 8–15 Ton Duc Thang. Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0033 Offers authentic, gourmet Cantonese cuisine in an elegant, classic setting, with striking décor and the bonus of views over the Saigon River. Dishes range from VND80,000 to VND900,000. KOH THAI CONTEMPORARY THAI FUSION

Level 1, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4423 Modern Thai fusion restaurant serving Thai classics alongside tom yam cappuccinos and more. Koh Thai’s creative cocktails merge Thai flavours with local seasonal fruits and herbs.


3rd Floor Rooftop, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1. Tel: (08) 3822 9357 The restaurant associated with the KOTO vocational training school. All the staff — from bar tenders and waiting staff through to the chefs — come from disadvantaged backgrounds and are being trained on the jon in hospitality. Serves up tasty Vietnamese cuisine, to boot! L’OLIVIER FRENCH/MEDITERRANEAN

Sofitel Saigon Plaza, 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555 Exuding a southern Gallic atmosphere with its tiled veranda, pastel-coloured walls and ficus trees, this traditional French restaurant has quarterly Michelin star promotions and an award winning pastry team. LA CUISINE FRENCH / MEDITERRANEAN

48 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 2229 8882 This intimate, open-kitchened restaurant bathed in white specialises in a mix of contemporary Mediterranean and French cuisine. Has a small but well thought out menu, backed up with an extensive wine list. LE CORTO CONTEMPORARY FRENCH

5D Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0671 Open for lunch and set dinner, this beautifully designed restaurant and bar seamlessly mixes contemporary and with classic. With a menu cooked up by reputed chef Sakal Phoeung, and with a contemporary twist to traditional French fare, this is a place to enjoy the luxuries of fine cuisine and even finer wine. | January 2017 Word | 177



ritain’s prime contribution to world cuisine, deep-fried fish in batter (usually haddock or cod) accompanied by chunky fried potato chips has had a home in Ho Chi Minh City since in the form of JJ’s Fish and Chips since 2013. Starting out as a street stall in Bui Vien, JJ’s now has its first “chippie” restaurant in the city. Jamie is one half of JJ’s, and he explains that fish and chips has been a lifelong love affair for him. He was born in the UK, was brought up in Germany and has always craved that famous taste of his birth country. When he first moved to Ho Chi Minh City he found that there was no shortage of

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places to eat seafood, but nowhere that specialised in this particular dish. Situated on Ton That Dam in District 1, close to all the expat bars, Jamie and business partner Jacky opened the restaurant in November as a natural progression from their street stall. “People wanted a physical location to eat rather than on the street,” says Jamie. And so the current incarnation of JJ’s was born.

Formula With the decor, Jamie and Jacky have stuck to the tried-and-tested formula of chippies up and down the British Isles. The walls are a tasteful blue to represent the sea, and

the wooden tables give the effect of being made from a ship’s bow. Goldfish greet you on the front desk, perhaps pleased to be swimming in water rather than in oil. “We pride ourselves on being authentic and as close to the real fish and chips you would get back home,” says Jamie. The chips are thick, a world away from the stingy offerings of withered French fries that Jamie says are commonplace in Ho Chi Minh City. Bringing fresh cod over from the North Sea is not possible, so Jamie chose local sea bass — which does a good job of replicating the texture and taste of cod or haddock.

JJ’s Fish and Chips


The 110g sea bass and chips (VND135,000) is JJ’s signature but a larger portion is available, too (VND220,000). I chose the sea bass to be beer-battered but it is also available in bread crumbs. The batter is crispy and the fish is pleasingly moist. With a lashing of malt vinegar and a sprinkle of JJ’s own mix of chip-shop salt seasoning, these fish and chips will certainly please traditionalists.

