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Chuyên đề du lịch, ẩm thực

Behind the Scenes

Nhà Xuất Bản Lao Động

Vi et n am

october 2013

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October 2013

046 The

KNIGHT Who Came in From the Cold

Sir John Ramsden returns to Vietnam, pictures in tow


The Sweet Here and Now

Count electric sheep at Les Siestes Electroniques

The Talk 010 / Arbiters of Change

Going into business with idealists

011 / The Big Five

Events to look out for this month

Briefings 012 / North and South

Cycling for business and pleasure

016 / The Blue Dragon

Ho Chi Minh City 032 / Calendar

100 / Overscene 102 / HCMC City Guide

086 / The Heart Surgeon

Alain Carpentier keeps hearts TRAVEL beating

088 / Ten Years and Counting

The Saigon Players are still going strong

090 / The Boys of Breakfast

Bringing something new to the plates of Saigon

172 / Tourism for Locals

Saigon, beyond Ben Thanh and the Post Office

178 / The Spiritual Centre of the Universe

A pilgrimage to the eastern world’s holiest mountain

Founder Michael Brosowski 094 / Kitty City stays humble Margaret Smith takes care of 186 / Travel Promos the cat who looks like Hitler

022 / Cats of the Month

Jeff and Jumbo will play with 096 / Lost and Found your shoelaces A glimpse of a discarded past

098 / Mystery Diner 099 / Street Snacker



Behind the Scenes

This month’s cover is on the effort behind the things we love


UK Now!

It’s not just disabled dancers repping the UK anymore


Café Chic

Our style guide for today’s trendy cafés

150 / Mystery Diner

HANOI 042 / Calendar

151 / Street Snacker

138 / Sunday Brunch

Hotel buffets aren’t just for tourists

142 / Green Space Hanoi

A respite from the modern city

144 / Rugby for a Day

A tournament of two

146 / Motopacking Dreams

Backpacking by bike

152 / Overscene 154 / Hanoi City Guide COLUMNS 104 / Job Search

106 / Business Buff 110 / HCMC Promos 112 / Night Watchman

148 / Hanoi’s Favourite Beach 114 / Top Shelf Escape 117 / Coffee Cup Well, it’s close at least 119 / In the Frame 122 / Body and Temple 161 / Hanoi Promos

162 / The Alchemist 163 / Book Buff 165 / The Therapist 166 / A World of Good 168 / Medical Buff 170 / Student Eye 188 / Tieng Viet FINAL SAY 193 / I’m Going to Australia

Vu Ha Kim Vy is giving the unknown a chance

194 / The Wagon

Mark Allan is trying to ride to a new day

196 / The Last Call

Quynh Pham thinks back, and forward

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EDITORIAL nick ross Chief Editor

Ed Weinberg Deputy Editor

MADs monsen Creative Director

derek milroy Features Editor

alexandre garel Photo Editor

Elisabeth Rosen Staff Editor

FRANCIS ROUX Staff Photographer (Hanoi)

kAREN HEWELL Online Content Manager

Kyle Phanroy Staff Photographer

mark allan Website & Graphic Designer

Francis Xavier Staff Reporter

Nguyen Loc Layout Designer

Hoa Le Staff Editor

Tal Cohen Listings Editor

ADMINISTRATION Duong Vy Bao General Director

Le Dang Phuong Trang Chief Accountant

ADVERTISING Duong Thi Thanh Xuan Sales Manager

Trinh Bui Sales Executive


chau thi huong giang Area Sales Manager Hanoi


For advertising enquiries please call Xuan on +84 1227 055 122, Giang +84 934 640 668 or Bao on +84 938 609 689 Special thanks to Thiep Nguyen, Tal Cohen, Nguyen Bao Ngoc, Marc Forster-Pert, Vu Ha Kim Vy, Huyen Tran, Katie Jacobs, Karen Gay, Dana McNairn, Tran Phuong Dung, Nicola Connolly, Shane Dillon, Family Medical Practice, Douglas Holwerda, Phil Kelly, Tae Jun Park, Truong @ Bookworm, Margaret Smith, Matt Bender, Kelly L. Le, Seamus Butler, Jen Baxter and Tim Doling

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The prelude question got us thinking. There is obviously an interest out there in the mechanics of putting together a newspaper, magazine or book. But it’s hardly the thing we’re going to write about, especially in Word. Not only would it smell of blowing the odd trumpet or two, but telling everyone how it’s done could also end up with the whole world opening up magazines. And we certainly wouldn’t want that, would we? So instead we decided to go behind the scenes elsewhere. A hotel buffet, a silk village, votive

paper-making, a fashion shoot, tea growing and processing, putting on a dance show, the water puppet industry and making documentaries with everyday people living in the Mekong Delta. These are all processes that we have traced and followed this month. By looking at how something is created, from conception through to inception, we believe that it gives more value to the final product. Understanding where something comes from and having knowledge of the amount of work that goes into making it

happen stops us taking it for granted. We know this, in our own experience. As ever, a big thank you to you for all your support. The feedback we have had on last month’s cover story, the caves of Phong Nha, has been phenomenal. We even had three people thinking that Huffington Post had absconded with our photos after an article they published went viral. And please, if you have any questions, comments or queries, email us at editor@wordvietnam. com. We want to hear from you.



Behind the Scenes



utting together a monthly publication is a painstaking task. It requires long hours, a week-long period of fatigue — and yet the necessity of paying attention to detail, no matter how tired you may feel. If you were to plot work done on a graph versus productivity, you would notice an exponential rise as each month draws to a close. As we are often asked, “How do you manage to get your magazine out each month? It must be so much work.” The answer? It is. This constant


THIS MONTH'S COVER Cover by DH Advertising Ilustration by Melanie Elfert

Have Your Say Do you have any comments? Then let us know on Facebook — — or via Twitter, @wordvietnam. No matter how positive or negative your thoughts, we look forward to hearing from you.


Do you have any comments that you would like to air? If so, reach out and touch us AT — we’re at your fingertips. Phong Nha Caves

Word Vietnam

I love what you’ve done with the two magazines, making them into Word Vietnam. Putting them together is much more interesting, really opens yourself up to a larger market. I like reading about the rest of Vietnam rather than just about Hanoi. When are you going to do Danang? — RK Really clever idea putting the magazines together. Commercially very astute. I wish you luck with it. — RB When I pick up Word these days, I only look at the stuff about Hanoi. Not interested in anything else. — TNA

(Word Vietnam, September 2013) Five years ago I stayed three nights at the Royal Mulu resort in Sarawak and had two days walk through caves. Both enjoyable, the Deer Cave being quite spectacular in size and quite memorable. I have always wanted to do a similar trip to Phong Nha-Ke Bang and your August article has refreshed my interest. I have however heard so many contradictory stories from visitors. Some say stay in Dong Hoi and do the day trip, others say stay at the Farmstay. Then when it comes to caves to visiting, people are also contradictory regarding what should be visited. Of the caves that are open to the public, what caves should I visit and how long will a visit take? — CE


phong nha caves. karsts.

the largest

cave in the world virgin rainforest. primates. trekking. caving. swimming


There are a number of caves that you can visit besides Paradise Cave and Phong Nha Cave, but they require a trek. On our trip we went to Tu Lan and Hang En. Both were well worth the effort. Check with Oxalis and Phong Nha Farmstay to see which trips are the best at any given time of year.

Why have the authorities made it so difficult to visit Son Doong, the largest cave in the world? Doesn’t make sense to me. And the price. US$3,000 a trip? Crazy! — MR The authorities have tried to section off mass tourism to one part of the national park, keeping the other trips and tours for a much smaller portion of people. The main reason is conservation. They don’t want to ruin what they’ve already got. Yes, the price of the Son Doong tour is prohibitive, but then it’s six days, with 14 porters, a number of guides, and all your food, tents and so on are carried while food is provided. The safety is taken care of — the cost of the trip also includes insurance. Most importantly, everyone who has come back from Son Doong has raved about the experience.

Wow! Those photos! Amazing! It’s like from another planet. — JM Did you really sleep in a cave? Weren’t you a bit scared? — AP

8 | Word October 2013


The talk

The Arbiters of Change D Business in Vietnam is no longer just about profit and loss

an Bi Mong is a pretty constant presence on Ho Chi Minh City’s alternative circuit. As much a DJ as curator (thanks in part to his connections with Hanoi’s CAMA), he’s helped bring the rare spins of Maft Sai, Digital Natives, Trus’Me and Bottin to town, as well as held up various parties — including Sound Adventures and Optimist Club — with his positive, soulswinging grooves as DJ Hibiya Line. And now, like so many people these days, he’s starting something. The Observatory (corner of Le Lai and Ton That Tung, Q1) is going to be something of a cultural hub for Ho Chi Minh City, acting as a bridge between that nadir of culture, the backpacker’s area of Pham Ngu Lao, and the places where something good is actually happening. And these days — unlike the situation as recently as two years ago — a lot of good things are happening. It’s partly the relatively low cost of setting up business in Vietnam, partly this unique, collaborative moment in time, where a lot of idealistic people are realising that what they want Vietnam to be is possible — if they set about doing it. And they’ve been doing just that. Steven Wiig set up an earthen pizza oven in the shape of an anime character at the arts space, Saigon Outcast. Some of Hanoi’s most unorthodox creatives circled their wagons around the brutalist confines of Zone 9, a repurposed pharmaceuticals factory where they’re creating their own artistic utopia, Shoreditch style. Look at the work of Hanoi

10 | Word October 2013

music collective CAMA, live music venue Hanoi Rock City, and the two art spaces Tadioto and Work Room 4. On the resort front, the owners of Six Senses Resort in Con Dao are taking advantage of their location in the East Sea, an air-pollution-free spot perfect for gazing up at the stars. Next month they will be completing the largest, private observatory in Vietnam. Even the mighty Mr. Vincom is ushering in the age of cable cars, with a two-mile marvel connecting the island-based Vinpearl Resort Nha Trang to the mainland. He’s built an ice rink in the capital as part of the futuristic, mixed shopping mall, residence and office space Vincom Royal City. He’s created a marine park and a shopping mall built modeled on the art deco style of Paris’s Galeries Lafayette. It’s not alternative or unbder the radar, but it’s certainly different. They’re all trying to make money, sure, but that’s not the only reason they’re doing this. Like Dan, they feel a responsibility for the future of this country, and they’re doing their best to make sure they like the future they’re creating.

The Difference-Makers On the surface, Dan’s project, The Observatory, doesn’t seem so different — a café/bar, venue and gallery, curated together with his partner Kelsey Siggins. But its deeper identity is as a cultural centre, an olive branch to the Vietnamese youth and not-so-enlightened backpackers they’re trying to ensnare. It’s a recognition of a new culture growing up in

Vietnam, an alternative to the culture people get when they “just come to Ho Chi Minh City, and visit Go2 and the War Museum”. The Observatory is a sharp contrast to the cover band cafés of yesteryear, which viewed music as more of a commodity, not an event. If you’re just pulling in people off the street, you don’t need a big room — how many people are going to cross town to hear Hotel California again? The penchant for doing the same as everyone else because that seems to make money has strangled the growth of an original music culture. Hanoi was a bit ahead of the curve on this Catch 22, and Ho Chi Minh City is just now catching up. The cool thing about this change is that entrepreneurs are starting to do what it says on the tin — start new things. The mirror culture that so afflicted Vietnam in the past is starting to be phased out, as it becomes less and less profitable. Why start up a western style café/ bar like all the others when you can set up one with a Korean twist and soju-inspired drinks? Better yet, why go to one? Already a veteran at making things happen, Dan sees this progression better than most — and he’s already looking ahead to the next wrinkle. “Now, there are many bars and venues welcoming interesting music events,” he says. “But everyone is generalistic, doing everything, any kind of music, and any kind of art. And it’s a good point, but I think maybe now there are enough venues doing this, and our target is to focus on something really precise.” — Ed Weinberg


the big five

Les Siestes Electronique

Imagine a music festival in a park. Blankets on the grass, dancing barefoot under the trees, beats coming out of 10-metre high stacks of speakers, a veritable smorgasbord of sound. This is what the French music festival coming to Vietnam this month will bring to both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Called Les Siestes Electronique, forget the concept of mainstream top-40 dance tracks. Instead it is an event focused on cultural diversity, on bringing together sounds, concepts, feelings, beats and ideas from across the global music spectrum. Call it world music, if you like, with an electronic beat attached. Call it what you like. Apart from the annual Hanoi Soundfest organised by Tri Minh,


Orchestre de Paris

One of the great French orchestras, founded by Charles Munch, the Orchestre de Paris, will be performing at the Hanoi Opera House on Oct. 29 and the Saigon Opera House on Oct. 30. A regular guest of the world’s great musical capitals, the orchestra has developed close ties not only with New York, London, Vienna, Berlin, Amsterdam and the Scandinavian capitals, but Russia, China, Japan and Korea, wooing audiences around the world. The programme will include works by Haydn, Grieg and Mozart and both nights are under the direction of conducter Paavo Järvi. For reservations for the Hanoi show, click on For the Ho Chi Minh City leg, go directly to the Opera House to book tickets


this is the first event of its kind to jet across the Asian landmass to Vietnam. As with all music festivals, the names on the roster are part of the appeal. Here the ones to look out for are Vincent Moon, Laurent Jeanneau, Jean Nipon, Vu Nhat Tan and Nguyen Hong Giang, all of whom will be bringing their special talents to Ho Chi Minh City on Oct. 12 and Hanoi on Oct. 19. Entrance, naturally, is free. The Oct. 12 concert will take place at Tao Dan Park, 55C Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 from 3pm to 7pm. Entrance is free. From 3pm to 7pm on Oct. 19 it’s Hanoi’s turn in the Reunification Park (former Lenin Park) on Tran Nhan Tong, Hai Ba Trung. For further information go to our article on page 50


Although a couple of the 10 bands playing this year’s edition of CAMA Festival are making the trek to Saigon, the heat is centred around The American Club this Oct. 12. Bands from four continents are entering the fray, including Australia’s Cairos, Macao’s Turtle Giant and Germany’s Raggabund (the latter two of whom will play Cargo in Ho Chi Minh City on Oct. 10 and Oct. 13, respectively). One of Southeast Asia’s veteran festivals, CAMA is used to drawing in the inconceivable to its showcases — and this year, it looks like they’ve done it again. The festival takes place at The American Club — 21 Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi — from 1pm to 11pm on Oct. 12. Tickets are available for VND300,000 in advance, or sold at the door for VND350,000 — VND100,000 for card-carrying students. Kids under 10 go free. Check for more info


Dangerous Liaisons

The long awaited debut of Dragonfly Theatre Company’s Dangerous Liaisons is set to pull back the curtain in Ho Chi Minh City on Oct. 11, 12, 18 and 19, in the company’s most daring and salacious production to date. The show follows tales of love, lust, deceit and betrayal, and promises stunning set design and luxurious costumes that capture the ostentatious glory of fin-de-siècle France. Perhaps one of the most timeless tales of good, evil and the lusty sins committed

by both, the play that inspired dozens of screen adaptations returns to its rightful home onstage, corsets and all. Dangerous Liaisons is set to push the boundaries of the Saigon stage on Oct. 11, 12, 18 and 19 at Q4, 7 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4. Doors for each show are at 7.30pm, with the show beginning at 8pm. Tickets ranging from VND100,000 student seats to luxury seats at VND1 million are already available for purchase. For more information, visit facebook. com/dragonflyvietnam


Optimist Club First Anniversary

This is the big one. The anniversary, 50th edition and soft opening of Optimist’s founder-and-client DJ Hibiya Line’s new Ho Chi Minh City cultural centre/venue The Observatory. The Club has been brightening the outlooks of dark spaces like Godmother, Broma and Bootleg over the past year, but it’s finally ready to move out and test its idealism in the real world. Don’t snooze and lose — get up and get down! Your enthusiasm will be greatly appreciated. Oct. 3 at The Observatory, corner of Le Lai and Ton That Tung, Q1, Ho Chi Minh City. The night starts early and goes late. Free entry

October 2013 Word | 11

brief ings

North and South Hanoi’s for cycling. Saigon is getting there


man cycles past as I sit on my mini plastic stool to eat banh mi trung. He is topless with a flopping gut, but his calves are the size of tree trunks. He’s on a Pinarello, VND50 million worth of kit, and it’s the second time I’ve seen him in as many days, out for his early morning exercise. The man is both typical and atypical of the standard Hanoi cyclist. On a morning cycle alone following the 15km route around West Lake, I must pass 400 or 500 cyclists, the majority on topend mountain bikes or vintage Peugeot touring machines, sweating away the excesses of the day before. Some are clad in full cycling attire, stopping in their groups for a well-earned coffee break at the lily ponds in Dang Thai Mai or the park area on Thanh Nien. But only this man, long hair tied back in a ponytail beneath a flat army cap, is topless. While there are growing numbers of enthusiasts in Saigon — you only need to go around District 2 and District 7 alone to see the increase — it comes nowhere near to matching the cycling obsession of the capital. On my first sojourn around Hanoi’s West Lake, I spied at least five cycling shops nestled on its banks. Then I lost count. A new, spacious Merida showroom has opened on Trang Thi next to Nguyen Kim, and Jett bicycles has a number of showrooms dotted around the capital — in Saigon it just has a single, flagship store.

12 | Word October 2013

The reason, say Hanoians, is the capital’s lakes and parks — Hanoi is a cycling city while Saigon just isn’t. Down south, 15km is the equivalent of cycling from the outer reaches of Phu My Hung in District 7 to An Phu in District 2. You have to traverse bridges, highways and chaotic city streets. It’s just not the same as riding one way around a serene, view-laden lake.

It’s the Heat, Baby Despite the problem of the roads, many Saigon residents still profess a desire to cycle to work but quite simply don’t — they don’t want to arrive soaked in sweat in need of a shower. This is the crux. Saigon has its fair share of leisure cyclists, brave souls prepared to defy the heat, but few cycle in and out of work. In Hanoi, almost none of the leisure cyclists ride to the office. Instead they appear in the early morning or late afternoon, following an Uncle Ho-inspired early morning exercise regime that is strong in the capital to this day. At 8am I finish my cafe den da and leave my perch at the banh mi trung stall. The cyclists are gone, having returned home for a shower before continuing with their day. In Saigon, while the parks are busy with early morning exercisers, thanks to the roads, most of the new brand of cyclists don’t come out until the weekend. — Nick Ross

See page 26 for further details >

HANOI - 16th October THE HANOI CLUB, 76 Yen Phu Street, Tay Ho Dist 6.30 pm Registration for a 7pm start Jasmine Room 1

HCMC - 17th October CARAVELLE HOTEL, 19- 23 Lam Son Square, Dist 1 6.30 pm Registration for a 7pm start The Reflections Room, 3rd Floor

Drinks and finger food supplied. To register email -

October 2013 Word | 13

brief ings

T The Zone Smoothing over the cracks

14 | Word October 2013

wo months after opening, enter the artistic space known as Zone 9 and you feel that Hanoi might just be cool. There’s an industrial, New York-style aura to the area, a sense of London’s Shoreditch in the late 1990s. Already the converted pharmaceutical factory is garnering media attention both locally and abroad. As one tenant explains, “After Royal City, the second most talked about development in Hanoi right now is Zone 9.” It’s partly thanks to the design of the shops, cafes, bars and art spaces that are gradually filling its ranks. While the industrial, uncared for look is passé for London’s East End or parts of New York, for Hanoi the grunge and nostalgia is in the now. It’s also thanks to the area itself. The Sovietstyle architecture mixed with colonial era villas give the former processing plant an atmosphere of Hanoi both past and present. It’s one that many of the businesses here have incorporated into their designs. Yet speak to the tenants and the complaints are coming thick and fast. There’s rubbish everywhere that no-one is picking up; the electricity prices are “extortionate”; one of the restaurants is keeping live geese and pigs in cages out back, killing the animals under the other tenants’ feet; and the collective ambience that once brought together the original tenants of Zone 9 “only lasted about two days”. As for the late night, thumpingly loud antics of café-cum-bar Barbetta, eyebrows are being arched, concerns are being raised. There’s even a hotdog stand here, God forbid.

