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Chuyên đề du lịch, ẩm thực Vietnam Edition / Tập 6 2015 june 2015 not for sale

Nhà Xuất Bản Lao Động

w or dv ie tn am .c om

Looking for Love

Hoegaarden − Belgium − 4.9 ALC Stella Artois − Belgium − 5.0 ALC Leffe Blond − Belgium − 6.6 ALC

Contents June 2015





010 / So You Love Vietnamese Food?

050 / The Ambassador

But you hate dissenting opinions. Hmm.

011 / The Big Five

Events to look out for this month

BRIEFINGS 014 / This is Thingyan

Getting wet in the New Year

018 / ASEAN Pride 2.0

Kicking out the jams, and the homophobes

024 / Animal Rescue & Care Has Been Rescued! A new lease on life for all involved

2 | Word June 2015 |

Ted Osius is looking forward to the next 20 years

052 / The Historian

Meeting the wizard of Kim Lan

058 / The Nepal Earthquake

Travelling through the devastation

062 / Looking for Love

The ups and downs of dating

EAT & DRINK 080 / The Best Mexican Food in Saigon

090 / Mystery Diner Hanoi

We try La Badiane, and it’s not bad (get the pun?)

092 / Street Snacker Hanoi On the menu: Kem Caramen

094 / Mystery Diner HCMC Checking out a Thao Dien institution

096 / Street Snacker HCMC On the menu: Kem Dua Thai

FASHION 098 / Don Draper is Dead But classic elegance lives on

We ate all the tacos



Contents June 2015




133 / Bar Stool

144 / Medical Buff

104 / 10 Reasons to Visit Kazakhstan

135 / Coffee Cup

145 / Book Buff

#11: The Valley of Balls

136 / Top Eats

152 / Business Buff

112 / The Expat’s Guide to Travelling with Dad

142 / Food Promos

154 / Body and Temple

146 / City Map

159 / Student Eye


168 / The Empty Wok

030 / To-Do List

174 / A World of Good

038 / Overscene

178 / Tieng Viet

148 / HCMC City Guide


Part 3: A 1,000km detour

164 / Bar Stool

126 / Spotlight: Mui Ne

166 / Top Eats A

182 / The Inside Story of the Guerrilla War

P.S. He wants 10 copies of this issue

120 / Destination Zero

How to talk about your trip to Ninh Van Bay

123 / Travel Promos 124 / The Motorbike Diaries

Joe’s Garden Resort and Café

HANOI 040 / To-Do List

170 / Top Eats B 176 / City Map

046 / Overscene

COLUMNS 138 / The Alchemist

128 / Hanoi City Guide

140 / The Therapist

4 | Word June 2015 |

Chapter 9: On the mountainside

188 / The Last Call

Chuong Dang is a real catch


Contributors This month we asked Word contributors: “What’s your ideal date spot?” Ed Weinberg Deputy Editor I like something open-air and easygoing, like an unpretentious roof bar or a beer on the Rainbow Bridge. I try to avoid “interview” type settings as much as possible — I just want to live my life, and see who fits in it. David Mann Staff Editor I like nice cocktail bars. They disguise my Liz Lemon-style hopelessness at dating and give me an air of confidence. Also strong drinks in case I need to get drunk fast. Simon Stanley Contributing Writer Even after 11 years together, my wife and I still have date nights. The last time was to the new 5KU Station on the canal. A pretty view with cheap beer, cheap food and a fun atmosphere — there was even a magician pulling birds out of thin air. If you’re with the right person it doesn't really matter where you go. Nick Ross Chief Editor I haven't dated for years, but when I did, it would be somewhere a little romantic, but also a place where I could make a quick getaway if things didn't go quite right. Kyle Phanroy Photo Editor My typical date night with the girlfriend would either be Sushi Bar and a movie, or a French steak house... Le Steak is closed so we mainly do Sushi Bar. Vu Ha Kim Vy Marketing I prefer dinners at home under candlelight, with food cooked by me. Niko Savvas Online Editor There’s no reason to limit yourself to a single “ideal date spot” — movement is freedom, and freedom is the most stimulating aphrodisiac, which is why the back of my van is so perfect.

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

EDITORIAL nick ross Chief Editor

Ed Weinberg Deputy Editor

MADs monsen Creative Director

David Mann Staff Editor

Kyle Phanroy Photo Editor

Niko Savvas Online Editor

Francis Xavier Staff Reporter

Julie Vola Staff Photographer

mark allan Website & Graphic Designer

Nguyen Loc Layout Designer

vu ha kim vy Marketing

Jon Aspin Staff Writer

ADMINISTRATION Bao ross General Director

trang le Chief Accountant

ADVERTISING bao ross General Director

Trinh Bui Sales Executive

chau giang Area Manager Hanoi



For advertising enquiries please call Ms Bao on +84 938 609 689 or Ms Giang on +84 934 640 668 Special thanks to Huyen Tran, Dana McNairn, Karen Gay, Douglas Holwerda, Truong from Bookworm, Riccha Arora, Phil Kelly, Shane Dillon, Family Medical Practice, Simon Stanley, Harry Hodge, Tae Jun Park, George Burchett, Owen Salisbury, Trung Del, Noey Neumark, Harris Spencer, Matt Dworzanczyk, Sue Fleming, Nguyen Ha Linh, Annalise Frank, Natalia Martinez, Rachel Cabakoff, Amber Strellis, Quoc Tin and Lubu

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

Jon Aspin Staff Writer The nape of my neck. If she’s rubbing it, something’s gone right.

© Word - Duong Huynh Advertising JSC

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Chuyên Đề Du Lịch & Ẩm Thực ISBN: 978-604-59-2903-2

6 | Word June 2015 |

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Chịu trách nhiệm xuất bản: Võ Thị Kim Thanh Biên tập: Hồ Phương Lan Sửa bản in: Nick Ross Trình bày: Bao Ross Bìa: Duong Huynh Advertising JSC

Thực hiện liên kết xuất bản: Công Ty CP TM–DV–QC–Truyền Thông Dương Huỳnh 87/21/6 Đường Số 4 Cư Xá Đô Thành, Phường 4, Q. 3, TP. HCM. ĐT: + 84 8 3838 6908 Fax: + 84 8 3838 6971 Email: Website:

In đến 15.000 cuốn, khổ 20.5 x 27cm In tại Công Ty TNHH MTV In Trần Phú 71 – 73 – 75 Hai Bà Trưng, Q. 1, TP. HCM. Số ĐKKHXB: 99 - 2015 / CXBIPH / 40- 08 / LĐ QĐXB SỐ: 47 / QĐCN - LĐ. Ngày 29 / 05 / 2015. ISBN: 978-604-59-2903-2 SÁCH CHUYÊN QUẢNG CÁO In xong và nộp lưu chiểu Qúy 2 năm 2015. | June 2015 Word | 7



hen you have to put out a 196-page magazine every month, you don’t have a moment to breathe. The act of completing it to a tight deadline takes up all your energy. Trying something new

revamp. The map is back and gone is the division of businesses and services into location. Instead we’ve returned to that simple beast of ordering — the alphabet — and have divided our listings into two sections: Essentials and On the Town. It’s a work in progress; it will take another two or three months to get our listings where we want them. But it’s a start. The content is also changing. We’re now aiming at deeper, more involved stories — insider stories, cutting

edge stories. Check out our main feature on dating and look at its content. You’ll see one or two surprising articles in there. We don’t aim to please everyone. It’s an impossible task. But we do aim to have a voice. And we intend to challenge pre-conceived ideas. When we started out a decade ago, by default everything we wrote had to be happy, happy, happy. That blissful, innocent past is the Vietnam of old. Now we need some edge. — Nick Ross


Looking for Love




requires a gritting of the teeth, an extra push. It’s not easy. Yet over the past three issues we’ve been making changes. Many of them are not so obvious — a lot of our focus has been online. This month it’s been more about the magazine. One change is our layout. Look at the front section, The Talk. It’s cleaner, has more white space and, we hope, is easier to read. We’re also running larger, better quality photos. Our listings section has undergone a

THIS MONTH'S COVER Cover by DH Advertising Photos by Nick Ross

Have Your Say Do you have any comments? Then 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 editor@ wordvietnam. com — we’re at your fingertips.

The Celtic Festival You provided a blurb on the festival (p34, May 2015) that piqued my interest. So I attended on Saturday, May 16. We arrived at 3pm, around the time the first group began to play, and stayed for five hours. Music festival it was, but Celtic Music Festival it was not. Since this was pretty poorly planned there were no programmes listing the

performers or times. I will do my best to describe what I saw. The first group played nothing but southern French jazz. They played well but it was not Celtic music. A group or two later played similar music but threw in Molly Malone, Whiskey in the Jar, What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor? and Dirty Old Town. The following outfits played well, but Celtic music was

Omission Last month we published an article on the opening of Harmony at 90 Nguyen Hue, Q1. Unfortunately, we forgot to add the address to the end of the article. Apologies for the omission.

8 | Word June 2015 |

sparse. One group was composed mainly of Vietnamese performers. They were good and songs such as the Water is Wide stirred ones soul as Celtic music often does. The Vietnamese instruments added an interesting touch to their performance. Another group of two pipers played Celtic music, I guess, but I would

be hard pressed to prove it. Someone said that was Celtic music from Brittany in France. Though well done, those instrumentals did little to move the crowd. More of the same began to become quite tedious. We were at a Celtic Music Festival, and there was precious little Celtic music. We finally gave up at 8pm and went home after standing

Can Gio by Speedboat Competition Thanks to everyone who entered this competition organised in conjunction with Les Rives in our May issue. Here are the winners: Michael Stanbrook Phung Thi Thu Thuy

for five hours and enduring mostly disappointment. I cannot say that one group was bad or even one performer. But this was merely a very good music festival of a variety of music, not a Celtic Music Festival. If there is a real Celtic Music Festival, count me in, for I am huge fan and want to get a front row seat. — Joe Skelton

Word T-Shirt Competition To follow are the winners of our May T-shirt competition run in conjunction with Score Tech. Your T-shirts are on their way. Seb Szymeczko; Tom Collin; Manh Tran; Ran Tg; Tony; Han Lam; Dan Ruelle; Phuong Phuong; Le Thao Vi; Matt Bender We’re running another competition in this issue, so if you missed out, there’s still another chance to win. Same idea but different, limited-edition design. | June 2015 Word | 9

So You Love Vietnamese Food?

Talk Lead

Sticks and stones may break our bones…


n April, when we were discussing the content of our cover story, it became clear that one member of our editorial team wasn’t too enthusiastic about Vietnamese food. And yet our cover story, These are a Few of our Favourite Things, was all about our favourite Vietnamese dishes. So, we said to the poor haunted soul, write about it. Why not? Tell us why. What followed was the piece, Vietnamese Food Isn’t That Great (page 88, May 2015). It was run as a counterpoint to all our gushing ravings about the food in this country. In context, it made sense. It provided balance. Yet when it appeared online, without all the food porn preceding it, the article was misinterpreted as… well, a lot of things. In the first sentence, “your correspondent” asked you, the reader, to “lower your pitchforks”. The opposite happened. Pitchforks were raised, Salem-like witch stakes were driven into the ground, and the nooses came out. Both the article and the writer got a public hanging. There were even a few death threats. Here’s what you said*.

From — Your correspondent needs to quit with the 1940’s mode of self-address and start talking in the first person. — The narrative style is as douchy as the content. Bravo. — Let just say your article is so uncreditable. After reading this, I realized you were advertising

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for those international restaurants mentioned above, it seemed fine but you shouldn’t have said about Vietnamese food in a rude way like that. — If the only form of Vietnamese cuisine you have tasted is chao ga, bo kho, com tam and fish sauce, I suggest you refrain from insulting an entire culture based on your limited knowledge and experience. — Wow! So much for freedom of speech. Say what you think, back it up with evidence, and how do people respond? They throw insults. This is food. Not religion or politics. It’s food. — You try too hard to have an edgy opinion over something you barely understand. A dumb article.

From Private Posters’ Timelines — Wondering if the author even knows what he’s talking about or this is just a ridiculous trick to get attention for the clumsy ads at the end of his article. If that’s the case, he got ours. — Such a fool writing this article. Worth reading to see how narrowminded people are — There’s a guy who comments saying “so much for freedom of speech. Express your opinion and get slammed. It’s just food.” No. This guy is insulting the very heart of a culture. Multiple cultures.

From Expats in Ho Chi Minh City — I’m having trouble wrapping my head around how this article

made it to the press, Word Vietnam. It serves no other purpose than being an online troll that’s disguised as being sapient, from a writer whose profile highlights the fact that he’s just a contrarian and takes the loyal opposition for no other reason than to do it. I guess my main gripe with it, really, is: what was the point? Respect the culture and culinary contributions from the country you choose to make your home and meal ticket. — This was pretty difficult to read, so trite, repetitive, predictable. I know this kind of journalism — unexpected from Word. I know people there I respect a lot. This is melon. Or lime? What do you call that fruit? — Its no big deal guys, it’s one person’s opinion which is not at all representative... Seriously, more delicious food for us all. — I think this was a great article. Funny, while not being derogatory. Also, the person managing the Facebook account is replying to comments with lighthearted wit. This makes them a great administrator! — The title is a bit clickbait-y but the author does have a bit of a point... Although he fumbles it by mistaking Saigonese food for Vietnamese food in general… Hope the Word can scrape together some change and send the author around Vietnam on a little culinary trip. * The identity of the commenters has been omitted to protect their anonymity.

Big5 The

1 Swedish Music Showcase

1 Music festivals, contemporary dance, horse racing and comedy. Here are our picks for the coming month

Thursday Jun. 11 CAMA ATK, Hanoi

With so many of this country’s embassies bringing in bands from overseas, Sweden is determined not to be outdone. It’s the Scandinavian nation’s national day on Jun. 6 and last year the home of the Volvo celebrated 45 years of diplomatic relations with Vietnam, a feat that outfeats all of Europe’s other countries. So, what better way to strut your stuff and show that ABBA really is a thing of the past by bringing in three Swedish bands for a night of unadulterated live music at CAMA ATK? It’s gonna be a squeeze in there — the venue can fit in about 120 — but we reckon the gig on Jun. 11 is gonna be a little bit special. To find our more, turn to page 43



Saturday Jun. 13 IDECAF, HCMC

If you know what non means in Vietnamese, then you probably know that a non la is a conical hat, the theme for a new Vietnamese stage show. This will not be the first time that traditional and contemporary have been brought together in Vietnam, but we reckon the contemporary dance performance Non, which will premiere at IDECAF on Jun. 13, could just be one of those shows you must be at. A Cirque du Soleil in the making, so to speak. The work of choreographer, Vu Ngoc Khai and musician, Ngo Hong Quang, to find out more about this mash of Vietnamese folklore, traditional music and contemporary dance, turn to page 32.

Royal Ascot Garden Party


Friday Jun. 19 British Consulate Gardens, HCMC

In the UK, there are certain sporting events that the whole country seems to get up about — and we’re not talking referendums and the once non-stop harassment of UKIP leader, Nigel Farage. One of them is Royal Ascot. Fortunately, being the savvy souls that they are, and knowing a Britishman’s love for aristocratic high fashion and outrageous hats, the BBGV has decided to bring that most famous of horse racing institutions to Ho Chi Minh City — Royal Ascot. You, too, can celebrate the antics of a British race day by heading to the British Consulate on Jun. 19. It’s a live feed on the big screen, a slap up meal with a freeflow of booze — Stella Artois and Diageo are sponsoring this one — and a whole lot more, too. You may even get to wear a fancy hat. For more info, turn to the article on page 34

ASEAN Pride Music Festival 2.0


Saturday Jun. 20 The American Club, Hanoi

Swedish band Twiggy Frostbite

book that flight while it’s still cheap. We certainly have. To read our many articles on the ASEAN Pride Festival, turn to pages 18, 43 and 50

From Singapore with Laughter Thursday Jun. 18 and Friday Jun. 19 The Boat House, HCMC; House of Son Tinh, Hanoi


Take Singapore’s top stand-up comic, the award-winning Jinx Yeo, and put him on the same stage as Singapore comedy club owner and well-known Dutch gagster, Kristel Zweers, and you’ve got what could be a hell of an interesting show. But wait, you say, isn’t the standup comedy that we know all done in English? Well, it is. But you see, Singapore — like its fellow almost-astate Hong Kong — has got a thriving comedy scene. And this is what the promoters of this mini tour are bringing to Vietnam. Expect laughter, laughter and even more laughter. This one’s gonna be a whole lot of bellyaching fun. To find out more, click on saigoninternationalcomedy or facebook. com/sontinhloungebar

This is the BIG one for June. 4,000 people, sweltering heat, The American Club, the U.S. Embassy, CAMA, LGBT issues and a music festival that screams the words ‘contemporary’ and ‘modern Vietnam’. Oh, and did we forget to mention that it’s 20 years since the trade embargo was lifted with Vietnam? No matter where you live in Vietnam, you should scribble a solid note in your diary for this one and | June 2015 Word | 11

Briefings Hanoi

A Match Made in Heaven?

Thanks to bilateral trade, New Zealand and Vietnam are getting closer


ew Zealand’s expansive mountain ranges and long coastlines make it a haven for fresh produce,” says Nadia Lim, a guest chef at the NZ Food Connection event in Hanoi last month. Hosted by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), the event at the Sofitel Metropole offered a winding buffet of wine, fruit, beef, mussels and other foods the island nation aims to encourage Vietnamese companies to distribute. “When I visited for the first time last year, Vietnam became my favourite country to travel to,” says Lim. “I just absolutely love Vietnamese food. If you can pair New Zealand produce with Vietnamese ingredients… you have a

12 | Word June 2015 |

match made in heaven.” Lim, who won MasterChef New Zealand and starred in a show on the Asian Food Channel, spoke enthusiastically about her country’s grass-fed beef and cleanly raised seafood. She demonstrated how to cook greenshell mussel soup, comparing the broth to bun bo Hue.

Lamb, Dragonfruit and Wine NZTE promotes trade in markets across Asia. It brought together nine companies from New Zealand, including Alliance Group, the country’s biggest lamb processor, New Zealand Natural ice cream and the wine producer Villa Maria. “Vietnam is our fastest growing market in Southeast Asia,” says Tony Martin, NZTE’s consul general for Vietnam. “Vietnam imports from

us because we have a strong focus on food safety and quality. We know Vietnamese consumers are concerned about products that can be fake.” According to Martin, food and beverage makes up 60 percent of New Zealand’s exports to this country. Going the other way, his country imports rice, coffee, prawns and pepper from Vietnam. However, New Zealanders have become increasingly fond of Vietnamese fruit — especially dragonfruit and mangoes, says the New Zealand ambassador to Vietnam, Heike Manning. He adds: “By meeting New Zealand standards (for imports), [Vietnam is] showing it can meet some of the highest standards in the world.” — Annalise Frank

Briefings International

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This is Thingyan


In Myanmar the new year is all about water

t’s around 6am in the middle of April. I’m in the small town of Myeik on the coast of Myanmar. Not much has changed since George Orwell’s times. Citywide chanting comes on way too loud, echoing all through the streets. But today, no wake up call is needed. Everyone’s up early. Every kid in town is already on the street, in front of their house, wearing a slightly evil and overexcited grin on their faces. They’ve been waiting for this day all year. In their hands is a weapon of choice. The older ones tend to go for buckets, the younger kids stick to water guns or plastic bowls. Near each group there is a supply magazine — a giant water cooler — filled not just with water but ice. A motorbike appears on the horizon, the first victim. The grins stretch wider, excitement grows higher. Check your ammo, fix your grip on the weapon. Get ready… Four days of absolute madness is about to kick off. The countrywide water-war starts with a merciless… Splash! This… is… Thingyan.

Water Wars Non-participation during Thingyan, the Burmese New Year and Water Festival, is not an option. Neither is staying dry. Yet there’s not a single grump in sight. The collective thrill is addictive. So you climb onto the open-back minivan, one of many. Around a plastic tarp-covered speaker, which blasts bad pop way too loud for

comfort, you crouch around with a group of soaked locals. Their enthusiasm grows even higher — a white face is still a rare, giggleinducing sight here. Then your fear kicks in as you see the real madness ahead. Makeshift stages set up along the road, one after another, as far as you can see. Forget buckets! Those bucket kids were amateurs! Here, they’ve got industrial strength water hoses shooting in every direction! Those damn things hurt! But you suck it up and as you open your eyes and shake the water out of your ears, among the wild bumper-to-bumper traffic, there’s a crowd dancing around you, as if in a trance. Bikes, cars, people on top of buses; anything on wheels. And hundreds, no thousands, on foot. There are bicycles with creative DIY sidecars carrying whole families. Drops of water fly through the air in slow motion. The roads turn into rivers. “That’s such a waste of water!” you think, as kids nearby recycle dirty puddles to fill up their buckets. Then you get distracted with the sweet smell of thanaka — the traditional sunscreen and cosmetic — that hangs in the air. It’s too much for the senses. Someone hands you a beer but your ‘thanks’ gets lost in the noise and you didn’t even catch his face. You pop it open and you drink it in one go. Seconds later you’re under water-cannon attack again.

Not for Everyone After some hours, you feel relief when instead of hoses and ice water, you see kids with plastic containers. Especially the little ones — there’s a good chance they’ll miss and you get a bit of satisfaction when they do. Some taunt you with big, empty buckets, just to watch you scramble for cover as they laugh. Everyone around seems to have endless energy. Well, you’ve had the thrill of your life but you’re exhausted and cold. You hop off, ready to call it a day. And as you do, you face a young, reddish-robed monk, no older than six or seven. And you are gripped by sadness. Monks don’t participate in the water fun. He discreetly glances at his thoroughly-soaked peers swinging water left and right nearby and in his eyes there’s so much longing, held-back excitement, envy. Before you know it, an older monk rushes the boy along and he’s gone. You’re left on your own, in a brief moment of quiet contemplation… Apparently not brief enough. Where the monk just stood, three kids have taken his place. Splash! And again. Splash! And another. Splash! This is Thingyan. — Matt Dworzanczyk Matt Dworzanczyk is a filmmaker, writer and a long-time Hanoi expat, currently on a motorbike journey from Hanoi, loosely headed towards Nepal. For more on Matt’s films and travels, visit You can follow his monthly trip diary in Word | June 2015 Word | 15


The Man with the Pan


Conquering the world with pancakes


few months ago, Willem Karel Hendrik Dieleman started an adventure. Travelling around the world was not enough for him. So he decided to take a frying pan as his companion and cook pancakes for those, as he says, in need of more attention. After visiting Hanoi and cooking for 120 kids suffering the consequences of Agent Orange, Willem travelled the length of Vietnam to reach Saigon. At the end of April he surprised orphans and elderly people at a pagoda in Binh Tan where he cooked up 100 pancakes stuffed with mango. Willem doesn’t have a type. He doesn’t seek to purely help the disadvantaged. He heads to his destination and asks around for

16 | Word June 2015 |

ideas as to where to set up a kitchen.

An Asian Odyssey It started as a token of appreciation to the people who hosted him through couchsurfing during his travels. A pancake in return for a place to sleep. In Dubai, Willem’s host suggested he get a frying pan to do something different. That is how it all began. He started cooking pancakes for some construction workers in the city. The workers — mostly from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh — are the modern-day slaves of Dubai; they have little freedom, work in hard conditions, searingly hot weather and at very low rates of pay. So one day, Willem took his frying pan to their site and began to cook pancakes, with oil barrels serving as

tables. They were the first of his many diners. Since then he’s carried this challenge to many destinations. His frying pan has become a means for Willem to introduce himself to local life, not only as a spectator but also as a participant, cooking pancakes in exchange for some joy. His next stop was Pakistan. Here, Willem made pancakes at a market right next to one of the biggest slums in Karachi. Then he headed to Chapursan Valley and after a drive along the Karaokaram Highway, the eighth most dangerous road in the world, he arrived in Sost, the last town before the border with China. Here he celebrated his birthday and cooked pancakes for the Wakhi people. This, he says, was one of his

Photos provided by Willem Dieleman

most touching experiences. Focused on day-to-day survival, the Wakhi don’t do birthdays. Here is what he writes in his blog: The milk I used came straight from one of their cows. The flour came from their grain and the water came straight from the glacier. The only thing that wasn’t homemade was a topping. There was a small shop that only sold clothes, gasoline, tea and chocolate sweets. I decided to crush the chocolate sweets and melted them. Farishta invited all his friends, we listened to music and I was taught how to dance like a Wacky Wakhi. I also invited some men from the village. They didn’t like the pancakes that much and sat grumpy in the corner, while the kids were dancing. It was a remarkable birthday. Afterwards one of the grumpy older men told me: this was a good birthday party, no?!’ It was. It was the best and only birthday party they’ve

ever had. After Pakistan Willem went to India and reached the Golden Temple in Amritsar which would be the home of his next cooking show. Helped by the Sikh people, he made vegan pancakes without egg. In China he cooked up pancakes in commemoration of International Women’s Day. From there he moved onto Vietnam. His final stop was at the Tu Hanh Pagoda in Binh Tan. After spending a few hours serving up something sweet, he moved onto Cambodia.

The World is Round (Like a Pancake) Making pancakes around the world isn’t always easy. Willem has found that doors are not always open for him. Sometimes his plans don’t work and at other times his culinary works

of art don’t get the appreciation he hopes for; after cooking up a large batch of pancakes some people have asked for a fried egg instead. It also takes some time to carry out his project. The preparation takes two to three days. He has to ask for permission and search out a place to cook and people who can help him find all the ingredients. Yet, despite being difficult and often tiring, the journey has been rewarding. Where so many travellers just pass on through and make little if any connection with local people, Willem has had much closer contact with the people he’s cooked for. It’s something neither he nor his diners will ever forget. — Natalia Martinez To follow Willem’s adventure click on | June 2015 Word | 17

Briefings Hanoi

ASEAN Pride 2.0

Hanoi’s much loved annual music festival returns to the American Club


f the pouring summertime sweat don’t matter, and all you care for is some hedonistic rantings to live music, then the ASEAN Pride Music Festival on Jun. 20 might just be up your Hanoi-style alley. While last year’s shindig attracted a massive 4,000 revelers, all with the aim of raising awareness of LGBT issues, this year’s offering will be just as good, if not better. With ‘celebrating family’ rising to the top of the agenda, 13 of the best live musical acts from around Southeast Asia will take the stage at the American Club (19-21 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi), including the headline act, US-Vietnamese queen of indie-rock, Thao Nguyen & the Get Down Stay Down. Music fans can also rock out to Vietnam’s own transgender pop sensation Huong Giang Idol, Malaysia’s O.J. Law, Thai girl rockers Yellow Fang, Saigon’s COCC, To Lam and his high-heel dance troupe, DJ Lotus Disco and more. And those looking for alternate action can enjoy a dedicated art space, a local makers market and tasty food and drink outlets to keep you going late into the evening. Organised jointly by the United States Embassy in Hanoi and CAMA Vietnam, says CAMA’s Nick Greenfield, “ASEAN Pride aims to showcase the quality and diversity of the region’s emerging

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underground artists, while creating a safe space to celebrate sexual and gender diversity. It’s already shaping up to be one of the year’s musical highlights.” The festival will also help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the normalisation of relations between the United States and Vietnam. As Secretary John Kerry has stated, “No two countries have worked harder, done more, and done better to try to bring themselves together and… change the future.”

Diversity and Acceptance It’s only been three years since Vietnam’s first gay pride parade, Viet Pride, saw hundreds of rainbow-clad cyclists pedal their way through the capital. Events like ASEAN Pride aim to foster growing community acceptance of diversity. Michael Turner, cultural affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, says the festival aims to capture the energy and dynamism of the local LGBT community in Vietnam and in the ASEAN region in order to help raise awareness of the need for LGBT equality. “Last year the theme was ‘celebrating diversity’,” he says. “This year [the local LGBT community] came up with the theme ‘celebrating family’ because that is what they identified was one of the biggest challenges

for an LGBT person in Vietnam: overcoming that first high hurdle of coming out to the family. “For years, the US Mission to Vietnam has been forward-leaning on advancing LGBT rights and wants this festival to highlight that no matter who you are or who you love, everyone should be treated equally and with respect.” U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, Ted Osius, who will also address festival-goers on Jun. 20, says the festival is an important part of the U.S. government’s efforts to advocate equality for LGBT people overseas. “I’ve been to a lot of schools now and what’s really interesting is that there are kids — even at the high school level — who are brave enough to stand up in front of 600 to 800 people and ask what are the obstacles if you’re gay,” he says. “My message to them and all of their straight classmates is be who you are — if you want to be happy, there’s no other way.” For more information about the ASEAN Pride Music Festival 2.0, head to the ASEAN Music Festival Facebook page or click on Tickets are available online at or at CAMA ATK, House of Son Tinh and Com Ga Café. The festival kicks off at 1pm and runs until 11pm. To read an interview with the U.S. Ambassador, Ted Osius, turn to page 50

Photos by Aidan Dockery | June 2015 Word | 19

Sunny Farm

Briefings HCMC

On the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, an organic farm is teaching Saigon’s schoolchildren the value of knowing what goes into your body


guyen “Sam” Vu Minh Quan’s background is in tourism, but a few years ago he saw how even local children don’t understand the backbone of Vietnam: its agricultural heritage. Together with his mother — the former principal of an elementary school, and designer of educational curriculums — he founded Sunny Farm, a teaching facility that hosts groups of school-age children on its 1.5 hectares of fertile, organic soil. In the programme’s young history, it’s already seen thousands of impressionable children come through and get their hands dirty, in service of what Sam hopes will be a cleaner future. Word took a trip to the Ho Chi Minh City outskirts to see progress in action, and ask Sam a few questions about his life’s work. Word: What gave you the idea to start up this kind of educational venture in Ho Chi Minh City? Sam: The idea of owning a farm and developing it to be sustainable and selfsufficient is a rather strange idea in Vietnam. My family and I decided to open this farm to fill that hole, to share this lifestyle and inspire the youth to help their environment develop sustainably. Word: What is your agricultural background? How about the other people involved? Sam: I don’t have an extensive agricultural background — I just started learning about this subject when I first bought the land. I started from scratch and grew with it. My background is in business and tourism hospitality. I graduated from RMIT and ERC and have worked for some companies before this. The other person who has greatly influenced our operation is my mom. She’s an ex-principal of a renowned state-owned elementary school in Ho Chi Minh City. She’s also an educational consultant, with many years of establishing and preparing curriculums and programmes for youth

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education. Her involvement with the farm brings our educational foundation to a reliable level — the programmes are designed and advised by her, to really provide an easyto-absorb learning experience. Word: Can you tell us about the range of tour groups you cater to, and the ways in which you try to engage them? Sam: We currently cater to children from the age of four to young adults of 18 and sometimes older. Word: What lasting impressions are you hoping they’ll take back with them? Sam: The lasting impressions we’re hoping they’ll take back are of understanding and caring for the environment. I want them to understand that the environment is their surroundings, and it’s important to pay attention to it and put your heart into caring about it. Instead of emphasising environmental idealism, the purpose of Sunny Farm is to give our participants a different perspective on farming. Many in Vietnam associate farming with dirty, hardworking menial labour, not a rewarding activity in a deeper sense. We hope our participants will see the bright future and rewards of natural farming, using both sustainability and self-sufficiency as a compass. Our criteria for success are for 10 percent of participants to understand these basic environmental issues, and to support action. And hopefully 10 percent of that number will be willing to speak their mind and lead the charge. Word: I’ve noticed a lot of concern about agricultural practices in Vietnam, but preferred “clean” practices aren’t associated with the word “organic” as clearly as they are in more developed countries. How does this affect your educational aims? Sam: There several key points I would like to make here:

— The farming community in Vietnam is mostly made up of small households throughout the country. Enforcing an official organic certification is not a very economical move to compete in the local low-price market. The market overseas is very attractive — however, the lack of education and understanding about trading terms renders a change in the farming economy impossible. But there are some collaborative farm goals that are possible to achieve. — The local market is not ready for it, despite the frequent news about highly contaminated chemical produce... customers are still reluctant to choose clean produce. The reason for this might be because it is hard to link the chemical produce to failing health. And the numbers of people who are really aware of environmental issues and pay attention to produce origin are still scarce. — These issues aren’t threats to our educational aims; they are the reasons why Sunny Farm was founded. We link our [organic mission] to environmental friendliness rather than health issues. While having participants experience activities on the farm, they can see how our crops are grown from a little seed to a readyto-consume product. This helps them to understand the importance of enjoying these natural products in their finest form (without chemicals or pesticides). This is also the way we educate our participants about our farm’s produce. Even though our scale is small, the impact will spread. Word: In the future, is ‘organic’ going to have as much currency here as it does in other places in the world? Sam: Sooner or later Vietnam will develop and its community will demand higher quality, cleaner products. And the ‘organic’ label will have a major impact on consumers’ selection criteria. — Ed Weinberg For more information on Sunny Farm, go to

Photos by Mads Monsen | June 2015 Word | 21



efore I moved to Vietnam, I used to enjoy running outdoors. Yet because of the bad air quality, I no longer indulge as much as I used to. Driving my motorbike around the city, I cringe at the thought of all of the toxins I inhale every time I leave the house. Yet I still cannot bring myself to sport a facemask. The problem is that as a fashion accessory, facemasks just don’t make the grade. And the selection here is pitiful. Do I want to look like… 1) I was just released from the hospital and am on the mend from a deadly disease? 2) A ninja? 3) Or like the female version of Darth Vader? Protect your health or keep a good fashion sense? I know it sounds terrible, but I’d rather deal with the exhaust fumes.


Vog What?

You Are What You Wear Facemasks have become a work of art

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So when I heard about a new facemask company that was producing organic, re-usable facemasks that make a fashion statement, I was interested. “I came across Vogmask in Singapore and was intrigued,” says Cindy Tu, the Vietnam distributor. “The filtering textile is actually sewn into the mask, has a one-way exhale valve and can filter 99.978 percent of all airborne contaminants. The design sensibility sets the product apart.” Emerging out of San Francisco, Vogmask has now made its way across Asia. It didn’t reach Vietnam until Tu contacted the company’s co-founder and became the local distributor. Her website,, was launched in early May. So what sets Vogmask apart from its competitors sold on the side of the road? Says Tu: “Vogmask is the first stylish, high efficiency, well-fitting, comfortable and reusable filtering facemask for general public use in the world.” A big claim. But she has a point. The product’s N99 filtering, or the middle layer of the mask, features nano-fiber textiles that filter more than 99 percent of particles larger than 0.3 microns. Meaning, not only is the mask’s life expectancy longer, but it does a far better job protecting you from those exhaust fumes behind that honking bus than a mask bought from a street vendor.

Wearable Art The facemask as a fashion statement is already gracing the runways. Beijing-based designer and body painter, Nina Griffee, has incorporated the Vogmask facemask design into her Spring/Summer collection for Hong Kong’s Fashion Week in early July. But more important is the selection of colours and patterns available — at present there are 35 options for the fashion-conscious facemask wearer. From tie-dye to plaid to quirky mermaids and a variety of solid colours and additives, prices range from VND86,000 for the head strap accessories to VND860,000 for the vegan leather mask. Buying a fashionable facemask is not going to solve Vietnam’s growing issues with decreasing air quality. And unless you wear it at all times, it’s not going to help with indoor air pollution, which is worse than pollution outdoors. But it is certainly going to give you some personal — and stylish — protection from all those unwelcome pollutants out there. — Rachel Cabakoff For more information visit or | June 2015 Word | 23

Briefings HCMC

Animal Rescue & Care Has Been Rescued! After losing the Cat House, ARC found a home


RC’s cat sanctuary was on a quiet street on Thao Dien until last month — when the monthly bills finally got to be too much. It was a scary moment for one of Vietnam’s leading lights in animal welfare. What’s an animal rescue centre without a centre? That’s when Dr. Nguyen Van Nghia stepped in. One of Vietnam’s most skilled vets — with a degree from University of Bristol’s School of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, membership in the British Small Animal Veterinary Medicine Association and a post lecturing at Nong Lam University — Dr. Nghia has long championed ARC’s work. And this time, he saved the day. At his Saigon Pet Clinic headquarters, Dr. Nghia donated half of his front courtyard to house an ARC donation centre/ secondhand shop, and a new, superaccessible cat house. Now animal lovers can come by unannounced, and play with the fishing rod toys dangling from grates in the doorway. As volunteer Emma Paterson says, “We have two regular four-year-olds

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who demand their nannies bring them each day. We’ve had four cats adopted this weekend alone, which is amazing, so having them there is definitely working.”

The Extended Family And just when you thought all was safe for Saigon’s cats and dogs, another crisis looms. That crisis is seasonal — the annual exodus of foster families that comes with the summer lull. But this summer, it’s most of ARC’s hardcore supporters who are moving on, and leaving the many animals they’ve helped for the next wave of kind souls to come along. Those kind souls? You could be one. We see your heart swelling; you’ll do. And it’s easy. So, kittens are the best, right? Well, kittens are the primary beneficiaries of foster care, as they’re too young to deal with the rambunctious older types in the cat house. That dream you had about just adopting kitten after kitten, trading them in when they got too old? It turns out it’s actually possible — and what’s more, it’s a kind thing to do.

As ARC says, “Fostering is ideal for those who don’t want the longterm commitment of owning a pet. ARC pays for all medical bills and vaccinations, and the foster family just gets to take care of a kitten or dog until we find them a permanent home. We also take the pets back if they need to go away on business or holiday.” Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to us.

What You Can Do It’s a common problem for charities — half of their time is spent just raising enough money to continue their work. That’s why we’re encouraging a monthly donation to ARC. It’s super easy, and it will help ease the monthly ordeal of fundraising. Just type in, wipe away those sympathetic tears and click on the donate tab. There’s a checkbox for giving the amount you’ve inputted monthly, so go ahead and click that if you’re willing and able. Just consider it a small tax on all your Pusheen the cat sticker usage. You know Top Hat Pusheen would approve.

Photos by Francis Xavier

Donate! Three out of four cute ARC cats agree, you should probably pledge a monthly donation in the VND200,000 range to keep them in catnip and plush toys. The fourth cat just wants you to donate all of your houseplants.

Go to and put your money where the cat’s mouths are!

Visit! These cats need a little love, even if you’re not going to take them home. Stop in across the way for some clever ARC merch in their secondhand shop.

Saigon Pet Clinic is at 33 Duong 41, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC. The Clinic is closed for surgery between 11.30am and 1.30pm, but otherwise drop in when you like

Cat of the Month: Kazuze


eauty has its price, and with Kazuze that price is a little cattitude. Her name means ‘Harmony’ in Japanese, but that’s not exactly what she brings to the cat house. Some words that come to mind: feisty, imperial, persnickety. She’s got beautiful long fur, and we got the sense in our time with her that a certain patient cat-lover could bring out the best in her. After assuming a defensive pose when we entered, she gradually warmed to our presence, bumping up against our legs as she passed. But dogs, don’t expect the same treatment. She’s active, spayed, fully vaccinated and waiting for you to take her home today. Contact arcpets@ to make your date with kitty destiny. | June 2015 Word | 25

Briefings HCMC

Vivo Mall Shopping goes international

Not So Fast… So far this was all just hearsay, and the problem with hearsay is that it comes from heretics, and well, heretics have nothing to do whatsoever with this article. So, being the curious soul that I am, I decided to pay a long overdue visit. Yet, it was tough. For some of us, the Phu My Hung area of Saigon is well and truly the hinterland, the outskirts less travelled, a suburban part of the city that we have just not explored. After all, except

26 | Word June 2015 |

for the occasional trip to FV Hospital, or to Boomarang and maybe a cinema or two, unless you live there, why else would one want to visit the place? For Crescent Mall’s biannual shoe sales? Fortunately, that long 20-minute journey out to Vivo was worth every second. Walk into the air-conditioned centre and you are greeted by space, lots of space. There are people, too. Always a good sign. And as I traverse the ground floor with its as-of-yet-unopened quorum of branded shops I realise that this is what dreams are made of. Aspirational, walletemptying dreams. You see, Vivo Mall is not quite complete. The Co.opmart there doesn’t even sell baked beans! But the place has already got enough to draw in the punters. A sky park, the aforementioned supermarket, a huge kids play area, a games centre, a bowling alley, Wall Street English, California Fitness, Koh Thai, Sumo BBQ, Starbucks, a Harley showroom and a Nino Maxx. Plus there’s a lot more on its way, including Hamley’s Toy Store and Miss Selfridges. A big, ground-floor McDonald’s takes the place of workaday brands like Lotteria or KFC. When it’s done and dusted, this place has possibilities. Serious possibilities. If you want a shopping mecca in Vietnam, this might just be it. International-style shopping in Vietnam? You may have just arrived. — Nick Ross

Photo by Owen Salisbury


t this fine media establishment, we have long bemoaned the lack of mid-range shopping malls in Vietnam. The bottom end is catered for as is the top, but little in between. So when we heard about the newly inaugurated Vivo Mall in Saigon’s District 7, we leapt for joy. This, we were told, is mid-range. And this, we were led to believe, is a place where shoppers actually spend their hard earned wads of dong, and not just in the restaurants and food court. “Wow!“ we said. Is this country coming of age? Has retail — mass shopping centre retail in the form that we know it the world over — finally arrived? What joy! What ecstasy! Now we no longer have to fly to big brother Bangkok or supersonic Singapore to get our adrenalin rushes. Now we can apply for credit cards and do it all here. | June 2015 Word | 27


From the sidelines, Harry Hodge sizes up Vietnam’s month in sports


The Saigon Geckos For more than 20 years, the Saigon Geckos have ensured rugby is part of the sporting landscape in Ho Chi Minh City. Harry Hodge learns more


n a city that changes as quickly as Saigon, who knew that one of the few constants over the last two decades in this city would be… its rugby club? The Saigon Geckos Rugby Club was formed in 1992 by a group of expats keen to welcome visiting teams and tour the region participating in regular tournaments. As the only rugby club in Saigon, the Geckos welcome men and women of all ages and nationalities. Over the years they have been involved in

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tournaments throughout Asia including the Angkor 10s, Super 4 Cambodian League, Indochine Cup and Manila 10s. The membership ranges from New Zealanders, South Africans, Aussies, French, English, Irish, Welsh, Scottish and Italian to Peruvian, Argentinian, Japanese, American and Russian. There are also a number of Vietnamese members, most of whom play touch rugby, with a few contact players here and there. “The Saigon Rugby Football Club is a very welcoming club

for all types of sportsmen and sports lovers,” says club captain Simon Robson. “We have a large number of supporters who travel with the teams to coach, manage and support the team.” Some of the annual stops for the Geckos include the SEA Cup, with competition against the Manila Nomads, Bangkok Bangers, Jakarta Komodos and Kuala Lumpur squads, as well as frequent tours to Cambodia. The club’s touch rugby section holds two Jon Elwood Touch Tournaments per year in April and November, usually with 10

Foreign Athletes Rule Ironman in Danang South Africa’s James Cunnama became the champion at the VNG Ironman 70.3 triathlon in Danang last month, the first Ironman to be held in Vietnam. Cunnama finished the challenges after three hours and 51 minutes, followed by Australia’s Timothy Reed. Terenzo Bozzone of New Zealand, the 2008 Ironman 70.3 World Champion, finished third. In the women’s category, Switzerland’s Caroline Steffen claimed the top title, followed by two Australians, Liz Blatchford and Dimity-Lee Duke. Under the scorching summer sun, athletes had to compete on a fast and scenic course that began with a 1.9km ocean swim, before a two-loop 90km bike course that took them along Danang’s coastline. The final 21km out-and-back run course passed many of Danang’s famous beach resorts before finishing at the foot of the Marble Mountains. The race attracted more than 1,000 athletes from 54 countries and territories, including 63 from the host nation.

Vietnam Takes Fourth in Women’s Championships

teams playing in two pools. “This April tournament saw the first all girl plus one bloke, the Lady Haus, take on all the other mixed teams of eight blokes and two girls,” says Robson. The touch rugby section provides an opportunity for female, younger players and the whole family to be involved on a Saturday afternoon. Each Saturday touch is played at RMIT, and on Sunday at Thao Dien Sport’s Centre — both from 4pm to 6pm. Robson encourages all

comers “from rugby keen players who love playing the game to totally novice players who enjoy being part of a team and a fun social scene.”

The Geckos’ Habitat Additional raining is on Thursday night, 7.30pm to 9pm, alternating between District 2 and District 7. For more information, visit saigonrugbyclub.

Vietnam finished fourth at the ASEAN Football Federation Women’s Championship after losing to the under-20 team of Australia 4-3 during the fourth-place playoff match in Ho Chi Minh City last month, according to Vietnam News. A double from striker Princess Ibini-Isei helped propel the Australian visitors to an exciting 4-3 win over hosts Vietnam. Nguyen Thi Minh Nguyet and Nguyen Thi Tuyet Dung scored for Vietnam. But Vietnam’s happiness did not last long. During injury time, Princess scored another goal to help Australia win 4-3. According to Vietnam’s

head coach, Norimatsu Takashi, Vietnam missed their chances. Though players made every effort, they were still lacking in competitive experience, especially the young footballers. The coach also sent apologetic words to Vietnamese fans because the team could not reach its target of winning the title.

Table Tennis Team in Turmoil Members of the Vietnamese national table tennis team had to stage ‘an internal competition’ last month before joining the 2015 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore due to a disagreement over the selection of players, writes Tuoi Tre. Arguments broke out after Dao Duy Hoang complained about being eliminated from taking part in the regional multi-sport tournament, forcing the General Department of Sports to settle the rift. Sports managers came to the conclusion that the best solution was to hold an internal competition to decide on the five best female players and five best male players to go to Singapore. In the end, Hoang was not selected for the team.