Dunkin’ It wouldn’t be fish and chips without a side order of mushy peas and curry sauce, and I order one of each for chip dunking (VND30,000). The mushy peas are

reassuringly radioactive looking (a good thing, by the way), and the curry sauce has a pleasant kick to it, which is often lacking from bland offerings in the UK that treat curry sauce as an afterthought. For added authenticity, you can even wash your meal down with a mug of Yorkshire tea, a brand drunk in Northern England. Fish and chips is still an exotic dish in Vietnam, and Jamie tells me the restaurant has attracted expats and tourists, as well as a steady stream of curious locals and Anglophiles. Fish and chips is obviously JJ’s primary focus, but the restaurant also offers alternative dishes including scampi and

chips (VND135,000) and sausage and chips (VND110,000). The latter borrows from Jamie’s German heritage in the form of a deep-fried bratwurst. A vegetarian option is planned, and Jamie says it will be fish made from tofu, which sounds intriguing. JJ’s have done a great job in recreating the famous dish halfway around the world from its heartland. This traditional English staple has found a home in Ho Chi Minh City, and perhaps all that is missing at JJ’s is a salty sea breeze. — Thomas Barrett JJ’s Fish and Chips is at 130 Ton That Dam, Q1, HCMC, tel: 01262 909077 | January 2017 Word | 179

HCMC On The Town


31 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8465 Unpretentious but tasty French fare in a relaxed garden setting within the French cultural centre. The robust, bistro-style cuisine is very well-priced, and excellent, cheap house wine is served by the carafe.

Subtle lighting and an attention to details is matched by some of the best contemporary cuisine in the city, all with a European influence. Also has an extensive wine list, a good selection of imported beers and a happy hour. MARKET 39 INTERNATIONAL BUFFET


45 Le Anh Xuan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8371 Friendly, authentic fivestorey Singaporean eatery, plating up the likes of nasi lemak, mee rebus, and awesome chicken curry, as well as specialities like frog porridge, chilli crab and fish head curry. LOVEAT MEDITERRANEAN

29 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6260 2727 Located bang opposite the Bitexco Tower, Loveat serves up three floors’ worth of Mediterranean cuisine mixed in with continental favourites like moules frites. A great place for dinner, cocktails and wines in a contemporary Saigon atmosphere. LU BU CONTEMPORARY MEDITERRANEAN

97B Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 6281 8371 Drawing inspiration from the great cuisines of Europe, The Mediterranean and The Orient, this contemporary, Australian-run restaurant bathed in white focuses on wholesome, fresh ingredients, with breads, cheeses, pickles, pastas and preserves made on site daily from scratch. A well-conceived wine list supplements the excellent fare. Has petanque on the terrace. LUONG SON PAN-VIETNAMESE

31 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1330 A typical Vietnamese-style quan nhau, this fan-cooled downtown eating and drinking haunt is famed for two things: it’s on the table, grill-it-yourself bo tung xeo (marinated beef) and oddities such as sautéed scorpion. A great place to take out-of-town guests. MAD HOUSE CONTEMPORARY CAFE, BAR, RESTAURANT

6/1/2 Nguyen U Di, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4009 Set over a pool in a leafy, tropical garden, the beautiful rustic décor is matched by a darkwood, aircon interior.

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Ground Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, Crn. of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 9999 MAY RESTAURANT INTERNATIONAL COMFORT FOOD

19 – 21 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 3686 may.restaurant19@gmail. com Casual yet stylish, May places international-style wining and dining in the heart of historic Saigon. Subtle lighting, comfortable seating, an extensive wine and cocktail list, and beautifully crafted comfort food from Europe, the Antipodes and Asia all make up the mix at this multi-floored restaurant and bar. Check out their set lunches and happy hour. MEKONG MERCHANT INTERNATIONAL CAFE FARE / SEAFOOD

23 Thao Dien, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6478 The rustic looking, bananaleaf roofed Mekong Merchant has long been the place in An Phu. Set around a cobblestoned courtyard the cuisine includes gourmet seafood and pastas. Bakery-style Bistro out front. MONSOON PAN-SOUTHEAST ASIAN

1 Cao Ba Nha, Q1, Tel: (08) 6290 8899 Traditional pan-Southeast Asian favourites served in a visually arresting setting within a French colonial-era villa, just minutes from the backpacker area. Reasonably priced, with healthy juices and smoothies. NAM GIAO HUE CUISINE

136/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 38 250261; 116 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 9996 If you want to take friends, relatives or people out of town to eat Hue-style street food in a hygienic yet downto-earth environment, Nam Giao is the place. Not only is it well-priced, but the bun bo Hue, bun thit nuong, com hen, banh bot loc and other such dishes are excellent.