Like for Like The story of Zone 9 is typical. What started as a mishmash of ‘likeminded’ people coming together for the greater good has transformed itself into something else — the tenants are not as alike as they first thought. As the Vietnamese phrase goes, “Moi nguoi, mot kieu.” Each to their own. But these are behind-the-scenes concerns, the problem of a cooperative not always being able to cooperate. And it’s easy to forget what is already here. Walk around the back and Double Door, Hiker Cafe, Tu Es Belle Cafe and the aforementioned hotdog stand are doing business. Upstairs there is a wedding photo company sharing floor space with Barbetta. In the Soviet building out front are the bar and art space Tadioto, La Merceria clothing shop, Ladureé café, Kenke gallery, Consignista clothing shop, Moc Restaurant, District 01 café and Unplugged Lounge, if you want some Filipino-inspired live music. Opened on the main road below the billiards hall is the restaurant Quan Go. While tucked into the far building is exhibition space, Workroom 4. The car wash business is also still on-site. What the place needs now is more customers, lots more. By the time you read this article there may have been a grand opening, a 3,000-people jointly held event inside Zone 9. But for the area to really survive, it needs you, the people to support it and go down there. 16,000 likes on Facebook equates to very little. For no matter what your opinion, Zone 9 is unique to Hanoi and to Vietnam. Now it’s up to you, the customer, to keep it that way. Zone 9 is at 9 Tran Thanh Tong, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi

October 2013 Word | 15

brief ings

B l u e D r a g o n 16 | Word October 2013


T h e


Staying humble

he discussion has moved onto the forthcoming entry of McDonald’s into Vietnam and — with the red wine and late summer evening air — it’s gotten heated. An article by the BBC is mentioned. Henry Nguyen, the man bringing in the fast food giant, is discussed, worries about obesity are tossed about in the West Lake breeze and the idea that Vietnam will soon no longer be one of the last bastions of the non-McDonald’s world is lamented by one person and described as inevitable by another. Through the conversation Michael Brosowski listens and follows, rarely pitching in, but always attentive. “It was entertaining, if nothing else,” he says later. “Look what Macca’s is doing to us, and it hasn’t even arrived.” The founder of the Hanoi-based NGO Blue Dragon Foundation, Brosowski remains the mildmannered person of the early 2000s who rocked up in the capital as an English teacher, despite almost 10 years of helping the same young people who might soon be patronising the fast food giant under discussion.

Fighting Adversity “My plan was to head back to Ho Chi Minh City, where I had been living earlier,” he recalls. “So I didn’t try to do the usual expat things — like settling down and getting a house. Instead I hung out around the Old Quarter, and chatted to the street kids as they shone shoes.” He started building relationships with a number of them and began to teach them English in return for them helping him with his Vietnamese. They got together a football team, and suddenly he found himself committed to getting the kids off the streets and into school. “The kids were all very different, and were in the city for various reasons,” he says, “but they were engaging, clever, street savvy and wanted to learn.” The realisation that he wanted to help led to him founding Blue Dragon. But getting the project off the ground was tough. “A couple of people stood out as being really helpful and giving honest, frank advice. But sadly, the overwhelming response was to assume that

Blue Dragon would fail,” he says. “There was definitely a view that I, with no track record or experience in running an NGO, couldn’t possibly know what I was doing; and there was something of an ‘empire mentality’ by a few who didn’t want to see anyone else succeed. That was a really difficult time for me and the volunteers who were trying so hard to help Hanoi’s street kids.” 10 years on, Michael and his team continue to work with young adults or kids who have been “trafficked or exploited” — young people in crisis. This means operating in a grey area — an area that while recognised here in Vietnam, can’t always be discussed in public. It also often means repatriating young people from overseas back to Vietnam. Blue Dragon then helps them reintegrate back into society. Some kids are back with their families in a week. Others remain with the NGO for five or six years.

Opposites Don’t Attract As Michael leaves on his five-year-old Honda Future — a bike donated to Blue Dragon a few years back — the conversation continues on the theme of McDonald’s. Despite the red wine, or maybe because of it, I am struck by the contrasts with Blue Dragon. The McDonald’s marketing strategy is to target children and young adults, to get them in young. It’s a shrewd move that has helped them expand globally. Michael also works with children, but instead helps them out of difficult situations. He doesn’t waltz around in a Mercedes, fly business class or flaunt success. Instead he lives in a simple world that couldn’t be more removed from the one occupied by McDonald’s. “Throughout my life I have had periods of great poverty,” he says. “I have also lived in comfort and had the luxury of a secure income. I found that having lots, or having nothing, made no real difference. So I gave up on the idea of accumulating wealth, or trying to ‘be somebody’.” He adds: “I don’t consider myself an important person; I think I am incredibly fortunate to have met the kids and staff who are part of Blue Dragon. Without them, I’m nothing.” — Nick Ross

brief ings

Financing the Dream Elijah McKeogh may have just turned 16, but he wants to film his way right to the top. Photo by Kyle Phanroy


want to be the new Tarantino,” teen directing prodigy Elijah McKeogh optimistically boasts. Although he’s just turned 16, he’s deadly serious. This mature young man knows what he wants and it seems nothing is going to stop him from getting it, well maybe apart from finances. “I believe in the power of film and I want to make a difference,” he continues. “For instance with one topic I covered, I focused on filming underprivileged people in Vietnam and Cambodia. I want to now find a wider audience to show western people how poor people in Southeast Asia just get on with things.” A crusader is in our midst, but one who is prepared to get his hands dirty, Elijah is often found on the back of a motorbike filming on the streets — he recently spent two weekends filming his popular short, What If. “I like to touch hearts. But my biggest motivation is to see people’s reactions to my films,” he admits. Shaun, his father, interjects to explain this point. “Elijah wasn’t able to go back to Australia for his grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary, but he made a video for them which I took with me. He said, ‘Dad, I want you to film everyone’s reactions as they are watching the video.’ It’s his thing I guess.

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“It’s funny, but I was the exact same as him when I was a kid with the old Super 8 camera. Must be in the genes.” At the International School Ho Chi Minh City, Elijah is the Media Coordinator of the Global Issues Network. Outside of school, he and his friends have created Informative TV, which they intend on growing “by putting news up there, quotes, questions and interaction”. The Australian was the youngest-ever student selected to study at the New York Film Academy (NYFA) in Hollywood, a short stint which opened his eyes to a whole realm of possibilities. But Los Angeles training is a costly affair and he admits he is going to need a helping hand if he is to further continue his film education. The latest step in his dream is an invitation to pursue Advance Film Studies at the New York Film Academy based at Universal Studios, Hollywood, in the summer of 2014. Unfortunately, funding is the stumbling block. He needs a total of US$10,000 (VND210 million) all-in to head back to the States. “I saw the Hollywood sign when we flew in on the plane to Los Angeles and thought ‘wow’,” Elijah says. “It was a pretty awesome experience. For my specific course, I was accepted one year younger than the other

students. It was tense, with four-hour classes each day in the summer holidays and then going out and filming on the back lots of Universal Studios. I met some cool people, including the graphics editor of the movie Spiders. I also met Lisa Kudrow’s son, who was on the programme with me.” Elijah didn’t stay star-struck for long, and is already planning on making the most of his opportunity. “Seeing people’s reactions and getting to act upon what they have seen, that is what I want to strive towards. I enjoy documentaries and I feel this is the best way to get an emotional connection with people. Saigon is a really good place to make films as there is so much culture and authenticity that if you make a film, it will be really powerful. I intend to get the skills in America and then apply them back in Vietnam. It is such a unique place. I saw my father editing a work video for four hours solid one day. After that I was hooked.” He is an idealist, one of the remaining few, who lists Tarantino and Christopher Nolan as his inspirations. Let’s hope that isn’t knocked out of him in the years to come. — Derek Milroy To check out Elijah’s work visit elijahmckeogh. If you want to help him follow his dream, he’s crowdfunding via elijahmckeogh

brief ings

The I Run The spirit of Terry Fox lives on in Vietnam. Photos by Alexandre Garel

t's an oft-told story, one of heroism, perseverence and overcoming insurmountable obstacles. In 1980, with one leg removed, the athlete and humanitarian Terry Fox embarked on a cross-Canada run to raise money and awareness for cancer research. Hoping to collect one dollar for each of the 24 million people in Canada, he ran the equivalent of a marathon a day, a feat that eventually cost him his life. Every year Terry Fox’s spirit is kept alive across the world, with mini-runs, marathons and halfmarathons run in his name, all with the intention of raising much needed funds to help people in need. Vietnam is also involved, with two annual runs organised by CanCham, the Canadian Embassy and Consulate, and a number of other partners.

Continuing the Legacy Last year the Hanoi Run for Children had over 7,000 runners, raising VND105 million to help provide medical treatment for children from poor families. The Saigon equivalent — The Terry Fox Run — was even bigger, its 14,600 runners managing to pull together a massive VND1.7 billion to support cancer research in Vietnam. The hope is that this year’s events — on Sunday Nov.

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in traffic g n i t t i s le kish whi c e p t i b et a se you g a c n i t s Ju

24 in Ho Chi Minh City and Sunday Nov. 17 in Hanoi — will surpass the previous highs. Says Harry Arena, chair of the Terry Fox Run Organizing Committee in Ho Chi Minh City, “The community… has been truly supportive of the run. I believe there are a number of reasons. First, students from many schools and universities have volunteered their support for the event each year. Student participation has increased yearly. Second, the run’s participants can identify with Terry Fox and his efforts in raising funds to find a cure for a disease that afflicts people in all corners of the globe.” He adds: “The atmosphere at the Terry Fox Run is unlike any other experience. The morning of the run has an energy that is electric. This comes from the enthusiasm and spirit that people bring with them. The event also benefits the local community in many [other] ways. It brings people together in the spirit of cooperating and achieving something together. Collectively people come together… to recognise the efforts of Terry Fox and support his mission.” For more information on the Terry Fox Run and the Hanoi Run for Children, go to canchamvietnam. org or email

brief ings

The Slam

H The Pink Chicken A “new species” is spotted in Ha Giang. Even the baby chicks have pink in their plumage

Photos by Le Thi Bich

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The Hanoi slammers hit ATK

anoi Slam enjoyed its second outing last month, this time hosted by CAMA ATK. A packed-out audience, whose VND100,000 entrance went to Humanitarian Services for Children of Vietnam (, was entertained by 10 storytellers who were only given a theme — ‘lost in translation’. With this they had six minutes to wow judges without a script or notes to help them. The top three storytellers were all awarded sweet prizes like wine from Warehouse, book vouchers from Bookworm and CAMA festival tickets. The winner confessed his awkwardly intimate experience with a Vietnamese builder, the second-placer part-rapped his story of heartbreak and third was an English teacher who regaled the audience with a tale of mistreatment at school due to his stammer. It was a close shout in the end — the winner Gareth Hardy only grabbing the ultimate bragging rights by half a point. The elated Englishman said, “Never did I think, especially at the time, that having my balls grabbed [by a Vietnamese builder] would get me a bottle of champagne.”

Runner-up Ben Stokes, who has experience as a standup comedian, enjoyed the change of scene. “Story slams are a blank canvas and a great creative development,” he said, “especially when the audience is behind you. Hats off to Joss [Berrett] for making it happen.” Co-organiser Joss was happy with the end result: “I really like this venue and I’m pleased that so many people have come. We want to be able to carry on doing this as it’s for charity, and it’s something different for Hanoi.” The event looks set to remain popular — and with a good turnout of Vietnamese, including one of the raconteurs, Joss and his wife Annetta hope they’ll be able to hold an event in the local language. And if you thought you missed out, rest assured that The Slam will continue at House of Son Tinh (31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho) on Oct. 30 at 8pm with the Halloween-inspired theme ‘fear’. As it’s Halloween, you’re also encouraged to put the fear into people by dressing up. Prizes will be awarded for creativity. — Marc Forster-Pert To get yourself onstage with a chance to win great prizes and raise money for charity at the same time, email

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The Band H o Chi Minh City’s ‘it’ band of the moment started as a noble experiment. “We didn’t even really know each other that well,” says Bryon RamseyLeonard Rudd. “We met at the last Melting Pot. Joy Oi! [which Bryon drums for] was playing, Brian Wilson’s Brain [which David Moses Haimovich, the other half of Space Panther, tweaked electronic signals for] was playing. And then we randomly went out one night” — “At the nurse bar,” David laughs. “And we did a photo shoot on the pool table,” Bryon continues, “Which never made the cut…” “For what?” I ask. “Anything,” David says. “It didn’t make the cut for life.” Bryon says, “We played as Support Our Drones [at Brian Wilson’s Brain’s last show, in August] not Space Panther. Although it was kind of Space Panther with a couple extra people. We did one thing at Geisha [as Space Panther], and then we said, ‘Alright, let’s see if we can do this.’” For the Geisha gig, they pulled in Daniel Long to run projections. The electronic audio-visual assault of Space Panther has since packed out deciBel and is headlining the next Melting Pot (Oct. 5 and Oct. 6 at Saigon Outcast). They’re also collaborating

Photo by Csaba Molnar

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Space Panther

with Joy Oi!’s Matt Bender and Melting Pot’s Emily Navarra in the dance-music-light algorithm imbroglio Standpoint Theories (Nov. 1 at Cargo). And they’re making 50 sausages for institute of Lower Learning’s upcoming battle-of-the-bands/chefs event, a show where six different people in the arts scene in Saigon will engage in a cookoff. They’re trying something different, and it looks like they’re succeeding. Bryon says, “The idea began [when we were saying], ‘Man there’s so many DJs, and there’s a lot of VJs, but there are no live electronic bands.’”

What They Bring “As much as I appreciate improvisation I’m much more a fan of elaborate structure,” David says. “It’s kind of a rollercoaster,” adds Bryon. “There are dancey parts, there are slow parts.” They started off their “first real show” at deciBel with a cover of Animal Collective’s Banshee Beat, a twiddly slow-build of ecstasy that “people probably wouldn’t know is a cover without the vocals”. “It’s like a slow build,” Bryon says, “with layers, for the first 13 minutes.” How does the audience react to that? I ask. “If there weren’t vocals, probably

terribly,” Bryon says. “I think I hold that [first] note for 19 minutes.” “It’s a total drone on that note,” David says, “but we build these other layers on it. It goes [through] these slow, ambient drums that start building a more cohesive rhythm. And then it blossoms into this very large, faster beat. Bassy, 808 drums come in.” The band cites Animal Collective as an influence, and it doesn’t end with the song they cover. “[Animal Collective] tries to have a lot of things going on around them,” explains Bryon. “We’re not the most fun to watch. We’re just looking down and doing things the whole time.” “Which is why we have a visual component to our band as well,” adds David, “Daniel making video art.” “In the future,” says Bryon, “you can expect more visually pleasing things to be happening onstage. Interesting things around us. We have ideas. “I want spacesuits and Dave wants giant hoods.” — Ed Weinberg Space Panther is playing Melting Pot 3 at Saigon Outcast, 188/1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, on Oct. 5 and Oct. 6 — headlining Sunday, Oct. 6 at 10.30pm. Entrance is free. They’ll also be mixing it up in the interactive dance performance Standpoint Theories at Cargo, 7 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4 on Nov. 1 at 7pm. VND100,000 entry

Cats of the Month


Jeff and Jumbo

his month’s pet spotlight is on two lovely fellows named Jeff and Jumbo. Both are eight-month-old males, who curiously look like slimmer versions of Garfield. And like Garfield, they are a lot of fun. If you have a spare pair of shoelaces, they would love to wrestle with them. While Jeff is more independent and playful, Jumbo is very affectionate and cuddly. Jeff and Jumbo were both abandoned a few months ago and

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luckily Animal Rescue and Care found them. Now they’re old enough for their own home and would love to have a caring person on whose lap they can sit and purr. Both cats are neutered and have all their vaccinations. Jeff is a bit shy around other cats, except for his buddy Jumbo of course. If someone has a big enough heart and home, they’d like to stay together forever. If you think they’re the pair for you, get in touch with ARC by emailing





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Ho Chi minh city what s on Art Market VinGallery is hosting yet another Art Market on Oct. 12, where attendees are invited to browse paintings, jewellery, photography, sculptures and decorative items, and chat with the artists as well. Kids’ arts-andcrafts activities will keep them occupied while you drain your wallet — although perhaps the attendant raffle will keep it full. VinGallery’s Art Market goes from 10am to 4pm on Oct. 12, at 4 Le Van Mien, Q2

Dance Parties

Let’s Do the Time Warp Again


In celebration of their 10th anniversary, the Saigon Players are turning community theatre on its head with the most famous audience participation film in history — Rocky Horror Picture Show! Come in your stilettos and fishnets and enjoy a night of singing, dancing and all-around spooky chaos at Mc’Sorley’s Ale House on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 from 7.30pm. Props will be provided for audience participation bits, and all proceeds will go toward Saigon Helmet Awareness and Helping Hand Saigon. The Rocky Horror Picture Show — Halloween Madness Screen and Party kicks off on Nov. 1 and 2 at 7.30pm at Mc’Sorley’s Ale House, 4 Thao Dien, Q2. For bookings and inquiries, contact Saigon Players by emailing See our feature article on Saigon Players on page 88

An artist hailing from Ireland is set to be showcased at VinGallery until Oct 6. Eamonn O’Callaghan’s work is inspired by richly textured figurative imagery of ancient frescoes, and his paintings explore themes of memory and place through human forms interwoven with landscape. VinGallery is located at 4 Le Van Mien, Q2. The exhibition runs until Oct. 6

Apocalaughs Now If you like your alternative stand-up comedy — and there ain’t all that much of it in this city — then pencil in Tuesday Nov. 19. Well-known UK comics, Pierre Hollins and Jimmy McGhie, will be flying into Saigon as part of a Southeast Asian tour that takes in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Jakarta and yes, you guessed it, Ho Chi Minh City. With one-man shows under their belts at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as well as performances at festivals the world over, these guys are on the Comedy Store’s Who’s Who list. This is top calibre stuff. And to add to the fun, they will be joined onstage by two comics who are presently gracing the regular Stand-Up Saigon nights at The Spotted Cow. Apocalaughs Now is part of the Saigon Comedy Nights series and will take place at Cargo Bar, 7 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4. For further information email or go to The entrance surcharge is VND250,000 and includes a free San Miguel

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Mixed Tape You might not have the stamina you used to have in the 1980s, but you can still headbang and “mosh” to the totally radical new wave, punk and hip hop you get with Mixed Tape. This month, DJs Superkid, Jake Catlett and Stu Pot will be dropping the Chinese beats, girl groups and Indonesian psychedelic. Oct. 11 at La Fenetre Soleil, 44 Ly Tu Trong, Q1. The git down starts at 9pm, VND50,000 entry Electric Kicks The sleaziest of the DIY dance parties this city has to offer is kicking off the rainy season doldrums with a sweet, late-night set at Broma. EADJ mainstays Superkid and Hibiya Line turn this thing out. Oct. 18 at Broma, 41 Nguyen Hue, Q1. The jams start at 9pm, VND50,000 entry

