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CHUYÊN ĐỀ DU LỊCH, ẨM THỰC

VIETNAM EDITION / VOL. 11 TÁC GIẢ: BAO ROSS

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Contents Nov.2017

48

16

THE TALK 10 / The Tight Rope

Vietnam doesn’t have a safety net. If you fall, you fall hard

11 / The Big Five

This month in Vietnam

BRIEFINGS 12 / Fury Room

Time to release all that pent-up anger

14 / Escape Rooms

Sometimes you just need to get away from it all

16 / Phuong Le

114

20 / Beach Volleyball

74 / Employees with Disabilities

INSIDER

80 / The Sinking School

The most, erm, revealing of sports is getting big in Vietnam

40 / Street Portrait

Ho Thi Ky in Saigon is far more than just a flower market

44 / Riding the Waves

Vietnamese surfers are starting to make an impact

48 / Around the World in 80 Bites

There’s a lot of international cuisine in Vietnam. We’ve counted 33 countries’ worth

Providing opportunities for people living with disabilities

Sometimes even the best of plans can go wrong

86 / A View from a Bridge Thu Thiem Bridge after dark

92 / Come Dine with Me

Four erstwhile chefs, and four nights of great food

TRAVEL 100 / Quan Lan Island

Halong Bay, but without the tourists

Last year she headlined at Quest, this 70 / Legends of the Viet year she's curating her own stage Stories that define a nation

18 / Swim Vietnam

Saving lives, one stroke at a time

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100


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Our New Secondary Campus Opening 2018

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Land area 12,650m2

Fully shaded salt-water 25m swimming pool

33 dedicated classrooms & 19 specialist classrooms

State of the art theatre with over 400 seats

4G football pitch with smart shade

Two full sized air-conditioned basketball court

www.theabcis.com


Contents Nov.2017

94

80

86

108 / Mango Home Riverside

A beautiful riverside resort in Ben Tre

HANOI 40 / To Do List 44 / Just In 110 / Hanoi City Guide 114 / Day Tripper 120 / Coffee Cup 122 / Top Eats

HCMC

130 / Body & Temple

30 / To Do List

132 / Medical Buff

38 / Just In

140 / Know Your City

126 / HCMC City Guide 140 / Bar Stool 146 / Top Eats COLUMNS 116 / Women’s Fitness 117/ Book Buff 118 / The Therapist

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THE FINAL SAY 142 / Living with Depression

For the clinically depressed, when life gets tough it can be unbearable

144 / Ten 10

The inspiration behind the Cousins restaurant group — Cyprien Pierlovisi


Contributors T

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

his month we asked Word contributors what type of international food they are most happy about seeing in Vietnam.

Anything Mediterranean. Breads, pastas, dips, olive oils. Would love for more Greek restaurants to open up. — Matt Cowan, Managing Editor For me it’s Kraft Mac n Cheese in a box. The fact that my local convenience store carries a seemingly never-ending supply means that I can indulge in my favourite comfort food whenever I like. — Diane Lee, Contributor

EDITORIAL BAO ZOAN Staff Photographer baozoan@wordvietnam.com

NICK ROSS Chief Editor nick@wordvietnam.com

THOMAS BARRETT Staff Writer tom@wordvietnam.com

EDWARD DALTON Staff Writer (Hanoi) edward@wordvietnam.com

JULIE VOLA Photo Editor julie@wordvietnam.com

AIMEE DUONG Graphic Designer aimee@wordvietnam.com

NGUYEN LOC Layout Designer loc@wordvietnam.com

MATTHEW COWAN Managing Editor matt@wordvietnam.com

ADMINISTRATION BAO ROSS General Director bao@wordvietnam.com

For me it has to be Marmite. After picking up a slight addiction to Vegemite in Australia, I was overjoyed when I found its cousin nestled in the supermarket shelves. — Olga Rozenbajgier, Contributor I gave myself a high-five when I found a bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Chocolate in the supermarket a few weeks ago. It had been too long. — Thomas Barrett, Staff Writer Bagels. The only problem is that right now there are only a couple of places in Vietnam doing them well, one in Hanoi, one in Saigon. No names mentioned. Still, very happy to have them here! — Nick Ross, Chief Editor

ADVERTISING SUONG NGUYEN Sales Manager suong@wordvietnam.com

CHAU GIANG Office Assistant giang@wordvietnam.com

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

Special thanks to Emily Arntsen, Olga Rozenbajgier, Harry Hodge, Douglas Holwerda, Amazin Le Thi, Truong Hoang, Phil Kelly, FMP, Dr. Pedro Trigo, Ian Wills, Aimee Duong, Teigue John Blokpoel, Jo Stewart, Huang Xiaolong, Pascal Lefevre, Cameron Lucy, Le Thi Huong Lien, Grazio Pacillo, Christopher Hocker, Mango Home Riverside, Diane Lee, JB Jance, Hoanh Tran, Cyprien Pierlovisi and David Legard

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

Long, thick and slightly curved Cumberland sausages. — Edward Dalton, Staff Writer

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The Prelude

VIETNAM EDITION / VOL. 11 TÁC GIẢ: BAO ROSS

World in the

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a representative from Africa — perhaps you can let us know if there are any restaurants in Vietnam that only serve up authentic African cuisine. Whatever your status in Vietnam — local or foreign, short-term or long-term, young or old — there’s a little bit of something in our list for everyone to help start you off on your own culinary journey through Vietnam. Just try not to dribble in public. — Matt Cowan, Managing Editor

ites

a blend of what we find to be the best and / or the most interesting. Our list reflects not only the improving availability of quality ingredients in Vietnam that help to make foreign dishes taste more authentic, but also the growing multiculturalism of our cities. Represented are restaurants serving up food from the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Asia and Oceania. One glaring omission, however, is

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Just over two decades since the United States lifted their trade embargo on Vietnam, the result is that in 2017, we are able to come up with 80 restaurants representing 33 countries in our two major cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The cuisine we have listed is divided into regions of the world, and then divided further into countries that fall within those regions. For each selection, our criterion is

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round the World in 80 Bites, our cover story for this month, is intended to take the reader on a culinary journey through the kinds of cuisine in Vietnam they can now dig their forks into or pick up with their chopsticks or hands. In putting together our list of “bites” — which is by no means exhaustive — we discovered that the variety available is impressive.

CHUYÊN ĐỀ DU LỊCH, ẨM THỰC

THIS MONTH'S COVER Design by DH Advertising Photo of a dish at Don's Bistro by Julie Vola

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.

The Vietnam Bucket List (October 2017, Cover Story) A pretty poor effort of a front cover, but great feature story. A lot of stuff in the bucket list that I would never have thought of. Gotta say, though, Son Doong has got to be my number one as well. — MW What is it with lists, listicles and click bait? You’re falling for the trap, Word. — JC Some weird and wonderful stuff on there. I love the ‘Get Married to a Vietnamese Woman’ entry. Not a chance, thank you very much! — PC Dye your hair black so you don’t stand out when you’re on the street. Haha! Love it! — SR

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Cover Art Glenn Nolan, an expat and businessman living in Vung Tau, sent in this photo. It’s based on the front cover of the magazine in March 2015. The drawing was done by 22-year-old, Nguyen Le Yen Nhi, and is a design for a t-shirt with the caption: You can't scare me, I'm married to a Vietnamese woman. To everyone who IS married to a Vietnamese woman, better take care, then! And for those of you who aren't, well now you know...


Talk Lead

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

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n April 2014 we ran an article titled Living with Depression (republished in this issue on page 142). It was written by British expat Ian Wills. In it he talked about his struggles with depression, with lucid dreaming and with alternate realities. Realising he had issues at a young age, Ian spent much of his youth “contemplating what it would be like to be somewhere other than the world I found myself inhabiting.” Only in his late 30s did he discover that this was called lucid dreaming, a state where it becomes difficult to distinguish between one’s ‘real’ waking life and a world of dreams and visions. Eventually diagnosed as bipolar, at his worse stages of depression, Ian binged for weeks on end with an uncontrollable energy. As he got older, ‘the fear’, as he called it, would descend with increasing regularity, leading to hospitalisation and a dependency on alcohol and anti-depressants. Ian decided not to put his name to the article but to instead include his face in the accompanying illustration. After the piece was published, because his face was recognisable, according to Ian he was fired. At the time he was working for a wellknown educational institution in Vietnam. He had been teaching English for years, working for a long period in management. He was also a CELTA trainer — during his stint in Vietnam he trained over 600 teachers. Ian was one of the most qualified

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English teachers living and working in this country.

‘Til Death Do Us Part On Friday, Oct. 20 Ian Wills passed away. The day before, he was discovered on his kitchen floor unconscious and in a pool of blood. He had tried calling friends, murmuring the words ‘hospital’ and ‘FV’, but he was far from lucid. So, one friend took a taxi to his apartment to find out what was going on. Ian was rushed to Cho Ray where he was put on life support. His friends contacted the British Consulate and others tried to get hold of his family in the UK. Without their phone numbers or email addresses, it took over 12 hours to make contact. Ian was in a coma and according to the doctors, he only had a 50 percent chance of survival. And even if he did make it, years of substance abuse had taken its toll. He had cirrhosis of the liver — it was so bad that if he pulled through his present impasse, he would need a transplant.

Fall, But Not From Grace As I write this, together with many other people who knew and loved Ian, I feel devastated that someone I met in the first week he came to Vietnam, who was always a friend, should pass away in such lonely circumstances. Other members of his circle of friends have similar feelings: the overall prognosis is ‘numb’. While Ian was in a coma, a question was

asked. “Do you think he will survive?” The answer. “It’s up to him, it depends if he wants to live or not.” Ian struggled with living, overcoming the day-to-day pressures of life. And there lies the problem. In places like Vietnam, if you don’t have your family around you, when you fall, you fall hard. There is no safety net, no welfare state, nothing to support you except the people who love and care. Ian was lucky. His friends did take care of him. But the authorities, from back home and in Vietnam, left him to his own devices. At US$100 an hour for a counselling session, this was a cost that Ian was often unable to afford. It was after Ian lost his job that the decline began to take hold. For people like Ian Wills, Vietnam was a dangerous place to live. So dangerous that it took his life. If he’d been living back home he would have had medical and psychological support. In Vietnam he was propped up by his friends. Many other expats are similar to Ian. They are falling. Or as Ian wrote so poignantly in his article, they are “climbing a mountain with no summit, travelling a road with no end”. We’ve all seen it. So, let this act as a warning. Vietnam is a wonderful place to live and work, we all know that. But when things go wrong, it is hell. — Nick Ross To read Ian Wills’ article, Living with Depression, turn to page 142.


Big5 The

Music and film festivals, lots of craft beer and something called Thanksgiving. This month in Vietnam

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Hanoi Craft Beer & Music Autumn Marathon 1

100 Beer Garden, Hanoi Nov. 4 & 5

Garden City Movement will be one of the bands performing at Monsoon

Thanksgiving 2017 takes place on Nov. 23

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Another one for beer lovers wanting to tap into the so-called craft beer “boom” — the Hanoi Craft Beer & Music Autumn Marathon is the only craft beer festival in Hanoi bringing together the best of local breweries from Hanoi, Danang and HCMC. Held over two days on the first weekend of November, the festival welcomes all beer lovers over the age of 18 to try out over 50 kinds of beers all at the one venue. There will also be plenty of food on sale, including great prizes up for grabs — one to the value of VND10 million. Revellers will be entertained with eight hours of live music on both days of the event with spaces to mingle or just chill and relax. Entry tickets range in price from VND150,000 for general admission (includes five free beer samples) to VND200,000 for a two-day admission pass (includes five free beer samples each day). The event is pet friendly, so expect to see a lot of lizards flat out drinking. For more ticketing information, go to ticketbox.vn. The Craft Beer Marathon takes place at 100 Beer Garden, Tay Ho, Hanoi

International Monsoon Music Festival 2

Imperial Citadel, Hanoi Nov. 10, 11, 12

Another music festival hits Hanoi in November attracting local and international artists, including Dong Hung (Vietnam), Garden City Movement (Israel), Biuret (South Korea), Lost Frequencies (Belgium), BUD (UK), and Chris Minh Doky (Denmark).

The festival offers more than just music, giving audiences from different generations opportunities to relax and enjoy unique experiences amidst the historical settings of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. More artists to be announced close to the event. Tickets can be purchased from ticketbox.vn ranging in price from VND330,000 for a daily ticket, to VND660,000 for a three-day pass. For more info, go to monsoonfestival.vn

Quest Festival 3

Son Tinh Camp, Hanoi Nov. 10, 11, 12

Firmly establishing its place as Vietnam’s most premiere multi-day festival, Quest returns from Nov. 10 to Nov.12 for a weekend of music, art, discovery and magic. Over the past few years, Quest has consistently raised the bar drawing international acclaim and praise. Combining over 150 local and international acts across five stages, the festival includes music, cinema, boat tours, workshops, street performances, team activities, live and installation art, and much more. Phase 4 ticket options are on-sale until Nov. 8 via ticketbox.vn starting at VND600,000 for a one-day student pass to VND1.8 million for a three-day individual pass.

Japanese Film Festival 2017 4

Hanoi, HCMC & Danang Until Jan. 14

The Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam is holding their Japanese Film Festival 2017 starting from Oct. 27 in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang. Eleven films made after 2015 will be screened. The Japanese Film Festival has become a popular

event attracting large audiences with a passion for Japanese cinema. The festival is also an opportunity for attendees to deepen their understanding of Japanese culture. The films will be screened with English and Vietnamese subtitles. Admission in HCMC and Hanoi is VND30,000 for each screening, while in Danang, admission is free but anyone wishing to attend is advised to obtain their tickets beforehand. See below for venues and dates: Hanoi. National Cinema Center, 87 Lang Ha, Ba Dinh; Until Nov. 11 Ho Chi Minh City. CineStar, 135 Hai Ba Trung, Q1; Nov. 24 to Dec. 9 Danang. Le Do Cinema, 46 Tran Phu, Hai Chau, Danang; Jan. 5 to Jan. 14, 2018 For more details please visit jpf.org.vn/en/2017/10/18/ japanese-film-festival-2017

Thanksgiving 5

Hanoi & HCMC Thursday, Nov. 23

If you like your dose of turkey and all the trimmings, then mark down the fourth Thursday in November for a day of feasting and general merriment. The five-stars up and down the country put on special buffets — so to partake in a day of excess, call up your favourite hotel restaurant. But to really enjoy the festival spirit, head to this country’s American and Canadian-themed restaurants. Don’s Bistro in Hanoi, Elbow Room and Boat House in Saigon, plus many more eateries will all be putting on special menus.

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Briefings Hanoi

Fury Room

Release your anger. Reduce all that stress

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ife can be tough sometimes. Whether caused by the polluted commute, problems at home or work-related grievances, we are all vulnerable to

stress. We’ve all had to resist certain stress-induced temptations, such as throat-punching that reckless driver, smashing your cheating ex’s smartphone to pieces or throwing a tomahawk at your boss’s face. Good news! Your restraint has been rewarded by the opening of Vietnam’s firstever rage room, in Hanoi.

Health and Safety The concept is simple; you smash stuff up until you feel better. At Fury Room (300 De La Thanh, Dong Da, Hanoi), there are actually several rooms, with bigger spaces for groups of two or more. The room is filled with glass bottles, ceramic vases, plates and cups plus a TV or two. The amount of smashable stuff depends on how many people are coming with you.

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The standard price is VND198,000 for one, VND368,000 for two, VND688,000 for four and VND99,000 for each extra person added on. The price includes all the items to be destroyed, weapons, safety equipment and a drink. The safety equipment will be fine for most customers; but larger people might struggle to get a jumpsuit on (I ended up wearing mine like a cape). Before going in, you are fitted with shin guards and arm pads, armoured gloves, rubber boots, body armour, and a helmet with a large visor. It all sounds great, but it still didn’t stop our photographer from getting a small piece of glass through the boot and into his foot. There’s a first-aid kit behind the reception desk.

We Hate Boys Before we start, another group is finishing up. Four girls, all still in secondary school. “How do 14-year-old girls have so much stress to release?” I ask, somewhat naively. “We hate school,” says one.

“And boys,” adds another, gripping her crowbar so tightly, I feel a genuine shiver of terror. The manager tells us they’ve only been open for six months, but they’re already seeing patterns develop in the customer base. “Over 70% of our customers are women,” says manager Vu Duc Long. “Mostly schoolgirls, office workers or women who recently gave birth.” After gearing up and entering the room, there is a choice of weapons with which to release your fury. Baseball bat, golf club or crowbar; they are all good for different things. The golf club slices through old beer bottles like nobody’s business, while the hooked end of the crowbar is perfect for smashing a TV until nothing is left except dust and sweat. As for the baseball bat; you haven’t lived until you’ve played baseball by throwing Bat Trang ceramics into the air for your Partner in Rage to smash into oblivion. Just try not to accidentally take out the CCTV camera.


PHOTOS BY JULIE VOLA

PHOTOS BY TEIGUE JOHN BLOKPOEL

Hulk Smash It’s hard work, but there is a very real sense of release — the health and safety gear, combined with the physical nature of the activity, makes it a very sweaty experience. Most of the debris is used in a productive way; it gets taken to construction sites which need solid waste to help fill and level out large holes in the ground. The owner, Nguyen Ngoc Thinh, got the idea from an American rage room he saw online. After amassing piles of personal problems, he figured smashing up junk made more sense than smashing up his own possessions. Whatever your reason for wanting to release stress, this is one activity which needs to be added to your Hanoi to-do list. — Edward Dalton Fury Room is on the 8th floor at 300 De La Thanh, behind 500 Xa Dan, Dong Da, Hanoi. Open daily from 9am until 10pm. For more information, visit furyroom.vn or call 0946 030013

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Briefings Hanoi

Escape Rooms Who needs books or movies to take a break from reality when you’ve got escape rooms?

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or most adults and even some teenagers, our years of game playing are long behind us. Lock ourselves in a room and pretend to be murder mystery detectives for an hour? Probably not our first idea of a good time. But that’s the magic of escape rooms — they’re more than just real-life games; they’re time machines that can bring even the most serious adults back to childhood. Escape rooms are themed rooms outfitted with riddles and locks that need to be solved and opened to beat the game. For one hour, a group of friends uses the hints and clues provided to unlock multiple doors that ultimately lead to the final escape door. A good escape room is one that makes you believe you’re actually catching the Mafia or fleeing a haunted Egyptian tomb. You

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should be sweating and yelling by the end. The concept, which originated in Japan in 2007, has since spread worldwide. While escape rooms are not a chain business, some variation of the idea can be found in most large cities. In Hanoi, there are about five locations to choose from.

We Escape We Escape has locations in Ba Dinh and Dong Da. At each location, players choose between three different rooms ranging in difficulty from easy to hard. At the Ba Dinh location, players’ options are the easiest room, The Lost Tomb, the medium-level room, Escape Prison, and the hardest room, the Joke of the Spirit. At Dong Da, players can choose from the easiest room, Thieves of the Century, or two other medium-level rooms, which are

Tomb Raider themed and Apocalypse themed. We tried the Apocalypse room, but we were not successful. The combined brainpower of three educated adults was apparently no match for We Escape’s medium-level escape room. The space is impressively decorated to look like a hunting cabin/makeshift graveyard post-zombie invasion. Creepy haunted house music sets the mood, and to be honest, it’s actually scary — not for little kids who get spooked easily. The room is also very spacious, which makes it good for larger groups. The room is separated into four smaller rooms that each need to be unlocked to eventually reach the final door. As you get closer to the end, the clues increase in complexity. Despite using our two free hints, we still couldn’t make it to the final room.


PHOTOS BY JULIE VOLA

The clues were especially intricate and out of the ordinary, forcing us to work together and use unexpected skills like our aim and our elementary understanding of physics. Especially when time was running low, there was a lot of panicky shouting of possible number and letter codes. Monday through Friday, a group of eight costs VND99,000 per person, a group of five to seven costs VND109,000 each, and a group of two to four costs VND139,000 each. At the weekend, the prices increase to VND119,000 for a group of eight, VND129,000 for a group of five to seven, and VND159,000 for a group of two to four. Located on Floor 3 of 168 Ngoc Khanh, Ba Dinh, Hanoi and Floor 8 of the Kham Thien Building, 195 Kham Thien, Dong Da, Hanoi. Open daily from 9am to 11pm. Call 0962 262205

or (024) 3724 7561 for more information.

Trap Vietnam — Real Escape Room At Trap Vietnam — Real Escape Room, players can choose between the easier Egyptian room and the harder rooms — Red Dragon Taken or Outlast Hospital. For the Egyptian room, if you’re so inclined, you can even dress up in pharaoh costumes. We chose the Red Dragon room and again failed to unlock the final room despite the collective efforts of three adults. The room is decorated to look like a gangster bar, and players are supposed to expose the crimes of a local mafia group. The clues in this room are very clever and incorporate intricate riddles about the Chinese zodiac and the Roman alphabet. This room is better suited to smaller groups

however — three was almost company when we played. At Trap, prices vary from VND240,000 per person for a group of two to three, VND200,000 for a group of four to five, and VND150,000 for a group of six to eight. Located at 40 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Open daily from 9.30am to 11.30pm. Call 0932 232408 for more information.

Like a Kid Again Whether you’re escaping king Tut’s tomb, the rainy weather, or the chaotic city, these escape rooms in Hanoi are fun ways to spend an hour with friends. For those of us who haven’t played anything in years, it will surely make you feel like a little kid again, in the best way possible. — Emily Arntsen

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Briefings National

Phuong Le

One of the best-known names on the Swiss house and techno scene, last year Viet kieu DJ and producer Phuong Le headlined Quest as part of her duo act ME & her. This year under the auspices of her record label, Die Empathie, she is running a stage and curating her own line-up. She’s also performing under her new artistic presence, MYLE

How did you get into music? Music has always been part of my life. I grew up in a musical family and started playing piano and listening to music early. Music is a way to express myself. It’s a source of stress relief, inspiration, freedom, a way to lift you up and get you through your day.

What drew you to DJing and production? What’s the story behind ME & her? I loved going out and dancing all night long, but I never thought that I would be a DJ one day. A friend of mine, Jen — DJ Yeni — was DJing solo back then and she got sick of travelling alone. So, she asked me to join her as a duo. That’s how ME & her started.

What were your first impressions of Vietnam when you returned to the country aged 16? How about now? The first time I returned to Vietnam, it was overwhelming. To grow up in a society like Switzerland, going to Vietnam was a culture shock. So many motorbikes and honking, I needed time to adapt, but then I fell in love. At the time, Vietnam was so pure, the landscape was untouched and there were not so many tourists. Everyone was super friendly and I didn’t feel like a foreigner. The country has progressed really fast, especially Saigon. So many new buildings every year, and everyone is eager to do business with the world; the young generation is curious and open-minded. But every positive development also has its negatives. I was shocked by the amount of tourists or foreigners that come to the country who don’t care about the environment and treat our culture with disrespect.

What is your impression of the electronic music scene in Vietnam? It is still very small compared to Europe

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or other Southeast Asian countries like Thailand or Singapore. It’s dominated by EDM and Vinahouse. But we have some great people who are really trying to build up the scene like the people behind Quest Festival, The Observatory, Heartbeat, We Groove or Haustek. Unfortunately, laws in Vietnam make it difficult to run a club, bar or a party. Most of the promoters need to find a way to ensure they’re not shut down.

Why did you move to Bangkok rather than Vietnam in 2016? I’ve been travelling to Bangkok every year since 2007. The city has so much to offer and every time I go there, I find new inspiring stuff. I chose Bangkok because I know the scene, the people and I feel at home. I always wanted to move to Asia, not only to escape the cold but also to help build up the music scene and find new inspiration and talent. I’m now getting more and more involved in the scene in Vietnam — so I will definitely consider it as a base in the future.

the environment and try to improve it every year. As the festival is not that big, it’s easy to meet new people. You go in solo and end up with a lot of new, like-minded friends.

What can we expect from your performance there this year? Last year I headlined Quest as a techno act. This time I will not only showcase another musical direction with my solo project MYLE, but our label Die Empathie together with support from The Council in Singapore will curate the sunset/sunrise stage. This means hosting 10 artists from all over the globe including Rey&Kjavik from Germany, Troja from India and Estray from Serbia. We want to bring a new genre to Asia which is already well established in Europe, and we want to create a unique experience for everyone and show that you can have an unforgettable musical journey with slower, melancholic and more organic music.

In your opinion, what makes Quest such a unique festival?

What marks out your solo project, MYLE, from work you’ve done in the past?

The Venue. It’s a beautiful location in nature surrounded by a lake, and it’s the perfect size, with 4,000 people making it an intimate festival. The Programme. Quest is not only about music but also arts and culture. There is not one genre of music; the programme is very diverse. So, there is something for everyone. I like it that Quest is not focused on bringing in big acts but is more into supporting local or Southeast Asian acts, and giving them a platform to show their talent. The people behind it and the festival-goers. Many of the big festivals have lost their meaning; they’re a money machine. But at Quest it’s not all about money. The organisers do it with passion and are putting a lot of effort into the details. They look after

I realised early on that only playing the techno we were playing as ME & her didn't fulfil me music-wise. So my new persona, MYLE reflects myself 100%. I was seeking new challenges, more experimental sounds, more in-depth music, more downtempo, more organic. It's a totally different experience from banging out techno in a warehouse or a club with everyone’s hands up in the air. Instead I’m playing downtempo music in intimate venues with people closing their eyes and letting themselves go. I still love techno, but I prefer giving the crowd some space to breathe and communicate at a deeper level. For more info on MYLE click on facebook.com/ iammylemusic. Quest Festival runs from Nov. 10 to Nov. 12. Click on questfestival.net for details


wordvietnam.com | November 2017 Word | 17


Charity of

the Month

Swim Vietnam

A

Saving lives, one stroke at a time

s many as 3,500 children and teenagers die every year in Vietnam due to drowning, according to a 2017 report by the Vietnam Ministry of Health. It’s a shocking statistic that Swim Vietnam is determined to try and reduce through its free swimming and water safety lessons for children. Based in Danang, the charity will celebrate its 10th birthday in February next year.

In at the Deep End Jo Stewart has been the driving force behind the charity’s growth over the past decade. She was tempted to Vietnam following a career in investment management that took

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her to London and Singapore. It was a case of in at the deep end. “I used to do, and still do, triathlons. A company started the first-ever triathlon in Vietnam in 2007 and they held it in Hoi An. They tried to organise a children’s race and they asked the government to provide children, but they were told that they can’t give any kids because they can’t swim. After research [the organiser] found out drowning is a huge issue in Vietnam.” It was from here that the charity was born. “I worked for six months getting it going. I had no idea what I was doing, though I knew you need kids, you need teachers and

you need pools,” says Jo. Originally hotels let them use their pools. Hoi An Beach Club was the first to offer its pool. “We found one person in town who worked as a swim teacher for the army. We offered him a job and went from there.” “We started small — one Vietnamese teacher and one Australian volunteer. Now it’s 100 to 150 teachers, and we pay the Vietnamese teachers, so we can help them with income as well as giving them a skill,” says Jo.

Today Swim Vietnam now has eight pools of its


own, all located in Quang Nam province in central Vietnam. Growth has been impressive, and it has gone from teaching 400 children in the first year to over 4,000 last year, with the total number of children taught now over 20,000. While still a good number, in a country of 90 million people, Jo believes it’s a drop in the ocean. However, in the past couple of years she has seen a shift in attitude within government, who she says are now much more focused on solving the problem. Jo says it’s one of Swim Vietnam’s proudest achievements — they now work closely with provincial governments and advise them on water safety. If it was only Swim Vietnam trying to tackle the problem, “it could take this lifetime and the next,” to solve it. “Now we’re advising the government and that’s huge,” she says.

Staying the Course The swimming programme itself is spread

across 18 lessons and is based on Australian standards, in particular those of Austswim. “We’re not trying to teach people to get ready for the Olympics,” says Jo. “It’s water safety lessons — what you should do if you fall in and how to rescue someone safely.” “As long as they can move through water for 25 metres, tread water for one to two minutes; rescue themselves and others, then that’s the focus. That’s our pass mark.” It’s a programme that has served them well, and teaching the importance of water safety is something that for the most part their parents are thankful for. “In rural areas you will get some parents saying they don’t want their kids to go swimming because they think they might drown, or they’d rather have them work on the farm.” “They [the children] are told not to go near the water. They are told to fear the

water, but they’re not taught basic water safety,” adds Jo.

Success stories Some of their ex-students have now become teachers for the charity, with many keen to give back and impart the knowledge they’ve learnt to children and help save lives. It’s one of the charity’s ultimate goals, for it to be selfsufficient with local people running it. So far, they have trained over 150 Vietnamese teachers to Austswim standard. Jo is proud that the years of hard work have helped raise awareness of how bad the problem is in Vietnam, particularly with the government, who are now finally committing serious investment into water safety in primary schools. “They realise now we want to solve it, and we can clearly see how to get there.” — Thomas Barrett For more info click on swimvietnam.com or head to facebook.com/SwimVietnam

wordvietnam.com | November 2017 Word | 19


Sports Digest Sport in Brief New Men’s Coach Has Eyes on Top 100 New national football head coach Park Hang-seo wants to push Vietnam into the world top 100 during his two-year reign, according to Vietnam News. The South Korean coach set the target at a contract signing ceremony with the Vietnam Football Federation in Hanoi in October. Park arrived in Hanoi last month and watched Vietnam defeat Cambodia 5-0 at the My Dinh Stadium. He congratulated the team, saying he was satisfied with the players, their playing style and the result. However, one thing concerned him, which was that Cambodia was able to get the ball very easily into Vietnam’s half and even broke through deep into the penalty area. He said he would have to fix this problem first.

