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Chuyên đề du lịch, ẩm thực

Vietnam Edition / VOL. 5 Tác Giả: Bao Ross


w or dv ie tn am .c om

vietnam 2.0

ABC International School, Ho Chi Minh City, Official

Our New Secondary Campus Opening 2018

Land area 12,650m2

4G football pitch with smart shades

Fully shaded salt-water 25m swimming pool

State of the art theatre with over 400 seats

33 dedicated classrooms & 19 specialist classrooms

Two full sized air-conditioned basketball court

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


Contents Apr.2017



88 THE TALK 10 / State of Mind

What does it take to be the world’s most liveable city?

11 / The Big Five May in Vietnam

20 / 20 Years in The Making As ISHCMC can attest, guiding quality takes time

22 / Tet Lifestyle Collection

Vietnam’s running scene has gone gangbusters

24 / Gesture of Memories

98 / Bike Wars

BRIEFINGS 12 / Language Apps for Learning Vietnamese

26 / The One Week Job Project

14 / Graffiti For A Cause

Raising awareness about rhino horn

16 / Mama Squirrel

The squirrels of Tao Dan have someone watching their back

18 / Learning Through Play

Priming children for future success

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88 / Run

Art, lifestyle and a lot of heart

An art exhibition explores the transmission of family memories

Wannabe Vietnamese speakers, rejoice

Taking a look at where Vietnam stands today

36 weeks, 36 different jobs

30 / Let’s Dance!

Tension is mounting between GrabBike, UberMOTO and traditional xe om drivers

104/ Inner City Farmers

Concerned Hanoi residents are going organic

Dance for all… all for dance

INSIDER 50 / Many Faces

Meet the director of Kong: Skull Island

52 / Vietnam 2.0


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Contents Apr.2017




108 / Cocktail Time

44 / Just In


138 / Hanoi City Guide

144 / The Therapist

140 / Day Tripper

152 / Women’s Fitness

146 / Top Eats

153 / Book Buff

Banh goi

150 / Coffee Cup

160 / Body and Temple

120 / Mystery Diner HCMC


162 / Know Your City

32 / To Do List

176 / Medical Buff

Banh cuon

36 / Just In

177 / The Matrix


157 / HCMC City Guide


126 / 48 Hours in Yangon

156 / Day Tripper

178 / In the Cafes of Hanoi

The cocktail bars of Hanoi get roadtested

116 / Mystery Diner Hanoi

This month: Bar-Rique Brasserie

118 / Street Snacker Hanoi

This month: Lu Bu

122 / Street Snacker HCMC

164 / Bar Stool

What kind of work is going on in cafes in Hanoi?


168 / Top Eats

180 / Ten 10

40 / To Do List

172 / Coffee Cup

Eating and drinking your way back in time

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Long-time Hanoi-based expat, Marilyn Drinkwater

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This month we asked our team to tell us what changes have struck them the most during their time in Vietnam.

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


Diane Lee Contributor

I was here in 2010, and then English wasn’t common. There were fewer cars on the road and I had to use a VPN to use Facebook. Now, English is widely spoken, everyone is on Facebook and there are too many cars. I guess that’s what they call progress! Edward Dalton Staff Writer

When I first visited Vietnam, long, black, straightened hair was everywhere. These days, half of Hanoi looks like it’s been tag-teamed by Vidal Sassoon and Gok Wan. When did that happen? I blame Girls’ Generation and Bieber. Down with Bieber.

nick ross Chief Editor nick@wordvietnam.com

vu ha kim vy Operations Manager vy@wordvietnam.com

MADs monsen Creative Director mads@wordvietnam.com

Julie Vola Photo Editor julie@wordvietnam.com

Bao Zoan Staff Photographer baozoan@wordvietnam.com

Matthew Cowan Managing Editor matt@wordvietnam.com

Mike Palumbo Staff Photographer mike@wordvietnam.com

Zoe Osborne Staff Writer zoe@wordvietnam.com

Edward Dalton Staff Writer (Hanoi) edward@wordvietnam.com


Mads Monsen

bao ross General Director bao@wordvietnam.com

Photo Editor

The fact that there is less flooding on the roads when the rain season hits. I remember when District 1 got badly hit and cars started to float. Drivers would seek higher ground to save their cars and quite a few engines died. Zoe Osborne Staff Writer

For me it has been the weather. I was getting used to “totally dry” vs “raining and smoggy” in Saigon, but this year the rain has come whenever it wants and as enthusiastically as it pleases. The dry season has been ousted by total meteorological madness. Billy Gray Contributor

The rapid rise of Circle K in Hanoi. When I first got here if I wanted beers after hours I’d have to drive to a shoddy little store off Giang Vo that was rarely stocked with anything. Now I can get a Toblerone at 4am.

ADVERTISING Trinh Bui Sales Manager trinh@wordvietnam.com

chau giang Office Assistant giang@wordvietnam.com

DISTRIBUTION trinh@wordvietnam.com hai@wordvietnam.com

SUBSCRIPTIONS subscriptions@wordvietnam.com

For advertising enquiries please call Ms Bao on +84 938 609689 or Ms Trinh on +84 936 269244 Special thanks to Thomas Barrett, ChangeVN, Ms. Lieu, ISSP, ISHCMC, Tet Lifestyle Collection, Florian Nguyen, Cuong, Harry Hodge, Dancenter, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Diane Lee, Danielle Labbé, Laurie Tallotte, Lia Garcia Halpin, Clément Musil, Nguyen Thuy Dung, Sasha Arefieva, Richard Burrage, Chau Le, Orion Judge, Vi Pham, Theingli Lynn, Yangon Heritage Trust, 57 Below, Nikki Barltrop, Tim Reus, Win Pa Pa Myo, The Strand Hotel, Melvin Fernando, Luke Grover, Rodney Gillett, Pulse Active, Thanh Vu, Grab Bike, Phuc, Khoa, Don’s, Tadioto, One36 Bar, Cool Cats Jazz Bar, Hanoi Taco Bar, Sunset Bar, Tay Ho Tiki Company, La Plume, Bar-Ique Brasserie, Teigue John Blokpoel, Lu Bu, Novotel Phu Quoc Resort, Amelia Burns, Douglas Holwerda, SunKat’s, Billy Gray, Bluebirds’ Nest, Truong Hoang, Amazin Le Thi, Phil Kelly, Ed Haysom, BMW, Om Vegetarian Restaurant, Dolphy Nguyen Cu, Dr. Rafi Kot, Noelle Iles, Marilyn Drinkwater and David Legard

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

Matt Cowan Managing Editor

The F&B options. They’re exploding. Saigon is on its way to becoming a must visit for lovers of food and fine dining.

Chuyên Đề Du Lịch & Ẩm Thực ISBN: 978-604-77-3086-5

9 786047 730865

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© Word - Duong Huynh Advertising JSC

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hange is an inevitable part of life. At whatever level of society, it is for better or for worse and comes planned and unplanned, sometimes creating relief, sometimes discomfort. In the 20 years since the Asian financial crisis in 1997, great change has taken place globally, with perhaps the biggest one being the technology for how we communicate. Vietnam has moved a

great deal in that time too, probably more than any of us could have predicted, and so with that comes this month’s cover story Vietnam 2.0. We take a look at how Vietnam has adapted in its efforts to manage rapid urbanisation, including the social change that comes with it, like the concerned residents of Hanoi responding to increasing pollution in their city by growing their own food organically wherever they can. But that’s not all. We also delve into

changing shopping habits, musical tastes, health and fitness, housing, and the surge in the number of Vietnamese families spending billions of dollars a year on education abroad. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the team at Word Vietnam, in particular our chief editor, Nick Ross, our operations manager Vu Ha Kim Vy, our creative director Mads Monsen, and our photo editor Julie Vola. Word Vietnam has undergone change over the past

12 months, which perhaps reflects the nature of work in 2017. Nick is based in London, Vy in Saigon, half of our team in Hanoi, the other half in Saigon, and much of the time I’m mobile. The fact that the magazine makes it to the printer’s ontime each month is a testament to the team’s resilience and tenacity, qualities not only needed to get the job done, but qualities also needed for success in Vietnam 2.0. Enjoy the read. — Matt Cowan, Managing Editor

Chuyên đề du lịCh, ẩm thựC

Vietnam edition / Vol. 5

táC Giả: Bao Ross

vietnam 2.0

w oR dV ie tn am .C om


thẾ GiỚi PuBlisheRs

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

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

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

Xe Om For a Day (March 2017, page 196) Comments from Facebook Illegal immigrant takes local’s job. — CP Speak for yourself, I’m visa exempt for 5 years. — ED Visa exemption is not a work permit. — CP Any more dumbass assumptions to make? I’ve got a work permit you cretin. — ED For your xe om company? Lol come on. I’m being pedantic but you’re still working illegally there. — CP Meh, it’s just a bit of fun. :) — ED

Son Doong (April 2017, page 72) Wow! The place sounds amazing. But US$3,000. That’s a lot. — PN Yeah, the photos are nice. But who wants to spend five days in a cave? Sounds like madness. — NJ

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Playing poor person for fun? Are you shining shoes this weekend? — CP Yawn. One more intolerable little nobody to join the other four usual losers on this thread on my dinosauric block list. — ED I just read the article. Would have been interesting to hear about an experience with a local taking your services. — DM


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Talk Lead talk


State of Mind What does it take to be the world’s most liveable city?


t the beginning of the year a status update on social media announced that both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi had made it into the Top 10 list of the world’s most dynamic cities. Ho Chi Minh City had come in at number two and Hanoi at number eight. The update quickly gained traction online as followers shared, liked and expressed their pride at not just one Vietnamese city finally making it into a Top 10 list, but two. And this wasn’t just another of those series of stats measuring the amount of pollutants in the air or the country’s positioning on the world corruption index. This was a legitimate list staking both cities’ claims as great places to live. Or was it? Just as quickly as the post ignited outpourings of Vietnamese national pride, netizens who had bothered to read the article linked to the post, pointed out that the index — called the City Momentum List — was of cities where change is occurring most rapidly, identifying them as cities to be closely monitored. Not the world’s most liveable cities, as many had been quick to presume.

And The Winner Is… Apart from demonstrating our penchant for compiling lists and ranking things from best to worst, the post also demonstrated, how, as city dwellers (more than half the world’s population now lives in cities), we get

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excited about the possibility of being from, or having chosen to live in a city that has just been anointed the world’s most liveable city. Currently it’s Vienna for the eighth time running, that’s if you are an expatriate looking for a high quality of life, according to Mercer, a UK company claiming dedication to improving the health, wealth and careers of over 100 million people. Singapore ranks highest for infrastructure. But on another measure, it’s Tokyo if the number of international air routes, the cost of a monthly public transport ticket, the number of indie bookshops, and the time dance clubs close, is your criteria for what a liveable city is. That’s according to Monocle, a magazine on global affairs, business, culture and design. They now have their own annual quality of life conference. And don’t forget Melbourne. It made it to the top of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s world’s most liveable cities in 2016, based on factors such as stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure. There are currently no Asian cities in the top tier in that list.

Closer to Home In our own neighbourhood, one city with a mission to join the rankings above is Yangon. Despite Myanmar’s chequered history and ongoing conflict in the north, there are efforts taking place to learn from the mistakes of more developed cities in the region, and to advocate the preservation

of the city’s heritage and its sustainable development. The Yangon Heritage Trust (YHT), an NGO founded in 2012, is on a mission to help turn Yangon into Asia’s most liveable city. In a short time, YHT has gained the trust and respect of Myanmar’s newly formed government. Now, regulations require developers to ensure that YHT is notified whenever there are plans for a new development. YHT’s mission is ambitious, but what it shows is initiative and a commitment to preserve its British colonial heritage, and also to promote development in a way that improves the quality of life across all segments of the community. While much of a city’s development is out of the hands of many (or at least feels that way), perhaps we should do as former New Zealand Prime Minister and now candidate for the position of Secretary-General of the UN, Helen Clark, has argued, and pay more attention to happiness rather than the “tyranny of GDP” as a measure of progress. Given we as humans enjoy making lists, perhaps as individuals we can take it upon ourselves to make Vietnam’s cities more liveable. We can do this by keeping track of things like how many times we keep a door open for somebody, smile at someone in a lift, or hold our tongues when someone cuts us off on the road. Being mindful must surely be a key criterion for making a city truly liveable. — Matt Cowan

Big5 The

Laughs, sweat and gears with a whole bunch of colour





Embrace health with celebration at this month’s Color Me Run, May 27

HCMC May 12 & 31 Hanoi May 13 & June 1 International comedy hits Vietnam again this month with internationally renowned comics heading to our shores. Lauded Canadian comedian, singer-songwriter and actor Phil Nichol kicks of the laughs this month at Game On Saigon on Friday, May 12. Then he hits Standing Bar in Hanoi on Saturday, May 13. Nichol has done everything from TV, huge theatre shows, sellout Edinburgh fringe appearances, loads of awards and champagne receptions with the Queen. This time round he’ll be supported by Indonesian comic Mo Sidik, a professional radio personality and MC since 1995, Sidik has been performing standup comedy in English and Bahasa Indonesia full-time since 2011. Meanwhile, Scottish funny man, Chris Henry, lands at Game On Saigon on Wednesday, May 31. Henry has performed in every bigname venue in the UK, put together six solo shows and appeared on both TV and radio. Hanoians won’t miss out either when Henry does Standing Bar in Ba Dinh on Thursday, Jun. 1. On the night, he’ll be supported by Irish comic Mark O’Keefe, a stand-up who’s forged his way by performing in all the top venues in Vancouver. For ticketing information in HCMC, go to facebook.com/ saigoninternationalcomedy or saigoninternationalcomedy.eventbrite. com. Game On Saigon is at 115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1, HCMC. For Hanoi, go to facebook.com/hanoicomedy or email danbuff@gmail.com. Standing Bar is at 170 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

2 Hoang Su Phi MTB Challenge Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang Sunday, May 21

This is a four-day mountain biking adventure with a difference. This year’s challenge takes in Hoang Su Phi in Ha Giang Province in the north starting and finishing in Hanoi. Along the way, bikers will have opportunities to interact with locals and experience traditional ways of life by participating in community work that directly benefits disadvantaged ethnic minorities. Daily distances range from 20km to 30km with plenty of downtime to explore. The challenge includes a 7km individual time trial with prizes awarded to the top three placegetters. The challenge includes food, accommodation, community work, transport, support crew, first aid and a bicycle mechanic. For more information, visit mountainbikchallenge.jimdo.com or email Reece Guihot at reece@guihot.com and be sure to cc hung.cao@cred.org.vn


Color Me Run

Khu Do Thi Sala, Dai Quang Minh, Q2, HCMC May 27 This year’s La Vie Color Me Run isn’t just all about speed, but about having fun and celebrating life with your friends and family. Combine fitness with socializing, colour with music, health with celebration and get ready for another big party. La Vie Color Me Run is for anyone and everyone, whether you are a student or worker, casual runner or professional athlete. Visit colormerun.vn for more information or to register


Le Fruit Triathlon Ho Tram Beach, Ho Tram Jun. 10

The 15th Le Fruit Triathlon is on

again in June at Ho Tram Beach. So if you’re going to get involved, now is the time to ramp up the training. Anyone can participate with five different categories to enter. These include: Sprinter Individual and Relay (500m swim, 20km bike, 5km run), Duathlon (5km run, 20km ride, 5km run), Rookie (100m swim, 4km bike, 3km run) and Aero-Kids (50m swim, 2km ride, 1.5km run). There will be a sunset BBQ party at the end of the day for everyone to celebrate a great day of sport. To register, visit triathlonvietnam.com


Eurosphere 2017 Gem Centre, Q1, HCMC Jun. 16 and 17

To coincide with the upcoming signing of the EU–Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), Eurosphere 2017 is a showcase of luxury goods produced in the European Union (EU). Over two days, the exhibition will include high-end European goods from over 100 brands ranging from gourmet food, wine and spirits, fashion, fashion accessories and jewellery to watches, perfumes, cosmetics, furniture, interior design, and automotive. Over 15 countries have signed up to display their wares — the list includes Germany, Belgium, France, Greece, the UK, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Lithuania, Cyprus, and Ireland. As well as the exhibition, there will be two conferences related to the fashion and luxury industries facilitated by French fashion expert, Donald Potard. For further information on Eurosphere – The European Art of Living Exhibition, go to eurosphere. com.vn. Alternatively, email Hang Dao at hang.dao@evbn.org

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Language Apps for Learning Vietnamese Wannabe Vietnamese speakers, rejoice


he good news for reluctant language learners like me is there is now a litany of language apps out there to choose from, and there are no excuses not to at least try them out as most of them are free to use. I tested four out, with each app offering different functions and features for the wannabe Vietnamese speaker.

Duolingo Duolingo is the market leader and undisputable daddy of the language app. The ever-so-slightly annoying sound of a correct answer has become a ubiquitous noise in airports and waiting rooms over the last couple of years, though perhaps the irritation that you feel is the feeling of guilt that you aren’t practicing enough. Chances are, if you’ve dipped your toe into the world of language apps, Duolingo was the first one you tried, and Vietnamese was a new addition to their impressive arsenal of languages last year. The full course of Duolingo is shaped a bit like a tree. You start at the bottom, slowly working your way up as you logically build from the basics, all the way up to more complex grammar and sentences. Where Duolingo shines is its accessibility — its mini-lessons are a mixture of picture matching, translation and typing what you hear, and completing them genuinely feels like fun. You set yourself a daily target of points that you would like to achieve, which when completed, builds up as a streak that can become dangerously addictive. There were times when some of the sample sentences are infuriatingly wacky (The man is a fish, anyone?), but Duolingo is globally popular for a reason, and their Vietnamese course is well designed and incredibly easy to pick up. One thing to bear in mind, however, is that the app is designed using the Hanoi dialect.

Dict Box English-to-Vietnamese dictionary apps are some of the handiest things you can keep on your phone as you navigate your way through life in Vietnam. On Android, Dict Box leads the way. As the saying almost goes — there’s no such thing as a free app, and this one is absolutely riddled with ads, meaning the main takeaway you might get from it is the latest Grab bike or Samsung smart phone offers before you delete the app in frustration — but mercifully you can make them go away with a small fee. One of Dict Box’s best tools is its live translation, so when you are browsing a website in English and you copy a word, a pop-up will appear on your phone displaying a comprehensive Vietnamese definition of the word. Another handy tool is that all the words you have searched for are saved in your history, which in my case was pretty much exclusively food items. It is after all, just a dictionary, so don’t download it expecting to be holding court with your neighbours after a few months of use.

Memrise Like Duolingo, Memrise is a big fish in the language app world. What makes Memrise unique, is its courses for Vietnamese are submitted by the vast community of Memrise users. You essentially learn through a series of flashcards, which sit alongside ‘mems’. These are the reminders that users have submitted to help you create connections between a word and its meaning, helping your brain memorise a word. Some are pretty suspect; the word chieu meaning ‘afternoon’ results in a mem that uses ‘I chewed in afternoon,’ as a way of remembering the word. In this example there was a glaring

spelling mistake in English, which doesn’t instil confidence that the Vietnamese will be watertight. It’s a decent app but really is only as good as its user created content, which can be hit or miss for a language like Vietnamese. It just doesn’t have the manpower behind it like the French or German versions will have.

Hello Talk If apps like Duolingo or Memrise become too repetitive, with their examples of everyday sentences maddening, there are other options out there that don’t rely on suspect AI or dodgy user-created content. Language exchange apps have risen in popularity with Hello Talk being a popular one for English–Vietnamese exchange. They work like a social network for language learners. You set up a profile with a picture and a few interests, set which language is native to you and which you’d like to learn, and the app connects you with people looking to learn the opposite to you. I was bombarded with messages after my initial post, and things initially looked promising. The app has a built-in dictionary and one great feature is that it allows you to make corrections or improvements to your partner’s text. One of the unique things about Hello Talk is you can record messages and send them, and be corrected on tone and pronunciation. Unfortunately my rudimentary Vietnamese isn’t enough to make this app worthwhile, and all too often I fall back on speaking English before conversation fizzles out completely. It’s an app that has lots of potential, but you need to be at a semi-conversational level first before diving in. — Thomas Barrett All the apps reviewed here are available on Google Play Store and iTunes

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Graffiti For A Cause Raising awareness about rhino horn


number of large-scale, rhino-themed wall paintings have popped up around Saigon in the last month, brightening alleyways and inspiring conversation. But who is behind them and what are they for?

Extinction Founded in 2013, ChangeVN works to fight climate change and promote wildlife conservation in Vietnam. “We partnered with the international NGO WildACT in 2014 to create the Stop Using Rhino Horn Campaign,” says Nhi, programme manager for ChangeVN. “The whole thing is aimed at raising awareness because we want to reduce local demand for this product.” According to WildACT, at the current rate of poaching across South Africa and Asia,

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the rhinoceros could be extinct by 2022. As one of the globe’s top consumers of rhino horn, Vietnam drove their own species, the Javan rhino, into extinction seven years ago. “To [consumers], it is a cure for disease and a symbol of wealth and power,” says Nhi. “That caused the extinction of rhinos here, and now Vietnamese consumers are sourcing the horns overseas.” In a bid to connect with Vietnamese society about the rhino horn, ChangeVN has launched a range of creative communication efforts both offline and online. “We want to raise awareness and educate people about the truth,” says Nhi. “We target the business sector because we believe that they are the main consumers.” The ChangeVN team also run activities in schools and pagodas. “We try to influence

the families and friends of business people too,” says Nhi. “Just to make them aware of the issue and create some kind of social pressure to take action.” But many of their widest-reaching efforts are online. “We want to engage the online community,” says Nhi. “We create a lot of 30-second public service announcement clips about the cause with top CEOs and both international and local celebrities, and we run campaigns to educate people about what rhino horns really are.” In one such campaign, Nail Biter, viewers were asked to bite their nails to demonstrate how similar rhino horn is to the keratin we have on our fingertips.

Let’s Paint Saigon’s new rhino wall paintings make up

one part of the ongoing Stop Using Rhino Horns project. It was launched in February this year and was closed at the end of March. “We had the idea about a year ago,” says Nhi. “But we had to go around and ask a lot of people until we reached someone who could make the decision — at ChangeVN we deal with tricky topics so we have to be creative.” Eventually, it was a matter of compromise. “There were plans to renovate some areas in District 1 and give them a new look,” says Nhi. “We offered to paint our message and do some beautiful artwork there, and they agreed.” Florian Nguyen and SubyOne are two of a total of 11 artists that worked on the project. “ChangeVN contacted me and I found their concept interesting,” says Florian. “I worked

with five other artists on a big wall next to Nguyen Van Cu Bridge [in HCMC’s District 4]. It took us two full days to complete, working in the sun from 9am to about 7 or 8pm.” Mural graffiti artist SubyOne had been working with ChangeVN since they launched the Stop Using Rhino Horn campaign back in 2014. “The wall painting was the third project I had done with them,” he says. “I remember the opening event. We invited all the Vietnamese stars and some international ones too, and I drew a massive rhino for them to sign their names along the lines. This event was about reaching the celebrities. What we did after was about reaching the people.” To Florian, connecting with people was

one of the highlights of the graffiti project. “While we were painting, people from the neighbourhood came and asked us what we were doing,” he says. “Sometimes there was a bunch of like 20 people watching, bringing us tea, so yeah it was a really cool interaction with people. It was really nice.” Many of the people who came to observe the artists already knew about the rhino horn issue. “I met a girl and started explaining to her about the rhino, but she said she knew already and thought it was a shame,” says SubyOne. “Actually, a lot of people know about it!” As long as the small minority continue to consume rhino horn the issue will still be there, but while change might be slow, Vietnam is beginning to understand why it needs to happen. — Zoe Osborne

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Briefings HCMC

Mama Squirrel

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The squirrels of Tao Dan have someone watching their back. Photos by Mike Palumbo


nyone who has visited Tao Dan Park at six o’clock in the morning will know it’s a flurry of activity with open space at a premium. People in their golden years commandeer the pavement to play a game of badminton, workers get in a few laps of the park before their jobs start, and everywhere you look there are people stretching every which way. What many may not know is that up in the trees are some furry critters patiently waiting for their morning meal from a special lady. Ms Lieu, or Mama Squirrel as she is affectionately known, has been coming to the park for over 20 years to feed the squirrels — seven days a week, 365 days a year. So chances are if you come sometime after 6am she will be here, laying down the freshly prepared bananas which she cuts into small pieces and places at the trunk of a certain few trees. “I was exercising in the park, that’s how I started feeding them,” she says. “I saw the squirrels and thought they must be hungry. At first I didn’t know what kind of food squirrels like. I figured that they must like fruit, so I decided that bananas are the cheapest if I was going to feed them long-term.” Once she has placed the bananas, the bolder squirrels dart down the trees. With their striped, bushy tail as their trademark, it’s a rare treat to see the timid creature so

tame. They only have eyes for the prize at the bottom of the tree, and soon a steady stream of them make their way down to get their morning meal. Joggers smile and exchange pleasantries with Ms Lieu; it is clear she is part of the social fabric of the park. She says: “My friends and family understand that the squirrels need food, and that I feed them from a good heart. This park has been open for over 100 years and there have been wild squirrels for all that time.”

Squirrelisation In the 20 years she has been feeding them, there has been an understandable increase in squirrel traffic. Hungry squirrels now arrive from other parks in the city, knowing that they can get a guaranteed meal for minimal effort. A brazen rat scurries out of a nearby bush and picks up a piece of banana, and even goes back for seconds. “I think there are a couple of hundred squirrels here, but of course they don’t all live in this park, they come from all over for the food,” says Ms Lieu. More squirrels means more food to bring, and for Ms Lieu this means a significant investment. “In the beginning I fed them only 2kg, that went up to 4kg, then to 6kg. They were eating the bananas quicker than I could feed them. Now I feed them 10kg a day but that’s my financial limit.”

Animal Theft There is a darker side to park life here, as unscrupulous criminals try and profit from this place that many animals call home. Ms Lieu sees herself as not only a provider of food for the squirrels, but as a protector of all the wildlife and animals in the park. “Everyone is friendly but there are criminals that come and trap the cats and birds,” she says. “Squirrels are hard to catch but cats and birds are not so lucky. Many get sold for money or food. Some people put sleeping pills in their food so they pass out. I once saw a flock of birds drop out of the sky because of the poison. When I see anything like that I report it to the authorities straight away.” The menace of animal theft is not the only threat to the sanctity of the park. At least 33 large trees are due to be felled in the park to make way for a new metro station. The city is developing at such a rapid rate, and there are more and more places for people but fewer places for animals to live. “It’s very upsetting,” says Ms Lieu. But it’s now 7am and the several boxes of bananas that Ms Lieu brought with her are empty. Bits of discarded banana peel continue to rain from the trees, as Mama Squirrel heads off on her scooter, to return at the same time tomorrow. — Thomas Barrett

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Briefings HCMC

Learning Through Play


Priming children for future success

oday we played with small teapots and put some water in them,” says Alpha Grace Butil, the Early Education Coordinator who heads-up the Early Education Department and teaches twoyear-olds at International School Saigon Pearl (ISSP). “I wanted them to practice their pouring skills. Of course, some children don’t have the control skills yet and they kept on spilling water onto the table and down to the floor.” “So I said, ‘Oh, there’s an accident! It’s okay, you can clean it and you can try again.’ It’s positive reinforcement, it’s okay, we can clean it, making mistakes is no problem, but just don’t give up trying.” This response to failure, a problem that has traditionally led to kids being

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pigeonholed at an early age, has a clear goal; to get kids to learn from their mistakes. It is also one of the key elements of the Learning Through Play programme at ISSP.

Outside the Box Using American Early Years Standards to ensure a world-class level of pre-school education, the school incorporates the philosophy of Learning Through Play to prepare pre-schoolers for a life of active and enthusiastic learning. To do this they focus on six intertwined areas to develop the whole child; approaches to learning; physical health and development; social and emotional development; communication and literacy development; mathematical knowledge and creative arts.

“Early childhood is a crucial stage in a child’s development,” says Alpha. “So a very high quality of personal care and learning experience is essential.” Set in a fun, comfortable and playfocused environment, the programme utilizes several core concepts. One key concept is the idea that a moving child is a learning child, where each activity has a skill and language outcome. Alpha provides an example of teaching children to write to explain how this works. “We develop the physical first,” she says. “Stomach muscles, shoulder, neck muscles, so they will be able sit in a chair and write. So, before we develop the cognitive aspect we have to develop the physical aspect of the child through play.” Another key element is teaching

children strategies to solve problems. “When we use Lego to make blocks or towers, some kids want to make the tallest tower using group play,” explains Alpha. “So, some kids have small blocks in the middle and they will put bigger or longer blocks above, but the tower falls down. So we say, ‘Oh, so what will you do? You want it to be higher, but what will you do?’” This way the children will learn to solve the problem on their own. The important thing, says Alpha, is that when they go out into the outside world they have the ability to make decisions by themselves. If one avenue doesn’t work, then they learn to find alternatives and if necessary, seek assistance. Asking for help is encouraged throughout the programme.

Open-Ended Experiences Although problem-solving together with physical and cognitive development are essential elements of Learning Through Play, of equal importance is the concept of creating open-ended experiences. This allows the child to use their imagination and is achieved by creating intentional

provocations. “[Intentional provocations] come in many forms,” says Alpha. “Interesting photos, interesting objects or even questions from the teachers. This is when you set something up that will invite the child to be creative and ask, ‘What will happen if I do this?’ or “What will happen if I add water?’” Through this the teacher is able to provoke interest and a reaction. This will express itself in many ways — maybe in the form of new ideas or the children asking questions. The key is “you want to make them think” and to not be “bound by pre-set limitations”. Says Alpha: “The benefits of this programme are real-life skills, [getting children to] think on their own and make decisions for themselves. This way they know how to help themselves rather than waiting for adults to do it for them. They also learn to be critical thinkers and think outside the box.” For further information on the Learning Through Play early years programme at ISSP, click on issp.edu.vn

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Briefings HCMC

20 Years in The Making As ISHCMC can attest, building quality takes time


n 1993, Australia’s then Foreign Minister, Gareth Evans, opened Ho Chi Minh City’s first international school called the Ho Chi Minh City International Grammar School. It heralded the beginning of an era for foreign education in Vietnam. The catalyst for the school’s existence had come after its eventual founder, Chris Dawe, had overheard businessmen talking at the bar of the now long-gone Floating Hotel on the Saigon River. The men complained that they couldn’t attract business talent to Ho Chi Minh City because there was no foreign education available for children. Dawe went to work and before long a school was opened which grew quickly to over 1,000 students across two campuses. In 1997, the school was renamed the International School Ho Chi Minh City (ISHCMC) and moved to its current location in District 2. It was also granted approval

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to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma programme. The IB Diploma is used for benchmarking students against other students and schools when they apply to higher education institutions around the world. Regarded as being excellent preparation for university studies, it correlates well with academic success.

Benchmarking Success Fast forward to 2017 and the 20th anniversary of the school’s renaming to ISHCMC. Now an average of 60 senior students a year go on to gain entry into top universities worldwide. In the last five years, ISHCMC students have gone on to study at Harvard, Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US. Others have been accepted into leading universities in the

UK, Canada, Australia, Europe, Hong Kong and Singapore. According to ISHCMC’s head of school, Adrian Watts, the pathway to university is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but is personalised and requires buy-in from the school, the parents and the child. “ISHCMC isn’t just about ensuring it has full classrooms,” says Watts. “We check to see if children are ready for our learning environment. Are they ready for the IB Diploma? Is it what the family wants? Can the child succeed?”

Creating a Culture of Achievement ISHCMC has invested heavily in its infrastructure, technology and pedagogy to keep up to date with the latest in educational innovation, including another new campus in District 2 which will be completed later this year.

Although ISHCMC’s beginnings were humble, the school has kept up with a steady stream of quality assurance measures and has met its developmental goals. In 2008, ISHCMC received accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, a respected association in the US that provides educational accreditation; this goes along with its accreditation to offer the IB Diploma. In 2011, it joined the Cognita Schools Group, a body that owns and operates a growing list of over 60 independent schools worldwide. As a result, students remain at the centre of the learning experience at ISHCMC. According to Watts, highly qualified and experienced teachers maintain a constructivist learning environment. “It develops the skills students need to solve problems now,” he says. “It also supports them in their lifelong pursuits long after they’ve left ISHCMC’s classrooms.” He adds: “ISHCMC produces students who have been equipped with the skills and citizenship required to achieve in the globalised environment they will inherit.” Indeed the society that the current crop of

Early Explorers at ISHCMC — the students in their primary years of schooling — will inherent once they graduate will be vastly different from what it is now, given the pace of change. Competition for university places and jobs will be even fiercer, and those without the requisite knowledge and skills risk being left behind. In 2016, graduating ISHCMC IB Diploma students averaged 34 points while the global average of more than 1 million IB Diploma students in 143 countries was 30.7.

Health and Well-Being Apart from the innovative curriculum offered by ISHCMC, the health and wellbeing of its students remains paramount. According to Watts, all students are encouraged to participate in mindfulness exercises for 10 minutes per day “with the latest research telling us that daily participation in mindfulness exercises is great for building well-rounded people.” He adds: “Our students have been observed to learn more effectively and think more clearly because they are better able to focus their energy on tasks at hand, which bodes well for academic success.”

Food options at ISHCMC have also been overhauled with the expert advice of a Michelin star chef. Now the campus has its own morning fruit bar, healthy Japanese and Western food options, taco and baguette stands, and quick-to-go healthy snacks for increasingly time-poor students who need refuelling throughout the day. “Cognita Schools Group is on a growth track and the opening of the second ISHCMC campus is part of this journey,” says Michael Drake, CEO Cognita Asia. “The collaboration between architects, academic research and our teacher-leaders provides the spark that ensures the children in our care have the very best modern learning environments. This builds the foundation necessary for strong academics.” Over 20 years on, it is hard to imagine that the origins of ISHCMC can be traced back to a floating hotel on the Saigon River. Like the hotel, gone are the days of desks in rows and students being spoon-fed knowledge by teachers at the front of the class. This has been replaced by open-plan learning spaces, brainstorming sessions and the latest in learning technology. What will the next 20 years bring? — Matt Cowan

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Briefings HANOI

Tet Lifestyle Collection Art, lifestyle and a lot of heart. Photos by Julie Vola


et Lifestyle Collection (TLC) is an organisation which always wants to have a big heart, and an even bigger impact on the places where they do business. Over a decade of success has been overseen by two passionate leaders. Artist Dinh Khac Tiep combines his creativity and fastidious attention to detail with host Pete Wilkes’ desire to bring quality food and beverages in a homely atmosphere. After taking a four-year break from their old haunt, the team are back up in Sapa with a couple of exciting new projects joining their collection of boutique properties.

Artful Coffee Maison de Tet Décor (156 Tu Hoa, Tay Ho) and its home-roasted coffees are well known in Hanoi. The décor is as recognisable as the smell of their freshly baked cakes and the appearance of that magnificent French villa. The concept for the interior was put together by Tiep, an artist who refuses to be rushed. “The world is moving and changing so fast,” says Tiep. “But my art takes time. I’m so slow!”

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Tiep’s ceramics are what originally attracted Pete into pursuing a partnership with him all those years ago, and the result is a property which smells like an artisan chef’s kitchen and is filled with hand-crafted decorations and furniture.

Nature TLC have also been running what they call “nourishment days” for years. These monthly retreats allow people to escape Hanoi for a day of yoga, meditation, organic vegetarian food and other outdoor activities. The location for these special days, TLC’s very own Fragrant Path (Dai Lai Lake, Soc Son), can also be used for company meetings, romantic nature breaks or group activity days. Fragrant Path hosts TLC’s plantations, where organic produce for their restaurants is grown, alongside peach trees, green tea and tropical fruits. Visitors are even free to wander among the animals, to pick herbs and other fresh produce to cook themselves. Visitors will recognise Tiep’s signature décor in every touch, from the coils of incense hanging inside the traditional

Vietnamese house, to the hand-crafted furniture seen from the stone entrance path.

Craft House However, you need to head north to Sapa to discover the newest member of the TLC family, a stunning property which is half Swiss chalet and half tribal tallhouse. “The more you move around Sapa, you realise everything’s built so close together,” says Pete. “Our main idea was to open up the original 19 bedrooms and create some really large dining spaces.” Just five minutes’ walk from Sapa town square, Maison de Sapa (18 Duong Thac Bac, Sapa) is a distinctive restaurant and café, whose weekday menu boasts Japanese, Vietnamese and Western cuisine, making way for a buffet from Friday to Sunday. “We want it to be a craft house, too,” Pete explains. “Furbrew are brewing their beer here, and we’ve got KOK Coffee coming up to roast coffee here, too.” Furbrew will also be involved in the September Sapa beer festival, to coincide with the Sapa Marathon. In addition to the signature décor and

impressive menu, Maison de Sapa will include a boutique shop, beer garden and evening entertainment on an interior, elevated stage. After summer, the five spacious en-suite guest rooms featuring rustic décor and modern comforts, will be ready to receive overnight visitors.

Unwind A 20-minute complimentary shuttle bus from Maison de Sapa down to Tavan village will take visitors to an upcoming addition to TLC. The La Dao Spa Tavan, a luxurious new spa, which also doubles as a restaurant, café and drinking hall, will open in May. With breathtaking panoramic views of terraced valley farms and mountains, the spa will offer visitors to Sapa the chance to enjoy activities which aren’t trekking related. As with all of TLC’s properties, most of the jobs are given to local people, who receive training and the opportunity to join a company which looks after its own. — Edward Dalton For more information on any of Tet Lifestyle Collection’s properties, visit tet-lifestyle-collection. com or email info@tet-lifestyle-collection.com

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Gesture of Memories

Briefings Hanoi Images from the exhibition, Gesture of Memories

An art exhibition explores the transmission of family memories


t just 28 years old, FrenchVietnamese artist Florian Nguyen has had successful exhibitions in cities in Europe, America, Southeast Asia and Australia. His most recent exhibition Gesture of Memories has brought him to Hanoi. Florian is a self-taught artist, who moved to Ho Chi Minh City last year to connect with his Vietnamese cultural side and to attempt to learn the language. The Gesture of Memories exhibition is a collaboration with Sebastian Ly, and is an extension of the work that they produced together in Ho Chi Minh City last year. That exhibition, Memories X Movements, was a mixed media art event, combining physical artworks with dancers who arrived at different times during the show. Florian and Sebastian met at a time when both of their art journeys were focused

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around the subject of memories. They decided to collaborate and have created these exhibitions. Just as there were dancers in the Memories X Movements exhibition, on Apr. 22 Sebastian Ly himself performed a contemporary dance in the exhibition space in Hanoi.

left up to the observer. Dancers spoke about their lives, and frames from their dances were captured and recreated by the artist to create these pieces. The artist aims to explore how movements can be related to memories.


One item in the exhibition that stands out is the Hippocampus, a piece that depicts the part of the human brain that is responsible for the composition and recollection of memories. This China ink-on-paper design repeats the motif of geographical shapes. Florian at this moment is focused on memory and the process of restoring memories. His previous exhibition addressed the issue of the transmission of family memory, and his most recent one is about gestural memory. The transmission of family memory refers

The pieces in this exhibition are China ink-on-paper, and can be characterised by the precision of line used to create intricate designs. Florian goes beyond the restrictions of the drawings’ frames and extends his line work onto the walls of the gallery, linking the pieces to each other. He draws on the walls a series of circles, and geometric shapes. These geometrical shapes can also be found hiding in tiny nooks of the artworks, like little explosions of contrasting subject matter, the meaning

The Hippocampus

to the memories that are passed down from our elders. “You think you know people because you have been living with them a long time, but you [haven’t taken] time to ask them about their life,” says Florian. “Sometimes there are things you don’t know about your close family members.” Gestural memory, in this exhibition, refers to muscle memory. That is, being able to repeat a particular movement without conscious thought, even after a long time off, due to the person having practiced this movement so much.