Vietnamese Gymnast Golden in Europe Vietnamese gymnast, Phan Thi Ha Thanh, won a gold medal on balance beam at the 2015 Varna World Challenge Cup in Bulgaria last month, writes Thanh Nien. This was the second world gold medal for the 24-yearold athlete from Hai Phong in less than two months. On March 27, she netted a gold medal, also on tes upda balance beam, Sendout yourp or ab g grou @ at the 2015 in ry Doha World sportnt to har .com eve vietnam Challenge word Cup. | June 2015 Word | 29



list HCMC

The places to go, the things to do. All on this month in Ho Chi Minh City and beyond

Heaven, Earth, Human Wednesday Jun. 3 to Tuesday Jun. 9 City Museum Gallery, Q1

Two Years and Counting The Bike Shop, Q2 Tuesday Jun. 2 to Sunday Jun. 14 It feels like these guys have been around for much longer, but turns out it’s only been two years in the saddle for our favourite bike shop. (We couldn’t believe it either). So, to celebrate the most awesome rides and (probably) the best after sales service in town, the outlet is running a sale between Jun. 2 and Jun. 14, a chance for you to stock up on all your cycling necessities on the cheap. They’re also hosting a good old fashioned sausage sizzle on Sunday Jun. 7, where you can expect some great deals, games, giveaways, and of course food and drink. They’ve told us the tunes will start around 4pm, but come anytime. Just tell them we sent you to put some ‘extra gas’ in your tyres. The Bike Shop is at 250 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, HCMC. For info click on

An Evening with Tennessee Williams Wednesday Jun. 3 to Saturday Jun. 6 Cargo, Q4


We’ve been following this one since the auditions and now it’s time for our friends at Dragonfly Theatre Company to deliver. Along with Saigon Sound System, for four nights from Jun. 3 they are presenting an evening of authentic Cajun cuisine mixed in with some provocative international theatre. Performing five of Tennessee William’s one-act plays, wrapped around a three-course meal, including two free drinks, this will be a night of entertainment rarely found in Saigon. Don’t miss out, seats have been selling fast. Tickets for the shows are still available at and on the door subject to availability

30 | Word June 2015 |

The City Museum Gallery will host the exhibition, Heaven, Earth, Human, by award-winning laquer artist Truong Be from Jun. 3 until Jun. 9. With his work exhibited extensively in Vietnam, Europe and Asia, Truong Be is widely recognised as one of the leading artists working in laquer. Vibrant and mixing the traditional with the contemporary, his work is found in several museums including the Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts and the Singapore Art Museum as well as numerous private collections internationally. He is currently the dean of the College of Fine Arts in Hue. Heaven, Earth, Human opens on Jun. 3 at the City Museum Gallery, 92 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, HCMC

Cooking Class with Sakal Phoeung Every Wednesday Sofitel Plaza, Q1 We can vouch for Sakal’s cooking skills ourselves, having been on the good end of his culinary finesse a few times lately. Executive Chef at Sofitel Plaza, Sakal loves nothing more than to share his wealth of knowledge, honed over a career working with the best there is in the business. Even if you’re a rank amateur, this is time well spent for you, your clients or just a group of friends. Advanced bookings are required and cost VND850,000++ per person including a three-course lunch, a certificate and recipe booklet. Classes take place at 10am every Wednesday at L’Olivier Restaurant, Level 2, Sofitel Plaza. A minimum of 5 participants is needed to proceed with the class. To book your place, call (08) 3824 1555

The Canadian Connection Thursday Jun. 4 Phatty’s, Q1 Saigon International Comedy and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CanCham) have teamed up to bring in two stars of the Canadian comedy scene, Pat Burtscher and Garret Jamieson, for a night of unbridled, 3

Five on Tennessee Williams’ one-act plays will be performed at Cargo from Jun. 3 to Jun 6


To celebrate midsummer, Saigon Children’s Charity (SCC) is holding its 7th Annual Saigon Summer Ball on Saturday Jun. 6. Raising important funds for SCC’s work with disadvantaged children, since its inception in 2009, the Summer Ball has raised almost US$370,000 (VND7.8 billion) to support disadvantaged children and young adults in Vietnam. Held once again at the Intercon, the ball will feature a Moët et Chandon champagne reception, a four-course dinner accompanied by fine wines, a live auction, silent auction and raffle as well as live music and tunes spun later on by a DJ. To book your tickets, email saigonsummerball@saigonchildren. com or call (08) 3930 3502. The cost is VND3.8 million per person or VND38 million for a table of 10. The Intercon is at Kumho Plaza, cnr. Le Duan and Hai Ba Trung, Q1, HCMC


Saturday Jun. 6 InterContinental Asiana Saigon, Q1

Canadian comics Pat Burtsher and Garret Jamieson will be bringing the house down on Jun. 4

Saigon Summer Ball

Lacquer work by renowned artist, Truong Be

Local techno outfit Heart Beat is back with a major name in the contemporary techno movement: Etapp Kyle. Having received critical acclaim from the very highest levels — and a recent release on Ben Klock’s Klockworks label — this will be a night of music to remember. Support comes from Oko, Chris Wolter, Bax and VJ Erol. Entrance is free before 11pm, VND150,000 after (or VND100,000 with student ID). The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC


Friday Jun. 5 Observatory, Q4

3 & 4.

Heart Beat #12

Celebration Saturday Jun. 6 and Sunday Jun. 7 Youth Culture House, Q1

north-of-the-border comedy on Jun. 4 at Phatty’s. If you’re expecting them US vs. Canada jokes, you might just get them. But more importantly you’re gonna get a night of nonstop laughter from two comics claiming accolades as long their forearms. Both have appeared on TV numerous times, both play the UK and Australian comedy circuits, both hit big time on the Edinburgh fringe and both are, well, damn funny.

Tickets for the show cost VND199,000 in advance or VND220,000 on the door. Advance table bookings (minimum of four people per table) cost VND300,000 per person. Entrance comes with a free draft San Miguel. To book your tickets click on saigoninternationalcomedy. com/book-a-seat. And to keep updated on the event click on saigoninternationalcomedy. Phatty’s is at 46-48 Ton That Thiep, Q1, HCMC

Dancenter’s last 200-person spectacular was tremendous, and this one will be no less so. Featuring 200 Dancenter-schooled performers tapping their way through jazz, ballet, hip hop, contemporary, tap, flamenco, belly dance and high heel routines, it’s a celebration of the true meaning behind dancing — to go out there and shake what you’ve got. Celebration takes place at the Youth Culture House, 4 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q1, HCMC — 7.30pm on Jun. 6, 3pm on Jun. 7. Tickets start at VND150,000. For more info, go to | June 2015 Word | 31

ToDo list HCMC

The places to go, the things to do. All on this month in Ho Chi Minh City and beyond

Eduardo de la Calle


Friday Jun. 12 Observatory, Q4

Saturday Jun. 13 IDECAF, Q1

With over 20 years experience as a DJ and producer, Eduardo de la Calle knows how to move a party. He also knows a lot about electronic music, and has made a documentary on it called BEATZ. This night will begin with a screening of the movie, followed by a brief discussion before an all-night DJ set by the man himself. 10pm screening 11pm discussion with Edouardo De La Calle 11.30pm party starts Entrance is free before midnight, VND150,000 after. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC

Meshing together old and new is increasingly popular in Vietnam, and the contemporary dance performance Non, which will premiere at IDECAF on Jun. 13, does just that. Choreographed by Vu Ngoc Khai, Non is a project that combines contemporary dance with Vietnamese traditional music and is the work not only of Khai, but dan nhi musician, Ngo Hong Quang. Taking artistic inspiration from aspects of Vietnamese culture such as the conical hat, soil, water, chung cake, giay cake and traditional musical instruments, the combination of contemporary dance

Eduardo de la Calle to play Observatory on Jun. 12

Non, a show where contemporary dance meets traditional Vietnamese music




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2 and folklore music creates not only a visual display of Vietnamese culture but illustrates this country’s musicality. Says Khai, “Dance gives me breath, dance gives me frame, dance gives me sound, light, space, sense and a real true feeling.” IDECAF is at 28 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 and the performance kicks off at 8pm. Tickets can be purchased from IDECAF by calling (08) 3823 9968. Entrance is VND200,000 (VND150,000 for students)

Word is working together with Score-Tech apparel company to create 10 limited edition sports t-shirts in a range of sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL The t-shirts will only be made up once and will never be available again. So, if you want to get your mitts on something unique, here's your chance. All you need to do is answer the following question, tell us your size and we will put your answer in a hat for a prize draw:

te is sen h t e t le Comp


IN THHEERE WAS T ORD. THE W Please send your answers to by Monday Jun. 15 expressing what size t-shirt you are and which of the two t-shirt styles you would prefer. For more info on Score Tech click on | June 2015 Word | 33

ToDo list HCMC

The places to go, the things to do. All on this month in Ho Chi Minh City and beyond

Boogie G Saturday Jun. 13 Observatory, Q4 The DJ and promotion force behind bringing some of the most bumping names to Bangkok — including Egyptian Lover and Onra — Boogie G will be back at The Observatory to set the dance floor alight with his rare cuts of boogie, funk and lot of groove. Support from Hibiya Line. Entrance is free before midnight, VND100,000 after. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC

Royal Ascot Garden Party Friday Jun. 19 British Consulate Gardens, Q1 Australians in Vietnam celebrate their big horse racing meet-ups every year, but up until now, the Brits have remained surprisingly quiet. That’s all set to change with the Royal Ascot Garden Party on the evening of Jun. 19. Famed for its elaborately decorated hats, high fashion and its ability to draw in the makers and shakers of top-end British society, Royal Ascot is the pinnacle of the British horse racing calendar. Sponsored by Stella Artois and Diageo, the night will pitch dinner and freeflow drinks with a live satellite link-up to the races themselves, culminating with the

2 Coronation Cup. Whether there will be a sweepstake to go with the big screen antics, however, is something you’ll just have to find out on the day. There will also be a fashion parade and a lucky draw to win return flights to London. To register please email Phung at or call (08) 3829 8430 Ext. 107. Entrance is VND1.2 million (BBGV members) or VND1.6 million (non-members). The British Consulate is at 25 Le Duan, Q1, HCMC

Royal Ascot is as much a fashion parade as it is a series of horse races

Berlin-based DJ, Cinthie, will play Observatory on Jun. 19

The Laguna Phuket Marathon





Cinthie Friday Jun. 19 Observatory, Q4 Berlin-based DJ, producer and label boss of Beste Modus and Unison Wax, Cinthie has been in the game since the 1990s. A resident at the renowned IPSE and Humboldthain clubs where she is known for her vinyl-only sets of truly exquisite, bass-heavy and party-rocking house, this is full-on Berlin power. Support comes from Nic Ford. Entrance is free before midnight, VND150,000 after. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC

Obey Radio Saigon Saturday Jun. 20 Observatory, Q4

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In collaboration with ILL Beats Saigon, globally-renowned Obey Radio is bringing their outfit to Saigon for the first time. Featuring LA-based beatmaker Free the Robots alongside curator Roam Elsewhere, also on the decks will be Vietnam-based bass masters Jin and Jase. Entrance is VND150,000 (VND100,000 for students with ID). The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC

Mugic Soundsystem Saturday Jun. 27 Observatory, Q4 The Mugic crew of Ulysses, Kentaro, Mislav and Dang are back from Singapore to celebrate their seventh anniversary at The Observatory. The last time they visited in February they showed us what makes their nights some of

#savethedate Phatty’s Sixth Birthday Wednesday Jul. 1 Phatty’s, Q1 For anyone who’s spent a substantial portion of their life in this fine city, it is difficult to believe that Phatty’s, that Australian institution serving up live televised sport and beer by the bucketload, is already six years old. But swears man at the helm, Steve Hardy, on Jul. 1 they will be just that. Six. And to celebrate their coming of a new age they will be throwing one humdinger of a party. Born out of the dregs of Café Latin, a now defunct Australian sports bar on Dong Du, when Steve Hardy and Ben Winspear got together to bring us Phatty’s, few watering holes existed in the Ton That Thiep area of District 1. But described my many asunder as ‘operators’, their professional approach to running a bar not only attracted the customers, but also attracted other such watering holes to the area. The list is endless.

the best underground parties in the Lion City. Expect a big show and an accompanying delegation of party-goers. Entrance is free before midnight, VND150,000 after. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC

Although details of the bash have yet to be released, this will be a big one, with free drinks thrown in as part of the deal. Be there or be… well, something else. Phatty’s is at 46-48 Ton That Thiep, Q1, HCMC. To find out what they’re doing on their birthday, do a search for Phattys Sports Bar n Grill on Facebook


Train to be a Yoga Teacher From Aug. 27 Venue TBA We still reckon too much yoga is never enough, so we’re happy to promote Ho Chi Minh’s resident guru in the field, Suzanne Vian, who keeps on delivering some of the best yoga training courses in the region. Starting at the end of August, set your diaries for either the weekend only course from the 29th or the weekday version starting from the 27th. What more can we say? Namaste yogis. You can find complete dates, information and fees at or just drop her a line at

Laguna Lang Co Marathon Laguna Lang Co Resort, Hue Oct. 24 to Oct. 25 Following the success of the Laguna Phuket Marathon, its sister resort, the inaugural Laguna Lang Co Marathon will take place in beautiful Lang Co, an area renowned for its pristine coastlines, lush green jungles and rugged mountain peaks. The marathon weekend comprises a full and a half

version, as well as a variety of fun runs for families and children. Early bird rates apply from now until Aug. 31, with entrance costing from VND129,000 for the 2km run up to VND645,000 for the full marathon. For more information and registration, visit | June 2015 Word | 35





New restaurants, bars and shops, new services and all the odd bits and bobs that pop up in our inbox

The Hyatt Reopens After three months of renovation, the Hyatt is officially returning to normal business on Jun. 14. What the new look property will be actually like is anyone’s guess, but based on their previous offerings, it should be something to write home about — if, that is, you are into your five-star luxury. Watch this space. The Park Hyatt is at 2 Lam Son Square, Q1, HCMC

Boat House Reinvents Itself If you remember District 2’s Boat House going downhill, well now it seems, the trajectory is looking upwards. Thanks to new management, the menu at this riverside venue has been revamped as has the service. Specialising in American-style comfort food — think dishes like nachos, beef sliders, quesadillas, wraps, creative salads and a big selection of burgers — and you’ll get the idea. Oh, and as for their frozen margaritas. Perfect for the hot summer sun. All meaning that after a period of inactivity, Boat House has once more become a go-to destination for Thao Dien residents who just don’t know how to leave Thao Dien.

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Boat House is at 40 Lily Road, APSC Compound, 36 Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC

Calling All Carnivores District 2, it seems, knows no bounds when it comes to the expansion of its drinking and dining options. However, one savvy entrepreneur, Thanh Charles, has opted for an alternative route. Instead of selling the finished product, he’s selling the meat, the substance puts it all together. Opening on the site formerly occupied by Vino, Meatworks is providing, well, meat. And lots of it. But here thanks to the expertise of an Australian butcher, it’s about preparation. Everything is made up for you in advance: pre-marinated

chicken breasts, perfectly preportioned Australian grass-fed ribeye, wings, drumsticks, pre-skewered barbecue skewers, homemade sausages and much, much more. And from a cursory purchase of two ribeye steaks that were cooked at home, the quality is good, too. To help get bodies — live bodies — through the door, in typical Australian style weekends out front sees Thanh and the team fire up the BBQ. Sausage sizzles and burgers were on the menu last month, and says Thanh, expect the Saturday and Sunday meat fiestas to continue for the next few months. Meatworks is at 1 Street 2, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2565 or online at

The Hamlet Project Auditions The Hamlet Project is an international art project aimed at dispelling myths about Vietnam to young people in the US. From this month, six American artists will arrive for a ten-week residency with the aim of producing a 90-minute movement-based adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. And the best part? You can be in it. The company is calling for actors and dancers with auditions taking place on Jun. 12 to Jun. 14 at Dancenter. Another chance to showcase Ho Chi Minh City’s emerging local talent. To book an appointment send a resume and headshot by Jun. 10 to Dancenter is at 53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, HCMC

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Meatworks is the latest butcher to come to Saigon’s Thao Dien area



Dishes from the new menu at Boat House

The team behind the newly opened Meatworks

A 3-D rendition of the lobby at Le Meridien


Le Meridien Saigon Opens its Doors Located just where Ton Duc Thang bends away from the river on the thoroughfare’s path towards District 3 is the newly opened, five-star Le Meridien. Although the pomp and ceremony of this recently inaugurated property has yet to follow, according to the hotel groups’ press release, Le Méridien Saigon is set to be “the gathering place for curious and creative-minded travellers”. Adds the chain’s senior vice president, Lothar Pehl, “Vietnam’s rich French influence is similar to that of Le Méridien. Our brand promises to ‘unlock’ each destination it enters, and is sure to ignite a sensory discovery in Ho Chi Minh City’s centre of commerce and culture.” Welcome to the mad house, Le Meridien. Good Luck! To celebrate the hotel’s opening, Le Méridien Saigon is offering room rates starting from US$180++ (VND3.9 million) per room per night. For more information or to make a reservation go to

From Paris to Saigon

KOTO Moves

It doesn’t get much more ‘now’ than crowd funding your first popup fashion outlet in Ho Chi Minh City. That’s what Linda Mai Phung has done and now the homegrown fashion brand is ready to offer shoppers the first look at its Spring Summer collection. Featuring what they say are ‘timeless, glamorous’ Kathryn and Naya dresses, men are catered for, too, with something they’ve called a ‘Viet Kieu print snapback’ on offer. Sounds like it might be a shirt. Hurry because the shop is only open for a limited time. Linda Mai Phung is on the first floor, 28 Thai Van Lung, Q1, HCMC and is only open until Jun. 20. For more info visit

If you don’t know who or what KOTO is, then you’ve been living under a rock. Short for Know One, Teach One, KOTO is an NGO that provides on-the-job, fully certified hospitality training to young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds. As part of their programme, KOTO has a restaurant, café and bar staffed by its students and alumni, and this veritable institution has just moved from its concealed alleyway off Hai Ba Trung to the top floor of the Kumho Plaza. Visit the place, eat there, have a beer or a coffee. You’ll enjoy it. And you’ll be making a difference, too. KOTO is at 3rd Floor Rooftop, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9357

overscene HCMC

the mor the merrier Photos by Nick Ross North Irish comic Martin Mor made the crowd bristle (yay beard puns) at Phatty’s

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harmony opens

Photos by Nam Quan Dror Lam’s Vietnam-centric necklaces finally have a home of their own

Organic Farmer’s Market

Photos by Nick Ross Saigon Outcast’s first farmer market was a hit, with 900 attendees getting healthy for a change

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dia projects

Photos provided by DIA Projects One of Saigon’s contemporary backbones has finally hit the big time

craft whisky festival

Photos by Owen Salisbury Antique Street curated a tasteful tasting of some of America’s best bourbons and ryes | June 2015 Word | 39



Hanoi’s got a lot going on this month, including a huge international music festival. Here’s what to do and where to go in the capital 1

Chilean Film Night Every Tuesday — Jun. 2, Jun. 9, Jun. 16, Jun. 23 and Jun. 30 La Bicicleta, Tay Ho Feast your eyes on a colourful range of Chilean films, complete with English subtitles, every week at La Bicicleta, while feasting on delicious Barcelona-style tapas. Kick off June with a screening of the biographical drama Violeta se fue a los cielos (2011). Film nights run every Tuesday from 7.30pm at La Bicicleta. For more information, check out the programme on the La Bicicleta Facebook page. Entrance is free. La Bicicleta is at 44, Lane 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi

MoTioN by Etapp Kyle Saturday Jun. 6 Madake, Tay Ho

A 1951 oil portrait of Uncle Ho and General Giap by Van Duong Thanh

Work by Do Tuan Anh — part of the exhibition, Stories Told in an Oriental Way



Moments from Daily Life All month Vietnam Military History Museum, Ba Dinh To celebrate the 61st anniversary of the victory of Dien Bien Phu, the Vietnam Military History Museum (28 Dien Bien Phu, Ba Dinh) presents this special exhibition on General Vo Nguyen Giap. Opened with speeches from both Major General Nguyen Xuan Nang and Swedish Ambassador Camilla Mellander last month, the exhibit will feature artistic snapshots of the general’s life and will end on Sunday, Jul. 7. 2

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Stories Told in an Oriental Way

Head to Madake to catch MoTioN, an artistic performance combining visual projections with music. Watch R3aCtiOn come to life as self-created sculptures react and evolve to special beats supplied by critically acclaimed guest DJ Etapp Kyle. MoTioN will kick off at Madake (81 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi) from 10pm. For more information, visit the Madake Facebook page

Hanoi Urban Flea Market

Until Sunday Jun. 20 Manzi, Ba Dinh

Sunday Jun. 7 Eden Garden, Tay Ho

Renowned as one of the most formative artists in Vietnam, Germany-based artist Do Tuan Anh chronicles the feelings of darkness and isolation in his latest solo exhibition at Manzi Art Space, with a focus on his time in Solingen, Germany. The exhibition will run until Saturday Jun. 20 and will be held at Manzi Art Space, 14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh. For more information, visit the Manzi Art Space Facebook page. Entrance is free

The Hanoi Urban Flea Market is back with its biggest flea market yet: Hanoi in Colors. Hosted at the newly re-opened Eden Garden (end of 264 Au Co, Tay Ho), this relaxed urban market presents a vibrant mish-mash of fashion boutiques, antiques stalls, homemade food stands, live music performances and pop-up eateries to help you while away those Sunday blues. There’s also Timeclub, a recreation and entertainment kids zone, offering a huge range of games and activities to occupy the little ones while you get some beers down you. Sounds good, right? Tickets are available for VND50,000 and can be purchased at or at Timeclub. Kids under 12 enter free of charge. Ticket numbers are limited. For more information, visit the Hanoi Urban Flea Market Facebook page

The Perfect Date? Word has teamed up with the Hotel Metropole in Hanoi to offer a dating to prize to one lucky couple. Start the evening with dinner for two at Le Beaulieu Restaurant followed by late night cocktails at the Metropole's top-end bar and restaurant, Angelina Italian Restaurant & Lounge. The lucky couple will also get a one-night stay in a premium room with breakfast thrown into the deal. To enter this competition, simply answer the following question.

s i t a a me h W ull n e l? f h e e t t th of e Ho l o p tro e M Send your answers to by Monday Jun. 15. All answers will be thrown into a hat and the winner will be chosen using

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



listHanoi Hanoi’s got a lot going on this month, including a huge international music festival. Here’s what to do and where to go in the capital


European-Vietnamese Documentary Film Festival Wednesday, Jun. 10 Goethe Institut, Ba Dinh This year’s European-Vietnamese Documentary Film Festival kicks off with a screening of the German production Sound of Heimat, presented by director Arne Birkenstock. A joint event between cultural institutes and multiple embassies in Vietnam, this nine-day movie fest offers Hanoians the chance to view a wide range of documentary films from around Europe and Southeast Asia. The festival launch event will start from 6.30pm at the National Studio for Documentary and Science Film Vietnam (465 Hoang Hoa Tham, Ba Dinh). For more information and the full schedule, click on vn/en/han

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Philadelphia, Here I Come!

Summer Art School

Friday Jun. 12 and Saturday Jun. 13 Nha Hat Kich Theatre, Hoan Kiem

From Jun. 15 Workroom Four, Tay Ho

From the same people who brought you an epic production of James and the Giant Peach just last year, The Hanoi International Theatre Society unveils its latest production, Philadelphia, Here I Come! this month at the Nha Hat Kich Theatre (1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem — behind the Opera House). A tragicomedy written by Irish playwright Brian Friel, the show centers on Gar and his adventures on his last night in the small Irish town of Ballybeg. HITS donates a percentage of proceeds to a local charity. The performance will be held at Nha Hat Kich Theatre, with tickets costing VND200,000 per person. Tickets can be bought at Kitchen, Puku and The Hanoi Social Club. There are three performances: Friday and Saturday at 7.30pm as well as a matinee performance at 1pm on the Saturday

Occupy the kids this school holidays with one and two-week Summer Art School courses hosted by art and design consultancy Work Room Four (Packexim Building, Tower 1, 24th Floor, Lane 15, An Duong Vuong, Tay Ho). Running from 9am to 3.30pm, courses start on Jun. 15 and will allow kids to hone their creative skills and learn from teachers with more than 15 years UK art and design teaching experience. For more information on the courses available and prices, click on Young artists aged 17 and above can apply for work experience as teaching assistants

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Twiggy Frostbite and The Deer Tracks to play at CAMA ATK on Jun. 11

Photo from last year’s ASEAN Pride music festival at The American Club

Onion Cellar will be debuting a curated series of music documentaries, Sounds by Southeast, at ASEAN Pride. The films include work by Vincent Moon, Harana, Y OUR Music and Yangon Calling

Photo by Aidan Dockery


Swedish (Music) Showcase Thursday Jun. 11 CAMA ATK, Hai Ba Trung Bust out your best (and worst) dance moves to the sounds of Sweden’s hottest young music acts, thanks to this first-of-itskind collaboration between CAMA Vietnam and The Swedish Embassy. The line up includes electro duo The Deer Tracks, famous folkpop band Twiggy Frostbite and Adora Eye, touted by many as the long lost love child of Bob Dylan and Tom Waits. The Swedish Showcase will be held at CAMA ATK, 73A Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung. Tickets cost VND150,000 on the door or can be pre-purchased for VND80,000 in advance. For more information, visit the CAMA ATK Facebook page


ASEAN Pride Music Festival 2.0 Saturday Jun. 20 The American Club, Hoan Kiem The ASEAN Music Festival returns in 2015 with a bang, with artists from the United States and around the region take to the stage at the American Club. Jointly organized by the U.S. Embassy and CAMA Vietnam, and marking the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Vietnam and the U.S., ASEAN Pride 2015: Celebrating Family will build on last year’s festival in raising awareness about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues. Headlining the festival will be U.S. indie rock band Thao Nguyen & The Get Down Stay Down, alongside Vietnam’s own transgender pop sensation Huong Giang Idol, Malaysia’s O.J. Law, To Lam and his high-heel dance

troupe, DJ Lotus Disco, and more. This year’s fest will also feature a debut from Sounds by Southeast, The Onion Cellar’s curated series of Southeast Asian music documentaries, focusing on musicians operating on the fringe of society. Doors open from 1pm, with community booths, arts and crafts and plenty of food and drink to keep you going into the evening. ASEAN Pride 2015 will take place on Jun. 20 from 1pm until 11pm. For more information on ASEAN Pride 2015, or to buy tickets, visit And to read an article on the festival, go to page 18 The exhibition is open daily from 8am until 4.30pm and ends on Sunday, Jul. 7 | June 2015 Word | 43


Just Hanoi


A work in progress — the new VIP Bikes on West Lake


Hanoi Panic

VIP Moves


Zines, social enterprises and serviced apartments. What’s new in Hanoi


Hanoi Panic If you remember Hanoi Panic as being a place where you could once buy Thai street food, think again. The brand has just relaunched itself as a bilingual zine dealing with all things LGBT in the capital. Available at Joma, Daluva, La Bicicleta and Oasis Bar, as one friend said, “I’m determined to search it out this weekend”. Whether they found it or not, we forgot to ascertain. But what we do know is that if you go to, you might just get your hands on some info.

Somerset Comes to Hai Phong Hanoi’s got them, Saigon’s got them and so has Danang. So, why

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Everybody’s favourite social enterprise, VIP Bikes, has upped roots from its premises close to the Old Quarter, to new surroundings on the north end of West Lake. A long time in coming — the old space was just too small — VIP trains up disadvantaged youth to become Australian-certified mechanics. In the process they provide you, me and everyone else asunder with some well-needed assurance about our motorbikes — here they repair them well, and fast, too. Restoration is another part of the service provided by VIP. So are rentals. But, if man at the helm Andrew Souto has his way, the ground floor of the new premises will be turned into a proper, modern showroom selling anything from motorbike accessories to, well, anything to do with bikes. And the downstairs workshop will also be upgraded. Watch this space, VIP Bikes is going places. Will you be along for the ride? The new VIP Bikes is at 17 Ve Ho, Tay Ho, Hanoi (opposite the rowing club), or online at not Hai Phong? That’s exactly what CapitaLand thought when their serviced residence business unit, The Ascott Limited, opened up the first Somerset serviced residence in what is one of this country’s largest cities. Located in a prime urban area in the city, the 132-unit Somerset Central TD Hai Phong City is near the international airport, seaport, industrial zone and old town centre. With introductory rates starting from VND1.65 million ++ per night or VND30.45 million ++ per month, this is perfect for anyone doing business in Hai Phong. And believe us, these days there are a lot… For info click on, call (031) 381 0000 or email enquiry.

Europe’s No.1 in Water Technology

Fruit and Vegetables

Brushing your teeth


Made in Germany

Washing the dishes

Drinking | June 2015 Word | 45

overscene hanoi

Argentinean National Day

Photos provided by the Embassy of Argentina Malbec, tango and all things from Argentina. The South American community and their many friends celebrated a night to remember at the Melia Hanoi

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Photos by Julie Vola A Viet Pride organised party at The American Club brought together a craft market, food and drink and the city’s youth

Hanoi Rock City

Photos by Julie Vola We’re not quite sure what took place at HRC on May 17 — the Wi-Fi was out and someone forgot to tell us — but we do know it involved live music, alcoholic beverages and lots of people. Sounds like fun!

If you have a noteworthy event which you think would fit into our coverage, please email and we'll take a look

art for you

Photos by Julie Vola Manzi and Workroom Four teamed up to bring affordable art made by Vietnam-linked artists to the general public

queer disco

Photos by Tung Del The monthly 80s night at CAMA ATK brought out the crowds for a night of glam, rock, dancing and a lotta, lotta fun. Madonna anyone?


The Ambassador / The Historian / The Nepal Earthquake / Looking For Love / The Cong Ca Phe Story / The Best Mexican Food in Saigon / Mystery Diner Hanoi / Street Snacker Hanoi / Mystery Diner HCMC / Street Snacker HCMC / Fashion / 10 Reasons to Visit Kazakhstan / The Expat's Guide to Travelling with Dad

Photo by Julie Vola 48 | Word June 2015 | | June 2015 Word | 49

Insider Many Faces


The Ambassador Always eager to mingle on the diplomatic cocktail circuit, David Mann met the U.S. Ambassador Ted Osius to talk diplomacy, diapers and daily life in Vietnam. Photo by Julie Vola

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ew foreigners know Vietnam like Ted Osius, a Maryland native who first set foot on Vietnamese soil as a junior diplomat with the U.S. Embassy in 1996. It was a time when he was able to cycle around the city anonymously and practise his Vietnamese on unassuming street vendors. “In the north, people told me I sounded like a southerner, and in the south people told me I sounded like a northerner,” he recalls. “It was mostly bicycles back then, there weren’t very many motorbikes.” The period where Osius was first posted in Vietnam was the beginning of a new relationship between the two countries. It is a relationship that has delivered astonishing and unforeseen gains in the two decades following the normalisation of relations and the lifting of the U.S. trade embargo. Now Osius has returned to a different experience. Not only is Vietnam a vastly altered place, but he is also the United States’ official envoy at a pivotal point in the bilateral relationship, with a landmark comprehensive partnership laying the groundwork for closer political, economic and strategic ties that would have seemed highly unlikely just 20 years ago. “For me it’s a dream come true to be back,” he said. “I served here from 1996 to 1998 and I speak the language, so it’s like a coming home. And it’s wonderful to be here now to lay the foundation for a new relationship.”

Stronger Ties That new relationship is founded on nine pillars of cooperation laid out by Presidents Sang and Obama in 2013, ranging from education to the environment. Ambassador Osius says his job is to make this ambitious vision a reality. “I’ve been asked by President Obama to deepen this partnership. To make this partnership, which has a framework, real. I want to see a deep relationship on education, on trade and economics, on human rights, on security, the environment, science and technology and health. “I believe we’re developing a joint vision of what the next 20 years could look like. It’s not just my vision, it’s Vietnam’s vision, it’s one that we’re developing together.” Osius is also bringing a 21st-century approach to diplomacy, with a strong focus on connecting with Vietnam’s youth through social media and regular speaking engagements at local universities. Such efforts have paid off handsomely, earning him nearly 12,000 Facebook fans since arriving in December last year.

“The fact that we’re engaging with thousands of young people on Facebook, that wasn’t possible before. Now the internet means that people are much more open in their discussions, in their engagements with each other about what kind of future they want to have.”

Family Life For a country with still evolving attitudes towards sexual diversity, Ambassador Osius says Vietnam has been very accepting towards him, husband Clayton Bond and their two young children, Tabo, 16 months, and Lucy, born earlier this year. “I’m the first out gay U.S. Ambassador in East Asia. That was something that just wasn’t possible a few years ago,” he says. “When I joined the foreign service, that was not the case. Now it is and I can have a husband and two children and come and serve in this country that I actually know very well. I can be judged based on my merits and my ability to do the job, not based on what my family looks like. That’s a new thing and that’s a powerful thing.” Osius also wants his family immersed in Vietnamese culture as much as possible, with the aim that his children will forge the same bond he has with Vietnam. “We have these wonderful Vietnamese people [working with us] who are kind of part of our extended family and adore our children,” he says. “Our children will speak Vietnamese first and I’m very happy about that.” With an impeccable 27-year-long career in the U.S. Foreign Service, Osius has served postings in Jakarta, New Delhi, Bangkok and Manila. This focus on Asia was deliberate and something he planned from day one. “Asia is where it’s happening,” he explains. “I made the decision at the beginning of my entry class that I was going to spend my career in Asia. I’ve never looked back, and I’ve never been sorry.” But it’s Vietnam, he says, that will always be his second home. “For me it’s a dream come true. What I love about this country is that people are so hospitable and warm and welcoming. I’ve loved it more than any other place I’ve served.” Ted Osius will be addressing festival-goers at the ASEAN Pride festival on Jun. 20. Sponsored by the U.S. Embassy and organised in conjunction with CAMA, last year’s event saw 5,000 people pass through the doors of the American Club in Hanoi. As well as providing some great live music, the festival aims to raise awareness of LGBTQ issues in Vietnam. To read more, turn to page 18. | June 2015 Word | 51

Insider Many Faces


The Historian

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Sue Fleming heads 20km out of Hanoi to Kim Lan and meets a self-taught village elder who has been instrumental in getting the village in touch with its past. Photos by Julie Vola. Translation by Nguyen Ha Linh


guyen Viet Hong has spent the majority of his 79 years in the small rural village of Kim Lan in Gia Lam, a district of Hanoi. But his depth of knowledge and love of learning belie his modest rural life. With a warm and welcoming smile, Nguyen Viet Hong takes us into his home. We sit around a table in a traditional wooden Vietnamese family house, drinking tea and listening to Hong’s lively voice recount the story of his life. What had brought us to Kim Lan village, about 20km south-east of Hanoi, was an interest in ceramics, but the story of Hong’s life is far more than a story about ancient pottery. Unusual items are hung on the walls of the room: a display of old coins; a photocopy of a hand-drawn map from 1497, showing Hanoi and the surrounding area, including Kim Lan, Bat Trang and the Red River; hand written parallel sentences in Han Chinese script on either side of the altar; photographs of a smartly-dressed Hong at official gatherings. Through a side door we glimpse a mini museum. Its glass cabinets are crowded with pieces of delicate pottery, ancient building tiles and clay artifacts. We ask Hong how all these are linked to his life.

The Project Smiling, Hong jumps up from the table and returns a few minutes later with a collection of coins mounted on a board and a thick

book tucked under his arm. We look in amazement at the coins. The inscriptions are clear — some are Chinese, many from the Tang dynasty, and others are Vietnamese from as early as the 10th century. Hong opens the thick tome, written in Chinese, with information on early Chinese coins. “Because of my love of history I am fascinated by these coins,” he explains. “They were discovered in Kim Lan. With my knowledge of Chinese, and the help of a dictionary, I was able read about them.” The most recent coins are dated 1008. Hong brings out another book from the cupboard under the family altar. There

“Hong did not attend a prestigious school and university. His deep knowledge of history, archaeology and pottery has instead been acquired through a lifelong process of self-teaching and learning”

Kim Lan The historical importance of the ceramic village of Kim Lan is not widely known and yet this place is easily accessible from Hanoi. In lanes along the Red River, small family establishments with their own coal-fired kilns are busily involved in the production of ceramics. Kim Lan’s long history has been pieced together through archaeological and historical research. In AD865, the Chinese general, Cao Bien, was sent to administer Vietnam, known then as La Thanh. The general returned to China but two soldiers remained to establish a settlement. This was when the village of Kim Lan was born. Although Cao Bien was a Chinese general, he is remembered because of the industry and wealth that he brought to the village. There is a statue of him in the dinh. The parallel sentences on the gates speak of him. It is believed that Kim Lan predated neighbouring Bat Trang and may have been the earliest place in Vietnam to produce ceramics. In 1010, when Ly Thai To, king of the newly independent Vietnam, established his citadel at Thang Long (now Hanoi), the village supplied ceramics to the royal capital. But ceramics from Kim Lan went much further than Hanoi. Excavations in the village by the Vietnam Institute of Archaeology, Vietnam History Museum and a Japanese archeological group, found pieces that matched those found in Japan and Korea, showing that high quality ceramics were exported overseas from Kim Lan in the 13th and 14th centuries. In 1996, after floods eroded the banks of the Red River, three pots (each weighing 18kg) of ancient Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese coins were discovered in Kim Lan. Most were from the China’s Tang dynasty but some were minted much earlier. Why these coins were buried is a mystery, but they show that Kim Lan was once a wealthy village and its people travelled and traded extensively. In 2013, the first community museum in Vietnam opened in Kim Lan. It was built with funds raised by the community and by Nishimura Masanari, the Japanese archaeologist who spent 13 years living and researching there. Kim Lan still has the atmosphere of a traditional village. Buddhist nuns care for the peaceful pagoda, and the dinh is an important community building. The Catholic church has a stunning French tile floor. In the busy market, the people are welcoming. | June 2015 Word | 53

are photographs of excavations, of pieces of pottery and many of Hong with a man called Nishi. How is this all connected to him? He explains. “As a child I picked up pieces of pottery from the riverbank, but had not thought they were anything special. Many years later I began to look carefully at these shards and realised that they were not new. The designs and glazes are different to the ones used now. So I collected more pieces from the riverbank, where flooding had eroded the soil.” On his retirement Hong joined up with four other amateur archaeologists in the village to form a community archaeological project — Tim Ve Coi Nguon (Tracing the Origins). By the year 2000, the group felt confident enough about their discoveries to write to the Institute of Archaeology in Hanoi. The institute, along with the Vietnam History Museum, excavated and found pottery artifacts dating back to 7th century. Who was Nishi and how did he fit into the story? “Nishimura Masanari was a young Japanese archaeologist working in Vietnam,” says Hong. “He came with his Japanese wife and their two children to live in Kim Lan while Nishi was working on his thesis.” Together with Hong they began to do some research and became both colleagues and firm friends. When Nishimura died in an accident in 2013, he was buried in the village. Before Nishimura’s death, he and Hong had achieved their dream for the village — a museum. Here 300 exhibits are displayed, many of them discovered and donated by Hong. Hong proudly shows us around and points out the photograph of himself and his wife, and another of Nishimura.

Self-Taught We listen to these stories but want to know more about Hong himself. Born in 1936, he was the first boy after seven sisters. Being the eldest son of a respected family that had been in the village for many generations gave him responsibilities. However, Hong’s special place in his village is not only due to his birth; it comes from his achievements. Hong has a profound knowledge of the ancient history of Vietnam. He acquired this knowledge by being able to read in four languages — Vietnamese, Chinese, French and Russian. All his life he has studied, but only attended formal schooling as a young boy at a small school in the village dinh (community temple). Here he was taught in French. After three years, his father enrolled him with a Chinese teacher, but a few months later this teacher passed away. At the age of fifteen, Hong married and again studied Chinese and Han Nom (ancient Vietnamese), with his father-in-law as his teacher. He showed us the dedication that he wrote in nom at the time of his marriage. As a young man, Hong worked for a

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“By the year 2000, the group felt confident enough about their discoveries to write to the Institute of Archaeology in Hanoi. The institute, along with the Vietnam History Museum, excavated and found pottery artifacts dating back to 7th century�

Visiting Kim Lan To get to Kim Lan village, jump on the 47B bus and travel to the last stop. Alternatively, cross over Chuong Duong Bridge and drive south on the dyke road. Pass the turning to the Eco Park on your left and the turning to Bat Trang on your right. Cross the canal, turn right and drive for about 2km. The museum is open at weekends. | June 2015 Word | 55

short time at a Hanoi printing house. This gave him the opportunity to extend his knowledge of languages and history; he learnt to read and write in Vietnamese and studied books in French and Chinese. Later he learnt Russian by reading novels and listening to the radio. Hong’s eyes twinkle as he talks about his time in Hanoi. I ask him what had impressed him most. “I was fascinated by the city, by the cosmopolitan atmosphere, the food, the books and the bicycles,” he recalls. “I rented a bike by the hour to teach himself to ride.” On returning to Kim Lan in 1954, Hong became a Vietnamese teacher but, needing a steady income to support his family, he got a job at a ceramics factory in Bat Trang. He worked there until his retirement. This began his interest in pottery, an interest that has continued to this day. Hong shows us some of the pieces he has collected — many more are now in the History Museum in Hanoi or the village

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museum. Attached to the family house is a pottery workshop with a traditional, coal-fired kiln where Hong still works with his son and daughter-in-law. Listening to Hong, watching him read and explain the Chinese inscriptions in the coin book and on the parallel sentences (which he had inscribed) on the gateway of the dinh, it is difficult to believe that he did not attend a prestigious school and university. His deep knowledge of history, archaeology and pottery has instead been acquired through a lifelong process of selfteaching and learning. Inscriptions on the gates of the dinh speak of Kim Lan as an important place because of its ceramic skills and the number of scholars that have come from the village. Hong is the modern-day link to that tradition.

Special Thanks A note of thanks to the interpreter for this article, Nguyen Ha Linh. This piece was only possible thanks to her translation skills. Linh is a student at Hanoi University. She is studying Chinese and wants to become a scholar and researcher. | June 2015 Word | 57




The Nepal Earthquake The earthquake that hit Nepal on at the end of April has been devastating. Here are two personal accounts from people living in Vietnam of what happened

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“‘When it starts to shake, there is nothing you can do. It’s like something is moving yourself backwards and forwards, 10cm to each side’” David Mann, Word’s staff editor based in Hanoi, had a different experience. The earthquake struck before he and his partner flew into Kathmandu. For some reason, the airline decided not to tell them. They, too, got stuck. Here are their stories.

Henri and Kim Oanh


ith its epicentre close to Gorkha in Central Nepal, the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that struck on Apr. 26 has been responsible for the deaths of almost 9,000 people. According to the UN, another 6.6 million people live in districts affected by the disaster. Many have been left homeless and the country is already reported to be running out of water and food. There are also frequent power cuts. One can only imagine how much the Nepalese have been suffering. Film-maker Henri Phimasset and restaurant owner Kim Oanh were on holiday with their son when the earthquake struck. They saw buildings collapse in front of their eyes and count themselves lucky. Very lucky. It took them three days to get out of Kathmandu.

Henri, Kim Oanh and their son Duy were in Kathmandu’s historic Durbar Square when the earthquake struck. A UNESCOlisted heritage site, many of the buildings collapsed. They were fortunate. Theirs didn’t. “We were in a small restaurant,” says Henri. “We were lucky because my wife and my son Duy wanted to have local food. So we went to the cheapest restaurant. The building didn’t go down and we were okay. “When it starts to shake, there is nothing you can do. It’s like something is moving yourself backwards and forwards, 10cm to each side. “And then, suddenly, we just saw buildings collapsing.” “Boom, boom,” chimes in Kim Oanh, making gestures with her hands. “And people were shouting.” Henri continues. “We managed to get outside and people were shouting. They were looking for their kids, their friends. Foreigners were hugging each other and trying to be safe. “The Nepalese came from other areas nearby to stand with us. They’re used to the shaking, and when this happens they always go to areas where there’s space around them, because there’s no risk of buildings

collapsing on them. “All the communication had shut down and we couldn’t contact our driver. We were supposed to be catching a flight. We couldn’t contact anyone.” Kim Oanh starts showing me pictures. At 11.39 she took photos of where they were eating. Opposite the restaurant was a temple, and in the temple, leaning out the window, was a boy with a pigeon on his shoulder. She took a picture of the boy. It was right before the earthquake and they had just finished lunch. She had gone out onto the restaurant’s balcony. “I saw some foreigners, some tourists walking around the stupas, taking photos, and then all of sudden, bang. The first earthquake. It lasted five seconds. The second earthquake was the first big one. It lasted 10 seconds. Two stupas went down. Then came the third earthquake, another big shake. One more stupa crashed to the ground. “While the buildings collapsed, we just couldn’t move.” She then shows me a film. Once again her hands are unsteady as she runs me through it. In the film the ground starts to shake again. And in another video she shows me, you can hear the panic in her voice as she searches for her husband, Henri. “We were so lucky,” she says. “We were so lucky. I remember saying to myself, please don’t shake again.” Fortune was on their side. The family found their guide and they went to the car. They drove to the airport, but had to stop twice because of the shaking. “When we arrived, all the flights were | June 2015 Word | 59

“‘As the plane lifted off there was this universal sigh of relief from all the passengers. Nobody had actually believed we were going to leave. Within 10 minutes, everyone on board had fallen asleep’”

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Photos by Kim Oanh

cancelled,” continues Kim Oanh. “It was a big mess. So we had to decide whether we should go back into Katmandu to a hotel or move to a new place. But to go somewhere else would have been six hours by car. We didn’t know what it was going to be like on the street or what had happened with the bridges. So we decided to return to a hotel in Katmandu.” By chance they managed to find a good hotel that had been designed to withstand earthquakes. They stayed there for three nights. “The first night was extremely scary because no-one dared to sleep in their room,” says Kim Oanh. “The hotel lobby was like a refugee camp. People from all around the world brought down their pillows and blankets and all slept together. “But every night there were still some aftershocks. The first two nights we woke up in the middle of the night because people started screaming — it had been shaking again. But we just decided that we needed to get a flight as soon as possible because our son just needed to be home.” On the third day after phone calls back to Vietnam, they were able to get on a plane to Guangzhou. Says Henri: “It was amazing, as the aircraft lifted off there was this universal sigh of relief from all the passengers. Nobody had actually believed we were going to leave. Within 10 minutes, everyone on board had fallen asleep. We were exhausted.” Adds Kim Oanh: “Now we’re back I’m still shaking. I haven’t slept well all week and I’ve lost my appetite.”

Before and after the earthquake. The top left image was shot an hour before the Nepal earthquake in Kathmandu. The other three were taken in its immediate aftermath.

David Mann It’s 8.10pm in Guangzhou and we’re wondering why our flight to Kathmandu hasn’t left. Then, almost on cue, the gate sign flashes an update: “Delay due to ‘OTHER REASON’”. Everyone looks around, confused. The airline staff tell me there’s been an earthquake so the plane is leaving late. There’s no Wi-Fi and no-one knows anything. Nine hours later, and we are still none the wiser as we exit the airport. A cool breeze whips across our faces as we turn a corner and see thousands upon thousands of people camped outside the airport’s entrances. What the hell is going on? Tired and confused, we hail a taxi. As we journey to the hotel, the driver carefully navigates around swathes of people huddling in the middle of the roads. Through darkness we spot the occasional collapsed building or damaged wall. “A 7.9 earthquake. People are very scared,” our taxi driver tells us. “No-one has gone back into their house. So many people have died.” The death toll is estimated at 2,300, but that figure would tragically skyrocket in coming days. At the hotel, there’s no power and guests are asleep in the lobby. We manage to connect to nearby Wi-Fi and our phones soon start pinging with messages from worried loved ones. The magnitude of the situation hits home and we agree to leave Nepal as soon as possible. The sound of breaking glass rouses us from our sleep at 5.30am. The light shade is

rattling above the bed. Almost as soon as I realise what’s happening, the aftershock is over. With the sun rising, we can see that the building opposite ours has been reduced to rubble. We head to the airport where thousands of frantic people are trying to push their way into the terminal, desperate to buy a ticket on one of the few international flights that haven’t been cancelled. Armed guards try to maintain control. Exhausted, hungry and without a ticket, we soon give up on getting inside the terminal. Another weary traveller explains that the few flights leaving are booked out for three days. A Dutch girl warns us that the 72 hours after the quake is the “danger zone”. Eventually we find an empty China Southern Airlines office on the fourth floor of an old airport building. We decide to camp out until a staff member turns up. Other angry passengers from our arrival flight soon join us, with us all wondering how an airline could ethically fly its passengers into a disaster zone without a word of warning? After an hour or so, we hear a familiar rumble and the ground begins to shake violently. People start screaming and scrambling under tables. We grab each other and stand under the nearest doorway. It stops after 40 seconds and everyone starts running down the stairs, certain the building is about to collapse. Our trekking guide in Pokhara is soon in touch and tells us that everything is fine there. Unable to secure a flight that would leave within the 72-hour buffer zone, we

decide the best thing we can do is head for Pokhara by car. As we drive through the outskirts of Kathmandu that we come face-to-face with the true impact of the devastation. Relief workers pull bodies from crushed buildings, people crowd open spaces in small tents and thousands are scrambling to board buses leaving the city. The pattern of destruction is erratic. There are long stretches with no damage. Then all at once you see dozens of buildings leaning on each other like dominos. Occasionally there are enormous mounds of rubble. Heading to Pokhara was the right decision. It was largely unaffected and life was resuming as normal. We changed our trek to somewhere untouched by the quake and met people who told us the devastating impact the earthquake would have on their livelihoods, in addition to the tragic human cost. Nepal is a beautiful country with incredible people: easily one of the most magnificent places I’ve travelled to. I hope to return someday soon and would encourage others to visit, when it becomes safe to do so. More importantly, I would encourage people to donate much-needed funds to the relief efforts. If you’d like to help the relief efforts, consider donating to Plan Nepal. Active in Nepal since 1978, they work to support child rights and end child poverty. They’re currently setting up at least 100 temporary schools, helping 12,000 children regain some stability in their lives — donate at | June 2015 Word | 61

Cover Story

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Looking for Love For some people it’s easy. Take a high school sweetheart, add some kisses, settle down in Aruba and start a horse farm. Your bronzed, Aruban ocean-god children will thank you. The rest of us get a bit older, more particular, harder to perfectly match. We get skilled at the social stuff, well, more skilled anyway. We meet people, some amazing and some not. And we realise that love is a bit more illusory than they portray it in the movies. But we go on dates anyway. They’re fun, sexy, horrifying, everything we look for in a story to tell our friends over Sunday brunch. And, ever so occasionally, they lead us to what we’re all searching for in life.