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Ho Chi minh city what s on Stand-Up Saigon’s 30th

Theatre Fun and Games Saigon Players, community philanthropic theatre company going on 10 years in Saigon, invite would-be thespians to their regular club nights the first Wednesday of each month. Hosted at La Habana, Saigon Players Club Nights feature some of the group’s most entertaining activities, games, improv sessions and acting workshops — plus the chance to meet other great people in the city. Entry is VND20,000, and with it comes a night-full of laughs and fun. Saigon Players Club Nights are on the first Wednesday of each month at La Habana, Cao Ba Quat, Q1. Club Nights begin at 7pm. For more information, visit

If you judge people by what they do for their 30th birthdays, then Stand-Up Saigon’s Wednesday Oct. 9 shindig at the The Spotted Cow — which will be their 30th show — is one to watch. Just keep your judgements to yourself, especially if you’re of the heckler variety. The stand-up comedy format continues as in the past. A compere or MC runs the stage, a selection of both wannabe and more-accomplished comics give the crowd five to 10 minutes a go and there’s also the Open Mic section. Manage a minute on stage, get a free shot. Manage three minutes and get three free shots. It’s really that simple. Just don’t get booed off… not that anyone will resort to such indecencies, of course. Stand-Up Saigon will be held at The Spotted Cow, 111 Bui Vien, Q1 on Oct. 9. The show starts at 8pm, with the VND40,000 collected at the door going towards the raffle later in the evening

Turtle Giant Plays Saigon

Calling Australian Expats Paul Milbourne, a registered Australian Financial Planner asks, “What’s your most valuable asset?” In his experience, almost no one answers this correctly — a dire situation, given that their lives could depend on it. Nick Cartledge, from Expat Property Planners, says most expats stop contributing to their superannuation while working abroad and — given the rising costs of life in Australia — even a five-year posting could come at a serious cost. “By investing in property back home while abroad,” he says, you “will ensure you’re still in the market, keeping up with inflation back home and earning a healthy bank of tax credits for your return.” Paul and Nick are specialists in the fields of Australian property, financial planning and insurance, and they’re prepared to share their knowledge at The Hanoi Club in Hanoi on Oct. 16 and the Caravelle Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City Oct. 17. If you’re an Aussie working abroad they’d love to have you in the room — in fact, they would recommend it. To register for this free seminar, email

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Loud Minority — purveyors of all things rock in Saigon — is bringing the hotly tipped Brazilian threesome Turtle Giant to Cargo on Oct. 10. Although a new (and funny) name for Saigon, Turtle Giant was rated in the top 10 of the US’s South by Southwest Music Festival earlier this year, with a sound described as “epic, atmospheric and psychedelic”. Their October visit to Saigon is their first in Vietnam, beating their eventual Hanoi CAMA Festival-headlining destination by a scant two days. Turtle Giant is a band on the rise, and certainly not one to miss. Tickets are VND100,000 and VND150,000 at the door, and they’re on sale now at Cargo Bar, 7 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, and Asian Kitchen, 185/22 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, or online at Doors are at 7pm on Oct. 10, and supporting acts will be announced soon

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Ho Chi minh city what s on


Little Red Dresses

To celebrate 40 years of Vietnam–UK diplomatic relations and 20 years of British Council in Vietnam, the Candoco dance company will perform on Oct. 3 at the Saigon Opera House. Candoco is a contemporary dance company of disabled and non-disabled artists founded in 1991. In collaboration with Thanh Bui’s SOUL Music Academy, the company will also conduct a dance workshop for street and migrant children. For registration and further info, email trang.

Saigon Hash House Harriers — a group of non-competitive, social runners — are getting everyone gussied up for charity on Sunday, Oct. 20. All women, men, children and dogs are required to wear a red dress as per global tradition held annually by hash chapters around the world. A tradition since 1988, the event also includes a balance of running and walking trails, plenty of beer, a big, gooey charity feel in its centre and lots of leg. You can skip the stilettos, though. For more information or to sign up, visit

Standpoint Theories What do you get when you put Space Panther, Melting Pot mastermind contemporary dancer Emily Navarra, the naval-gazing poems of Matt Bender, transgender issues, interactivity, lights, support from international artists and Saigon’s own Hot Tzigani Project and UGWAE and an arts grant? You get one of the most singular experiments to ever hit Saigon. It’s Nov. 1 at Cargo; go see what the hell happens. Standpoint Theories is Nov. 1 at 7pm at Cargo, 7 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4. Entry is VND100,000

The Month in Outcast It’s a busy month for Saigon Outcast, which hosts four thought-provokingly intense events throughout October. Kicking off the month is Melting Pot 3 on Oct. 5 and Oct. 6. Great live performances will be mixed with all the arts and crafts you can think of. The Marmalades and Space Panther are set to headline a star-studded local musical bill, and money raised will help two schools for physically and visually-impaired children build their dance programmes and facilities. The following weekend brings the first Outdoor Pool Cinema on Oct. 12. Starting at 3pm, they’ll be showing two movies fitting of the paddling pool action: Point Break, directed by Kathryn Bigelow (she’s come a long way since), and Wet Hot American Summer, rounding up the camp action with classic punchlines from the 1980s. Don’t forget your rubber duck. On Oct. 19, your trash has the chance to be transformed into another person’s treasure at the fashion, clothing, accessories and book exchange swap system better known as Thrift Shop. Any leftover secondhand items will be divvied up and given to charity. And if “recycle, reuse and reduce” isn’t enough, there’ll be the usual mix of local craft cocktails, frosty brews, tasty bites, music and the cool Thao Dien breeze. And, if you’re fearing the fun is over, be really afraid when Halloween hits on Oct. 31. As of yet they are still collecting ideas, but you can expect games, scary-looking food and drinks, and mayyyybe monster music bands. If you head over to their Facebook page, you can weigh in as to whether you’d prefer a Monsters, Inc. theme or Nightmare Before Christmas. Saigon Outcast is at 188/1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, or on [sic]

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Made In Berlin German with Latin roots, duo Raggabund is heading to Vietnam for the first time to perform at CAMA Festival in Hanoi (see Big 5), and hitting Ho Chi Minh City on their way down. Presented by the Goethe Institut, brothers Paco Mendoza and Don Caramelo will bring dancehall-ragga, roots reggae, Latin beat, hip hop and relaxed ballads, combining them all for a show that’s sure to be energetic. Raggabund plays Cargo — 7 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4 — on Oct. 13 at 8pm

Canadian Thanksgiving On Oct. 14, Canadian Thanksgiving, the annual CanCham Thanksgiving dinner, will take place at Lotte Legend Saigon. There will be roasted turkey and free flow wine, beer and soft drinks. For those missing their families, an auction of student artwork, supported by various international schools in the city will be held. All proceeds will go towards helping organisations within CanCham’s CSR programme. Priced at VND11 million for a table of 10, or VND1.2 million per adult and VND500,000 per child from five to 12 years old. Free for children under five. For more info, call (08) 3824 3754 or email hcmc@

Yoga, Oi! An International Yoga Alliance-approved yoga teacher-training course is set to start here in late October. Try now for some early-bird specials. For more information, visit or call 0908 352265

It’s Oktober

The Enchanting Circus Supper Club It’s a bit early, but what are you doing for dinner on Nov. 16? Well the Saigon Supper Club knows what it will be doing — throwing a party with music, dance and entertainment, accompanied by great food provided by five Dutch master chefs. And under all your shallow, dinner party talk, they’re giving you something to feel good about — that you’re supporting 120 of the poorest children in Ho Chi Minh City, through the Supper Club’s patronage of The K.I.D.S. Foundation. For more information, keep your eye on

Escape is coming back, and this time it won’t be weird if you want to dress up. Heavy hitter DJ Scott Kirby is taking a break from his Ministry of Sound responsibilities back in Old Blighty, and DJs Tio, Anna, Ajam, Duy Duy, Kaiser T and a half-dozen others will be playing from 3pm to late at the “biggest Halloween ball in Vietnam” on Oct. 26. There will be stiltwalkers and street performers, magicians and costume competitions, and an expected 10,000 modern day pagans. It all takes place in the outdoor space next to Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center and behind Parkson on Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7. Entrance is VND350,000, VIP is VND700,000. Check for more details

Balade en France Hotel Equatorial will host the annual French wine and food fair Balade en France on Oct. 25 and Oct. 26, from 6pm to 11pm. Guests will have the chance to discover and taste various traditional French dishes such as pan-fried foie gras, ratatouille and crepes, as well as savour wines from the most renowned French wine regions. Served together with the dishes are entertainment shows and activities including a fashion show, live concert and lucky draw. Tickets are available at the following locations: CCIFV, Hotel Equatorial, Exotissimo and Air France. Tickets cost VND700,000 at the gate, VND570,000 if you buy in advance, VND200,000 per child under 14 and kids under five can attend for free. For more info, email

The beer will again flow like the Danube, as Brotzeit throws an Oktoberfest party on Oct. 4 and Oct. 5. The theme will be German, the staff will be dressed in traditional costume, the BBQ will be saucy and the strudel will be, well, better saved for the next morning. German Stefan Keller will play some traditional tunes as well. Brozeit is at Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1. For table bookings, please call (08) 3822 4206

Art of the Earth The Craig Thomas Gallery welcomes two artists that are breaking the mould in their genre, Ngo Van Sac and Tran Minh Tam. Two solo exhibitions are slated for the Autumn / Winter programme, beginning with the Oct. 25 opening of work by Hanoibased Ngo Van Sac — an artist who trades in traditional cotton canvas and paint for pine wood canvas and heat. By burning the delicate pine, Ngo Van Sac achieves a stunning effect with self-portraits and portraits of friends. The following exhibition begins Dec. 6, featuring Saigon-based artist Tran Minh Tam, who also makes wood a canvas, creating unique and distinctive works of art featuring icons of Vietnam’s royal past. Wood Burn Art by Ngo Van Sac is on exhibition at the Craig Thomas Gallery from Oct. 25, wood paintings by Tran Minh Tam from Dec 6. The Craig Thomas Gallery is located at 27i Tran Nhat Duat, Q1. For more information, visit the gallery website at

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Ho Chi minh city Just In Get on Top

Vietnam, The Game The Vietnam Game, as the insert says, “is without any doubt the most perfect gift for all occasions”. But is it really? Ed Weinberg and Karen Hewell decided to roll the dice (metaphorically that is — there are no dice) and find out. On her first turn, Karen picks a lotus card and goes like half the board. She feels bad, and then Ed reads the section entitled ‘Change the Rules’: “To make the game more challenging, you can change the rules. You may want to give a special assignment for each different space. E.g. red — you have to sing a song, blue — you have to drink…” “I get it!” Karen says. “It’s a drinking game.” “No,” Ed says, again picking up the included literature. “This game,” he reads, “is the ultimate combination of Vietnamese culture/values and pleasure [emphasis is the game’s].” And they both laugh — one point in the plus column. But is it worth it? “This game is great for little, little kids,” Karen says, “or drunk people.” Being neither, they fold it up. The Vietnam Game is a limited edition bit of fun produced by Wendy Quarteer, the sincere and quirky soul behind Contact her there or on 0909 025787 to see how you can get your copy

Halong Bay Goes Cruising The Starlight Cruise is the first five-star cruise to ever stroke the waters of Halong Bay, 58m at a time. The boat is one of the largest of its kind in the bay, and houses 32 sophisticated cabins, a restaurant, bar, wine cave, library, hot tubs and mini golf along its span. To coax interested parties, Orient Sails Company is offering a special rate of VND4.5 million per person for the two-day-one-night package, from now until the end of the year. Visit for more information

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Novotel Saigon Centre has opened its newest outlet, onTop Bar — a location perched on the 20th floor, promising stunning views and a chilled-out, relaxed and casual atmosphere. Alongside contemporary cocktails are a few European specialities, Vietnamese and internationalinspired tapas and a hefty selection of wines and cheeses. The new locale is sure to draw in a crowd, so it’s best to get here before word gets out! Novotel Saigon Centre’s onTop Bar is located on the 20th floor, 167 Hai Ba Trung, Q3. Visit the Facebook page at ontopbarsaigon

An Phu Gets a ‘Real’ Restaurant The couple behind Vino are at it again, this time with the brand new Lu Bu Restaurant in An Phu. The palate is sure to be treated with a focus on wholesome and fresh ingredients, with an international twist to both western and Asian dishes. All of the dishes — from pastas and pickles to breads and cheeses — are made on-site daily from scratch. Lu Bu Restaurant opens in mid-October at 97B Thao Dien, Q2.

A Home in Paradise The stunningly beautiful slopes of Dalat could soon be the view you have out of your dining room window while sipping coffee. With the opening of La Vallee de Dalat — a collection of seven single-family homes perched atop a piney slope overlooking stillbucolic terrain — the dream is now a reality for homeowners in the ‘Land of Eternal Spring’. With architecture by renowned firm Asiatique Design, Le Ngoc Khanh Tam and husband Barry Israel recently cut the ribbon on this exquisite locale, the only gated, private residential compound in Dalat. The design harks back to the times of 1930s hillside villas, and drinks with the wonderful views that make Dalat the enviable destination for tourists worldwide. Find more information about the villas by visiting the website at

“My mother had to remortgage her house to pay for my The Observatory It’s not often that Saigon’s party kids experience a paradigm shift from the Bromas, Fenetres and Darts that make up their schedule, but then again it’s not often that a venue like The Observatory hits the scene. Seemingly ready to hit the ground running, the new home base for all of DJ Hibiya Line’s happy vibes will definitely draw them in for the Sound Adventures and Optimist Club dance parties they seem to love. But Dan Bi Mong and partner Kelsey Siggins also have ideas for the rest of us. The concept is a “cultural centre” — the party space, gallery and café all come in the bargain. On entering, visitors will see an info point, exposing them to all the cognoscenti’s hotspots, whether they’re Crazy Buffalogoing backpackers or longtime city residents. Rice Creative design agency is supplying some of the colour, as well as a next-level, interactive map. The idea, Dan says, “is to open a window to something else”. But behind all this highconcept cultural intent is the beating soul of Saigon’s youth culture, and we’ll just have to trust it to show us what it sees. The Observatory soft opens with the first anniversary edition of Optimist Club on Oct. 3. It’s on the corner of Le Lai and Ton That Tung, Q1

Level 23 Nightspot A Rooftop Lounge with resident DJs Opens from Tuesday to Sunday. From 6.00 PM till late.

Located on the 23rd Floor of Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers 88 Dong Khoi, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Tel: (08) 3827 2828 Email: Website:

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october 2013 Oktoberfest


n a month where all the holiday attention is on Halloween, a little German festival called Oktoberfest should manage to sneak into your schedule. It’s a celebration of culture — which means the getting drunk part of it is actually respectable, unlike all those candyesque apple martinis you’ll spill on your Monsters University costume.

Paddle Pool Cinema


hat’s better than watching the classic summer movies Point Break and Wet Hot American Summer just as the rainy season’s winding down? Watching them from one of 15 mini pools as the sun goes down, a cold beer in your hands. Try it at Outcast.

oct. 4 - 5 — brotzeit

oct. 12 — saigon outcast

01 tuesday

07 Monday

A Private Function Screening. 6pm @ MegaStar Parkson Paragon german film festival 2013. Until Oct. 4 @ Cinebox

Seafood Buffet dinner month. @ La Brasserie, Hotel Nikko Saigon

02 wednesday Local Hero Screening. 6pm @ MegaStar Parkson Paragon The Saigon Players Club Nights. 7pm every first Wed. of the month @ La Habana. See What’s On

03 thursday

optimist club 1 year anniversary — The Observatory soft opening. 9pm @ The Observatory. See Big 5 candoco performs in HCMC. @ Saigon Opera House. See What’s On Free Oysters. With every drink purchase. Every Tue. @ Barcode (102 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1)

08 Tuesday Happy Hour. 5.30pm to 8pm Mon to Thu. 50% discount all drinks @ onTop bar, Novotel Saigon

09 Wednesday 10 Thursday

Loud Minority Presents Turtle Giant. @ Cargo Bar. See What’s On ladies night. @ Every Thu. free cocktails for ladies @ onTop Bar, Novotel Saigon

11 Friday

04 friday

Mixed Tape. An 80s dance party, 9pm @ La Fenetre Soleil. See What’s On dangerous liaisons. Oct. 11, 12, 18 and 19 8pm @ Q4 by Dragonfly Theatre. See Big 5

The Witches Screening. 6pm @ Megastar Parkson Paragon wine tasting. 5.30pm to 8pm @ Bacchuscorner. Call (08) 382 933 06 for reservations

12 Saturday

05 saturday Oktoberfest. Oct. 4 and 5 @ Brotzeit German Bier Bar. See What’s On

06 sunday SGOC’s Art Festival: The Melting Pot 3. Oct. 5 and 6 @ Saigon Outcast. See What’s On Last day of exhibition Fresco by Irish artist Eamon O’Callaghan. @ VinGallery. See What’s On

32 | Word October 2013

Art Market. From 10am to 4pm @ VinGallery. See What’s On Les Sietes electroniques. Open air music concert from 3pm @ Tao Dan Park. See Big 5 outdoor pool cinema. From 3pm, screening Point Break and Wet Hot American Summer @ Saigon Outcast. See What’s On

13 Sunday vincent moon film screening. @ TBD. See Big 5 Raggabund plays Cargo. 8pm @ Q4. See What’s On

To have your event included in our calendar, please email by no later than Sep. 20 with a description of the event and a high-res photo

Red Dress Run Escape Enchanting Circus


f there’s one thing the Hash House Harriers like more than drunken running, it’s drunken running for charity. Oh yes, and antics — like forcing all this year’s runners to get on a sexy red dress, um, for charity. Sign up at


he last Escape was big, if a little tricky with the logistics and end time. Still, what an awesome party. Let’s all give them another chance — with their army of stilt walkers, white walkers and international DJs — as they bring the festival vibes to Halloween.

oct. 20 — tbd

14 Monday 15 Tuesday Fiddling with a Red Thread Exhibition by Bui Thien Tuan. From Oct. 3 to 23 @ Craig Thomas Gallery. See What’s On exhibition: silk of light. From Oct. 15 to Jan. 15 @ Phuong My Flagship store

16 Wednesday 17 Thursday expat property planning seminar. @ Caravelle Hotel. See What’s On happy hours. 5.30pm to 8pm everyday, half price on drinks @ Chill Skybar

18 Friday

oct. 26 — nguyen luong bang, q7

21 Monday 22 Tuesday 23 Wednesday Park Hyatt Saigon Chefs Collection dinner. 7pm @ Square One, Park Hyatt Saigon

24 Thursday Yakitori Promotions. Every Thu. evening @ Tamago. From VND39,000 per skewer

25 Friday In the Midst of Life exhibition by Ngo Van Sac. From 25 Oct. to 25 Nov. at Craig Thomas Gallery. See What’s On Balade en France. Oct. 25 and 26, 6pm @ Hotel Equatorial. See What’s On

26 Saturday Riedel Glass Tasting. 5.30pm to 8pm @ Bacchuscorner Electric Kicks. 9pm @ Broma. See What’s On

19 Saturday

thrift shop 2. From 10am @ Saigon Outcast. See What’s On Wine Promotions. Every Sat. each bottle of wine gets a small cheese platter and cold cuts @ onTop Bar, Novotel Saigon. See Just In

20 Sunday Saigon Hash House Harriers Annual Red Dress Run. See What’s On

escape: enchanting circus. From 3pm @ Nguyen Luong Bang. See What’s On

27 sunday Sunday Brunch. 12pm to 3pm @ Intercontinental Asiana Saigon

28 monday 29 tuesday 30 wednesday 31 thursday Haloween party. @ Saigon Outcast. More info TBC at SGOC’s Facebook page