Conversing A previous exhibition, Memory and Oblivion, explores Florian’s grandparents’ memories. They were born in Vietnam, and he recently started speaking to them about their past, their childhood and their lives. He

wrote down the conversations, and from this, created his artworks based on his interpretations of their memories. He wants to encourage his viewers to take time out of their days and have real conversations with their family members, especially those much older than themselves. The conversations with his grandparents kickstarted his thought process on memories. Florian hopes to create more exhibitions in the future, tackling issues from all different angles on the topic of memories. “[After viewing the exhibition], I hope people can ask themselves about memories and how they work and how it builds us.” — Amelia Burns The Gesture of Memories exhibition can be seen at The French Institute of Hanoi — L’Espace (24 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem) until Jun. 4. For more information on Florian and his artwork, head to floriannguyen.com

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Briefings National

The One Week Job Project


ack in 2007, 25-year-old Canadian college graduate Sean Aiken was wondering what to do with his life. Around the family dinner table one evening, Sean’s father told him to find work that he was passionate about. He said: “I’ve been alive for 60 years, and I’m yet to find something I’m passionate about besides your mother”. Taking the advice on board, Sean set out across the continent to uncover his passion,

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36 weeks, 36 different jobs

documenting his year-long odyssey, and compiling it into a feature-length film and a book called One Week Job and The One Week Job Project, respectively. He now hosts speaking events in schools and businesses around the world, encouraging others to start their own journey.

Inspired One such other was Cuong, a Vietnamese millennial, a native of Binh Duong Province in the country’s south. After

reading Sean’s book, Cuong set about on his own 36-week project. The number is significant, says Cuong, as it references the 36 ways to overcome your enemy, as outlined in Sun Tzu’s ancient military manual, The Art of War. His enemy is a nine-to-five job in an office with fluorescent lights and notie Fridays. “I don’t want to have to sit all day in front of a computer, I want to do something like being a chef, or photography, or making coffee.”

So far, Cuong’s worked on a coffee plantation in Dalat, as a translator, and as a trainer for a consultancy firm that specialises in helping people suffering from mental illness. While all his labour is unpaid, Cuong encourages his employers to make a donation to the Blue Dragon Foundation, a charity that assists povertystricken children in Vietnam.

Challenges Cuong’s project isn’t without its difficulties, he explains, “Vietnamese people don’t always understand what I’m doing, so it can be difficult for them to hire me. I have to say that I’m taking a gap year otherwise they think I want an internship with them.” It’s understandable that not all Vietnamese people would relate to the idea of changing jobs every week in a country where the average monthly income is still below US$200 (VND4.5 million). Cuong is meeting this challenge head on, and

represents a generation whose ambitions are often in conflict with the expectations of their peers, and sometimes for good reason. But he remains confident that what he’s doing is worthwhile. “When I started, I thought that maybe I would find my dream job, but now I think it’s more about the experience and what I’ll learn from it,” says Cuong. Jumping from education into the workplace isn’t easy for most people, and when you’re not certain what your passion is, finding meaning in work can be difficult. Taking that dilemma and applying it to someone from a developing country certainly doesn’t make it any easier to solve. Maybe we could all do with a little time to figure out what it is we’re truly passionate about doing, in the meantime, we’ll watch Cuong and see if he figures out life’s riddle for himself. — Billy Gray You can follow Cuong’s journey via oneweekjobvn.com

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Sports Digest

Shooting for the Big Time


Young Vietnamese basketballers step up their game in hope of catching the eye of NBA talent scouts. Words by Harry Hodge. Photo by Bao Zoan

ast month, Vietnam’s hoops stars of tomorrow had a chance to showcase their stuff for the NBA. The Junior NBA Regional Selection Camp (RSC) took place at Ho Xuan Huong Stadium in late April. Participants from five to 14 years old attended. From these, athletes from the ages of 10 to 14 were selected to make up a top 100. Children from the five to nine-yearold category came to the camp to test their

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skills and challenge themselves. After the first day, the number was cut to a top 90 (45 boys and 45 girls) based on a scoring system to determine who would participate the next day. On day two, 10 athletes were added from Danang to continue competing. The coaches tested them with drills and scrimmage games. In addition to their basketball ability, participants were expected to exhibit the

Junior NBA core values of sportsmanship, teamwork, a positive attitude and respect. The best 48 athletes were chosen to join the national training camp in June. The national training camp in June — which will be attended by a current or former NBA player — will culminate with eight boys and eight girls being named 2017 Junior NBA Vietnam All-Stars. These standout campers will embark on an overseas

Sport in Brief Phuoc Swims to Gold in Stockholm Hoang Quy Phuoc of Vietnam won a gold medal at the Swim Open Stockholm, which closed last month in Sweden, according to Vietnam News. Phuoc, who finished fifth in qualification, triumphed in the men’s 100m freestyle final with a time of 49.96 seconds. Christoffer Carlsen from the host country came second in 50.03 seconds, with his team-mate Isak Eliasson third in 50.20 seconds. Phuoc also took part in the 200m freestyle event and finished fourth in a time of 1:48.85, beating his own national record of 1:48.95, set during the SEA Games in 2015 in Singapore. This year more than 930 swimmers from over 25 countries competed in the pool in Stockholm from Apr. 8 to Apr. 11.

Saigon Heat Fall to Hong Kong

NBA experience together with fellow Junior NBA All-Stars from around Southeast Asia later in the year. “Basketball’s popularity has grown substantially since we first introduced the Junior NBA programme to Vietnam in 2014,” said Jim Wong, associate vice-president, Global Marketing Partnerships, NBA Asia. “We still believe there is a real opportunity to further improve the youth basketball experience and enhance player health and wellness by implementing guidelines for how the game should be played and taught at the grassroots level.

“As the basketball ecosystem in Vietnam develops, the pathway for young players expands. Junior NBA is the league’s global youth development programme that promotes basketball participation and an active lifestyle among children.” Wong said the Junior NBA programme in Vietnam has grown since 2014. The programme this year expanded to three cities, including a firsttime stop in Danang and return visits to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, reaching more than 5,000 boys and girls at more than 200 schools across the three cities.

The Saigon Heat gave it everything they could in game two, even after they had the life sucked out of them in a deflating game one loss. But in the end, the Long Lions’ talent outclassed the resilient Heat in game two by 86-79 in Ho Chi Minh City to sweep the series, according to the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) website. After trailing by as much as eight points, the Long Lions flipped the switch in the second half, riding on the efforts of Tyler Lamb and Josh Boone. Lamb poured nine of his 26 points (50% field goal average) as the Long Lions took control. Boone tallied 27 points, eight rebounds, and five blocks, helping his team dominate the interior. Marcus Elliott, despite shooting only five of 19 from the field, still finished with 18 points.

Coach Confident in Vietnam at U20 World Cup Coach Hoang Anh Tuan of Vietnam is confident that his team can spring a surprise at the upcoming FIFA U20 World Cup in South Korea, according to Vietnam News. The team returned to Hanoi after a month of intensive training in Nha Trang. Vietnam are in Group E with France, Honduras and New Zealand. Tuan said his coaching board had collected information about

these teams and had spent a lot of time studying them. Vietnam is lacking in international competition experience, especially at the world level. In facing such strong rivals, Vietnam would need to play a defensive game, while at the same time strictly adhering to discipline and tactics. It was the only way to spring a surprise, the coach said. Tuan and his team practiced in Hanoi for about one week before leaving for a two-week training course in Germany for three friendly matches with the youth squads of Schalke 04, Borussia Monchengladbach and Fortuna Dusseldorf.

HCMC Eyes New Stadium If you build it, they will come. So goes the thinking as Ho Chi Minh City has proposed the construction of a new stadium with a capacity of 50,000 seats, as part of its plan to host the 31st SEA Games in 2021, according to Tuoi Tre. The municipal Department of Culture and Sport has submitted its plan for hosting the 31st SEA Games to the Vietnam Sports Administration and local authorities for feedback, before presenting the proposal to the Municipal Party Committee and the Central Government. The 31st SEA Games will be the second time Vietnam has hosted the event, with the first one being in Hanoi in 2003. In preparation for the event, the plan suggests the construction of the Rach Chiec Sports Complex in District 2. The complex will include a central stadium with 50,000 seats and will become the heart of the games. The capital needed for the central stadium alone is estimated at VND3.45 trillion (US$152.1 million), which will be funded by the private sector. Aside from the stadium, Ho Chi Minh City will need over VND2.3 trillion (US$101.4 million) to organise the event, with more than half going to upgrading current sports infrastructure.

tes upda ur d n e o S out y p or ab g grou @ in ry o sp rtnt to har .com m eve vietna word

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Let’s Dance!


Dance for all… all for dance


hildren and adults are spoilt for choice when it comes to activities to keep them busy. Yet one pursuit which really has it all, which welcomes all ages and abilities, is dance. Owner and founder of Dancenter, Linh Rateau, is passionate about spreading the joy of dance. According to her, whether you are an adult working full time or a passionate teenager who wants to perfect the art of dance, or a four-year-old prima donna ballerina who just loves to move to music, there are endless advantages of taking dance classes. “Dancers learn how to use their body and co-ordinate ability and strength while developing body awareness and posture,” she says. “Dancing allows us to be creative. The emphasis on selfexpression separates it from other forms of physical activity. Dance gives the freedom to simply be ourselves and to be proud of that.” The social benefits are also important as out of necessity, students need to interact with one another.

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“When working on choreography, students have to work together,” says Linh. “Joining a dance class offers the same benefits as being on a sports team. Students need to communicate and cooperate as a group member, in partners or as individuals. Group choreography fosters teamwork, communication, cooperation and trust.”

Dancing is for Everyone Offering 98 classes a week from 9am to 9pm every day, there are classes to suit the needs of every type of dancer. Says Linh: “We have many beginner adult students. Even though they dreamed about it when they were younger, [they] didn’t dare to start dancing. Now they tell us how much happiness their weekly classes bring to them.” Supported by a lineup of professional dance teachers, Dancenter’s team is passionate about creating a warm and supportive environment where students can learn to dance and enjoy their passion at the same time.

A Decade of Dance Established in 2007, Dancenter was first a place where people, dancers, teachers and choreographers could meet and share their passion. Now, it’s a studio with more than 600 children and 200 adult students as well as an experienced and devoted teaching staff. This year, Dancenter are celebrating their 10th anniversary and are hosting three performances on Sunday, May 28 at Quan Doi Theatre (140 Cong Hoa, Tan Binh, HCMC). Following this, everyone is welcome to join their evening party with music, dancing and DJs on Saturday, Jun. 3 and a family party with small performances, photo opportunities, talks, food and drinks on Sunday, Jun. 4. Both parties will take place at Dancenter. Dancenter is at 53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Thao Dien, D2, HCMC. To find out more visit dancentervn.com

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ToDo list HCMC

The Observatory’s May line-up is huge this month

The endless summer continues at the Saigon Soul Pool Parties this month at the New World Hotel

The outrageously funny gags continue with Phil Nichol at Game On in May

Work by Grayson Perry. Perry will be running a clay pots workshop at Vinspace

Singaporean DJ Xhin hits the decks at Heartbeat’s homecoming to The Observatory on May 19






Parties, talks, comics, arts, sports, exhibitions and a marathon or two. What to do in Saigon


2 1

The Observatory in May The Observatory, Q4 Throughout May May is going to be another jammed month with huge line-ups every weekend at Observatory. Here are the acts coming your way: Thursday, May 4: Tristyan, Youss Friday, May 5: No Poster Needed Saturday May 6: Arthur Lastmann & Step Daw, Nic Ford Thursday, May 11: Mara & Starchild Saturday, May 13: The Observatory residents’ DJ night Thursday, May 18: Nic Ford, Dan Lo Friday, May 19: Heartbeat presents Xhin Saturday, May 20: Sweet B, Youss, Dimitri Thursday, May 25: DJ Ouch, Datodeo Friday, May 26: Akatuki, DJ Highmer, Dan Lo Saturday, May 27: Cora, Nic Ford, B.A.X. For more info, go to facebook.com/ theobservatoryhcmc. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC

Saigon Soul Pool Parties New World Hotel, Q1 May 6, 13, 20 and 27 Now in the sixth month of its annual season, those Saturday afternoon Saigon Soul Parties at the New World Hotel are going to continue on a little bit longer, right into June. And naturally, to ensure those poolside bashes go on providing you with a slice of the high life, the organisers have got quite a lineup planned for this month. Here’s what’s been confirmed. May 6 — Mike Ruth, Eskerod and Crany

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May 13 — Sweet B., Youss & Dimitri May 20 — Scrambled Edge, Jonathan Glaser, Ryan Wik, Dan Lo, Tristyan Lebrun, Mike Ruth and Eskerod May 27 — TBC So, if you want to escape the city while remaining in its very heart, mark down 10am to 10pm every Saturday this month for “a sexy, water-fueled event with some fantastic house music and amazing people.” New World Saigon Hotel is at 2F, 76 Le Lai, Q1, HCMC. Entrance costs VND150,000. Book your VIP cabana on saigonsoul.com

Sai Gon Dep Lam: Vietnamese-American Speaker Series The American Center, Q1 May 10, 17, 24 The US Consulate in Saigon has organised a three-part series of Vietnamese-American speakers this month, discussing the dynamics between local and overseas Vietnamese. The first evening of the series will discuss Vietnamese and Viet Kieu: Same, Same or Different? Panel speakers include Don Le from Everest Education, Mimi Vu from Pacific Links, Don Phan an entrepreneur, and Anh-Thu Nguyen from Baker & McKenzie. The following week will look at Then and Now: Navigating the Generation Gap in Vietnamese Culture. The panel will discuss crossgeneration communication within both the Vietnamese and American cultural context. Speakers include filmmaker Jenni Trang Le, filmmaker Bao Nguyen, Melinh Rozen from Everest Education and attorney Khanh Nguyen. The final evening will be on

Sai Gon Dep Lam: Moving Back and Looking Ahead. Panelists will include Chi Ha from the American Education Group Vietnam, and Khanh Nguyen from the U.S. The American Centre is on the 8th floor of Diamond Plaza, Q1, HCMC and the talks take place from 5.30pm to 7pm. For more information, go to facebook. com/pages/The-American-Center

Phil Nichol Game On Saigon, Q1 Friday, May 12 Lauded Canadian comedian, singersongwriter and actor Phil Nichol will be performing at Game On Saigon on Friday, May 12. One of the best loved standups on the UK live circuit, Phil has done everything. TV, huge theatre shows, sellout Edinburgh fringe appearances, lots of awards and champagne receptions with the Queen. We saw him recently headlining the Comedy Store in London, and he was phenomenal. Here are some of the quotes: “Seismically powerful awardwinning comic force” — The Scotsman “Riotously funny-and filthy” — The Sunday Telegraph “Edgy in a cartoonish way” — The Independent “A Triumph” — The Sunday Times “Hugely enjoyable” — Time Out Accompanying Phil will be Indonesian homegrown comic Mo Sidik. A professional radio personality and MC since 1995, Mo has been doing stand-up comedy in English and Bahasa Indonesia full-time since 2011. He will be bringing to Saigon excerpts of his show, Fattitude, which offers a hysterical glimpse into the trials and tribulations of a man who is

overweight and yet loves life and its challenges. Expect to hear about fat shaming and bullying, the joys of eating desserts, breaking items and how to enjoy attention. Entrance to the show is VND200,000 in advance and VND250,000 on the door. For ticketing information go to facebook.com/saigoncomedy or email nick@saigoncomedy.com. Game On Saigon is at 115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1, HCMC

Colours Yellow Party La Canalla, Q1 May 13 Saigon DJ Being is bringing something new to the city’s nightlife — welcome Colours, a new party concept. Combining heavy dance music with an interactive art and dress-up vibe, this is a party that you create. The first edition of Colours is yellow. Wear yellow, eat yellow, think yellow, bring ideas, decorate yourself, be as creative as you can! Dress up, come down and freak out. The rundown for the night, D.N.P



3 Crew, Being and The Captain, will be bringing you the best of bass, house and techno music from 8pm until late! Find more information, listen to DJ samples and RSVP to the party via facebook.com/ events/2014368662129176. La Canalla is at 44E Pasteur, Q1, HCMC

Grayson Perry Clay Pots Workshop VinSpace, Q2 May 18 It’s time to celebrate another cutting edge artist in the best way possible — with raw clay and a big glass of wine! Join the VinSpace crew for this month’s Canvas & Wine, a clay pot modelling class with Grayson Perry. Participants will study how to make their own pots with traditional coiling techniques, mimicking Perry’s own iconic style with paint and collage techniques. All tutoring, materials, free-flow wine and tasty snacks are included in the registration fee. Contact VinSpace at facebook.com/

vinspacestudio, call 0907 729846, email info@vin-space.com, or visit vin-space. com for more information. The workshop runs from 6.30pm to 9pm

Heartbeat The Observatory, Q4 Friday, May 19 After a short break, Heartbeat is finally back home at The Observatory and to celebrate they’re throwing a homecoming techno ball. For this special occasion, the crew at Heartbeat have looked no further than Singaporean DJ Xhin (pronounced sheen) who will bring his organic 100 percent pure heartbeat sound that you’ve been longing for. Xhin will be supported by local DJs on the night in what should be a mega reformation of the United Nations of Techno in Saigon. Doors open at 9pm and entry is free until 11pm, after which it will cost VND150,000. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC. For more info, go to facebook.com/HeartBeatSaigon

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ToDo list HCMC



Color Me Run


5. Craft beer brewers will unite in Saigon this August for Southeast Asia’s only annual conference and trade fair for everything craft beer

Scottish comic Chris Henry performs at Game On Saigon on Wednesday, May 31

Le Fruit Triathlon takes place on June 10 at Ho Tram Beach


4. The Manulife Danang International Marathon takes place on Aug. 6

This year’s Color Me Run takes place on May 27 in District 2


Khu Do Thi Sala, Dai Quang Minh, Q2 May 27 Get ready for this year’s Color Me Run. Sponsored by La Vie, the Color Me Run is not about speed but about having fun and celebrating life with your friends and family. Combine fitness with socialising, colour with music, health with celebration and get ready for another big party. The La Vie Color Me Run is for anyone and everyone, whether you are a student or worker, casual runner or professional athlete. So put your shoes on and get ready to get colourful! Zone A tickets cost VND1 million, Zone B tickets cost VND600,000 and Zone B+ (for groups of five plus people) cost VND550,000. Student tickets (Zone C) are VND350,000. Visit colormerun.vn for more information or to register

Chris Henry Game On Saigon, Q1 Wednesday, May 31 Those who’ve watched the movie Snatch will remember the line, “He’s a Natural, ain’t you Tyrone?” If ever there’s a comedian you could apply that line to — the natural bit, not the name — then it would be Chris Henry. Within months of stepping foot on the stage in 2003, he made it to the finals of the Jongleurs J20 Comedy Competition. Since then he’s been close to winning Scottish Comedian of the Year, a competition that caused the promoter, Alan Anderson, to claim that Chris had “the best lines of the competition”. He’s performed in every big-name venue in the UK, put together six solo shows and appeared on both TV and radio. Of course the reviews have

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followed. Writes the Evening Express: “He was good. He was very good. In fact, he was exceptional.” Breakneck Comedy describes Chris as “one of the best acts in the country,” while comedy website, Chortle, says that he is “interesting, enjoyably candid, compelling, honest, truthful, even daring”. Now’s your turn to make up your mind when Chris Henry performs in Saigon. With support coming from Irish comic Mark O’Keefe, a stand-up who’s forged his way by performing in all the top venues in Vancouver, expect this to be night of side-splitting fun. Entrance to the show is VND200,000 in advance and VND250,000 on the door. For ticketing information go to facebook.com/saigoncomedy or email nick@saigoncomedy.com. Game On Saigon is at 115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1, HCMC

Wood-Block Printing Workshop VinSpace, Q2 Jun. 8 Join your fellow art enthusiasts at VinSpace this June for their most ambitious printing project yet. Learn how to carve a simple but effective wooden tile, before mastering the art of printing and re-printing in a range of creative patterns. Choose to make beautiful Escher infinity prints or mimic something more delicate, mix it up and get creative! It’s all about the design. The entry price covers all tutoring, materials, free-flow wine and tasty finger-food. Starts at 6.30pm and goes till 9pm. VinSpace is at 4 Le Van Mien, Thao Dien. Contact VinSpace at facebook.com/ vinspacestudio, call 0907 729846, email info@vin-space.com, or visit Vin-space. com for more information

Le Fruit Triathlon Ho Tram Beach, Ho Tram Jun. 10 The 15th edition of the Le Fruit Triathlon is coming up this June. Get ready for some fun, sweat and tears. As ever, the Le Fruit Triathlon continues to be a friendly and family oriented celebration of off-road sports — anyone can participate, and with five different categories on offer there are plenty of options. These include: Sprinter Individual and Relay (500m swim, 20km bike, 5km run), Duathlon (5km run, 20km ride, 5km run), Rookie (100m swim, 4km bike, 3km run) and Aero-Kids (50m swim, 2km ride, 1.5km run). Competitors will swim, run and bike through the beautiful coastline at Ho Tram Beach, exploring new routes and embracing the beauty of their surroundings. The waters here are warm and safe, the bike will go towards the rainforest and the run will take place at the beach. There will be a BBQ sunset party at the end of the day. To register please visit triathlonvietnam.com

Eurosphere 2017 Gem Center, Q1 Jun. 16 and 17 Held to coincide with the upcoming signing of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), Eurosphere 2017 is a showcase of luxury goods produced in the European Union (EU). With the show running for two days, the exhibition will include high-end European goods from over 100 brands and in a variety of fields that include gourmet food, wine and spirits, fashion, fashion accessories, jewellery, watches, perfumes, cosmetics, furniture, interior design, and automotive.

3 Over 15 European countries have signed up to display their wares — this includes Germany, Belgium, France, Greece, the UK, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, Lithuania, Cyprus and Ireland. And as well as the exhibition there will be two conferences on the fashion and luxury industries that will be conducted by French fashion expert Donald Potard. For further information on the EuroSphere — the European Art of Living Exhibition, click on eurosphere. com.vn. Entrance to the two-day exhibition and the talks is VND500,000. Alternatively, email Hang Dao on hang. dao@evbn.org

Manulife Danang International Marathon Bien Dong Park, Vo Nguyen Giap, Danang Aug. 6 Runners from all over the world will be heading to Danang this August for the 2017 Manulife Danang International Marathon, joining hundreds of Vietnamese professionals, casual runners and

running enthusiasts to experience one of Southeast Asia’s most magnificent marathon courses. There will be a wide range of distances available: 5km, 10km, 21km, 42km, and the event is expected to welcome more than 5,000 runners. The course itself follows the stretch of the city coastline, starting with an early morning sunrise over the sea and ending before the heat of the day. If your kids like to be active too then bring them to the Family Fun Day the day before the race. With a range of games and activities, from statue painting to mini bowling, this day is the perfect opportunity to get active and spend some more time with the kids. Bag drop at 2.30am, attendant checkin at 4.10am and races start with the full marathon at 4.30am. The 5km charity run starts at 7.20am, and all races end by 11am. The Fun Day will run from 9am to 8pm on the 5th. For more information, the schedule, map or to book tickets, visit rundanang.com

SEA Brew 2017 Venue to be advised Aug. 17 to 19



The Singapore-based organisers of SEA Brew 2017 — Southeast Asia’s only annual conference and trade fair for the beer brewing community — have announced their latest programme which will start on Thursday, Aug. 17 and culminate with a craft beer festival on Saturday, Aug. 19 at Saigon Outcast in District 2. Over the two-day conference and trade fair, attendees will get the opportunity to listen to keynote speakers who are highly-respected in the field of craft beer brewing, including East West Brewing’s Loc Truong and others from around the region. SEA Brew 2017 will focus heavily on interactive workshops and discussion groups with three major session topics: ingredients; brewing and operations; and sales and marketing. There will also be the first Asian Craft Beer Associations Forum bringing together the regional associations with the hope of fostering greater cross-border cooperation and idea sharing. For more information, including how to participate and view the conference programme, visit sea-brew.com

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Take advantage of two special promotions this month with Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts

All aboard Bonsai Cruises new dinner cruiser

Bloq in Thao Dien launches with a Bloq Party

Anupa launches a collection of obsidian green jewellery

The Ho Tram Players Golf Championship at the Bluffs has been rescheduled to 2018






Summer promotions, a dinner cruise, children’s books, a jewellery collection and a whole lot more. What’s new in Vietnam’s biggest city





Banyan Tree Summer Promotions Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts launched two special promotions last month. Book your summer getaway now and jet off in style to some of the globe’s most awe-inspiring destinations. Night On Us — take a break and escape to one of Banyan Tree’s 25 stunning hotels & resorts for a minimum of three nights and stay an extra night for free. Awesome Angsana Deals — treat yourself to fun and adventure at one of Angsana’s spectacular hotels and resorts and enjoy up to 40 percent off the best available rate. Offers are available until May 31. Visit banyantree.com/en/night-on-us-offer or angsana.com/en/awesome-deals for more information

Bonsai Cruise Back on the River Since their first vessels hit Saigon’s waterways in 2003, Bonsai Cruises have been known for their unique ambience, quality service and stylish, authentic cuisine. Customers are transported to a world of authenticity that honours Ancient Saigon, times long ago forgotten and a proud Saigon heritage of local artisans, chefs and ships builders. This year, a new ship has been built in cooperation with Asiatique Design — the Bonsai Legacy. Decked with warm colours and locally

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sourced materials, with a delicious and creative menu by 2014’s Top Chef Vietnam Steven Long and quality in-cruise entertainment, this ship marks a new step for Bonsai and for Saigon’s river cruises. For more information or to book a Bonsai Cruise visit bonsaicruise.com. vn or contact Mr Quan Pham on 01204 599099 or at marketing@bonsaicruise. com.vn

I’m A Legend American children’s book author, Curtis Norris, has just announced the launch of two new projects: I’m a Legend personalised story books and Saigon Saturday Stories Club for kids. I’m a Legend takes personalised seriously, with each book carrying its own unique plot based on the personality, dreams and the likes of the child about which it is written. Curtis has written over 20 of these books so far, offering original illustrations and quality hardcover copies as part of the service. Saigon Saturday Stories Club is a subscription-based story service where families can receive original stories each Saturday via email without the hassle of going to a traditional book store or ordering online and waiting for delivery. To start a personalised story project for your child or subscribe to the Saigon Saturday Stories Club by emailing C_ norris@hotmail.co

New Kid on the BLOQ This August, Saigon will join the rest of the world in a new, exciting community trend with BLOQ — Vietnam’s first lifestyle retail park. BLOQ will focus on the customer’s overall experience through a full range of unique F&B and retail outlets, services and community areas in an upbeat, urban setting. There will also popup stalls and events each week, from food trucks and markets to live music, an open-air cinema and creative workshops. Through this unique concept, the BLOQ team aims to create a real village in Thao Dien where people can share ideas, hang out and connect with each other. Less like a shopping mall and more like your new favourite playground. For more information, visit facebook. com/BLOQSaigon. Bloq will be located on Tran Ngoc Dien in Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC

Green With Envy This May Anupa launches a collection of obsidian green jewellery including her signature triangle line. With a number of beautiful pieces in the range, this is a chance for you to stand out from the crowd with bespoke, one-of-a-kind Anupa bling. Prices start from VND3.5 million and the range is available at both Anupa locations: on Dong Du and in the lobby of The Sheraton Hotel.



Call Us Anupa Boutique is at 9 Dong Du, Q1, HCMC, and is open daily from 9am to 8pm. The store in the Sheraton Lobby (88 Dong Khoi, Q1, HCMC) is open daily from 7.30am to 10pm. For more info click on anupa.net

Ho Tram Players Championship Postponed The organiser of the Ho Tram Players Golf Championship on the Asian Tour has announced the rescheduling of its tournament to 2018 due to the upgrading and renovation of the Ho Tram Strip. In order to accommodate the flagship tournament on the 2018 Asian Tour calendar, Asian Coast Development, Ltd. (ACDL) is building another 550 rooms across the street from the acclaimed Bluffs Golf Course. When the project is finished, the Grand Ho Tram Strip will boast two identical 22-story hotel towers and 1,100 rooms, making for a venue easily capable of hosting the Ho Tram Players Championship. In 2015, the Ho Tram Strip hosted its first Asian Tour event — the Ho Tram Open, which was won in dramatic fashion by Masters champion, Sergio Garcia. ACDL and the Asian Tour will determine dates for next year’s Ho Tram Players Championship by the middle of this year.






The Anam Resort Cam Ranh is a new five-star resort in Cam Ranh Bay that boasts world-class facilities

LaDee Streeter will be performing at R&J every Tuesday to Sunday

Another great new Vietnamese dining option opens up in District 1


Fly in comfort from HCMC to Paris in Air France’s latest long-haul travel cabins starting May 31



Landmark Health Club is offering a promotion on long-term memberships this month



River Cottage is a new boutique hotel, bar and restaurant in Thao Dien


River Cottage River Cottage is an eight-room rustic boutique hotel, bar, and restaurant on the river in Thao Dien set among lush tropical gardens with a large wooden deck extending out over the river. Five rooms have river views, one with a garden view, two with their own small gardens and resort-style open-air bathrooms, all with king-sized beds, full amentities and finished with French tiles. River Cottage’s bar and restaurant is open to non-hotel guests by reservation and is a great option for a cocktail or two at sunset while the riverboats chug on by down the river. If you’re after a weekend without the kids (children under 12 aren’t permitted) or the noise of somebody else’s kids, book a stay at River Cottage by calling (08) 3744 3555 or visit rivercottage.com.vn. Reservations can also be made by emailing reservations@ rivercottage.com.vn

Saigon Saigon Bar’s New Menu If you like your bar bites, you’ll love the new menu at the Caravelle’s rooftop bar. The team at one of Saigon’s most iconic hotels has put a five-star spin on everyone’s favourite bar snacks, with tempting sliders, delcious sharing platters and Vietnamese eats. Paired with spectacular downtown Saigon views from the 10th floor, you have all the ingredients for a cheerful gettogether in the heart of the city. Saigon Saigon Bar is open seven

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days a week from 11am till late. For more information, call 0906 900523 or go to caravellehotel.com/ restaurants-and-bars/saigon-saigon-bar

Landmark Health Club Promotion The Landmark Health Club is offering a promotion on long-term memberships. If you join for six months, you get one month free, in total valued at VND12.5 million. Join for 12 months and get two months free with the total package valued at VND21.4 million. The memberships include access to all facilities and classes during operational hours and includes VAT and service charges with no hidden blocks or fees. The Landmark Health Club features a fully-equipped gym, rooftop, swimming pool, yoga studio, and the only squash court in the city centre. For more information on the promotion, call (08) 3822 2098 (ext. 176) or visit landmarkvietnam.com

Air France New Travel Cabins From May 31, Air France customers flying between Ho Chi Minh City and Paris-Charles de Gaulle can enjoy the latest long-haul travel cabins. The three weekly flights are operated by Boeing B777-200 with 28 seats in the Business cabin, 24 fully redesigned seats in the Premium Economy cabin and 260 seats in the Economy cabin. Delphine Buglio, Country Manager

for Air France KLM Vietnam said: “We are delighted to give our regular and new customers in Vietnam the opportunity to travel this summer in the comfortable new Air France cabins, including the latest full-flat Business Class seat which is designed to offer our passengers optimum comfort, space and privacy, a true cocoon in the sky.” The new cabins will be offered between Ho Chi Minh City and Paris-Charles de Gaulle during the peak summer period until Sep. 3, 2017. For more information and bookings, go to airfrance.com/vn

The Anam Resort Cam Ranh The Anam, a 117-villa and 96-room resort that commands a stunning beachfront setting, a sublime 10 treatment-room spa and a 3D movie theatre, celebrated its grand opening last month in Vietnam’s most compelling new destination. With a design that pays homage to both colonial-era and ageold Vietnamese aesthetics, the independently owned and operated Anam is blazing new ground in a destination now emerging as a high-end alternative to nearby Nha Trang. This new five-star resort has a host of world-class facilities, including a spa, three restaurants and two bars, a 3D movie theatre, a ballroom, conference facilities, a water sports centre, a yoga room and deck, a tennis court, a kids club and three swimming pools. Some 3,000 palm trees shade the 12-hectare property that fronts 300

4 3



Anan, literally meaning “eat-eat” is a new Vietnamese restaurant located in District 1. Specialising in Vietnamese street food-inspired dishes by award-winning chef Peter Cuong Franklin, the cuisine is based on local market fresh ingredients


les soins et l’accueil toujours remarquables



CMI đang di chuyển

Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa

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Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa


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Nguyễn Đình Chiễu


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Trần Cao Vân

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Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai


* More precised date is to come. Please stay tuned. On manquera pas de vous informer à l’avance de la date précise. Xin bạn vui lòng chờ đợi công bố chính xác ngày.

Nhà thờ Đức Bà

Phạm Ngọc Thạch

Hồ con Rùa

Phạm Ngọc Thạch

Phạm Ngọc Thạch

Công xã Paris

Diamond Plaza

Trần Cao Vân

The recently redesigned R&J Lounge & Restaurant at The Reverie Saigon is hosting Colours of Jazz every Tuesday to Sunday, from 8.30pm to 11.30pm. With a strong and vibrant voice, internationally renowned singer LaDee Streeter will captivate audiences with her jazz, blues, R&B and pop songs at the lounge area. One special credit in her career is singing background for the legendary Stevie Wonder on his Hotter Than July album. She has performed at five-star hotels and nightclubs in Auckland, Osaka, Tokyo, Belgium, Shanghai, Bangkok, Dubai, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, and Seoul. Meanwhile, Italian-born Chef Tonino Giglio joins the team as the new chef de cuisine at the R&J Italian Lounge. He has many years of experience at acclaimed restaurants in countries including Singapore, China and Italy. Chef Tonino is expected to bring authentic Italian dishes to diners R&J Italian Lounge & Restaurant

Anan Vietnamese Restaurant

and reflects a vision of the new Vietnam that is deeply rooted in the country’s history and tradition yet progressive and international in outlook. Anan is located at Cho Cu on Ton That Dam Street in the heart of one of the oldest markets in Saigon. Anan is the perfect example of how Saigon is connecting more the traditional street markets and their quality ingredients through modern presentation and culinary techniques. Anan Restaurant is located at 77 Ton That Dam, Q1, and is open seven days a week from 5pm till late. For more information, go to anansaigon or facebook.com/anansaigon

Nguyễn Văn Chiêm

New Chef and Singer at R&J Italian Lounge and Restaurant

has recently been renovated with two VIP rooms and private booths for two to six people. R&J Italian Lounge & Restaurant is open from 5pm to midnight daily and is at The Reverie Saigon, 22-36 Nguyen Hue, Q1, HCMC

Lê Duẩn

metres of private beach overlooking the East Sea, where toast-brown sand, turquoise waters, dramatic headlands and offshore islands come together as one of Vietnam’s most picture-perfect seaside enclaves. For information on how to book your stay at the Anam, visit theanam.com or call (058) 398 9498

Hai Bà Trưng

CENTRE MEDICAL INTERNATIONAL 30 Phạm Ngọc Thạch, quận 1, TPHCM, Việt Nam Tel: (84.8) 827 23 66/67 • Fax: (84.8) 827 23 65 Email: info@cmi-vietnam.com

30 Phạm Ngọc Thạch quận 1, TPHCM Hai Bà Trưng


wordvietnam.com | May 2017 Word | 39



Mountain biking, comedy, Cuban artists and Indonesian folk acts. This month in the capital


1. Tek Harrington plays Savage on May 6 2. Go on a visual and linguistic experience with German Lessons throughout May 3. The Hanoi New Music Ensemble performs the works of well-known international and Vietnamese composers at Manzi on May 5 4. Indonesian pop-folk act Stars and Rabbit headline at the launch of Quest Live on May 6 5. Canadian comic, singer-songwriter and actor Phil Nichol performs with Mo Sidik at Standing Bar on May 13 6. Manzi hosts the work of Hanoi-based American artist Dan Drage this month



Massive May Savage, Tay Ho Throughout May It’s a massive month this May thanks to Savage with local and international DJs lighting up the decks each Friday and Saturday night. On Saturday, May 6 local groovy residents Loan and Jauge share the decks together for the first time before Bangkok selector Tek Harrington keeps the fire burning with some Disco Robot highlights. Then on Saturday, May 13, Color with Rifain (Hong Kong) are back for some satisfaction guaranteed all night long on the dancefloor. The following Friday, May 19, Mo:Sa:Ic hits it with Rubi (Myanmar) and Crump. Rubi has frequented the electro scene for almost a decade with her sets characterised by crossing different styles and genres, striving to create a journey through the unknown. For May’s full lineup, hit up Savage at facebook.com/savagehanoi

German Lessons Goethe-Institut, Ba Dinh May 4 to May 29 Cinematographer and photographer Jamie Maxtone-Graham presents

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his observations of everyday life in Berlin at the Goethe-Institut Hanoi. German Lessons is a visual and linguistic journey through the experience of trying to understand with the fore knowledge of impending failure. Entrance is free and the opening will take place on May 4 at 6pm. The Goethe-Institut is at 56-58 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh, Hanoi or online at goethe.de/vietnam

Nine Chapters of the Rain Manzi Art Space, Hanoi Friday, May 5 This May, Manzi Art Space hosts a contemporary concert by the Hanoi New Music Ensemble featuring works by well-known international and Vietnamese composers, some of who include violinists Pham Truong Son and Pham Mai Anh, flutist Nguyen Trong Bang, violist Tran Thu Thuy, clarinetist Nguyen Quoc Bao, and cellist Dao Tuyet Trinh. Seats will be limited so register before Thursday, May 3. Entrance is VND200,000 per person. Register at manzihanoi@gmail. com. For more info, go to facebook.com/ manzihanoi. Manzi is at 14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Stars & Rabbit Hanoi Rock City, Tay Ho Saturday, May 6 Vietnam’s world-renowned multiday music and arts festival, Quest Festival, is pleased to announce the launch of Quest Live, their newly touring arm bringing artists from around the globe to Vietnamese audiences all year round. The first headliner for this new initiative is Stars & Rabbit, an Indonesian pop-folk act. At the forefront of a new generation of talented artists from Yogyakarta, Stars & Rabbit is known for its ethereal dream-pop style, which has been compared with bands as diverse as First Aid Kit and Emiliana Torrini. The event will also mark the launch of ticket sales for Quest Festival, expected to see more than 5,000 revelers returning to Son Tinh Camp in Ba Vi this November. Hanoi Rock City is at 27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Entrance TBC

Phil Nichol Standing Bar, Ba Dinh Saturday, May 13 Lauded Canadian comedian,



singer-songwriter and actor Phil Nichol will be performing at Standing Bar on Saturday, May 13. One of the best loved standups on the UK live circuit, Phil has done everything. TV, huge theatre shows, sellout Edinburgh fringe appearances, lots of awards and champagne receptions with the Queen. We saw him recently headlining the Comedy Store in London, and he was phenomenal. Here are some of the quotes: “Seismically powerful awardwinning comic force” — The Scotsman “Riotously funny-and filthy” — The Sunday Telegraph “Edgy in a cartoonish way” — The Independent “A Triumph” — The Sunday Times “Hugely enjoyable” — Time Out Accompanying Phil will be Indonesian homegrown comic Mo Sidik. A professional radio personality and MC since 1995, Mo has been doing stand-up comedy in English and Bahasa Indonesia full-time since 2011. He will be bringing excerpts of his show, Fattitude, to Hanoi which offers a hysterical glimpse into the trials and tribulations of a man who is overweight and yet loves life and its challenges. Expect to hear about fat

shaming and bullying, the joys of eating desserts, breaking items and how to enjoy attention. Entrance to the show is VND200,000 in advance and VND250,000 on the door. For ticketing information go to facebook. com/hanoicomedy or email danbuff@ gmail.com. Standing Bar is at 170 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Sifted Gaze Manzi Art Space, Hanoi May 14 to May 28 Manzi hosts Sifted Gaze this month, an exhibition by Hanoi-based American artist Dan Drage. Drage invites audiences to see everyday objects in a new way through his sculptures and silk paintings. “The world around is bursting with form, pattern and shadow,” says Drage. “To miss the cast shadows, the relationships between objects... to overlook the things we discard will only lead to a devaluation of the world around us, to other people, and eventually to our own selves.” Sifted Gaze opens on Sunday, May 14 at 6pm. Entry is free. For more info, go to facebook.com/ manzihanoi. Manzi is at 14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh, Hanoi


Rene Mederos Exhibition Work Room Four, Tay Ho May 19 to Jun. 9 In 1969, Rene Mederos was sent by the Cuban government to Vietnam, returning for a second time in 1972. He was commissioned to paint scenes of the war, demonstrating the solidarity that the Cuban people felt for the Vietnamese. This May, Work Room Four will be hosting a historic exhibition of eighteen archival prints of the paintings and posters that Rene Mederos created during these two visits. Five contemporary Vietnamese artists will be creating their own art in response to Mederos’ work, to be exhibited alongside the main show. In this way, the exhibition hopes to represent not only wartime Vietnam but also how modern Vietnamese society views conflict past and present, and to remind people of the need for peace by bringing that conflict into a space of collaboration and solidarity. For more information, visit facebook. com/workrmfour. Work Room Four is at Packexim Building Tower 1, 24th Floor, 49 Lane 15 An Duong Vuong, Tay Ho, Hanoi

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listHanoi 3




Mot Hai Ba Festival

Wickedly funny Chris Henry performs at Standing Bar on Jun. 1

The Goethe-Institut is holding a free film festival for children and young audiences May 25 to 28

Let your kids get creative with Work Room Four’s art summer school this June



Ha Giang finally gets itself some mountain biking trails



The Mot Hai Ba Festival will bring out your inner child


Chez Xuan, Tay Ho, Hanoi Saturday, May 20 Here’s your chance to revisit your childhood at the Mot Hai Ba Festival organised by the NGO School On The Boat. For a whole day, the School On The Boat will have the objective of making you feel like a kid again with painting, music, dance, photo opportunities and games. There will also be a theatre troupe and circus artists. There will be food and drink from Chez Xuan, including Vietnamese food and tea. NGO Life Project 4 Youth will also be there offering their baked goods. The fun and games start from midday with free entrance until 6pm. After 6pm till 11pm, the entrance fee is VND50,000 which includes a concert. For more info, go to facebook.com/ mothaibafestival. The festival will take place at Chez Xuan, 41 Ngo 76 An Duong, Tay Ho, Hanoi

Hoang Su Phi MTB Challenge Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang Sunday, May 21 If you love to ride, then don’t miss

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this year’s Mountain Bike Tour in Hoang Su Phi in northern Ha Giang. A four-day adventure, the biking tour begins in Hanoi and loops around the mountains of northern Vietnam to finish back in Hanoi. Along the trail, bikers will have the opportunity to interact with locals and experience their traditional way of life by doing community work with them that directly benefits disadvantaged ethnic minorities. Help build concrete roads for local people and ride on the narrow dirt single trails that have been connecting villages and villagers for generations. Daily distances range from 20km to 30km with plenty of downtime to go exploring yourself. There is one timed-leg on Day 3 (a 7km individual time trial) with prizes offered to the top three placegetters. The tour includes food, accommodation in quality homestays, community work, transport to and from, bikes if needed, support crew, first aid and an in-house bicycle mechanic. For more information visit mountainbikechallenge.jimdo.com, or email Reece Guihot at reece@guihot. com and be sure to cc hung.cao@cred. org.vn

German Film Festival for Children Kim Dong Cinema, Hoan Kiem May 25 to 28 The Goethe-Institut Hanoi will be organising a film festival for children and young audiences in Vietnam. Held in cooperation with the International Film Festival for Children and Young Audience SCHLINGEL from Germany, the festival will include free movie screenings, arts activities and workshops co-organised with Ti Toay Atelier, Think Playgrounds and Blossom Art House. Tickets to the festival are free and are available from the GoetheInstitut (56-58 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh, Hanoi). For more info click on goethe.de/ vietnam. The festival will be held at Kim Dong Cinema, 19 Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

Chris Henry Standing Bar, Ba Dinh Thursday, Jun. 1 Those who’ve watched the movie Snatch will remember the line, “He’s a Natural, ain’t you Tyrone?” If ever there’s a comedian you could apply


that line to — the natural bit, not the name — then it would be Chris Henry. Within months of stepping foot on the stage in 2003, he made it to the finals of the Jongleurs J20 Comedy Competition. Since then he’s been close to winning Scottish Comedian of the Year, a competition that caused the promoter, Alan Anderson, to claim that Chris had “the best lines of the competition�. He’s performed in every big-name venue in the UK, put together six solo shows and appeared on both TV and radio. Of course the reviews have followed. Writes the Evening Express: “He was good. He was very good. In fact, he was exceptional.� Breakneck Comedy describes Chris as “one of the best acts in the country,� while comedy website, Chortle, says that he is “interesting, enjoyably candid, compelling, honest, truthful, even daring�. Now’s your turn to make up your mind when Chris Henry performs in Hanoi. With support coming from Irish comic Mark O’Keefe, a stand-up who’s forged his way by performing in all the top venues in Vancouver, expect this to be night of side-splitting fun.