Ground floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999 One of the top three buffet restaurants in town. Although the selection is small, the meats, fishes and seafoods are all fresh, and everything you eat here is quality. OSAKA RAMEN

piled high with a range of inventive toppings. Funky décor and long benches make up the mix. PROPAGANDA CLASSIC VIETNAMESE / BISTRO

21 Han Thuyen, Q1 Part of the group that includes Au Parc and Refinery, Propaganda serves up classic Vietnamese cuisine in an atmosphere of barebrick walls interposed with Propaganda Art murals and prints.


18 Thai Van Lung, Q1; SD04, Lo H29-2, KP My Phat, Phu My Hung, Q7 If you fancy dosing out on ramen and soba noodles, then Osaka Ramen is noodle soup heaven. A typically Japanese aircon environment mixes bar-style seating with booths and private dining. Open late. PENDOLASCO PAN-ITALIAN

87 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 8181; 36 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel: (08) 6253 282 Opening out into a large, leafy terracotta-tiled garden area, this trattoria-style Italian restaurant serves up quality homemade pasta, risotto, gnocchi, excellent pizza and grilled dishes. Has a second branch in District 2. PITCHERS SPORTS AND GRILL SPORTS BAR & GRILL RESTAURANT

C0.01 Riverside Residence C, Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7, Tel: (08) 6274 1520 Located in the heart of Phu My Hung, this spacious restobar with an affection for showing televised sports has a family friendly edge thanks to its kids play area. Does a great grill menu and of course, lots of very cold beer for those developing a thirst in the Saigon heat. PIZZA 4P’S EUROPEAN/ASIAN FUSION

8/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9838 This quirky but highly rated Italian / Japanese fusion pizza parlour serves wacky yet delicious pies such as tuna curry pizza and calamari seaweed pizza, as well as more traditional varieties. POP FRIES CALIFORNIAN-STYLE FRIES

14M Quoc Huong, Q2, Tel: 0938 754251; 273 Phan Xich Long, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 0938 754851 A street food eatery concept that originates from Los Angeles and New York, and born from a passion for sharing, here it’s all about the loaded fries. The potatoes are twice-cooked and come


8 Nguyen Van Nguyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3602 2241; 17A Ngo Van Nam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 1515 Make sure to try the sautéed shrimps with cashew nuts and crispy fried tofu with lime wedge, at this popular, high-quality, chicly designed eatery where all food is served in traditional crockery. One of the best Vietnamese restaurants in town. QUAN UT UT US-STYLE BARBECUE

168 Vo Van Kiet, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 4500 It’s a no-brainer, right? American-style barbecue in a contemporary Vietnamese, quan nhau-style setting. Of course it is, which is why Quan Ut Ut is constantly packed with grill-obsessed diners going for the burgers, meats off the barbecue and Platinum pale ale served on tap.

RACHA ROOM CONTEMPORARY THAI RESTOBAR 12-14 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel (08) 6253 7711 The Racha Room delivers Thai accented Pan-Asian cuisine with a focus on high quality ingredients. Racha features a large selection of spirits at a seated bar and high table to ensure drinking along with eating remains central to the experience. The current and future of Asian-inspired drinking and dining is right here at the Racha Room.

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


Renaissance Riverside, 8–15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0033 Offers versatile all–day dining of international quality, with the bonus of being able to watch the action on the river sidewalk. Features western, Asian and Vietnamese buffets. SAIGON CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / BUFFET

Level 1, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2828 If you like your buffet selections to be big, then here it is gargantuan, with every type of option under the sun. A great place to catch up on your seafood addiction or to pig out over a Sunday brunch. SAN FU LOU CANTONESE KITCHEN

Ground Floor, AB Building, 76A Le Lai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 9513 Open until 3am, this popular, contemporary Cantonese dining hall mixes contemporary with traditional, in a space that takes Chinese dining in Saigon to a new level. And if you like your dim sum, look no further. SEOUL HOUSE KOREAN


The Square, 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 0509 A slightly retro feel pervades this popular French-style bistro and wine bar which once housed the city’s opium refinery. The cuisine runs from creative salads through to Mediterranean influenced mains.

