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Contents Jul.2017




THE TALK 10 / Comparing our Cities

Creating a quality of living index for Vietnam

11 / The Big Five July in Vietnam

BRIEFINGS 12 / Environmental Initiatives Young Vietnamese are taking on the challenge of improving our environment

14 / Parks and Pools

The best places to keep cool in Hanoi this summer

22 / First App for Vietnamese Speakers

92/ Two Wheels are Good

A Lifesaving app in Vietnamese

The lives of street vendors on wheels and why they do what they do

24 / Gold Street

98 / Fashioning the Past

A collection of streets in District 5 dedicated to jewellery

26 / The Fire Eater

A young female performer is lighting up the stage

28 / Women’s Sports

Women have more sporting options in Vietnam than ever before


16 / Lai Xa Photography Museum 48 / Many Faces Celebrating a village dedicated to photography

Photographer: Mai Loc

18 / A New Frontier for Cricket

The competitive rivalry between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnam gets itself a national cricket team

20 / Pietro Porro

The man who rode 40,000km on a Vespa to get to Vietnam

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52 / A Tale of Two Cities

86 / As Above, So Below

A group of young Saigonese are giving the clothes of the Nguyen Dynasty a new lease on life

104 / Let’s Talk About Tacos

Three amigos and an Englishman give the lowdown on tacos in Hanoi

110/ Tapas in Saigon

More Spanish-style tapas in now available all over the city

118 / Mystery Diner Hanoi Ngon Villa

120 / Street Snacker Hanoi Kem Dua

122 / Mystery Diner HCMC

Ryu Gyong North Korean Restaurant

A project by photographer, Justin Mott, is an ode to the beauty of Vietnam


ABC International School, Ho Chi Minh City, Official

Our New Secondary Campus Opening 2018

Land area 12,650m2

4G football pitch with smart shades

Fully shaded salt-water 25m swimming pool

State of the art theatre with over 400 seats

33 dedicated classrooms & 19 specialist classrooms

Two full sized air-conditioned basketball court

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

Contents Jul.2017




TRAVEL 126 / Mae Hong Son Loop

158 / Coffee Cup

166 / Location, Location, Location

A getaway by motorbike in Northwest Thailand

HCMC 30 / To Do List

134 / Hoa Binh Province

36 / Just In

170 / Girl About Town

164 / HCMC City Guide

172 / Medical Buff

174 / Bar Stool

182 / Know Your City

178 / Coffee Cup

THE FINAL SAY 186 / Cool Runnings

Southwest of Hanoi, there is peace and beauty

140 / Destination Zero

Amiana Resort Nha Trang

142 / The Staycation Le Méridien Saigon

184 / Top Eats

HANOI 40 / To Do List

COLUMNS 152 / The Therapist

44 / Just In

160 / Women’s Fitness

146 / Hanoi City Guide

161 / Pets’ Corner

150 / Daytripper

162 / Starting A Family

154 / Bar Stool

163 / Book Buff

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167 / Body & Temple

The best places to go on a visa run

188 / Ten 10

From Pleiku with love: Nguyen Thi Thuy Dung


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This month we asked our team, If you could live in any city in Vietnam, which one would it be and why? NICK ROSS Chief Editor Dalat. Two reasons. The countryside and the weather. I love having four seasons in a day. It reminds of home. Well, maybe not... MATT COWAN Managing Editor Nha Trang. I want to live right on the beach. Plus it’s just a short hop back to Saigon. JULIE VOLA Photo Editor Oi, difficult question. I love Hanoi of course, I chose the city and I don't know Saigon well. But ideally I have always dreamed of living in the countryside like Hoa Binh — if only the amenities and roads were more convenient.

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NICK ROSS Chief Editor

ZOE OSBORNE Staff Writer

BAO ZOAN Staff Photographer

MIKE PALUMBO Staff Photographer


EDWARD DALTON Staff Writer (Hanoi)

JULIE VOLA Photo Editor

AIMEE DUONG Graphic Designer

NGUYEN LOC Layout Designer

MATTHEW COWAN Managing Editor


EDWARD DALTON Staff Writer I think Danang is the only place that appeals to me. An up-and-coming city, with decent infrastructure, a fledgling but growing international food scene and far fewer people, all within walking distance of a massive beach. What's not to like? THOMAS BARRETT Staff Writer Dalat. The town and the surroundings feel otherworldly. And after living in Ho Chi Minh City, my lungs would thank me for moving. GEORGE SCHOOLING Contributor Saigon. It's polluted, maddening and noisy but it's the city of opportunities, global connections and in the large part safer than most big cities. I've never been to Hanoi, and Danang is just too quiet for me, as well as doing their best to destroy the main beach.

BAO ROSS General Director


CHAU GIANG Office Assistant



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

Special thanks to Olga Rozenbajgier, Alex Maggs, George Schooling, Pietro Porro, Bridget Griffin, Harry Hodge, Mai Loc, Diane Lee, Sasha Arefieva, Billy Gray, Justin Mott, Hector Grimaldo, Irving Torres-Jimenez, Taylor Cavale, JB Jance, Teigue John Blokpoel, Amiana Resort Nha Trang, Le Meridién Saigon, Douglas Holwerda, Amazin Le Thi, Maria Skorobogatov, Lee Shayi, Truong Hoang, Greg Ohan, Phil Kelly, Chau Minh Dang, Dr. Pedro L. Trigo, Hoanh Tran, Nguyen Thi Thuy Dung and David Legard.

BILLY GRAY Contributor I'd stay in Hanoi. I've never known a city like I know this one. Besides, part of me just wants to stay here long enough to see if the skytrain ever actually becomes operational, or if it just gets bought out by another firm and converted into a roller coaster.

CHUYÊN ĐỀ DU LỊCH & ẨM THỰC ISBN: 978-604-77-3468-9

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hey are the questions we all ask and are asked about: Do you like it there? Would you ever live there? What’s the difference between the two? Which one is better? These questions are of course about Hanoi and Saigon, traditional rivals, uncomfortable bedfellows. Everyone has an opinion of them whether they’ve lived in one or both or neither. Often opinions are

unfounded, the byproduct of gossip and hearsay, rarely on fact. That’s why this month we’ve decided to get to the bottom of it with our cover story, A Tale of Two Cities. To gain a better understanding of a city, its culture and its people, it’s best to know something of its history. We begin our cover story by describing the histories of these two great cities. Hanoi, a city that has stood for 1,000 years on the banks of the Red River and has been at the heart of Vietnamese civilisation ever since; and Saigon, which started out as a Khmer settlement on the banks of what we

now call the Saigon River before emerging as the undisputed economic pulse of Vietnam, heavily shaped by Chinese and French influence along the way. Still, it wouldn’t be any fun without asking what people actually think. Influencers in both cities from banking and finance, hospitality, real estate, health, the creative industries and more tell us their perceptions of both cities, at the same time offering insight into why thousands of young, educated Hanoians each year choose to pack their bags for Saigon as part of the phenomenon

we’ve called the Hanoi Brain Drain. We go beyond stereotypes and attempt to debunk the myths about both cities, which then segues nicely into Show Me Your City where we’ve asked a local in each city to act as tour guide for a day to show us where they would take someone visiting their city. Finally, we wrap it up on the matter of dialect and the intercity kerfuffle it creates when determining who’s pronouncing things right and who’s doing it wrong. At this point it’s safe to say we all agree to disagree. — Matt Cowan, Managing Editor





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

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

Vegetarian Mistakes (May 2017, page 160) Comments on Facebook Group: Vegetarians and Vegans in Ho Chi Minh City Recent article in Word Vietnam. I am pretty shocked by some of the claims, but crops aren’t more ethical than raising cows definitely tops it. I presume the writer doesn’t realise that cows actually eat, and therefore you have to raise crops to feed them. — Rob West Considering the atrocious health advice present, could you write an article about how reading the Word could potentially lower your life expectancy? — Scott Green Haha, I could, but suspect it would lower my life expectancy. — Peter Cornish Excerpts from an article, Vegetarianism and Veganism, published on laholista. com in response to this article. Why is veganism so hip lately?

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There are many. Initially, people are interested in veganism for health and wellness reasons — from having more energy, better skin, losing weight, to stopping hair loss. However, the ethical and environmental reasons kick in too. From not wanting to hurt animals, to limiting the wastage of resources to feed, kill and transport animal products and by-products, these are all good reasons to change what’s on our plate. How to create a healthier diet? When researching information on the internet you need to look at the source of the information. For example, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (which sounds legit) is part of the American Society for Nutrition, and have the following companies as their sustaining partners: Dairy Research Institute; Egg Nutrition Center; Kellogg Company; Mars Inc.; Monsanto Company; National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; Nestle Nutrition; Medical Affairs; PepsiCo; Pfizer, Inc.; Pharmavite LLC;

The Coca Cola Company; The Dannon Company, Inc.; The Sugar Association Trusting any of the research published by this kind of organisation, which receives money from large meat, dairy, pharmaceutical, or agrochemical corporations, will not be in the consumer’s interest. Always look for independent studies. [We] recommend Dr. Michael Greger, MD and Physician, and his fantastic YouTube channel. Protein The biggest concern when starting a vegetarian or vegan diet is that they will be deficient in protein. But plants have sufficient protein to grow non-human animals like giraffes, elephants, and cows, so obviously, they have enough to grow human animals. According to Dr. McDougall, all 20 amino acids, including the 10 essential ones needed for good health are abundant in plants. There is no such thing as protein deficiency, yet the meat and dairy industries generate tons of profit with these universally accepted lies.

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Talk Lead E

Comparing our Cities Creating a quality of living index for Vietnam

very year, Mercer releases its quality of living index. Based on a number of pre-set criteria, the index lists which cities offer the best quality of life. The results are used by a number of multinationals when looking at investment decisions. The most recent index, released in March 2017, puts Ho Chi Minh City at a measly 152nd out of 231 major cities, below the likes of Lusaka (Zambia), Jakarta, Manila, Mexico City, Beijing, Bangkok, Singapore, which finished 25th, and Johannesburg. Hanoi scores an even worse 156th on the rankings, meaning that Vietnam just isn’t that nice a place to live. Naturally we don’t agree as I’m sure most people reading this enjoy living in Vietnam. So, we’ve decided to put together our own quality of living index based on the criteria provided by Mercer. Each category is marked out of 10.

1) Political and Social Environment According to Mercer, this includes political stability (in Vietnam, very stable), crime (depends on the city) and law enforcement. Hanoi: 8 Ho Chi Minh City: 6 Danang: 8

2) Economic Environment Mercer bases its scores on currency exchange regulations and banking services. Both are still strongly regulated in Vietnam, although it’s probably easier to get a loan or a mortgage in Vietnam right now than it is in most countries in the West. Hanoi: 5 Ho Chi Minh City: 6 Danang: 5

3) Socio-Cultural Environment This category looks at media availability, censorship, and limitations on personal freedom. Vietnam hasn’t bought into the nanny-state concept that has been knocking down Western societies like dominoes. So, on the personal freedoms level, this country excels. Likewise, media availability is widespread although there is still a fair amount of censorship. Hanoi: 8 Ho Chi Minh City: 9 Danang: 7

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4) Medical and Health Considerations This is where Vietnam takes a beating. Dengue fever is a constant threat, while the lack of quality healthcare (unless you can afford it) is an immense issue. Motorbike accidents are an ever-present threat and poor air quality has perhaps the biggest impact on the quality of life in Vietnam’s big cities now. Which is why in this category, Danang scores highest. Hanoi: 5 Ho Chi Minh City: 5 Danang: 7

5) Schools and Education Mercer focuses its report on international schools, so we will do the same and certainly, when it comes to volume, Ho Chi Minh City excels. Hanoi: 6 Ho Chi Minh City: 8 Danang: 3

6) Public Services and Transportation This category looks at the quality of utilities provision as well as transportation. Except for the lack of a metro system (made up for by the large number of taxis and xe oms out there), Vietnam performs well. Hanoi: 8 Ho Chi Minh City: 8 Danang: 8

7) Recreation Since nightlife in Vietnam is so focused on eating and drinking, one of the country’s favourite pastimes, there has been a lack of development in alternatives, although this has changed over the past five years. Hanoi scores highest because of the city’s parks and lakes. Hanoi: 9 Ho Chi Minh City: 8 Danang: 7

8) Consumer Goods This is another area where Vietnam struggles, as anything imported that is deemed to be ‘luxury’ comes with a considerable excise duty. Which means that many shoppers tend to do a lot of their spending overseas. Hanoi: 6 Ho Chi Minh City: 6 Danang: 4

9) Housing This category includes rental housing, household appliances, furniture and maintenance services, and is a category where Vietnam performs relatively well. Add to this the low cost of rental (certainly compared to most other cities on this planet), and we think Vietnam should score quite high. Hanoi: 9 Ho Chi Minh City: 9 Danang: 8

10) Natural Environment This focuses on the climate and the country’s record of natural disasters. Except for the annual storms from October to December, climate-wise Danang is far superior to its rivals to the north and south. As inhabitants of Hanoi and Saigon know all too well, when it’s hot, it’s brutal. As for natural disasters, although flooding is an issue, none of these cities is really affected (for the time being) by rising sea levels or earthquakes. Hanoi: 6 Ho Chi Minh City: 6 Danang: 9

The Results As we can see, there are many areas where Vietnam needs to improve, at least in the eyes of Mercer. Yet, when it comes down to personal freedom and nightlife, Vietnam excels. So, onto the results. Hanoi: 70 Ho Chi Minh City: 69 Danang: 66 By a mere point, the best city to live in is Hanoi! — Nick Ross

Big5 The


Exhibitions, festivals, Shane Filan and Ariana Grande. The top events this month



Precious Heritage Hoi An

Ex-Westlife hearthrob and crooner, Shane Filan, jets into HCMC on Jul. 16

The HCMC Conservatory of Music hosts this year’s International Finger-Style Guitar Festival on Jul. 19

Singing superstar, Ariana Grande, hits our shores next month as part of her world tour





Nguyen Phuc Chu, Hoi An Until the end of August

There’s no rest for renowned photographer Rehahn after the opening of his gallery in Saigon’s historic Dong Khoi along with the opening of his Ageless Beauty exhibition at the Fine Arts Museum in Danang. On Jul. 1, Rehahn opens his free outdoor exhibition called Precious Heritage, a selection of 40 photographs showcasing the richness and diversity of Vietnam’s ethnic cultures. To read more go to page 40

Jai Thep Festival Creative Artillery, Birdcage and Rafiki’s, Tay Ho, Hanoi 2 Jul. 7 to Jul. 9 Chiang Mai’s answer to the Quest Festival, the Jai Thep Festival, will be collaborating with GingerWork to come to Hanoi for a weekend of art, music and magic. A collective of international artists, musicians and small business owners based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Jai Thep’s two outings so far have received critical acclaim. Now they will be recreating their festival vibe over three days in Hanoi. The festival will include a Tie Dye & Décor Workshop with live visuals, open decks and an open mic-style atmosphere, a night of DJs and

live production at Birdcage and a compression party on the Sunday at newly opened Rafiki’s. For the full schedule, turn to page 40

Shane Filan 3

Lan Anh Stadium, HCMC Sunday, Jul. 16

Irish singer and songwriter, Shane Filan, lands in Ho Chi Minh City on Jul. 16 as part of his Love Always world tour. One of the lead singers of former late 1990s to early 2000s mega-boy band Westlife, Filan is visiting Vietnam for the second time in three years to promote his third solo album featuring classic love ballads, some of which have been suggested by his adoring fans. Tickets are available from Ticketbox from VND540,000. For more info and ticket bookings, go to or

International Finger-Style Guitar Festival 2017 HCMC Conservatory of Music, HCMC 4 Wednesday, Jul. 19 IFSGF is an annual event held since 2010 in Asia featuring some of the most famous artists from around the world. Thriving in recent years in Vietnam, fingerstyle guitar solos produce the sound of what almost seems be the sound of an entire band. This year, IFSGF will be held at

Ho Chi Minh City’s Conservatory of Music in District 1 and will feature guitarists from the USA, Belgium, Germany and Japan as well as including Vietnam’s very own Duy Phong, who has been earmarked as the next big thing in fingerstyle guitar in Vietnam. Tickets are available from Ticketbox and start at VND500,000. For more info and ticket bookings, go to The HCMC Conservatory of Music is at 112 Nguyen Du, Q1, HCMC

Ariana Grande 5

Quan Khu 7 Stadium, HCMC Wednesday, Aug. 23

Vietnam can consider itself lucky to be one of just four countries in Southeast Asia to welcome young singing sensation Ariana Grande on her Dangerous Woman world tour. Her concert will take place at Quan Khu 7 in what should be the ultimate music experience for all her fans. Grande quickly became famous as a singer after her debut album Yours Truly with her hit song The Way in collaboration with US rapper, Mac Miller, nabbing her a number of awards, including top 10 positions on the Billboard 100 and iTunes music charts. Tickets are available exclusively through Ticketbox from VND790,000. For more info and ticket bookings, go to | July 2017 Word | 11

Briefings Hanoi



Environmental Initiatives


Young Vietnamese are taking on the challenge of improving our environment

n recent months, groups such as Keep Hanoi Clean have been bringing more attention to the issue of litter and pollution in Hanoi; in particular in public places such as lakes, rivers and parks. However, there are also a number of groups founded and operated by young Vietnamese, who refuse to be indifferent about the state of the country their generation will inherit.

C25 Vietnam Divided into multiple sub-groups, which cover different areas of the city, C25 was founded in June 2016 by Nguyen Hoai Nam, with the combined goals of cleaning up litter at tourist spots and educating people about how to protect and preserve their environment. “Our group has around 15 active members,” says Vu Thuy Duong, one member. “But our weekly clean-up events attract around 30 to 40 extra volunteers each time.” Duong’s sub-group, C25 Hong Ha, focuses on areas around West Lake, including Thanh Nien Street and Tran Quoc Pagoda. Using a range of equipment made from environmentally friendly materials, the group meets every Sunday morning; sometimes working in partnership with other groups, such as YDA Vietnam and Green Up. “The pollution in Vietnam is in the water, air and land,” explains Duong. “The government is always striving to perfect the legal system to protect the environment, but the serious indifference of the public is the biggest problem.”

Green Fingers Vietnam Founded last year by Tran Thi Diem Phuc and Dang Minh Hang, Green Fingers seeks to represent the effort of a more responsible generation of young Vietnamese, who aim to promote social change for the benefit of the environment. “Every day, around 5,000 tons of waste is discharged into the environment by Vietnam’s big cities,” explains project manager Ha Trang. “Up to 90% of that goes directly to landfills.” Some of the most common activities undertaken by Green Fingers include creating recycled products from discarded plastics, running awareness campaigns and organising educational workshops. “There have been several attempts to promote recycling and reduce waste in the past,” says Ha. “But there’s hardly been any real change as people can’t see the direct benefits.”

Sen Trong Pho – Urban Lotus Another group of around 20 young Vietnamese, Urban Lotus, have been turning trash into flower gardens since August last year. Focussing their efforts on central areas such as Hoan Kiem, Ba Dinh and Tay Ho, the group run projects which last anywhere from two weeks up to a month. “We have some support from city authorities,” says founder, Tung Thanh Dam. “But the ignorance of the public is the main problem; they think caring about the environment is the government’s responsibility, or that their own actions are too small to cause any major damage.” Urban Lotus believes by planting seeds,

the flowers which follow will inspire people to protect the environment around them and create a cumulative environmental effect. “The biggest issue preventing Vietnam from going green,” explains Tung, “is finding agreement between authorities, stakeholders, businesses, non-profit groups and local people.”

A Greener Future The groups above are just some which are working in different ways to promote a more caring attitude towards the environment in Vietnam. Others include YDA Vietnam, Green Up, and the National Charity Club, which works with the Green Sunday project cleaning up rubbish dumped in rivers, among other things. Each group demonstrates a strong awareness of the wider issues, but instead of being put off by the huge challenge facing them, they are bringing young Vietnamese people together to tackle one small problem at a time. — Edward Dalton


Briefings Hanoi

Parks and Pools The best places to keep cool in Hanoi this summer


nless you live underground, you’ve noticed it’s been pretty hot lately. Summer is in full swing, which means it’s the perfect time to compile a list of some of the best green and blue sanctuaries Hanoi has to offer.

Sao Mai Swimming Pool Open from 5.30am until 8pm. For the best chance of getting a quiet soak or no childshaped obstacles during your 20 lengths, head there between 11am and 2pm. For an adult day ticket, it’s VND80,000, or VND1.3 million for 30 days. Children go a bit cheaper. Located at 98 Quang An, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Contact 0904 616688

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Trill Rooftop Café and Bistro Not only do you get access to food and drinks, but the rooftop swimming pool comes with spectacular views and a cool breeze. It’s open every day from 6.30am until 7.30pm, and costs VND80,000 for children and VND100,000 for adults per daily visit. Located at 26th Floor, Hei Tower, 1 Nguy Nhu Kon Tum, Thanh Xuan, Hanoi. Contact on 0916 733838

Thang Loi Hotel Another West Lake-adjacent pool, it’s open from 6am until 9pm, and costs VND80,000 for a day ticket. With decent views of West Lake, the pool is a good size and is surrounded by reclining beds,

umbrellas and palm trees. It’s a great place to chill out. Located at 200 Yen Phu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Contact on (024) 3829 0145

Daewoo Hotel For a more luxurious option, try the pool at the Daewoo Hotel. At VND580,000 for one day, it’s not somewhere for a regular swim, but as it includes unlimited access to the sauna and gym, it’s a more complete experience. Open from 6am until 9pm. Located at 360 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. Contact on (024) 3831 5000

Bach Thao Park Also known as Hanoi Botanical Gardens,


this park is modest in size but a nice place for a stroll and a sitdown. It has a lake, a hill and well-maintained paths, which wind around a large variety of trees and plants. There’s also a small play area for kids. Located at 3 Hoang Hoa Tham, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Thong Nhat Park Reunification Park is one of the biggest in the city, and contains Bay Mau Lake as well as a restaurant (Nha Hang Gio Moi). There aren’t many other facilities on-site, so the park is more popular for exercising and chilling out, rather than playtime. Located between Le Duan, Tran Nhan Tong and Dai Co Viet, with entrances on all sides

Nghia Do Park A great place to take the family, the park contains a well-equipped playground as well as Nghia Tan Lake. Expect it to be busy on weekends, and beware of how hot the artificial ground in the playground gets on the hottest days. Located at 64 Nguyen Van Huyen, Cau Giay, Hanoi

Mua Ha Park Summer Park is one of four adjacent parks named for the seasons in the EcoPark complex. Between them there are lakes, children’s play areas and large swathes of grass for chilling out or kicking a ball around. Gets busy at weekends. Watch

out for the smelly gifts left behind by rich people’s dogs. Located at Rung Co, inside EcoPark, Xuan Quan, Hung Yen

Google It Other parks worth looking into include Thu Le Park (Ba Dinh), Cau Giay Park (Cau Giay) and Gia Lam Park (Long Bien). For more swimming pool options, check out Thai Ha Swimming Pool, La Thanh Swimming Pool, Khan Quang Do Swimming Pool as well as the full-size swimming pool in My Dinh. — Edward Dalton | July 2017 Word | 15

Briefings Hanoi

Lai Xa Photography Museum Celebrating a village dedicated to photography


anoi’s amalgamation of architectural influences, unwavering charm, and residents’ ability to transport everything and anything by motorbike, make the city a photographer’s paradise. A good place to start is Lai Xa Village located in the Kim Chung commune of Hoai Duc District, 15km west of the city centre. In May the village opened the Lai Xa Photography museum. Lai Xa is considered the birthplace of photography in Hanoi and was home to Nguyen Dinh Khanh, one of Vietnam’s most famous photographers along with many of his pupils. The museum has English-language exhibits and showcases photographs and artefacts dating back to the 1800s when the trade first began to flourish in the village. Huy Van Nguyen, former director of the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology and the initiator of the project believes that a visit to the museum will tell a fascinating story about the early days of photography and its continuing impact on the village.

Through the Ages According to Huy, exhibits range from information about the technical side of photography and how both modern and old cameras have been used in the village, to information about the lives of the village’s many photographers. “In addition, the museum will help the public discover how during the difficult

16 | Word July 2017 |

circumstances of the war and the Subsidy Era, the people of Lai Xa were able to take amazing photos so that photographers were still able to meet the needs of society,” says Huy. “It is the need of the villagers to preserve and honour the photographic profession of the village.” Although Huy was the mastermind behind the project, the museum is the first in Hanoi to be created entirely by the community. “I’m the curator. I organize the entire content of the exhibitions, working directly with the exhibition design team,” Huy explains. “The village and the Nguyen Dinh Khanh Photographic Club are responsible for funding, making houses, collecting artifacts, photographs, organising exhibitions and displaying the works.”

New Direction The end goal is to turn Lai Xa into a tourist destination. Huy believes that this will transform the lives of villagers who were once farmers but have lost their land to the process of urbanisation. Huren Marsh, a lecturer in Vietnam with a professional background in exhibition and museum design praised the grass-roots nature of the museum. “The museum is an excellent example of a small but well-considered piece of exhibition design that focuses on a community and individuals,” says Huren. “I think the story of a community that was so engaged in


photography over so many years should be of interest to a wider audience.” Huren also recommends a visit to the Nguyen Van Huyen Museum as it’s a fiveminute walk from the Xai La Photography Museum and has a larger exhibit. The museum has only just been established and there’s a lot more to be done. Huy’s plans for the future of the museum include seeking funding and finding donors to complete unfinished exhibits. He also plans to add touch-screen exhibits for a more interactive experience. For those interested in photography, it’s a worthwhile way to spend a day. — Alex Maggs The Lai Xa Photography Museum is open on weekends only from 9am to 4.30pm or by special appointment. The museum is located in the Kim Chung commune off QL32, just past My Dinh and the village of Nhon. You can find it on Google Maps | July 2017 Word | 17

Briefings National

A New Frontier for Cricket Vietnam gets itself a national cricket team


t is rare nowadays to come across a genuine frontier in terms of introducing a new sport to a country that had never seen its type beyond its small expat communities. But on an old racecourse in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City is seeing a birth of a new game in Vietnam; cricket. Vietnam is preparing to send its firstever national cricket team to compete internationally, at the 2017 SEA Games in Malaysia in August. Up against the more established sides such as Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, Vietnam faces a daunting challenge, but that does not seem to faze the players or their volunteer

Australian coach, Mick Blinkhoff. Mick became their coach after watching their practice session four months ago, where he started giving hints and tips from the sidelines. By the end, the players “were begging me to come back.” So, he duly did the next day, and the day after that. The rest, as they say, is history. “Their cricketing techniques were found wanting,” says Mick. “But these guys were natural athletes and fit.” Thirteen of the 20 players were members of baseball teams before they moved to cricket little over a year ago. The players dedicate five mornings a week to training, on a monthly salary of VND5 million.

Enthusiasm Watching the training session on the astroturf, there is little doubting the commitment of the players. Le Hoang Dang is probably the most natural batsman, with a batting stance that would not look out of place on an English or Australian pitch. He is also the captain, with a calmness that rises above the noisy enthusiasm of the rest of the team. “Cricket is very different from baseball,” he says, referring to his six years as a baseball player for Vietnam. The 25-yearold Dang has clearly taken to his new sport, adding: “I want to carry on playing cricket.” Dang doesn’t mention that he is set to


become a dual sporting international, a remarkable feat by any standards. To counter their baseball instincts, Mick designed their training sessions to deduct runs if they play the pull shot, encouraging the batsman to keep a straight bat and to try and score runs on the off-side. It’s been a hard but ultimately rewarding journey for the coach and author.

Surprise “Practice, practice, practice,” Mick says when I ask him how he drills the techniques into the players. He speaks of two team members in particular. Their opening batsman, Kim Hoang Dung, learned from operating the bowling machine. “He was watching the batsmen and how they hit the ball,” says Mick, his expression betraying an element of surprise when recalling the moment Dung batted for the first time three weeks ago. He is now one of the established opening batsmen for Vietnam. Another was a spin bowler who struggled in the first few months but then managed to bowl a perfect delivery a few weeks ago under the tutelage of Mick, and has grown in confidence ever since. A useful cricketer in his native Australia, Mick embodies the mantra of “practice makes perfect.” “It’s hot as hell here, we don’t have the equipment, the funds or the cricket upbringing,” Mick continues. “But Vietnamese are proud people and have a never-say-die attitude.” There is one more challenge that faces this team — playing on a proper grass pitch. They have done all their training on astroturf, without all the variables of a natural cricket pitch. But if the commitment of Nguyen Viet Lai, who travels 140km daily from Binh Duong, is anything to go by, then this team will be no walkover come the SEA Games in August. — George Schooling | July 2017 Word | 19


Pietro Porro

The man who rode 40,000km on a Vespa to get to Vietnam


hirty-two year old Pietro Porro is explaining his emotions as he finally crossed the border into Vietnam: “I had goose bumps. I wanted to scream something.” He roars for effect. “It was full of emotion.” Pietro has recently completed a gargantuan 40,000km adventure across 20 countries on the back of a humble two-stroke Vespa scooter. The bike is an enduring symbol of his native Italy, and it’s covered in mementos from his trip, with a From Italy to Vietnam sticker taking pride of place on the back. The idea of travelling from Italy to Vietnam came after a long summer in 2015. “At the end of the summer you are full of questions about your life,” says Pietro. He wanted to make a change, and as a man who suffers from itchy feet, this trip presented the perfect challenge. He was inspired after reading the book In Vespa by Georgio Bettinelli, which charted a journey from Rome to Ho Chi Minh City in 1992 on the back of a Vespa, and Pietro thought, what

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better way to pay homage, 25 years on from its publication. A route was plotted and Pietro performed concerts, washed dishes, and did anything else needed to raise the money needed for the adventure — all on top of his job as a social worker at an NGO in Milan.

Meeting the Challenge The trials and tribulations of the road were endless. A threat of kidnapping led to a police escort through Pakistan, and he was beset by constant mechanical problems with the bike itself. His spell in India saw him laid low by food poisoning, and there were multiple issues gaining access to each country at the border. But each challenge proved to be surmountable, which became one of the most satisfying aspects of the journey: “At the point of losing belief, you find a solution,” he says. One surprising aspect of the trip was the constant presence of social media and the internet, even in the most remote of locations. “I had a strange situation in Armenia,” he

says. “It’s full of monasteries. I was at one in the middle of a forest; nobody was there except one monk, a hermit. This austere monk and I, we don’t have a common language so he took his big HTC mobile out with Google Translate. It was so strange. I asked about his life and the church and how he runs it by himself. I thought — the world is changing very fast.” Pietro doesn’t hesitate when he names Iran as his favourite country on the trip, due to its combination of incredibly hospitable people, spectacular landscapes and endless vistas. “Iran has the most beautiful and welcoming people but sometimes you are at a table having a meal with them and everybody turns silent looking at their phones. It was a problem in every country I went to — and selfies everywhere. With social media you can share with the world but it’s a balance. Doing a trip like I did without it is just anachronistic. It’s impossible to go back now.” He found himself in a couple of unusual situations, but these were all part of the adventure: “One night I slept in a shop of a man cooking for sailors in India. He made food through the night as we slept on the floor in the cold. Another night I slept in a cricket ground and all the people from the village came to see me.”