Swimmer Vien Wins 16 Golds at Single Meet Swimming star Nguyen Thi Anh Vien won an astounding 16 gold and three silver medals at the National Swimming Championships, which wrapped up in Ho Chi Minh City last month, according to Vietnam News. Her achievement helped the Military team top the medal tally with 16 gold, 10 silver and nine bronze medals. Unsurprisingly, Vien won the best swimmer award at the event. Hosts Ho Chi Minh City came second with 11 golds, five silvers and six bronzes. Notably, Tran Duy Khoi bagged eight gold medals for Ho Chi Minh City. Overseas Vietnamese Le

Nguyen Paul won five gold medals to help An Giang rank third with a total of five golds, six silvers and one bronze. The five-day event saw six new individual records and four relay records, of which Nguyen Huy Hoang of Quang Binh set three national records in the men’s 800m freestyle, 1500m freestyle and 400m freestyle events.

Youthful U19 Football Squad has High Hopes Vietnam has set a target of advancing to the finals of the AFC U19 Championships in 2018, head coach Hoang Anh Tuan said as the team prepared for the qualifying rounds beginning in November, according to Tuoi Tre. Before the training session, Tuan announced the list of players called up for the first qualifying games. The squad will feature several new faces but will be without Doan Van Hau, who was recently named the Best Young Player in South East Asia. Tuan told reporters that Hau is busy with his club, Hanoi FC, and will be unavailable. Vietnam’s U-19s have been drawn against Laos, Taiwan and Macau in group H of qualifying. The young Golden Stars will begin their campaign against Macau on Nov. 4. Qualification for the 2018 AFC U19 Championship will be contested by a total of 43 teams, with 22 teams from West Asia and the rest from East Asia. There are five groups in each zone, with the 10 group winners and the top five runners-up qualifying for the finals in Indonesia next year.

es pdatur u d n Se out yo p or ab g grou @ in ry o p s rtnt to har .com m e a v e vietn word

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Beach Volleyball Beach volleyball is on the rise throughout Southeast Asia. Vietnam is also getting a look in. Words by Harry Hodge


Women’s Beach Volleyball Tour 2017, trailing teams from China, Australia and Thailand. The pair have played together for several years, notably at the Vietnam Open in Halong in 2013 and numerous other highprofile events. The pair of Duong My Huyen Truong and Doan Huynh Yen Le also impressed in Singapore, with a dramatic win over arch-rivals Malaysia, but fell short of playoff qualification. But the framework for the success of these Vietnamese squads is rooted in a surplus of events held around Vietnam, including the Asian Women’s Beach Volleyball Championship in Can Tho earlier this year. The tournament drew in 20 teams from 11 countries and territories such as Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and China, besides the hosts. The Tuan Chau — Halong Masters event took place days later in Northern Vietnam. Regional and provincial events also

PHOTOS BY HUANG XIAOLONG

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nterest has been spiking in beach volleyball around the world, and Vietnam is set to see a bump in participation in the sport. Not only does it feature ridiculously fit athletes lunging all over the sand when you see it on TV, the rules are relatively simple and all you need is a ball and a net. The chance to combine the great outdoors with an inexpensive workout makes it ideal for a tropical emerging market like Vietnam. Vietnam’s beach volleyball stars have been making names for themselves in the region, with strong showings at the recent 29th SEA Beach Volleyball Championships at Palawan Beach in Singapore. Mai Thi Hoa and Tran Thi Cam Thi were particularly impressive, dominating their opponents before being ousted in the playoff stages. Thirty teams, of 15 women’s and men’s pairs, representing eight countries will be competing in the 29th South East Asian Beach Volleyball Championships to be held in Singapore for the first time. The Vietnamese duo was ranked as high as No. 22 earlier in the year on the AVC

take place throughout the year. Events in Danang, Nha Trang, Nghe An’s Cua Lo beach and other scenic destinations around the country show that the sport is on the upswing. Even areas without beachfront have hosted beach volleyball events in the past, proving that terrain is no obstacle. For more information about beach volleyball in Southeast Asia, visit asianvolleyball.net for details.

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ToDo

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list HCMC

A Japanese film festival, a book launch, wine and art, DJs, comedy, a charity bazaar and more. Things to do in HCMC

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Saigon Flower Power

Saigon Flower Power returns for volume 4

Some of the products on sale at Retail Therapy on Nov. 6

Acclaimed Scottish comic Phil Kay performs in Saigon on Nov. 15

The latest Canvas & Wine on Nov. 16 looks at the art of paper sculpture

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Piu Piu, Q1 Friday, Nov. 3 ABSTRAACK is presenting the fourth instalment of Saigon Flower Power at Piu Piu. The theme is hippy 60s flower chic, and organisers invite partygoers to come dressed for the occasion, where they promise to be taken on a beautiful journey full of colours and music, with DJ sets from ABSTRAACK and other guests for what they expect will be an absolutely unforgettable night. There is an original musical programme with different DJs, who will be gathered behind the Piu Piu decks to share sounds from 70s classics to house and techno. The event will be held at Piu Piu, 97 Hai Bai Trung, Q1, HCMC. For further information visit facebook. com/events/146541909298680

Retail Therapy 108 Eatery, Q2 Monday, Nov. 6 Four boutiques and designers are clubbing together to create a day of retail therapy at 108 Eatery on Thao Dien in District 2. Perfect for anyone looking to

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purchase an early Christmas gift of five, included in the pop-up market are Sour Jewelry, Pema, Namaste Mama and Anupa. Expect to find anything from aprons and personalised yoga accessories through to jewellery, kaftans, flowers and scents. Retail Therapy takes place from 9am to 3pm on Monday, Nov. 6 at 108 Eatery, 28 Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC

Comedy with Phil Kay Game On, Saigon Wednesday, Nov. 15 If you know anything about the UK comedy scene then you will have heard of Scottish legendary comedian Phil Kay. A storyteller and a self-proclaimed master of mirth and mayhem, having Phil perform in Saigon is a little bit of a coup. The guy is a comedic genius. Here’s what the press says: “The man remains one of the most consistently brilliant and uncompromising comedians of his and future generations.” — Metro “… mesmerising headf*** genius.” — Time Out, London So prepare yourself for a wild night comedic madness. This one will be big. Entrance is VND200,000 in

advance and VND250,000 on the door. For further information or to purchase advance tickets, email nick@ saigoncomedy.com or go to Game On Saigon, 115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1, HCMC. Advance tickets are available at Game On Saigon or online at philkaysaigon.eventbrite.com

Canvas & Wine Vinspace, Q2 Thursday, Nov. 16 Canvas & Wine is a monthly boutique art creation event which brings a range of mediums to the table, from clay sculpture to silk painting. Every month focuses on mastering a new technique. It’s a chance to kick back with a glass of wine in creative comfort and explore artistry from across the world. November’s Canvas & Wine will look at the delicate art of paper sculpture, how the most workaday of materials can be transformed into elegant explorations of positive and negative techniques and sculpture in the round. The event costs VND874,000 per person to participate. Vinspace is located at 4-6 Le Van Mien, Q2, HCMC. For more information email info@vin-space.com or visit facebook.com/vinspacestudio


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ToDo list HCMC 1

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Vietnam Salmagundi Book Launch

5. Broadway production Lend me a Tenor, opens on Nov. 24

Thursday, Nov. 16 inpages Bookstore, Q2

4. Techno maestro Voiski plays The Lighthouse on Nov. 24

3. Three movies from the Japan Film Festival: Honnouji Hotel, Rudolf the Black Cat and Her Love Boils Bathwater

2. The 24th International Charity Bazaar takes place on Nov. 18

1. Writer Dana McNairn will launch her new book, Vietnam Salmagundi, on Nov. 16

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Development worker and writer Dana McNairn (and former Word columnist) has just published a new book. Originally written for her sister, Vietnam Salmagundi is a collection of sketches chronicling her early observations of a rapidly changing country. Written in English and translated into Vietnamese, these vignettes are meant to resonate with the men and women of Vietnam — both foreigners and Vietnamese nationals. Inpages Bookstore is at 4 Le Van Mien, Q2. For more info on Dana’s book launch, go to inpages.com or danamcnairn.com

Consular Club of Ho Chi Minh City Charity Bazaar White Palace Convention Centre, Phu Nhuan Saturday, Nov. 18 The Consular Club of HCMC, whose

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members are from the various diplomatic missions in Ho Chi Minh City, will organize the 24th International Charity Bazaar on Nov. 18. The event promises festive spirit, food, and merchandise from all over the world, all the while contributing to a good cause. Proceeds from the bazaar will be used to help the less fortunate people of Ho Chi Minh City and the surrounding areas. Entry tickets cost VND100,000 for adults. Children under 10 can enter free of charge when accompanied by an adult. For further info, contact the Consular Club at consularclub@gmail. com

Japanese Film Festival 2017 Nov. 24 to Dec. 9 Cinestar, Q1 The Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam is holding their Japanese Film Festival 2017 starting from Friday, Oct. 27 in Hanoi followed by Ho Chi Minh City and Danang. Eleven new films made after 2015

will be screened. The Japanese Film Festival has become a popular annual event attracting large audiences with a passion for Japanese cinema. The festival is also an opportunity for attendees to deepen their understanding of Japanese culture. The films will be screened with both English and Vietnamese sub-titles. Admission in HCMC is VND30,000 For more details click on jpf.org.vn/en/2017/10/18/ japanese-film-festival-2017

Voiski The Lighthouse, Q1 Friday, Nov. 24 For several years, Voiski has struck a singular path in techno music, oscillating between experimental projects and the production of tracks marked by his signature style. Within the large spectrum of his interventions, Voiski stands out for the rigour of his infinitely repetitive loops. Voiski comes to HCMC for a DJ set on Nov. 24 which promises to be one of the best techno nights in the city


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all year. The event runs from 9pm till late. Lighthouse is on the 6th floor of Taka Plaza, 104 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1, HCMC. For more information visit facebook.com/ HeartBeatSaigon or heartbeatsaigon.com

Lend Me a Tenor Soul Live Project, Q3 Nov. 24 to Dec. 3 Dragonfly Theatre is kick-starting its 7th season with a series of Ken

Ludwig’s award-winning Lend me a Tenor performances on stage at Soul Music & Performing Arts Academy in November and December. It will mark the first milestone in Dragonfly Theatre’s endeavour to bring authentic Broadway productions to Vietnam. Directed by Aaron Toronto, the play follows the escapades of a worldfamous tenor singer, Tito Merelli, who is unintentionally drugged before a big

performance. Thinking he is dead, the excitable opera manager persuades his assistant to pretend to be Tito so the show can go on. But Merelli is very much alive and the story unfolds into a riotous chain of mistaken identities, lingerie flashes, death threats, and sizzling romance that keeps the audience roaring with laughter. Soul Live Project is located at 214 Pasteur, Q3, HCMC. To book tickets, visit ticketbox. vn/LMAT or for more information email dragonflyvietnam@gmail.com

wordvietnam.com | November 2017 Word | 25


IN

Just

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HCMC

From new school learning areas to embassy changes, golf tournaments and Thanksgiving. What’s new in Saigon

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Pizza LOGiC is running a promotional campaign from late November

After opening earlier this year, Anam in Cam Ranh celebrates its first festive season

The Caravelle will be offering up special buffets to celebrate Thanksgiving

The Graham Greene Suite at the Sofitel Metropole Legend in Hanoi

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Nespresso Professional comes to Vietnam

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A new learning area at ISHCMC

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The British Embassy has announced changes to its document legalization process

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British Embassy / Consulate Changes in Hanoi & HCMC From Nov. 13, 2017, the British Embassy in Hanoi and the Consulate-General in HCMC will no longer legalise UK documents, such as university degrees, teaching qualifications and UK police checks. After this date, such documents must be legalised by the UK Legalisation Office and then by the Vietnamese Embassy in London. The changes have been made so as to fully comply with requirements set out by Vietnamese authorities. It will also free up more time for consular staff to provide greater support to their most vulnerable customers such as minors, the elderly, people with mental health problems, and victims of serious crime. Both locations will continue to provide other notarial and documentary services to British nationals in Vietnam. For a full list of these services, go to gov.uk/guidance/notarial-anddocumentary-services-guide-forvietnam#services-we-provide-in-vietnam.

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Detailed info in relation to the UK Legalisation Office and the Vietnamese Embassy in London can be found online: gov.uk/get-document-legalised (UK Leagalisation Office) and vietnamembassy.org.uk (Vietnamese Embassy London)

ISHCMC’s Renovated Learning Areas International School Ho Chi Minh City (ISHCMC) will begin the new academic year with renovated learning areas at its campus located on Vo Truong Toan Street in District 2. While ISHCMC’s brand new state-of-the-art secondary school campus is due to open in the 2017/2018 academic year, the school has committed to refurbishing its existing campus which will then become the primary school campus after the secondary school transitions to its new location. The refurbishment is part of ISHCMC’s long-term goal to ensure the existing campus is suitably equipped to facilitate the learning

experiences taking place. Founded in 1993, ISHCMC is the first and most established international school in HCMC with over 1,000 students from more than 50 nationalities. The school is also the city’s first IB World School authorised to provide all three International Baccalaureate programs for students aged two to 18 years old.

Nespresso Professional Arrives in Vietnam Nespresso, the worldwide pioneer and reference in premium portioned coffee, has announced its official arrival for its business-to-business solutions in Vietnam. Since 1996, Nespresso Professional has focused on various business channels to provide services and solutions to meet the specific needs of customers in the various sectors it’s involved in. Nespresso Professional’s B2B solutions are designed to meet the needs of some of the world’s foremost hotels and restaurants and business customers.


Love in Saigon

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WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

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STI SCREENING PACKAGE: VND3,965,000 Family Medical Practice (HCMC) provides a confidential walk-in and appointment service for STI Says Renaud Tinel, Head of Nespresso Asia: “We have brought the world’s best coffees into homes, offices, hotels, restaurants and cafes delivering the ultimate coffee axperience to our customers. We are confident that our new partnership with Annam Professional will bring delight to coffee connoisseurs in Vietnam.” Nespresso Professional machines are specifically designed for intensive, high volume usage and are adaptable to all space and venue configurations. Nespresso Professional is distributed in Vietnam by Annam Professional. For more info email jasper.hooijer@annam-professional. com

Pizza LOGiC Campaign Italian pizza restaurant Pizza LOGiC located in Saigon Centre in District 1 is running a campaign from Nov. 21 to Dec. 8 (Monday through Friday)

offering customers a 5% discount if they post photos of their instore Pizza LOGiC meals with a comment on foody.vn. Foody.vn is considered Vietnam’s version of Yelp, which publishes crowd-sourced reviews about local businesses. During the campaign, Pizza LOGiC will also choose the threebest photos and give the winners a free Margherita pizza and a free drink (excluding wine). Pizza LOGiC is at Lot L5-18, 5F Saigon Centre Building, 92-94 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1, HCMC. For more info call (028) 3821 8319 or click on pizzalogic-hcm.com

Anam Resort Celebrates First Festive Season From Dec. 23 until Jan. 1, luxurious five-star beachfront resort The Anam, located on the beautiful Cam Ranh Bay, will host a number of events including gala dinners, buffets and degustation menus, wine tasting, and an artist in residence programme

among others to celebrate its first Christmas and New Year. The jam-packed programme begins with a wine tasting on Dec. 23 with a Christmas tree lighting ceremony by the ocean. On Christmas Eve, families will get hands on and make gingerbread figures before Santa Claus arrives with presents for the children. In the evening, the General Manager of the The Anam, Herbert Laubichler-Pichler and the management team will host a cocktail party followed by a four-course gala dinner with live music. On New Year’s Eve, there will be plenty happening with the highlight being a cocktail party hosted by the General Manager and his team followed by a fourcourse gala dinner with wine pairings and a countdown party with a DJ. For a minimum four night-stay between Dec. 22 and Jan. 3, guests can experience the Festive Season at The Anam which includes not only a gala dinner, but also

consultations at our clinics in Districts 1, 2, and Care1.

SERVICES Counseling and INCLUDE: Lab Analysis* Education *Full lab analysis for the diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted Counseling and infections Lab Analysis* Education *Full lab analysis for the diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections

Care1 -A brand of Family Medical Practice

www.vietnammedicalpractice.com www.care1.com.vn


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a 90-minute massage, daily breakfast, return airport transfers and much more. For further information, visit theanam.com, call (0258) 398 9499 or email info@theanam.com

Caravelle in November The Caravelle Saigon is hosting a number of events in November, here they are: Chateau Siran Wine Dinner — Ignite your palate with a wine dinner celebrating the historic French vineyard, Chateau Siran, conducted by the winery’s owner Edouard Miailhe on Friday, Nov.10. Book your table at Reflections Restaurant on the 3rd floor. Flavours of Italy at Reflections — Take your tastebuds on a tour of Italy and back again as expert sommelier Alessandro Nesi presents Italian dishes and wines in a choice of two set menus at Reflections from Nov. 17 to Nov. 30. US Thanksgiving Day at Nineteen Restaurant — Wherever you may call home, come together with friends and family for an evening of gratitude and gourmet eating at Nineteen’s

annual Thanksgiving Dinner Buffet on Thursday, Nov. 23. The Caravelle Saigon is at 19-23 Lam Son Square, Q1, HCMC. For more info, email hotel@caravellehotel.com or go to caravellehotel.com

Conde Nast Traveller Award List The Reverie Hotel in District 1 has been named the 4th best hotel in the world by Conde Nast Traveller in its Readers’ Choice Awards. The placement is the highest finish for a Vietnamese hotel ever in the awards, which are widely regarded as one of the top awards in the travel industry. Meanwhile, La Residence Hue Hotel & Spa finished in 8th position in the Top Hotels in Asia list, while the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi claimed 21st spot. The Park Hyatt Saigon placed 18th. In the resort segment, four properties in Vietnam placed highly: Banyan Tree Lang Co (6th), InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula (8th), Angsana Lang Co (11th) and Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai (37th).

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wordvietnam.com | November 2017 Word | 29


ToDo

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list Hanoi

Photos from a movie that will show at the Japanese Film Festival: Survival Family

A still from one of the shorts to be shown at Hanoi Doc-Fest

Belgian DJ Lost Frequencies is one of the artists playing at the Monsoon Music Festival

Design and typography are the name of the game at this year’s TDC Exhibition

Scottish comedic genius, Phil Kay, performs in Hanoi on Nov. 16

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Film and music festivals, Goethe Institut exhibitions, comedy, KOTO Dream Ride, a book bazaar and a half-marathon. Events this month in the capital.

Japanese Film Festival 2017 National Cinema Center, Ba Dinh Until Nov. 11 The Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam is holding their Japanese Film Festival 2017 starting from Friday, Oct. 27 in Hanoi. Eleven new films made after 2015 will be screened. The Japanese Film Festival has become a popular annual event attracting large audiences with a passion for Japanese cinema. The festival is also an opportunity for attendees to deepen their understanding of Japanese culture. The films will be screened with both English and Vietnamese sub-titles. Admission is VND30,000 for each screening, and the screenings will be at National Cinema Center, 87 Lang Ha, Ba Dinh. For details about the programme click on jpf.org.vn/en/2017/10/18/ japanese-film-festival-2017

Hanoi Doc-Fest The Goethe Institut, Ba Dinh Nov. 8 to Nov. 11 The Goethe Institut Hanoi and Hanoi Doclab present the sixth festival for indie-documentaries and experimental films. Young filmmakers from Doclab exhibit their current projects and a German curator from Hamburg will show her short-film programme. This year there are also exciting workshops about filming and screening. Admission is free for all aspects of the festival is free. The Goethe Institut is at 56-58

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Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. For more information visit facebook.com/ Goethe.Institut.Hanoi

Monsoon Music Festival The Imperial Citadel, Ba Dinh Nov. 10, 11, 12 Every year, Monsoon Music Festival introduces various musical genres performed by a range of wellestablished and up-and-coming international artists as well as local ones. The festival is developed with the local community at heart: a playground for the local people where they can relax and enjoy unique experiences whilst embrace a beautiful sense of community. The festival will feature electronic music from talented internationally established artists, including Lost Frequencies (Belgium), Ngot (Vietnam), Da LAB (Vietnam), Chris Minh Doky and the Electric Nomads (Denmark), Biuret (Korea), BUD (UK), I Wear*Experiment (Estonia), Garden City Movement (Israel), Lavagance (Slovakia), Lowly (Denmark), the other shi (Germany), and Lucky Duck: Dong Hung (Vietnam). For ticket information, visit monsoonfestival.vn or click on facebook. com/monsoonfestivalvietnam

TDC Exhibition The Goethe Institut, Ba Dinh Nov. 16 to Nov. 30 This exhibition is directed especially at professionals and students in the working fields of graphic design, advertisement, marketing,

communication, multimedia, publishing and education and to everyone else interested in typography and design. The most interesting designs the world of script and graphic design has to offer will be exhibited. Admission is free. The Goethe Institut is at 56-58 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. For more information visit facebook.com/ Goethe.Institut.Hanoi

Comedy with Phil Kay Game On, Saigon Thursday, Nov. 16 If you know anything about the UK comedy scene then you will have heard of Scottish legendary comedian Phil Kay. A storyteller and a self-proclaimed master of mirth and mayhem, having Phil perform in Hanoi is a little bit of a coup. The guy is a comedic genius. Here’s what the press says: “The man remains one of the most consistently brilliant and uncompromising comedians of his and future generations.” — Metro “… mesmerising headf*** genius.” — Time Out, London So prepare yourself for a wild night comedic madness and to do something akin to falling off your seat. Phil Kay is gonna rock you! Entrance is VND200,000 in advance and VND250,000 on the door. For further information or to purchase advance tickets, email info@ standuphanoi.com or go to Standing Bar, 170 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. You can also check out Stand-Up Hanoi by clicking on standuphanoi.com


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ToDo

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list Hanoi

This year’s BIS Hanoi International Festival takes place on Nov. 18

This year’s KOTO Dream Ride is on Nov. 25

Bookworm’s Xmas Bazaar will give customers 20% and 30% discounts off all the shop’s books

Les Aromes Food & Wine Festival runs until Dec. 7

The Hanoi Half Marathon takes place on Dec. 10

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BIS Hanoi International Festival Vinhomes Riverside, Long Bien Saturday, Nov. 18 The British International School (BIS) Hanoi will host its annual International Festival on Nov. 18 to celebrate the different cultures represented at the school. The festival will also be an opportunity to raise funds to support the school’s community partners and charity projects. The event will feature plenty of entertainment for all ages, including jumping castles to henna painting, ice cream and fairy floss, performances on stage to handicraft workshops. International restaurants will have delicious food on offer and local businesses and charities will also be represented. This is a great opportunity for a family fun day out that will also allow visitors to experience the vibrancy of the cultures represented at BIS Hanoi.

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The Festival begins at 9.30am and carries on until 2pm. Entrance is free. To register or get more info, call (024) 3946 0435 or email bishanoi@bishanoi. com

KOTO Dream Ride Starting from British International School Saturday, Nov. 25 After the first KOTO Dream Ride took place in 2001 from Hanoi to Tam Dao Mountain, the Dream Ride has become a traditional event that gathers hundreds of expats and locals supporting the KOTO cause. This year’s route will start at the British International School and will take riders on a 55km scenic route passing through villages, pagodas and rice fields in what promises to be an adventurous and fun experience. Funds raised from the event will cover the cost of a year’s accommodation for KOTO’s 200 trainees who have already commenced training.

“The Dream Ride is in its 16th year and as always will be a community fun day helping at-risk and disadvantaged youth in Vietnam,” says KOTO founder, Jimmy Pham. The KOTO Dream Ride finishes at the KOTO Training Centre in Hanoi and costs VND1.98 million per person to participate. Special offers for groups, students and children are available. Anyone not riding on the day can still participate by sponsoring KOTO trainees to ride on your behalf. For more info, contact Huong Dang at huongdt.hn@koto.com.au or call 0901 245073

Bookworm Christmas Book Bazaar Bookworm Bookstore Sunday, Nov. 26 In continuing its tradition of celebrating Christmas each year


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since 2009, Bookworm Bookstore will mark the occasion with a Book Bazaar offering a 20% discount on all books in-store for adults and a 30% discount on all children’s books. The discounted children’s books will also be on-sale on Saturday, Nov. 25. On the Sunday, bookworms can thumb through books to the sounds of a jazz trio from 2pm over a free mug of mulled wine or a glass of chilled sangria. Christmas cookies will also be available to nibble on as you pass through the store. Bookworm Bookstore is at 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Hanoi and is open from 9am to 7pm daily. For more info, go to facebook.com/BookwormHanoi or bookwormhanoi.com

Les Aromes Food & Wine Festival Sofitel Metropole, Hoan Kiem Until Thursday, Dec. 7 Vietnam’s premier food and wine

festival, Les Aromes, is on again at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi until Thursday, Dec. 7. The festival features epicurean experiences, including guest chef dinners, exclusive wine tastings and cheese degustation. Headlining this year’s event with an intimate five-course dinner at L’Orangerie on Nov. 9 is chef and owner of two Michelin star restaurant in France, La Chabotterie, is Thierry Drapeau. Known for his own cooking style dubbed “Food from Mother Earth”, Drapeau’s signature dishes are inspired by the seasonal produce of where he grew up. Les Aromes 2017 concludes on Thursday, Dec. 7 with a wine dinner at L’Orangerie featuring a selection of vintage wines from the renowned French winery, Andre Lurton. For more information, call (024) 3826 6919 ext. 8200, or email h1555fb3@sofitel.com

Hanoi Half Marathon Ciputra International City, Tay Ho Sunday, Dec. 10 On Sunday, Dec. 10, Hanoi Red River Runners will organise one of Vietnam’s longest standing running events, the Hanoi Half Marathon (previously known as Song Hong Half Marathon). Starting and finishing inside the grounds of Ciputra International City, various events are scheduled — the main race of 21km (Half Marathon), plus the shorter distances of 10km, 5km, 3km and an 800m kids race. The race will be jointly organised with Sporting Republic, who are known for organising some of Asia’s most exciting events, such as the National Geographic Earth Day Run in Hong Kong and the HCMC Skyrun in HCMC. Registration for the event is open at the Hanoi Half Marathon website: sportingrepublic.com/ HanoiHalfMarathon

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IN

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Just Hanoi

Chops opens its third restaurant, by Ngoc Khanh Lake

Cugini is the latest restaurant concept created by the Cousins Group

Dan Huong is a new vegan restaurant in Tay Ho

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Did anyone say there's a new restaurant in West Lake this month? No, not a chance! What's new in Hanoi...

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Chops The unstoppable rise of the burger behemoth that is Chops continues with the opening of a third restaurant. The new place is located on Ngoc Khanh Lake, smack in the middle of Ba Dinh district. It had its official opening day on October 23, and fans of the brand will be happy to learn that the menu is the same. As usual, burgers are made fresh daily using imported beef and lamb, with local produce taken from organic sources. The burger buns are baked in-house, every morning. With the same high quality ingredients and a location to rival the original West Lake-adjacent plot, the new

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restaurant is sure to be a success. If your appetite rivals Bruce Banner on a bad hair day, try getting through The Abattoir (VND220,000), which packs double beef, double cheese and double bacon into a bun with all the usual trimmings Ludicrous bacon-topped milkshakes and craft beer are also available, as are those massive Chops Triple Cooked Fries with truffle mayo (VND60,000). The new Chops is at 56 Pham Huy Thong, Ngoc Khanh, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. Open daily from 9am until late. For more information (and a map), visit chopsvietnam.com

Cugini What do you get if you combine popular restaurant brand Cousins with an Italian chef? Cousins, of course. Except in Italian. Which is cugini. Just opened in a newly-renovated villa on To Ngoc Van, Cugini is styled on a traditional Italian trattoria, or casual diner, with a few modern twists. The overall theme is casual, with rustic plating of traditional dishes cooked with more modern techniques. The white tiles, deep red exterior and wooden furniture combine to create the ideal relaxed, Italian atmosphere to enjoy a meal with


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friends, family or a significant other. Chef Nico Ceccomoro decided the most productive way of combatting all the faux-Italian food tainting his nation’s reputation around Hanoi is by creating real, traditional Italian fare. Look out for the tuna tartare (VND160,000), sautéed clams (VND130,000) and cinnamon panna cotta (VND80,000). Recently changed from opening for dinner by reservation only, to being open for lunch and dinner. Check their Facebook page for up-to-date opening hours.

Cugini is at 67 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi. For more information, visit facebook.com/cugini.tongocvan

Dan Huong With a tagline of “Eat & Change”, this new vegan restaurant isn’t doing much for the holier-thanthou reputation of your average vegan. However, if you can navigate through the metaphorical crowd of people up on pedestals and high horses, the food is actually very good. The menu is quite small, allowing the kitchen team to focus on what they do best.