Photo by Francis Xavier. Thanks to Quoc Tin (475-477 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3, HCMC) for providing the mannequins. | June 2015 Word | 63

Dating in the Dark As the ‘dining in the dark’ concept has become more popular, we set out to find out what would happen if we combined that with another always-trending topic — expat dating. Cupid played by Jon Aspin. Photos by Nick Ross 64 | Word June 2015 |

Solomon, 35

Anniken, 27

Rachel, 24

Calvin, 37

Les, 29

Dannie, 31

Henrike, 28


t’s going to be low-key mate, really light-hearted, no pressure at all,” I said. “You’ll meet some great girls, you’ll have a few drinks — you’ll love it.” Two days later, and Lee is sweating under the glare of professional flare lights, I’m interviewing him on-camera and my editor is probing his eyelids with a Canon-480 zoom. Lee’s still smiling, but my sales pitch does seem to have gone a little left of true. Welcome to Word’s blind speed date. Anyone who’s ever been on a date knows that this is exactly the

kind of scrutiny you can do without. Going out in public with someone you barely know can be bad enough. Doing it in front of a magazine crew for the general public’s consumption? Are you crazy? Of course this wasn’t an ordinary date we were inviting people on. Inspired by the popularity of the pitch-black nights out offered by ‘dining in the dark’ restaurants — and an idea supplied by two friends of the magazine — for this issue we decided to play with the rules a little. The formula? Four girls, four guys, seven minutes and a mission. Throw blindfolds and a non-dark restaurant

Lee, 31

into the mix for photography’s sake, and these singles would be relying on more than simple good looks and subtle body language to impress the opposite sex.

Looking for Love

Recruited from various ‘social networks’, my first signing was our youngest dater, 24-year-old “all-American” freelance writer and Word contributor Rachel. Next came English teacher Henrike, 28, from Amsterdam, followed by financial services product manager Dannie, 31, a recent arrival from the “weird date” capital of LA. Rounding out | June 2015 Word | 65

“Les had the chance to make his dates say ‘fish sauce’ as many times as possible, while Henrike was tasked with finding out the strangest place anyone had ever spent the night. Turns out the inside of a tractor tyre is a pretty good place to get your head down”

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my intercontinental girl quartet was ‘wildcard’ entry Anniken, 27, an Estonian filmmaker and teacher here — yes, the one with the purple hair. On the boys’ side, always on board were Lee, a 31-year-old gym owner and boxing instructor from Bristol, England, wearing possibly the best shirt in Saigon, as well as nice guy Solomon from Hawaii, 35, and a former US Marine. Following their lead were kite-surfing singersongwriter Les, 29, from Melbourne, and San Francisco-native Calvin, a 37-year-old talent manager about town and one of the funniest cats you’ll meet. It’s a good-looking group in anyone’s language, and a fair representation of what’s on offer for single Saigonites. I was right to feel happy with my work as cupid.


Of course all of our participants had some nerves — these were real people in a real setting — but in the pre-date interviews a theme became clear. No-one had any expectations. “None at all,” said Solomon. “I just came here because I thought it sounded like a pretty cool idea; meet some new people, have a couple drinks, it should be a good time.” Right on. Anniken was a little more circumspect, admitting that she’d just been out on what she called an ‘amazing’ date the night before, and was having a little trouble clearing her mind for this one. “I don’t know what to say, it’s weird. I have to go brush my hair, he’s about to take my portrait.” Keeping the boys and girls apart proved a fun game in itself. Arriving earlier than the girls, and having done their best on-camera work already, the boys were dispatched from dating ground zero — Lu Bu in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2 — to the nearest watering hole. Here they imbibed some Dutch courage while the ladies did their thing. On collecting the men I then led them on what I’m claiming as Saigon’s first ‘blindfolded speed-date elephant walk’ back to the restaurant.

The Mission is a Man

After this spectacle, table-by-table introductions were made and these eight fearless singletons were let loose on each other — for seven minutes each. Fearing awkward silences, I installed a ‘secret mission’. Les had the chance to make his dates say “fish sauce” as many times as possible, while Henrike was tasked with finding out the strangest place anyone had ever spent the night. | June 2015 Word | 67

“Anniken gave us a dose of Estonian reality. ‘I think everyone should date blind for the first three months, and really get to know each other. Because even though I found all of the guys interesting while blindfolded, as soon as we revealed, I lost interest immediately. I think I have to go back and think about a few things’”

Turns out the inside of a tractor tyre is a pretty good place to get your head down. Moving through the rotations the conversations were flowing a lot more easily than I expected, and though it seemed initially like seven minutes per date would be a long time, it was the opposite. “The time ran out so fast,” said Rachel later. “By the time you did the usual intros, the mission just became a distraction, but I guess it was pretty fun to try, even though I failed.” Dannie was more blunt, “I ignored

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the mission, I was more interested in the guys I was meeting!” Some couldn’t resist breaching the visual gap by initiating contact with each other beyond the strangers’ voice that sat opposite. When I saw handholding going on, I was impressed, and wondered if my cupid’s arrow would actually find its mark.

The Reveal

Having built up 28 minutes worth of anticipation, we were all looking forward to the reveal. Would all

this conversation translate into any action? Would Les sweep Rachel off her feet and put her in his suitcase back to Australia? Would Dannie jump into Solomon’s arms and declare undying love for her new Latino Marine? Anniken gave us a dose of Estonian reality. “I think everyone should date blind for the first three months, and really get to know each other. Because even though I found all of the guys interesting while blindfolded, as soon as we revealed, I lost interest immediately. I think I

have to go back and think about a few things.” Nice guy Solomon may have had his fancy taken by one or two of his dates, but at day’s end was keeping his cards close to his chest, as was Henrike. “I really enjoyed the experience, it’s super interesting to build up a picture in your head of what that person looks like from their voice, and then when you see them, it’s nothing like what you expect.” But did any sparks fly at all? Calvin was the only one who

admitted to having a strategy. “I knew what I wanted to find out, so I tried my best to control the conversation. I don’t think there was any obvious ‘chemistry’ per se, but they were all very lovely ladies to talk to.” Whether or not love comes to town, one thing was clear; not being able to see the other person opened up our daters a lot more than they all expected. Without distraction by physical appearance and body language — visual cues that usually

frame our communication — our daters talked openly. There was no awkward eye contact or uncomfortable body language to deal with, and what started out as a bit of fun ended up being an interesting social experiment. “Not seeing the other person, I really had to rely on listening to get to know them,” said Les. “It’s definitely made me realise how important that is. I probably don’t do it enough.” Check out more from behind the scenes online at | June 2015 Word | 69

How to Ruin a Date in Vietnam Trust Niko Savvas… he’s a professional


n Vietnam, dating is like singing: most people are terrible at it, yet they do it all the time. The problem is endemic. If you’ve lived here a while and are or were single, you’ve probably had at least a handful of truly awful dates. And each time you likely found yourself thinking: Dear god, when will this be over? You are a busy person, and your time is valuable. You can’t afford to waste precious hours of your life listening to ugly, boring people talk about their ugly, boring problems. You’ve got more important things to do. If you wanted to hear a tedious spiel about deadbeat fathers, you’d answer your kids’ phone calls. There’s a simple and effective way to avoid these unpleasant situations: don’t go on dates. Unfortunately, most people refuse to take this advice. Hope springs eternal in the human breast, though it probably shouldn’t, and nothing is more hopeful or stupid than a person who hasn’t gotten laid lately. With this in mind, here is a guide to making your next inept foray into romance as swift and painless as possible.

Choose an Unsuitable Location

Think of the last place you had fun on a date (then weep at the thought of your wasted youth). Call to mind the music, the food, the ambience — what were the specific reasons you felt happy there? You’ll want to pick a spot that is the exact opposite of that place. If your date is lactose-intolerant, a

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frozen yogurt emporium would be perfect. If his English is poor and you are hard of hearing, choose the loudest discotheque in the city. If he can’t swim, go to the pool — your problem may resolve itself quicker than you’d think! It’s important for both you and your date to dislike the venue equally. If you choose a place that your date can tolerate with little effort, you may find yourself trapped there for hours, lingering like a stale elevator fart.

Dress to Depress

According to National Geographic, roughly 30 percent of neurons in the human brain are devoted to sight. We place a great deal of importance in what we can see. Coincidentally, the other 70 percent of our brain’s neurons are devoted to criticising what we see. The clothes you wear can send a clear message to your date about how little you value his company. It’s common knowledge that horizontal stripes make you look taller and eyeglasses make you look like a nerd, but why stop there? There are literally thousands of fashion don’ts that can smother your date’s libido before it stirs. Here are some of the more popular ones: Choose a heavy, stiff-necked shirt that will cause you to sweat profusely. In Vietnam’s humid climate, it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes for large, dark sweat-rings to start leaking from your armpits. Around your neck, drape the fur of the most endangered animal you can find. Flaunt your stretch marks.

Bore Them to Tears

There’s still a chance that your date will be so starved for human interaction that he won’t notice your elaborate attempts at sabotage. You’ll need to ratchet up the intensity if you have any hope of binging on Game of Thrones and microwaved Indian food later. While politics, religion, and your grandmother’s views on late-term abortions are normally excellent conversation topics, try to avoid controversial subjects that might pique your date’s interest. Instead, focus on the horrific injustices you have endured since early childhood. Were you a better fingerpainter than Bart Larsen? You’re goddamn right you were, even if you don’t have the smiley-face stickers to prove it. Don’t stop there. No schoolyard anecdote is too hackneyed, no familial quarrel too insipid, no venereal disease too pusfilled to refrain from mentioning. Be careful, though. If your date finds anything relatable in your stream of inanities, you may never get to find out whom Khaleesi is pissing off this week.

If That Doesn’t Work…

The ancient Japanese practice of Seppuku, literally “stomachcutting”, was once common practice among disheartened samurai. While sliding a razor-sharp sword into your abdomen might seem like a drastic measure to get out of a date, it still beats nursing a watery glass of ca phe da at 2am. | June 2015 Word | 71

Locals DON’T: Take pictures with flowers, or of flowers on their own. This is the DON’T: Take pictures with slave Vietnamese lady equiva- animals. Yes, the elephant pics are lent of those almost as bad. drugged tiger pictures everyone hates, and it’s your best clue to stay far DO: “I am your nerdy away. What colleague in the day and is this, a your best drinking buddy at night.” We only wanted fifth-grade to know two things, and Valentine’s card? these are both of them.


Travellers DON’T: Have a long list of cities you’ve travelled through. That only means that you’ve probably slept with two people per city, and that’s f****** gross. DO: Tell us if you’re travelling. Showing travellers awesome stuff they’d never find on their own is fun and makes them more likely to kiss us. Until about the 10th time, then we basically feel like a sex tour guide.

Expats DON’T: Like crappy stuff. We know that our expat scenes are villages — we complain about it often enough. And it’s awesome to meet

people we haven’t already met yet (and are fated to meet again and again). But don’t be one of those people we hate. We will know. DO: Meet us halfway. Eventually, Tinder dates can be like pulling teeth. “Want to check this place out, I hear it has a nice happy hour” gets lame when it’s really the cheap place you go to in order to hide potentially awkward situations from your friends. If you want to dispel a little weirdness, find a cool hangout you’re both comfortable with.

Friends DON’T: Have shots of you and a million

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people. No, you can’t bring them on our date. DO: Have friends in common. Neither of us are probably creeps, yay!

Appearances DON’T: State racial preferences. Just keep your misanthropic tendencies bottled up inside as you calmly swipe left. DO: State your height. One of our friends once went on a date (wearing heels) with a guy who was about her height. Right at the start, he said, “You’re much taller than I thought” — and she said, “You’re much shorter than I thought!” The date didn’t get much better.

DO: Take pictures with dogs wearing neckerchiefs. Listen, if there’s one thing which dog people and cat people can agree on, it’s that dogs with tasteful accessories are just the best.

Tinder Do’s and Don’ts

The times they are a-changin’, and Ed Weinberg has figured out some tricks to look for love on Vietnam’s favourite dating app. Female perspective by Sandee Woodside

Cats DO: Post a picture of a cat head on your sexy body. #catwang.

DON’T: Post a picture of a kitten wearing a tiara. Selfies DON’T: Put up blurry selfies. Is this your idea of a party picture? Getting drunk and mishandling

your phone in the bathroom mirror? DO: Show your incandescent smile brightening up a cigarette break. You’re so pretty. | June 2015 Word | 73

between irony and just doing something we’ve seen a million times.


Sex DO: Post tasteful shots that show us you have a nice bod. Hello.

DON’T: Give the ‘No-one can tell you what you are worth except for yourself’ self-description. And what exactly are you telling yourself? That you need to tell smiling strangers that they shouldn’t demean you?

Sports DON’T: Show yoga pictures taken from behind. We know you’re spiritual but until you do contortionist s*** we’re not interested.

DO: Have some written description involving sarcasm and science. We like people that can laugh at themselves, and probably subscribe to Nihilist Arby’s.

Intelligence DON’T: Use clip art of a broken heart on a cheek, while pouting. DO: Show tattoos that say existential things in foreign languages.

Quirkiness DON’T: Say “Nothing about me” or “Normal” in the self-description.

DON’T: Talk about sex in loud ways. Everyone likes sex, but you’re just looking for attention. Duckface DON’T: Duckface. DO: Puff your cheeks out around a duckface smile, bracketing all that will be wrong with the children we hope you

never have with peace signs. Only if you want to give us a quick tip that you are terrible.

Peace Signs DON’T: Be a Westerner doing peace

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signs. No, you’re not being ironic. DO: Make the “ok” hand gesture. It’s a little bit cleverer than the peace sign. You have reached the tipping point

DO: Say “Work like a geek, play like a freak.” Is this a meme? We like it. It’s got two of our favourite words in there, and it rhymes. You probably have style.

Excitement DON’T: Jump in the air with your feet pulled up and your head held backwards, carried away by the awesome beach or mountain you’re standing in front of. We want to know you’re fun — but whoa, calm down. DO: Laugh.

DON’T: Show that ‘warrior 2’ pose you’re doing in front of Machu Picchu. Romantic Possibilities DON’T: Pictures of weddings are kind of weird. Do you go to weddings often? Do you want to have a wedding soon? Is attending weddings one of your hobbies? DO: Blown out background framing you biting your lip. A Tinder impression has advantages and disadvantages, and one of its advantages over real first impressions is being

able to capture that heart stopping first impression, and make it go on and on.

Platonic Ideals DON’T: Say you’re “just looking for friends.” Didn’t you make enough friends by randomly requesting people over Facebook? DO: Be honest about your boundaries. Boundaries are fine as long as you’re not defensive about them. “I mean no disrespect


Clip Art

DO: Post Cosplay photos.

DON’T: Use clip art of a heart dug into beach sand, with a wave rolling over it, and a flower inside of it.

but please swipe left if you’re expecting sex after a few lines of text” is about as good as it gets in this category, and we might still think you’re negging us.

Heartfelt Statements DON’T: Say “Even I’m going with pain I don’t care, I’ll fight and stand up with my freedom, peace and confident.” TMI.

DON’T: Post pictures of you licking someone’s foot. Foot fetishes are fine, but we’re not sure we want to kiss you now.

DON’T: Say that Marilyn Monroe quote. Just one question: Are you Marilyn Monroe? Really, are you?

DO: Use cute little stickers on your whimsical photos. Sometimes.

I’m selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I’m out of control, and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best. | June 2015 Word | 75

How to Land a Lad Theresa, 51, Wales “Oh, I’m good at maths.”

John, 25, Manchester, UK “I think I just chat s*** to them for a while, and if they’re cool I eventually... yea I don’t know. I’m not sure. Are you recording this b*******?”

Lutz, 23, Germany “I’m honest about what I feel, what I think, what I’m passionate about. No tricking around.”

Lassi, 35, Finland “It’s such a long time ago that I don’t actually remember. You should ask my wife.”

Zam, 45, Kerala, India “I pay for them. I make them feel like they’re comfortable with me. I find a simple smile makes them feel better.”

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On the streets of Saigon’s backpacker area, Ed Weinberg and Francis Xavier ask about seduction techniques and learn some of the best tricks that people drinking beers at 4pm can muster

Cory, 27, Queensland, Australia “I keep touching girls inappropriately until I find a girl who has Daddy issues.”

Francis, 24, Ho Chi Minh City “I show them my tattoos.”

Michael, 27, Ghana “Smile. When I look at you and I smile, and you smile back at me then it’s ok.”

Stef, 26, Australia “I think that after you work out that they’re cute, and that they actually have a good conversation, then you kind of just pay a lot of interest to them, and most guys like girls being nice to them. But I’m not the flirty girl, so if I like them I just tell them and see what happens.”

Thanh, 28, Gia Lai Province “I like office man.”

Thao, 21, Quang Tri Province “If the right one comes next to me, I smile at him and I talk with him.”

Isaac, 30, Uganda “Wow, it’s complicated. It’s too complicated but... I don’t how to explain. Sometimes it just happens, it’s normal. Maybe you just entered somewhere, entered the bar, and you feel like eye contact. And you feel like — oh, she’s hot. And you go over there and talk to her.”

Thang, 20, Ho Chi Minh City “I don’t know, because I can’t think about that. I’ve never liked a girl.”

/ Bag a Babe Claudia, 32, Lisbon, Portugal “Well actually, love is kind of a fate thing. You can force no one to like you. And if you eventually turn yourself into someone you’re not, sooner or later that will fall off and everything will be exposed.”

Katalina, 21, Toronto, Canada “If I really like him then I run away.”

Natalia, 19, Oxfordshire, UK “Just the classic flutter-the-eyelids, push-up-the-boobs kind of trick.”

Duy, 34, Mekong Delta “The one I like? I like everything.”

Lucy, 27, Nottingham, UK “Talk about sex as soon as possible. Share sex stories, drug-related sex stories as well. They’re always ones that are good to go down.”

Alex, 21, Virginia, US “You show them the best part of you, the part that is most likely to attract them. If you think about your self traits, like if you’re really funny, or if you’re really patient and understanding, show that to them. If you’re really funny and you’re just going up to talk to them, then tell them a joke or something.”

Vi, 29, Ho Chi Minh City “There are always guys hitting on me, so I never have to do anything.”

Moto Taxi, “Too old”, Ho Chi Minh City “Buy some?”

Fiona, 35, New York City, US “Well there’s always the physical aspect of it, of course. But my eyes, my eyes do the talking. I read eyes. I look into the person’s eyes, and if they say something back to me...”

Marc, 29, Melbourne, Australia “Aw dude, I’m so bad at picking up chicks. I normally will just sit there until they come over to me, and then I’m like, ‘Ok, I can do this now.’”

Lan, 29, Hanoi “I have married already. But before I meet my husband we laughing and waiting, and become tied together.”

Mia, 21, Montréal, Canada “Laugh at everything, touch their hands. Want some chips?”

Alex, 20, Montréal, Canada “I buy them a beer. I say, ‘Want to drink something?’”

Moctar, 22, Tokyo, Japan “I will go up to her and just talk — what should I say? Ok, ‘Hi.’ Oh yea. I always get stuck in the friend zone.” | June 2015 Word | 77

Messy Break-Ups When cross-cultural marriages fall apart, in Vietnam the whole world seems to know about it. Words by Nick Ross. Photo by Kyle Phanroy


ave (name changed) doesn’t live in Vietnam any more. He was lucky. Not because this fine country treated him with contempt or disdain. Far from it. But if he had stayed he would have lost his marriage. With two young kids playing at being toddlers and a business started and run together with his wife, the break-up would have been messy. Moving to the UK took his wife away from the annual Tet moratorium on gambling. In the first year she lost VND600 million at tien len, a popular card game. 12 months later she gambled away the couple’s apartment. So, after some messy, tearful nights out on the booze, Mike chose make or break. He went back to the country of his birth, wife and kids in tow. Two years later the couple are selling their business in Vietnam to make the move permanent. Brian (name also changed) wasn’t so lucky. Not only did he lose his house, he lost his family. His better or perhaps more spendthrift half had a gambling problem. She cardgamed away the house the couple had worked so hard for. When they split, Brian took the elder son to live with him in Saigon. His ex took the younger boy to the countryside. Father and son finally reunited a year later, but they couldn’t communicate. The boy could only speak Vietnamese. In his time in this country, Canadian-born Brian had picked up only a few words of the lingo. There are many stories like these floating around Vietnam, but rarely do you hear both sides. If you’re a foreigner, you will know of the pain Dave and Brian went through as their wives brought on disaster. You will hear about how terrible the Vietnamese wife is, about all the horrendous things she did in the name of money. If you’re Vietnamese, you will hear about the personality of Dave and Brian, how difficult or stubborn or arrogant they are, their obsessions, their possessiveness, their jealousy. You will hear about their stinginess with money and their lack of compassion for the wife’s family. But never will you hear both sides. They don’t communicate. Relationships and marriage are difficult. You have to work at them. But when they are cross-cultural, they are doubly so.

Communicate, My Friend

The biggest challenge when you go cross-cultural is language, or so says Singaporean social work consultant and university professor, Michael Ong. The owner of Tea Talk, a Cau Giay-located café in Hanoi that offers free formal and informal counseling to both Vietnamese and foreigners, Michael also wrote the country’s university curriculum for social work. “Both [partners] may be equally proficient in the language, e.g. English, but languages are socially constructed,” he explains. “As such, the same word use may have a very different meaning considering the context of each person’s culture and upbringing.” As we talk, an example comes up — the English phrase ‘such a shame’. There are two words for shame in Vietnamese — nhuc, which is connected to the word dia nhuc, which means hell (or more literally, the place of shame). The other word is xau ho, which means anything from shy to embarrassed. It’s the kind of word you say about a shy child, or about someone who has done something a little bit silly and feels embarrassed about it. It’s a light version, a very light version of the word ashamed. So, translate ‘such a shame’ directly into Vietnamese, and you just don’t get the right meaning. ‘What a pity’, however, which has the same meaning as ‘such a shame’, translates directly — rat tiec or toi nghiep. Use this phrase and everyone will understand perfectly. In cross-cultural marriages, misunderstandings due to language are a frequent cause of friction.

The Cultural Angle

Another key issue, says Michael, is behaviour. Social behaviour peculiar to each culture. In Vietnam, for example, care and concern can often come across to Westerners as ‘mothering’. “I counseled a Westerner on the verge of breaking up with his Asian girlfriend,” he recalls. “She was ‘mothering’ him, asking him to eat, go wash his hands and so on. At one point he got mad with her. He came to me for some help. I framed the ‘mothering’ behaviour in the context of the family situation of the Asian girlfriend. That was her ‘love language’. The couple is now happily married.”

The simple fact, says Michael, is you must learn to communicate. A lack of communication and bad listening are the two other key causes of friction. “[Friction] can start from very minor or even trivial issues,” he explains. “We hold assumptions based on our cultural context. So in cross-cultural marriages, such assumptions should be clarified.” We expect people to behave in certain ways based on our cultural background. In the UK, you assume people will queue, in Vietnam you don’t. In Vietnam, babies are the realm of women. Men don’t get involved — they’re not even supposed to change nappies. In the West, men are expected to take an equal role. The problem, adds Michael, is that if these “assumptions” are not dealt with, or are “kept under the carpet”, then they can grow into “unmanageable ‘fights’ and ‘huge blow ups’ that result in breakups.”

Holding it Together

We don’t know the full story. But my guess is that there was a huge communication issue between Brian and his wife. Despite the losing-the-house disaster, they could have kept both the marriage and the family together. They didn’t. Dave, however, got it right. He didn’t seek out counseling — that’s not his way — but on those drunken nights out after his wife’s misdemeanours he poured out his heart. His friends gave him advice and he listened. “For the sake of your kids,” said one, “try and keep the family together. If you move to the UK and it still doesn’t work, then at least you can walk away knowing that you tried.” Added another: “You need to try and forgive. She knows she’s screwed up. But if you constantly hold that against her, then it will affect your relationship.” Says Michael, the only way to make a cross-cultural relationship work is through good communication, to find a way to overcome all the differences created by culture. This means you need to “clarify, clarify and clarify. Don’t make assumptions when communicating. You should have good listening skills. Ask ‘What do you mean?’ when you don’t understand. Seek to understand and be understood.”

“In the UK, you assume people will queue, in Vietnam you don’t. In Vietnam, babies are the realm of women. Men don’t get involved — they’re not even supposed to change nappies. In the West, men are expected to take an equal role” | June 2015 Word | 79

Food and Drink Faced with a tough choice, and four times the recommended daily allowance of meats, Owen Salisbury grits and grinds through the best taco options this city has to offer. Photos by Kyle Phanroy


ven as I type this, I’m eating a burrito. Kind of sad, isn’t it? Less than a week after a 10-hour marathon of gorging through the best carnitas, nachos, huevos and tacos Ho Chi Minh City has to offer, and I’m back at the trough. But why not? I am from California, and I’m pretty sure we invented Mexican food, as well as the internet, Hollywood and pomposity. (Actually, we had three Californios on this trip. You can’t escape us.) Here’s the thing you should know about Mexican food — and sorry editor Nick, Americans are convinced we know The Truth about it — it comes in varieties. How can one pick the best when every place has its own way, its own history, its own culinary signature? By eating our guts out is one honest answer. The more honest answer is that — to be honest — we can’t. Still, let us try. Let us intrepid five — Ed, our deputy editor; Natalia, the Latina in the mix; Kyle, photo editor and brother of the guy behind the now-part-of-Saigon-folklore Gringos; Amber, our friend along for the ride; and me — guide you through the nascent world of Vietnamese-Mexican food, comprising four restaurants, each vying to outdo each other in fish tacos, nachos and assorted other gooditas. We began the day at Khoi Thom, easily the most beautiful spot, travelled through rain and thunder to La Fiesta, detoured through an American craft whiskey festival, dined by riverside at The Boathouse and ended — appropriately — at Zombie BBQ, which took exquisite care of our bloated bellies and empty brains. Our thanks go out to each of the restaurants involved for feeding us just enough to not slay us through overindulgence. Each of us had our favourites, our pet dishes. We hashed out disputes, bickered over authenticity and sampled extensively. This series of mini-reports should give you not only the substance, but the — excuse the pun — flavour of the best Mexican feast this city’s ever seen.

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The Best Overall I’d thought of doing this chronologically, but what the hell, let’s start with the best. The winner is Tex-Mex joint La Fiesta, heart-and-soul-child of Scott and Duc Marquis of District 7 mainstay Scott and Binh’s — who want me to assure you that everything on the menu can be made vegetarian. With its spartan décor of painted luchador masks on the wall, and animated by Scott’s own warm liveliness, we ate simply sublime huevos rancheros, nachos that divided us (were the chips too thick? Opinions differ) and fish tacos that Ed will tell you about. Every judge save one picked the huevos

eat & drink

rancheros — a mountain of beans, cheese and chorizo topped by two perfectly cooked eggs — as one of the three best dishes of the night. I picked it as first, to be honest, but the ultra-high levels of insulin that hit later may have prejudiced me in the slightest. Endurance eating — not for the weak of pancreas. Many of us also chose the molé, though as Natalia commented, “I wish there had been more chocolate.” “I feel a little guilty for how much we all loved the corn,” said Amber, daring to meet my challenge to be witty. Pro tip: Try La Fiesta’s Mexican Street Corn.


The Best Mexican Food in Saigon

La Fiesta’s fish tacos | June 2015 Word | 81

The Beauty Spot Another area of surprising unanimity was in best, most beautiful atmosphere: Khoi Thom, whose peaceful outdoor seating caused us to make the tactical mistake of eating everything offered at this, our first stop. I can highly recommend the chicken fajitas. “The fajitas hit everything right,” I quote myself. Frankly, though, I wish they’d go more authentic with the tortillas and chips, and several — Kyle — wished for more

Khoi Thom’s fish tacos

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grease in the experience. Health nuts, that’s for you: the most beautiful spot is also the most Fresh-Mex, emphasizing veggies over cheesy, meaty weightiness. Be warned, though: as Natalia said, “I was missing more of the spiciness,” commenting that too many restaurants cater to EuroAmerican wimpiness in that arena. Pro tip: Plan your next six-margarita lunch here, and pass out in their beautiful garden.

“How can one pick the best when every place has its own way, its own history, its own culinary signature? By eating our guts out is one honest answer� | June 2015 Word | 83

The Boat House’s carnitas nachos

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The Dark Horse A surprising contender for best food was District 2’s The Boat House, where new managers Jeff and Maggie plied us with food in a sly attempt to discombobulate rival Zombie BBQ. As Amber said, “These are the nachos we’ve been waiting for,” when presented with their mountainous pile of carnitastopped nachos and trays of salsa, sour cream and guacamole.

This was in response to Ed commenting that he could drink the chipotle sauce from “the pump”. So... yeah, that echoed our state of mind pretty well. For me, the carne asada tacos were a gift from home, where — by the time you read this — I’ll be gorging myself again on authentic Cali-Mex carne asada everything. Pro tip: Don’t let mosquitos eat you — you’re the apex predator here, dammit. | June 2015 Word | 85

The Final Resting Spot “Ok, Word Magazine post-mortem,” Ed said. “Day of the Dead has arrived.” Zombie BBQ — already reviewed in this magazine for its BBQ — serves up some mean Mexican food, delighting us with dishes no one else attempted as well as with genuine Mexican Jarritos fruit soda, and was the only place that provided wet-naps. We also got an excellent ceviche and a Vera Cruz shrimp cocktail, both ways of

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cooking meat chemically, a bit of science trickery I frankly love, along with raw meat. To be brutally honest, we were all pretty burnt by this point, arriving in the rain at nearly 10pm, and staggering out into another, later rain like — yes, I’m going for it — zombies. Pro tip: Try the house-made, hibiscus-infused Patron tequila — or the tiki bar when it opens soon.

The Unexpected, or “Holy S***, They Have Liquid Cheese in Vietnam?” I just want to say that finding that Zombie BBQ serves nachos with liquid cheese brought tears of patriotic fervor to my eyes, as a bald-eagle screamed and an F-22 nuked Nazi-terrorists. “They’re like something I’d expect to find at a baseball game,” said Kyle, and I fist-pumped in agreement.

In Sum I keep coming back to the variety of opinion expressed (and how stupid I sound in audio recordings) and so my final words to you are these: the best Mexican food in the city is where you feel best, where things taste best, where you get the

most variety and the most food for your dong. Get thee out, and try ‘em all. If that sound like a cop-out, ya got me. I like food. Hell, I love it. The way it looks, smells, tastes, the creative things chefs do to delight us with this most transient of arts. I like writing about it, taking pictures of it, cooking it, eating it. I want more Mexican food in this city, more and better, because that fills the hole in my soul left by the absence of Super Taqueria’s carne asada burritos. So let us know, readers. What’s your best Mexican food in the city? The Word sincerely thanks Khoi Thom, La Fiesta, The Boathouse, Zombie BBQ, Zoom Café and Robert Nussbaum for their hospitality, and apologises for any hurt feelings the mild snark may cause. I’ll eat at all of your restaurants again, I promise

Zombie BBQ’s ceviche and Vera Cruz shrimp cocktail | June 2015 Word | 87

Day of the Nacho Nachos, first invented in 1943 by a dude named Nacho — I swear this is true, and that Oct. 21 is the International Day of the Nacho — formed an integral part of our quest to find the best Mexican food this very un-Mexican city has to offer. Each restaurant threw down with their version of the dish. One of the things that makes nachos so great, of course, is their versatility, and we saw our share. This is another one of those cop-outs, but — as with nachos themselves, there are no rules for nacho roundups.

T he B est

We staggered to T he B oathouse ’ s table, and within minutes, owner Jeff had deposited a pile of nachos so huge I could barely see over them. “It’s huge,” Amber said from behind the pile of carnitas, sliced peppers and ooey gooey cheese. Despite being full, we kept coming back to the fully homemade goodness, and that power is what earned them this spot.

T he H ealthiest

This may be unfair, but K hoi T hom ’ s nachos were as airy and green as their outdoor seating... especially given their relative lack of cheese and chicken. If you like nachos, but don’t like triplebypass surgery, these are the nachos for you. But let’s be honest. We don’t eat Mexican food for our health.

T he M ost A merican

I may be US-centric, a little, but I was honestly delighted by the appearance of Z ombie BBQ’ s liquid, petroleumbyproduct 7-11 cheese, which I haven’t eaten since my last visit to Taco Bell. What was also American was the La Fiesta’s nachos

“I just want to say that finding that Zombie BBQ serves nachos with liquid cheese brought tears of patriotic fervor to my eyes, as a baldeagle screamed and an F-22 nuked Naziterrorists. ‘They’re like something I’d expect to find at a baseball game,’ said Kyle, and I fist-pumped in agreement” barbecued beef liberally mixed in with the chips and beans, mouth-watering chunks that slightly clashed with the downmarket appeal of their fast food chic.

T he C ontroversial O nes

Every band has its badboy. L a F iesta ’ s nachos fill that role. Me? I love ‘em. Others... not so much. The chips are house-made, thick and crunchy as hell, and the nacho-pile is a mixture of like 18 different ingredients — not exactly the limpid simplicity some expect. The resultant tower split the difference between the other restaurants — not as healthy as Khoi Thom’s, but more so than the others; not as oddly compelling as The Boathouse’s, yet still with its fans; not as American as Zombie’s, but the only ones made Tex-Mex style.

Best Mex We had our pets, but through dint of clever bargaining and horse-trading, managed to cobble together a list of the best dishes. Each of us picked three, and I recalled elementary maths to score them and average them.

#1: L a F iesta ’ s

huevos rancheros

(available in vegetarian! For some unknown reason!). My comment: holy s***. Others’ comments: far more eloquent, sadly unrecorded.

#2: Z ombie BBQ’ s

ceviche .

My comment: if the parrotfish were any fresher, it would bite you with its lippy, corral-eating jaws. Others’ comments: “Spoiler: that was my favourite dish of the day,” said Ed in the Zombie post-mortem.

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The Best Fish Tacos in HCMC

The Boat House’s blackened mahi-mahi tacos

Fishes were first taco’d in northern Mexico, before gaining notoriety as a southern California classic, in their battered and corn tortilla-wrapped form. From there, they travelled up the coast to the San Francisco Bay Area, where I first encountered them in a cute shop with a whittled wooden fish attached to the bathroom key. It’s been love ever since. Out here, they have the whitefish, but do they have the moves? The fish-savvy amongst us decided to find out. Below are the results.

#1: T he B oathouse ’ s blackened mahi mahi tacos . These tangy numbers cut

through our malaise with their freshness, and the consistency differential brought by the hard shell. Although not playing by the same rules as the rest of the competitors — they were grilled rather than battered — they take first place on the back of Grade A whitefish and no fuss.

#2: Z oom C afé . Although price points

weren’t a main consideration here, Zoom’s awesome Fish Taco Tuesday promo — three tacos for VND60,000 — must be recognised. Add that to the overall balance of ingredients and the flavour of the fish and you’ve got a winner. Although, as tester Jon said, “For my mouth I want a bit more zing.”

#3: L a F iesta . The fish tacos at La Fiesta

La Fiesta’s huevos rancheros

were traditional, we all agreed, but some were left unimpressed. Kyle offered a defense of their perceived lack of flavour: “It’s a pretty light dish. You’re not supposed to eat one, you’re supposed to eat five.” But on the flip side, Kyle took issue with the one untraditional factor. “While the breading had crispiness, I don’t know if it was the right kind of breading. That was more like the kind of breading you do on chicken than one you do on fish.”

#4: K hoi T hom . Packed with mango salsa #3: a tie, between K hoi T hom ’ s chicken fajitas and Z ombie BBQ’ s gator tacos .

My comments: first, the chicken was perfectly cooked. Second, I like eating things that want to eat me (screw you, beef, you’re just not macho enough). Others’ comments: “The meat was just perfectly cooked,” said Natalia. “The meat had weird bones in it,” said Kyle. You figure out which they’re referring to.

H onorable mention : T he B oat H ouse ’ s carnitas nachos that

everyone kept coming back to, despite near-terminal pain in our bellies. When you’re already that full, and are served a pile of meat and cheese that you can’t stay away from, the cooks are doing something right/horribly, horribly wrong to your arteries.

and super-fresh fish, Khoi Thom’s offering was its Fresh-Mex style in a nutshell. The flavour balance was interesting, but the corn tortilla was sorely missed. And, as Kyle said, “the signature taste of fish tacos comes from the corn tortilla”. “But,” he pondered, thinking of the flavour possibilities, “at the same time, the corn might have clashed with the mango salsa. The flour is more of a neutral flavour.” Also worth noting is that this tasting was the first dangerous step towards Natalia’s eventual salad rant.

#5: T he B oathouse ’ s breaded fish tacos . Boathouse’s grilled prizewinners

stood diametrically opposed to the restaurant’s other, more traditional fish taco offering. Wrapped in wax paper and giant-sized tortilla, this one overwhelmed us with sauce, lettuce... “and cheese?” asked Natalia. “No.”

Other Creatures of the Deep Gaining some buzz lately are the duck tacos that Calvin Godfrey first wrote about on Medium — an outrageously savoury meeting of streetside rotisserie duck and just-made-that-day corn tortillas from S aigon T acos . Taco mastermind Robert Nussbaum met me in an obscure part of the District 2 roadmap, an inconspicuous location at 554 Nguyen Thi Dinh with vit on the signboard. We ordered a herbaceous half-duck for VND250,000, which came with a beautifully salty-sweet hoisin variant, a ramekin of Saigon Tacos’ proprietary salsa roja, diced salsa veggies and eight steaming tortillas. We folded them up and dug in. And guess what? It was heaven. Those meats. Those tacos. Those accoutrements. It would have taken top slot in our best Mexican tasting, I’m pretty sure. The combination was outrageous, a rolling flavourball of sweet, spice, duck, corn, fresh veg and crisp cucumber, from first bite to last. Yes, I’m fully aware I used the word ‘outrageous’ twice in the last four paragraphs. But I got saliva all over my thesaurus, so that’ll have to do. Also falling into this category of fantastic and overlooked sea dwellers are the grilled octopus fajitas at K hoi T hom . Besides for requesting nachos and tacos from each of the restos on our list we left it to their discretion, and this niche item got lost in the shuffle. Which wasn’t a bad bet on our vanilla preferences, as Khoi Thom’s chicken fajitas ranked pretty high on our overall score sheet. But, speaking from personal preference, these squeaky morsels would have bested any dish except the duck. — Ed Weinberg | June 2015 Word | 89

Food and Drink



La Badiane

Our masked gourmand ventures into one Vietnam’s consensus best spots to see what’s up. Photos by Trung Del


hen it comes to finding French food in Vietnam, the choices are aplenty. In Hanoi especially, French cuisine can also be found branching off into delicious fusion varieties that can be found all over the city. Opened by French friends Minh Spielmann, Benjamin Rascalou and Anthony Balenci in 2008, La Badiane has since become a staple of Hanoi’s top-end dining circuit. Indeed, its elegant interiors and innovative take on French gastronomy have made it one of Vietnam’s most respected eateries. Named in the Miele Guide’s Top 500 Restaurants in Asia, La Badiane was also named in our very own Word Magazine top 10 list of the best restaurants in Hanoi.

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Thus, with our stomachs rumbling and expectations riding high, we decided there was no better time to pay a visit.

Down the Rabbit Hole Just steps from Quan An Ngon and tucked into the side alley of Nam Ngu, La Badiane is housed in a grand villa. The glowing white facade makes for a striking contrast from the bustling pho ga stalls and packed shophouses on either side. The décor exudes the kind of casual elegance you’d expect from a top-end French establishment. Outside, the stone walkway flows past painted French shutters and white archways into a leafy openair patio, the occasional artwork making for a pleasant splash of colour.

This relaxed outdoor setting — ideal for al fresco summer lunches, by the way — also allows you to get a whiff of the fragrant aromas emanating from the stainless steel kitchen, where white-clad sous chefs put the final touches on exotic looking fare.

All Class First impressions are all positive, and very classy. Inside, we’re seated on the upper floor; a luxuriously decorated room of burgundy table clothes and vivid art works that create a nice, warm ambience. Menus are promptly delivered and the friendly waiters respond confidently to questions about the restaurant’s specialties. As we sip on glasses of the house rosé (VND120,000), we sink into our


14 Food



13 Décor

comfy chairs and steal glances at the food on the surrounding tables. Before long, our entrée arrives, a divine-tasting grilled eggplant and silky goats cheese rolled in Italian Parma ham, pesto and balsamic sauce (VND265,000). Across the table, my companion savours each mouthful of the salmon tartar (VND265,000), seasoned with herbs and dry fruits and accompanied by a thick goat cheese sauce, arugula and soy sprouts that help balance the richness. As soon as our forks hit the table, our plates are promptly whisked away and replaced with our main meals, a stunning looking millefeuille lamb shank (VND595,000) for me and the Australian grilled beef tenderloin for my date.

The lamb shank is perfectly cooked and collapses at the first nudge of my fork. Whilst I’m normally accustomed to getting lamb shank that’s still on the bone, I’m instantly won over by the neatly organised piles of succulent braised lamb soaking in the “spiced lamb liquorice juice” and misted with an aromatic basil perfume. The pumpkin salad and feta cheese add an extra layer of decadence to the already sumptuous meat, resulting in pure gastronomic bliss. Across the table, the beef tenderloin has disappeared, each forkful of steak accompanied by a generous dollop of pea mousseline and smothered in rich five-pepper sauce. By the time dessert arrives, we’re

already full from the generous portions, but we soldier on. The banana nem (VND245,000), a cute collection of fragrant and sticky banana spring rolls, come drizzled with a heavenly hazelnutand-pistachio salted caramel sauce. The apple and strawberry crumble is also a knockout, accompanied by a scoop of tangy lemon sorbet and a sweet balsamic glaze. Yum. From start to finish, La Badiane is all class. The excellent service, fantastic food and the chic surroundings make it a pleasant place to relax in the heart of the city. But while the prices are a little bit more than the average meal, it’s the perfect place to splurge on those special occasions. La Badiane is located at 10 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

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

Food and Drink Street Snacker


Kem Caramen Hang Than As the weather heats up, Huyen Tran offers her favourite summertime treat for your inspection, Hanoi’s best crème caramel. Photos by Harris Spencer


y now the heat has gotten irritating. We can actually feel the sweat drip down our back and legs even standing in the shade. But come evening, the day relaxes, and people start losing that pained look. And this is also the time of day when young Hanoians rush out of house, and head for drink or dessert shops to get the best refreshment they can imagine. Hang Than Street is a gathering place that has been popular with Hanoi’s young demographic for years. The area houses many dessert shops, amongst which Kem Caramen Duong Hoa, said to be one of the best in town, and a must-try for travellers. The eatery offers a wide selection of desserts, including crème caramel, homemade yoghurt, coconut jelly, mango sweet dessert (che xoai), ice cream in coconut and homemade cakes. However, crème caramel — kem caramen — is the signature food of this streetside eatery. This explains why “Kem Caramen” is written in super-sized letters on their shop signage. Food blogger Mark Lowerson writes on that the truncated cone of custard on the crème caramel had him rewriting his definitions of perfection. I couldn’t agree more.

A Tradition in the Making I sat with one of the owners, and she told me

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this: “We opened this shop in 1995, which means it is 20 years old this year. We are confident that our caramel is no less delicious than any hotel’s in Hanoi, because many hotels order our dessert!” She wouldn’t say how they came up with the idea of making this French dessert in Hanoi, localising it with local ingredients and a soft caramel top. “A challenging life forces people to be creative in coming up with ideas of how to earn a living,” she went on. “In our case, we used to be merchants selling different things at the market, until our siblings came up with idea of making caramel and yoghurt. And we could have never thought at the time that our shop would become the breadwinner for the whole family.” Kem Caramen Duong Hoa now has three outlets — on Hang Than, Nguyen Khac Nhu and Tran Tu Binh. People often say that when an eatery enlarges or increases its business scale, the quality goes down. But this eatery is an exception. Their crème caramel has been consistent in quality throughout the years, and is still as irresistible as ever. “I think our caramel is even more delicious than it was in the past, because we did not ‘invent’ the recipe of making crème caramel, we had to learn it from others. Therefore, we always remind ourselves to improve it, and embrace every customer recommendation.”

The look of the plate of custard isn’t the only stunning thing here — with a smooth and shining, coffee-coloured layer of topping, bathed in tan caramel. Once you take a scoop of the luscious, bouncy custard, you’ll be compelled to take another, and then many other scoops. You might want to come here between diets. This “hard-to-resist” caramel is the main chorus in a variety of dessert selections. They also mix their caramel with other options — for instance, caramel with fruits, caramel with jelly, caramel with fermented purple sticky rice. The homemade yoghourt and che xoai also contribute to the popularity. It’s the throng of people that gathers in front of the Hang Than branch every afternoon and evening that convinced them to open the other two branches. But even though the original shop is always packed with diners, the feeling of enjoying their delicious crème caramel on tiny stools on the street, surrounded by the old French buildings and sometimes being rewarded with a slight breeze of summer sunset is the experience I always long for on summer nights. Kem Caramen Duong Hoa’s shops are located at 29 Hang Than, Ba Dinh; 33 Nguyen Khac Nhu, Ba Dinh; and 101 C5 Tran Tu Binh, Cau Giay, Hanoi. The crème caramel goes for VND7,000 | June 2015 Word | 93

Food and Drink



La Plancha Our undercover critic checks out a Thao Dien institution. Photos by Nick Ross


rom the welcoming red halo of its neon signage, we step through La Plancha’s large outdoor terrace to the coolness of its indoor dining room where our reserved table awaits. A friendly member of staff directs us to a spot just a metre or so from the bar. It’s not ideal, but we’ll follow their lead with this. When a cloud of cigarette smoke billows over us from a group of drinkers standing nearby, we clock the fact that every single table (inside and out) carries an ashtray. Having just showered and suited-up in our Saturday evening finest, we decide that a table outside might be best — a request that is quickly dealt with without fuss. We suspect we’re not their first guests to face such a predicament when we learn that a separate nonsmoking extension to the main dining room is due to open in early June. As we settle into large rattan

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tub chairs, La Plancha’s famously enormous food and drinks menus are placed before us. Being a restaurant with a Spanish name — a traditional iron-plate method of cooking — a French owner with a clear taste for wine and cheese, and a city-wide reputation for superb pizzas, you’d be hard-pressed not to find something you like here. The list is staggering. Starter options are dominated by salads, ranging from a Nicoise (VND135,000) to a tempting chorizo and potato-based Iberica (VND175,000). After a complex decision-making process we order a Plancha-style tartiflette to share (VND145,000). This speciality from the Savoie border region of France traditionally blends smoky bacon lardons, fried onions and slices of potato, with deliciously pungent Reblochon cheese. Chorizo and a mellow Swiss cheese are the substitutes here. While such

replacements do not detract too much from the essence of the dish, we find La Plancha’s version to be slightly out on its ratios. The beautifully baked slab of cheese dominates just a few lonely slices of potato, while a clutch of chorizo hides in one corner.

Tough Decisions Despite my original plan to dive into a crisp Mediterranean-style pizza, the extensive list of grilled meat and seafood catches me off-guard and is suddenly my priority. Fortunately we’re able to chalk up a compromise — a round of tapas-style mini pizzas to fuel our culinary deliberations. And yes, their pizzas are very good. Offering Angus steaks, tiger prawns, sea bass and duck (to name a few highlights), La Plancha is a carnivore’s dream. We opt for a salmon steak with rice (VND265,000) and an ostrich steak with a red wine sauce and French fries






10 Décor

(VND235,000). Cooked perfectly rare, the deep flavours of the ostrich riff nicely with the sweetness of the red wine reduction. With forkfuls of fries to soak it all up, I’m a happy customer. The salmon is a beaut too, expertly-grilled and served with a zingy sauce to compliment the fresh, clean flavour of the fish. If, by some strange reason, you haven’t made a choice by the time you reach this part of the menu, the pasta section should do the job. For those with willpower to make it there, the pizza list hides on the back page — last but certainly not least. Your choices roll upwards from a fresh mozzarella Margarita (VND105,000) to a decadent camembert et miel (VND195,000). Desserts are equally eclectic — a thoughtful taster-plate catches our eye (VND105,000). Mini versions of four of La Plancha’s homemade favourites arrive, looking exquisite.