October 2013 Word | 33

hanoi what s on Who Wants to be a Top Writer? Bestselling author Albert Jack is hosting an eight-week writer’s workshop from 6pm to 8pm every Tuesday, starting from Oct. 8 and finishing on Nov. 26. Jack has published 13 books, spending over 20 months on the UK Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller lists. His writer’s workshop will reveal everything a writer should know and welcomes anybody from the practicing amateur to the would-be professional author. For more information go to The workshops will be held at Bookworm Too, Lane 1/28 Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho

Brits Come to Town with UK Now! The music festival UK Now!, organised in conjunction with the celebration of 40 years of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the aforementioned country, will take place at Van Ho Exhibition Centre on Nov. 9. The event is expected to draw in an audience of up to 2,500 people. With headliners including British artists Anushka and Scottish afro-rockers Bwani Junction, support will come from Hanoi-based LDN Underground (a UK-Vietnam DJ collective) and producer-cum-composer Slim V who will be performing with a live flutist. Van Ho Exhibition Centre is located 2 Hoa Lu, Hai Ba Trung. Entrance is free of charge

Word Promotion at Rasa Singapura




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After their recent relocation from Truc Bach to Nghi Tam, Hanoi’s only Peranaken restaurant is offering a promotion for readers of Word. So, if you like your Singaporean-style fare — nasi lemak, mee laksa, chicken curry, beef rendang, roti canai and much, much more — simply tear off the coupon on the corner of this page, bring it to the restaurant at 185 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, and get a 20 percent discount off your meal. To find out more about Rasa Singapura, go to rasasingapura-hanoi. com


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October 2013 Word | 35

hanoi what s on Looking at the Big Sky Under the project title, Looking at the Big Sky, 13 videos of German art school students were chosen to be presented at Goethe-Instituts around the world. A screening of the videos will take place in Hanoi on Oct. 11. There will also be regular screenings the month after from Nov. 5 to Nov. 22. Artists were tasked to create videos inspired by the concept of crossing borders — thus enabling them to give free rein to ideas and illusions, and think outside the box. The results offer a variety of motifs and practices. Some of the videos tell fictional stories, while others are in pseudo-documentary formats. The project is curated by Renate Buschmann, who will be there at the opening. Entry is free and the screening and talk commence at 7pm. The Goethe-Institut Hanoi is at 56-58 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh

Calling Australian Expats

Sofitel Plaza’s German Flavour From Oct. 4 to Oct. 6 the Sofitel Plaza is offering a fabulous Oktoberfest Weekend at its Brasserie Westlake where you will be offered German specialities created by chef Andrea Bosia, all washed down with Weizen Beer. There is a 20 percent discount on lunch and dinner buffet on food and beverages when dining in groups of six to 10 people or for Accor Advantage Plus members. There will also be a complimentary glass of beer or soft drink for lunch/dinner to celebrate Vietnamese Women’s Day from Oct. 18 to Oct. 20. Brasserie Westlake is located at the Lobby Level, Sofitel Plaza Hanoi, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3823 8888 ext. 5311

Paul Milbourne, a registered Australian Financial Planner asks, “What’s your most valuable asset?” In his experience, almost no one answers this correctly — a dire situation, given that their lives could depend on it. Nick Cartledge, from Expat Property Planners, says most expats stop contributing to their superannuation while working abroad and — given the rising the rising costs of life in Australia — even a five-year posting could come at a serious cost. “By investing in property back home while abroad,” he says, you “will ensure you’re still in the market, keeping up with inflation back home and earning a healthy bank of tax credits for your return.” Paul and Nick are specialists in the fields of Australian property, financial planning and insurance, and they’re prepared to share their knowledge at The Hanoi Club in Hanoi on Oct. 16. If you’re an Aussie working abroad they’d love to have you in the room — in fact, they would recommend it. To register for this free seminar, email greg@

Charity Run for Kids with Heart Defects

Oh La La Mark Oct. 12 in your diaries if you want to witness the main event of the French Year in Hanoi. Oh La La promises to be an exceptional concert of duets and solos featuring the best of Vietnamese and French singing talents, including Le Cat Trong Ly, La Grande Sophie, My Linh, Leila Bounous, Quang Minh, Viet Vo Da House and other invited artists as well as electro-rock band Poni Hoax. The medley of artists will be performing at the 20,000-capacity Hang Day Stadium. Tickets are VND50,000 for seats and VND30,000 for standing and are available at Hang Day Stadium, Trinh Hoai Duc, Ba Dinh

36 | Word October 2013

On Oct. 12, the East Meets West Foundation and Hanoi Hash House Harriers will be host Running Hearts Hanoi in the Hoa Lac suburban area to raise funds for pediatric patients of EMW’s Operation Healthy Heart (OHH) programme, which provides access to

financial and medical assistance for children with serious heart defects. Over 3,400 children have been saved so far thanks to the programme and over 100 Vietnamese and foreign nationals living in Vietnam will participate in the run. Participants will have to complete a 10km run or a 5km jog, passing through picturesque green scenes around the Hoa Lac countryside. On average, it costs just US$2.5 (VND50,000) to save a child with a heart defect in Vietnam. So, by buying a ticket — priced from VND50,000 to VND200,000 depending on age — each participant is making a difference. Deadline for registration is Oct. 6. For more information contact Ms. Thu Trang at EMW on 0935 888906 or email trang.

Rockstore Kicks into Gear Following on from its grand opening last month, Rockstore is continuing its nightly line-up of live acts and DJs, an eclectic selection of music that should please even the most ardent music snob. The first Saturday of the month will see DJ Mark Harris light up the dance floor. The Hot Chicks band — think Friday Nights on the Terrace — are Thursday night regulars, The Patriotz play every Tuesday, while the DJs from Piknic Elektronic take up the Wednesday night spots. Other things to look out for are The Strangers, playing on Oct. 4 and Oct. 25, the Link Hanoi four-year anniversary on Friday Oct. 11, and of course the night of all nights, Halloween on Oct. 31. Added to the music, at Rockstore the whole of October is Belgian month — one of the owners is from Lille, the Belgian end of France, thus the obsession. So every day from 6pm to 8pm there is buy-one-get-one-free deal on all Belgian beers including Maredsous Brown and Blond, Hoegaarden, Duvel and Liefmans. Rockstore is at 61 Ma May, Hoan Kiem. For more info call 01655 336087

Quatuor Arties The Quatuor Arties classical concert will take place at 8pm on Oct. 31 at L’Espace. Featuring the performance of Sullimann Altmayer (violin), Julien Dabonneville (violin), Gauthier Herrmann (cello) and Romain Descharmes (piano), Quatuor Arties is a collective of international musicians, gathered around a shared passion for chamber music. L’Espace is at 24 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem

- Authentic Indian Cuisine Serving both North & South Indian dishes - Cozy & Ambient setting - Halal Food - Free Home Delivery - Indoor Party facilities & Outdoor catering services - For details contact Gopi 0903 266 997 Or Ms Dung 093 657 2277 Add: 47 Lo Su Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi Tel: (84 4) 3935 2400/01 Email: Fax: (84 8) 3935 2402 Website:

October 2013 Word | 37

hanoi what s on

Punto Turns Five

Hanoi Slam is Back In their third installment, Hanoi Slam celebrates Halloween with a terrifying night of storytelling on Oct. 30 at Son Tinh Lounge Bar. Under the theme of Fear, tellers will be sharing some of their most fearful moments with the audience, and the courage they have found to keep fighting. Expect topics to include everything from the traffic in Hanoi, to meeting the coolest girl in school. As previous Slam events have shown, anything is possible and nothing can be predicted.

In the spirit of Halloween, the audience is invited to dress up, with prizes offered for the best-dressed man, lady and couple. Add in Son Tinh’s scarily-good cocktails and you have an abundant night of Halloween entertainment. Last month’s winners from the Slam event at CAMA ATK were Garth, Ben 3 and Ed. Hanoi Slam Episode Three will be held at Son Tinh Lounge Bar, 31 Xuan Dieu, on Oct. 30 from 8pm. Entry is VND100,000 with all proceeds supporting Humanitarian Services for the Children of Vietnam

After five years of delivering the taste of the Italian espresso and leading coffee machines and service to Vietnam, on Friday Oct. 18, Punto Italia will be celebrating its anniversary with an informal evening of caffeine-fueled fun to elect the winning barista at the Latte Art Competition. As well as the competition and of course lots of coffee, there will be Italian finger food, drinks and a lucky draw. For more information and reservations, cal (04) 6258 3510 or email info.vietnam@ The event will be held at Casa Italia, 18 Le Phung Hieu, Hoan Kiem

World Champs Romp to Vertical Run titles

Pots ‘n Pans bring out Michelin Star Chef Pots ‘n Pans are pulling out the big guns with one-star Michelin chef, Felix Eppisser, returning to his favourite haunt on Oct. 18 for what promises to be a night to remember. The gala dinner — A Degustation Dinner with One Michelin Star Chef Felix Eppisser — starts at 7pm. Eppisser and his wife Lucia operate the most prestigious restaurant in Myanmar, Le Planteur. For more info on the event call (04) 3944 0205 or email Pots ‘n Pans is at 57 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung. The price of the dinner will be announced closer to the date

38 | Word October 2013

The men’s and women’s Vertical Run world champions won the second Hanoi edition of the run held on Sep. 15 at Vietnam’s tallest building — Landmark 72. Thomas Dold of Germany netted his second outright victory on this year’s Vertical World Circuit, earning him 100 points on the men’s ranking table. The 29-year-old finished in a time of nine minutes, 14 seconds, a course record. In the female elite division, reigning women’s Vertical World Champion Suzy Walsham of Australia climbed to victory, finishing in 10 mins 51 secs. While on the amateur circuit, a certain Vu Xuan Tien won top prize. Coming to fame as ‘The Running Man’ during Arsenal’s recent visit to Vietnam, Tien demonstrated that he is not only able to run horizontally, but vertically, too. He made it to the top of Landmark 72 in 11 minutes, 44 seconds, apparently running the whole journey barefoot. For more information on the Vertical Run world circuit, go to

Don’s Turns Four

The Song Hong Half Marathon Returns

It seems like only yesterday that Don’s Tay Ho opened with a block party on the lake. Now, four years later, the man behind the name (or is it the name behind the man?) is not letting up. Throughout the month of October, the restaurant and bar will be running an allday long, buy-one-get-one-free happy hour in the ground floor Lakeside Bar and out on the terraces on Level 2 and Level 3. And then on Oct. 18, the Oyster Bar will hold a jazz concert with the well-known Swedish outfit, the Håkan Rydin Jazz Trio featuring Don’s music director, Nguyen Manh. Reservations essential. Don’s is at 16 Quang An, Tay Ho. Tel (04) 3719 3719

Hanoi Red River Runners have confirmed that this year’s Song Hong half marathon will take place on Sunday Dec. 8. The race utilises the open streets of Tay Ho, with West Lake as a stunning backdrop. For those who don’t fancy 21.1km of road running, there is also a 10km race, a 5km event and kid’s fun run. All events start and finish in Ciputra on early Sunday morning, following a compulsory race kit pick-up and briefing on the Saturday. Online registration will open this month, with a discounted entry rate for Vietnamese nationals. Keep an eye on and for more details

PechaKucha Take 7 PechaKucha Hanoi will be continuing their regular, Japanese-style slide presentations on Oct. 24, this time at Work Room Four. With an eclectic mix of creative projects and presenters on stage — each presentation is made in the 20-slide, 20 seconds per slide format — anyone wishing to showcase their own ideas in front of the audience should contact the organisers by Oct. 5. Work Room Four is at Level 4, Building E, 9 Tran Thanh Tong, Hai Ba Trung. The presentations will start at 8pm with doors at 7pm, and entrance is VND50,000 — students with a valid card get in for free. For more info email

VIP Bikes Gets to Half a Decade R&R Tavern will be the venue on Saturday Oct. 12 to celebrate the fifth birthday of the much loved and highly respected VIP Bikes. Originally set up under the banner of the Blue Dragon Foundation, VIP both employs and trains up disadvantaged youth, providing them with the motorbike technician skills to take them into the wider world. The night will include live music, an Ozzie-style barbecue, guest speakers, an auction, games, entertainment and most importantly for anyone there at the 4pm start, a free flow of Tiger. VIP has made many achievements over the years. Now is the time to celebrate them. R&R Tavern is at 256 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho. For more information on the party or to contact VIP Bikes, email Andrew Souto on Entrance is free of charge

Iwasaki Chihiro and Vietnam In celebration of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Vietnam, the Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam will be hosting the art exhibition, Iwasaki Chihiro and Vietnam, until Oct. 27. Iwasaki Chihiro (1918 – 1974) is one of the most beloved Japanese artists/ illustrators, celebrated for her unique feathery expression combining Eastern Indianink painting and Western watercolour. The exhibition introduces 40 selected artworks among the three main themes of children, flowers and picture books. Throughout her career, Chihiro wrote 40 picture books. One of her most important works was the award-winning Children in the Flames of War, inspired by the war in Vietnam. In it she wrote, “May Vietnamese children, Japanese children and children all over the world live in peace and happiness”. The exhibition takes places at The Japan Foundation, 27 Quang Trung, Hoan Kiem. For more information go to

October 2013 Word | 39

hanoi Just In

Meals on Reels at HCC rooftop

Better World Open for a few months a stone’s throw from the cathedral, Better World is more than a film and music shop. Offering handicrafts carried in by hand from Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Kyrgzhstan, Turkey, Indonesia, Namibia, Iran, Turkmenistan and even Vietnam — it’s a long list — many items are from fair trade stores or direct from the artisans, themselves. Not available elsewhere in

Hanoi, according to the shop’s owners the biggest sellers are slippers from Mongolia, cashmere scarves, Cambodian silk items and Laotian jewellery. So next time you’d like to pick up a DVD or two, or a new album, enter Better World and you may even come away with some handicrafts. Better World is located at 15 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem

Now the balmy and dry Autumn nights are upon us, the Hanoi Cooking Centre is turning its rooftop into an open air cinema every first and last Tuesday of the month. On Oct. 1, they will show the movie Big Night (US, 1996). Two brothers, the volatile chef Primo and the smooth-talking restaurant manager Secondo, try to save their failing Italian restaurant by putting on a special dinner concert. Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (Taiwan, 1994) by Oscar-winning director Ang Lee (Life of Pi) on Oct. 29 charts the love lives of three very different sisters and revolves around huge Sunday night dinners prepared by their father, a widowed senior chef. HCC Rooftop Cinema is at Hanoi Cooking Centre, 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh. Tel: (04) 3715 0088. Screenings start at 6.30 pm, entry is free. The HCC kitchen will be open before the movie, and the bar will be on call throughout the show

THBC Adds Tapas The Hanoi Bicycle Collective is going all creative on us this month by adding the THBC Bistro to its repertoire of bicycle repair, sales and rental services. Serving up typical Spanish-style tapas as part of the menu, each of the traditional Iberian Peninsular dishes has been renamed as bicycle parts. So, Spanish patatas bravas are now called ‘Derrailleur’, the calamares a la Romana

40 | Word October 2013

have been called ‘Brakes’, the ‘Bottom Bracket’ is the name given to gambas al ajillo, while mushroom croquettes are now called ‘Bell’. The montaditos have also had a makeover, with each bite-sized baguette named after well-known bicycle brands such as Trek, Asama and Thong Nhat. To top off the menu, the outfit has added a range of drinks including enormous gin and tonics, Sangria,

Tinto de Verano, a range of smoothies and juices and a Catalan-style hot chocolate. And don’t forget the baguette sandwiches, that have been enticing customers for months. Spanish fare is available elsewhere in town, but this is the only place where it is authentic. THBC Bistro is at 44 Ngo 31, Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. For more information click on

Ladureé Bare brick walls and ruinous, tumble down decor is starting to weave its way through Hanoi. The latest proponent is Ladureé, one of the growing number of businesses finding a home in Zone 9. Set on the street level (on the left as you enter the complex), odd mantlepiece knick-knacks adorn the grey, partly plastered walls while rustic wooden tables, bark included, make up the space. Selling smoothies, coffee and juices — all at cheap prices that would make Tay Ho smart — while Royal City brings in the masses, Ladureé entices the MacBook Air and iPad-toting middleclass youth. If you're young and international, this cafe is the place to see and be seen. Ladureé is on the ground level of Zone 9, 9 Tran Thanh Tong, Hai Ba Trung

Nguyen Son Exhibition As part of a project to introduce a diverse selection of young contemporary art practices ranging from painting and sculpture, to installation, film and video, photography, new media, performance art and sound art, MAM art projects will be hosting a solo exhibition of the work of Nguyen Son from Oct. 13 through to Dec. 14. Located on the fifth floor of the Vietnamese Women’s Museum (36 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem), the organisers of the exhibition hope that Son’s work and the work of future artists will help the general “public to understand and relate to the national aesthetic and social context of Vietnam, as well as other regions around the world”. For more information, contact Huong at CUC Gallery on

October 2013 Word | 41


october 2013

Oktoberfest Weekend


s the weather grows cooler, we look to our northern expats to give us the delicious dinners and warming desserts that make it all bearable. At Sofitel, Chef Andrea Bosia and Weizen Beer are teaming to wash away those mid-autumn blues and give us something tasty to celebrate.



AMA’s pumping in some new blood to the longest-running music festival in Southeast Asia, with 10 bands from four continents on the slate for this year’s edition. Joining up this time are Australia’s Cairos, Macao’s Turtle Giant and Germany’s Raggabund.