Lighter dishes, such as the Dan Huong salad will set you back VND79,000, and the vegan spring rolls come in fried or fresh form, each for VND99,000. For something a bit more interesting, try the vegan snail rice noodles or vegan pho, both VND79,000. Take a group of friends and tuck into the Dan Huong hotpot (VND279,000), or enjoy a manageable plate of mushroom rice for VND109,000. Located at 25 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open daily from 10am until 9.30pm. For more information, call 0965 961384


IN

Just

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Minh Chay is the second vegan restaurant to open in West Lake in the space of a month

Westlake Station is modelled on a casual-style Parisian diner

The Quintessence of Tonkin is perfect for history buffs and culture vultures

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Hanoi

Minh Chay

Westlake Station

Two new vegan restaurants opening on Xuan Dieu in the same month? We’ll have to consult our copy of Nostradamus’ Les Propheties, but this could mean the end of times. Until then, at least we can all be a bit healthier and eat less meat; the environment will be grateful, too. Minh Chay already has two restaurants in the Old Quarter, so the menu in the new restaurant is already tried and tested. It’s been around for over 30 years, too, so they should know their way around an eggplant. Famous for their one-person combo sets, you can choose from European, Asian or a bit of both; each one is VND159,000 and includes a soup, a spring roll, a salad and a main dish. There are a number of a la carte options, including fake meat and plenty of fresh vegetable dishes. The drinks menu includes fruit juices, tea and soft drinks. Located at 45 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. For more information, call 0981 234545 or visit minhchay.com

A wood fire pizza oven and craft beer? Wow, how original! No but seriously, there’s another new restaurant in Tay Ho, and we literally cannot contain our excitement. Modelled on a typical French Bistro, a casual-style Parisian diner, the French chef creates daily specials and a lunch menu which can change week-by-week. The dinner menu is more fixed, and includes an extensive selection of main courses. A delivery service is coming soon, and the bar is well-stocked. For sharing, there’s a combination of charcuterie and imported cheeses (VND499,000), and for the health-conscious, a selection of salads ranging from VND139,000 to VND169,000. Look out for classic French dishes such as steak frites minute (VND179,000) and flammekueche, a French-style pizza, for VND209,000. The décor is an original design, with a warm atmosphere and nice garden area. Currently in a soft opening period, so call ahead or check their

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Facebook page for possible changes to opening hours. Located at 24 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open daily from 10am until late. For more information, call (024) 3266 9733 or visit facebook.com/ westlakestationhanoi

The Quintessence of Tonkin This new cultural show draws inspiration from the spiritual history of the nearby Thay Pagoda, telling the story of the pagoda’s founding monk Tu Dao Hanh and explaining the ancient union between religion and the monarchy. Similar to other shows of its ilk that now woo in the tourists — think AO show in Saigon — The Quintessence of Tonkin plays an important role in helping nonVietnamese understand Vietnam. Years in the making and with hundreds of performers, an interactive stage, state-of-the-art technology, and a stunning setting, The Quintessence of Tonkin is an ongoing live event that should be added to any itinerary to Hanoi. For more information about this spectacular cultural experience, go to the quintessenceoftonkin.com


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www.bwt-vietnam.com wordvietnam.com | November 2017 Word | 37


Insider

Street Portrait: Ho Thi Ky / Riding the Waves / Around the World in 80 Bites / Legends of the Viet / Employees with Disabilities / The Sinking School / A View From a Bridge / Come Dine with Me Photo by Bao Zoan 38 | Word November 2017 | wordvietnam.com


wordvietnam.com | November 2017 Word | 39


Insider

STREET PORTRAIT

HCMC

Alley 51, Ho Thi Ky Life in the maze-like alleys around Ho Thi Ky Street in Saigon serves up some culinary delights. Words by Matt Cowan. Photos by Olga Rozenbajgier

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’ve visited Alley 51 in District 10 a number of times over the years. I came across it after the more well-known Ho Thi Ky Street and its flower market attracted me to the small enclave that’s hemmed in by Hung Vuong, Ly Thai To and Le Hong Phong streets. Ho Thi Ky dissects the residential area through its middle from Hung Vuong at the southern end to Ly Thai To. The road is perhaps just 500m long and the entrance to the street is a short walk across from the Hotel Equatorial in District 5.

Authenticity The vibrant flower market bursting with the colours of freshly cut flowers straight from Dalat creates something of a whimsical atmosphere, and you can’t help but be drawn to it. And the fragrance they emit

offers a welcome respite from the usual smells of hem life that greet you around any corner. But it’s Alley 51 that runs off Ho Thi Ky that remains the most alluring part of this area for me, because of its food and the authentic experience it offers travellers who want to steal a peek into the lives of Vietnamese and Khmer families without feeling too much like they’re intruding. That there is a large Khmer community here is the result of Pol Pot. Many Khmer who managed to escape Year Zero and make it to Vietnam in the mid-to-late 1970s ended up settling in the area in and around Ho Thi Ky. Because it’s not a tourist destination — although I’ve noticed an increase in the number of guided tours coming through — anyone who ventures into the hem, for the most part, can expect to be treated like

anybody else. There’s the odd lottery ticket seller or lady begging for money with a toddler in her arms, but mostly it’s business as usual for the locals as they go about getting on with their lives. Expect to be bumped into or tooted at from behind, but also expect curious looks and smiles as well.

Photogenic On a recent visit, I dragged along one of our photographers, Olga Rozenbajgier, to capture life in Alley 51. If you’re familiar with Olga’s work, you’ll have noticed her talent for capturing people in moments of time in their natural surroundings. She manages to get photos of them without it looking contrived. Even if her subjects are looking down her lens, her snaps show us more than just someone smiling for the camera.

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ne of my favourites in this series is of the lady sitting in front of her store, Cho Campuchia (Cambodia Market). It is on a corner in the alley, with an assortment of sausages and meats hanging behind her. She’s looking slightly to her left and appears to be deep in thought, taking a quick break from setting up for the evening. She seems oblivious to Olga’s lens and everything else going on around her.

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nother of my favourites is of the lady who has just laid out a batch of her chuoi nuong (barbecued bananas), a snack you’ll see quite a lot of in this alley. Other food that can be sampled along here is the banh quai vac — known as banh goi in northern Vietnam — a tasty empanada-type snack, not too unlike a Cornish pasty, which sells for VND10,000 a piece. At the same stall, small bags of banh chuoi chien are sold for VND10,000, a nice sweet palate cleanser before tucking into more savoury delights further down the alley.

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ot too far away is a small stall selling ha cao and xiu mai (VND20,000 for six pieces), and further on still is a small stand frying up some of the best and freshest bot chien trung that I’ve ever tasted. A small plate of these fried rice flour cubes, pickled vegetables and fried egg costs VND20,000.

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he list goes on. There’s a lady selling mi ga xoi (chicken noodles) that is drizzled in a beautiful sweet and savoury hoisinstyle sauce and served up with a side bowl of clear chicken soup for VND30,000. Nearby a lady serves up hu tieu (VND15,000) to a steady stream of hungry customers who arrive on foot and by motorbike. She has something of a reputation for her noodles, judging by the number of customers. In fact the area has a reputation for its hu tieu Nam Vang. This is where the Chinese noodle soup dish first arrived in this city courtesy of Khmer-Chinese fleeing Pol Pot.

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n this particular night, just as I was about to devour my mi ga xoi, the heavens opened up directly above us, putting on an impressive sound and light show that sent people scurrying for cover and grabbing anything within reach to keep themselves dry.

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ooking back through Olga’s photos of that night, they alerted me to the importance of women in hem life and how their contribution through their food stalls, flower shops, produce stores and banh mi stands is integral to the micro-economy of their communities and the health and wellbeing of their families.

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Insider

INSIDER

MUI NE

Riding the Waves The 7th Annual Sunrise Surf & SUP Contest is about to take place in Mui Ne. But the competition is more than just a competition — it has acted as a springboard for Vietnamese would-be surfers to get involved in water sports. Words by Matt Cowan

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WordLEFEBVRE November PHOTO BY PASCAL

2017 | wordvietnam.com


“Young Vietnamese locals are beginning to view the ocean differently from their fathers who fish the waters for a livelihood�

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“‘These guys don’t come from wealthy backgrounds. They need a lucky break like Tai got when Jibes opened. Not only did he gain employment as a beach assistant, he was given access to the equipment’”

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ust 15 years ago there was little talk of riding waves in Mui Ne as there is today. The small seaside community located little more than 20km from Phan Thiet on Vietnam’s southeast coast was more famous for its fish sauce and seafood than it was as a surfing destination. Back then, the only break holidaymakers came searching for in Mui Ne was from the fast pace of Ho Chi Minh City 200km away; it certainly wasn’t for the surf breaks whipped up by the typhoons that form offshore in the East Sea between Vietnam and the Philippines each year throughout October and November. But things are changing rapidly. Young Vietnamese locals are beginning to view the ocean differently from their fathers who fish the waters for a livelihood. One such local is Truong Ky Tai, 31, who has been surfing at his home break at nearby Ham Tien for almost 10 years. He has not only witnessed the growth in popularity of surfing around Mui Ne, but also the increase in the number of Vietnamese taking to the water with surfboards. “Although we live right on the water,” says Tai, a powerfully built natural footer, “most people have never tried any watersports. Some people do a little bit of fishing, but that’s it.”

PHOTOS BY MATT COWAN

Lucky Break Understandably, the Vietnamese have been slow to take up watersports like surfing mostly for the expense, but also because many Vietnamese aren’t strong swimmers and have an aversion to going into water out of their depth. Vietnam has one of the highest rates of drowning deaths each year in the world. However, as tourism has developed, it

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has brought with it foreign surfers. Most pass through and move on to destinations further along the coast, but some stay, like Adie Casket, 43, from the UK who has lived in Mui Ne for the past 15 years and manages the water sports activities at Jibe's Beach Club, a venue that has been instrumental in building up the popularity of surfing and kiteboarding in Vietnam. People like Adie bring with them skills and equipment. Most of what the local Vietnamese surfers use has been left behind by other surfers, or donated by people with an interest in building up the sport. There are few pro-surf shops in Vietnam trading in new and used surf gear. “These guys don’t come from wealthy backgrounds,” explains Adie. “They need a lucky break like Tai got when Jibe's opened. Not only did he gain employment here as a beach assistant, he was given access to the equipment that Jibes owner, Pascal Lefebvre, provided.” Indeed, Pascal, 50, from France, who has been living in Vietnam for more than 20 years, is widely recognised for bringing watersports to the area. In 2011, he was instrumental in bringing a round of the windsurfing world series to Mui Ne and is currently working on attracting sponsorship so that more international events can be held to help further develop the watersports culture here. Pascal is also the driving force behind the annual surfing competition at Full Moon Village at Suoi Nuoc Beach 20km further up the coast, which is in its seventh year and is about to be held again this coming November. Events like this help expose the local and broader Vietnamese communities to surfing. The contest, which includes both men’s and women’s short and long board divisions, has attracted

participants from around the world. “It’s helping Vietnam. It’s putting Mui Ne on the surfing map,” says Tai, who says he doesn’t know who pro-surfer Kelly Slater is, nor the legendary big wave breaks of Jaws, Pipeline and Teahupoo. “The waves have always been here, it’s just that the culture hasn’t. This competition helps that.”

Karma During the quieter times of the year, from June to November, Tai surfs the swells in front of Jibes that push through from the southwest. When the surf’s up, Adie and Pascal turn a blind eye to Tai’s work commitments and encourage him to hit the surf as often as possible. “We want Tai and our other employees to go out and surf whenever they can because we want them to improve and become ambassadors for the sport in Vietnam,” says Adie. Come November each year, a change in wind brings swells from the opposite direction making Suoi Nuoc Beach and a new break a little further along from Mui Ne the locals have dubbed Little Buddha, the best places to catch waves. In a twist of irony, Little Buddha — so named after a small Buddhist shrine nearby — has emerged recently as the best wave in Mui Ne after a new condo development attempted to claim the beach in front of it and constructed a rock wall to prevent people from using it. However, Mother Nature did what she does best and built up a bank beneath the water creating what Adie describes as “a beautiful left hander.” “Everybody rides the hell out of it now, so the developers have screwed it up for themselves,” says Adie with a grin from ear to ear.

Sustainable Future While Little Buddha has been a victory for local surfers, the story highlights the impact that tourism development can have on fragile marine environments, none more so than the plight of keeping Vietnamese beaches clean. Tai and the team at Jibes have recognised this and have implemented measures to play their part. They only use products without toxins, such as surf wax made from natural ingredients, and they lend their support to the local Keep Mui Ne Clean group that runs regular clean-up days. “A lot of locals don’t think too much about the environment when they visit the beach,” says Tai. “But as surfers, we’ve developed a keener sense of environmental awareness because as soon as the water is polluted, we’re the first ones to know about it.” At its future surf contests, the team at Jibes hopes to include activities that raise awareness of the importance of protecting coastal environments. No one is more eager to do this than Tai, who is married with a young family and wants his children to experience what it’s like to surf. “I remember the happiness, the adrenalin rush, my beating heart,” says Tai of the thrill of catching a wave for the first time. “Surfing offers an escape from my daily routine and the pressures I have at home sometimes. After an hour out on the water, things are just that little bit better afterwards.” The 7th Annual Sunrise Surf & SUP Contest is on in November at Full Moon Village at Suoi Nuoc Beach, Mui Ne. For more information email gm@fullmoon-village. com, pascal@windsurf-vietnam.com, or adie@ jibesbeachclub.com

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FRANCE

KNOWN FOR

Flair, gastronomy and some damn fine wine

BEST KNOWN DISHES

French fries, and that’s only because someone got the name wrong

DISH EXPORTED TO VIETNAM The whole range — from steak tartare through to coq au vin, bouillabaisse and moules marinière

THE NITTY GRITTY

From a country with no knowledge of the cuisine beyond its borders, to a place that sports international fare from every corner of the globe. That is the fate of Vietnam in the 20 years since the US lifted the trade embargo.

For those of you with a not-so-good knowledge of history, Vietnam was once a French colony. In fact, it wasn’t even called Vietnam at the time. You see, the French being the French gave it another name. Three separate names equating to three separate regions; Annam, Tonkin and Cochinchina. Fortunately for Vietnam, the regions ended up being got rid of (note for history buffs: it wasn’t easy) and besides the odd wedding cake-decorated villa or 57, and the rather grandiose administrative building or four, Vietnam got left with French cuisine. So much of it, in fact, that many Vietnamese dishes today are actually derivations of French fare. Banh mi op la anyone? Or perhaps you’d like some ragu bo or maybe some bo sot vang. To make amends, the modern-day French immigrant community are ensuring that this country is getting the real deal, with many a fine Gallic bistro and restaurant applying its gastronomic zeal to these tropical shores. Which means, we’re blessed with some phenomenal French fare.

So, what’s on offer? Here are 80 of the now hundreds of restaurants serving up fare from around the world.

Words by Edward Dalton, Matt Cowan, Thomas Barrett and Nick Ross wordvietnam.com | November 2017 Word | 49


LE CORTO

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When Le Corto first opened, the restaurant-going public in Saigon who liked quality cuisine quickly took note. At the gastronomic helm was wellknown and well-respected French chef, Sakal Phoeung, and taking part in the business was another well-known F&B professional plus two partners who for years have invested in the restaurant industry in Saigon. The restaurant was named after Corto Maltese, a comic character created by Italian cartoonist Hugo Pratt in 1967. An adventurer, Maltese is elegant, cosmopolitan, passionate and has friends everywhere. It is this spirit that the owners attempted to bring to Le Corto. With contemporary yet classic décor, the menu here winds its way from elegant dishes with some sort of combination of foie gras through to fish and seafood mains and, naturally, some of the finest steak dishes, French-style, in town. And don’t forget the desserts — to die for. This is top-end French fare with a twist in an elegant yet relaxed setting. Corto Maltese would be proud. Le Corto is at 5D Nguyen Sieu, Q1, HCMC; facebook.com/lecorto

FRENCH GRILL

They claim to offer an unparalleled service experience in a theatre of French gastronomy; and who are we to argue? Since it opened, it’s won awards and cemented its position as one of the best restaurants in Vietnam. Head chef Jean-Francois Nulli, working in the largest open kitchen in Hanoi, crafts delightfully prepared dishes, shunning convention in favour of more creative options. Located at: JW Marriot Hanoi, 8 Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Hanoi; facebook.com/frenchgrill

TROIS GOURMAND 03 3G Originally based in Tan Binh, Trois Gourmand has for years been one of

the best, if not the best French restaurant in Saigon. White tablecloths, a multiple-course menu, a delectable garden atmosphere, the infamous scrambled egg with truffle oil and an amazing selection of home-made cheeses to round it all off. This is French cuisine at its finest. Located at: 39 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2, HCMC

VERTICALE 04 LA La Verticale is one of several restaurants falling under the patronage of Chef

Didier Corlou; the others being Bar-Rique Brasserie, Porte D’Annam and Madame Hien. Well known for his preference for mixing French ingredients with Vietnamese flavours, Corlou creates exciting menus mixing French classics with unique local twists. Located at: 19 Ngo Van So, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi; verticale-hanoi.com

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05 LA BADIANE

Chef de cuisine Benjamin Rascalou has been fusing flavours and wowing diners at French favourite La Badiane since 2008. Featured in The Miele Guide’s Top 500 Restaurants in Asia, recommended by The New York Times and holder of five consecutive TripAdvisor certificates of excellence, the hype is well-deserved. There aren’t many places offering such high-end French cuisine in a fine dining setting, for such a reasonable price. The décor, which underwent something of a facelift recently, is full of vegetation, white walls and a glasscovered patio. Inspired by the Mediterranean region, much of the menu offers a fusion of ingredients and flavours from a variety of continents and countries, such as the grilled salmon in smoked paprika with zucchini and cauliflower cannelloni. There’s a three-course set lunch menu for VND395,000, and the à la carte options come in at fixed prices of VND295,000 for a starter, VND595,000 for a main course and VND265,000 for a dessert. La Badiane is at 10 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi; labadiane-hanoi.com


06 COUSINS When Cousins opened back

in June 2014, it felt like a safe bet that it was destined to flourish. The French-inspired food was consistently on point, the staff were encouraged to be friendly as well as professional, and the weekly food specials kept things lively. With new locations at 7/59 Dao Tan and 19 Doan Nhu Hai, and an Italian spin-off, Cugini (67 To Ngoc Van), just opened, four new restaurants in three years says it all.The menu is a combination of French classics and well-known specialities from around Europe. Waving the Tricolore are dishes such as beef tartare (VND130,000), sole meunière (VND320,000) and the lemongrass crème brûlée. For something from further afield, look for the lamb navarin pasta (VND210,000), the British-style fish and chips (VND140,000) or the Italian-inspired burrata and aged balsamic (VND260,000). Each restaurant is uniquely decorated, with the locations at Quang Ba and Dao Tan both featuring large outdoor patios. Located at: 3 Quang Ba, Tay Ho, Hanoi; facebook.com/cousins.quangba

KNOWN FOR

ITALY

Stylish football players, wine and food made with passion

BEST KNOWN DISHES

As much as the Italians hate it, pizza

DISH EXPORTED TO VIETNAM Pizza, of course, and something called mi y — the Vietnamese answer to spaghetti Bolognese

THE NITTY GRITTY

There used to be a saying among die-hard travellers. Everywhere you go in the world, you’ll find an Irish bar and an Italian restaurant. Vietnam hasn’t done so well on the Irish bar front — only a few names (including the long-lost Sheridan’s) spring to mind. But when it comes to Italian restaurants, the country seems to shine. It started with the Chez Guido Italian restaurant in the Hotel Continental Saigon that

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DA PAULO

Da Paulo has been a pizza delivery staple for years; consistent quality, fast and free delivery, and a huge selection of toppings have helped to secure this status. However, this charming Italian eatery is more than just the ideal partner to a rainy night on the sofa with Netflix. The dine-in experience is just as good, and has been a West Lake favourite since 2010. The atmosphere is relaxed, more like a trattoria than a fine-dining establishment. There’s a huge choice of Italian wines, and

eventually became a delivery-only service, before folding. This was closely followed a few years later by the predecessor of Pane e Vino in Hanoi (name long forgotten). Then Gino Benelli arrived in Vietnam, bringing his cooking passion to what became Luna D’Autunno. Down south Pendolasco opened in 1998, with the restaurants Good Morning Vietnam and Pomodoro following closely behind. Around the same time, Italian food was adapted to the local palate. Banh pizza was served in the top-end cafés and familyowned restaurants around Saigon and Hanoi, while the Saigonese adapted spaghetti Bolognese and made it into a dish called mi y — quite literally, Italian noodles. These days Italian cuisine is everywhere in Vietnam — from the classic version through to the more contemporary — and it draws in customers of all shapes and sizes. If there is a type of cuisine that in the post Doi Moi era has been welcomed, loved and adapted by the Vietnamese, it is Italian.

around thirty different pizzas to choose from. If it’s a three-course feast you’re after, then look no further. The appetisers include Italian street food staples like arancino di riso alla Siciliana (deep-fried cheese and beef ragout stuffed rice croquettes, then topped with hot tomato sauce). For your secondi, there are a variety of gnocchi, risottos and pastas; but the veal escalope (VND260,000) and salmon steak (VND310,000) may be too hard to resist. Located at: 32 Quang Khanh, Tay Ho, Hanoi; facebook.com/dapaulowestlake

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PIZZA BELGA

Opened just a few months ago by Kevin Bourdeaux and Hai Linh Nguyen, this place is all about the wood-fired pizza. The Pizza Emilio (VND220,000) is a real treat, topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, goat cheese, mushrooms, pancetta, garlic and olive oil. Look out for the homemade desserts and craft beer. Located at 225 Au Co, Tay Ho, Hanoi; facebook.com/pizzabelga

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PENDOLASCO

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Serving up quality Italian fare for almost two decades, Pendolasco is the oldest Italian restaurant in Saigon. Until recently it also boasted the longest running location — on Nguyen Hue. After holding out during the period when the now-Walking Street was closed to traffic, and then giving itself a much needed refurb and facelift, Pendo has had to move all its operations to its District 2 location as space on Saigon’s most popular street becomes

LUNA D’AUTUNNO

No mention of Italian cuisine in Vietnam would be complete without including Luna d’Autunno. Opened in Hanoi in 1999 by Gino Benelli, a larger-than-life Italian restaurateur with a passion for Italian cooking, at one time he owned restaurants up and down the Vietnam coast. Although Gino passed away in 2013, his legacy lives on; the Hanoi restaurant is an institution, serving up excellent Italian fare in a trattoria-like setting. Located at 27 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi; lunadautunno.vn

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increasingly premium. If that worries you, then don’t let it. The fare here remains as classic as it comes — excellent pizza and pasta, light salads and antipasti, as well as main courses you’d expect of every quality Italian. Add to this a constantly changing selection of specials that can include anything from squid ink risotto and ostrich carpaccio, Pendo has a bit of something for everyone. One of the best Italians in town. Located at 36 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, HCMC; pendolasco.vn

CIAO BELLA

Ciao Bella is a New Yorkstyle Italian restaurant, which conjures up images of the famous scenes from classic movies including Martin Scorsese’s iconic 1990 mafia flick Goodfellas. Any Italian restaurant worth its crust should nail its pizza margherita, for a start, and Ciao Bella does so with aplomb. It rates as one of Saigon’s finest Italian restaurants, even if it’s a New York version of the real deal. It provides a combination of a genuinely friendly and attentive waiting staff, romantic ambience, and quality food. Located at 11 Dong Du, Q1, HCMC; ciaobellavietnam.com

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GASTRO

UK

Chefs like Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsay have helped to lift British cuisine out of the International Comedy Punchline Zone. In Hanoi, Gastro is also helping to spread the good news, by offering British gastropub-style food, featuring a number of British classics. Look out for the calamari (VND125,000), fish and chips (VND175,000) and Eton mess (VND95,000). Located at 20 Hang Non, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi; facebook.com/gastrohanoi

13

HOME38

Home38 is normally the answer whenever someone enquires after a proper English breakfast in Hanoi. For just VND110,000, you can get a big plate of eggs, sausage, bacon, tomato, beans, hash browns and toast; a proper start to the day. Ultimate British comfort classic bangers and mash is VND110,000. A lovely little café with a charming view of the lotus lake. Located at 38 Quang Ba, Tay Ho, Hanoi; facebook.com/home38tayho

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BUDMO

UKRAINE

A taste of Ukraine and Russia in Hanoi is what you can expect to find at Budmo. Set inside a cute little restaurant near West Lake, there are heaps of Eastern Slavic specialities to try. Don’t miss the solyanka (VND110,000), a meat-based soup with pickled cucumbers and sour cream. Located at 61 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi; facebook.com/budmo.restaurant.vn

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BELGIUM

SPAIN 15

EL LOCO TAPASBAR

Hanoi has had a few Spanish restaurants over the last few years; but the newest one is surely here to stay. El Loco pairs two Spanish chefs with a serious passion for cooking. The extensive tapas menu is set to grow, but already includes sensational dishes such as the sausage with cider sauce (VND100,000), stewed chick peas and chorizo (VND100,000) and patatas bravas (VND50,000). Located at 60 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi; facebook.com/el-loco-tapasbar-493253751055119

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OLE SAIGON

Spanish patrons have a problem with Ole. It’s not the food — here everything from the tapas through to the paella and Galician-style octopus is fantastic. It’s the décor. For them it feels like walking into a tourist restaurant, such is the effect caused by the Spanish imagery on the walls and the nightly live flamenco. Yet Ole is a great purveyor of Spanish cuisine. And the sangria is good, too. Located at 129B Le Thanh Ton, Q1, HCMC; facebook.com/restaurantole.saigon

RUSSIA

17

CAFE CCCP

The overall effect of Café CCCP’s decor is a simulated entry into our grandmother’s homely kitchen, if she was really into Russian decor of course. Red-and-yellow babushka dolls and propaganda posters line the walls. Try authentic Russian fare such as borscht (beetroot soup), pelmeni (dumplings) or blinchiki (pancakes). CCCP Saigon provides what it says it will, a taste of Russia in Ho Chi Minh City. Located at 48A Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1, HCMC; facebook.com/cccpsaigon

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LE PETIT BRUXELLES

Still going strong since opening way back in 2003, this little Belgian eatery may be on its umpteenth location, but it’s still a real gem. Look for a wide selection of traditional Belgian dishes, such as carbonade (brown beer beef stew), jambonneau (braised pork knuckle with mustard sauce), and vol-au-vent (stewed chicken with carrot and mushroom). And of course, there’s a good variety of Belgian beers. Located at 25 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi; le-petit-bruxelles.com

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BELGO SAIGON

Belgo opened in Saigon late last year, and has since proved to be a popular space for those craving Belgian beer and food. With brick walls, large windows and a wrought-iron gate, Belgo has been built in the style of a country villa. Stocking more than 30 types of Belgian beer, they also serve delicious Belgian dishes like the hot flat bread tart and Flemish beef beer stew. Located at 159 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, HCMC; facebook.com/TheBelgianCraftBeerBrewery

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CZECH

HOA VIEN

Drinking at Hoa Vien used to be the source of a pleasant, late afternoon joke — not because there was anything wrong with the place. Far from it. Before the arrival of craft beer, this Czech-style beer hall opened in 1995 ushered in a welcome era of micro-brewed beer accompanied by Czech, German and Vietnamese-style food. The beer, brewed on the premises, was tasty and reasonably priced, the brass and wooden décor both traditionally Czech yet slightly kitsch, and the atmosphere could often get raucous. So raucous, in fact, that it

was always best to get here early. Rather, the joke came from Hoa Vien’s location on the same premises as the Czech Consulate. “Who else,” we would say, “would open a pub in the same space as their consulate?” “Only the Czechs,” came the answer and an inevitable laugh. These days the brauhaus has five locations throughout the country including two in Hanoi and two in Saigon. The secret? Well, go there and find out for yourself. You want to experience what it’s like to eat and drink in the Czech Republic? Hoa Vien is your place. Located at 18 Bis Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, HCMC plus four other locations; hoavien.vn


KNOWN FOR

GERMANY

Did we say football?

BEST KNOWN DISHES

Sauerkraut, if you’re from the UK. Some of the best sausages in the world if you’re from everywhere else

DISH EXPORTED TO VIETNAM

Bratwurst, schnitzel, pork knuckle and yes, you guessed it, sauerkraut

THE NITTY GRITTY

Once upon a time, a certain hotel group in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 5 decided to hire a Swiss German general manager. He was the first of many Swiss Germans to grace this role at the Windsor Hotel. His influence, however, went further than just running the hotel. Together with his employers he helped open Gartenstadt, the

first German restaurant in Vietnam. He was also responsible together with the German Business Association (GBA) for bringing Oktoberfest to Vietnam. Not soon after some more Germans got in on the act, but in Hanoi with the opening of Legends Beer on Hoan Kiem Lake. This time round it was the German-style beer hall that took precedence, and together with the opening of the German Viet Kieu-run restaurant Kaiser Kaffee, then on Hang Be in Hanoi, the Germans had well and truly landed. These days German cuisine has a big following, especially when it comes to the sausages, which are sold in almost every Vietnamese drinking haunt with a side dip of chilli sauce and mustard. Fortunately, for those who like more than just the hearty sausage, a number of German restaurants sell tasty Gothic fare. They do it well, too.