Their banana nem is easily the best I’ve eaten, the luxurious vanilla ice cream could give Haagen-whatever a run for its money, and the chocolate mousse is like a cocoa-lined cloud. Our favourite is the crème brûlée. We end up locked in an intense teaspoon duel over its crunchy golden shards and silky innards.

A Family Night Out With Vietnamese dishes and children’s meals also available, choice seems to be the main draw at La Plancha. Catering for every taste, it’s a clear favourite for the expat family crowd — who seem to have descended en masse on the evening of our visit. Kids bound through the dining space, relaying between the giant TV showing cartoons inside and the painting station outside. For those expecting a quiet, romantic dining experience, you may wish to look elsewhere.

Inside, the bright lights and wide-open space make for a slightly canteen-esque feel, yet it’s relaxed and informal and suits the restaurant’s family-friendly style. By contrast, the outside space feels a little too dark and laden with shadows — a problem that would be easily reme-died with a candle or oil lamp on each table. Having children’s cartoons on one side of the room, a smoky bar on the other and a mind-boggling array of gourmet cuisine in between, this place feels a little confused about what it wants to be. Less may be more here. Overall, however, the numbers suggest it’s a winner. Dishing up hearty, comforting food cooked to exacting standards, La Plancha offers a taste of home, even for those of us without French, Spanish or Italian heritage. La Plancha is at 25 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC

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

Food and Drink

Street Snacker


Kem Dua Thai

This month, Natalia Martinez ventures away from typical street fare to sample the Vietnamese turn on Thai coconut ice cream. Photos by Kyle Phanroy


iving in the hot weather of Ho Chi Minh City might be overwhelming for some, but look at it this way: at least you have an excuse to enjoy refreshing ice cream any time of the year. Ask Canadians if they can do such a thing on Christmas. Another perk of living in this part of the world is that you will be introduced to new flavours and unique designs. And kem dua Thai is a perfect example. This icy treat became popular in Thailand a long time ago, and recently it made its way to Vietnam. Some shops have already been selling it for two years. And even though this ice cream remains a unique and hard-to-find treat, it has already reached the top of the Vietnamese foodie’s list.

What Makes it Special? You may have never seen an ice cream quite so customised, and you might find it weird at first. But it’s a rich, cold treat that every sweet tooth should sample. Kem dua Thai differs from other ice creams for many reasons, starting with the way it is presented. The coconut ice cream is served in a Thai coconut shell. These tiny coconuts, originally from Thailand, are grown in Ben Tre province. Up till this point, you’re probably finding this completely normal. Except for the fact that it’s made with coconut milk, which contains the necessary fat to make ice cream. This will make your ice cream melt faster than the cow-milk kind, but it does more than that. It affects the flavour, and the way it’s digested. Take note, lactose intolerants:

coconut milk doesn’t contain lactose, so eat all you like without worrying about those pesky side effects. And now, the topping party is just about to start. Vendors make the dish even more enjoyable by adding roasted peanuts, kernels of boiled corn and sticky rice — which presents a vibrant purple colour extracted from the magenta plant. Besides all that, you also get shavings of crispy, deep-fried coconut. Depending on the shop or stall, you might find some other toppings such as pumpkin or palm fruit. To complete this adorable masterpiece, a generous dollop of coconut cream is applied. In addition to the ice cream, the coconut water extracted from the coconut bowl is served alongside, rounding off the experience. For coconut lovers this is definitely a must.

Our Go-To Spots C a -R em

241C Cach Mang Tang Tam, Q3, HCMC 5pm to 10pm VND30,000 This tiny and cosy establishment, which will double in size next June, opened last October to the delight of icy treat fans. Here you will find a richer coconut ice cream, which the owner makes using a special machine brought from Thailand. Its product is served with boiled pumpkin strips.

K em X oi D ua B ui V ien

106A Le Thi Rieng, Q1, HCMC 10am to 10pm VND28,000 A veteran in the business, it offers a warm space open for long hours where you can find a few coconut ice cream variations, as well as other icy treats. This branch also has a stall at 103 Bui Vien, Q1, where you can find their ice cream for a cheaper price (VND20,000) from 6pm to 10pm.

K em X oi D ua C o G iang

89 Co Giang, Q1, HCMC 4pm to 10pm VND19,000 A modest food stall with many street food options in case you want to get more than dessert. There is a sad lack of flavour in the ice cream here, but a notoriously large amount of toppings served with it. | June 2015 Word | 97


Don Draper is Dead Well, probably. In any case, the popular take on the Mad Men series finale is that the ad world’s style icon went back to that den of shirtsleeves, McCann Erikson, sacrificing his maverick ways. Luckily, you don’t have to do that. We’ve assembled a collection of the finest wares international powerhouse Brooks Brothers and local bespokists Brijuni have to offer. While they can’t magically turn their wearers into Don Draper — Brooks Brothers even has a disclaimer to that effect under its Mad Men Edition Suit — they can frame the best part of you, and let you be that steadfast rock this new Don Draper-less world needs.

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Shirt and trousers by Brooks Brothers | June 2015 Word | 99

Shirts and shorts by Brooks Brothers

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Ken is wearing a design from Brijuni | June 2015 Word | 101

Photography: Francis Xavier Models: Nathan Korus, Cory Jackson, Kenn Smith and Giovani Sciascia Brijuni can be found at Brooks Brothers is at 2nd Fl, Union Square, HCMC or Central Building, 31 Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

Giovani is wearing a design from Brijuni

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Nathan is wearing a design from Brijuni | June 2015 Word | 103


Bozzhyr Valley, one of many of the quite amazing landscapes in Kazakhstan

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10 Reasons to Visit Kazakhstan Tim Russell boldly went where few people have gone on vacation — Kazakhstan

Photos in this article by Tim Russell | June 2015 Word | 105


he immigration officer at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport stares blankly at my boarding pass for several seconds, before passing it onto a colleague. She too stares at it for some considerable time, before shaking her head and returning it to him. He looks up at me. “Where you go?” “Almaty.” “Where is… Almaty?” “Kazakhstan.” He looks at me, looks down at my boarding pass again, laughs, and stamps my passport, before wishing me good luck, as if he thinks I’ll need it. Such is Kazakhstan’s image problem. It hides in plain sight as the world’s ninthbiggest country, and one of its least known: indeed, had it not been for Sacha BaronCohen’s 2006 film Borat (not, it must be said, a particularly accurate portrayal of Kazakh life — the Kazakhstan scenes were filmed in Romania, and the character speaks Polish), it’s doubtful that many of us would have heard of it at all. Even I, sitting on a mostly empty Air Astana flight to Almaty, had little idea of what awaited me when I arrived, other than thankfully inaccurate preconceptions about surly, possibly corrupt immigration officials, lashings of vodka and Ladas. Okay, I was right about the Ladas, but otherwise Kazakhstan surprised and delighted me by being completely different to what I expected. So here are ten good reasons why you should cast aside all thoughts of moustachioed, mankini-wearing imbeciles, and jump on a flight to Kazakhstan.

You Can Fly Direct from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City Yes, unlikely though it may seem, twice a week there’s a direct flight from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to Almaty, Kazakhstan’s former capital (it was replaced by Astana in 1997). It’s a seven-hour flight, but with Kazakhstan being just one hour

behind Vietnam, you won’t get jetlag. And if my experience is anything to go by, the flight will be mostly empty giving you plenty of room to stretch out.

You Can Visit Almaty Kazakhstan’s former capital is a charming, compact city with a disorientatingly European feel — the tree-lined avenues, baroque architecture, and snowcapped mountains are more reminiscent of Vienna or Zurich than an Asian city. Almaty is booming, with luxury hotels, international restaurants and shopping malls springing up, yet it still retains a likeable small-town ambience. As well as exploring the sights of the city itself — the bustling Green Bazaar, the beautiful Zenkov Cathedral, the impressive Central Mosque — you can also ski, hike and bike in the surrounding mountains. And as the country’s main transport hub, it’s the starting point for plane, train and bus journeys to more remote areas.

There Are No Tourists I spent eight days in the south of the country and only on my last day did I encounter any other Western visitors. Kazakhstan apparently gets over 3 million tourists per year, but I have no idea when they come or where they go, as they were conspicuous by their absence. So while this means there is a lack of tourism infrastructure, which can make seeing the country difficult — no backpacker buses, no car and driver rental, and a scarcity of English-speaking service staff — it also means you’ll have most attractions to yourself, undisturbed by hawkers, buses and other travellers. In fact, so rare are tourists that, when my group arrived in Mangystau, we were greeted by most of the local village, given a huge feast, and even photographed by the local newspapers.

The People Are Lovely “Kazakhstan people never smile,” says the Kazakh student sitting next to me on the

flight to Aktau. “But when they know you, they will take you to their hearts.” He’s right. You might initially be fooled into thinking the Kazakhs are a surly bunch, as they resolutely refuse to return your increasingly manic smiles. But then something wonderful happens — the scowling old babushka on the train reaches into her bag and shares her food with you, before inviting you to visit her family when you get to Shymkent. The grim-faced train conductor happily poses for pictures with you, and asks you to show your wife how handsome Kazakh men are. A random stranger presses a gift into your hand and then vanishes. A genuine, heartfelt welcome from people not even close to being jaded or corrupted by tourism.

The Landscapes are Stunning Kazakhstan’s seismically turbulent geology has created a quite extraordinary landscape of towering mountains, huge canyons, epic deserts and bizarre rock formations. Charyn Canyon, for example, a threehour drive from Almaty, could easily pass for the Grand Canyon’s slightly smaller brother, and it’s just one of several stunning gorges. And in Mangystau, a mostly deserted peninsula on the Caspian Sea, you’ll find the Bozzhyr Valley, the Karagiye Depression, and Kazakhstan’s own Uluru, Sherkala Mountain. All amazing sights which, anywhere else in the world, would be swarming with tourists. But here you’ll be alone, experiencing the rare sensation of gazing out on a landscape that hasn’t changed in millions of years.

The Great Outdoors With few towns and cities and such beautiful landscapes, Kazakhstan is definitely an outdoor country. Without leaving the environs of Almaty you can ski at Shymbulak (in the running for the 2022 Winter Olympics), go biking in the Tien Shan mountains, or hike, horseride or quadbike through Charyn Canyon. The country’s low population density (one of the world’s

“You might initially be fooled into thinking the Kazakhs are a surly bunch. But then something wonderful happens — the scowling old babushka on the train reaches into her bag and shares her food with you… [and] the grim-faced train conductor happily poses for pictures with you” 106 | Word June 2015 |

Zenkhov Cathedral. Kazakhstan's main religions are Islam and Russian Orthdox Christianity | June 2015 Word | 107

Charyn Canyon has an uncanny resemblance to the Grand Canyon is Nevada. Except that no-one has ever heard of the place

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A lada and a mosque... Not much has changed in this region where Central Asia meets the former Soviet Union

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1. The Valley of Balls 2.The Arystan Bab Mausoleum 3.Villagers from Mangystau



“Kazakhstan is rich in historical and archaeological remnants, from the fossil-filled, 80-million-year-old spherical rocks of the Valley of Balls, via the Tamerlane-era mausoleums and fortifications of Turkestan, to the Soviet-era architecture of Almaty and Aktau” lowest at a mere 6.5 people per km2) makes it a haven for wildlife, so birdwatchers and naturalists are in heaven. And that remarkable scenery, coupled with a dazzling purity of natural light, makes Kazakhstan a paradise for photographers.

The Food is Hearty If you’re a vegetarian or a fussy eater, Kazakhstan isn’t for you. The country’s cuisine may suffer from a lack of variety, but it’s robust and hearty; perfect for anyone wanting to get in touch with the inner caveman. We’re talking huge metal skewers of grilled lamb; chunks of fatty horsemeat sausage; rounds of bread the size of car tyres; groaning plates of pilau rice; boiled sheep’s head; fermented camel’s milk. What it lacks in finesse it makes up for in quantity, and if my trip is anything to go by, hygiene standards are high. Which, given the unspeakable state of Kazakhstan’s toilets, is a very good thing.

It Has an Epic History As befits a country that has been inhabited since Neolithic times, Kazakhstan is rich in historical and archaeological remnants, from the fossil-filled, 80-million-year-old spherical rocks of the Valley of Balls, via the Tamerlane-era mausoleums and fortifications of Turkestan, to the Soviet-era architecture of Almaty and Aktau. You’ll need a guide or a guidebook to learn about it, as what little signage that exists is in Kazakh and Russian, but the country has a fascinating history, whether you’re interested in 11th-century

nomads or the Brezhnev era (old Leonid was General Secretary of the Kazakhstan SSR prior to becoming President).

It’s Mostly Untouched by Modern Life Kazakhstan offers the rare sight of landscapes utterly untouched by human hands — no roads, houses, agriculture or electricity pylons. But it’s not just the landscape that is in a time warp. Camels graze by the roadside as old men ride by on donkeys; women in headscarves pray in centuries-old mosques; what few cars there are are often delayed while farmers on horseback herd cows along the road; and even in Almaty, the McStarbucks of the West are yet to make their presence felt. The driving force behind the country is a muchderided and now forgotten remnant of the 1980s — the Lada 1600. Cheap, economical and hard-wearing, it is to Kazakhstan what the Honda Dream is to Vietnam. The country wouldn’t run without it.

good stuff). Factor in all that healthy outdoor activity, and you’ll come back a new person. I’m not going to pretend Kazakhstan is an easy trip. It’s hard going, travelling huge distances over bumpy roads or, in many areas, no roads at all; taking long overnight train journeys in cramped shared cabins; staying at basic hotels with little concept of guest service; eating the same meal every day; and generally surrendering the comforts of modern life. But as the saying goes, no pain no gain, and the gains in Kazakhstan — the people, the scenery, and the general sense of going where few people have gone before — are worth a bit (okay, a lot) of roughing it. As are the photographs and the memories with which you’ll return. And you see, I didn’t even mention Borat… Tim Russell travelled to Kazakhstan as a guest of Turan Asia. For flight information to Almaty, click on 3

It’s the Perfect Place for a Detox Kazakhstan’s simplicity and its lack of development make it the perfect destination to detox from modern life. Junk food is non-existent outside the big cities. All hotels offer Wi-Fi, but it never, ever works, and the country’s 3G reception is patchy at best. And with the country being 70 percent Muslim, you’re more likely to overdo it on tea than booze (though the local beer is very good, and vodka can be had for as little as VND20,000 a bottle or VND60,000 for the | June 2015 Word | 111

Travel travel


The Expat’s Guide to Travelling with Dad Though it had been a while since Ed Weinberg went on vacation with Dad, two father-son weeks reminded him what boys’ vacations are all about

“I don’t know about your dads, but mine is the smartest man in the world” 112 | Word June 2015 | | June 2015 Word | 113

La Residence Hue


n my third trip home since moving to Saigon, everyone started coming around. This time, the standard question “When are you coming back?” lost a bit of its currency. And Dad started to make vague comments about coming for a visit. After some back-and-forth — involving food photos, viral videos and a harder sell than I’d yet given him — our plans evolved. He’d come over at the start of Tet break, celebrate his 70th birthday on Feb. 19 with all the other ‘Tet orphans’, then accompany me on my first whole-country travel. On Feb. 17, Dad arrived. Fresh off 24 hours in transit, he was raring to go. I took him to the Tet flower market on the back of my bike. He thrilled at seeing a passing biker with seven beer cases stacked between his legs. He’d never expressed too much interest in my

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adoptive home, but now I could see it written on his face, and in all those photos he made me pose in. Over the next couple Saigon days, we puttered around a bit. We saw the fireworks, and went over to my cleaner’s house the next day for Tet lunch. That night he blew out the candles on another birthday. A few friends came, and we Skyped my mother in when it was time for the birthday speech. The next day we woke up, scrambled to the airport, and started our 12-day, five-stop grind.

Dad’s Dream I’d budgeted in three nights for Siem Reap — the only stop he’d explicitly requested — and booked the hotel. We thought getting the tour guide would be the easy part. But nothing is easy over Tet.

We booked a car to take us around the temples, starting at sunrise. When our driver told us he’d wait in the car, we realised the deal. Siem Reap buyers beware: you will get charged for everything. We chinned up and went exploring, along with 1,000 other people. But after an hour of bumping around and taking pictures of statues, we decided to look for some guidance. And here’s where we encountered our first challenge. All of the tour guides were booked up, of course. But Dad improvised. While I went to the bathroom, he chatted with strangers. And a nice couple from California ended up inviting us to share their tour. Our guide was the cheeky and knowledgeable Ho Kimhoeun — Kim for short ( He had jokes, which my Dad loves. He also had a good

Victoria Can Tho Resort

amount of experience. I can’t remember the number of times my Dad expressed our good luck at finding him. Day 1 was the small temple loop — Angkor Wat, Bayon (the one with 216 faces of the god-king carved in) and the tree-swarmed Tomb Raider temple. Then we attended the Vaudevillian Phare circus ( It was super cool. Dad loves cultural stuff. Day 2 was the large temple loop — far less crowded, no less beautiful. That night we went to Park Hyatt Siem Reap’s (siemreap. free Apsara dance performance — damn spectacular, taking place twice weekly in the Hyatt’s pristine, fire-lit central courtyard. Then we met some friends at 1940s Shanghai-style Madame Wong Cocktail Bar ( for a drink, which is more my kind of cultural experience.

Karavansara Retreat, Siem Reap

Day 3 we headed to Kulen Mountain — the magic mountain where the Angkor kings harvested their temple stone. This was a holy place, a place of pilgrimage, where even the tourists seemed to be part of the magic.

The Fortune-Telling Monk When Kim offered us a turn at prophecy, Dad told him a story. It was nearly 30 years ago that he got his last fortune told, this time in tarot. And it was damning. That night, he got a call about his mother — she’d just had a stroke. Over the next year, as both of his parents’ health deteriorated, his business struggled. The young man who’d told his fortune — one of my mother’s students — never read tarot again. I, however, told Kim I’d do it. I put a thin folio of Hindu Vedas on my head, parting its pages with a pencil. Handing

A Quick Intro to Dad — He was born in Philadelphia, and currently resides in New Jersey — He owns a documentary film distribution business — While working in the New York City Dept. of City Planning, he supported my Uncle Fred’s petition about releasing snakes in the city to help with the rat problem — He loves classical music, and thinks our cat does too — He once ate 14 lobsters at a single lobster buffet sitting | June 2015 Word | 115

it back to the monk, he told me about the page I’d landed on, describing Armara. “Armara was chosen by the king, Mohov Shuth, to be his queen,” Kim translated. “She was a commoner, and was elevated to the royalty. Armara was really good, she was really educated, really useful. Everything got better.” I asked about her parents — I’d made my pre-fortune wish for the happiness and good health of mine — and Kim said, “Sure, of course! For her parents too.” Seeing my good luck, Dad decided to give it a try too. And he landed on the worst page in the book — about Yama, the god of judgment, who normally exists between hell and earth. When I asked Kim about Yama, he said, “In one day, the god of Yama got into hell to see what was going on. In one day, the assistants of the Yama burned everything in the hell.” His wish had been for my good fortune. On Kim’s urging, we started spreading money around — 100 Riel notes (VND500) to anyone who asked. We went up a winding staircase to pay our respects to the golden Buddha carved into the mountaintop, touching his eyes and mouth, dropping 100’s everywhere we could. Later, swimming under a nearby waterfall, dunking young monks

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underwater while Dad watched, I felt like we’d finally redeemed ourselves.

Father Knows Best Dad warned me that if we did certain things in our fairly upmarket hotels, we wouldn’t be invited back. He reminded me to write a TripAdvisor review for Karavansara, our Siem Reap accommodation. The sweet young manager Rel apparently talked with him for “10 minutes” about how nice it would be if we would do this. “It’s a good job for her,” he reasoned, “and it’s a small thing we can do to help her out.” Sideways related to this is something I slowly realised: Dad is a prototypical mark. A woman approached us after our overpriced boat ride into Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake, holding plates adorned with our blinking, mid-conversation faces, and Dad seemed to entertain her US$10 offer. Small moves that help me to avoid rip-offs in my daily life — like ordering food in Vietnamese — were futile. We paid VND50,000 a bowl for our streetside pho on our first night in Hanoi. I wasn’t looking to cause a scene. The next day, Dad wanted to do some washing. Our schedule was pretty tight, only two nights in each place minus travel time. But Dad brought the Woolite. After he did some sink washing we

headed out for the night, leaving the shirts and underwear hanging by an open window. But Hanoi’s a bitch for linedrying, especially when your window opens onto a wall. Everything was still damp when we got back, and we were leaving the hotel at 7.30am the next morning. So Dad improvised, and took the blow dryer to each article of clothing separately. I can still hear that sound in my mind. This ties into Pro Tip #1: if it makes him happy, don’t fight it. Maybe Dad wants to spend your siesta time washing clothes he doesn’t need in the sink, maybe he wants to buy a US$10 T-shirt at Angkor Wat. If he’s happy, you should be happy.

Understanding Vietnam I don’t know about your dads, but mine is the smartest man in the world. In the morning, Dad was reading a book I bought him before the trip, Neil L. Jamieson’s Understanding Vietnam (never mind the two other books he tore through in the first week). Though I bought the book for him, I didn’t get past the first 30 pages, and he was teaching me things. He read a poem to me at breakfast about colonial resentment: Marry a mere boy for rice and a tunic? Even in hunger and rags one still knows shame. My parents taught me long ago,

A girl who runs after boys brings ridicule upon herself. — Nguyen Khuyen Like our tour guide in Siem Reap, this book gave Dad some context. It helped him to better understand what’s evolved here. Later, we wandered into an exhibition of art about Hanoi’s Long Bien Bridge, at Maison des Arts ( Dad had just read about its birth, and this encounter was one of those synchronistic travel threads it seemed we were meant to pick up. The owner, Nga, told us about her project, while Dad wisely held back. He’d just read about Paul Doumer, the governor-general of French Indochina at the time. During the bridge’s three-year construction, 3,000 forced labourers were drafted, many dying on the way to its completion. But when Nga told us her motivation for preserving Long Bien, Dad began to understand how Vietnamese people make sense of their complex history. “We believe there are many souls under the bridge,” Nga said.

The Rest of the Trip I don’t want this to turn into one of my Skype phone calls home (Mom will be more than happy to fill you in on the details). Suffice it to say we had fun, through cafés, hotels and laundry blow-drying sessions. We did some

light tourism in Hue’s Imperial City and on Victoria Can Tho’s up-river excursions. I tried to match Dad up with some cool, ageappropriate friends. Even now, a month after him leaving, my friends are still asking about him — and teasing me about having had a glimpse into my future. We slowed down after Hanoi — we did about six different things in our one full day there — instead concentrating on eating well, hanging out in our lush hotels (and swimming in La Résidence Hue’s and Victoria Can Tho’s lush pools) and walking around aimlessly. These are basically the things I do in my everyday life here, the life I wanted to let Dad see. When we returned to Saigon, we met more friends, went to more cafés. We bought more shirts (to make a total of 20+ on the trip), and spent one of our dinners going place to place to get in as much of my local favourites as we could. The next night, Dad took my friends out to Cuc Gach Quan. On the morning he was leaving, he told me something he’d expressed a few times already. “I see why you want to live here,” he said. He saw the energy of this place, he went on, it was all around. And that’s the best thing he left me with, besides for a five-pound salami and two loaves of rye bread. The idea that he gets what my life here is about, and he approves.

Where We Stayed S iem R eap — Karavansara Retreat

( A boutique-styled hotel with a trellised, white Modernist concrete facade. Their sister property is in Kyoto, Japan

H anoi — Tryst Hotel ( A tidy, sleek and inexpensive location near Hanoi’s Old Quarter. We never did learn why it was called “Tryst” H ue — La Résidence ( A luxury hotel adapted from the old French governor’s mansion, with a beautiful pool added on. The colonial aura was strong in this one H oi A n — Pomelo Garden Homestay Villa ( This four-room homestay was built by two former five-star hotel employees, right near a bucolic shrimp pond

C an T ho — Victoria Can Tho Resort

( Our last stop of the trip, Victoria Can Tho provided the relaxation we were looking for — in an all-inclusive resort type of setting | June 2015 Word | 117


Dalat ANA MANDARA VILLAS $$$$ Le Lai, Dalat, Tel: (063) 3555888

DALAT PALACE $$$$ 12 Ho Tung Mau, Dalat, Tel: (063) 382 5444

This enormous structure offers the most modern of amenities, and with four restaurants and two bars, the events staff is well equipped to handle any occasion. Close to the National Convention Center, and a favourite of the business traveller, Daewoo even boasts an outdoor driving range. Shortly to become a Marriot property. FORTUNA HOTEL HANOI 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3831 3333 Dalat Green City Hotel 172 Phan Dinh Phung, Dalat, Tel: (063) 382 7999

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

This 350-room four-star set up in the heart of Hanoi’s financial district has a variety of rooms on offer, a “capital lounge” and three restaurants that serve Japanese, Chinese and international cuisine. And like you’d expect, there’s a fitness centre, night club and swimming pool, too, and even a separate spa and treatment facility for men and women. Set to the west of town, Fortuna often offers business deals on rooms and spaces to hold meetings, presentations and celebrations. HOTEL DE L’OPERA 29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 6282 5555

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

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

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

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

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Resting just a step away from the Opera House, the hotel mixes colonial architectural accents and theatrical interior design to create a contemporary space. The first boutique five star in the heart of Hanoi, the lavish, uniquely designed 107 rooms and suites contain all the mod cons and are complimented by two restaurants, a bar and complimentary Wi-Fi. Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi 20 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel (04) 3944 9396

With 86 fully-equipped guestrooms and suites, this is the first Hilton Garden Inn property in Southeast Asia. Centrally located and a short stroll from the historic Old Quarter, the hotel offers a full service restaurant, a stylish bar, along with complimentary business and fitness centres making it perfect for the international business or leisure traveller. Hilton Hanoi Opera 1 Le Thanh Tong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3933 0500

Situated next to the iconic Hanoi Opera House and a short stroll from the Old Quarter, this five-star hotel is a Hanoi landmark. With 269 fully-equipped rooms and suites, there’s plenty for the discerning business and leisure traveller to choose from.

INTERCONTINENTAL HANOI WESTLAKE 1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6270 8888

This stunning property built over West Lake falls in between a hotel and a resort. Beautiful views, great balcony areas, comfortable, topend accommodation and all the mod-cons make up the mix here together with the resort’s three in-house restaurants and the Sunset Bar, a watering hole located on a thoroughfare over the lake. Great gym and health club. JW Marriott Hanoi 8, Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3833 5588

From the expressive architecture outside to the authentic signature JW Marriott services inside, this Marriott hotel in Hanoi is the new definition of contemporary luxury. Lies next door to the National Convention Centre. May de Ville Old Quarter 43/45/47 Gia Ngu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3933 5688

The largest four-star hotel in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, 110 rooms, a swimming pool, a top floor terrace bar and a location just a stone’s throw from Hoan Kiem Lake make this a great choice for anyone wanting a bit of luxury in the heart of the action. MELIA HANOI 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 3343

Excellently located in central Hanoi, Melia Hanoi draws plenty of business travellers and is also a popular venue for conferences and wedding receptions. State-of-the-art rooms, elegant restaurants, stylish bars, fully equipped fitness centre with sophisticated service always make in-house guests satisfied. MÖVENPICK HOTEL HANOI 83A Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3822 2800

With its distinctive French architecture and top end service, Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi is aimed squarely at corporate travellers. An allday restaurant and a lounge bar are available to satiate their clientele while the kinetic gym and wellness studio offer an excellent range of equipment. Massage and sauna facilities are available for guests seeking to rejuvenate. Of the 154 wellappointed rooms and suites, 93 are non-smoking. PULLMAN HANOI HOTEL $$$$ 40 Cat Linh, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3733 0688

With deluxe rooms and

suites, a contemporary lobby, an excellent buffet, and a la carte restaurant, this Accor group property is prestigious and close to the Old Quarter. SHERATON K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 9000

Surrounded by lush gardens, sweeping lawns and tranquil courtyards, this peaceful property features picturesque views of West Lake and is less than 10 minutes from downtown. In addition to the luxurious rooms, the hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool and great relaxation and fitness facilities, including a tennis court and spa. There are well equipped conference rooms and a newly refurbished Executive Club Lounge. SOFITEL LEGEND METROPOLE HANOI 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 6919

The finest hotel of the French colonial period is probably still the finest in today’s Hanoi. Anyone who is (or was) anyone has stayed at this elegant oasis of charm, where the service is impeccable and the luxurious facilities complement the ambiance of a bygone era. Definitely the place to put the Comtessa up for a night. SOFITEL PLAZA HANOI 1 Thanh Nien Road, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3823 8888 Boasting Hanoi’s best views of West Lake, Truc Bach Lake and the Red River, Sofitel Plaza Hanoi soars 20 storeys above the city skyline. The 5-star hotel features 317 luxurious, comfortable guestrooms with spectacular lake view or river view ranking in 7 types from Classic Room to Imperial Suite.

M M M Hanoi – Mid-Range 6 ON SIXTEEN 16 Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem

Another boutique hotel to grace Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the six rooms here mix contemporary and fresh with handicrafts and antique. Breakfast is included and in the long, lounge restaurant on the second floor, home-style Vietnamese fare is served up with fresh fruit juices and Lavazza coffee. GOLDEN SILK BOUTIQUE HOTEL $$$ 109-111 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3928 6969

Located in the centre of the Old Quarter, this little slice of heaven offers complimentary sundries and a replenishable

minibar. The Orient restaurant, serves the finest in international and Vietnamese cuisine. Joseph’s Hotel $$ 5 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3938 1048

Located next to the cathedral, this popular wellappointed, airy and spacious boutique hotel mixes comfort with a nice ambience and great Western or Vietnamese breakfasts. All the modern amenities at reasonable prices. MAISON D’HANOI HANOVA HOTEL $$$ 35-37 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 0999

A minute from Hoan Kiem Lake, this glowing pearl in the heart of Hanoi provides tranquility with an art gallery and piano bar. MAY DE VILLE 24 Han Thuyen, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 2222 9988 Set in the old French Quarter a short walk from the Opera House, May de Ville City Centre is a welcome new addition to the capital. Combining contemporary architecture with traditional Vietnamese style and materials, this elegant property has 81 well-appointed rooms including four suites.

M M M Hanoi – Budget HANOI BACKBACKER’S HOSTEL 48 Ngo Huyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3828 5372

Probably the cheapest, European-style hostel in town, with bunk-style beds mixed or single-sex dorms starting at VND150,000, plus a couple of double suites from VND250,000. A place to meet like-minded fold in the Old Quarter.

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

Winner of Robb Report’s 2006 list of the world’s top 100 luxury hotels, the Caravelle houses the popular rooftop Saigon Saigon bar, and the restaurants Nineteen and Reflections. EQUATORIAL $$$ 242 Tran Binh Trong, Q5, Tel: (08) 3839 7777

This massive property boasts seven dining and entertainment outlets, a business centre, meeting rooms and a comprehensive fitness centre and spa. The Equatorial also has an on-site casino. HOTEL NIKKO SAIGON $$$$$ 235 Nguyen Van Cu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 7777

The five-star hotel and serviced apartment complex offers: 14 instant offices, seven meeting rooms, a 600-capacity ballroom, spa, outdoor swimming pool, a gym, 24-hour fine dining, 24-hours room service, and limousine services. INTERCONTINENTAL ASIANA SAIGON $$$$$ Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 9999

In the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, resides the Asiana with signature dining options, an innovative cocktail bar, exclusive spa and health club, together with luxury boutique arcade. LOTTE LEGEND HOTEL SAIGON $$$$ 2A–4A Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3333

Immaculate architecture, spacious rooms, and a fine selection of fine dining, with buffets specialising in Americana and Pan-Asian cuisine. NEW WORLD HOTEL $$$$ 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8888

Former guests include U.S. presidents — two Bushes, Clinton — and K-Pop 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: (08) 3824 1234

Fabulous in style, prime in location, everything one would expect from the Hyatt. The Square One and Italianthemed Opera restaurants have garnered an excellent reputation, as has the landscaped pool. PULLMAN SAIGON CENTRE $$$$$ 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3838 8686

Recently completed on the site of the old Metropole, this upscale, contemporary property boasts 306 signature rooms combining design, comfort and connectivity. Innovative cuisine, a great downtown location and hightech meeting venues able to

host up to 600 guests make up the mix. RIVERSIDE APARTMENTS 53 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 4111

Situated on the banks of the Saigon River, a 15-minute scenic boat ride or 20-minute bus ride from town, Riverside’s complementary shuttle services take you right in the city centre. With 152 fully equipped serviced apartments, the property offers special packages for short-term stay starting at VND2.1 million per apartment per night for a onebedroom facility. RIVERSIDE RENAISSANCE $$$$$ 18–19-20 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1417

This distinct French architectural wonder offers complimentary Wi-Fi, airport pickup or drop off, a 4th floor ballroom, and authentic Vietnamese cuisine at the River Restaurant. SHERATON $$$$$ 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2828

Sheraton boasts one of the best locations in town, with first–class facilities, an open–air restaurant 23 floors above the city and a live music venue on the same floor. SOFITEL SAIGON PLAZA $$$$ 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555

This 20–story building in downtown Saigon, caters to upscale business and leisure travelers seeking a classic yet contemporary stay in Saigon. WINDSOR PLAZA $$$ 18 An Duong Vuong, Q5, Tel: (08) 3833 6688

The full ensemble with its own shopping hub (including a bank), fine dining, a sauna, health club, and superb panoramic views of the cityscape. Also hosts the largest Oktoberfest in the region.

M M M HCMC – Deluxe CONTINENTAL $$$ 132-134 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9201

This charming old hotel has been fêted in literature and in film. In the heart of Saigon, this is the first choice to highlight Vietnamese culture.

NORFOLK HOTEL $$$ 117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 5368

Intimate atmosphere and excellent service, this boutique business hotel is located minutes from famous landmarks, designer shops, and is renowned for its fabulous steaks at its in-house restaurant, Corso. NOVOTEL SAIGON CENTRE $$$ 167 Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 4866

Novotel Saigon Centre has a contemporary feel, an international buffet — The Square — a rooftop bar, and a wellness centre including a swimming pool, gym, sauna and spa. Villa Song Saigon $$$ 197/2 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6090

Deliberately located away from the city centre in Thao Dien, this riverside boutique villa-style hotel is a sanctuary of peace and calm — a rarity in Ho Chi Minh City. Beautiful, Indochine-influenced design, a great setting and good drinking and dining options make this a great, non-city centre choice. STAR CITY SAIGON HOTEL $$$ 144 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 3999 8888

The newly-built hotel is near Tan Son Nhat International Airport. With spectacular city views and a comfortablydesigned outdoor swimming pool, there is little reason not to choose this shining star.

Free Wi–Fi offered in every room. Low prices, friendly staff, clean rooms. This modern oasis is only a few steps from the backpacker’s area. DUNA HOTEL $ 167 Pham Ngu Lao Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 3699

HONG HOA HOTEL $ 185/28 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 1915

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

M M M Hoi An & Danang An Bang Beach Retreat An Bang Beach, Hoi An

CUA DAI $ 544, Cua Dai, Hoi An, Tel: (0510) 386 2231

DANANG BEACH RESORT $$$ Truong Sa, Hoa Hai, Ngu Hanh Son, Danang, Tel: (0511) 396 1800

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

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

The Hyatt Regency Danang Resort and Spa is beachfront with a stunning view of the Marble Mountains. There are 182 luxurious residences and 27 private ocean villas, each with a private pool. MERCURE DANANG $$$ Lot A1 Zone Green Island, Hoa Cuong Bac, Hai Chau, Danang, Tel: (0511) 379 7777

Set on the Han River, this well-appointed, Accor-managed property is one of the nicest hotels in Central Danang. Kitsch but contemporary design and some phenomenal views over the city make up the mix.

PULLMAN DANANG BEACH RESORT $$$$ Vo Nguyen Giap, Khue My, Ngu Hanh Son, Danang Tel: (0511) 395 8888

Located on the stunning white sands of Bac My An Beach, the stylish Pullman Danang Beach Resort is an oasis of activities and facilities for the modern traveller. With an idyllic setting, this luxury property is perfect for a family holiday or romantic beach getaway. And with extensive function facilities, Pullman Danang also provides the a great location for your next incentive getaway or event.

THE NAM HAI $$$$ Hamlet 1, Dien Duong Village, Quang Nam, Tel: (0510) 394 0000

Includes three massive swimming pools, a gourmet restaurant and elegant spa on a lotus pond. Each massive room has its own espresso machine, pre–programmed iPod and both indoor and outdoor showers.

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

M M M HCMC - Mid-Range ROYAL HOTEL SAIGON $$ 133 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 5914

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

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

M M M HCMC – Budget DUC VUONG HOTEL $ 195 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 6992

Free wi-fi, international breakfast, spacious and airy, lift, plasma TV, multi-shower, friendly service 5, Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi | Phone: 04 3938 1048 | Mob: 0913 090 446 | June 2015 Word | 119

Destination Zero How to Talk About Your Trip to Ninh Van Bay

Humblebragging about your stay at a five-star resort can be challenging, but Niko Savvas is here to help


ongratulations! You’ve recently returned from Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, Nha Trang’s most luxurious beach resort! This secluded garden of seaside paradise, nestled into the rocks of a verdant peninsula atop a sparkling crystal bay, is so ridiculously picturesque that your photos will hurt your friends’ feelings. You’re a warm, compassionate human being (extremely good-looking and financially successful, too, like most guests at Ninh Van Bay) — so compassionate, in fact, that you’d be terribly perturbed* if your holiday tales aroused undue jealousy in those around you. So how can you tell your colleagues, in-laws, and fellow caviar aficionados about your trip without sending them into fits of envious rage? By following the suggestions below, of course! Peasant Friend: How was the food? You: It was OK. I had eggs for breakfast. Don’t mention that your “eggs” came in the form of a custom omelette prepared in front of you by a white-hatted chef, or that the chef was standing next to an enormous buffet table teeming with pain au chocolat, lemon cakes and freshly-baked muffins. It’s acceptable to discuss the wide selection of organic juices and off-the-vine fruits, but try to stay mum about the gourmet meat-and-cheese platters and the complimentary sparkling wines (or that you walked into an enormous glass-walled,

refrigerated chamber to find them). Peasant Friend: Was your room nice? You: Yeah. It was pretty close to the beach. Nobody needs to know that your room was actually a private villa, or that your private villa had a private beach, or that your private villa was separated from your private beach only by your private emerald infinity pool. It’s best to avoid overusing the word “private”. Peasant Friend: Did you try the spa? You: Uh huh, we got massages from some Australian guy. Key points: it was just a massage, not a cranio-sacral realignment therapy session, and the Australian was just a guy, not an internationally renowned wellness guru with 15 years of experience and rockhard abs. Peasant Friend: When did you get back? You: Yesterday. Try not to weep as you recall the sublime pleasure of waking up to gently crashing waves, or the soft calls of tropical birds, or the friendly smiles of the resort staff as they waved goodbye. Speak not of the ephemerality of life, nor the fleeting transience of all lovely things. Just gaze sadly into the distance and savour the memories of your all-too-brief visit to heaven. Then show everyone ALL of your Instagram photos. To learn more about Six Senses Ninh Van Bay or to make a reservation, visit sixsenses. com/resorts/ninh-van-bay/ destination | June 2015 Word | 121


M M M Hue & Lang Co ANGSANA LANG CO $$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien Hue, Tel: (054) 369 5800

Located on Vietnam’s South Central Coast, Angsana Lang Co commands an unrivalled beach frontage of the shimmering East Sea. Traditional Vietnamese design encompasses the resort’s contemporary buildings and chic interiors. BANYAN TREE LANG CO $$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien, Hue, Tel: (054) 369 5888

Built on a crescent bay, The Banyan Tree offers privacy and unparalleled exclusivity with all-pool villas reflecting the cultural and historical legacy of past Vietnamese dynastic periods. LA RESIDENCE $$$$ 5 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: (054) 383 7475


PHUONG HOANG HOTEL $ 66 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: (054) 382 6736

M M M Nha Trang

JUNGLE BEACH RESORT $ Ninh Phuoc, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 362 2384

On a secluded promontory north of Nha Trang, this budget place is all about hammocks, the sea, the jungle and nature. MIA RESORT NHA TRANG $$$$ Bai Dong, Cam Hai Dong, Cam Lam, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 398 9666

NOVOTEL NHA TRANG $$$ 50 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: (058) 625 6900

This four-star hotel with 154 guestrooms, all with a terrace and sea view. Complete with a pool, spa, restaurant, bar and meeting room that caters for up to 200 delegates. SIX SENSES HIDEAWAY Ninh Van Bay $$$$ Ninh Van Bay, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 372 8222 The upmarket Tatler magazine voted top hotel of 2006. The location is stunning, on a bay accessible only by boat.

SHERATON NHA TRANG HOTEL AND SPA $$$$ 26 – 28 Tran Phu, Tel: (058) 388 0000

M M M EVASON ANA MANDARA AND SIX SENSES SPA $$$$ Beachside Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 352 2222

2.6 hectares of private beachside gardens and villa–style accommodation furnished in traditional native woods, this resort offers verandah dining, a pool bar and the signature Six Senses Spa.

Photo by Matt Dworzanczyk

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Phan Thiet & Mui Ne Ninh Chu Bay Beach Club & Bar Hwy 702, Ninh Hai, Phan Rang, Ninh Thuan, Tel: (068) 627 2727

Enjoy the private beach with excellent facilities and have a massage. Evenings are sublime at this beach club, soon to become a fully fledged resort. Grilled seafood, European sausages, sangria, draught beer, and specialityinfused vodka all make this

one of a kind destination. Blue Ocean Resort $$$$ 54 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: (062) 384 7322

easytigerphongnha@gmail. com

A hostel and street-front bar all in one. Has a pleasant, airy atmosphere in the bar and restaurant area while the 52 dorm beds — four beds to a room — go for US$8 (VND168,000) each a night.

COCO BEACH $$$$ 58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: (062) 384 7111

Ho Khanh's Homestay $$ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: 01299 597182

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.

Phong Nha Farmstay $$ Hoa Son, Cu Nam, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: (052) 367 5135

Joe’s Garden Resort $$ 86 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ham Tien, Mui Ne, Tel: (062) 384 7177

A leafy, seafront bungalow resort and café with nightly live music all in one. Reminiscent of the type of places you’d find on the Thai islands, an international and Asian food menu together with a cheap happy hour on beer make up the relaxing mix.

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

M M M Phu Quoc

MIA RESORT MUI NE $$$$ 24 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Tel: (062) 384 7440

BEACH CLUB RESORT $$ Ap Cua Lap, Xa Duong To, Long Beach, Phu Quoc Island, Tel: (077) 398 0998

VICTORIA PHAN THIET RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Mui Ne Beach, Phan Thiet, Tel: (062) 381 3000

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.

Another beachfront Victoria chain, the thatched–roof bungalows and family villas are set in exotic gardens with an infinity swimming pool, a seafood restaurant, spa, beauty salon and jacuzzi.

M M M Phong Nha Easy Tiger and Jungle Bar $ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: (052) 367 7844

MANGO BAY $$ Ong Lang Beach, Phu Quoc, Tel: 0903 382207

An eco–friendly approach with a gorgeous beachside location, the bungalows are made of rammed earth, no TVs or telephones (although Wi-Fi is available). Excellent sunsets from the beach bar. Salinda Phu Quoc Island, Resort and Spa Cua Lap Hamlet, Duong To Commune, Phu Quoc, Tel:

(077) 399 0011

A five-star luxury beach resort, hotel and spa right on the beach of Phu Quoc island in the peaceful town of Duong To, just 4km from the international airport of Phu Quoc.

M M M Sapa CAT CAT VIEW HOTEL $$ Cat Cat Road, Tel: 0203 871946

The best view in town from its bar restaurant, the Cat Cat Guesthouse is paradise at very reasonable rates. The rooms have big windows, balconies, and log fireplaces. Topas Ecolodge $$$ Thanh Kim, Sapa, Lao Cai Tel: (04) 3715 1005 (Sales)

With its panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valley, Topas Ecolodge is the perfect place to experience the remoteness and quiet of the Northern Vietnamese mountains — the landscape, the fresh air and the ethnic peoples. Guests stay in private bungalows with dinner served in a local stilt house restaurant.

M M M Vung Tau & Ho Tram BINH AN VILLAGE $$$$ 1 Tran Phu, Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 335 1553

CON DAO RESORT $$ Nguyen Duc Thuan, Con Dao, Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 383 0939

HO TRAM BEACH RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Tel: (064) 378 1525

This attractive property is the ideal getaway from Ho Chi Minh City. 63 uniquely bungalows and villas promise a

Travel Promos

Noi Aman Spa Lake

Six Senses Vietnam Six Senses Vietnam are inviting you to celebrate your summer with them and are sweetening the deal for Vietnam residents this year. On the price of all rooms they’re including round trip airport transfers, a daily buffet breakfast and a bevy of adventure and wellness programmes at all three of their five-star luxury resorts.

The Wonders of Vietnam @ La Résidence Hue La Résidence and Spa Hue are rolling out what General Manager Phan Trong Minh calls “the most intensive experience of Vietnam that any traveler could have inside a single week”. Incorporating five UNESCO sites, The Wonders of Vietnam package shepherds travellers from the ‘stupendous grottos’ of the world’s largest cave system, into the pavilions and palaces of East Asia’s most charming imperial city. “Hanoi and Saigon are fine destinations, but these sites are the Vietnam that every traveller dreams of.” You won’t get an argument from us.

Father’s Day, Asia-Style @ InterContinental Nha Trang Father’s Day can sneak up on even the

most devoted offspring. So make it easy, with a special Asian set dinner at his favourite beach getaway. Cookbook Café’s six-course dinner should have everything he’s looking for, including a complimentary glass of sparkling wine — and his favourite present, a mug that probably says ‘World’s Best Dad’. All this plus live music, Jun. 21 — VND499,000++ per person.

White Night @ InterContinental Danang Admit it, you’ve always wanted to be Don Johnson. Now you can Miami Vice your way through M Privé’s new White Nights, dressed in your most pristine to a backdrop of the Monkey Mountains. Drinks pour for free for ladies from 9pm to 11pm, and the dreamlike vibes continue all through the night. Every last Saturday of the month, 9pm till late.

Paradise Hotels and Cruises One of Halong Bay’s premiere vacation specialists is now combining their specialities — offering two and three day packages that combine their hotels and cruises, plus much more. Take a spin on the Paradise Luxury vessel, then dock for the night at stylish Paradise Suites Hotel, island-hopping, caving, kayaking

and cooking in between. Packages start at VND2,150,000 per person, per night.

Pullman Danang June is seafood month at Restaurant Epice, and if a restaurant with a perfect little slice of beach nearby is emphasising their seafood offerings, you know there’s got to be something special going on. Every Saturday evening in June and July, throw down your hard-earned VND695,000 net for the freshest scallops, oysters, fish and grill you can handle, or carouse their clay pots for some Thai green chicken curry or braised beed Massaman — saving some room for the chocolate fountain treats, of course.

Father’s Day Feast @ Novotel Nha Trang Enjoy a poolside BBQ dinner with Dad, and don’t even entertain thoughts of not eating all the fresh seafood and Australian beef he wants you to eat — you’re a growing boy/ girl, after all. If you can get him away from the other tremendous plans you have lined up early, he’ll get a free drink from 6pm to 7pm. And if you’re that good a planner, you might as well sign up early — booking a day in advance lops 15 percent off the VND630,000++ rate. | June 2015 Word | 123

The Motorbike Diaries Part 3: A 1,000km DETOUR

Riding on the back of Nemo, his motorbike from Vietnam, Matt Dworzanczyk continues his cross-Asia journey via Thailand

DAY 39 VIP treatment The initial goal was to continue from Laos into Myanmar. With Myanmar’s restrictions on foreign motorbikes, I wasn’t getting my hopes up but planned to try my luck at every possible crossing anyways. Indeed, from Laos it was ‘no go’. Well, off to Thailand then! Arrived like a VIP — with a police motorcade! 5km into Thailand, I suddenly remember — damn, they drive on the left!