Entrance to the show is VND200,000 in advance and VND250,000 on the door. For ticketing information go to facebook.com/ hanoicomedy or email danbuff@gmail. com. Standing Bar is at 170 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Art Summer School Work Room Four, Tay Ho Jun. 19 to 30 If your kids like to get creative then bring them along to Work Room Four’s Art Summer School this June. The course welcomes students aged eight to 16 years to an original, challenging and engaging program that’s fun for everyone. Kids will all walk away with new skills, knowledge and confidence in their creative endeavours. The Summer School offers one or two week courses in the Work Room Four studio, just five minutes from Ciputra and Xuan Dieu. For more information, email hello@workroomfour.com or call (04) 3212 1478. Discounts are available for siblings or group signups. Work Room Four is at Packexim Building Tower 1, 24th Floor, 49 Lane 15 An Duong Vuong, Tay Ho, Hanoi

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Just Hanoi

Restaurants, bars, oysters, organic food and a promotion where the stars stayed. What’s new in Hanoi




1. Delisa salads now come with baguette options 2. Don’s new weekend oyster promotion 3. Stay where the stars of Kong: Skull Island stayed 4. New Italian restaurant Goodfellas in Time City

Delisa After completing a successful period of delivering some of the tastiest and freshest salads around, Delisa has finally opened a dine-in location. “Our main theme is fresh and healthy,” says founder Hoang Ngan Ha. “We follow this with everything; menu, logo and store design.” The new restaurant is a bright, neat space located in the trendy French quarter around Ly Dao Thanh, with light wooden furniture and a variety of seating areas. The most exciting new addition to the salads that made Delisa so popular so quickly, are the new wholemeal baguettes. All of the previous Delisa salads are now available as baguette options, such as the Waldorf (VND69,000) which includes grilled chicken, apple, celery, walnut and yoghurt dressing, on a bed of crunchy romaine lettuce. The Delisa signature green mango smoothie (VND49,000) makes a

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return, along with the avocado (VND49,000), banana (VND39,000) and passion fruit (VND39,000). Located at 8A Ly Dao Thanh, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Open daily from 9am until 9pm. For more information, call 0912 050868 or visit facebook.com/realdelisa

Don’s Bistro Weekend Oyster Promotion If it’s Don’s, it’s good. And this one’s even better. Don’s Bistro has just announced its weekend special oyster promotion. At VND60,000 per oyster (normally VND129,000), you have a choice of having them done six ways: — spicy Bloody Mary shooters — jet fresh Canadian Chefs Creek style — BBQ with lemon, crispy garlic and chilli sauce — freshly shucked on ice with lemon, wasabi and soy, mignonette — fried in cornmeal then wrapped

in cabbage with spicy peanut sauce — baked in an edible pastry shell with sundried tomato, bacon, cheese and spinach Don’s promotion is for Saturdays and Sundays only from 7am till late, so why not hit the rooftop oyster bar and take in the views of West Lake over a few drinks and a plate of oysters? Don’s Bistro is at 16 Quang An, Tay Ho, Hanoi. For more info, go to donsbistro.com or call (04) 3719 3719

Don’s Bistro Summer Menu Beat the summer heat with something to eat from Don’s Bistro new summer menu. The lunch and dinner menus have been refined to take on a more Canadian feel with Vietnamese accents. The new lunch menu (VND300,000) is a delicious collection of quick and healthy comfort dishes that has something for everyone, including amuse-bouche

Product of the US. Alcohol volume 14%


(single-bite appetisers), dessert, premium house wine or beer, coffee or tea, and unlimited ginger lemongrass iced tea. The new dinner menu is a seven-course fine dining gastronomic affair that includes all your French favourites (caviar, truffles, brie, oysters, lobsters) for VND1,888,000 per person. Enjoy a complimentary flute of champagne on arrival, too. Don’s Bistro is open seven days a week from 7am till late. Don’s Bistro is at 16 Quang An, Tay Ho, Hanoi. For more info, go to donsbistro.com or call (04) 3719 3719

Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh Five-star Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh is running a promotion until Jun. 30 that includes a one or two-night stay with breakfast, a set dinner menu and one spa treatment for VND3.85 million per room a night. Set on the edge of Van Long

Nature Reserve, a primeval tropical forest, Emeralda Resort is styled with traditional Vietnamese architectural elements and furnishings with cutting edge enhancements and guest comforts. The reserve was also one of the settings for the movie Kong: Skull Island. The resort boasts 172 guest rooms, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, two restaurants, a wine bar, pool bar, luxury spa and all the other features you’d expect from a five-star property. To spoil yourself for a couple of nights, contact Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh by calling (030) 365 8333 or visit emeraldaresort.com

GoodFellas Don’t panic, Tommy DeVito and his mafia associates haven’t taken over Hanoi. GoodFellas is a new restaurant in Times City, which offers Italian-American cuisine in a stylish

and homely setting. Much of the menu brings together the best organic ingredients available, and the cooking is kept simple while the hygiene standards are set to maximum. There’s a Sunday brunch offer, where just VND70,000 will get you either a cold cut and cheese selection or a soup of the day, plus one of two pasta options, with a drink included. From the a la carte, main courses such as the chicken parmesan range from VND160,000 to VND320,000. There are eight different pastas all between VND160,000 and VND195,000, and there are dozens of light, street snack options starting at VND55,000. Don’t miss the impressive cocktail list, which includes nine types of Martini. Located at, SO-31, First Floor, T7, Times City, 458 Minh Khai, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi. Open daily from 11am to 10pm. For more information, call (04) 3201 1222 or visit facebook.com/ goodfellashanoi

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Just Hanoi



1. Get your organics delivered to your door 2. KOTO team nails Taste of Australia cook-off 3. Tay Ho Tiki Co. has reopened in the same location 4. TViLi Wok tossed in a box

Midori Getting safe, high quality organic produce delivered to your door just got easier. Midori prides itself on quality personal service and a very high standard of products. After receiving an order, Midori will source the produce directly from a select group of farms, before delivering it in insulated, cool boxes. With English and Japanesespeaking delivery drivers who prepare cash change in advance, they are targeting the expat community and people who appreciate responsibly sourced food. “We also want to educate people about the real value of labour work,” says founder Nguyen Thuy Dung, “and engage families through handson agricultural experience.” Options include organic spinach

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(VND22,000 per 300g), organic baby corn (VND25,000 per 300g) and Japanese carrots (VND20,000 per 300g). Herbs, mushrooms, fruits and nut milk are also available. For orders and more information, call 0971 093839 (English and Vietnamese) or visit midori.com/vn

Taste of Australia Culinary Competition Last month as part of the nationwide celebration of Australian food, beverages, fashion and design, the final of the first nationwide Taste of Australia culinary competition was held. Nguyen Phuong Dieu and Nguyen Hong Quan from social enterprise KOTO (Know One, Teach One) in Hanoi beat stiff competition from three other teams. The winners

will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Sydney courtesy of two leading Australian culinary institutions, including 50 percent scholarships to study culinary arts in Sydney. Seventeen teams in Hanoi, Saigon, Danang and Nha Trang competed in the competition heats, which included challenging skills tests and a mystery box full of premium Australian ingredients that teams had to work with. This is the second year of the competition, but the first year it has been held nationally, with judges including celebrity Australian chef Luke Nguyen and Australian Consul- General Karen Lanyon.

Tay Ho Tiki Company Inspired by the Tiki craze which swept America from the 1940s to 1970s, and using local fruit and spice




flavours, Tay Ho Tiki Company has just re-opened after completing renovation work and a new menu. After quashing the possible need to relocate, the cocktail bar is in the same spot, but with new and improved dĂŠcor, featuring lots of lush greenery, bright furniture and a stunning mural. Original cocktail creations include The Spice Route (VND140,000) which brings together aged rum with orange curacao, caramelised pineapple, lime and black walnut bitters. Vintage Tiki classics such as the pina colada and Mai Tai feature on an extensive cocktail menu with prices ranging from VND80,000 to VND200,000. A variety of mocktails are

also available, and include The Passionate Virgin (VND60,000) and non-alcoholic ginger beer (VND30,000), brewed in house. Located at 228A Au Co, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open Thursday to Saturday from 4pm until late. For more information, call 0965 439573 or visit facebook.com/tayhotikicompany

ViLi Wok Quick and tasty homemade noodles are the speciality of ViLi Wok, tossed in a traditional wok pan and served in colourful boxes. The boxes are key to their operation, as it allows the food to be easily taken away and eaten anywhere, a concept new to Hanoi but already a worldwide trend. Of course, delivery is an

option too, for those days when you need your noodles in bed during a Netflix marathon. Prices are reasonable, with all wok-fried noodle/rice dishes costing between VND65,000 and VND85,000. Varieties include pork with ginger sauce, beef with oyster sauce and chicken with teriyaki sauce. There are a handful of specials, salads and vegetarian options, and soft drinks are just VND15,000. The starters, both VND50,000, will be available soon, and both sound tempting; shrimp tempura, or Thai-style chicken wings, anyone? Located at 120 Bach Mai, Hai Ba Trung. Open daily from 10am until 10pm. For more information, contact 01272 808837 or visit facebook.com/viliwok


Jordan Vogt-Roberts / Vietnam 2.0 / Run / Bike Wars / Inner City Farmers /Cocktail Time / Mystery Diner Hanoi / Banh Goi / Mystery Diner HCMC / Banh Cuon Photo by Julie Vola 48 | Word May 2017 | wordvietnam.com

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Insider Many Faces


Jordan Vogt-Roberts


The director of Kong: Skull Island talks with Edward Dalton about his love for Vietnam, the role he’s playing to protect its natural beauty, and his dream of creating an All-Vietnamese hero. Photo by Julie Vola

veryone is vulnerable to the mesmerising charm of Vietnam. Some people fall victim to its beauty during a gap year, others while volunteering. American film and television director Jordan Vogt-Roberts came under the spell while he was filming Kong: Skull Island. Now in the process of packing up his Los Angeles home to move to Vietnam, even he doesn’t seem sure of how it happened. “The way I fell in love with this place was an intense experience,” says Jordan, fresh from giving a talk at the latest TEDxBadinh event. “It wasn’t planned. I came here and was just blown away.”

Love Story Once we stop laughing over a shared love of the local goat-penis wine, Jordan is quick to dive into the complex web of reasons of why he loves Vietnam. “I love the quirky stuff,” he explains. “People here have an appreciation for the small things, which makes me feel so alive and inspired.” Despite devoting two-and-a-half years to create a movie that would go on to gross more than $550 million worldwide, he still finds time to enjoy the little treats any visitor to Vietnam can relate to. “My favourite thing is to go with my Vietnamese friends, sit on a little plastic stool in an alley, and let them order food for me,” says Jordan, 32.

The physical beauty of Vietnam had a role not only in attracting Jordan to move here, but also in the conception of Skull Island’s inhabitants. “It’s serene and picturesque, but there’s a ruggedness and a hard edge,” says Jordan. “Skull Island and its creatures are beautiful, but also dangerous; that’s the impact of Vietnam’s mythic quality.”

Clear Direction The impact of Kong on national pride and awareness is not something Jordan predicted. “The amount of locals coming up to me, who said, ‘I didn’t know how beautiful my country was,’ caught me off-guard in the most positive way,” says Jordan. Of course, the movie goes deeper than just showing off Vietnam’s natural beauty. “Absolutely it’s an allegory for the war, and for being places we don’t belong,” Jordan explains. “The fact we have an anti-war message in a giant studio film is remarkable to me.” Jordan acknowledges that for many Americans, everything they know about this country relates to the war. This has made him keen to avoid perpetuating stereotypes about Vietnam. “Go to any city here, and there are different things about every single one,” says Jordan. “I want to support the people here, the voice they have, so they can represent themselves how they want to be represented.” This theme of being misrepresented and misunderstood as a nation, is one of the profounder aspects of Kong as a character. “Kong is a lonely guy, a morose god, someone who is of a different era,” Jordan explains. “The pain we feel when we are misunderstood can be heartbreaking.”

Gut Instinct The vulnerability of putting yourself out there, of being misunderstood, was a central idea of Jordan’s TEDx talk, the organisers of which helped to set up our meeting. “Creative people have an instinct, a gut drive,” he says. “You put your blinders on, follow your gut and stick with it. You need to be able to wake up in the middle of your lowest low, and say, ‘I know why I’m doing this’.” It was the same with moving to Vietnam.

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“I had to follow my instinct,” he explains. “I had to be vulnerable, and put myself in this new place.”

Sustainable Growth One unforeseen result of putting himself in that new place, was becoming the first American to hold the title of Ambassador of Tourism to Vietnam. “I feel a great responsibility, as I’ve shown Vietnam to a lot of people,” Jordan says proudly. “What’s important to me now, is that as tourism grows, it grows properly.” Jordan is quick to identify examples of where people have sold out their culture for a quick dollar, and is enthusiastic to help prevent Vietnam from going down the same path. “The change is inevitable, and it’s a good thing,” Jordan says. “But it would be a shame if the stuff that made me fall in love with this country is not here in 40 years.” If the sustainability of Vietnam is threatened, and tourism is allowed to take away from the majesty of its natural beauty, Jordan describes a sense of foreboding at the thought of what might be inherited by future generations of Vietnamese.

Looking Ahead Looking to his own future, however, he is juggling several plans, many of which are directly related to his new role and position in Vietnam. “I’m trying to bring a full season of a TV show here,” Jordan says, “with a couple of American actors, but primarily a Vietnamese cast. That’s never happened before.” Breaking down barriers is a theme across a lot of his work, and shooting an American TV show in Vietnam is just the start. What film would he like to see about Vietnam that doesn’t touch on the war? “I’d love to give Vietnamese audiences a hero, someone people can say he’s ours, that movie’s ours,” he says. “Someone kids can pretend to be on a playground!” Already at the helm of a movie adaptation of Hideo Kojima’s mega gaming franchise Metal Gear Solid, he still thinks he’ll probably make another indie movie next. “Smaller movies touch on the kind of stories I want to tell, and you get more freedom and experimentation in that form,” says Jordan.

“I’d love to give Vietnamese audiences a hero, someone people can say he’s ours, that movie’s ours"

Cover Story

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n 1997, the Asian financial crisis hit Southeast and East Asia. Due to a lack of debt, Vietnam came away unscathed. The only side effect was financial direct investment (FDI) from overseas. With the region reeling, it dried up. In the 20 years since, the country’s GDP per capita has tripled from US$600 (VND13.5 million) per annum to around US$1800 (VND40.5 million), transforming this once impoverished nation into the place we know today. The transition hasn’t been plain sailing — it never is — but what we see now is a country that is remarkably different to

two decades ago. Every person in this 90-million-strong nation has benefited. The following stories delve into the social and physical change experienced by Vietnam. We look at what once was, what is and what may well be; past, present and future. Through this we hope to get some sort of idea on where Vietnam stands today, Vietnam in its 2.0 version so to speak. We also ask ourselves what the future may bring, and what challenges lie ahead. Whatever your perspective on this country, the next 20 years are going to be as fascinating as the last.

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Cover Story

The Success In 30 years Vietnam has gone from one of the poorest nations on this planet to one of the most dynamic countries in Asia. Still, there’s plenty of work to be done. Here are the key moments

Doi moi (Renovation) is launched at the 6th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam.

1987 1986

In December, the country is opened to foreign investment and the first licensed projects are registered in Vietnam the following year. In just two years, 211 projects are agreed with a registered capital of US$1.6 billion.

Australian telecommunications giant OTC works with the Vietnamese government to launch the Vietnam Vista satellite earth station. By 1989 the corporation has helped Vietnam upgrade its telecommunications system. Prior to this, Vietnam only had limited international telecommunications reach out of the country.

1987 The Land Law is enacted which recognises private land-use rights for citizens of Vietnam. Farmers are permitted to use their land long-term and sell their products on the free market. They are no longer obliged to participate in cooperatives.

My Dinh National Stadium is completed in Hanoi West. It ushers in the start of extensive suburban development in the area. The new stadium allows Vietnam to host the Southeast Asian Games for the first time in the country’s history.

In anticipation of joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO), foreign investment laws are revised to make it easier to invest in Vietnam.

2004 2006

From a price of approximately US$0.40 (VND6,000 per litre at the time), fuel prices start to rise. In five years they almost double, reaching a peak of US$1.20 (VND25,000 per litre) in 2013.


The Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange (HoSTC) is formed. In 2007 it is renamed and upgraded to the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HOSE). Together with the visit of President Clinton, it ushers in seven years of exponential growth.

2001 2003

Australian tertiary education institution, RMIT University, opens in Ho Chi Minh City. It is the first international university to operate a campus in Vietnam


STORY OF VIETNAM A professor at the Australian National University, Rob Hurle, brings a modem to Vietnam, and is considered to be the first person to connect the country to the Internet. Official connection to the Internet commences in 1997.

The collapse of the Soviet Union creates an urgency in Vietnam to reposition the economy so it is more outward-looking.



President Bill Clinton ends the US trade embargo with Vietnam. As a result, multi-national companies such as Coca-Cola enter the country. Prior to building a factory outside of Hanoi, Coca-Cola products are shipped in from Cambodia.



Five young artists based in Hanoi, who become known as The Gang of Five, hold their first exhibition. Their work ushers in a new period of contemporary art in Vietnam



1994 The Vietnamese constitution recognises the role of the private sector in the economy. This is preceded in 1990 by the Law on Private Enterprises. The law provides a legal basis for private business.

Vietnam becomes the seventh member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It is the first new entrant since Brunei joined in 1984.


1995 US President Bill Clinton visits Vietnam from Nov. 16 to Nov. 19. The following year a bilateral trade agreement is signed between the two countries.

Pete Peterson is appointed the first US ambassador to Vietnam since the end of the war.

Apollo Vietnam opens in Hanoi. It is the first fully foreign-owned English language training company in Vietnam. Other language schools soon follow, kickstarting a sustained period of English-language training.

Cover Story Vietnam joins the WTO. From pariah state to member of the WTO in under 15 years is a notable achievement. Together with the revised investment laws, this represents a pivotal moment in the economic development of Vietnam.

Real estate prices in Vietnam crash. It takes more than five years for prices to reach the same levels they were in 2008.




2009 Widening trade imbalances, rising inflation and a bursting credit and property bubble cause the economy to go into recession. The Vietnamese dong is devalued three times in the space of a year in an attempt to keep the exportdriven economy afloat.

Despite limited access, there is an exponential rise in new Facebook accounts in Vietnam. By the end of 2016, the country has 34.7 million users.

Foreigners are allowed to buy property in Vietnam for the first time. Properties are sold with 50-year leases. A maximum of 30 percent of apartments in a block and 250 houses in a given ward may be sold to non-Vietnamese.

Then-president Barack Obama visits Vietnam to further cement US-Vietnamese bilateral relations. Obama is pictured eating bun cha in a local Hanoi restaurant.

2016 2016

2014 2015

A number of environmental disasters take place in Vietnam, including the mass death of fish in Hanoi’s West Lake. The disasters bring environmental concerns into the public domain.



Amid much protest, Saigon Tax Trade Centre, a former French-built department store, is torn to the ground. It is part of the redevelopment of central Ho Chi Minh City.

Work starts on the Hanoi Metro System. The master plan for the Hanoi Capital Region includes nine lines that are expected to transport over 3 million passengers a day.

The first expressway, from Ho Chi Minh City to Trung Luong, opens. It is part of the North-South Expressway, which will eventually connect Hanoi with Ho Chi Minh City. By 2020 there will be 2,500km of expressway in Vietnam.




2011 Landmark 72 in the Keangnam Tower in Hanoi is completed. It is the tallest building in Vietnam, taking the mantle from the Bitexco Financial Tower in Ho Chi Minh City, a structure that was completed the previous year.

From a poverty headcount of 58% in the early 1990s, according to the World Bank, the figure in 2010 has fallen to around 10%. At the same time, inequality is rising. Ethnic minorities now account for 65% of the poorest 10% of the population.


There is a decline in small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) investment in Vietnam. This corresponds with an increase in the development of franchise chains in the country, bringing in big-name brands in a range of industries. This is coupled with a growth in large-scale corporate investment.

Work begins on the first line of the Ho Chi Minh City Metro system. The system is scheduled to be operational by 2020.


2013 McDonald’s opens its first store in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. For the first time, the country is included on the Big Mac index.

Me tro

2012 2012

After years of language training from an early age, the numbers of English-speaking Vietnamese entering the workforce increases significantly. This has a positive impact on the international orientation of Vietnam.

The first Viet Pride Rally is held in Hanoi. All the participants are on bicycles or motorbikes.

Cover Story

Living Space As modern Vietnam moves to a Korean or Singaporean style of apartment living, questions of how this will affect feelings of community remain unanswered. Words by Nick Ross


hen someone invites you into their home, you want to be impressed, and you don’t want to say anything negative about the place they live. This is the situation I found myself in when one of our writers took me into their apartment in Vinhomes Central Park in Ho Chi Minh City. A 44-hectare, Singapore-like development of high-rises and villas on the banks of the Saigon River, the idea of Central Park is to create a self-contained township filled with schools, a hospital, a shopping mall, a financial centre, a harbour, public spaces, restaurants, bars, cafés and everything you need to be able to live without ever straying far from the comfort of your home. When I visited, only a few of the high-rise towers had been completed, with dozens more still under construction. The hospital was there, as were the schools, and the riverside park was almost complete. Yet the security for the individual blocks was already complete — to get in and out and into the lifts required an entry card, although at the gates to the complex you can come and go as you please.

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Already the space felt cramped. The apartment — a one-bedroom on the 12th floor — must have been little more than 40sqm with a balcony big enough only to hang washing. The word claustrophobic sprang to mind. And while I could see how a young married couple could make the space into a love nest, what concerned me was everything else. The public space. “Probably 30,000 people will end up living here,” I was told. I’ve tried since to work out the number of apartments that are being built, but there are no figures online. What I do know is that with over 50 apartment block towers being constructed, each probably holding 150 to 200 apartments, it’s going to be a lot. The problem with 30,000 people is that you need living space for them. Based on what I saw, there just wouldn’t be enough. The green areas of the project will take up 13.8 hectares or 138,000 sqm. Divide that by 30,000 people and you get 4.6 sqm of green space per resident. It may sound a lot, but when you are enclosed in an apartment in a high-rise, having outdoor space and places to go is vital. And this doesn’t take into account the people from outside the

township who will go to the shopping mall and the people working in the new financial centre, which will be an 81-floor landmark tower, the highest in Vietnam. In short, there won’t be space to breathe, let alone live and work.

Community and Space

Head to the old countryside villages of Vietnam and you get a sense of how living space once was in this country. Take Duong Lam, to the west of Hanoi. Here houses are packed close together around a labyrinth of lanes, with public spaces around the pagoda, the church, the local schools, the cultural centre and the market. It’s the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else’s business. Yet there’s enough physical and geographical division between each family to create a certain sense of privacy. This is how over the centuries Vietnamese communities were, with many generations of one family living under one roof, and with enough closeness to other families to instill a sense of camaraderie. This began to change when the French came along and built cities. To pay for these cities and for the colony, the French

had to work out a way to raise taxes. “It was very difficult to invoke a tax on people’s earnings because there was so much black money in the economy,” explains architect and urban planner, Ed Haysom. “So they came up with this genius idea, the width tax. It only applied to the locals — it didn’t apply to the French administrators.” Using the French colony of Louisiana as a model, houses in the newly built cities in Vietnam were taxed based on how wide they were. According to Haysom, the first thing the Vietnamese did when they saw the width tax was to make their houses as skinny and long as possible, creating what today we call the tube house. He adds: “[The tube house] suited Vietnamese culture and family structure because it was vertically stratified. The

family structure was such that you could have the prayer room at the top, and maybe some storage, the elderly on the ground floor or second floor with the kitchen, the married people and then maybe the kids further up. The ground floor was always either a shop or a kitchen area.” Through this way, that sense of community created in the villages could be maintained, but in a slightly different format.

The Alleyways

The next stage of recreating the community of the villages within the confine of the big cities was via the alleyways. Once again this happened by accident. Over time the alleyways developed into their own labyrinth of passages, with tube houses appearing in every empty space. They

recreated the lanes of Vietnam’s traditional villages, but on a narrower, more confined scale. Says Haysom: “The alleyways build up a really strong community feeling. Everyone takes care of them and everyone knows everyone else’s business, which is classic Vietnamese.” He adds: “We worked out that 85% of Ho Chi Minh City’s dwellings are in the alleyways.” So when the post-World War II authorities tried to rebuild the centre of Saigon by introducing apartment blocks, they created an internal alleyway-like structure into the blocks with built in communal space to replicate the sense of living in the tube houses. Many of these blocks, like those on Nguyen Sieu, Dong Du and Dong Khoi exist today.

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The Upper End

Set along the Saigon River in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2 is Holm Residence. With sleek lines, spacious rooms, and high ceilings in the downstairs lounge, in terms of architecture, overall design and desirability, Holm is at present the most exclusive development in Vietnam. It screams the word ‘modern’. Naturally, prices match the exclusivity. The five-bedroom riverfront villas which come complete with two kitchens, a threecar garage, a private back garden, two rooms for the maids and an infinity pool cost just under US$6 million each. Yet the majority of buyers are Vietnamese. According to David Clarkin, managing director of the compound’s developer, Sapphire, one reason for Vietnamese buying houses in compounds such as Holm is the need for security. “Unfortunately [it] is becoming more important to the very wealthy Vietnamese,” he says. “You do hear cases of home invasion. You can have your own security in your own villa, but that’s staff you don’t necessarily want, whereas in a compound we can put in quite a lot of security that’s fairly unobtrusive.” The idea for the design of Holm Residences came from another development built by Sapphire— Sanctuary in Ho Tram. “It’s very different [to Holm],” he explains. “They’re beach houses and you walk in with sand on your feet, but they were built in that modern fairly minimalist style, a bit cooler, and not so much warmth in the finishes, but because they were

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beach houses they had lots of greenery around them. “When we were handing over those villas to our purchasers, we had the same comment a number of times: ‘Oh I wish I could have something like this in Saigon.’ So that proved a point that there was a market for modern.” According to Clarkin, the design of Sanctuary has been so successful that the houses there have been copied a number of times. Although the copies often didn’t get many of the features correct, this, he says, shows that there is a movement away from French-style villas towards a modern, contemporary, clean market for housing. As a result, “When we came to Holm, it wasn’t too hard.” Unlike exclusive properties elsewhere, which are fenced off by themselves from the outside world, because Holm is a 29-villa compound, Sapphire has tried to create a sense of community. Amenities include two swimming pools, a clubhouse with a fitness centre and a landscaped waterfront parkland. “Community is important and it hasn’t been addressed enough,” explains Clarkin. “I think there are a lot of opportunities to do all sorts of communal things. It is a very important part of living in Vietnam and is something that has been completely lost in the west.”


Clarkin’s comment about community is key to the issue facing Vietnam as it races into the modern age. While almost every

apartment block being built has some sort of public space, by separating people out into enclosed apartments, community is being broken. Put these apartments behind security and it’s broken even further. More importantly, due to the size of these apartments, newly built residences which in the past would have housed three or even four generations living under one roof, are becoming rare. “These apartments are all self-contained units,” explains Haysom. “So the people who live in those apartments are disconnected with everyone else, and the model for the apartments is a two-bedroom, or at the very most a three-bedroom, so you can only get so many people in them. “So instead of families being a continuum between the elderly and the children, you have parts of the family living in separate places.” He adds: “What’s happened is that people have seen the alleyways, have seen all the problems with them, and they’ve gone to another model that is completely antithetical to all those things. But [highrises] are quick and cheap to build, and people buy them because they feel they’re aspirational, because they feel they’re going to be the same as people in Singapore. But when they get there they find that a whole part of their culture is missing.” This creates the nuclear family, a concept that even just 10 years ago was alien to Vietnam. With developments like Central Park springing up everywhere, urban middle class society is being irrevocably changed.

Cover Story “Consultation on the development direction of Hanoi has proven to be tricky, because planning tends to be done behind closed doors”

Urban Planning and City Expansion The transformation of Hanoi from sleepy hollow into modern megacity is well and truly underway. But as Diane Lee finds out, the decisions being made are often informal and spontaneous. Photos by Julie Vola


ith urban sprawl a 21st-century reality in most major cities, Hanoi faces the dual challenge of positioning itself within the region as an economically driven, modern metropolis, as well as planning for its growth in the face of a burgeoning middle class with its own set of expectations. The administrative merger of the Province of Hanoi with the Province of Ha Tay in 2008 tripled Hanoi’s size and doubled its population to 6.2 million people, making Hanoi one of the 30 largest cities in the world. It is estimated that by 2030, Hanoi’s official population will be around 9 million people. Following the merger, a foreign consortium was commissioned to plan a vision for the city — Hanoi Capital Master Plan 2030 – 2050 — with the aim of making

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Hanoi one of the most attractive, liveable and sustainable cities in the world. The consortium — consisting of one American and two Korean enterprises — planned the future of Hanoi as a central core, around which several satellite cities were built. The aim is to attract investment — both foreign and domestic — into specific sectors of the economy. “Each of these new cities is supposed to take a specific role, economically speaking,” said Danielle Labbé, who is an expert in Hanoi’s urban development. “For instance, to the west is Lang Hoa Lac, and it is supposed to be a high-tech city, with several universities. Others are meant to be culture or tourism oriented.” Think Ecopark, the “green” satellite city in Hung Yen Province south east of Hanoi. Some 13km from central Hanoi, and costing

around US$8.2 billion, the development will span 500ha on completion, sometime in 2020. Using the master plan as its guide, the development has factored tunnels and bridges into the construction to reduce travel times for commuters.

Model Players

While Singapore and Seoul are often touted as the models on which the ‘new Hanoi’ is based, the transformation is probably easier said than done. Singapore, in particular, has laws which enable the government to take possession of any land it chooses, with appropriate compensation. In Vietnam, this process has run into difficulties many times in the past, and similar problems recently surfaced in the Ecopark project. According to Danielle, Singapore has been the model for Vietnamese planners because

“It is estimated that by 2030, Hanoi’s official population will be in the vicinity of 9 million people”

it is such a clean and orderly city. “The desire to order urban development is a key feature of urban planning in Vietnam and one which is constantly defeated by the nemesis of urban planners; informal and spontaneous urbanization.” The orderliness of Seoul is not the only reason the city is used as a model by Vietnamese planners. “Seoul has been the engine of Korea’s economic growth since World War II and this growth has been rapid,” Danielle said. Urban planning expert, Laurie Tallotte, would like to see Hanoi opened to the Red River shores, similar to what has been done in Bangkok and Phnom Penh. “The Red River is a part of Hanoi’s heritage that hasn’t been enhanced so far,” she said. “Waterside areas are multi-functional spaces that could support a diversity of activities and opportunities for leisure, tourism, economic development and urban regeneration.”

Concordia College: Room To Move

A short, enjoyable drive over the river — and one that is traffic-jam free — is the location of the new campus of Concordia College. The tranquil setting among rice paddies, with villas dotted around the periphery, belies the school’s move from Cau Giay in July 2016, which was some six years in the making and fraught with red tape. The American-owned, not-for-profit Lutheran school — which has no Vietnamese partners — looked at 35 locations before deciding on the site adjacent to the Van Tri Golf Compound in Dong Anh district. A key feature of Concordia’s location was consultation, often missing in urban development projects in Hanoi, and one the school did through focus groups, which were held bi-annually over the planning period.

“We handpicked enterprises who had an interest in an international school,” said Lia Garcia Halpin, director of communications. “The projected growth for Hanoi was across the river and towards the airport.” The 6.5ha site — chosen for its green space and proximity to the golf course — is used for extra-curricular activities and community building. Both sites are owned by Noble Vietnam, a Korean-Vietnamese developer, making campus expansion easy. “There were only rice paddies and grass fields here,” said Lia.

Who’s Pulling The Strings?

Consultation on the development direction of Hanoi has proven to be tricky, because planning tends to be done behind closed doors. Danielle said that while there was a public exhibition of the master plan once it was adopted, there was no public consultation in the preparation of the document. The exhibition was for information, not for comment. One issue that doesn’t seem to be factored in is water. Where does the flow of water in all the natural rivers, streams and underground water passages go when previously undeveloped land gets developed? You only need to look at the development in Phu My Hung in Ho Chi Minh City to see what happens when water isn’t considered. The recently completed Vivo Mall is one such example. When it rains, the highway in front gets flooded for 200 metres. And water struggling for an outlet has upended sidewalks and even newly tarmacked roads for years. With Hanoi traditionally prone to flooding, as author and architect Joep Janssen writes in a recent post on Linked In, “I do worry about the increased risk of

flooding when flood prone areas are turned into buildings and roads.” Foreign investment also has a function in urban planning and urbanization in Hanoi, but there is limited data available concerning what exactly that role is. “Clearly, foreign investment plays a role in the industrial sector,” said Danielle. “Some of the largest and most successful industrial parks in the region of Hanoi have been foreign invested. Those large industrial parks on the road to the airport, for instance, specialise in the assembly of various electronic goods and they are the result of international flows of money.” Danielle says the situation is less clear where other types of developments are involved such as large commercial centres or malls, residential enclaves (khu do thi moi) and theme parks. Up until the early 2010s, domestic enterprises and former stateowned companies were the main investors, and led the way in land redevelopments. “These enterprises were really influential with regards to what got developed where. In a sense, they were the main carriers of capital investment into the city’s expansion, and along with the Vietnamese banks lending to them — state and commercial, domestic, joint-stock and foreign — they have played a bigger role in shaping the metropolitan formation process than any single foreign investor.”

The New Kids On The Block

While the emergence of a new group of big real estate players since the economic slowdown of the late 2000s — Vincom and SunGroups, for example — are not founded in state-owned enterprises, they do employ the same kinds of tactics. Danielle says these new real estate players are the ones building the Hanoi of tomorrow and are profiting from rapid urban development. Whether they are doing it with any kind of vision remains to be seen. Acknowledgements: We are indebted to Danielle Labbé, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Urbanization in the Global South, University of Montreal, and Laurie Tallotte, Urban Planner at AREP for their invaluable input into this article

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Cover Story

Roads Vietnam’s unprecedented development has left its major cities in need of greater and better infrastructure. Edward Dalton takes a look at Hanoi’s development over the past 20 years and ponders the challenges ahead. Photos by Julie Vola

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s GDP rises and Vietnamese cities flourish along with it, the country’s infrastructure is being strained and tested like never before. To try and keep up with these socio-economic developments, new roads are opening up all the time. That means new prospects for connecting communities, stronger trade links, better communication and expanded travel opportunities. Great highways now connect the expanding urban metropolises of Vietnam, while a web of dual carriageways, oneway streets and meandering lanes keep the citizens and vehicles of the city flowing.

In the Beginning

Hanoians are always proud to boast of their city’s 1,000-year-long history. Roads have been a central part of life in Hanoi since the Old Quarter grew out of a swamp.

The original 36 streets of the Old Quarter, a number which one theory suggests comes from the original 36 guild workshops of the 15th century, encapsulate how synonymous roads are with Vietnamese culture. Even just last year, the 15th Hanoi Municipal People’s Council used the naming of new roads as an opportunity to strengthen and cultivate Vietnamese culture and history. Three new roads around Vo Nguyen Giap Street and National Highway Five were named after the Vietnamese islands Ly Son, Hoang Sa and Truong Sa. This is a break from the penchant for naming inner-city roads after great Vietnamese heroes and sites of famous victories, such as Ly Thuong Kiet, Ba Trieu and Dien Bien Phu.