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GARTENSTADT

With this 25-year-old institution on Dong Khoi, there is a distinct sense of walking into old-fashioned Germany. The wooden panels, long bar and the staff uniform draw in the local crowd on a weeknight. There is no modernist take on German food here, it delivers exactly what you expect. The bratwurst with sauerkraut and fried potatoes (VND220,000) is tasty, with a little kick of spice in the wurst. To finish it would be rude not to go for the apfelstrudel with ice cream and whipped cream (VND190,000). A real treat. Located at 34 Dong Khoi, Q1, HCMC; facebook.com/GartenstadtRestaurant

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CAFE GOETHE

Located inside the Goethe Institut (German cultural centre), this little café-restaurant offers iconic German dishes in a comfortable setting. A serving of traditional goulash with noodles for VND215,000, bratwurst with potato salad is VND180,000 and chicken schnitzel with a baked potato is VND195,000. The food is hearty and the décor is bright. Located at 56 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh, Hanoi; facebook.com/cafegoethe.56nguyenthaihoc

23 VESPER

LOUNGE

Opened by well-known German chef, Andy Ertle, Vesper serves up contemporary, tapasstyle fare in an equally contemporary lounge bar style setting, much of the cuisine having a German twist. A great place for after-work drinks and late night shots, Vesper is also known for its excellent lunch menu. Check out their weekly offerings on their Facebook page. Located at Ground Floor, The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, HCMC; facebook.com/ vespersaigon


KNOWN FOR

MEDITERRANEAN

Light, tasty, often seafood-based cuisine that is influenced by a proximity to the Mediterranean sea.

BEST KNOWN DISHES

Anything from falafel to souvlaki, light Italian salads to carpaccio, grilled fish and couscous.

DISH EXPORTED TO VIETNAM

Pretty much everything, although Greek fare sometimes gets short shrift.

THE NITTY GRITTY

When it comes to Mediterranean cuisine, two restaurants, both in Saigon, have championed it more than anywhere else. First came Skewers, an eatery located in the former Expat Ghetto on Thai Van Lung. Fronted by Californian restaurateur Tristan Ngo, for years they were the only place serving up the likes of gyros, baba ganoush, moussaka, falafel and all things Mediterranean. Then a certain restaurant called Au Parc came on the scene. Focusing on the lighter side of cuisine from the region, as they say on their website, “We are serious about the term Mediterranean here. We don’t just mean Spanish, French and Italian delicacies, we mean Mediterranean in the wide sense; Turkey, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Greece and more.” These days a number of other restaurants have entered the market — most noticeably Lubu in Saigon’s District 2 and Saffron in the CBD. From how busy these restaurants are, it’s clear that Mediterranean fare is as popular as ever.

24 SKEWERS Another restaurant in District 1 that continues to

win praise for its Mediterranean fare and chic dining ambiance, Skewers is well located to kick off a big night out with friends, especially with sharing plates and plenty of plonk to wash it down with. Located at 9A Thai Van Lung, Q1, HCMC; facebook.com/ skewersrestaurantsaigon

25 SAFFRON Saffron is one of those Mediterranean bistros with a menu

that everywhere you look you see a winner, even the chicken liver crostini with peri peri sauce and rocket sounds like it would tempt the most timid of palates. Saffron has lamb shanks, beef cheeks, lamb koftas and souvlakis and your meal can be topped off with a Turkish delight creme brulée or a dish called The Pope’s Pillow, a puffed pastry filled with creme Anglaise and mascarpone with glazed strawberries. Located at 51 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, HCMC; saffronvietnam.com

PARC 26 AU Consistently tasty Mediterranean café fare — think deli-

style sandwiches, salads and mezzes, plus coffees and juices — served at a popular park-side Le Duan location with classic cream and green-tiled décor. In a Word reader’s poll in December 2016, Au Parc came second when we asked: Where is the best international restaurant in Vietnam? Located at 23 Han Thuyen, Q1 HCMC; auparcsaigon.com

27 LUBU

Bathed in white, and with a pleasant outdoor terrace, Lubu is quintessentially Mediterranean, with an influence from that most Mediterranean of countries, Australia. Sounds a bit odd? Well let’s get this straight. Thanks to large Italian, Greek and Lebanese communities, Sydney and Melbourne have a long tradition of serving up Mediterranean cuisine. It’s this tradition that Lubu has brought to Saigon. But they’ve gone further than that. Here excellent but well-priced wine and quality drinks — from the

Spanish-style gin and tonics and amazing bloody Marys — are part of the show, all helping to create an ambience akin to being somewhere by the sea. Oh, and have you tried their weekend breakfast menu? The green eggs and ham are to die for. Anyway, back to the other food. Marinated chicken souvlaki, oysters, great tapas (try their albondigas and boquerones), handmade Toulouse sausages, king snapper pot pie, potato gnocchi with butternut squash, grilled Iberico pork chop… The list goes on. This restaurant is good. Located at 97B Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC; luburestaurant.com


KNOWN FOR

U.S.A

Fast food, supersize portions and bland flavouring

BEST KNOWN DISHES

Anything with the word ‘comfort’ in it

DISH EXPORTED TO VIETNAM Did anyone say hamburger?

THE NITTY GRITTY

USA! USA! The yanks aren’t shy about shouting loud about how great they are, and their food is generally a reflection on the brash, in your face stereotype. However,

the once dependably dull hamburger has taken on a gourmet revolution in recent years, with urban hipsters more likely to be nibbling on an anaemic flat-bread burger with 0% fat mayo served on a ‘rustic’ slab of wood. If you’re unimpressed with the humble burger’s identity crisis, then there’s still plenty of places in Vietnam that do it right. Americans and Vietnamese have one major thing in common — they are both shameless carnivores, and there’s a wide range of places where you can indulge yourself like a good ol’ boy (or girl), meaning you won’t have to go far to get your steak or BBQ fix.

DINER 29 S&L’S When Steven Kaczerski and

Loan Vu opened S&L’s Diner, they opened a portal to America right in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. The retro all-American vibe is courtesy of a vivid red-and-white décor, and American comfort food such as the Philly cheesesteak (VND145,000), biscuits and gravy (VND130,000), chicken and waffles (VND180,000), and proper apple pie (VND90,000) for dessert. Located at 22 Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi; sldiner.com

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28

ELBOW ROOM BISTRO & DINER

Party animals are grateful that this venue opens on Sunday mornings from 7.30am as it serves up one of the best eggs benedict going around. They’re also more than happy to accommodate fussy or cranky diners with slight alterations to their menu. But that’s not all. They’re open for lunch and dinner every day and with well-known chef Tristan Ngo running this joint, it’s been high on our list for years. Ask for the table by the front window. Located at 52 Pasteur, Q1, HCMC; facebook.com/theelbowroomsaigon

CHOPS

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Whether the names of the burgers are puntastic or a devastating dose of cringe is up for debate; the quality of the burgers is a constant we can all agree on. Opened in 2015, Chops quickly secured a reputation for making some of the best burgers around. A second location soon opened in the Old Quarter, at 12 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem. All of the burgers are made using imported Australian beef and lamb, with all local produce 100% organic; and of course, all the buns are baked in-house every day. The basic beef burger, The Chop, is just VND120,000. For something more interesting, the Wham Bam Thank You Lamb (VND150,000) combines lamb and feta tzatziki, while The Rolls Joyce pairs truffle bacon deep fried mac ‘n’ cheese with a beef patty. Add a side of triple-cooked fries with truffle mayo (VND60,000) and a psychotic milkshake, such as the Dirty Tree & A Turd (VND110,000), which includes Jameson whisky, Baileys, milk and chocolate ice cream, topped with whipped cream and bacon. Located at 4 Quang An, Tay Ho, Hanoi; chopsvietnam.com

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QUAN UT UT

It’s a no-brainer, right? American-style barbecue in a contemporary Vietnamese, quan nhau-style setting. Of course it is, which is why Quan Ut Ut is constantly packed with grillobsessed diners going for the burgers, meats off the barbecue and craft beers served on tap. This place is very popular and hence busy. Located at 168 Vo Van Kiet, Q1, HCMC; facebook.com/quanutut


32 JAKE’S BBQ

Jake is the man behind this much raved-about restaurant among expats and tourists alike. Located in one of the best spots in the city to settle-in after a long day’s work, closing a night out or simply attending to that nagging feeling of homesickness for good old American style comfort food, Jake’s is the place. The portions of 100% US beef here are as big as his hospitality with massive servings of smoked meat plates, ribs, bacon, pulled pork and homemade pies. With a 4.9 out of 5 rating on Facebook and 4.5 out of 5 rating on Tripadvisor, the burgers and fries are deemed to be among the best in the city. Now, as for the ribs… Located at 50 Pasteur, Q1, HCMC; facebook.com/jakesbbqatmogambo

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MOOSE AND ROO

Owned and managed by Keith Thibert and Tien Le, the Moose and Roo brand has been a welcome addition to Hanoi’s food scene for the last four years. The first restaurant, the Moose and Roo Pub and Grill (42B Ma May), opened in 2013, and offered homely Western food in the middle of the Old Quarter. Two years later, and the Moose and Roo Smokehouse opened at the American Club (19 Hai Ba Trung) to set the standard for American-style BBQ. At the pub, there are main courses

like Aussie pie (VND250,000), Mom’s meatloaf (VND275,000) and the open-faced steak sandwich (VND245,000). Over at the Smokehouse, smoked meats are the name of the game. Take a few friends and get the Al DeMatteis Platter, a steal at VND1,475,000. It feeds four to six people, and includes five side dishes, and some of everything from the smoker; sausage, pulled pork, beef brisket, BBQ chicken and pork ribs. Both locations serve their famous buttermilk chicken wings, with a choice of sauces and dips. Located at 42B Ma May, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi; 19 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi; mooseandroo.com

CANADA

DON’S BISTRO

Headed by charismatic chef Donald Berger, this excellent West Lake restaurant and bar serves up international comfort food with a mid to top-end twist. One of the first restaurants to enter the area — the road wasn’t even built when they started construction — a number of international restaurant awards have followed. If you like your food tasty, your oysters fresh and your dishes to come with a touch of Canadian pizzazz — Don is from Montreal, after all — this is the place to go. Located at 16 Quang An, Tay Ho, Hanoi; dons-bistro.com

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TEX-MEX

KNOWN FOR

Jumping beans, Mayan pyramids, camp wrestling costumes

BEST KNOWN DISHES

Tostadas, quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, burritos, flautas and so much more

DISH EXPORTED TO VIETNAM Mostly tacos, burritos and quesadillas

THE NITTY GRITTY

Famous for beach resorts and ancient civilisation, and infamous for drug cartels and easilyescapable prisons, Mexico has given some seriously good food to the world. All the most common ingredients are largely native to Mexico, and include piles of corn and chilli peppers, tomatoes and avocados. On the sweet side, well, this is the country that gifted us chocolate (or rather, had it taken away by those pesky conquistadors). The reputation for spiciness is well-deserved, and many Mexican dishes are defined by the chillies contained in the sauce, such as entomatadas, adobo and moles.

SANCHO’S

36 CANTINA

Sancho Cantina has given itself the tag of king of Mexicali food in Ho Chi Minh City since opening in 2016. But if co-owner Calvin Bui has his way, Sancho’s will soon be the king of Mexicali food in all of Asia. It already makes one of the best margaritas in town. Sancho’s is at the quieter end of Bui Vien towards Cong Quynh. It’s cosy and seats 30 people at a stretch, but it’s one of the few places along the nightlife strip set back from the street offering space. It also has access via an alley beside it if the party needs to spill over into the street or you need somewhere to park. Sancho’s has all the other Mexican favourites, like fajitas, enchiladas, nachos and quesadillas. Located at 207 Bui Vien, Q1, HCMC; facebook.com/ sanchocantina

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ANITA’S CANTINA

Anita’s recently turned one year old, making it the youngest of Hanoi’s Mexican restaurants. It’s incredible to think, then, just how popular this place has become in such a short time. The Queso Grande, Javier Rodriguez, is serious about what he does; even though he still only does it four days a week. Anita’s is closed Mondays to Wednesdays, presumably to give Javier time to tame all those chillies. Quality homemade food is guaranteed. The atmosphere is always lively, thanks to a large and loyal customer base. The alloutdoor seating, lotus-lake adjacent, is the ideal place to chow down. Start off with some chips and queso (VND90,000) or a plate of green chilli poppers (VND90,000), and wash it all down with a margarita (VND120,000). Regular tacos, all on homemade corn tortillas for VND30,000 apiece, come in carnitas, beef, pumpkin and black bean, bean and cheese or spiced potato varieties. The same fillings can also be put into a burrito (VND120,000) or a naked burrito bowl (VND100,000). Located at 36 Quang Ba, Tay Ho, Hanoi facebook.com/anitascantinahanoi

TACO BAR 37 HANOI If tacos alone aren’t enough to get your lazy ass off the sofa, then

maybe the divine combo of tacos and artisan cocktails will be. Tacos range from VND35,000 to VND50,000, and include Australian beef, battered fish, Korean-style pork and vegan/vegetation options. Try the Manilla house cocktail (VND100,000), a meeting of bourbon, strawberry syrup, lime and Angostura bitters. Located at 6 Dao Duy Tu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi hanoitacobar.com

N LIME 38 SALT The longest running Mexican joint in Hanoi is still going strong,

thanks to custom creations like the smoked salmon tacos (VND50,000) and a selection of six salsas. There’s a kid’s menu, burritos, salads, nachos and fresh chips if the tacos aren’t doing it for you; and the margaritas come in four varieties, starting at VND70,000. Located at 12 Tu Hoa, Tay Ho, Hanoi; saltnlime.com

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BOATHOUSE

The relaxing vibes of the Boathouse in District 2 make this a popular place to grab a bite to eat, with superb views looking out across the river. Although essentially an American restaurant with dishes like nasi goreng thrown in, among the stand-out fare is the Tex-Mex; burritos, tacos, quesadillas and the likes. The spicy chicken wings are a particular treat. Located at 40 Lily Road, APSC Luxury Villa Compound, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC; facebook.com/boathousevietnam


BRAZIL

AU LAC DO BRAZIL

How can a couple which is one-half Swedish, one-half Vietnamese run a Brazilian restaurant? The answer is; easily. In fact, they do it so well that Au Lac Do has now been running for close on 15 years. People loved the churrascaria, or barbecue concept, when Au Lac Do first opened and they love it today. The focus here is the excellent grilled meats carved and served at the table by passadores or meat waiters. There’s a lot of it. From smoked hams and sirloin steak, through to lamb, shrimp,

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chicken and grilled pineapple. The offering is seemingly endless. In fact, it is endless as this is also part of an eat-as-much-as-youwant concept. Here you can stuff yourself with as much salad, rice, sides or meat as you like. So, expect to come away a little bit full. Fortunately, Au Lac Do Brazil also has a good selection of Old and New World wines to help you wash down your food, although we reckon you should also give their caipirinhas a good go, too. Located at 238 Pasteur, Q3, HCMC; 25 Tran Binh Trong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi; aulacdobrazil.com

CUBA

LA HABANA

Earlier this year La Habana came back from the dead after the building it had occupied for over a decade had a date with the wrecking ball. It’s pretty hard to come back from that blow but Jane and the crew have done it — La Habana is as good as ever. Throw in paellas, schnitzels and sausages, with long happy hours, live music and great service, and you’ve got a great night out. Located at 152 Le Lai, Q1, HCMC; facebook.com/ LaHabana.Sg

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CUBA LA CASA DEL MOJITO

Nicknamed Cuba by its legions of Latin musicloving patrons, this house of Cuban delights compensates for its limited floor space with its breadth and depth of nightly offerings. Happy hour starts at 5pm with concoctions starting at VND100,000, like the classic mojito, then slowly work your way to the wide selection of cocktails like the Papa Hemingway made with premium Flor de Cana 4YO white rum. The Cuban sandwich, ropa vieja and a variety of tapas by the only Cuban chef in the city always satisfies. It hosts dance classes four nights a week ranging from beginner salsa to variations of the genre like kizomba. Located at 91 Pasteur, Q1, HCMC; facebook.com/cubanvn

RIO CHURRASCARIA

43

As a more recent addition to the limited selection of Brazilian restaurants in Vietnam, barbecue is the name of the game here, together with a buffet complete with salads and Brazilian sides. As with any other churrascaria, the charcoal-grilled meat is served at the table. Cooked up by two Brazilian chefs, Rio has gotten itself a reputation, and quite rightly so. Located at 10AB Thai Van Lung, Q1, HCMC; riochurrascaria.vn

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EL GAUCHO

44

ARGENTINA

Steaks have always been a big thing in this country — people just like to eat beef. But by serving up USDA certified steak, grilled Argentinian style in an open kitchen, when El Gaucho first opened they revolutionised the industry. Suddenly, the quality of steaks was upped a notch or five. Fine, you had to pay for it, but it had all the other steak restaurants scrambling to keep up. And then there is the service; at El Gaucho it’s exceptional. Located at 74/1 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, HCMC; Check out their website for the full list of restaurants — elgaucho.asia

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SYRIA

SHAM 45 AL Al Sham has only been open about six months and

already it’s hard to get a seat around lunch and dinner times. Last time we visited, the Syrian owner threw his arms in the air (fortunately no one was skewered at the time) in exasperation because he thought only the local and travelling Muslims would be interested in his food. Instead, he has people from all walks of life — including Vietnamese — going out of their way to gorge on probably what is the best hummus you’ll find in Saigon. It’s all fresh, at a great price, and reminds you of all those joints back home serving up Middle Eastern fare. Our prediction is that Al Sham will skyrocket into contention as one of the must-visit restaurants in Saigon, and before long it will (if it hasn’t already) outgrow its pokey little space. Located at 300 Vo Van Kiet, Q1, HCMC; facebook.com/Alshamsaigon

PERU

PICANTE LATINO

Home to a number of Peruvian classics, such as ceviche (VND135,000), lomo saltado (VND295,000) and steak with chimichurri sauce. Other Latino-style dishes include enchiladas and tiradito. The ambiguous address is due to a planned relocation to make way for renovation work, so check online before going. Located at 5 Xuan Dieu, Hanoi OR 52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi; facebook.com/ picante-latino-525269674337310

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ISRAEL LEBANON

CHABAD HOUSE

Vietnam has a fair selection of halal restaurants, but Chabad House — a Jewish centre with a second location in Hanoi — is the only place that serves it up kosher. Unfortunately, there is no menu available online, but we know they serve up some excellent Israelistyle falafel and the other fare is likely to have an Ashkenazi slant — chicken soup with kneidlach, latke, chopped herring, bagels and lokshen. Located at 5A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, HCMC; jewishvietnam.com

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BEIRUT GARDEN

According to its website, Beirut offers up a Mediterranean fusion dining concept serving up delicious authentic fresh cuisine together with shisha, drinks and live entertainment in an “Arabian Nights atmosphere”. We’ve been there, and the belly dancers certainly help with the ambience. However, what’s most impressive is the Middle Eastern food. On our last visit, it was phenomenal. Located at 74/13D Hai Ba Trung, Q1, HCMC; beirut.com.vn

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INDIA

KNOWN FOR

Being one of the most captivating places in the world

BEST KNOWN DISHES No, it can’t be curry, can it?

DISH EXPORTED TO 'NAM Pilau rice. Yes, that’s it!

THE NITTY GRITTY

Thanks to the former French colony of Pondicherry, Indian cuisine has been in Vietnam for well over a century. During the colonial era, it was the French-Indian migrants who ran the banking system. Naturally, with them they brought temples and cuisine. In more recent times, however, we can thank four restaurants for helping spread the cuisine. In Hanoi and Saigon — Tandoor. In Saigon, Ashoka and Saigon Indian. And finally, a restaurateur rather than a restaurant, Gopi, the man now at the helm of Hanoi’s Namaste. The difficulty for Vietnamese palates with Indian food has always been the texture. They struggle with it. But as Vietnam has opened itself up to cuisine from all over the world, so an increasing amount of locals are going Indian. All meaning that one day the Vietnamese national dish might just end up being curry. Now, wouldn’t that be a fine thing.

49 GANESH When Ganesh opened at its

51 FOODSHOP 45

Opened in 2002, Foodshop 45 was the first Indian restaurant with a Vietnamese owner at the helm. And haven’t they done well? Originally located in Chau Long Market, the present, bamboo-inspired location on Truc Bach Lake was commandeered in 2006, and has been serving up fine, North Indian-inspired fare ever since. To this day, it’s a popular spot. Aloo ghobi mattar, dhal makhani, chicken vindaloo, vegetable jalfrezi, fish curry, kalmi kebab, prawn pakora — the full gamut of fare is on the menu. But what is most unusual is the inclusion of beef and pork. Yes, beef and pork. It’s a departure from your standard Indian offering, but why not? After all, the owner is Vietnamese, so why not change things up a bit? Located at 59 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh, Hanoi; foodshop45.com

BABA’S KITCHEN

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If you know Baba’s Kitchen then you’re likely to know its boss, Robin Babu. A restaurateur and a body builder, out of nowhere Robin has built up one of the best Indian restaurants in Saigon. Indeed, many an Indian customer swears by the place; always an excellent sign. Serving up a seamless mix of South and North Indian cuisine, we personally have a penchant for their dosas — the best we’ve tasted in Vietnam — and their vegetable chettinad. They also do a fine chicken vindaloo and Kashmiri rice.

If you like your thalis, then pop down for lunch. And if you’re into the buffet, it’s upstairs in the Bui Vien branch at the weekend. In fact, everything is good here. Considering that Robin once worked in IT, he’s made an excellent crossover into another industry. So good, in fact, that he now has a second restaurant in Thao Dien and a third in Hoi An. Located at 164 Bui Vien, Q1, HCMC; 232-242 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, HCMC; babaskitchen.in

original Saigon location, it quickly became known as the best Indian restaurant in town. It was that good. After moving to Hai Ba Trung, it’s maintained its prominence. Even Trip Advisor agrees, giving it a 4.5 rating out of five, and that’s after 436 reviews. What’s our opinion? It’s still as good as it was, but thanks to Ganesh’s high standards, the competition has got better. Located at 38 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, HCMC; ganesh.vn

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NAMASTE

In Hanoi city centre, Namaste has been churning out halalonly dishes for years. The menu features northern curries, hot and spicy southern soups, the Mughal-style cuisine of Hyderabad, and Gujarat-inspired sweets. And of course, there’s a proper tandoor oven, so all of those kebabs and naan breads are charred just right. Don’t miss the mutton kadha masala. Located at 46 Tho Nhuom, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi; namastehanoi.com

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PAKISTAN

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akistani cuisine varies too much from region to region, it would be impossible to summarise it as a whole; suffice to say, it’s going to be halal, aromatic and possibly spicy. Many dishes contain masses of oil, to make the food seem richer and fuller. Popular spices include cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, turmeric and nutmeg.

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HANDI

Handi serves up Pakistani, Indian and Middle Eastern food, with all meat coming from a halal supplier. Delivery is an option, which means you don’t need to go far to enjoy dishes such as the vegetable karahi (VND110,000), chicken boti roll (VND82,000) or the mutton sheekh kebab (VND177,000). Located at 50 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi; handi.com.vn

AFGHANISTAN 54

PK SPICE

This place is all about the Afghani, Pakistani and Indian speciality dishes. With such a diverse menu, and vegetarians well-catered for, everyone is welcome. Start off with some vegetable pakora (VND60,000) or a daal soup (VND50,000), before setting on a fish krai (VND80,000 / half portion). Located at 10 Hang Manh, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi; facebook.com/ marrisajihouse

SRI LANKA

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ASIAN STREAT

This little pan-Asian place specialises in Sri Lankan cuisine. As far as we know it’s the only place in town that serves up hoppers, a circular basket-like pancake made from fermented rice and coconut milk served with chicken curry or fish with ambul thiyal — a sweet and sour condiment with a tamarind base. Asian Streat also has an awesome lunch buffet served up by Hazmi, the manager, who quite possibly has the biggest smile in the business to match the lunch spread. Located at 151/6 Dong Khoi, Q1, HCMC facebook.com/asianstreat

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THAILAND

KNOWN FOR

Being the holiday destination that Vietnam so wants to be (without the seediness, of course)

BEST KNOWN DISHES It’s gotta be pad thai, right?

WHAT'S FOUND HERE Pad thai and all the fine Thai curries

THE NITTY GRITTY

For years, except for the fare at Golden Elephant and Malee Thai in Saigon, Thai food in Vietnam was dreadful, particularly in Hanoi. The reason is that there’s a subtle difference in flavours between Vietnamese and Thai cuisine, so subtle that it was often just not bridged. The change started with the opening of Coriander on

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Saigon’s Bui Vien back in 2005. Then Hanoi more recently got Gusto Thai, an upgrade on anything seen in the past. Now, certainly in Saigon, a number of restaurants sell the real deal, but getting there has been tough. One of the problems is that despite the proximity of the two countries, many of the key ingredients need to be imported. Another reason is that while lemongrass, chilli, coriander, Asian basil, fish sauce and tamarind are present in Vietnamese cuisine, they are used in different ways and in different quantities in Thailand. If you want your fix of all things Thai, it’s still better to pop over to Bangkok for the weekend. But these days you can get a decent version of the real thing in Vietnam.

QUAN NGON THAI

Opened in August, this place has a Vietnamese cook who is well versed in Thai cuisine. The bun thai, or tom yum noodle soup, is a modest VND30,000, while Thai hotpot starts at VND195,000. Other specialities include the beef pad thai (VND65,000) and pad kra pao with pork (VND65,000). Located at 56/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi; facebook.com/ quanngonthai

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GUSTO THAI

Green papaya salad, stir-fried minced pork with Asian basil, tom yam soup, chicken panang curry, deep-fried sea bass, pad thai and green curry. All the offerings of a typical Thai restaurant are served up at Gusto Thai, the first Thai restaurant to get the cuisine close to correct in Hanoi. It’s not spot on, but considering the previous offerings in the capital, it’s a step in the right direction. Located at 9 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi; 14 Lang Ha, Ba Dinh, Hanoi; gustothai.vn

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GOLDEN ELEPHANT

In a city bereft of quality Thai options, Golden Elephant makes it on the list as just about everyone’s favourite Thai restaurant — if you like the food classic, that is. It’s more like a pokey cafeteria than a restaurant, but don’t let that deter you. Its popularity is underscored by the diversity of the clientele feeding their faces here, from locals, expats to travellers. Located at 34 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, HCMC; Good luck finding their Facebook page!


RACHA ROOM

Serving up Thai-accented pan-Asian cuisine with a focus on high quality ingredients, Racha Room makes Thai street food with a twist. Duck curry, coconut salmon, prawn dumplings and much more, mix with some of the best cocktails in Saigon. A lounge bar and restaurant all in one, Racha is a much-loved Saigon establishment. Located at 12-14 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, HCMC; theracharoom.com

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KOH THAI

Koh Thai has a growing quorum of restaurants in Saigon, but their flagship is in Saigon Garden on Nguyen Hue. A cocktail bar, lounge and restaurant all in one, here the name of the game is cosmopolitan Thai cuisine served up with a touch of Bangkok chic. Expect traditional fare prepared with a contemporary and often unusual twist in an attractive environment. Located at Saigon Garden, 99 Nguyen Hue, Q1, HCMC; facebook.com/ KohThaiNguyenHue

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SINGAPORE

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h, Singapore, the self-proclaimed food capital of Southeast Asia, the home of chicken rice, laksa, frog porridge and chilli crab, the go-to destination to experience the archetypal food court. Singaporean cuisine has come and gone in Vietnam except for one restaurant, Lion City. A shame, really, because one of the beauties of any visit to Singapore is the food.

LION CITY

Fronted by the charismatic Harry Ang, Lion City is the bastion of Singaporean cuisine in Saigon. Now with a number of restaurants dotted around the city, as well as an eatery in Hanoi, this is the place to get your Singaporean-style Hainanese chicken rice, your chicken curry, kaya toast, laksa, bee hoon and green beans cooked up with sambal. For the full list of restaurants check out their website — some of the dining is top-end. We, however, love the original Lion City on Le Anh Xuan. 45 Le Anh Xuan, Q1, HCMC plus a number of other locations; lioncity. com.vn

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A

HAI SU

This cramped and crowded little restaurant is one of the most popular places in the city to find Singaporestyle clay pot rice. There’s only two types, with black pepper beef or char siu-style pork; but they’re both very good (VND75,000). The rice forms a crispy layer on the bottom, and each portion is generously loaded with meat and veggies. Located at 111 K1 Giang Vo, Dong Da, Hanoi

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D

MALAYSIA

espite having such a large Malaysian community in Vietnam, this country has struggled with Malaysian cuisine. On the one hand, you have the hybrid Indian street food that was once sold in the Dong Du Mosque in Saigon and Bombay Indian opposite. Both have since closed. Then there’s the rice-style fare, nasi campur. A few restaurants close to Ben Thanh Market in Saigon and on Dong Du serve this up, but it’s not done well, although the Singaporean-themed D’Lions in Hanoi does a decent job. A shame, because Malaysian street food is among the best in Asia.

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CONFIDANT

As its name suggests, this venue has become the loyal friend of many a thirsty barfly roaming the backstreets of Phu My Hung. Over two floors, Confidant offers Vietnamese, Malaysian and Singaporean fare in a convivial familyfriendly atmosphere. Challenge Ludwig, the owner, to a game of darts — he might just throw in one of his own infamous limoncellos as punishment... err, as a freebie. Located at R4-22 Hung Gia 1, Q7, HCMC; facebook.com/confidant. hcmc.vn


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aid to be not for the faint of heart, diabetics and those watching out for their cholesterol levels, Filipino food is actually more than these disclaimers and clichés suggest. Moderation is the key when your palate heads down to the equator and roams the seven thousand islands of the Philippines. The fiesta that awaits you combines centuries fused with local and colonial flavours that take the best from Chinese, Malay, Spanish and American with the Filipino ingenuity for appropriation and unparalleled hospitality.