DAY 41 Stalker Cows Tachileik border crossing. I can practically

reach my arm into Burma from here. But nope! Can’t cross here, either… Chiang Dao for the night. Found a perfect camping spot in a forest, by a river, really scenic. Made two ‘acquaintances’. They moo, smell, get too close for comfort and won’t stop following me.

DAY 43 The Trap Big happening right outside Pai! Cops put up a checkpoint and with huge grins pull over every backpacker on their rental bikes ‘ticketing’ them for not having licenses. Oh, how much satisfaction it gave me to turn the guy’s grin upside down when

unlike others I showed him my papers!

DAY 48 Bad Day 10km out of town, bike dies. Another 30km — first fall. 20km more — mad rain. Lost my spare sparkplug somewhere, tore up my only pair of shoes and spent the day drenched. Lucky the tent and sleeping pad absorbed the damage from the fall. Nemo’s fine and I’ll find new shoes. Tomorrow will go better.

DAY 51 The War Mae Sot border crossing. Almost but still no…

Found a guesthouse. There’s a mad looking French guy chasing after me. He keeps calling me ‘champion’ and offers all his help since “you Polish people helped us French in the war!” …which war?

DAY 55 Umphang There is no road from Umphang to Bangkok. I should’ve checked before driving 200km to a dead end. Then again — I like it here. Quiet, peaceful, perfect little noodle shop nearby, a nice café where I can write; plenty of nature… and to remind me it’s still Thailand, a group

of proud American high schoolers in town saving the locals from imminent demise through their gracious voluntourism.

after all to mark some 6,000km on the road.

DAY 58

Parting with Nemo I tried every crossing. Reached out to every contact. No chance to cross into Burma with Nemo. That means Nemo’s catching a boat to Bangladesh. I’m hitching a ride to Ranong, crossing Myanmar bike-less and we reconnect in 4 weeks. Not ideal, but it’ll be an adventure either way. Safe journey, Nemo. For more on Matt’s films and travels, check out the Etherium Sky Production Blog at

One Night in Bangkok Of all the crazy roads I’ve been on, Bangkok driving is by far the most stressful. Corrupt cops and mad rain don’t help. No, Bangkok, I didn’t like you much before and guess I won’t this time either. The night? Bottles of Sangsom on obnoxious Khao San Road, riding in circles through the city, sneaking into a high-rise swimming pool at 3am (getting kicked out soon after). A decent night

DAY 61 | June 2015 Word | 125

Spotlight Joe’s Garden Resort and Cafe


oe Springer-Miller used to be well-known in Saigon — with a surname of such double-barrel uniqueness, you’re unlikely to be forgotten. A one-time corporate expat, a photographer and one of the forces behind Saigon Players, he then did what every happy-go-lucky man in the prime of his life just shouldn’t do. He fell in love. The unfortunate recipient of his affection was a graceful lady called Thao, a District 9 dreamer who could at once be both full of joy and yet distracted and thoughtful. The Maine native she fell for was also a dreamer, and the couple quickly went head over high heels for each other. After an extended romance and an even longer extended marriage and honeymoon, they settled in Mui Ne to live, work and love by the sea. They went to live their dream. That is how Joe’s Cafe was born.

Love Song In real life, dreams are only a pale shade of themselves, and while at the start the couple gave themselves body and soul to their project, as time went by, the moment for

126 | Word June 2015 |

flair, creativity and passion came and went. Life, that ‘ol little devil, kicked in, and the dayto-day humdrum and troubles of running and maintaining a business took over. They’ve done well. Seven years later and Joe and Thao are a two-car family, have a four-year-old son and another child on the way. Yet, what dreams don’t tell you is that life isn’t made to be simple. The plight of the once bustling Mui Ne has become their plight. Much of the beachfront has eroded — there are times when the sand is non-existent. Places such as Mia Resort have found a way round this. Thanks to clever construction, they always have a beach. Joe is trying to follow suit. However, the appearance of too many businesses vying for a declining number of tourists has stretched many a resort, bar and restaurant to the limit. Joe’s is one of the few places that is busy. Their nightly live music and international comfort food menu holds them in good stead. So does the lounge lizard-style atmosphere and the feeling that you could be on a Thai island. You’re not — Vietnam doesn’t do Thai-island holidays. But you could

always pinch yourself and imagine.

Hotel Mui Ne Three years ago another dream was fulfilled and Thao and Joe moved from their original, non-seafront location to one on the beach. With it came bungalows. Wooden, leave-thatched bungalows by the sea. They have since built and repaired, added greenery and a small swimming pool. Yet their bungalows by the sea, no matter how relaxing and rustically well-appointed are no longer as busy as they once were. It’s the Mui Ne trend. The Russians are no longer there in their swarms, and many of the destination’s former customers have migrated elsewhere. Joe, though is bullish. He believes. And he still has that ear-to-ear smile and a twinkle in his eye. Thao is the epitome of graceful charm. For theirs is a love story that continues, and with a new baby soon due, it will move into its next phase. — Nick Ross Joe’s Café and Garden Resort is at 86 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ham Tien, Phan Thiet, Tel: (062) 384 7177 or online at


local experience complete with an excellent spa and two swimming pools. HO TRAM SANCTUARY $$$$ Ho Tram, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 378 1631

The spacious villas come with their own pool and have direct access to the beach. Extras include tennis courts, a mini supermarket, and cycling and motorbike tours. REX HOTEL $$ 1 Le Quy Don, Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 385 2135

SIX SENSES CON DAO $$$$ Dat Doc Beach, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 383 1222

The Grand-Ho Tram Strip Phuoc Thuan Commune, Xuyen Moc, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 378 8888

The Grand-Ho Tram Strip is Vietnam’s first large scale integrated resort and includes a 541-room five-star hotel, a world-class casino, restaurants, high-tech meeting space, an exclusive VIP area, as well as a variety of beach-front recreation activities. Is located next to the Greg Norman-designed golf course, The Bluffs, one of the best golf courses in Vietnam.

M M M Travel Services — Hanoi BUFFALO TOURS AGENCY (BTA) 94 Ma May, Hoan Kiem Dist., Ha Noi, Tel: (04) 3828 0702

A boutique Travel Agency at the service of all Vietnamese and expatriate residents in Vietnam offering easy, hassle-free travel around the world and in Vietnam. BTA customizes leisure and corporate travel plans while

offering a selected range of small group tours. Exo Travel 66A Tran Hung Dao, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3828 2150

on real life experiences in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Mekong Delta, Halong Bay, Sapa and beyond to get you up close to Vietnam’s people, cuisine, history and culture.

A one-stop, all-in-one travel agency with an extensive operational track record in the Indochina region and beyond. Providing up-market services, Exotissimo brings their clients close to culture through personalised tours. Also find travel desks at the Hilton, Sofitel Plaza and Intercontinental hotels, which are open on weekends and holidays.

Travel Sense Asia Suite 8, 2nd Floor, 103 Nguyen Truong To, Ba Dinh, Hanoi Tel: (04) 3715 3977

HANDSPAN TRAVEL 78 Ma May, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3926 2828


Established in 1997, Handspan provides customers with safe, high quality, diverse, small-group adventure tours to both popular and isolated locations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Has a focus on off-the-beaten-track sustainable and responsible tourism initiatives. Also provides to excursions to more well-worn destinations. HG TRAVEL 47 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3944 8844

Travel company specialising in small-group tours around Vietnam and further afield in Indochina. Is also the sole representative agent for Kenya Airways (for 40 cities in Africa — kenya-airways. com), American Airlines (aa. com) and Turkish Airlines (

A homegrown travel agency providing small group journeys and tailor-made holidays to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand. Voted in Trip Advisor’s Top 10 of best tours in Hanoi since 2010.

Travel Services — HCMC BUFFALO TOURS AGENCY 70-72 Ba Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3828 0702; 157 Pasteur, Q3, Ho Chi Minh City, Tel: (08) 3827 9170

This premium travel agency helps travellers select their destinations and organise their trips. From corporate travel to small group tours, explore the world or Vietnam. Exo Travel 41, Thao Dien, Q2. Tel (08) 3519 4111, Ext. 15/17/19

A reliable and experienced travel company operating through Southeast Asia, Exotissimo brings you personalized tours across the region, many including insights into culinary customs, handicrafts and humanitarian initiatives.

powered by clean, renewable biodiesel. English-speaking tour guides lead the way.

FLIGHT TRAVEL COMPANY 121 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 7744

Back of the Bike Tours Tel: (08) 6298 5659

Flight travel services, including global travel management, domestic and international air booking and travel insurance, to corporate companies, family and individual travelers. TERRAVERDE 12/20 Nguyen Canh Di, Ward 4, Tan Binh District, Tel: (08) 3984 4754

If you like cycling through the Mekong Delta, trekking in the highlands, or lazing in a junk on Ha Long Bay — all while making a difference in people’s lives — then this company will suit you well. VIETNAM VESPA ADVENTURE 169A De Tham, Q1, Tel: 01222 993585

vietnamvespaadventure. com

M M M Travel Services — Elsewhere

Offer motorbike tours combined with the finest street food to give customers a truly immersive Vietnamese experience.

Online travel in Southeast Asia. Offers you selection of best hotels and great tours. Create your own trip or we can tailor make your itinerary. TU TRAVEL 60 Hai Ba Trung, Can Tho City, Tel: 0713 752436

Want to set up non-standard tours in the Mekong with local guides who’ve got extensive local knowledge? This might be the place to contact.

Vespa Adventure offers multi–day tours of southern and coastal Vietnam on the back of a luxury motorbike

INTREPID TRAVEL VIETNAM 57A Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0904 193308

Intrepid Travel Vietnam is an international travel company operating in Vietnam since 1992, offering innovative day tours, short breaks and small group adventures. With expert guides and guaranteed departures, Intrepid focuses | June 2015 Word | 127


Bar Stool / Coffee Cup / Top Eats / The Alchemist / The Therapist / Food Promos / Medical Buff / Book Buff

Photo by Julie Vola 128 | Word June 2015 |

Hanoi Essentials

Alternative Health

Business Groups


A-Roaming Bodyworker


Provides various holistic healing modalities. Services include craniosacral therapy, deep tissue massage, prenatal massage, healing stones massage, as well as energy healing including Reiki and Jin Shin Jyutsu. Workshops are also available. Hanoi Holistic Health Guide A guide to various holistic health practitioners in Hanoi. Only available online, but a great information source.


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

23/67 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3726 4896 Trang Tien Bookstore VIETNAMESE & ENGLISH BOOKS

44 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3936 2151 Weekend Bookworm CHILDREN’S & VIETNAM-THEMED BOOKS

1/28 Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3829 2322 With its main store located in Chau Long, sharing space with Hanoi Cooking Centre, the second edition in Tay Ho specialises in children’s and Vietnamese themed books, as well as selling bao cap (Subsidy Era) furniture and a range of souvenirs and gifts. Open weekends only. Xunhasaba ENGLISH LANGUAGE BOOKSTORE

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


Amcham 4th Floor, InterContinental Hanoi, 1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3934 2790

Auscham 4th Floor, 100 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 0909 710994

BBGV Floor 1, Hanoi Central Office Bldg 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3934 8681

CCIFV Sofitel Plaza, No 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 2229 HANOI CLUB COUNTRY CLUB

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


Hanoi Ois

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


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

M M M Clothing


Eurocham G/F, Sofitel Plaza Hanoi, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 2228

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



Icham Sofitel Plaza, Ground floor, 1 Thanh nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 2229

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

Singapore Business Association Vietnam Business Center Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh

M M M Cinemas Cinematheque ARTS CINEMA

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

M M M Clubs & Societies


36 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6233 With new styles arriving in store every second day, this shop offers a huge range of dresses, shirts, pants, skirts and accessories in local and imported fabrics. Clothes fit all sizes, from petite to average to the generous figure. Alterations and a made-tomeasure service are available at no extra cost. L’ATELIER 33 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6758





58 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh Tel: (04) 3734 2251


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


44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 0088

Hanoi Cooking Centre is a school, retail outlet and café, where you can find classes on not just Vietnamese cooking, but international cuisine, held in a beautiful setting. They also offer culinary tours. HIDDEN HANOI COOKING CENTRE

147 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: 0912 254045

A wide range of Vietnamese culinary classes are offered in these well-appointed and clean facilities. The knowledgeable staff will guide you through the secrets of Vietnamese cooking in an open air courtyard.

M M M Crafts & Furniture


21 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3824 1850





Stocks women’s wear, leather bags, shoes and handicrafts. This chic boutique offers both ready-to-wear and made-to-fit clothing.


eco-chic lifestyle. The products — clothing, accessories and furniture — are made from natural silk and organic cotton certified to global organic standards. Metiseko is also certified by the fairtrade, Textile Exchange.

71 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem A lifestyle brand that started out life in Hoi An, Metiseko’s move to the capital has seen them bring us their creative, poetic prints designed for an



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

9 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3926 4831; 58 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3824 4607; 13 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 4831


Hanoi Essentials

Community development non-profit quilt shop featuring handmade quilts and accessories. Styles vary from traditional to patterned and Asian-inspired. Founded in 2001 and with outposts in several locations around the region, the shop employs women in rural areas, enabling them to make an income and care for their families. Metiseko

The Westcoast International Dental Clinic is composed of dental professionals who deliver modern, high-level dental services throughout Vietnam. The clinic provides the highest quality technology, comfort and after-service care to patients.

M M M Galleries Art Vietnam Gallery

71 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3935 2645



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


15 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh iBike SALES

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

70 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0904 244941 THBC (The Hanoi Bicycle Collective) RENTALS & SALES

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


Dental Care

24 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3928 5190

Established in 2002, this American-run gallery has championed Vietnamese contemporary art for more than two decades. Holds regular exhibitions and artist talks. Nha San Collective GALLERY & ARTS PROJECTS

24 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0985 870316


3 Nguyen Du, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 0906 200434 Peace Dental Clinic DENTAL CLINIC

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

peacedentalclinic.wordpress. com Serenity International Dental Clinic DENTAL CLINIC

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


2nd Fl, Syrena Center, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3710 0555

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

HANOI GOURMET 6T Ham Long, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3943 1009 KITCHEN ART KITCHENWARE

38 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6680 2770 L's Place GROCERY SHOP


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

The first experimental art space in Hanoi, the non-profit, artist-led space has given contemporary Vietnamese artists the chance to nurture their talent and experiment. Holds regular exhibitions and artist residences.

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

Vietnam Arts Museum




66 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3733 2131

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

Maintains and promotes the treasures of Vietnamese cultural and artistic heritage, allowing visitors to appreciate and understand the entire history of Vietnamese fine arts.



Australian Dental Clinic





Packexim Building Tower 1, 23rd Floor, No. 49 Lane 15, An Duong Vuong, Tay Ho

A place to work. A space to create. Somewhere to see something new. Work Room Four is pulling together the threads of creative endeavours across Hanoi. A collective that promotes collaboration and new ideas, exhibitions, workshops, artist studios, courses, contacts and events.

M M M Groceries & Liquor


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


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

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

M M M Hairdressers & Salons DINH HAIR SALON HAIR SALON

2A Cua Bac, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0987 718899 Hair Stream UNISEX HAIR & NAIL SALON

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


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

M M M Hospitals & Medical Clinics Bumrungrad International Hospital HANOI OFFICE OF BANGKOK HOSPITAL

Shopping Malls

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


298 I Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3843 0748

On the little street directly below Kim Ma, with all sorts of specialists including OB/ GYN, Pediatricians and ENT. A Medium-sized practice with both Vietnamese and international doctors, but they are used to treating expats. Also a 24-hour emergency service. FRENCH HOSPITAL INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL

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

Garden Shopping Center

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

Indochina Plaza

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

Lotte Center

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


55 Yen Ninh, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3927 5568; Keangnam Office Tower, Khu B1 Pham Hung, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 7305 8880


51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3934 0666

Well-known medical clinic also known for its quality emergency services. Doctors and consultants also provide a range of services from standard GP-style check-ups through to vaccinations, paediatrics and specialist care. Vietnam-Korea Friendship Clinic KOREAN CLINIC & HOSPITAL

12 Chu Van An, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3843 7231 VINMEC INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL


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

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

Syrena Shopping Center

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

Trang Tien Plaza

cnr. Hang Bai and Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi


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

M M M Insurance

Vincom City Towers

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


48A Ly Thuong Kiet , Hoan Kiem, Tel: 04 3939 3907 Lan Salon TOP-END SALON

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

IF Consulting CCIFV/Eurocham, Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3936 5370

Vincom Royal City

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

Liberty Insurance 16th Floor, Hoa Binh International Towers, 106 Hoang Quoc Viet, Cau Giay Tel: (04) 3755 7111

Regency International Insurance 5th Floor, Press Club, 59A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0966 857 488

M M M International Schools British International School, Hanoi Hoa Lan Road, Vinhomes Riverside, Long Bien, Tel: (04) 3946 0435

A selective, independent, co-educational day school. Provides a British-style education following the National Curriculum for England, with students taking IGCSE and A Level. Pending authorization, will offer the IB programme from 2016 onwards. Concordia International School Hanoi CMC Building, Duy Tan, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 3795 8878

A non-profit entity, Concordia has highly performing schools in both Hong Kong and Shanghai at the top tier of the educational system. All instructors and teachers are native English speakers and admission applications are accepted throughout the year. Hanoi International School 48 Lieu Giai , Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3832 8140

With schooling available for students studying at elementary through to secondary levels of education, HIS is one of the few private, international education options in the capital. Offers Cambridge IGCSE and IB Diploma for students at the secondary level. International School of Vietnam 6-7 Nguyen Cong Thai, Dai Kim Urban Area, Dinh Cong, Hoang Mai, Tel: 3540 9183

A not-for-profit, pre-kindergarten to Grade 12 school serving the international and local community of Hanoi. ISV accepts students of any nationality aged 3 and up. Highly qualified and experienced international educators are supported by a 21st-century campus with the latest in educational technology plus excellent resources for learning. Class

sizes are small. Kinderworld International Kindergarten Unit 9 – 10, Shophouse CT17, Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3743 0360; 3rd Floor, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 7243; C5-C11, 1st Floor, The Manor Building, My Dinh, Tu Liem, Tel: (04) 3794 0209

Classes are kept small with a foreign teacher leading the class with the assistance of a Vietnamese teacher according to the teacher-student ratio. KinderWorld provides pre school education for children from 18 months to below 6 years. QSI International School of Hanoi #17 Lane, 67 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6418

QSI International School of Hanoi is next in a long line of ‘quality schools’ established by the Quality Schools International. The institution specialises in instructing preschool and lower elementary age students. Singapore International School 2D Van Phuc Diplomatic Compound, 46 Van Bao, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3726 1601; Block C3, Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel: 3758 2664; Dilmah Building, Duy Tan, Cau Giay, Tel: 3795 1036

Mr Cao Motorbike Rental MOTORBIKE RENTALS

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

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

Tel: (04) 6294 4828

LanLinh Property RENTALS

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

Vietlong Housing RENTALS

VIP Bikes Social Enterprise RENTALS & REPAIRS

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

M M M Property Rentals Fair Real Estate RENTALS

6 Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6332

Gia Long Housing RENTALS

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

No. 809, Ct13b building, Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho

Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

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


AGS Four Winds 41A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 8762

A worldwide leader in international removals and relocations, with 130 offices globally. Have the capacity to move property to and from any location.

Relocation Agents ALLIED PICKFORDS Room 302, 12A Ho Xuan Huong, Tel: (04) 3943 1511

The largest home moving company in the world, Allied Pickfords moves over 1,000 families in over 175 countries every day. Has a full range of services — domestic moves, office moves and storage — both inside and outside of Vietnam. JVK INDOCHINA MOVERS 6 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04)3826 0334

SANTA FE RELOCATION SERVICES Suite 821, Vietnam Trade Hotel, 14 Tran Binh Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3941 0805

With over 150 offices around the world, Santa Fe offers local and international moving, pet transportation, relocation services including home search, orientation, cultural training, immigration services and records management.


Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is currently a leader in the field. Has offices in both

Provides an international education for students from Primary up to University level. A strong curriculum combines the best aspects of the Singaporean, Australian and Vietnamese curricula, all taught by qualified teachers. Runs various co-curricula activities and prepares students for internationally recognised qualifications: iPSLE, Cambridge IGCSE & AS/A Level, GAC. United Nations International School (UNIS) G9 Ciputra, Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3758 1551

Established in 1988, 1,050 students from 60 nationalities follow the IB programme from aged 3 through to aged 18. A notfor-profit entity, UNIS aims for its students to emerge as responsible stewards of our global society and natural environment.

M M M Motorbike Rental & Repairs Anh Dung MOTORBIKE RENTALS

37 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0915 066096 | June 2015 Word | 131



51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6281


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

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

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

An international and profes-

sional Yoga Studio providing more than 20 different yoga styles such as: Hatha Yoga, Yoga Therapy, Ball Yoga, Props Yoga, Hot Yoga (with infrared heater), Power Yoga and much more, with a flexible schedule of 10 classes per day. Bring harmony back into your life — Studio Five is the perfect place to reconnect your mind with your body. VIETCLIMB CLIMBING CENTRE

40 Ngo 76 An Duong, Tay Ho, Tel: 0914 143185

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


247 Au Co, Tay Ho; 16 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3923 0253 An international Yoga studio providing classes across a variety of levels and styles, including prenatal and postnatal classes, restorative yoga, pilates and tai chi. Also have a yogic shop offering incense, yoga and pilates mats, books, clothes, soaps, Himalayan products and other essential yoga equipment.

M M M Sportswear & Equipment Adidas Football FOOTBALL & SPORTS

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

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

Hanoi Sports Shop 146, Mai Dich, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 2218 5757

Score-Tech 44, Ngo 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 8246

Apparel company offering personalised sport garments for companies, schools and professional sports clubs using the latest printing technology with a design team from Barcelona. Score-Tech controls the whole production process from fabric production and printing to sewing. Big and small orders for all sporting and commercial needs.

Supermarkets Big C 222 Tran Duy Hung, Cau Giay; Garden Shopping Centre, The Manor, My Dinh, Tu Liem CITIMART

Umove Travel and Outdoors TRAVEL EQUIPMENT & CLOTHING

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

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

FIVIMART 27A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem

INTIMEX 22-23 Le Thai To, Hoan Kiem

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

Photo by Harris Spencer

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Bar Stool 6 Degrees


nly in Hanoi do you enter a rooftop bar by walking through a shiny Mini Cooper dealership. Veer to the right of the colourful lineup of cars and enter the magical glass elevator, where an attendant is waiting just to save you the chore of pressing the button. Ride up to the eighth floor and get your iPhone’s panorama mode fired up, because you’ll want to take a picture of this view. On a clear night, from the highest perch in the ‘hood, you can see for kilometres in all directions, across West Lake one way and the Red River the other. You might hear cheers from the table beside you, where the 10th proposal of the week has just been sealed. A few months ago, a YouTube video of an epic proposal — think sky writing and rose petals — was circulated all over the Hanoi Interwebs, catapulting 6 Degrees to romantic-rooftop-sunsetlakeview-proposal status. White lights twinkle above

Photos by Harris Spencer

sleek tables and even sleeker patrons. Even on the hottest nights, the relatively high altitude allows the rooftop lounge to maintain a delicate breeze. Fairy tale-like plants punctuate the sprawling floor, clustering in a lush garden in the corner. (The owners’ father is a bonsai collector). Fleets of well-dressed toddlers prance by, no doubt taking a break from their parents’ fancy cocktail parties over yonder in one of 6 Degrees’ many private event spaces. Girls at adjacent tables take identical selfies. People sip smoothies alongside their Cosmopolitans.

Not Just For Proposals In many ways, 6 Degrees screams new Hanoi. It rises like a phoenix from the ashes that are the Nghi Tam traffic fumes. The building itself has a bright Mini Cooper crawling up its side, almost like it’s taunting the drab cockroaches that make their way up decrepit apartment buildings in neighbouring alleyways.

So, yes, 6 Degrees is exactly the kind of place where you go for a YouTube-worthy proposal or to mull over pros and cons before dropping a load of dong on a bright yellow car. And yes, when a shiny building protrudes like a diamond-encrusted thumb above the expressway, it’s easy to feel underdressed and overwhelmed. But hear me out. 6 Degrees is actually a pretty chill place. The design is smart and simple. From the modern white chairs to the glass-walled balconies to the sturdy wood tables, this bar knows that its crazy amazing view of Hanoi is all the decor it needs. If you’re not feeling the roof, you can always just stop on the second floor, where 6 Degrees’ more modest cafe serves the same food and drink menu. 6 Degrees’ expansive, beautifully-designed menu is chock full of silly jokes and punny items. You can sip a boozy Manhattan, a tart strawberry mojito, or a

refreshing whiskey sour, and you can bet your motorbikeriding butt that it’ll be delicious. They also serve everything from pan-seared salmon with mango salsa to thick and crispy fries to juicy lamb chops. One of the bar’s co-owners, Hoang Mai, is at the helm in the kitchen, and brings her culinary school knowhow (she trained at Le Cordon Bleu in California) to the Vietnamese and Western dishes alike. The dishes are complex in flavour but simple in presentation. The seabass I had was adorned with lightly-grilled zucchini slices and a baguette, and the spring rolls and grilled pork in my upscale take on bun cha nem were perfectly seasoned and textured. 6 Degrees will soon start serving breakfast, making this venue truly a place for all occasions. I strongly advise you check it out, even if you’re not in the market for a car or a marriage proposal. — Noey Neumark Six Degrees is at 189 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Hanoi | June 2015 Word | 133

Hanoi On the Town

Bars, Clubs & Beer Clubs

able place to pull up a stool and take pulls in a relaxed haven.

food menu.



Eden Hanoi

Le Soleil & Paolo and Chi DIVE BAR


End of 264 Au Co, Tay Ho

+84 Bar 23 Ngo Van So, Hoan Kiem


Housed in a colonial building, bare brick, comfortable sofa-like seating and grungy decor related to a past make up the mix at this venue put together by the people behind Barbetta.

When it comes to outdoor parties, big outdoor parties, the setting at Eden makes this place difficult to beat, with well over a 1,000 revellers packing in at the weekends. Check out their Facebook page for the party list.


88 Xuan Dieu, Tay ho, Tel: (04) 3718 8029

A wine bar with a difference, this mainstay on the watering hole scene in West Lake mixes contemporary design, black ceilings, subtle lighting and an international aesthetic with one of the best wine lists in town. Not surprisingly it is developing a faithful clientele. Well worth a visit. ANGELINA CONTEMPORARY ITALIAN

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

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


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

25 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0986 495211

A small establishment from the minds behind the party and event organisers, LinkHanoi. The bar has tables filling the first floor and spilling onto the sidewalk as well as a small loft area for lounging. 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.

284 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: 0915 663993 A self-style dive bar and live music space with a distinct Gallic feel. A pleasant ambience and tasty cuisine add to the offerings at this popular, West Lake venue. Madake BAR & EVENT SPACE

81 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6276 6665

With a stunning garden overlooking a peaceful lotus pond, this bar is famed for it’s many weekday and weekend events, its ambient Asian-style décor, DJ nights and general atmosphere. A popular West Lake go-to joint.

PHUC TAN 51 Tu Gian Phuc Tan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0915 907785 Now located on the river in between Long Bien and Chuong Duong Bridges, this late night, DJ bar is notorious for… well, being Phuc Tan. Almost every Hanoi-based reveler has ended up here at some point. It’s just one of those places. POLITE PUB LONG BAR



With well-poured drinks, a foosball table, no smoking and a midnight closing time, CAMA ATK knows exactly what it wants to be — and that’s refreshing. The space is a part time venue for smaller acts and DJs. The venue is hip, comfortable and will likely provide the serious drinker with a reli-

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This bar-cum-restaurant is outfitted with comfortable, stylish furnishings and is famed for its luxurious rice wine liquors and newly created cocktail class. Does regular events including comedy nights and shows all the live football. Also known for its creative Vietnamese

199D Nghi Tam, Tay Ho

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

12A Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0932 373802 A cheap, cheerful and welcoming slither of a watering hole popular with expats and anyone looking for some good conversation. Cheap beers, oodles of Jameson’s and often open late. Oh, and check out the Danish hotdog stand out front. To die for.


73 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 01262 054970

31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6377



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




Sidewalk Hanoi





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


1A Tang Bat Ho, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3972 5088

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

61 Ma May, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 01653 336087


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


nearby favorites. Unpretentious, dog-friendly.

25 Duong Ven Ho, Tay Ho

Located on the lakeside lane just below Xuan Dieu, this warm, quiet and friendly pub offers a selection of international and local beers, wine, cocktails and a nice view of West Lake. Serving pies and pasties from The Cart, Vietnamese food from Dieu’s next door, or delivery from


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 well-known and well-loved space. The Nest VIETNAMESE-STYLE BAR & CLUB

Top Floor, 9 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 0947 890333 Lounge.09XuanDieu

The West Lake location suggests that this is the kind of bar that will attract expats. It does. But thanks to the Vietnamese atmosphere, there’s a nice mix of local and foreign over the three floors of lounge seating, DJ booths and dance areas. The views here are pretty eye-catching, too.


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. THE ROOFTOP SKYLINE LOUNGE

19th Floor, Pacific Place, 83B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3946 1901

The first up-on-high bar and restaurant in the capital and still a leader in its field. With DJs spinning EDM and great views of the city, this is a must for a more Vietnamese, top-shelf experience. The Unicorn Bar COCKTAIL BAR & LOUNGE

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

40 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho , Tel: (04) 6675 9838

A miniscule sports bar on the main drag of Xuan Dieu is perpetually crowded with regulars drinking out front on plastic stools. Notorious for its burgers, cooked fresh to order, Tracy’s is also famous for their draft beers, claiming to serve the coldest draft beer in Hanoi. VUVUZELA MODERN BEER HALL

2A Tran Thanh Tong, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3972 8922

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


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 im-

Coffee Cup Hoa 10 Gio


f you’re not too fussed about drink quality and you’re craving vibrant, comfortable spaces to break up the monotony of your weekly pilgrimage to Cong Ca Phe, there’s no going past Hoa 10 Gio. Tucked away on Hang Voi behind Hoan Kiem Lake, this florist-cum-café is the ideal spot to camp out with your laptop and watch life buzz by on the streets below. The neighbourhood alone is worth the trip, with a charming array of modern cafés and boutiques interspersed with the odd pho ga stand spilling out onto the sidewalk. As you pass through the florist on the first floor, you’ll

Photos by Harris Spencer

get just a hint of the colour and vibrance that awaits upstairs. Indeed, style is something that Hoa 10 Gio does with ease and has done to great effect in three self-contained suites that boast trendy décor, comfy furnishings and powerful air conditioning to boot.

A World of Weird After somewhere quiet to hit the books? Settle down with a cup of strong ca phe in the Vintage Library. Feeling chatty? Catch up with a friend under one of the miniature indoor gazebos in the floralthemed Secret Garden. Or if you’re just feeling plain “meh”, watch YouTube videos on your phone in the curiously-named

Emotion Lounge. Fortunately, Hoa 10 Gio’s impressive design credentials haven’t resulted in an exorbitant pricelist. And while the menu won’t exactly have you leaping to write a review on TripAdvisor, it will keep you satisfied as you while away the hours. The Vietnamese coffee is good and sensibly priced at VND28,000. The friendly staff can also work wonders with a tiny espresso machine, pumping a mean latté for VND45,000. If you’ve hit your caffeine quota for the day, the pomeloand-honey tea (VND25,000) is a delicious alternative and comes with a generous helping of real pomelo pulp. The

same can be also said with the refreshing green tea and longan, for VND40,000. Venture too far off the beaten track though and you’ll find yourself with a bland cup of soya bean powder with hot water, or the ca phe ha thanh (VND40,000) — which translates to “Hanoi special coffee”, but is actually an oily, bitter concoction of black coffee, condensed milk and butter. But if you stick with the basics and don’t mind doing so, you’ll have yourself a relaxing and comfortable oasis to spend those hot summer days. — David Mann Hoa 10 Gio is at 26 Hang Voi, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi | June 2015 Word | 135

Top Eats La Bicicleta


idden in the mess of alleyways behind Elegant Suites in West Lake, you can reach La Bicicleta by turning off of Quang An at the suggestion of an unassuming sign, or you can get there by turning left, then left and the going straight down alley 31 from Xuan Dieu. You can approach it a myriad of other ways, too, but I’ll spare you the confusion. The point is this: La Bicicleta can be hard to find. Restaurateur Guim Valls Teruel cites the restaurant’s location as both a challenge

and a strength. People don’t necessarily seek it out, he tells me, so much as they stumble upon it. Once you stumble upon it, though, I reckon you’ll want to seek it out for future visits. You can approach the food options here in any number of ways. Go on a date and test your relationship’s strength by trying to choose just a few items from the bistro’s multipaged menu. Treat yourself on a weekday with the generous set lunch, sweetly priced at just VND95,000. Bring a group so you can explore the tapas menu without abandon. Leave your

destiny in the kitchen’s hands and splurge on the tasting menu (VND295,000 per person).

Impressions I sat down with Guim on a recent weekday to sample La Bicicleta’s set lunch and some of their other menu highlights. It’s a rough life. Here were my impressions: The penne in the set lunch’s starring pasta dish is appropriately al dente and the textural variety — from the creamy avocado to the juicy tomatoes to the crunch of fresh herbs — is just about perfect.

While I think it could use a bit more salt, I find this pasta salad overall refreshing and keep sneaking more bites. To the pasta’s left sits a thick slab of multigrain bread topped with sautéed mushrooms in a creamy garlic sauce and sprinkled with greens. Although difficult to eat gracefully, what with those pesky mushrooms sliding around, the sauce getting all over my hands and the herbs sticking to my hungry lips, the toast is worth the struggle. The croquetas’ buttery insides and crispy outsides are truly

Photos by Julie Vola

indulgent, from the explosion of juicy roast meat to the béchamel that gloriously seeps from the jambon pillow of perfection. Next up is a sizzling plate of garlic prawns. Perfectly seasoned with the ideal blend of spice and salt, the prawns swim in a thin red sauce flecked with crispy slices of garlic. I lap up the sauce, oil and garlic with a fresh baguette that’s just been brought to the table. The fried calamari rings are equally addictive, with a crispy coat that stays impressively intact as I bite into the tender core. Guim insists that I return

the next day for paella. Twist my arm, I tell him. Proper paella takes nearly an hour to make, so Guim advises guests to order it in advance. And after my experience tasting it, I just advise you to order it, period. With each forkful of this heaping pile of rice, I discover a new layer of flavour, from the briny notes that ring in with each sliver of seafood to the paprika’s subtle smokiness. This is the kind of place that Spaniards and non-Spaniards alike will return to time and again. The food is bursting with flavour, from the garlic

that delightfully pervades each dish to the crisp bitterness of the kitchen’s homegrown herbs atop grains and proteins alike.

Trial and Error La Bicicleta embraces its Hanoian setting. After a series of trial runs, Chef Jordi Llagosteria figured out which Vietnamese breed of rice works best in a paella, and found the perfect local potato to achieve the desired crunchy-creamy sensation for the patatas bravas. He’s also taken full advantage of the freshness of ingredients afforded by Hanoi’s fruit and

vegetable markets. In other ways, the menu at La Bicicleta is authentically Spanish, from its adherence to the tradition of paella despite customer confusion (“It’s not supposed to be yellow!”) to its devotion to Spanish drinking customs (every drink comes with a complimentary snack). I’m no Spaniard, but dining at La Bicicleta makes me feel like I’m one step closer. — David Mann La Bicicleta is at 44 Ngo 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi or online at labicicletahanoi | June 2015 Word | 137

The Alchemist Bring on the Sun


ith summer's arrival come opportunities for basking poolside in the company of friends. I was doing just that recently when the conversation turned to protecting ourselves from the sun. We relied on our shade umbrella to diffuse the intensity of the UV rays and chose not to use conventional sunscreen. We didn’t want to put ourselves at greater health risk by applying toxic chemicals to our skin. Now to be fair, there are safe alternatives to conventional synthetic sunscreens and sun blocks. I advise the reader to look for non-toxic products if your exposure to the sun is to be prolonged. To a large extent the sun has become an object to be feared. Although our skin can be vulnerable to sunburn, avoidance of the sun can actually lead to greater health risks. Appropriate doses of sunlight are essential to our overall wellbeing. The following are a few reasons to seek out the sun.

Mood Enhancer The sun is good for you, plain and simple. Like everything else, moderation is

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advised. Exposure to the sun allows the body to naturally produce vitamin D. In recent years research has shown the significant role vitamin D plays in our health. Some doctors consider it to be more important than vitamin C. The sun makes us feel happy. When the body is exposed to sunlight, the production of the mood-enhancing neurotransmitter serotonin increases. “Turn your face toward the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.” — Maori Proverb

The Eyes Have It Not only have we learned to cover our skin from the sun, we also hide our eyes behind sunglasses — blocking the most direct path of communication to the brain for processes that improve our health and enhance our mood. When the eyes absorb sunlight, the production and release of another neurotransmitter, melatonin, also increases. Together these hormones regulate our mood, emotions, memory, self-esteem, sleep habits, appetite, digestion and body temperature.

By Karen Gay

Perhaps it would be wise to take the advice of Corey Hart, and wear your sunglasses at night.

Eat Your Sunscreen It seems that the importance of a healthy diet cannot be overstated. Diets high in processed foods lead to the impairment of intercellular communication, suppress immune functions, damage our DNA and are linked to the skin-ageing effects of wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. Skin cells are strengthened and nourished internally with real food and plenty of water. When your skin is well nourished it responds better to sunlight. Spiritually, the sun is our direct link to the creator. As we connect with it the nurturing we receive allows for deeper feelings of peace and wellbeing. Rather than shun the sun, salute it, as do the yogis in an expression of gratitude for its life-giving light and sustenance. Karen Gay, A-Roaming Bodyworker, is a holistic health practitioner practicing in Hanoi. For information on the types of services provided, visit

Hanoi On the Town

ported gourmet goods and cafeteria-style furniture. An eye-catching temptation for weary shoppers. CIAO CAFÉ RESTO LOUNGE

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

28 Thanh Nien, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3715 4240

This American-style chain cafe is a multilevel, indoor/ outdoor café overlooking Westlake. With its LA coffee and office feel, when you walk in you might just forget that you’re in Hanoi. CONG CAPHE LEFTIST ARTSY CAFE

152D Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung; 32 Dien Bien Phu, Ba Dinh; 27 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem; 15 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh; 100A Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho

With a kitsch, communistdriven theme saturating this quaint cafe, most patrons are young Vietnamese bohemians and artsy expats. Sip on a blended cup of joe with beans from the Central Highlands, knock back one of the many different types of tea available or sip on freshly squeezed juice from the Spartan cups in one of the hippest café chains in town. D’Alice BOUTIQUE CAFE

89 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung Put together coffee and cake and you get one of those timeless combinations. And if you really want to binge on the cake-end, then check out d’Alice and its quirky interior. Perfect for that more modern combination of sweet tooth and iThingy. Duy Tri VIETNAMESE CAFÉ

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

Hanoi Cooking Centre Café 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 colonialera styled furnishings, this hidden away family house café is one of those gems synonymous with Hanoi. Quiet, intimate and simple, the staff will treat you like you’re a guest in their home. HIGHLANDS COFFEE CONTEMPORARY / COFFEE CHAIN

5 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3936 3228; Opera House, 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem; Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem

With numerous locations around town, what originally started as a fourth-floor joint overlooking the lake has become one of the most popular, home-grown cafes in Vietnam. Joma COFFEE/BAKERY

28 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem; 22 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3747 3388; 43 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6071

Popular café with a contemporary western feel to the counter-style service and atmosphere. The food is all there, too: breakfasts, salads, soups, ice cream, muffins, cakes, cereals and bagels. Starting in Laos in 1996, Joma moved to Hanoi in 2009. Joma contributes 2 percent of each sale to charitable organisations. Kinh Do PATISSERIE / SIMPLE CAFE

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

14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3716 3397

A stunningly designed contemporary café and events space that screams out the

words ‘modern art’. Housed in a converted colonial-era villa, a continuous flow of exhibitions, talks, experimental music and game shows make up the mix here. Great cuisine, too. Moc Cafe

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.


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

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

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


32C Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh

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


Villa 25, 1, 3 Ha, Dang Thai, Tay Ho

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

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


288 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3974 5945 CAFÉ 129


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

3 Quang Ba, Tay Ho, Tel: 01238 670098

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

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


24 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3938 1155


33 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 5831



AU LAC DO BRAZIL BRAZILIAN 6A Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3845 5224

A Brazilian churrascaria offering all-you-can-eat grilled meat and seafood on the skewer. In typical Brazilian rodízio fashion, waiters bring cuts of meat to the table for patrons to pick and choose, all for a set price. They also offer wine pairings, a salad bar and an a la carte menu, with a creative selection of fruit caipirinhas.

A popular hang-out for expats and trendy Vietnamese in the Xuan Dieu area on West Lake. This bar and restaurant offers casual dining with a classy, Middle-Eastern twist, as well as wine, tapas, events and attractive décor. DON’S TAY HO CONTEMPORARY NORTH AMERICAN

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

This lake-facing venue with its top floor Oyster Bar is the work of charismatic Canadian restaurateur and wine connoisseur Donald Berger. Focusing on comfort food done well, the main restaurant menu includes anything from wood-grilled rare tuna steak with fragrant | June 2015 Word | 139

The Therapist Bullying

Dear Douglas, I am a middle school student who has an assignment to write a report on human behaviour. I recently read a news article about a 12-year-old girl who committed suicide after having been bullied for a long time, and no-one stopped it. I want to know many things, especially why people bully. I also want to know about how to handle it if someone tries to bully me or my friends. What can people do to stop it? Should adults do more or is it up to the kids to handle it? Also, how does it affect people who are bullied? Are they damaged in the future? — Linh Hello Linh, Thank you for asking very good questions about an important topic. Bullying is something that happens universally — everywhere in the world, in every culture. The answers I will give you are from the point of view of psychology. Whenever we try to answer the question “why?” we are creating theories to explain the way things are. Bullying has to do with power. It is when one or more people misuse power to intimidate or hurt someone else. One theory is that when a person has selfconfidence, self esteem or self respect, they feel good about themselves. They are empowered. That means they have power on the inside, power over themselves. They don’t want power over other people. They want to empower other people. When people are lacking in selfconfidence, self esteem, and self respect, and don’t feel very good about themselves they tend to be in one of two categories. 1) Some feel weak or not confident in themselves. Sometimes they try hard to fit in, or do things to win approval. Or they might withdraw and separate themselves from the group feeling more comfortable on their own. 2) Some who lack confidence try to increase the feelings of approval by being more powerful than those around them. They might cover up their low esteem with a “mask” of over-confidence and this can lead to abusing power and bullying. The feeling of power can be addictive. So the answer to why people bully is that they are trying to make up for feeling “not good enough” by getting a good feeling that comes from being powerful over someone else. When we are already confident, we don’t feel the need to put someone else down to put ourselves up.

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This month Douglas Holwerda, American trained and licensed mental health counsellor, talks about why people bully and how bullying can be prevented Assertiveness is when we are able to stand up for ourselves and to not allow someone to have power over us. It comes from the understanding that we all have equal rights and that we are not more important or less important than anyone else. For most people it takes a while to feel strong and assertive. We also need to understand that it is important to ask for support. We can’t always solve every problem alone so we need to turn to friends, brothers and sisters, parents, teachers and counselors for support. The other part is to create atmospheres in schools and working environments where cooperation and connection is more important than competition and separation. Bullying can come out of environments where it feels like people are against each other — power is that way that they ‘win’. Stopping someone from the behaviour that is bullying has two parts. One part is to set limits and make it clear that bullying behaviour is not acceptable. Sometimes it means they will need to suffer consequences. Often we need adults to help us with that. The other part is to see beyond the behaviour to the person inside. Maybe people who bully are seeking attention and approval in the wrong way,

but they probably need acceptance and inclusion as much as anyone. Only seeing them as bad people feeds the low esteem that drives their need for power. Even people who do bad things are not bad people — if we take the time to know them. Your last questions are good questions and important for people to understand. At the core of every human there is a sense of our self worth, self esteem and self respect, our ability to love ourselves in a healthy way, not better or worse than anyone else. So, all of the things that influence that part of us are very important. Bullying can cause people to feel bad about themselves and sometimes it can take a long time for a person to get the confidence they deserve. The worst scenario is when they become helpless and hopeless and decide it is better to escape life than to live in the pain they are in. That is why it is so important that we understand and stop bullying. Thank you, Linh, for raising awareness about bullying. — 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

again and again. A traditional Vietnamese and kids menu is also available, as is a wine list focusing mainly on French wines. HALIA HANOI SINGAPOREAN / CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL

29 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3946 0121 Chinese black bean beurre noir to gourmet pizza and pasta dishes Excellent range of imported oysters, great breakfasts and an extensive wine list. EL GAUCHO STEAKHOUSE

A multi-floored venue with a bar area and a refined dining space. The menu includes Singaporean specialities such as the shrimp satay salad and the chilli crab spaghetti. A pan-European classical menu mixed in with light Asian flavours is also on offer. Has an extensive wine list.


11 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3824 7280; 99 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6991

With venues in Saigon and Bangkok, the essence of El Gaucho is quality top grade meats off the grill. Steak is the mainstay — the USDA cuts are to die for — but everything from chicken, pork and seafood is also up for grabs. Add to this a backdrop of low Latin music, low, subtle lighting, an extensive wine list and slick service. There’s a reason El Gaucho is so successful — everything’s being taken care of. FOODSHOP 45 INTERNATIONAL INDIAN

59 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3716 2959

Lakeside location and low bamboo seating, this eatery is one of the most popular Indians in town. Selling an international version of the mighty curry — they even sell pork and beef here — the menu keeps to the northern part of the subcontinent with masala, dopiaza, korma and the more Goan vindaloo taking centre stage. French Grill TOP-END GRILL

JW Marriott Hanoi, 8 Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Tel: (04) 3833 5588

With unique decor, contemporary ambience, a walk-in wine cooler and a delectable seafood bar, this classy restaurant offers guests a service experience with crafted food difficult to find in the capital. GREEN TANGERINE FRENCH / VIETNAMESE FUSION

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

A leafy, cobblestone courtyard with dark green cast-iron backed chairs greets you as you walk into this French era-built villa that houses the main section of this Indochina-styled restaurant. Serving up an enticing mix of classic and contemporary French cuisine, blended in with Vietnamese ingredients and cooking styles, the resultant fare has had customers coming back


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

10B Quang An, Tay Ho Tel: 01247 668668

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, so India Palace has once again returned to Tay Ho, this time on the strip between Don’s and The Warehouse. Tasty North Indian fare in a pleasant environment from the team behind Tandoor. J.A.F.A. INTERNATIONAL

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

23J Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 8388

An all-day eating and drinking lounge fit for all occasions, with of course, a focus on steak. Has three floors all with different vibes, the kind of slick service you’d expect from the Al Fresco’s Group and an extensive wine list. JASPA’S INTERNATIONAL / AUSTRALIAN

Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung (4th Floor), Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04)

3934 8325

Recently refurbished, the Australian-influenced Jaspa’s is known for its attentive service, tasty food and large portions. Popular with both the western and Asian expat communities who come back again and again. The comprehensive menu is a fusion of western and Asian cooking. The cocktails come large and the wine is mainly New World. KOTO ON VAN MIEU RESTAURANT / CAFÉ / BAR

59 Van Mieu, Dong Da, Tel: (04) 3747 0337

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

166 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3978 1386 Not to be mistake for a sushi joint, this wonderful restaurant is your typical, Japanese working person’s rice eatery. Has a bar area downstairs and booth-like seating on the upper floors. LA BADIANE CONTEMPORARY FRENCH

10 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3942 4509

A white-washed, colonial era villa replete with period wooden shutters greets you as you enter this contemporary French restaurant. The menu here mixes modern Gallic cuisine with a touch of Mediterranean and Vietnam thrown in, all creating an innovative and evocative selection of fare. Has an extensive wine list. La Bicicleta BARCELONA-STYLE BISTRO

44 Ngo 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 8246

Spanish Tapas fare is available elsewhere, but this is the only eatery where it is authentic and from Barcelona. Great selection of sandwiches, tapas and paella as well as enormous Spanishstyle gin and tonics, Tinto de Verano, carajillos and sangria. Also known for its moreish, Catalanstyle desserts. Closed Mondays. LA SALSA IBERIAN / MEDITERANEAN

5 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3995 0950

A small but eternally popular Spanish-themed café and bar with an extensive list of reliable cuisine. Tapas are available, as well as full courses such as veal, and duck with currant sauce.