33 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4297 The longest running Korean restaurant in town, with all the Koreans moving out to the hinterland, the clientele here are mainly Vietnamese. Fortunately the food preparation remains traditional. An excellent place for group dining.


on Japanese fare. A place to see and be seen.


Norfolk Mansion, 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 2221 Featuring over 200 dishes and 50 kinds of dim sum prepared by chefs from Hong Kong, Shang Palace has nine private dining rooms and a main dining area seating over 300. Good for events. SKEWERS INTERNATIONAL / MEDITERRANEAN

9A Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 4798 Simple, unpretentious Greekinfluenced, international cuisine ranging from the zucchini carpaccio through to the saganiki, a range of dips, mousaka, osso buco and lamb chop skewers. Also has an excellent upstairs cigar room. SHRI CONTEMPORARY EUROPEAN

23rd Floor, Centec Tower, 72–74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3, Tel: (08) 3827 9631 A breezy terrace, indoor bar and separate dining room with sweeping views over central Saigon make up this enormous, comfortable space. A well-thought out and romantic venue, with excellent food.

STOKER CONTEMPORARY STEAKHOUSE 44 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel (08) 3826 8691 One of the world’s oldest culinary techniques — grilling over a wood fire. Stoker kitchen uses different woods to infuse foods with different smoky flavours. These techniques revolutionize live fire cooking by providing precise heat control through the use of a grilling surface that can be adjusted to different cooking heights above the hot coals.


39 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 4634 Located on the main drag in Thao Dien, Tamago has indoor and out door seating, a terrace and private rooms. They have a ladies’ night on Tuesdays as well as a Teppanyaki themed night on Saturday evenings. Have a second restaurant in Mui Ne.


38 Nguyen U Di, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6632 Set on the banks of Saigon River across from Thanh Da Island, this innovative restaurant serves up modern Asian fusion cuisine in a Bali-style atmosphere, complemented by great cocktails and a long wine list.

THE SOCIETY GRILL AND LOUNGE BAR 99 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 3999 Designed as a Lanewaystyle restobar, the kind of place found in Hong Kong, London, New York or Central Melbourne, thanks to its indoor and outdoor ambience, The Society brings dining and drinking to a new level. Phenomenal cocktails, steaks, grilled fare and seafood make this a place to go for drinks, a full-blown meal or a mixture of both.


9698 Headed up by well-known chef Andy Ertle, Vesper is a sophisticated yet down-toearth cocktail bar and restaurant with subtle lighting and a great spirit selection. Serves creative, Japanese and German-influenced cuisine to supplement the drinks and has a separate dining space. WRAP & ROLL 62 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2166; 111 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 8971; 226 De Tham, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 5097 The lime green walls and bright pastel colours of Wrap ‘n Roll are just part of the theme of this homegrown, Vietnamese brand which is all about spring rolls of all types, and healthy, Hueinfluenced cuisine. YU CHU TOP-END PAN-CHINESE

1st Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, crn.of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3520 9999 Skillful chefs prepare authentic hand-pulled noodles, fresh dim sum and hot wok dishes within an impeccably designed open kitchen, as diners look on. Stylish and spectacular.


169A Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 3897 vietnamvespaadventures. com/cafe_zoom This corner-located Vespainfatuated venue is a café and restaurant by day and a sidewalk drinking joint by night. Friendly staff and American deli-style and Cajun fare makes it a regular expat haunt.


84 Dang Van Ngu, Phu Nhuan BA NAM BO KHO

Alleyway to the left of 162 Tran Nhan Tong, Q10 BANH CANH HOANG TY BANH CANH / TAY NINH CUISINE



102 Cao Thang, Q3






Level 24, AB Tower, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: 0938 687689 Set over two floors, this astonishing, no-expensespared Japanese restaurant and lounge brings to Saigon the type of environment and ambience you’d expect of New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai. With the décor comes a modern take

29-31 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9244 Once a hotel for Indian dignitaries visiting old Saigon, the elegant and atmospheric Temple Club is one of the city’s best-preserved buildings. Serving quality Vietnamese and Indochine cuisine at reasonable prices.