Vietnam and Beyond Since arriving in Vietnam he has become a celebrity of sorts as several local newspapers and TV channels scramble to hear his story. Vietnam has a large Vespa community, too, which has welcomed him with open arms. It’s been the perfect end to his journey. Looking back on the trip, he’s thoughtful when he thinks about what he’s learned: “I feel that sometimes people won’t do something because it’s too dangerous, or you may lose too much money. They ask, ‘why do you need a change?’ but you feel that you need something different. “Maybe you need to work a lot to paint something, to make your opera, your sculpture, but it all starts somewhere. If you are motivated, you can arrive wherever you want.” As he leaves, Pietro starts up his Vespa scooter, which makes an earthy growl — just as it should after travelling the best part of 40,000km. It’s more than man and machine and a way from getting from A to B; he has an emotional connection to the vehicle that has been his companion. “She’s like my girlfriend,” he remarks, before driving off. Soon it will be sold, however, and Pietro will start planning his next adventure. — Thomas Barrett To see more of Pietro’s journey you can find him on Facebook at


Briefings National

First-Aid App for Vietnamese Speakers A lifesaving app in Vietnamese


nowledge of first aid can be the difference between life and death, and a group of volunteers, led by Australian paramedic Tony Coffey and Trang Jena, are hoping to build on the success of their Survival Skills workshops with the release of a lifesaving app — the first of its kind to be written solely in Vietnamese. Tony has been coming to Vietnam since 2014 and he was surprised to learn about the lack of awareness of first aid within the country: “Some people weren’t sure what it was, or why they needed to learn it,” he says. After introducing their Survival Skills courses in Danang, they now run it in several places around the country, and they believe the upcoming app will be crucial in equipping Vietnamese with basic emergency knowledge. The content on the app will be tailored specifically for the

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local population, which was important to Tony. “We wanted to make it specifically for Vietnam. It’s got to be relevant,” he says.

Reducing the Death Toll According to the World Health Organisation road traffic accidents kill approximately 14,000 people in Vietnam ever year. They estimate that there are around 11,500 child deaths due to drowning each year, and Tony and his team of volunteers hope the app will go some way to reduce these numbers. The rise of the internet has brought with it a wealth of information on how to treat injuries, which at times is conflicting and often confusing. Tony says: “We spoke to a group of students at RMIT University — one of the girls had a roller bandage on her ankle.” When they asked how she had

diagnosed her injury she said she Googled it, which, Tony says, is the bane of paramedics around the world. When they asked her if she would use a specific app if it was available, she replied that she would if it was in Vietnamese. “So I thought, we need one of those,” recalls Tony. The app aims to give clear, concise and up-to-date first aid information, complete with pictures and instructions on what to do in various situations such as bleeding, choking, drowning and much more. Trang says that during their research they were shocked to find the bad advice that exists online. “We learnt that to treat a snakebite, a group wanted to sell a snakebite treatment kit; the advice was to treat the wound then kill the snake and take the snake to the doctor with you. What’s out there is dangerous,” she says.

All the information provided through the app will be referenced with various sources, and any changes to established medical practices will be updated.

Raising Funds & Awareness Aside from raising funds for the project, the biggest obstacle that they’ve faced is cultural. In Vietnam, it’s often thought bad luck to think about death or injury, so many people will just expect the doctor to look after them. But by the time they get to the hospital, it’s often too late. “We want to raise awareness and change the thinking,” says Trang. “It’s a slow process. A lot of people think first aid is something they don’t need to learn. They don’t always know that at the moment of something happening they need to do something quick.” The feedback they have received for the app from medical professionals within Vietnam has been overwhelmingly positive. With resources stretched, they are excited for a tool that will unquestionably make their jobs easier. — Thomas Barrett For the development of the Android app, Ho Thai Binh and Ba Ria — Vung Tau University have donated their programming expertise. But once the app is up and running they will need funds to manage and sustain it. If you’d like to donate please visit socapcuu. To find our more click on facebook. com/SurvivalSkillsVN or email survivalskills.

Briefings HCMC

Gold Street

A collection of streets in District 5 dedicated to jewellery


ocated 15 minutes away from popular Ben Thanh market are a collection of streets dedicated to selling one of the widest ranges of jewellery you can find in Ho Chi Minh City. Set within urban District 5, well known for its Chinese community, this area is teaming with street food sellers, bike vendors and local people going about their normal day. Look closer at the stores that line this street and you will see square signs with a gold-coloured diamond shape, imprinted on a black background. These signs are placed outside over 40 stores on Nhieu Tam

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Street, with a small extension into Nghia Thuc and Bui Huu Nghia streets. The signs signify that you have arrived at the recently inaugurated ‘Jewellery Street’, a designation agreed to by the People’s Committee of District 5 in late April this year.

Golden Eye Each retailer offers a certain type of metal, some more specialised than others. Diem owns and operates Kim Ngan II (3C and 4C Nhieu Tam, Q5). The store holds the only supply of white gold in the entire street, imported from Laos and Korea. Her most expensive piece is a 40g white

gold necklace which costs approximately US$2,000 (VND46 million). “Beautiful and heavy,” says Diem. Her most popular items are more understated: “I sell many small pieces, earrings and small necklaces that are maybe US$100.” She opened her first store with her parents in 1998. Business was good and she now has a second store that supplies her product to wholesale customers. All four members of her family work seven days a week. From morning until night, she sits behind a glass-encased counter that wraps around in a square, horseshoe shape. There are over


“I like my job and this is a good life” a hundred pieces of jewellery on show from 7.30am to 6pm. “I like my job and this is a good life,” says Diem. “I know everyone,” she says about other retailers in the same business. Other shops stock a wide selection of local gold, priced between US$15 for a pair of baby earrings to US$500 for a heavy-set necklace, all of which are designed to impress.

Silver Machine Husband and wife, Minh and Nguyet, own the store Minh-Duc (14 Nhieu Tam, Q5). Originally from Hue, they have been exclusively selling silver for 15 years and customers come from all over Vietnam,

Cambodia and Laos to pick up their orders. This is a wholesale store but if a customer likes a piece, it’s no problem to sell it individually. A small bracelet is approximately US$5 (VND114,000) and larger orders are priced at around VND50,000 per gram. “I see some foreign customers but they just come to look,” Nguyet says. The jewellery is made at a factory, but in the future, she will have someone at the store to demonstrate. The silver is imported from Italy and China. Ten employees can be seen packaging and labelling the hundreds of bangles, rings and necklaces that are on display. If a piece does not sell, it is taken away to be re-made into another product.

Local Vibe This small section of the city gives you the opportunity to see and smell District 5 the way the locals do. The energy created by the closely situated Hoa Binh Market means you can experience a perspective away from the usual tourist-heavy attractions, with a side of sparkle. It is conveniently located between Thien Hau and Quan Am Temples and is worth a stop if you are in need of any bling or local produce. — Bridget Griffin Kim Ngan II is located at 3C and 4C Nhieu Tam, Q5 and is open every day from 7.30am to 6pm. Minh-Duc is located at 14 Nhieu Tam, Q5 and is open Monday to Saturday from 7am to 8pm, and Sunday 7am to 4pm | July 2017 Word | 25

Briefings HCMC

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The Fire Eater Lighting up the stage


t’s 9pm on Friday night at a popular beer club and 23-year-old fire eater, My Kim, is waiting to perform. It’s a boisterous atmosphere with people dancing on tables and pumping their fists to the music. It feels like you are walking into a lion’s den, but all the lions are happily drunk on Tiger beer. After a DJ, beatboxer and singer perform, My Kim is up next and she confidently walks down the stairs to begin her routine. Her performance is a mixture of hip-hop style dancing with traditional fire eating and it’s a beguiling combination. The fire dazzles as she moves, and the audience erupts when she puts the lit stick into her mouth. A microphone left over from an earlier act is hanging from the ceiling, and it collides with one of her sticks of fire and extinguishes it. It threatens to throw her off but she’s cool under pressure and lights it up again. The show must go on. During the performance an overly enthusiastic member of the audience spills beer on her, so she gets on the microphone to let the crowd know that they should remain respectful. It’s a part of the job that makes her weary. “Sometimes people in the audience don’t always respect me so I get on the mic to tell them they should be polite,” says My Kim afterwards.

Born for It Most 10-year-olds are happy eating

chocolate or gum, but at that age My Kim was putting fire in her mouth for the first time. Now, aged 23, she’s an experienced and polished pro, and credits fire eating as her passion and vocation. She was born into a family of cai luong (modern folk opera) performers, and after three years of training she now performs up to 20 times a week. She enjoys the feeling of satisfaction that comes from performance, and she looks forward to each night that she’s on stage: “I want to do something challenging and different. I want people to see me perform and think, ‘I can’t do that’,” she says. She’s been a hairdresser and worked in finance, but she says fire eating is her true calling: “If you say everybody can be a fire eater it’s not true. According to a proverb in Vietnam the career chooses you not the other way around,” she says. “I’m born to do this job. I get burnt often — my arms, my legs, my mouth or my hair. If I look at the sky and see the wind sometimes I think it’s not going to be my night and I will get burnt. But you have to be resilient. You need to hide your feelings. I need to keep smiling.”

Burning Ambition After performing at the beer club, it’s a quick dash on the scooter across town to a 22nd-floor sky bar. The atmosphere is more restrained, and as My Kim performs, the strong odour of kerosene mixes with the

smell of sweet cocktails. The highlight of her performance is when she dances with three fire-laden hula-hoops, certainly not the kind you played with at school. It’s an impressive sight on top of the city, and she looks a lot more confident up here than down at the beer club. She regularly has to deal with sexist taunts from the audience, which sadly is part of the contradiction of her job. The audience in Vietnam expect her to dress ‘sexy’, but with that, she feels she loses credibility as a performer. She is determined to change the perception of fire eating, and hopes for it to be more respected as an art-form. “I have ambitions to perform overseas,” she says, “to show them that there is this kind of art in Vietnam. People in Vietnam are not as open-minded as people abroad.” Her performances may take place over a few hours, but she dedicates much of her free time to maintaining her body: “If my belly is a little big, people will see it right away. Like my talent, my body is a gift. I have to take care of it,” she says. But it’s now the end of the night, and with the fire all put out, My Kim changes from her high-heeled shoes into a pair of altogether more comfortable flip-flops. It’s still only Friday night and she has a long weekend ahead of her. — Thomas Barrett You can find My Kim on Facebook at facebook. com/mualuamykim1994

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Sports Digest

Women’s Sports Women have more sporting options in Vietnam than ever before. Harry Hodge looks at what’s available


ports clubs for women have enjoyed an upsurge over the last few years, and in this month’s column we look at some of these different clubs and teams at both ends of the country.

Chelsea Girls in Hanoi With a team dubbed Chelsea Girls in Hanoi, there’s no guessing which EPL club these women support. The club has around 30 members, all of whom are Vietnamese women from various cities. They often practice on Sunday evenings. The club also travels to other cities such as Hai Phong, Nghe An, Phu Tho to play some friendly matches. “We just love the way we gather around

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and play with the ball, how we love each other like a second family, how we go everywhere together,” says club member Thanh Xuan. “We are one of the biggest fan club networks (for Chelsea FC) in Vietnam. Visit their Facebook page, Doi Bong Nu CFC Ha Noi, for more information

Hanoi Basketball The Thang Long (Flying Dragons) Basketball Club has roughly 20 members, with Vietnamese players born in different regions like Hanoi, Hai Duong, Quang Ninh, Hai Phong, and Hung Yen. They meet twice a week to practice and play, and there are occasional streetball matches, too.

“I think the primary enjoyment is being together,” says club member Vu Thanh Vu. “Simply, it’s just our passion to play.” Contact Vu Thanh Vu at suvu2708000@ for more information

Vietcelts The Vietcelts play Gaelic football in Hanoi, with 10 to 15 players from around the world including the USA, Australia, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Vietnam, and elsewhere. They train every Thursday from 7pm to 8.30 pm at the Red River Pitch, at the end of alley 274 Au Co in Tay Ho. They also train together with the

Vietnam Swans Australian Rules Football club on Saturday afternoons. The team contributes to the community in Vietnam by promoting the sport among youth groups. For info click on

Saigon Geckos While many sports aficionados in Ho Chi Minh City know of the Saigon Geckos, not everyone is aware there are men’s and women’s clubs under one umbrella. The women’s club isn’t yet a year old, so there are only roughly 15 members at present. Currently there is a large number of Canadians, a few Americans and French, a South African, a New Zealander, a Filipina, Spanish, Korean, and Vietnamese players. The club has contact training once a week, twice if there’s a game coming up. It has played in three notable tournaments already, and at least five tournaments are planned for next autumn and spring. “Our favourite part of rugby is the social atmosphere that comes with the sport,” says club member Heather Turkle. “Rugby is an inclusive sport with a position for

every body type, and attracts people from different backgrounds. “It’s especially fun for women because most haven’t played it before as it’s not popular in a lot of countries. So we’re continuously learning together.” For more information, click on saigonrugbyclub/

The Hanoi Ois Netball Club The club has around 60 people playing every week, both men and women. Although in many countries netball is a women’s only sport, in Australia and New Zealand it’s mixed gender, so they play with a 60/40 female-to-male membership ratio. While most players come from Commonwealth countries where the game has a broader base, such as Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, there are other nationalities as well. The club is also looking to grow its Vietnamese membership. Matches are every Monday in a series of leagues running from September to May or June. They play at the Central Vietnam Games, organize games and tournaments

against the Saigon Shooters, and try to get to other Southeast Asian countries to play. You can message hanoinetball@ or visit HanoiOisNetballClub/

The Saigon Shooters Netball Club The club consists of a mixed league that plays scheduled matches every Monday during two seasons from February to June, and September to December. There are 10 teams, with approximately 80 players. Of these, around 60 per cent are women. Nationalities include UK, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, France, the US, Canada, Ireland and South Africa. During the season, weekly games are held every Monday night in District 2. “The league is a great way to meet new people, and learn a new sport,” says Shooters member Mairead Scanlon. “The league is split into two divisions, with the more experienced players in the higher league, and players that are newer to the sport in the lower league.” For more information, visit groups/saigonshootersnetball/ | July 2017 Word | 29

ToDo list HCMC

An exhibition at Salon Saigon showcases the works by five Vietnam-based contemporary artists

Artworks by contemporary Vietnamese artists will be on display for the first time to the Vietnamese public at Post Vidai & Dia Projects' new exhibition

Strap in for an interstellar journey through the dance cosmos with Philadelphia outfit Risky Disko on Jul. 1

The carnival spirit takes over Saigon Saigon Bar every first Wednesday of the month at the Caravelle

This year AmCham celebrates Independence Day on Jul. 1






Exhibitions, Latin parties, film screenings, DJs, a sports night and a picnic. There’s plenty to do this month in the big city

Then I Can Turn The World Upside Down Salon Saigon, Q3 Until Aug. 15 There is a new exhibition at Salon Saigon which showcases the works by five Vietnam-based contemporary artists; Le Hoang Bich Phuong, Mai Hoang, Nguyen Manh Hung, Florian Nguyen and Hoang Nam Viet. Then I Can Turn The World Upside Down, explores the possibilities that drawing offers in creating imaginary realities, which evoke the subconscious. The five artists all represent different mediums, from silk painting to watercolours to charcoal on paper and more — and they all tackle a diverse range of themes through their work. The artists all aim to create visions of hidden beauty and reinterpretations of the world, revealing quasi-hallucinatory perspectives on an otherwise too familiar landscape. The exhibition runs until Aug. 15. Salon Saigon is located at 6D Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, HCMC. For more information visit salonsaigonarts or call (028) 3933 3242



The Picture Will Exist Saigon Domain, Binh Thanh Until Aug. 22 Post Vidai and Dia Projects will present a new exhibition that showcases eight established and emerging Vietnamese artists and collectives which include; Dinh Q. Le, Hoang Duong Cam, Howard Henry Chen, Le Quy Tong, Ngoc Nau, Phuong Linh, The Propeller Group and Vo An Khanh. The Picture Will Exist features photographs, paintings and video works which focus on the development of Vietnamese contemporary art. As the collection looks at the post Doi Moi generation, they hope to provoke questions of ambition and to imagine a space and time inspired by the past while looking forward to a prosperous future in Vietnam. A number of artworks, such as Dinh Q. Le’s WTC in four moments (2014), The Propeller Group’s AK-47 vs. M16 (2015) and Phuong Linh’s Sanctified Clouds (2012-2015), will be on display for the first time to the Vietnamese public. The exhibition runs until Aug. 22. The exhibition is on the ground floor of Saigon Domain, 1057 Binh Quoi, Binh Thanh, HCMC. For more information, email or telephone (028) 3556 2859

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VinSpace Summer Camp VinSpace Art Studio, Q2 Until Aug. 25 It’s not too late to start thinking about how your kids are going to spend the rest of summer. At VinSpace, summer camp is underway with this year’s programme the best yet. Participants have started their 10-week travel through time, from pre-history to the modern day. The camp includes three-hour daily sessions from 9am till midday from Monday to Friday led by artists helping skills development with crafts, mixed media, sculpture, drawing and painting, group projects and more in a history themed holiday camp format. The daily summer camp rate is VND690,000 or VND3,105,000 for

the week. There’s a 10% discount when making a two-week booking, with other discounts available for multiple siblings and/or friends. Drop-ins and advanced bookings are both welcome. VinSpace Art Studio is at 4 Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC. For more info, go to, email or call 0907 729846

Risky Disko The Observatory, Q4 Saturday, Jul. 1 Get ready for an interstellar journey through the funked out reaches of the dance cosmos with special guest selecta squad Risky Disko out of Philadelphia in the US of A. In support will be Saigon’s very own master of groove, disco and

premium vinyl, Datodeo. Free from 8pm to 9pm. VND150,000 after. For more info, go to theobservatoryhcmc. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC

Colourful Carnival Saigon Saigon, Q1 Wednesday, Jul. 5


Step into the carnival spirit at Saigon’s biggest Latin dance party. Live bands, Living Cuba and Corazón Latino will lure you onto the dancefloor with contagious beats and sizzling moves. The energy and carnival atmosphere builds with colourful masks and costumes, delicious cocktails and music all night long. Ladies: Bring your dancing shoes, and pick up a complimentary Caipirinha as you walk in. The party starts at 9pm on the first Wednesday of each month. Saigon Saigon Bar is on the 9th floor of the Caravelle Saigon, 19 – 23 Lam Son Square, Q1, HCMC. For more info, go to or saigonsaigonrooftopbar

AmCham Independence Picnic Riverside Apartments, Q2 Jul. 4


AmCham, who are an independent association of American and international businesses, are celebrating their 23rd US Independence Day in Vietnam. They are hoping to welcome over 1,000 people to the celebration, which includes food and drinks, live music, games and prizes. Included in the ticket price is an American barbecue, pizza, cakes, | July 2017 Word | 31



list HCMC


From Hong Kong, Sweet Talk lands at The Observatory on Jul. 8 and will whisk punters away on an eclectic electronic escapade

Renowned British artist, David Hockney, will be celebrated over a glass of wine at VinSpace on Jul. 13

Sample Michelin Star chef Mitsuru Konishi’s creations at the Caravelle Hotel this month


Don the whites and Zumba the stress away at Saigon Saigon Bar with Latin beats on Jul. 7



Craig Thomas Gallery will feature two exhibitions this month showcasing the works of Vietnamese artists



1930s surrealist French comedy L’ Age D’or is screening at Salon Saigon on Jul. 5


2 ice-cream and more. Also included is unlimited beer, wine, coffee and soft drinks. There will be live bands performing throughout the afternoon and there will also be a kid’s corner with activities, face painting and bouncy castles. The event will highlight ‘Fourth of July’ small town American traditions, as organisers hope to create a better understanding of these traditions to their staff, families and guests. Riverside Apartments is at 53 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, HCMC. To register for tickets, visit amchamvietnam. com/events/23rd-annual-amcham-usindependence-day-celebration-familypicnic

L’ Age D’or Salon Saigon, Q3 Wednesday, Jul. 5 There will be a screening of 1930s surrealist French comedy, L’ Age D’or, at Salon Saigon on Wednesday, Jul. 5. The film, directed by Luis Bunuel, is about the insanities of life, the sexual hypocrisy of bourgeois society and the value system of the Roman Catholic Church. The screenplay is by Bunuel and Spanish surrealist artist, Salvador Dali, and the picture was one of the first films in France to feature sound. It will be screened in French with English and Vietnamese subtitles. Advance tickets are priced at VND200,000, or half-price for

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students and members. You can purchase tickets at event/screening-lage-dor-byluisbunel-65704/41601 The film starts at 6.30pm and goes for 65 minutes. Salon Saigon is located at 6D Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, HCMC. For more information, visit salonsaigonarts or call (028) 3933 3242

Craig Thomas Gallery Craig Thomas Gallery, Q1 Jul. 7 to Jul. 23 Jul. 28 to Aug. 20 Craig Thomas Gallery will feature two new exhibitions this July and August. The first will be an annual anniversary group exhibition of Vietnamese visual artists, which is called the Octonary Carousal, which brings together specially made works by some of the gallery’s favourite artists from throughout the country. It includes painters and sculptors employing a variety of unique materials and practices. Octonary Carousal, will open on Jul. 7 from 6pm to 9pm, and will run until Jul. 23. The second will be the muchanticipated follow-up to Saigonbased painter Tran Minh Tam’s first solo exhibition in 2013. After three years of meticulous preparations, Tran Minh Tam’s new collection House of Nguyen II, is a deeper dive into the world of

Vietnam’s last imperial dynasty with a special emphasis on the personages and costumes of the court. The exhibition will open on Jul. 28 and will run until Aug. 20. Craig Thomas Gallery is located at 27i Tran Nhat Duat, Q1, HCMC. For more information, visit ctgsaigon or

White Zumba Night Saigon Saigon, Q1 Saturday, Jul. 7 You’re invited to show up, smile and shake the stress away with a feelgood fitness party led by trainer and choreographer Anand Kanpet, and infectious Latin beats by the Living Cuba band. Wear white and head to the Caravelle's rooftop bar for an evening of fun you won’t forget. White Zumba Night kicks off at 9pm. Saigon Saigon Bar is on the 9th floor of the Caravelle Sagion at 19–23 Lam Son Square, Q1, HCMC. For more info, go to or saigonsaigonrooftopbar

Sweet Talk The Observatory, Q4 Saturday, Jul. 8 A wildly eclectic electronic journey is on the way with these guys from the coastal metropolis to our northeast, Hong Kong. Known for a wide range of styles and influences that combine

5 6

4 to keep floors moving and punters guessing for hours on end. Get your taste of Hong Kong on Jun. 8 at The Observatory. Free from 8pm to 9pm. VND150,000 after. For more info, go to theobservatoryhcmc. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC

Canvas and Wine VinSpace Art Studio, Q2 Jul. 13 Renowned British artist, David Hockney, will be celebrated at Vinspace next month. Vinspace is a boutique art studio in District 2 that hosts a range of classes for adults and children.

Their Canvas & Wine evening is a monthly event that brings a range of mediums to the table, from clay sculpture to silk painting and every month they focus on mastering a new technique — all while relaxing with a glass or two of the grapebased tipple. For July, David Hockney will be the subject. He’s famous for transforming his British landscapes through fizzing plains of paint, and they will use the same techniques for the awe-inspiring vistas of Vietnam. The event takes place from 6.30pm to 9pm on Jul. 13. Tickets are VND874,000, which includes tutoring, materials, free-flow wine and cupcakes. VinSpace Art Studio is at 4 Le Van

Mien, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC. For more info, go to, email or call 0907 729846

Michelin-Star Chef Mitsuru Konishi Caravelle Hotel, Lam Son Square, Q1 Jul. 13, 14, 17, 18, 19 Enter a culinary conversation between Japanese and French traditions with Michelin-awarded Chef Mitsuru Konishi. Enjoy Konishi’s contemporary five-course menu at Reflections, or sample small bites from the chef’s repertoire at Tapas Kitchen. A seat at the bar gets you a flute of Moët Champagne,




list HCMC

For a night of techno-house synthesis, DJ Ouch hits the decks at The Observatory on Jul. 14

Electronic-Drone duo Tengger bring their avant-garde sounds to Salon Saigon this Jul. 19

Dalat gets itself a pool tournament and a masterclass

Salon Saigon presents a concert and gala dinner on Jul. 29 featuring 18th century classical music

Ex-Australian cricket team legends Merv Hughes and Geoff Marsh headline at the charity cricket dinner at the Pullman on Aug. 12







the Prestige tasting menu, and the chance to witness the chef’s creativity close-up. Catch Mitsuru Konishi at Reflections on Jul. 13 & 14, and at Tapas Kitchen from Jul. 17 to 19. Reflections & Tapas Kitchen are at Caravelle Saigon, 19–23 Lam Son Square, Q1, HCMC. For more info, go to or call (028) 3823 4999

DJ Ouch The Observatory, Q4 Friday, Jul. 14 It’s techno-house synthesis on high rotation this Jul. 14 with The Observatory mainstay DJ Ouch spinning the decks along with resident Nic Ford and hot property from the north, Dee.F, who will make his first appearance in ‘The Obs’ booth. Expect big sound cascading down into the river and beyond in a night of tasty techno and house. Free from 8pm to 9pm. VND150,000 after. For more info, go to theobservatoryhcmc. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC

Tengger Salon Saigon, Q3 Wednesday, Jul. 19 Salon Saigon welcomes electronic/ drone duo Tengger on Jul. 19. One half of the duo is Itta, who is a South Korean new wave and avant-garde musician who also

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plays toy instruments and an Indian Harmonium. Itta’s partner is Marqido, a Japanese music producer who plays an analogue synthesiser. The duo were formed in South Korea in 2005 and see themselves as keen environmentalists who draw organic inspiration for their music from their surroundings. They have toured all over the world so it promises to be an eclectic and diverse performance. General public tickets are VND400,000, students and members tickets VND300,000. Tickets can be purchased from event/concert-tengger-south-koreaguest-65705/41603 Salon Saigon is located at 6D Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, HCMC. For more information visit salonsaigonarts or call (028) 3933 3242

Sigha The Observatory, Q4 Friday, Jul. 21 The Observatory will welcome techno DJ, Sigha, to Ho Chi Minh City on Friday Jul. 21. DJ Sigha is the alias of London-based James Shaw, who emerged out of the postDubstep scene of 2009. The night is being promoted by Heartbeat, who have also promoted nights in the city featuring Marco Shuttle, Etapp Kyle, Ed Davenport and more. Support will come from 1Dan and Chris Wolter, and there will be a spectacular light show by Erol. Doors open at 9pm. Entry is

free until 11pm. After that entry is VND150,000. The Observatory is located at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Ho Chi Minh City. For more information, visit or heartbeatsaigon

9-Ball Pool Tournament and Masterclass Pompeii Bar, Dalat Jul. 28 and 29 Pompeii Bar in Dalat will play host to a two-day-long pool tournament and masterclass run by Hanoi pool master, Nguyen Phuc Long. The tournament will be a 9-ball open challenge and throughout the two-day event there will be classes and exhibitions. Entrance is free of charge. For info click on and to enter, RSVP to Curtis on 01285 149911. Pompeii Bar is at 1 Phan Chu Trinh, Dalat, Lam Dong

The Age of Enlightenment Salon Saigon, HCMC Saturday, Jul. 29 Salon Saigon will present a concert and gala dinner on Saturday, Jul. 29, which will be a unique experience encompassing 18th-century classical music from The Age of Enlightenment, visual arts and fine dining — all inside a historical house in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. The concert is curated by Saigon Classical, an organisation



that brings Vietnamese classical performers to the public and creates a platform for classical music lovers in the city. On the night there will be music performed by Vietnamese musicians, as well as an art exhibition called Then I can turn the world upside down featuring five Vietnamese contemporary artists from Salon Saigon. The six-course dinner will include wine. Tickets cost VND1,950,000 per person and there are tables available from two people up to 16. The event runs from 6.30pm to 9pm. Salon Saigon is located at 6D Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, HCMC. For more information and bookings, email info@ salonsaigon, go to salonsaigonarts or click on ticketbox. vn/event/concert-gala-dinner-the-ageof-enlightenment-65708/41605

Charity Cricket Night Pullman Saigon Centre, Q1, Saturday, Aug. 12 Merv Hughes and Geoff Marsh, two of Australia’s legends of cricket, are coming to Ho Chi Minh City for a sports dinner in aid of children’s charity, Loreto. The pair will be familiar names to fans of the sport, and the event promises to be an entertaining night full of tales from their storied careers. Merv “Fruitfly” Hughes played 53 test matches for Australia taking 212 wickets, and is known as an outgoing character and entertaining talker. Geoff “Swampy” Marsh played 50 tests for Australia and scored nearly 3,000 runs. He went on to coach the Australia, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka sides at test level, and

Pune Warriors in the Indian Premier League. The event will be held at the Pullman Saigon Centre on Aug. 12 at 6.30pm. Tickets are VND2.2 million per person or VND20 million for a table of 10. This includes a buffet dinner and freeflow beer, wine and soft drinks. The two legends will be sharing stories and footage. All proceeds from the event will go to Loreto. Tickets go on sale on Jul. 3 at the Pullman Saigon Centre and Phatty’s Sports Bar in District 1, and DTwo Sports Bar and Meatworks in District 2. Pullman Saigon Centre is located at 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, HCMC. For more information email Brett.malcolm@ or Lincoln.saunders@ | July 2017 Word | 35



AusCham wants a new logo and you could be its designer

Vietnamese-Canadian Linh Phan has launched her project, Here & There, which aims to capture the stories of



Dolce Vita Gelateria


Let’s Party Vietnam has launched its Red Book app available in Apple Store with plans for its release on Android soon




Vietnamese immigrants and refugees

Beat the summer heat at Dolce Vita Gelateria with champagne sorbet. Now open in District 1


A gelato store, a new resort in Phu Quoc, a logo competition, an immigrant project, a dining app, a new grill and more. What’s new in Saigon

The latest gelateria in Saigon has just opened in time to beat the heat of summer. Dolce Vita scoops up all the regular favourites, but chief gelatician, Leo, is always playing around with new flavours and concepts. What beer are you having when you’re not having a beer? It’s a Te Te beer flavoured gelato, made from the finest ingredients from local craft brewer, Te Te. Not into beer? The champagne sorbet made from 70% champagne is so nice it’s naughty. Dolce Vita Gelateria is at 24 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, HCMC. For more info, go to or call 0888 980066

KOTO On The Move In an effort to be even better at everything they do, KOTO has decided to move to a new home at 19 Nguyen Dinh Chieu in District 1. Located in a villa with tons of character, KOTO can seat up to 150 people and continues to offer the excellent service quality the brand

36 | Word July 2017 |

has become famous for, all the while delivering mutual benefits to the community in its mission to support disadvantaged youth through its vocational training programmes. KOTO Saigon is located at 19 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, HCMC. For more info, go to or call 08 3822 9357

Red Book Mobile App Let’s Party Vietnam, the creators of Red Book, have just announced the launch of their new iPhone mobile app. Now customers have the ability to redeem vouchers directly on their phone. Red Book is a Saigon based start-up that provides free deals and discounts that allow customers to save money at top restaurants, bars and shops. “With the launch of the new mobile app we can now rapidly scale our customer base and provide a simpler redemptions process for consumers,” says Founder and CEO of Red Book, Ben Dolgoff. “We can now provide

consumers with the best experience while at the same time dramatically increasing redemptions at our partner locations.” The app is currently only available for iPhone on the Apple store, however, Red Book has plans to launch the Android version this month. Red Book will continue to distribute its print edition of the voucher book at partner locations as well as through home delivery. For more info, go to or

Here & There In 2009, Vietnamese-Canadian Linh Phan arrived in Vietnam to live and work. For the first time in her life, she met people like her, second generation Vietnamese immigrants who had returned after the war looking to find their identity after existing somewhere between two conflicting worlds for the best part of 40 years. In 2016, the events surrounding the Syrian refugee crisis opened

4 old wounds and brought to the surface questions about Linh’s own family’s experiences. Out of this, she has launched a project called Here & There, which aims to capture the microhistory of unique individual stories of the Vietnamese diaspora around the globe, which will then be housed on a highly interactive web platform. The older generation will collaborate with the younger generation to film and produce their stories, which will then be accessible both online and as an interactive roadshow moving from location to location. For more info on how to get involved in, or follow this project, go to vietnamhereandthere or instagram. com/vietnamhereandthere

AusCham Logo Competition The Australian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam has





Anupa Boutique has the whole Live By Your Own Rules collection in store now

Wellness-inspired resort and hotel chain, Fusion, has launched its first resort in Phu Quoc

Mad Cow Wine & Grill opens in August, the newest venue in Saigon for grilled steaks, seafood and wine

Vietnam’s first and only online restaurant booking service, Reserviet, launches Jul. 3






3 decided it’s time for a new logo and has thrown open the doors to the public to come up with one. The competition is on now and is open to anyone; you don’t need to be a professional designer, just someone with a creative idea. The person with the winning logo, as judged by AusCham, will receive a men’s or ladies’ watch by Armani Exchange, while the person with the ‘most liked’ logo on AusCham Vietnam’s facebook page will receive two-nights’ accommodation at the Centara Sandy Beach Resort in Danang. The competition closes on Wednesday, Aug. 2 at 5pm. Online voting commences for the ‘most liked’ logo on Thursday, Aug. 3, with the winning logo and ‘most liked’ logo announced at Sundowners in Hanoi and HCMC on Thursday, Sep. 7. For further info, including terms and conditions, go to new-logo-competition-for-auscham-

38 | Word July 2017 |

vietnam or email

Live By Your Own Rules “Pugs are so ugly they’re cute.” Or so says Anupa who has brought the whole of the Live By Your Own Rules collection of cushions to her two boutiques in Saigon. Created by Age of Reason, a producer whose mission is to end sweatshop retail, the line is fashioned using natural eco-friendly wool fibres sourced from sustainable UK sources, including the famous lighthouse mill at North Ronaldsay, the most northerly of the Orkney Islands off Scotland. Living north of the tree line, the rare breed of sheep on the island are extremely hardy and mainly eat seaweed. All covers come with free pillows and start at VND2 million a go. Anupa Boutique is at 9 Dong Du, Q1, HCMC (open 9am to 8pm) and Sheraton Lobby, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, HCMC (open 7.30am to 9pm).