Known for its good, Europeanstyle coffee and first-floor terrace area with views over the cathedral. LA VERTICALE CONTEMPORARY FRENCH

19 Ngo Van So, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3944 6317

Situated in an art-deco villa, this establishment is run by the most famous French chef in the country. With modestly priced set lunches and subtle Vietnamese touches on the dishes, the up market establishment lures in its high class customers with quality Vietnamese-French fusion cuisine. LE BEAULIEU CLASSIC FRENCH / BUFFET

Sofitel Metropole Legend, 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 6919 The Metropole’s signature restaurant serving up both classic and contemporary French fare. Buffet options mix with an a la carte menu and an ambience that could be straight out of Paris. LUNA D’AUTUNNO CLASSIC ITALIAN

27 Nam Ngu, Tel: (04) 3823 7338

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

Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3831 3333

Elegant and luxurious, May Man has long been regarded as one of the best Chinese restaurants in Hanoi. Showcasing a selection of authentic Chinese fare together with dim sum, May Man boasts extensive a la carte menus, dim sum menus and set menus. Reservations recommended. MEDITERRANEO PAN-ITALIAN

23 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 6288 This long-running, cozy restaurant near the cathedral serves all the traditional Italian fare you could need — homemade mozzarella and fresh pasta, spinach and ricotta ravioli, cold cut boards, soups, salads and fish. Boasts an extensive wine list and a traditional wood fire oven. MING PALACE PAN-CHINESE

Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3823 8888 A fine dining destination at the Sofitel Plaza serving Cantonese

Food Promos Hanoi

Chef Theo Russell is on the case, at Milan Restaurant in the InterContinental Westlake

Prawn Paradise

London on the Lake

@ Sofitel Plaza Hanoi For such experienced prawn preparers as the guys at Ming Restaurant, new challenges are necessary. Hence the must-try dishes this month: baked fresh prawn with golden minced garlic in superior soya sauce, fried prawn with salt and pepper Hong Kong style, deep-fried prawn in Hong Kong chilli sauce with rice cake. Take them in with a 50 percent discount on New Zealand wines — VND580,000++ for the weekday lunch buffet, VND660,000++ for weekends.

@ InterContinental Westlake The new menu debuting this month at Milan Restaurant will feature some fusion Italian dishes — combining authentic styles with local ingredients. Masterminding the transformation is renowned InterContinental London Park Lane chef Theo Randall. With more than 25 years of top-end culinary experience, it seems Hanoi’s fine dining scene just got a bit more packed.

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Guest in Town? @ Hilton Hanoi For guests reserving through Jun. 30

— for stays between now and Oct. 31 — Hilton Hanoi Opera and Hilton Garden Inn are offering up to 30 percent off on room rates. With rates so generous, you might want to even consider showing yourself some hospitality.

Volcanic Grill @ Highway4 Those crazy dudes at Highway4 are at it again — this time importing volcanic rocks from Australia, and throwing on a daily selection of meat and seafood. VND308,000 feeds two or three — and they’ll even throw in a draught beer per person, a free-flow of iced tea and a complimentary dessert.

Hanoi On the Town

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 inhouse sommelier. OLD HANOI GOURMET VIETNAMESE

and pan-Chinese cuisine in a sleek modern setting with private dining rooms. With more than 80 dim sum selections available along with Chinese entrees, Ming’s is an ideal eatery for those hungry for higher end Chinese fare. MOOSE AND ROO CANADIAN / AUSTRALIAN RESTAURANT

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

The American Club, 19-21 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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. NAMASTE HANOI PAN-INDIAN

46 Tho Nhuom, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3935 2400

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

4 Ton That Thiep, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3747 8337

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

3 Nguyen Khac Can, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 9080

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


57 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3944 0204

Brought to you by a group of former disadvantaged youth from Hanoi’s own KOTO, this unique fine dining restaurant, bar and lounge blends the old with the new. Vietnamese fusion cuisine, like profiteroles with green tea and café fillings, a private chef’s table with a kitchen view, and an extensive wine list combined with modern formal styling bring a unique experience to Hanoi.


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

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

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


8B, Lane 1, Au Co, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3938 2513

Small cozy café and sandwich bar hidden away in Nghi Tam Village. Serves and delivers tasty baguettes, homemade juices, quiches, pies, muffins and cakes. The delivery service is quick and reliable, which makes this lunchtime favourite ideal for when you need to eat at the desk.


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

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

54 Hang Chieu, Hoan Kiem


Pho Bo Cu Chieu



18 Dien Bien Phu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3747 6245

Spacious, casual, energetic and beautifully designed, The KAfe serves up unfussy comfort food that aims to satisfy the modern urban diner. Preparing fresh food and drinks that show respect to natural ingredients and flavours from around the globe, this café-cum-restaurant is a popular choice for Hanoi’s metrosexual community.


WRAP & ROLL 5th Floor, Trang Tien Plaza, 24 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3824 3718

The lime green walls and bright pastel colours of Wrap ‘n Roll are just part of the theme of this homegrown, Vietnamese brand which is all about spring rolls of all types, and healthy, Hueinfluenced cuisine. Now with two restaurants in Hanoi — the second in Royal City.

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

26 Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh Pho Ga Ba Lam PHO GA

7 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem Pho Ga Hang Dieu PHO GA

1 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem Pho Gia Truyen Bat Dan PHO BO

49 Bat Dan, Hoan Kiem Pho Ly Quoc Su PHO BO

10 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem Pho Thin Lo Duc SAUTEED BEEF PHO


3rd Floor, 59A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 0888

Wooden flooring, paneling and bold but subtle colours pervade this traditional but contemporary, fine-dining 70-seater venue close to the Opera House. Serving up quality cuisine for over a decade, Press Club boasts a bar area, two private dining rooms, including a wine room, a library and a vast selection of cigars, all in an elegant atmosphere. SAINT HONORE

The Opera House, 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3933 4801


Named after the completion date of the Hanoi Opera House,

This bakery and French-style bistro is best visited in the morning

when that Gallic, fresh-cooked aroma of bread, croissants and patisseries hits you as you walk through the door. The downstairs space is split into the bakery on one side with a small nonsmoking dining space on the other. The upstairs lounge area has standard tables as well as sofa seating. Simple French and international fare is served at meal times.

5 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3933 2355


13 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung




18 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho

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

Banh Cuon Hang Ga

Pho Tu Lun

3 Chi Em


14 Hang Ga, Hoan Kiem Banh Da Tron BANH DA TRON

6 Ngo 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Banh Mi 25 STREETSIDE BANH MI

25 Hang Ca, Hoan Kiem


23 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Xoi Hang Hom STICKY RICE

44 Hang Hom, Hoan Kiem

Medical Buff Summer Safety Tips


ummertime is always a favourite for children: warm weather, school holidays and many different activities. While the summertime is usually a fun and wonderful time for them, us adults have to worry about increased risks of injury and illness from swimming and other outdoor adventures. By taking a few extra measures, parents can make sure that more time is spent poolside than bedside this summer.

Water Safety In Vietnam, there are two water safety concerns: drowning and cleanliness. In all cases of children swimming, even in shallow bodies of water, they need to be supervised by an adult familiar with first aid and CPR. To protect against unclean water, make sure your children are only swimming in areas that are properly treated.

Sun Exposure The American Academy of Pediatrics

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recommends kids limit sun exposure between 10am and 4pm. Reserve these hours for indoor craft projects. If kids must be outside make sure they cover up with a wide brimmed hat and cotton clothing. Reapply sunscreen every two hours. Use about one ounce of sunscreen at each application to ensure adequate coverage.

Bicycle Safety In Hanoi, we have issues with bike safety, namely the nature of road rules. Biking is a healthy fun activity that doesn’t necessarily have to be dangerous. Keep kids as safe as possible with helmets and strict riding rules. Buy helmets that have a sticker stating approval by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Always fasten the strap on the bike helmet and make sure the fit is snug to the head. Set parameters about where kids are allowed to ride. Make sure they know hand signals and caution against riding too close to any kind of vehicle, including parked cars. Also, if

By Dr. Ian Santos

you are not biking with your child, make sure they have a buddy system in the event of an emergency or injury.

Prevent Dehydration Make a conscious effort to ensure that kids are more than sufficiently hydrated when outside exercising, and that they eat foods with high water content such as oranges, apples and celery sticks. If kids are playing in the hot part of the day (10am to 4 pm) send them out with plenty of water and ask that they take a break each hour. Teach older kids the signs of dehydration such as headaches, exhaustion and tingling hands and feet. Also, remind kids of the importance of sunscreen — sunburn inhibits the body’s ability to cool itself, which can lead to dehydration. Dr. Ian Santos is a pediatrician at Family Medical Practice, which is located in Vietnam’s major cities. For information or assistance call (04) 3843 0748 (Hanoi), (08) 3822 7848 (Ho Chi Minh City) or (0511) 3582 699 (Danang). Alternatively, click on

Book Buff philosophy lite

This month Truong at Bookworm looks at books and comic strips that have successfully brought philosophical ideas to their readers A Boy and His Tiger — The Complete Set If we accept that philosophy is the discussion of general problems concerning things such as existence, knowledge, truth, beauty, justice, validity, mind, and language then most of us would also agree that the comic strip characters Calvin and Hobbes are philosophers. Although the two, boy and stuffed tiger, finished their 10-year life span in 1995, they are re-run in 50 countries. Hobbes, the tiger, was named by his creator, Bill Watterson, after the 17th century political philosopher Thomas Hobbes who argued that the proletariat can never govern itself because the condition of man is a condition of war against everyone and that the only way for civil society to exist is to submit to a sovereign power. Sounds a bit like the philosophy of a host of modern governments and it gained credence because the Federalists in the US used Hobbes’ views when they manufactured their constitution after Independence. Calvin, the forever small boy, is named after the stern, 16th century religious reformer, John Calvin, who preached predestination and that only submission to the absolute sovereign could save mankind from damnation. Both main characters are often in denial of their basic philosophical stance and a lot of us mere human fans see ourselves perfectly echoed in them. Those with a philosophical bent love reading the series because of the conflicts that Hobbesian and Calvanistic mindsets have when they try to impose their pessimistic values on a post modern world that challenges them. Feminism successfully rears its head in opposition to Calvin’s patriarchal determination. The series is set in Ohio, Middle America, and there are four books in the boxed set.

The Canine Condition In a bar in present day Toronto, inebriated gods Hermes and Apollo argue about the relative worth of humanity. “I wonder,” said optimistic Hermes, “what it would be like if animals had human intelligence.” “I’ll wager a year’s servitude,” said pessimistic Apollo, ‘that animals — any animal you choose — would be even more unhappy than humans are, if they had human intelligence.” If one of the animals dies happy, Hermes will triumph — which makes us all seem a bit pathetic if a one-in-15 chance for happiness is considered a fair bet. They choose 15 dogs that are in a vet hospital and set them free, invested with human consciousness. The dogs previously communicated in a manner that was essentially sparse and in which what mattered was social standing and physical need. But the ability to form abstract thoughts necessitated the creation of a new language. This became divisive. Human awareness doesn’t lend well to dog pack mentality because it emphasizes independence and self-importance. A pack needs unity and all members have to understand the world and its rules in the same way and know their exact place in the hierarchy. In the same way that intelligence is not spread equally among humans, each of the 15 dogs’ intellects were limited by breed and experience and, like humans, they had to face up to large questions such as what is happiness and what is a fulfilled life. Some wanted to formulate their own philosophies and others’ desired a hierarchical proclamation. Overarching this thoughtful work is the author’s contemplation about the virtues of love. Is the core of a good life giving love and being loved in return? To find out who wins the bet and also

about the death of each dog necessitates reading the novella, Fifteen Dogs

Altruism Controversial ethicist and philosopher Peter Singer has long championed altruism and advocates living modestly and donating a large part of your income — often much more than the traditional tenth, or tithe — to the most effective charities; researching and discussing with others which charities are the most effective or drawing on research done by other independent evaluators; choosing the career in which you can earn most, not in order to be able to live affluently but so that they can do more good; giving part of your body — blood, bone marrow, or even a kidney — to a stranger. The book, The Most Good You Can Do, describes effective altruists and how their altruism is spread. Although it may seem that Singer is advocating a radical lifestyle, he is really saying that we don’t need to get a guilt trip about doing the most good possible, but simply do the most good that you as an individual can do. Effective altruism demands targeted, evidence-based giving that does the most good to alleviate poverty and reduce suffering and the chapter that gets up the noses of some charitable organizations is, Choosing the Best Organization, which means that you don’t donate to a charitable organization based on the percentage of funds used for administration and overheads, but rather by researching the impact of a programme on its beneficiaries. It’s good read particularly at a time in history when many affluent countries are cutting back on overseas aid. For more information on Bookworm go to | June 2015 Word | 145



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146 | Word June 2015 |

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148 | Word June 2015 | | June 2015 Word | 149

HCMC Essentials

Bakeries ABC Bakery BAKERY & CAFÉ

223 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1

Baguettes, croissants, pizza, cakes, muffins, donuts and brownies, this bakery and café all in one is a popular stop for those heading through the Backpacker District. Online ordering available. Bread Talk CHAIN BAKERY

106 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3; 2 Cao Thang, Q3; Vivo City, 1058 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7

A Singaporean bakery chain that is vying for the Vietnam cake and bread market. Produces Asian-friendly patisseries and cakes in a spacious, airy atmosphere. Has eight locations and counting. CRUMBS BAKERY & CAFE

117 Cong Quynh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 1992

Dubbed “the local bakery”, Crumbs serves up a variety of baked goods including baguettes, muffins, cheese and garlic–based buns and loafs, meat–filled pastries, sweet pastries, health–conscious breads and more. There is also a breakfast menu and variety of sandwiches available. Excellent Australianstyle meat pies. Harvest Baking AMERICAN BAKERY

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


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

180 Hai Ba Trung, Q1; 59 Tran Hung Dao, Q1; 187 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1; 66B Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3; Lotte Mart, 469 Nguyen Huu Tho, Q7; 17/14 Le Thanh Ton, Q1

The background of this Korean bakery chain makes interesting reading. Established in 1996, in 2004 they opened in the US, 2005 in China and 2007 in Vietnam. French-styled with an Asian touch, the bare-brick décor makes this a popular joint. Has over 25 locations in Vietnam.

Nam Phong Bookstore was founded at the of end 2002 in Ho Chi Minh City as the first and only francophone bookshop in the whole of Vietnam. Only books written in French are for sale, covering for all ages and tastes. A catalogue is available at PNC VIETNAMESE LANGUAGE BOOKSTORE

2A Le Duan, Q1; 2nd Floor Parkson Center, 35-45 Le Thanh Ton, Q1

Although there are some English-language texts in this modern, well laid out bookstore, the focus here is on all things Vietnamese. Worth checking out, thought, for the occasional gem.


39 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6296 0066

French–run bakery selling probably the tastiest range of patisseries, breads, quiches and pies in town. The signature passion–fruit tart is a must try.


40 Nguyen Hue, Q1; 60-62 Le Loi, Q1

Selling up a good selection of English language books — in a range of reading areas — this multi-storied bookshop also does stationery, toys and a range of related products. Has a good selection of ESL texts. Librairie Francaise Nam Phong 82 Truong Dinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 7858

facilitate discussion forums about business in Vietnam. NORDCHAM 17th Floor, Petroland Tower, 12 Tan Trao, Q7, Tel: (08) 5416 0922

PHILIPPINES BUSINESS GROUP VIETNAM 40/4 Pham Viet Chanh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3518 0045

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

M M M Clothing & Accessories

Business Groups ANUPA ECO LUXE American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 3562.

AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (AusCham) 2nd Floor, Eximland Building, 179EF Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3, Tel: (08) 3832 9912

BRITISH BUSINESS GROUP OF VIETNAM (BBGV) 25 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 8430

Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CanCham) Room 305, New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 3754

Open to all nationalities, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce aims to create an effective network of business associates together and to


9 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2394 Monday to Sunday, 9am to 8pm

This centrally located unique boutique has been converted into an eco-boutique which exclusively retails the complete Anupa leather and semi-precious jewellery range as well as other unique eco brands such as bamboo eyewear, pendant scarves and cushion covers. BAM SKATE SHOP SKATEWEAR / STREET

174 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 0903 641826 BLUE DRAGON

Shopping Malls Diamond Plaza 34 Le Duan, Q1. Tel: (08) 3825 7750 9am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court

Hung Vuong Plaza

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

Parkson Plaza

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

Saigon Centre

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


1B Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 2210 2084 GALLERY VIVEKKEVIN DESIGN & JEWELLERY

35 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8162

This retail-cum-gallery space specialises in contemporary and exclusive handcrafted jewellery made from handpicked gemstones and raw materials. Exhibitions and gallery talks run every month. GINKGO

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

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


10 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 8755; 54-56 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 6270 5928

Quality, original, Vietnamthemed tees are the showpiece at this airy French-run store. Designs are inspired by anything from the Vietnamese flag, local telecom

150 | Word June 2015 |

Zen Plaza

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

wires and motorbikes to creative, Siddharta-style imagery.

M M M Cooking Classes


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




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



First floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6674 9565

Exclusive labels, elegant and sophisticated clothing and casual high-quality cottons are stocked at this boutique/ café. Lifestyle accessories include shoes, homewares, knickknacks, cameras, stationery and a range of vintage bicycles. MANDARINA



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

OVERLAND CLUB 35Bis Huynh Khuong Ninh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3820 9734

The Overland Club organises pottery classes, VietnameseJapanese cooking classes, cultural art events and monthly special activities, such as the Soba Festival, pottery painting classes, the art of decorating paper and multinational cuisine days. SAIGON COOKING CLASSES BY HOA TUC 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8485

Learn to cook quality Vietnamese cuisine with local specialist Hoa Tuc. The threehour lesson, conducted by an English-speaking Vietnamese chef, includes a trip around Ben Thanh Market to gather fresh ingredients for the class. VIETNAM COOKERY CENTRE Suite 45, 4th Floor, 26 Ly Tu Trong, Q1,Tel: (08) 3827 0349



152 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3820 2620

9am to 10pm PAPAYA


232 Bui Vien, Q1


39 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 4556 U.BEST HOUSE TRAVEL GEAR


163 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1, Tel: 0978 967588 VESPA SHOP



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


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

Sells a wide range of moderndesigned products (sofas, chairs, beds) manufactured from eco-friendly materials such as water hyacinth and rattan. Sells furniture for both indoor and outdoor use. AUSTIN HOME REPRO FURNITURE / FABRICS

42 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 0023

This An Phu-based shop stocks antique repro furniture. All products are samples, so it’s limited and exclusive with only one or two pieces of each particular item. Also has a great range of imported fabrics up on the 2nd floor and an in-house sewing room for cushions, sofas and curtains. Offers custom-made furniture and delivery within four weeks. | June 2015 Word | 151

Business Buff First Jobs

By Shane Dillon

JK Rowling's first job was teaching EFL


y first job was on a farm picking fruit in South East Queensland and my first job with a major company was at McDonald’s as they opened their flagship store in the medium size town I went to high school in. And while I never aspired to the McManagement position they always pushed, it certainly did teach me a few things about work ethics and the fact that I didn’t want either of those jobs as an adult. So, on the first job-related theme this month, I have looked into the first jobs of some people who became the world’s wealthiest to see where they started on the professional ladder.

Michael Jordan Currently worth a US$1 billion (VND21.5 trillion), his first job was as a hotel maintenance man. Maybe that’s where the following phrase came from: “You miss 100 percent of the leaves you don’t rake.”

Michael S. Dell Currently worth around US$14 billion (VND301 trillion), he started out a dishwasher in a Chinese Restaurant. Though he founded one of the largest computer companies in the world, he started out in the kitchen at age 12.

Richard Branson Now the owner of airlines and worth nearly US$5 billion (VND107.5 trillion), he started out by breeding and selling birds to his classmates at the age of 11.

152 | Word June 2015 |

Jeff Bezos Well here is some good news for me. He also had his start at the golden arches and is now worth over US$30 billion (VND645 trillion) as the founder of Amazon. He is often quoted giving credit to his time at McDonalds for teaching him valuable life lessons.

Steve Ballmer

(VND136.5 trillion) had very humble beginnings. After immigrating from Ukraine with his mother, he helped pay her cancer medical bills by sweeping the floor at a local grocery store. He later dropped out of college to accept a job at Yahoo which he then quit to launch WhatsApp.

Mark Zuckerberg

The Microsoft CEO worth over US$20 billion (VND430 trillion) started in the cake and brownie business as an assistant production manager.

The exception to the rule, he has only ever had one job. Worth an estimated US$34 billion (VND731 trillion), Mark’s first and only ever job thus far has been as the owner of Facebook.

David H Murdoch

Warren Buffet

The owner of Dole, the multinational with a monopoly on the banana business, is worth around US$3 billion (VND64.5 trillion). He started out pumping gas at his local petrol station. Next time you are filling up your Honda take a look at the guy and see if you can see the same glint in his eye.

Currently the richest man in the US, he started out as a newspaper delivery boy. With an estimated worth of over US$70billion (VND1,505 trillion), at a later stage in his life he bought the paper he originally worked for.

George Lucas May-the-force-be-with-you George Lucas has made over US$5 billion (VND107.5 trillion) in the movie business. His first job was as a teaching assistant where he helped teach navy cadets about filmmaking while he earned his undergrad degree at USC.

Jan Koum The Ukrainian-born inventor of WhatsApp, currently worth over US$6.5 billion

J.K. Rowling and Jack Ma And for the all the EFL teachers reading this, two of the wealthiest people in the world started out in the same profession. J.K Rowling of the Harry Potter billions and Jack Ma, the executive chairman of the Alibaba group. Both had their first professional jobs in EFL. Shane would teach EFL if it meant becoming a billionaire in the future, too. He can be contacted at shanedillon@bluecross.

HCMC Essentials


175 Ha Noi Highway, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4543

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


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


M M M Cycling FirstBIKE Vietnam

FirstBIKE balance bikes for two to five-year-olds eliminate the need for training wheels or stabilisers, and support proper balance development.


38 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4408

8am to 9.30pm


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

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


384 Tran Phu, Q5; 168 Vo Thi Sau, Q3

The showroom home of Jett Cycles, a homegrown cycling company with all products designed in Vietnam. Sells up budget bicycles to high-end product, with the full range of accessories in between. Also stocks GT and Cannondale. Saigon Cycles CYCLING & ACCESSORIES

44 Phan Van Nghi (S51-1 Sky Garden 2), Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 3114

Specialising in Trek and Surly, Saigon Cycles is also famed for its Sunday morning rides. Sells the full range of accessories and also does bicycle repairs. The Bike Shop CYCLING & ACCESSORIES


2 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 9459

8am to 8pm


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

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


222 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 4190

250 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6405

The go-to location for all your cycling needs in District 2. Sells a range of brands including Cannondale, Jett, GT and Aluboo, as well as the full selection of accessories. Organises regular cycle rides, does repairs and rentals. Check for more details.


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





81 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4640/4643

167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 8424

Globally renowned provider of medical assistance and in- | June 2015 Word | 153



n recent years there has been a growing awareness that grain or wheat products are not the best food for us to be consuming. Even though ‘conventional wisdom’ from government guidelines and numerous experts recommend that a healthful diet should consist of six to 11 daily servings. These guidelines also state that we should choose whole grains for more nutritional value and extra fibre. However, UCLA evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond suggests that these recommendations are the “worst mistake in the history of the human race” — for the reasons that refined grains and wheat drive excess insulin production, fat storage and heart disease. They are allergenic, immune-suppressing and inferior in nutritional value to plants and animals. In addition, whole grains are possibly worse due to their offensive pro-inflammatory, immune and digestive system disturbing agents.

Haters, Gluten is a Thing All this comes down to the compound called gluten. What is gluten? Gluten is a protein found in wheat and grain

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A Grain Obsession

products. Gluten acts like glue and it gums up your internal functions causing inflammation. Inflammation is now recognised as the actual main cause of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Gluten is also known to cause increased fatigue, joint pain, brain fog, irritability, depression, acne, eczema, lupus, migraines, chronic fatigue, Crohn’s disease, autism, irritable bowls and dermatitis. Furthermore, it contributes to mal-absorption issues, which results in vitamin and mineral deficiencies. “We’ve been eating grains for a long time, how can this all of a sudden be the cause of all these problems?” you ask. Well, what isn’t common knowledge is that in the 1970s wheat was genetically modified to contain more gluten and produce higher yields per harvest. The human species was never meant to absorb all this garbage gluten contained in these modified foods. The more we mess with our food, the more we mess with our health. Please don’t make the mistake of jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon and just eating gluten-free junk food. You have to adopt a J.E.R.F. approach: Just Eat Real Food!

By Phil Kelly

Is Rice Really That Bad for Us? Life in Asia seems to go hand in hand with rice at meal times. And compared to pasta and bread, rice is a much better option! Rice has a low toxic load and the storage protein in rice is called glutelin, which doesn’t have anything to do with gluten. Therefore, rice is gluten-free. However, rice has minimal nutritional value — particularly white rice, as it has been stripped of almost all its minerals and fibre in the refining process. This means that the energy provided will be digested and released into the blood stream quickly. If there has been no energy demand or deficit this energy will be converted to fat and stored. I’m not saying never eat rice. I’m saying it’s a better option than pasta, there are optimal times to eat it and there are also much better options available. Some grain alternatives and great carbohydrate sources of choice are quinoa, sweet potato, buckwheat and vegetables. The best thing is all of these are available in your friendly neighbourhood supermarket. Phil is founder and master trainer at Body Expert Systems. Contact him on 0934 782763 or at his website or through Star Fitness (

HCMC Essentials

ternational healthcare offers full dental services in the clinic. Foreign and Vietnamese dentists provide high skilled dental service. Orthodontics is also available. Maple Healthcare DENTAL & CHIROPRACTICS

Md6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7 (across from FV Hospital), Tel: Tel: (08) 5410 0100

Specialising in healthcare, dental services and chiropractic medicine, the recently opened Maple Healthcare comes replete with the latest technology together with efficient and comfortable service. Minh Khai Dental clinic international dental clinic

199 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 3399



INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC 2 Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 6222 24, Thao Dien,Q2

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.

established local artists. In operation since 2009, its founder has been promoting Vietnamese art for a decade. DOGMA 8A/9C1 Thai Van Lung, Q1

The home of Vietnamese propaganda art and a collection put together over the last two decades by art collector Dominic Scriven, the majority of the work comes from the war period when provocative poster art was used to inspire and motivate. Sells prints of the originals and related products.

Dr. Philippe Guettier & International Team of Dentists


nin g

015 An Phu Summer 2

GALERIE QUYNH 65 De Tham, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 8019

In addition to working with artists based in Vietnam, Galerie Quynh also exhibits the work of artists from around the world. This wellestablished gallery supports education through talks, lectures and publications. HO CHI MINH CITY FINE ARTS MUSEUM 97A Pho Duc Chinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4441

Set in one of the finest remaining buildings of colonial-era Vietnam, this multi-storey museum houses collections spanning centuries of Vietnamese art. Has regular exhibitions.

am Award for “Excellence in 4 Vietn Dent - 201 istry by Vietnam Economic Times 0 1 ” 20

Starlight An Phu

Starlight City Center

24 Thao Dien, Dist.2, HCMC

02 Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, Dist.3, HCM City (Ho Con Rua - Turtle Lake) Tel: 38 22 62 22

MINH KHAI DENTAL CLINIC 199 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Dist.1, HCM City - Tel: 39 25 33 99 NO.1 DENTAL CLINIC 51 Ba Thang Hai Street, Dist.10, HCM City - Tel: 39 29 09 09

SAN ART 48/7 Me Linh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 6294 7059

WESTCOAST INT’L DENTAL CLINIC INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC Ben Thanh Clinic, 27 Nguyen Trung Truc, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6999 The Practice, Level 1, 71-79 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6777

An international dental clinic equipped with the latest technology, the comfortable clinics offer cosmetic and implant dentistry with a focus on making each patient’s experience anxiety and pain free.

M M M Galleries CRAIG THOMAS GALLERY 27i Tran Nhat Duat, Q1, Tel: 0903 888431

Located in a quiet corner of District 1, Craig Thomas Gallery offers a compelling mix of up-and-coming and

San Art is an independent, artist-run exhibition space that offers residency programmes for young artists, lecture series and an exchange programme that invites international artists / curators to organise or collaborate on exhibitions.


16–18 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9332; 41A Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2630

Attractive and spacious French–owned grocery shop stocking a large range of foods, organic fruit and vegetables, imported beers and wines. Also sells luxury branded products from the likes of Fauchon. The deli upstairs in the Hai Ba Trung branch serves tasty baguette rolls in a comfortable lounge area with free Wi–Fi, and offers probably the best selection of cheese and cured | June 2015 Word | 155

HCMC Essentials


No. 17, Street 12 (perpendicular to Tran Nao street), Q2, Tel: (08) 3740 7105

Supplier for the city’s five– star hotels, also distributing brands like San Pellegrino, Rougie foie gras, Galbani cheese, fresh poultries, meat, live seafood and vegetables. You can now find all the products at the gourmet shop on location.

Meatworks Butchery BUTCHERS 1 Street 2, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2565

Focusing on the retail trade, the meat at this Australianmanaged butcher comes pre-prepared and, if you so wish, pre-marinated. Sells up some of the best imported meats in town together with homemade sausages, free-range products and excellent Australian grassfed steak.


58 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 1318 A small yet amazingly wellstocked store that puts many a supermarket in this country to shame. As well as a dizzying selection of imported foods, also sells frozen meat and fish, fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices and a wide selection of dairy products. THE WAREHOUSE

M M M Hairdressers, Salons & Spas AVEDA HERBAL SPA Villa 35A, Street 41, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel:(08) 3519 4671

CAT MOC SPA 63 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6295 8926

Aimed exclusively at ladies and couples only, treatments at this Japanese spa include facial, body and foot care, and Japanese-style haircuts, as well as steam-sauna, paraffin and waxing services. CONCEPT COIFFURE 48 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4625

Hair stylist and colourist specialist Sandrine has relocated her long-standing flagship salon Venus Coiffure to a villa in Thao Dien. A full range of services is offered including a dedicated kids salon.

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

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Spa–related salon with a good reputation for quality and comfort offers washes and leisurely haircuts from VND330,000 plus a range of related services including massage and some excellent treatments. QUYNH BEAUTY SALON 104A Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3512 4321 A District 2 favourite, this is the salon to head to for anything from massage to haircuts, hairwashing to nails. Cheap prices, too. SPA TROPIC 79 Phan Ke Binh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 5575

Spa Tropic is a stylish boutique spa housed in the refurbished former Chilean Consulate. Spa Tropic has a long-standing reputation among expats and visitors alike for its professional quality service.

M M M FAME NAILS SALON 3 Truong Dinh, Q1, Tel: 0909 682 827

GLOW SPA 129A Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8368


161-161A Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3939 3930

Hair Bar

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.

Modern and bright downtown spa, offers massages lasting from 30 minutes, to two-hour hot stone therapy, includes one suite with a Jacuzzi bath; offers hand and foot care and a hair styling area.


68 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (FREEPHONE) 1800 1108

A unique themed hair salon WINE SHOP where stylists use no scis15/5 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: sors but styling equipment (08) 3825 8826 only, giving female clients One of the busiest wine re- the opportunity to get their tailers in town. In addition hair done on the run. Of to their excellent range of course, they have to look wines, they also stock im- fabulous, too. Fortunately ported beers, bottled mineral this is one of Hair Bar’s spewater and spirits. cialities. Check the salon out on Facebook: hairbarvn. VEGGY’S GROCERS & DELI

JASMINE 45 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2737

INDOCHINE SPA 69 Thu Khoa Huan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7188

Indochine Spa provides a peaceful and serene atmosphere with aromatic scents and lulling melodies. Customers are pampered by qualified therapists using natural French products in a clean and pleasant environment.

American Eye Center 5th Floor, Crescent Plaza, 105 Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Tel: 5413 6758 / 5413 6759

American Eye Center is located in the heart of Phu My Hung, providing eye care services to Adults and Children by an American Board-certified ophthalmologist with 17 years of experience. The American-standard facility is equipped with state of the art equipments for the early detection and treatment of important eye diseases from Lasik and cataract surgeries to presbyopia, glaucoma and diabetic eye disease treatments. Cosmetic procedures such as eyelid surgery and Botox injections are also available.

Sports Cricket

ECCS (THE ENGLISH CRICKET CLUB OF SAIGON) Richard Carrington, Tel: 0909 967 353


ICCS (INDIAN CRICKET CLUB OF SAIGON) Deeptesh Gill, Tel: 01228 770 038 SAIGON RUGBY CLUB RMIT University, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phong, Q7

saigonrugbyfootballclub@ SAIGON SAINTS

Sports — General

ISCS (INDIAN SPORTS CLUB IN SAIGON) Munish Gupta, Tel: 0986 973 244


PSSC (PAKISTAN SAIGON CRICKET CLUB) Samie Cashmiri, Tel: 0976 469 090

samie.cashmiri@gmail. com

SACC (SAIGON AUSTRALIA CRICKET CLUB) Steve Treasure, Tel: 0903 998 824

SSC (SRI LANKA SPORTS CLUB) Suhard Amit, Tel: 0988 571 010

UCC (UNITED CRICKET CLUB) Asif Ali, Tel: 0937 079 034

VIETNAM CRICKET ASSOCIATION (VCA) Manish Sogani, Tel: 0908 200 598

Football & Rugby AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL Tel: 0937 683 230


OLYMPIQUE SAIGON Contact Fred on 0919 709 024 or Viet Luu 0909 500 171.





SAIGON SPORTS ACADEMY 28 Tran Nao, Q2, Tel: (08) 7303 1100

SQUASH The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2098 ext 176

TORNADOS HOCKEY CLUB 436A/33 Ba Thang Hai, Q10, Tel: 0938 889899

ULTIMATE FRISBEE RMIT, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7

X–ROCK CLIMBING 7Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 6278 5794

Centre Medical Internationale (CMI) FRENCH MEDICAL CLINIC

1 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2366

Cinemas Showcasing the latest Hollywood blockbusters and 3D cinematic sensations, chains such as Megastar Media, Lotte and Galaxy Cinema offer the most up-to-date and modern cinemagoing experiences in Saigon. For those partial to more esoteric and independent flicks, smaller outlets such as Cinebox and Idecaf carry little known Vietnamese and European efforts.


240 Ba Thang Hai, Q10 Tel: (08) 3862 2425

Lotte Cinema

13th Floor, Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 38227897 3rd Floor, Lotte Mart, 469 Nguyen Huu Tho, Q7 Tel: (08) 3775 2521

This French medical clinic provides general practice and a range of specialties including cardiology, gynecology, psychotherapy, ophthalmology, paediatrics and acupuncture. FAMILY MEDICAL PRACTICE HCMC INTERNATIONAL CLINIC

Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 7848; 95 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2000

Full–service 24–hour healthcare provider with highly– qualified doctors handling everything from emergencies to tests and X–rays, in– patient and out–patient care, check–ups, travel medicine and medical evacuations. FV HOSPITAL INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL

6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Saigon South Parkway, Q7, Tel: (08) 5411 3333 Emergency: (08) 5411 3500

International hospital whose standard of health care matches that found anywhere, with 19 full–time French doctors and 58 Vietnamese doctors, providing expertise in 30 medical and surgical areas, especially maternity care. FV SAIGON CLINIC

230 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3920 6688 116 Nguyen Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 5235 246 Nguyen Hong Dao, Tan Binh Tel: (08) 3849 4567 IDECAF

31 Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 5451


3rd Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6290 6167

State–of–the–art medical centre located in District 1. Experienced American, French, and Vietnamese doctors provide the full spectrum health care. Plus sports medicine, cosmetic treatments, skin care and surgical consultations. Hanh Phuc International Hospital INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL

Megastar Cinema

Level 5, Crescent Mall, Nguyen Van Linh, Phu My Hung, Q7 Tel: (08) 5412 2222 Level 10, CT Plaza, 60A Truong Son, Tan Binh Tel: (08) 6297 1981 Level 5, Parkson Paragon, 3 Nguyen Luong Bang, Phu My Hung, Q7 Tel: (08) 5416 0088



167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 8424

The world’s leading provider of medical assistance and international healthcare offers primary health care, diagnostic services and 24/7 emergency care. Specialist care is available in many fields.

Galaxy Cinema


Binh Duong Boulevard, Thuan An District, Binh Duong Tel: (0650) 363 6068

Claiming to be the first Singapore-standard hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, this institution based on the outskirts of town is gaining a growing reputation for service and treatment. Specialises in providing healthcare to women and children. Has a clinic at 97 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1

SIAN SKINCARE CLINIC SKIN CARE / COSMETICS Level 2, 71-79 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 6999

The Australian and Canadian managed SIAN Clinic offers a wide range of skincare medical therapies to treat problems by an experienced dermatologist and facial care team. The clinic utilises the latest therapies.

Stamford Skin Centre SKIN CARE / COSMETICS

99 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 1990

Stamford Skin Centre offers a broad range of medical and aesthetic skin treatments. Their international dermatologists and doctors ensure accurate diagnosis and safe treatment procedures. It houses excellent equipment for a variety of procedures. TRADITIONAL MEDICINE HOSPITAL EASTERN MEDICINE


79 Dien Bien Phu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 4545

Well-regarded clinic offering general examinations and specialising in pediatrics, digestive diseases, cardiology, women’s health and internal medicine. Offers a membership programme and cooperates with most insurance companies in Vietnam and abroad.

M M M | June 2015 Word | 157

HCMC Essentials


BLUE CROSS VIETNAM 4th Floor, Continental Tower, 8185 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 9908

Blue Cross Vietnam is part of the Pacific Cross group of companies with over 60 years’ experience in providing health and travel insurance to people and businesses who call Asia home. Their reputation for transparent, honest and reliable service means they are the strength behind your insurance. To make sure you are getting the most out of your insurance contact them for a free quote.

IF CONSULTING IBC Building, 3rd Floor, 1A Me Linh Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7362

Independent advisors that represent top reputable medical insurers provide you with the best suitable medical cover for individual, family or company needs. For emergencies call 0903 732365 LIBERTY INSURANCE 15th Floor, Kumho Asiana Plaza, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: 1800 599 998

International insurance firm providing the full range of services to the individual — car insurance, travel insurance, health insurance, home insurance and much more. Tenzing Pacific Services 181 Dien Bien Phu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 5367

A full-service insurance broker offering a wide range of insurance solutions from the best local and international providers. Recommendations are based exclusively on client needs.

M M M International Schools ABC International School (ABCIS) Saigon South Campus 1 (Primary & Secondary), Tel: (08) 5431 1833; Saigon South Campus 2 (Foundation Stage & Early Primary), Tel: (08) 5431 1833

Rated as ‘outstanding’ by British government inspec-

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tors, academic results puts ABCIS among the top 8 percent of schools worldwide. Provides education for two to 18 year olds in a supportive and friendly environment. AUSTRALIAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (AIS) Xi Campus, 190 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 2727; Thao Dien Campus, APSC Compound, 36 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6960; Thu Thiem Campus, 264 Mai Chi Tho (East-West Highway), An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 3742 4040

tional school in Vietnam serves local and foreign students from Kindergarten to grade 12. Talented, certified teachers implement the internationally recognised Ontario curriculum to create a student-centred learning environment promoting academic excellence. Has a newly built campus.

92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh
Tel: (08) 2222 7788

The Australian International School is an IB World School with three world-class campuses in District 2, offering an international education from kindergarten to senior school with the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), Cambridge Secondary Programme (including IGCSE) and IB Diploma Programme (DP). BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (BIS) 246 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2335

Inspected and approved by the British Government, BIS provides a British style curriculum for an international student body from pre-school to Year 13. The school is staffed by British qualified and trained teachers with recent UK experience. Fully accredited by the Council of International Schools and a member of FOBISIA, BIS is the largest international school in Vietnam.

EtonHouse International Pre-School Ho Chi Minh City 1st and 2nd floor, Somerset Vista, 628C Hanoi Highway, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 6287 0804

Following an international curriculum for children aged 18 months to six years, in the early years, an InquireThink-Learn approach is followed, inspired by the Reggio Emilia Project of Northern Italy. It is a play-based, inquiry model in which children coconstruct their learning in close, respectful collaboration with their teachers. This helps us provide an environment where children take responsibility for their own learning, allowing them a head start in life.

CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 7 Road 23, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 3456

The first Canadian interna-

International School Saigon Pearl (ISSP)

EUROPEAN International School Ho Chi Minh City (EIS)

Set in a purpose-built campus, International School Saigon Pearl (ISSP) is an elementary school catering for ages 18 months to 11 years. With 90 percent of their teachers having master’s degrees, they are able to promise a vigorous American curriculum while including specialist subjects such as music, art, sport and languages.

730 F-G-K Le Van Mien, Q2, Vietnam, Tel: (08) 7300 7257

The European International School offers a supportive and challenging academic education from Early Years to Grade 12 based on the IB curriculum. EIS is a Nobel Talent School and is part of the Nobel Education Network. The school educates global citizens to enjoy learning, inquiring and caring for others.

MONTESSORI INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 42/1 Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2639

Aiming to encourage children’s engagement with their surroundings, MIS offers children from age three to 12 a classic Montessori education as well as a variety of extra–curricular activities. Renaissance International School Saigon 74 Nguyen Thi Thap, Q7, Tel: (08)3773 33171 ext 120/121/122

Energized Engaged Empowered

International School Ho Chi Minh City (ISHCMC) 28 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3898 9100

A fully accredited IB World School, authorised to teach all three programmes of the International Baccalaureate curriculum to students aged 2 to 18 years, ISHCMC is fully accredited by both the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), two of the most prestigious international accreditation organisations. Has over 1,000 students from over 50 different nationalities.

Kids Club Saigon 79/7 Pham Thai Buong, Q7; 27/3 Ha Huy Tap, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 5944

Early childhood centres in Phu My Hung offering creative play-based programmes for children ages two to five. Known for unique facilities, experienced staff, highquality learning resources, and small class sizes.

Renaissance is an International British school providing an inclusive curriculum based upon the British curriculum complemented by the International Primary Curriculum and International Baccalaureate. It is a family school with first-class facilities including a 350-seat theatre, swimming pool, mini-pool, play-areas, gymnasium, IT labs, music and drama rooms, science labs and an all-weather pitch. SAIGON KIDS EDUCATIONAL CHILDCARE CENTRE 15 Street 12, Q2, Tel: (08) 3740 8081

SKECC has evolved over 10 years to create a creative, playful learning environment for children ages two to six. Limited class sizes and highly engaged teachers ensure personal attention for all students.

Tattoo Artists With tattoos becoming increasingly popular, over the past few years there has been an increase in the number of tattoo studios around the city. Customers have the choice of picking their own tattoo out of the many look books on offer in the studios or bringing in their own design. Most of the studios offer bodypiercing services as well. Pricing depends on size and style.

Lac Viet Tattoo 608 Dien Bien Phu, Q10 Tel: (08) 3830 4668 106 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 7068

Saigon Body Art

135 Cong Quynh, Q1 Tel: 0908 443311 Saigon Ink

26 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 1090

Saigon Tattoo 31B Nguyen Du, Q1

Saigon Tattoo Group 81 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 0908 573339 Tattoo Saigon

128 Nguyen Cu Trinh, Q1 Tel: 0938 303838

Tattoo Tam Bi 209 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 0919 034383

xamphunnghethuat. com

Student Eye School’s Out Forever


any high school seniors around the world are going through what I’m going through — that ‘last period’ before making the transition to another stage of life. As graduation approaches, each day is filled with last moments with friends, family and familiar foods, accompanied by the feeling that you’ll never be so young again. And, as a foreigner who has accepted Hanoi as my true home, there is an especially long list of ‘lasts’ to go through. Soon, whether or not I realise it, I will have my last bowl of genuine Hanoi pho, my last hangout with my group of friends, my last taxi ride where the driver giggles at my Vietnamese accent. And knowing that, I find myself struggling to make those last experiences extra special and memorable. Lying in bed, I think of fancy dinners with my friends at expensive restaurants, or the craziest and funniest prank we could pull on our last day of school.

Last Moments It seems we try so hard to cherish these last moments partly because we fear what will come after them, and partly because we fear they will never come back. The “great new opportunities” — in the words of all college brochures — that lie ahead of us are certainly exciting, but I can’t help but feel that after years of struggling to become respected leaders of our communities, we are starting all over again in a bigger and harsher world. We’ll become freshmen thrown into a strange new environment; we’ll struggle to find friends who will sit with us during lunch. But more importantly, as soon as we get through the last hangout, the last meal, the last taxi ride, what used to be our present will become history. I’m sure all the keepsakes I’ve gathered until now will be tucked somewhere safe along with my memories — and once in a while, I might even go searching for them in whatever becomes of my bedroom. It will be like playing an old video game: it’s

By Tae Jun Park

fun to indulge in some already-conquered Metal Slug X, but sooner or later you want to return to your ‘normal’ life. Similarly, the numerous Skype calls I’ll make with my high school buddies and the international rates I’ll spend on fake bowls of pho will only be short remembrances of a life I no longer live. But I also know that no matter how hard I try to organise the perfect last moment and how successful or catastrophic those attempts turn out to be, it will not change their value in the future. Those memories, experiences and lessons will be reminders that some part of me is still the naughty, fearless and hopeful teen who was able to find inspiration and lifelong dreams from stupid pranks, awkward laughter and the smell of broth and herbs. Tae Jun Park is a high school senior at the United Nations International School of Hanoi, Next year, he is planning to study engineering at Seoul National University in Korea | June 2015 Word | 159

HCMC Essentials

SAIGON SOUTH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (SSIS) 78 Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 0901

RESIDENT VIETNAM Unit 601 48 Hoa Su, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 2226 8855

Offers an American-style education (SAT, IB and AP) from elementary to high-school, emphasizing a multi–cultural student environment and a commitment to well–rounded education at all levels.

SNAP 32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4282

SAIGON STAR INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL Residential Area No. 5, Thanh My Loi, Q2, Tel: (08) 3742 7827

Supported by the Cambridge International Primary Programme, SSIS integrates Montessori methods into nursery and kindergarten programmes to create a stimulating learning environment. Small class sizes allow experienced teachers to cater to individual needs. SMARTKIDS 1172 Thao Dien Compound, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6076; 26, Street Nr. 10, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3898 9816; 15 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4236

This international childcare centre provides children ages 18 months to six years with a high quality education in a playful and friendly environment. THE AMERICAN SCHOOL 172-180 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0903 952223

Owners of Snap Café in District 2, Snap offers a web– based real estate search service with information on rental properties all around the city, as well as an advisory service for those averse to wading into the internet depths for their needs. THE NEST 369/6 Do Xuan Hop, Phuoc Long B, Q9, Tel: 0903 198901

Well–known property search and real estate agency with a useful website listing properties available for rent and sale, orientated towards expats. Website is in English, French and Spanish.

M M M Recruitment & HR ADECCO VIETNAM 11th floor, Empire Tower, 26 - 28 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 3430

Adecco is the world leader in human resources solutions. Established in Vietnam in 2011, Adecco offers a wide array of global workforce solutions and specialises in finance & legal, sales, marketing & events, IT, engineering & technical, and office.