9 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 2538 One of the city’s oldest eateries (established in 1925) does some of the cheapest and tastiest vegan cuisine in town, all cooked up without onions, garlic or MSG. VESPER GOURMET LOUNGE INTERNATIONAL

Landmark Building, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822


164 Cong Quynh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 3248 The service is often slow, and the staff are often surprisingly lazy, yet the food here is so good and so unique to this city, that no-one seems to mind. The perfect place to feast out on gyros and all things off a skewer. Cheap, too.




170 Vo Van Tan, Q3 | January 2017 Word | 181



he physical building layers of a city always have a fascination for me. A good word that describes these layers is palimpsest, which means “scraped clean and used again”. It is often used in architectural circles to denote an object made or worked on for one purpose and later reused for another. Ho Chi Minh City displays this richness of layers despite its relative youth. There are the obvious ones — the buildings from the French colonial period — but the period that most interests me is the European interwar period and then the period up to reunification. The reason for any building growth is a surge in the economy. While many of the early buildings were because the French were establishing their colony, in later years, during the interwar years, high demand for rice and rubber that were the main cash crops of the country, meant that the amount of land used for growing rice quadrupled in the 20 years after 1880. By the 1930s Indochina was supplying 60,000 tons of rubber each year, five per cent of all global production. Factories and mines were needed to harvest deposits of coal, tin and zinc. It goes without saying that most of the profits lined the pockets of French capitalists.

Transformation The production had another effect. The economic growth produced a physical transformation of Vietnam and Saigon in particular. Traditional local temples, pagodas, monuments and buildings, were declared derelict and destroyed with buildings of French architecture and style erected in their place. So much so that many areas of Saigon

182 | Word January 2017 |



could have been mistaken for parts of Paris. The buildings in this period are very distinctive, and show confident French power. This growth was stopped with the Japanese occupation and did not resume until the Americans arrived in the late 1950s. The US involvement in Vietnam was accompanied by an extraordinary building effort. A consortium comprised of Raymond International and Morrison Knudsen (RMK) (known as The Vietnam Builders) completed more than $US1.9 billion of work between 1962 and 1970, and the evidence of that work is still there. From Tan Son Nhat airport to warehouses, roads, bridges and hotels, the American contribution to the built fabric of the city is instantly recognisable. Their utilitarian buildings illustrate that their approach was to win a war, not to create fine buildings. Yet their straightforwardness has delivered a good legacy. The Palace Hotel is a good example of a building from this period as it is well scaled to its location. A similar but more run-down building by the same architect is on the corner of Hai Ba Trung and Dong Du. The recovery from the war took several years and the next building surge followed doi moi in 1989. This surge damaged the original fabric of Ho Chi Minh City more than anything that had gone before, exemplified by the recent destruction of the Ba Son shipyards. Since the American war and post doi moi, the average height of residential structures has increased from two or three stories to four of five storeys in the inner-city districts.

buildings inside District 1 and exiling any proposed new residential buildings to ease the pressure, fundamentally changing downtown Saigon by reducing the wide range of uses and activities it now contains. This policy has been contradicted with recent developments by Vinhomes and Novaland. The massive scale of buildings such as Bitexco and Vietcombank fundamentally change the character of District 1. The intimate shopping and residential experiences of the previous generation have also been transformed by the new large airconditioned malls where the locals enjoy the food courts but avoid the high-end shops. Is that the legacy we should be leaving? While there is general agreement about preserving or retaining the French colonial buildings, as most people now understand them as historic buildings, (although many are still being demolished or under threat) the ones at most risk are the modernist buildings of the last 80 years. Too old to be considered useful and too young to be considered as heritage, these buildings are nevertheless critical to the city’s future as much as the colonial buildings. Heritage is a moving timeline. Thus Bitexco will be seen as future heritage for its impact on the city as a symbol of its times. In any city, the layers of growth are important to the overall character of the city. While not every building of an era should be preserved, however at some point the city itself will be judged as to how it has respected its past because that legacy — how we got to where we are today — is the key to its future. Ed Haysom is the general director of Mode / Haysom Architects and is based in Ho Chi Minh City. You can contact him on ehaysom@

Concentration With pressure on District 1, The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee has proposed a policy of concentrating commercial