Plan of Action

Fast forward to today, and Hanoi’s Old Quarter is a characterful, charming district

where many streets are still named after the product or service they are famous for. However, unchecked progress has resulted in the need to “de-densify” the Old Quarter, says Clément Musil, a PhD urbanist based in Vietnam. “Households are being relocated from the Old Quarter to new urban areas, such as Gia Lam,” says Clément, 37. While this programme is intended to improve the quality of life in the Old Quarter, there is no suggestion that it is to enable the construction of new roads or improve current ones. “Land prices in the Old Quarter are very high,” explains Clément. “Acquiring land in order to enlarge the roads would be too expensive.” However, the authorities have plans with regards to infrastructure and transport management in the Old Quarter.

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Most people will have already noticed the recent action plan, for example, which sees motorised vehicles forbidden from some streets around Hoan Kiem at certain times of the day and at weekends.

Such Great Heights

May 2015 saw the inauguration of the striking Nhat Tan Bridge, or VietnamJapan Friendship Bridge. As the biggest cable-stayed bridge in Vietnam, it works in tandem with the new Vo Nguyen Giap Highway, to cut the Hanoi–Noi Bai Airport travelling time to around 20 minutes. In a statement from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), without whom the project might not exist, the new bridge and highway are essential to keep up with the “rapid and continuous economic development” of Vietnam’s capital. “The new road will become an urban corridor,” explains Clément. “These corridors are important to channel urbanisation and to develop urban areas connected to them.” Agreeing with the report’s assessment that the Thang Long–Noi Bai road could not accommodate the expected increase in airport traffic volume, the Vietnamese government invested heavily in the new Nhat Tan Bridge project. “[The old airport road] was actually unsafe,” adds Clément. “It had many different urban functions plugged into it; industrial zones with heavy truck traffic, as well as new urban villages.”

“The original 36 streets of the Old Quarter, a number which one theory suggests comes from the original 36 guild workshops of the 15th century, encapsulate how synonymous roads are with Vietnamese culture”

Bold Ambition

Continuing on from the new Vo Nguyen Giap Highway is another new road, the 280km highway from Hanoi to Lao Cai. It’s one of the biggest new road projects northern Vietnam has seen in recent times. For tourists and domestic businesses, it has removed the reliance on trains and slow buses to get to Lao Cai and nearby Sapa, which can now be reached with just three hours of driving. However, ambitions are bigger than just on a regional scale, as this new highway also cuts the journey time from Hanoi to Yunnan in China by 40%. The possibilities this opens up for cross-border trade and travel are enormous. “There is also a plan to develop a corridor axis from Lao Cai to Haiphong,” says Clément. “Hanoi would be a stop point on this corridor.” Such a road would give Lao Cai and the surrounding region unprecedented new access to the sea, and all the fruits of trade and communication that brings. “That could be a threat or an opportunity for Hanoi,” Clément suggests. The Vietnamese government, however, sees only opportunity. It has identified the triangular area connecting Hanoi, Haiphong and Halong cities as the development centre of the north. When Japan resumed ODA loans to Vietnam in the 1990s, the construction

of transport infrastructure in this area was ranked top priority. First came the improvement to National Highway Five, in 1993. This was followed by the construction of new national highways 18 and 10, connecting Cai Lan with Hanoi and Haiphong, also financed by Japanese loans. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) says this work on infrastructure is key to private sector investment, which has since taken place in Hanoi’s suburban areas, Haiphong and along the highway corridors between them. This has resulted in a huge economic boost and reduction of poverty in these areas.

From Dirt to Tarmac

Just a few kilometres away from the Old Quarter is one of the most thriving food, fashion and entertainment centres of Hanoi, Tay Ho. Tay Ho was not always the illuminated hotspot it is today. Before it began attracting expats from many countries along with affluent Hanoians, the largest lake in Hanoi was surrounded by farms, fishing villages and a simple dirt track. Just over 20 years ago, Tay Ho became a recognised district of the capital. Despite the new status, it took a further 15 years

for West Lake to become surrounded by a paved road. Since then, boutiques and bistros of every type have opened up to help transform the area. However, in many ways, local life has endured alongside these modern developments and upgraded infrastructure. Nguyen Thuy Dung, 63, has lived around West Lake her whole life. “My family has lived in this area for many generations,” says Dung, who sells bread and cakes from her bicycle in the streets between the waterpark and Quang An. “When the development started, we began to feel worried,” Dung explains. “So many people lost their homes or jobs, if they failed to adapt.” As a single mother of four, Dung had no choice but to take the latter option. She put wheels on her small bakery business, and now spends most of her day cycling around selling sweet cakes, baguettes and other floury treats. The Party Committee of Tay Ho has five central mission statements to achieve by 2020. One of these is to increase productivity by building new infrastructure. Another is to preserve, manage and upgrade the quality of the natural environment. Whether or not these goals are mutually exclusive remains to be seen.

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Cover Story “New malls are opening, online shopping is becoming more popular and the traditional wet market is under threat from modern supermarkets”

Shopping Vietnam’s move into middle-income status has changed the way people shop. Edward Dalton discovers the future of shopping here isn’t as predictable as it seems. Photos by Sasha Arefieva


he last couple of decades in Vietnam have seen enormous segments of society creep closer to the middle-class category. According to market research by Cimigo, between 2005 and 2015, high-income households doubled. These changes have drastically altered the way people do their shopping. New malls are opening, online shopping is becoming more popular and the traditional wet market is under threat from modern supermarkets.

As a result, these so-called convenience stores are not offering any real convenience to the Vietnamese shopper. “Traditional wet markets are still more convenient,” says student Vu Hong Phuong, 22. “Housewives control the shopping habits of most families, and they prefer wet markets.” This opinion was shared by all of the people we spoke to, with others suggesting the wet markets are often closer to home, and with much cheaper prices.

Embrace the Change

Size Matters

In 2005, Vietnam was home to a mere 47 supermarkets and 135 modern, mostly independent, self-service stores. Just 10 years on, and those figures have exploded. In 2015, there were 975 supermarkets and around 1,800 modern self-service stores, mostly belonging to wellknown chains. “All those chains are losing money,” says Richard Burrage, managing partner at market research company Cimigo. “They’re on a land grab; chasing market share before profits.”

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However, scale up the convenience store to a shopping mall, and opinions shift. “Shopping centres have more variety,” says local Hanoian, Nguyen Thanh Hoa, 28. “The quality is guaranteed, they’re clean and modern. You can even hang out there, too.” This last point is something which Richard believes is key to increasing the popularity of the smaller convenience stores. “The convenience stores in Indonesia, or the konbinis in Japan, are places to hang out,” says Richard. “There’s aircon, WiFi, tables and chairs to eat hot food or have a drink.”

If the stores in Vietnam follow the same trend, as well as adding other services like the ability to pay bills or collect deliveries, Richard believes modern trade supermarkets and convenience stores could see their market share increase from the current figure of 18% of retail sales to around 25% by 2027. Richard cites the example of Pharmacity, a Vietnamese pharmaceutical company, as one way modern retail centres must adapt to local demand for genuine convenience. “When they opened their doors, they realised they wouldn’t be successful unless they opened like a drive-thru,” says Richard. “People can be lazy, they don’t always want to park just to buy something for a sore throat.” When deciding where to hang out, however, food and beverage options seem to be a big factor in deciding the success of all the shiny new shopping malls popping up all over Vietnam. “When I go to any Vincom Centre, visually, it seems to only be the F&B outlets which have any customers,” says Richard. “The developers here are making malls which are way ahead of the market,

targeting A++ customers. Even the brands can’t afford to keep up with them.”

Cave of Wonders

While the food and beverage outlets may be key in attracting young people to hang out, the selection of shops and supermarkets still play a role in attracting more conventional shoppers to malls. “Shopping malls save me a lot of time,” says restaurant owner Nguyen Huong Giang, 42. “The variety in shops means I can buy everything I need at the same time.” In Vietnam, between 2005 and 2015, GDP per person increased by 261%. Combined with the 35 million Vietnamese consumers on social media, this adds up to a young, modern consumer base hungry for more media, more gadgets and more spending. “For cosmetics or electronic products, I prefer a big shopping centre,” says local leatherworker Chu Thu Hien, 30. “Shopping centres have better standards; customer service, quality and the overall experience is always better.” Others see further than the immediate benefit of greater choice. “The more we develop, the higher our expectations,” claims hotel manager Ngo Thi Lan Huong, 27. “This increases competition, and forces the new shopping centres to offer better service, better products and lower prices.”

“Online shopping in Vietnam is dominated by two sectors; either big companies such as Lazada or smaller, independent sellers on social media platforms such as Facebook”

Cyber Shopping

Despite the fact there seems to be a Vincom Centre on every street these days, not everyone is sold on the merits of shopping at modern malls. As of 2016, more than half of the population in Vietnam were regular internet users, defined as having access to the internet at home. This figure is slightly higher than the global average of 46%, and is set to rise. Online shopping in Vietnam is dominated by two sectors; either big companies such as Lazada or smaller, independent sellers on social media platforms such as Facebook. “Online commerce will be more significant than modern trade,” predicts Richard. “Especially if online traders tap into the potential collection centre market of minimarts and convenience stores.” In segments such as lower-grade electronics and fashion, online shopping is already flourishing in Vietnam. “It’s much easier to find what you want,” says Ngo Thi Lan Huong. “Because you can browse many products side-by-side.” “You can shop online anytime, even at midnight,” adds Chu Thu Hien. “And you can do it anywhere you have an internet connection.” Not everyone agrees, however, with many preferring the tangible aspect of shopping outside. “You can never be sure about the quality,” says Foreign Trade University graduate Khuong Ngoc Hoa, 25. “There are so many scams online, especially with fake products.”

Breaking with Tradition

Almost everyone we spoke to finds it impossible to imagine Vietnam ever saying goodbye to the traditional wet markets and street vendors. “Even Vietnamese communities in the US open up their own wet markets,” says Khuong Ngoc Hoa. “It’s our tradition.” “Wet markets are connected to the beauty of our culture,” adds Nguyen Huong Giang. “There may be less wet markets in the future, but they will never disappear completely.” The current trend suggests modern trade and online shopping will continue gaining market share, even though it could be at least 10 years before convenience stores start earning any real money, according to Cimigo. “In the UK or US, there was already a modern trade environment when convenience stores opened,” says Richard. “In Vietnam, however, there’s almost nowhere you have to walk more than 10 minutes to buy bread.” Most food is still bought daily at wet markets, and most online traders still lack the payment infrastructure to realistically compete with shopping centres. The next 10 years of commercial development will be vital if Vietnamese shoppers are to ever change their shopping habits in any meaningful way.

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Fit For Purpose Public spaces have long been the domain of traditional forms of exercise in Vietnam, but things are changing. Diane Lee hits the fitness trail in Hanoi and finds out exactly how people are burning the calories. Photos by Sasha Arefieva


anoi is hardly a sedentary city. In soft early morning light, Hanoians practise tai chi in parks, and in the evening, dance or play games in the public spaces. Children are active; cycling and skipping hand-in-hand to school, and kicking footballs and shuttlecocks in the street. Brave souls — both foreigners and Vietnamese — can be spotted running across the streets, dodging construction works, cars and motorcycles, the ultimate in an urban trail. And while traditional exercise has been the domain of public spaces, the trend towards gyms and niche fitness cannot be ignored.

The Great Outdoors

Dotted along the shore of West Lake are fitness machines that use body weight and resistance to build muscle mass. Popular among Vietnamese, young and old, park workouts can be done at any time of day, and it’s free. In locations like West Lake, where the air is reasonably fresh, exercise isn’t considered detrimental to health. Exercise parks are also social. Friends

work out together, chatting and laughing as they circle through the machines. Families with small children scamper around a vibrant, safe space. Mr Duc Anh, a lean 22-year-old mining and geology student, works out four days a week, rain or shine. He spends an hour on the machines, methodically using each one. “I live nearby,” he said. “So coming here is time-efficient, and it’s free.” Like Duc Anh, Mr Tuan also spends an hour on the machines every day. The muscular 32-year-old policemen said the gym is not for him. “There is enough equipment here,” he said. “I like the vibe and being outside.” Accessibility and fresh air are the main attractions for those using the exercise park. Six months pregnant with her third child, Ms Linh, a 39-year-old pharmacist, strolls the park every evening. “I like the fresh air, and I live locally so it’s easy to get to,” she said. “My husband comes here to do his workout when I get back from my walk.” Before falling pregnant, Linh said she had a gym membership, but only so she could practise yoga. “The gym was near my

office,” she said. “I’d go to yoga three times a week, but I didn’t have enough time for the other classes.”

The Lure of The Gymnasium

At the end of To Ngoc Van in Tay Ho is a nondescript gym called Olympia. Unlike the newly opened Centuryon on Xuan Dieu, which oozes money, Olympia is a no-frills fitness centre. As well as a swimming pool and a sauna, the gym is equipped with free weights and machines. The price of the gym — at the lower end of the scale — is a major drawcard for Vietnamese and foreign patrons alike, even without classes. Mr Dung, who has been managing Olympia for four years, said they are busy during the week in the early morning and late evening. “It is mainly Vietnamese who come at this time because of their working hours. Foreigners tend to come during the day because they have more flexibility.” Dung said Olympia was cheap compared to other gyms, which is what attracts and keeps members. On the leg press, a Vietnamese man

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extends his powerful thighs. Mr Tung has been a regular at Olympia for two years, coming daily to use the weights. At 45, Tung is the picture of health, and with muscles straining against the technical fabric of his T-shirt, he said he had always been interested in his health and keeping fit. “I cycle and run around the lake, but I like this gym because it is not expensive,” he said. A kilometre or so away from Olympia, the Fitness Village is a tranquil oasis. Opened in January 2016, with its well-maintained, tropical garden setting and small swimming pool, the gym is reminiscent of Bali. Fitness enthusiast and part-owner Josh Zukas, who has lived in Hanoi for four years, points out that while the gym is beautiful, it is neither upmarket nor boutique. “We are accessible, and members come here to relax and socialise,” he says. ‘‘Our target market is internationally minded, ‘non-ego’ members who want a comprehensive approach to fitness.” The gym has an international feel, which is a major drawcard for Vietnamese who comprise 5 to 10% of the membership base, according to Zukas. “We have a high Vietnamese membership,” he says. “And even though some of our Vietnamese members don’t speak English, they seek an international environment, which helps in other aspects of their life.” With the emphasis on value for money,

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a beautiful environment and qualified, English-speaking instructors, Fitness Village also capitalises on its central location, tailored class schedule and qualified trainers to attract and keep members. “Unlike many Vietnamese gyms, our instructors are independently qualified and certified physical trainers, who all speak English.” Asked what the future of fitness is in Hanoi, Zukas predicts it will become more niche and specialised. “Yoga, Pilates and climbing are exploding. Facilities will be built to cater to people who know what they really like doing.”

The Rise and Rise of Niche Fitness Opened six years ago by 36-year-old climbing enthusiast, Jean Verly, VietClimb is Hanoi’s first climbing gym, purpose built for bouldering. A certified climber who has been climbing for 25 years, Jean saw a gap in the market and decided to exploit it by building VietClimb. Now, he is looking to expand into Saigon. “Nature is our only competitor,” he said, with outdoor climbs located an inconvenient distance from Hanoi. Safety concerns are minimised thanks to an indoor venue, one that is built to European standards. VietClimb attracts equal numbers of young male and female climbers, and

comprises 40% Vietnamese, and 60% foreigners. “Our foreigners are mainly Japanese and Korean. We have a higher number in this demographic, compared to other gyms in the area.” With a community of around 70 members, Jean said only 10 of these are original members. “The expat community is quite transient,” he said. “And after the Vietnamese marry, there is generally no activity.” According to Jean, people are attracted to climbing for the physical benefits, particularly core strength; indoor climbing is also technical and strategic. Indoor climbs are easy to programme, with climbers advancing through colour-coded levels of difficulty at their own pace. Jack and Amy, from the UK — aged 24 and 22 — were in Hanoi for just three days before seeking a climbing gym. Both have been climbing for four years, and were originally attracted to the sport for similar reasons. “I find the gym boring and I’m not good at team sports,” said Jack. “With climbing, I get to challenge myself and see myself improve.” Amy agreed that she wasn’t competitive. “But it’s nice seeing yourself improve each day. And climbers are friendly. There’s a good community with climbing.” And it seems that it’s that personal progression and sense of community that keeps people coming back to climbing.

Cover Story

Education The number of Vietnamese students studying at foreign institutions continues to surge as they shun an education system that they say doesn’t prepare them for the future. As Matt Cowan discovers, while the student recruitment business is booming, some graduates enter the workforce disillusioned. Photos by Bao Zoan


ietnamese families spend an estimated US$3 billion a year on overseas education for their children. It’s a lot of money flowing out of a country that has a rich history of learning and now enjoys a 97% literacy rate. And yet, Vietnam is rising up the ladder of countries sending students abroad for their education. In the 10 years between 2005 and 2015, Vietnam moved from 26th position with 3,670 students studying at US high schools and universities, to ninth with over 18,000 students — an increase of over 400%. “People aren’t confident in the education system in Vietnam,” says Chau Le, 30, who is back living in Saigon after completing her university studies in Singapore and the US over two years ago. “The education system in Vietnam does well in certain areas, but not so well in others.” She says that because Vietnam’s curriculum focuses on theory, students excel at solving maths, physics and chemistry problems, but lack the ability to analyse things. “They can’t apply the things they’ve learnt and they never ask questions to arouse their curiosity,” she adds. Chau, who goes by her English name, Caroline, was one of the estimated 125,000 Vietnamese students studying abroad in 2014. Born and raised in Ho Chi Minh City,

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she did all of her schooling in Vietnam and attended one of Vietnam’s most prestigious high schools, then followed up with one semester at a Vietnamese university, long enough for her to realise that she didn’t fit in. “I felt the programme I was in was terribly designed, actually I have no words to describe it,” she says. That is when Caroline decided to apply for a Singapore Government-funded scholarship that would pay for her tuition fees, travel and accommodation, and a living allowance. She was successful and went on to study a four-year food science and nutrition degree at Singapore’s highest ranked university, the National University of Singapore (NUS). Her results were so good that she won another scholarship, this time for a Master’s degree in food science and nutrition at Cornell University in New York. “It was a wonderful opportunity for me,” says Caroline, “and my parents are more than happy for me.”

Numbers Game

According to Orion Judge, co-founder and director of global student recruitment giant SI-UK (Study in United Kingdom), Asia has generated a surge in students studying overseas at both postgraduate, and more recently undergraduate, level. Last year,

SI-UK assisted 28,000 applicants to gain entry into UK universities. The company is growing at 15% annually. Judge says the reasons are threefold. A lack of capacity and institutional quality in the home countries of students who study abroad; increased chances of meeting personal growth and career goals; and greater potential for accessing global careers. This, he says, is especially evident in countries like China, Thailand, India and Vietnam. “This growth in overseas study, particularly in high-paying in-demand fields like business management, economics, engineering, medicine and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) has been driven by growing incomes in those countries,” says Judge from his office in London. “As salaries increase and the middle class grows, parents and children appreciate that a strong education is the best way to ensure future security and prosperity.” Consequently, this is the driving force behind Vietnamese parents pushing their children to attend the best schools, and why they are willing to pay for the best education money can buy. “Vietnam has been seeing strong growth and this will accelerate over the coming decade,” explains Judge. “As a result, SI-UK

Orion Judge

Cover Story is interested in finding partners in Vietnam and we’ve been considering either setting up our own offices or franchise offices there.” Sydney-based Luke Grover, the AsiaPacific regional manager for BMI, one of the world’s largest education recruitment fair organisers, agrees with Judge’s assessment of Vietnam, where BMI organises education fairs at least twice a year in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Danang. “Key changes have been a growing middle class, particularly in Southeast Asia,” says Grover from Australia, where almost 22,000 Vietnamese students studied in 2015, “and a more globally-minded citizenship, probably through the rise of new media and the internet.” He too cites the lack of quality and internationally respected education opportunities in countries like Vietnam. “Vietnamese parents want their children to have the best opportunities in life and many still view that this is achieved through obtaining an education in Australia, the US, Canada or the UK.” But international student fees and living costs in developed countries remain out of reach for most Vietnamese. According to Grover, some countries in Asia are leveraging this in their strategies to recruit students from within the same region, such as Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, India and Japan. This, he says, is something that isn’t explored enough by Vietnamese families looking to educate their children abroad, particularly as the cost and the difficulty of obtaining a visa to a Western country is increasing. “The Vietnamese tend to have quite a good knowledge of Western countries as a study destination,” Grover explains, “but they may not have thought of Malaysia, even though it’s in their backyard.” Although, it seems Japan has emerged as a popular destination for Vietnamese students, according to ICEF Monitor — a leading market intelligence agency for international education — who announced last year that 40,000 Vietnamese students were studying in Japan in 2015.

Staying Home

However, most Vietnamese students have no choice but to stay home because of the prohibitive financial costs of studying abroad. Vi Pham, a 23-year-old marketing head at a contemporary arts centre in Ho Chi Minh City, chose to study at the Australianrun RMIT Vietnam. The university was founded as the offshore campus of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia over 15 years ago. It offers a shared curriculum with RMIT in Australia and is cheaper, although its high fees remain unaffordable for most Vietnamese. “I came from a traditional Vietnamese education system,” says Vi, who graduated with a Bachelor of Communications degree in 2015. “But I knew I didn’t want to be in the traditional system anymore, so I

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“Vietnamese parents want their children to have the best opportunities in life and many still view that this is achieved through obtaining an education in Australia, the US, Canada or the UK”

convinced my parents to allow me to go to RMIT Vietnam by passing the Vietnamese university entrance exam first.” Although Vi would have chosen to study abroad ahead of RMIT Vietnam had her family been able to afford it, she is happy with the education she received there. “To be honest, I wasn’t sure if RMIT was the right place for me,” she says. “But I got to express my opinions in a sincere way to my lecturers, whereas in the years I spent in the Vietnamese school system, I didn’t get to do that.” Being able to express themselves and to think critically is something that differentiates RMIT Vietnam students from the rest of the pack, says Melvin Fernando, RMIT Vietnam’s internship and employment manager at the university’s Careers and Employability Service. “Our students are known for speaking confidently, so much so that sometimes we receive feedback from industry that our students are ‘too modern’,” he explains. “We work on managing the expectations of not only students and employers of RMIT Vietnam graduates, but also of parents. Our students are used to having a higher level of standards and practices.” Fernando says that occasionally he is met by concerned parents of alumni who had expected their son or daughter to walk straight into a high-paying position upon graduation. “That’s why there’s frequent job switching in the first few years,” he says.

“Not that many of our graduates go into Vietnamese companies, and if they do, not many last because they just can’t stand the office culture and the starting salary.” As for Caroline, her dream of working in the food sciences field in Vietnam has been put on hold until the culture around talent recruitment changes. As part of the conditions of her scholarship, she was required to return to Vietnam for two years after graduation to “give back to her home country”, however, she hasn’t been able to find employment in her field. “They don’t care whether you find something suitable or not,” says Caroline, who is qualified to do research into how fruit and vegetable phytochemicals prevent the occurrence of cancer. For now, she is pouring her knowledge and skills into a juice bar venture she has started. “At the moment, I can’t think of anything more relevant than that for my qualifications.” Meanwhile, a recent draft decree in Vietnam points at changes in the pipeline. It aims to reduce the obstacles for respected foreign education providers to partner with local institutions. It also recommends removing the cap on the number of Vietnamese students permitted to study at schools built with foreign investment, currently set at 10% for primary schools, and 20% for high schools, another reason why Vietnamese families have looked abroad for education for their children.

Vi Pham


Musical Tastes From Lam Truong to Son Tung M-TP, Thomas Barrett takes us through the last 20 years of Vietnamese pop music and reveals why Vietnam could become Asia’s next big thing for pop

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“For the first time, eyeballs are now directed towards Vietnam as a potential new hub for pop music in Asia”


ohn Lennon famously said: “Music reflects the state that society is in”, so perhaps there can be no greater barometer of how Vietnam has changed since 1997 than looking at its pop music. Singing sensation Son Tung MT-P recently became the first Vietnamese pop star to win YouTube’s Gold Play Button, a prize which rewards accounts with one million subscribers on the video platform. MT-P’s brand of quirky pop is a far cry from crooners such as Lam Truong who dominated the airwaves with their slushy ballads and sentimental warbling during the late 1990s. Pop music and musical tastes have since evolved to represent a more modern and global Vietnam.

Lam Truong

Like many respectable pop stars the world over during the 1990s, Lam Truong’s career was forged out of the ashes of a boy band. He went on to embark on a solo career that would see his smash hit Tinh Thoi Xot Xa

(Love Stops Hurting) become the anthem for Vietnamese youth. In 2001 he even starred in a Pepsi commercial with Britney Spears, before settling into a career of filling up karaoke machines with a steady stream of emotive love songs. Truong could probably be described these days as a bit of a housewives’ favourite; he always looks immaculate, projects nothing too raunchy, and his lyrics continue to tackle familiar themes of love, loss and heartbreak. Crucially, music has always been a part of the authorities’ plan for modernising Vietnam. In 1996 the government published a report which stated that “given conditions of a market economy and expanded international exchanges, particular attention should be given to preserving and enhancing national cultural identity, inheriting and promoting the people’s ethical traditions, fine customs and practices, attachment to the nation’s origin and national pride. Culture is the spiritual foundation of society, being

both the objective and the driving force for socio-economic development.” It adds that the aim of culture is to help build “plentiful, cultured and happy Vietnamese families, making the family the sweet home of each and everyone.” Lam Truong with his wholesome messages of love and morality is a rock-solid example of dependable, if a little bland, goodness. Fast forward 20 years, what, if anything has changed in the pop world?

Son MT-P

Son Tung MT-P travelled to Ho Chi Minh City from his home town of Thai Binh in 2012 with dreams of becoming the next singing sensation of Vietnam. His ascent to pop royalty was cemented when he was plucked from relative obscurity to feature in the 2015 edition of TV talent show, The Remix. If male pop stars in the 1990s came from boy bands, then in the 2000s and 2010s, the talent show is king. Hong Lang runs one of the many

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Cover Story “Crucially, music has always been a part of the authorities’ plan for modernising Vietnam”

Facebook pages dedicated to supporting their hero, and she explains that the crossover appeal of MT-P is rooted in the belief that he brings something completely new to the table, with his versatility and fluid expression of national identity being something that young Vietnamese can identify with in an increasingly globalised world. “He is able to apply the model of the international pop star to the Vietnam entertainment industry,” says Lang. “He isn’t just a singer but also a songwriter, an actor, a fashionista, an idol. That maybe, is common in developed entertainment industries but in Vietnam it’s unique.” MT-P’s music follows the electronic dance music (EDM) trend that has had a stranglehold on world pop in recent years. But with it, he adds his own touches and quirks to make music that to many is identifiably Vietnamese. One of his biggest hits, Lac Troi, is a fusion of futuristic sounding electro-pop and traditional Vietnamese music,

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and it’s this welding of old and new, foreign and Vietnamese, that is something that his fans are especially proud of. In an interview earlier this year, MT-P stressed the importance of Vietnamese artists modernising if they are to make it big on a global stage. He said: “Vietnamese artists have invested more in making their product professional from the audio to the visual effects. It’s wonderful. Vietnamese artists now stand on the international stage.”


The ways in which young people consume music has undergone a worldwide revolution over the last 20 years. Whereas the likes of Lam Truong relied solely on performances and often pirated CDs and VCDs to promote their music, YouTube is now the main way young people listen to music, which has made it easier for the music to gain more international exposure, as well as providing a decent revenue stream for the artists. For the first time, eyeballs are

now directed towards Vietnam as a potential new hub for pop music in Asia. Soobin Hoang Son from Hanoi is another new breed of pop star who, like MT-P, has used the internet to grow his brand and promote his music. Soobin fan Hong Lang explains: “Social media and YouTube has changed how musicians approach the listeners. Artists don’t need to connect with TV or radio channels to bring their sound to the world, they just need a personal YouTube channel.”

Girl Power

The Spice Girls and ‘girl power’ was at its peak in 1997, and a Viet Nam News article titled, “Women rule the music scene” reported on the booming popularity of female singers in Vietnam. Indeed, the first Vietnamese recorded and produced CD was Gia Tu Di Vang (Farewell to the Past), a single by female diva Phuong Thanh. Twenty years on, female artists such as Dong Nhi and Bich Phuong have

gone from strength to strength, they are a vital part of the pop ecosystem in Vietnam and are presenting a version of femininity that isn’t two-dimensional, and is in line with the hopes and aspirations of modern Vietnamese women. Dong Nhi recently became the first Vietnamese pop star to win an MTV EMA award. Upon winning she said: “I really want to bring Vietnamese music to the world and learn more from the world to bring back to Vietnam.” To V-Pop fan Quynh, these singers are positive role models to young women in Vietnam. “Dong Nhi represents the youth in Vietnam. She’s energetic and flexible in various styles.” Similarly Bich Phuong has been racking up the YouTube views this year with her brilliant Bao Gio Lay Chong? (When Will You Get Married?). The video is witty and modern, and packs a punch as it pokes fun at traditions and everyday life in Vietnam for a young woman.

Where does it go from here?

But has V-Pop’s drive for international success come at a cost? Son Tung MT-P’s rise hasn’t been without its controversies. In 2016 his song Chung Ta Khong Thuoc Ve Nhau (We Don’t Belong to Each Other) was criticised for having more than a little resemblance to Charlie Puth’s omnipresent hit We Don’t Talk Anymore. He’s also been lambasted by fans of K-Pop for cynically aping their style. But this is pop music — hasn’t it always been that way? V-Pop fan Hong Lang puts it best when she says: “Pop music has the power to communicate to young people and reflects the rhythm of their lives.” It sums up the eternal appeal of pop stars from Lam Truong to Son Tung MT-P. As for Lam Truong, he is now a judge on TV talent show The Voice, searching out new talent in the hope of discovering the next Son Tung M-TP.

“Fast forward 20 years, what, if anything has changed in the pop world?

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“‘As city life gets more stressful, people are starting to emphasise the importance of health and wellness. There’s a sense of overcoming your own limits, that nothing is impossible and more people are living a balanced, healthy lifestyle’” 88 | Word May 2017 | wordvietnam.com




In the past five years, Vietnam’s running scene has gone from almost zero to something worth talking about. Here’s how it happened. Words by Zoe Osborne. Photos by Mike Palumbo

Photo provided by Pulse Active

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Huong, Noel, Bady and Marta from Pulse Active


hen Pulse Active launched its first event back in 2013, Vietnam’s running scene was virtually non-existent. Healthy, sporty living that involved running was not part of daily life, and for most people the concept of working out under the sun for long periods of time was illogical. Now, four years later, the Pulse Active team put on up to 10 races each year, a range of global sporting brands have set up shop and elite runners are at the forefront of running clubs all over the country. Running as a sport and a lifestyle is well and truly alive in Vietnam, and it continues to grow.

Conquer the Bridge Pulse Active co-founders Bady Pham and Philip Nguyen created the first HCMC Run in 2013, in response to Vietnam’s shortage of sporting opportunities. “We saw that there was a lack of sport events and activities here,” says Bady. “We were not thinking about creating a company at the time, we just wanted to do an event.”

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Following in the footsteps of the 1990s HCMC International Marathon, the run attracted 5,000 participants on its very first cycle in early 2013 after eight months of careful planning, networking and preparation. It was designed to appeal to a wide range of people, with 3km, 5km and 10km options. “At that time, running events were a completely new concept for most people,” says Bady. “We had to find a way to introduce the idea. People questioned the reasons to participate and why they should fill out a registration form. There was little emphasis on health and wellness as no-one wanted to run outdoors — it’s hot, it’s sunny, you get tanned — all the things that the Vietnamese traditionally dislike.” Looking for ways to change people’s understanding of the sport before they launched the race, Pulse Active helped to establish what was to become an everexpanding host of running clubs. “Some people were coming in jeans and flip-flops, and we had to start with the basics

Thuy Thuy took up running as a way to let off steam. “Before I came to the run club I was running alone,” she says. “I came to the city alone for work, so I had no friends or family here, my job was a little bit stressful and I was lonely. Running helped reduce my stress and it made me so happy.” She was running alone in District 7 when Marcel met her and asked her if she would like to join the group. “At that time I enjoyed running alone,” says Thuy. “But when I came to the run club I met a lot of runners and they were all very friendly. It was great to run with them! We could be social and share things about our lives as well as running together.” Now running an average of 10km per day and up to 30km on the weekends, Thuy is preparing to run the 100km Cameron Ultra Trail Run in Malaysia this July.

Running Clubs Here is a list of some of the running clubs that have sprung up in Vietnam over the past few years.

B ien H oa R unners


D anang R unners


H oi N hung N guoi T hich C hay D uong D ai (LDR) facebook.com/groups/LDRvn/

H ue C itadel R unners facebook.com/groups/ HueCitadelRunners/

R unclub .VN (HCMC)

facebook.com/groups/runclub.vn/ facebook.com/runclub.vn/

R un V ietnam


R ed R iver R unners H anoi


SRC — S unday R unning C lub (HCMC)


V iet R unners & F riends (HCMC)

facebook.com/groups/Viet.Runners.and. Friends/

VNG R un C lub (HCMC)

facebook.com/ groups/1266033223460726

“‘At that time, running was a completely new thing. People were thinking ‘why should I register? It’s hot! Why should I pay to participate?’ There was little emphasis on health and wellness and noone wanted to do outdoor sports — it’s hot, it’s sunny, you get tanned’” of running and try our best to inspire them,” says Bady. “We also held seminars and did other sessions with them like Zumba and cross-fit so it wasn’t only about running — more about a healthy lifestyle in general.” The most important part of the running clubs campaign was celebrity involvement. “These are the heroes for the Vietnamese,” says Bady. “[Vietnamese people] are really celeb focused, so when local stars joined some of the clubs, people came along to see what it was all about.” The logistics and organizational aspect of an event like this was also new to Vietnam. “No-one had set up something of this magnitude before,” says Bady. “Coordinating everything from the race kits, bib numbers and t-shirt sizes to race routes and the timing system — we had to explain the process to all the parties involved, from the volunteers to the authorities and even the team itself.”

In Training In the years that followed the 2013 HCMC

Run, Pulse Active set up a range of new running and triathlon events and expanded across Vietnam, catering to an ever-widening demand for opportunities to compete. “We wanted to inspire young people to get involved so we came up with a Vietnam version of the Color Me Run in April the following year,” says Bady. “Then we did the Danang International Marathon — our first full length marathon event — and at the end of 2014 we set up Prisma. Then we expanded the Color Me Run to Hanoi and Danang — people were begging us to come. In 2018, we are turning the HCMC Run into the HCMC Marathon where participants will be able to run in the heart of the city.” As more people joined the running scene, Vietnam began to embrace this sport as part of a healthy everyday lifestyle. Dutch runner and electrical engineer Marcel Lennartz joined Pulse Active’s run clubs in their early days, and over the years he has seen a huge shift in local attitudes towards the sport. “I noticed that more Vietnamese embrace the idea of doing sports for health benefits

Bell “I joined the club about three weeks ago,” says Bell. “I started running in November last year to train for the HCMC Run.” Before running, Bell was a boxer. This year he hopes to enter two triathlons in Danang and in Nha Trang. “When I was boxing I could feel my body growing stronger day by day,” he says, “then I started running and now I started cycling and swimming, and more and more!” To Bell, the running club is a chance to push himself in a way that he wouldn’t be able to if he ran alone. “Sometimes you cannot improve when you run alone because you are mentally restricted,” he says. “There are no friends to motivate you or people to compete against so you cannot improve. Sometimes when I run with the group they are really fast, so I have to catch up with them and I naturally improve day by day.”

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“‘Vietnamese embrace the idea of doing sports for health benefits or competition [now], especially among the female population. Several years ago, Vietnamese people would tell me that running was not good for a woman, but over the years more and more girls have taken up running and excelled’” or competition [now], especially among the female population,” he says. “Several years ago, Vietnamese people would tell me that running was not good for a woman, but over the years more and more girls have taken up running and excelled.” One such woman, Thanh Vu, has just become the first Vietnamese female ultramarathon runner. “I did my first marathon in Bali in 2013,” she says. “I am impressed with how quickly running has picked up here. Three or four years ago nobody really did longdistance running. Now, not only are there international marathons in Vietnam but there are also a lot of trail ultra-races.” This growing interest in running is also influencing people’s way of life. “As city life gets more stressful, people are starting to emphasise the importance of health and wellness,” says Thanh. “There’s a sense of overcoming your own limits, that nothing is impossible and more people are living a balanced, healthy lifestyle.” Marcel agrees, having observed a range

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of changes in his workplace. “Many seem to better understand the risk of smoking and drinking,” says Marcel. “I’ve noticed that fewer of my colleagues smoke now compared to 15 years ago and that many have started doing a sport.” As the concept of sport as a lifestyle choice grows in popularity in Vietnam, so does the popularity of some of Vietnam’s top athletes. “Besides a few of the country’s football players, there were no sporting idols back when we started,” says Bady. “At that time people did compete and do well, but it was not commercialised or promoted, and most athletes were unknown to the people of Vietnam.” Today, this is changing, with a number of professional and amateur athletes using their success to inspire others in their community. “I enjoy sharing my stories and experience to help others pursue their own challenges, especially youth,” says Thanh. “I hope that as an amateur I can be more relatable to the masses and inspire local people who have real potential to shine.”

Adrian When expat Adrian first moved to Vietnam in December 2016, he began looking for running clubs. “I joined about two months ago,” he says. “I was new to Saigon and I found that there were limited routes to run around so I thought I would join a runner group and I would probably meet some people who know good places to run.” Like Bell, Adrian also sees the running group as a way to push himself. “Having people with you is a good way to improve and run faster,” he says, “because when you run alone you have your routine, but when you run in a group you want to follow the fast guy so you run faster and faster.” Adrian is currently training for two events — the Sapa Mountain Marathon in September this year and the HCMC Run in January 2017.

There has also been a significant influx of international sporting brands and sponsors to Vietnam over the years, partly engineered by Pulse Active and responding to an increased demand for sports products. “Many brands have entered the market — 2XU, Brooks, Asics, Garmin, etc.,” says Marcel. “This helps to build a stronger running community.”

From Here As Vietnam continues to embrace running and the lifestyle that goes with it, the question becomes “where to from here?” To the Pulse Active team, it is important to keep maintaining the message that running is about self-improvement, not rivalry. “We started Pulse out of a passion to inspire and motivate people to overcome their challenges,” says Bady. “Step by step, kilometre by kilometre. It’s about competing against yourself, and what people overcome on the race route will help them be stronger in life.” Since their first HCMC Run in 2013, Pulse Active have seen a steady increase in the numbers of runners each year. “We believe this will continue to grow over the coming years,” says Bady. “Local runners are developing themselves, and every year we have better, faster runners competing and running longer distances. The running scene is becoming more diverse.”

This diversity is mostly down to how accessible running is as a sport. “With running you just need your feet, and you can do it anywhere, anytime, with friends, family or even alone,” says Bady. “This is a message we want to send out in all our races — be active, anytime, anywhere.” Running is also incredibly inclusive, appealing to a wide demographic of people with different levels of fitness. “People of all ages and all walks of life are running now,” says Thanh. “More and more people want to try and test their limits.” As running becomes a part of Vietnamese society, the standard of Vietnam’s top runners continues to flourish. “People are combining travelling with doing races as it’s always fun to see a new city or place and at the same time, gain a sense of achievement,” says Thanh. But Vietnam’s sports tourism is not just domestic — an increasing number of international athletes are coming to the country to compete. “We are working with partners outside of Vietnam to invite more international runners here,” says Bady. “This also creates and impact in terms of a new form of tourism in Vietnam; international sports tourism.” At the end of the day, the rise of running in Vietnam has affected everyone, from the local amateur runner to the professional athlete. The healthy lifestyle trend that has

gripped much of the rest of the world has begun to take hold here, and perceptions are beginning to shift as sport becomes a part of everyday life in Vietnamese society. Change has been rapid, and if projections are correct, there’s plenty more to come.