Fusion Phu Quoc Wellness-inspired resort and hotel chain, Fusion, has launched Fusion Resort Phu Quoc, the sixth member of the Fusion family in Vietnam. Using an abundance of natural coastal materials, and taking inspiration from the island’s traditional architecture and fishing culture, this low-lying, down-to-earth resort of 97 spacious, contemporary yet rustic thatched villas — each with its own private garden and pool — presents the modern traveller with an opportunity to bring balance to the body and mind in a quiet, secluded and reenergizing natural environment, right at the water’s edge. Occupying a 20-hectare plot within the private bay of Cua Can, Vung Bau, in the north of Phu Quoc Island, the resort’s beach and river-front location provides cool breezes and over-water views. With villa sizes ranging from one to five bedrooms, it’s the ideal choice for solo travellers, couples, and families or groups of


Centre, according to the property’s general manager, Tony Chisholm, “Mad Cow is Pullman’s new daring answer to a casual yet cool experience that is far from a normal hotel restaurant.” Combining the best of an edgy grill restaurant with a casual urban wine bar setting, Mad Cow’s culinary team will prepare each cut of meat on their handmade charcoal grill. Aside from grilled delights, they will also offer up tapas, sourced locally and created fresh daily. The signature dishes will include Grass Fed Angus Beef Tartar, served tableside, Lamb Gnocchi, BBQ Whole Seabass, Black Angus Beef Rib and the Mad Beef Burger. And of course, sourcing the meat is key — the restaurant is working closely with a single-origin Australian farm in Mulwarra to bring the finest free range, grass fed beef all the way from paddock to plate. Mad Cow is on the top floor of the Pullman Saigon Centre, 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, HCMC. For more info, watch this space. The restaurant will open at the beginning of August

Reserviet Vietnam’s first and only online restaurant booking service, will launch on Jul. 3. Called Reserviet, the service will allow you to book tables instantly, at any time of day or night, from your favourite device — whether you prefer to make a quick booking on the run from your smartphone or set a date for a business lunch from your office computer. The service will also include restaurant listings and featured restaurants, and over time the developers will introduce additional features. For more info email or click on from Jul. 3 friends travelling together. As with other Fusion properties, Fusion Phu Quoc will be offering its “all-spa inclusive” service, with guests getting daily spa treatments at no extra cost. Dining options include a poolside tapas bar and a seafood restaurant, both offering indoor and outdoor seating, and views of the ocean. Alongside an international morning buffet, Fusion’s “anytime, anywhere” breakfast service invites guests to enjoy the most important meal of the day whether it’s at midday or midnight, and whether they’re by the pool, on the beach, or in the bath. Fusion Resort Phu Quoc is at Vung Bau Bay, Cua Can, Phu Quoc, Kien Giang. Tel: (0297) 369 0000. For info click on

Mad Cow Wine & Grill Mad Cow Wine & Grill will open in August 2017, the newest outlet in Saigon for amazing grilled steaks or seafood, and madly priced wines. Set on the 30th floor of Saigon Pullman | July 2017 Word | 39


ToDo list Hanoi

Exhibitions, celebrations, DJs, festivals and workshops. This month and beyond in the capital

Precious Heritage Hoi An Nguyen Phuc Chu Street, Hoi An Beginning Jul. 1 until the end of Aug. There’s no rest for renowned photographer Rehahn after the opening of his gallery in Saigon’s historic Dong Khoi Street along with the opening of his Ageless Beauty exhibition at the Fine Arts Museum in Danang. On Jul. 1, Rehahn opens his free outdoor exhibition called Precious Heritage, a moving and colourful exhibition of a selection of 40 photographs showcasing the richness and diversity of Vietnam’s ethnic cultures. Rehahn continues to capture the beauty and pride of the people from these cultures that come together to form the great mosaic of Vietnam’s people. Rehahn’s Precious Heritage Exhibition will run from Jul. 1 for two months on Nguyen Phuc Chu in Hoi An and is free of charge. For more info, go to facebook. com/Rehahn.Photography or



Chiang Mai’s Jai Thep Festival comes to Hanoi for a weekend of art, music and magic from Jul. 7 to Jul. 9

Residence Casey Anderson will play Savage on Saturday, Jul. 8

Savage launches Residence this month, a new weekly event every Wednesday from 9pm featuring an all Vietnamese line-up of DJs

To celebrate American Independence Day on Jul. 4, the Sheraton’s Oven D’or Restaurant are putting on a special BBQ buffet focusing on American cuisine. On the menu will be grilled meat, seafood, hot dogs, chicken wicks, make-your-own burgers and much more. The buffet is only available for dinner and costs VND1,100,000++/ person (for food). An extra VND250,000++ per person will get you a free flow of red or white wine, beer and soft drinks. The Sheraton Hanoi is at K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi, Tel: (024) 3719 9000



To celebrate Jul. 4, the Sheraton’s Oven D’or Restaurant is putting on a special BBQ buffet



French photographer Rehahn opens his free outdoor exhibition in Hoi An on Jul. 1


American Taste Sheraton Hanoi, Tay Ho Tuesday, Jul. 4

Savage, Tay Ho Jul. 5, 12, 19 and 26 Residence are the three homegrown Savage DJs, Min8, TrungD and Quan, key players on the Hanoi scene. Coming together every Wednesday night to provide a weekly dose of house and techno, expect the three DJs to move between classic and new electronic sounds. Each DJ comes from a different musical background — TrungD plays a warm and colourful sound, while Min8 goes energetic and dark. Quan takes a different stance with his hypnotic live

40 | Word July 2017 |

production skills. Entrance is free all night long and doors are from 9pm to 3am. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. For info click on

Jai Thep Festival Creative Artillery, Birdcage and Rafiki’s, Tay Ho Jul. 7 to Jul. 9 Chiang Mai’s answer to the Quest Festival, the Jai Thep Festival, will be collaborating with GingerWork to come to Hanoi for a weekend of art, music and magic. A collective of international artists, musicians and small business owners based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Jai Thep’s two outings so far have received critical acclaim. Now they will be recreating their festival vibe over three days in Hanoi. Here’s the schedule: Friday, Jul. 7 Tie Dye & Décor Workshop Creative Artillery, 2pm to 9pm Bring a shirt or buy one, make your own tie die and become part of the visuals. The people behind Creative Artillery will projection map you. As well as making the shirts themselves there will be open decks and a live set up in place, with people encouraged to bring their own instruments. Saturday, Jul. 8

GingerWork Invites Jai Thep Festival Birdcage, 9pm to late VND90,000 before 10pm, VND130,000 after (including a drink). A team of 30 creatives from Hanoi and Chiang Mai will turn Birdcage into a glowing acid soaked cave of crystals and light. The line-up includes 4NTHRO Cybernetic Psychedelia, Funky Deep n Tribal Thing (Jai Thep), Point and Shoot (Jai Thep), Humb (The Nang), Etza (The Nang) and Tung Tim (Quest / Gingerwork). Sunday, Jul. 9 Rafiki’s Compression Rafiki’s, 4pm to close VND60,000 GingerWork and Rafikis will join forces for the decompression party with guests from the Jai Thep Festival. The line-up includes the DJ I Iost My Keys (Jai Thep), The Red Squirrel (Quest / Gingerwork) and Deep Funkyn Tribal thing B2B with Point and Shoot (Jai Thep). For more info click on wearegingerwork/ or go to the event at

Casey Anderson Savage, Tay Ho Saturday, Jul. 8 Founder of the Humdrum Hong



Kong collective, American-born Casey Anderson is one of the most musically diverse and colourful characters among Hong Kong’s emerging deep house DJs and producers. In his late 20s, Casey’s music career started when he was 16 after discovering The Pixies. He soon left his strictly religious piano teacher behind to join a raucous indie rock group as accordionist, keyboardist and guitarist on a tour across America. However, it was at an all-night rave on a remote island beach in Hong Kong that he stopped hating dance music and decided to become a DJ. Since then he has been playing deep house across the dark corners of Asia’s underground. Ignoring trends and clichÊs, Casey’s DJ sets are playful and unpredictable — he is more likely to drop classic acid house or a Depeche Mode 12" at peak hour than anything on a current top ten list. Support on the night comes from Funky Fresh S (FRA). Entrance is free before 11pm and VND100,000 after. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. For info click on savagehanoi/

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ToDo list Hanoi

Rethinking Urbanity Dolphin Plaza, Tu Liem Jul. 8, 9, 15, 16, 22 and 23 Heritage Space, a non-profit organization for art and culture in My Dinh, Hanoi, will be hosting the Re-Thinking Urbanity Screening Series throughout July. Screening nine movies over three weeks that are focused on urban planning, the series features documentaries about urbanism, suburbia, and issues that cities and urban areas face around the globe. The aim is to show the complex world behind urban planning, pinpointing the different contributors to urban change: real estate developers, politicians, architects, planners, advocators and, last but not least, normal citizens. Each Sunday, the first screening will be followed by a discussion topic. The schedule is as follows: Saturday, Jul. 8 3pm — Microtopia 4.30pm — The Land of Many Palaces


Heritage Space is screening nine movies throughout July as part of its Re-Thinking Urbanity Screening Series

Word photo editor, Julie Vola, begins her photo editing workshops from Jul. 11 at the London College for Design & Fashion in Tay Ho

The Sheraton Hanoi is celebrating Bastille Day on Jul. 14 with a dinner buffet loaded with French cuisine

Underground Chinese DJ and producer, Hu Yang, will be playing Savage on Jul. 15

The line-up for November’s Quest Festival at Ba Vi is almost complete with tickets already on sale






Sunday, Jul. 9 3pm — Urbanized 4.30pm — Discussion: Strategies for Urban Planning Saturday, Jul. 15 3pm — Koyaanisqatsi 4.30pm — Metropolis Sunday, Jul. 16 3pm — Homostratus 4.30pm — Discussion: New Identities in the Metropolis Saturday, Jul. 22 3pm — Citizen Jane — Battle for the City 4.30pm — Torre David / Occupying Brazil / Maximum City Under Pressure Sunday, Jul. 23 3pm — The Human Scale 4.30pm — Discussion: The People at the Centre of Urban Planning For ticketing call 0902 826769, email or go to or click on facebook. com/HeritageSpace. Dolphin Plaza is at 6 Nguyen Hoang, My Dinh 2, Tu Liem, Hanoi

Photo Editing Workshop London College for Design & Fashion, Tay Ho From Jul. 11 Word photo editor, Julie Vola, will be teaching a 10-session course on photo editing from Tuesday, Jul. 11. Running every Tuesday and Thursday from 6.30pm to 9pm, the course will include the following content:

42 | Word July 2017 |


— How to use industry standard Adobe editing software — Retouching portraits — Adjust levels and lighting correctly, colour management — Add interesting text to your photos — Prepare images for social media, web, print and other marketing purposes — Advanced techniques like creative filters, high dynamic ranges, and double exposure With 40 percent of the photo created in post-production, and 85 percent of customers buying goods and services online based on attractive advertising images on Facebook or Website, getting photo editing correct is vital. The course costs VND6,990,000 and runs until Aug. 10. For more info click on or email juls.vola@ The London College for Design & Fashion is at 98 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi,Tel: (024) 3719 9706

A Dinner of French Flavours Sheraton Hanoi, Tay Ho Friday, Jul. 14 In celebration of Bastille Day, Oven D’or Restaurant at the Sheraton is putting on a dinner buffet with a focus on French Cuisine. From appetizers

through to soup, salad, a carvery, and foie gras or lobster served at your table, the whole array of French cuisine will be available. The buffet costs VND1,200,000++/ person (for food). An extra VND250,000++ per person will get you a free flow of red or white wine, beer and soft drinks. The Sheraton Hanoi is at K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi, Tel: (024) 3719 9000

Hu Yang Savage, Tay Ho Saturday, Jul. 15 The son of a traditional artist and calligrapher, on leaving high school Hu Yang moved to the US. It was there that he discovered the musical influences that have turned him into one of China’s best known underground DJs and producers. Returning to his homeland in 2006, Hu Yang’s sets have turned into a mix of erratic and introverted electronic, techno, minimal, house, impersonal groove. This is a DJ who likes to explore. Support comes from Njuns (Equation / Cliché). Entrance is free before 11pm and VND100,000 after. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. For info click on





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

Sound System (UK) will be bringing the ruckus with their characteristic madness. The Bay Collective (VN/DEN) will combine the talents of contemporary musician, pianist Tri Minh (VN), alongside Danish singer Nanna Bottos (DN). Adding to the live music contingent are five-piece cross cultural hip-hop crew Rebel Monk (VN / INT), local stoner rock and garage favourites Dr. Peacock (VN / INT) and unique ‘space jazz’ purveyors Mukang Fields (VN / INT), while the 20-piece Hanoi Swing Band (VN) will bring their raucous energy to Quest in what will be an explosive performance. Beat maker Tomes (AUS) will use samplers and synthesizers to meld rhythms together and will perform his unique blend of live electronica, while focusing on house and disco grooves is DJ Tung Tim (VN). Trung D (VN) will explore the deeper spectrums of house and techno. Early bird tickets are already sold out and phase 2 tickets are now on sale through to Aug. 1 at VND1.3 million. For further information on single-day and weekend ticket prices, please visit | July 2017 Word | 43



Just Hanoi

1. Satori is a new café-cum-restaurant on Dien Bien Phu 2. Known for its cakes, D’Alice gets itself a makeover 3. Gon has become a go-to place for fresh, healthy and affordable southern homemade cooking 4. Salt N’ Lime is expanding its reach into the Old Quarter with the opening of a second location 5. VUI studio is both a shop and a cafe 6. Rafiki’s is the newest bar and event space to open in the An Duong area of Tay Ho

Four restaurants, a cafe and a bar have all the bases covered


Satori — Slack and Savor


Satori is a cute new restaurant and cafe in a prime location in Ba Dinh. With a fresh ambience and enthusiastic young staff, Satori is a little oasis amongst the chaos of Hanoi. A chic and tranquil décor is combined with quality, homemade food and refreshing beverages. Co-owners Pham Chau Phuong and Nguyen Thuy Linh are intent on providing customers with a very chilled and charming place to eat or hang out with friends and family. The food menu leans towards more Western options, with brunch classics like eggs Benedict (VND129,000) alongside popular English-style breakfasts such as the Satori Breakfast (VND149,000) which is very nearly a proper Full English. Appetisers, soups and salads start from just VND59,000 and there is a wide variety of main courses, including grilled salmon with asparagus, couscous rice and passionfruit sauce (VND229,000) and stuffed chicken thigh with spinach and parmesan (VND169,000). Drinks include unique combinations such as coffee with double cream cheese (VND69,000) and more traditional juices, ice-blends and caffeine fixes starting from VND19,000. Located at 18 Dien Bien Phu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. Open daily from 9am until 11pm. For more information, visit satorihanoi

Inspired by the fairy tale of Alice in Wonderland, the popular tea room in Hai Ba Trung has just reopened following an extensive makeover. There are bright pastel colours on the walls, vivid plush sofas and a selection of eccentric wingback chairs which look like they’ve been dipped into a rainbow. Staying true to the concept of founder Hoang Trung Nguyen, the café still offers a wide variety of teas, including favourites such as Darjeeling, fragrant olive, wild rose and Earl Grey (VND55,000 / person or VND100,000 / two people). The menu includes advice on how long to brew each tea for, and how best to sweeten it. Also well known for cakes, D’Alice makes varieties including red velvet, passion mouse and matcha opera, ranging from VND20,000 to VND80,000 a go. A new selection of dine-in desserts and mixed fruit juices are now available, and they can also make birthday cakes to order. Don’t miss the panna cotta with seasonal fruit salad (VND85,000)! D’Alice is at 89 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi. Open daily from 9am until 11pm. Contact on (024) 3974 9826. For more information, visit dalicebakery

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Gon In a cosy corner of West Lake, Gon

serves up Southern-style food in a bright, open-fronted restaurant. Owned by Dang Ngoc Ha Anh, who was born and raised in Ho Chi Minh City, the little eatery has quickly established itself as a go-to place for those looking for fresh, healthy and affordable food which tastes like Southern homemade cooking. “Southern food is famous for its explosion of sweet and spicy tastes,” says Ha Anh. The menu reflects these trends, including ample vegetarian options. The meatballs with bread (VND55,000) come in a spicy tomato sauce, while the grilled pork with rice (VND60,000) comes with a dipping sauce of sweet and sour nuoc mam. The menu also includes fresh pork and shrimp spring rolls (VND60,000 / four pieces), beef stew (VND70,000) and a quarter of a roasted chicken with rice (VND65,000) which is marinated in a soy sauce-based mixture, before being flame grilled on their BBQ. The drinks include fresh fruit juices, coffee and there is even free ice tea available. Gon is at 80 Tu Hoa, Tay Ho, Hanoi and is open daily from 10am until 10pm. For more information, visit

Salt N’ Lime One of Hanoi’s most established Mexican-style restaurants has just

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opened a second location, expanding their reach into the bustling Old Quarter. The new Hoan Kiem restaurant is a great new space, with colourful murals and an equally colourful selection of tables and chairs. The concept remains the same, however, so you are guaranteed to find fresh and flavourful Mexicanstyle food in a casual restaurant with some decent tunes and an exciting menu. Look out for the soft corn tortilla tacos, including fresh shrimp and smoked salmon varieties (both VND50,000) or the more traditional slow roasted pork (VND30,000) and grilled steak (VND35,000) varieties. There are big burritos starting from VND135,000, nacho plates, fresh corn tortilla chips and a super impressive selection of tequilas, starting from VND40,000 a shot. Look out for the Vietnamese Margarita (VND70,000) and double chocolate brownie dessert (VND45,000). As they say; take life with a grain of salt and a slice of lime. Salt N’ Lime’s second location is at 4 Dinh Ngang, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi and is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11am until 10pm. For more information, visit

VUI Studio


VUI Studio is a chic new space, where people can find crafted trinkets, books and beverages. VUI is a café, but with a core aim of showcasing contemporary aesthetics and craftsmanship, as well as hosting cultural and creative events and activity workshops. There are currently products available from a variety of collections and designers exclusive to VUI, such as Don Dien (cosmetics), Huu La La (fabrics) and Gaia (ceramics). Products include ceramic cups (VND500,000), scented candles (VND380,000) and essential oils (VND180,000). The focus in VUI is on the collaboration with the designers and crafters. Look out for products by Chris Thiblibli, such as the tea cups (VND340,000), salad bowls (VND520,000), ashtrays (VND180,000) and vases (VND380,000). The space is a large, open area with lots of neutral colours, crisp wooden furniture and tidy edges. Drinks include tea shakes, juices, lots of coffee and seven types of chocolate drink. Prices range from VND24,000 to VND58,000 per drink. VUI Studio is at 3C Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem and is open daily from 8am until 11pm. For more information, visit

One of the newest bars to open in Tay Ho, Rafiki’s is every bit as unique and interesting as its eccentric mandrill namesake. A bar and lounge merged with a space for all sorts of creative output, it has been put together to offer people a place of refuge, a colourful and handmade creative haven among the trees, right in the middle of busy Hanoi. It has a large outdoor space for enjoying music and other forms of creative expression, and will host events organised both by Rafiki’s co-owners and other event planners or individuals. Prices are more than reasonable, with a bottle of Barett craft beer just VND50,000, Platinum Draft at VND60,000 and Tiger beers at VND30,000. Co-founded by Augustine Musewe, Brandon Williams, Jason Bongers and Quynh Nguyen, it can also open for mornings and on Mondays by request, for workshops and events. Rafiki’s is at 63 Duong 1, 32 An Duong, Tay Ho, Hanoi and is open Tuesday to Thursday from 3pm until midnight, and from Friday to Sunday from 1pm until 2am. For more information, visit facebook. com/rafikishanoi


Many Faces: Mai Loc / A Tale of Two Cities / As Above, So Below / Two Wheels are Good / Fashioning the Past / Let's Talk About Tacos / Tapas in Saigon / Mystery Diner Hanoi / Kem Dua / Mystery Diner HCMC Photo by Julie Vola

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“Loc was a cyclo driver back in March 1995 when a chance meeting changed everything for the then 29-year-old�



Mai Loc From poverty to prominence: how a cyclo driver from Nha Trang became an internationally exhibited photographer. Words by Matt Cowan. Photos by Mike Palumbo | July 2017 Word | 49


verything changed in March 1995,” writes Mai Loc on his website of the twists and turns of a personal history that is as captivating as the images hanging on his gallery walls in Nha Trang. Mai Loc, or Loc as he’s widely known, was a cyclo driver back in March 1995 when a chance meeting changed everything for the then 29-year-old. Norwegian couple, Gunner Simonsen and Eva Mellquist were visiting Nha Trang on holiday when they hailed Loc for a tour around town. Until that point, Loc’s life had been defined by one struggle after another and had led him to a life of crime; at one stage he trafficked coffee across the Vietnamese-Cambodian border. Times were tough. As a young boy at the height of the war, he was taught by soldiers how to shoot an M-16 rifle. By the time he was 12, he was selling cigarettes outside the local train station. In an interview in 2010, Loc recalled how during the war, trucks on the highway carried dead bodies home from the battlefields. “Some things you need to remember, and some things you need to forget to keep going on,” he said.

Staring Death in the Face After the war, nothing much improved for Loc. In 1989, he couldn’t rely on the support of his family any more after his father had gone bankrupt and deserted his mother; he

had a decision to make. “I went to live up in the mountains and dig for gold near Cat Tien National Park.” There, Loc contracted malaria and almost died. He was more fortunate than others, as many miners met their fate buried alive in the mountains from cave-ins. His illness forced his return to Nha Trang to convalesce and to work out what he was going to do to survive once he’d recovered. By then it was 1991. “I came from the bottom of society,” recalls Loc as he takes a break from sorting out his postcards. “It took me three months before I had the strength to work again. I had no one to support me. Not long after that I became a cyclo driver for eight years.” Loc doesn’t reveal how he got his break as a cyclo driver and moves on quickly. Instead, he talks about how it had dawned on him that life as a cyclo driver wasn’t sustainable; it was exhausting and he feared it would keep him destitute for the rest of his life if he didn’t find something else to do. It was already 1994 and three years as a cyclo driver had jaded him. “I felt exhausted and bored,” he says while rummaging through a desktop draw. “I saw the value in being able to speak English, especially for tourism, so I went to school to learn it.” He remained a cyclo driver until 1998 and continued to study English. The encouragement he received from the two Norwegian tourists kept him motivated. But his chance meeting with Gunner

and Eva turned out to be more than fleeting. They kept in contact and returned to Vietnam in 1996, and again in 1997 to attend Loc’s wedding. This was another pivotal moment in Loc’s life as the couple gave him his first camera as a wedding a gift — a solar-powered Canon Prima Sol — the thing that sparked his love affair with photography. “So far I haven’t seen another one like it,” beams Loc, as he pulls it from the drawer he’s been searching in and places it in front of him. “When they gave it to me, I thought it was a radio.” With his odd-looking camera with solar panels, Loc kickstarted an acclaimed 20-year photography career that has seen him exhibit photos locally and abroad. His portraits of people from Vietnam’s ethnic minorities are striking, particularly his ones of the elderly. “Wrinkles are the experience of life,” he said in a 2010 interview. Sadly, Gunner passed away soon after Loc’s wedding, but not before sending Loc US$6,000 to go towards his English studies and to start building a life for himself and his young family. “Not long after I received the money, Gunner passed away,” says Loc as he looks out onto the street and points at an old motorcycle. “With some of the money, I bought a motorcycle; that one out there. I’ve had it for about 20 years.” With the rest of the money, Loc continued his English studies, put his motorcycle to good use and became a motorcycle tour guide, all the while taking photos of anything that he thought was interesting.

Rise to Prominence Before long, Loc began receiving praise from his friends at the quality of his work and they encouraged him to continue taking photographs. Eva returned to Vietnam in 2003 for a holiday, which in turn led her to introduce Loc and his work to galleries in Norway to have his photographs exhibited for the first time. In September of the same year of his exhibition in Norway, yet another moment in time would define the rest of Loc’s life; he realised his dream of opening his own gallery. Now more than 20 years on from that moment two strangers stepped into his cyclo and asked for a tour, his life can’t be any different. “I love my work,” says Loc, gazing at a portrait of Gunner on display in his gallery. “From someone else’s generosity, I received positivity and fell in love with photography.” Mai Loc Photo Gallery sis at 99B Nguyen Thien Thuat, Nha Trang. For more info, go to or call 0905 156711

‘“I love my work,’ says Loc, gazing at a portrait of Gunner on display in his gallery. ‘From someone else’s generosity, I received positivity and fell in love with photography’” 50 | Word July 2017 |

Cover Story

ew York and Los Angeles, Sydney and Melbourne, Madrid and Barcelona, London and Paris, Beijing and Shanghai. All are big cities, all have a love-hate relationship, and all are like chalk and cheese — as similar as they are different. Such is the case with Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. One is the traditional heart and soul of Vietnam, the other is the southern upstart, the economic powerhouse. One is steeped in history, the other is new and modern. One is the seat of power, the other the seat of business. To say these



two cities have a complicated bond is an understatement. Over the following pages we delve into the complex relationship between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the competitive rivalry that makes these urban powerhouses both comfortable and uncomfortable bedfellows. Yes the culture and the architecture is different, as is the weather, the dialect and the outlook. Yet when it comes down to it, Hanoi and Saigon aren’t that dissimilar after all. At least, that’s what we think.



Edward Dalton traces the history of Hanoi, a city that has time and again struggled with foreign invasion and influence.

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anoi is a city where myth meets fact. Tales of a dragon rising from the Red River, a lake spirit bestowing the gift of a sword and the grandchildren of a dragon and fairy becoming the Vietnamese people are told to children across the country. The reality, however, is no less fantastic. Hanoi has stood for 1,000 years, in one form or another, on this bank of the Red River. Despite only being the capital of a reunified Vietnam for the last 41 years, it has been at the centre of Vietnamese civilisation for a millennium.



The history of Hanoi is the story of a city often faced with foreign colonialists. This struggle is reflected in how many names Hanoi has had across the period. In 1010, Ly Thai To erected the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, and renamed the city for it. The previous name, Luocheng, was just the most recent name in a series chosen by Chinese colonialists. However, despite overseeing the construction of some of Hanoi’s greatest monuments, including One Pillar Pagoda, Quan Thanh Temple and the Temple of Literature, Ly Thai To’s dynasty was not the end of Chinese domination. The year 1408 saw the city renamed Dong Quan, or Eastern Gateway, under the control of the Chinese Ming Dynasty, a name which lasted until Le Loi drove out the Chinese in 1427. Under the Le Dynasty he founded, the city became known as Dong Kinh (from which we get the name Tonkin), but in the later Tay Son Dynasty, the city was relegated in status to become Bac Thanh, or the “northern citadel.” It wasn’t until Minh Mang of the Nguyen Dynasty, that the city got the name we use today. Meaning “between rivers,” Hanoi has been named such since 1831, even when its status as capital has been lost and regained.


It’s not unusual for a country to have more than one “main city,” and even less unusual

for those cities to be locked in rivalry. Hanoi’s status as the capital has fluctuated back and forth for centuries. Even when Minh Mang named the city Hanoi, Hue was still the capital of Vietnam, and of course even today, Ho Chi Minh City is still the largest city by population. Before the emergence of the Dai Viet nation, the capital had been on the same site as Hanoi is today more than once, when it was named Co Loa (257 BCE – 208 BCE and (939 CE – 967 CE), Me Linh (40 CE– 43 CE) and Dai La (905 CE – 938 CE). Between those dates, and indeed after the formation of Dai Viet under the Ly Dynasty, the capital of Vietnam had shifted around, mostly between Hoa Lo, Hue and Hanoi; but

there have also been stints in Vinh Loc, Cao Bang and Binh Dinh. Hanoi was made the capital of French Indochina, and of course served as the capital of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam from 1945. However, from that time up until 1976, the Republic of Vietnam had named Saigon as the capital. Since that brief schism, Hanoi and Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, have grown up, each with their own distinct personality, and each one vying for the status of Vietnam’s main city.


From the modest dwelling serving as the capital of Au Lac (257 BCE – 179 BCE) or | July 2017 Word | 55

as the Giao Chi region when Vietnam was known as Van Lang (2524 BCE – 258 BCE), Hanoi has come a long way. The landmarks mentioned above, built under the Ly Dynasty, were just the beginning of Hanoi’s transformation into a powerful centre of culture. The medieval period saw Hanoi acquire even more of the landmarks which make it such a popular tourist destination today. In the 15th century, Quan Su Temple and Hoan Kiem Lake’s iconic Ngoc Son Temple were built. The 17th century welcomed the renovation and expansion of Lang Temple and the Perfume Pagoda, now situated in My Duc, a rural district of Hanoi. Also during this time, Tran Quoc Pagoda was relocated to West Lake, and in 1812, the Flag Tower was added to Thang Long citadel. By the end of the 19th century, the British Empire controlled a quarter of the world’s population; in the same century, the French were making sure their mark would be left on Hanoi in a visible way. Completed in 1886, St. Joseph’s Cathedral serves as one of the most recognisable reminders of the French colonialists. However, the French also built Hoa Lo

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Prison, Long Bien Bridge, the Presidential Palace and the Opera House, among other things.