M M M Property Rentals CHUM’S HOUSE 121/21 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 7237 EASY SAIGON Tel: 0932 112694

The Easy Saigon website is a useful real estate website helping expats to find apartments in Ho Chi Minh City. Enquiries via their website are welcome. HAPPY HOUSE 32-34 Ngo Duc Ke, Suite 701, Q1, Tel: 01659 419916 Nam House 48A Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0989 007700

Expert in providing rental properties, constructions and interior decoration, especially in District 2. Supports professional services and aftersales.

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HR2B/TALENT RECRUITMENT JSC 1st Floor, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 6288 3888

G.A. CONSULTANTS VIETNAM CO., LTD. Ho Chi Minh Office: Room 2B-2C, 2nd Floor, 180 Pasteur, District 1, HCMC.

VieclamBank is a Japanese invested human resources consulting company. Established in 2006 in Vietnam, the company focuses on recruiting executive and senior level, providing Vietnamese and Japanese candidates with experience studying abroad or working in foreign companies. A quick, effective and competitive service suitable for many types of business. VIETNAMWORKS.COM 130 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 5404 1373

The best-known recruitment

website in Vietnam. Post you’re the position you’re looking for and wait for the responses. You’ll get many. Also a good site for expat jobseekers.

M M M Relocation Agents

AGS FOUR WINDS (VIETNAM) 5th Floor, Lafayette De Saigon, 8A Phung Khac Khoan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 0071

A global leader in international removals and relocations, with 130 offices globally, we can move your property to and from any location.

ALLIED PICKFORDS 12th floor, Miss Ao Dai Building, 21 Nguyen Trung Ngan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 1220

With more than 800 offices in over 45 countries, Allied Pickfords is one of the worldwide leaders in removal services. In Vietnam, Allied also provides tailored relocation services. ASIAN TIGERS MOBILITY Unit 9.3, Floor 9, Ree Tower, 9 Doan Van Bo, Ward 12, District 4, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3 826 7799

Asian Tigers is one of the largest regional move management specialists, with services including door-todoor moving, housing and school searches, local and office moves and pet relocations. JVK INTERNATIONAL MOVERS 1st Floor, Saigon Port Building, 3 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Tel: (08) 3826 7655

Kids Classes & Sports DANCENTER 53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4490

Children and teenagers can enjoy jazz, ballet, hip-hop, funk, belly dancing, salsa and in multi-level classes at this modern dance studio. HELENE KLING OIL PAINTING 189/C1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0903 955780

INSPIRATO MUSIC CENTER 37 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0932 737700

MINH NGUYEN PIANO BOUTIQUE 94A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 7691

PERFORMING ARTS ACADEMY OF SAIGON 19A Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 9679

Has a range of music-based programmes teaching kids in anything from guitar and drums to piano, clarinet and saxophone. Also provides musical assessment and a mixture of private and group classes. PIANO CLASSES Tel: 01225 636682 SAIGON MOVEMENT Tel: 0987 027 722 SAIGON SEAL TEAM 55 Nguyen Dang Giai, An Phu, Q2, Tel: 0905 098 279

Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is a leader in the field.

SAIGON PONY CLUB 38, Lane 42, Le Van Thinh, Q2, Tel: 0913 733360

LOGICAL MOVES — VIETNAM 396/4 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Tel: (08) 3941 5322

SAIGON SPORTS ACADEMY 28 Tran Nao, Q2, Tel: (08) 7303 1100

Specialists in international, local, domestic and office moves for household goods and personal effects through our global partner network. Experts in exporting used scooters that do not have documentation.

International coaches provide training in soccer, basketball, tennis and swimming for children aged four to 16 years and private lessons for children and adults. Youth soccer league Sundays from 2pm to 6pm in District 7. TAE KWON DO BP Compound, 720K Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0903 918 149 VINSPACE 6 Le Van Mien, Q2, Tel: 0907 729 846

SANTA FE RELOCATION SERVICES 8FL, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 3933 0065

With over 150 offices around the world, Santa Fe offers local and international moving, pet transportation, relocation services including home search, orientation, cultural training, immigration services and records management. Email for info.

M M M Serviced Apartments

town by high-speed boat shuttle. SHERWOOD RESIDENCE 127 Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (08) 3823 2288

Sherwood Residence is a luxurious serviced apartment property where modern living spaces meet prime location, comfort and class, with five–star facilities and service. SOMERSET SERVICED RESIDENCES 8A Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8899; 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9197; 628C Hanoi Highway, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 6255 9922

DIAMOND ISLAND LUXURY RESIDENCES No 01 – Street No.104-BTT, Quarter 3, Binh Trung Tay, Q2, Tel: (08) 3742 5678

Diamond Island Luxury Residences offers 68 fullyfurnished apartments, from two to four-bedroom units with spectacular panoramic views of the city. Each apartment comes with a fullyequipped kitchen, en-suite bathrooms, separate work and living areas, a balcony, modern amenities, elegant furnishings and carefully chosen trimmings.

INTERCONTINENTAL ASIANA SAIGON RESIDENCES Crn. of Nguyen Du & Le Van Huu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 8888

Somerset Chancellor Court, Somerset Ho Chi Minh City and Somerset Vista Ho Chi Minh City serviced residences combine the space and privacy of an apartment with the services of a top-rated hotel. They come with separate living and dining areas, as well as a fully equipped kitchen where guests can prepare a meal for themselves, their family and friends.

M M M Sports & Fitness


34 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6672

A well-appointed gym also offering fitness classes and personal training with excellent facilities. Group classes include power yoga, pilates, circuit training, martial arts and spinning. Also has a restaurant serving calorie– calibrated meals. Saigon Hash House Harriers

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

sauna. Has a small but consistent membership. STAR FITNESS GYM HEALTH CLUB & GYM

Manor Apartments, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3514 0253 Steve Chipman, who had a hand in establishing gyms at the Sofitel hotels in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, is behind Star Fitness — one of Vietnam’s largest and bestequipped gyms. THE LANDMARK CLUB

In addition to the squash court, facilities include a fully–equipped gym room, a rooftop swimming pool and separate male and female saunas.

M M M Vietnamese Classes


VIETNAMESE LANGUAGE GARDEN 135/10 Nguyen Cuu Van, Binh Thanh, Tel: 0916 670 771

17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555 A small but well-appointed gym with regular fitness classes, a steam room and

Offers courses ranging from basic conversational Vietnamese to upper elementary, intermediate and advanced levels, as well as special courses including Vietnamese literature, composition or a 6-hour survival crash course.

M M M Sports Garments

The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2098 ext. 176




Level 5, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2828

VLS SAIGON 45 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 0168

vietnameselanguagegarden. com

Score-Tech 1870/3G An Phu Dong 3, Q12, Tel: (08) 3719 9588

Apparel company offering personalised sport garments for companies, schools and professional sports clubs using the latest printing technology with a design team from Barcelona. Score-Tech controls the whole production process from fabric production and printing to sewing. Big and small orders for all sporting and commercial needs.

Chiara Squinzi Tel: 01278 163620

Experienced health coach and corporate & school wellness coach. Can help clients achieve health and weight goals through an innovative holistic approach of food, body and mind. Email for info.

Adjacent to the InterContinental Asiana Saigon you’ll find 260 luxurious and spacious residential suites. The residences offer panoramic views of the downtown area. NORFOLK MANSION 17–19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 6111

Offers a wide choice of luxurious and modern furnished accommodation with attentive and discreet service. Facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, a gym, sauna and steam room, as well as two on-site restaurants. RIVERSIDE APARTMENTS 53 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 4111

Cyril and You Sports Centre BOXING / FITNESS 49A Xa Lo Ha Noi, Q2, Tel: 0947 771326

This sports centre in An Phu, started by fitness guru Cyril, features the same personalised mentorship Cyril's clients love. Includes yoga, boxing and fitness for kids and adults every day. No membership fees. Pay for classes. Tuesday to Friday every week at 5pm. All activities are safe and run by Cyril himself.

Over four Saigon Riverbank hectares, Riverside Apartments combines a resort lifestyle with the amenities of a fully serviced-apartment. Located minutes from down- | June 2015 Word | 161

HCMC On The Town

Bars & Clubs



Park Hyatt, 2 Lam Son, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1234

International décor blends seamlessly with local themes. Style joins forces with a wide-ranging drink menu and hip dance tunes to create one of the most tasteful if pricier bars in Saigon.


40/24 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 8452 With a free book exchange, and tasty Sunday night roasts, the tiny Bread & Butter is a perfect place for homesick expats and beer enthusiasts (excellent HueBrewed Huda beer served here exclusively in Ho Chi Minh City). Broma, Not a Bar COCKTAILS / ROOFTOP


6E Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 2239 Though only 1km from the city centre, Acoustic is well off most foreigners’ radars. Come see the Vietnamese house band play nightly, as well as performances from overseas bands and guest artists. APOCALYPSE NOW DANCE / NIGHTCLUB

2B-C-D Thi Sach, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6124

An institution and the kind of place you end up drunk after midnight. Famed for its notso-salubrious clientele, this two-floor establishment with DJs and occasional live music is also famed for its hotdogs, which are served up in the garden terrace out back.

41 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 6838 Broma’s medieval rooftopcocktail lounge conglomeration is a magnet for the city’s weirdest and coolest events/ random moments. A sophisticated cocktail menu and quite possibly the best lamb burger in town. Check out their bun bo Hue-inspired cocktail. BUDDHA BAR RESTOBAR

7 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3345 6345

Just across the lane from Mc’Sorley’s, this pub with an eccentric European tilt and some nice, authentic cuisine draws an older crowd with darts, pool and weekly poker tourneys. CENTRO LOUNGE BAR & CAFÉ


55 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 5453

A bar and a Thai restaurant all in one, the focus here is not just the cuisine but a contemporary bar area and live sports. Lots of live sports. The Thai cuisine is cooked up by no-holdsbarred Thai chefs. BLANCHY’S TASH RESTOBAR / NIGHTCLUB

95 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: 0909 028293 A multi-storey bar with décor and atmosphere more akin to such an establishment in New York or London. Has a reputation for bringing in big-name DJs. And when we say big, we mean big. Check their website for details. BOOTLEG DJ CAFÉ MINIMALIST CAFÉ BAR

9 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: 0907 609202.

Reminiscent of a New York or London underground watering hole, this is a great place to enjoy Mediterranean influenced breakfasts, lunch by day and a variety of DJ sets by night.

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11-13 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 5946 A café during the day and a bar at night, this kitschly designed but nonetheless attractive establishment is one of the few places in town catering for the pink dollar. Has taken over from where the now defunct Q Bar left off. Chill Skybar TOP-END BAR & TERRACE

Rooftop, AB Tower, 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2372

For the spectacular views alone, Chill Skybar remains the place to go to mix topend, outdoor terrace drinking around an oval-shaped bar with cityscapes of Saigon. One of the top watering holes in the city. EON Heli Bar LOUNGE BAR

Level 52, Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8750

Breathtaking views require a vantage point and EON Heli Bar is by far the highest spot in Saigon for a spectacular cityscape, appealing drinks and a vibrant ambience. Night live music and DJs.


115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1 Tel: (08) 6251 9898

A fresh feel thanks to the large space and light-wood tables makes this Australian-influenced watering hole a popular bar for televised sports, pub food, darts, pool and more.

Warm colors, artsy décor and a friendly ambiance combine to create a perfect setting for enjoying tasty international and Vietnamese cuisine. Gets busy at weekends with a clientele made up of hip, young Vietnamese and the occasional foreigner. LONG PHI FRENCH / RESTOBAR



28 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8605 The original microbrewery, this large, wooden-panelled, brass-kegged Czech Brewhouse is as popular as it was 15 years ago when it was first opened. Does a great food menu to accompany the home-brewed beer. ICE BLUE EXPAT BAR

54 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2644 Expats keep returning to this smoky dive bar, largely due to its amicable service, brewsky-downing atmosphere, and spirited dart games. A mainstay in the local darts league.

207 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 2704 French-run but universally appealing, Long Phi has been serving the backpacker area with excellent cuisine and occasional live music since 1990. Excellent late-night bistro cuisine.


6 Cao Ba Quat, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 5180

Cuban-themed bar and restaurant selling an exciting range of Spanish and Cuban cuisine, as well as a few German favourites such as curry wurst and Wiener schnitzel. Nightly live music and regular salsa classes. LA FENETRE SOLEIL FRENCH / JAPANESE RESTOBAR

44 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 5994 A seductive watering whole in a great corner location thanks to its old Saigon glamour, Japanese-Vietnamese fusion cuisine, imported beer, classic cocktails, and entertaining music events / DJ sets. LAST CALL AFTERHOURS LOUNGE

59 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3122

If you’re in need of dense, soulful atmosphere and maybe an artisanal cocktail on your way back from wherever, Last Call is your stop — and fast becoming that of the similarly inclined. Great happy hour deals for early evening starters. LE PUB INTERNATIONAL / RESTOBAR

175/22 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 7679

Ben Style

Tel: 0906 912730

www. restaurants-ben-style Chez Guido

May Restaurant & Bar

Tel: (08) 3898 3747


19-21 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 3686

An international comfortfood menu mixes with excellent cocktails and an extensive winelist at this attractive, international bar and restaurant. Dine at the bar or upstairs in the restaurant space. Number Five 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. OMG! FUSION CUISINE / LOUNGE BAR

Top Floor, 15-17-19 Nguyen An Ninh, Q1 A contemporary and attractive rooftop restaurant with a lounge bar just 50m from Ben Thanh Market. Features a glass shell modeled in the image of the Eiffel Tower, a jungle-like atmosphere and views over central Saigon. O’BRIEN’S

Domino’s Pizza Tel: (08) 3939 3030 Eat.Vn


Tel: (08) 3848 9999



Tel: (08) 3910 0000

Pizza Hut (PHD) Tel: (08) 3838 8388 Scoozi

Tel: (08) 3823 5795


74/A3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 3198

This Irish-themed sports bar with classic pub décor is widely appreciated for its excellent international fare, large whiskey selection and upstairs pool table. Great pizzas. And for a real treat, check out their zesty rolls. OnTop Bar Novotel Saigon, 167 Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 4866 Located on the 20th floor with stunning views of the city, houses an upscale, contemporary interior and an outdoor terrace. A good venue to chill out in a relaxed and casual, yet hip

Taco Bich Vietnammm


S57-1 Sky Garden 2, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 0999 Known as the ‘Curry Pub’, this pleasant Saigon South watering hole mixes the beer with all things curry — anything from Goan fish curries to beef rendangs and more. A popular local haunt. PHATTY’S AUSTRALIAN / SPORTS

46-48 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 0796

From its roots as the famed Café Latin, Phatty’s has become the goto, Aussie beer-guzzling / sports viewing emporium, showing everything from international cricket to Aussie rules and serving an array of pub grub favourites. RUBY SOHO CARTOON BAR

S52-1 Sky Garden 2, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 3900 A Phu My Hung mainstay thanks to its cartoon décor and light but fun ambience. Has a reasonable food menu to complement the drinks. SAIGON OUTCAST EVENTS / MAKESHIFT CAFÉ BAR

188/1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0122 4283198

Up-cycling and innovative design form the foundation for this bar / arts venue / mini-skate park and graffiti space. Come for barbeque and reasonably priced drinks, stick around for entertaining events and markets. Saigon Ranger ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

5/7 Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 7300 0559

Aspiring to be a focal point for artistic activities, the space at Saigon Ranger has been established to create encounter and dialogue between different forms of art. Boasts concrete floors, dark wooden furniture, quirky wall designs and a stage for live music and other types of performance. Saigon Saigon Bar LIVE MUSIC / ROOFTOP BAR

9th Floor, Caravelle Saigon, 1923 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999

This iconic bar is a great place to watch the sun go down over the city and relax for a few drinks with friends. Has live entertainment six nights a week courtesy of resident Cuban band, Q’vans, from 9pm Wednesday to Monday. Shrine Bar LOUNGE BAR

61 Ton Thap Thiep, Q1

Shrine creates a drinking and dining experience in a temple-like at-

mosphere. Inspired by Bantay Srei, a temple from the ancient Angkor kingdom, the walls are covered in statues depicting ancient Khmer gods and kings. With ambient lighting and town tempo music, here it’s all about good cocktails and an even better atmosphere. SEVENTEEN SALOON THEMED MUSIC BAR

103A Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 0007

Wild West-themed bar doubles as a music venue, where three talented Filipino bands (B&U, Wild West and Most Wanted) play covers of rock icons like Bon Jovi, U2 and Guns n’ Roses. Top shelf spirits and friendly, hostess style table service are the name game here. SPOTTED COW INTERNATIONAL / SPORT

111 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 7670

Spotted Cow delivers the fun-loving atmosphere that its playfully decorated black and white spotted interior promises, as well as decent international comfort food, a range of happy hours, live sports, and darts. STORM P


R2-24 Hung Gia 3, Bui Bang Doan, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 3900 The first bar established in Saigon South, great food, great music and loads of laughs. Has regular live music nights, theme nights and a variety of live sports events to please everybody. Big screens and outdoor seating add to the mix, with BBQs available for parties and events. Vesper Gourmet Lounge INTERNATIONAL

Landmark Building, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9698

A sophisticated yet down-to-earth cocktail bar and restaurant with subtle lighting and one of the best spirit selections in town. Serves creative, Japanese and Germaninfluenced cuisine to supplement the drinks. VINYL BAR MUSIC & SPORTS BAR

Named after the Danish artist Storm P, this long-running bar is the home of Saigon’s Scandinavian community thanks to its laid-back atmosphere and excellent food menu. A good place to watch the live sports. The Cube Bar

Banksy Cafe 1st Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 01699 990003

A small but swanky cafe, Banksy promises a young and vibrant hideout in an old 1960sera apartment building. Remember to head up the steep stairs within to dig into their secret stash of clothes and accessories. Cafe Thoai Vien 159A Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: 0918 115657

Veer off the street and find yourself plunging straight into lush greenery. Cafe Thoai Vien serves up a spacious and airy setting to enjoy a quiet sip. From small eats to big bites and everything to drink, it’s a great place to unwind from all that buzz. CHICCO DICAFF CAFÉ

70 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: 0907 890623


A small but popular bar with all the shenanigans of the nightlife scene set to a backdrop of classic 60s, 70s and 80s tunes. Has a darts area out back and is a popular space for watching the live English Premier League.


5B Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 4738

Settle into the Javanese-style interior and enjoy possibly one of the best brews in Saigon. Using own grown and specially sourced Dalat beans, speciality coffee such as cold drip, siphon, and Chemex are must haves for the avid coffee drinker.


38 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 3968 With a huge selection of self-imported wines from Bordeaux, this classy but contemporary venue is a wine bar downstairs, and a lounge on the first floor. Has a French-Asian menu paired to all the wines, with a huge selection of the good stuff sold by the glass.

213 Bui Vien, Q1

Set just off the street on the quiet end of Bui Vien, Chicco Dicaff serves an expat and local-heavy clientele takeaway coffees and flavoured concoctions, from a five-seat coffee bar. COFFEE BEAN & TEA LEAF INTERNATIONAL

157-159 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1; Metropolitan Building, 235 Dong Khoi, Q1


31B Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: 0903 369798

A sleek, industrial looking restobar with edgy décor and just a hint of Spanish style. Tapas, sangria, Iberian-influenced cocktails and an emphasis on all things Latin. The Observatory 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 Orient


13 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 7827

A two-storey, contemporarydesigned wine bar serving 30 wines by the glass, all at reasonable prices. Has an excellent food menu to complement the old and new world wines. XU CAFÉ / LOUNGE BAR

71-75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8468

This iconic upmarket downtown bar is known for its cocktails and wine list. It serves a range of international and Vietnamese dishes to be enjoyed in its richly decorated interior. Regular DJ nights.


24 Ngo Van Nam, Q1

An attractive, spacious, brick-wall interior, a long bar, high table seating, big screens, a pool table and live music. A great venue for a few beers and more.

M M M Cafes & Ice-Cream (a) cafe 15 Huynh Khuong Ninh, Da Kao, Q1, Tel: 0903 199701 | June 2015 Word | 163

Bar Stool Powers Bar


ull disclosure readers; I might not want you to know about this bar. Let me explain why. It’s not that I’m the head of some ‘secret social elite’ here in Saigon. Far from it. It’s more that Powers Bar is mine, I’m claiming it, and while I’m sure you’re not one of the ‘tanktop romeo’ types that line Bui Vien, nor one of the many sleazy ‘creepers’ this city breeds, I just can’t take the risk that you are. Therefore, if you are, and that takes some balls to admit, please discontinue reading. Avail yourself of any of the other finely written articles in this month’s issue, and stay away from Powers; I just can’t have you turning my new favourite place in the city into something it’s not meant to be.

Japanese Dive Bar Heaven The thing that I like about this District 1 dive is that I like a lot of things. Located in the ‘Japanese Quarter’ off Le Thanh Ton, going there has been like returning to a country I only recently fell in love with. It’s

164 | Word June 2015 |

Photos by Francis Xavier

also reminiscent of some of the front bars I use to frequent in cities like Melbourne, and grungier parts of East London. From the well-worn furnishings and décor, the downstairs lounge room vibe (there is also an upstairs section for the odd private party) and the glow of its wellstocked mantle, Powers is everything I like my closest friends to be; stripped-back, unpretentious and consistent. Consistent because it also serves the best quality alcohol you can pay for, which will cost you the usual amount. Looking like anything but a chain, turns out the Powers Bar concept has a couple of cousins in Tokyo. “It’s all about comfort,” says bar manager and cocktail-maker Ryo, a friendly guy from Osaka with a penchant for talking about his favourite baseball team the Hanshin Tigers. Just ask him about it to get the conversation rolling. Opened a year-and-a-half ago, the mix of clientele is Japanese-heavy, many of whom live in the area. This aids that sense of escape from Vietnam you’ll get, along

with its proximity to one of the best late night ramen and ‘gyoza’ joints I’ve ever been to. It must be said that these two have been working in perfect harmony for me since I discovered this gem. If I was ever to write a column called Great Nights Out in the City, I’d start with this combo. Just walk 20 metres to the right outside the doors and you can’t miss it. Given its heritage, then, it’s no surprise to find it thriving where it does. In among the cavernous alleyways off one of the city’s busiest high streets, it’s an area where you feel you’ve finally found the old town you’ve been missing. To get there might be the hardest thing you do all night, but simply turn left off Le Thanh Ton and into the last gated hem before you hit Thai Van Lung, then veer right. That’s when you’ll spot the small ‘Powers’ sign, a glow of red light, and possibly myself, nursing a Jack and Coke and talking in broken English to my newest best friend. — Jon Aspin Powers Bar is at D/C: 17/27 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, HCMC

HCMC On The Town

Large portioned coffee lures customers into the flagship store of this international café chain. The contemporary, yet generic atmosphere is bolstered by comfortable seating and a menu to satisfy any sweet tooth. DECIBEL INTERNATIONAL

79/2/5 Phan Ke Binh, Q1, Tel: (08) 6271 0115

Trendy without pretense, this two-floor, relaxed café offers beautiful decor and unique original events like live music, film screenings, and art exhibits. Great prices and food with daily specials.

touch of modernity. From the rich menu of Vietnamese food and drinks, shows immense local culture, done with a modern flare. Be seen here at one of the latest popular joint in town. Mockingbird Cafe 4th Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 0935 293400

Sitting atop of a number of cafe establishments in an old apartment complex, Mockingbird is just the place for a romantic time over mojitos, or good ol’ caffeine-infused relaxation. Plantrip Cha TEA ROOM


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.

8A/10B1 Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: 0945 830905 Tea, tea and more tea, all in a contemporary, quirky environment. At Plantrip Cha customers go on a sensory journey to experience the tastes and smells of teas from across Asia, Europe, America and the Middle East. THE LOOP

Bordeaux de Maucaillou - France - 13.5% Vol Chateau Paveil De Luze Margaux - France - 13.5% Vol



41/1 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 4222

Hidden in a colonial building with an outdoor courtyard, the ample soft, sofa seating renders a great spot to relax. The mouth-watering western menu is well-priced and maintains a creative flair. I.D. CAFÉ CONTEMPORARY CAFE

34D Thu Khoa Huan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2910

Centrally located near Ben Thanh Market, i.d offers casual café dining with a wide variety of food and beverages. Where modern design and a warm ambience meet for coffee. L’USINE CONTEMPORARY / FRENCH

First Floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6674 9565; 70B Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 0703

French-style wooden decor compliments the spacious, whitewashed contemporary interior of L’Usine. A simple, creative menu combines with reasonably priced coffee, and a fashion store and art gallery out back. Second location on Le Loi. M2C Cafe 44B Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2495

At M2C (Modern Meets Culture), everything gets a

49 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel. (08) 3602 6385 Low-key yet nice-on-the-eye décor helps create the caféstyle atmosphere at this European-influenced café and restaurant. Sells excellent coffee and if you like bagels, here you’ll be in heaven. The Morning Cafe 2nd Floor, 36 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: 0938 383330

Have a book to read? Pick a bright spot by the window and get snuggly with the comfy upholstery in this second-floor cafe. With a cup of well-brewed coffee, accompanied by some background jazz, it is an afternoon well-spent. The Other Person Cafe 2nd Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 0909 670272

Fancy being served up by maids in costume? Call for a booking and enjoyed customized service to your liking while spending an afternoon in this candy-land inspired cafe. THE PRINT ROOM CONTEMPORARY CAFE

158 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4990 Second-storey coffeehouse offers a quiet atmosphere to chill out or read from their book-nook collection. Comfortable couch seating, open table space and a cappuccino costs VND40,000. | June 2015 Word | 165

Top Eats Kokoïs


ocated in what was a former furniture warehouse with a pho shop out front, Kokoïs is Thao Dien’s latest go-to restaurant — at least, judging by a Sunday afternoon visit. The place was packed. Mekong Merchant-style packed. What sets this new-kid-on-the-block, European-styled eatery apart from its peers is the space. As spaces go, this has possibilities, and the French owners behind this latest venture have used it to good effect. Branded as a “café, bistro and store”, the furniture store, warehouse-like look of yesteryear has been complemented rather than altered. With high ceilings — there’s a spacious, open mezzanine level here — the design makes for an industrial yet homey ambience in the fan-cooled

indoor area and on the back terrace. Greys, purples, an uncovered concrete floor and metallic bar tops add to the look. Where the ceilings have been lowered to allow for the aircon factor, period-style floor tilings and wall-to-wall mirrors make what could potentially be a cramped, enclosed room feel spacious. It’s an old trick, but it’s effective.

The Bistro But it’s not just ambience that draws in the customers — and here it’s fresh, light and airy — but also the service, and most importantly, the food. Over the past few years, District 7 and District 2 have transformed themselves into destinations that can offer the same calibre of options as downtown. And the same variety of options.

Yet one style of restaurant that has never quite come to the suburbs are the sister eateries of Au Parc and Refinery. Famed for their Mediterranean-influenced salads, wraps and sandwiches, few have managed to bring a version of their offerings to the hinterlands. This is where Kokoïs may be succeeding where others have failed. Although there are at present only six salads on the menu, all are as creative as the next. Take the Kokoïs Salad (VND170,000) with the colours of its beetroot and smoked magret duck replicating the purple-based tints of the venue. Served up with strawberries, arugula, cherry tomatoes, nuts and a balsamic vinegar-based dressing, this is every bit as good as the offerings in town. If I hadn’t had ordered a tartine to go with my salad, I would have downed

Photos by Francis Xavier

the lot. It was moreish, particularly the odd combination of contrasting sweet and smoky flavours offered by the beetroot and the duck. My only comment — a touch too much balsamic vinegar. On the sandwich front, the menu here boasts six types of tartine and three burgers, including a tuna burger (VND220,000 ) and chicken and avocado burger (VND195,000). There is also a ‘butcher’s corner’ focusing on meat dishes with a range of steaks and ribs served up with salad and fries. A small offering of Vietnamese dishes also makes the menu, as do share-worthy starter platters and desserts. The Welsh Tartine (VND160,000), however, intrigued me most. The menu seemed to claim it as a French croque madame-style version of the Welsh rarebit

(toast topped with a beer or ale-based bechamel cheddar cheese sauce). To me it suggested everything that I like about creative, contemporary cuisine — you take different concepts and dishes, and see how you can mix them together. As I discovered, the key difference here between a croque madame and what I was offered was that everything was served on top of a doorstop-style slice of thick white bread. Don’t get me wrong. While the tartine was tasty — I went through every last bite — and filled those hidden stomach corners that only a starch-heavy dish can reach, its name and description on the menu didn’t match up with the offering. It just wasn’t Welsh. What served as bechamel sauce wasn’t strong enough (did they forget the mustard? I certainly couldn’t taste the beer) and, heavens above, the

bread was sweet! I’m picking up on the finest of details here, details that most diners would never notice. And these are the kind of details that two months-worth of operation cannot get under control. To make a restaurant work, you need six months to a year. Yet I saw enough here to know that providing Kokoïs keeps on top of its game, then this place will establish itself as another go-to eatery in the Thao Dien area of Saigon. And with so many restaurants out there offering below-par service and food, this is something the area desperately needs. — Nick Ross Kokoïs is at 24 Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC, or at The venue has a small shop out front selling anything from products by Kepi to Old Saigon Monopoly, soaps, candles and ethnic minority-made bags | June 2015 Word | 167

The Empty Wok Homemade Pesto Sauce with Pasta and Prawns


o me, pesto used to be one of those things that sounded like a ‘Genovese’ mystery. However, I have since discovered that it is super easy and fast to make. The key ingredients are fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and olive oil. However pine nuts have always been scarce in Vietnam and are 10 times more expensive than walnuts, cashew nuts or almonds. So in this recipe I will be using good quality walnuts instead of pine nuts. The textures are the same but there is a subtle taste difference. Despite the change in ingredients, this pesto sauce remains full of bold flavours and tastes like summer on a plate. The best thing about it is you can spread it over your toast, turkey or Panini, as well as serve it up with anything from mushrooms and prawns to chicken. You can even use it as just a dip.

168 | Word June 2015 |

By Riccha Arora

Photo by Kyle Phanroy

Ingredients Pesto Sauce — 4 tbsp olive oil, — 8 walnut kernels — ½ cup basil leaves — 5 cloves of garlic — 4 tbsp Parmesan cheese — salt and crushed black pepper to taste Pasta — 300g spaghetti or any other type of pasta — type — ½ tsp salt — 1 tsp olive oil — 3-4 prawns deveined

Preparation Pesto sauce Add the walnut kernels, basil leaves, crushed black pepper, garlic and olive oil to a blender and blend into a coarsely ground paste. Next add Parmesan cheese, salt and mix in well. The pesto sauce is now ready to be

tossed with pasta. Cooking the Pasta Fill a large, tall pot with water and place over a high heat. When the water begins to boil, add salt to it. Add pasta to the water and stir frequently for the first two minutes, then occasionally until the end of the cooking process. Before turning off the flame, taste it to see if it is cooked to your liking. If the pasta is al dente, you should feel a slight resistance when you bite into it or cut it with a fork. Take a non-stick pan and heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Next add the prawns and toss for 2 minutes until pink. Add the boiled pasta into the pan directly from the boiled water using kitchen tongs. Allow a few drops of water in as well — this will keep pasta moist . Then add the pesto sauce and toss well with the pasta on a medium slow flame. After mixing it well, turn off the flame.

HCMC On The Town

ASHOKA Things Cafe 1st Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: (08) 6678 6205

Feel the calm and serenity of this rustic little quiet corner tucked away in an Old Apartment. The quaint and relaxing atmosphere sets for some alone time, or quality conversations held over a drink or two.

17/10 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1372; 33 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel : (08) 3744 4177

ashokaindianrestaurant. com

Long-running, award-winning Indian restaurant famed for its excellent kebabs, creamy curries and Chinese-Indian fare.


Top Floor, 29 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 1631 The original, on-the-table barbecue restaurant still goes strong thanks to its rooftop atmosphere, excellent service and even better fish, seafood and meats. An institution. 27 Grill GRILL-STYLE RESTAURANT

Rooftop, AB Tower, 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2372


27 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 38238424

The downtown outlet of one of Vietnam’s most successful restaurant chains, Al Fresco’s offers international, Australian-influenced comfort fare in a pleasant environment with efficient, friendly service to match. Also has an excellent garden-style branch at 89 Xuan Thuy, Q2.


164 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3838 6661

This pleasant, airy Indian does the full range of fare from all ends of the subcontinent, from dosas and vadas through to chicken tikka masala, kormas, kebabs and fiery vindaloos. Has a delivery outlet in District 2.

Au Lac Do Brazil BRAZILIAN CHURRASCO 238 Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (08) 3820 7157

Au Lac Do Brazil is home to the city's best Churrasco menu with a wide variety of meats from Calabrian sausage and picanha through to D-rump steak and smoked hams. Pioneering the eat-asmuch-as-you-can theme in Vietnam, passadors bring the meat skewers to your table, and you, the customer then choose your accompaniments from the salad bar. Best washed down with red wine or a caipirinha or five.

Besides the spectacular views, the cuisine at 27 Grill is a real draw, with steaks and other international grillstyle fare in a refined yet contemporary atmosphere. Subtle lighting and an extensive wine list make up the mix.

barred Thai chefs.



23 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 2772

Consistently tasty European café fare — think deli-style sandwiches, salads and mezzes, plus coffees and juices — served at a popular park-side Le Duan location with classic cream and green-tiled décor. BAAN THAI PAN-THAI

55 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 5453

Subtle lighting and comfortable sofa-like seating at this An Phu eatery. The menu has a whole page dedicated to tom yum soup as well as firey larb moo and Laotian som tam. Thai cuisine cooked up by no-holds-

BAHDJA 2nd Floor, 27 Le Quy Don, Q3 Tel: 0122 763 1261

bahdjarestaurant@gmail. com Located just above the Thai restaurant Spice, Bahdja is Saigon’s first ever Algerian restaurant, serving authentic, multi-ethnic Berber North African and Mediterranean cuisine cooked and served in a traditional Algerian style. Best experienced in a group, this pleasant restaurant’s soothing ambience is matched by the owners’ genuine hospitality and complimented by an array of tasty tajines and couscousbased dishes. Has a lovely semi-outdoor terrace area.

BIBI@ALIBI 5A Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6257 The home of legendary French chef Bibi, this convivial restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine uses fresh products bought early morning at the market by Bibi himself. Delicious meats and fish dishes together with the famous tarte tatin. Has a daily specials board. BLACK CAT AMERICAN

13 Phan Van Dat, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 2055

Creatively named burgers, tasty Vietnamese-styled sandwiches, spiced up cocktails, mains and more, all served up with a Californian edge at this small but popular two-storey eatery close to the river. BLANCHY STREET JAPANESE / SOUTH AMERICAN

The Courtyard, 74/3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8793 The work of former Nobu chef Martin Brito, the Japanese-South American fusion cuisine at Blanchy Street is among the tastiest and most unusual in the city. All complemented by fresh, contemporary decor and a leafy terrace out front. BOAT HOUSE AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL

40 Lily Road, An Phu Superior Compound, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6790 A revamp has seen this riverside restaurant get a new management and a new menu — think American-style burgers, sliders and Tex-Mex together with soup and salad and you’ll get the idea. Excellent nachos and frozen margaritas. BOOMARANG BISTRO SAIGON INTERNATIONAL / GRILL

CR2 3-4, 107 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 6592

Australian themed but Singaporean-owned eatery and bar on The Crescent with great terraced seating specializing in huge-portioned international fare, all set in a contemporary, spacious environment. CAFÉ IF


40/31 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 2502

This affable café is a rarity in the backpacker area for its genuinely good musical playlist. Excellent, buildyour-own breakfasts, baked potatoes, toasties, Vietnamese fare and more. Has a popular motorbike rental service. CIAO BELLA NEW YORK-ITALIAN

11 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 3329

New York-style Italian restaurant offering a range of tasty and affordable antipasti, pastas, and pizzas. Friendly staff and rustic bare brick walls adorned with Hollywood film legends make for a relaxed and attractive setting. CORIANDER THAI / VIETNAMESE

16 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 1311 A small, homely Vietnameseowned Thai restaurant that over the past decade has quite rightly gained a strong local and expat following. Try their pad thai — to die for. CORSO STEAKHOUSE / INTERNATIONAL

117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 5368

Although a hotel restaurant, the enticing range of US and Australian steaks plus great grill and comfort food menu in this contemporary eatery make for a quality bite. Decent-sized steaks start at VND390,000.


38 Dang Dung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3846 9853 MSG-free traditional Vietnamese cuisine with a French twist, cooked fresh to order. Dishes include noodle soup, steamed ravioli and beef stew, stir fries, hot pots


52 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 4327

The comfort food on offer at this striking US-style | June 2015 Word | 169

Top Eats Tapas Saigon


hecking the TripAdvisor listing for Tapas Saigon, we ran into an eyebrow-raise. The 10 reviews produced a decent overall of 4.0, but near the top was a one-star review, which pointed out how most of the other reviewers were first-timers. Scrolling down the list, we saw this was true — until we came to two laudatory reviews at the end, both written in Spanish. Online Editor Niko dusted off his “poquito” Spanish vocabulary and went to work. “Sencillo pero bueno,” he read — simple but good. “Tapas baratas y buen

servicio” — cheap tapas and good service? All on a street without much motorbike traffic? Ok, we were sold. Heading to the Tan Dinh elbow of District 1, we stepped inside Tapas Saigon’s trim two floors, amid jaunty Mediterranean colours and eerily evocative bullfighting photos, which were hung at the haphazard angles you’d expect to find at a place with more history. Tapas Saigon hasn’t achieved that kind of aura yet, but they’re working on it.

Plate after Plate Staying away from mains, the six-page

menu breaks down into ‘meat’, ‘seafood’ and ‘other’ kinds of tapas. We tried one or two of each, and finished the meal with a complimentary churro dish (VND29,000) that my gluten-intolerant dinner mates couldn’t eat. The churros were good. Megan said, “If I didn’t have class tomorrow, I’d eat one of those even though it would make me super sick.” I had two of them, as she urged me on. Our tapas choices included corn flour tortinos with wild boar minced meat (VND89,000). Megan was overjoyed. “Coming from someone who hasn’t eaten

Photos by Francis Xavier

bread in a long time, they’re perfectly flavourful, crispy, moist and wonderful.” For me they were the best dish of the night. The “Tapas Saigon sauce” — aka, mayonnaise — smothered patatas bravas (VND34,000) weren’t far off from that best-dish territory, with a perfect deep-fry balance of crispy skin yielding to creamy potato. Less impressive were the undercooked potatoes that came in the visually appealing octopus dish pulpo gallego (VND74,000) — one of two octopus dishes on the menu. I was pretty thrilled by this

scheduling quirk until I bit into a rubbery tentacle — which almost squeaked as I chewed my salty way through it. This was the one underwhelming dish that came our way. The paella (VND74,000) is mandatory, of course — a super-solid rendition that packs in the seafood, and is easily splittable even if it says that it’s for one person. Lastly, we got the grilled vegetable plate (VND64,000), a dippable selection of tomato, cauliflower, zucchini, onion, mushroom and pepper, complemented with a dill dipping sauce and some more of

the Tapas Saigon mayo-bomb. If your child is one of those vegetables-are-gross types, you might want to order this for him. The sangria (VND245,000/1.3L)? Another solid rendition, one that we drank a tidy two pitchers of. Sitting over the remnants of the meal, we felt full and over-stimulated, both from the food and from the décor. And this, it seemed to us, was the true take-home of Tapas Saigon — a meal as a window onto a different experience of life. — Ed Weinberg Tapas Saigon is at 53/26B Tran Khanh Du, Q1, HCMC | June 2015 Word | 171

HCMC On The Town

diner ranges from meatball baguettes to chilli burgers, pizzas, blackened chicken salads and a selection of more expensive international mains. EL GAUCHO ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE

74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2090; 5D Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1879; Unit CR1-12, The Crescent, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 6909

A themed eatery mixing an Argentinian steakhouse theme with pork, chicken, lamb, homemade spicy sausage, skewers, burger dishes and everything that can come off a grill. Slick service, a good wine menu, and caramel vodka teasers at the end of the meal. Probably serves up the best steak in town. EON51 Fine Dining TOP-END EUROPEAN / ASIAN

Level 51, Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8750

Situated on level 51 of the most iconic building in town, Eon51 Fine Dining offers a unique fine dining experience accompanied by unparalleled 3600 picturesque views of Saigon. The sky-high restaurant proffers the taste of Europe in Asia, orchestrated from the finest local foods and top-quality imported ingredients. GANESH NORTH / SOUTH INDIAN

38 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4786 The ubiquitous mint sauce is thick and creamy and the curries are both authentic and smoky. Ganesh is rated by many as the best Indian in town. Very friendly service. HOA TUC CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE

The Square, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1676 Highly rated restaurant with stunning outdoor terrace. Specialities include pink pomelo squid and crab salad, mustard leaf prawn rolls, fishcake wraps and barbecue chicken in ginger, onions and a lime leaf marinade. HOANG YEN PAN-VIETNAMESE

7 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1101; The Crescent, 103 Ton Dat Tien, Q7, Tel: (08) 2210 2304 If you’re looking for midrange, aircon Vietnamese restaurants that just seem to do every dish perfectly, then Hoang Yen really is the place to go. The atmosphere

172 | Word June 2015 |

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.

chefs — come from disadvantaged backgrounds and are being trained on the jon in hospitality. Serves up tasty Vietnamese cuisine, to boot!





Ground Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 6066

Mixing hearty pub grub such as burgers, salads and prime rib steaks with a sports bar atmosphere, this Australian chain also offers regular promotions and a 4pm to 7pm happy hour. Excellent outdoor terrace. INAHO SUSHI / SASHIMI

4 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 0326 A sushi bar needs a good chef, and the chef-owner of Inaho is one of the best. Sit downstairs at the low-key bar or upstairs in the private VIP rooms. Either way, this is one of the best sushi and sashimi joints in town.

Sofitel Saigon Plaza, 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555

Exuding a southern Gallic atmosphere with its tiled veranda, pastel-coloured walls and ficus trees, this traditional French restaurant has quarterly Michelin star promotions and an award winning pastry team.


Renaissance Riverside Hotel, 8–15 Ton Duc Thang. Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0033

Offers authentic, gourmet Cantonese cuisine in an elegant, classic setting, with striking décor and the bonus of views over the Saigon River. Dishes range from VND80,000 to VND900,000. KOH THAI CONTEMPORARY THAI FUSION

Level 1, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4423 Modern Thai fusion restaurant serving Thai classics alongside tom yam cappuccinos and more. Koh Thai’s creative cocktails merge Thai flavours with local seasonal fruits and herbs. KOTO Training Restaurant CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE

3rd Floor Rooftop, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1. Tel: (08) 3822 9357 The restaurant associated with the KOTO vocational training school. All the staff — from bar tenders and waiting staff through to the

136/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 38 250261; 116 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 9996

If you want to take friends, relatives or people out of town to eat Hue-style street food in a hygienic yet downto-earth environment, Nam Giao is the place. Not only is it well-priced, but the bun bo Hue, bun thit nuong, com hen, banh bot loc and other such dishes are excellent.


This intimate, open-kitchened restaurant bathed in white specialises in a mix of contemporary Mediterranean and French cuisine. Has a small but well thought out menu, backed up with an extensive wine list.



Ground Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, Crn. of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 9999



48 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 2229 8882


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.






and smoothies.


JASPA’S WINE & GRILL The Square, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 0931

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.

31 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8465 Unpretentious but tasty French fare in a relaxed garden setting within the French cultural centre. The robust, bistro-style cuisine is very well-priced, and excellent, cheap house wine is served by the carafe. LION CITY SINGAPOREAN

45 Le Anh Xuan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8371

Friendly, authentic fivestorey Singaporean eatery, plating up the likes of nasi lemak, mee rebus, and awesome chicken curry, as well as specialities like frog porridge, chilli crab and fish head curry.

May Restaurant INTERNATIONAL COMFORT FOOD 19 – 21 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 3686

may.restaurant19@gmail. com

Casual yet stylish, May places international-style wining and dining in the heart of historic Saigon. Subtle lighting, comfortable seating, an extensive wine and cocktail list, and beautifully crafted comfort food from Europe, the Antipodes and Asia all make up the mix at this multifloored restaurant and bar. Check out their set lunches and happy hour.


23 Thao Dien, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6478 The rustic looking, bananaleaf roofed Mekong Merchant has long been the place in An Phu. Set around a cobblestoned courtyard the cuisine includes gourmet seafood and pastas. Bakery-style Bistro out front. MOGAMBO

Ground floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999

One of the top three buffet restaurants in town. Although the selection is small, the meats, fishes and seafoods are all fresh, and everything you eat here is quality. OSAKA RAMEN JAPANESE NOODLES

18 Thai Van Lung, Q1; SD04, Lo H29-2, KP My Phat, Phu My Hung, Q7 If you fancy dosing out on ramen and soba noodles, then Osaka Ramen is noodle soup heaven. A typically Japanese aircon environment mixes bar-style seating with booths and private dining. Open late. PACHARAN SPANISH / EUROPEAN

97 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6924 Legs of Iberian ham hang in the downstairs bar at this multi-story bodega serving Spanish-styled tapas. Attractively decorated in warm reds, yellows and oranges, Pacharan’s food menu is traditionally Spanish.



97B Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 6281 8371

Drawing inspiration from the great cuisines of Europe, The Mediterranean and The Orient, this contemporary, Australian-run restaurant bathed in white focuses on wholesome, fresh ingredients, with breads, cheeses, pickles, pastas and preserves made on site daily from scratch. A well-conceived wine list supplements the excellent fare. Has petanque on the terrace. LUONG SON PAN-VIETNAMESE

31 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1330 A typical Vietnamese-style

50 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1311

The longest running expat bar in town, these days Mogambo is more a restaurant than a drinking haunt thanks to its Cajun-inspired, American cuisine; Tex-Mex, excellent burgers, US-style soups and salads. Still furbished as it was 20 years ago. MONSOON PAN-SOUTHEAST ASIAN

1 Cao Ba Nha, Q1, Tel: (08) 6290 8899 Traditional pan-Southeast Asian favourites served in a visually arresting setting within a French colonial-era villa, just minutes from the backpacker area. Reasonably priced, with healthy juices


87 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 8181; 36 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel: (08) 6253 282

Opening out into a large, leafy terracotta-tiled garden area, this trattoria-style Italian restaurant serves up quality homemade pasta, risotto, gnocchi, excellent pizza and grilled dishes. Has a second branch in District 2. PIZZA 4P’S EUROPEAN/ASIAN FUSION

8/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9838

This quirky but highly rated Italian / Japanese fusion pizza parlour serves wacky yet delicious pies such as tuna

curry pizza and calamari seaweed pizza, as well as more traditional varieties. Propaganda CLASSIC VIETNAMESE / BISTRO

21 Han Thuyen, Q1 Part of the group that includes Au Parc and Refinery, Propaganda serves up classic Vietnamese cuisine in an atmosphere of barebrick walls interposed with Propaganda Art murals and prints.


Renaissance Riverside, 8–15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0033 Offers versatile all–day dining of international quality, with the bonus of being able to watch the action on the river sidewalk. Features western, Asian and Vietnamese buffets. Saffron PAN-MEDITERRANEAN


8 Nguyen Van Nguyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3602 2241; 17A Ngo Van Nam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 1515 Make sure to try the sautéed shrimps with cashew nuts and crispy fried tofu with lime wedge, at this popular, high-quality, chicly designed eatery where all food is served in traditional crockery. One of the best Vietnamese restaurants in town. Quan Ut Ut US-STYLE BARBECUE

168 Vo Van Kiet, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 4500

It’s a no-brainer, right? American-style barbecue in a contemporary Vietnamese, quan nhau-style setting. Of course it is, which is why Quan Ut Ut is constantly packed with grill-obsessed diners going for the burgers, meats off the barbecue and Platinum pale ale served on tap. REFINERY FRENCH BISTRO / INTERNATIONAL

The Square, 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 0509

A slightly retro feel pervades this popular French-style bistro and wine bar which once housed the city’s opium refinery. The cuisine runs from creative salads through to Mediterranean influenced mains.