Duong Duong joined the run club at the very beginning, in 2013. “Before I started training I could not run at all!” she laughs. “I started running 2km every day and I slowly built up to my first distance — 10km.” Living in Saigon, Duong felt it made sense to compete in the HCMC Run, starting with the 10km distance and improving every year. “The second time I did the race I ran 21km and the third time I did 42km,” she says. “That was this year — I just did the 42km this January.” Duong decided to pick up running while she was still young and strong, looking to challenge herself and steadily improve. She joined the run club as a way to keep this momentum going. “When I run with them I must catch up to the faster, longer-distance runners,” she says. “If I stop running I will come back to 0km! So I try to run at least 10km every day.”

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Insider insider


Bike Wars As competition heats up for customers between GrabBike, UberMOTO and traditional xe om drivers, Zoe Osborne discovers that tempers are heating up as well. Photos by Mike Palumbo

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he humble motorbike taxi has been an iconic part of Vietnamese society since Doi Moi opened the floodgates for motorbike imports in 1986. Cyclos began to take a back seat as the xe om became a recognised staple in everyday public transport. Today, Vietnam’s motorbike taxi service is facing another big shift. Traditional xe om drivers are losing clients — and losing patience — as multinational corporations take over the industry, standardising business interactions and lowering market prices.

The End of an Era GrabBike was launched in November 2014 by Malaysian on-demand taxi company Grab. “It was the first service of its kind ever in the world,” says GrabBike Manager Anh. “We launched in Vietnam and after that we put it into Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.” Although Uber had been operating taxis in the country since 2014, it did not invest in Vietnam’s motorbike taxi industry until 2016, when it brought UberMOTO to Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia. Now, GrabBike and UberMOTO are the leading corporate-controlled motorbike taxi services in Vietnam. Both operate in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and cater to an evergrowing demand for safer and cheaper public transport.

A Hundred Thousand Bees A lot of this safety comes from careful monitoring, standardised rules and bringing modern technology to the venerable motorbike taxi. “We have very strict requirements for drivers and we provide the driver and passenger with insurance,” says Anh. “Our platform allows you to rate the drivers after every trip, and then we assess their average rating.” One of these drivers, Phuc, started working with GrabBike after he finished his university thesis in February this year. “I drive at night, in my free time and when I feel good. The time is flexible for a Grab driver,” he says. Now a structural engineer, Phuc fits his taxi work around his full-time job. “After work I quickly go home to have my dinner, and then I go Grab driving,” he says. “I work from 6pm to midnight, but I won’t do more than 10 trips. On the weekend we have a lot more customers so I often drive until 2am.” According to GrabBike manager Anh, many GrabBike drivers work like this.

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“It’s an alternative source of income for them,” he says. “They earn about US$200 [VND4.5 million] extra per month which is a lot to them, and our full-time workers take at least double that amount.” UberMOTO drivers work in a similar way — driver Khoa works five to six hours per day with no fixed schedule. “I don’t have to set a timetable for it, I just turn the app on and work,” he says. “I fit my work around my other commitments.” As well as allowing flexible hours, both Uber and Grab keep their intake requirements fairly accessible so that a wide range of people can apply for work. “We get hundreds of new applicants every day,” says Anh. “Obviously they have to have a license, some national ID and some kind of paperwork to show where they stay to keep them accountable.” Both Grab and Uber have a set standard for their drivers’ motorbikes. “Your bike must be a model after 2010 or if it’s older it needs to be well kept and have original

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parts,” says Khoa. One of the reasons why Grab and Uber keep their requirements flexible is to appeal to the xe om community, but while many xe om drivers have started working with them, many more refuse to do so. “A lot of xe oms live hand to mouth so they can’t save money to buy a smartphone,” says Phuc. “And xe oms don’t want anyone to control them. They don’t want to buy and wear a uniform, follow a GPS or use a fixed price.” According to GrabBike manager Anh, some xe oms are also work-shy. “They don’t want to join because they will have to work much harder,” he says. “With us, they will have to do at least 10 drives per day to earn as much as they would driving only two rides a day as a traditional xe om.” But perhaps the most significant reason why xe om drivers choose not to work with Grab or Uber is purely political — to the majority of xe oms, these companies are the enemy.

This Means War “I’ve been driving for 20 years,” says xe om driver Bay. “I like the lifestyle — driving people around, meeting them, chatting with them. But now, most of my customers have started using Uber or Grab instead.” When asked if he would ever join Grab or Uber, Bay replies with a firm and solemn “No.” “I hate them, they are taking all my customers, their main purpose is to destroy the xe om industry in Vietnam.” Before these two corporate giants came to Vietnam, Bay could earn up to VND600,000 per day. Most of his customers were foreigners, and he learnt all his English from taking them to see the sites. “I would take customers around the city or on a tour to Cu Chi for VND500,000 per round-trip,” he says. “But now all the hotels are working with Grab and Uber.” To GrabBike manager Anh, this is a sad but undeniable truth. “Basically, the traditional xe oms think that we are taking jobs away from

“‘I hate them, they are taking all my customers, their main purpose is to destroy the xe om industry in Vietnam’”

“‘[GrabBike] has very strict requirements for drivers and we provide the driver and passenger with insurance. Our platform allows you to rate the drivers after every trip, and then we assess their average rating’”

“‘I’ve been driving [a xe om] for 20 years. I like the lifestyle — driving people around, meeting them, chatting with them. But now, most of my customers have started using Uber or Grab instead’”

them, which is true,” he says. “I won’t deny that we provide a better and more convenient service, [and] safer options.” But according to Bay, GrabBike and UberMOTO are not always necessarily the cheapest and most convenient options. “If you go to Cu Chi with GrabBike you will pay more — VND700,000 — because they use a flat rate per kilometre,” he says. “I just figure out a price per drive.” Bay is also a member of a labour association. “Drivers from this association are safe and respected,” he says. “We drive safely, and if you leave something on the bike you can always get it back.”

Night Riders Without being able to access the Grab or Uber company leaders, xe om drivers often choose to hit back on a street level. “Last week, one of my friends was hit by a knife from a xe om,” says Phuc. Although he has never met with this kind of confrontation himself, Phuc is nervous every time he drives for Grab. “I was really

scared when I heard that news and I tried to stay far away from where he was hurt,” he says. “But really, he was in the centre of the city and nowhere near the places where xe oms often hang out. You just can’t control it.” One of the biggest sources of conflict between xe om and GrabBike or UberMOTO drivers is where the corporate drivers get their customers from. “I let other Grab or Uber drivers wait in my area but they must only take clients via their app,” says Bay. “If customers walk up and ask for a ride, they must send them to the xe oms.” According to Phuc, this is also GrabBike company policy, but some drivers take customers outside the app so that they can pocket the cash. Aware of the danger they are in, both GrabBike and UberMOTO drivers take measures to keep safe while working. “If I recognise any danger I cancel drives before we leave,” says Phuc. “If I find myself in serious danger I use an SOS group on Zalo to call for help.” There are several SOS groups on Zalo,

all set up by GrabBike drivers in a bid to protect themselves. “If we have a problem we send a voice recording, yelling for help,” he says. “There are always GrabBike drivers around, they come fast.” GrabBike and Uber also have safety measures in place to protect their drivers. “We work with the police,” says Anh. “Together we try to prevent confrontations, and if there is a problem we identify who the culprit is and then we deal with it.” But for many GrabBike and UberMOTO drivers, the risk of confrontation is still very real and to Phuc, the future lies in cooperation. “Grab drivers must only take customers from their app, and xe oms must lower their prices,” he says. “We need to help each other.” Cooperation aside, one thing is for sure — GrabBike and UberMOTO are here to stay. As their services evolve and they expand their reach, perhaps these two companies will find a happy medium with Vietnam’s more traditional xe om drivers. The question is, how.

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Inner City Farmers As harmful chemical usage in food causes increasing concern, some health-conscious residents of Hanoi are resorting to other means to keep their food clean and are going organic. Diane Lee speaks to some of these urban trailblazers. Photos by Julie Vola


s Hanoi becomes increasingly urbanised, patches of green land can still be found in the mosaic of developed and undeveloped land, providing locals with the opportunity to grow organic food. The western trend of eating organically grown food — free from the chemicals that have been shown to be harmful to health and to cause cancer — is motivating Vietnamese and expats alike to seek alternative sources of clean produce and take control of what they eat. This theme is the common bond that underpins the motivation of all inner-city farmers; eating food that is clean, as well as enjoying an outdoor activity that is both communal and rewarding. While the definition of organic may be a little different here compared with the west, it seems that anywhere there is space, there is a garden. Sandwiched between the smallish Ho Sen Tay Ho Lakes 1 and 2, on either side of Sen Ho Tay Road, is the unlikeliest of inner-city gardens. Framed by the ghosts of a housing boom that never quite came to fruition, with the main road corridors of Vo Chi Cong and Au Co within walking distance, crops of lettuce, tomatoes and herbs are grown in neatly tended plots in a 50m strip along the banks of the lake. Produce wrestles for position with the weeds that threaten to encroach, while cars, motorcycles and buses

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that whizz past in a never-ending stream of traffic are a reminder that this piece of land is anything but rural.

Constant Gardeners While the owner of the land is unknown, the ladies who tend the roadside garden are not. Every morning and evening at around the

“This theme is the common bond that underpins the motivation of all innercity farmers: eating food that is clean, as well as enjoying an outdoor activity that is both communal and rewarding” same time, Ms Vuong, 69 and Ms Nang, 72, park their bicycles in the exercise park across the road, amble across the tarmac, and work in the garden. Friends since they were young girls, they are now in their second year of farming the spot, which would otherwise be a tangle of weeds and rubbish. Their

produce is not for sale. “The lake belongs to someone else,” said Vuong. “But our garden makes the area more beautiful. We look at the plants and we are proud and happy.” Zucchini hangs from trellises, pumpkins sprawl down towards the lake. Plants thrive under the friends’ care; however, beautification is not the only purpose. “We want our families to eat food that is clean. No chemicals or pesticides.”

Eating Clean: Supply and Demand On the other side of Tay Ho in Dang That Mai, with the noise of never-ending construction in the background, another farm occupies a large corner plot; lettuce, tomatoes and herbs thriving in neat, raised beds. A high fence surrounds the farm, and a hand-painted wooden sign declares that it belongs to May Taste, a small restaurant located some 300 metres down the road. A favourite with expats, the restaurant uses only organic produce, some of which is grown at the farm, some of which — fish and eggs, for example — is sourced from carefully selected providers. “We started the garden three years ago to provide vegetables for our family,” said Ms Giang, the owner of May Taste. “We can’t trust vegetables from the market. Growers use chemicals and pesticides, which are not good for our health.” When Giang opened May Taste two

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“The Western trend of eating organically grown food — free from the chemicals that have been shown to be harmful to health and to cause cancer — is motivating Vietnamese and expats alike to seek alternative sources of clean produce and take control of what they eat” years ago, the farm supplied herbs, lettuce and morning glory to the restaurant. Leafy greens thrive in the garden, but some vegetables, like tomatoes, cannot be grown because they are not suited to Hanoi’s climate. “We had to look for certified organic providers for the vegetables that can’t be provided by the garden. We choose our providers carefully, and we won’t touch anything that has been genetically modified.” Giang employs a number of people to tend the farm, raise seedlings and harvest the produce. Even seeds for planting come from organic sources. Giang’s grandmother had a restaurant on Hang Ma some 50 years ago, and as she comes from the village of Uoc Le — the home of famous chef Gio Cha — Giang said she wanted a family restaurant since she was young. Having always enjoyed cooking for her family, when May Taste first opened, Giang was the chef. Now boasting four chefs, six front-of-house staff who are mainly family members, and an extensive menu, the restaurant is thriving, with Giang planning to expand. “Our reputation is important. We cater to western tastes, and expats have different expectations.”

Water, Water Everywhere In a city like Hanoi where buildings, motor vehicles and people compete in a neverending quest for space, it makes sense that rooftops and terraces are utilised in practical ways. Usually the domain of drying laundry, rooftops are slowly being taken over by gardens, particularly those of expats who are determined to eat clean food. Balconies, too, are being turned into thriving gardens, providing a ready source of clean and healthy produce that hasn’t been treated with pesticides and other chemicals. Geert Vansintjan, an agricultural engineer who works for the Belgian embassy, has been growing produce on the balcony of his apartment with the help of aquaponics, a system that uses water, nutrients and fish as the growing medium. Initially drawn to aquaponics as a way to simultaneously grow lotus and control mosquitoes, Geert said he has always tinkered around trying to solve problems through bioengineering, and in this case, water and living things. One of the movers and shakers behind Fablab, a community that includes aquaponics workshops among its activities, Geert says there are at least five working

aquaponics installations here in Hanoi. One of them is at the United Nations International School in Tay Ho — Geert provided advice — and while still in its infancy, it’s engaging students in new ways of thinking about gardening and farming. While a sustainable balcony garden that produces vegetables for consumption is one of the goals of aquaponics, Geert says it’s also about making life more rewarding. Indeed, gardeners choose aquaponics as their preferred gardening system for many reasons, including how cost effective it is to set up at around VND800,000 for a fully automated system. “There are diverse options. You learn the rules — what works and what doesn’t.” The variety of vegetables that can be grown aquaponically is almost endless — sweet potatoes, cucumbers, salad leaves, tomatoes and rice — although the species of fish that can be used in the system are carefully chosen. Geert is about to embark on a second project that involves Hanoi shrimp, the second most cultivated type of shrimp in the world. “Aquaponics is about abundance, sharing and community,” said Geert. “Not everyone can be Bill Gates, but everyone can be a good farmer.”

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Food and Drink eat & drink


Cocktail Time Edward Dalton scrubs up and hits the cocktail bars of Hanoi to roadtest the best they’ve got to offer. Photos by Julie Vola


weet or sour? Flute or tumbler? Edible garnish or colourful tiny umbrella? However you take your cocktail, this guide is guaranteed to have something to get your liver in a twist, with eight bars and 16 cocktails included.

Don’s — A Chef’s Bistro Signature Cocktail: Red Dragon and Passionfruit Margarita (VND138,000) — A velvety, zesty drink with a tropical scent, it packs a lot of fresh fruit. Stunned by the beautiful red pitaya, Chef Don paired its sweet flesh with punchy passionfruit juice. The

sugar-lined rim is a decadent touch. Must Try: Vietnamese Canadian Bloody Caesar (VND138,000) — A cocktail ideal for brunch, it brings together Clamato juice with a number of spices and sauces to deliver a savoury drink unlike any other. The dash of nuoc mam

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acts like a glue for all the other ingredients, and rounds the drink off perfectly. Packs a bit of fire. The Bar: An impressive liquor selection means almost every cocktail on the menu has a touch of class. The Ultra Premium Martini, for example, can be made with Tanqueray Ten gin and comes

with a pickled quail’s egg, plus Roquefort and anchovy-stuffed olives. Memorable views of West Lake from the rooftop bar and terrace. Find it at 16 Quang An, Tay Ho. Open daily from 9am until midnight. Call (04) 3719 3719 or visit donsbistro.com for more details

Tadioto Signature Cocktail: Coc Cocktail (VND100,000) — Made with ambarella, a fruit typically eaten with chilli salt, the taste is unique and somewhat tropical. Slightly sweet, with a mild bitter after-taste. It’s a very fruity, fresh drink, invented by the owner, Duc.

Must Try: London Evening (VND100,000) — White and foggy like an evening in The Smoke often is, this is a sour cocktail edging towards sweet. Light and delicate, the lime flavour is dissected by a strong cut of ginger. The Bar: Hanoi’s premium

Bohemian space, the vibe inside is smoky, chilled out and very artsy. Decent value, all of the cocktails are between VND100,000 and VND160,000. With nights dedicated to events such as experimental music, readings and exhibitions, Tadioto has a lot to offer.

Find it at 24B Tong Dan, Hoan Kiem. Open daily from 8am until midnight on weekdays, open until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays. Call (04) 6680 9124 or visit facebook.com/tadiototongdan for more details

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Food and Drink

One36 Bar at Apricot Hotel Signature Cocktail: Apricot Canvas (VND180,000) — A long drink, with a gentle greenish-yellow hue. One for a sweet tooth, this apricotflavoured cocktail goes down like liquid candy. The minty note adds a refreshing twist, and lingers on with a pleasant

after-taste. Must Try: Artist (VND170,000) — A vivid, disco-blue coloured cocktail which is best described as an alcoholic chanh tuoi (lemon juice). Light, sweet and a tad sour, the punch of citrus overwhelms the scent of

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booze, making this an easy drink to enjoy several of. The Bar: Good mix of classic and signature cocktails. The minimal seating is forgiven on account of the view of Hoan Kiem. Quiet music, but the noise coming from the lake below and the rooftop pool

(for hotel guests only) ensures the atmosphere is anything but dull. Acrophobes may want to stay away from the glass floor. Find it at 136 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem. Open daily from 11am until midnight. Contact (04) 3828 9595 or visit apricothotels.com for more details

Cool Cats Jazz Bar at J.W. Marriott Signature Cocktail: Musical Garden (VND210,000) — A fragrant, light affair served with an immaculate globe of ice. Gin is teamed with jasmine tea and camomile syrup, both made in house, with a gentle citrus note provided by a touch of lemon. A real hit. Must try: Sa-xophonist

(VND210,000) — A subtle but hard-hitting whisky-based drink. A twist on the Manhattan cocktail, the Chambord adds a sweet touch, without overpowering it. The Bar: Live jazz music from the house band, a cheese trolley and fresh oysters make any night in this stylish bar a distinctive

and luxurious occasion. The drinks menu carries many of the best names in alcohol, but avoids becoming overwhelming. Find it at 8 Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 7pm until late. Call (04) 3833 5588 or visit jwmarriotthanoi.com for more details

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Food and Drink

Hanoi Taco Bar Signature Cocktail: Xai Lai (VND100,000) — The chilli, coconut syrup, pineapple and cilantro gives this tequila-based cocktail an impressive depth of flavour, giving way to a strong alcoholic punch. Must Try: Fansipan

(VND100,000) — A refreshing, sweet cocktail built on a light green teainfused vodka base, with the raspberry syrup providing most of the flavour. A very gentle background hint of sage keeps things interesting. The Bar: As one of Hanoi’s

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most popular Mexican restaurants, the atmosphere is almost always buzzing; cool tunes and happy diners combined with the streetside location mean there’s rarely a quiet moment. Simple décor, amazing value and a well-stocked bar which

shines out like a beacon. Find it at 6 Dao Duy Tu, Hoan Kiem. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 8am until 10pm. Call 01237 589502 or visit facebook.com/hanoitacobar for cocktail delivery and more details

Sunset Bar at InterContinental West Lake Signature Cocktail: Westlake Star (VND185,000) — Don’t be fooled by the dainty flute or the promise of sparkling wine; this cocktail will dropkick your liver into next week. With a generous measure of Son Tinh rose apple liqueur, and topped up with local basil and lemongrass, this

is Vietnam in a glass. Must Try: Night Sky (VND185,000) — A stunning, pitch-black cocktail which promises to delay bedtime for hours. Black glutinous rice wine, Vietnamese espresso, crème de cassis and a splash of amaretto combine like a demon’s darkest

spell, but the result is nothing short of divine. Unsubtle, rich flavour. The Bar: Six pages of cocktails (VND150,000 to VND350,000) to keep you going all evening. Great location, situated on the water and surrounded by dramatic white pavilions, with a

flaming torch-lit walkway. Special mention for the chilled music punctuated by the occasional zap of a nearby mosquito trap. Find it at 1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho. Open daily from 4pm until midnight. Call (04) 6270 8888 or visit hanoi.intercontinental.com for more details

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Food and Drink

Tay Ho Tiki Company Signature Cocktail: Zombie (VND200,000) — Sweet contends with sour in this tropical-tasting, easy-to-drink cocktail. The ultimate vintage Tiki classic, it delivers a complex flavour profile unlike any other drink on this list, thanks to the 10 ingredients.

Must Try: The Spice Route (VND140,000) — This cocktail is a lesson in reading beyond the description. Caramelised pineapple is actually a homemade pineapple jam infused with vanilla beans and a trio of spices. It does wonderful things to rum.

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The Bar: A great space, intimate without feeling cramped. The outdoor patio, featuring a water fountain and some unique seating, is very charming. Tiki-style décor including a stunning mural plus great music make this an excellent place to

chill with some colourful drinks. Find it at 228A Au Co, Tay Ho. Open Thursday to Saturday from 4pm until late. Call 0965 439573 or visit facebook.com/tayhotikicompany for more details

La Plume at Press Club Signature Cocktail: Pho Cocktail (VND290,000) — The original and legendary pho cocktail manages to live up to the hype. Even without the gimmicky creation, it’s still an excellent drink. Flaming gin and Cointreau are poured through the traditional pho spices, and

the result is a beautiful, aromatic cocktail. Must Try: Don’t Eat Me (VND290,000) — The story behind the name is sadder than you might imagine, but the flavour will make you forget it in a heartbeat. Galangal root and citrus fruits combine with honey

and tequila to create an acidic and spiced cocktail, but the addition of egg white smooths it out. The Bar: Don’t expect a cheap night out, but do expect cigar smoke; this is a very cool bar, where the mixologists have better haircuts than you do.

US$2,000 bottles of wine share a menu with French fries, and the space includes a small terrace overlooking the French quarter. Find it on the third floor at 59A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem. Open daily from 8am until midnight. Call (04) 3934 0888 or visit laplume.com.vn for more details

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Food and Drink

Mystery Diner


Bar-Rique Brasserie Our mystery diner starts out sceptical of this rebranded French restaurant, only to leave wondering if French cuisine in Hanoi can get any better. Photos by Sasha Arevieva


ar-Rique Brasserie is one of the restaurants under the control of Didier Corlou, the French chef-owner behind establishments including Porte D’Annam and Madame Hien. Well known for his preference for mixing French ingredients with Vietnamese flavours, Corlou has ensured Bar-Rique has an exciting menu boasting many French favourites, with unique local twists.

Same Same But Different I last visited Bar-Rique around six months ago, while it was still DC Bistro. The food was decent, but the restaurant felt tired and unloved. Wine racks were half empty, paint was peeling and half of the tables weren’t set at the beginning of dinner service.

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On our return visit today, there are some noticeable differences. The exterior has benefitted from the facelift, with some shiny new signage across the front of the restaurant. However, the interior is much the same; the same furniture, the same dark red napkins and same tired décor is still present. The menus are new, but somehow don’t feel it; especially when some pages fall out as the waiter hands us the wine list. After a bit of prodding, we learn from the waiter that the executive chef is the same Vietnamese maestro from the old restaurant, but the kitchen team under him has undergone a shake-up.

A Journey The new menu manages to

be concise without shunning variety, and some of the most quintessential French dishes have survived the rebrand. Wagyu beef carpaccio (VND145,000), pan fried foie gras (VND185,000) and ribeye tartar (VND300,000 for 200g) are French staples impossible to omit, but the two new set menus look too good to ignore. The Journey in France set menu is amazing value at only VND352,000, and includes three courses with a choice between two starters and two mains. I start my journey in Paris, where the modern version of gratinéed onion soup finds its origins. The stock is well-seasoned, with strong notes of black pepper and fortified wine. The onions, caramelised to within an inch of their lives, are


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8.5 Décor

sweet and generous in quantity, while the cheesy crouton provides a chewy and crusty upper layer. The chosen main, seabass papillote with basilic, carries all the necessary flavour to back up the theatrical presentation. Thick flakes of tender seabass fall away with little effort, an ideal pairing to the crunchy Vietnamese-style greens and savoury sauce. A brave excursion to my partner’s plate, caramelised

prawns in vanilla with risotto (VND248,000), allows me to experience the most flavoursome prawns I’ve had for some time. Returning to my own dish, I struggle to think of anywhere else in Hanoi it’s possible to get such fine French cuisine for such modest prices. Our waiter, efficient and pleasant throughout the evening, sets the final dish down in front of our eyes, which is far bigger

than the belly it deceives. The apple tarte tatin consists of tender, warm apple slices on a base of flaky pastry, topped with a modest dollop of ice cream and drizzled with toffee sauce. The dessert is representative of the whole evening; divine. Bar-Rique Brasserie is located at 15A Ngo Van So, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi and is open from 11am to 2.30pm and from 5.30pm to 11pm. For info click on facebook.com/barriquebrasserie

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

Food and Drink

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Street Snacker


Banh Goi There are times when you just have the urge for something that is fried, but are you game to go this far? Words by Edward Dalton. Photos by Teigue John Blokpoel


ith an emphasis on fresh herbs, soups and bland carbs, Vietnamese cuisine is sometimes at risk of leaving the stomach craving a greasier kind of abuse. This month, Street Snacker goes in search of the best fried food Hanoi’s streets have to offer, and the result is a menu where even the vegetarian option is deep fried in a bubbling vat of re-used oil.

Fried Stuff The recent purge of Hanoi’s sidewalks has been felt most of all by the street food vendors scattered around the Old Quarter. Only the most popular and wellestablished places have both the resources and the customer base to carry on as usual. Quan Goc Da (52 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem) is one of those eateries that seems impossible to kill off, such is the popularity of the mountains of fried stuff on offer. By moving more tables indoors and utilising the previously empty space on the second floor, business is thriving. As usual, hygiene standards are suspect. Everything is made in huge batches in advance, and is then refried to order. The huge cauldron of oil bubbles away all

day, right next to that most popular of Vietnamese marinades; traffic fumes. The meat products, piled high on stainless steel trays, sit out in the hot weather, under the care of whatever flies and insects may happen to pass by.

Say No to Salad If the hygiene doesn’t put you off and you’ve got a well-trained stomach, then you’re in for a real treat. Every edible menu item apart from one is deep-fried. There are complimentary bowls of herbs and leaves, but why add the risk of poorly washed salad to the already unhealthy meal? The most popular dish here is banh goi, or pillow cake. Similar to an empanada or a pasty, you will want one as soon as you are close enough to smell it. Deep-fried parcels of pastry filled with minced pork, mushroom, vermicelli and quail eggs can be piled onto a plate for only VND9,000 apiece. The smell is glorious, but the taste is just... fried. However, a squeeze of chilli sauce into the bowl of nuoc mam gives the parcels a much-needed flavour boost. Another popular item is the nem cua be, or fried crab spring rolls. At VND11,000 for one large roll, they boast more flavour than their

pillow cousins. The crab meat is flavoursome without being overpowering, and they are well seasoned with black pepper.

Calamitous Cholesterol Other items include fried meat and sticky rice cakes, fried fermented pork rolls, fried sweet bean cakes and a version of the famous banh tom Ho Tay, or prawn fritters. All the food items range in price from VND3,500 to VND11,000 so this is a great little place for those last days of the month that feel like a slow crawl to pay day. The usual stock of drinks are all available, including iced tea (VND3,000), soy milk (VND10,000) and Hanoi/Saigon beers (VND15,000 / VND20,000). The Quan Goc Da restaurant in Ly Quoc Su is one of the best places to try all of these fried hangover cures together, but it’s by no means the only one. The stall at 9 Hoe Nhai, Ba Dinh, sells delicious banh goi (VND10,000) made in much smaller batches. They are more generously filled and have more flavour than the mass-produced ones in Quan Goc Da. Yet when it comes to popularity and the to-die-for Old Quarter location, Quan Goc Da is the place to go to get your much needed dose of cholesterol.

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Food and Drink

Mystery Diner


Lu Bu

This beautifully appointed restaurant in the heart of Thao Dien proves that Mediterranean cuisine can be done well in Saigon. Photos by Bao Zoan


fter all this time, I really don’t know why I’d never eaten at Lu Bu in Thao Dien. Perhaps it’s because I’m from Melbourne. I’m a Mediterranean food snob and don’t believe it’s possible to have that kind of quality here in Saigon. Mostly because the culture surrounding Mediterranean food just isn’t the same in Saigon as it is in Melbourne. However, Lu Bu has changed my mindset. You can get great Mediterranean food here after all. Lu Bu has three souvlakis on the menu, my benchmark dish for determining how good a Greek-influenced Mediterranean restaurant actually is. The marinated chicken souvlaki (VND160,000) comes with hummus, tomato, cucumber, garlic sauce

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and zhoug — a hot and spicy chilli pepper relish — on Lu Bu’s freshly made pita bread. Sounds great doesn’t it, but how could I pass up the marinated spicy lamb leg souvlaki (VND220,000) with hummus, tomato, cucumber, minted kefir — a slightly sour, thin yoghurt-like mix — and pickled chilli, again served up on that pita bread that Lu Bu does so well. The other option is vegetarian (VND180,000) with hummus, olives, feta, tomato and cucumber.

Sharing is Caring The souvlakis are served for sharing, like much of the menu at Lu Bu. The pita lies flat with the ingredients neatly organised on top. If it weren’t that I actually had to share the thing, I would’ve rolled it up and scoffed it down with both hands.

The lamb is tender, the hummus moist and the salad fresh. Fresh lemon quarters on the side mean you can tang things up a bit and have your souvlaki reminding you of the Greek isles in no time. The only downside to Lu Bu’s is it’s extremely difficult to decide what to order. The wait staff were patient with us as we deliberated over the menu and changed our minds time and again. Perhaps they could’ve been a little more helpful in offering suggestions, though. One of the problems for us was that there are so many great starter options to choose from before you get into the mains. Also, if you’re not well-versed in the culinary lingo of the Mediterranean, it might pay to do some research before you arrive. There are oysters Kilpatrick at VND250,000 for half a dozen,


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12.5 Service

13 Décor

tapas (50% off on Fridays) ranging in price from VND80,000 for marinated black and green olives to VND280,000 for serrano ham drizzled in olive oil with house baked bread. On the starters menu there’s a tapas plate (VND350,000) with grilled chorizo, olives, boquerones — a European anchovy — honeyed eggplant, pan con tomate, pickled octopus and mojama, the salt-cured Mediterranean tuna delicacy. Between our pita bread with hummus and zhoug (VND100,000) and our lamb souvlaki (VND220,000), we downed a Bloody Mary oyster shooter each (VND40,000) as you do on a Friday evening to get things rolling.

Happy Dilemma The main course and grill menus

again created a dilemma. There are only about 12 items to choose from, but we wanted a piece of them all. Eventually we settled on the Moroccan vegetables (VND240,000) served on a bed of couscous that might just be the best I’ve had anywhere. It’s light and fluffy, but moist enough not to fall off your spoon and dissolves in your mouth upon entry, unlike other varieties I’ve experienced that have felt like you’ve just shovelled in a mouthfull of sand. The zucchini, eggplant and tomato were neither over or underdone, and the Moroccan spices weren’t overpowering. For drinkers, Lu Bu’s wine list is epic with no less than 80 wines to choose from, something you’d expect from one of the owners,

who happens to be a sommelier. There are both old and new world wines starting from VND90,000 to VND220,000 per glass and bottles from VND450,000 to VND6.35 million for a 2005 Torbreck shiraz from the Barossa Valley. To top off an excellent dining experience in a restaurant that’s light and airy with a lively family atmosphere that all good Mediterranean tavernas should aspire to, we chose the orange and dark chocolate canoli (VND150,000) which left me in no doubt that Lu Bu is at the top of its game in Saigon. Next time, I won’t leave it so long to return. Lu Bu Restaurant is at 97B, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC. For reservations call (08) 6281 8371 or visit facebook.com/luburestaurant and luburestaurant.com for menus

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


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If there is one dish that is well-and-truly Vietnamese, it’s banh cuon or steamed rice paper rolls. Words and photos by Nick Ross


export. Yet the dish that has been tickling Vietnamese palates for well over 800 years — the time when it was first recorded in writing — is banh cuon or steamed rice paper rolls. Typically sold on the street and made with the aid of a rice paper steamer covered with a thin cloth, the most famous version of banh cuon comes from Thanh Tri in Hanoi. Naturally, street vendors who’ve brought the dish down south have made changes. The filling is a mixture of minced pork and wood ear mushrooms; in Thanh Tri there is no filling. And the rolls are served with beansprouts, Vietnamese sausage (cha lua) and a sweet fish sauce mixed with water, garlic and a range of other flavourings. So where can you get the best banh cuon in Saigon? I’ve been eating it from almost the day I stepped foot in Vietnam. However, after some research and a lot of rice paper rolls, here are my top three options for getting a dose of banh cuon. You can get much, much cheaper on the street — between VND15,000 and VND25,000 a go. But when it comes to quality, taste and cleanliness, in these three joints you can’t really go wrong.

Banh Cuon Hai Nam 11 Cao Thang, Q3, HCMC Price: VND36,000 to VND38,000 plus VND12,000 for cha Add-ons: VND5,000 parking fee


Banh Cuon Nho

ver the last two decades, pho bo or beef noodle soup has become recognised as the national dish. It is also Vietnam’s best-known food

et up in one of the longest, skinniest rooms you’ve ever seen, the food here is served up on chrome metal tables while the fish sauce comes in a jar on the side — here you add sauce and chilli according to taste. A plate of banh cuon comes with four pieces of rice cake, two pieces of cha on the side, which you pay extra for, deep fried shallots, shredded lettuce and bean sprouts. Being Saigon, the fish sauce is sweet, but not overpoweringly so as it can be elsewhere. The rice cakes are perfectly made — not too thick and not too thin — while the savoury filling also hits the spot. Add chilli and the spice is strong. Very strong. Yet it’s still a tasty meal. The only complaint? For a Western-sized stomach, one portion is not enough. You also have to pay extra for the cha.

353 Le Van Sy, Q3, HCMC Price: VND27,000 for the basic version rising to VND45,000 for the works with egg


ooden tables and stools, a whitewashed bare brick wall, and a menu displayed in chalk on a blackboard at the back of the eatery give this lovely, fan-cooled joint a rustic, yet relaxing feel. Set on Le Van Sy, halfway between District 1 and the airport, and despite often being in the media, prices are still reasonable. On my visit I go for the all-in banh cuon with egg. The portion size is large with two pieces of cha and one piece of nem chua. Already a winner. As is the sauce. Here the sugar levels are just the right amount to satisfy the palate of the Saigonese, but still pay homage to the dish’s Hanoian roots. As for the rice cakes, eating them with egg reminds me a bit of eating that Malay-Indian hybrid bread roti telur, except that banh cuon is distinctly more healthy and there is no fried taste. There’s certainly no curry sauce on the side. This is probably the most traditional banh cuon you can get in this city. It’s tasty, too.

Banh Cuon Tay Ho 127 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1, HCMC Price: The special or dac biet version costs VND48,000. Cha cost VND8,00 Add-ons: VND3,000 parking fee


ime green walls with white tiling, chrome-topped tables and an air of bustle; the name suggests this joint should sell traditional, Hanoi-style banh cuon. Tay Ho is after all the biggest lake in the capital. Being on the edge of District 1 and with a reputation massaged by the media, prices here aren’t cheap, but portion sizes are good. The special version of the dish really does give you a lot of banh cuon. Naturally the fish sauce is sweet, this is Saigon after all. But as sugar content goes, it’s about spot on. But the real winner is the rice cake filling. This is not the standard minced pork and dried mushroom mix you find in this city. Instead, it’s a mix of chopped pork steak with bi, pork leg shavings. And damn does it taste good. My only gripe? You’ve got to pay VND8,000 extra for the cha.

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48 Hours in Yangon / Novotel Phu Quoc Resort Photo by Mike Palumbo

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Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, probably the most striking Buddhist temple in the region



48 Hours in Yangon Matt Cowan eats and drinks his way back in time in Myanmar’s former capital. Photos by Julie Vola and Mike Palumbo



ver the past few years, after decades of military rule Myanmar has awoken as a travel destination. Although trouble in the north is far from over, the once pariah state has edged open its doors and is welcoming tourists like never before. Perhaps the highlight of any trip abroad is the people. As tough as the teak their country is famous for, the locals are warm and welcoming, and offer service among the best in Southeast Asia. While the colonial buildings, religious monuments and amazing street food have long been in Yangon, they are now being joined by a growing number of high-quality dining and entertainment options ranging from Brit-style pub fare with a Burmese twist, to high-end teppanyaki served up in funky lounges, and rooftop bars with the razzle and dazzle that comes with them. If you’re into all this and some fascinating

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colonial-era architecture, then 48 hours in Yangon might be exactly what you need.

12.30pm Arrival Yangon International Airport The approach to Yangon International Airport offers glimpses of the parched lands below. It’s flat, hard and dry. April is the hottest time of year and the Thingyan water festival celebrations that usher in the New Year are just about here, bringing respite from the scorching hot temperatures. Immigration is quick and no fuss — before you know it you’re in a taxi. Taxis are unmetered, but from the airport to town (approximately 30 minutes), flat fares are 8,000 kyat (pronounced chat) — approximately US$6 (VND136,000). The Kandawgyi Palace Hotel (US$74 per night) is located near Shwedagon Paya

— perhaps Southeast Asia’s most impressive pagoda. The hotel sits on the shores of the lovely Kandawgyi Lake, one of two major lakes in Yangon, the other being the larger Inya Lake where Aung San Suu Kyi resides.

2pm Late Lunch Feel Myanmar The eagerness to try Burmese food for the first time can’t wait. A short 10-minute taxi ride (US$2.50) from Kandawgyi Palace Hotel is one of Myanmar’s most famous restaurants, Feel Myanmar (Pyidaungzu Yeiktha Street). Open since 1967, this is the place to sample the best of Burmese food. Influenced by Indian and Chinese cuisine, expect to find curries, samosas, parathas — a flatbread with a chickpea dip — wontons and spring rolls. Just point at what you want, then take your seat.

On the streets in Yangon. The city is full of crumbling colonial architecture

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Travel A mutton curry, paratha, biryani chicken rice, vegetable curry, chilli dried venison — a fiery looking dish with jerky-type cubes covered in chilli — and a large bottle of the local Myanmar beer, will set you back about US$13.

Putting the finishing touch to a cocktail in Sarkies Bar

4pm Short Tour Yangon Central Railway Station Less than a kilometre from Feel Myanmar, is the National Museum (Pyay Road), but for a more historical experience grab a taxi (US$2.50) and head for Yangon Central Railway Station (Kun Chan Road). Take a step back in time and get a feel for what it was like in colonial Yangon. Get on-board the Yangon Circle Train, about 47km of wonky track circling the city. Trains run irregularly, but try to catch one and take it six stops to Pang Hlaing Station. Here, there’s a sunset cocktail waiting just a short stroll away.

5.30pm Cocktails Atlas Rooftop Lounge Atlas Rooftop Lounge (84 Pang Hlaing Road) is on the top of an office block just minutes by foot from Pang Hlaing Station. Atlas offers 360-degree views of Yangon with an amazing sunset vista overlooking the beautiful Shwedagon Paya to the east. A mai tai cocktail and a glass of pinot grigio will cost US$9 each.

8pm Dinner Gekko Restaurant From Atlas, a taxi to Gekko (535 Merchant Street) for dinner will be US$3. This cosy cocktail lounge and grill on the ground floor of the historic Sofaer & Co. building serves up charcoal-fired Japanese dishes along with Korean and Vietnamese favourites. Yakitori options start at US$3 and go up to US$32 for sushi. Expect to pay around US$7 for their signature cocktails.

9.30pm After Dinner Sarkies Bar and Union Bar & Grill After dinner, hit Sarkies Bar in the famous Strand Hotel (92 Strand Road) where Orwell and Kipling once drank. Happy hour is on Fridays from 5pm to 9pm. Down a selection of Sarkies’ signature historical cocktails, like the 1976 Bagan Breeze (US$7) made with vodka and white rum or the mojito-like 1968 Strand Sour made with local Mandalay rum. Sarkies has a large selection of whiskeys and rums ranging from US$6 to US$50 a shot, including all the Japanese brands. Five minutes walk away is the lively Union Bar & Grill (42 Strand Road), named for its proximity to the British Embassy. It’s a modern hangout with top-notch food and drinks. Ask for the duck curry with

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sausage (US$12) and satisfy your benevolent tendencies by choosing from their Cocktails For A Cause menu with US$1 from every drink sold going to the Myanmar Red Cross. For those not wanting to drink too much, wrap up your night with dessert at Home Sweet Home (440 Strand Road) where they make their own ice-cream and various other sweeties.

6am Morning Walk Kandawgyi Lake Rise with the birds and the locals and walk the boardwalk the length of Yangon’s second largest lake, Kandawgy Lake. The early

mornings are beautiful as the sun rises from behind Karaweik Palace — a two-storey barge permanently moored on the banks facing Shwedagon Paya. If you have time, walk the circumference of the whole lake in two hours.