OCT. 4 - 6 — sofitel plaza

01 tuesday

oct. 12 — the american club

07 Monday 08 Tuesday The Patriotz live. @ Rockstore

09 Wednesday wasaki Chihiro and Vietnam exhibition. From 1 to 27 Oct. @ The Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam Hanoi Toastmasters meet. @ KOTO on Van Mieu, 6.45pm to 9pm

02 wednesday Lolo Zazar art exhibition. @ 88 Lounge. Runs until Saturday Oct. 12

03 thursday

10 Thursday Opening of Nha Tay Transforms by Nguyen The Son & Tran Hau Yen The . 6.30pm @ Manzi Art Space. Runs until Oct. 29

11 Friday 12 Saturday

12 Saturday

The Hot Chicks Band. Every Thu. @ Rockstore

04 friday CAMA Festival 7. @ American Club, 1pm to 11pm. See Big 5 Running Hearts Hanoi Run. @ Hoa Lac Suburban Area. See East Meets West Foundation for details VIP Bikes 5th Birthday Party. @ R&R Tavern, 4pm til late Oh La La! From 7pm @ L’Espace Start of Oktoberfest weekend. @ Sofitel Plaza Hotel. Runs until Sunday 6th Oct. Friday Night on The Terrace. @ The Press Club

13 13Sunday Sunday

05 saturday Tay Ho Weekend Market. Every Sat. from 8am to 12.30pm @ ASVELIS, 67/12 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho

06 sunday Piknic Electronik. @ Softwater from 4pm onwards

42 | Word October 2013

Sunday Market. 10am to 3pm @ HCC Roof Terrace

To have your event included in our calendar, please email by no later than Sep. 20 with a description of the event and a high-res photo

Vincent Moon Workshop

Les Siestes Electroniques


espite what it looks like this year, Vietnam has never been awash in music festivals — however, this one is probably the weirdest yet. The organisers are hoping to gather a few thousand people in the park for some relaxed electronic inundation. Do Hanoians dream of electric sheep? We’re about to find out.


anoi’s indie dreamers have their hands in yet another singular happening, as CAMA teams up with The Onion Cellar to present a film workshop with Les Siestes Electroniques’ headliner, Vincent Moon. Here Vincent will hopefully share what’s made him such a faithful and evocative new-school music documentarian.

oct. 19 — thong nhat park

14 Monday

oct. 23 — cama atk

21 Monday 22 Tuesday 23 Wednesday

Nguyen Son Exhibition. Oct. 13 and 14 @ Vietnamese Women Museum, 36 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem UK Film Festival . @ MegaStar Mipec Tower

15 Tuesday

Workshop with filmmaker Vincent Moon. @ CAMA ATK, 73 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung, from 6pm to 10pm

24 Thursday

Hanoi Toastmasters meet. @ KOTO on Van Mieu, 6.45pm to 9pm

Vu Nhat Tan Autumn Series concert. @ Manzi Art Space, 8pm. Free entry

16 Wednesday

25 Friday The 4th Oktoberfest. Oct. 24 and 25 @ Cung Xuan Event Centre, Hanoi

17 Thursday

26 Saturday

Talk Show with Giang Dang: Right or Wrong? @ Manzi Art Space, 7.30pm. Pre-register at

27 sunday

18 Friday

28 monday 29 tuesday Orchestre de Paris performs. @ L’Opera de Hanoi, 1 Trang Tien, 8pm. Go to for details Last day of Nha Tay Transforms. @ Manzi Art Space

Degustation Dinner with Chef Felix Eppisser. @ Pots ‘n Pans, 8pm vincent moon film screening. @ TBD. See Big 5

30 wednesday

19 Saturday

Hanoi Slam. @Son Tinh Bar, 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. From 8pm

Les Siestes Electronique, free outdoor concert. @ Thong Nhat Park, 3pm to 7pm

20 Sunday

31 thursday Quatuor Arties quartet. @ L’Espace, 8pm haloween party. @ Rockstore

October 2013 Word | 43

in the papers The Best of the VietnameSe Press


Too Handsome Model Ho Chi Minh City Gig Flop The model/actor from the UAE who claimed he was deported from Saudia Arabia for being too handsome, Omar Borkan Al Gala, turned up in Ho Chi Minh City for a charity fashion-music show, but left his fans disappointed. Ket Noi Uoc Mo (‘Connecting Dreams’) was a free event expected to draw 14,000 fans at Military Zone 7 Stadium in Phu Nhuan District, but only 3,000 fans showed up and Omar appeared for only 10 minutes


to try on an ao dai (Vietnamese long dress) and say a few words. The show started an hour late in the bargain. In the run-up to the event, Al Gala admitted his deportation story was a lie and in actual fact he was only asked to leave a restricted area at the annual Janadriyah Festival in Saudi Arabia for inappropriate dancing moves. He has one million fans on Facebook, which prompted his invitation to join the show in Vietnam.

Phu Bai Airport Reopens Phu Bai Airport in Thua Thien-Hue Province resumed normal operations two months early after being suspended for nearly seven months for runway repairs. The upgraded terminal is now capable of receiving larger aircraft, such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A321, and offers dozens of flights every day, Do Chi Thanh, director of the airport operator, said. There will be an increased number of flights from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to Hue. In 2011, the airport was also closed from May to June, for repairs. The latest closure was to repair parts of the runways that had deteriorated.

Air pollution Increasing Remember eyewear as well as your mask as you head out on your bike because lead dust air pollution is increasing nationwide, especially in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, where pollution levels are two to four times higher than the WHO limit, according to an air quality report by the Environment General Department (EGD). Hoang Duong Tung, deputy head of

the EGD, warned that lead dust pollution in Vietnam has increased in the past few years, especially in major cities with large populations and high traffic volume. Lead interferes with a variety of body processes and is toxic to many organs and tissues including the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys, and reproductive and nervous systems.

Becks and Prince William Try Vietnamese David Beckham and Prince William tried to master Vietnamese as they joined forces to campaign against illegal wildlife products, the UK press has reported. Prince William and former England footballer Beckham were joined by Chinese basketball star Yao Ming in London to film a video on behalf of the WildAid organisation where the Englishmen also attempted to speak Mandarin. The messages will be broadcast globally in November, but their target audiences are in China and Vietnam. Speaking about why he decided to record the public messages, Beckham said: “When I learned of the current poaching levels in Africa, I immediately agreed to help get this message

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out. It is shocking to think that we could lose these animals from the wild in our lifetimes.” Former NBA star Yao said: “We must reduce demand if we are going to save these animals. We made tremendous progress reducing demand for shark fin soup through a similar campaign… Traders say shark fin demand has been cut by 50 percent or more. I hope we can do the same for ivory and rhino horn.” A spokesman for WildAid said that the ivory trade claims the lives of an estimated 25,000 elephants annually and according to South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs, as of Sep. 5 at least 618 rhinos were killed for their horns in 2013, which may break last year’s record of 668 poached rhinos later this month.

in the papers Blaze Causes Damage in Hai Duong A fire that lasted for nearly five hours at the Hai Duong Trade Centre in northern Hai Duong City thankfully didn’t result in any causalities but caused a total material loss of VND500 billion (US$23.6 million). VND400 billion worth of goods of more than 500 traders perished in the blaze with the remainder of the costs being the damage to the infrastructure of the centre. Local authorities mobilised seven fire engines, two pumps, two water supply trucks, and 85 firefighters to extinguish the blaze. They then sent in nine more fire engines from neighboring Hung Yen and Quang Ninh provinces to help out. The fire may have been caused by a short circuit at a fabric stall on the first floor of the centre.

Chip Plant in Thai Nguyen South Korea’s Samsung Electro-Mechanics will soon start work on a US$1.2 billion (VND25.2 trillion) chip and electronic components plant in the northern province of Thai Nguyen. Necessary procedures for the project at the Samsung Electronics Vietnam Thai Nguyen (SEVT) hi-tech complex in Yen Binh 1 Industrial Park have been completed, according to a source from the management of industrial parks in Thai Nguyen. When

in place, it will supply the SEVT complex where Samsung gadgets like mobile phones, smart phones and tablets are made. Seung Mo Ryu, general director of Samsung Electro-Mechanics, who visited Thai Nguyen and worked with provincial leaders on the project, said the plant will be up and running in August 2014. It will be the biggest facility of Samsung ElectroMechanics outside South Korea, according to reports.

Danang Eyes Thai resumption Danang is hoping to reconnect with ‘the world’s most popular tourist destination’ of Thailand. The DanangBangkok route was served by Thailand’s PB Air from 2007 until 2009, when the carrier ceased operations. In related aviation news, Vietnam Airlines has announced that as of Oct. 28, it will increase the number of services connecting Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi with Busan and Incheon in South Korea. Specifically, the Ho Chi Minh City — Incheon service will have four more weekly flights, sending the total number of services to 11 flights per week. The Hanoi — Busan air route will see five additional flights per week, 12 flights a week in total Korean Air has also announced plans for three more flights per week from Seoul, beginning Oct. 27, and Silk Air will add a Thursday flight from Singapore from Oct. 31. The Korean Air service is an ideal connection for those coming from the US. The additional Silk Air flights open the doors more widely for Australia, the UK and other European markets. Meanwhile, Cam Ranh Airport in Nha Trang will welcome two chartered flights each month carrying Hong Kong visitors from the end of November.

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The Knight Who Came in From the Cold

“Life in Hanoi at that time was very quiet. I used to go for long walks every morning before work, or in the evenings. I always had my camera with me” 46 | Word October 2013

General Hanoi street scene

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Posted to Hanoi in the early 1980s, despite his role as number two at the British Embassy, Sir John Ramsden found time to follow his passion — photography. 30 years later his unique collection of black and white images will be exhibited in Vietnam. Words by Derek Milroy


t was a time when conflicting ideologies came face to face. East versus West. At the height of the Cold War, British diplomat John Ramsden, who had earlier worked in Senegal and at the East-West disarmament talks in Vienna, was posted to Hanoi. It was 1980. At the time he knew almost nothing about Vietnam. The country had rarely been out of the headlines for three decades, but in the West it had always been looked at “through the prism of war and ideology”. The realities of daily life, especially in the North, were a mystery to him. But after returning to these shores in July in preparation for his upcoming exhibition — 30 years after he left — it was no trip down memory lane. Such have been the changes. He was astonished, in particular to see Hanoi as a far more open, relaxed and prosperous city. Yet it still had the same charm that soon beguiles any visitor. “It is hard to recall how cut-off countries were from each other during the Cold War,” he says. “The clash of ideologies gave rise to all sorts of stereotypes. It was before the internet, before mobile telephones or satellite broadcasting: there was very little contact between peoples on either side of the divide.” He adds: “Hanoi felt particularly cut off from the West at that time. Vietnam had been at war, on and off, since the 1940s. Very few westerners had been to Hanoi in the previous decades. I had no idea what to expect when I arrived in 1980.” Touched by the welcome he had on his return earlier this summer, he is looking forward to meeting more people at his exhibition, which opens on Oct. 4 in Ho Chi Minh City before moving to Hanoi on Oct. 18.

The Passion During his postings, which were mostly in Europe but also further afield, the career diplomat was always keen to capture his experiences, but he admits the pictures he took in Vietnam were a world away from the other places he encountered. “I had the time to explore extensively,” recalls Sir John. “Life in Hanoi at that time was very quiet. I used to go for long walks

General Hanoi street scene.

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every morning before work, or in the evenings. I always had my camera with me, which helped me to look really carefully at the life around me. Like anything else, good photography needs sustained effort and concentration. For once in my career, I was really able to work at my photography. And I had a wonderful subject to inspire me.” His posting to Hanoi was so sudden that he had no time to learn the language beforehand, although later he picked up enough to go shopping and have a basic conversation. “I had never seen a photo of Hanoi before I arrived,” he continues. “There were no tourists and no guidebooks. I had little idea about Vietnam’s early history, its culture, traditions and way of life. I was amazed to discover a city with a thousand years of history; a rich architectural heritage; temples and religious festivals. It was very exciting to have the chance to explore in depth a place that was so little known and yet so talked about in the West.” He was struck by how quiet the capital was, the lack of cars and even motorbikes. A bicycle in those days “was a prized possession”. There were no neon lights and in the evening, people sat on their front doorsteps, drinking tea around tiny paraffin lamps. All you could hear was the murmur of voices and the occasional bike going by. “There wasn’t much entertainment for the foreign community,” he says. “No swimming pool, TV or cinema. There were only a couple of places to go for a meal. There was one tennis court in Lenin Park. Contact with Hanoians was also very limited. People were always friendly. You could talk to people in the markets or shops. But more sustained contact was very difficult. Clearly, it was a difficult time. Economic recovery had barely begun. Daily life for the Hanoians was a constant struggle.”

Not Forgotten Sir John’s art was not restricted to the capital — he took his trusty Pentax SLR on his exploration of villages and temples all around the Red River Delta. He also headed to Dien Bien Phu, visited the Central Highlands and made several trips down south to Ho Chi Minh City. However, his exhibition this month is mainly about Hanoi. He hopes one day to do something with his other photos. “By the time I left Hanoi in 1983 I had amassed 1,700 black and white photographs,” he says. “I developed some films on occasional trips to Bangkok as there was no dark room in the embassy. I had a few prints made back in London to show friends, but for many years they remained a

private resource while I pursued my career in London, Berlin, Geneva and Zagreb. I made contact prints and had a few printed when I got back to London. I always felt that some of the very special atmosphere of the time had found its way into the photos. But my career took me away from Asia — the negatives lay in a cupboard for 30 years. “I did follow events at a distance. The publication of Bao Ninh’s novel, The Sorrows of War, was a major event. There had been floods of books about the war period from the American perspective. Now, for the first time, readers in the West had access to an individual voice from the North — a magnificent book that has won worldwide respect. I especially recall sitting in a London cafe in the early 1990s next to four men who had just returned from a business trip to Hanoi — clearly something was happening.”

Fast Forward In 2010, after Sir John left the diplomatic service, he held a small photographic exhibition to mark the 1,000th anniversary of Hanoi at the Museum of East Asian Arts in Bath. This led to him meeting his partners for the present exhibition: Vietpro, a group of “brilliant young Vietnamese professionals”, and KREU, a similar group of architects and designers who were living and working in London. Today’s project is a collaborative effort. The photos are his, but the words, the design; everything else comes from his partners, who have also enlisted the help of historians, writers and artists from Hanoi. “I have been struck by the response to my photos,” he says. “I always wanted to show the photos to people who had lived through the period, on the other side of the lens as it were. Hanoi had an austere, rather melancholy beauty; a poetry so well captured in the paintings of Bui Xuan Phai. I was transfixed. For young people, my photos help to visualise the very different life led by their parents and grandparents — the generations that lived through the war and then laid the foundation for the country we know today. For older people, the photos seem to bring back strong memories of a time that now seems very distant. I hope the exhibition brings the photos’ journey full circle.” Sir John Ramsden’s 1980s Vietnam collection will be exhibited from Oct. 4 to Oct. 12 at Chi Linh Exhibition Area in front of the Opera House in Ho Chi Minh City. From Oct. 18 to Oct. 27 it will be shown at Nha Trien Lam, 29 Hang Bai Art Gallery, 29 Hang Bai, Hanoi. The exhibition is part of the celebrations for the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the UK and Vietnam

Image 1 & 5: General Hanoi street scene. Image 2 & 4: Pilgrimage to the perfumed pagoda. Image 3: Crowds at the Dong Ky festival.




“I was amazed to discover a city with a thousand years of history; a rich architectural heritage; temples and religious festivals. It was very exciting to have the chance to explore in depth a place that was so little known and yet so talked about in the West�



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insider The Festival

The Sweet Here and Now

After electrifying the afternoons of five continents in the last six years, Les Siestes Electroniques is spreading its utopian moods to the better parks of Vietnam. Ed Weinberg gives peace a chance


o not just be a hipster festival.” This is the command Les Siestes Electroniques founder and curator Samuel Aubert has given himself. Sure, there will be a non-stop parade of beautiful people, sporting ultratrendy looks. Sure, the music is the cream of the Pitchfork-vetted crop (actually, even a bit more select). Sure, the occasional hipster will trickle in. But, when you lie down in the grass of Parc Tao Dan in Ho Chi Minh City on Oct. 12 or Parc Thong Nhat in Hanoi on Oct. 19, you should know that you’re going there to interact with the music, not the scene. “An electronic festival is usually a place and a time dedicated to dance music,” says Samuel. “But we’re not that kind of festival. Or, let’s say, we want to promote another form of electronic festival.” He adds: “Ours is a daylight form of festival; concerts are held in the afternoon and stop at the sunset. So [the] Vietnamese audience has to expect something more quiet than dancy, more experimental than purely electronic — even if after the daylight part of our programme, we’ll organise dancy after parties. We love to dance too!” The concept requires a bit more attention than your typical dance party — something that’s to be expected when you partner with mind-expanders like The Onion Cellar and Cama ATK, and enlist the likes of former La Blogotheque filmmaker Vincent Moon, ethnic field recordist and Sublime Frequencies collaborator Laurent Jeanneau, and hardcore drummer, DJ and all-around hustler Jean Nipon on the French side of things. Orchestral, experimental, electronic composer Vu Nhat Tan will supply the local colour from Hanoi, while erstwhile Time Keeper (wait, does anyone know if they’re still a band?) keyboardist Nguyen Hong Giang will be the experimental music liaison from Saigon. In addition to the usual suspects — Berlin, Kyoto, Montréal — Les Siestes has made something of a habit of going “a little outside our comfort zone”. The past two years they’ve gone to the Democratic Republic of the Congo — and, believe it or not, Vietnam is pretty far afield for your average IDM fest. “We’ve been travelling like this,” Samuel says, “not because we’re in search of some kind of exoticism. The reason is that we’re trying to push a little bit further the definition of what an electronic festival could be, and one of the best ways to do so is to be confronted by different contexts and crowds. These are really enriching experiences!”

After the Party In addition to the four daytime hours of music planned for the festival, both cities are hosting after parties (although the Hanoi one is more like an after cup-of-coffee, taking place in the bodybuilder’s corner of the park for just one twilight hour) and Vincent Moon film screenings — selecting from a catalogue that includes film work with the

bands Mogwai, Efterklang, REM, Beirut, Arcade Fire and The National, and stuff from his Petites Planètes film label, “which aims to document aural and visual traditions from all around the world”. Les Siestes relies on its unpredictable moving parts to give it its evolving identity, and Vincent is definitely one of the more important ones. He’s a grassroots, smallpicture music archaeologist who says he’s “trying to create another approach to music with the use of simple tools like digital cameras and small sound recorders, to come back to the very essence of music”. He’s not the type who would headline a traditional festival, but for Les Siestes, his approach seems just right. “Far from any commercial approach,” says Vincent, “I make all my work for free and I want to simply show the uniqueness of musicians in their environment, and not work for their careers.” This is what he did with his Take-Away Shows project for La Blogotheque — a series of quirky music videos done in cinéma vérité style, which crammed the 10 pieces of Arcade Fire into an elevator for an unrepeatable performance of Neon Bible, gave The Tallest Man on Earth an East Village, Manhattan music shop-cummuseum to pick through on a piecemeal rendition of Nico’s These Days and set Man Man loose on a Parisian sidewalk for a tribalshrieking, lost-girl-bemoaning, trashcanthwacking, neighborhood-kid-mesmerising jamboree loosely set to the tune of the Marx Brothers’, Everyone Says I Love You. From a 2011 New York Times Magazine article: “About five years ago, a prodigious young French filmmaker named Vincent Moon reinvented the music video.” This is what we’re in for.

The Vietnam Factor So Les Siestes isn’t your traditional festival. But then again, the parks of Vietnam aren’t typical venues. Everyone on the slate is a researcher, a digger, a listener. And they want to know what Vietnam has to say.

“I plan to make a few short films in Vietnam,” says Vincent. “[I want to focus] on different aspects of the music there, from very ancient and traditional to new sounds based on those same roots.” Ethnic musicologist Laurent Jeanneau has a similar objective. “I will focus on remixing ethnic minority music from Vietnam,” he says, “from the very north of the country and from the central plateau. I think this music sounds foreign… to people who live in big towns, who are usually not very interested in ancient music.” This is part of what Samuel sees as the challenge of his brand of festival. It’s not music that will please every park-goer who happens by. Laurent agrees, and sees this as a good thing. Talking about his field-recorded set, he says, “Let’s see the degree of understanding an experimental soundscape based on the ethnic minority music of Vietnam can achieve in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in 2013.” Les Siestes Electroniques comes to Ho Chi Minh City’s Parc Tao Dan — 55C Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 — on Oct. 12 from 3pm to 7pm, with a Heart Beat Saigon after party at Blanchy’s Tash (95 Hai Ba Trung, Q1) at 9pm. The films of Vincent Moon are screening on Oct. 13 at a TBD location. The Moon screenings are coming to a TBD location in Hanoi on Oct. 18, followed by the concert on Oct. 19 in Thong Nhat Park, Tran Nhan Tong, Le Duan, from 3pm to 7pm. The “after party” for that one happens in the bodybuilder’s corner from 8pm to 9pm. On Oct. 23, Vincent Moon will be putting on a by-donation (minimum requested is VND100,000) film workshop with The Onion Cellar at Cama ATK, 73A Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung. For more information on all of this, go to All events besides the Vincent Moon workshop are free

Behind the Scenes

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So, you arrive at a show, restaurant or even a business operation. You expect the very best without really wondering or caring about the creation process. It’s all there on a plate, a well-prepared plate. But what happens behind the scenes? What does it require to really make something happen? How much needs to be done to make the finished product good enough for public consumption? With this in mind we decided to look at the process of making something happen. From the process of growing, baking and packaging tea through to the vigorous rehearsals required to put on a dance show for both a Vietnamese and international audience. Nothing is quite as simple as it seems. So next time you go for that hotel buffet, buy some silk, take in a water-puppet show or peruse a fashion shoot in the pages of a magazine, you might take a minute to appreciate the hard work put in to make it all happen. Without the dedication of all those people working in the background, this world could be a very different place.