THE PHILIPPINES

LORIEKOT’S LUTONG BAHAY

Celebrating four years of operation this November is the “little jeepney that can”, going full steam with different Filipino food favourites from traditional savoury pork binagoongan (pork with shrimp paste) to the unusually sweet children’s party style spaghetti (with red hotdog). Loriekot’s also takes orders for homemade peanut butter and sweet rice cake desserts — sapin-sapin, maja mais, kutchinta and more. A weekly balikbayan box supply of branded comfort cravings from the Philippines — Purefoods corned beef, crispy pork rinds, Choconuts, Flat tops, Chippy and other snacks you can’t live without as an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) — is always available. Located at 193 Dien Bien Phu, Q3, HCMC; facebook.com/ loriekotslutongbahay

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CASBA

Rocking the newbie restaurant cluster in District 2 is Casba. If you don’t mind having “too much on your plate”, this could be the place for you. The Filipino fare on the boodle table has the regular offerings of bulalo (bone marrow soup), kare kare (stewed oxtail, tripe with peanut butter) and bicol express (spicy pork with coconut milk) — although the menu is balanced with more continental French and German fare. Casba is also becoming a regular hub for weekend outdoor movie screenings, pool parties, corporate events, charity and community talks. Located at 37 Xuan Thuy, Q2, HCMC; facebook.com/CasbaSaigon

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BATAVIA

INDONESIA

Batavia occupies a large dining space on Xuan Dieu, where you can find pretty much any Indonesian dish you could hope for. There’s been a recent addition of a rotating daily set lunch, although the huge choice of a la carte options may be hard to resist. Try the beef rendang (VND175,000) or the ikan balado, deep fried fish in spicy padang sauce, for VND165,000. Located at 25 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi; facebook.com/ bataviarestauranthanoi

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KOREA

KNOWN FOR

Terrible pop music, shoddy electronics and fat dictators

BEST KNOWN DISHES

Kimchi, BBQ, bibimbap, bulgogi, japchae, tteokbokki, gimbap, jjajangmyeon, banchan

DISH EXPORTED TO VIETNAM Gimbap, jjajangmyeon, BBQ, kimchi, bibimbap

THE NITTY GRITTY

First things first, Korea doesn’t exist. South Korea, officially, the Republic of Korea, is where all the bad music and electronics comes from.

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North Korea, also known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, is where the fat dictators with bad haircuts live. But one thing’s for sure; they both share a love of spicy, sour cuisine. No meal on the Korean peninsula is going to be missing kimchi and a large selection of banchan (side dishes). In Vietnam, there are generally two types of Korean restaurant. The first type deals with the indoor BBQ, where marinated meats and seafood are grilled at the table, usually ordered from an all-you-can-eat set menu with a number of sides also available. The other type is usually focussed more on noodle and rice dishes, and of course, many metres worth of gimbap.

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PYONGYANG RESTAURANT

This is actually a chain of restaurants operated directly by the North Korean government, with over 130 restaurants in countries around the world — they’ve also got one in Saigon. The food includes Pyongyang specialities such as cold noodles, cuttlefish and dog meat soup; but you can also find other, less interesting, dishes. Expect entertainment in the form of singing and dancing by numbers. Located at 28 Nguyen Thi Dinh, Cau Giay, Hanoi

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KIMBAP

A small and modest restaurant with a varied and extensive menu. The selection of gimbap starts from VND40,000, while the regular bibimbap is just VND65,000. There are meal sets starting at VND70,000 where you can also find options such as the bulgogi beef stew. Located at 15 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi


I

f there is one type of cuisine that we at Word struggle with, it’s Japanese. Not because we can’t eat it — far from it. The food itself is exceptional; but there are now so many Japanese restaurants in Vietnam, somewhere around 500, that the problem is knowing where to start.

BROS 69 GALBI Standing out from the

plethora of Korean BBQ joints in District 7 is Galbi Brothers, whose regular promotions and buffet set menus from VND200,000 to VND550,000 keep regulars coming back. Don’t feel like working for your meal? Ask the friendly staff to help cook it for you. Two highlights of this place are real charcoal stoves and open-air seating suitable for those just starting out their evening who don’t want to smell like gogi-gui at the nighclub door. Located at R1 — 25 Hung Phuoc 4, Q7, HCMC; facebook.com/GalbiBrothersBBQ

K 70 PLAN Plan K customers

compliment its bright restaurant atmosphere and tons of banchan (side dishes) that come with high quality meats from Australia and the US that customers can choose fresh from a display counter presented on a clean and beautiful wooden cutting board. The enterprising owners of this Korean BBQ chain have a well-established Vertical Marketing System (VMS) controlling the whole supply chain from producer, wholesaler, and retailer that will impress the most discerning of meat lovers. Located at 14A5 Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC; 66 Ly Long Tuong, Q7, HCMC; facebook. com/BBQPlanKThaoDien; facebook.com/ PlanKBBQ

JAPAN 71

SUSHI DOKORO YUTAKA

An estimated 100% of the population agree this place does some of the best sashimi and sushi around. Try a sushi set, starting at VND178,000. As with other popular Japanese restaurants, you can get a good amount of hot food here, such as katsu curry (VND147,000) and stewed tofu with pork (VND126,000). Located at 95 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi; facebook.com/sushidokoroyutakahanoirestaurant

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ASAHI SUSHI

This popular Japanese joint is an ideal pre-cinema restaurant, located as it is on Ba Trieu. One of the best places to get fresh sushi and sashimi, there’s also an extensive selection of hot food, such as tempura, rice, grilled meat and fish, plus a good amount of udon and soba noodle dishes. Located at 288 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi; asahisushi.vn

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PIZZA 4PS

Not a Japanese restaurant as such, Pizza 4Ps is nonetheless an important addition to this list, because they have done what the Japanese do so well; take an international dish and serve it up with a Japanese twist. So good are the pizzas and such is the attention to detail that for three years in a row this chain of restaurants has come top of our best international food in Vietnam list. Located at 8/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, HCMC; 24 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi; pizza4ps.com

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FU RONG HUA

One of the best places for Chinese food with some Hong Kong specials, this restaurant feels classy, without the classy price tag. For Hong Kong style, you can’t go wrong with BBQ pork (VND145,000) and roasted duck (VND165,000). For dim sum, Teochew-style meat and vegetable (VND55,000 / 3pcs) are something special. Located at 9 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

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TIM HO WAN

Related to the Michelinstarred Hong Kong restaurant, though without a star itself; the food here is still just as good as the view from the 36th floor. By far the most popular dish are the baked buns with BBQ pork (VND82,000), but the steamed dumplings are just as good; especially the spinach and shrimp (VND66,000). Located at Floor 36 Lotte Centre, 54 Lieu Giai, Ba Dinh, Hanoi; facebook.com/timhowan36

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V

CHINA

ietnamese cuisine is heavily influenced by food north of the border. Add to this a million ethnic Chinese living in Ho Chi Minh City and growing expat populations from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and you’ve got a lot of demand for Chinese cuisine in this country. So much that we can only touch the surface of what’s available.

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OCEAN PALACE

There are many Chinese restaurants serving up dim sum, but when it comes to price and quality, Ocean Palace is our Saigon favourite. Elegant décor, efficient service, a lively atmosphere created by the large dining area and an exceptional selection of lunchtime dim sum. If you want a Saturday or Sunday brunch with friends at prices that don’t break the bank, here is the place to go. Just remember to book in advance, as it gets busy. Located at 2 Le Duan, Q1, HCMC, Tel: (028) 3911 8822


AUSTRALIA

KNOWN FOR

Making up new sports as they go along

BEST KNOWN DISHES

The Barbie. And in case you ask, it’s nothing to do with Ken

DISH FOUND IN 'NAM

Australian takes on British, Greek, Lebanese and American food. And something called ‘the pie’

THE NITTY GRITTY

Australian food, what is it? Ask most Aussies what it is and they’ll probably come up with pavlova, that sticky, sweet dessert of meringue with fruit and cream named after a touring Russian ballerina (Anna Pavlova) who visited Australia and New Zealand the 1920s. Ask any Kiwi what New Zealand food is and they’ll probably come up with the same answer, pavlova. Neither country can really stake claim to it, so we’re left with two nations whose culinary habits have been heavily shaped by immigration. Before European colonisation, Indigenous Australians lived on native flora and fauna that has made its way onto restaurant tables in recent times, especially native fruits and “bush tucker”, aka kangaroo. In between the two world wars the Greeks, Italians and Germans brought with them their cuisine which has had a profound impact on Australia’s culinary landscape and culture — at one stage spaghetti bolognaise was unanimously voted Australia’s national dish and the most likely meal to be dished up by bachelors hoping to get laid on a date. Since then, immigration from Asian nations has sparked another round of cultural readjustment with young Aussie kids these days more likely to ask for a sushi roll than a ‘dog’s eye’ (meat pie).

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79 PHATTY’S From its roots as the

JASPAS

Been around for as long as anyone can remember. Jaspas in Saigon has recently had a makeover and it’s all the better for it. Upstairs is for non-smokers and has a great vantage point to look over one of the most famous streets of Saigon. And as for the food, this is Australian to the core. Quality international comfort food that runs the gamut from salt and pepper squid and hickory pork ribs through to nasi goreng, halloumi chicken burgers, pizza, salad and spaghetti vongole. Has a well-known sister restaurant in Hanoi. Located at 33 Dong Khoi, Q1, HCMC; facebook. com/jaspashcmc

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GAME ON

An Australian sports pub serving up comfort food, Game On is a favourite of the Australian community in Saigon. One reason is the televised sport. Another is the atmosphere and the food — and a lot of it has got the Antipodes written all over it. An Aussie sandwich, anyone? Or maybe an Ozzy dog, Aussie chips or an Australian-style home-made pie. Not much of the food that comes from Australia is original, but when it is, at Game On, the management make sure you know about it. Located at 115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1, HCMC; gameonsaigon.com

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. With a solid reputation for big portions and tasty fare, this is Australian comfort food at its finest. Located at 46-48 Ton That Thiep, Q1,HCMC; facebook.com/Phattysbarsaigon

STOKER

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Truly spectacular steakhouses remain rare, but there’s a new contender; Stoker Woodfired Bar and Grill. Named after an eccentric 19th-century British nobleman, it’s a restaurant already much talked about for its dim-lit elegance and clubby comfort, its sophisticated staff, and its divine meat. As with other great restaurants, Stoker reaches beyond providing food. It can be a sanctuary, a time apart from the stress of the world to simply gratify one’s senses. It can be costly, but you can hardly do better in Ho Chi Minh City for an evening’s escape. Oh, and did we mention the gin and tonics and the cocktails? Located at 44 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, HCMC; facebook.com/ stokerwoodfiredgrill

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Insider

INSIDER

NATIONAL

Legends of the Viet Vietnam has many legends which help define its people, the Kinh people, as a nation. Here are a few. Words by Edward Dalton

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yths and legends have existed for thousands of years; they weave a fabric of fables into the culture and history of a country and its people, with tales of great heroes, lost treasure and spellbinding worlds where anything is possible.

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Vietnam is home to dozens of such legends. Everyone who comes from the West knows about Hercules, El Dorado and King Arthur; but what about Vietnamese legends like the Moon Boy, the Golden Axe and the Mountain God?


Romance Origin Story Moral: Love conquers all One of the most widely told stories concerns the origins of the Viet people. Lac Long Quan, a god-king whose mother was a water dragon, spent many months travelling the country, then called Linh Nam, vanquishing evil wherever it was found. Among those evils was the Nine-Tailed Fox, a Hugh Hefner-like demon, who could change into the form of a handsome man and lure away young girls to his grotto. After a three-day fight, Lac Long Quan defeated the fox by cutting off its head. He released the prisoners and brought down a tempest of water and winds to destroy the demon’s lair; the deep abyss which remained was called the Sea of the Fox’s

Overcoming Evil Body; today, it’s called Tay Ho. After many peaceful years in his mother’s aquatic palace, Lac Long Quan returned once again to answer the call of his people; this time to deal with a northern invader who, captivated by the beauty of the land, had decided to build a castle there and occupy it. However, when Lac Long Quan entered the invader’s castle, it was empty, except for a beautiful young girl and her company of guards and servants. The girl, Au Co, was the daughter of the mountain chieftain who had invaded. She was enthralled by Lac Long Quan’s power, and the god-king soon fell in love with her; together, they retreated to a mountain fortress, from where Lac Long Quan summoned beasts to chase away the army of Au Co’s father.

Shortly after getting married, Au Co gave birth to a sack of 100 eggs. Their 100 children grew quickly, and were stronger, smarter and better-looking than their peers. However, Lac Long Quan always longed to return to the ocean, as he bore the characteristics of his water-dragon mother. “I am by nature like a dragon in the water, while you are like a fairy in the mountain,” he said to his wife. “Of all our children, half will go with me to the underwater palace, and the other half will stay on land with you.” These children are known as the ancestors of the Vietnamese people, and explain why the Vietnamese refer to themselves as descendants of dragons and fairies, equally at home on the land and in the water.

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Insider

Jealousy Monsoon Blues Moral: Don't succumb to jealousy If the story of Lac Long Quan explains where the Vietnamese people come from, the tale of Son Tinh and Thuy Tinh explains why they live in a land beset by monsoons. The 18th Hung King had a kind and beautiful daughter, the princess Mi Nuong. When she came of marriageable age, two suitors presented themselves. The first was Son Tinh, the God of the Mountains. The second was Thuy Tinh, God of the Sea. They each sought to impress the king with their powers; by making trees sprout from the ground, and by causing sudden heavy rainfall. Unable to decide, the king decreed that the first man to bring a wedding gift the following day would win his daughter’s hand in marriage. Thuy Tinh came before dawn, and felt sure to win; however, Son Tinh had already been

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Do Not Tell Lies and taken the princess for himself. Furious, Thuy Tinh sent floods and storms into the land. Son Tinh raised the mountains higher, to protect the kingdom. Eventually, the God of the Sea accepted his defeat; but he returns every year to show his anger, a period now referred to as monsoon season.

Moonlight Shenanigans Moral: Don't tell lies Next up is a story about a little liar called Cuoi, the Moon Boy. Cuoi was a clever young man who wasted his intellect on telling lies and playing tricks. His aunt and uncle bore the brunt of his deceptions. One day, Cuoi ran into the fields and told his uncle that his wife had fallen from a ladder, and was bleeding to death. Cuoi then used a shortcut to beat his uncle home, where he told his aunt that her husband was dying

in the field, after being mauled by a buffalo. The couple ran to save each other, but collided outside. When they returned to the house, they imprisoned Cuoi in a bamboo cage, and floated him away up the river. Undeterred, Cuoi tricked a blind man into freeing him from the cage by offering to cure the man’s sight. When Cuoi later got married, he saw a tiger take leaves from an unusual tree, using them to cure its wounded pup. Cuoi took the tree home, named it Banyan, and warned his wife not to damage it, lest it fly to back to heaven. His wife grew so jealous of the tree, that she dumped rubbish at its base; when Cuoi came home and saw the tree begin to shake and fly into the sky, he grabbed on to its roots. Unable to pull it down, the tree carried him to the moon. It’s said that Cuoi can be seen sitting under the Banyan tree on the moon, and people still use the expression noi doi nhu Cuoi, or to “lie like Cuoi.”


Forgiveness Kitchen Gods Moral: Forgiveness All Vietnamese people know about Tao Quan, or the Three Kitchen Gods, who live in every home. It’s said that these gods return to the Jade Emperor at the end of the lunar year to report their observations. Their origin is something of a dark love triangle, however. After enduring an abusive marriage to a drunk, violent man, a woman fled her home and wandered through the forest. With wounded feet and an empty stomach, she came across a cabin, home to a hunter. The man gave her food and let her rest. They fell in love and lived together for many happy years. One day before Tet holiday, a decrepit beggar came to their door while the hunter was out. The woman prepared food for him. At first she didn't know who he was,

Honesty is Rewarded but after a while she recognised the beggar to be her ex-husband. Panicked by the hunter’s return, she instructed her ex to hide under a mound of hay, which the hunter then proceeded to set fire to, in order to cook the New Year meal. Not wanting to get his ex-wife in trouble, the man kept silent as he burned to death. Stricken with guilt, the woman leapt onto the fire to die with him — and was shortly followed by the hunter who preferred death to a life without her. The local people bowed their heads to the three noble individuals, who were later declared to be Tao Quan.

A Golden Opportunity Moral: Greed is punished, honesty is rewarded Our last story concerns a very poor lumberjack. One day, he dropped his axe into the river while cutting wood. A river dragon came up and presented

the lumberjack with a beautiful golden axe, and asked if it was his. “No,” said the lumberjack, “that’s not mine. My axe was made of iron, with a wooden handle.” Diving back in, the dragon came out again with a silver axe. After again turning it down, the river dragon emerged with the lumberjack’s old wooden axe. To reward the lumberjack’s honesty, the river dragon gave him the gold and silver axes. One neighbour grew jealous of the lumberjack’s new-found wealth, and attempted to trick the river dragon into gifting him a golden axe. However, the dragon cut off the liar’s head with a golden axe; proving once and for all that greed is punished and honesty is rewarded. Vietnamese myths are no different to any others; good stories with a lesson to be learnt.

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INSIDER

HANOI

Employees with Disabilities With little official help for people living with disabilities, it falls to businesses and social enterprises to provide employment opportunities. Words by Emily Arntsen. Photos by Julie Vola

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hirty-three-year-old Tran Thi Khanh Hoa has lived the last 30 years of her life with a physical disability after a medical accident irreversibly impaired her legs. But despite her disability, Hoa leads an active and productive life. She even braves Hanoi traffic on a three-wheeled bike every day to get to her accounting job at Chula Fashion House in Tay Ho. Hoa’s story is just one of many that demonstrate the varying experiences of employees with disabilities in Vietnam. It’s unclear how many people in Vietnam have a disability. According to the last census in 2009 it was 5.8 percent of the population. However, the World Health Organization re-evaluated that number in 2010 to about 15 percent. Regardless of exact numbers, a substantial percentage of Vietnamese people are living with some form of disability. A combination of poor health care, lingering consequences of the war, and genetic chance are the main causes. According to the same census in 2009, of the people in Vietnam with disabilities,

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about 14 percent are unemployed, compared to the general unemployment rate in Vietnam, which is currently 2 percent. As part of the effort to reverse this problem, multiple businesses in Hanoi employ people with disabilities. Donkey Bakery, Chula Fashion House, and Indigo are a few of the many businesses in Hanoi that operate under a majority-disabled staff.

Socially Responsible Donkey Bakery is a lot more than its name suggests. In addition to being a bakery, it’s also a tailoring service and a catering company for schools around Hanoi. But most importantly, it focuses on helping the disabled achieve independence by giving them work — 80 percent of the staff are deaf, blind or physically impaired. For the past seven years, 36-yearold Tran Quoc Hoan has worked in customer service at Donkey Bakery using the vocational skills he learned at the government-funded Nguyen Dinh Chieu School for the Blind. Hoan, who was born


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blind in Ha Tinh province, moved to Hanoi when he was nine years old to attend the blind school for primary and secondary education. There, he learnt to play the dan bau, an instrument he still plays and teaches to other blind students at the school today. At Donkey Bakery, he improved his English and was trained in the vocational skills needed for customer service jobs such as how to use phones and computer software made for blind people. Hoan is generally optimistic and grateful for his job. “I feel like this is my second family,” he says. But he also points out how lucky he is compared to other people with disabilities — “Before social enterprises in Vietnam, people with disabilities didn’t have many opportunities to work. The government doesn’t help people with disabilities get a job. They only help a little bit every month by giving us VND500,000 and a free bus pass,” he says. Hoan takes the bus every day to get to work. But while public transportation in Vietnam is subsidized for people with disabilities, it’s not easily accessible for them. Hoan says that after work, someone needs to accompany him to the bus stop and wait with him until the correct bus comes. “It’s very difficult to get around the city if you’re blind. Some can do it themselves, but most people need help. It’s very dangerous with the traffic in Vietnam,” he says.

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Indigo In Vietnam, it’s common for blind people to have jobs in music, customer service, or computer-oriented positions like Hoan. But for deaf people, the job field is entirely different. A lot of deaf people in Vietnam work as tailors or cooks, like at Donkey Bakery. Another example is the clothing store Indigo where almost all of the sewers and dyers are deaf. Before opening her shop, owner Duong Thi Thanh had never even met a deaf person. Today she employs mostly deaf workers and has learned Vietnamese sign language. Three years after she opened Indigo, the Hoa Sua School in Hanoi, which specializes in training disabled and disadvantaged youths, opened a sewing school. At that time, according to Thanh, it was very hard for people with disabilities to get a job. Recognizing this, she decided to employ two of the school’s deaf seamstresses. From there, the numbers grew as her employees invited more of their deaf friends to work at Indigo. Today, she trains all of her tailors and dyers at the shop. 40-year-old seamstress Ngo Ngoc Lan was Indigo’s first deaf employee when she started working there 17 years ago. Deafness runs in her family, but not because of natural causes. Her father is a war veteran, and her deafness, along with two other family members, is believed to be a consequence of Agent Orange.

“It’s unclear how many people in Vietnam have a disability. According to the last census in 2009 it was 5.8 percent of the population. However, the World Health Organization reevaluated that number in 2010 to about 15 percent”


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Lan is a member of Chi Hoi Nguoi Diec, or HAD, which is one of Hanoi’s deaf clubs. She is grateful to have a community of deaf people to support her, saying: “Because of this club, I feel that society treats us very well.” Additionally, she says that working at Indigo has provided a community for her. It’s also where she met her husband, who is a deaf tailor as well.

Chula Chula Fashion House is another clothing and design company in Hanoi that employs deaf tailors. About 75 percent of the staff has a disability, either physical or auditory. Cofounder Diego del Valle Cortizas says: “We decided to employ people with disabilities after we met a deaf woman, Duong, who knew how to embroider. Through her we learned there are many people in Hanoi, especially deaf people, who know how to sew. She introduced us to her friends, and through them we learnt sign language.” Thirteen years later, Duong continues to work for them. In Vietnam, the education and training for people with disabilities is quite good; it’s the next stage in the employment process that’s most difficult — getting hired. There’s a common misconception that hiring people with disabilities is a burden on employers, but Diego strongly refutes this idea. “We made very few compromises,” he

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says. “Sometimes sign language is even faster than spoken language, especially because when we arrived here we didn’t speak Vietnamese. It was much easier to learn sign language.” In regards to his employees with physical disabilities who mostly work on a computer or in the café, he says: “There is nothing stopping them from doing their job as well as anyone else.” Chula also employs sewers from the Hoa Sua school, such as 28-year-old Le Huyen Trang, who is deaf because of complications at birth. She started working at Chula after graduating. Unlike some of her disabled contemporaries, she feels the government treats people like her fairly: “We are fortunate that the government gives us money each month and free transportation. If you have a good job, like the people here, you can make enough money to be independent.” Because of the progress made in inclusive education and specialised training in recent years, Vietnam is moving in the right direction towards equal opportunities for people with disabilities. Although there are still many improvements to be made, both socially and politically, companies like Chula, Indigo, and Donkey Bakery are helping normalize the employment of disabled people in Vietnam.

“In Vietnam, the education and training for people with disabilities is quite good; it’s the next stage in the employment process that’s most difficult — getting hired”


“There’s a common misconception that hiring people with disabilities is a burden on employers… Diego strongly refutes this idea”

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INSIDER

HCMC

The Sinking School It’s abandoned. It’s sinking. And it’s even been called truong ma or ghost school. Thomas Barrett investigates District 6’s homage to architecture gone wrong. Photos by Bao Zoan 80 | Word November 2017 | wordvietnam.com


“With the safety of the pupils under threat, [they were] relocated… to a nearby school in 2010. Locals have since redubbed Phu Dinh as ‘the ghost school’” wordvietnam.com | November 2017 Word | 81


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t’s often said that your school days are the best of your life, and for Phu Dinh elementary school in District 6, its best days are certainly behind them. The school was built at a cost of around US$880,000 or VND20 billion in 2004, but after just a few years of use, disaster struck and the school structure started to suffer from subsidence. It was sinking.

The Blame Game With the safety of the pupils under threat, District 6’s People’s Committee relocated the students to a nearby school in 2010. Locals

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have since redubbed Phu Dinh as “the ghost school”, as it continues to remain an expensive headstone in the area. A report was drawn up by the People’s Committee, which placed blame and responsibility on Binh Phu Design Consultancy Company, Cong An Service Company Limited, and the Ho Chi Minh City Architecture Consultancy Company. They also shouldered some of the blame themselves, saying: “The regulator, like us, is also responsible for some errors.” A programme to shore up the land under the school was drawn

up, with the VND6.5 billion it would cost to fix the problem divided up between the responsible parties. It was hoped that the school could reopen in 2015, but in 2017 the school remains in a state of rack and ruin.

Reminders At 6,600 sqm, the school covers a large space of land and dominates the area. The complex is made up of four concrete rows, each three storeys high holding around 30 classrooms. There’s a generous outdoor space for children to play, but nature has long taken it over,


with the only sign of human life being some burning embers from a fire that somebody has recently started in one of the metal bins. Evidence of subsidence is clearly visible, with the steps to the main building no longer connecting. The uniformity of the Vietnamese school classroom has been disrupted, with tables and chairs strewn about and covered with dust. Portraits of Ho Chi Minh still look on, together with his five lessons for students, as well as alphabets, numbers and other learning aids. Severe water leakage has

damaged one of the classrooms, with the floor literally sinking towards the centre of the room. Perilously, it’s on the second floor. It looks like a battle that gravity is winning, drip by drip. A glimpse into the ambition of the school is also on the second floor, as an empty language lab stands with 40 different booths for students, where they would have practiced foreign languages. Next door is a computer room, which still has several, almost comically large, monitors by today’s standards. Less than 10 years old, they lie like a technological time capsule.

“Severe water leakage has damaged one of the classrooms, with the floor literally sinking towards the centre of the room. Perilously, it’s on the second floor”

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“There are other fascinating little mementos of the school, such as a boy’s gym kit and a piece of paper with the result of a health check — saying a boy needs two fillings and one tooth removed” There’s the main hall on the third floor which still has a plinth for speeches, and nearby is a bronze bust of Uncle Ho in need of a polish. There are other fascinating little mementos of the school, such as a boy’s gym kit and a piece of paper with the result of a health check — saying a boy needs two fillings and one tooth removed. There’s a birthday card for a teacher which some kids have signed.

Emotions Since its closure the school has proved to be an emotive subject, with Facebook commenters lamenting an all too familiar story in Vietnam. “The design just didn’t work. The ground and foundations are sloping and the building is based on a standard design that just doesn’t fit. It’s like they’ve tried to build a load of parallels and squares and mould them into a building, but

the moulding just doesn’t work and instead you only have the lines and squares,” said one person. Another wondered why so much of the equipment is still there. “Looking at the scene is actually quite painful, not because of a project that has failed and that has not been able to overcome these failures. But because of all the objects — chairs, whiteboards, computers — that have been left behind while schools in the poor mountain areas of Vietnam don’t even have enough metal to get built.” “It’s also painful because this was a state-of-the-art government project that has left behind a school that resembles the picture of children in Grade 1, a picture that looks like a bowl of rice porridge mixed with a bit of rice that has been left for years to go mouldy,” says one. And one person questioned how

a return could be made on the vast investment. “City land is very valuable. So, if you’re not going to have a school here you should knock the place down and rent it out. At least then you can get back some of the wasted investment. If you leave the building as it is then in 100 years the ruins will become a tourist attraction.”

Schools Out So what lessons are to be learnt from Phu Dinh? The classroom still has maths calculations and grammar rules on the wall. One that teaches the affirmative simple present stands out with delicious irony: “They go to school every day,” it reads. Perhaps time to update that one to the simple past. If you’d like to check out the school for yourself, it’s at 150 Vanh Dai, Q6, HCMC

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INSIDER

HCMC

A View from a Bridge At night couples, friends and families find places to hang out to escape the heat and have fun. One such place that has attracted the hordes is Thu Thiem Bridge. But who exactly are the people that go there? Thomas Barrett finds out. Photos by Olga Rozenbajgier 86 | Word November 2017 | wordvietnam.com


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live in Binh Thanh, close to Thu Thiem Bridge — with its spectacular view of the ever-changing Saigon skyline. Almost every night as I drive past the bridge, I see couples hanging out, vendors with pushcarts selling snacks, and people young and old, shooting the breeze and admiring the view. There are guitarists, card players, lovers and groups of friends, and there’s always something electric about this place, but its electricity is made not just by the space itself, but by the people who go there. I decided to find out a bit more about them.