Hanoi has also been the staging ground and headquarters of some of the most legendary heroes in Vietnamese history. Trung Trac and Trung Nhi, also known as Hai Ba Trung, led the first major rebellion against Southern Han rule in 40 CE. Born in Giao Chi, a territory which included the land of present-day Hanoi, they ruled Nam Viet for three years. Their defeat came at the hands of a huge Chinese expeditionary army in 43 CE, in a battle on what is now the Red River Delta around Hanoi. However, their rebellion and short reign has endured as a symbol of Vietnamese resistance and freedom. Ngo Quyen, born in what is now Hanoi’s Ba Vi district, is the leader credited with ending ‘The Long Eclipse’. This was a period of Chinese domination, lasting 1,000 years and dating back to 111 BCE. In 938, he led the Vietnamese army which defeated the Southern Han at the Battle of Bach Dang, near Halong Bay. His victory opened up an age of independence for Vietnam. In more recent years, the general and

politician Vo Nguyen Giap operated out of Hanoi. Giap served as the primary commander in the First Indochina War and the American War. On Aug. 28, 1945, Giap led his men into Hanoi, five days before Ho Chi Minh declared independence for the reunified country.


The Hanoi of today is the culmination of the actions of legendary heroes, combined with the will of a people who will never accept subjugation. The city, like its people, can never be held back indefinitely, and will always seek to expand and improve. A recent example of this expansion came in 2008, when it was decreed that Ha Tay, Me Linh and several communes of Luong Son be merged into Hanoi, tripling the size of its metropolitan area. In 2015, German real estate data mining company Emporis ranked Hanoi as 39th in the world for cities with the most skyscrapers over 100m tall. With a population growing at a rate of about 3.5% per year, and a projected metropolitan population of 15 million people by 2020, we wait with bated breath to see where the future generations of Hanoians take their great city. | July 2017 Word | 57

A SHORT HISTORY OF SAIGON From Khmer port and trading hub to the megacity it is today, Saigon has been built, razed to the ground, and once again rebuilt. Now it’s going through a facelift. Words by Nick Ross

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espite being at opposite ends of the same country, a country boasting thousands of years of civilization, the history of Hanoi and Saigon couldn’t be more different. Whereas Hanoi is officially 1,000 years old, and has been settled for two millenia, the ‘official’ founding of what was once a Khmer port called Prey Nokor was in 1698, just over 300 years ago. That was when the Vietnamese noble, Nguyen Huu Canh, was sent south by the Nguyen rulers in Hue to establish Vietnamese administrative structures in the area. His formation of Vietnamese authority over the area helped wrest the Mekong Delta from Khmer control. And whereas for well over 1,000 years the Vietnamese had to fight off invaders to keep Hanoi as their spiritual and cultural home, so it was the Vietnamese who were the invaders when they appropriated what eventually became called Saigon. However, after the French came, it took more than a century to get it back.



The gradual move into land that was once part of the Khmer Empire started in 1623 when King Chey Chettha II of Cambodia (1618–28) allowed Vietnamese refugees fleeing the Trinh–Nguyen civil war to settle in and around Prey Nokor, which was a flourishing port and mercantile community. In 1679 the Chinese arrived, led by Tran Thuong Xuyen, a former Chinese general with the Ming dynasty who was escaping the Qing. The group initially settled in Ban Lan (Bien Hoa) before moving to Cu Lao Pho, an island in the Huong Phuoc River (a section of the Dong Nai River). The island

quickly became a hub for international trade. However, the prosperity of Cu Lao Pho only lasted 97 years. In 1776, Tay Son troops came to suppress the Chinese in Cu Lao Pho because of their support for the rival emperor, Gia Long. In search of safety, the Chinese merchants moved to Cholon (Ho Chi Minh City’s District 5 and District 6), forming what would eventually become the largest Chinese community in Vietnam. Like its forerunner to the north, Cholon quickly became a hub for trade, with merchants selling wares from as far afield as China, Japan and Faifo (Hoi An) in the north to Singapore and Malacca in the south. Aided by the economic ambitions of the Nguyen Dynasty, who widened and dug canals, a market was established on the site now occupied by Cho Ray Hospital. Named Tai Ngon — meaning embankment in Chinese — by the 19th century the market appeared on several maps not as Tai Ngon but as Sai Gon. Yet

when the French invaded Ben Nghe and the nearby Gia Dinh Citadel in 1859, the Vietnamese settlements on the site once occupied by Prey Nokor, they appropriated the name. In 1862 the treaty of Saigon declared the newly renamed city the capital of French Cochinchina.


The first action of the French was to raze the Vietnamese-built Gia Dinh Citadel and rebuild the city along the banks of the Saigon River. Where the citadel stood on a hill overlooking the city, the French built administrative buildings, a palace and a cathedral. Canals were constructed along what is today Nguyen Hue, Le Loi and Ham Nghi, to transport goods from the Saigon River to the centre of town, and French villas began to be built. By the turn of the 20th century, the wooden shops and homes of the Vietnamese were replaced by the brick-built | July 2017 Word | 59

shophouses you can still see on streets like Ho Tung Mau and on one side of Ham Nghi and throughout Cholon. In August 1887, Léon Caubert, a member of an official French delegation to China, made an overnight stop in Saigon. Here is what he saw. The scene awaiting us was much more interesting than that which one sees on arrival in France, with large clumps of trees and tall buildings, mills and rice warehouses. We crossed a magnificent single-arch iron bridge, which was built over the arroyo Chinois [Ben Nghe Canal]. We travelled along the quai du Commerce [Ton Duc Thang], rue Catinat [Dong Khoi] and into the place de la Cathédrale, then took the wide boulevard Norodom [Le Duan] to the Palace. Our first impression was very favourable. In fact, it would have been excellent, had it not been for the heavy and humid atmosphere. But it’s precisely because of this difficult climate that we must admire the enormous efforts which have been made and the results which have been obtained here. By 1906, Saigon was already an international city. A small brochure entitled Saïgon-Souvenir, a guide for first-time visitors to Saigon, provides a breakdown of the city’s population: French: 6,000 Other Europeans: 5,000 Annamites (Vietnamese): 30,000 Cambodians: 150 Chinese: 13,000 Indians: 1,000 Japanese: 100 Malays: 500 Total: 55,750


Much of the city’s history from 1859 through to 1975 is tucked away in French archives.

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Here are some of the key moments. 1880. The first hotel in Vietnam, the Hotel Continental, is completed, built by construction material manufacturer, Pierre Cazeau. During both the Indochina Wars, the Hotel Continental becomes popular with journalists. In 1976 it is closed down for 10 years, before reopening as the Dong Khoi in 1986. It returns to its original name in 1989. 1881. Tram services are inaugurated in Saigon using cars towed by a steam locomotive. The system goes bankrupt in 1896, but manages to survive using new cars. Two more lines are added in 1904 and 1913 with an electric car service taking over in 1923. The tram service ceases operation in 1954 and the system is dismantled by 1957. 1885. The first Saigon Railway Station is opened at the riverside end of today’s Ham Nghi. The line runs through Cho Lon and goes all the way to My Tho. This is then superceded by a second central station in 1915 located on Pham Ngu Lao in what is now the 23/9 Park. Construction of the third Saigon Railway Station begins in 1978 at its present site in District 3. It is completed in November 1983 and after its inauguration the old railway track into the city centre is removed. 1897. The French architect Eugène Ferret builds the Ho Chi Minh City Opera House, then known as the Opėra de Saigon. The 800-seat building is used as the home of the Lower House assembly of South Vietnam from 1956. After the Liberation of Saigon it is restored to its original use. 1912. Ben Thanh Market moves to its present location at the end of Le Loi. The original market was built in 1859 by the French on what is now Ton That Dam. It burns down in 1870 before being rebuilt. 1931. The district of Saigon-Cholon is formed. Prior to this they are two separate

cities. They are officially merged as the city of Saigon in 1956. 1941. Having already taken northern Vietnam, Japanese troops invade southern Indochina. They occupy Saigon until they surrender to the British in September 1945, but by this time the city is in a state of anarchy. After handing back the city to the French amid fighting with the Viet Minh, British troops leave Vietnam in March 1946. The events of 1945 and 1946 lead to the First Indochina War. 1949. Saigon is made the capital of the ‘State of Vietnam’, a self-governing entity in the French Empire with a constitutional monarchy. Bao Dai, the last Nguyen emperor, is made Head of State. In October 1955, Saigon becomes the capital of the newly proclaimed ‘Republic of Vietnam’. 1963. Thich Quang Duc, a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk, burns himself to death at a busy Saigon intersection — now Cach Mang Thang Tam and Nguyen Dinh Chieu. His self-immolation is a protest at the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government led by Ngo Dinh Diem. Persecution of Buddhists continues until Diem is assassinated later that year in an army-led coup. 1975. The Liberation of Saigon on Apr. 30, the day the People’s Army storms the Presidential Palace. The victory puts an end to two decades of war and leads to the reunification of Vietnam. 1976. Upon the establishment of the unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Saigon (including Cholon), the province of Gia Dinh and two suburban districts of two other nearby provinces are combined to create Ho Chi Minh City. 1997. Work begins on building Phu My Hung, a new suburb in the swampland of District 7. A Vietnamese-Taiwanese joint venture, it leads the way towards the redevelopment and expansion of Ho Chi Minh City. 1998. Master planning for the redevelopment of Thu Thiem commences. In 2012 work begins on building the new city, which will replace District 1 as the city centre. To clear the land for redevelopment, almost 15,000 households are resettled. 2010. The Bitexco Financial Tower is completed, the tallest building in Ho Chi Minh City. The 68-storey skyscraper is 262.5m tall and has a helideck that has never been used.


Although Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have contrasting histories, both cities are expanding outwards as new suburbs sprout up and high-rises dominate the skyline. And both cities are transforming themselves into modern Asian metropolises. What remnants of the past will be preserved remains to be seen. But events in Saigon don’t augur well. As anyone who lives there will tell you, history is quickly being left behind. For more information on the history of Saigon, click on | July 2017 Word | 61


HO CHI MINH CITY We spoke to locals and expats living in both cities to find out what they think of their ‘rival’ up north or down south



Banking & Finance Ho Chi Minh City


anoi is] traditional and conservative. Despite the fact that the younger generation are trying hard to be westernised, Hanoi is still a closed community. Contrary to Hanoi, Saigon is a vibrant and friendly city. The people here are more relaxed and that is reflected in the way the service industry is being run. The city has a buzz about it especially in the evenings that I have not found anywhere else in the world. I would consider living in Hanoi, but it’s not my first choice due to the harsh weather and the lack of things to do in your free time.


anoi is] “Old Vietnam” as I’ve always imagined it. For me Saigon is the future. Just look out the window. It’s an international city like no other with a spirit you have to experience to believe. I have a love-hate relationship with Hanoi. I lived there for a while. While it’s more tough, challenging and unforgiving, it is gritty, raw and has this underground vibe that is a refreshing change to the more polished and westernised south.


was born and raised in Hanoi. The Hanoi image in my head is very old and quiet — it’s from the 1990s. I moved to Saigon a year ago. It is like being in another country because at first I had difficulty understanding or being understood by people with a southern accent. Imagine going to the market and not knowing how to ask for something because of the different dialect. Hanoi is ‘sleeping’ and will not awaken any time soon. Don’t get me wrong, I love Hanoi. It’s just that you need to find your true calling there.

Health Ho Chi Minh City


anoi is a charming, historical city with unique culture. Hanoians are more traditional [than Saigonese], conservative, elegant, sophisticated but sometimes ceremonious. Everyone in Hanoi and Saigon loves hanging out after work in a coffee shop or beer joint, and eating. However, the food in Hanoi is more original, whereas Saigonese food is a mix of Vietnamese, Chinese and Cambodian. Southern people prefer fast food, oily dishes, much more than Hanoians.


Hospitality Ho Chi Minh City



Real Estate Ho Chi Minh City


Photography Ho Chi Minh City


do like Hanoi a lot. It’s an immensely photogenic city. I especially like its medieval charm in winter. Hanoi is also a rough city and is not always easy for the first-time visitor. I lived in Hanoi for a while in 2005. I met some of my best friends during that time, and I always think back to those magic days. I have been back to Hanoi countless times since. However, I wouldn’t live there again. The bad air quality is a big argument for me not to move. And for the type of work I am doing as a commercial photographer, Saigon is a much better base.

Textiles Ho Chi Minh City


’ve lived in both cities but I know Hanoi a little better. A distinction I make [between them] is Paris and LA. Hanoi is the snobby Parisian and Saigon is the city of hope for the starry-eyed. Saigon is really easy to live in and the weather outside the rainy season is great. But ultimately I find Saigon a little sterile — I have not made the depth of friendships that I did in Hanoi with Vietnamese people. I also miss having the seasons and the mountains on my doorstep. | July 2017 Word | 63




Travel Industry Hanoi


think of Saigon as like the midpoint between Hanoi and Bangkok. It’s a place with a bit more energy and nightlife — more like home — but still very much Vietnam. I sometimes wish I had moved there after a couple of years in Hanoi, but after six years in the capital, the move wouldn’t be different or interesting enough to balance the loss of my network in Hanoi. I dislike the lack of distinct character in Saigon that Hanoi has. Bia hoi, basically. And lakes. I like lakes. But I like parks, too.

CONG NGUYEN Service Industry Hanoi


aigon is like the New York of Vietnam compared to Hanoi, which is Washington DC. There’s always more happening and more opportunities. Most foreign business that comes into Vietnam comes through Saigon first. Saigon is the land of opportunity. My main edge here in Vietnam is my foreign experience and languages, and in Saigon, I would be competing with not only the other Vietnamese — who came back from the US or the UK like I did — but with a lot of expats as well. Also, life in Saigon is more expensive for transportation and definitely for housing.

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Finance Hanoi


aigon is an interesting place to explore. I really want to live there for a couple of years. I want to go there to enjoy tasty cups of coffee, visit beautiful places such as Ben Thanh Market and find out about nhau culture. I think Hanoi is a good place to search out opportunities as well-known universities, corporations and government agencies are all located here. However, the city is overcrowded and the job market is fiercely competitive.

Retail Hanoi


n Saigon, they work hard and party hard. They take bigger risks than Hanoians. They live for today. Hanoians save more money, for our children, for our future. We are more conservative in Hanoi, particularly the older generation. The younger generation is more open. I think in Hanoi, it’s easier to make money… if you know the way. And things get done faster. People are more protective of who they are. In Saigon, people are freer, more approachable. I think the Saigonese are very straight up. In Hanoi, people are more subtle.



IT/Tech Hanoi


aigon and Hanoi are among the most dynamic cities in the world. Saigon is still the best place to do business because there are more corporates and more companies, and the business environment is much better. Hanoi is still developing. There’s a lot more culture [music and art] in Hanoi. I like the food in Saigon more. There are more options. What I don’t like about Saigon is it doesn’t have a unique identity like Hanoi.




s a foreigner in Hanoi, you can get a bit frustrated with things, like people taking advantage of foreigners, especially taxi drivers. New things are happening all the time, though, so you never get bored, plus the food is amazing. I wouldn’t want to live in Saigon. Hanoi has more culture, even though it is less developed. The food is better in Hanoi, too, and I like the lakes.



anoi is where I was born and raised. It is so green and peaceful. But the thing I like the most is all the lakes. It makes Hanoi more beautiful and clean. I don’t think I could live in Saigon. The weather is too hot, and the tide of the Saigon River is very unusual; it’s unpredictable, and can flood the roads any time, even twice a day. Also, Saigon doesn’t really have any specific culture; it’s affected by America too much. | July 2017 Word | 65

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THE HANOI BRAIN DRAIN Every year, thousands of young, educated Hanoians make the move to Saigon in search of employment. Why is this happening and what does it mean for Hanoi? Words by Thomas Barrett. Additional reporting by Diane Lee. Photos by Julie Vola and Bao Zoan o Chi Minh City is the undisputed economic heartbeat of Vietnam, and has powered much of Vietnam’s recent growth. Yet to do this, the city needs talented people. One way to get that talent has been to scoop up many of Hanoi’s increasingly educated youth and transport them 1,700km down south. Has this ‘brain drain’ been to Hanoi’s detriment? And how is the capital managing to keep hold of its most able people?



According to UNESCO Institute of Statistics, Vietnam’s higher education system has grown substantially since 2000. The national gross enrolment ratio (university enrolment as a percentage of the total university-age population) has risen from around 10% to 29% over that period. Factor in the large amount of Vietnamese students who study abroad and each year return to the country armed with international qualifications, then you have a new workforce which has been educated to a higher level than ever before. Graduates naturally look to apply what they have studied to the world of work. More and more, however, the most talented are finding that the workplace of Hanoi is not compatible with the skills that they acquired, or providing them with the ones they’d like to learn. Thuy, born during the year of doi moi in 1986, moved down to Ho Chi Minh City last year. She currently connects international businesses with locals. After completing an advertising management qualification during the mid-2000s, she found it difficult to find a job that was relevant to her qualifications. “The job market was really difficult [in the capital],” she says. “My university major was really new and lots of companies didn’t know about it. Most of my friends had to change career. Hanoi was a bit behind. They are conservative — to have something new it takes some time.” Thuy is clear that there is a disconnect between the type of degrees which are being

obtained, and the type of work available in Hanoi. It’s driving people southwards. “In Hanoi they have knowledge, study and research,” she says. “You will find a lot of experts in science, art and social science. But the trend of people moving to Ho Chi Minh City is that after they gain the knowledge, they move somewhere where they can use it, where they can freely express themselves. [Ho Chi Minh City] is a land where their knowledge and skills will be used best.” Newer, more internationally minded business degrees are popping up which

place a clear emphasis on excellent communication skills. That has revealed a schism at the heart of the Hanoi/Ho Chi Minh City divide. To some, Hanoi is seen as the embodiment of an old-fashioned working culture which Thuy believes, puts many ambitious young prospects off. “In Ho Chi Minh City, for example, you can use logic and efficiency to motivate staff — ‘if you do this, you will get this’ — it’s pragmatic. In Hanoi it doesn’t work in that way. People are not motivated by benefits, they are motivated by pride. It’s difficult to change their minds.” | July 2017 Word | 67


Thu Nga, in her mid-20s, echoes Thuy’s sentiments that Hanoi is not doing enough to appeal to the sensibilities of a young workforce who now see themselves as global citizens. A native of Hanoi, she spent five years abroad studying in France, and after spending a year trying to start a career in digital marketing in Hanoi, she decided that she would have to move south if she was going to fulfil her professional potential. “The style of advertising is 20 years out of date [in Hanoi],” she says. “The people I worked with didn’t really wish to try new things. It’s part of their culture. Everything is faster in Ho Chi Minh City, and that includes the thinking.” Women like Thu Nga and Thuy want to be part of a system where they are rewarded on merit. Chi, an executive in the Hanoi office of HR consultancy firm, Talentnet, sees a big skills black hole in certain sections of the Hanoi workforce. “We recognised this trend clearly,” she says. “There is a lack of people to fill the positions we need in sales and marketing. The ones we’d like to hire have already moved to Ho Chi Minh City. There’s a limited pool in Hanoi.” She also adds that for many, they have to move to Ho Chi Minh City if they are ambitious: “Companies in Hanoi don’t invest in high positions. If someone works at a company in Hanoi they can only reach a certain level. In Ho Chi Minh City they can go further with their talent, they have the potential to be promoted to the very top.”


Ho Chi Minh City has built a reputation as a hub for start-ups, and last year the government pledged US$45 million to support tech start-ups in the city, encouraging many from Hanoi to make the plunge. Duc embodies the spirit of agile entrepreneurship of the new Vietnam. He’s in his late 20s, and alongside his work for an investment firm, he owns a bookstore and a hotel business. Born in Hanoi, he went through high school and university in Singapore and the US, and upon his return to Vietnam in 2013, the thought of setting himself up in Hanoi was unthinkable. “Saigon is more international,” he explains. “I lived overseas for too long. I need to be with diversity and interacting with different cultures. You don’t get that in Hanoi.”

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But what of those who have moved to Hanoi after a period in Ho Chi Minh City? Was the grass greener? In Vietnam, family still comes first, and the safety net that it provides is a pull that brings many back. Linh, a graduate in business administration, moved back home following the birth of her son, which she says changed everything. “I moved back to Hanoi because I have a house to stay here,” she says. “Since I have a child, I have to save more money and spend wisely. With my high living

standards, affording to rent an apartment in Ho Chi Minh City and expenses for my child is too tiring.” Similarly Cuong Vu was turned off by the dog-eat-dog nature of business in Ho Chi Minh City. “Doing business in Ho Chi Minh City — people abuse each other, take advantage of each other. It affects people’s thinking.” It ultimately wasn’t an environment that provided the flexibility he needed to provide a stable upbringing for his

daughter, and he moved back to Hanoi where he has been much happier. The usual complaints of appalling traffic, pollution and concrete claustrophobia aren’t going away any time soon. But for the people who have moved down south, and stayed, it’s a price worth paying for the professional and personal freedom that they feel Ho Chi Minh City allows. A bit of healthy competition is surely not a bad thing.. Hanoi — your turn to fight back. | July 2017 Word | 69

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TRUTH VS. FICTION When people compare Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, they generalise and make stereotypes. But is this pigeonholing really correct? Words by Nick Ross. Photos by Julie Vola SERVICE THE SERVICE IN SAIGON IS FAR SUPERIOR TO THE SERVICE IN HANOI Five years ago you would hear Hanoians travelling to Saigon and breathing a sigh of relief when they experienced the service down south. It was superior to anything they had in the capital. Yet, with the explosion of restaurants, cafés and bars in Hanoi, and with the need to compete like never before, service has got itself an upgrade. Now, don’t be surprised to hear the opposite: “The service in Hanoi is much better than it is in Saigon.” It’s a generalisation, of course, and varies from restaurant to bar to café, but we’ve heard this comment a few times now. Saigon? Time to brush up your act.

SPENDING SAIGONESE LOVE TO SPEND MONEY AND SHOW OFF. HANOIANS LIKE TO SAVE FOR A RAINY DAY For years there was this rule of thumb about the spending habits of Hanoi and Saigon. In the north, people saved. In the south, they spent. According to perceived wisdom, because there are four rice harvests a year in the Mekong Delta, the people down south never needed to worry about the future as they would always have food. However, up north, the two rice harvests a year meant less certainty, and a need to save for the future. These days, as the number of Bentleys, Mercedes-Maybach and Audi A6s attest, Hanoi is not averse to spending money. Even the bicycles you see flying round West Lake of an early morning or late afternoon are expensive, US$5,000-plus. When it comes to khoe cua, or showing off your worth, we reckon that Hanoi does that far more than Saigon. After all, if you’ve got it, flaunt it, right?





Once upon a time we would have agreed with this little bit of urban folklore. But changes to the urban fabric of Ho Chi Minh City means that people are more hurried, more tense and far less friendly than they were five or 10 years ago. Big city syndrome? We don’t know. But certainly smiles are harder to come by than in the past. Hanoians are still colder than their southern counterparts, and making friendships can take time. But as everyone will attest who has spent time up north, make friendships with people in the capital and you’ll have friends for life.

If you’re trapped in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, during rush hour, you’ll most likely remember how the traffic in Saigon once was and how it is now — terrible. Hanoi, however, has made giant strides on the traffic front. Lots of new roads and highways, and a citywide policy to get rid of traffic lights have made a difference. Rather than having lights at every junction, U-turn lanes have been created along the dual carriageways to aid the flow of traffic. It works. Now as for following the road laws, Saigon wins hands down. Few people go through red lights or drive the wrong | July 2017 Word | 71

URBAN MYTHS Here are some more stereotypes about Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. What do you think?

1) The pollution in Hanoi is worse than in Saigon 2) Saigon is a more creative city than Hanoi 3) Doing business in Hanoi is all about relationships 4) It's difficult to make money in Hanoi. It's much easier to make money in Saigon. 5) Hanoi has far greater French influence than Saigon 6) Saigon is more of a foodie city than Hanoi 7) If you want nightlife, head to Saigon 8) Saigonese are more fashionable than Hanoians 9) Saigonese are more laid back than Hanoians 10) There's nothing to do in Hanoi 11) Hanoi business people are more savvy than Saigon business people 12) Saigon is more romantic than Hanoi 13) Hanoi has better weather 14) Saigon is too American way down one-way roads these days, and everyone, yes, we mean everyone, wears a motorbike helmet.

PERSONAL SAFETY HANOI IS SAFER THAN SAIGON There was a wonderful YouTube video three or four years ago comparing the two cities. In one scene, a motorbike driver in Saigon had his mobile phone attached to a huge chain. Someone still came along and snatched it out of his hand. Chain, motorbike and all. The scene then switched to Hanoi and the same person was happily sat on his motorbike, chatting away on the phone. Snatchings do happen in the capital, but they are rare. And there are few stories of knives or machetes being used to cut bags off people’s arms. However, Hanoi has its own issues. A recent spate of physical attacks and rapes on non-Vietnamese women in the West

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Lake area is a huge cause for concern. Get into a motorbike or car accident as a foreigner, and more likely than not you’ll take the blame — possibly even a beating. A drunken fight if you’re a foreigner may mean getting ganged up on by large groups of locals, and stories of car drivers carrying guns abound. On a day-to-day basis Hanoi is safer. But take care.

WORLDVIEW HANOI IS MORE CONSERVATIVE THAN SAIGON Many years ago this publication supported a gig in Hanoi with a British band called Goober Gun. The musicians got on stage, started to play their indie rock, but the neighbours complained. A shouting match flared up with the venue owners and the people next door started throwing bottles down onto the outdoor balcony of the venue. A woman got hit on the head and

was rushed to hospital covered in blood. Then the authorities were called in. That would never have happened in Saigon. What is deemed acceptable and unacceptable in the capital is completely different to down south, a city where in many ways, anything goes. In Hanoi there is a greater respect for tradition, a great respect for the moral and cultural values of the past. And yet, Hanoi has a Bohemian, underground vibe all of its own. Take the annual Viet Pride events. Where did they all start? Hanoi. Take the music festivals that we’re starting to see in each city. Where did they first get organised and licensed? At the American Club in Hanoi courtesy of CAMA. Take Quest Festival. This left-field, hedonistic celebration of art, music and youth culture is organised by people based in Hanoi. On the face of it, Hanoi may seem more conservative. Below the surface, it is anything but. | July 2017 Word | 73

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SHOW ME YOUR CITY Got 24 Hours in Hanoi but not sure where to go or what to do? Billy Gray has some ideas. Photos by Sasha Arefieva | July 2017 Word | 75

anoi is a city of lakes, pagodas, and an ever-present reminder of colonial architecture. Its nostalgic sights are the backdrop of Instagram masterpieces, and its cafés filled with students chasing the dream of academic success. Often assumed to be more conservative than its southern cousin — Ho Chi Minh City — its streets begin to empty past midnight, and much of the nightlife takes place behind closed steel shutters. This is a city that sleeps, at least on the outside. But pull back the curtain and you’ll find a place teeming with originality, one where modernity marries nostalgia; where young people are coming together to create the foundations of a culture moving into a new era; and the tempo of nightlife is that of an excited pulse. Acting as a guide for a visiting family, I set out for a full day to show the city in a way that puts it on display in its finest


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colours, soaking in the sights, the sounds, and the tastes of the capital.

(386 Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho) overlooked by Hanoi’s famous dragon statues.



We get up early to start our tour — first call is breakfast — banh mi at 96 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem. For around just VND20,000, this Hanoi classic is an ideal light start to the day, especially if you’re one of those who thinks that pho is a little overwhelming first thing in the morning. After breakfast we set off on motorbikes around Hanoi’s most imposing natural feature, West Lake. Even pushing 30 degrees, the morning breeze from the lake is cool and, assuming the visibility is clear, you can take in uninterrupted views of the city. Stop for a sugarcane juice in the shade next to the lake on Nhat Chieu to make the most of it, or go to the Water Park at 614 Lac Long Quan (tickets cost VND120,000 for an adult and VND100,000 for a child). Around the corner is Tao Sach Pagoda

After some deliberation we settle on bun cha for lunch. The dish, about as Hanoi as can be, is served in many spots around the city, but is particularly good at 216 Doi Can, Ba Dinh, or alternatively, 6 Ngo Cam Chi, Hoan Kiem. We opt for the latter option, a bowl of bun cha and a couple of pork spring rolls on the side costing around VND45,000. Close by is the Military History Museum (28A Dien Bien Phu, Ba Dinh), which houses a fascinating collection of tanks, weapons and aircraft from modern Vietnamese history, as well as a good view of the surrounding area from the adjacent watchtower. Entry is VND40,000. Another worthwhile, yet often overlooked sight close by is the Imperial Citadel; the entrance is on Hoang Dieu, Ba Dinh, just around the corner from the flag tower, and you have to pay VND30,000 to get in. Inside

you will find wide open grounds and various ancient artefacts, as well as the bunker where the Vietnamese high command planned their operations during the American war. A short walk back down Dien Bien Phu takes you onto the still operational train tracks, a favourite of photographers, and Zo Project (10 Dien Bien Phu, Ba Dinh), a small crafts shop that specialises in making things from traditional do paper. It’s an ideal place to pick up some gifts for friends and loved ones back home; we buy notebooks for VND160,000 each and continue on foot to our next stop. Operating since 1946, Giang Café is hidden in a small alleyway at 39 Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem, and is a favourite of visitors thanks to its signature ca phe trung — egg coffee. At VND25,000 a cup, this questionable concoction never fails to impress, and the atmosphere is a pleasant break from the bustle of the Old Quarter.


Hanoi’s younger generation is making

its mark on the city creatively, and this shines through in the enterprises they’ve been setting up over the last decade. So for the last leg of our journey we get a taxi to Hanoi Creative City (1 Luong Yen, Hai Ba Trung), which from the Old Quarter costs around VND100,000. Creative City, a 20-storey building kitted out with dozens of independent shops, galleries and cafés, would be quite at home in London’s Shoreditch. At the top of the building is Rec Room, a bar and music venue that happens to provide one of the best views of Hanoi — and while the skyscrapers boast their viewing platforms for VND300,000 a go, this one is free, and in a much more laid-back atmosphere. We watch the sun set and crack open some Hanoi beers (VND30,000) while the venue slowly fills up for a live music performance. After catching some of the performance we head to Hanoi’s signature nightlife stamp — the bia hoi. Now costing VND8,000 per

glass, going to a bia hoi is the ultimate predrink option, and depending on the venue, it can also be a tidy place to get a bite to eat.


Hanoi’s nightlife has taken a turn in the last year; most of it is still concentrated around the Hoan Kiem, Hai Ba Trung and Tay Ho districts, but with much of the Old Quarter now pedestrianized on weekends, and local authorities experimenting with allowing businesses to stay open into the early hours of the morning, it seems the days of feeling like you’re living in the prohibition era past midnight are numbered. For late night entertainment check out one of Hanoi’s newest clubs, Savage (112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho). Entrance is free before 11pm and VND100,000 after, or if you want cocktails head to Tay Ho Tiki Company (around VND120,000 per cocktail) at 228A Au Co, Tay Ho or to Sunset Bar at the Intercontinental West Lake (1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho). | July 2017 Word | 77


HOW TO GET AROUND TOWN The best way to get around town is by motorbike and Linh recommends the local motorbike guys (xe om) because “they know where things are, and don’t rely on a GPS.” To hire a xe om for half a day expect to pay at least VND200,000 depending on where you go.

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You can get up to a lot in 24 hours in Ho Chi Minh City, so we ask Linh Phan to give us a taste. Words by Matt Cowan. Photos by Olga Rozenbajgier he Ho Chi Minh City of 10 years ago is much different from the one it is today. What it will be in the next 10 years is anybody’s guess. Already more global with an increasing number of things to do, see and eat, it continues to attract people with its promise of opportunity and a better life. One of those people is creative producer, Linh Phan. Born and raised in Canada, Linh came to Vietnam 10 years ago and has witnessed Ho Chi Minh City’s development first hand. Linh continues to be involved in projects related to art, culture, music and community engagement, but is perhaps better known by her DJ moniker Superkid of Everyone’s A DJ fame. Her current project, Here and There, aims to document the lives of the Vietnamese diaspora, with plans for the project to launch later this year. Here’s her itinerary for a fun 24 hours in Ho Chi Minh City.