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The Tea Plantation Driving the five hours from Hanoi to Moc Chau, Nick Ross went in search of that most ancient and beloved of Vietnamese products — tea — and what lies behind it


ou don’t need a guide,” says the heavily made up receptionist. “You can go everywhere by yourself.” “What about seeing how the tea is dried and processed?” “A guide isn’t going to know about that. Best if you go yourself.” With those unexpected words of wisdom in mind and a badly designed photocopied map in Vietnamese, I set out to find the tea plantations. I had a couple of contacts in the area, and I knew I could also visit the Moc Suong Tea Plantation as part of a tour, but the original idea was to do this blind, to turn up and work it out for myself. The problem wasn’t getting to the plantations, it was getting access to the processing plants. That was what I wanted a guide for. But the receptionist was correct. It was unnecessary. 200km from Hanoi, and 1,000 metres above sea level, Moc Chau is known for both its tea and dairy products, a rare combination not found elsewhere in Vietnam. While Thai Nguyen Province is often cited as the home of tea production,

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the green tea emanating from Moc Chau also has its fair share of fans — it’s generally smoother and milder on the palate, a Jameson’s some would say in contrast to a single malt. At least it is in my book. The idea of both tea and milk being produced in one small area could be an Englishman’s dream, thus the reason for the trip. Unfortunately in Moc Chau the two are never mixed, possibly a good thing considering that the tea grown in the area is almost uniquely green. The Taiwanese are there, however, bringing with them their own version of crop circles and rice field art. If you’re on a tour you’ll see the tea plantation hill shaped in the form of a heart. You’ll also be able to purchase some Oolong — a nice change from the more standard local varieties, Shan Tuyet (from older tea plants at higher altitudes) and Kim Tuyen, a local version of Oolong.

The Tea Pickers

Rocking up to my first plantation, as I rode up the hill a sea of green emerged, with conical hats peeking out at isolated spots

in its midst. Here the hills, the reflection of light on the tea leaves, the cool air and the atmosphere of peace but abundance creates an overwhelming effect. It was the second time I’d been to this very spot and looked out over the Moc Chau plateau. It was no less awe-inspiring than the first. Having tried my hand at farm work as a student, I have only one way to describe the ladies working on the plantations — superhuman. They are humourous, too. They pick the ripe leaves at breakneck speed, using a mixture of their bare hands and a small scythe. It must be backbreaking work, but they are never out of breath and — despite the monotony — they still seem to have fun. When I turned up they were joking and laughing, their pace plucking away at the tea leaves never letting up. They played games with me, one woman removing my messenger bag from its perch on my bike seat, before bursting into hysterics. Leaving the women to their tea-picking antics, down the track I spied a man with a fertiliser backpack, readying it for the spray. As he mixed water with an array

of chemicals into a plastic drum, he, too, seemed intrigued by the attention he was receiving. I asked him if it was possible to get into the processing factory at the bottom of the hill, Cong Ty Che Moc Chau. Go and ask their permission, he replied. So hoping for my first modicum of success I went up to the security gate. “Only the director can allow you to come in,” I was told. “We’re in production.” But the barrier was not so deep as I thought. The security guards were helpful. “There are a couple of smaller processing plants on the road back to Hanoi,” said one. “It should be easier. The regulations won’t be as tight.”

The Plant

He was correct. After a couple of false starts I finally stumbled on the Son Ha tea processing plant, with its signage boasting tea from Chieng Yen, a town in the same province on the road back to the capital. Except for one face-mask protected worker manning the baking machines and constantly checking to make sure the leaves

weren’t overcooked, the place was deserted. Everyone it seemed was asleep. “We’re about to start a new shift,” I was told later, as topless, dopey-looking teenagers emerged from a loft area filled with mattresses. While I was allowed to wander around the plant, as a foreigner wielding a camera I was partly ignored, partly stared at, but just generally regarded as a nuisance. I wanted to ask about the process, but my questions were largely ignored. They just didn’t know what to do with me, how to react. And a lot of them had problems with my southern Vietnamese. So isolated is this part of Vietnam, that many of the people have never heard the accent of a Southerner, even on television. Eventually I figured some of the process out. In one room was a pile of tea, left there to oxidate or ferment, while the charcoal piled up outside the plant was used to fuel the baking machines. Elsewhere were some scales and a pile of freshly picked leaves, awaiting the disruption process to enable faster fermentation. By the time I left I had yet to witness the

rolling and packing process, but I didn’t need to. I had already found what I had been looking for.

Another Level

Back in the hotel the receptionist was busy with some embroidery. I stood in front of the counter, quietly waiting for her to look up. Eventually she saw me. “Did you get into a processing plant?” she asked. I nodded in response. “I told you, so,” she smiled. “There are so many tourists up here, especially in the summer, that people are used it all.” The next morning before returning to Hanoi I decided to witness the Trai Tim Doi Che, the Taiwanese tea plantation with the hill shaped as a heart. It was a 15km drive out of town on a potholed road frequented by flailing trucks, but the destination made the journey worthwhile. The rows of tea bushes, and the shaping of the lines around the area’s natural topography was as much art as it was practicality. Here was tea growing taken to another level.

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The Silk Village

Marc Forster-Pert delves into the alluring history of the silk trade by visiting Vietnam’s best known production centre, Van Phuc in the Ha Dong District of Hanoi. Photos by Francis Roux. Translation by Tran Phuong Dung

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alk around Hanoi’s Old Quarter, especially Hang Gai, and it won’t be long before you’re enticed to enter a shop to peruse the cheap silk products on offer. From table runners to elegant dressing gowns and ao dai, as well as a multitude of scarves of varying quality, there’s something to suit every taste and price point. Long gone are the days when silk was only worn by royalty and aristocrats. The extravagant luxury that could once only be afforded by the wealthy few can now be enjoyed by the masses. But you might be wondering where it comes from. A brief stop on a tour to the Perfume Pagoda and just 30 minutes from Hanoi, Van Phuc is enjoying a foreign and domestic demand revival for its silk, where prices are as little as half those of the shops in the Old Quarter.

‘Craft Village’

Located in the now defunct province of Ha Tay — it merged with Hanoi in 2008 — the area is known for its abundance of craft villages. Despite having been swallowed up by the high rise expansion of Hanoi’s outskirts, Van Phuc still retains its village feel. Entering through a theme park-like arch with a sign that translates as Craft Street, there isn’t much to see apart from several roads lined with silk shops emanating from the central square. I wanted to see the production process, but in reality there is only one shop which still has a sizeable manufacturing area attached. I was told by the owner of Mao Silk that it’s predominately a cottage industry with many shops having small scale production lines in their homes elsewhere. Production in Van Phuc, according to some sources, dates back as far as 2,000 years, but there are conflicting views on how and why Van Phuc became famous for its silk production. Proximity to the capital; a weaver from Cao Bang who brought the skill from China; a descendent of Hung Vuong teaching local residents — the list goes on, but trade is stronger than ever with around 750 homes here weaving silk. What was once a just a production centre to supply shops around Vietnam, has changed since the Doi Moi reforms in the late 1980s — these days, Van Phuc producers are allowed to trade to the general public. “In 2001, there were only seven or eight shops,” says Nguyen Thi Tam of Mao Silk. “Now there are over 150. Before we just made the fabric, now we are making the garments as well. We used to have to go to the Old Quarter to sell our goods, now they and the tourists come directly to us.”

The Process

The silk for Mao’s factory comes from one of three places: Lam Dong in the Central Highlands, Vinh Phuc to the north of Hanoi and locally in My Duc, where mulberry trees

abound and specially bred silkworms are introduced to feed off the leaves, eventually maturing into a cocoon. It’s from here that the raw material is extracted. Much of the process used to be done by hand, a skilled individual making up to five metres of fabric per day. Today, ageing wooden and archaic looking machines remain. “Production has improved, we can make more, not only in terms of material but economically as well,” shouts Tam over the machinery. But it doesn’t resemble something you’d expect of an industry that reportedly produces up to 3.5 million metres of silk per year. The clickety-clunk of the shuttle as it goes back and forth weaving the fabric results in a decibel level that would break most western health and safety regulations. It’s hardly a hive of industry either, as the one worker languorously attends to several machines in between stints of reading the newspaper. Some of the material is dyed on-site or later, after the fabric has been made. The patterns are still produced using a series of cardboard sheets with holes cut out to guide the thread as it’s picked up by the shuttle. There are no computers or expensive-looking metal machinery, yet Van Phuc silk is exported all over the world and the products you buy in Hoi An, Hue and Saigon are most likely produced there. The village also has several tailors who are then able to turn the metres of fabric into various garments, decorations, pieces of artwork and accessories.


Two millennia ago the Silk Road from China led to other nations prevailing in sericulture (the farming of silkworms), breaking up China’s monopoly. Taken to Europe by the Crusades in the 14th century, the Industrial Revolution a few hundred years later led to more efficient manufacturing techniques and costs being brought down, especially with man-made materials gaining in popularity. A popular folk song passage translates roughly as, “When you wear cloth made of Ha Dong silk, it will make you feel fresh and cool down in the burning sunshine in Saigon.” Silk still has an enigmatic luxurious quality that is now affordable, and Van Phuc is another example of a Vietnamese ‘craft village’ producing high standards at inexpensive prices.

Getting There Proceed out of Hanoi along Nguyen Trai, which turns into QL6. About 3.5km after passing underneath the elevated freeway orbiting Hanoi, turn right into Yet Kieu Town. Look out for the arch on your right about 500m after the turn.

Votive Paper The burning of lifelike paper items in memory of ancestors is a tradition strong in the hearts, souls and minds of Vietnam. Hoa Le and Thiep Nguyen visit the village where all votive paper is made

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poems and literature thanks to its famed production of the woodprint paintings, tranh Dong Ho. Now, due to “larger demand”, it has shifted production to the making of votive paper, lifelike paper models of money and much more offered up to dead ancestors. It seems the rain has put everyone to work inside their houses. So we go first into a house on the corner, and see Huong painting paper plates on the floor with a bowl of blue glue. She says these real-size “plates” are in a set of offerings that include a few plates, rice bowls and teapots to burn for dead ancestors on special occasions. While she can’t recall exactly when her family started doing this job, she says, “It was a long time ago, before I was even born. It’s from my great-grandparents’ generation.” She adds that since this time, her family has specialised in plate utility sets and the front heads of paper puppets. In her two-storey house lie piles upon piles of the papier-mâché heads in all sizes. Facial features such as black eyes and red lips will be added later by her husband and herself. Huong is busy today as her family has started stocking goods to prepare for Tet, which is coming in about four months. Huong says from now until Tet, her family will sell several hundred thousand items.

The Tradition


s we arrive at Dong Ho Village on the southern bank of Duong River, the gentle rain is cooling the heat of a late summer’s day. The streets are quiet, few people are out walking and only the occasional motorbike, loaded with plastic bags of colourful paper products, passes us by. “Where is vang ma made?” I ask a woman. We’ve heard that this village is the largest supplier of votive products, the paper-constructed models that Vietnamese use to burn for their dead relatives. “Oh, every house in this village is making it,” she says, pointing to the narrow road ahead. “Just walk into any house in that alley.” The village once made its way into

It’s a mystery when the custom of burning vang ma first came to Vietnam, but its root comes from the feudal dynasties that once ruled China. According to Professor Ngo Duc Thinh from the Vietnam Heritage Association, this tradition goes together with the belief that death is not an end, but just the start of a new journey into another world. Therefore, the relatives of those who have passed on have made it a custom to share their property with the dead. Later on, the real property is replaced by paper products — it is believed that in order for the dead to receive the offerings, these items have to be blessed and burnt completely. Traditionally, the vang ma offered to dead relatives are simple and include Hell’s Money — old Chinese coin symbols printed on yellow paper — and one or two sets of clothing. Followers of Dao Mau — the belief in Mother Goddesses — are the major customers of Dong Ho. Wealthy families sometimes order fancy products including giant paper elephants, and horses to offer to the female gods that they believe in. The other occasion where vang ma is burnt, a ritual that is common at the beginning of the year, is called dang sao giai han. This is when a family prepares a lot of offerings at a temple or at the abode of a fortune teller in order to get rid of the bad luck or bad ‘astrological sign’ of that year.

Modern Offerings

A few doors from Huong’s house we see a three-storey building containing a lot of colourful and fancy paper villas printed

with 3D designs. Ha, the father of the family, says he works with a printing workshop in the village to print and cut these designs. Then his family including his wife and two teenage kids fold and glue them to assemble the paper villas. Ha calls himself a “real-estate dealer” and he doesn’t forget to include a “legal” paper of authorisation for each house, as well as a miniature paper dog to offer protection. Ha’s family don’t have the tradition of making vang ma, but as market demand increased, two years ago he decided to step into the business. It was also about the time when industrial-sized paper cutting machines started coming to the village. “Before, everything was made by hand, scissors and glue,” says one owner of this new apparatus while loading up her motorbike with piles of fresh-off-the-printer items. “But now everything is made by machines. We have more designs and the work is less labour-intensive.” All the outof-date calendars that she has bought up from Viet Tri paper company have been cut into the shapes of clothes, shoes, washing machines, iPads, iPhones and even sim cards and phone credit cards. But not only those products produced in mass are preferred in this modern world, Nguyen Dang Manh’s family often receives customised orders. These include sewing machines, tanks, airplanes, cameras and even a set of automobile mechanic tools. Manh makes them from the old Canon boxes that he buys from the Canon factory nearby. He designs the models, cuts the paper, decorates and paints it so that the final products are as realistic as possible. While the financial rewards are not high — VND60,000 for a sewing machine and VND100,000 for the airplane, Manh considers this a creative job that requires good observation, trial and error, and patience.

A Continuing Custom

The custom of making and burning vang ma has always been controversial. Although there is no such activity mentioned in Buddhist teaching in Vietnam, where Buddhism is the dominant religion, tradition plays a crucial role here. The custom has been passed from one generation to another, and many believe that the ritual of burning votive paper has its own intrinsic value. However, in 2010 a decree banning the practice of burning massive amounts of vang ma in temples and public spaces was implemented. Yet the phenomenon continues. The future of vang ma is dependent on everyday people’s attitude to the dead. As Manh puts it, “I’m not sure if the dead people really receive the things that I make. But when I create them, I want them to look nice and beautiful. That gives me inner peace.” Dong Ho Village is in Thi Tran Ho, Thuan Thanh, Bac Ninh, about 40km from Hanoi

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The Water Puppeteers Hanoi’s Thang Long Puppet Company is one of the foremost practitioners of the 11th century art of mua roi nuoc — ‘puppets that dance on water’. Hoa Le goes behind the stage’s curtain for a closer look at the people who pull the strings. Photos by Francis Roux

Le Tuan Linh Puppeteer

WORD: What character do you play? LTL: Many different ones. In each story I do a different character. Tonight I’m doing six, including the dragon, the lion and the angel. I do the voiceover, too.

WORD: How long have you been a puppeteer? LTL: 18 years. It’s been an up-and-down 18 years.

WORD: What do you mean? LTL: This is a hard job. The actor has to be able to transfer the feeling to his puppets. Without it, they’re just decorative dolls, not puppets. Besides, the puppets are very heavy in the water. Some can get to nearly 100kg and need a few people to carry together, like this angel here. In the past, we didn’t have rubber pants like today so we had to stand in the water and get soaked. In the winter it was freezing. But I love challenges. And this job also brings me many rewards and joy.

WORD: What is the best thing about this job? LTL: I like it best when I start acting. Once I’m onstage, I forget everything else. I feel so pure, innocent — just like a kid. I love

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doing the voice of the puppet, too. It’s so joyful. Sometimes if something happens and I can’t come to the theatre, I really miss those puppets and can’t wait to come back to the show.

WORD: At the moment, you’re playing nearly 20 shows a week. Do you feel the excitement and creativity at each show?

LTL: Definitely yes. It’s the creativity in each show that makes me like this job. You can add on feeling or changes to every show you do. If it’s the last show, you walk a bit slow, this time you walk faster, or you let your puppet have another smile with the audience, or you can slightly change the voice and dialogue to make it funnier. So you can learn and discover new things in every show.

“Once I’m onstage, I forget everything else. I feel so pure, innocent — just like a kid. I love doing the voice of the puppet, too. It’s so joyful. Sometimes if something happens and I can’t come to the theatre, I really miss those puppets and can’t wait to come back to the show”

To Nhu

Dan tranh (like a 17-string zither) musician

WORD: Is the water puppet theatre a good performance space for musicians like yourself? TN: I think so. I play cheo [a traditional folk music], and when combined with water puppetry it’s a very unique combination. Most of the puppet shows originate from folktales, so they go very well together. In fact, now we have many applicants for a position in the band to perform at the theatre. It seems many young cheo artists find an interest in this stage.

WORD: So cheo is the music used for water puppetry? TN: Basically, yes. But recently we’ve also

integrated more contemporary music to the show. So we don’t have to stick with very traditional melody, but can be more creative on these themes.

WORD: When playing, do you form a strong attachment to the puppets that are also performing? TN: Oh yes. If you’re an experienced musician, you’ll definitely feel it. The music goes very closely with the movement of the puppet. We often joke that when the music turns on, the puppet already knows what to do and vice versa. The puppet only needs to put one hand up, and the musician already knows what to expect.

WORD: There is also a cheo singer in your band. Is language a barrier for the international audience to enjoy these shows? TN: Well, we’ve had people in the audience who came to us and said that they’ve seen the show 10 times and remembered all the movements of the puppets. We discussed the music, too, and it was interesting for me to see that they understood the show very well. I think many people in the audience are very sensitive to music. They know what we’re trying to do. And even if they don’t, the movement of the puppets helps them. So I think it’s not a big barrier.

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Hoang Tuan

Director, choreographer

WORD: Why did you choose roi nuoc (water puppetry) in the first place? HT: I grew up in a house a few doors away from a place where the Kim Dong water puppet group [which would later become Thang Long] practised on Hang Giay in the Old Quarter. So I used to hang out at the theatre every day with other kids in the neighbourhood. I remembered all the shows at the theatre. I first started my career as an actor onstage. But I realised it didn’t fit me well because I didn’t have the ‘perfect’ body that an actor at that time [1977] should have had. I was too short and skinny. But I have a good sense of humour. So I found that water puppetry was a great place for me.

WORD: So you think humour is the soul of water puppetry, don’t you? HT: In the art of puppetry, exaggeration is the key. It’s different from the human stage, where an actor can express his feelings through just a wink or the slight opening of the mouth. Puppetry means you’re

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faking and imitating, so in order to get the message across, every action you do has to be exaggerated and overacted. And that makes the puppet always look funny, pure and careless.

WORD: How difficult is it to be a water puppet director and choreographer ? HT: It’s like you’re having an infant. You have so many things to take care of before the show. Creativity on the spot only works for about 20 percent [of the time] while the other 80 percent of it has to be overseen during the choreography process. Once you’ve decided the character of the puppet — such as its clothes, facial expression and personality — you have to stick with those. When they’re on the stage, only the voice or movement of the puppets can be changed, and that’s all part of its personality.