Work and Exams Hoang, 30, is here with his friend Tu, 34, and Thu Thiem Bridge offers a valuable open space and respite from their busy careers in marketing and journalism. “There are some places in District 2 for us to go but there should be more [open spaces]. Each time we come we see new buildings. Maybe in 20 years it will be like Hong Kong,” says Hoang. “In the city there are a lot of bars, and

places to go to party but no place where you can be peaceful. It’s a place for us to not always be in the busy hectic lifestyle.” Unlike many cities around the world, Saigon has the luxury of being warm in the evening all year round. So why aren’t there more places for non-drinkers, or those who shudder at the thought of coffee at 9pm? Computing student, Tri, 19, is here hanging out with his younger sister. “It’s the first time I’ve come here,” he says. “I live in Tan Phu District which is quite far. It’s a half-hour drive but we came to see the skyline. It’s beautiful and we feel comfortable. The air is good here, there’s less pollution than where we live.” If you take a right past Thu Thiem bridge on one of the new roads that doesn’t even have a name yet on Google maps, young people are lined up down the side of the wide roads, as young lads take turns to race each other, drag-race style, like a Saigon Fast and the Furious. Back at the bridge, I meet four 17-year-old schoolgirls, Thai Ha, Minh Thuy, Khanh Vy and Truc Anh. They are all here after a long

day of exams. “We come here to get rid of stress. It’s been a hard day at school. We had exams today in literature,” says Minh Thuy, who has dreams of studying in Australia. “We like to look at the skyline. I am very proud of my city because Saigon now has something other countries have.” The Saigon skyline still has some way to go before it can match the likes of Sydney, but it’s already a badge of pride for these young citizens of the world. “It’s also a good place to get away from parents,” she adds.

Making a Buck Thu Thiem Bridge and the surrounding freshly laid roads is arable land for keo keo and bo bia seller Duan, 42. He’s been pounding the pavement selling his food in the city for over 20 years, and where there’s new space, there’s opportunity. “It’s free here, and has fresher air,” he says. “There’s more freedom for us compared with District 1. There they control where I stand, where I park and they want

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“‘In the city there are a lot of bars, and places to go to party but no place where you can be peaceful. [Thu Thiem Bridge is] a place for us to not always be in the busy hectic lifestyle’” my money. Here there’s lots of space and I can go wherever I want. I work 12-hour days but I’m not the kind of person who can stay alone, so I like to meet other vendors.” He’s looking forward to the end of the rainy season. “For me, when it rains I don’t feel good, I worry about my children and if I will be able to feed them. Rich people don’t care about if it’s raining or sunny. For us when it rains it’s hard to be happy.” He adds: “In 20 years Vietnam has developed so quickly. Before in this area there were just fishermen and no tall buildings, now it’s very different. Before I used to make VND100,000 or VND200,000 per day; now I make VND300,000 or VND400,000. So it’s good for me.” Further down, past the Thu Thiem Parish Church, a pack of four stray dogs baring their teeth surprise us, and chase our motorbike down the dusty and potholeridden path, before they retreat emptymouthed into the overgrowth. Back up towards the tunnel is Binh, 29. He has been selling sausages above the entrance of Saigon Tunnel for a few years. “It’s actually less busy since I started working here, as the walking street in District 1 has cost us business,” he says. “This place has fresh air and the price is good, and our food is not too expensive.

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With all the buildings they are building now here it’s going to change, and I’m not sure how it will affect my business.” He points to a nearby apartment block that is almost completed. “We’d all really like to live here but a small apartment like that one there is a few billion.” Next to Binh, is Nhung, 20. She’s been working here for a couple of years, and jokes around as she sells her iced tea and fizzy drinks. It’s clear the relaxed and free atmosphere of the area extends to those who work here. “It’s fun here. I know everyone here and these are all my friends. My family and grandparents used to live here but 10 years ago we were forced to move. We had to move to District 9,” she says. “District 9 is a place to live. I live in an apartment block, there’s no space to sell my drinks.” It’s not all fun and games. On the way back towards Thu Thiem Bridge, a crowd has gathered around a young man who is laid out on the pavement, unconscious. Perhaps with its roads that don’t all have working street lamps yet, it’s also a place to settle scores.

Young Love Above all the area is a place for lovers, with couples dotted all down the bridge and

surrounding areas. Phuong, 28 and Ha, 31, have decided to come to the bridge after a date at the cinema. “There are not enough places to go to relax. That’s why we come here. It’s very important. This city is so crowded,” says Ha. “It’s romantic to the people who come here,” she continues. “For us, we feel it is. For other people they come to relax, meet friends or something. This is a good side to look at the city. I’m feeling happy because I’m with him. Obviously he feels the same — he can’t say no.” Minh Thuy, in her 20s, is here with her partner. It’s a favourite spot of hers. “I often come here with a guy if it’s our first date,” she says. “I come here jogging as well as relaxing. It used to be really dirty here because people were not very conscious about throwing trash away, but recently it’s really improved. The atmosphere is now much better than before. The light on the water with the skyline is very romantic. Sometimes we can even see the stars out here.” Stars over Saigon? A cynical mind might be suspicious, but this bridge is for the optimists. And as the evening draws to a close, the motorcycles begin to disperse and the music from Duan’s moving stall grows fainter as he drives home back into the city.


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“‘We like to look at the skyline. I am very proud of my city because Saigon now has something other countries have’”

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Food and Drink EAT & DRINK

HANOI

Come Dine with Me: The Hanoi Edition Four dinners, four erstwhile chefs, and four nights of great food. Edward Dalton and three other hosts prepare dinner parties and get marked on how well they do. Photos by Teigue John Blokpoel

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or the first time ever, the popular British cooking show, Come Dine with Me, has come to Hanoi — kind of. We’ve got the dinner parties, and the biting sarcastic narrator has been replaced by a biting sarcastic writer; the only real difference is we’re on paper, not on your screens.

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Each of our four contestants will host a dinner party for the group, with the guests giving scores and comments in private after the evening is over. The winner, apart from being the inaugural Come Dine with Me: Hanoi Edition champion, gets a fat cash prize of VND500,000 to cover the agreed budget of hosting.


Dinner #1

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y going first, I make sure to set the bar so low, that even Tyrion Lannister would tower over it. Despite boasting delicacies such as jellied eels and fine dining institutions like Greggs, British food continues to be the punchline of international cuisine; I therefore prepare a Spanish feast with which to wow my guests. My claim to authentic cooking comes in the form of a fridge magnet bought in Barcelona. With only two gas burners and a halfbroken oven (more excuses coming later), the food arrived a mere 45 minutes late. Which is only 15 minutes later than the photographer, who had a modest motorbike accident on the way to dinner.

What the Guests Said “The patatas bravas with aioli was the best.

The aioli was so well-balanced. He should have prepared the food a bit earlier, as we ate quite late. I felt a bit too full and quite bloated when I left, and in general, most of the food just needed a bit more salt.” — Cameron, 8/10 “The tapas were all great (although separate courses would’ve been better), but my favourite was the green beans; I’m just not sure whether they went well with the other flavours. The meatballs were quite tough and burnt on the sides.” — Grazia, 7/10 “I loved the roasted potatoes in spicy tomato sauce, but the green beans were overcooked; too mushy and too soft. I prefer crisp green beans. They should be shaken with ice water after cooking to keep their bright colour and maintain their crispness.” — Lien, 8.75/10

Host: Edward Dalton Age: 28 Nationality: British Occupation: Word Staff Writer Menu: Albondigas (Spanish meatballs), patatas bravas (roasted potatoes in spicy tomato sauce, with aioli), garlic prawns with chorizo crumbs, minted chilli peas, green beans in lemon oil and garlic bread

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Dinner #2

A Host: Cameron Lucy Age: 28 Nationality: British Occupation: English Teacher Menu: Pumpkin bruschetta, ginger beer-battered basa fish and banh chuoi (Vietnamese fried banana, Cam-style)

s Come Dine with Me is a British show, and because the corrupt writer is unashamedly hoping for a British winner, the second host is also British. He’s also the Executive Emperor in Chief of Hanoi Massive — a new era. As the guests exchange drunk stories (the highlight being Grazia’s vomit kiss), and discuss the regional food variations in Italy compared to the fried food variations in the UK, Cameron is busy preparing a multinational three-course meal. Italian starter, British main and Vietnamese dessert? Someone’s trying to impress the Italian, British and Vietnamese guests…

What the Guests Said “The bruschetta was amazing, the pumpkin

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was tender and the bread was crisp and spongy. The fish batter was very light and crispy, but the fish was a little bit salty. It would have been scrumptious if he did not use so much salt.” — Lien, 9/10 “The bruschetta topping was outstanding, but the bread wasn’t really toasted much, so it lacked that great crunch. The fish was really good, even with a cold tomatocucumber sauce in place of mushy peas… but all the portions needed to be doubled. I went home hungry.” — Edward, 8/10 “I enjoyed the night, especially when he made us cocktails. I thoroughly appreciated the amount of effort in the preparation, but I was expecting a bit more on the food side. I didn’t really like his reaction to my comment on my undercooked fish, though!” — Grazia, 7/10


Dinner #3

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he third dinner is meant to be hosted by Lien, but her two daughters (aged five and seven) make sure she has to work hard to stay in the spotlight. Lien tries to lower our expectations by telling us she’s just cooking simple Vietnamese food; for three foreigners who all chose to live in Vietnam and love Vietnamese food. Nice try. Conversation topics move from the food, to the abundance of sexists and racists on Hanoi Massive. Occasional interruptions courtesy of entertaining tantrums by Lien’s daughters.

What the Guests Said “The squid couldn’t have been more perfect. So tender and well-seasoned. However, the

razor clams… why anyone would want to eat an organic parcel of dirt is beyond me. Also, I thought the fish tasted quite murky; but she put a lot of effort in.” — Cameron, 7/10 “The fish was excellent, and wrapping it was super fun; I loved the pineapple with it. The squid was exquisite. Not a big fan of the razor clams, though. I think she should serve water in addition to beer, or ask people what they want to drink. Her cute kids were amazing.” — Grazia, 8/10 “Squid and razor clams both firsts for me; the tenderness of the squid was a real pleasant surprise, but I won’t be having any dreams about those clams. Loved the interactive nature of the meal, plenty of food. Good effort!” — Edward, 8/10

Host: Le Thi Huong Lien Age: 33 Nationality: Vietnamese Occupation: University Teacher Menu: Whole red snapper in black bean sauce, five-spice-fried squid, razor clams in lemongrass and chilli oil, and carrot and kohlrabi salad

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Dinner #4

Host: Grazia Pacillo Age: 35 Nationality: Italian Occupation: Post-doctoral Fellow Economist at the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture Menu: Rotolo di melanzane e ricotta (calzone with aubergines, bacon and basil), focaccia, Puglia olives, sundried tomato bruschetta, ragù alla bolognese with handmade orecchiette and salame al cioccolato with whipped cream

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he last host, Grazia is a victim of positive prejudice; we all expect great things just because she’s Italian. Playing the Italian card pretty hard, Grazia claims to have spent two days preparing for the meal, which includes homemade bread and pasta; she’s also got her well-trained boyfriend on kitten duty, keeping the little rascal off the table. Lien exercises her well-honed teacherpatience while the rest of us overgrown children chat about all our favourite video games and other geeky delights.

What the Guests Said “Everything I dreamed of came true; pasta, calzone, olives and tons of tomatoes. The ‘chocolate salami’ dessert was a new one for

me, but what a great idea. Everything was well-executed; but just the massive wedge of Pecorino Romano cheese was enough to win me over.” — Edward, 9/10 “I loved the pasta. Neither too hard nor too soft, it absorbed all the wonderful flavour; delicious. The tomatoes for the bruschetta were fresh, but too sour for me; they needed to be served right after preparing, as their juices diluted the dressing.” — Lien, 8.75/10 “The dessert was very nice, the coffee took the edge off the sweetness. The hosting was really good, dishes were served quickly, drinks were topped up; and watching their kitten wreak havoc was fun. But I felt the pasta was very bland, and there was way too much food.” — Cameron, 8/10


And the Winner is… In fourth place, Lien’s seafood bonanza, with a score of 7.7/10. Coming in third, and a travesty, is Edward, with 7.9/10. The runner-up, Cameron’s League of Nations feast, with 8/10. But the winner, and taking home the fabulous VND500,000 prize money, is Grazia! Grazia scored 8.6/10, and if I was a sore loser, I’d say most of the credit goes to how cute her cat is. However, the massive effort and hours of preparation really paid off, and we were all treated to a real taste of Italy; a deserving winner of the first ever Come Dine with Me: Hanoi Edition.


Travel

Quan Lan Island / Mango Home Riverside Photo by Julie Vola 98 | Word November 2017 | wordvietnam.com


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Travel

“Its remote location also means that the island is largely untouched by tourism’s greedy hand, making it the perfect destination for anyone looking to escape crowded beaches and lads on holiday”


TRAVEL

NATIONAL

Quan Lan Island Past Halong Bay is an island that has all the beauty of the bay, but without the tourists. Words by Emily Arntsen. Photos by Emily Arntsen and Christopher Hocker

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y day, the beaches of Quan Lan are picturesque. Soft white sand meets a gradient of turquoise water that lazily laps against the shore. Quaint wooden fishing boats bob on the horizon. People bask like snakes in the sun. But by night, the beaches become otherworldly. After the sun sets, glide your hand through the black water and a constellation of fleeting green lights will flicker in its wake. The ocean here is full of bioluminescent plankton, which are tiny sea organisms that illuminate when touched. They make night swimming an almost spiritual experience. Open your eyes underwater and you’ll see hundreds of blurry star-like specs light up then disappear. This is only one of the reasons why the island is magical.

Untouched Quan Lan Island is about 40km east of Halong Bay. To get there, you take a ferry from either Halong City or Cai Rong. Dock to dock, the journey takes about 90 minutes, but it’s definitely time well spent. The route from the mainland to the island takes you through a maze of enormous limestone rocks that dramatically jut out of the ocean. It’s all the beauty of Halong Bay without the tourists. Because of its distance from the mainland, the island is sparsely inhabited. Only about 2,000 people permanently live on this 15kmlong stretch of land. Its remote location also means that the island is largely untouched by

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tourism’s greedy hand, making it the perfect destination for anyone looking to escape crowded beaches and lads on holiday. The island is mostly a Vietnamese destination with very few foreign tourists. There’s nothing to do here, which is exactly why it’s so appealing. Visitors are obliged to relax and rest on the beach. It’s an island of small pleasures. You can float on your back for hours uninterrupted by waves. You can watch the sunset reflect in the ripples of the ocean. You can sit in silence. You can light a fire on the beach and swim naked because there’s no one around. The island has this sleepy quality because up until recently, it was just a fishing village. Ever since Quan Lan native Minh Chau decided to introduce tourism to the island about 15 years ago, it has slowly begun the construction process necessary to accommodate visitors. Some locals praise the progress he inspired. You’ll notice that everything here is named after him — Minh Chau Beach, Minh Chau Resort, Minh Chau Primary School. But what some see as progress, others see as exploitation. The island is on the cusp of industrialisation, and unfortunately will probably lose its quiet appeal as it becomes more built up.

The Beaches The most popular beaches on the island are Minh Chau Beach, Son Hoa Beach and Quan Lan Beach. Little shacks are set up on these beaches where you can purchase drinks like


“There’s nothing to do here, which is exactly why it’s so appealing. Visitors are obliged to relax and rest on the beach”

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beers and coconut juice. Palm leaf umbrellas and lounge chairs are also there for beachgoers to enjoy, and all of the beaches are free to enter. At night, the shacks at Minh Chau Beach turn into karaoke stages, so unless you want to participate in the singing, it’s best avoided after dark. There are also some less-popular beaches that are worth exploring, like Robinson Beach. To get there, you have to drive half a kilometre through the woods on a muddy, narrow path, but it’s definitely worth the effort. You’ll most likely have the beach to yourself. Look on a satellite map to find the entrance because it’s unmarked on the road. As for accommodation, there are plenty of affordable hotels to choose from, varying in price depending on what time of year you visit. May through October is a busy time on the island, as is the sixth lunar month of each year when Quan Lan hosts the Hoi Cheo Boi Rowing Festival. Regardless, there’s no need to book a room in advance. Supply far outweighs demand here. Getting around the island is easy if you know how to ride a motorbike. When you arrive at Quan Lan, tuk-tuks are available to take you to your hotel or to the main village where you can rent a motorbike. Taxis are few and far between. Also, there are no ATMs on the island, so bring enough cash. If you feel like doing absolutely nothing in paradise, Quan Lan is a rare gift. Get there before it becomes too popular to experience the magic of this place.

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“There are plenty of affordable hotels to choose from, varying in price depending on what time of year you visit… There’s no need to book a room in advance. Supply far outweighs demand here”


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Travel DALAT DALAT GREEN CITY HOTEL 172 Phan Dinh Phung, Dalat, Tel: (0263) 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: (0263) 382 5444 dalatpalace.vn

DALAT TRAIN VILLA Villa 3, 1 Quang Trung, Dalat, Tel: (0263) 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: (024) 3831 5555 hanoi-daewoohotel.com

over the lake. Great gym and health club.

HANOI BACKPACKER’S HOSTEL

JOSEPH’S HOTEL

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

HILTON HANOI OPERA $$$$$ 1 Le Thanh Tong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (024) 3933 0500 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: (024) 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, top-end accommodation and all the mod-cons make up the mix here together with the resort’s three inhouse restaurants and the Sunset Bar, a watering hole located on a thoroughfare

$$ 5 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (024) 3938 1048 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.

JW MARRIOTT HANOI $$$$$ 8, Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Hanoi, Tel: (024) 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.

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

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

EXO TRAVEL

41, Thao Dien, Q2. Tel (028) 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.

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

PAN PACIFIC HANOI $$$$ 1 Thanh Nien Road, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3823 8888 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 extended-stay traveller.

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

Equatorial also has an onsite casino.

SOFITEL LEGEND METROPOLE HANOI

LE MÉRIDIEN SAIGON

15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 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

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

$$$$S 3C Ton Duc Thang, Q1, HCMC Tel: (028) 6263 6688 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

PULLMAN HANOI HOTEL

CARAVELLE HOTEL

$$$$ 40 Cat Linh, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 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.

$$$$ 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.

SHERATON

EQUATORIAL

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

$$$ 242 Tran Binh Trong, Q5, Tel: (028) 3839 7777 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

$$$$ 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (028) 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: (028) 3824 1234 saigon.park.hyatt.com Fabulous in style, prime in location, everything one would expect from the Hyatt. The Square One and Italian-themed Opera restaurants have garnered an excellent reputation, as

PULLMAN SAIGON CENTRE

VIETNAM VESPA ADVENTURE

$$$$$ 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (028) 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.

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has the landscaped pool.

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

SHERATON $$$$$ 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 2828 sheraton.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: (028) 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: (028) 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, Indochineinfluenced design, a great setting and good drinking and dining options make

this a great, non-city centre choice.

HOI AN & DANANG LUXURY APARTMENT DANANG

pre–programmed iPod and both indoor and outdoor showers.

HUE & LANG CO ANGSANA LANG CO

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

$$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien Hue, Tel: (0234) 369 5800 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.

CUA DAI

$$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien, Hue, Tel: (0234) 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.

$ 544, Cua Dai, Hoi An, Tel: (0235) 386 2231 hotelcuadai-hoian.com/

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

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

THE NAM HAI $$$$ Hamlet 1, Dien Duong Village, Quang Nam, Tel: (0235) 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,

BANYAN TREE LANG CO

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

NHA TRANG COSTA NHA TRANG HOTEL & RESIDENCES 32 – 34 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: (0258) 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.

EVASON ANA MANDARA AND SIX SENSES SPA $$$$ Beachside Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (0258) 352 2222 sixsenses.com/evasonresorts/ana-mandara/ destination

JUNGLE BEACH RESORT $ Ninh Phuoc, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (0258) 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: (0258) 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.

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

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

Tel: (0252) 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: (0252) 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: (0252) 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: (0252) 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: (0232) 367 5135 phong-nha-cave.com The first western-run farmstay in Phong Nha, this well-appointed travellers’ joint has a great bar and restaurant area, a swimming pool out back and views overlooking paddy fields and mountains. Rooms start at VND600,000 for a twin or double, with a family room for five costing VND1.4 million a night.

PHU QUOC BEACH CLUB RESORT $$ Ap Cua Lap, Xa Duong To, Long Beach, Phu Quoc Island, Tel: (0297) 398 0998 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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Destination Zero

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have my father to thank (or chastise) for Paul Simon’s opening line to his song Graceland when it enters my head as I cross Rach Mieu Bridge to Ben Tre Province. With a clearance of approximately 40 metres and spanning three kilometres across the Mekong River, the bridge affords travellers heading south their first look at the enormity of the Mekong Delta stretching out before them. Perhaps not shining like a National Guitar as Simon’s lyric goes, this delta is no less breathtaking; striking for the sheer volume of water flowing beneath the bridge, the seemingly endless expanse of coconut trees filling the horizon, and the size of the sky above it. Not far from here is Mango Home Riverside where I’ll spend the next two nights on the banks of the Binh Chanh River, one of the Mekong River’s many tributaries. Mango Home Riverside offers three room types:

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Superior with the basics (approx. VND1 million); Suite with at least one double bed and large open-air bathroom (approx. VND1.5 million); and Family with two bedrooms (approx. VND2.6 million), including separate bathroom and an additional toilet. In total there are 16 rooms with plans afoot to add 10 more and another swimming pool in the near future.

The Room My room, the Jasmine suite, makes an excellent first impression. At the front, it has a small porch facing the river and is shaded from the western sun by a densely thatched roof made from the fronds of the water coconut palms that line the canals in Ben Tre. The roof not only shades the sitting area on the porch, it insulates the room sufficiently so that the air-conditioner can be used sparingly, especially at night. Inside, the room is spacious. The sense of space is enhanced by the large open-air

bathroom that is partially covered by the overhang of the thatched roof. The space between the roof and the back wall allows plenty of nature in without sacrificing privacy. Although quite sparsely decorated, the bathroom is light and airy and does the job. It’s a nice change to go about your business in a bathroom and not hit your elbows at every turn. The Jasmine suite has a double-size bed with an additional single bed, both with mosquito netting (surprisingly not always standard in the Delta), which is somewhat reassuring if you’re looking for a good night’s sleep without the anxiety that comes with thoughts of being eaten alive in your slumber. From the bedside, a large window opens out into the garden, and shows glimpses of the pool and the river beyond. It’s a short dash for a quick cool-off in the pool but is far enough so the shrill of children’s laughter as they splash


Mango Home Riverside

PHOTOS BY MATT COWAN

about is muffled and doesn’t interrupt a nap in the middle of the day.

The Rest A simple Vietnamese or Western breakfast is included with your room, with extensive lunch and dinner menus extra. Meals are served in the expansive restaurant by the river. Over dinner, it’s a pleasant change to observe couples and families with eyes fixed on river traffic ferrying mountains of coconuts to the markets in Saigon 90km away, instead of on their mobile devices. Happy hour drinks are served each day at the Sunset Lounge, just a roll of a coconut away from the restaurant, and it is where guests can get their fix of the fiery red sunsets that are synonymous with this part of the world, with a cocktail or glass of wine in hand.

For guests interested in Ben Tre’s local economy and how a living is made in what some call the Coconut Kingdom, Mango Home Riverside offers trips along the river aboard one of their many boats. A half-day river cruise (there are 13 different cruise options to choose from, including overnight trips) takes in a working coconut ‘factory’ and demonstrates the myriad uses for coconuts (not to mention the amount of physical labour that goes into processing them), a casual bicycle ride through coconut and banana plantations and their adjoining hamlets, and a brief but interesting canoe ride along a coconut palm-fringed canal back to the main boat. Ultimately, however, it’s the welcoming, enthusiastic young staff who make a stay at Mango Home Riverside so pleasant. Many of them are just starting out on their

journey in hospitality and are learning the ropes, but that doesn’t detract from the experience. The owners are trying to offer an experience that is great value for money but which gives back to the local community through job creation (95% of staff are from the local area), while endeavouring to promote a sustainable form of tourism. After what feels way too brief, my stay at Mango Home Riverside comes to an end and soon, as the next two lines in Simon’s opening stanza of Graceland go, I’m following the river down the highway. But unlike the song, I’m going to Saigon. — Matt Cowan Mango Home Riverside is in Ben Tre Province approximately 90km south of Ho Chi Minh City. For more info, go to facebook.com/ Mangohomeriverside or mangohomeriverside. com or call (075) 3511 958

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Hanoi

Day Tripper / Women's Fitness / Book Buff / The Therapist / Coffee Cup / Top Eats Photo by Julie Vola 110 | Word November 2017 | wordvietnam.com


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Hanoi Essentials

ALTERNATIVE HEALTH A-ROAMING BODYWORKER 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.

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COOKING CLASSES

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

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

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

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DENTAL CLINICS

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

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

M M M 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.

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

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

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

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

BOOKSHOPS BOOKWORM

COOKING CENTRE 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 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.

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BRITISH BUSINESS GROUP VIETNAM (BBGV)

CCIFV HANOI HOLISTIC HEALTH GUIDE

HANOI COOKING CENTRE

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.

SERENITY INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC

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

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

SINGAPORE BUSINESS ASSOCIATION VIETNAM

WESTCOAST INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC

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

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

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

INTERNATIONAL SOS

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

MEDICAL / DENTAL CLINIC 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3934 0666 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.

VIETNAM-KOREA FRIENDSHIP CLINIC KOREAN CLINIC & HOSPITAL 12 Chu Van An, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3843 7231

M M M INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS CONCORDIA INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HANOI Van Tri Golf Compound, Kim No, Dong Anh. Tel: (024) 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: (024) 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,

AGS FOUR WINDS

19th Floor, VCCI tower, 9 Dao Duy Anh, Dong Da, Tel: (024) 7308 6699 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.

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41A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 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.

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Dinh Cong, Hoang Mai, Tel: (024) 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 (024) 3743 0306; 3rd Floor, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel (024) 3934 7243; C5 – C11, 1st floor, The Manor Building, My Dinh, Tu Liem, Tel (024) 3764 0209 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 (024) 3726 1601; Block C3, Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel (024) 3758 2664; Road 2, Gamuda Gardens, Km 4.4 Phap Van, Hoang Mai, Tel (024) 6666 1818 kinderworld.net/sis Provides an international education for students from primary up to university level. A strong curriculum

SANTA FE RELOCATION SERVICES BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, HANOI

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

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Suite 821, 8th floor, Vietnam Trade Union Hotel, 14 Tran Binh Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 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.

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UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (UNIS) G9 Ciputra, Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 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: (024) 3718 6332 fair-realestate.com

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

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

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

M M M RELOCATION AGENTS

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JVK INDOCHINA MOVERS 6 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (024)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: (024) 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.

CHU

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VIETNAM EDITION / VOL. 9 TÁC GIẢ: BAO ROSS

THỰC LỊCH, ẨM 8 ĐỀ DU CHUYÊN EDITION / VOL.

VIETNAMBAO ROSS TÁC GIẢ:

What Do You Think?

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 HANOI YOGA & PILATES 247 Au Co, Tay Ho; Floor 6, No. 2 Lane 371 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh Tel: (024) 3266 8125 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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Word is Stopping Subscriptions Our magazines are disappearing fast out of our distribution outlets. So fast in fact that as a result we have decided to stop all subscriptions. We don’t have enough copies. Anyone who is an existing subscriber will continue to receive their monthly copy of the magazine. So no need to worry! And for everyone else, you can see a list of our distribution outlets by clicking on: wordvietnam.com/distributionwv Alternatively, you can find the digital version of our magazine online at: wordvietnam.com/print-editions-wordvietnam Once again, a big thank you for all your support. It’s you, the reader, who allows us to make this magazine happen.

Any questions or queries, please drop us a line on info@wordvietnam.com

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Day Tripper From utopian dream to tourist attraction. Such is the fate of this housing complex on the outskirts of Hanoi. Emily Arntsen heads to Hanoi’s very own ghost town. Photos by Julie Vola

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hen you arrive at the gates of the deserted Lideco housing complex, you’re greeted with a sun-faded advertisement of what investors originally imagined — sixstorey houses, swimming pools, smiling families and SUVs. The poster now stands as a haunting contrast between expectation and reality. As years passed and funding for the complex ran dry, this poster has assumed a new meaning. The envisioned urban middle-class community turned out to be a scarcely populated labyrinth of unfinished mansions. Located 15km west of Hanoi, the Lideco complex was supposed to house ultra-wealthy families from Hanoi who were eager to escape the hectic city. When construction began in 2008, the idea was to create a place where residents could enjoy all

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kinds of high-life luxuries like tennis courts, shopping malls, and enormous houses. More than 600 identical homes were built in organized rows with a cookie-cutter effect reminiscent of America’s Levittown tract housing. Of these 600 homes though, less than 100 are officially occupied and more than half are unfinished. General poor planning and unequal supply and demand quickly led to Lideco’s demise. The complex is about 45 minutes from downtown Hanoi without traffic. Even for residents who own a car, this commute to the city is too long. There is also a serious lack of community in the surrounding areas. Lideco is a wasteland within a wasteland.

Room at the Top Exploring the abandoned houses is the

main attraction of this place. Most of the houses are five or six storeys high, so if you feel like climbing to the top floor, you’ll be rewarded with a good view of the whole complex. To get to most of the houses, however, you’ll have to trail blaze through waist-deep weeds (beware of snakes). There’s also a small café where you can drink coffee and play pool. If you’re feeling sporty, there are two fullsized tennis courts you can use as long as you don’t mind hopping over a rather tall fence. The complex is nearly empty, which, in an eerie way, makes it kind of peaceful. Besides the occasional whir of a motorbike, the area is almost silent. You can take advantage of the peace and quiet by having a picnic by the artificial lake where locals sit under umbrellas, and fish for whatever life remains.