After a big night out or if you’re craving a big fry-up, head to Elbow Room (52 Pasteur, Q1) on one of Saigon’s most dynamic streets, for entertainment. “They make amazing, fluffy blueberry pancakes (VND180,000), and the Bloody Mary (VND100,000) is decent, too,” says Linh. If you want to go more local, try Pho Ga Cat Tuong (63 Thu Khoa Huan, Q1). “I love their bun thang (VND55,000); it’s one of my favourite dishes. My granny used to make this for me,” says Linh of her childhood. “Every time I went home to visit, it would be sitting on the kitchen table when I arrived.” | July 2017 Word | 79

According to Linh, despite specialising in pho ga, this joint does the best bun thang in Saigon. “The chicken is tender, the omelette thinly sliced, the broth flavourful and they have quay — deep fried breadsticks — to dip into the soup at VND3,000 a pop. It’s delicious.”


Saigon 3 (157 Vo Van Tan, Q3) is Linh’s go-to for no-frills Chinese food and dim sum, especially fried beef with rice noodles — a large one will set you back VND220,000, while Shanghai dumplings go for VND40,000 a piece. “I grew up in Canada, and Chinatown was the only place where my family could get ingredients to make the Vietnamese dishes they love,” recalls Linh. “Every weekend, we would go shopping and then have lunch in Chinatown.”

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At night, it’s packed with Chinese tour groups, but there’s always Saigon 2 at 877879 Tran Hung Dao, Q5, and Saigon 938 (938 Tran Hung Dao, Q5) which has taken over from Saigon 1. Unlike the famous Cuc Gach Quan (10 Dang Tat, Q1), Cuc Gach Cafe (79 Phan Ke Binh, Q1) only serves set menus — one vegetarian and one with meat. The menu changes daily (VND70,000 per person), but the atmosphere is the same as Cuc Gach Quan. “Lunch time is packed with office workers from around the area,” says Linh. “Don’t forget to order the fresh juices — my favourite is a pomelo and kumquat combo for VND80,000.”


ID Cafe has two locations, one just behind Ben Thanh Market (34D Thu Khoa Huan,

Q1) and one at 61B Tu Xuong, Q3. “I prefer the Tu Xuong location with its antique furniture,” adds Linh. “It’s also a good place to catch up on some work if you have to.” Here, a ca phe sua da costs VND55,000, without condensed milk VND45,000, while an apple juice costs VND65,000. The first time Linh tried the coconut iced coffee (VND65,000) at the Cong Cafe by the cathedral in Hanoi, she was hooked. “It was so good I had another one,” she says. “So when Cong Cafe (26 Ly Tu Trong, Q1) arrived in Saigon last year, I was super excited. It’s such a great drink to have during hot Saigon days.”


One tour that gives you a great insight into the history of Vietnamese art but also puts it into a historical and social context is

Sophie’s Art Tour. Tours change depending on exhibitions and take you to the beautiful HCMC Museum of Fine Arts (97 Pho Duc Chinh, Q1) to contemporary galleries like The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre (15 Nguyen U Di, Q2), Galerie Quynh (151/3 Dong Khoi, Q1) and Salon Saigon (6D Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3), including private collectors. For more information, go to Saigon is a city of rivers and canals, so why not see it by boat? “Watch the sunset and see a side of Saigon you don’t get to see too often,” suggests Linh. For afternoon and sunset tours, try Saigon Boat Company. For more information, go to


“I love nui xao bo (VND35,000) and this one

place, Quan Ut Huong (18/1 Nguyen Canh Chan, Q1), makes a great one,” says Linh. This street joint is always packed and they sell lots of other items including com ga, bo ne, bot chien and much more. They have two other shops right across the street from the main one, so take your pick and enjoy some great simple street food. One place that’s been around forever and is a favourite place for Linh to take visitors is Com Nieu Saigon (59 Ho Xuan Huong, Q3). “Their gimmick is throwing the clay rice pots across the room for another waiter to catch before breaking them open to serve.” Com Nieu Saigon has a great variety of southern food options: “By far the best thing there is the grilled peppercorn red snapper (VND261,000 per kg). This is the best I’ve had in town.” Order it as soon as you sit down because it takes a while to grill, so by the time your

other food comes, the fish will be ready as well.


“When I first arrived to Ho Chi Minh City 10 years ago, there was no way that I would want to go sit and drink by a canal,” says Linh. “But after a few years of a major cleanup and development, anywhere along Truong Sa and Hoang Sa streets in Da Kao and District 3 is a great place to drink and eat.” After dinner and a few drinks, it’s time to party at The Observatory (5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4). “This place is owned by my long-time friend and past promoter/collaborator Dan Bi Mong, and it’s my favourite place for a late night out.” The Observatory brings many top acts to Ho Chi Minh City and plays a pivotal role in the underground music scene in Vietnam. | July 2017 Word | 81

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A MATTER OF DIALECT When it comes to the Vietnamese language, as far as Hanoi is concerned, their dialect is superior. But is that really the case? Words by Nick Ross. Photos by Julie Vola

wo of the best non-native Vietnamese speakers I’ve met during my time in Vietnam were from Eastern Europe. The first, a Bulgarian called Viet, had learnt Vietnamese at university in Hanoi but then moved to Saigon. We met once at a party and talked for half an hour in Vietnamese. He was having to learn new vocabulary and adjust his accent so he could understand and be understood by the Saigonese. “The problem,” he said, “is that when I open my mouth and speak Hanoi Vietnamese, no-one wants to talk to me.” His experience was typical of not just Vietnam but indeed any country in the world: you’re judged by your accent and the way you speak. To this day there is a fair amount of negative prejudice in Saigon towards people with northern accents. Likewise, Saigonese coming to Hanoi complain of being overcharged or treated differently once locals hear their accent. The other Eastern European was Romanian. I’ve met him a number of times now, but the first meeting left me speechless. It was at a bar in Hanoi and the moment he heard my Saigon Vietnamese he went on the attack. In Vietnamese. “You should learn Hanoi Vietnamese,”


he told me. “The way people talk down south is incorrect. Too many mistakes with the pronunciation. Too many words used incorrectly.” He then went on to give me examples. The next time I saw him he apologised.


As a way to justify my own language learning, for a long time I said you should learn the dialect and the accent of the place in which you live. I started learning Vietnamese in Vung Tau, in the southeast, and then continued in Ho Chi Minh City. So, naturally, I learnt Saigon Vietnamese. Good Saigon Vietnamese, I thought, although I’m often told that the language I speak is more akin to how they talk in the market. The problem I have is that for Hanoians, this language I speak is just not chuẩn, or standard. I’ve tried to justify my choice (yes, a second justification) by saying that there is a standard language for each of the country’s three main dialects. It’s not the equivalent of something akin to BBC English, but it’s not far off. It’s clear, easy to understand, it suggests the speaker is educated and most importantly, has a nice ring to it. Yet many Hanoians won’t accept this. When it comes to music, they tell me,

“The problem is that when I open my mouth and speak Hanoi Vietnamese, no-one wants to talk to me.” | July 2017 Word | 83

“You should learn Hanoi Vietnamese. The way people talk down south is incorrect. Too many mistakes with the pronunciation. Too many words used incorrectly.””

WE SAY, YOU SAY Hanoi and Saigon dialects have hundreds of words unique to their own city. Here are a few.

A LLEYWAY Hanoi: ngõ HCMC: hẻm S TREET Hanoi: phố HCMC: đường S OY SAUCE Hanoi: xì dầu HCMC: nước tương B AGUETTE WITH EGG Hanoi: bánh mỳ trứng HCMC: bánh mỳ ốp la F RUIT Hanoi: hoa quả HCMC: trái cây P IG Hanoi: con lợn HCMC: con heo F IFTEEN Hanoi: hai nhăm HCMC: hai lăm TO


Hanoi: bị tắc đường HCMC: bị kẹt xe N AUGHTY Hanoi: nghịch HCMC: quậy

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the lyrics are sung in Hanoi Vietnamese. Newspapers, magazines and books — the writing is more formal, and is essentially Hanoi Vietnamese. So, I am mistaken to think that there is anything standard beyond what is spoken in the capital. They are wrong.


Many years ago I interviewed Ms. Vo Thi Thanh Binh, the director of Vietnamese Language Studies (VLS) in Ho Chi Minh City. Her father wrote the first text book for teaching Vietnamese to foreigners, and she was leading the way to try and get more foreigners speaking Vietnamese. Her method was to offer courses in Hanoi Vietnamese, Saigon Vietnamese and even both. Up north, she explained, people make many mistakes with the language. The classic error, she said, was the mixing up of the ‘l’s and the ‘n’s. So, you will hear people in Hanoi telling you they are from Hà Lội. If you ask them about where they work, instead of using the word làm they will say nàm. These mistakes, however, are common to people from the provinces — the former province of Ha Tay as well as Ha Nam, Nam Dinh, Hai Phong and Ninh Binh. The original Hanoian does not make these errors. But, she said, there’s much more. In Hanoi they pronounce their ‘r’ as a ‘z’. They can’t say the ‘tr’ in words such as trả — they replace it with a ‘ch’ — and other pronunciation such as the ưu in bưu điện is pronounced as iêu, which is incorrect. All meaning there is some hope for diehard followers of the Southern dialect like myself.


My own experience has been complicated. When I first moved to Hanoi it took me well over a month to start understanding people. And even today, if I’m not tuned in, I’m lost. Yet having spent so much of

my time in Vietnam up in the north, down south I am often accused of speaking Hanoi Vietnamese. This is because I pronounce words such as về with a ‘v’ rather than a ‘y’, or say other words like hết with the northern pronunciation rather than that of the south. And yet the tones I use are distinctly those of the south. My reason for this is that I want to be understood everywhere I go. The problem is that colloquial Vietnamese spoken with a strong dialect is often mutually unintelligible. I remember our layout designer, Loc, who is from Ben Tre in the Mekong Delta flying up to Hanoi. Every time he opened his mouth, people just couldn’t understand him. And while his accent is pretty strong, it’s intelligible. Far more intelligible than the accents of most people living in the Mekong Delta.


So, is Hanoi Vietnamese the correct dialect? When it’s spoken well, yes. It’s the language of culture. But more often than not it’s spoken badly. As for myself, I find I speak more Vietnamese when I’m in Hanoi rather than when I’m in Saigon. Down south, people just want to speak English. So when they see my white face, they click into foreigner mode. No matter how much I try to speak the lingo, they reply in English. It’s frustrating. Yet up north, once people get past the fact I’m a white guy speaking Saigon Vietnamese, a whole new world opens up. The amount of in-depth conversations I’ve had with xe om drivers, tea stall owners and taxi drivers still amazes me, and the topic of conversation has ranged from anything from Obama to war, to football through to history. For me, as long as the Vietnamese you speak is intelligible, that’s all that’s required. As for what dialect you should learn and which one’s correct? No comment. | July 2017 Word | 85





As Above, So Below An ode to the beauty of Vietnam. Words by Nick Ross. Photos provided by Justin Mott


’ve wanted to embark on a personal project in Vietnam for several years,” says well-known American photographer Justin Mott. “I wanted that project to be peaceful and focused around beauty.” Based in Vietnam for over a decade, Justin’s professional career in Southeast Asia has seen him shoot for the New York Times, Time Magazine, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian. He is also a judge on the History Channel’s reality TV show, Photo Face-Off. The show is now in its fourth series. “This country has given me everything I am today,” he says. “I have a huge debt of gratitude to Vietnam and the people.” Yet it took the catalyst of a quote by Shakespeare for him to realise it was time to put his plans into action. “I was at home listening to a podcast. The guest referred to a Shakespeare quote ‘I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.’ It rattled

me and reminded me I’m getting older and made me ponder my career and my future.”

The Project The result is a two-year-long project called As Above, So Below. The aim is to draw a connection between the people and their surroundings to showcase the beauty of Vietnam. This is in contrast to much of Justin’s work on Vietnam, which has focused on war and the past. “We all have a bond with the landscapes that surround us, from a rice farmer to their field to a young family living in a bustling city,” explains Justin. “My process will be to start in each location with an aerial (above) shot that captures a stunning landscape and then focus on capturing a connecting image I take on the ground (below). For part of the series the connection between above and below might be obvious, but other times the connection will be more abstract.” | July 2017 Word | 87

“This country has given me everything I am today,” he says. “I have a huge debt of gratitude to Vietnam and the people.”

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“Creating a bond specifically between two images with the above with the below is something new to me, it will force me to think differently. I love that.”

Upon completion, the images will be available to download for free directly from Justin’s website both as single images and as diptychs for private and commercial use. The plan is to make it as easy as possible for people in Vietnam to have access to the collection.

The Challenge Yet putting together such a body of work is not simple. Especially when it comes to aerial photography. The problem, says Justin, is that “you never know what you are going to see until you put the drone in the sky.” “The great part of the aerial photography is most people haven’t seen Vietnam from

above like this before,” he continues. “Creating a bond specifically between two images with the above with the below is something new to me, it will force me to think differently. I love that.” Through the images Justin is hoping to show the “pure beauty this country has from north to south”. He adds: “I’ve spent a decade shooting for others, someone else’s story, someone else’s words. But this is mine and when I’m done it will be Vietnam’s.” For more info on Justin Mott and his project, As Above, So Below, click on or go to An introduction to the project can be found at vimeo. com/222299028/c60542b347 | July 2017 Word | 91




Two Wheels are Good Street vendors on bicycles can be found the length and breadth of Vietnam. Bridget Griffin and Billy Gray speak to four two-wheeled vendors to find out more about their lives and why they do what they do. Photos by Bao Zoan and Sasha Arefieva


escribed as Vietnam’s version of the ice-cream truck, people selling a range products from their bicycles can be seen every day in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. But why do they choose to navigate their day and do business on a bike, rather than setting up shop like so many other vendors?

Traditionally Sweet Hat is a former rice farmer from Binh Dinh Province. She started selling traditional Vietnamese cakes and candy two years ago and has no desire to change her job. Covered from head to toe to protect her from the sun, she also wears a non la, the traditional Vietnamese conical hat. The bicycle is packed with countless treats that include glazed banana chips and sweet-smelling rice puffs, known in Vietnamese as com trang. “This job is easy, not too tough,” she says. Manoeuvring the bike around throngs of people and speeding motorbikes, she shows her two years of experience in the trade. The average price of one item is VND15,000. She says you can find many customers when you move your product on a bike. Hat has 30 to 40 customers per day, and in her two years has never experienced a problem with theft. “There is no busy time,” she says. Sometimes there are more customers than others. Business goes up and down. So long as she doesn’t stay in one spot for too long or get close to any established market places, Hat is able to go wherever she pleases to sell her traditional sweets. Her revenue at the end of a working day is anywhere between VND400,000 to VND500,000. Why did she make the change from rice farmer to bike vendor? “It’s easier,” she says. She rides the streets of Ho Chi Minh City to support her two children and is the only person in her circle of friends that sells from a bike. Hat limits her route to District 5. She works from 7am to 7pm, seven days a week.

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Cheeky Guava Cuong sells guava. He transports the product by bicycle but chooses to stay in one place at certain times of the day. Originally from Hanoi, Cuong moved to Ho Chi Minh city over 10 years ago for reasons linked to geomancy, the old superstition in Asian cultures that your year of birth, coinciding with your location, may deliver good or bad luck. “I have a friendly face, they love me,” says Cuong of his customers. The melonlike, hardskinned fruits from the myrtle family, tower high above his bike seat in a dishevelled pyramid. There is a set of scales set up next to his bike, ready to weigh an order and charge by the kilogram. He admits that the price isn’t set and may change from day to day. He attributes the success of his business to his friendly and warm attitude. Cuong didn’t finish school, but selling food is a family business. He works in District 5 during the morning and the afternoon is spent delivering to three restaurants he has ongoing con-tracts with. His wife sells food at a fixed store location in District 10. The daily profit from his guava sales is approximately VND200,000 per day. “I want to give them the best life,” says Cuong about his children. He will continue to sell guava until his third daughter has graduated from school and then he wants to retire. With a ongoing contracts his face, he describes his job as fun and more like a hobby. He works from 6am to late afternoon, seven days a week. | July 2017 Word | 95

Flower Power Hoa is a flower seller who bases herself close to Dong Xuan Market in Hanoi — risky business for someone selling from a bicycle, as the authorities routinely patrol the area and penalise those who don’t pay to set up their own stall. Her name means flower, which might be one of the reasons she decided to take up the trade, although certainly not the most prominent. Hoa used to carry building materials before giving it up to sell flowers three years ago. “It was hard work, and I’m too old to do it now. This is easier, but the hours are difficult,” she says. Hoa wakes up at 3am every day to buy the flowers from the market, and then she arrives in Hoan Kiem at 8am, and stays there until 9pm, unless she manages to get rid of all her stock

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earlier than that. “I really like selling flowers, and I’m too old to do anything else now anyway, this is the only job left that I can do,” she says. There’s a lot of competition around, but Hoa seems to be on good terms with the other vendors, the atmosphere is one of mutual support rather than ruthless acquisition. It’s not a particularly good living, but Hoa takes home enough to support herself which, given the hours she spends selling flowers, is very little. Hoa manages to cut down on operational costs by keeping mobile, the same as most of Hanoi’s flower sellers. We ask Hoa if she’ll pose for a portrait with us. “Of course,” she says. “But you’ll have to buy some flowers first.”

The Tao Pho Man Uoc sells tao pho, a drink made from tofu and traditionally hailing from China — variations of it are now popular throughout Southeast Asia. We find him set up with his bicycle close to the infamous Bia Hoi Corner in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. At 66 years of age, Uoc has been selling tao pho for seven years now, and has kept to this spot on Ma May throughout his career as a bicycle vendor. He wakes up at 4am every day to buy tofu and make the tao pho, and then he heads out to sell it at 8am, and finishes by 2pm. If it rains, he goes home early. “I like doing this job a lot. Before doing

this I was a soldier, and when I retired the government gave me some money which I used to set up this business,” he says. It’s enough money to support his life, he says, and he can spend time with his friends after he finishes. Many of Uoc’s customers are loyal regulars who call him on his mobile to place advance orders. “They know I made good tao pho, so they keep coming back and ordering more.” Do tourists ever buy his drink? “Sometimes, but mostly Vietnamese buy it. The tourists stick to the beer.”


“We want young people to look back at the correct way to look at the past and be able distinguish our costume from Chinese, Japanese or South Korean�

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Fashioning the Past

Thanks to the passion of four twenty-something Saigonese, the clothes of the Nguyen dynasty are getting a new life. Words by Thomas Barrett. Photos by Olga Rozenbajgier | July 2017 Word | 99

“‘We don’t have movies that show exactly how things were back [during the Nguyen dynasty]. What we’re taught in the history books rarely mentions the clothes that were worn’”


group of young Vietnamese history enthusiasts have joined together to recreate the colourful clothing worn by the royalty of the Nguyen dynasty, which from 1802 to 1945 was the last ruling family dynasty of Vietnam. Tuan, Duong, Tuan and Tan, all in their 20s, began the project earlier this year, and Tuan, who leads the project, explains that they are motivated to showcase the period’s clothing to a 21st century audience. He believes that the youth of today struggle to visualise what clothing was worn during this period of Vietnamese history, and they want to put that right: “We don’t have movies that show exactly how things were back then,” he says. “What we’re taught in the history books rarely mentions the clothes that were worn.”

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Their task was made more difficult due to the fact that following the French colonisation of Vietnam, most of the best examples of clothing were transported back with them over to Europe. The ones remaining in Vietnam were poorly preserved, often left in less than ideal conditions.

Referential Integrity The lack of accurate information posed problems for the group during their research. Most of the references they needed were in French books, so they had to have these translated into Vietnamese. It’s a labour of love for the group, and out of responsibility to their country’s history, they are passionate in wanting to recreate the costumes as accurately as possible. It’s not just a simple case of wanting

to showcase the clothes worn during this period of Vietnamese history, however — the group hope to change perceptions of what traditional dress in Vietnam was, and can be: “When people think of Vietnam they think of ao dai, but we want to make something more historical. This [the Nguyen dynasty] style influenced other countries like Korea and China,” says Tuan. National pride is at stake too, and they are frustrated that traditional Vietnamese clothes will often be mistaken for being from one of their Asian neighbours. “We want young people to look back at the correct way to look at the past and be able distinguish our costume from Chinese, Japanese or South Korean. Our clothes have similarities, but we have differences too. We want to point out the differences”. Along with the symbolic pattern

differences, each colour denotes a rank. For example, the Queen would wear orange, and the oldest princess would wear purple, with any younger princesses wearing red. Vietnamese costumes also don’t cover the feet, and the sleeves are longer and wider than those found in other countries.

Generation Shift Once the group have agreed upon a particular costume to recreate next, they use Vietnamese silk alongside imported fabric from South Korea. It takes around one month to make one costume — but this can often take longer as they are all either studying or in full-time work.

Several generations removed since the days of the Nguyen Dynasty, much of the specific knowledge required died with its original tailors. With no easily accessible tutorials on how to recreate the costumes exactly how they were made before, they rely on modern sewing machines and computer software to help with the design. The group has been happy so far with the reactions to their completed costumes from the public to their parents: “Everybody is supportive but some don’t understand what we’re doing, they say it’s a waste of time and money, so we explain the importance of what we are doing to the young people of Vietnam.”

The group have high hopes for the future — they are building not only clothes, but a community as well. Tuan says: “We are at the beginning. We’re trying to attract other people who have the same interest as us. Maybe together we can hold a fashion show at the end of the year. We want to do it every year. We have kings and other people we want to do [costumes of].” With young people not in the habit of going to museums, they’ve chosen Facebook as their museum and focal point to display their work, and they hope to showcase their newest creation on their page soon. To see more, click on NguyenPhongDoanLinh/ | July 2017 Word | 103

Food and Drink EAT & DRINK


Let’s Talk About Tacos What do you get when you seat an Englishman, a couple of Mexicans and a Californian at the same table? The best lowdown on tacos in Hanoi. Words by Edward Dalton. Photos by Julie Vola


s Hanoi’s international food scene grows stronger, it’s time we celebrated the variety on offer, by looking at one very specific dish; the humble taco. A few years ago, there were no Mexican restaurants in Hanoi. In 2017, we have several to choose from. Even a few nonMexican restaurants have jumped on the taco bandwagon, such is the diversity and mass appeal of this dish. So, let’s talk about tacos.

Hanoi Taco Bar The first stop of the day, and we are treated to a couple of tacos making their menu debut; Cajun-spiced vegetable (VND30,000 each) and slow-cooked beef (VND50,000 each). Hector Grimaldo (HG): “This reminds me of a breakfast taco, with the potato. It’s really good.” Taylor Cavale (TC): “They’re super good. I’d prefer a bit more spice and citrus with the meat, but it’s cooked perfectly; it’s a good sign when the meat doesn’t get stuck in my teeth. It’s tender as ****!” Irving Torres-Jimenez (IT): “The tortilla is nice and soft, and I’m liking the pico de gallo.” Edward Dalton (ED): “Cauliflower and potato is normal for a taco?” HG: “You can put anything in a taco… my dad used to put spaghetti or noodle soup in a taco. These are so tasty.” Our team are impressed by the presentation, tortillas and fillings. The tacos were easy to eat, with really good optional extras available, such as hot chilli sauce and a cheek of lime. Find Hanoi Taco Bar at 6 Dao Duy Tu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi or online at hanoitacobar

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The Taco Team

To ensure this naive British writer doesn’t just wax lyrical about the taco with the most cheese, we have gathered a team of expert tasters, from places where Mexican food is held in high esteem.


Hector was born and raised in Mexico. Aged 15, he moved to Texas and has since lived in eight cities across three continents. As the only child of a mother who wanted a daughter, he knows his way around a kitchen, and especially around tacos.


Born in Mexico, Irving moved to the States at a young age, and lived in Texas since he was 12. Since learning to cook, with his very traditional Mexican mother, he’s always believed food has no language or barriers.


Taylor is a marketing strategist for #HotTab in Hanoi. Hailing from San Diego, California, he’s lived abroad for eight years. Putting good Mexican food in his face is the thing he misses most about home.

Tacos Fresh and More Our second visit is to the only restaurant on the list serving homemade hard-shell corn tortillas. Our judges get hard-shell chicken (VND30,000 each) and double-decker beef (VND40,000 each) tacos. HG: “Although the hard-shell corn tortilla is not authentic Mexican, it’s got a great taste to it. It’s a bit messy to eat, but when has that stopped anyone from enjoying a taco?” TC: “It kind of reminds me of fast food tacos, but the meat has a good spice flavour to it.” IT: “My grandma came to visit us in the States once, and we took her for hard-shell

tacos at Taco Bell. She was furious.” TC: “For me, the hard-shell tortilla clashes with everything else. A soft, fresh tortilla is just more consistent and uniform with the other ingredients. Although, that double decker taco is for the win!” The judges are impressed by the menu variety, and seasoning of the meat. The hard-shell tortillas divide opinion, but everyone leaves with a satisfied smile on their face. Tacos Fresh and More is at 54 Dao Duy Tu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi and is open daily from 10am until 10pm | July 2017 Word | 105

Moose and Roo Smokehouse The famous BBQ joint might not be known for their tacos, but their wagyu beef (VND145,000 for two) and baja fish (VND115,000 for two) tacos might soon change that. TC: “Good presentation, super smoky beef. If these tacos were on Tinder, I’d swipe right.” HG: “Wouldn’t consider it authentic, but I know it’s not meant to be. Great to see tabasco and homemade hot sauce here!” IT: “The fish is a bit bland, maybe too much batter? The sauces are really good, and I love the queso fresco with the beef. It’s just the fish that needs to be more… fishy.” HG: “Lettuce is not something I would put on a taco, but it works well; I really like when there are different temperatures through the taco.” Somehow still hungry by this point, the taco team are happy to see some quality condiments and good, smoky meat. The tortillas did not really stand out, but overall, a great experience. Find Moose and Roo Smokehouse at 21 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. For more info, go to

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Salt N’ Lime Determined to make the most of this pig-out opportunity, we try four more tacos; slowroasted pork Mexican (VND30,000 each), grilled steak Gringo (VND45,000 each), smoked salmon (VND50,000 each) and fresh shrimp (VND50,000 each). TC: “Good to find some soft, corn tortillas!” HG: “The salmon taco is a really great surprise. This is a taco I could eat at the beach with a cold coconut juice.” IT: “The pork would be better if it was served in its own juices; it’s a bit dry at the moment.” TC: “I’d prefer if the prawns and steak

were cut up more after cooking, and maybe tossed in their own juices for a better flavour to surface area ratio. But overall, it’s really good.” IT: “The steak is nice and soft, it doesn’t get stuck in your teeth. The tortillas are really good too, they’re well-seasoned.” Our Mexican and Californian judges come down on different sides of the authenticity fence, but the delightful surprise of the salmon and prawn options satisfies everyone. Find Salt N’ Lime at 12 Tu Hoa, Tay Ho, Hanoi. For more info, go to | July 2017 Word | 107

The Republic Everyone’s favourite West Lake pub and sports bar has two varieties of tacos for us to try, battered snapper with mango salsa and ‘slaw (VND260,000 / three), or pulled pork with salsa and ‘slaw (VND260,000 / three). ED: “Finally! Big pots of extra sour cream and guacamole on the side!” HG: “Is it authentic? No, but it’s still so good. The pulled pork… I really like it. There’s a good creaminess to this taco.” IT: “I can really taste the fish in the taco; the batter compliments the fish, and makes it even better.” TC: “The ratio of pork to everything else is a bit off, not enough spiciness or acidity; they’re really well-presented, though.” HG: “We’re getting so good at this now, huh? Like proper food critics.” TC: “The fish is cooked perfectly; for a fish taco, I think it’s really up there in authenticity.” Our penultimate restaurant impresses everyone with overall flavour, and we’re all sure we will come back again some time. Bonus points for the triple serve per order. The Republic is at 7A Quang An, Tay Ho, Hanoi. For more info, go to therepublicvietnam

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Anita’s Cantina It might be our last stop, but our greedy gang digs in to five more tacos. We get carnitas (pork), beef, pumpkin and black bean, spiced potato (all VND30,000 each), and this week’s special; crab cake tacos (VND40,000 each). HG: “The authenticity is really on point. Salsas, chiles curtidos (pickled peppers) and a good corn tortilla… great.” TC: “Everything is 10/10 for me here. I’m not biased, I don’t know the owner; it really is just that good! IT: “Agreed, the carnitas has amazing flavour, really well seasoned.”