WORD: How do you come up with so many ideas for shows? HT: We’ve collected from a variety of sources

from Vietnam’s past. The stories are often based on folktales. But sometimes, I also create plots based on folk paintings, such as Dong Ho’s Danh Ghen [‘Women Fight Over Love’] or Ngua Vay Hung Dua [‘Girl Using Her Skirt to Catch Coconuts’].

WORD: Which play do you like the most? HT: The Old Man and His Duck. In this play, the puppets can dance, speak and communicate with the audience and the puppeteer. So it requires a lot of thought in shaping the puppets so their motions are smooth and gentle, and the dialogue is funny.

WORD: Any plays you don’t like? HT: Generally no. But recently we had a play which received a lot of awards internationally and nationally. But when we played it at this theatre, our foreign audiences didn’t get the message even with the help of the translators. They just couldn’t get why the dragon’s eggs could turn into a human being and the Vietnamese people.

Chu Luong

Puppet maker

WORD: I’m told that all the puppets here are made by you. Is that true? CL: Yes. They’re all made in my workshop in Bac Ninh. Now that I’m busy with my management job [he’s vice director of Thang Long Puppet Company], I mostly draw the designs for the puppets and have a few carpenters and artists do the carving and painting for me.

WORD: Is the process of making puppets very different now compared to the past? CL: They’re now more beautiful and have more designs and colours. The artists have more options of materials to decorate them. Like these fish — I use eggshells and paint to create colourful fins. In the past, the designs were very basic and lacked decoration. The puppets are made from sung wood,

a very cheap wood that can’t be used to build houses or for cooking. But it’s soft, easily carved and can endure water and fire well, so it’s still the material to make water puppets today.

WORD: What makes a good puppet? CL: It has to have the ‘typical look’. I mean if it’s a farmer, it has to show a simple, hard-working and quite pure portrait. And only artists who actually live a countryside life and experience the life there can express those features well in their work, which someone from a big city can’t do. And water puppetry is all about the folktales, the life in the paddy fields.

WORD: Did you grow up in the countryside? CL: Yes. And I grew up with the puppetry team in the village because both my

grandfather and my father were puppet masters. In the past, a puppeteer did everything: wood carving to form the puppets, drawing the puppets’ faces, designing the motors to control them, creating the stage, coming up with the plots and of course playing the puppets in the show. So, since I was 10 years old, I’ve been playing around with those puppets in my house.

WORD: Your 2007 Dan Gian [‘Human World’] exhibition with 1,000 puppets was unprecedented. What was the message behind it? CL: Every artist has to find a unique way to develop. I wanted to give a different life to those puppets — the life of the land. Each of them has a different story to tell, and if you listen to them well, maybe you’ll find your own story there.

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The Power of Many Every two weeks, the AO Show captivates audiences at the Saigon Opera House with stunning ensemble performances fusing culture and creation. Karen Hewell gets a glimpse at the dedication and passion of the show’s cast and director with a peak behind the curtain. Photos by Francis Xavier 64 | Word October 2013

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eventeen pairs of bare feet are poised on stage, staggered in equally numbered lines facing each other, knuckles tensed and heels lifted. A few pat their thighs like runners at the starting line, others are already shuffling in place, preparing. One of them — a younger one with sweetheart hair and a round, baby-cheeked face — puts a hand up and calls across the empty expanse of the matte black stage floor. “Do it quickly so we can leave, I’m hungry.” AO Show director Tuan Le promised that the last two-hour block of rehearsal would end early if no one dropped the flattened bamboo bowls — like oversized Frisbees — during the next stunt. He’s standing downstage, one hand resting on his hip while the other holds a microphone to his mouth. He pauses, breathes and counts: five, six, seven, eight. A chiseled, shirtless performer bolts across the floor, eyes chasing one of the bamboo props that’s whizzing a few feet above his head. Before he even claps his hands over it and screeches to a halt, another hovers high speed from the other direction, pounding feet sprinting after it. Before long, a frenzy of limbs is weaving across the stage, their chins up and aimed at the beige flying saucers. Hands clap over them with whoops and hollers, elation with every one caught, until one is flung too low and too early, and grinds to a stop on the stage. The auditorium echoes with sighs and exhausted laughs. “It was just a dream,” they pant. “Dreams are only dreams.”

Director, Trainer, Teacher

The cast of the AO Show is in the final hour of a rehearsal day that started in the early morning. Their training begins at 9.30am, and continues in two or three-hour increments with a couple hours’ break between each session. If you add it up, they’re on their feet for seven hours, six days a week, and rarely leave the auditorium during downtime, eating their meals and killing time on their laptops while sprawled across the stage floor. “I have the support of friends of mine that provide them two meals a day, so they don’t have to go home since they don’t have a lot of time between rehearsals,” says Tuan. “They need that time to rest and recover their energy for the next rehearsal.” Tuan is like a bit of a protective uncle for his performers, although he will vehemently insist otherwise. Of his 17 artists, all of them are between the ages of 19 and 31, while most are still barely out of their teens. While he’s first and foremost a show director and choreographer, Tuan takes his role as a stand-in caregiver seriously, since his carefully chosen artists are often self-trained and still learning the ropes of show business. “We have some parkour people — some performers that are self-trained — so they are not educated in how to maintain their

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body. The way they use their body, it’s very fragile, and they often don’t know how to take care of it,” he says. Consequently, he admits to coming down hard on them to support their seemingly flawless physiques with stretching, rest and care. “When they are [onstage], the audience reacts quite a lot, so they give 150 percent. Afterwards, [some of them] don’t know that they must rest and recover with stretching and recuperation.”

Group Effort

Although young, the cast is a collection of the brightest, most talented artists and athletes in Vietnam. The group is a smorgasbord of backgrounds: from acrobats, contortionists and free-runners to divers and dancers. The mosaic of talent is the backbone of a show that relies heavily on ensemble work, with every performer putting life and limb in the hands of their onstage counterparts. Sometimes it’s as simple as throwing a bamboo Frisbee at the right moment, and sometimes it’s a matter of balancing a pyramid of bodies four people high. “The hardest part is definitely working together,” says Manh Hung, a 27-year-old circus performer whose sturdy physique bears the brunt of some of the show’s bigger stunts. His cast mates agree, although all of them are tight-lipped about how quarrels affect the team dynamic. “We get so tired and frustrated during rehearsals sometimes,” says Lyxa, another circus performer who spends a full 10 minutes in the show suspended in a

backbend atop a giant bamboo bowl five metres in the air. “You just have to shrug it off and get past it.”

Building Blocks

Creating the show from the ground up demanded a painstaking process of auditions and cuts of over 30 hopefuls down to the remaining 17 over a period of several months. They were chosen for a special purpose — for “their spirit, their vibe and their energy” says Tuan, and now the ensemble is shifting gears with the goal of staging 240 shows over the coming year. With the shift came a completely revamped show and an even more careful rotation of performers to safeguard their bodies from injuries. Slowly, Tuan aims to have the team performing internationally, but knows the stakes are high. Regardless, AO Show has a unique way of showcasing Vietnamese talent in collaborative art with culture at its core. In Tuan’s mind, it’s AO Show’s ticket to international success. “So many shows around the world, especially in circus and athletics, technique and [acrobatic] skill are very high. For Vietnam right now, we can’t run after them and try to reach that level. But instead, we have a more interesting aspect to our show, in the props, in the reactions between the performers on stage… it’s a cultural thing. It’s the [personality and behaviour] of performers on our stage that perhaps you cannot find elsewhere on other stages.” The AO Show takes the stage at the Saigon Opera House bi-weekly. Find out more about tickets and dates by visiting

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Pictures of a Thousand Words

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Saigon production company Fact and Fiction Films and Oxford University are helping change the face of health research and community engagement in Vietnam, one shutter click at a time. Karen Hewell goes behind the scenes with producer Linh Hong Phan and director Nicholas Fernandez to see how these digital stories are breaking the mould


t starts with a camera. Just a simple point-and-shoot, it spends a week in the hands of an ordinary person documenting what seems like a perfectly ordinary life. Those seven days can produce anywhere from a few dozen to hundreds of photographs that capture a family around a dinner table, a few evening drinks with friends or a moment of downtime at work. Then comes a story. These ordinary people look back on their experiences, reflecting on the lives they’ve lived. Their recorded voices describe everything from childhood experiences to a day in their working life, with each story as distinct and varied as the people that share them. Finally, it all comes together into a simple film with only a single voice and a handful of rolling images. Each film is a window into the life of a single ordinary person, but when alongside the voices and images of the other ordinary people in their community, these simple films become a mosaic of stories, weaving together the lives of a community in a tapestry of experience. Suddenly, these simple films of ordinary lives speak volumes. It’s called digital storytelling — a media format that chronicles a life or an event in a simplified narrative form—and it’s a big part of what Saigon-based film production company Fact and Fiction Films does. It’s hardly a surprise, since both FFF producer Linh Hong Phan and director Nicholas Fernandez have a certain affinity for this

“socially conscious” media form. “We’re in a lucky situation with some of the grant-based work that we do. It’s really become the bread and butter for us, or at least [it has been] in the past 12 months,” says Nick, who — together with Linh — has recently embarked on a series of digital storytelling film initiatives in a media project called Health in the Backyard. The funding for the project was won by the public engagement department of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit through the Wellcome Trust, and became a central project for FFF when they were hired on as collaborators and media specialists. Their most recent work focuses on rural inhabitants of Vietnam — farmers, butchers, traders of pigs and poultry, rat catchers and retailers.

A Project with Purpose

While the project utilises the medium of digital storytelling to provide a platform for individuals to describe their experiences in their own words and through their own points of view, the films do more than just illuminate the lives of people in these rural communities. The media format is also becoming an integral part of research into health and disease, and is fast becoming a new and different way for scientists, researchers and government personnel in Vietnam to learn about the way that these communities live.

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“I think [researchers] saw that it was a really effective method for reaching out and engaging a community,” Nick remarks. “[Individuals in these communities can] speak honestly and fluently about their experience.” Far from the confines of clinical research, the films offer a glimpse into how the transmission of zoonotic diseases — illnesses that are passed from animal to human, and vice versa — might occur in the real lives of farmers, butchers and meat retailers. “One [scientist] watched [a few films] and laughed the entire way through,” says Nick. “It wasn’t like a comedy laugh. It was a scientist laugh. He was finally getting to hear what the community was saying.”

In the Field

The films, though, are produced without any direct input from scientists, and rely instead on a handful of dedicated facilitators who work hand-in-hand with participants in developing a story and photographs that will eventually be used in the films. New facilitators go through a three-day crash course in building narrative, communication strategies and project goals. “With this project, it’s hardly scientific, even though we had scientists helping us. I mean, it’s hard for the facilitators, because they’re not [scientific] professionals, but what they can do is have a basic grounding,” says Nick. “For example, pigs having blue ears. They should probably know that there’s a disease where pigs have blue ears, and they should then ask questions that lead to the bigger picture, that would see what that individual knows.” The facilitators — armed with a brain-full of science and lots of guts — venture into the field for short, two to five-day stints. The

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first step is getting cameras into the hands of participants along with the principles of a good photograph — angle, light and subject — and what photographs should focus on. After a week, the facilitators work closely with the participants while sifting through their photographs and developing a story from what they see. Facilitators have to strike a difficult balance between guiding and controlling, making decisions with the participants rather than for them. The task is an ominous one, often proving the most difficult part of the entire project.

Quantum Shift

“In the beginning, it’s really is a quantum shift [in mindset] for [participants] across the community,” says Nick. “The people we’re working with don’t get [what we’re doing], simply because they’ve never been asked to do something like this. They don’t expect to be given an opportunity to tell their story.” Telling their story apparently has a particular effect on the participants as well, since the very act of reflecting on what they do and why they do it can affect behaviour. One participant in a previous project working with intravenous drug users in urban Ho Chi Minh City went from notable indifference to writing unaided for over half an hour — nothing short of a small miracle given the limited time that participants are even in contact with facilitators. “I feel like every individual we work with usually starts by saying ‘everything I do is normal’, and the fact that sometimes we get to points where they are asking really complex questions about their health, or what motivates them, or who they trust for information… I think that shows that we do achieve a level of reflection that is really not

normal for people.” The key is providing an environment that is comfortable and judgement free — a “physical and psychological space that [participants] can start to think about why people do what they do.” Hopefully, the result is a free-flowing conversation that will challenge the participants’ preconceived notions about health, their choices and the relationship between the two.

Bigger Audiences

After the films are finished, they enjoy humble movie debuts, usually in community screenings with mediated discussion or for collections of researchers. The ultimate goal, though, is to use the films as an even bigger form of community engagement. “We’re working out what we can do with the stories to really benefit a broader community,” says Nick. “We’re trying to figure out how we can approach similar communities, and how can we work with the stories to engage the people in them.” The next step, then, is to find out just what this burgeoning form of communityled media can do for Vietnam. “The real benefit of this process is the next step beyond the digital storytelling,” Nick says. “I always think — and this is the big thing in terms of the different kinds of community engagement that we’ve done — people often believe that it’s these personal benefits that everyone should be focusing on. But I think when it comes to media, you’re kind of missing the boat. Media is a tool that can engage much, much larger sectors of the community.” Fact and Fiction Films and Oxford University Clinical Research Unit are online at and

Behind the Barrettes Vu Ha Kim Vy takes a break from styling to share what it takes to organise one of Word’s monthly fashion shoots. Photos by Francis Xavier

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espite the lack of landscapes, the enthusiasm of Saigon photographers isn’t decreasing. From construction sites to bridges like Thu Thiem in District 2 or Anh Sao in District 7, from shopping malls like Parkson or The Crescent to alley cafés — to a nylon-made cherry blossom tree displayed at Vincom during Tet — any random backdrop can be an attraction. They come with iPhones and iPads, but few have the gear to get the most out of these weird scenes. And we were some of the few. It was a rushed decision — the fashion shoot needed to be done before Alex, our photographer, could go back to Paris. But the crew got quite a gift on the shooting day — a rare day of sunshine in the endless rainy season. Our group of seven — Alex, Francis (our behind-the-scenes photographer), the three models, myself and another assistant — headed to the Ton That Dam Apartments. Our first pick was L’usine overlooking Saigon’s Dong Khoi Street, but due to a lack of communication in advance with the marketing department, it was cancelled. This is the unglamourous truth behind a fashion shoot — it’s always a last-minute beast dependent on a lot of things, many not under our control. Plan B was reframed with the helpful support and permission of Banksy Studio and Things Café (both on Floor 1, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Ho Chi Minh City), and they became the atmosphere for our shoot. “Today is sunny, I hope we don’t need to use the lighting equipment,” said Alex. Crawling on the floor, jumping from one place to another, hanging on the edge of the

balcony, he explored every angle in the search for good shots. While the two cafés are hidden in an isolated, crumbling area close to the canal, three other stylish groups of younger Vietnamese bustled and photographed alongside us, with the full range of professional equipment. With empathy in their eyes, they nodded at us in passing. Later, we marked the end of another unpredictable yet successful shoot by taking a seat in one of our café backdrops. It had been a long day, but Alex’s work wasn’t done. “Where is the beer for my friend?” he asked, grasping a can for me. And we raised a toast, to the end of a fivehour, hectic but effective shoot. To see the resultant fashion shoot, please turn to page 78

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The Hotel Buffet

Five things you always wanted to know about buffets but were afraid to ask. Words by Elisabeth Rosen. Photos by Thiep Nguyen


t’s 2pm, but Pham Quang Vinh is already thinking about dinner. In the vast kitchen behind the Hotel Nikko lobby, the chef, 40, watches prep cooks hack giant fish torsos into manageable slices and toss eel with egg and flour in preparation for the deep fryer. A roundfaced man impales strips of bacon and ghostly pale sausages on wooden skewers. “My father had a factory to repair cars, but I didn't want to follow him,” Vinh says. “So I went to cooking school.” Today, he’s in charge of making sure that in four hours, all the skewered bacon and deep-fried eel and whatever that white fish is going to turn into makes it onto serving trays in La Brasserie. (The name is deceptive: in this Japanese-run hotel, the only French item on the menu is red wine). Still, Vinh seems pretty relaxed for a guy who has to turn 60kg of raw ingredients into a gourmet meal three times a day. He gives me the inside scoop on what goes on in the kitchen:

1. The chef knows how much you pig out.

“We try to create a balance of meat, seafood and vegetables,” Vinh says. “I stay at the buffet counter and watch people eat.” This makes me vaguely uneasy; I try to remember how many plates I heaped while researching a Sunday brunch article for this magazine. “You can really tell the character of people from how they eat. Some bring lots to the table and can’t finish it. But most people clean their plates, especially at breakfast.”

2. Everything is made from scratch. I spot baskets of eggs, potatoes, broccoli. A mixer whips almond cream at frantic speed; one

of the bakers sifts flour. The ice cream is homemade, as are all the desserts. To make fresh bread for breakfast, the bakers come to work at 3am. Around 5.30am, loaves emerge from the oven. At 6am it’s showtime.


Chefs have secret creative sides, too. While you often read about people quitting their jobs to pursue their dreams in the culinary world, being a chef doesn’t mean you can make whatever you want. Vinh’s real passion is fusion cuisine, but he says hotel guests aren’t ready for his creative combinations of Japanese, western and Vietnamese influences. “We’ve tried to cook a few fusion dishes. Not many people liked them.”

4. The food is so fresh... While cold items like salad are prepared the day before, hot food is made an hour before opening, sometimes less. It might not be true for all hotel kitchens, but at Hotel Nikko, there are no microwaves. About 60 items are served at every meal, so at 5am, the kitchen fills with the aroma of bacon, grilled Japanese fish, miso soup and fried rice. 5. ...and so clean. Everyone is wearing

masks and plastic gloves. Boxes of extras are everywhere. In the special cold room, a woman dumps the contents of a bin of lettuce into a Goliath-sized plastic colander and heads towards the sink. Uh, is she going to use Hanoi tap water for that? Vinh doesn’t understand my concern. A PR rep later explains to me that the water is filtered — so the only thing guests have to worry about is eating too much.


UK Now! Earlier this year it was the Americans, this month it’s the turn of the French, and next month the Brits will be having a go. Set for early November in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is the first British music festival in Vietnam, UK Now! Photos provided by CAMA Vietnam


f 2013 was your first year in Vietnam, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this country is some kind of live music mecca. The year has seen both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City enjoy performances from technopiano virtuoso Francesco Tristano, electronic composer Sun Glitters and death jazz mentalists Soil N “Pimp” Sessions, as well as Japandroids, with The Cribs due in Saigon in November. With more events on the way including Hanoi's very own CAMA Festival 7 and the French-organised electronic music festival, Les Siestes Electroniques, the illusion may seem complete. 2012 wasn’t as exciting as this, and 2014 may well pale into insignificance. The reason? This year we’re feasting on a bumper crop of live music due to the 40-year celebrations of diplomatic relations between a huge roster of countries and Vietnam. While past celebrations may have taken the form of an exclusive dinner at the Ambassador’s residence or a conference of business leaders, today they are large-scale, public events designed to party a country’s way into people’s hearts and minds. One country that has only just started to see the point of all this merry-making is the UK. For 20 years The British Council has restricted themselves mostly to the realms of business and education, with the UK’s wealth of cultural exports coming a distant third. Now they’re ready to do something more fun. In November they’re teaming up with CAMA Vietnam in Hanoi and Saigon Sound System to present UK Now!, two evenings

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of live music in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City featuring some of Britain’s hottest young artists alongside the best of Vietnam’s contemporary talent. Here’s who’ll be joining the lineup.