51 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8358 Sporting food from around the Mediterranean rim, this compact and cozy eatery with pots hung from the ceiling is a popular choice with expats and tourists alike. Reservations advised.

ice-cold beer and an international wine list to complement meals. Has a focus on the creative use of local ingredients. SEOUL HOUSE KOREAN

33 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4297

The longest running Korean restaurant in town, with all the Koreans moving out to the hinterland, the clientele here are mainly Vietnamese. Fortunately the food preparation remains traditional. An excellent place for group dining. SHANG PALACE RESTAURANT PAN-CHINESE / CANTONESE


Level 1, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2828

If you like your buffet selections to be big, then here it is gargantuan, with every type of option under the sun. A great place to catch up on your seafood addiction or to pig out over a Sunday brunch.

Norfolk Mansion, 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 2221

Featuring over 200 dishes and 50 kinds of dim sum prepared by chefs from Hong Kong, Shang Palace has nine private dining rooms and a main dining area seating over 300. Good for events. SKEWERS INTERNATIONAL / MEDITERRANEAN


Ground Floor, AB Building, 76A Le Lai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 9513

Open until 3am, this popular, contemporary Cantonese dining hall mixes contemporary with traditional, in a space that takes Chinese dining in Saigon to a new level. And if you like your dim sum, look no further. SCOTT AND BINH’S INTERNATIONAL

15-17 Cao Trieu Phat, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: 0948 901465 scottbinhs.php

Serving creative, all homemade comfort food, this restaurant boasts a full bar,

9A Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 4798

Simple, unpretentious Greekinfluenced, international cuisine ranging from the zucchini carpaccio through to the saganiki, a range of dips, mousaka, osso buco and lamb chop skewers. Also has an excellent upstairs cigar room. SHRI CONTEMPORARY EUROPEAN

23rd Floor, Centec Tower, 72–74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3, Tel: (08) 3827 9631 A breezy terrace, indoor bar and separate dining room with sweeping views over central Saigon make up this enormous, comfortable space. A well-thought out and romantic venue, with excellent food.


Level 24, AB Tower, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: 0938 687689

Set over two floors, this astonishing, no-expensespared Japanese restaurant and lounge brings to Saigon the type of environment and ambience you’d expect of New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai. With the décor comes a modern take on Japanese fare. A place to see and be seen. TAMAGO PAN-JAPANESE

39 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 4634

Located on the main drag in Thao Dien, Tamago has indoor and out door seating, a terrace and private rooms. They have a ladies’ night on Tuesdays as well as a Teppanyaki themed night on Saturday evenings. Have a second restaurant in Mui Ne. TEMPLE CLUB PAN-VIETNAMESE

29-31 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9244

Once a hotel for Indian dignitaries visiting old Saigon, the elegant and atmospheric Temple Club is one of the city’s best-preserved buildings. Serving quality Vietnamese and Indochine cuisine at reasonable prices. THE DECK MODERN ASIAN FUSION

38 Nguyen U Di, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6632

Set on the banks of Saigon River across from Thanh Da Island, this innovative restaurant serves up modern Asian fusion cuisine in a Bali-style atmosphere, complemented by great cocktails and a long wine list.

3836 4533

Think bacon, bacon and more bacon, all set in airy, spacious atmosphere, and you get The Hungry Pig, an eatery specialising in anything from the bacon butty through to the bacon Caesar. A popular hangout. TIN NGHIA VEGAN

9 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 2538 One of the city’s oldest eateries (established in 1925) does some of the cheapest and tastiest vegan cuisine in town, all cooked up without onions, garlic or MSG. Vesper Gourmet Lounge INTERNATIONAL

Landmark Building, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9698

Headed up by well-known chef Andy Ertle, Vesper is a sophisticated yet down-toearth cocktail bar and restaurant with subtle lighting and a great spirit selection. Serves creative, Japanese and German-influenced cuisine to supplement the drinks and has a separate dining space. Wrap & Roll 62 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2166; 111 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 8971; 226 De Tham, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 5097

The lime green walls and bright pastel colours of Wrap ‘n Roll are just part of the theme of this homegrown, Vietnamese brand which is all about spring rolls of all types, and healthy, Hueinfluenced cuisine. YU CHU TOP-END PAN-CHINESE


144 Cong Quynh, Q1, Tel: (08)

1st Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, crn.of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1 | June 2015 Word | 173

A World


Not All Profit is Equal


By Dana McNairn

The photo op... Angelina Jolie in her role as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador


e’ve been told that you cannot make money while helping the poor because that is morally repugnant. But I believe you can ‘do well’ by ‘doing good’ and balance a social agenda with a profit agenda. There’s an old idea kicking around in a new set of shoes, and that old-new idea is about creating shared value. This column is a riff on a recent speech I gave about corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the theories of Harvard professor Michael Porter. Whether you’re running a nonprofit or a for-profit, you need to care about shared value. As a for-profit you likely have some CSR in place: poverty-alleviation projects you support, environmental metrics you use and codes of conduct you have in place. But what you’re still up against is the granddaddy of neoliberal economists, Milton Friedman, who said “the only business of business is business”.

The Business of Being Good How does being socially responsible fit in with the profit-driven model? CSR programmes typically remain a reactionary response to external pressures like protesting customers. Too many CSR programmes are an exercise in feel-good publicity, and as such are considered an

174 | Word June 2015 |

inconvenient, but necessary expense. CSR is a cost centre, not a profit centre. Indian steel magnate Jamsetji Tata felt differently. “In a free enterprise,” he said at the turn of the last century, “the community is not just another stakeholder to business, but is in fact the very purpose of its existence.” Tata believed businesses can only be sustainable if they served a larger purpose in society. But non-profits and forprofits continue to focus on efficiency. How many widgets produced or how many bicycles delivered to poor kids? Why not think instead about innovation in market development and product design? The strongest competitors establish the deepest roots in their communities. What do those communities say about what products and services they need? My development project is only going to work if I put deep roots into the communities and populations I work with. A valid criticism of development — and especially humanitarian work — is helicoptering in, dropping off the emergency food and tents, posing for some grip-and-grin photos and you’re out. We call those parachute projects. And in some ways, that also looks a lot like CSR.

Enlightened Self-Interest Put in a health and wellness programme or

hire the disabled, but at the end of the day this is an economic constraint that just raises costs and eats profit. Or so the thinking goes. But shared value isn’t an imposition of personal values or wealth redistribution. Shared value simply means addressing a social issue or problem with a business model. (This is also a great definition for social enterprise). Can we look at energy inefficiency, slum dwellings, dirty drinking water and unemployed youth as a productivity driver, not as photo-ops? CSR too often targets the symptoms, not the causes of poverty and inequality. If non-profits now embrace microfinance and impact investing, then for-profits can embrace shared value as a better understanding of competition and economic value creation. Shared value isn’t philanthropy; it’s self-interested behaviour. I’d even call it enlightened self-interest, but that’s a really old idea. Business as usual is not an option. The cost of inaction is disproportionately higher than the cost of action and the longer we wait, the more expensive fixing things will be. We need to stop thinking about ‘social’ as being good, ‘doing good’ or even being responsible, and look at it instead as ‘opportunity’. Dana McNairn is the CEO of KOTO, a nonprofit social enterprise and vocational training programme for at-risk youth

Tel: (08) 3520 9999 Skillful chefs prepare authentic hand-pulled noodles, fresh dim sum and hot wok dishes within an impeccably designed open kitchen, as diners look on. Stylish and spectacular.

Banh Mi Thanh Mai Hoang





164 Cong Quynh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 3248 The service is often slow, and the staff are often surprisingly lazy, yet the food here is so good and so unique to this city, that no-one seems to mind. The perfect place to feast out on gyros and all things off a skewer. Cheap, too. ZOOM CAFÉ


107 Truong Dinh, Q3 Banh Tam Bi To Chau BANH TAM

271 Nguyen Trai, Q1

200 Bis Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3; 157 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 3917

Bun Cha Ha Noi BUN CHA

26/1A Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Chi Thong BUN THIT NUONG / BANH HOI

195 Co Giang, Q1


169A Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 3897

vietnamvespaadventures. com/cafe_zoom

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


55 Tu Xuong, Q3

Com Tam 40A COM TAM

40A Quoc Huong, Q2 Mi Quang My Son MI QUANG

M M M Street Food

38 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1 Nam Giao BUN BO HUE

Ba Ghien

189 Bis Bui Vien, Q1


84 Dang Van Ngu, Phu Nhuan

Pho Dau PHO BO


Alleyway to the left of 162 Tran Nhan Tong, Q10

288/M1 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3 PHO HOA PHO BO & PHO GA


260C Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 7943

70 Vo Van Tan, Q3

Pho Le Banh Cuon Hai Nam BANH CUON


413-415 Nguyen Trai, Q5

11A Cao Thang, Q3 Pho Phu Gia Banh Khot Co Ba Vung Tau


146E Ly Chinh Thang, Q3


102 Cao Thang, Q3

Pho Phu Vuong PHO BO

Banh Mi Hong Hoa

339 Le Van Sy, Tan Binh

Banh Mi Huynh Hoa


The Lunch Lady

At VND120,000 per month (minimum of six months), this is a small price to pay to help those in need.

Sushi Ko 122/37/15 Vinh Khanh, Q4


26 Le Thi Rieng, Q1


Banh Mi Sau Minh

23 Hoang Sa, Q1


170 Vo Van Tan, Q3

Based north of Mui Ne in Central Vietnam, the foundation provides the children with a home, a family and an education. To help fund this programme, for every copy of our Word you get delivered direct to your door, we will donate VND50,000 to Mai Nha.


62 Nguyen Van Trang, Q1

Word has teamed up with the Mai Nha Children Foundation to help 20 orphan children to grow up as a family and prepare for their future.


To arrange your home delivery, simply email


67 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 7751

For more information on Mai Nha, click on | June 2015 Word | 175

BridalWEAR 3 Thang 2 C1

Paintings Tran Phu D1 Bui Vien D3

Cameras Ton That Thiep C4

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176 | Word June 2015 |

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Ngo Van Nam B5 Nguyen Bieu E2 Nguyen Binh Khiem A4, B5 Nguyen Cong Tru C4, C5, D4 Nguyen Cu Trinh D2, D3 Nguyen Dinh Chieu A4, B4, C2, C3, D1 Nguyen Dinh Chinh A1 Nguyen Du B4, C3 Nguyen Gia Thieu B3 Nguyen Hue C4, C5 Nguyen Huu Canh B5 Nguyen Huu Cau A3 Nguyen Huy Tu A4 Nguyen Khac Nhu D3 Nguyen Khoai E3 Nguyen Ngoc Phuong A5 Nguyen Phi Khanh A3 Nguyen Sieu B5, C4, C5 Nguyen Son Ha C2 Nguyen Tat Thanh D5 Nguyen Thai Binh C4, D4 Nguyen Thai Hoc C3, D3 Nguyen Thi Dieu C2, C3 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai A5, B3, B4, C2, C3, D2 Nguyen Thien Thuat C1 Nguyen Thong B1, B2 Nguyen Thuong Hien C2 Nguyen Trai C3, D2, E1 Nguyen Trung Truc C4 Nguyen Truong To D5 Nguyen Van Cu D2, E2 Nguyen Van Lac A5 Nguyen Van Mai A2 Nguyen Van Nguyen A2 Nguyen Van Thu A4, B3, B4 Nguyen Van Troi A1 Pasteur B3, B4 Pasteur C4 Pham Hong Thai C3 Pham Ngoc Thach B3 Pham Ngu Lao C3, D3 Pham Viet Chanh D2



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Saigon South 4km | June 2015 Word | 177

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Tiêng Viêt

Khẩu Trang Nghệ Thuật Khẩu trang đã trở thành tác phẩm nghệ thuật


rước khi chuyển đến Việt Nam, tôi đã quen với việc chạy vòng vòng ngoài trời. Tuy nhiên, vì chất lượng không khí xấu, tôi không còn làm điều đó nhiều như tôi đã từng. Mỗi khi lái xe vòng quanh thành phố, tôi co rúm người lại khi nghĩ đến các độc tố tôi hít phải mỗi khi ra khỏi nhà. Tuy nhiên, tôi vẫn không thể mua cho mình một cái khẩu trang. Vấn đề là khẩu trang không đủ tiêu chuẩn để làm một phụ kiện thời trang. Và những bộ sưu tập khẩu trang ở đây thì tệ quá. Liệu tôi muốn trông giống như ... 1) Tôi vừa mới xuất viện và đang dần hồi phục từ một căn bệnh chết người? 2) Một ninja? 3) Hoặc như phiên bản nữ của Darth Vader? Bảo vệ sức khỏe hay có một phong cách thời trang tốt? Tôi biết nó có vẻ khủng khiếp, nhưng tôi chỉ muốn đối phó với khí thải.

Vog Gì?

Vì vậy, khi tôi nghe nói về một công ty khẩu trang đang sản xuất loại khẩu trang tái sử dụng hữu cơ nhưng mang tính thời trang. Tôi thấy thú vị. "Tôi đã xem qua Vogmask ở Singapore và bị hấp dẫn. Lớp vải lọc khí được khâu vào khẩu trang, có một chiều van thở ra và có thể lọc 99,978 phần trăm tất cả các chất gây ô nhiễm trong không khí. Thiết kế tinh tế làm cho sản phẩm có các phần tách rời," Cindy Tú, nhà phân phối Vogmask tại Việt Nam cho biết. Xuất hiện từ San Francisco, Vogmask giờ đã đến khắp châu Á. Nó đã không đến được Việt Nam cho đến khi Tú liên lạc với người đồng sáng lập Vogmask và trở thành nhà phân phối địa phương. Trang web của cô,, đã được đưa ra vào hoạt động từ đầu tháng Năm. Vì vậy, cái gì làm Vogmask bỏ xa các đối thủ được bán trên lề đường?

Tú nói: "Vogmask là khẩu trang phong cách, hiệu suất cao, dễ thở và tái sử dụng đầu tiên cho công cộng trên thế giới." Một tuyên bố hơi quá. Nhưng cô ấy có cái lý của mình. Dòng có lớp lọc N99, lớp giữa của khẩu trang, là lớp vải dật bằng các sợi nano có thể lọc hơn 99 phần trăm của các hạt có kích thước lớn hơn 0,3 micron. Có nghĩa là, không những tuổi thọ của khẩu trang bền, mà nó hoàn thành tốt công việc bảo vệ bạn khỏi những khí thải từ những chiếc xe buýt to còi hơn so với một khẩu trang được mua từ một người bán rong trên đường.

Nghệ Thuật Mặc Được

Loại khẩu trang này như là một hiện tượng thời trang đã vinh dự xuất hiện trên sàn catwork. Nhà thiết kế kiêm nghệ sỹ vẽ tranh trên cơ thể ở Bắc Kinh, Nina Griffee, đã kết hợp các thiết kế mặt nạ Vogmask vào bộ sưu tập Xuân Hè của cô cho Tuần Lễ Thời Trang Hồng Kông vào đầu tháng Bảy. Nhưng quan trọng hơn là bộ sưu tập khẩu trang với màu sắc và mẫu có sẵn — hiện tại có 35 lựa chọn cho người yêu thích thời trang. Từ nhiều màu sặc sỡ đến một màu hay in hình nàng tiên cá và một loạt các sắc đồng màu cùng các phụ liệu đi kèm, giá dao động từ 86,000 đồng cho các phụ kiện dây đeo đầu đến 860,000 đồng cho khẩu trang da thuần. Sử dụng khẩu trang thời trang không phải là để giảm chất lượng không khí đang phát triển tại Việt Nam. Và trừ khi bạn đeo nó ở mọi thời điểm, nó cũng không giúp gì với ô nhiễm không khí trong nhà, và điều đó tồi tệ hơn tình trạng ô nhiễm ở ngoài trời. Nhưng chắc chắn nó sẽ giúp cho chính bạn — có phong cách — bảo vệ khỏi tất cả những chất gây ô nhiễm không mong muốn ở ngoài kia — Rachel Cabakoff Để biết thêm thông tin xin ghé hoặc

178 | Word June 2015 |

Hình ảnh bởi Aidan Dockery

Lễ Hội ASEAN Pride Phiên Bản 2.0

Lễ hội âm nhạc được nhiều người yêu thích hàng năm ở Hà Nội sẽ được tổ chức tại American Club


ếu cái nóng đổ mồ hôi của mùa hè không là vấn đề gì, và tất cả điều bạn quan tâm là một số cảm xúc sung sướng cùng nhạc sống, thì lễ hội âm nhạc ASEAN Pride vào ngày 20/6 có thể làm bùng cháy phong cách bụi bặm đường phố Hà Nội của bạn. Trong khi lễ hội năm ngoái đã thu hút một lượng 4.000 người tham gia, tất cả với mục đích nâng cao nhận thức về vấn đề LGBT, lễ hội năm nay cũng sẽ tuyệt vời như thế, nếu không thể tuyệt vời hơn. Với một đại gia đình các ngôi sao đang nổi trong cùng ngành, 13 nghệ sỹ hay nhất đến từ khắp nơi ở khu vực Đông Nam Á sẽ biểu diễn tại American Club (19-21 Hai Bà Trưng, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội), bao gồm các nghệ sỹ chủ chốt, nữ hoàng Mỹ-Việt của indie-rock, Thảo Nguyễn & nhóm Get Down Stay Down. Người đam mê âm nhạc cũng có thể cháy hết mình với dòng nhạc pop quyến rũ của nữ nghệ sỹ chuyển giới Hương Giang Idol, O.J. Law của Malaysia, nữ rocker Yellow Yang của Thái Lan, COCC của Sài Gòn, Tô Lâm và nhóm nhảy trên giầy cao gót, DJ Lotus Disco và các nghệ sỹ khác. Và đối với những người tìm các hoạt động nghệ thuật thú vị khác có thể thưởng thức tại không gian nghệ thuật chuyên dụng, chợ các sản phẩm địa phương cùng nhiều thức ăn đồ uống ngon tuyệt sẽ giữ chân bạn tới tận khuya. Được Đại Sứ Quán Hoa Kỳ tại Hà Nội và CAMA Việt Nam đồng tổ chức,

Nick Greenfield từ CAMA cho biết: "ASEAN Pride nhằm mục đích giới thiệu chất lượng và sự đa dạng của các nghệ sĩ mới nổi của khu vực, trong khi tạo ra một không gian an toàn để ăn mừng sự đa dạng giới tính. Nó đã trở thành một trong những điểm nổi bật âm nhạc của năm. " Lễ hội cũng sẽ góp phần chào mừng kỷ niệm 20 năm bình thường hóa mối quan hệ giữa Hoa Kỳ và Việt Nam. Như Ngoại Trưởng John Kerry đã tuyên bố: "Không có hai nước nào đã làm việc chăm chỉ hơn, làm được nhiều hơn, và làm tốt hơn để cố gắng hàn gắn cả hai với nhau và ... thay đổi tương lai."

Đa Dạng và Chấp Nhận

Đã ba năm kể từ khi buổi diễu hành Viet Pride đầu tiên tại Việt Nam, nó đã chứng kiến hàng trăm người đi xe đạp trên người khoác miếng vải cầu vòng đạp xe qua các con đường của thủ đô. Những sự kiện như ASEAN Pride nhằm thúc đẩy phát triển cộng đồng chấp nhận sự đa dạng. Michael Turner, nhân viên phụ trách văn hóa tại Đại sứ quán Mỹ tại Hà Nội, cho biết lễ hội nhằm mục đích nắm bắt năng lượng và sự năng động của cộng đồng LGBT địa phương ở Việt Nam và trong khu vực ASEAN nhằm giúp nâng cao nhận thức về sự bình đẳng LGBT. "Năm ngoái, chủ đề là 'ăn mừng sự đa dạng, năm nay [cộng đồng LGBT trong nước] đã đưa ra với chủ đề 'kỷ niệm gia

đình', vì họ đã xác định đó là một trong những thách thức lớn nhất đối với một người LGBT tại Việt Nam: khắc phục rào cản công khai giới tính thật với gia đình," ông nói. "Trong nhiều năm qua, phái đoàn Hoa Kỳ đến Việt Nam đã thúc đẩy thực hiện quyền LGBT và muốn lễ hội này truyền tải thông điệp bạn là ai hoặc yêu ai không là vấn đề gì, ai cũng cần được đối xử bình đẳng và tôn trọng." Đại Sứ Mỹ tại Việt Nam, Ted Osius, người cũng sẽ tham gia lễ hội vào ngày 20/6, cho biết lễ hội là một phần quan trọng trong nỗ lực của chính phủ Mỹ ủng hộ sự bình đẳng cho người đồng tính ở nước ngoài. "Tôi đã đến nhiều trường và thực sự thú vị là có những bạn trẻ — ngay cả chỉ ở trung học — những người có đủ can đảm đứng trước 600 đến 800 người và đặt câu hỏi nếu bạn đồng tính thì sẽ có những khó khăn gì. Thông điệp của tôi cho họ và tất cả các bạn cùng lớp không đồng tính của họ là được là chính mình — nếu bạn muốn nếu bạn muốn được hạnh phúc, thì không có cách nào khác." Để biết thêm thông tin về lễ hội ASEAN Pride 2.0, xin vào trang facebook của ASEAN Music Festival hoặc ghé Vé được bán trực tuyến tại hoặc tại CAMA ATK, House of Sơn Tinh và Cơm Gà Café. Lễ hội sẽ khai mạc vào lúc 13:00 và kéo dài đến 23:00. Để biết thêm thông tin về Đại Sứ Hoa Kỳ, Ted Osius, chuyển đến trang 181." | June 2015 Word | 179

Tiêng Viêt

180 | Word June 2015 |

Vị Đại Sứ

Luôn mong muốn hòa mình vào các sự kiện ngoại giao, David Mann đã có dịp gặp vị Đại Sứ Mỹ, Ted Osius, để nói về các vấn đề ngoại giao cũng như cuộc sống hàng ngày ở Việt Nam. Hình ảnh bởi Julie Vola


ất ít người nước ngoài biết về Việt Nam như Ted Osius, một người xứ Maryland, người đầu tiên đặt chân lên đất Việt như một nhà ngoại giao trẻ cho Đại Sứ Quán Hoa Kỳ vào năm 1996. Đó là khi ông có thể đạp xe quanh thành phố như là một kẻ vô danh và thực hành tiếng Việt của mình với những người bán hàng rong. "Ở miền Bắc, người ta nói tôi có vẻ giống như người miền Nam, còn miền Nam thì người ta nói tôi giống người miền Bắc. Lúc đó đa số chỉ có xe đạp, chẳng có nhiều xe gắn máy như bây giờ”, ông nhớ lại. Giai đoạn khi Osius được báo chí lần đầu tiên nhắc tới là lúc bắt đầu mối quan hệ mới của hai đất nước. Đó là khi mối quan hệ đạt được những lợi ích đáng kinh ngạc và không tưởng tượng được trong hai thập kỷ sau khi mối quan hệ được bình thường hóa và lệnh cấm vận thương mại được gỡ bỏ. Giờ đây, Osius trở lại với một trải nghiệm khác. Không chỉ vì Việt Nam đã thay đổi nhiều, nhưng do ông đang là đại sứ chính thức của Hoa Kỳ tại một điểm then chốt trong mối quan hệ song phương, với mối quan hệ đối tác toàn diện đặt nền móng cho quan hệ chính trị, kinh tế và chiến lược được gần gũi hơn, mà nó có vẻ không giống như 20 năm trước. "Đối với tôi giấc mơ trở thành sự thật khi được trở lại. Tôi đã làm việc ở đây từ năm 1996 tới năm 1998 và tôi có thể nói ngôn ngữ ở đây, do đó, nó giống như một sự trở về nhà. Và thật tuyệt khi được ở đây ngay bây giờ để đặt nền tảng cho một mối quan hệ mới”, ông nói.

Mối Quan Hệ Vững Mạnh

Đó là mối quan hệ mới được thành lập dựa trên chín điểm mấu chốt hợp tác được đặt ra bởi Chủ Tịch Trương Tấn Sang và Tổng Thống Obama vào năm 2013, từ giáo dục đến môi trường. Đại sứ Osius nói công việc của ông là làm cho tầm nhìn đầy tham vọng này thành hiện thực . "Tổng Thống Obama đã yêu cầu tôi mở rộng quan hệ, làm cho mối quan hệ đối tác có khuôn khổ này trở thành hiện thực. Tôi muốn nhìn thấy một mối quan hệ sâu sắc về giáo dục, thương mại và kinh tế, nhân quyền, an ninh, môi trường, khoa học công nghệ và y tế.” "Tôi tin rằng chúng tôi đang phát triển một tầm nhìn chung về những gì trong 20 năm tới. Nó không chỉ là tầm nhìn của tôi, đó là tầm nhìn của Việt Nam, là điều chúng ta đang phát triển với nhau." Osius cũng mang một phương pháp tiếp cận của thế kỷ 21 cho ngoại giao, với một sự tập trung mạnh mẽ trong việc kết nối với thanh niên Việt Nam qua các phương tiện truyền thông xã hội và các buổi thảo luận cam kết thường xuyên tại các trường đại học địa phương. Những nỗ lực này đã được đền

đáp hậu hĩnh, khiến ông có được gần 12,000 người hâm mộ trên Facebook kể từ khi đến Việt Nam vào tháng Mười Hai năm ngoái. "Thực tế là chúng tôi đang gắn kết với hàng ngàn người trẻ tuổi trên Facebook, điều đó là không thể trước đây. Bây giờ internet giúp con người cởi mở hơn trong các cuộc thảo luận, trong cam kết với nhau về những gì trong tương lai họ muốn có."

Cuộc Sống Gia Đình

Đối với một đất nước còn ngỡ ngàng với vấn đề đa dạng giới tính, Đại Sứ Osius cho hay Việt Nam đã chấp nhận ông cùng người chồng Clayton Bond và hai con nhỏ của họ là Tabo, 16 tháng, và Lucy, mới sinh ra vào đầu năm nay. “Tôi là Đại Sứ Hoa Kỳ đồng tính đầu tiên ở Đông Nam Á. Chỉ vài năm trước đây thôi, đây là điều không thể,” ông nói. “Khi tôi còn làm ở phòng dịch vụ đối ngoại, tôi không dám công khai vấn đề của mình. Bây giờ thì khác rồi, tôi có một người chồng và hai đứa con, được phục vụ ở một đất nước tôi biết khá rõ. Tôi có thể bị đánh giá dựa trên giá trị và khả năng trong công việc, không phải dựa trên việc gia đình tôi trông như thế nào. Đó là điều mới mẻ và mạnh mẽ.” Osius cũng muốn gia đình mình hòa mình vào văn hóa Việt Nam càng nhiều càng tốt, với mục đích là con của ông sẽ có cùng sợi dây kết nối giống như ông đã có với Việt Nam. "Chúng tôi có những người Việt tuyệt vời [làm việc với chúng tôi], những người như là một phần của đại gia đình và yêu mến con của chúng tôi. Con cái chúng tôi sẽ nói tiếng Việt đầu tiên và tôi rất hạnh phúc về điều đó”, ông nói. Với một sự nghiệp dài 27 năm hoàn hảo trong ngành ngoại giao Mỹ, Osius đã phục vụ ở Jakarta, New Delhi, Bangkok và Manila. Việc tập trung vào châu Á là một việc có chủ ý và được ông lên kế hoạch từ ngay ngày đầu tiên. "Vấn đề da dạng giới tính đang xảy ra ở Châu Á, tôi đã quyết định là sẽ dành sự nghiệp của mình ở châu Á khi mới tới đây. Tôi không bao giờ nhìn lại, và chưa bao giờ hối tiếc", ông giải thích. Nhưng Việt Nam, ông nói, sẽ luôn luôn là ngôi nhà thứ hai của mình. “Đối với tôi giấc mơ đã trở thành hiện thực. Điều mà tôi yêu ở đất nước này là con người ở đây thân thiện, ấm áp và luôn chào đón. Tôi yêu đất nước này hơn bất cứ nơi nào mà tôi đã từng làm việc.” Ted Osius sẽ tham dự lễ hội Pride ASEAN vào 20/6. Được tài trợ bởi Đại Sứ Quán Hoa Kỳ và đồng tổ chức cùng với CAMA, lễ hội năm ngoái đã chứng kiến 5.000 người tham gia ở American Club tại Hà Nội. Ngoài chương trình ca nhạc sống tuyệt vời, lễ hội năm nay nhằm mục đích nâng cao nhận thức về vấn đề đa dạng giới tính tại Việt Nam. Để biết thêm chi tiết xin lật trang 179.

Hội Chợ Hà Nội

Chủ Nhật 7/6 Eden Garden, Tây Hồ Hội Chợ Hà Nội đã quay trở lại với phiên bản lớn nhất từ trước tới nay: Sắc Màu Hà Nội. Được tổ chức tại Eden Garden (cuối phố Âu Cơ, số 264, Tây Hồ) mới mở, hội chợ lần này sẽ giới thiệu nhiều gian hàng thời trang với nhiều sản phẩm, các quầy hàng đồ cổ, thức ăn tự nấu ở nhà, nhạc sống cùng những quán ăn giúp bạn giải trí trong các ngày Chủ Nhật buồn tẻ. Ngoài ra còn có Timeclub, khu vực vui chơi giải trí dành cho trẻ em, với nhiều trò chơi cùng các hoạt động giúp các bé bận bịu trong khi bạn có thể ngồi xuống thưởng thức những ly bia mát lạnh của mình. Trông có vẻ thú vị, phải không? Vé hiện được bán với giá 50,000 đồng tại hay Timeclub. Trẻ em dưới 12 tuổi được miễn phí. Số lượng vé có hạn. Để biết thêm chi tiết, xin ghé trang facebook của Hanoi Urban Flea Market.

Đêm Nhạc Thụy Điển

Thứ Năm 11/6 CAMA ATK, Hai Bà Trưng Nhờ sự kết hợp lần đầu tiên giữa CAMA Việt Nam và Đại Sứ Quán Thụy Điển, mà giờ đây bạn sẽ có cơ hội thả hết sức mình hòa nhịp cùng chương trình ca nhạc Thụy Điển. Đêm nhạc sẽ bao gồm bộ đôi electro Deer Tracks, nhóm nhạc folk Twiggy Frostbile nổi tiếng và Adora Eye, được xem như là đứa con thất lạc từ lâu của Bob Dylan và Tom Waits. Đêm nhạc Thụy Điển sẽ được tổ chức tại CAMA ATK, 73A Mai Hắc Đế, Hai Bà Trưng. Giá vé là 150,000 đồng tại cửa và 80,000 đồng cho mua trước. Để biết thêm chi tiết, xin ghé trang facebook của CAMA ATK.


Thứ Bảy 13/6 IDECAF, Q1 Kết hợp xu hướng cũ và mới đang phổ biến ở Việt Nam, buổi trình diễn múa đương đại Nón sẽ được diễn tại IDECAF vào ngày 13/6. Dàn dựng bởi Vũ Ngọc Khải, Nón là một dự án kết hợp múa đương đại với âm nhạc truyền thống Việt Nam và là công việc không chỉ của Khải, nhưng của cả nhạc sỹ đàn nhị, Ngô Hồng Quang. Lấy cảm hứng nghệ thuật từ nền văn hóa Việt Nam như nón lá, đất, nước, bánh chưng, bánh giầy và các nhạc cụ truyền thống, sự kết hợp của múa đương đại và nhạc dân gian không chỉ tạo ra một hình ảnh văn hóa Việt mà còn minh họa âm nhạc của đất nước này. Khải nói: "Múa mang cho tôi hơi thở, múa mang cho tôi kết cấu, múa mang cho tôi âm thanh, ánh sáng, không gian, ý nghĩa và một cảm giác thật." IDECAF nằm ở 28 Lê Thánh Tôn, Q1 và buổi biểu diễn sẽ bắt đầu lúc 20:00. Vé có thể mua tại IDECAF theo số điện thoại (08) 3823 9968. Giá vé là 200,000 đồng (150,000 đồng cho sinh viên) | June 2015 Word | 181

The Final Say

One of the booby traps used by the ethnic minorities during the resistance against the Saigon Republic

the final say


The Inside Story of the Guerrilla War 182 | Word June 2015 |

Chapter 9: Sparks on a Mountainside For the next seven issues, Word is presenting excerpts from Wilfred Burchett’s seminal account of the American War. A close friend of Ho Chi Minh, Burchett was the only westerner to be embedded with the Viet Cong frontlines in the early 1960s. This work was written in 1964

The NLF shooting at the enemy

Revolt of the Kor Half-a-dozen men, their deep bronzecoloured bodies naked but for skimpy loincloths, squatted on their haunches around the frail old man on the low-slung, woven hammock, listening to his slowspoken but impassioned words. They then turned to another, not of their race, clad in the loose black cottons of the Kinh, or Vietnamese from the plains. The old man’s fine white hair was drawn into a tight bun on the back of his head, a sparse white beard reached far down his chest, his skin over the wasted frame was the hue and texture of a shriveled orange. What remained of his teeth, filed down almost to the stumps as tribal custom demanded, were black from betel-chewing; his ears had large holes from which adornments had been removed; around his wrist was a copper bracelet. After he finished speaking,

he turned his sightless eyes towards the Kinh and listened attentively to every word. For hours it had gone on like this, only the two speaking and the tribal elders giving an occasional grunt of approval or disapproval. The old man was Pho Muc Gia, chief of the tiny Kor tribe, which numbered about 4,700 at that time and lived on the mountain slopes of Tra Bong, Quang Ngai in Trung Bo [Central Vietnam]. In his day, Pho Muc Gia had been a mighty warrior and had led his tribespeople against the French even before the first resistance war started. Now he was half paralysed — and his age, calculated by the number of times the tribe had changed their “ray” (the clearings hacked out of the mountainside and used for a strictly limited number of years for cultivation), was over 90 years. But he was still the unchallenged leader of his people. Like most of the tribal peoples, the Kor are passionately devoted to

the free life of their forests and mountains and fiercely resent any interference in their customs. A condensed version of the conversation, with the same points endlessly repeated in different variants was something like this: “Our tribe will be wiped out like fish in a drying pond. Our people are being killed faster than new ones are born. Over 500 since the Diemist savages came.” “My heart bleeds with yours at your people’s sufferings.” “They violate our women, steal our buffalo and pigs, take our young men as slaves to work in the plains. It is not life but living death.” “We have protested together many times at their black deeds.” “They insult us every time they see us or come to our villages; defile our customs, show no respect for the old or our women. They treat us like animals. They intend that no Kor people shall | June 2015 Word | 183

Montagnards in the jungle

hold up their heads again.” “‘Still we must be patient. I know and my comrades know full well of your terrible sufferings. That is why we believe you should move to another district, further away from these evil beasts.” “Never do our people move without a battle. It would be to insult the graves of our ancestors. And you and your friends who were such brave warriors in the fight against the French, why do you not join us and fight together again? Either we fight together or we are struck down together like buffalo tied to trees.” “If we fight back, the sufferings will be still greater. Why don’t you move? The mountains and forest are the same there as here; the fish in the rivers, the animals in the jungle are plentiful. But it is more difficult for the enemy to oppress and insult you.” “Did we weaken when they tortured us to betray your hiding places? Did we shrink from their blows and tortures when they wanted us to insult you?” “We will never forget how brave and true were you and your people.” “Then don’t ask us to run away like a craven antelope without a fight. Never will I ask my Kor people to do that. Never till the forests die out and the mountains mumble and the sky falls in.” “And at that point,” [translator] Sao Nam told me, “the other elders joined in with very decided grunts of approval, repeating ‘Never, Never, Never’ in voices that rose to shouts, bringing people all over the village outside their hut.”

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Wilfred Burchett in the house of an ethnic minority family

“Before you were real warriors,” the old man continued, “we fought as one. Now we see you are no longer resistance fighters. If you were, you would support us and not ask us to run away.” “You are too few, the enemy is too many. The sufferings will be still greater.” “We will never run away without a fight.” “And so it went on,” said Sao Nam, “and

this was by no means the first time. The Kor people had been brave as tigers in protecting those of us who had fled from the plains. At first the Diemists had tried to buy up Pho Muc Gia because they knew of his great prestige. But he spat at them when he saw they wanted him to betray his comrades of the resistance. The whole tribe was solid

Wilfred Burchett on horseback

about this and some suffered severe torture rather than betray the fact that former resistance cadres were hiding in the area. We felt terribly bad at their sufferings and at a meeting shortly before this conversation, we had decided to propose that they move. We had chosen a spot where we felt they would be relatively safe and where the living conditions would be even better than where they were. I was deputised to try and persuade the old man.” On the night of the day following this conversation, there was a meeting of the Kor men folk and a few days later, a big feast was organised in the village nearest the Teo-Reo post that was the immediate source of their troubles. All but one of the Saigon garrison came swaggering over, when they learned that food and shum shum — the fierce mountain alcohol made from glutinous rice — were plentiful. The Kor people are traditionally hospitable, and this time more so than ever. After the shum shum had had its effect, at a signal from the old chief, who had been carried to the spot, the young men of the tribe fell on the garrison, 54 in all, and slaughtered them to a man. Some of the tribesmen raced back to the post, but the lone sentry had already fled. The arms, however, were there. The Kor tribe was now in possession of 54 firearms and a plentiful stock of ammunition. This action took place around the end of January 1959, and as far as I could discover it was the first act

of violence from the “other” side in all of Central Vietnam, and one of the very first in South Vietnam as a whole. “We were appalled when we heard of it,” said Sao Nam. “First, it was a clear violation of the ‘line’ and, secondly, we knew that this uprising would be repressed with terrible ferocity and the Kor and other tribes perhaps completely exterminated.” The reaction was swift and terrible. The No. 2 Diemist division, plus 23 companies, was sent to Tra Bong district to wipe out the Kor. To get to Tra Bong, the punitive expedition had to pass through the districts of Tra Mi and Son Ha, burning villages and slaughtering the inhabitants as they went, building up a store of hatred — and accounts to be settled. The Kor were not caught unawares. Skillful hunters, they were used to protecting their homes and fields from wild animals and they set a series of terrible man-traps along and around all tracks leading to their villages. These were very rudimentary compared to the elaborate integrated systems of traps developed later as a result of exchanges of experience between the tribes, but they were still very effective. What seemed to be solid ground suddenly gave way under the feet of one or more troops and they fell several feet to be impaled by needle-sharp, steel-hard bamboo spikes. It did not take too many cases of impaled troops to dampen the ardour of the rest.

Wilfred Burchett with Y Bih Aleo | June 2015 Word | 185

Ede resistance leader, Y Bih Aleo, the man behind the Tay Nguyen uprising against the Saigon Republic in October 1960

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Like all the tribespeople, the Kor are natural masters of the art of ambush and the silent fade-out. In addition to the arms they seized, they also had homemade “praying mantis” guns, fearsome bell-mouthed affairs that discharge a load of grape-shot accurately enough for the few yards range at which they operated. Set up to cover a jungle path, they are released when a guerilla jerks a string from a respectable distance as the enemy reaches a pre-selected point. A single shot has been known to put a dozen troops out of action. The weapon the Diemist troops feared most, however, was the crossbow and poisoned arrows; the slightest scratch from the latter causes immediate paralysis, and death follows within three to five minutes. The faint click of the crossbow trigger makes it impossible to locate from where it was fired. The Diemist troops began running into traps and ambushes long before they reached the Kor villages, but they rarely caught sight of a Kor tribesman. After many days of slugging through the jungle with losses every day from an invisible enemy, the punitive expedition arrived at the Kor villages and found them empty and silent. Old man Pho Muc Gia, honour satisfied because his tribe had given battle, had led his people to a remote area where they made new homes in grottos, carved out of the sides of ravines, and set up intricate permanent systems of traps at all approaches to the new site, around their homes and cultivation patches. As they could not wipe out the Kor by military action, the Diemists created an economic blockade, the most serious effect of which was to cut off the vital salt supplies. “We former resistance cadres felt terrible about what was going on but we marveled that the heroic Kor were still holding out,” said Sao Nam. “We held a meeting of all the former cadres we could collect in the province and decided we must organise at least economic help for them. Normally the Kor exchanged cinnamon and tea for salt and medicines from the plains. We decided to help them move their products out through other districts and bring back what they needed from the plains. “Soon there were human caravans moving at night between mountains and plains and the supply situation for the Kor people improved radically. We also collected various types of medicinal plants and planted them around the new Kor villages. We showed them how to burn bamboo and the roots of certain reeds to obtain a sort of salt, and introduced them to the bark of a certain tree that contains lots of tannin that also helps replace salt. We procured seed manioc and persuaded them to cultivate this valuable tuber to eke out their rice supplies, since rice cultivation was difficult in the rocky area they had chosen. Old man Pho Muc Gia was deeply touched with all this support and regained his confidence in us.”

An ethnic minority man with his pony

Pho Nia’s Weapons Meanwhile there was a new, unexpected development among the Hre minority, a tribe in which the French had raised a puppet battalion in the past and which was taken over by Diem. One of the most respected leaders of the Hre was Pho Nia, a deputy canton chief under the French who retired to his native village in Son Ha district as an “elder” once the first resistance war started. After the Diemist administration was set up, Pho Nia had to go into hiding because of the repression. In his own village the usual savagery was employed in seeking out former resistance members. Many tribesmen were killed, women were violated, livestock stolen. When Pho Nia heard of the Kor uprising, he sent a delegate over to check what was happening. Then he decided the Hre should also move. Most of their troubles came from the Hre puppet battalion under Dinh Ngo and Dinh Enh. People like Pho Nia had tried to reason with them, to awaken some feelings of national solidarity, but as Sao Nam expressed it, “They had been too long corrupted by the colonialists; they had become too used to killing and plundering and the Diemists maintained the specially high privileges and rewards for treachery that the French had introduced.” Pho Nia, a diminutive, sedate figure with a head like a Red Indian warrior chief, decided to deal with them. He made thorough preparations, taught his tribesmen how to make a wide variety of traps and also the sung van nang, “ten-thousand-purpose” gun, a primitive firearm with a firing pin triggered by rubber thongs and which could fire any small arms bullet likely to be picked up on the battlefield. Like the “praying mantis” it was sufficiently accurate from the sort of range the tribesmen would be using it. The barrel was made of metal from plane or automobile remnants, heated in local smithies and beaten around a perfectly straight, slim stick of appropriate calibre, the stick being burned out later. Soon virtually every tribesman had one of these.

From July 1959, Pho Nia started his ambushes and night attacks, using fire arrows shot from crossbows that lodged in the thatch roofs of the puppet battalion’s barracks in the first attack. Within three months the puppet battalion had suffered severe losses. Later it was wiped out completely. “His very name struck terror in the heart of the Diemist troops,” Sao Nam said, “and later on when some other Hre leaders followed his example they always operated under the name of Pho Nia. The legend spread that he had some sort of magic medicine that protected his men from bullets. In fact the ‘magic’ was his very careful preparations for every engagement and the superb morale of his people fighting to defend their own villages and avenge themselves for the previous five years of unparalleled oppression.” Pho Nia continued to develop rudimentary weapons and by mid-1960 there had already been exchanges of experience with tribal weapons experts from neighboring provinces. I have already mentioned the “praying mantis” and the “ten-thousandpurpose” gun that fired any calibre from a Sten gun bullet down, with adjustable grips for those that did not fit the barrel exactly. Its added advantage was it could easily be built into a hoe or plough handle, ready for any emergency. A jerk at the plough handle if an enemy suddenly appeared, and there was a deadly weapon. It was used by everyone; men, women and children, and local smithies turned them out in serial production. If bullets were short, they filled empty cartridge cases with homemade powder, prepared by roasting bats’ dung, rich in saltpeter, and mixing it with ash from a certain type of bark. Anything from bicycle ball bearings upwards were used for shot. When enemy troops tried to cross a stream to “mop up” at a Ngao village in Son Ha district in March 1960, the first troops in the line suddenly fell, screaming. They would have drowned had not others

come to their aid — but they too were soon writhing around, trying to prop each other up and there was a terrific melee going on in midstream, at the only place where a crossing could be affected by wading. They had run into the chong giay or “spiked rope” — a brand new invention of Pho Nia. Made of long pieces of stout jungle creeper, they were studded with eight or nine-inch spikes of razor-sharp bamboo, and set in series of threes, one end of each anchored to the bed of the stream. When they were stepped on, with the action of the current, they coiled around the legs of the troops like snakes and the more the latter struggled to get free, the more the chong giay stabbed and slashed and tended to bring the victim down to his knees. One stalwart young Vietnamese peasant who had started fighting the French at the age of 15, after noting my rather horrified reactions at the first really comprehensive series of traps I had seen, made a valid point: “You see, our weapons don’t have much range. Some of them none at all. They’re not intended for aggression against the Americans or anyone else. The enemy eliminates the need for range in our weapons when he commits aggression against us. We place them around our hamlets and homes, around cultivation patches, fruit trees and poultry yards. If the enemy keeps away he won’t be hurt. But when he comes into our backyards to kill and steal, he will be hurt plenty. We warn him of this.” Wilfred Burchett was an Australian reporter often described at the ‘rebel journalist’ for his stories about the American War ‘from the other side’. After years of being at odds with the Australian government, last year the Melbourne Press Club inducted him into their Hall of Fame. Burchett was also the journalist to break the scoop of the 20th century — the devastation caused by dropping nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Special thanks to George Burchett for allowing us to republish this work. Please note that some of the language in this piece has been changed to reflect its modern-day spelling | June 2015 Word | 187

The Last Call

The Bachelor In between stewarding the nascent Kujuz Café empire, designing clothing and curating spaces, Chuong Dang finds time to go on some dates. Photo by Francis Xavier My best quality is... optimism. I used to go through a lot of

struggle in my life, and then I realised that the next day is coming in 24 hours. And no matter what you feel or think or worry, that day is going to come.

My interests are... what works for that conversation, and for

those people. I can’t just tell a story. Like if I met a person with blue eyes, I could just keep saying, “Oh my god, the blue eyes are killing me, I’m just so into that, I’m crazy about that.” I’m not telling lies. I have that. But I don’t do that with people who don’t have blue eyes.

I’m into... living. That’s something that’s hard to make clear. But for the moment, I just know two people. The only two people that are important to me are the ones who are sitting in front of me. My ideal date... is a very interesting concept. No matter if I’m

with someone, if I have a partner or not, I always keep dating people. When I feel down, when I’m worried, when I’m sad, when I feel lonely, I’m always dating people. And I prepare for those dates.

Dates that don’t go anywhere... I stop right away. Because

I don’t want to feel bad — you don’t want to have bad experiences when you date. So I just close it down.

The first thing that people notice about me are... my eyes. I have a rule: I only send honesty and love through my eyes. And right away. When I see people, that’s me. Six things I can’t live without... I don’t have those six things. I used to have my pillow that my sister made for me, and I travelled everywhere. And I realised one day — why do I have to do that? And I moved on. I didn’t study Zen... but I learned it in some special way. It happened a long time ago, I met with an Indian master. When he met me, he said, “You know you have energy, you have special energy in your body. Do you know that?” By some way of living, I know things, I feel things and I feel that kind of freedom. So the Zen for me is just like that. I can do meditation everywhere. I don’t prepare a room where I can sit with no sounds. If I want, I close my eyes and I hear nothing. Dating online... I’m just me. This is the logic. People who get into that website are people who have the same thinking, needs and concepts like mine. So why do I have to hide in that corner? It’s just so unfair. If you come into my profile and you see me, that’s just me. If you don’t go there, then you’ll never know I’m on there. I always... live my age. When I was young, all the children wanted to grow up fast. I didn’t. I enjoyed 14, 15, 16 — I was just so happy. When I started ageing, people told me, “Why don’t you shave, you’re going to look younger?” I said, “Why do I need to look younger? I need to look attractive, sexy, good — but not younger!” 188 | Word June 2015 | | June 2015 Word | 3

Word Vietnam June 2015  

Everything you need to know about Vietnam and a little bit more...

Word Vietnam June 2015  

Everything you need to know about Vietnam and a little bit more...