HG: “It’s such a homey place, too. There’s great seasoning and filling in all of these tacos.” IT: “My grandmother would be happy to know I’m eating these kind of tacos!” For the first time, our whole team agrees on the solid Mexican authenticity. The complexity of flavours, incredible homemade tortillas and menu variety blows everyone away. Find Anita’s Cantina at 36 Quang Ba, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open Thursday to Sunday from 5.30pm until 11pm. For more info, go to | July 2017 Word | 109

Food and Drink EAT & DRINK


Tapas in Saigon

Brix Wine Bar & Kitchen This European-run bar and kitchen is as much about the wine as the food. Bar manager Lorenz is a wine connoisseur and he will help you find the perfect accompaniment to the Alsace classic, Flammkuchen, (VND160,000) with crispy bacon, chives and sour cream sprinkled on top. It does not pretend to be truly Spanishstyle tapas. Instead it celebrates “an Asian sharing concept with entirely European food,� as Lorenz says. The tomato salad

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(VND140,000) was refreshing with the spring onions and chives giving a gentle kick. We also tried the rich and flavoursome cordon bleu (VND260,000). The melt-in-mouth gorgonzola was supported by the pork loin and Parma ham. Divine. Brix is a smart yet relaxed bar, good for a small group of friends or couples. Brix Wine Bar & Kitchen is at 42 Pasteur, Q1, HCMC. For more info visit or call (028) 3825 6300

Once difficult to find, Spanish-style tapas is now available all over the city. Yet like so much of the cuisine in this city, it’s been adapted to the market. George Schooling and JB Jance do the rounds. Photos by Olga Rozenbajgier


apas are defined as small Spanish savoury dishes, typically served with drinks at a bar. They go well as a night-out starter, light lunch, or your in-between snacks. Several Ho Chi Minh restaurants offer a taste of it. | July 2017 Word | 111

Cuba la Casa del Mojito With its famous Latin American spirit, Cuba la Casa is popular among the Mediterranean and Latin American crowd. The three Latin dance classes a week gives an insight into the vibrancy of the bar. The food cooked up by Cuban chef Alex shares the same influences. We started with nachos Cubano, (VND250,000) packed full of minced beef, supplemented with tomato, rosemary, and cream. The delicias de salmon (VND180,000) was a nice delicate balance of flavours with a light bread and cream cheese. We also tried the well-cooked and moist spicy chicken wings which came with a gentle kick. This is a laid-back bar with a friendly staff managed by Frenchman Charles Lecomte who seems to know everyone who comes in. Cuba la Casa del Mojito is at 91 Pasteur, Q1, HCMC. Call (028) 3822 7099 or visit facebook. com/cubanvn

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Twenty21one Walking into this contemporary restaurant, it’s impossible to escape the Scandinavian design, right from the table and chairs to the lights and walls. The food is much like the decor, refined. The menu is essentially East-West fusion, typified by the crispy shredded duck spring rolls (VND170,000) which is an unorthodox take on the Chinese classic, Peking duck. The spring onions and cucumber were wrapped outside the fried duck roll, with soy sauce dip. The salt and chilli squid (VND165,000) was crisp, not too spicy and the wasabi mayo proved to be a delightful addition to the dish. The menu may not be strictly tapas but it does embrace the sharing philosophy and it is a great place to come for a stylish date or to impress that important client. Twenty21one is at 21 Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, HCMC. Visit or call (028) 930 0840

May Restaurant Located in the heart of Saigon’s business district, when we visited, May restaurant was full of business types enjoying their extended lunch hour. Starting with the spicy chicken tostadas, (VND125,000) this was a flavoursome yet light dish, with tomato salsa, cheese and guacamole, completed by the crunch of the tostada base. The lamb bites (VND125,000) were delicious, with the full flavour of New Zealand lamb supported by hints of

cumin and paprika. We had the ginger lime scallops (VND135,000) which was a classic combination of perfectly seared scallops with crispy bacon. The twist was a well thought-out ginger lime caramel that added flavour. This menu is closer to traditional Spanish tapas than some of the other restaurants, which does not make it any less contemporary. May Restaurant is at 19-21 Dong Khoi, Q1, HCMC. Visit or call (028) 6921 3686

La Habana Aside from the usual drinks at happy hour, La Habana is popular for its Spanish cuisine. We tried five crowd-favourite dishes from the menu. First is their Paella de Mariscos or in layman's terms is seafood paella (VND350,000). It’s not tapas as such, but comes from the same stable. The dish has a generous serving of rice with shrimp, mussels, squid and vegetables. It is served straight from the pan for a rustic feel and can be shared by two to three people. Gambas al hjillo (VND100,000) is prawns cooked with garlic and chilli in olive oil. The chilli adds a light kick to a rather simple yet satisfying dish. Also cooked in olive oil is the championes guisadas (VND80,000), which is sauteed mushrooms and is best enjoyed with a glass of sangria. The chorizo y patatas (VND100,000) and tortilla Española or Spanish omelet (VND50,000) are great options for someone who hasn’t had Spanish food before. La Habana is at 152 Le Lai, Q1, HCMC. Visit or call (028) 3925 9838 | July 2017 Word | 115

Lubu Inspired by the time that chef and co-owner Jim Cawood spent in Spain, the tapas menu of Lubu is suitable for all three meals of the day. We tried five of its tapas selection— priced at 50% off on Fridays. First we went for the boquerones (VND160,000), pickled white anchovies with roasted peppers and parsley oil. The natural salty flavour of the anchovies comes through and is complemented by the olive oil. Even for someone who isn’t a fan of octopus, the pulpo a feria (VND160,000) was surprisingly good. The Cypriot salad (VND200,000) isn’t really a Spanish dish, but the grilled haloumi cheese, tomatoes, black olives, and basil mix is a great addition to the menu. It was light but filling. The chorizo cooked in white wine with garlic and parsley is served with the house bread (VND130,000). And the crispy fried cuttlefish (VND160,000) is best dipped in their tamarind and coriander sauce. Lubu Restaurant is at 97B, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC. For reservations call (028) 6281 8371 or visit

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Tapas Kitchen at Caravelle Saigon Sitting inside one of Saigon’s five-star hotels, Tapas Kitchen offers modern European food with an Asian taste. Favourites include the nori seaweed tostada with sushi rice and spicy tempura seabass topped with wasabi mayonnaise (VND149,000). This dish is a feast for both the eyes and the stomach as is served like a deconstructed sushi. The shrimp, ginger and shitake tacos (VND179,000) mixed with sweet chilli sour cream, peanuts and coriander sauce is quite addictive. The salmon tartare with wasabi cream, caviar and pink pomelo (VND210,000) is soft, fresh, and zesty. It is served on its own, but we tried it as a spread on a foccacia and it made a good fit. The tapas selection also includes an A5 Hitachi wagyu striploin (VND480,000), which is a little on the pricey side, but well worth it. The tapas are served a la carte, per portion which is usually in threes, or included in their tapas set lunch (VND250,000) where you can choose three from their list and pair them with either a soft drink, Heineken beer, coffee, or tea. Tapas Kitchen is at the ground floor of Caravelle Saigon, 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, HCMC. Visit for more information

Food and Drink



Ngon Villa Restaurant The streetfood concept from three different regions of the country served up in a restaurant setting has proved popular for years. So, how well is it executed? Our mystery diner visits one of its main proponents — Ngon Villa. Photos by Sasha Arevieva


gon Villa Restaurant is as much of a a walk-through history as it is a dining experience. The Vietnamese restaurant is housed in a restored colonial mansion that originally belonged to a French army captain. The menu consists of around 120 purposefully selected dishes, from the deep south to the mountainous north of the country, to show off Vietnamese cuisine to its fullest and tying each dish to its own region and culture.

Atmosphere I visited Ngon Villa with a friend after having noticed it many times in the past. I

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waited for my companion to arrive in the red tiled courtyard, under a tree decorated with multi-coloured hanging lanterns. Inside, one of the staff was playing music by Yiruma on a grand piano. The atmosphere inside is warm and welcoming, and a constant soundtrack of talking, laughter and clinking cutlery is accompanied by the piano, giving the place a real buzz. Once my friend arrived we were greeted and ushered upstairs to a table in a more private section of the restaurant, and given a menu each. The waiting staff spoke fluent English and were eager to explain the dynamic of the menu to us.

The menu begins with three pages explaining the history of the food, the building, and the concept of the restaurant. Each dish is categorised as N, C or S for northern, central or southern, and is accompanied by a description in both Vietnamese and English. The menu is well arranged and provides enough variety while also being streamlined so that you don’t have to pore over it for half an hour before choosing. Our waitress began by pointing out the buffet option. For VND360,000 you can select as many dishes as you want from most of the menu, and for VND580,000 per head, the whole menu is opened up to






selection. Looking around at the other diners’ plates, it immediately struck me as good value, but my companion had eaten recently, so we decided instead to choose individual dishes from each region of the country.

North to South We ordered the southern chicken curry (VND225,000), hot and sour vegetable soup (VND95,000), Hue jellyfish salad (VND95,000) and pho cuon (VND95,000). First to arrive was the vegetable soup, one of a good selection of vegetarian and vegan-friendly dishes on the menu. It lived up to its name, and was neither too sweet nor too sour; the bowl was average size, but the vegetables were fresh and cooked well. Next was a wooden board

decorated with flowers, and on it were our Hue jellyfish salad and the pho cuon. I’ve never eaten jellyfish before so was a little worried about the generous portion of cucumber, carrot, sliced jellyfish and crumbled peanuts in front of me, but one bite into the rubbery jellyfish and its vegetable companions was enough to put my mind at ease. While the jellyfish itself wasn’t bursting with flavour, the accompanying ingredients made a well-rounded salad. I live in Truc Bach, an area of Hanoi famous for its pho cuon, so for me this was the real make or break, and I have to say, it’s the best go at the dish I’ve ever tasted. The beef is perfectly tender and peppery, and the whole roll goes down an absolute treat. Finally, our southern chicken curry

arrived, served in a pot with a bowl of rice on the side. The chicken was very tender and not at all dry, as well as generous in quantity, and the sauce had adequate flavour; overall it was a satisfying end to our feast.

Impeccable Service After we finished, we were brought the bill by the waitress who had been serving us for the evening; she’d just been having a conversation with two other diners about their experience in Vietnam, and was equally friendly and talkative with us. Throughout the night I often noticed the staff being open to explaining each dish to diners, and their attentiveness really added to the experience. Ngon Villa Restaurant is located at 10 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. You can view their menu at or go to

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



Kem Dua

It’s the summer. It’s hot. So what better way to cool you down than a Vietnamese favourite — coconut ice-cream? Words Billy Gray. Photos by Teigue John Blokpoel


his month’s street snacker was carried out in the record-breaking heat wave that Hanoi experienced last month, and so naturally, we went for kem dua, which takes two of the best things in life, coconuts and ice cream, and puts them together to make a refreshing cool concoction. It’s no secret that young Vietnamese are very keen on the frozen stuff, and spending a summer here will tell you why. So taking a break from UV overload to go to town on an ice-cream serving the size of a child’s head is probably what the doctor would recommend, although we never actually asked any doctors about this.

Put the Ice in the Coconut The dish is popular all over Hanoi, but the single most famous kem dua spot in town is Kem Dua Hang Than (29 Hang Than, Ba Dinh). The place looks like a middle-class Vietnamese person’s living room, with white walls, tile flooring, and ornate-looking dark wooden furniture with some speakers and a DVD player on top — hinting that it probably is someone’s actual living room. It almost feels as if the place has moved up a notch from the hustle of street vendors outside, but they’ve kept one signature

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aesthetic to remind everyone of their humble origins; little red plastic stools that look like they were looted from Bag End. I have to park my motorbike across the street. It’s 8pm and the place is full with students, young professionals, and families tucking into hollowed-out coconut shells filled with ice cream.

Frozen Goodness The kem dua (VND70,000) comes in a one-sizefits-all fashion, a hollowed out coconut shell filled with ice cream (made from coconut water) and topped with grated coconut and a swirl of chocolate sauce. One serving is enough to share between two, and this is obvious as soon as you walk in the door due to the large number of young couples sharing a shell. The menu itself is in Vietnamese, so it’s worth noting what else is available: caramen (caramel flan) is just VND7,000 per plate. Its texture isn’t for everyone, but it’s got a pleasant taste, with hints of coffee breaking through the dominant caramel flavour. Also on the menu is thach dua xiem (coconut jelly served in a hollowed out coconut shell), and nuoc dua (coconut water). In a way it’s strange seeing a set-up similar to an everyday street food spot but where

everyone is dining on ice cream and caramel flan. It almost feels like someone should be rolling up their flan in rice paper, topping it off with some pineapple and cucumber and dipping it in fish sauce.

Shop Around Just a stone’s throw from Kem Dua Hang Than is Kem Thinh Hang (37 Hang Than, Ba Dinh), where the kem dua is a more reasonable VND60,000, and the menu is more interesting with ice cream sundaes for VND30,000 and various sweet-filled yogurt desserts for VND15,000 per serving. The quality here is about on par with their more popular cousin down the road, although the space is smaller, and the emphasis appears to be less on kem dua and more on traditional Vietnamese desserts, which is a bonus if you’re looking for extra selection. It seems, however, that while Hang Than street fills up with imitators, any Hanoian will still tell you that to get the best coconut ice cream in Hanoi, you go to 29 Hang Than, and the flocks of hungry customers seem to reinforce that opinion. Kem Dua Hang Than is located at 29 Hang Than, Ba Dinh, Hanoi and is open 9am to 10pm. Kem Thinh Hang is located at 37 Hang Than, Ba Dinh, Hanoi and is open 9am to 10.30pm. | July 2017 Word | 121

Food and Drink



Ryu Gyong North Korean Restaurant


Our mystery diner gets a taste of North Korea without leaving the safety of District 3. Photos by Bao Zoan

t shouldn’t come as a surprise that Ho Chi Minh City has a North Korean restaurant. North Korea supported Vietnam during the American war, though relations cooled with Vietnam’s decision to negotiate a peace with the US. It’s nice to know there remains a little of the wacky that attracted many of us to this country in the first place. Ryu Gyong in District 3 serves up typical Korean fare; food similar to what you come across at the many South Korean restaurants dotted around our city. Although the cuisines and cultures of the two divided states are said to be different, there’s no denying their similarities based on Ryu Gyong’s offerings.

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But it’s not just the food you come to Ryu Gyong for; it’s the entertainment.

Fancy Some Fish? If you’re not into fish, but still curious, you can try the salmon head spin for VND140,000. At what stage the head spin comes in, I’m not sure, but it’s one of the cheapest dishes on the competitively priced menu. A step up is the mung bean mixed jelly salad for VND160,000, the exotic sounding fish myong the rim for VND300,000 or the sora large snail Korea which is yours at VND350,000. There’s a problem, though. If you’re not into fish (or snail), the ‘Non Fish Options’ on the menu look to have a lot of fish in

them, so you might be best to flip the menu page at this point. Soup could be a better choice if the fish thing hasn’t worked out. The cheapest option is the seaweed soup with scallops (VND130,000), but for another VND20,000, you can tuck into a canned soy sauce. There are a few salad options if the mixed jelly mentioned earlier hasn’t got you going. The cheapest dish is the sashimi synthetic salad, which drops for a cool VND1 million. If you’re feeling thrifty, there’s a French-inspired tartare beef salad for VND390,000. This shares the same menu space as the dog meat hot pot (VND650,000).


15* FOOD



*Best make up your own mind on this one

There are other beef options, such as hot pot beef ribs (VND210,000) and beef hot pot (VND650,000) which, according to my uber-polite waitress, is in fact beef from North Korea “because beef in Vietnam is not good.” And what about Australian beef? I ask. “Beef in Australia is not good. I love Korean beef,” she replies in crisp English. I probe further. “Do you like Saigon?” I ask. To which she replies, “I love Korea.” In the end, I settle on banh hai san (VND220,000), which is often referred to as Korean pizza, thit suong bo nuong (BBQ ribs) for VND450,000, and a mountain of sour kim chi for VND85,000. For dessert, I choose a plate of mixed fruit (VND200,000) over the melon dessert (VND180,000),

which brings my bill to around VND1.2 million with a couple of beers.

Hidden Talents The highlight of dinner at Ryu Gyong is the show. At 7.30pm most nights, the waitresses hit the stage to kick off a 15-minute cultural performance like no other. The experience starts with the four-piece band belting out a psychedelic rock Latin Zumba fusion number. I recognise my waitress on the drums, while the one who’d just served me a beer is twanging away on bass guitar. On this night, the band plays Happy Birthday to a chuffed male diner at one of the five or so tables about the room, after which he is presented with a fake flower. It’s the cue for the band to cut back

into a psychedelic punk rock riff accompanied by some pretty heavy bass and more high intensity drum rolls. The synthesiser is straight out of 1970s disco, so I feel for a moment I’m sitting in the audience of an ancient variety TV show. Later, the drummer trades instruments and costumes and returns to play a 21-string traditional instrument with the aplomb of a classically-trained musician. A couple more costume changes and songs later, and the ladies are back bussing tables and acting as though what I've just witnessed never happened. Ryu Gyong North Korean Restaurant (Bac Trieu Tien Ryu Gyong) is at 30 Le Quy Don, Q3, HCMC. Try calling (028) 7307 6666 or go to

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


Mae Hong Son Loop / Hoa Binh Province / Amiana Nha Trang / Le MĂŠridien Saigon Photo by Julie Vola 124 | Word July 2017 | | July 2017 Word | 125




Mae Hong Son Loop Vietnam has its mountain motorbike loops around the northeast and northwest. So does Thailand. Sasha Arefieva goes to the country’s far northwest | July 2017 Word | 127


he Mae Hong Son loop in northwest Thailand is the route from Chiang Mai to Pai, Mae Hong Son and Doi Inthanon National Park before ending back in Chiang Mai. The majority of the trip is through spectacular mountains; the roads are famed for their breathtaking views and hairpin twists and turns. It’s simple and easy to rent a bike in Chiang Mai. There are many kinds of bikes to choose from, most of them look almost brand new and the prices are very budgetfriendly. I chose the cheapest option, which was a newish Honda Click 125 for THB150 (US$4.50) or VND100,000 a day. Although it only took me five days to complete the trip, it took a lot of hard riding and I had to skip most of the attractions on the way. I

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recommend taking at least a week or so, to enjoy it more thoroughly.

Chiang Mai to Pai 150km via route 1095 Route 1095 is famous for the 762 twists and turns one must negotiate to get to Pai. This is highly enjoyable, as the roads are mostly empty, the tarmac is in great condition and takes you through some spectacular scenery. Don’t set out too early (after 8am is ideal) because in the early mornings it is very foggy in the mountains. Warm waterproofs are also essential as sporadic downpours are frequent and it can get chilly. Pai has many accommodation options for every budget, from hostels for around THB180 per night (VND120,000) to

upscale resorts at THB3,000 baht per night (VND2million). It’s a bustling backpacker paradise packed with coffee shops, bakeries, bars and souvenir shops. There is also plenty to see in the surrounding countryside. The Chedi Phra That Mae Yen temple on the outskirts of Pai is home to the giant White Buddha statue, and provides some great panoramic views for those resilient enough to climb the long winding stairs. Also, the Pai Canyon and the Memorial bridge are a short drive away and a mustsee. However, I would not spend more than one night in Pai, even though it’s welcoming and tourist-friendly. It’s a tourist trap with little authenticity. If you have time, take the 80km detour to Chiang Dao Town.

“The majority of the trip is through spectacular mountains; the roads are famed for their breathtaking views and hairpin twists and turns�

“Dipping into valleys and weaving through the mountains, the road snakes southwest, taking you closer and closer to the Myanmar border�

Pai to Ban Rak Thai 170km The stretch of road from Pai to Ban Rak Thai is perhaps the most fun to drive. Dipping into valleys and weaving through the mountains, the road snakes southwest, taking you closer and closer to the Myanmar border. Just before getting into Mae Hong Son there is a nondescript fork in the road, leading to the small Chinese-majority village of Ban Rak Thai. The road is well maintained and a great detour to make. It was a strain on my little automatic bike, because at times the road climbs at a very steep angle, taking you through rice paddies and tea plantations. Approximately an hour is needed to cover the 25km to the village of Ban Rak Thai where you can relax at a teahouse overlooking the lake that dominates the town. There are a few cafes serving Chinese-style dishes. The locals were friendly and hospitable, however many of them only speak Thai and Chinese. Guesthouses are available starting at 300 baht (VND200,000) per night. On this stretch of the road my bike got a flat tyre in a downpour, in the middle of nowhere. I drove slowly around 10km to

the nearest village, where a few locals were kind enough to help me. One of them had a pickup into which the five of us lifted my bike, and he drove me to the nearest town of Soppong (around 30min away) to get my tyre fixed.

Ban Rak Thai to Mae Hong Son to Mae Chaem 200km After spending the night in Ban Rak Thai the next destination has to be Mae Hong Son. One of the main points of interest there is Wat Prathat, located on a miniature mountain near the town centre. The fit and brave can attempt to walk to the top, but those who do not wish to hike can easily drive there, although the road is impressively steep. From the top you can see the tiny landing strip of the Mae Hong Son Airport and admire the stupas of the temple itself. The road becomes more racetrack-like after leaving Mae Hong Son, the hairpin twists become leisurely curves that are great fun and allow for a little more speed. As you get close to Mae Chaem, the impressive outline of Doi Inthanon Mountain starts dominating the horizon.

Accommodation can be found in the town of Mae Chaem or in many of the roadside guesthouses.

Mae Chaem to Doi Inthanon to Chiang Mai 175km Doi Inthanon Mountain is located in Doi Inthanon National Park. Packed with waterfalls, traditional craft villages, temples and nature walks, it’s worth spending one or two days there to explore.. The park is clean and well-maintained, and the attractions are all clearly signposted and easy to find. For some attractions a small entrance fee must be paid, but it’s well worth it to wander around the temple grounds of The Great Holy Relics Pagoda Nabhapolbhumisiri and relax in the small, but well-tended garden while taking in the view. To explore the many waterfalls and head to the peak of Doi Inthanon Mountain, head out early. This way you’ll avoid the midday tourist crowds. Once you leave the national park, the road back to Chiang Mai is a breeze — just 80km along a wide straight highway, offering many opportunities to stop and rest, or to continue on to plan the next big adventure. | July 2017 Word | 131

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Hoa Binh Province Southwest of Hanoi, Hoa Binh offers peace and beauty. Words and photos by Edward Dalton | July 2017 Word | 135


overing an area of 4,660 sq kms, Hoa Binh is a mountainous region located southwest of Hanoi. It stretches from the southern borders of the Xuan Son and Ba Vi National Parks, right the way down to the northern edge of Cuc Phuong National Park. However, there’s only one fact that really matters; hoa binh means “peace.” Peace is a valuable currency to anyone living in Hanoi, traded in hushed whispers by locals and foreigners desperate for fresh air and lower blood pressure. To have such a picturesque province on our doorstep is a luxury worth taking advantage of.

Morbid Beauty Although Hoa Binh is reachable by motorbike, my partner and I elect to travel by private car. This takes away the backaches, soreness, dangers and dusty faces associated with motorbike trips on Vietnam’s hellish highways. There are buses departing from My Dinh Bus Station, but the private car grants us

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the freedom to stop where and when we want; a necessary option when travelling through a province with such varied attractions, spread across such a large area. The first stop is about 50km from Hanoi, and is quite a bizarre one. Bizarre until I consider the popularity of visiting cathedral crypts and crumbling church graveyards. Lac Hong Vien Cemetery (KM52, QL6, Hoa Binh) covers nine hills across nearly 100 hectares of Ky Son District, and was the largest cemetery in Southeast Asia when it opened in 2010. With 70% of its land devoted to vegetation, the private grounds are a peaceful, beautiful and reflective place to wander around. Designed by a team of scientists, geographers and feng shui experts, the family tombs and luxurious burial plots are reserved for those who can afford the VND12 million per square metre price tag. Anyone is welcome to come in, but all visits must be arranged in advance, by calling 0912 258822 (Vietnamese language only).

Clean Energy For a lunch stop offering more than just the food, a visit to Hoa Binh City is not to be missed. “It reminds me of Florence,” says my partner, as her eyes take in the view of the city, split in half by the majestic Black River. For one of the best views of the city, head up to Chua Phat Quang Hoa Binh (Radiant Peace Pagoda), and the adjacent Den Mau (Temple of the Mother). Situated in Tan Thinh Ward on a hill by the river, these two Buddhist complexes epitomise the name of the province, offering a peaceful retreat in which to enjoy an iced tea with the nuns, as the dogs play and a trickle of incense smoke drifts skyward. A quick stop at a nearby com binh dan for lunch follows, from which we head back to the Black River to check out another unique feature of the city. Hoa Binh is home to the largest hydroelectric dam in Southeast Asia. Built between 1979 and 1994 with considerable Soviet assistance, it stands 128m high and | July 2017 Word | 137

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nearly 1km long. A total of 168 people were killed on its construction, and more than 11,000 households had to be relocated. However, when it opened, the adjacent power station provided one-third of Vietnam’s electricity. A 400-ton statue of Ho Chi Minh overlooks the dam, whose order that the mighty river be calmed is said to have led to the dam’s construction.

Golden Hue By far the most iconic and breath-taking area of the whole province, Mai Chau is a valley of rice fields, stilt houses and imposing mountains. About 160km from Hanoi and serving as the main destination of our trip, we overnight at one of the resorts near Mai Chau Town which has sprung up in recent years.

The journey to Mai Chau from Hoa Binh City brings to mind the famous Hai Van Pass between Danang and Hue, and offers sensational views of the province from one of the three rest stops. The rice harvest comes twice a year (in late May and late October), and visiting as close as possible to harvest time ensures the most spectacular views, when the golden rice crop sprouts from the vivid green stems, lending the fields a resplendent glowing highlight stretching to the horizon. When not relaxing by the pool or getting a massage at one of the many resorts, cycling from one village to another is a great way to take in the area. Resorts such as Mai Chau Ecolodge and Sol Bungalows always have bicycles to rent, and the flat land between the mountains is very manageable, even for

the very unfit or generously proportioned. The two Lac villages and Poom Coong village are idyllic locations, made up of stilt houses and populated by a majority of Tai Don (White Thai) people. Many of the houses have their own troupe of chickens and cows, and are quick to invite visitors in for tea. There are traditional weaved products to buy, homestays to inhabit and barbequed mountain pigs to eat.

A Green Retreat As Sapa falls ever deeper into the clutches of commercialisation, the valleys of Mai Chau and its sparsely populated villages are an essential and welcome respite from city life. Easy to get to, and with plenty to see and do, Hoa Binh is one province everyone should set aside a few days to enjoy. | July 2017 Word | 139



t’s uncertain how many resort reviews are written at poolside bars, but this adds another to the tally. It’s mid-June at Amiana Resort Nha Trang, and while text messages from Saigon bring news of heavy rain flooding the streets there, the only water here is the gentle swell lapping up against the shore just metres away from the bar. Across the bay are the lights of the city centre of Nha Trang, eight kilometres away. From a rooftop, the strobe light atop the Skylight beach club along Nha Trang’s beachfront strip probes the balmy, early evening sky. Occasionally it flashes in this direction. While a night of partying and excess is off the cards, it’s nice to know the option is there if the mood changes. But really, there is no need to leave this spot.

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Five-Star Luxury Amiana Resort is a five-star luxury property situated at the far northern end of stunning Nha Trang Bay, 45km from Cam Ranh International Airport. Directly offshore is Turtle Island, where much of Nha Trang’s diving and snorkelling happens. Amiana’s courtesy van delivers you at the resort lobby in under an hour from the airport. It’s also available for guests going into the centre of town. First impressions last, and the Amiana’s elevated lobby makes a good one. Spacious and breezy with a high-pitched roof and wooden ceiling fans, its design draws you straight to the water feature on the ocean side of the building, which turns out to be the roof of the resort’s only restaurant, the Bacara Restaurant. If you stand in the right position, the

water feature seemingly stretches to infinity out across the bay and towards the many islands not far offshore. The feature achieves two important things on arrival at the resort. One, it provides an immediate sense of what guests are in for during their stay — sun, water and luxury. Two, it demonstrates how the Amiana does its best to harmonise with its natural surroundings. The tropical gardens come almost up to the water and conceal buildings behind their frangipani trees and coconut palms. While in the resort grounds there are some magnificent rock formations created by lava flows from a long time ago. There are 155 rooms and villas at Amiana. Of those, 110 are deluxe or ocean deluxe villas, either 65sqm or 70sqm with garden views; 20 ocean villas at 80sqm; 16 family villas at 120sqm with garden views; three

Amiana Resort Nha Trang


pool villas at a whopping 450sqm; and then there is the ultimate in luxury, six ocean pool villas at 450 sqm with three bedrooms, kitchens, and ocean views with private pools.

Simplicity at its Core A highlight of Amiana is that it achieves luxury through simplicity. The deluxe villas at the lower end of the price range (starting around VND5 million per night) are designed so that guests can move freely from the bedroom to the outdoor bath and shower through two sets of sliding doors. With the high-pitched bamboo thatched ceilings, it allows the villas to feel far more spacious than their 80 square metres. The simplicity is also noticeable in the decor. The rooms and villas have stone or timber flooring — some have both — with

solid dark timber doors, rafters, ceiling fans and furniture; you could be mistaken for thinking you are in Bali, minus the overdose of Buddha figurines. A thoughtful touch is the concealment of air-conditioning vents behind timber panelling. The rest of the furnishings are kept to a minimum, particularly in the en-suite and outdoor bath and shower area, where you can literally get back to nature and take a bath (sculpted out of stone) under the stars. Beyond the rooms and villas, the simplicity extends throughout the resort, but in no way takes anything away from the experience. It’s very difficult to get lost here as the Amiana’s design has been well thought out; paths are clearly marked, and nothing is more than a short walk or electric buggy ride away.

As for amenities, the Amiana has three swimming pools; one is replenished regularly with seawater from the bay. Another is outside the spacious Bacara restaurant and is the perfect place to eat what is perhaps one of the best buffet breakfasts in Vietnam. The third pool has a bar and views to die for across the bay to the west. The Amiana also has its own private beach where the water is crystal clear, sand is white and fish swim in and out around your legs. It’s one of the only resorts in Vietnam to have its own mud baths at its day spa, an interesting prelude to a full body massage. Although this adds up to a fabulous resort experience, the success of the Amiana comes down to one thing, and that is, that when it’s fully booked, it doesn’t feel like anyone is here. I’ll drink to that. — Matt Cowan | July 2017 Word | 141



here are seven days in a week, but unfortunately I’m here for just one. Work dictates that getting on a flight somewhere isn’t an option. Enter a staycation at Le Méridien Saigon; it ticks everything on the list for an awesome stay away from home — great location along the Saigon River, five-star amenities, luxurious rooms, and fantastic buffet options.

Sophistication Through Simplicity On arrival it’s surprising how Le Méridien manages to maintain a quiet and peaceful atmosphere, something integral for a satisfying staycation in Saigon. From the outside, the building looks intimidating suggesting things here are serious, however, upon entrance, that changes. The staff are

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warm and welcoming — they are attentive without being bothersome. The concept of the hotel is comfort, which is achieved through simplicity. Yet the blend of red, yellow, gold, bronze, and orange accents throughout the property screams sophistication. With over 300 rooms and seven different room styles for guests to choose from, there are plenty of options for the discerning staycationer. For example, there is the Premier Classic room, which starts at around VND3 million, but for something with a better view of the river and District 2 in the distance, there is the Premier Classic River View room for an extra VND500,000 per night depending on the season. The room has a minimalist design, yet the colours and furnishings complement each

other well. Whatever the style of room, from the Premier Classic River View rooms to the VND8 million Grand Suites, they meet the needs and tastes of a variety of travellers. There are rooms perfect for solo travellers, couples on retreat, families, and groups of friends. You even get a free bottle of wine to kick off your staycation in style if you stay in the Grand Suites, after which you can crawl into your king-sized bed and surround yourself in the crispy white linen sheets. One noticeable thing about this hotel is that every time you come out of the lift, you feel as if you’re in a gallery. There are different art installations on each floor, which is a departure from many other hotels of its kind, with the added bonus that it helps you maintain your bearings in the hotel.

Le Méridien Saigon


Even the huge wall hiding the lifts is adorned with wall installations depicting eight cranes taking flight all the way up to the top floor. The number of cranes not only symbolises good luck — the number eight is good luck in Vietnam — they represent the physical shape of Vietnam’s landmass.

Finding Yourself The ninth floor is where most of the amenities are; the Explore Spa — named in tune with Le Méridien’s concept, which is Unlocking Saigon — the gym, the pool, and one of the hotel’s restaurants, Bamboo Chic. Upon entering this floor, you’ll be greeted by shiny, colourful tiles adorning the walls and the floor which immediately conjure up images of the sea. For health buffs, the gym is open 24

hours, with personal trainers available during business hours. Explore Spa is beautifully appointed with highlyqualified therapists who are adept at reducing stress levels. The infinity-edge pool is filled with saltwater, which is better for your skin and hair than water treated with chlorine, and is open from as early as 6am until 10pm. Although the pool isn’t for divers, as it is only four feet deep, it’s still suitable for swimmers who’d like to cut a few laps before their buffet breakfast. The pool area is great for lounging around in, as it also offers views of the city on both sides. The hotel has two restaurants, two bars with lounges (one for club members only), one grab-and-go café, which offers 50 percent off cakes and pastries at happy hour

from 6pm to 7pm. If you don’t want to leave your bed, room service is available to cure your midnight cravings. The buffet breakfast is served at Latest Recipe restaurant. Pastry lovers will love this breakfast spread, as there is a wide selection of bread and cakes. Eggs are done just as you wish with a side of extra crispy bacon. There are different noodles options, cold cuts, and a selection of cheeses. Who says vacations should be spent somewhere afar? A staycation at Le Méridien Saigon can offer relaxation close to home that other destinations can’t possibly offer. And besides, you just need to treat yourself sometimes. — JB Jance Le Méridien is at 3C Ton Duc Thang, Q1, HCMC. For more information click on or call (028) 6263 6688 | July 2017 Word | 143

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

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

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

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

Tel: (024) 3831 5555

over the lake. Great gym and health club.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

Equatorial also has an onsite casino.



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


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

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




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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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



has the landscaped pool.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HUE & LANG CO ANGSANA LANG CO $$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien Hue, Tel: (0234) 369 5800

Located on Vietnam’s South Central Coast, Angsana Lang Co commands an unrivalled beach frontage of the shimmering East Sea. Traditional Vietnamese design encompasses the resort’s contemporary buildings and chic interiors.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

PHAN THIET & MUI NE COCO BEACH $$$$ 58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: (0252) 384 7111 With charming wooden bungalows, a private beach, a swimming pool (both with attached bars) and a French restaurant, Coco Beach continues to be run by those

who opened it in 1995.