HCMC On The Town



189 Bis Bui Vien, Q1



288/M1 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3



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38 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1



23 Hoang Sa, Q1


67 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 7751 | January 2017 Word | 183


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Tra n

ng uo nH a u oX



Ng o



hu nT

Lu u


District 7 & Nha Be

Kha nh





Kh ac K



ong Xu





Saigon South 4km | January 2017 Word | 185

Ch ieu


m hie


Qu yen






Xo m



P ha nK




st eur


Ma iT

H o an g Sa


Tru ong


Le Van Tam Park U PH IEN B Phu N ng DIE

uo c

nQ Tra


uy Tu

INH E TPhan Van



Toa n






c Chan a Tran Kh Ca u uu

on hC Di n

Thi T

uy e

g on


ng ra gT


u Ph



Truonng Sa

Hoang Sa

c go



Phan Va Vann Ha Han

N en


Ly V Thac h






n Va en uy Ng

Hi AI a B





Tran Quang Khai Nguyen Phi Khanh

Tran Quang Khai Tan Dinh Market




uy en

Ng uy en H


Tran Nhat




Ng uy en V

Du Tran Khannhh


Gia Dinh Hospital 1.5km

The Final Say FINAL SAY


The Airbnb Takeover Entering a hotel market full of quality rooms at cheap prices is never easy. Can Airbnb make the same impression in Vietnam it has done elsewhere? Words by Edward Dalton

“It was always going to be a fascinating situation when [Airbnb] made its way into Vietnam, whose famously cheap hotels have kept it as one of the best value holiday destinations for years”


ounded in 2008 by Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb has irreversibly changed the landscape of the hospitality industry. Hotels which were already competing on secondary booking services such as Agoda or Expedia, suddenly found a big chunk of their market share being swallowed by this new concept of a trusted community marketplace, where anyone could list and find accommodation around the world. Travellers were no longer restricted to the traditional hotel model. Instead, they could find a castle in the Yorkshire Dales, a loft apartment overlooking the Seine or a treehouse neighbouring the Black Forest. It was always going to be a fascinating situation when this unstoppable concept made its way into Vietnam, whose famously cheap hotels have kept it as one of the best value holiday destinations for years.

Peace and Quiet One property taking advantage of the fledgling Airbnb market in Vietnam is Little Cat Ba (350 Ha Sen, Cat Ba, Haiphong), a modest eight-room resort on the edge of Hang Vem Lake, on Cat Ba Island. “Around 40% of our guests come from Airbnb,” says Pham Thang, manager at Little Cat Ba. “It had an immediate effect on our business.” Thang says the low commission fee of Airbnb makes it a great alternative to other booking websites, especially for hosts at smaller properties. “For places like Little Cat Ba, Airbnb makes it even easier for us to stand out as a more distinctive style of accommodation,” says Thang.

Boxes and Trees Playing into Airbnb’s reputation for offering unusual accommodation, the treehouses at Dao Anh Khanh Studio (7/462 Ngoc Thuy, Long Bien, Hanoi) offer guests an experience not found anywhere else in Vietnam.

186 | Word January 2017 |

“My daughter put us on Airbnb about a year ago,” says Khanh, the artist-engineerowner. “But I didn’t do this for the business; it’s my art.” A quick glance around the property confirms this. Each treehouse is differently decorated, some with windows made from wine bottles, others with branches creating a climbing-frame obstacle to the bed. “But Airbnb is definitely the best website for this type of place,” he says. “It attracts people who are looking for a more special property, and a more personal experience.” Following on from the popularity of capsule hotels in Japan, pod hotels offer slightly more space, while still keeping costs down. In Hanoi, the Box Hotel (16 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi) and the Pod Hotel (53 Hang Chieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi) are Hanoi’s only entrants to this genre. “Airbnb doesn’t bring us as much success as,” says Tran Bach, co-owner of both hotels. “But it’s good for the host, as we can communicate directly with the guests.” One of Bach’s partners, Le Duy, says Airbnb is a good place for their hotel, because it doesn’t follow the typical hotel or hostel model. Bach thinks the variety on Airbnb benefits both the hosts and the guests. “The guests can find something special,” he says, “and for us, the competition is an incentive to always improve our standards.”