8am Breakfast Lucky 7 Teahouse Take on a city walk with a belly full of Myanmar’s national dish mohinga — a delicious rice noodle and fish soup at Lucky 7 Teahouse (49th Street). Here they also serve curries and pastries. Two coffees, a bowl of mohinga, a pork pauksi — Myanmar’s

(Clockwise from Top Left) Plush seating in Sarkies Bar; a curry at TinTin Restaurant; Sarkies is known for its excellent cocktails; the main bar area at Sarkies; caramelised fish at TinTin; one of the desserts at Union Bar & Grill

answer to the banh bao — and a local version of French toast with a light condensed milk will cost just US$3.

9am City Walk Lonely Planet’s suggested walking guide is a good one, but we’ve enhanced it with some extra stops. It starts at Sule Paya in the centre of town and takes you past key historical sites such as Mahabandoola Garden, City Hall, the Telegraph Office, the High Court, the Inland Water Transport offices (including the Yangon Heritage Trust museum), the Port Authority, Strand Hotel, Custom House and the Law Courts.

Along the way, try a bowl of Shan noodles (US$2) at the famous 999 Shan Noodle Shop (130/B 34th Street). This is the original shop, open for about 40 years and meeting the manager is worth the visit in itself. Further on, sample local tea and pastries at Rangoon Teahouse (77-79 Pansodan Street). Upstairs is a cosy bar called The Toddy Bar if you’re in need of a tipple, while next door is Hla Day (81 Pansodan Street), a gift shop for mementos of your stay in Yangon. Another gift shop worth checking out is Myanhouse (56-60 Pansodan Street) where you can even get thanaka — a paste made from ground bark — applied to your face as the locals do. In the cooler months, book yourself

on a walking tour with the experts from Yangon Heritage Trust (22-24 Pansodan Street), an NGO advocating the sustainable development of Yangon.

Midday Lunch TinTin Rest your weary legs at TinTin (118 Bogalazay Street), a pop-up style restaurant a short stroll from the ultra-impressive old Secretariat Building where Aung Sun, the founding father of modern day Myanmar, was assassinated along with six cabinet ministers in 1947. TinTin is a foodie’s haven set over two

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Monuments, pagodas and stupas in Yangon

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floors with street-side seating. They rotate their menu on a regular basis with its current offering showcasing food from the border regions of Myanmar. Try the Bagan pone yay gyi (US$8), a pork curry with pickled Shan potatoes and the 48-hour braised lamb shank (US$19) in sambar — a lentil-based stew made with tamarind — curry leaves and goats curd. TinTin is a culinary highlight of Yangon.

about every pagoda in the region, this can’t be missed. Arrive by 5pm to see it change colour as the sun sets. Gilded with over 60 tonnes of gold and standing over 100 metres high, Shwedagon Paya glitters under the sun and glows orange at night. The crown is tipped with over 5,000 diamonds and over 2,000 rubies with a 76-carat diamond to top it all off.


Dinner Belmond Governor’s Residence

Bogyoke Aung San Market Walk off your lunch inside this colonial-era market in the centre of Yangon. While there’s heaps to keep shoppers happy, architecture buffs will enjoy the building with its narrow cobbled streets offering a sense of market life going back 100 years.

5pm Shwedagon Paya This is one of the highlights of a trip to Yangon. Shwedagon Paya (US$6) is the most sacred pagoda in Myanmar. Whether you’re religious or not, or have seen just


Why not finish a massive day with some fine dining where Kipling is said to have hung out just two kilometres from Shwedagon Paya? The Belmond Governor’s Residence (35 Taw Win Road) is fine dining at its best in Yangon, so expect to pay over US$100 for dinner for two and a bottle of Australian wine. But it’s well worth it.

8am Breakfast Take your time over breakfast at your hotel to look back on an amazing 48 hours. Don’t

leave for the airport too late, the traffic in Yangon means your taxi to the airport might take over an hour.

12.30pm Yangon International Airport Back to where it all started again as you prepare to return to whence you came or move on to another destination.

Information Anyone without an ASEAN passport should get a travel visa for Myanmar. Visas can be obtained online at evisa. moip.gov.mm — the approval process takes one to two days and costs US$50 per visa. VietJet Air (vietjetair.com) flies from Saigon directly to Yangon while Vietnam Airlines (vietnamairlines.com) flies direct from Hanoi. The journey takes around two hours. The local currency is Myanmar Kyat (US$1 = K1,362) — international bank cards are widely accepted in Yangon.

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Destination Zero


et on a strip of ivory-white sand, Novotel Phu Quoc Resort only opened this January, yet it has already garnered itself some accolades. Located in the west of Phu Quoc Island, 17km south of Dong Duong Town and 7km from the airport, last year the property won five awards including Best Hotel Architectural Design, Best Hotel Interior Design, Best Green Development, Best Hotel Development and Best Condo

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Landscape Architectural Design at the Vietnam Property Awards, which is under the Asia Property Awards system. Designed by the architects of Japan’s third-largest architectural design firm, Kume Design Asia, the property is inspired by fishing villages and is a blend of local culture and luxury. The construction is faithful to its environment, taking up less than 20 percent of the total area. The rest is occupied by tropical foliage.

The resort consists of a five-storey hotel and 44 villas with 366 sea-facing rooms, offering a wide range of choices for solo travellers, couples and families. Guests can either enjoy their privacy while listening to the sound of waves breaking on the shore at a beachfront bungalow or watch stunning sunsets from a balcony. Novotel Phu Quoc recently opened an additional 96 villas in a separate area located on the other side of the main road. Depending on the size of your

Novotel Phu Quoc Resort


family, you can choose a villa with three or five bedrooms. Each building has a living space, dining area, fully-equipped kitchen, en-suite bathrooms and a private swimming pool. These villas are not only for family holidays but are also for sale.

Food, Drinks and Leisure Guests staying at Novotel Phu Quoc can indulge themselves at the two contemporary restaurants. While Food Exchange is the main restaurant, serving

buffet breakfasts and international cuisine, Phu Quoc Seafood Restaurant focuses on local seafood and specialities. The resort serves up creative tropical cocktails through its Lounge Bar and Ocean Bar. There is nothing more pleasant than sipping a cocktail while lazing on a sunbed or soaking in the giant infinity pool. Other facilities include a fitness centre, two tennis courts, a spa, a library, two separate pools for kids, and a kids’ club.

There are also bicycle rentals and a kayak service. The resort also offers 650sqm of meeting and event space, including a high-ceiling ballroom and three multi-functional meeting rooms. The function rooms can accommodate up to 550 guests and are equipped with the latest technology and complementary Wi-Fi. — Vu Ha Kim Vy For more information on Novotel Phu Quoc Resort, click on novotelphuquoc.com

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Pullman Saigon Centre


41, Thao Dien, Q2. Tel (08) 3519 4111, Ext. 15/17/19 exotravel.com 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.

$$$$$ 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (08) 3838 8686 pullmanhotels.com his upscale, contemporary property boasts 306 signature rooms combining design, comfort and connectivity. Innovative cuisine, a great downtown location and high-tech meeting venues able to host up to 600 guests make up the mix.

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


DALAT Dalat Green City Hotel 172 Phan Dinh Phung, Dalat, Tel: (063) 382 7999 dalatgreencityhotel.com Located in central Dalat, this is the perfect place for budget travellers. Quiet, newly refurbished with beautiful mountain and city views from the rooftop, features free Wi-Fi, a TV and snack bar in all rooms with a downstairs coffee shop and computers in the lobby for guest use.

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

Dalat Train Villa

Villa 3, 1 Quang Trung, Dalat, Tel: (063) 381 6365 dalattrainvilla.com Located near the Dalat Train Station, the Dalat Train Villa is a beautifully restored, colonial era, two-storey villa. In its grounds is a 1910 train carriage which has been renovated into a bar and cafe. Located within 10 minutes of most major attractions in Dalat.

HANOI DAEWOO HOTEL $$$ 360 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3831 5555 hanoi-daewoohotel.com

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

HILTON HANOI OPERA $$$$$ 1 Le Thanh Tong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3933 0500 hanoi.hilton.com 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 hanoi.intercontinental.com This stunning property built over West Lake falls in between a hotel and a resort. Beautiful views, great balcony areas, comfortable,

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top-end 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.

A minute from Hoan Kiem Lake, this glowing pearl in the heart of Hanoi provides tranquility with an art gallery and piano bar.


$$ 5 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3938 1048 josephshotel.com Located next to the cathedral, this popular well-appointed, airy and spacious boutique hotel mixes comfort with a nice ambience and great Western or Vietnamese breakfasts. Modern amenities at reasonable prices.

$$$$ 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 3343 meliahanoi.com Excellently located in central Hanoi, Melia Hanoi draws plenty of business travellers and is also a popular venue for conferences and wedding receptions. Stateof-the-art rooms, elegant restaurants, stylish bars, fully equipped fitness centre with sophisticated service always make in-house guests satisfied.



$$$$$ 8, Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3833 5588 jwmarriotthanoi.com 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.

$$$$ 1 Thanh Nien Road, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3823 8888 panpacific.com Boasting Hanoi’s best views of West Lake, Truc Bach Lake and the Red River, Pan Pacific Hanoi soars 20 storeys above the city skyline. Each of the 329 rooms, suites and serviced suites is furnished with stylish interiors, modern amenities and magnificent views, while the 56 serviced suites offer fully equipped kitchens and separate living spaces for the comfort and convenience of the extendedstay traveller.


MAISON D’HANOI HANOVA HOTEL $$$ 35-37 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 0999 hanovahotel.com



$$$$ 40 Cat Linh, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3733 0688 pullman-hanoi.com 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 sheraton.com/hanoi Su rrou n ded by lu sh 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 sofitel.com 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.

HCMC CARAVELLE HOTEL $$$$ 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999 caravellehotel.com 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 equatorial.com/hcm 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.

INTERCONTINENTAL ASIANA SAIGON $$$$$ Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 9999 intercontinental. com/saigon


Tel: (08) 6263 6688 lemeridien.com/saigon Located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City next to the Saigon River, the property is close to the metropolis's entertainment and commercial areas, making it an ideal base for exploring the local culture and community. Experience this cosmopolitan city in stimulating surroundings.

NEW WORLD HOTEL $$$$ 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8888 saigon.newworldhotels.com 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 saigon.park.hyatt.com 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.

RENAISSANCE RIVERSIDE HOTEL SAIGON $$$$ 8-15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1117 renaissance-saigon.com This distinct French architectural wonder offers complimentary Wi-Fi, airport pickup or drop off, a firstfloor ballroom, and authentic Vietnamese cuisine at the River Restaurant.

SHERATON $$$$$ 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2828 sheraton.com/saigon

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 sofitel.com This 20–storey building in downtown Saigon, caters to upscale business and leisure travelers seeking a classic yet contemporary stay in Saigon.

VILLA SONG SAIGON $$$ 197/2 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6090 villasong.com 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.

HOI AN & DANANG CUA DAI $ 544, Cua Dai, Hoi An, Tel: (0510) 386 2231 hotelcuadai-hoian.com/

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

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




$$$$ Hamlet 1, Dien Duong Village, Quang Nam, Tel: (0510) 394 0000 ghmhotels.com 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.

32 – 34 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: (058) 3737 222 thecostanhatrang.com Located in the heart of the city, The Costa Nha Trang Hotel & Residences is a symbol of modern living thanks to its luxury oceanfront residences. From a beautiful day on the beach to the great nightlife of Tran Phu Street, this is the perfect place to experience the best of Nha Trang.




ANGSANA LANG CO $$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien Hue, Tel: (054) 369 5800 angsana.com/en/lang_co 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 banyantree.com/ en/lang_co Built on a crescent bay, The Banyan Tree offers privacy and unparalleled exclusivity with all-pool villas reflecting the cultural and historical legacy of past Vietnamese dynastic periods.

LA RESIDENCE $$$$ 5 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: (054) 383 7475 la–residence–hue.com


$$$$ Beachside Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 352 2222 sixsenses.com/ evason-resorts/anamandara/destination

JUNGLE BEACH RESORT $ Ninh Phuoc, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 362 2384 junglebeachvietnam.com On a secluded promontory north of Nha Trang, this budget place is all about hammocks, the sea, the jungle and nature.

SIX SENSES HIDEAWAY NINH VAN BAY $$$$ Ninh Van Bay, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 372 8222 sixsenses.com/resorts/ ninh-van-bay/destination The upmarket Tatler magazine voted top hotel of 2006. The location is stunning, on a bay accessible only by boat.


$$$$ 26 – 28 Tran Phu, Tel: (058) 388 0000

COCO BEACH $$$$ 58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: (062) 384 7111 cocobeach.net With charming wooden bungalows, a private beach, a swimming pool (both with attached bars) and a French restaurant, Coco Beach continues to be run by those who opened it in 1995.

JOE’S GARDEN RESORT $$ 86 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ham Tien, Mui Ne, Tel: (062) 384 7177 joescafemuine.com A leafy, seafront bungalow resort and café with nightly live music all in one. Reminiscent of the type of places you’d find on the Thai islands, an international and Asian food menu together with a cheap happy hour on beer make up the relaxing mix.

VICTORIA PHAN THIET RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Mui Ne Beach, Phan Thiet, Tel: (062) 381 3000 victoriahotels.asia Another beachfront Victoria chain, the thatched–roof bungalows and family villas are set in exotic gardens with an infinity swimming pool, a seafood restaurant, spa, beauty salon and jacuzzi.

PHONG NHA EASY TIGER AND JUNGLE BAR $ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: (052) 367 7844 easytigerphongnha@ gmail.com A hostel and street-front bar

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

HO KHANH'S HOMESTAY $$ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: 01299 597182 phong-nha-homestay.com

PHONG NHA FARMSTAY $$ Hoa Son, Cu Nam, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: (052) 367 5135 phong-nha-cave.com 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.

PHU QUOC BEACH CLUB RESORT $$ Ap Cua Lap, Xa Duong To, Long Beach, Phu Quoc Island, Tel: (077) 398 0998 beachclubvietnam.com A quaint and popular island guesthouse featuring a beachside restaurant, and includes free Wi-Fi. Motorbike rental, boat trips and tours are easily arranged. Discount rates during rainy season.

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

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Day Tripper: Dai Lai Lake / The Therapist / Top Eats / Coffee Cup / Book Buff / Women's Fitness Photo by Julie Vola

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Day Tripper Amelia Burns and Julie Vola hit the tarmac for a day out by a lake not far from Hanoi


f you’re new to Hanoi, or not so confident on a motorbike but want to get out of the city, a trip to Dai Lai Lake might be exactly what you’re looking for. It’s the perfect place to bring a bunch of friends on a hot summer’s day for a road trip, swim and a picnic. Dai Lai Lake, located in Vinh Phuc Province, is about 46km from central Hanoi. It takes an hour to get there if you drive from point A to B, but considering it’s such an easy drive, try to challenge yourself and when you get closer to the lake by taking the smaller roads that turn up as white on the maps, instead of the bigger yellow ones.

Get Lost Stopping to breathe the clean air, you can feel and smell the difference between here and Hanoi. The smaller streets offer

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Dai Lai Lake

a romantic view of the countryside. Here you can see the vibrant green rice paddies and the ladies working in them. Take the even smaller roads, up the rocky hills and through cool streams that the farmers walk their livestock through, and the ‘roads’ are just paths made over time from people and animals. If you speak enough Vietnamese, you’ll be lucky enough to get some directions from the farmers, and maybe even exchange a few pleasantries. Resorts and golf courses have privatized much of the lake, so the places that you can park are limited. However, Dai Lai isn’t a popular destination, so you will probably have no problem finding a place to yourself. Unfortunately, some of the bigger areas are littered with trash, fire pits, and bones. But seeing evidence of others eating and

drinking made us think that this would be the perfect location for a summer’s day picnic.

Picnic Anyone? The lake is in good condition for swimming, and if you bring some food, drinks, a portable speaker and good company, it can make for an ideal place to escape the city for a day. There aren’t too many places to eat around the lake. In some instances we couldn’t make out what was being sold. But we did find a com restaurant that served some average my xao. The recommendation would definitely be to bring your own food for the trip. A great activity offered at the lake is the swan boats. We were quoted VND60,000 for an hour’s ride, but it can definitely be talked down to VND40,000 or VND50,000. Parking at the boat dock will set you back VND10,000.

The swan boats offer a fun, relaxing experience on the lake’s waters. You can paddle out and enjoy the mountainous views and relaxing atmosphere. A day out to Dai Lai Lake is slow-paced and relaxing. We left at 9.30am and were back by 3pm. Had the weather been hotter, we would’ve taken the chance for a swim.

Getting There From Au Co, head north onto Nhat Tan Bridge. Go straight along AH14 (Vo Nguyen Giap) for 25km until you come to the intersection just after the airport. Turn right onto QL2A. Shortly after this, turn right onto Nguyen Tat Thanh where you will see signs for the lake (Ho Dai Lai). At the next roundabout take the first exit onto Tran Phu. From here, you can continue straight to Dai Lai Lake.

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Hanoi Essentials

AGS Four Winds

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



Hoa Lan Road, Vinhomes Riverside, Long Bien, Tel: (04) 3946 0435 bishanoi.com selective, independent, co-educational day school. Provides a British-style education following the National Curriculum for England, with students taking IGCSE and A Level. Also offers the IB programme.






karen@aroamingbodyworker.com a-roamingbodyworker.com 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 issuu.com/ hanoiholistichealth A guide to various holistic health practitioners in Hanoi. Only available online, but a great information source.

M M M BOOKSHOPS BOOKWORM BOOK SHOP 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 3711 Bookworm has been the cornerstone of Hanoi’s literary scene since 2001. It has been around the block quite a bit and now shares a space with Hanoi Cooking Centre. With over 15,000 new and second-hand fiction and nonfiction titles in stock, the shop also buys used books and offers free travel advice.


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

AUSCHAM 4th Floor, 100 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 0909 710994 auschamvn.org

BRITISH BUSINESS GROUP VIETNAM (BBGV) 193B Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: (04) 6674 0945 bbgv.org

CCIFV Pan Pacific Hanoi, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 2229 ccifv.org

EUROCHAM Pan Pacific Hanoi, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 2228 eurochamvn.org

ICHAM Sofitel Plaza, Ground floor, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 2229 icham.org

SINGAPORE BUSINESS ASSOCIATION VIETNAM Business Center Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh sbav-hanoi.org

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COOKING CENTRE 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 0088 hanoicookingcentre.com 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.

DENTAL CLINIC 2nd Fl, Syrena Center, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3710 0555 westcoastinternational. com The Westcoast International Dental Clinic is composed of dental professionals who deliver modern, high-level dental services throughout Vi e t n a m . T h e c l i n i c provides the highest quality technology, comfort and after-service care to patients.




DENTAL CLINICS AUSTRALIAN DENTAL CLINIC DENTAL CLINIC 3 Nguyen Du, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 0906 200434 australiandentalclinic.com

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 serenitydentalclinic.com

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

Family Medical Practice MEDICAL CLINIC 298 I Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3843 0748 vietnammedicalpractice.com


Suite 821, 8th floor, Vietnam Trade Union Hotel, 14 Tran Binh Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3941 0805 santaferelo.com ith over 150 offices around the world, Santa Fe offers local and international moving, pet transportation, relocation services including home search, orientation, cultural training, immigration services and records management.


FRENCH HOSPITAL INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL 1 Phuong Mai, Dong Da, Tel: (04) 3577 1100 hfh.com.vn

INTERNATIONAL SOS MEDICAL / DENTAL CLINIC 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3934 0666 Internationalsos.com Well-known medical clinic also known for its quality emergency services. Doctors and consultants also provide a range of services from standard GP-style checkups through to vaccinations, paediatrics and specialist care.


M M M INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS CONCORDIA INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HANOI CMC Building, Duy Tan, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 3795 8878 concordiahanoi.org 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 hisvietnam.com 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: (04) 3540 9183 isvietnam.org A not-for-profit, prekindergarten to Grade 12 school serving the international and local community of Hanoi. ISV accepts students of any nationality aged 3 and up. Highly qualified and experienced international educators are supported by a 21st-century campus with the latest in educational technology plus excellent resources for learning. Class sizes are small.

KINDERWORLD INTERNATIONAL KINDERGARTEN Unit 9 – 10, Shophouse CT17, Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel (04) 3743 0306; 3rd Floor, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan

Kiem, Tel (04) 3934 7243; C5 – C11, 1st floor, The Manor Building, My Dinh, Tu Liem, Tel (04) 3764 0209 kinderworld.net Classes are kept small with a foreign teacher leading the class with the assistance of a Vietnamese teacher according to the teacherstudent ratio. KinderWorld provides pre school education for children from 18 months to below 6 years.

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

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

UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (UNIS) G9 Ciputra, Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3758 1551 unishanoi.org Established in 1988, 1,050 students from 60 nationalities follow the IB programme from aged 3 through to aged 18. A not-for-profit entity, UNIS aims for its students to emerge as responsible stewards of our global society and natural environment.

M M M PROPERTY RENTALS FAIR REAL ESTATE RENTALS 6 Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6332 fair-realestate.com

GIA LONG HOUSING RENTALS R714, Blg CT13B Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3743 0589 gialonghousing.com

HANOI RENTING RENTALS No. 809, Ct13b building, Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 6294 4828 hanoirenting.com

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

VIETLONG HOUSING RENTALS 21 Alley 1/22 Au Co, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 5203 vietlonghousing.com

M M M RELOCATION AGENTS ALLIED PICKFORDS Room 302, 12A Ho Xuan Huong, Tel: (04) 3943 1511 vn.alliedpickfords.com 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 jvkasia.com Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is currently a leader in the field. Has offices in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

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

ELITE FITNESS TOP-END HEALTH CENTRE 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6281 elitefitness.com.vn 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 nshapefitness.vn

w ne r fe f o

STUDIO FIVE YOGA & WELLNESS 5th Fl, 135 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung. Tel: (04) 6263.1515 studio5.vn

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

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

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


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6 mon th s VND 5 0 0, 0 0 0 or 12 mon th s VND 1, 0 0 0, 0 0 0 Email: trinh@wordvietnam.com Or call Ms Trinh directly: +84 936 269 244 wordvietnam.com | May 2017 Word | 143

The Therapist Suicide

Dear Douglas, Last week I accidentally walked in on my older sister as she was getting out of the shower. We were both surprised and I left quickly, but not before noticing several cuts on her upper legs and some scars that looked like previous cuts. I haven’t said anything to her about it, but I feel worried that she is hurting herself. Then today, I heard her say that she is “tired of living” to someone on the phone. I am worried about her, but do not know if I should bring it up with her or wait for her to come to me when she needs me. Worried Sister Dear Worried Sister, Thank you for seeking out support when you have felt uncertain about what to do. Clearly, your sister is in emotional pain, as indicated by her cutting herself and the comment about being tired of living. Both of those things are red flags, which means they are alarming to the point that they cannot be ignored. I recommend that you approach her and tell her what you have seen and heard, and ask her to talk to you about how she is doing. I can imagine that you are afraid of what you will hear and wonder if you will know what to say to her. Often people believe that by bringing up the topic of suicide a person might get the idea, so it is better not to talk about it. But the opposite is what is true. If we suspect a person is thinking about killing or hurting themselves and we ask them directly, they will feel a sense of relief that someone else knows and cares enough to ask. The vast majority of the time people can have thoughts about wanting to die without

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ever having any intention to kill themselves. When people are in emotional pain for a length of time their minds are looking for a way out, and thoughts of “escape” become part of that. We can assume that your sister has been in emotional pain because self-harm is an indication that she has tried to cope with it through cutting herself. Cutting is not an attempt at suicide, but rather a way that people find emotional release from intense emotions that have been numbed or repressed. So, let me give you some guidelines to help you assess what is going on for your sister. You will need to learn from her whether she is likely to commit suicide. There are three things to find out — we could say stages of severity. Stage one is called suicidal ideation. It is when someone has the thought about killing themselves or escaping the world or wishing that others would be better off without them, but when pressed on the question of killing themselves, they say they would never do it. When asked if they have reasons to live, they name a few significant things that keep them from wanting to die, despite their problems and emotional pain. Stage two is when someone is more discouraged and depressed and is feeling more hopeless and helpless to feel better or solve their problems. The reasons for staying alive are fewer and weaker — sometimes it is only for the love of one person, not wanting to hurt them, so that they fight to find a way to stay alive. They have often thought about how they might kill themselves, but have no real plan… a time or place. Stage three is when someone feels they are out of options and that they cannot bear the

By Douglas Holwerda

emotional pain much longer. They will either appear to be in great despair or might even be surprisingly happy and at ease. Let me explain the latter. Sometimes when people who have considered suicide for a while, get to the point where they are ready to die, they feel a big relief and will often visit friends and family, give things away and seems almost euphoric because they can see a way to end the pain they have been living with. It is a different kind of red flag. This stage means they have a plan, meaning, a method, and a time and place, all decided. So, to find out what is true for you sister, you have to ask. You have to ask if she is sure she will not end her life. If she cannot say yes, you have to find out if she has a plan (a method, the means, a time and place). It is important to know what you will do, if her answers lead you to believe that her life is in danger. If she is in stage three, do not leave her until she is in the hands of adults or professionals who can keep her safe and help her find a different way through the crisis. In any event, it sounds like your sister could benefit from meeting with a psychotherapist who can help her understand her emotions and how to regulate them to feel better. Do your homework. Finding names of psychotherapists or support people in your area. Then go and talk to your sister and let her know that you care. I wish you well, — Douglas Do you have a question you would like Douglas’s help with? You can email him at douglasholwerda@hotmail.com. Personal details will not be printed

Hanoi On the Town

BARS +84 BAR CONTEMPORARY DECOR BAR 23 Ngo Van So, Hoan Kiem facebook.com/bar84hanoi Housed in a colonial building, bare brick, comfortable sofalike seating and grungy decor related to a past make up the mix at this venue put together by the people behind Barbetta.

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

BARBETTA ARTSY BAR & CAFE 34C Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh, Tel: (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.

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

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

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

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

MAO’S RED LOUNGE LATE-NIGHT GRUNGE BAR 7 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 3104

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

RED RIVER TEA ROOM LAKESIDE WATERING HOLE 19 Xom Chua Kim Lien, Ngo 1 Au Co, Tay Ho facebook.com/pages/ Red-River-Tea-Room Located on the lakeside, this warm, quiet and friendly pub offers a selection of international and local beers, wine and cocktails. Serving pies and pasties from The Cart, Vietnamese food from Dieu’s, or delivery from nearby favourites. Unpretentious, dog-friendly.

ROCKSTORE LIVE MUSIC BAR 61 Ma May, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 01653 336087 facebook.com/ RockstoreHanoi

SIDEWALK HANOI DIY BAR & EVENTS VENUE 199D Nghi Tam, Tay Ho facebook.com/ sidewalkhanoi

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

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

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

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

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

TRACY’S PUB AND GRILL SPORTS BAR/GRILL 114 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6675 9838 tracyspub.com

VUVUZELA MODERN BEER HALL 2A Tran Thanh Tong, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3972 8922 vuvuzela.com.vn

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

COFFEE BEAN & TEA LEAF INTERNATIONAL COFFEE HOUSE 28 Thanh Nien, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3715 4240 coffeebean.com 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 congcaphe.com With a kitsch, communistdriven theme saturating this quaint cafe, most patrons are young Vietnamese bohemians and artsy expats.

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

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

EMM CAFE URBAN CAFÉ & BRASSERIE 110 D1 Tran Huy Lieu, Giang Vo, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 6293 6361 An urban café and brasserie serving international and French-Mediterranean cuisine in a casual and cozy atmosphere. A popular social hub in Ba Dinh District featuring a wide selection of coffees and wines from around the world.

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

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

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

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

KINH DO PATISSERIE / SIMPLE CAFE 252 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (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 facebook.com/manzihanoi A stunningly designed contemporary café and events space that screams out the words ‘modern art’. Housed in a converted colonialera villa, a continuous flow of exhibitions, talks, experimental music and game shows make up the mix here. Great cuisine, too.

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



CAFE / INTERNATIONAL 14-16 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem. (04) 3825 6334

COFFEE/BAKERY 22 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3747 3388; 43 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6071 joma.biz Popular café with a contemporary western feel to the counter-style service and atmosphere. The food is all there, too: breakfasts, salads, soups, ice cream, muffins, cakes, cereals and bagels. Starting in Laos in 1996, Joma moved to Hanoi

INTERNATIONAL / CAFE 16-18 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 1745 This spacious spot on Food Street is open around the clock, offering Aussieinspired comfort food along with more eclectic Irish nachos, cottage pies and pan-Asian fare. Upstairs is fit for social gatherings and live music while the no-smoking downstairs space


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Top Eats


unKat’s is one of Hanoi’s foremost restaurants for getting a good burger — the menu is straight to the point, and full of originality, and the venue has a spot-on elevated view of West Lake. In short, if you like putting things in buns, then this is for you. The original concept is based on Danang’s Burger Bro’s — the creation of a Japanese sushi master turned burger flipper. SunKat’s have taken this idea and made it their own. Their menu is all burger and salad, with a bit of added flair thrown in for good measure. Prepared by hand in an open kitchen,

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each burger is then presented on a slate plate, wrapped in origami, and garnished with herbs grown on site. The attention to detail is what sets them apart. The burgers and salads are all meticulously designed, the chips are fresh cut from the potato, with the skin on, and are topped with Himalayan salt. The buns are sourced from O’Douceurs bakery, and the fruit juices are freshly squeezed before your eyes.

Burgers That Won’t Break The Bank The menu is bite-size, and while that might

not thrill some, it certainly gets to the point; nine burgers plus one monthly special. All the beef used in the burgers is sourced from Australian and New Zealand grass-fed cows. The classic beef burger with onion, lettuce, tomato and pickles is a walletfriendly VND90,000, and can be upgraded for a little extra to include cheddar, mozzarella or blue cheese. The burgers are cooked medium rare, and it’s worth noting that the paper it’s served in isn’t just for presentation, but stops the meat juices from dripping all over you. A more original recipe is the salmon burger for VND200,000. A thick cut of



battered salmon with salad and dill, it’s cooked to perfection, and is a generous enough serving to feel more than satisfied. We don’t know who first thought to put salmon in a burger, but we’re glad they did. Other options include teriyaki chicken for VND80,000, BBQ pork for VND90,000, and the vegan burger, a tofu and bean patty topped with avocado, salad and seasonal mushrooms, for VND80,000. The vegan burger shows that management is willing to cater to a mix of customers.

Tastes Just Like Home It’s not all just burgers at SunKat’s; their

salads are a meal in themselves, and go down perfectly with a glass of freshly squeezed fruit juice. Here they have a choice of pineapple, guava, lemon, passion fruit or water melon, with each costing VND50,000 for a large glass. The stand out candidate for the sides is the bruschetta. For VND60,000 you get 12 pieces of bread topped with diced tomatoes, olive oil, pepper, oregano and garlic. As our French photo editor says, it tastes like Provence! Also worth a try is the primavera salad for VND55,000. It can be upgraded with tuna or feta cheese, and is enough of a

portion to share between four people. For dessert, try some gelato cheese cake flavoured ice cream at VND100,000 for three scoops. SunKat’s really have got their food prep skills down to a tee, and these are some mouth-watering burgers. One noticeable area for improvement is service time. It took us a long time to get our food, and this is something that they’ll need to address to keep up with demand. — Billy Gray SunKat’s is at 172 Yen Phu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Opening hours are 11am to 10pm daily. Go to facebook.com/SunKatsBurgers for more info

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Hanoi On the Town

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

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

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

THE HANOI SOCIAL CLUB CAFÉ / CONTEMPORARY EATERY 6 Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 2117 facebook.com/ thehanoisocialclub A cozy midsize café/ restaurant where you can forget the heat and bustle of Hanoi. The atmosphere is relaxed and here you can imagine, for a second, that you’re sitting in a European café. The ood is fresh and internationally inspired, and has an excellent top-floor terrace.

YOLO FUNKY LIVE MUSIC CAFE 32C Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh facebook.com/ YoloCoffeeShops

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


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

M M M EAT — FRENCH FRENCH GRILL TOP-END GRILL JW Marriott Hanoi, 8 Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Tel: (04) 3833 5588 facebook.com/frenchgrill W i t h u n i q u e d e c o r, contemporary ambience, a walk-in wine cooler and a delectable seafood bar, this classy restaurant offers guests a service experience with crafted food difficult to find in the capital.

GREEN TANGERINE FRENCH / VIETNAMESE FUSION 48 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3825 1286 greentangerinehanoi.com

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

LA VERTICALE CONTEMPORARY FRENCH 19 Ngo Van So, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3944 6317 verticale-hanoi.com 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.

MILLENIUM-CAFÉ DES ARTS PAN-FRENCH 11 Hang Hanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3828 7207 cafe-des-arts.com A contemporary and chic three-storey restaurant with a terrace and views over one of Hanoi’s best-known alleys. Serves up quality French cuisine such as: snails, foie gras, lobster, scallops, chateaubriand and tournedos Rossini. Does an excellent set menu and also has a daily specials board.

M M M EAT — INDIAN FOODSHOP 45 INTERNATIONAL INDIAN 59 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3716 2959 foodshop45.com Lakeside location and low bamboo seating, this eatery is one of the most popular Indians in town. Selling an international version of the mighty curry — they even sell pork and beef here — the menu keeps to the northern part of the subcontinent with masala, dopiaza, korma and the more Goan vindaloo taking centre stage.

INDIA PALACE NORTH INDIAN 10B Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: 01247 668668 indiapalacehn@vnn.vn

NAMASTE HANOI PAN-INDIAN 46 Tho Nhuom, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3935 2400 namastehanoi.com The well-loved Namaste specialises in dishes from both northern and southern India — using Halal meat throughout. Hosted by the gregarious Gopi, a meal will cost you between VND150,000 and VND300,000 and everything is there, from curries and breads to soups and desserts.

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


EAT — INTERNATIONAL AL FRESCO’S AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL 24 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3938 1155 alfrescogroup.com

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

AU LAC DO BRAZIL BRAZILIAN 6A Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3845 5224 aulacdobrazil.com

CHOPS GOURMET BURGER & CRAFT BEER 4 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6292 1044 chopsvietnam.com Finally Hanoi has a dedicated gourmet burger joint, and this West Lake eatery with its fan-cooled atmosphere get it just about right. This is comfort food at its finest. Served up with locally brewed craft beer, and this one’s a bit of a winner.

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

DON’S TAY HO CONTEMPORARY NORTH AMERICAN 16 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 3719 Dons-bistro.com This lake-facing venue with its top floor Oyster Bar is the work of charismatic Canadian restaurateur and wine connoisseur Donald Berger. Focusing on comfort food done well, the main restaurant menu includes anything from wood-grilled rare tuna steak with fragrant Chinese black bean beurre

noir to gourmet pizza and pasta dishes Excellent range of imported oysters, great breakfasts and an extensive wine list.

EMM CAFE URBAN CAFÉ & BRASSERIE 110 D1 Tran Huy Lieu, Giang Vo, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 6293 6361 An urban café and brasserie serving international and French-Mediterranean cuisine in a casual and cozy atmosphere. A popular social hub in Ba Dinh District featuring a wide selection of coffees and wines from around the world.

EL GAUCHO STEAKHOUSE ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE 11 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3824 7280; 99 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6991 elgaucho.com.vn With venues in Saigon and Bangkok, the essence of El Gaucho is quality top grade meats off the grill. Steak is the mainstay — the USDA cuts are to die for — but everything from chicken, pork and seafood is also up for grabs. Add to this a backdrop of low Latin music, low, subtle lighting, an extensive wine list and slick service. There’s a reason El Gaucho is so successful — everything’s being taken care of.

J.A.F.A. INTERNATIONAL G2-G3 Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3758 2400 J.A.F.A. is a great place for drinking cocktails by the pool. The beverages are not the cheapest, but this is made up for by service and ambiance. They also have a full menu featuring familiar western dishes such as pizza and cheeseburgers and cater for large parties or dinner functions. Periodic buffets and drink specials are also offered.

JACKSON’S STEAKHOUSE STEAKHOUSE / GRILL 23J Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 8388 alfrescogroup.com

JASPA’S INTERNATIONAL / AUSTRALIAN Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung (4th Floor), Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 8325 alfrescosgroup.com

KOTO ON VAN MIEU RESTAURANT / CAFÉ / BAR 59 Van Mieu, Dong Da, Tel: (04) 3747 0337 koto.com.au The restaurant arm of Koto, an F&B training school

for disadvantaged youth. Authentic Asian and European cuisine is served over four big floors of restaurant space. It’s cushioned, comfortable and has a rooftop terrace, too. Wrap it yourself nem, bun bo Nam bo, Koto burgers, pastas, fish and chips, chicken Kievs and sandwiches all under one homely roof.

LA SALSA IBERIAN / MEDITERANEAN 5 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3995 0950 lasalsa-hanoi.com

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 mooseandroo.com There’s a reason for Smokehouse’s popularity — the excellent, on-site smoked meats together with all the typical, American-style sides. Set in the American Club, dining is both indoors and out, and comes with the best bourbon selection in town.

NINETEEN 11 INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN The Opera House, 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3933 4801 nineteen11.com.vn Named after the completion date of the Hanoi Opera House, this upscale yet casual restaurant maintains an ambience of elegance, luxury and mystery. The cuisine mixes international fare with twists on Vietnamese cuisine and comes complete with a

formidable wine list and an in-house sommelier.

PIZZA 4P’S JAPANESE PIZZA JOINT 24 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 01208 034444 pizza4ps.com Famed for its home-made mozzarella and Japaneseinspired pizzas that break all the rules, the Hanoi outlet of Pizza 4P’s is as popular as its Saigon branch, a restaurant that has been greeted by accolades by all asunder. All pizzas are cooked in a woodfired oven and use fresh, local ingredients.

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

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


PAN-ITALIAN 23 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 6288





SANDWICH SHOP / CAFÉ 8B, Lane 1, Au Co, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3938 2513 thecartfood.com 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.

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.

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


LINGUINI FINI ITALIAN-AMERICAN 36-38 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3266 8968 linguinifini.com/en/hanoi With branches in Hong Kong and Manilla, the contemporary ItalianAmerican Linguini Fini pulls no punches with its first outlet in Vietnam. Sleek modern décor, high quality cuisine, home-made pasta, reasonable prices and dishes cooked up with the freshest ingredients available are part of the deal, as are some damn fine pizzas.

LUNA D’AUTUNNO CLASSIC ITALIAN 27 Nam Ngu, Tel: (04) 3823 7338


PAN-ITALIAN 3 Nguyen Khac Can, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 9080 facebook.com/panevinoHN


EAT — JAPANESE ASAHI SUSHI SUSHI RESTAURANT 288 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3974 5945 asahisushi.vn

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.

M M M EAT — VIETNAMESE HIGHWAY 4 VIETNAMESE / ETHNIC 5 Hang Tre, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 4200; 25 Bat Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 0639; 575 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3771 6372 The home of Son Tinh liquor, Highway 4 is also known for its communal dining and ethnic food menu taking in dishes from around the regions of northern Vietnam.

Try out their catfish spring rolls. Phenomenal!


67 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem


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

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


PHO CUON 26 Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh

CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE 57 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3944 0204 potsnpans.vn Brought to you by a group of former disadvantaged youth from Hanoi’s own KOTO, this unique fine dining restaurant, bar and lounge blends the old with the new. Vietnamese fusion cuisine, like profiteroles with green tea and café fillings, a private chef’s table with a kitchen view, and an extensive wine list combined with modern formal styling bring a unique experience to Hanoi.