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

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

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


Binh, Tel: 01299 597182

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

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

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

$$ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang | July 2017 Word | 145


Day Tripper: Tu Son / The Therapist / Bar Stool / Coffee Cup / Women's Fitness / Pets' Corner / Starting a Family / Book Buff Photo by Julie Vola

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Hanoi Essentials

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




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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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





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


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

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



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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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




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

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

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

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

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

w ne r fe f o

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


Read in Comfort

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

We know, we all make tough choices every day.


But, we know you will make the right decision.

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


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


6 mon th s VND 5 0 0, 0 0 0 or 12 mon th s VND 1, 0 0 0, 0 0 0 Email: *Only valid for central Districts of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. | July 2017 Word | 149


Edward Dalton takes it easy with a day trip to the birthplace of Ly Thai To. Photos by Julie Vola


u Son is a town in Bac Ninh Province, around 20km northeast of the centre of Hanoi. An unassuming entry on the map, it’s home to one of the most important shrines in the region, where the Ly Dynasty and its founder are venerated in opulent surroundings.

A New Era When Ly Cong Uan took over as Emperor from the tyrannical and extravagant Nerolike Le Long Dinh in 1009, a new era of Vietnamese society dawned. Moving the capital to Hanoi, and bringing Confucian and Buddhist values back into the fold, the Ly Dynasty lasted for over 200 years. As founder of the dynasty, Ly Cong Uan,

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or Ly Thai To as he later became known, now takes centre position as the subject of adulation in Tu Son, the town in which he was born. The main shrine at Den Do (also known as Den Ly Bat De) was built in the 11th century, and is the focal point for this worship. There are statues and shrines to each of the nine rulers of the Ly Dynasty; eight emperors plus the only empress regent in Vietnam’s history, Ly Chieu Hoang. It’s a beautiful complex, complete with mango trees, open courtyards and an everpresent aroma of incense. The rain ensures we are the only visitors there to enjoy the collection of shrines, Half-Moon Lake,

water pavilion and Five Dragon Gate. However, as with so many of Vietnam’s national relics, it was almost completely destroyed by war in 1952, and as such, much of what we see today was rebuilt during a renovation project which started in 1989.

Spiritual Town Den Do is not the only national relic or centre of worship worth a visit in Tu Son. There’s Chua Co Phap, a Buddhist pagoda with a collection of towers similar to those in Hanoi’s ancient Tran Quoc Pagoda. Each tower has Chinese characters created with hundreds of pieces of broken ceramics, creating a stunning

Tu Son

visage from every angle. Just up the road is the Dinh Bang Communal Hall, one of the largest and most iconic village communal houses in the country. Built in the early 18th century, it was originally used for worshipping the spirits of the mountains and water, as well as the God of agriculture. Also functioning as a meeting hall, visitors can have a wander around inside for VND15,000 each. The two custodians of the hall, a couple of cheerful elderly women, welcomed us with genuine enthusiasm. We joined them for tea, and they even brought us a plate and a knife, so we

could cut up and share the mangos we found on the floor at Den Do.

Pagoda Hunting About 2km away, Den Dam is a modest temple located in the centre of a large horseshoe-shaped lake, while the nearby Chua Phu Luu, Chua Nhan Tho and Cam Giang Church provide more opportunities for those seeking somewhere peaceful to walk around or chill out. The town has several big restaurants, cute cafÊs and bustling bia hois, and is reachable in around 35 minutes by motorbike. For a cheeky afternoon away from the city centre, Tu Son is ideal. — Edward Dalton

Getting There From Long Bien Bridge, follow Ngoc Thuy and then Gia Thuong along the river until you get to Duong Bridge. Cross it and follow Ha Huy Tap Street all the way to Tu Son | July 2017 Word | 151


Dear Douglas, I am a 26-year-old Vietnamese woman. I hope you can help me. When I was a child, I was sexually molested at different times by three men. It was when I was six, nine and 11 years old. I never told anyone what happened to me. I have never had a boyfriend, even though at times I have had a crush on someone. I have always been too afraid to get close. I am afraid I will have to tell him that I was sexually molested and that he wouldn’t want me. I am also afraid to have someone touch me because I think it will remind me of what happened with those men. For a long time I have ignored this problem, instead focusing on work and other things. But now my family is pressuring me to find a husband and to have children. I cannot tell them what happened and do not want to disappoint my parents. My mother will feel sad if I do not become a mother. I am not sure that I want a husband or children, but it is difficult to be single in Vietnam. Sometimes I feel so confused and lost that I cannot sleep and think over the same things again and again. What should I do? — Lost Dear Lost, I am glad that you are looking for support and ways to feel better, even when you

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are facing difficult things from your life. I can give you some ideas, but these are issues that can best be addressed in therapy, where you have more time and understanding to resolve the past and the fears that it brings up in you now. It is the responsibility of adults to protect children, so when an adult sexually violates a child it makes it difficult for a child to know who and how to trust. You are living with a secret that causes isolation and fear. It makes trusting another with intimacy more difficult to do. One of the aspects of therapy is to first understand and to become aware of what is going on in a person’s inner life. You are able to realize that it is fear that is keeping you from seeking out a partner. Your fears are a predictable result of having been violated. They are part of how you have learned to protect yourself. But they also cause a conflict, because, like most people, you want the freedom to decide what is right for you — to have a partner and a family, or not. The fears become an obstacle, a mountain that blocks the way in which you can see what is right for you. So, sometimes we have a mountain to climb to overcome our fears. We have to face them and go through the feeling, to take the risk, in order to gain the control of our life. It is not fair that you should have to do this because the cause of your fear


is not your fault. You have the right to be angry and frustrated that this mountain is in your way, but you did nothing to put it there. But to avoid it is also a risk that you will not know what is right for you because you cannot know what is on the other side of the mountain. To face fears alone is difficult. A psychologist is one person who can help you to understand what is realistic in the ways that you decide for yourself what to do, and when to do it. Overcoming fears is difficult, but is also a way that we can feel a certain kind of reward for ourselves. To overcome sexual abuse is to take back the life that is ours and to not let the abuse we have experienced steal more from us than it already has. Maybe many people in your life will never know what you have to overcome. It is your personal journey. It is up to you to find your way. But do not feel that you have to do it alone. Seek the support from someone who knows about this and knows how to encourage and support you to face the challenges that are part of your life. I wish you well, — Douglas Do you have a question you would like Douglas’s help with? You can email him at Personal details will not be printed

Hanoi On the Town

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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BAR STOOL Rigoletto Shiraz, 14% alcohol, product of Australia; One Tree Plain, 14% alcohol, product of Australia Rosevasion, 13% alcohol, product of France; Culemborg Chenin Blanc, 10.5% alcohol, product of South Africa


ucked away in a French colonial villa on a Hoan Kiem backstreet, Tierra Wine Bar has the feel of a high-class speakeasy. With no natural light and ultra chilledout electronic music, the brick walls have been stripped of plaster drywall and the original tiles left untouched. Mood lighting permeates both rooms, giving the place an intense air of sophistication. Little touches, such as a glass table filled

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with wine corks and a wall with a facade crafted of wine crates, remind you of Tierra’s stock in trade. Since its opening a year and a half ago, owner Dang Nga said the intention was to affordably introduce wine to Hanoians who hadn’t yet grown a taste for that particular vice. Costs are kept low, partially because Nga is also in the import business. “We want to build a concept with the fine wines from all over the world, with

reasonable prices, and introduce to as many people as we can, even people who never knew before about wine," she added. Some 60 wines are on the menu, ranging from a VND380,000 Australian Cabernet to a VND3.86 million 2011 Chateau Canon. Wines from across the world are represented, although there is a special emphasis on Bordeaux.

Good Wine, Good Food The wine, however, is only half the story.

Tierra Wine Bar


With a full kitchen at hand, a large menu of French-inspired dishes can keep drinkers lingering for a lengthy meal. Diners may start a meal with a platter of cheese and cold cuts with a bottle of wine (VND500,000), with the cheese imported directly from France. Salads, some heavier than others, include salmon Nicoise (VND188,000) and the shrimp Avo (VND228,000). Main course offerings are extensive

and mostly western. Grilled US beef steak (VND258,000 for 140 grams, VND308,000 for 180 grams), as well as the roasted duck breast (VND298,000) are both served in mushroom sauce. A salmon fillet is served with orange butter sauce (VND358,000). The menus also offers six pasta options, including carbonara (VND188,000) and vegetarian pasta (VND128,000). Most dishes are western, although for a touch of Southeast Asia, order the

deep-fried tiger prawns with almonds ad Thai chili sauce (VND358,000) or the stirfried beef with asparagus and mushrooms (VND338,000). The food is designed to pair well with wine, and the dozens of options don’t make that difficult. As Nga explained, bringing out the enjoyment in wine is Tierra’s mission. “We are not only selling the wine, we want to introduce the wine culture,” said Nga. — Bennett Murray | July 2017 Word | 155

Hanoi On the Town

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

breakfasts and an extensive wine list.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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


PHO CUON 26 Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh

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


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


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

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


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



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



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


BANH CUON 14 Hang Ga, Hoan Kiem




SAUTEED BEEF PHO 13 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung

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

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


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


dish from our luncheon set menu 300,000vnd net Canadian Cedar Planked Salmon 16 Quang An - Tay Ho - Hanoi | Tel: (84-24) 3 719 2828 | 3 719 3719 | | July 2017 Word | 157



IKA Cafe is one of those places which could cause someone to question whether or not they are cool enough to hang out there. The variety in customers chilling out inside at any given time is a testimony to FIKA’s mission statement; to be a home for you.

Shoot the Breeze FIKA is made up of several enclosed areas spread across three floors and a rooftop terrace. Each area seems to attract a certain clique. There are the two young guys with ash-grey dye-jobs comparing lenses on their vintage Leica cameras.

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There’s the couple slouched on the sofa, the female half scrunched into the foetal positon, asleep on the male half’s shoulder. And of course, there are various gaggles of young people, all partaking in the day’s chem gio (gossip) session. Each room of the café follows the same theme; there are white walls, some crisp and covered in abstract black-and-white wall hangings, while others are enclosed by glass panels and feature simple, bare masonry with some white paint slapped across with last year’s paint brush. There are plants in every room, lots of natural and synthetic light, and the twin holy

grails of the modern Hanoi café in the height of summer; good WiFi and powerful air-con. There’s even a smoking room; although unless the idea of being hotboxed into a tobacco coma by a group of matcha-fuelled university students sounds pleasant, best to stay out of it.

Instagram Beverages The coffee options bounce between Italian and Vietnamese, with all the usual favourites present and accounted for. The café latte (VND50,000) is a silky affair, a good blend with a slight undertone of bitter chocolate. As one of many cafés which have



jumped on the coconut coffee bandwagon, FIKA offers a tall, icy blended version for VND45,000. It’s the highlight of the selection of drinks they have, by a long way. Sweet, rich and still packing a good hit of coffee flavour. For something hot but without the caffeine boost, the hot chocolate (VND50,000) tastes luxurious; real cocoa, rather than an all-inone chocolate/sugar/milk powder mix. The heart art on the foam is a nice touch. The prize for the drink with the most mysterious name goes to the Ocean Salt Cheese Milk Tea (VND50,000). It’s an iced tea, presented in a typical trendy style, with

the cloud of milk on top merging with the dark, golden brown tea below. It just tastes like a cold tea with milk; refreshing, and not too bitter or sweet. There’s a good selection of colourful fruit juices and smoothies, with the option to create mixes of your choice. The boldsounding Full Mango (VND60,000) is, to all intents and purposes, a mango smoothie; it’s fruity, smooth and packed with ice; perfect for a hot day.

Relax FIKA Café ticks all of the boxes; it’s a great place to study or work, but equally suited to

hanging out with friends or having a midafternoon break. There is music, but it’s not too loud. The drinks menu is geared towards simplicity and variety, with plenty of options in teas, smoothies, ice blends, yoghurt drinks and coffee. With an interior design taking inspiration from the Nordic style, FIKA is everything it set out to be; a gentle, simple and attractive place to chill out. — Edward Dalton FIKA Café is located at 50 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung. Open daily from 8am until 11pm. For more information, call 0168 5687641 or facebook. com/fikacaféhanoi | July 2017 Word | 159



or a long time it was believed that when a woman became pregnant that she should give up all forms of exercise for the full duration of pregnancy. It was thought to be unhealthy for the woman and unsafe for the unborn child. Now, it is believed that keeping fit and staying active right up until you give birth is essential for the health of the mother and unborn child. Working out is perfectly safe and recommended while pregnant as it’s one of the best ways to minimize the aches, pains and discomfort that you may experience during your pregnancy. If you were training regularly before you became pregnant, it’s important that you continue working out during your pregnancy and if you weren’t training before pregnancy this is a very good time to start. Keep in mind that during pregnancy your limbs become softer and more supple. Along with changes in your body shape, this can make you more prone to injury, so the routines you were doing before will need to be altered when you are pregnant. Since pregnancy greatly reduces what you can do aerobically, walking or aqua aerobics is one of your best options.

Benefits of Aqua Aerobics While Pregnant — The buoyancy of the water supports your

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body frame when working out. The support that water gives takes the strain off your joints and muscles along with lessening backaches. — As it can get very hot in summer in Vietnam and in the south it can be hot for most of the year, working out in water keeps your body cool and stops you from overheating. It will also decrease any swelling of joints. If you don’t have access to an indoor pool make sure you choose the coolest part of the day to workout in water if outside. I would recommend first thing in the morning or late afternoon. — Water aerobics provides core strength, stability and posture. The resistance of the water during aqua aerobics strengthens your abdominal and lower back muscles which helps with stability and posture throughout your pregnancy. — Regular water exercise may have the potential to make delivery easier. A small study published in the medical journal Reproductive Health by researchers in Brazil found that for women who regularly did aqua-aerobics, a smaller percentage needed epidural for pain relief during pregnancy compared to those that didn’t exercise at all. — Water exercise improves circulation and decreases varicose veins and haemorrhoids. The pressure of the water combined with the movement of your muscles helps return blood from the veins in the lower extremities.


The hydrostatic force that is produced from the water while working out increases uterine blood flow that is essential to grow a healthy baby and placenta. — Gastrointestinal problems may be decreased due to the movement with gravity that helps improve digestive system function which can become problematic by the presence of a foetus. — Women may start to feel isolated while pregnant due to not venturing out as much. Aqua-aerobics provides a social setting to meet other expecting mothers with similar interests and hobbies, which can provide a support system along with motivation to get you out of the house on a regular basis. Aqua-aerobics is the perfect form of exercise before, during and after pregnancy. Make sure you consult your doctor before starting any exercise routine during pregnancy, and train with a qualified aqua-aerobics trainer specialising in working with pregnant women to assist you in designing a pregnancy-specific programme. Amazin is a Prana Samyama meditation Yin Yoga teacher and performance coach having trained Olympic athletes to special forces. She is also a former natural competitive bodybuilder and the first Vietnamese internationally published health and fitness author and DNA fitness trainer. For more info click on



he sticky, humid days of summer are here at last. Vets all over Vietnam are providing important safety tips explaining everything from symptoms of heat stroke to reminders to not leave dogs in parked cars. Summer in the cities of Vietnam is uniquely challenging for dog owners since the humidity and lack of shade makes prolonged exposure to the outdoors uncomfortable, with few designated dog areas for being able to cool down once outside. So, how can owners continue to give their canine companions vital mental and physical stimulation during the hottest days of summer?

Pup-cicles Dogs are genetically programmed to hunt for their food, but when many pet dogs are simply fed from a dish, they’re not benefiting from the challenge of this most basic instinct. Since boredom is a huge precursor for behaviour problems, why not give your canine companion a fun problem to solve; how to get their grub? One inexpensive option is to freeze stuffable chew-toys and make them into toysicles for your pup to enjoy, both when you’re

home, or when you have to leave them alone in the house. By cooling your pups daily ration of kibble, along with some tasty treats, then stuffing it into a tough chew toy such as a Kong or other similar food dispensing toy, you’re providing your dog a challenging way to get their meal that can take hours to devour, and also help keep them cool. You can increase the difficulty and value of these chew toys gradually by using peanut butter, cream cheese or even baby food as a matrix of sorts, mixing it all together with your dogs kibble, stuffing it into several fooddispensing toys, then freezing the toys over night with the packed goodies inside. The next morning, the toys will be rock-solid and ready for your dog to eagerly annihilate. You can even disperse the toys throughout the house to make a fun scavenger hunt that’ll take up an entire afternoon.

Cafe Hop Dog-friendly businesses do exist in both Hanoi and Saigon, and bringing your pup to a café with shaded outdoor seating can be a good way to beat the heat. Plus, it’s important to support these dog-friendly places whenever possible. Even though they’re not engaged in play, settling in


a public place is a great way to socialize your dog to noises, sounds and smells while on-leash, and it also provides opportunities for you to work on your dog’s basic behaviours, such as a solid down-stay in a distracting environment. Simply watching the world go by while chilling out can provide enough mental stimulation to tire your pup out. These aren’t meant to replace the exercise and daily stimulation that outdoor exercise provides, but during the hottest days, they can offer a muchneeded reprieve while still keeping your canine companion enriched and happy. Are there any secret watering holes or dog-friendly business you love to frequent in Vietnam? Share your favourite resources and tips to help others keep their canines cool the next few months! Maria Skorobogatov is an animal behaviourist with 10-plus years of applied training and behaviour experience. Focusing on family pets, she uses humane, sciencebased training and behaviour modification techniques that can be easily followed at home. For more info email mskorobogatov@ | July 2017 Word | 161







he SnapBack is the latest trend to hit new mothers in modernday society. While I am all for mothers regaining their figure back, the SnapBack has mothers wanting to miraculously lose their baby weight within weeks of giving birth. Mothers, please be kind to yourself and your body and especially your baby. I understand that being unable to fit into your old pair of favorite jeans or never being able to ever wear a bikini again because of stretch marks or uneven breasts is a trauma within itself, never mind the havoc wreaked internally. But you need to remember that your body has just done the most incredible thing the human body can do. You’ve given life to another. You produced a little miracle all within your womb and brought it into this world. I understand that in today’s world, we are overwhelmed with models and celebrity mothers who seemingly lose the weight overnight. Not remembering that these women have money and trainers at their disposal. And that their body is their brand, is their livelihood. Stop comparing yourself to this unrealistic standard of what a woman should be. Don’t make a comparison with somebody else today; make a comparison with yourself yesterday. I may not agree with losing the weight hours after giving birth, but women generally fall into three categories. 1) You’ve got a little baby pouch you want to get rid of and just haven’t found the time 2) You’ve let yourself go. 3) You’re obese.

The Weight Loss Journey These are not easy truths to read, but if your child is 12 years old and you’re still blaming them and your husband, and holding onto old resentments and weight, perhaps now is the time to make a change. You must remember it took nine hearty months to put on this weight, so take those same nine months to lose the weight. Trying fads, and quick-fix, lose-theweight and you can eat anything you like diets will only have you feeling worse about yourself and probably gaining more weight. What you need is a sustainable lifestyle change. Embarking on any new venture is difficult, and doing this alone will be harder, so here are a few tips to help you begin and maintain your weight loss journey.

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— First and foremost begin with my personal favourite, PP method. Plan and Prepare. Plan your meals for the week, so you know what you’re going to eat. This way you can avoid unhealthy snacking, or fast food / take-outs because you’re too tired or can’t think of anything to eat or prepare. — My second favourite motto, look at the body you want, look at the food you’re eating, and adjust accordingly. Stay away from soda, sweets, sugar and the kind of food you know is bad for your body. — Ask your husband or friend to join you. You can support each other and watch what you eat and have someone there to help you and hold you accountable to your weight loss journey. — Drink lots of water. — You have to do some form of exercise. You don’t have to compete in a marathon, but walk to the supermarket instead of using your motorbike, or cycle there. If you’re going to get a slice of cake after lunch as a naughty treat, you’d better walk to get that cake, enjoy it and walk back. — Invest a small amount of money, if you

have it, in either joining the gym, or starting a Zumba or spinning class. If you have the money, why not employ a personal trainer to help you along the way? — It’s always a good idea to see a nutritionist to help you devise a realistic and sustainable meal plan. — Decide how much weight you want to lose. Say you want to lose 12kg. Then set yourself up for six months or one year. Either 2kgs a month, that you lose and keep off, or 1kg a month, that you lose and keep off. It sounds like a long time, but would you rather try losing 7kgs in two months, possibly succeed by starving or using a very unhealthy diet. Give up and gain 12kgs more, or do it the right way, the healthy way? Losing weight is not easy. You’ve just given birth. Be gentle to yourself when looking in the mirror. You have a healthy baby, and a loving partner. These are the important things in life. Remember to be present and enjoy them. If you would like more tips or would like to read about my personal journey please contact me at



f I ever get around to writing my Vietnamese novel it will ooze with snippets about food. Foremost it will mention my most memorable sweet treat; hot sugarcane fished from a drum of steaming ginger syrup on a freezing night on a mountain track above Bac Me where, with a huddle of villagers, we squat around a fire and gnaw.

Food of the Gods A historical tale that tantalizes the taste buds and is confected with social issues is Joanne Harris’ Chocolat. Set in a French village in a past when the Catholic Church hierarchy ruled peoples’ lives, the main character, Vianne Rocher, is a young single mother. She is the catalyst for an eruption of patriarchal fury from the villainous parish priest when she arrives in Lansquenet-sous-Tannes at the beginning of Lent with her six-year-old daughter. Horror of horrors, she refuses to attend confession or mass. She sets up a chocolate shop and seduces a swag of parishioners with her culinary genius, her white rum truffles, her nipples of Venus and her gingerbread houses “with the detail piped on in silver and gold icing, roof tiles of Florentines studded with crystallized fruits, strange vines of icing and chocolate growing up the walls, marzipan birds singing in chocolate trees.” Then there’s her seductive view of spirituality. As one reviewer puts it: The story echoes those folk tales in which the Devil, disguised as an amiable stranger, seduces the upstanding citizens of a village by awakening their appetite for pleasure. But in Chocolat, Harris plays a variation on this theme, illuminating the awful things that can happen when we neglect the satisfactions of this world for the promise of a better one. Her amiable stranger stands on the side of earthly

angels. Where Reynaud sees weeds, Vianne sees flowers. Where he sees sinners, she sees fallible humanity: “I don't think there is such a thing as a good or bad Christian… Only good or bad people.” Where he uses the fires of hell to control the saved and the fires of earth to rid the town of outcasts, Vianne uses the fire in her kitchen to cook and to nurture.

Edible Luminosity Another cuisinely historical novel is The Book of Salt by Viet Kieu author Monique Truong. Set in 1930s Paris, it has as its central character my favourite Vietnamese chef. Binh is gay and in the apt words of an infatuated reviewer, Binh describes food luminously. “Quinces are ripe when they are the yellow of canary wings in midflight…” “A tart is better, uncomplicated, in the wrong hands even a bit rough. Like an American boy, I would imagine.” The author got her inspiration from a reference in The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook to two Indochinese cooks who worked for Toklas and Gertrude Stein. Binh, a refugee from his father’s homophobic wrath in Saigon, is hired as a chef by the Sapphic celebrities. About one of Binh’s dishes Stein writes: “When he spoke of bitter melons steamed with the brineplumped tongues of one hundred ducks… I tasted parsimony and extravagance commingled on a single plate.” The word salt in the novel’s title refers to sweat, sea, food, and tears, the ingredients that make up the complex recipe that is Binh. He drinks to excess, nocturnally wanders the city, remembers and recounts stories from his homeland that are as delicious as his cooking, and even has an encounter on a Paris bridge with another refugee, Nguyen Ai Quoc — the alias of the soon-to-be thorn in the French colonial foot, Ho Chi Minh.


As another food loving reviewer states: there is perhaps no place so romantic as colonial Indochina or antebellum Paris, and by the end of The Book of Salt one hungers desperately for both. And perhaps even more, one hungers for one of Binh's extraordinary repasts. The novel’s sub-themes stir around colonial racism and xenophobia, the plight of the immigrant who lacks the language and accepted physical features of his host nation, and, of course, the historical LBGT dilemma.

Big Ass Sweeties Famous quotes by The Sweet Potato Queens (a women's organization that has over 6,000 active groups in over 20 countries) in their series of books by the original Queen, Jill Connor Brown, include: “Say it loud; we’re fat and proud; chocolate is the main staple of sedative food; menopause is yet another reason to start a trust fund for yourself while you're young.” One compulsively sweet and salty reviewer says of The Sweet Potato Queens’ Big Ass Cookbook and Financial Planner that: “These are my kind of recipes. You know you can’t go wrong when the four major food groups for the Queens are sweet, salty, fried and au gratin. If the recipes don’t have a couple of sticks of butter then there’s at least a pound of bacon in them. Nearly all of the recipes are quick and easy to make too.” Some recipes to die for: Pig Candy, garlic and mozzarella Stinky Bread, Death Chicken, Linda’s Killer Cake and Miss Lexie’s Pineapple casserole. Connor’s most recent book is The Sweet Potato Queens’ Wedding Planner/ Divorce Guide. Truong Hoang is behind the bookshop, Bookworm. For more info click on or visit their shop at 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Hanoi | July 2017 Word | 163

Ho Chi Minh City

Location, Location, Location / Body and Temple / Girl About Town / Medical Buff / Bar Stool / Coffee Cup / Know Your City / Terence Taylor’s Saigon Stories / Top Eats Photo by Bao Zoan

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ith over 40,000 condominiums being launched in 2017 and 2018 in Ho Chi Minh City alone, is ‘bubble trouble’ on the cards for the city’s already heated real estate market? Depending on who you listen to the answers vary. So where is the most desirable real estate investment location in the region today?

Making Waves Real estate is a cycle — and every cycle has its ups and downs. It’s your ability to understand where we are in the cycle that will give you what you need. Like the repetition of seasons, breakfast, and that annoying friend who keeps asking you for money, real estate follows a pattern that can be observed and thus predicted. However, unlike the consistency of autumn or the regularity of pancakes, the real estate cycle moves at its own pace, and that is the true challenge to predict. Vietnam’s residential real estate market

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is well past its historic property bubble implosion of 2011 and buyers are riding a wave of streamlined access to credit, low inflation rates, and some of the highest economic growth rates in ASEAN. Playing no small role in the positive buying sentiment is a booming middle class, coupled with laxer ownership laws for foreigners. In 2015, the country opened up investments in real estate to overseas Vietnamese, foreign investment funds, and international firms operating in Vietnam permitting a tsunami of investment to gather momentum.

The Four Phases of Real Estate According to a recent Harvard blog post, real estate typically moves through four phases before going back and repeating again. Those phases can be described as: Recovery, Expansion, Hyper Supply and Recession. It appears that Vietnam is showing signs of a buoy bobbing up and down in the waves between Expansion and Hyper Supply.


If you were paying attention to American real estate in the mid2000s, you’ll recognize this era was characterized by skyrocketing prices, mass building projects, and by everyone and their brother wanting to buy real estate. For the sake of all let’s hope investors and developers in Vietnam are not basing their numbers on the belief that rents will continue to rise and for speculators who have paid at or above market price that a magical property fairy will allow them to “flip” their properties for a profit. Everyone is a genius in a bull market. That said, this game of musical chairs will soon come to an end, the music will stop, and many people will be left without a chair. Just make sure you are sitting down first. Greg Ohan is the Director of JLL, a leading global real estate services firm in Vietnam specializing in real estate. Email your questions to or visit



oes the widespread saying: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” hold any truth? The belief that breakfast is the most important meal is now so ingrained into modern culture that, like most nutritional beliefs, we never question if this is accurate or how it came into existence. The word breakfast simply means breaking the fast from the last meal the evening before, perhaps with a 10 or 12-hour gap. From this definition we are really talking about time of the first meal, whenever that happens.

Fact and Fiction It is crucial to understand how this modern belief came into existence. It turns out it was a slogan coined by Seventh Day Adventists James Caleb Jackson and John Harvey Kellogg in the mid-19th century, and if the latter name sounds familiar, it is because the two men were selling their newly developed breakfast cereal foodstuffs. So, no science, just the food industry making money. The modern-day concept of breakfast is misguided. Professor Terence Kealey states: “Humans did not naturally eat in the morning. As a result, our body provides a spike in blood sugar to cope with the



natural fast we have. So, if we eat breakfast, which in the West is usually full of carbs (i.e. sugar) and other foods of low nutritional value, then our blood sugar levels rocket up, which also increases our insulin resistance, eventually leading to fat gain and type 2 diabetes”. The promoters of Intermittent Fasting rationalize that eating breakfast increases your hunger throughout the day and makes it more likely for you to eat more calories throughout the whole day. Other analysts have stated that many of the studies which try to prove that breakfast is good for us are flawed for two reasons; first, they are nearly always funded by Kellogg’s or similar, and second, they are based on correlation not causation.

morning for optimal health and ideal body composition. For us it is a focus on nutrients in particular vitamins, minerals and water. With this in mind, conventional breakfasts are absolutely terrible for us. Whether you eat breakfast or not, you must hydrate and provide the nutrients your body requires. Our body holds stored energy, in the form of fat; why not use that in the morning to fuel activity? Provide your system the essentials it needs to thrive (water, vitamins and minerals) to break the fast (breakfast) and then feed yourself the best type of calories once you’ve been moving around for a little bit. How you set up your day should be a result of what you want to achieve and your personal preferences, but ideal health comes down to more than whether you have breakfast or not. It is clear that the conventional concept of breakfast is not based on science and that our biology and evolution suggests there are better routines and many more options when considering both a healthy and fat-loss start to the day. Phil is founder and master trainer at Body Expert Systems. Contact him on 0934 782763, at his website bodyexpertsystems. com or through Star Fitness (

Right Place, Right Time Here at Body Expert Systems we believe that no one meal is more important than another. However, how you start your day is extremely important, as this sets your body and autoregulatory system up to either burn fat or store fat. The time of eating really is all about body composition and how you feel. Health can be taken care of by simply giving the body all the vitamins and minerals it needs regardless of the time you consume them. Therefore, calories are not important in the | July 2017 Word | 167

HCMC Essentials

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

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



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


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



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


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


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


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

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


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



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

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

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

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


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

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


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



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


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


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

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






etting food is a drag when the rain is pelting down outside, or even if it has just stopped and the roads are under water or just plain dangerous. The answer is to let somebody else get wet on your behalf, and these days, Ho Chi Minh City is awash with options for food delivery.

Solution 1: Food Delivery Almost everyone knows about vietnammm. com — it has been in existence for a long time and is probably a staple. The fact that Vietnammm outlasted the internationally established Hungry Panda to survive the challenging emerging Vietnamese market is proof of the quality of this Vietnambased restaurants listing and food delivery platform. Vietnammm connects registered restaurants to users by becoming an extensive food catalogue. Listings on this platform are expatfriendly covering a wide range of various cuisines that appeal to the Western appetite. Shipping fees on top of food prices range from free of charge to VND30,000 depending on restaurants. Delivery time is usually between 40 and 50 minutes if you live in District 1. The latest version of Vietnammm app on iOs allows users to filter cuisines, browse directly on a map showing the exact location of eateries, and sort based on relevant criteria. A new and aggressively growing food delivery option is Deliverynow, powered by the big gamer (a platform that lists and lets users review restaurants and cafes) and thus owns a competitive advantage that can hardly be beaten, in this case the endless listings. While Vietnammm plays the role of an intermediary, Deliverynow is a shipping service with a large team of professional shippers always ready to take orders, buy, and bring the requested food and drink to your doorstep. The shipping fee is calculated based on real distance between the restaurant and the delivery address. While lacking a lot of higher-end, mostly western, restaurants on the list, Deliverynow covers almost the entire lower-medium price category, especially those more relevant to the local palate. They always have plenty of daily and weekly specials going on.