Sceptical Airbnb’s policy of inclusion and respect could be an obstacle for many of Vietnam’s potential hosts. In a country where job listings openly declare a refusal to hire people of certain ethnicities, genders or nationalities, crushing these everyday prejudices will be essential if Vietnam is to develop a large marketplace of private hosts. It’s still early days for Airbnb’s Indochina invasion, so it remains to be seen if this will be a full-blown takeover, or a middling contribution to one of the world’s most competitive tourist regions.

The Final Say

Ten 10

Australian-born magician and actor Petey Majik has become a well-known face at events around Vietnam. Here’s his story What instigated your move from Australia to Vietnam?

How have you had to adapt your shows to Vietnam?

I had a friend I studied with at QUT (Queensland University of Technology) who had already moved here to work. He said, “Mate, why don’t you come over and check out Saigon and see how it goes?” That was where it all started.

I have to be able to communicate differently — I can’t be casual when I’m on stage or when I’m emceeing a gig. I’ve got to be more formal and use the right Vietnamese communication etiquette when it comes to presentation. I also have to keep in mind that there’s a younger audience. I still do some of the tricks the same as in Australia, but I change the presentation to suit that audience.

How have you handled the difference in culture? Growing up and being Australian, I have a different work ethic. In Australia, it’s all in or nothing once you decide to do something. There are different expectations regarding communication and following up on work here.

Keeping the reveal to yourself is integral to your livelihood as a magician. What kind of offers have you had to reveal any of your tricks? I am a magician on a Vietnamese gameshow called Ky Tai Thach Dau Tap. I have a small segment where I come out and perform a magic trick to about seven to eight people. I wow them and then afterwards I do another trick I can actually teach them. They have to try and perform it back.

You became interested in magic at the age of 13. What it was that got you interested?

Do you have any horror stories to share about when a trick went terribly wrong?

I grew up loving magic but it wasn’t until the early 2000s that Australia was introduced to David Blaine street magic. All he did was walk around on the street with a pack of cards doing brand new tricks with cards, coins, money, all that sort of stuff to random people with a handy cam. People just flipped out. The reaction to that was natural and real, and that’s what got me into it.

I had this trick which used this special kind of powder called Slush Powder. It sits at the bottom of a cup. When you pour water into it, it thickens, hardens to a gel and sticks inside the cup. Once when I was performing at a wedding, I asked the bride to tip a cup of water with the powder in it over her husband. Once when I was performing at a wedding, I asked the bride tip a cup of water with the powder in it over her husband. She was so excited that she decided to throw it in his face instead. The gel came out and hit him in the face and bounced onto the floor and she was like, “Huh??” and the wedding guests were like, “Whaaa?” I was performing with a beatboxer and we sort of looked at each other and we went, “Amazing, the water turned into gel ladies and gentlemen!” and everyone clapped.

Who do you respect as magicians? My top three would be David Blaine, because he pioneered street magic. Number two is Cyril Takayama, a Japanese guy, who has made magic more practical. When you go onto the streets, you’re not going to bring props with you. You use exactly what’s around you. Number three is Criss Angel. He tapped into an area of magic we call geek magic.

What advice do you have for aspiring magicians out there? Never give up on your dream of being a great magician, and never stop practising. There are a lot of hard moves and there are other magicians who can get these moves before you do, but there is no time limit. It’s not a race, always focus on going out there and performing.

Aside from magic, what else do you do? I’m also an actor, I’ve got eight films to date. At this moment, three of them are cameos and in five of them I’ve played main roles, all local films except for one movie which was a Hong Kong film called Girls 2. I got to play this cheesy magician. Mike Tyson is in the movie, too.

What ideas do you have in mind for future projects in Vietnam? I want to do some sort of travel show like an Australian version of Getaway for Vietnam. I’m working closely with another Australian here who’s done a lot of work in television. We’re in the midst of working on something new for 2017.

188 | Word January 2017 | | January 2017 Word | 3

Sách Chuyên Quảng Cáo - Not For Sale

Word Vietnam January 2017  

Everything you need to know about Vietnam and a little bit more... This month: personal change in the coming year.

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