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


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

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


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


SAUTEED BEEF PHO 13 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung


BANH CUON 14 Hang Ga, Hoan Kiem

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




STREETSIDE BANH MI 25 Hang Ca, Hoan Kiem

PHO BO 23 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem




STICKY RICE 44 Hang Hom, Hoan Kiem


THIS SUMMER WE HAVE SOME BLAZING NEW DELIVERY, ALA CARTE, BAR TAPAS, SET LUNCH AND DINNER MENUS, OYSTER AND PIZZA PROMOTIONS, MUSIC, AND A NEW CRAFT BEER ON TAP COME AND ENJOY OUR WARM WELCOME IN COOL CLIMATE ZONES AND BE PAMPERED 10% discount for Amcham, Euro Cham, JVA, Can Cham, BBGV, Auscham on ala carte and sets, sorry not on promotions or new delivery menus (which is now net not VAT or service) 16 Quang An - Tay Ho - Hanoi | Tel: (84-4) 3 719 2828 | 3 719 3719 www.dons-bistro.com | donchef@donviet.vn


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Coffee Cup


ucked away in a little alley near Truc Bach Lake lies Bluebirds’ Nest, an 18-month-old cafe perfect for groups of creative collaborators, freelancers or students. The cafe serves a range of drinks made with locally sourced ingredients as well as food, and is open from 8am to 10.30am, but food is served only from 9am to 3pm and 5pm to 9pm. Bluebirds’ Nest is currently running a seasonal special menu with drinks such as the mulberry mojito (VND45,000), a sour carbonated berry and mint-flavoured drink with a hint of rum. Or the mulberry kumquat juice (VND35,000), a soft well balanced, berry-flavoured drink.

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An exciting new addition to the menu is the green kumquat honey ice blend (VND40,000). It’s sweet, tangy and very refreshing. Or if you’re more into warm, cozy drinks, the almond sugar cookie tea might be perfect for you.

Affordable For All Other drinks include Vietnamese coffee, traditional teas, fruit teas, herbal teas, fruit smoothies, juices and ice blends. All drinks are priced between VND20,000 and VND40,000. They also have snacks and desserts ranging from VND15,000 to VND40,000 as well as a regular food menu serving salads, soups, some rice dishes and

Italian-inspired fare. The food is made in house by a chef who used to work for the Sheraton Hotel. One great thing about the café is the amount of books on offer. They have a huge bookshelf covering the wall. Although most books are in Vietnamese, there are a few in English. These are for customers to enjoy only at the store. But the cafe also has a book exchange box for customers to take and leave books. Bluebirds’ Nest supports creative group collaboration. If you are a group who participates in activities or discussions to do with culture, art, creation, education, or community development you can enjoy a 10% discount on menu items when you

Bluebirds’ Nest


book your group in ahead of time. The space is free to use and includes facilities such as speakers and a projector screen. Groups as small as 10 or as big as 50 are easily accommodated here. Or if you’re on your own, there are plenty of outlets for customers to use. Many students and working professionals frequent Bluebirds’ Nest to work on their computers over a refreshing drink and a bite to eat.

Going Green If you’re a cyclist, you can enjoy a 15% discount on drinks when you ride your bike there. Bluebirds’ Nest is involved with the organisation Live and Learn

Environmental Education and are taking steps in the way they run the cafe towards a greener way of living. They use stainless steel straws for their drinks to cut down on the waste that plastic straws create. As well as this, they source all their ingredients locally. The cafe holds movie nights every Tuesday from 7.30pm to 10pm. Entry is free, and they watch mostly foreign movies with Vietnamese subtitles. They announce the movies regularly on their Facebook page. More themed nights may be happening in the future. Bluebirds’ Nest was named after the Charles Bukowski poem Bluebird.

Co-owner Binh worked at a bank for a long time but felt she had a “bluebird in [her] heart that wanted to get out”, as is written in the poem. She created this cafe working space based on the concept of a “nest where bluebirds like me can come and sing together.” Bluebirds Nest is a great location, in a peaceful little courtyard not far from Tay Ho or Hoan Kiem, which makes for the perfect place for writers, teachers, or nomadic workers to come and grab a drink, and work away. — Amelia Burns Bluebirds’ Nest is at No. 13, Lane 19, Dang Dung, Ba Dinh. For more information go to facebook.com/tochimxanh.bluebirdsnest

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Women's Fitness Know Your Body Type


eight training in the gym isn’t a mindless act of working out on random machines and repeating the same exercises over and over again hoping for a different result. It is important you develop an understanding of your body type. This will greatly affect what type of weight training and fitness programme you require and your ability to achieve the short, medium and long-term goals that you have set yourself.

The Three Basic Body Types Endomorph Endomorphs are round in shape with a softer physical appearance. Often pear shaped with a round head, they carry a high percentage of body fat, usually around the lower body — mainly on the hips and stomach. Mesomorph Mesomorphs are usually V-shaped, with narrow hips and broad shoulders. They are usually quite muscular and strong. People with this body type tend to have normal to below average body fat levels. Ectomorph Ectomorphs are lean and long in appearance. They are often characterized by their short trunk and long limbs,

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narrow shoulders, hips, chest and abdomen. Ectomorphs have little or no fat or muscle. It’s quite common, however, to have characteristics of more than one body type. For example, you might be an endo-meso or meso-ecto. Your body type is determined by genetics and no amount of weight training can alter what you were born with. If you happen to be an endomorph, all the training in the world will not make you an ectomorph. But you can improve on what you have been given. With the right kind of weight training programme suited to your body type you will be able to achieve your goals, whether that is losing weight or building lean muscle mass to create a leaner more toned physique.

What Do You Need? Below are my guidelines to assist you in developing a training programme for your body type. Endomorphs tend to have a higher percentage of body fat and usually have to work harder to lose it. If you do have this body type, you need to be vigilant when weight training, since added muscle mass can make your physique look bulky and larger, rather than slimmer and leaner. Endomorphs are

By Amazin Le Thi

usually best suited to swimming, light high-repetition weight training, walking and aerobic classes. Mesomorphs, because of their naturally muscular, athletic physique, lose body fat quickly and gain muscular size easily. Muscular mesomorphs are ideal for any type of weight training or power sports like: powerlifting, sprinting, boxing, wrestling or martial arts. Ectomorphs tend to make great long-distance runners, bikers and crosscountry skiers. Ectomorphs usually have a faster metabolism and tend to lose body fat easily and because of this, may struggle to put on weight. When it comes to weight training, because ectomorphs have long slender limbs, they will have to work harder to build muscle mass. Always remember to work with your body type when thinking of planning a weight training and fitness programme as this will guarantee you’ll achieve your desired short, medium and long-term goals faster. Amazin is a Prana Samyama meditation Yin Yoga teacher and performance coach having trained Olympic athletes to special forces. She is also a former natural competitive bodybuilder and the first Vietnamese internationally published health and fitness author and DNA fitness trainer. For more info click on amazinlethi.com

Book Buff Influential Rivals


couple of years ago, a republished series of Ayn Rand’s books were high on the list of Bookworm’s most requested books. These were mainly popular with Vietnamese university students who were intrigued by Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism, which has as a major precept that man exists for his own sake; that the pursuit of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose; that he must not sacrifice himself to others, nor sacrifice others to himself. Rand’s Objectivism, a celebration of laissez-faire capitalism, was recently defined by commentator, Jonathan Freedland, as an ideology that denounces altruism, elevates individualism into a faith and gives a spurious moral licence to raw selfishness. This year there’s been another influx of requests for Rand’s works, which may have something to do with President Trump nominating The Fountainhead (1943) as the one fictional book that he thinks is worth reading. In an interview with America Today he said that the book relates to business, beauty, life and inner emotions… everything. During his election campaign he stated that he identifies with its main character Howard Roark, a prominent architect of singular vision who ensures that public buildings he created are dynamited because his blueprints were not followed exactly to the letter by bureaucrats he describes as corrupt parasites. In 2008, Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, nominated Rand’s Atlas Shrugged as his favourite book, in which the main protagonist, John Galt — a capitalist philosopher genius who believes in the right of the individual to use their power, minds and abilities solely to profit themselves — strives to

bring about the collapse of economic and social structures of collective society to further his goals. He harnesses the most influential creative agencies to spin his message. CIA head, Mike Pompeo agrees with Tillerson’s choice. Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan was reported in 2005 to have made Rand’s works required reading for his staff, though recently, due to Rand’s professed atheism, he’s downplayed the importance of her influence on him. Other officials have allowed Objectivism to run parallel with, or have validated it with quotes from, their particular testaments.

A Different View A novel from 1935 that has soared up most bookselling lists since the last US presidential election is Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t happen Here which is about the rise of an authoritarian fascist leader in the US. It’s about political radicalization and social upheaval in depression-ravaged US. It was a runaway best seller. An ignorant rabble rouser, Buzz Windrip wins the 1936 presidential election with the support of millions of poor and angry citizens whose rallying cry is: “We are on relief. We want to become human beings again. We want Buzz!” A 2016 review by Jules Stewart includes descriptions of a Windrip rally in Madison Square Garden after which the novel’s journalist hero describes Windrip’s rhetoric as being irresistible to his thousands of downtrodden admirers. He later can’t remember a word Windrip said. But it doesn’t matter; if Windrip contradicts himself, backtracks on policy or simply spews out a torrent of lies, he tells them what they want to hear. Every American will be guaranteed a minimum income of US$5,000 (US$88,000

By Truong Hoang

in today’s money), US-hating Mexico will be severely dealt with and Jewish bankers will be punished for landing the country in this mess. Windrip unveils his 15-point manifesto, which includes prison or the death penalty for anyone advocating communism and the recognition of Jews as fully Americanized, so long as they continue to support Our Ideals. After winning the election, supported by media moguls of the day, he orders an invasion of Mexico and incarcerates political opponents in concentration camps. US refugees flood into Canada. Sinclair Lewis, a social leftist and satirist, was Americas’ first winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Alternative Realities Other hot commodities by left-leaners on best bookselling lists are Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaids Tale (1985) — a searing warning about institutionalized sexism and misogyny in a theocracy called Gilead, and Orwell’s 1984, published in 1949. With the recent Mother of all Bomb drops, Father of all Bombs taunts, almost daily bombing of civilian targets, and the posturing with nuclear rockets by big and small nations, we hope that another oldie, Neville Shute’s post-apocalyptic On the Beach (1957) doesn’t have to come up for revival any time soon. After a nuclear holocaust, with spreading radiation killing all in its path, Melbourne, Australia, is the remaining outpost of a dwindling population, holding on by a tenuous, but ultimately futile, thread of hope. Truong Hoang is behind the bookshop, Bookworm. For more info click on bookwormhanoi.com or visit their shop at 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

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Ho Chi Minh City

Day Tripper: Cu Lao Pho / Body & Temple / Know Your City / Terence Taylor’s Saigon Stories / Bar Stool / Top Eats / Coffee Cup / Medical Buff / The Matrix Photo by Vu Ha Kim Vy

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wordvietnam.com | May 2017 Word | 155

Day Tripper Vu Ha Kim Vy heads to an island which once was an international port of Ho Chi Minh


t was when a passing barge hit Ghenh Bridge early last year, causing a threemonth disconnect of the national railway from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, that people first heard of Cu Lao Pho. Cu Lao Pho is an island located in Bien Hoa, 30km away from Saigon, and is enclosed by two arms of the Dong Nai river. Until 2012 when Hiep Hoa Bridge was built, Ghenh Bridge was the only road connection to the mainland. Now another structure, An Hao Bridge will connect the island to the mainland, while two longtime ferries will continue to operate.

The Refugee The key contributor to the original development of Cu Lao Pho was Tran Thuong Xuyen, a Chinese general from the

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Ming dynasty. In 1679, he and his retinue came to Vietnam as political refugees escaping the Qing. The group settled down in Ban Lan (Bien Hoa) which was a heavily forested area before founding Cu Lao Pho, an alluvial island in the Huong Phuoc river (a section of the Dong Nai river). Because of the geographical convenience, where forest products from the north could be shipped through the river system to the south, Can Gio and Cambodia, a large group of Chinese left Ban Lan and moved to Cu Lao Pho. Together with the Vietnamese who already lived there, Tran Thuong Xuyen and his men conducted a complete exploration of the area. Under his leadership, Cu Lao Pho became a commercial port and the international

trading centre of Gia Dinh, the citadel that once stood on the land now occupied by Ho Chi Minh City. The prosperity of Cu Lao Pho only lasted 97 years. In 1776, Tay Son troops came to suppress the Chinese in Cu Lao Pho because of their support for the rival emperor, Gia Long. In search of safety, the Chinese merchants moved to Cholon (Ho Chi Minh City’s District 5 and District 6), forming what would eventually become the largest Chinese community in Vietnam.

The Relics Cu Lao Pho can be divided into two parts. The southern area is mostly fields and swamps; in the northwestern region, there are markets, shops and places where residents gather, especially around the

Cu Lao Pho


Ghenh Bridge. The island has several historical relics, mostly pagodas and temples. Chua Ong (Guan Yu Pagoda) was built in 1684 and is one of the Chinese pagodas in the area. The pagoda is not big but for the Chinese of southern Vietnam, is high in architectural and cultural value. In 2011, Chua Ong was classified as a national historical and cultural relic. Other religious buildings include Binh Quang Temple, Dai Giac Pagoda and Nguyen Huu Canh Temple. Ghenh Bridge is well-known not only for last year’s incident, but also for being the oldest bridge in Cu Lao Pho. In 1902, Gustave Eiffel, the French architect responsible for the Eiffel Tower, built the bridge with two lanes, one for a railway

and the other for pedestrians. Now the pedestrian lane is reserved for bicycles and motorbikes.

On the Way Home Two other attractions that travellers should not miss on the way home are Tan Van Quarry and Chau Thoi Pagoda. They are both located on Highway. Tan Van Quarry (Mo Da Tan Van) is located just off Highway 1K and was one of the main quarries in Bien Hoa, providing construction materials for the south. The quarry was abandoned in 2012 and due to successive rainy seasons, has now turned into a turquoise lake. Swimming is not allowed because of the lakes depth. Chau Thoi Pagoda (Chua Nui Chau

Thoi) is located on an 82m-high mountain, looking over the wide delta area of Di An in Binh Duong. It was built in the 17th century under the Nguyen Dynasty. The architecture is interesting, using broken ceramic tiles for decoration, dragon and phoenix statues, and paintings telling Buddhist stories. To reach the top, you can either follow the staircase or drive uphill along the road winding up at the back of the pagoda.

Getting There From Saigon Bridge, follow Highway 1A for about 18km and then turn left onto Highway DT16, just before you head over the Dong Nai River. Follow the highway until you see Buu Hoa Bridge. Cu Lao Pho is on the other side of Buu Hoa Bridge.

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HCMC Essentials


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



INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL 6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Saigon South Parkway, Q7, Tel: (08) 5411 3333 Emergency: (08) 5411 3500 fvhospital.com V Hospital is one of Vietnam’s leading, healthcare facilities, receiving international recognition from the global leader of accreditation, the JCI (Joint Commission International). With over 950 service staff, including 130 doctors, FV Hospital provides care in over 30 medical specialties in a complete, one-stop modern hospital.


STAMFORD SKIN CENTRE SKIN CARE / COSMETICS 99 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 1990 stamfordskin.com tamford Skin Centre offers a broad range of medical and aesthetic skin treatments. Their international dermatologists and doctors ensure accurate diagnosis and safe treatment procedures. It houses excellent equipment for a variety of procedures.



New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 3562 amchamvietnam.com


2nd Floor, Eximland Building, 179EF Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3, Tel: (08) 3832 9912 auschamvn.org


25 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 8430 bbgv.org

CANADIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (CANCHAM) Room 305, New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 3754 canchamvietnam.org


17th Floor, Petroland Tower, 12 Tan Trao, Q7, Tel: (08) 5416 0922 nordcham.com


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BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (BIS) 246 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2335 bisvietnam.com nspected and approved by the British Government, BIS provides a British style curriculum for an international student body from pre-school to Year 13. The school is staffed by British qualified and trained teachers with recent UK experience. Fully accredited by the Council of International Schools and a member of FOBISIA, BIS is the largest international school in Vietnam.


Thanh, Tel: (08) 3518 0045 pbgvn.com

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


SIAN SKINCARE CLINIC SKIN CARE / COSMETICS 27 Nguyen Trung Truc, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 6999 sianclinic.com he Australian and Canadian managed SIAN Clinic offers a wide range of skincare medical therapies to treat problems by an experienced dermatologist and facial care team. The clinic utilises the latest therapies.


6th Floor, Fimexco Building, 231-233 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Hotline: 0909 240809 phuong@vinamoving.com | vietnammoving.com


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

Globally renowned provider of medical assistance and international healthcare offers full dental services in the clinic. Foreign and Vietnamese dentists provide high skilled dental service. Orthodontics is also available.

dentists. A favourite of the foreign residential community due to its modern and effective treatments allied with extremely reasonable prices.



INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC 2 Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 6222 24, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6282 8822 starlightdental.net Long–established, modern clinic with French, Canadian, Belgian & Vietnamese


AMERICAN CHIROPRACTIC CLINIC CHIROPRACTOR 161-161A Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3939 3930 www.acc.vn ACC provides effective chiropractic, physiotherapy, acupuncture and foot care

treatments through the use of cutting edge technology for back, neck and knee pain, sports injuries as well as all types of foot related problems without the need of drugs or surgery.

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

CENTRE MEDICAL INTERNATIONALE (CMI) FRENCH MEDICAL CLINIC 1 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2366 cmi-vietnam.com

This French medical clinic provides general practice and a range of specialties including cardiology, gynecology, psychotherapy, ophthalmology, paediatrics and acupuncture.

FAMILY MEDICAL PRACTICE INTERNATIONAL CLINIC 34 Le Duan Street, Q1; 95 Thao Dien Q2, Tel: (08) 3822 7848 vietnammedicalpractice. com Family Medical Practice (FMP) is the largest and one of the oldest foreign, privatelyowned, international health care providers in Vietnam. As the only health care provider that can offer a countrywide network of integrated clinics for foreign and local populations, FMP’s main specialties include family medicine, pediatrics and emergency medicine as well as health checks and work permit health-tests.

FV SAIGON CLINIC INTERNATIONAL CLINIC 3rd Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6290 6167 fvhospital.com FV Saigon Clinic offers international standard primary care for patients of all ages right in the heart of District 1 in the iconic Bitexco Financial Tower. The clinic provides consultations in a variety of specialities; as well as vaccinations, blood tests, and diagnostic imaging.

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

INTERNATIONAL SOS HCMC MEDICAL CLINIC INTERNATIONAL CLINIC / MEDIVAC 167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 8424 internationalsos.com The world’s leading provider of medical assistance and international healthcare offers primary health care, diagnostic services and 24/7 emergency care. Specialist care is available in many fields.



M M M INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS ABC INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (ABCIS) Saigon South Campus 1 (Primary & Secondary), Tel: (08) 5431 1833/34/35/36; Saigon South Campus 2 (Foundation Stage & Early Primary), Tel: (08) 5431 1833/34/35/36 theabcis.com Rated as ‘outstanding’ by British Government Inspectors, academic results puts ABCIS among the top 8% of schools worldwide. ABCIS is accredited by CIE, AQA, the Education Development Trust and members of COBIS and FOBISIA. Provides education for two to 18 year olds in a supportive and friendly environment.

CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 7 Road 23, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 3456 cis.edu.vn

KIDS CLUB SAIGON 79/7 Pham Thai Buong, Q7; 27/3 Ha Huy Tap, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 5944 kidsclubsaigon.com Early childhood centres in Phu My Hung offering creative play-based programmes for children ages two to five. Known for unique facilities, experienced staff, highquality learning resources, and small class sizes.

EUROPEAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HO CHI MINH CITY (EIS) 730 F-G-K Le Van Mien, Q2, Vietnam, Tel: (08) 7300 7257 eishcmc.com 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 montessori.edu.vn Aiming to encourage

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Body & Temple Vegetarian Mistakes


know that vegetarianism and what people choose to eat can be an emotion-filled topic. There are many reasons why people become vegetarians, be it environmental, ethical, health, religious or cultural. Whatever the reason, becoming vegetarian requires careful planning to ensure your body gets all the nutrients required to grow, be healthy and perform physically. Becoming vegetarian does not mean simply cutting out meat and many vegetarians end up getting their diets wrong by making vital mistakes.

Minerals & Vitamin Density The term vegetarian, to me, means someone who predominantly eats vegetables. However, what I regularly see is that the main part of a vegetarian diet consists of pasta, bread, rice, dairy and other non-vegetable foods. To me this is a STARCHetarian — a huge mistake. Starchy foods hold very little mineral and vitamin content — empty calories, whereas vegetables are fibrous and nutrient-dense, full of antioxidants and nutrients that promote wellness and health. Everyone’s diet should mainly consist of mineral and vitamin (nutrient) dense foods that include a large variety of vegetables and good fats.

Vegetable Fats Firstly, saturated fats are not bad for us. A 2009 review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no association between saturated fats and heart disease when analysing research from 21 studies that incorporated 350,000 people. On the other hand vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and usually contain large amounts of trans fatty acids. Many studies have now demonstrated that

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vegetable oils can cause serious harm to your health. Omega-6 oils are pro-inflammatory — inflammation leads to chronic disease. On the other hand omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and promote good health and cell function. Worldleading performance nutritionist Charles Poliquin has commented that even with a smart vegetarian diet omega-3 fats (widely regarded as essential for health), can’t be gotten in large enough quantities from solely plant-based food sources.

Vegetarian Protein: Soy Soy was promoted 20 years ago as the protein saviour of the vegetarian world. Therefore, now that more research has been conducted people are surprised to learn that the soybean itself is toxic to humans and livestock. It is one of the most heavily sprayed crops, and approximately 90% of it is genetically modified. The properties of soy mimic oestrogen in our bodies and cause a host of health problems. Its known to promote breast and prostate cancer, alter brain function, suppress thyroid hormones and cause reproductive issues. Performance-wise, soy protein is proven to increase cortisol, decrease muscular strength, and lower testosterone. The sad thing is the only positive things I hear about soy comes from companies marketing soy or governments controlled by them. Bad science over the last five decades has lead society to an epidemic of obesity and poor health. Mistakes that are now hard to rectify are public knowledge and

By Phil Kelly

part of our mindset. A leading nutritionist and strength coach, Mike Sheridan, points out six common myths regarding reasons for avoiding meat in your diet and turn to a vegetarian lifestyle: — “Eating meat won’t give you heart disease”. Saturated fat does not clog arteries and dietary cholesterol has no impact on blood cholesterol. — “Not all fats are the same”. Vegetable fats are associated with heart disease; saturated fats are not. — “The widely quoted China Study is a farce”. Yet meat-free dieters use it to support their claims even though it’s been proven highly inaccurate. — “Vegans and vegetarians don’t stave off disease”. Their disease rates are not lower than that of meat-eating populations. — “Crops aren’t more ethical than raising cows”. They destroy land, use more resources than you’d imagine, and kill more animals than you know. — “Plant proteins aren’t effective proteins”. They cause more nutritional deficiencies than avoiding them altogether. A vegetarian diet can be very healthy but there are some common mistakes made by a lot of people. Are you making these mistakes? A balanced diet is the best for achieving optimal health, wellbeing and performance, and vegetables should be the king of every meal. Phil is founder and master trainer at Body Expert Systems. Contact him on 0934 782763, at his website bodyexpertsystems.com or through Star Fitness (starfitnesssaigon.com)

HCMC Essentials

children’s engagement with their surroundings, MIS offers children from age three to 12 a classic Montessori education as well as a variety of extra–curricular activities.

RENAISSANCE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL SAIGON 74 Nguyen Thi Thap, Q7, Tel: (08)3773 33171 ext 120/121/122 renaissance.edu.vn Renaissance is an International British school providing an inclusive curriculum based upon the British curriculum complemented by the International Primary Curriculum and International Baccalaureate. It is a family school with first-class facilities including a 350seat theatre, swimming pool, mini-pool, play-areas, gymnasium, IT labs, music and drama rooms, science labs and an all-weather pitch.

SAIGON KIDS EDUCATIONAL CHILDCARE CENTRE 15 Street 12, Q2, Tel: (08) 3740 8081 saigonkidskindergarten. com SKECC has evolved over 10 years to create a creative, playful learning environment for children ages two to six. Limited class sizes and highly engaged teachers ensure personal attention for all students.

SAIGON SOUTH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (SSIS) 78 Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 0901 ssis.edu.vn

SAIGON STAR INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL Residential Area No. 5, Thanh My Loi, Q2, Tel: (08) 3742 7827 saigonstarschool.edu.vn Established in 2006, Saigon Star is a British School and one of only four schools in Vietnam to adopt the International Primary Curriculum (IPC). A combination of experienced, UK qualified teachers and a maximum of 16 students per class means learners receive the individual attention they deserve. A secondary school is opening in August 2017.

SMARTKIDS 1172 Thao Dien Compound, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6076; 26, Street Nr. 10, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3898 9816; 15 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4236 smartkidsinfo.com

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

M M M PROPERTY RENTALS CHUM’S HOUSE 121/21 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 7237

EASY SAIGON Tel: 0932 112694 easysaigon.com

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 namhouse.com.vn Expert in providing rental properties, constructions and interior decoration, especially in District 2. Supports professional services and aftersales.

RESIDENT VIETNAM Unit 601 48 Hoa Su, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 2226 8855 residentvietnam.com

SNAP 32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4282 snap.com.vn

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

M M M RELOCATION AGENTS ALLIED PICKFORDS 12th floor, Miss Ao Dai Building, 21 Nguyen Trung Ngan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 1220 alliedpickfords.com

ASIAN TIGERS MOBILITY Unit 9.3, Floor 9, Ree Tower, 9 Doan Van Bo, Ward 12, District 4, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3 826 7799 asiantigers-mobility.com

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Know Your City Pedestrianizing District 1


here is a current proposal to establish a designated pedestrian zone in District 1. The area will span 221 hectares with a perimeter of 7.35km with parts of downtown streets such as Le Duan, Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Pasteur, Hai Ba Trung and Mac Dinh Chi becoming walking streets under the plan. It’s pretty exciting stuff and broadly in line with what other cities around the world are trying to do to curb pollution and reduce traffic accidents. The authorities have been looking far afield; after last year’s first car-free day in Paris, the city’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, closed the Champs Élysées to cars the first Sunday of every month and other European cities have also been opening up their roads and boulevards to pedestrian activities on weekends in order to encourage the use of the centre of cities. The European commission has encouraged this with a primary focus on eliminating conventionally fuelled cars in cities, geared towards a 60% cut in CO2 emissions by 2050.

What About Saigon? Note the phrase “encourage the use of the centre of the city”. Not a problem here as District 1 is probably used too much. While the pedestrianisation idea is a great one, there are caveats. Cities are organisms just like living creatures

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By Ed Haysom


and changing something that has grown organically can have unintended consequences. I applaud the authorities for having the courage and foresight to tackle a very big problem in District 1 and would suggest that pedestrianisation may only be successfully achieved after the infrastructure and the systems to support it have been put in place. These include: — A public transport system that makes connections inside the zone easy and convenient. I am a big advocate of the re-introduction of trams and linking them with the metro stations. By the way, monorails do not work. — The improvement of the traffic crosslinks to other parts of the city. It seems crazy that to access Districts 7 or 2 from the airport you inevitably go through District 1. The development of a better ring road system will help solve this problem, which would leave District 1 as a destination not a thoroughfare. — Dealing with the bikes. This is not going to be easy. District 1 has a population of approximately 250,000 people. Inside the 221-hectare area to be pedestrianised are a large number of residents as well as small family businesses that rely on the connections motorbikes bring. These connections cannot always be done out of hours. Removing or restricting these could spell the end of these businesses, forcing

families to relocate and thus destroying much of the present character of the city.

More Desirable? Why you would want to make such an enormous change on the city centre of Ho Chi Minh City is to make it a more desirable place to live in, to work in and to visit? You would want to improve the economic value of the city and avoid the examples of cities where property prices have devalued and economic activity has been displaced to other areas once pedestrianisation was implemented without proper consideration. Yes, the environment will be improved, but the questions the city’s authorities must ask themselves is: “Will this change make Ho Chi Minh City a more desirable place to visit? Will people living and working here be able to prosper economically by this? Will new businesses want to relocate here with their staff?” If the answer is yes to all of these questions, then and only then it is worth implementing. The change needs to respect everyone who lives here from the big corporations to the small businesses, all of whom give the city its incredible character. Ed Haysom is the general director of Mode / Haysom Architects and is based in Ho Chi Minh City. You can contact him on ehaysom@modehaysomarchitects.com

HCMC Essentials

International School Ho Chi Minh City

International School Ho Chi Minh City — American Academy

28 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3898 9100 ishcmc.com CMC’s most established international school offers three International Baccalaureate programmes for students from two to 18 years old. ISHCMC will be launching a new secondary campus in the first semester of 2017/18, featuring Vietnam’s first Innovation Centre, a 350-seat professional theatre, NBA-sized basketball courts and a 25m competitive swimming pool.

16 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3898 9100 aavn.edu.vn SHCMC — American Academy is a U.S. curriculum secondary school for students aged 11 to 18 years old. Early university credits, a 1:1 University Counseling Program, and an extensive EAL program set our graduates on the road to 100% acceptance rate at overseas universities and a US$1 million scholarship fund.



International School Saigon Pearl

92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 2222 7788/99 issp.edu.vn ietnam’s only international school offering a U.S. curriculum for children aged 18 months to 11 years old. With 100% English language immersion, a library containing over 13,500 English books and more than 60% of students achieving above grade level English, ISSP students are well prepared for secondary school at ISHCMC or ISHCMC - American Academy.



5th Floor, Lafayette De Saigon, 8A Phung Khac Khoan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 0071 agsfourwinds.com global leader in international removals and relocations, with 130 offices globally, we can move your property to and from any location. Has offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.



1st Floor, Saigon Port Building, 3 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Tel: (08) 3826 7655 jvkasia.com Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is a leader in the field.


396/4 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Tel: (08) 3941 5322 logicalmoves.net

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




GENERAL FITNESS 34 Nguyen Dang Giai,


8FL, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 3933 0065 santaferelo.com ith over 150 offices around the world, Santa Fe offers local and international moving, pet transportation, relocation services including home search, orientation, cultural training, immigration services and records management. Email Vietnam@santaferelo.com for info.


Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6672 nutrifort.com 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 saigonhash.com 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.


HEALTH CLUB & GYM Level 5, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2828 sheratonsaigon.com


HEALTH CLUB & GYM 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555 A small but well-appointed gym with regular fitness classes, a steam room and sauna. Has a small but consistent membership.


4th / 12th Floor, Continental Tower, 81-83-85 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 9908 pacificcross.com.vn acific Cross Vietnam brings a first class level of service and expertise to the health and travel insurance market in Vietnam. Part of the Pacific Cross group of companies with over 60 years’ experience providing health and travel insurance to people who call Asia home, their reputation for transparent, honest and reliable service means they are the strength behind your insurance. Contact them now for a free quote.


Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3514 0253




GYM, POOL, SQUASH The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2098 ext. 176 thelandmarkvietnam.com In addition to the squash court, facilities include a fully–equipped gym room, a rooftop swimming pool and separate male and female saunas.

VERTICAL ACADEMY CLIMBING GYM Truc Duong, Q2, Tel: 0966 920612 facebook.com/vertical. academy.vn

ANIMAL DOCTORS INTERNATIONAL 1 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6260 3980 animaldoctors.vn

Petcare Veterinary Hospital

124A Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2505

Saigon Pet Veterinary Clinic 33 Street 41, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0909 063267

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Bar Stool


ince opening four years ago, BMV has become a staple of the drinking scene in District 2. It brings a schnitzel-sized slice of Germany to this corner of Saigon, and is open daily from 11am to 2am. Part-owner, Wilhelm, was living and working in Vietnam for several years importing beers from his home country of Germany when he decided to open the bar. “After bringing beer to Vietnam for so long it was the natural step,” he says.

Reminders Of The Homeland It’s a warm and welcoming space inside, with much of the design derived from the familiar styling of bierkellers from back in

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his homeland. Little reminders of Germany are scattered around the bar — from posters of popular German cartoon Werner to beer barrels and football memorabilia. Germans are famous for their fondness of ale, and the fridge is stocked full of bottles from HB Hofbrau Munchen. A bottle of original HB will set you back VND85,000 (300ml) whereas both the 500ml Munchner Weisse yellow or black wheat beer come in at VND125,000. This summer Willhelm will introduce five imported German draft beers to the main bar, but for now the draft choices are limited to the familiar options of Tiger, Heineken and San Miguel. A generous happy hour of 11am to 7pm is in effect daily, with draft Tiger and

Heineken on tap for VND35,000 (300ml) and VND50,000 (500ml), respectively. Two well-maintained pool tables are available to play, and the big screens show German Bundesliga football matches on a Saturday alongside Formula 1 races, catering for the understandably large German crowd who love their sport almost as much as they love their beer. Wilhelm explains that the drinking culture varies across Germany depending on which region you happen to be in, and at BMV, they want to give a sample of it all. He says: “In Cologne they tend to drink out of very small glasses, in the North they like 300ml glasses whereas in Bavaria they’re famous for their huge jugs of beer.”



He adds: “We have customers from all over the world. We want them to be able to try different drinking styles from all over Germany.” On the drinks menu you can try traditional German tipples. There is Goiss (beer and German liquor — VND115,000), Diesel (beer and coke — VND45,000) and Radler (beer and lemonade — VND45,000). Each come in a 300ml glass.

More Than Just Beer Some interesting changes are afoot at BMV which Willhelm hopes will help the place stand out further from the crowd. Upstairs, a German mini-market is due to open, and it’s already stocked with wares from his home country such as German biscuits, tea

and cooking sauces, among other items. An outside bar is almost ready for operation, which will service the upstairs beer garden, and a cozy alcove has recently been created to accommodate those looking to relax with wine rather than beer. There are 30 different wines from eight countries on display, with prices ranging from VND450,000 to VND4 million a bottle. Food is also part of the drinking experience here. “They come for the schnitzel, and stay for the beer,” says Willhelm, with one of Germany’s most famous culinary treats being available to eat at BMV. The schnitzel is pork meat coated in breadcrumbs before being pan-fried in oil, and Wilhelm is proud of what they offer up. “We’re a schnitzel house, first and

foremost,” he explains, “and we can make them up to 1.20m long, which is the biggest in town.” It’s good, old fashioned German drinking food, and it sits on their food menu alongside another familiar taste of the Homeland in the form of curry wurst, a favourite fast food sausage dish from Berlin. The success or failure of the curry wurst is all about the sauce, and at BMV it’s all made from scratch and in-house. BMV will please those looking to eat and drink in an authentic German bar experience, so there really is no other word to describe it: wunderbar! — Thomas Barrett BMV is at 38 Quoc Huong, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC. For more info, go to facebook.com/bmv. pubgrill

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HCMC On The Town

Racha Room

CONTEMPORARY THAI RESTOBAR 12-14 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel (08) 6253 7711 theracharoom.com he Racha Room delivers Thai accented PanAsian cuisine with a focus on high quality ingredients. Racha features a large selection of spirits at a seated bar and high table to ensure drinking along with eating remains central to the experience. The current and future of Asianinspired drinking and dining is right here at the Racha Room.


Relish & Sons GOURMET BURGER BAR 44 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: 01207 214294; 105107 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: 0909 004294 relishandsons.com elish & Sons burgers are lovingly made with a healthy food philosophy in mind and fresh high quality ingredients. The beef patties are 100% Australian grass-fed; the buns are made with a reduced sugar and salt content. Burger relishes such as chutneys are all made in-house from scratch.



Pop-Up Burger Bar

CONTEMPORARY STEAKHOUSE 44 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel (08) 3826 8691 stokerwoodfiredgrill.com ne of the world’s oldest culinary techniques — grilling over a wood fire. Stoker kitchen uses different woods to infuse foods with different smoky flavours. These techniques revolutionize live fire cooking by providing precise heat control through the use of a grilling surface that can be adjusted to different cooking heights above the hot coals.

CAFE LOUNGE / BAR Pullman Saigon Centre, 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3838 8686 pullman-saigon-centre.com small food truck located at the corner entrance to the Pullman Hotel provides a street food menu with many kinds of burger buns and many more choices of food items. Diners can choose from the signature Wagyu beef or chicken burger; the tuna or soft shell crab; or even the special burger with tofu for veggies. The May special is the lobster monster burger.


BARS 2 LAM SON (MARTINI BAR) TOP-END INTERNATIONAL Park Hyatt, 2 Lam Son, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1234 saigon.park.hyatt.com International décor blends seamlessly with local themes. Style joins forces with a wideranging drink menu and hip dance tunes to create one of the most tasteful if pricier bars in Saigon.

ACOUSTIC BAR LIVE MUSIC 6E Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 2239

APOCALYPSE NOW DANCE / NIGHTCLUB 2B-C-D Thi Sach, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6124 apocalypsesaigon.com

BIA CRAFT CRAFT BEER BAR 90 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2588; 1 Le Ngo Cat, Q3 biacraft.com As craft beer continues to take over watering holes around Ho Chi Minh City, so bars dedicated to all things ‘craft’ and ‘real ale’ are pretty sensible, right? With wooden tables perfect for sharing, and beer both on tap and by the bottle, Bia Craft sells up a delectable range of the

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good stuff. Looking for Tiger? Go take a hike. Also has a decent food menu.


GASTROPUB / CRAFT BEER 159 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 0485 facebook.com/ TheBelgianCraftBeerBrewery Located within a lion’s roar of Saigon Zoo and a block or two from Dien Bien Phu, Belgo is a craft beer pub specialising in Belgian beer and food. With barebrick walls and decor with an industrial edge, Belgo also caters for parties, is good for groups, and has outdoor seating.

BREAD & BUTTER INTERNATIONAL / COMFORT FOOD 40/24 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 8452

BROMA, NOT A BAR COCKTAILS / ROOFTOP 41 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 6838

BUDDHA BAR RESTOBAR 7 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3345 6345 Buddhabarsaigon.com 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

Meatworks Butchery

BUTCHERS 1 Street 2, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2565; 401 Pham Thai Buong H11-2, My Khanh 3, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 5228 meatworksasia.com ocusing on the retail trade, the meat at this Australian-managed butcher comes pre-prepared and, if you so wish, pre-marinated. Sells up some of the best imported meats in town together with homemade sausages, free-range products and excellent Australian grass-fed steak.



apparel company 1870/3G An Phu Dong 3, Q12, Tel: (08) 3719 9588 score-tech.net pparel 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.


darts, pool and weekly poker tourneys.

CHILL SKYBAR TOP-END BAR & TERRACE Rooftop, AB Tower, 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2372 chillsaigon.com 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.

D2 SPORTS BAR 55, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 5453 What does the Thao Dien area

of Saigon seriously lack? A sports bar. And this is the Al Fresco Group’s answer to a distinct shortage hole in the market. Sleek lines, modern décor, elegant and spacious, dartboards and of course, lots of large screens to watch the televised sports. Check out their daily food specials.

DUBLIN GATE IRISH PUB & RESTAURANT 19 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 6656 1103 facebook.com/ irishpubsaigon Typical of Irish pubs the world over, The Dublin Gate has a fun, welcoming atmosphere and offers a break from the craft beer scene taking a hold

over the city. The Dublin Gate is just a short walk from the Opera House, is open from 7.30am and has a pool table for a break between football matches, live bands and all that Irish charm.

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

EON HELI BAR LOUNGE BAR Level 52, Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8750 eon51.com

Envy NIGHTCLUB 76 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1, Tel: (08) 3913 8168 facebook.com/envyclubsaigon Located a short stroll from Ben Thanh Market, Envy has taken nightlife in Saigon to a whole new level with its theatrical performances and beautiful people swinging by the ankles tethered from the ceiling. Attracts international DJs and the rich and famous, but expect to pay for the experience.

GAME ON SPORTS BAR 115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1 Tel: (08) 6251 9898 gameonsaigon.com A fresh feel thanks to the large space and light-wood tables makes this Australian-influenced watering hole a popular bar for televised sports, pub food, darts, pool and more.

HEART OF DARKNESS CRAFT BEER PUB 31D Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: 0903 017596 facebook.com/ heartofdarknessbrewery The home of its eponymously

named craft beer, Heart of Darkness features up to 20 different beers on tap at any given time with each one having a name that pays homage to Joseph Conrad’s novel. There’s also a sports bar and a space for live shows with pizzas cooked onsite by 4Ps. Enter the darkness.

HOA VIEN CZECH BREWHOUSE 28 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8605 hoavien.vn The original microbrewery, this large, wooden-panelled, brasskegged Czech Brewhouse is as popular as it was 15 years ago when it was first opened. Does a great food menu to accompany the home-brewed beer.