The Lideco Housing Complex

The sterile repetition in the architecture is starkly contrasted by the haphazard overgrowth of the past nine years. Nature has vengefully begun to reclaim the earth here — small trees grow inside basements and a layer of moss coats just about everything. Front doors are barricaded by unruly vines, and windows are clouded with thick green mould. Lideco’s aesthetic is a blend of fake-fancy architecture and dystopian grime. A lot of the occupied houses have gaudy, faux-gold gates, and bourgeois lion statues decorate the complex. But these status emblems are lost on the population of people who live there today. The demographic is not nouveau riche like investors originally expected. Lideco now appeals to people of a much lower financial bracket because property is so cheap and abundant.

Signs of Life It’s easy to tell which of the houses here are legitimately occupied because they’re not completely overridden with weeds. These houses have laundry lines hanging outside, motorbikes parked out front, and other tell-tale signs of life. It’s less easy, however, to tell which of the houses are abandoned. The majority of the buildings seem empty, but if you climb through a window to get a better look inside, you might stumble upon a makeshift bed or other clues that someone’s living there. While the complex is technically guarded to prevent squatters, there are many ways to evade the lax security. As Hanoi continues to expand outward, perhaps someday Lideco’s buildings could be put to good use. For the foreseeable

future, however, it seems like the complex will remain largely uninhabited and continue to surrender to the encroaching forces of nature. Lideco will most likely always be a place where there are streetlights, benches and addresses, but no people. A ghost town.

Getting There Lideco lies on Highway 32, past My Dinh and the suburb of Nhon. To get there follow Kim Ma out of town and keep on going straight onto Cau Giay. When you get to the intersection with Pham Van Dong, continue straight towards TT Phung and Son Tay for another 7km. You’ll see Lideco on the right-hand side.

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Women's Fitness FREE WEIGHTS VS MACHINES

BY AMAZIN LE THI

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ne of the most commonly asked questions women ask me when starting a weight training routine: “Should I use free weights or machines?” The simple answer is both. In any strength training programme, both have a great deal to offer, though you should also take into account whether you are an absolute beginner or closer to intermediate — advanced level. For women who are just starting a weight training programme for the first time, machines have the advantage of requiring less coordination. For a novice trainer, machines support your body in a fixed position so it requires less skill to guide you through the repetition from start to finish in one easy movement. As machines tend to focus on one specific muscle group rather than multiple muscles as with free-weights, they almost guarantee correct training technique without fear of injury for a beginner. Many women feel intimated using free weights as they are usually positioned near the bench press and squat racks in the male-dominated section of the gym. Free weights also require far more skill, coordination and stability. I suggest hiring a personal trainer in the gym to teach you correct form and technique when using free-weights (dumbbells and barbells) as you can easily cause yourself injury otherwise. A personal trainer will also help you build your ‘Gym Confidence’ in the free-weights section of the gym so you will be able to eventually train alone with confidence with a health and fitness routine that combines both machines and free-weights for a balanced overall gym workout routine. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of free-weights vs machines will assist you in creating a varied weight training routine that works every muscle group from various angles.

Free Weights: Advantages — Allows a natural range of movement from start to finish. — Increased effort and multiple muscle groups used when working out which means you’ll burn more calories. — Free weights incorporates other muscle groups into one movement as well as the muscle that you are specifically working. — Teaches coordination, stability and muscle balance since the exercise isn’t in a fixed range of movement as with machines.

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— Are inexpensive, portable, versatile. Can be used at home, gym, office or on taken on vacation.

Free Weights: Disadvantages — Requires skill, coordination and muscle stability. For a novice, supervision is required as the risk of injury is greater. — It is easy to get carried away with the momentum working out with free weights particularly when you start to use heavier weights. Bad posture by haphazardly swinging the dumbbells or barbells can quickly lead to injury. Make sure you work out in front of a mirror so you can adjust your posture if training alone. — Requires you to have strong stabilizing muscles i.e. lower back and abdominals for certain exercises like barbell squats, overhead presses and bench chest presses. — Training alone might become problematic when lifting heavy weights. You may require a spotter or personal trainer to lesson your risk of injury.

Machines: Advantages — Ideal for a novice trainer as it requires less supervision with a fixed range of movement that lessons your chance of injury and bad posture.

— For absolute beginners who haven’t increased their strength in the stabilizing muscles such as the lower back and abdominals, machines are perfect as they provide support with a front or backrest. — Good for rehabilitation and less intimidating for a female beginner in the gym.

Machines: Disadvantages — Are expensive to buy or repair and can only be used in a gym or home gym. — Allows for less improvement for balance, stability and coordination since the range of movement is fixed within the machine’s range of movement. — Not functional for everyday movement as it only usually targets a specific muscle rather than multiple muscle groups. Because of this you will require a large variety of machines to effectively work your entire body. Amazin is a Prana Samyana 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 1001 REASONS WHY

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o “kick the bucket” is still used as an English-language slang term meaning “to die”. Its origins can be traced back to medieval times when large animals were slaughtered suspended over buckets to catch their blood. Often, in its death throes, the beast would kick over the bucket with a dangling, convulsing leg. Conversely, Catholic etymologists argue that the bucket kicked was the one full of holy water that was placed at the feet of a corpse when it was washed. Final muscle spasms in the legs sometimes overturned the pail. Historians of 18th century literature say that this term was first recorded in 1785 in the Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. It was the bucket kicked aside by a person bent on suicide at the end of a rope. Early this century someone coined the term “bucket list” as in a list of things an individual wants to do before they shuffle off this mortal coil, pass away, peg out, are promoted to glory, push up daisies — to pick out a few of the euphemisms that soften the sound of the inevitable death rattle.

The 1001 Series In 2006 Quintessence publishers decided to make bucketloads of cash and began publishing the 1001 Before You Die series that began with 1001 Movies to See Before You Die which sold 1.5 million copies before it was updated in 2015. The original concept was to title the series 1001 Things To Do Before You Kick the Bucket. The series now has 29-plus titles that cover most areas of popular culture. Any idea that succeeds has its imitators,

but none in the kick-the-bucket vein have surpassed the Quintessence-ial originals, mainly because the original reference books are edited by respected experts in their subject areas and are each contributed to by up to 100 researchers. Introductions to editions are supplied by well-known personalities. As a bibliophile and bookshopophile my favourite in the series is 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, also published in 2006. One book lover I know, who is more obsessive and more anally retentive than I am, will not read a novel that isn’t included — even though I keep on pointing out recently published, potential, future inclusions. My second favourite — and the perfect reference for parents and teachers who know the importance of kids becoming immersed in stories — is 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up, which will also suit a proportion of adults who refuse to do so.

Extending the Series I’m a person who loves to take walking holidays and who is optimistic that the view around the next bend or from the top of the next hill will be brilliant. Hence I often salivate through 1001 Walks You Must Take Before You Die. I often sip my way through 1001 Beers You Must Taste etc. and I was initially pleased to see that my favourite black brew, Cooper’s Best Extra Stout, is included. Effective categorization and regional details — also in its sibling volumes, 1001 Wines You Must Taste etc. and 1001 Whiskies You Must Try etc., will please connoisseurs.

BY TRUONG HOANG

Donald Trump, a self-proclaimed nonreader, is catered for with 1001 Golf Holes You Must Play and game-addicted kids and stay indoor fiends will avidly peruse 1001 Video Games You Must Play. There are books in the series for bicycle aficionados, guitar collectors, garden lovers, and gastronomes; world travellers; lovers of architecture, art, inventions and philosophy; serious fans of TV series; boppers to pop music and others who adore classical more. Comic book and manga fans are catered for, as are those who wet their pants whenever a luxury or unusual car crosses their paths. And if you’re one of those who dreams of resort holidays, take a dip into Escapes You Should Experience. In fact, even those annoyingly difficult people you know who seem to have too much of everything may be catered for this Christmas with a thick tome from the 1001 list. The inspiration for the series was surely the fictional beauty, Scheherazade, the heroine in the harem, and her One Thousand and One Arabian Nights which featured Aladdin, Ali Baba and Sinbad. Our fall-back dinner party topic when things grow tedious is to guess the titles of future 1001 editions. Our favourite thus far is a Kama Sutra-inspired 1001 Sexual Positions You Must Try Before You Die or Die Trying. Second place is 1001 Ocean and River Cruises You Must Take Before You Die and the 1001 gastro bugs you might think you’re going to die from while onboard. 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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The Therapist WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK

BY DOUGLAS HOLWERDA

Dear Douglas, In an argument with my boyfriend, recently, we found that we strongly disagree about something and decided to ask you for your opinion. It started when I told him to stop comparing himself to others all the time. I said that it doesn’t really matter what other people think or do and that he could be happier if he would quit focusing on others and just worry about himself. He said that it is impossible to know where you stand if you don’t compare yourself to those around you. He said that it is a way to motivate himself to improve, to try to be better than others. Who is right? Can’t we just be ourselves? Do we always have to worry about what others think? — To Care and To Not Care Dear To Care and To Not Care, Thank you for bringing up a topic that is relevant to many people, something quite common that we might be confused about. It starts with a very deep need that we all have, which is the need for acceptance, approval, belonging and connection. Having that need makes us vulnerable to the fear of rejection, the opposite of approval, belonging and connection. It means that most of us work hard to address that fear by doing things that will win approval and give us a place where we “belong” in the social order. Few people feel completely free of the underlying fear that drives our desire for approval. One of the ways that we are likely to secure our place of social approval is to know the things that will earn it. We look around and see who is accepted or popular and we try to emulate what they do in an effort to meet our need of acceptance and to reduce our fear of rejection. A common term now is “social currency”. This is why it is quite natural and common to compare ourselves to others. There can be positive and negative aspects to comparison. There are two directions of comparison, upward and downward. To compare oneself to those who are worse than we are on a particular trait or ability, downward comparison, is a self-protective, self-enhancing strategy. It helps people feel better about themselves. It might be a compensation for insecurity or fear of rejection, but not always. Upward comparison is when we compare ourselves to people who are better than we are on a particular trait or

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ability. It can either lead to an increase in motivation — the aspiration we have to improve ourselves — or it can lead to a way of reinforcing negative views we have of ourselves that prove that we are less than that of what we see in others. When we want an accurate assessment of our abilities and opinions, we compare ourselves to people who are most similar to us. So going back to the argument you are having with your boyfriend. It strikes me that you are interpreting his tendency to compare himself to others as an indication that he may lack self-confidence or selfesteem, that the source of his behaviour might be insecurity, fear. Sometimes that is true. People tend to be more externally focused when they are not feeling adequate about themselves. Self-esteem is the value or worth a person gives themselves often connected to a belief they might about their “acceptability”. In an ideal childhood a child receives nurturing — the continued message that they are loved and valued for no reason other than that they are themselves. This child grows up without the fears and doubts that are generated when we do not feel this unconditional acceptance. It starts from those around us and becomes

internalized as confidence and self-love. Most of us have not had the ideal and have received messages that our value is associated to our performance, our appearance or our ability to gain the approval of others, somehow. That is why we can be very concerned about what others think or where we are, in comparison to others. It is never too late to develop selfacceptance and self-approval. It is never too late to gain confidence without the approval of others. It is never too late to realize that self-acceptance and self-approval is the most likely way that we will reach our aspirations, our highest sense of who we might be. Fear and worry are the problems and the more we face and overcome them, the freer we are to discover what it means to be ourselves. I say: care about what others think or do, but not too much. In the long run, it is what we think and feel about ourselves that matters the most. I hope this is helpful. — 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: (024) 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: (024) 3734 9134 Set in a colonial villa, when it comes to design, the funky but comfortable Barbetta with its roof terrace is difficult to beat. A great place for coffee, beer or even a bite to eat.

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

FURBREW CRAFT BEER BAR 8B/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho 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: (024) 3926 3104

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

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

ROCKSTORE LIVE MUSIC BAR 61 Ma May, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 01653 336087 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: (024) 6675 9838 tracyspub.com

VUVUZELA MODERN BEER HALL 2A Tran Thanh Tong, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (024) 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: (024) 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: (024) 6293 6361 An urban café and brasserie serving international and French-Mediterranean cuisine in a casual and cozy atmosphere. A popular social hub in Ba Dinh District featuring a wide selection of coffees and wines from around the world.

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

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

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

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

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

MANZI ARTSPACE ARTS CAFÉ & GALLERY 14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3716 3397 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: (024) 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.

MOC CAFE

JOMA

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

COFFEE/BAKERY 22 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3747 3388; 43 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3718 6071 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: (024) 3938 1745 This spacious spot on Food Street is open around the clock, offering Aussieinspired comfort food along with more eclectic Irish nachos, cottage pies and pan-Asian fare. Upstairs is fit for social gatherings and live music while the no-smoking downstairs space

PUKU

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Coffee Cup

B

eing a big fan of cats in cafés, I was thrilled to see that Ban Café has its very own feline mascot. On a recent visit, Bong (Ban Café cat number three — his two predecessors are missing in action) was lounging comfortably on a large floor cushion by an open window, without a care in the world. And that probably sums up the Ban Café vibe; it’s a great place to chill. Located in a mostly residential area off Au Co, the café is easy to find, and is well sign-posted once you get to Alley 45. Walking into Ban, I was struck by how cool it was in the heat of a Hanoi summer.

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Shade trees, a thatched Balinese-style balé with floor cushions in muted tones, a wooden swing and a hammock greeted me as I strolled through the front gate into the garden entrance. A pond with bright green lily pads, a trickling water feature and the faint strains of a piano being played added to the ambience.

Northern Exposure Inside, Ban is decorated with textiles from the Hmong and Dao ethnic minorities — even the toilet sports a large wall hanging. The café’s owners, Tu Hua and her French husband Quentin, have a passion for the

northern areas of Vietnam, and this is evident in the décor and the philosophy of Ban. They wanted to create a culture sharing space, and run live music events, film nights and improv sessions to advance their mission. Unfortunately, most of the café’s events are in Vietnamese or French, but they say they are looking to expand to English-language entertainment in the future. Ban has a good selection of teas, and Tu advised me that the hibiscus (VND50,000) and tropical fruit (VND60,000) teas are the most popular items. I’m usually a tea drinker in the afternoon, but I opted for


Ban Cafe

PHOTOS BY TEIGUE JOHN BLOKPOEL

a Vietnamese iced coffee (VND25,000) to address my flagging energy levels, and was disappointed. It was bitter and watery — I was expecting a much smoother brew. My disposition toward the coffee may have been more favourable had they not run out of one of my favourite desserts.

Who Moved my Cheese(cake)? If there is cheesecake on the menu, I rarely pass on it, and cookies and cream variety (VND25,000) was a novelty. I ordered it and was promptly told they had run out. Disappointed, I opted for a chocolate and almond biscuit (VND25,000), which

— when it arrived — was a generous square, served on a rustic blue-and-white ceramic dish. It had a nice crunch, but was a little bland for my liking; however, my opinion could have been influenced by residual disappointment from the nonexistent cheesecake. Of course, I could have opted for the tiramisu — at VND60,000 one of Ban’s biggest sellers — but I wanted something to stick to my ribs. Ban also has a good range of smoothies (from VND40,000 to VND60,000), beer (VND35,000 to VND40,000) and for meat eaters, buffalo jerky (VND50,000 for a small dish, or VND100,000 for a large.)

The café’s main attraction is its ambience, and Tu is keen for businesses or groups to take advantage of the space for meetings, workshops and the like. And there’s a sweetener: no fee is charged for meetings. — Diane Lee Ban Café is at No 22, Alley 45, 200 Au Co, Tay Ho, Hanoi. The café is open from 2pm to 10pm daily, and late on weekends. For more information, go to facebook.com/ bancafévanhoa

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Top Eats

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restaurant with the MasterChef name attached to it sets up a series of expectations; décor, vibe and, of course, the food. Nam Thu and his wife Linh Vu have such a pedigree. Nam was in the top 11 of the third season, but was forced to withdraw because of illness, and Nam’s motherin-law, Minh Thuy, was also a contestant in the same season, making it to the top seven. Since MasterChef, Nam and Linh have opened seven restaurants in Hanoi — Gia Dinh BB is the sixth and has been open for just over a year. Located in Hai Ba Trung, Gia Dinh BB occupies a renovated villa over three

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floors. Nam and Linh’s background in textiles is obvious; wood, glass blocks and mirrors let in ambient light and give the restaurant a bright, spacious feel. And it was bustling; even at 2pm, diners were still dipping into their hotpots, the smell of dill permeating the air.

Cha Ca: Spot the Difference Gia Dinh is described as an Asian fusion restaurant with a focus on seafood, and I was here for the cha ca (VND130,000). The dish is legendary in Hanoi, but I had only ever tried it in Saigon, and I was keen to play spot the difference. I also ordered the muc la lang hap can tay

chanh vang (squid hotpot with celery and lemon — VND250,000) and the chao ca lang hanh gung (bagridae porridge with ginger and onion — VND85,000). Tra hat sen la nep (lotus tea — VND45,000) was my drink choice and I finished off with a dessert of xoi sau rieng (durian sticky rice — VND45,000). What set this cha ca apart from the Saigon version was the fish served three ways. Simmering on a bed of dill were grilled chunks of fish, yellow from their turmeric marinade; minced fish wrapped in la lot (betel) leaf and stuffed with herbs; and fish wrapped in pork fat. The cha ca was accompanied by more dill, coriander,


Gia Dinh BB

PHOTOS BY JULIE VOLA

vermicelli, raw onion, fried shallots, peanuts and my favourite of all Vietnamese condiments; mam tom (fermented shrimp dipping sauce). The grilled fish was tender yet meaty, with a tangy, savoury flavour. The la lot wrapped fish was also tasty, although small fish bones hampered the experience somewhat. Being vegetarianish, I declined the fish wrapped in pork fat.

Squid, Glorious Squid I refreshed my palate with the lotus tea — refreshing and not too sweet — before moving onto the squid hotpot. It was a generous serve — and delicious. The tender squid swam in a fragrant,

laksa-inspired broth, all coconut milk, lemongrass and dill, with a slight kick of chilli. Even those who shy away from chilli would find this dish a delight. Next, I chowed down on the porridge and was pleasantly surprised by how light it was. It satisfied my umami taste receptors, with the fried shallots adding crunch and a touch of sweetness. Never having eaten durian — the smell puts me off — I was hesitant to try the durian dessert, but was persuaded to give it a go. Coloured bright green with pandan leaf and garnished with cream, sliced almonds and fried, shredded coconut, it was a pretty dish. I could smell the durian,

but found the flavour not unpleasant. Customers are attracted to the restaurant because of the family’s MasterChef involvement, keen to see what all the fuss is about. With more than five years having passed since the show, the quality of the food and service as well as the reasonable prices keep diners coming back. — Diane Lee You can find Gia Dinh BB at 114 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi. They are open from 10am to 2.30pm and 5pm to 9.30pm daily

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

SPACEBAR COWORKING CAFE Nha 15, 76 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho 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: (024) 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: (024) 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: (024) 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: (024) 3825 1286 greentangerinehanoi.com

LA BADIANE CONTEMPORARY FRENCH 10 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 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: (024) 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: (024) 3826 6919 The Metropole’s signature restaurant serving up both classic and contemporary French fare. Buffet options mix with an a la carte menu and an ambience that could be straight out of Paris.

MILLENIUM-CAFÉ DES ARTS PAN-FRENCH 11 Hang Hanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3828 7207 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: (024) 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: (024) 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

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EAT — INTERNATIONAL AL FRESCO’S AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL 24 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 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: (024) 3845 5224 aulacdobrazil.com

CHOPS GOURMET BURGER & CRAFT BEER 4 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 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: (024) 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: (024) 6293 6361 An urban café and brasserie serving international and French-Mediterranean cuisine in a casual and cozy atmosphere. A popular social hub in Ba Dinh District featuring a wide selection of coffees and wines from around the world.

EL GAUCHO STEAKHOUSE ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE 11 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3824 7280; 99 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3718 6991 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: (024) 3758 2400 J.A.F.A. is a great place for drinking cocktails by the pool. The beverages are not the cheapest, but this is made up for by service and ambiance. They also have a full menu featuring familiar western dishes such as pizza and cheeseburgers and cater for large parties or dinner functions. Periodic buffets and drink specials are also offered.

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

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

KOTO ON VAN MIEU RESTAURANT / CAFÉ / BAR 59 Van Mieu, Dong Da, Tel: (024) 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: (024) 3995 0950 lasalsa-hanoi.com

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

MOOSE AND ROO SMOKEHOUSE AMERICAN GRILL The American Club, 19-21 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3939 2470 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: (024) 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.

THE CART SANDWICH SHOP / CAFÉ 8B, Lane 1, Au Co, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

M M M EAT — ITALIAN

PANE E VINO

DA PAOLO

PAN-ITALIAN 3 Nguyen Khac Can, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3826 9080 facebook.com/panevinoHN

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

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

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

LINGUINI FINI ITALIAN-AMERICAN 36-38 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 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.

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

POTS ‘N PANS

PHO CUON 26 Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh

CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE 57 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (024) 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.

MIEN TRON HANH MIXED GLASS NOODLES 7B Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem

MY VAN THAN WONTON NOODLES 54 Hang Chieu, Hoan Kiem

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

PHO CUON HUNG BEN

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

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

PHO GIA TRUYEN BAT DAN PHO BO 49 Bat Dan, Hoan Kiem

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

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EAT — VIETNAMESE

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

HIGHWAY 4

BANH CUON HANG GA

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

CLASSIC ITALIAN 27 Nam Ngu, Tel: (024) 3823 7338 lunadautunno.vn This old-favourite Italian uses traditional wood ovens

BUN CHA DAC KIM

3 CHI EM

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LUNA D’AUTUNNO

OLD HANOI GOURMET VIETNAMESE 4 Ton That Thiep, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 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.

BANH CUON 14 Hang Ga, Hoan Kiem

BANH MI 25 STREETSIDE BANH MI 25 Hang Ca, Hoan Kiem

BIT TET NGON SO 5 VIETNAMESE BEEFSTEAK 20A Hoe Nhai, Ba Dinh

PHO THIN LO DUC

SAUTEED BEEF PHO 13 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung

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

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

XOI HANG HOM STICKY RICE 44 Hang Hom, Hoan Kiem

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

2017 IS COMING TO A SOON ENDING & 2018 WILL BE A GLORIOUS NEW LEAF Happiest of holiday wishes & joy to all for Thanksgiving and Christmas catering and events we would be delighted to make your season's festivities uniquely memorable fun and delicious! 16 Quang An - Tay Ho - Hanoi | Tel: (84-24) 3 719 2828 | 3 719 3719

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Ho Chi Minh City

Body and Temple / Medical Buff / Top Eats / Know Your City Photo by Olga Rozenbajgier 126 | Word November 2017 | wordvietnam.com


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HCMC Essentials

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

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

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

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

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STAMFORD SKIN CENTRE SKIN CARE / COSMETICS 99 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.

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DENTAL CLINICS

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

INTERNATIONAL SOS DENTAL CLINIC

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

AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (AUSCHAM)

MAPLE HEALTHCARE WELLNESS CENTRE

CANADIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (CANCHAM)

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

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

WESTCOAST INT’L DENTAL CLINIC

INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC Norfolk Mansion, 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (028) 3825 6999 Thao Dien Clinic, 27 Nguyen Ba Lan, Q.2, Tel: (028) 35 191 777 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.

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

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

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

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

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HOSPITALS & MEDICAL CLINICS AMERICAN CHIROPRACTIC CLINIC CHIROPRACTOR 161-161A Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (028) 3939 3930 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

FV HOSPITAL

INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL 6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Saigon South Parkway, Q7, Tel: (028) 5411 3333 Emergency: (028) 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.

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BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (BIS)

246 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (028) 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.

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

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

SIAN SKINCARE CLINIC SKIN CARE / COSMETICS 27 Nguyen Trung Truc, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 6999 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.

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Body & Temple PRODUCTIVE HABITS

BY PHIL KELLY

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o you want to have more energy throughout the day and be more successful in your job and not so tired after work when you return home? Eating poorly not only saps your energy and creativity, but reduces your productivity and potential success at work. It also negatively affects fat loss and health. Here are five nutrition tips to help you get on top of your work and improve your entire life.

1) Understand Coffee If you are tired, coffee is not the answer. There are smarter times to consume this social liquid to avoid negative health and performance outcomes. Cortisol is your body’s natural wakeup hormone. Right before you wake up, cortisol spikes to prepare you for the day. Right after you wake up, it spikes again, pushing you to the highest levels of the day. Drinking coffee when cortisol is high is redundant and can lead to an excess of circulating cortisol and cause fat storage as well as lead to tiredness later in the day. Coffee is not a good solution for lack of sleep or tiredness. If tired, instead of having a coffee you should get more sleep.

2) Breakfast Breakfast is the best time to set the stage for health, fat loss and sustainable energy levels. Reduce the high starch portions of noodles, bread and rice. Swop noodles and rice for omelette and vegetables, green shake or vegetable soup. These take minimal time to make or they can be made the night before and kept in the fridge. You should be aiming to eat a livefood breakfast full of nutrients and low on empty calories. To ensure I get the best start to the day I make sure I hydrate properly and consume as many nutrients as possible with as little calories as possible. This kick-starts my energy systems, provides my body with all the essential nutrients for excellent brain (cognitive) and cellular function, while forcing my body to draw fuel from stored energy — burning my fat stores. I start with drinking 500ml of water with fresh lime juice. The benefits of lime water are to boost digestive strength, kick-start metabolism, and provide antioxidants to put you into a fat burning state. I then make a green breakfast shake to provide energy and boost my concentration and brainpower. My green shake is generally made with two handfuls

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of a super green vegetable, two tablespoons of Coconut oil, one heaped teaspoon of matcha green tea, one table spoon of chia seeds, 500 to 600ml of water. These drinks fill me up and make me mentally focused for the entire morning. My productivity has never been better since I began with this morning nutrition routine.

3) Snacks Snacks need to be easy. Nuts and seeds are the best form of snacks, as they are easy to carry, do not perish and satisfy hunger. They provide essential nutrients that help keep you focused and alert at work, as well as being a good source of fat to keep your body in a fat burning state. You must be careful to keep your portion size appropriate, as it is easy to eat too much at snack time. Snacks should only be 50 to 100 calories.

4) Lunch and dinner Adding a salad to each of your main daily meals can add loads to your overall health and well-being. They will also help to keep you alert and energetic in the afternoon. They don’t have to be boring, and they don’t have to be just salad greens. Tart cranberries are a great addition to your greens.

Avoid heavy starch meals during the day. If you eat too much rice or noodles your blood sugar levels go very high. Your body has to lower blood sugar levels to maintain your health but when your body lowers the blood sugar level it can result in you feeling tired. In the evening, your dinner can have a more substantial portion of starch to satisfy hunger and restore energy levels to their optimum.

5) Learn to cook Cooking is one of the most enjoyable and healthy things you can do by yourself and with friends. It involves scrubbing and peeling vegetables, preparing whole foods, organisation, creativity and paying attention to how things are cooked. If you’re ordering food every day and night, you’re far less likely to be eating the whole foods and natural vegetables that provide the base for your health and sustainable energy. Your diet has an immense effect on your energy levels and your capacity to focus and perform well at work. 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

CENTRE MEDICAL INTERNATIONALE (CMI) FRENCH MEDICAL CLINIC 1 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (028) 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: (028) 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: (028) 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: (028) 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.

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

TRADITIONAL MEDICINE HOSPITAL EASTERN MEDICINE 187 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (028) 3932 6579

VICTORIA HEALTHCARE INTERNATIONAL CLINIC INTERNATIONAL CLINIC 79 Dien Bien Phu, Q1, Tel: (028) 3910 4545 victoriavn.com

M M M INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS ABC INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (ABCIS) Saigon South Campus 1 (Primary & Secondary), Tel: (028) 5431 1833/34/35/36; Saigon South Campus 2 (Foundation Stage & Early Primary), Tel: (028) 5431 1833/34/35/36 office@theabcis.com 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 and the Education Development Trust, and are members of COBIS and FOBISIA. Provides education for two to 18 year olds in a supportive and friendly environment.

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

KIDS CLUB SAIGON 79/7 Pham Thai Buong, Q7; 27/3 Ha Huy Tap, Q7, Tel: (028) 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: (028) 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: (028) 3744 2639 montessori.edu.vn Aiming to encourage children’s engagement with their surroundings, MIS offers children from age three to 12 a classic Montessori education as well as a variety of extra–curricular activities.

RENAISSANCE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL SAIGON 74 Nguyen Thi Thap, Q7, Tel: (028)3773 33171 ext 120/121/122 renaissance.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: (028) 3740 8081 saigonkidskindergarten. com SKECC has evolved over 10 years to create a creative, playful learning environment for children ages two to six. Limited class sizes and highly engaged teachers ensure personal attention for all students.

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

EASY SAIGON Tel: 0932 112694 easysaigon.com

HAPPY HOUSE SAIGON SOUTH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (SSIS) 78 Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7, Tel: (028) 5413 0901 ssis.edu.vn

SAIGON STAR INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL Residential Area No. 5, Thanh My Loi, Q2, Tel: (028) 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: (028) 3744 6076; 26, Street Nr. 10, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 3898 9816; 15 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 3519 4236 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.