Solution 2: Meal plans Unlike food delivery listing platforms where you have to decide and pick what you want and pay every single time you

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order, meal plans bring you the pleasure of having your entire week worth of food designed and planned ahead and paying it off once and for all. Meal plans come mostly from healthoriented vendors, those specialising in salads and fitness food. These include Eat More Salad, WowBox, GreenS, D’Green Store, FavorBox Saigon, Fitmeal,vn and Smartmeal. As a food lover and explorer, I haven’t had a lot of chances to order from all of them and draw comparisons, but Eat More Salad and WowBox both do a pretty good job, especially Eat More Salad with their menu range and awesome service that I cannot complain about (and I am picky). Ordering meal plans from these stores also gives you more human interaction with whoever is answering the phone/ Facebook message. The downside of meal plans is probably not getting (or having little room) to choose what you want for a particular day or meal; and if you are a social butterfly then some meals will go to waste when you are out celebrating.

Solution 3: Personal Grocery Shopper, available on both website and app, will go to buy your groceries and hand-deliver them. You can browse by stores (supermarket, fresh produce stores, some other boutiques) or by food categories. Even though Chopp has not released an English version, it’s still doable for non-Vietnamese speakers. The user interface, while not the most intuitive, is simple enough for most people to

navigate. Service fee is reasonable. Chau Minh Dang is the founder of SoChaud, a platform born out of her passion for food, travel and everything in between. Follow her at and on Instagram at @sochaudchannel

Vietnammm v. DeliveryNow A comparison between the two food delivery websites / apps. Vietnammm


User account



Number of




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listings Shipping fee

distance Ease of









Website & App



Shipping time

30 to 60

30 to 60



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tracking orders

Minimum order


HCMC Essentials

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Tel: 0932 112694

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: (028) 2226 8855

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

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

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

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

JVK INTERNATIONAL MOVERS 1st Floor, Saigon Port Building, 3 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Tel: (028) 3826 7655 Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is a leader in the field. | July 2017 Word | 171




e all know what happens to a city under siege. As the enemy approaches, the defenders steel themselves to fight to the last man to protect their homes. The battle is fierce, the casualties many. No matter who wins, one thing is for certain, the city itself will sustain significant damage, and perhaps even be left in ruins. This is what happens to the liver during a hepatitis B infection. The virus — a platoon of ugly little organisms that look like lumpy soccer balls — descends on the liver’s hepatic lobules to nest inside them and multiply. Your liver’s natural defences — the heroic immune cells — leap into action, destroying the virus wherever it lurks. In many cases, your immunity prevails, but the real loser ends up being the hepatic lobule itself, which is often demolished in the fighting. If the battle is prolonged (chronic infections are incurable and will rage within your liver for the rest of your life), then the scarring from all this destroyed liver tissue builds up and transforms this soft pink organ into a mottled, hardened wasteland, impairing its ability to filter and purify your blood stream, giving rise to cirrhosis, horrid physical conditions such as bloating and discoloration, and in many cases, cancer of the liver followed by death.

Hepatitis B in Vietnam Unfortunately, Vietnam is a country where hepatitis B is a massive problem. Of the three hepatitis B infection rates recognized by the WHO — low (<1.5% of the population); intermediate (<7.5%); and high (7.5% and above) — the numbers for Vietnam are off the charts. Here in the relatively wealthy city area, the infection rate is somewhere between 8 and 10%; but in the poor countryside, it’s much worse; in some parts, the level hovers around 40%. Transmission of hepatitis B usually happens differently here than it does in Western countries. Overseas, the virus is most commonly spread by sexual contact. It’s also associated with reused drug and tattoo needles, and unscreened blood transfusion (although this is now very rare). In Vietnam, as in many Asian countries, hepatitis B is an endemic condition associated with mother-tochild transmission during birth. It is also connected with hygiene-related concerns, as well as sex without protection. The infection of babies and infants is

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more nefarious in many ways than it is in adults. An adult’s mature immune system responds swiftly to the contraction of hepatitis B, setting off a war that drains the body of its strength and manifests in symptoms similar to influenza or dengue. An adult is likely to overcome the infection in the end and fully recover from the disease. When a small child or baby gets hepatitis B it’s a different story. There’s no battle; the virus simply enters the liver and sets up its occupation with minimal resistance, getting on quietly with the business of building its colony unnoticed from the outside. It’s only years later after the virus has invisibly laid waste to the entire liver, that symptoms start to manifest themselves, by which time it is often too late. In many cases, the only remaining options are limited to undergoing a liver transplant (which are not available in Vietnam) or simply waiting for the end.

Fighting Back So how can we fight back against hepatitis B? There is a vaccine. The Engerix B vaccine enables the body to train the immune cells to produce supersoldier antibodies capable of eradicating the invaders without sacrificing the hepatic lobules. This strategy is called active immunization. Passive immunization can be achieved where complete antibodies are delivered directly as a serum, similar to how breastfeeding mothers can pass on their own antibodies for some infections (not

including hepatitis) to their babies through their milk, while their babies’ immune systems are still developing. However, once hepatitis B progresses to the chronic phase without proper treatment, there is no going back, and the only way ahead is to try to survive this infection. In such cases, the key is to discover the presence of the disease as soon as possible. Early in the years-long struggle with your immune system on the warground of your liver, the organ will largely function as normal; it is only in the very late stages that your liver won’t work at all. Early detection means that the condition can be managed, and this is usually where my role as a doctor comes in. While we can’t remove the virus from your body completely, we can prescribe medicines to prohibit it from replicating itself and taking up arms again. If you are a chronic sufferer of this disease, you can still live a normal, healthy life by routinely taking this type of medication. War-torn livers ravaged by hepatitis B are a serious health issue in Vietnam. Protection is not only available, but can save lives and prevent the onset of liver cancer. Make sure you’re up to date with your hepatitis B vaccinations and are immune to this infection, and if there is any doubt, please get tested. Late detection can be a very serious matter. Dr. Pedro L. Trigo works for Family Medical Practice and specialises in hepatology. For more information click on

HCMC Essentials

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

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



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

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

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.

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

Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 2098 ext. 176 In addition to the squash court, facilities include a fully–equipped gym room, a rooftop swimming pool and separate male and female saunas.


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

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

CLIMBING GYM Truc Duong, Q2, Tel: 0966 920612


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

ANIMAL DOCTORS INTERNATIONAL 1 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 6260 3980



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



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



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


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



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



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

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hen driving past La Bodega on an afternoon or evening you will often see people sat outside on the high chairs enjoying a glass of wine, coffee or a cocktail — it’s the spirit of European café culture in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2. The building was renovated from its previous life as a garage, and retains its cosy and intimate feel. The colour scheme is warm oranges, and the dim lighting is evocative of a different time and place. It’s shabby chic, and feels like the kind of bar you could stumble across down a Barcelona side street, which is a comparison that pleases La Bodega’s two French owners, Alban Philouze and Dorian

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Duplessix. For them, having a continental flavour was important when they were setting out to create a bar that customers feel like they can relax and socialise in. The bar itself is built from the orange bricks of the kind you see piled up on construction sites around Ho Chi Minh City, which is a nice familiar touch, and European artwork takes pride of place on the walls. La Bodega doesn’t feel like it’s trying too hard, which is definitely part of the appeal.

Coffee, Wine and Cocktails From 7am a Vietnamese man sells his own family made ca phe da from Dalat, priced at VND15,000. There is also cappuccino

(VND25,000), tea (VND20,000) and fresh juice (VND45,000) available throughout the day. There are also churros (a pastry based snack) to nibble on. Alban and Dorian say that they have focused on quality rather than quantity when it comes to their wine selection, and they offer wines from across France, Spain and Chile. Their best-selling red is a full-bodied Spanish La Planta which comes in at VND150,000 per glass. But La Bodega really shines most through their cocktails. First, I tried the Delice Tropez (VND110,000) which is made up of rose, Absolut vodka and lemonade. Created to refresh the socialites

La Bodega


of St Tropez during the summer heat, the good news is that it works in the heat of Ho Chi Minh City, too — it’s not too sweet and is super refreshing. Next up was an excellent example of a mojito (VND100,000). It’s a generous serving of this dependable classic, and the glass looks like nature has taken over as the mint leaves and cucumber fight for space inside the glass. Finally, I tried the Bloody Caesar, which features clam juice and is a slightly different take on the Bloody Mary. It’s a notoriously difficult cocktail to get right, but Alban, who is an accomplished mixologist, managed it with all the

elements in the right place. It’s a little spicy, and a little salty, with neither the flavours of the tomato juice or the clam juice overpowering it.

Open (Almost) All Hours In keeping with the liberal European vibe of La Bodega, they are open almost 24 hours every day — from 7am to 5am, with alcohol not served before midday. On two Fridays each month there is live jazz music, and Alban has organised fun theme nights such as ‘gym tonic’, where fitness goers can come by after a workout to drink a gin and tonic for VND50,000, providing they are wearing their lycra and

head bands. ‘Aperoke’ (apero and karaoke) takes place each Wednesday from 7pm, where everybody who sings gets a free special cocktail. Alban and Dorian are building La Bodega bit by bit, and the next stage will be introducing tapas food to the menu, which should be available this summer. La Bodega is a sunkissed spot off Thao Dien where you can kick back at a slower, more European pace. — Thomas Barrett La Bodega is located at 11 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC. For more information visit or call 01659 123369 | July 2017 Word | 175

HCMC On The Town

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

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

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

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

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


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



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



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


POP-UP BURGER BAR CAFE LOUNGE / BAR Pullman Saigon Centre, 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (028) 3838 8686 small food truck located at the corner entrance to the Pullman Hotel provides a street food menu with many kinds of burger buns and many more choices of food items. Diners can choose from the signature Wagyu beef or chicken burger; the tuna or soft shell crab; or even the special burger with tofu for veggies. The May special is the lobster monster burger.


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Tel: (028) 3836 8452

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

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

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

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

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


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



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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

night off or end it in a chilled atmosphere.

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

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

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

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

MALT GAMES & CRAFT BEER BAR 46-48 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1

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

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

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

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

QUI LOUNGE INTERNATIONAL BAR & LOUNGE 22 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (028) 3828 8828 A recently opened, stylish topend bar with a house DJ that is the plaything of Saigon’s jetset and anyone who is prepared to pay for atmosphere and one of the most hedonistic venues in town. Has an excellent food menu and a tasty brunch.

ROGUE SAIGON CRAFT BEER PUB 13 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: 0902 365780 Hidden on the upper floors of a crumbly old building in the heart of the city, Rogue Saigon is a hideout for craft beer lovers.

Tricky to find, once you’re at the address, look up and you’ll see it. There’s a rooftop bar with excellent views of the neighbourhood and plenty of local craft brews on tap. Finger food tops off a chilled atmosphere with live music out in the open air.

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

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

SAIGON OUTCAST EVENTS / MAKESHIFT CAFÉ BAR 188/1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0902 365780 Up-cycling and innovative design form the foundation for this bar / arts venue / mini-skate park and graffiti space. Home to numerous events and markets, Saigon Outcast also houses a Push outdoor climbing wall, providing courses and a variety of climbimg activities.

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

SAIGON SAIGON BAR LIVE MUSIC / ROOFTOP BAR 9th Floor, Caravelle Saigon, 19-23 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 4999 | July 2017 Word | 177



he old, yellow, French colonial building along Ly Tu Trong is now a home for clothing, antique, art stores, and cafés. And one place that catches the attention of pedestrians walking on the streets and shoppers from the inside the building is 1st Garden Café (26 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, HCMC). A childhood dream turned into reality is what best describes this medieval-meetsmajestic looking café. Owner Nhieu Thi Tuyet Nhung’s interest in coffee and cafés started young.

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She wanted to have a café which would not just offer drinks and food, but an affordable escape with a great view of downtown as well. The reason behind the name of the café is simple, too. As it is her first venture, she named it 1st Garden Café. Opened in July last year, 1st Garden Café has already attracted a range of customers — office workers on weekdays and students on the weekends, plus tourists who are either lost, or found the café from the outside looking up.

The Twist It looks straight out of a fairytale book. Stone-like walls, grassy floors, the bar hiding between man-made trees with branches, leaves and roots crawling out, unfinished-looking wooden tables and chairs complete the rustic feel of the café. As a further distinction, it serves its best-selling coffee and coconut matchas in a deconstructed way. The coffee and matcha are in ice-cube form; it is served together with a tiny glass bottle of milk and liquid sugar, all on a chopping board. For the coffee,

First Garden Cafe


you have an option of adding Baileys, said to be popular among expats and tourists and is priced at VND85,000; the coconut matcha costs VND75,000. Fresh juices and smoothies are available from VND65,000 to VND78,000. Aside from the drinks, this café also serves food that is popular among office workers around the area. The menu consists of both Vietnamese and international cuisine. The most popular dish is pan-fried chicken with rice (VND78,000) and the pork with kimchi rice (VND88,000). On weekends however, younger customers order iced

peach or lychee tea at VND65,000 paired with either fries (VND52,000) or Cajun shrimp (VND78,000). At daytime, this café is ideal for meetings, getting some work or studying done, or reading. It has a huge glass wall, which enables natural light to come in and contrast with the overall dark-brown, forest decoration. You can sit indoors or out in the balcony. Many customers prefer to sit outside as it is good for people watching — you get to witness the usual hustle of locals and

exploring of other tourists. Since the café is on the third floor, sitting outdoors also gives you a chance to enjoy the breeze or catch the sunset. Indoor seating on the other hand is good for groups and on extremely hot days. Being near to a lot of malls, shops, and offices the café quickly becomes packed at lunchtime on weekdays, and is more relaxed on weekends. — JB Jance 1st Garden Cafe is at 26 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, HCMC. It is open every day from 8.30am to 10.30pm | July 2017 Word | 179

HCMC On The Town


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

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

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


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

VESPER GOURMET LOUNGE INTERNATIONAL Landmark Building, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 9698 vespersaigon


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.


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


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


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

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

HIDEAWAY INTERNATIONAL 41/1 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3, Tel: (028) 3822 4222 Hidden in a colonial building with an outdoor courtyard, the ample soft, sofa seating renders a great spot to relax. The mouth-watering western menu is well-priced and maintains a creative flair.


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

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



CAFÉ / LOUNGE BAR 71-75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 3824 8468 This iconic upmarket downtown bar is known

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

M M M EAT - CHINESE KABIN CANTONESE Renaissance Riverside Hotel, 8–15 Ton Duc Thang. Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 0033

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

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

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

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

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

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

AU LAC DO BRAZIL BRAZILIAN CHURRASCO 238 Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (028) 3820 7157


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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JASPA’S WINE & GRILL INTERNATIONAL FUSION The Square, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 0931 Although a chain restaurant,

the international offerings here are consistently good and creative. Excellent service, an attractive outdoor terrace area, and a good kids menu. Check out their pepper steaks.

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

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

MEKONG MERCHANT INTERNATIONAL CAFE FARE / SEAFOOD 23 Thao Dien, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 6478 info@mekongmerchant. com The rustic looking, banana-

leaf roofed Mekong Merchant has long been the place in An Phu. Set around a cobblestoned courtyard the cuisine includes gourmet seafood and pastas. Bakery-style Bistro out front.

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

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

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

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

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

from creative salads through to Mediterranean influenced mains.

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

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

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

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

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

THE DECK MODERN ASIAN FUSION 38 Nguyen U Di, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 6632 Set on the banks of Saigon River across from Thanh Da Island, this innovative

restaurant serves up modern Asian fusion cuisine in a Bali-style atmosphere, complemented by great cocktails and a long wine list.

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

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

ZOOM CAFÉ AMERICAN / TEX-MEX 169A Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (028) 3920 3897 vietnamvespaadventures. com/cafe_zoom This corner-located Vespainfatuated venue is a café and restaurant by day and a sidewalk drinking joint by night. Friendly staff and American deli-style and Cajun fare makes it a regular expat haunt.

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

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

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

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

SORAE SUSHI SAKE LOUNGE Level 24, AB Tower, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: 0938 687689 Set over two floors, this astonishing, no-expensespared Japanese restaurant and lounge brings to Saigon the type of environment and ambience you’d expect of New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai. With the décor comes a modern take on Japanese fare. A place to | July 2017 Word | 181



Ly Club in District 3 is an example of a building that's been renovated rather than preserved


n Ho Chi Minh City, as in many developing cities, there are those who support new development and those who support preservation. These two approaches are often characterised by their opponents as either destructive or nostalgic. To a preservation supporter, new development eradicates not only historic buildings, but also the larger history, culture and identity of Ho Chi Minh City. To them, a historic building or neighbourhood is more than a physical trace of history; it is an embodiment of all the cultural layers accumulated over generations. In places with a weak connection to history, culture and identity, such as the American suburbs, one feels out of place and separated from culture and other people. Phu My Hung can inspire the same feelings, and the new Thu Thiem shows signs that it could also trend in this direction. From the perspective of a new development supporter, Ho Chi Minh City needs to evolve, and evolution requires the destruction of the current city. From this point of view, building for the future is more important than saving history and this city also needs a new identity, that of a prosperous city. Ho Chi Minh City needs to look like and be like Singapore.

Strike a Balance From my perspective, a mixture of both preservation and new development

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is needed. Embracing both is not a compromise but a challenge because it is much more difficult for policy makers, developers and designers. In other cities this dual policy has worked. In Paris or Rome, new developments are heavily restricted within the city limits. In New York, new developments are allowed but regulated. These cities can evolve without completely eradicating the existing urban fabric. In cities like those mentioned above, inventories of historic buildings and neighbourhoods are developed by experts who know the city. There could be a similar strategy implemented here, with specific regulations for items in these inventories, based on the status given to each item. Landmarked buildings such as the Cathedral and the Post Office could be strictly regulated. Others might be less so. To be effective, however, there should be only one office within the city that regulates and enforces these policies. Developers should be encouraged through economic incentives to preserve buildings and neighbourhoods. In New York City, developers are given tax incentives if they preserve historic buildings. Sometimes developers are given a different site outside of the historic districts if they agree to preserve a building within the historic districts. Ho Chi Minh City already gives tax incentives to education and health-related projects, so an

incentive policy to guide development is not something out of reach.

Renovation Rather than Preservation Designing new architecture that takes into account Ho Chi Minh Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s powerful historic context is a challenge. It would be much easier to simply ignore the context. It would also be more straightforward to simply preserve buildings to their original design. However, the complex task of embracing both the old and new brings us the opportunity to renovate the city instead of merely preserving it. Renovation is a less restrictive practice than preservation. When renovating a building or a neighbourhood, new design is carefully woven into the existing urban fabric. Such careful intervention requires understanding of the local context that is unavailable to someone not experienced with Ho Chi Minh City. Renovation also sometimes requires changing and replacing existing structures, an approach not practiced by orthodox preservationists. But renovation aligns with the notion that Ho Chi Minh City can evolve, but in such a way that it does not lose its history, culture and identity. Hoanh Tran, PhD is a design principal of Hoanh Tran Archie Pizzini Architects. Educated in the US, Hoanh now lives, practices and teaches in Ho Chi Minh City. He can be contacted at


On The Town see and be seen.

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

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

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

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

MSG-free traditional

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

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


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

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

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

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


QUAN BUI TRADITIONAL VIETNAMESE 8 Nguyen Van Nguyen, Q1, Tel: (028) 3602 2241; 17A Ngo Van Nam, Q1, Tel: (028) 3829 1515



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

VIETNAMESE STEAKHOUSE 200 Bis Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3; 157 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (028) 3930 3917




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

BUN CHA 26/1A Le Thanh Ton, Q1



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






COM TAM 40A Quoc Huong, Q2



COM TAM 84 Dang Van Ngu, Phu Nhuan

MI QUANG 38 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1


BUN BO HUE 189 Bis Bui Vien, Q1

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





PHO DAU PHO BO 288/M1 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3

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

PHO LE PHO BO 413-415 Nguyen Trai, Q5


BANH KHOT 102 Cao Thang, Q3

PHO BO 146E Ly Chinh Thang, Q3



VIETNAMESE BANH MI 62 Nguyen Van Trang, Q1



PHO BO 339 Le Van Sy, Tan Binh

SUSHI KO STREET SUSHI 122/37/15 Vinh Khanh, Q4






VIETNAMESE BANH MI 107 Truong Dinh, Q3

HAINANESE CHICKEN RICE 67 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1, Tel: (028) 3821 7751 | July 2017 Word | 183



he relaxing weekend brunch is now an accepted part of modern dining culture. However, Le Méridien Saigon is taking this to a different level with its Sunday Discovery Brunch. Instead of one restaurant, you get three, with the different tastes of the Latitude 10, Latest Recipe, and Bamboo Chic to sample. And your gastronomic tour lasts for up to four hours. “We want to bring more options to the customers, and more time to enjoy,” says Robert Conte, Hotel Manager at Le Méridien Saigon

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She suggests starting this VND2.5 million adventure at the mezzanine floor Latest Recipe. The decor is predominantly white — walls, marble tables, and chairs. The cuisine is modern international. Executive chef Frederic Meynard presides over an international buffet complete with a seafood bar, chocolate corner, cold cuts and cheese section, grilling and carving stations, and a martini bar. Seafood comes from Vietnam and overseas, with the Canadian lobster being a favourite, specially cooked up with garlic and butter. While enjoying the free flow of Taittinger

champagne, customers can move on to the artisan pastry and wide variety of cheeses and cold cuts on offer. If this sounds enough without trying the other restaurants, you can get a single ticket for VND1.7 million.

Go East But if your tastes are more Asian, then the intimate yet contemporary setting of Bamboo Chic suggests itself. The cuisine is modern Chinese and innovative Japanese and head chef Lai Kuan Geo puts on a show as he prepares your teppanyaki. Dim sum

The Sunday Discovery Brunch


is made to order — with options like black truffle, foie gras, crab and scallop, abalone sticky rice, and turnip cake. The restaurant also serves interesting desserts like durian pancake, cinnamon or matcha tarts, and black sesame ice cream mochi. A range of noodle dishes and soups have been created with the dual aim of satisfying the appetite and offering health benefits, and an innovation you won’t forget is the saketini — a mix of sake and martini served in a bowl rather than a glass. Or you could try the Secret Handshake, the restaurant’s fruity signature cocktail.

If you limit your visit to the charms of the 9th-floor Bamboo Chic, your ticket will cost VND1.1 million

Afore Ye Go Back down on the ground floor, Latitude 10 is ideally designed for just lounging around and enjoying a wide range of caféstyle food and drinks, or something a bit stronger. It has quite a futuristic feel to it with the modern tables and chairs. This is also a child-friendly lounge as it has a Kids’ Club with a playpen and other sources of entertainment for children from four to 12

years old. Among the spread of sweets, the chocolate fountain and make-your-own éclairs section are crowd-pleasing for both young and the young at heart. A single-entry to Latitude 10 costs VND750,000. So, if you’re wondering where to take a gastronomic tour of the world in a single afternoon and satisfy the full range of culinary experiences, Le Méridien’s Sunday Discovery Brunch has you covered. — JB Jance Le Méridien is at 3C Ton Duc Thang, Q1, HCMC. For more information and bookings, go to leMé or call (028) 6263 6688 | July 2017 Word | 185

The Final Say

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Cool Runnings You need to do a visa run again. So, where should you go? Words by Diane Lee


very three months, or sometimes less, there are any number of expats at airports across Vietnam jetting off to Asian neighbours for a day or so to do that trip of necessity; the visa run. Even those with 12-month business visas — or with visa exemptions — are still required to leave the country every few months. Generally, the destination of choice is Bangkok. It’s cheap and close, and expats can stock up on items they often have difficulty locating in Vietnam. But what are the cool spots — other than Bangkok — that a visa-running expat can visit?

Cambodia Siem Reap Flying time: Hanoi — 1h 45min; HCMC — 1h 5min Return flights: From VND3.4 million The gateway to the temples of Angkor Wat, Siem Reap is not just about the Khmer Empire. The city is also a major tourist hub in the northwest of Cambodia. It’s chic and modern, and caters for those on a backpacker budget to those who are happy to spend a few extra dollars on a couple of days of shopping, pampering and great dining. And of course, there’s Angkor Wat.

China Hong Kong Flying time: Hanoi — 2h; HCMC — 2h 40min Return flights: From VND2.6 million This former British colony in southeast China is a thriving, modern metropolis that proudly displays its Chinese heritage. A major shipping and financial hub, Hong Kong also lays claim to having the most skyscrapers in one city. A little on the expensive side for the average visa runner, Hong Kong is worth a visit or three because it has so much to offer; fabulous markets and shopping, five-star restaurants and cultural, historical and architectural sightseeing.

Taiwan Taipei Flying time: Hanoi — 2h 50min; HCMC — 3h 25min Return flights: From VND4.3 million Taipei is home to regenerative thermal hot springs and spas. During the occupation of Taiwan by the Japanese, the Beitou spa

region was turned into a resort destination — complete with inns, teahouses, parks and private and public baths — that is still popular today. Easily accessed by train from Taipei, this might be the perfect destination for the overworked visa runner looking for some rest and relaxation.

Indonesia Bali Flying time: Hanoi — 8h 20 min; HCMC — 8h 30min Return flights: From VND6.4 million Bali is not called the Island of the Gods for nothing; iconic religious sites and temples can be found all over the island. The more active visa runners can do a dawn volcano hike, mountain bike through picturesque villages, jet-ski in Nusa Dua, and swim with dolphins in Lovina. For those wanting a more relaxed experience, there are yoga and meditation retreats in Ubud, and the beaches of Sanur or Candidasa are quiet and relatively non-touristy. If you are after a more lively stay with a myriad of shopping, dining and nightlife options, Seminyak, Legian and Kuta are for you.

South Korea Seoul Flying time: Hanoi — 4h 10min; HCMC — 5h 15min Return flights: From VND6.8 million Capital of the Republic of South Korea, Seoul is the 16th largest city in the world. It blends uber modernity — towering skyscrapers, high-tech subways and pop culture — with palaces, street markets and traditional Buddhist temples. Although on the pricey side, Seoul is a popular destination for foodies. From streetfood to multi-course banquets and everything else in between, visa runners who love indulging their tastebuds can’t go wrong with a trip to South Korea’s capital.

Laos Luang Prabang Flying time: Hanoi — 1h 20min; HCMC — 5h 30min Return flights: From VND5.7 million A UNESCO heritage site, Luang Prabang is an ideal spot for those who want to enjoy some relaxation of the spiritual kind. Located in the north of Laos, this old French town presents the jaded visa runner

with stunning mountainous landscape, waterfalls, the Mekong, French cuisine and a sleepy feel.

Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Flying time: Hanoi — 3h 20min; HCMC — 1h 55min Return flights: From VND1.7 million A popular getaway for visa runners, Kuala Lumpur is a humming, vibrant city chock full of interesting things to see and do. Gleaming skyscrapers, colonial architecture and shopping malls sit comfortably alongside Malay, Chinese and Indian communities with their streetfood and flea markets. And if you need a break from the city, head to Malacca, just three hours away by bus. This former Portuguese-built, Chinese-influenced port town has a historic vibe all of its own.

Singapore Flying time: Hanoi — 3h 15min; HCMC — 2h Return flights: From VND2.7 million As a major transport hub in Southeast Asia, travellers don’t often stop in Singapore, and instead choose to transit through. They shouldn’t. Although on the expensive side — particularly for accommodation — Singapore is a clean, modern city worth exploring. With highend shopping on Orchard Road, it is also home to awesome street food. Little China and Little Arabia are worth exploring, and a night visit to the zoo is a must. This is also the home of Underwater World and Universal Studios Theme Park, perfect if you want a taste of something more associated with the west.

Thailand Chiang Mai Flying time with stopovers: Hanoi — 5h 30min; HCMC — 4h 20min Return flights: From VND4.9 million One of the preferred locations for digital nomads, Chiang Mai is another option for those who like the ease of travelling to Thailand, but want to go somewhere other than Bangkok. Feeling more like a sleepy town rather than a capital city, Chiang Mai mixes monks and monasteries, beautiful temples, stunning mountain scenery, a fascinating history with wonderful food and shopping. | July 2017 Word | 187

The Final Say


Normally people who migrate to Hanoi are from the north or north central Vietnam. Nguyen Thi Thuy Dung is one of the few people who came from somewhere else — Pleiku and then Saigon. Photo by Julie Vola Why did you decide initially to go to university in Ho Chi Minh City? What did you study? Ho Chi Minh City is the top choice for tertiary education for most high-school students coming from Danang and further south. My hometown is Pleiku in the Central Highlands. My two older sisters studied in Ho Chi Minh City and one settled there with her family. I studied International Relations.

Hanoi since you’ve been back? How different is it from Saigon? In the capital, the majority of businesses are either state-owned or family companies; relationships are the catalyst for business. As a newcomer, I’ve had to work hard on building relationships and meeting government officials. Also, business meetings in Hanoi tend to last longer than those in Saigon.

Once you graduated, how easy was What do you find most appealing it to find work in Saigon? What about living in the capital? What jobs have you had over the past frustrates you? Hanoi has four seasons and 12 months of decade? It didn’t take me long to find a job after graduation; there were plenty of vacancies published online. In Saigon, all you need to do is search, build up your resumé and prepare for interviews. After a year, I looked for opportunities in an international working environment and for six years worked with the Belgian and Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce (Beluxcham) and then the British Business Group of Vietnam (BBGV).

flowers. Hanoi is a wonderland for artists, writers, musicians, composers, poets, photographers and painters. I’m none of those but do feel the beauty. Frustrating for me is the traffic. It’s common to see Hanoians not stopping at red lights or not wearing a helmet.

Besides being offered a job with BBGV, what other reasons made you decide to move back to Hanoi? Why is this so unusual?

Saigon kept me busy all the time with work and took me out for entertainment at night. I felt as if I were in a race against time. It’s exciting to be on a constant adventure but it’s exhausting. Hanoi reminds me of a traditional girl, who wakes up early in the morning, prepares the breakfast, arranges a vase of seasonal flowers then makes a kettle of tea with pomelo flower before leaving for work.

Everyone said I was swimming against the tide but I wanted to know why so many expats I know enjoy their life in Hanoi, yet a Vietnamese couldn’t. Other than that, I love Vietnam and wanted to travel throughout the country. Being in Hanoi allows me to travel the North more easily. Also, the job at BBGV is exactly what I aspire to, engaging myself in trade development and working on charity projects.

You say your accent’s changed since you’ve lived in Saigon. Did you make a deliberate attempt to change your accent? What about now you live in Hanoi? Ten years of living in Saigon got me speaking with a Southern accent. Hanoi people treat me with kindness knowing that I’ve relocated from Saigon. However, the difference in vocabulary can sometimes be annoying, but can be fun as well. Business partners often think they’ve accidentally dialled our Ho Chi Minh City office number if I pick up the phone.

How difficult has it been to get used to the business climate in 188 | Word July 2017 |

You say: “Saigon can be a girlfriend running me wild but I will still marry Hanoi.” What do you mean by this?

What do you miss about living in Saigon? I miss how much I know about Saigon. I know exactly where to go, whose doors to knock on to get what I need. In Hanoi, Google has become

my best friend. And I miss bun bo Hue, one of my favourite dishes. I’ve tried hundreds of restaurants in Hanoi but it’s just not the same.

If there was one thing you could change in Hanoi, what would it be? I would say air quality. Last October I woke up to the news that Hanoi’s air quality ranked second-worst in the world.

What city is better? Hanoi or Saigon? Saigon is a destination for business, but in Hanoi I don’t have to hold my bags tight for fear of getting robbed in the street. One is not better than the other. It all depends on what you are looking for.

ISBN: 978-604-77-3468-9


Word Vietnam July 2017  

Everything you need to know about Vietnam and a little bit more. This month, the often rocky relationship between Saigon and Hanoi.

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