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

LAYLA BAR & EATERY 63 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2279 facebook.com/ LaylaEateryandBarHCM Housed on the 2nd floor of a former apartment overlooking Dong Khoi, Layla is a nice option for a bottle of wine, a few cocktails and carefully crafted sharing dishes. Here you can lounge after work on a comfy couch or pull a surprise party for a loved one. Behind the 11-metre-long bar mixologists create their magic.

LAST CALL AFTERHOURS LOUNGE 59 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3122 lastcallsaigon.com 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

LONG PHI FRENCH / RESTOBAR 207 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 2704

MALT GAMES & CRAFT BEER BAR 46-48 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1

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

O’BRIEN’S IRISH BAR / INTERNATIONAL 74/A3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 3198 irish-barsaigon.com This Irish-themed sports bar with classic pub décor is widely appreciated for its excellent international fare, large whiskey selection and upstairs pool table. Great pizzas. And for a real treat, check out their zesty rolls.

PHATTY’S AUSTRALIAN / SPORTS 46-48 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 0796 phattysbar.com From its roots as the famed Café Latin, Phatty’s has become the go-to, Aussie beer-guzzling / sports viewing emporium, showing everything from international cricket to Aussie rules and serving an array of pub grub favourites.


C0.01 Riverside Residence C, Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7, Tel: (08) 6274 1520 facebook.com/PitchersPMH Located in the heart of Phu My Hung, this spacious restobar with an affection for showing televised sports has a family friendly edge thanks to its kids play area. Does a great grill menu and of course, lots of very cold beer for those developing a thirst in the Saigon heat.

QUI LOUNGE INTERNATIONAL BAR & LOUNGE 22 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3828 8828 quilounge.com A recently opened, stylish topend bar with a house DJ that is the plaything of Saigon’s jetset and anyone who is prepared to pay for atmosphere and one of the most hedonistic venues in town. Has an excellent food menu and a tasty brunch.

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

RUBY SOHO CARTOON BAR S52-1 Sky Garden 2, Q7, Tel: (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 SOUL POOL PARTY POOL & DAY CLUB New World Saigon Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1 saigonsoul.com The ultimate in poolside

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Top Eats


egetarians tend to miss out in this city when it comes to restaurant options — the choices are limited. However, there’s one in District 2 that’s worthy of adding to a growing list of places that offer vegetarian and vegan dishes. Om Vegetarian Café and Restaurant can be found almost halfway between the British International School and Villa Song on Nguyen Van Huong Street in Thao Dien. Look for a brown timber facade with the word Om written in yellow cursive script on it. Above the restaurant is a yoga studio.

If it’s Good Enough for Monks... The menu at Om is extensive with almost

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100 items to choose from ranging in price from VND65,000 for vegetarian shredded pork skin spring rolls to the Om special hotpot (VND219,000) that’s large enough for four people. Even if you’re not vegetarian or vegan, there’s bound to be something for everybody to try. The inspiration for the menu simply comes from the owner’s desire to offer healthy food but at the same time meet the dietary requirements of his religious faith. Buddhist monks from far and wide dine here at the time of the full moon each month. There are Vietnamese dishes plus a few Western options, like the mushroom pizza with tomato, oregano, basil and cheese

(VND125,000). It has a crunchy homemade base, and while it’s not going to take over the mantle as the best pizza in town, it’s tasty and covered in cheese. For anyone who loves tofu, they do it well here. The deep-fried tofu and vegan dried shredded pork (VND70,000) is literally a cracker. Eight bite-sized medallion-shaped tofu pieces about an inch thick come out on their own individual rice cracker. They are topped with a pinch of chilli and some chopped shallots that ensure each mouthful goes down with a zing. A nice palate cleanser on the side to share is the spinach salad with tien vua (VND90,000), a typical Vietnamese-style salad, bright, colourful and fresh with

Om Vegetarian Restaurant


carrots, onions, mint, tofu and peanuts and the obligatory rice crackers to eat it with. If you’re after something a bit more decadent, Om has a Japanese roasted pumpkin soup (VND85,000) with onions, celery, basil, cream and cheese. It’s served in a novel and eye-catching way, inside the pumpkin from where it came. If you’re watching your waistline, it might be best to give this one a miss, but boy is it comforting.

The Tin Bird One of the more unusual looking offerings for a vegetarian restaurant is the foil-baked tofu with mushrooms (VND140,000). While it’s a very tasty dish loaded with a variety

of mushrooms, carrots, vegan ham and that delicious tofu of Om’s, it’s served on a sizzling hot stone in tin foil sculpted in the form of a chicken — something of a conversation starter over dinner in this Year of the Rooster. If it’s a group you’re with, Om has a selection of hotpots to share. The Om special hotpot (VND219,000) is made for it. There are countless varieties and tastes as good as it gets. There are plenty of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks on the menu, including some detox options in case you’ve over-indulged the night before. The lemon, lemongrass and rosemary juice (VND65,000) is said to “relax the

nervous system.” It’s definitely refreshing, surprisingly tart, and the rosemary is a nice touch. The blueberry, raspberry and green apple juice (VND90,000) promises to “detoxify and cleanse the body.” Judging by its refreshing taste and noticeable lack of sugar, its claim is probably spot-on. If it’s for a boisterous lunch with friends while escaping the heat of the day, or for a cosy dinner for two before you hit the town, Om is an affordable and tasty alternative to many of the establishments in the area. — Matt Cowan Om Vegetarian Cafe and Restaurant is located at 215 B2 Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC. For more information, go to facebook.com/amthuchayom

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HCMC On The Town

entertainment, Saigon Soul is defined by its great party atmosphere. Booming house music, cold drinks and beautiful people. What better way to spend a Saturday? Runs every Saturday from late November until mid May.

SAIGON OUTCAST EVENTS / MAKESHIFT CAFÉ BAR 188/1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0122 4283198 Saigonoutcast.com 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 facebook.com/ saigonranger

SAIGON SAIGON BAR LIVE MUSIC / ROOFTOP BAR 9th Floor, Caravelle Saigon, 19-23 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999 caravellehotel.com

SHRINE BAR LOUNGE BAR 61 Ton Thap Thiep, Q1 shrinebarsaigon.com

STORM P DANISH / INTERNATIONAL 5B Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 4738 Stormp.vn

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

THE SOCIETY GRILL AND LOUNGE BAR 99 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 3999 facebook.com/ TheSocietyHCM Designed as a Lanewaystyle restobar, the kind of place found in Hong Kong, London, New York or Central Melbourne, thanks to its indoor and outdoor ambience, The Society brings dining and drinking to a new level. Phenomenal cocktails, steaks, grilled fare and seafood make this a place to go for drinks, a full-blown meal or a mixture of both.


EXPAT & SPORTS BAR R2-24 Hung Gia 3, Bui Bang Doan, Q7, Tel: (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 facebook.com/ vespersaigon


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


CAFÉ / LOUNGE BAR 71-75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8468 xusaigon.com 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.


DALAT COFFEE HOUSE 11A-B Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 9772 A cozy and comfortable cafe in Thao Dien serving excellent fresh coffee from Dalat, smoothies, juices, homemade desserts. Offers up tasty breakfasts, lunch and dinner all the way through until 9pm.


159A Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: 0918 115657 cafethoaivien.com


INTERNATIONAL 157-159 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1; Metropolitan Building, 235 Dong Khoi, Q1 coffeebean.com.vn 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.


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

HIDEAWAY INTERNATIONAL 41/1 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 4222 Hideawaycafe-saigon.com 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 Idcafe.net

KLASIK COFFEE ROASTERS CAFE AND ON-SITE ROASTING 40 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6685 4160 klasik.coffee

L’USINE CONTEMPORARY / FRENCH First Floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6674 9565; 70B Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 0703 lusinespace.com French-style wooden decor compliments the spacious, whitewashed contemporary interior of L’Usine. A simple, creative menu combines with reasonably priced coffee, and a fashion store and art gallery out back. Second location on Le Loi.

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

THE LOOP HEALTHY CAFÉ FARE / BAGELS 49 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel. (08) 3602 6385 Low-key yet nice-on-theeye décor helps create the café-style atmosphere at this European-influenced café and restaurant. Sells excellent coffee and if you like bagels, here you’ll be in heaven.

THE MORNING CAFE 2nd Floor, 36 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: 0938 383330 themorningcafe.com.vn

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

THE PRINT ROOM CONTEMPORARY CAFE 158 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4990

THINGS CAFE 1st Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: (08) 6678 6205 facebook.com/thingscafe

M M M EAT - CHINESE KABIN CANTONESE Renaissance Riverside Hotel, 8–15 Ton Duc Thang. Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0033 marriott.com

SAN FU LOU CANTONESE KITCHEN Ground Floor, AB Building, 76A Le Lai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 9513 sanfulou.com

SHANG PALACE RESTAURANT PAN-CHINESE / CANTONESE Norfolk Mansion, 1719-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 2221 shangpalace.com.vn

YU CHU TOP-END PAN-CHINESE 1st Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, crn.of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3520 9999 intercontinental. com/saigon

M M M EAT – FRENCH L’OLIVIER FRENCH/MEDITERRANEAN Sofitel Saigon Plaza, 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555 sofitel.com Exuding a southern Gallic atmosphere with its tiled veranda, pastel-coloured walls and ficus trees, this traditional French restaurant has quarterly Michelin star promotions and an award winning pastry team.

LA CUISINE FRENCH / MEDITERRANEAN 48 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 2229 8882 lacuisine.com.vn

LE CORTO CONTEMPORARY FRENCH 5D Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0671 facebook.com/LeCorto Open for lunch and set dinner, this beautifully designed restaurant and bar seamlessly mixes contemporary and with classic. With a menu cooked up by reputed chef Sakal Phoeung, and with a contemporary twist to traditional French fare, this is

a place to enjoy the luxuries of fine cuisine and even finer wine.

LE JARDIN CLASSIC FRENCH 31 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8465

M M M EAT – INDIAN ASHOKA NORTH INDIAN / CHINESE INDIAN 17/10 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1372; 33 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel : (08) 3744 4177 ashokaindianrestaurant. com

BABA’S KITCHEN NORTH / SOUTH INDIAN 164 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3838 6661 babaskitchen.in This pleasant, airy Indian does the full range of fare from all ends of the subcontinent, from dosas and vadas through to chicken tikka masala, kormas, kebabs and fiery vindaloos. Has a delivery outlet in District 2.

GANESH PAN-INDIAN 74 A2 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 38229366 padamjivietnam@ gmail.com Located opposite Martini Bar, this relative newcomer to the dining scene with its bright decor serves up mainly North Indian cuisine with a large vegetarian selection as well as South Indian curries, dosa, vada and uthapam.Meat curries cost from VND100,000 to VND120,000.

M M M EAT – INTERNATIONAL AL FRESCO’S INTERNATIONAL 27 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 38238424 alfrescosgroup.com The downtown outlet of one of Vietnam’s most successful restaurant chains, Al Fresco’s offers international, Australianinfluenced comfort fare in a pleasant environment with efficient, friendly service to match. Also has an excellent garden-style branch at 89 Xuan Thuy, Q2.

AU LAC DO BRAZIL BRAZILIAN CHURRASCO 238 Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (08) 3820 7157 aulacdobrazil.com

AU PARC EUROPEAN / CAFÉ 23 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 2772 auparcsaigon.com

Consistently tasty European café fare — think deli-style sandwiches, salads and mezzes, plus coffees and juices — served at a popular park-side Le Duan location with classic cream and greentiled décor.

BOAT HOUSE AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL 40 Lily Road, An Phu Superior Compound, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (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 boomarang.com.vn

CHI’S CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE 40/31 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 2502 Chiscafe.com This affable café is a rarity in the backpacker area for its genuinely good musical playlist. Excellent, build-your-own breakfasts, baked potatoes, toasties, Vietnamese fare and more. Has a popular motorbike rental service.

CORSO STEAKHOUSE / INTERNATIONAL 117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 5368 norfolkhotel.com.vn

ELBOW ROOM AMERICAN 52 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 4327 elbowroom.com.vn

EL GAUCHO ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2090; Unit CR1-12, The Crescent, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 6909 elgaucho.com.vn

EON51 FINE DINING TOP-END EUROPEAN / ASIAN Level 51, Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8750 eon51.com

HOG’S BREATH CAFÉ AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL Ground Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 6066 hogsbreathcafe.com.vn

JASPA’S WINE & GRILL INTERNATIONAL FUSION The Square, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 0931 Alfrescosgroup.com Although a chain restaurant, the international offerings here are consistently good and creative. Excellent service, an attractive outdoor terrace area, and a good kids menu. Check out their pepper steaks.

LU BU CONTEMPORARY MEDITERRANEAN 97B Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 6281 8371 luburestaurant.com 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.


6/1/2 Nguyen U Di, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4009; Duong C — Bac, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5417 1234 facebook.com/madsaigon Set over a pool in a leafy, tropical garden, the beautiful rustic décor is matched by a darkwood, aircon interior. Subtle lighting and an attention to details is matched by some of the best contemporary cuisine in the city, all with a European influence. Also has an extensive wine list, a good selection of imported beers and a happy hour. Has a second restaurant in Phu My Hung.

MEKONG MERCHANT INTERNATIONAL CAFE FARE / SEAFOOD 23 Thao Dien, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6478 info@mekongmerchant. com 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.

NINETEEN INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN Ground floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999 caravellehotel.com

PITCHERS SPORTS AND GRILL SPORTS BAR & GRILL RESTAURANT C0.01 Riverside Residence C, Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7, Tel: (08) 6274 1520 facebook.com/PitchersPMH Located in the heart of Phu My Hung, this spacious restobar with an affection for showing televised sports has a family friendly edge thanks to its kids play area. Does a great grill menu and of course, lots of very cold beer for those developing a thirst in the Saigon heat.

PIZZA 4P’S EUROPEAN/ASIAN FUSION 8/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9838 pizza4ps.com

QUAN UT UT US-STYLE BARBECUE 168 Vo Van Kiet, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 4500 facebook.com/quanutut

REFINERY FRENCH BISTRO / INTERNATIONAL The Square, 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 0509 therefinerysaigon.com A slightly retro feel pervades this popular French-style bistro and wine bar which once housed the city’s opium refinery. The cuisine runs from creative salads through to Mediterranean influenced mains.

RIVERSIDE CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN Renaissance Riverside, 8–15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0033

SAIGON CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / BUFFET Level 1, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2828 sheratonsaigon.com

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


9A Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 4798 skewers-restaurant.com

SHRI CONTEMPORARY EUROPEAN 23rd Floor, Centec Tower, 72–74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3, Tel: (08) 3827 9631

THE DECK MODERN ASIAN FUSION 38 Nguyen U Di, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6632 thedecksaigon.com Set on the banks of Saigon River across from Thanh Da Island, this innovative restaurant serves up modern Asian fusion cuisine in a Bali-style atmosphere, complemented by great cocktails and a long wine list.

THE SOCIETY GRILL AND LOUNGE BAR 99 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 3999 facebook.com/ TheSocietyHCM Designed as a Lanewaystyle restobar, the kind of place found in Hong Kong, London, New York or Central Melbourne, thanks to its indoor and outdoor ambience, The Society brings dining and drinking to a new level. Phenomenal cocktails, steaks, grilled fare and seafood make this a place to go for drinks, a full-blown meal or a mixture of both.

VESPER GOURMET LOUNGE INTERNATIONAL Landmark Building, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9698 facebook.com/ vespersaigon Headed up by well-known chef Andy Ertle, Vesper is a sophisticated yet downto-earth cocktail bar and restaurant with subtle lighting and a great spirit selection. Serves creative, Japanese and German-influenced cuisine to supplement the drinks and has a separate dining space.

ZOOM CAFÉ AMERICAN / TEX-MEX 169A Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (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.

M M M EAT – ITALIAN CIAO BELLA NEW YORK-ITALIAN 11 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 3329 saigonrestaurantgroup. com

PENDOLASCO PAN-ITALIAN 87 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 8181; 36 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel: (08) 6253 282


Opening out into a large, leafy terracotta-tiled garden area, this trattoria-style Italian restaurant serves up quality homemade pasta, risotto, gnocchi, excellent pizza and grilled dishes. Has a second branch in District 2.

M M M EAT – JAPANESE INAHO SUSHI / SASHIMI 4 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 0326

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

SORAE SUSHI SAKE LOUNGE Level 24, AB Tower, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: 0938 687689 soraesushi.com Set over two floors, this astonishing, no-expense-

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Coffee Cup


nyone who has visited Thao Dien knows about Dolphy Thao Dien. It sits right on the corner of two central streets, bright blue and open to the traffic, catering to a steady stream of District 2 coffee lovers from first light to late evening. Dolphy Thao Dien is a Saigon favourite. But if you continue along Nguyen Van Huong, winding around the backside of the Thao Dien peninsular and left onto Nguyen Cu, you will find a very different version of the Dolphy brand. A second Dolphy cafe sits a little back from the street behind bright blue walls and a garden gate. A gangly tree spits out its leaves above the café’s main sign,

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covering it slightly. You can leave your motorbike just inside the gates. This café is not built for massive turnovers and city-wide fame — it’s a hideout. Number two of three Dolphy cafes in Thao Dien, this little nook is meant to be hidden.

A Little Bit Aqua The front room in Dolphy Nguyen Cu is a wide, open space with a wood-topped bench and display boxes bordering the staff area. There is a big, heavy table by the window. Smaller tables line the walls, and everything seems slightly aquatic, from the arched, submarine-esque doors to the navy, grey and white tiling. It feels like a cross between a library and a living

room, and while no-one is talking, no one is shushing either. The perfect place to get some work done or relax with a creamy cappuccino. Continue on into the back room and past the long, gnarled bench of rough-cut tree next to the wall. It is shiny on top and just wide enough for a laptop. To your left is the big, clean bathroom and rounded sink, and in front of you is a tree that seems perfectly comfortable with being inside. It matches the many other smaller plants that hang in glass vials and vases around the café. You can order from your seat or at the coffee bar, and the staff seem warm and relaxed. Time is not important here.

Dolphy Nguyen Cu


A Deep Sea Soda, Please This café has only one food item on its menu — a serving of yoghurt, muesli and fresh fruit. They cooperate with a nearby restaurant to provide snacks like croissants and meals if required, but the café itself serves only a long list of inventive, tasty drinks. Coffee, juices, smoothies, sodas, yoghurt drinks and naughty concoctions of chocolate, cookies or matcha. The coffee is arranged into three main categories — Italian, Vietnamese and coffee ice-blended. Both Italian and Vietnamese coffees come in small or medium sizes, and prices range from VND20,000 for a small ca phe den to VND50,000 for a large latte. The ca phe den is a thick, powerful liquid,

slightly frothed and served in a tall glass. Without sugar, it is bitter, and as you sip you can feel it go straight to your head and whirl around your ears. If you’re looking for a pick-me-up then this is the brew to buy. The coffee ice-blended range has three main varieties, all priced between VND35,000 and VND39,000, and while they are technically made with the same rocket-fuel coffee as the ca phe den, they taste significantly less fierce. The Mocha Iced Blended is a satisfying mix of espresso, chocolate, low-fat milk, sugar, ice and optional whipped cream. Like a cocktail, it disappears quickly, and although it is a large drink, it doesn’t feel heavy at all. You could probably drink another one, or five.

Simplicity With three outlets around Thao Dien so far, the Dolphy brand seems to be constantly evolving. It has become a clear favourite in the expat community and a staple for District 2 Vietnamese coffee lovers, with its chilled ambience, well-made drinks and smiling staff members. According to café owner Linh: “Dolphy [Nguyen Cu] is just a little café with the simple aim of bringing happiness to our customers through serving good coffee, especially to those in the Thao Dien community.” — Zoe Osborne Dolphy Nguyen Cu is at 25 Nguyen Cu, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC. For more info visit facebook. com/dolphycafé.25nguyencu

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DISTRIBUTION HCMC Q1 Air 360 Al Fresco's Amigo Grill Restaurant Annam Gourmet: The Coffee Lounge Anupa Ashoka Au Parc Baba's Kitchen Black Cat Blanchy Street Blanchy's Tash Broma Café Restaurant Café Runam Carmen Bar Casa Italia Ciao Bella CMI Cork & Bottle Craig Thomas Gallery Crazy Buffalo Dailo Bar Decibel El Gaucho Elbow Room Espy Pizza Family Medical Practice Game On Glow Guanabana smoothies Hoa Tay Hoa Túc Hog's Breath

Ice Bue Ichiban Sushi Inaho Jaspa's Klasik Coffee Roasters Koh Thai Bistro LA Fenetre Soleil La Habana Last Call Le Corto Le Meridien Saigon Le Pub Love At Restaurant L'usine Martini Bar Miyama Café Monsoon New World Hotel New York Steakhouse & Winery Nikko Saigon Novotel Hotel Number 5 O'Brien's Pasteur Street Brewing Pendolasco Phatty's Pizza 4P's Refinery Relish & Sons Seventeen Saloon Sian Skincare Laser Clinic Skewers

Sofitel Plaza Somerset Sorae Stamford Skin Center Stoker Storm P Subway Tandoor Tea Maison Temple Club The Buger Box The KAfe The Racha Room The Society Bar and Grill Thi Café Vasco's Vesper Victoria Healthcare Vinyl Bar West Coast Dental Clinic Wine Embassy Wrap & Roll Zoom Café Q2 Agnes Café Animal Doctors International Austin Home Interiors Boathouse Buddha Bar Café Evita Classic Fine Foods Dolphy DTwo Sports Pub

Exo Travel Feeling Tropic La Plancha Le Padam Saigon LuBu MAD House Meat Works Mekong Merchant Pendolasco Phat's Dumpling House Pub and Grill BMV Coffee Saigon Outcast Saigon Scooter Snap Café Tamar River That's Cafe The Bike Shop The Deck The Fan Club The Loop Trois Gourmands Uncle Bill’s Villa Royale Treasures Q3 ACC Acoustic Bar Au Lac Do Brazil Au Manoir De Khai Elite Dental Hideaway Café Hotel Des Arts Saigon ID Café International SOS M2C Cafe

Starlight Dental Sushi Dining AOI TAPS Vanila & Butter Woodstock Bar Q4 The Observatory Center Q7 Eye n America Boomarang Bistro & Bar Capri By Fraser Cham Charm El Camino El Gaucho FV Hospital International Medical Services Clinic Phu My Hung Koh Thai Bistro La Cucina MAD House Papa's Chicken Smile Dental Subway That's Cafe The Rusty Bucket The Tavern Wrap & Roll PN Victoria Healthcare Café in 3D Eastin Grand Hotel Victoria Healthcare

HANOI 88 Lounge A La Folie ACET Air France Allied Pickfords Amato American Chiropractic Clinic Apollo Asia Injury Prevention Foundation Au Lac Do Brazil Australian Embassy Bancong Deli Barbetta Benh Vien Viet Phap Betterday Fairtrade and Organic Shop Bhaya Cruise Binh Minh’s Jazz Club Bookworm Boydens British Council British Embassy Casa Italia Chops Club Opera Novel Concordia International School Cong Café Cousins Crowne Plaza West Hanoi

D'Alice Da Paolo Daluva Don's El Gaucho Elite Fitness Embassy of Canada Emporium Endo Ete Exotissimo Family Medical Practice Fat Cat Food Shop 45 Fortuna Hotel Fraser Suites Gastro: Food and Beer Pub Gecko Goethe-Institut Ha Noi Handspan Travel Hanoi Backpackers Hotel Hanoi Bicycle Collective Hanoi Cooking Centre Hanoi Daewoo Hotel Hanoi International School Hanoi Social Club Helio Café Hilton Hanoi Opera Hotel de l'Opera Hanoi International SOS Intercontinental

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Westlake JaFa Joma Joseph Hotel JW Marriott Kafevill Kinderworld Kitchen Kitchen Art KOTO La Badiane La Grace La Salsa La Verticale Language Link Le Pub Le Soleil LP - Vinyl Cafe Madame Hien Maison de Tet Decor Manzi Marilyn Cafe Meditteraneo Melia Hotel Millenium Moevenpick Hotel Monotone Creative Moose and Roo Moose and Roo Smokehouse Namaste Nha San Novotel Suites Hanoi

O'Douceurs Oriberry Pane e Vino Paris Deli Peace Dental Clinic Pizza 4P'S Polite Pub Pots ‘n Pans PuKu Pullman Hotel Red River Tea Room Rendezvous Hotel RMIT Saint Honore Sheraton Westlake Sidewalk Singapore International School Sofitel Metropole Hotel Somerset spaceBar Spy Bar Tadioto The Cart The Japan Foundation The KaFe The Republic The Warehouse Toong Coworking Space Topas Travel Tracy's Sports Bar UNIS Victoria Hotels &

Resorts Viet Climb Gym VIP Bikes Wannawaffle Westcoast Dental Work Room Four Zeds Threads Zenith Yoga


On The Town spared 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.

M M M EAT – THAI 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.

fishcake wraps and barbecue chicken in ginger, onions and a lime leaf marinade.

/ BISTRO 21 Han Thuyen, Q1



QUAN BUI TRADITIONAL VIETNAMESE 8 Nguyen Van Nguyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3602 2241; 17A Ngo Van Nam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 1515

BANH TAM 271 Nguyen Trai, Q1

PAN-VIETNAMESE 7 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1101; The Crescent, 103 Ton Dat Tien, Q7, Tel: (08) 2210 2304 If you’re looking for midrange, aircon Vietnamese restaurants that just seem to do every dish perfectly, then Hoang Yen really is the place to go. The atmosphere may be a bit sterile, but its amply made up for by the efficient service and excellent cuisine. Now with a number of restaurants around town.



CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE 3rd Floor Rooftop, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1. Tel: (08) 3822 9357 The restaurant associated with the KOTO vocational training school. All the staff — from bar tenders and waiting staff through to the chefs — come from disadvantaged backgrounds and are being trained on the jon in hospitality. Serves up tasty Vietnamese cuisine, to boot!



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.

3T QUAN NUONG VIETNAMESE BBQ 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.

CAFÉ IF VIETNAMESE FRENCH 38 Dang Dung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3846 9853

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

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,

PAN-VIETNAMESE 31 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1330 A typical Vietnamese-style quan nhau, this fan-cooled downtown eating and drinking haunt is famed for two things: it’s on the table, grill-it-yourself bo tung xeo (marinated beef) and oddities such as sautéed scorpion. A great place to take out-of-town guests.

NAM GIAO HUE CUISINE 136/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 38 250261; 116 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 9996 namgiao.com 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.


TEMPLE CLUB PAN-VIETNAMESE 29-31 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9244 Templeclub.com.vn

TIN NGHIA VEGAN 9 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 2538

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 wrap-roll.com


BEEFSTEAK NAM SON VIETNAMESE STEAKHOUSE 200 Bis Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3; 157 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 3917 Namsonsteak.com

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



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

MI QUANG MY SON MI QUANG 38 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1

COM TAM 84 Dang Van Ngu, Phu Nhuan

BUN BO HUE 189 Bis Bui Vien, Q1



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









PHO BO 288/M1 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3

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

PHO LE PHO BO 413-415 Nguyen Trai, Q5

PHO PHU GIA PHO BO 146E Ly Chinh Thang, Q3

PHO PHU VUONG PHO BO 339 Le Van Sy, Tan Binh

SUSHI KO STREET SUSHI 122/37/15 Vinh Khanh, Q4


TIEM COM GA HAI NAM HAINANESE CHICKEN RICE 67 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 7751

VIETNAMESE BANH MI 107 Truong Dinh, Q3

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Medical Buff Medical Evacuations


edical evacuations are difficult to pull off but in terms of complexity, there’s nothing that goes beyond extracorporeal membrane oxidation

(ECMO). In these evacuations, a patient needs to be moved from one country to another while their heart is disconnected from their body. Just like an organ transplant, it takes a team of 12 to 14 people to pull one off, involving a multidisciplinary bioengineering team, a nursing team, and a medical team. The difference is that in an operating theatre, the specialists come and go as they’re needed — while on a plane, they’re all there together, all the time. Anything can go wrong at any moment, and everyone has to rely on their sight because it’s extremely difficult to hear anything over the noise of the engine. ECMO refers to the action of the heart and lung machine a patient is attached to while their organs are disconnected. ECMO represents the Everest of capacity when it comes to medevacs, with patients who are hanging on a thread between life and death. When a patient reaches an ECMO, it means their heart cannot pump blood any more and it has to be supported by a medical device which imitates the organ’s function. After the heart has been arrested, they will be connected to the machine in the hope that, with some time to rest and heal, things will go back to normal, so the heart can then be reconnected to the body. Sometimes the patient will need specialized medical attention that is not available in Vietnam; in these cases, he or she must be transferred overseas.

Making the Impossible Possible Our first ECMO medevac case was a Russian

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patient who collapsed at Tan Son Nhat Airport. She was rushed to the Heart Center in Saigon, but it was clear that she would need attention from a major facility abroad. At the time, there were no providers in the region who had the capacity to perform an ECMO medevac. Meeting up with her father, who flew in, we explained the situation to him and that this was a complicated procedure which we had never done before. Doable, but risky. Very. I remember her dad saying: “This is my only daughter. It’s a risk for you, but a chance for me.” With no options available, we decided the only thing we could do was fly the patient out ourselves. Hospitals in Bangkok said they could admit the patient, as long as we found a way to transport her there. Bangkok was the choice as we opted for the shortest route. We built an entire stretcher with machines on it, wires protruding, oxygen tanks, only to remember we had a patient to insert into all this. The end result was a stretcher with a tower of equipment on top and on both sides. It took five hours to move the patient from her bed and to reconnect her to our systems. Thanks to Vietnam Airlines, we procured an ATR aircraft, an aircraft with a large cargo door, and together with their technicians we reconfigured the inner part of the plane, leaving an island of chairs in the mid-section for the stretcher to be installed on top, while the support team sat at the back. We took the flight with around five doctors and a nurse. We had a biomedical engineer, who controlled the electricity supply — we had to carry a lot of batteries — plus we also had a lab technician with a portable unit, just in case. We landed

By Dr. Rafi Kot

in Bangkok having successfully kept the patient well and alive. The Thai Hospital proved to be another challenge as they had never moved a patient from one ECMO unit to another. Worse, the units were not of the same make. So, over the ensuing three hours, we had to do it for them. Only on the flight back did we start to grasp the success of the transfer and the implications of it. The patient? She stayed in hospital for three months, survived and returned home.

In Safe Hands Following this evacuation, we had another from Hanoi to China, and as I write this we’re working on another case. The one thing that makes these cases manageable is that there’s no rush to get from here to there. While ECMO patients may be holding on by a thread, they’re not dying as long as they’re properly connected to the machine. You can usually wait another couple of days if there’s a delay. Vietnam Airlines have been a tremendous help, and we thank them for their cooperation. We have our agreements with airport authorities; we have our own gates, we have our own evacuation systems; whatever we need to clear. At our clinic, we now have the most experienced medical evacuation team in the country and have become regarded as an authority in these matters. Although we started with small cases, we have established Vietnam as one of only seven countries capable of doing ECMO evacuations worldwide. Doctor Rafi Kot is the founder and CEO of Family Medical Practice

The Matrix Benchmarking Professional Value


f you’ve been in a steady job with the same company for several years, chances are you do not have a clear and up-todate idea of your relative professional value within your industry. Companies use an organizational tool when assessing an employee’s value called a balanced scorecard. Understanding your scorecard result helps you more accurately benchmark your professional value. Also, when your scorecard data aligns with a company’s expectations there is a high chance of a win-win outcome.

The WHAT (the measurable stuff) Experience. What are your years of experience in a role? The more experience you bring to a role the more valuable you are to a company. Never devalue years of experience. Ranking. However, if you spent 20 years at a job but remained low on the ladder this could hurt your value. An employer looks for someone who started at the bottom and after some years moved up the ranks. The point is, your value will increase with the number of years plus level ranking. Results (Achievement). Just as important as having multiple professional qualifications is your ability to show actionable results. Interviewers have ways of soliciting information out of you and you should be ready with facts and figures and real-life evidence. There is nothing that adds more value to your marketability than a proven track record of results and achievements.

Package Expectation. Let’s be honest, we all want to be incentivized with a good pay package. Some packages are better than others and they vary widely so lay it all out there for discussion prior to signing a contract. Try to negotiate the best fit for you and the company will decide if that fits them as well. With luck, your benchmarked value will be in line with company expectations and vice versa.

The HOW (the subjective core competencies) Industry Network. Years of experience bring a network. How big is your network and how relevant is it to the position? Think of yourself as undergoing a merger and acquisition; a company not only gets you but they get access to data mine your network as well. Will people (companies) in your network remain loyal to you at your new company (reflecting successful relationship building and trust) and do you bring a strong network of buyers, traders, sources, resources, people in the know, high level contacts and go-to people when complex problems need solving? If you’ve answered positively then you would be an asset to any employer and, thus, tick valuable. Skillset. What are your technical skills? It helps if you can show actionable proof of your industry commitment with professional development, leadership or technical training, attendance or internships related to your field of interest. These must, of course, be backed up with relevant and

By Noelle Iles

provable tertiary academic qualifications. Adaptability. Every company, large or small, has a distinct culture. A company culture is defined as a set of procedures and standards understood and followed by the general employee population. Knowing the difference in cultures when applying to work with a publicly listed multinational company or a small private family-owned company from Vietnam, the US or China will help you manage your expectations. Remember, all cultures have personalities and come with structures and procedures. Never Stop Learning. I have read that we should think of ourselves as a product. Products have features, assets, benefits and liabilities and product manufacturers understand that to stay on-trend, features need regular updating. I recommend you do the same. Challenge yourself to develop and upgrade core skills and learn new skills to maintain your value at the current market or better. You have tremendous brand value when combining years of experience, a current and sought after skillset, a strong industry network, provable results, professional qualifications, cultural adaptability and strong interpersonal skills. Noelle Iles is Head of Business Development for Executive Search at Talentnet Corporation, a 360-degree HR company. She holds a BA in International Relations and 20 years’ experience in corporate training, international marketing and business development in the Asia-Pacific region. Contact talentnet.vn or noelle.iles@ talentnet.vn

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The Final Say the final say


In the Cafes of Hanoi


t’s no surprise that in a city like Hanoi, there’s an abundance of people making their way through life on computers in cafés. Café culture is huge, with tourists, expats and locals frequenting cafés each day for one reason or another.

Cafés are no longer just places to catch up with friends over coffee. They’re places to work. So what kind of work is everyone actually doing? Words by Amelia Burns. Photos by Sasha Arefieva

The Statistics We spoke to 11 people in three cafés in Tay Ho, Hoan Kiem and Dong Da, that we saw working. We asked them where they were from, what they were doing, and what they thought about doing their work in cafés. “Working at home is boring, so I decided to come to the café because it’s near my house. I’m doing online marketing for my start-up company,” says Quang, 23. Of the 11 people, three were Vietnamese, one German, one Canadian, three English, two American, and one Portuguese. Almost everyone that we spoke to had one main job, and at least one job on the side, or a major hobby. “I am an English teacher, but right now I am working on a video documentary about Hanoi,” says Raphael, 23, from Canada. “My friends are always perplexed by what I’m doing in Hanoi. I’m trying to give them a portrait of my life here.”

The Approach “I’m definitely a café hopper,” says Jenny, 25, from London. “I’m writing an article for Intrepid Travel and looking for a job in Melbourne.” We spoke to her at Hanoi Social Club (6 Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem) where we also spoke to Portuguese architect Hugo, 41, who “[manages] construction and engineering projects in Vietnam.” He was working on a project in Nha Trang, but that’s all he could tell us. Five of the people we spoke to were happy to talk to us from the start. Five others were a little hesitant, but after some warming up they were happy to chat. There was one person, a lawyer from Germany, who actually approached us to ask what we were doing, and although he

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said he was happy to answer our questions, he asked to remain anonymous and did not want any photos taken. Almost everyone we spoke to when asked: “What do you like about working in cafés?” mentioned something about the atmosphere. At Clickspace (Villa 15, Lane 76 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho) we spoke to Chelsea from America and Gill from England. Both moved here to teach. “We can’t get much done in the house, it’s too distracting,” they say. “[The cafés are] very suitable for learning. Learning at home is boring,” says Van Anh, 22, who was doing an English tutoring lesson at Tropical Forest Café (located around 300m down the unnamed street between lane 252 Tay Son and Thai Thinh). “I don’t like working too long in the same spot, I like to go somewhere different for a

different vibe to keep me motivated,” says Quang, 23.

The Conclusion All of the people that we spoke to were doing the same thing. That is, working while in a public space. It seems that public image, and a positive atmosphere, are common reasons for people to go and work in cafés. “When I’m at a café, everyone can see what I’m doing. I can’t get away with just going on Facebook. I have to actually do what I’m here to do,” says Libby, 28, from London. While most of us may look like we are working hard at the cafés, there’s always a chance we are just avoiding our responsibilities. “I’m writing a post for my blog,” says Kiersten, 25, “but I am supposed to be doing my taxes.”

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The Final Say


Arriving in Vietnam in the mid-1990s, Hanoi-based expat Marilyn Drinkwater has seen the changes to this country first hand. Photo by Julie Vola When did you arrive in Vietnam? What brought you here? I arrived in Saigon in December 1994. While living in Japan, many of the businessmen I was teaching were travelling to Vietnam for investment and development. They would return from their trips with stories, photos and an infectious enthusiasm for Vietnam and people they had just visited. I was curious to discover this country which had been closed off to the world for so many years, and when the opportunity to work as a tour leader presented itself, I jumped at the chance.

What have you been doing with your time while you’ve been living in Vietnam? That is a long list — I like to keep busy. My first 10 years or so I worked in travel, starting as a tour leader and later moving into destination management. I have been on the opening or makeover team of several hotels in Sapa, Phan Thiet, Cai Be, Hoi An and Hanoi, opened and managed restaurants, conducted staff training sessions, coordinated events, looked after businesses while friends went on holidays. I was there at the set-up of KOTO and have worked with several organisations local and foreign, aiding people who are marginalised, disadvantaged or affected after natural disasters.

How would you describe the Hanoi you encountered when you first arrived? Humble, gentle, shy and believe it or not, quiet!

How has it changed since then? What positive changes have you seen? What about the negative changes? Hanoi has electricity 24 hours per day — it used to be two hours only (but hotels did have generators). Roads were populated with bicycles, cyclos, Honda cubs or Dreams and the odd car. Now the roads are filled with motorbikes, taxis, BMWs, Mercedes and Land Cruisers. Shops have windows and doors and there are many more restaurants. The positive changes are that ordinary people have more wealth and time and places in the capital to enjoy it. On the negative side, people are pulling down the beautiful colonial architecture instead of preserving it, plus forbidding street stalls from operating on sidewalks and in alleys. These vendors were the scent and soul of Hanoi.

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Photo by Vu Ha Kim Vy

What about the people you meet in the capital? Are they different to how they were in the past?

trees are flowering and the evening is balmy, and all the generations of Hanoians are there to enjoy the spectacle.

A few years back the capital was enlarged and became three times the land area as well as increasing the population — this changed the spirit of both Hanoi and Hanoians. It is a bigger city now with all the trappings of big cities.

If you could turn back the clock, would you change the time you’ve spent in Hanoi? Why or why not?

How different is the expat scene now to how it was when you first arrived? There were very few expats in 1994 and most were either diplomats, working in the development field or UNIS teachers with a smattering of entrepreneurs. Many people lived in the international compound in Kim Ma. There were two bars — Apocalypse Now and the White Bar — where you could catch up, have a game of pool and find out what was going on in Hanoi. Nowadays there are expats from all walks of life, some with expat careers, but most seeking the expat experience and the chance to get to know Hanoi, even if it is only for three months. It is easier to live here now — there is more information available through the internet and magazines like the Word.

What are your hopes for the future of the city? I hope that Hanoi remembers and preserves its rich architectural heritage and landscape as it strives to develop into a modern city. Uncle Ho said “To reap a return in 10 years, plant trees. To reap a return in 100, cultivate the people.”

If there was one memory that you could take away of your time here, what would it be? Cyclo rides around Hoan Kiem Lake when the flame

I don’t think I’d change anything. It is the rhythm of life — everything is the same but also different — including me.

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Profile for Word Vietnam

Word Vietnam May 2017  

Everything you need to know about Vietnam and a little bit more. This month: Vietnam past, present and future

Word Vietnam May 2017  

Everything you need to know about Vietnam and a little bit more. This month: Vietnam past, present and future