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

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

SNAP 32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 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: (028) 3910 1220 alliedpickfords.com

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

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

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Medical Buff PERIPHERAL ARTERY DISEASE

BY DR PEDRO L. TRIGO

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n the 21st century, Vietnam has entered an age of relative prosperity. One of the immediate benefits of this is that life expectancy has soared, at least for the time being. But with the good comes the bad; there’s more smoking, less walking, and more fatty fast foods. The number of cars and bikes is growing almost every day, and people are happy to have more Western comforts. How many people have cheered that we finally have McDonald’s in Saigon? But with all this, the incidence of diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol is escalating at an alarming rate. It’s not the pure numbers that are so dramatic; it’s the speed at which this is growing. Going from poor to wealthy in Europe and America was a smooth transition that took 30 to 50 years, allowing the development of a health system to match gradually unfolding needs. But in Vietnam, it’s happened within just 10 years. That’s why the rise in number of patients with these problems is making a big impact on the health system. In the West, if you’re considered obese, the risk for many diseases sharply increases. But in Asia, we see diseases such as diabetes in people who are nowhere near as chubby as Westerners can be, which indicates that the number of those affected here may grow even higher. In the case of diabetes, it’s expected that more than 10 percent of the Vietnamese population will be affected.

Amputations One of the most visible consequences of diabetes is the development of peripheral artery disease (PAD), which can lead to foot amputations. It’s said that in Western countries, between 10 to 15% of the diabetic population will one day face amputation. Here in Saigon, where people commonly wear open sandals that expose their feet to friction and dust, the expectation is that the incidence of PAD and foot amputation will be much higher. The population of Vietnam is more than 90 million; if the incidence of diabetes reaches 10 percent, this means that at least 90,000 to 135,000 amputations are on the way! With PAD, everything starts from a tiny spot with some discomfort that you don’t pay much attention to. From there, it develops into a little blister that becomes infected. The infection starts to grow deep and can reach the bone. At that point, even the best antibiotic cannot reach the lesion, because the arteries become obstructed. Finally, the only way to prevent the infection from spreading

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and killing the patient is to cut off the lower leg.

Prevention Prevention is not difficult, and information is everywhere. I don’t know the exact percentage of the population with a smartphone, but in Vietnam, it’s one of the highest — almost everyone on the streets seems to have one. That means the information is in their hands. There are so many websites on how to take care of your skin when you are a diabetic. The issue is that people have to jump from Instagram and Facebook to read educational material. The key problem comes down to human behaviour. Fifty percent of amputations caused by PAD can be prevented with just a few easy steps. Firstly, take a look at your feet every day. Check between the toes, and keep them dry and clean. Secondly, before putting your shoes on, check that there is nothing inside. Not even a tiny stone. Pull on the tongue of each shoe to make sure that there isn’t any kind of fold. Wear snug-fitting cotton socks to avoid friction, and make sure that both shoes and socks fit comfortably. Why all of this? It’s because the early biology of the amputation starts with the tiny nerves around your skin. Normally, you can feel any light touch, but when you have diabetes, your high blood sugar prevents these nerves from working properly. This is called neuropathy. At the same time, the high sugar also pushes up your cholesterol

levels, which can obstruct the arteries. A minor blister or ulcer in the foot can start to grow, and if the area is even slightly dirty, bacteria can infect the lesion. It may not look so bad on the surface, but it can spread deep beneath the skin. By the time you see the doctor, it can be enormous.

Consultation Consult your doctor early if you notice something unusual on your feet. A small ulcer can be treated to remove the necrotic tissue, and special dressings can be applied to promote regrowth of the removed area — we stock these at our clinic. In serious cases, immersion in a hyperbaric chamber can force oxygen into tissue with insufficient arterial reach. As with most such diseases, it’s best to avoid the complications of diabetes by leading a healthy lifestyle. For diabetes type two, the medication isn’t enough — you need to decrease your food intake and burn off extra weight. Besides avoiding smoking, the treatment for diabetes really rests on four pillars: diet, exercise, medication, and water. Eat well, move your body, and take the proper amount of water, and your reliance on medicines will decrease. I have seen successful cases where patients have stopped taking medicine altogether after adopting healthy living practices. All it takes is a little discipline. Dr. Pedro L. Trigo works for Family Medical Practice and specialises in hepatology. For more information click on vietnammedicalpractice.com


HCMC Essentials

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

M M M SPORTS & FITNESS BODY AND MIND 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.

NUTRIFORT (NTFQ2)

Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 2828 sheratonsaigon.com

GENERAL FITNESS 34 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (028) 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.

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

SAIGON HASH HOUSE HARRIERS

STAR FITNESS GYM

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.

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

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HO CHI MINH CITY

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

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SOFITEL PLAZA FITNESS CENTRE

4th/12th Floor Rubyl Tower, 81-85 Ham Nghi, Q1 Tel: (028) 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.

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VERTICAL ACADEMY CLIMBING GYM Truc Duong, Q2, Tel: 0966 920612 facebook.com/vertical. academy.vn

VETERINARY CLINICS ANIMAL DOCTORS INTERNATIONAL 1 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 6260 3980 animaldoctors.vn

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

PETCARE VETERINARY HOSPITAL

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

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

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

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HO CHI MINH CITY — AMERICAN ACADEMY

16 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (028) 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.

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SANTA FE RELOCATION SERVICES

8FL, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: (028) 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.

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

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL SAIGON PEARL

92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (028) 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.

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AGS FOUR WINDS (VIETNAM)

5th Floor, Lafayette De Saigon, 8A Phung Khac Khoan, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.

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

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HCMC On The Town

BARS 2 LAM SON (MARTINI BAR) TOP-END INTERNATIONAL Park Hyatt, 2 Lam Son, Q1, Tel: (028) 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: (028) 3930 2239

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

BIA CRAFT CRAFT BEER BAR 90 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: (028) 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 good stuff. Looking for Tiger? Go take a hike. Also has a decent food menu.

BELGO

GASTROPUB / CRAFT BEER 159 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: (028) 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,

RACHA ROOM

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

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STOKER

CONTEMPORARY STEAKHOUSE 44 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel (028) 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.

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

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D2

Tel: (028) 3836 8452

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

BUDDHA BAR RESTOBAR 7 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 3345 6345 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 darts, pool and weekly poker tourneys.

CHILL SKYBAR TOP-END BAR & TERRACE Rooftop, AB Tower, 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.

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

DUBLIN GATE IRISH PUB & RESTAURANT 19 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (028) 6656 1103 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.

RELISH & SONS

GOURMET BURGER BAR 44 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: 01207 214294; 105-107 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.

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SCORE-TECH

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

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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 on-site brewed craft beer mixes with an excellent food menu and an impressive vibe.

EON HELI BAR LOUNGE BAR Level 52, Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (028) 6291 8750 eon51.com

ENVY NIGHTCLUB 76 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1, Tel: (028) 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

MEATWORKS BUTCHERY

BUTCHERS 1 Street 2, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 2565; 401 Pham Thai Buong H11-2, My Khanh 3, Q7, Tel: (028) 5412 5228 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.

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

GAME ON SPORTS BAR 115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1 Tel: (028) 6251 9898 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

night off or end it in a chilled atmosphere.

46-48 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1

LA HABANA

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

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

LAYLA

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.

BAR & EATERY 63 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.

HOA VIEN

LAST CALL

CZECH BREWHOUSE 28 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1, Tel: (028) 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

AFTERHOURS LOUNGE 59 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (028) 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: (028) 3837 7679

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

MALT GAMES & CRAFT BEER BAR

NUMBER FIVE

O’BRIEN’S IRISH BAR / INTERNATIONAL 74/A3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 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: (028) 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.

PITCHERS SPORTS AND GRILL SPORTS BAR & GRILL RESTAURANT C0.01 Riverside Residence C, Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7, Tel: (028) 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: (028) 3828 8828 quilounge.com A recently opened, stylish top-

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

ROGUE SAIGON CRAFT BEER PUB 13 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: 0902 365780 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: (028) 5410 3900 A Phu My Hung mainstay thanks to its cartoon décor and light but fun ambience. Has a reasonable food menu to complement the drinks.

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

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

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HCMC On The Town

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

SAIGON RANGER

5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 9698 facebook.com/ vespersaigon

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

VINYL BAR

I.D. CAFÉ

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

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

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

SAIGON SAIGON BAR

XU

KLASIK COFFEE ROASTERS

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

SHRINE BAR LOUNGE BAR 61 Ton Thap Thiep, Q1 shrinebarsaigon.com

STORM P

CAFÉ / LOUNGE BAR 71-75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.

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

CAFES & ICE-CREAM

THE OBSERVATORY

AGNES CAFE

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

THE SOCIETY GRILL AND LOUNGE BAR 99 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (028) 3914 3999 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.

THE TAVERN

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

VESPER GOURMET LOUNGE INTERNATIONAL Landmark Building,

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M M M

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

CAFE THOAI VIEN

159A Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: 0918 115657 cafethoaivien.com

COFFEE BEAN & TEA LEAF

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.

GUANABANA SMOOTHIES CONTEMPORARY JUICE BAR 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: (028) 3822 4222 Hideawaycafe-saigon.com Hidden in a colonial building with an outdoor courtyard, the ample soft, sofa seating

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

L’USINE CONTEMPORARY / FRENCH First Floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (028) 6674 9565; 70B Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (028) 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. (028) 3602 6385 Low-key yet nice-on-theeye décor helps create the café-style atmosphere at this European-influenced café and restaurant. Sells excellent coffee and if you like bagels, here you’ll be in heaven.

THE MORNING CAFE 2nd Floor, 36 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: 0938 383330 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: (028) 3823 4990

THINGS CAFE 1st Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: (028) 6678 6205 facebook.com/thingscafe

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

Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 0033 marriott.com

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

SHANG PALACE RESTAURANT PAN-CHINESE / CANTONESE Norfolk Mansion, 1719-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (028) 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: (028) 3520 9999 intercontinental. com/saigon

EAT – FRENCH L’OLIVIER FRENCH/MEDITERRANEAN Sofitel Saigon Plaza, 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.

BABA’S KITCHEN NORTH / SOUTH INDIAN 164 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (028) 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: (028) 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.

EAT – INTERNATIONAL AL FRESCO’S

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

INTERNATIONAL 27 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.

LE CORTO

AU LAC DO BRAZIL

LA CUISINE

CONTEMPORARY FRENCH 5D Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (028) 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: (028) 3825 8465

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

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

AU PARC EUROPEAN / CAFÉ 23 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (028) 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: (028) 3744 6790 A revamp has seen this riverside restaurant get a new management and a new menu — think American-style burgers, sliders and Tex-Mex together with soup and salad and you’ll get the idea. Excellent nachos and frozen margaritas.


BOOMARANG BISTRO SAIGON

JASPA’S WINE & GRILL

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

INTERNATIONAL FUSION The Square, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.

CHI’S CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE 40/31 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (028) 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: (028) 3829 5368 norfolkhotel.com.vn

ELBOW ROOM AMERICAN 52 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (028) 3821 4327 elbowroom.com.vn

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

EON51 FINE DINING TOP-END EUROPEAN / ASIAN Level 51, Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (028) 6291 8750 eon51.com

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

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

LU BU CONTEMPORARY MEDITERRANEAN 97B Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (028) 6281 8371 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.

MAD HOUSE CONTEMPORARY CAFE, BAR, RESTAURANT 6/1/2 Nguyen U Di, Q2, Tel: (028) 3519 4009; Duong C — Bac, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (028) 5417 1234

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.

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

PITCHERS SPORTS AND GRILL SPORTS BAR & GRILL RESTAURANT C0.01 Riverside Residence C, Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7, Tel: (028) 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 LOGiC L5-18, Floor 5, Saigon Centre, 92-94 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1, HCMC Tel: (028) 3821 8319 pizzalogic-hcm.com “Pizza is not meant to be tasted, but to be eaten”. At Pizza LOGiC, we aim to make pizza a more familiar dish in Vietnam. Come and try our specialties: pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven, roasted chicken prepared in a rotisserie oven, mouthwatering beef, or pasta dishes for crab lovers. The Number 1 Pizza In The World.

PIZZA 4P’S EUROPEAN/ASIAN FUSION 8/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 9838 pizza4ps.com

QUAN UT UT US-STYLE BARBECUE 168 Vo Van Kiet, Q1, Tel: (028) 3914 4500 facebook.com/quanutut

REFINERY FRENCH BISTRO / INTERNATIONAL The Square, 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 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: (028) 3822 0033

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

SKEWERS INTERNATIONAL / MEDITERRANEAN 9A Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 4798 skewers-restaurant.com

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

THE SOCIETY GRILL AND LOUNGE BAR 99 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (028) 3914 3999 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: (028) 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: (028) 3920 3897 vietnamvespaadventures.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Top Eats

A

fter a period of refurbishment, Opera Restaurant in the Park Hyatt Saigon recently reopened its doors to hungry hotel guests and walk-in customers. With a newly renovated Opera bar, main dining room and private dining room, and verandah, diners now have more room to enjoy the comfortable ambiance and delicious food. One of Opera’s assets has always been its ability to attract customers who are not staying in the hotel. And the newer, brighter, fresher version of this top-notch Italian restaurant is no different. Part of the reason is its location — just off the lobby on the ground floor. Another reason is the ambience. There is something homely about this trattoria-style restaurant, something that

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makes you feel as if you’ve gone to Italy for your meal.

Different Spaces Enter Opera and the first part of this multispace eatery that will gain your attention is The Pastry Boutique. Displaying colourful macarons, and mouthwatering desserts, macarons go for VND280,000* for a box of six, a mix of chocolate and nut-filled cookies cost VND130,000 for a small box, and cakes are VND150,000 a slice. These sweets and desserts are made fresh daily by the hotel’s in-house pastry chef Kim Narae. The restaurant’s wine selection is also on display, which makes the perfect backdrop to the Opera Bar — a small and intimate space perfect for meetings or a

much-needed tete-a-tete. The restaurant has an east-meets-west interior, mixing Western influence with Vietnamese design. In the main dining room, half of the wall on the right is adorned with wooden etchings symbolic of Vietnamese culture. The furniture is a mixand-match of modern and traditional, and the wide floor-to-ceiling windows on the Opera verandah flood the restaurant with sunlight. Step in a bit further and enter the white doors to the main dining room. The open kitchen is in the middle, so diners can have a complete view of how their meal is prepared. The private dining room, which can seat up to 14 people, is found at the back of the main dining area.


Opera Restaurant

PHOTOS BY BAO ZOAN

Authentic Fare With the aim of giving customers the complete Italian experience, Opera Restaurant kitchen is headed by Italian chef Matteo Fracalossi. With experience working at a two-star Michelin restaurant, chef Matteo takes diners on a culinary journey across Italy. The menu offers uncomplicated yet satisfying dishes perfect for all three meals of the day, and even the in-betweens. The restaurant’s signature dishes include the appetizer San Daniele e burrata (VND410,000). It is served with their own dough recipe. The saltiness of the ham isn’t overpowering and goes well with the burrata, and each bite is best topped with a semi-dried tomato. Another favourite is the fregola sarda ai frutti de mare (VND390,000), a staple dish

in Sardinia. It is a mixture of lobster stock, seafood, garlic, parsley, and homemade butter. For a non-seafood lover, the fregola is surprisingly good — fresh and light. The branzino all’ acqua pazza (VND650,000) is a scene-stealer. It looks as good in the pictures as it tastes. The term acqua pazza is literally translated as ‘crazy water.’ It is a Neapolitan way of poaching fish. Opera Restaurant’s version of this fresh and easy dish is cooked in a tomato-based sauce topped with cherry tomatoes, black olives and capers. Another feature worth trying in this restaurant is their homemade balsamic mixture. The balsamic dressing is simple, yet flavourful. It’s a great complement for their crispy-on-the-outside but soft-and-airy on the inside focaccia. It is served while waiting for

the main dishes to arrive. With a comfortable atmosphere and satisfying dishes, it is no surprise that Opera Restaurant gets packed for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so it’s best to book in advance. Their lunch set is available from 11.30am to 2pm and a two-course meal costs VND420,000; three courses go for VND460,000. Serving up food that is ideal for sharing, dinner at Opera is a perfect option for family and friends. — JB Jance Opera Restaurant is on the ground floor of the Park Hyatt Saigon, 2 Cong Truong Lam Son, Q1, HCMC. For more info or reservations, call (028) 3520 2357 or email opera.saiph@hyatt. com. The restaurant is open all day for breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. *All prices are subject to 5% service charge and 10% VAT

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Know Your City XICH LO, BA BANH AND XE OM

W

e do not see that many xich lo and ba banh anymore on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. When I was growing up here in the 1960s and 1970s, they were the common public transportation of the city.

Transporting Me Back Xich lo is a pedal-operated tricycle invented during the French colonial era and has evolved in Vietnam into different versions. The Hanoi xich lo with its wide seat is bulky but comfortable while the Saigon xich lo with its narrow seat looks more elegant but is not the best ergonomic design. In the old days there was also the xich lo may, or motorized xich lo. This was my favorite because it was big enough to take my mother, my old brother and me; and it was faster. Many xich lo may were painted with bright colours that accommodated their loud engine sound appropriately. I could always hear them approaching from far away. Both the xich lo and the xich lo may transported people and goods. For bigger loads, there were the ba banh, pedal-operated tricycles with an attached wagon. For heavier loads, there were the motorized ba banh. The ba banh were small

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and flexible enough to negotiate the small hem (alleys). While the xich lo were taking kids to school and mums to the market, the ba banh were delivering food and transporting construction materials and collecting garbage, whatever as required. Even the fire department used the ba banh to transport pressurized water to extinguish fire deep in the hem. When motorbikes became widely affordable amongst the poorer classes, xe om were invented. Anyone, mostly men, who could afford a motorbike, could suddenly make a living standing with their motorbike on the street corners ready to deliver people and goods across town. Though many transactions are negotiated between the driver and the passenger (who are usually complete strangers) for a ride on a xe om, many transactions are pre-arranged between riders and their neighborhood xe om drivers, giving people a sense of security when sending their kids to school safely with a xe om driver from the neighbourhood.

Banned Xich lo and ba banh have been banned on most streets in Ho Chi Minh City. There are not any official reasons. The

BY HOANH TRAN, PHD

vehicles are treated as a sign of poverty in under-developed cities and, therefore, it is thought that they must be removed. They have almost completely been replaced by trucks. But many small hem in the city are not wide enough to accommodate the trucks, so I still see a few ba banh operating in desperate situations. I also still ses convoys of xich lo taking tourists around the city providing entertainment instead of transportation. The xich lo drivers are uniformed staff employed by travel companies. The fabricated experience on one of these is far removed from the authenticity the tourists are after. Xe om is still allowed, at least for now. But the recent arrival of Grab Bikes is driving the local xe om out of business. Many xe om drivers cannot work as Grab Bike drivers, simply because they cannot operate smart phones, but you don’t have to look too hard to see xe om drivers on the streets giving directions to Grab Bike drivers who have lost their way in their own city despite the use of Google maps. Hoanh Tran, PhD is a design principal of Hoanh Tran Archie Pizzini Architects. Educated in the US, Hoanh now lives, practices and teaches in Ho Chi Minh City. He can be contacted at hoanh@htapizzini.com


HCMC

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

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

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

EAT – VIETNAMESE 3T QUAN NUONG VIETNAMESE BBQ Top Floor, 29 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (028) 3821 1631 The original, on-the-table barbecue restaurant still goes strong thanks to its rooftop

atmosphere, excellent service and even better fish, seafood and meats. An institution.

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

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

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

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

KOTO TRAINING RESTAURANT CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE 3rd Floor Rooftop, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1.

Tel: (028) 3822 9357 The restaurant associated with the KOTO vocational training school. All the staff — from bar tenders and waiting staff through to the chefs — come from disadvantaged backgrounds and are being trained on the jon in hospitality. Serves up tasty Vietnamese cuisine, to boot!

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

NAM GIAO HUE CUISINE 136/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (028) 38 250261; 116 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (028) 3925 9996 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.

PROPAGANDA CLASSIC VIETNAMESE / BISTRO 21 Han Thuyen, Q1

QUAN BUI TRADITIONAL VIETNAMESE

8 Nguyen Van Nguyen, Q1, Tel: (028) 3602 2241; 17A Ngo Van Nam, Q1, Tel: (028) 3829 1515

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

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

WRAP & ROLL 62 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 2166; 111 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (028) 3821 8971; 226 De Tham, Q1, Tel: (028) 3837 5097 wrap-roll.com

102 Cao Thang, Q3

BANH MI HONG HOA VIETNAMESE BANH MI 62 Nguyen Van Trang, Q1

BANH MI HUYNH HOA ‘LESBIAN’ BANH MI 26 Le Thi Rieng, Q1

BANH MI SAU MINH VIETNAMESE BANH MI 170 Vo Van Tan, Q3

BANH MI THANH MAI HOANG VIETNAMESE BANH MI 107 Truong Dinh, Q3

BANH TAM BI TO CHAU

STREET FOOD

BANH TAM 271 Nguyen Trai, Q1

BA GHIEN

BEEFSTEAK NAM SON

COM TAM 84 Dang Van Ngu, Phu Nhuan

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

BANH CANH HOANG TY BANH CANH / TAY NINH CUISINE 70 Vo Van Tan, Q3

BANH CUON HAI NAM BANH CUON 11A Cao Thang, Q3

BANH KHOT CO BA VUNG TAU BANH KHOT

VIETNAMESE STEAKHOUSE 200 Bis Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3; 157 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (028) 3930 3917 Namsonsteak.com

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

CHI THONG BUN THIT NUONG / BANH HOI 195 Co Giang, Q1

COM GA XOI MO SU SU VIETNAMESE FRIED CHICKEN 55 Tu Xuong, Q3

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

MI QUANG MY SON MI QUANG 38 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1

NAM GIAO BUN BO HUE 189 Bis Bui Vien, Q1

PHO DAU PHO BO 288/M1 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3

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

PHO LE PHO BO 413-415 Nguyen Trai, Q5

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

THE LUNCH LADY DAILY CHANGING DISHES 23 Hoang Sa, Q1

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

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The Final Say THE FINAL SAY

NATIONAL

Living with Depression

I

have known since the age of 12 that I was not quite right. It was more than just a tricky adolescence spent listening to Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark and other songs I could wallow in, contemplating what it would be like to be somewhere other than the world I found myself inhabiting. It was also the time I encountered something I now know to be called lucid dreaming. In it the dreamer can control parts of the dream and in some cases it becomes difficult to distinguish between one’s ‘real’ waking life and these other visions. Indeed, at times in my life I have spent long periods in my room focusing on that as my main reality, and supposed real life is a mere inconvenient distraction. At my worst stages of depression I have self-harmed, partied for weeks on end with an uncontrollable energy and destructive lust. I have even taken ‘accidental’ overdoses to transport me to that other state where I live my alternate life. Yet within this framework I have managed to hold down full-time employment, have friends and forge loving

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relationships. However, in every one of these I have pushed situations and people to unacceptable limits. I would normally say this is a source of regret, but that doesn’t help because it is a symptom of simply who I am. I cannot continue to be an apologist for that.

Dealing with the Pain Over the last couple of years ‘the fear’ has descended on me with increasing regularity and I have hospitalised myself on a number of occasions. It becomes an addictive cycle. Having 10 milligrams of Valium pumped into your vein and being put on an IV line feels comforting. For a brief period you can drift away and abdicate self-responsibility. A couple of months ago I woke up feeling poorly and called in sick. When I left my bed I could barely make it to the bathroom — I felt a tightness and pain in my chest. Somehow I made it to a hospital were the EKG machine indicated I had had a heart attack. I am not overweight and have no family or personal history of heart problems. The doctor re-ran the EKG an hour later and concluded I had

simply had a strong anxiety attack. I was kept in overnight and in the morning it happened. I finally saw a psychiatrist. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I had known this for many years, but to finally be told that what I was doing and saying were not simply the actions of a selfish egomaniac was somehow comforting. Bipolar disorder is categorised by a number of behaviours. Yet not every sufferer will have the same experience. When my mind ‘clicks’ I can do in days what many would take weeks or months over. When it turns over again I can be the last man standing in a proverbial den of vice. When it switches again I become almost paralysed with apathy and a feeling of abject misery. I can float between extremes of selfishness and generosity. I have been both wealthy and in debt, wondering how I am going to pay people back who have put love and trust in me without real credibility I will be able to come back from the dark. I can take care of others better than I take care of myself because the fear and loathing made famous by Hunter S. Thompson is all too real. I don’t ever


Life without difficulties is not life. But for the clinically depressed, dealing with life’s problems can be like climbing a mountain with no summit or travelling a road with no end. One Vietnam-based foreigner tells his story

want to leave Ho Chi Minh City like Nicholas Cage did Las Vegas, but I can never rule anything in or out. A close friend told another of mine that he felt I wouldn’t reach old bones. I hope he is wrong but I am fearful he is right.

Living with Depression Many media commentators believe psychiatry to be a pseudo-science and that drugs for treating ‘disorders’ such as mine simply don’t work. They are based on a misunderstanding of the human condition. Tom Cruise has used the oxygen of publicity to pontificate this view — in particular in relation to Brooke Shields and her experiences with feelings after giving birth. All I know is that what I write here is an accurate account of how I have felt and continue to feel. Why be so honest if it is a great big myth to excuse inexcusable behaviour? I am not proud of where my condition has brought me at times but, again, I am not going to be an apologist for it. I also recognise that in its more positive states it has helped me greatly in my education and search for ideas and truths.

“I am not proud of where my condition has brought me at times but, again, I am not going to be an apologist for it. I also recognise that in its more positive states it has helped me greatly in my education and search for ideas and truths”

So, where now? I am currently on a mixture of anti-depressants and mood stabilizers — one in the morning and four in the evening. I also see a psychiatrist for an hour every two weeks. We work on how I can better understand my mind and deal with my moods. He also reviews my medication. I have written this piece because the issue of mental illness is still seen as taboo. People are still afraid of the shame and stigma that may come by talking about it. It was only through watching Stephen Fry’s documentary, The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive, that I was able to reach this point. I feel I am a coward for not putting my name to this piece. However, I have been in Vietnam for a number of years and am reasonably well known in the expat community. I wish this piece to stand alone. This article was originally published in April 2014. Ian Wills, the writer, passed away in Saigon at the end of October. He was 44. Despite having friends around him trying to help him through his troubles, he fell through the safety net. To read more about what happened, turn to page 10

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The Final Say THE FINAL SAY

TEN10

Cyprien Pierlovisi From wine distributor to restaurateur, Cyprien Pierlovisi is the inspiration behind the group of Cousins restaurants in Hanoi. Photo by Julie Vola What brought you to Vietnam? France and my wife. After years abroad, my wife and I decided to move back to France. It took us a couple of weeks to realise it wasn’t the best idea ever. She had a job offer in Hanoi. We moved. That was in 2007.

When you first arrived in Vietnam, you worked in the wine industry. What was that like? Why did you decide to change your career? Vietnam was a really surprising place to work in wine. Customers were spending big money on expensive bottles; you don’t see that often any more back home. Top wine estates are investing in PR activities in Vietnam and there are plenty of wine dinners you won’t even have a chance to attend in Europe. Here you can, and at a fraction of the price. After seven years in the wine industry I moved to food distribution. I wouldn’t call that a change of career, but I have to admit that talking to chefs is quite different to talking to other people in the hospitality industry. They’re a different breed. The restaurant business was always on my mind. It was a logical conclusion to the professional work I’d been doing over the previous 15 years.

What was the original idea behind Cousins? A laid-back bistro and restaurant that was good value for money while not compromising on quality.

How easy or difficult was it to find your first space? Neither easy or difficult, but it took time and luck. In general, rent is fairly expensive here. But every now and then you can find some great deals. Again, it takes time and a good dose of luck.

Why do you think the concept has been so successful? Cousins filled a gap in the restaurant market in Hanoi — there weren’t really that many places sitting in between the bottom and top ends of the industry. Cousins caters to all — from the

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flip flop-wearing tay ba lo to the suit-wearing executive.

Who are your customers? It depends on the location. Tay Ho is mainly western, Tran Quoc Toan and Dao Tan are mainly Japanese and Vietnamese. Amato is a good eclectic mix of residents and tourists alike.

How difficult is it to balance the cost of quality ingredients with prices that aren’t extortionate? Ten years managing wine and food import companies makes sourcing a bit easier. You know who to speak to, where to go, and what people are looking for. My suppliers have to make money and I have to make a living. I also don’t want to overcharge people. The point is to not be too greedy.

Is expanding the business increasing the amount of problems you have to deal with or is it genuinely beneficial? The bigger the business, the more volume you have and the easiest it is to cut deals with suppliers. Splitting up products over the five restaurants also allows for a fast rotation of ingredients and a regular supply. On the other hand, finding 20 excellent staff to work with you isn’t too easy, but it is doable. Once you reach 100 staff it gets really tricky.

Why do you think the market for non-Vietnamese food is growing? Many reasons. Bigger exposure to foreign food and ideas with more and more people travelling abroad. Better financial conditions for a large part of the population. Also, having more and more options to eat non-Vietnamese food helps create a market for restaurants like my own.

If you could change one thing on the restaurant scene in Hanoi, what would it be and why? People in the hospitality industry need to help each other more than they currently do. A restaurant owner in Hanoi recently trashed my place on TripAdvisor. Things like this are unhelpful and unnecessary. For more information on Cousins, check out their three restaurants on Facebook — cousins.quangba, cousins.daotan and cousins.tranquoctoan. For more info on Amato, click on facebook.com/amato. trangtien


SÁCH CHUYÊN ĐỀ QUẢNG CÁO Not for Sale

Word Vietnam November 2017  

In just two decades, international cuisine has made its way into Vietnam big time. So much so that in Hanoi and Saigon you can now go to res...

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