Anushka (Brownswood Recordings) Not to be confused with the Bollywood actress of the same name, exploding onto the UK’s effervescent dance music underground is Anushka — a Brighton-based duo made up of producer Max Wheeler and singer/ songwriter Victoria Port. Drawing on the UK’s rich heritage of scattered snares, sub low rumble and breakbeat culture in its myriad forms, Max has the innate ability to create urgent, compulsively danceable rhythms marrying swaggering, boisterous drums and melodic hooks, while simultaneously paying homage to historic melting pots of innovation such as Detroit, Chicago and London. Layering up Victoria’s delicate, graceful vocals on these foundations, the pair have struck upon a golden formula. From the great promise of having their dynamic, soulful palette likened to Disclosure, the release of the duo’s Yes Guess EP has cemented Anushka’s reputation as one of the most exciting dance acts for 2013.

Bwani Junction Scotland is a long way from Africa, but that hasn’t stopped one of the UK’s hottest young indie bands being more influenced

by Soweto at dusk than Edinburgh during the summer. Bwani Junction mix afrobeat rhythms with the kind of infectious, feelgood anthems and grubby lyricism that make British guitar music so popular all over the world. The scandalously young quartet have played Edinburgh’s famous Hogmanay (New Year) celebrations, one of the biggest events of its kind in the world, and have been heavily supported by Radio 1 DJs Zane Lowe and Huw Stephens — two of Britain’s top musical taste-makers. The ever hyperbolic NME took things one step further by awarding their debut album an 8/10 and proclaiming the outfit to be “a Glastonbury institution in waiting”.

SlimV & Nguyen Thi Huyen Trang (Hanoi only)

Talented DJ, musician and producer, SlimV has been one of Vietnam’s biggest names in electronic music since he started making original material in 2010. Since then he’s played the biggest stages Vietnam has to offer and collaborated with a host of live musicians. In 2013, SlimV teamed up with Huyen Trang, a prodigious flutist, to appear on Vietnam’s Got Talent. The duo won more than a few new fans, and their unique blend of sinister production and beat-box flute improvisations has yet to be knocked out of the competition. The Ho Chi Minh City show will feature Anushka and Bwani Junction alongside homegrown Saigonese performers. Both events are free

The Facts W hat : UK Now! Featuring Anushka and

Bwani Junction W hen : Saturday Nov. 9 in Hanoi and Sunday Nov. 10 in Ho Chi Minh City W here : Van Ho Exhibition Centre, 2 Hoa Lu, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi and Q4, 7 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Ho Chi Minh City T ickets : Free! Tickets will be available from Oct. 30 in Hanoi from CAMA ATK, 73A Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung or The British Council, 20 Thuy Khue, Tay Ho. In Saigon they can be obtained from Q4, 7 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4 or the British Council offices, 25 Le Duan, Q1

For more information about the event, the artists or the organisers, go to

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C é hic f a C Look fab chilling out at any sidewalk café around the town, in an outfit that/s hip without trying too hard. Opt for our selection to look sharp over your latte Photos and styling by Alexandre Garel Special thanks to Things Café and Banksy Studio. Both at Floor 1, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, HCMC Outfit provided by Shelikes at 231/58A Duong Ba Trac, Q8, HCMC Models: Minh Minh, Hang Phuong and Phuong Thao

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Inspired by a simple style, Minh Minh picked a U-neck cotton dress with long sleeves. Perfect for wearing on rainy and windy days in Vietnam. Dress, VND250,000

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C lockwise

from top - left

P hoto 1:

Dress, VND250,000 Jean jacket, VND240,000

P hoto 2:

Top, VND250,000 Skirt, VND230,000

P hoto 3:

Top, VND240,000 Skirt, VND270,000 Bag, VND28 million

P hoto 4:

Dress, VND350,000

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An active person, Hang Phuong shows her taste with khaki black shorts and an elegant layered sheer blouse. Blouse, VND400,000 | Black shorts, VND320,000

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Phuong Thao looks trendy and stylish with a high-waisted cotton skirt and black crop top. Great for work or just chilling out. Crop top, VND170,000 | Highwaisted skirt, VND230,000

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With a floral peplum frill playsuit and a red blazer, Hang Phuong stands out of the crowd as a serious business type. Floral playsuit, VND630,000 | Red blazer, VND1.2 million

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HCMC City Guide BUSINESS 102 / EAT 109 / BARS 114 / CAFES 117 / ARTS 118 / LEISURE 120 / WELLNESS 124 / FASHION 127 / INTERIORS129 / ELECTRONICS 131 / GROCERIES 132 / GENERATION V 133 Photo by Nick Ross

Many Faces


Job Search......................................................104 Business Buff.........................................106 Food Promos................................. ......110 Night Watchman........................112 Top Shelf.......................................114 Coffee Cup......................... ....117 In The Frame.......... .......119 Body &Temple......122

The Heart Surgeon 086 theatre

Ten Years and Counting 088 eat & drink

The Boys of Breakfast 090 volunteering

The Cat Lady 094 the past

Lost and Found 096 MYSTERY DINER

In Style with Ben 098 street snacker

A Banh Tam Story 099


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The Many Faces of Vietnam

The Heart Surgeon For over 20 years, Alain Carpentier and his colleagues have been saving the lives of impoverished kids in Vietnam — in the thousands so far. We speak to France’s bestknown heart surgeon ahead of a fundraising event intended to help those in need Besides Vietnam, you have conducted philanthropic work in a number of countries — mainly French-speaking Africa. But Vietnam seems to have been the main focus of your efforts. Can you explain why? And why is medical philanthropy such an important part of your life? Philanthropy cannot be done alone. Vietnam was and is aware of what it needs. It has been deeply involved in the project with me, from the beginning and up to now. This is the key. I’m a doctor and a doctor’s job is to treat patients. Sometimes you cannot treat them either because of a lack of available treatment or because of a lack of funds. For me, it is physically and morally intolerable to abandon a patient for those reasons. This is what has given me the motivation to develop projects like the Heart Institute in Vietnam.

In 1992, together with Professor Duong Quang Trung, you founded the Heart Institute in Ho Chi Minh City. Since then over 20,000 Vietnamese — mainly children, of whom 30 percent are from poor backgrounds — have been given life-saving surgery. How difficult was it to set up the institute and how difficult is it to maintain? In early 1992, the main difficulty was the very credibility of our project. There was no heart surgery in Vietnam and the building of the Heart Institute was brand new. The general economy of this country was also not what it is now. Objectively it was hard to believe that this highly technological life-saving heart surgery could be offered to any sick child, whatever their economic resources. It took us some time to overcome this difficulty and demonstrate that the Heart Institute actually was a philanthropic contribution to the improvement of the health system in Vietnam. I am very proud that we succeeded in demonstrating the long-lasting capacity of an autonomous hospital that is financially self-supporting, and that we have managed to treat patients, educate doctors and

share our knowhow. Today, around 12 public hospitals perform cardiac surgery and interventional cardiology in Vietnam. Decentralising responsibility for this was the inspiration of the Ministry of Health.

Why is it so important to you to help people who are impoverished or from non-affluent backgrounds? How do you feel every time a child’s life is saved? Not an easy question! As a French-born cardiac surgeon, I bear two things at my fingertips — the technical ability to perform life-saving gestures and at the bottom of my heart, a real comfort with the idea that talent is there to be shared. My country does not always feel totally comfortable with globalisation, but in today’s world, I am happy that France, together with other nations, is trying to reconcile its own national needs with generosity towards other countries.

The International Medical Centre (CMI) was set up at the same time as the institute. How vital is the work of CMI to people living in Ho Chi Minh City? How does it work together with the Foundation Alain Carpentier? The International Medical Centre is hugely important. First, from a central location in Ho Chi Minh City it offers a large span of medical services to everyone who feels comfortable with international standards of general medical practice, family practice or specialised services. And second, it generates revenue that, once all costs are covered, is totally dedicated to funding operations for children from poor financial backgrounds. It exemplifies what today is termed a social enterprise — a centre that is professionally run but whose exclusive purpose is to benefit its patients and the patients of the Heart Institute. Two bodies, one programme.

You have been called the father of modern mitral valve repair. Could you describe what this means? Well this means that I’ve been curious, wanted to investigate. The starting point is

the patient, in situations where you simply don’t have the medicines or tools to treat a specific disease. To overcome this you have to conduct research and make innovations, otherwise you have to abandon the patient. Innovation is characterised by curiosity.

Throughout your career, you have received a number of awards for your work in the field of cardiovascular surgery. How does it feel each time you receive an award? Which one is most important for you? Throughout my career I have encountered difficulties daily, and each time, solutions have emerged. This is the life of a researcher. If you do not face problems and try to overcome them, you will never do anything with your life. Receiving an award is like encouragement, it’s a boost to keep doing what you do. It means you have followed the right path and have followed it well.

On Nov. 30, CMI will hold its annual gala to raise money for children needing heart surgery. What are your hopes for the event? Will you be attending? I am most thankful for every guest who will attend this event. What we need is support. Yes, we do need money to fund the surgery of impoverished children — the contribution of the International Medical Centre has to be complemented. The contribution of the gala last year was more than US$50,000 (VND1.05 billion). That was great but we want to raise more. And beyond money, we also need to increase general knowledge and awareness of our programmes, and build trust within the community. The Heart Institute and CMI Gala will take place on Nov. 30 at the Park Hyatt Saigon. The event includes a four-course dinner, a live auction and entertainment. All benefits will go to the Alain Carpentier Foundation to operate on deprived children suffering from heart disease at the Heart Institute of Ho Chi Minh City in District 10. For more information and to book your place, email The cost of the gala is VND2.8 million per person

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Ten Years and Counting Community theatre troupe The Saigon Players are turning 10 this year, and are celebrating in style. Karen Hewell takes a look at what theatrics the company got up to in the past decade, and what big things are coming next. Photos provided by The Saigon Players. 88 | Word October 2013


1. No Exit 2. A Bedfull of Foreigners 3. Trouble at the Tropicabana 4. The House of Bernada Alba 5. Donating proceeds from a show to Helping Hand 6. I'm Getting Murdered in The Morning



decade ago, there was no such thing as English-language theatre in Ho Chi Minh City — that is until a small group of foreign thespians, bent on creating an outlet for the theatrically inclined, decided to change that. Alison Bredin, Ann Walkin, Joe Springer-Miller, Frank Christensen, Ro Verdeja and David Hope all joined forces to bring to life a new opportunity in the urban metropolis. The Saigon Players community theatre was born in 2003, performing their first production A Dog’s Life the following year to an enthusiastic audience of expats and locals alike. That was 10 years ago, and since then, the company has staged no less than 20 performances. Some have been original comedy sketches, others well-known, fulllength plays. The Saigon Players, though, weren’t content to just dazzle spectators. Instead they have taken it one step further by dedicating all performance proceeds directly to charity. Over their 10-year career, The Players have changed the lives of countless individuals with donations to 15 different causes. It’s had a profound effect not just on the lives of people in under-served communities, but also on The Players themselves. Emily Huckson, a steering committee member since the company’s first production, attests to how the joy of creative expression is coupled with the fuzzy feeling of helping others. “There is nothing better than to do all this for fun, knowing it is going towards a brighter future for others,” she says.


High Standards While the real heart of the company is one of philanthropic gold, The Saigon Players aren’t content with just theatrical mediocrity. A member of the team that draws in audiences with increasingly stellar stage productions, Jennifer Dizon Turner remembers audience members gushing about their impressions. “The most recent [show] I directed — The House of Bernarda Alba — was the most special, since one audience member congratulated me after the show, saying that everyone did an awesome job,” she says. “[The audience member] kept repeating that she could not believe that there were actors of that calibre in Vietnam.” Saigon Players have also teamed up with other creative big shots in the city, including the International Choir of Ho Chi Minh City, Dragonfly Theatre Company and The Lab. They have also appeared in the city’s second Visual and Performing Arts Festival, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. These collaborative productions enhanced the company’s already dedicated fan base, and contributed further to The Saigon Players’ mission to give back through creativity and passion.

A Decade of Success The troupe is certainly not ready to slow down. To celebrate their first decade of success — and to christen yet another 10 years of creative philanthropy — the company is soon presenting two 10-year

anniversary shows. The first is just in time for the Halloween bashes sure to take over the city at the end of this month — the Rocky Horror Picture Show on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2. The second comes later in the month, and switches gears to celebrate the very city in which Saigon Players was born, with The Life Cycle of Saigon. The cabaret-style comedy sketch show explores the small and big ways that the motorbike exerts itself on the city of Saigon, featuring multi-talented xe om drivers, competitive delivery guys and some unflappable men dressed in beige. An integral part of the culture in the buzzing city, the company continues to work their way into the hearts of Saigonites with every new production. With the passion, integrity and talent that The Players possess, winning over a few more hearts in the next decade is inevitable. The upcoming 10th anniversary of the Saigon Players is celebrated with two special performances. The Rocky Horror Halloween Madness Screening and Party kicks off on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 from 7.30pm, followed by an afterparty rife with fishnets and stilettos. Original cabaret style sketch show, The Life Cycle of Saigon, will follow shortly after — Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 — and will poke fun at the daily stress we all have of getting from point A to point B. Both shows will be performed at McSorley’s Ale House, 4 Thao Dien, Q2. For more details, visit the company’s website at

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C h a rl i e

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s ti a n i r h C

Eat & Drink

The Boys of Breakfast There’s a new thing coming to the plates of Ho Chi Minh City, brought to you by some hilarious and hospitable souls. Words by Ed Weinberg, photos by Kyle Phanroy and Francis Xavier


t’s one of those things I miss. It’s one of those things I do when I go back to the States, a lot. I eat breakfast. My mother cooks a righteous potato latke. My old roommate Elisa pulls greens from her garden, and eggs from her chicken coop. Deborah gets out the whiskey when we’re pouring coffee. John likes to experiment — his last try was a bacon grease-soaked French toast challah slice, filled up egg-in-the-hole style. If there’s anything expats are missing in this land of culinary delights, it’s that most subjective of meals, breakfast. And something’s happening on the expat front that will bring anyone who feels the way I do some comfort.

Mr. Pig “I had the idea maybe when I was 18 or 19,” Christian Taylor, owner of The Hungry Pig (144 Cong Quynh, Q1), tells me. “I’ve always wanted to do it. But I’ve had maybe a thousand ideas since I was 18 or 19… it’s strange the ones that end up happening.” Christian’s two-month-old bacon bar has been a work in progress since then, at some points more actively than others. “I remember talking about it with my dad, maybe five or six years ago, and he said it was a brilliant idea. That was when we were on holiday in Sri Lanka. And that was the first time I remember really voicing it. The name was already ‘The Hungry Pig’. “I had what you see in my mind six years ago, everything you see right here pretty much. The combination of steel, wood, concrete — black, red and white. This colour scheme and everything has always been in my head, it’s been the idea I’ve always wanted to run with. To see it finally created is really quite a strange feeling, to see your thoughts, and the reality.”

The aesthetic of Christian’s brainchild is a bit cleaner and classier than your typical bacon butty takeout. “The concrete was inspired by Sri Lankan interior design,” he says. “I think a lot of the interior design was inspired by Sri Lanka. People have said it looks very English, but I think it looks far more Sri Lankan. The Sri Lankans have got a really quirky style, creating neat but simple interior design.” Although the idea came of age in the west, it’s only been possible to do it in his adoptive Ho Chi Minh City home. “The main reason that I could never do it back home is just the cost, really,” he says. “It would have never been feasible. And it would have been far too much of a risk if it had not worked.” But he got his bacon knowledge back home, cutting his charcuterie teeth at a deli in Manchester. “It was run-of-the-mill, it was really popular,” he recalls. “We’d have queues of 30 people at lunchtime. There was no attention to detail or design inside, there was no branding or quirky touches or funny jokes or anything. It was just really, really simple.” It’s hard to say the same of The Hungry Pig, which, in its two months of operation, has already built something of a reputation for itself (#18-ranked restaurant on Tripadvisor!). Christian has worked at every angle (full disclosure: at Christian’s request, I contributed to the Tripadvisor stampede), giving out a fair amount of free sandwiches, hosting ‘Notorious P.I.G.’ nights before Friday Fix at Godmother Bar across the street, designing an oversized choose-yourown-adventure bacon option poster that hangs in the bathroom. “We need to try and push the fun of the place, because that’s what it’s all about really,” he says, summing up his approach. “Just having a good time.”

“With things blossoming and people opening shops everywhere, I think they’re eventually just going to have to try it. And I think for the most part, people will like it. It might be weird, but that’s never a bad thing with food”

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The Unwilling Breakfaster “To be honest? I hate eggs. I haaaaate eggs!” Charlie Ta, the man behind Chuck’s American Eatery (27/27 Tran Nhat Duat, Q1), laughs. “But people love eggs.” I ask Charlie, “So what is your speciality?” “My speciality?” He mulls it over. “I love condiments. I had an idea before to make a place called ‘Condiments’. And you just order condiments and the food comes out with it.” Charlie’s got a lot of ideas. Among the ideas I hear about are biscuits and country gravy (“stuff that I miss from home”), American coffee, frat house-type rules (“must drink with right hand. Must drink whatever you have if caught”). At some point I catch Charlie out, putting his elbow on the table. He runs to the end of the alley and back. But, as it should be, the emphasis is on food, and on the laid-back environment that Charlie thinks is lacking in Ho Chi Minh City. “Wings and pomme frites are the main things we do,” Charlie says. “Breakfast is just for friends.” Sitting around Charlie’s back-alley space in the western elbow of District 1, I see a few of them around. Game of Thrones is on the flat-screen, and some familiar faces are nonchalantly taking it all in as they would on a lazy Sunday in their own living rooms. The whole thing has a casual, friendly feel which I don’t expect will change. “I’m not a big breakfast person,” Charlie says, despite earlier serving up a delicious,

no-nonsense serving of French toast. “I love cooking it, but I just don’t like it. “But everyone likes my eggs, likes my omelettes. To be real, I only cook to see people smile.”

Gorilla Meats (Pun Intended) “The best breakfast I’ve ever had in my life was at St. John Hotel in London,” says Bryon Ramsey-Leonard Rudd, the percussive engine of Joy Oi!, one-half of Space Panther (“I’m half space, half panther”) and sausage supplier to The Hungry Pig, Café Palpitation (29 Dien Bien Phu, Q1) and the soon-to-be-inaugurated Observatory (corner of Le Lai and Ton That Tung, Q1). “I’d been living in France studying charcuterie,” he says, “butchery and fresh sausage down in southwest France for nine months. And I went with the lady I’d been studying under, with her family, to England to teach at the School of Artisan Food. I taught a class on how to butcher the pigs and make their own charcuterie. “We woke up, and I’d been out with friends till like 5am, just dancing to reggae and having a blast, you know, a true Brixton experience. I don’t even think I went to bed, but I rushed home to have breakfast with her. This lady, she was almost like a mom aside from my mom, taking care of me. So I couldn’t miss breakfast. “I sat down and she was like, ‘You’re late. I’m ordering right now.’ And she said, ‘I’ll have the blood sausage, beans and toast.’ And I had the same thing, with an egg on top.

“It was just a perfectly toasted piece of toast with incredible English beans, and then a huge boudin noir blood sausage, and then an egg — and it blew my mind. I could not believe how incredible it was. So if I ever do a breakfast out here, that will be it.” Bryon’s not setting out to do that just yet, but he recognises that it’s lacking. “Like you said,” he says, “a good breakfast is hard to find out here. I don’t go out to breakfast, I make it at home.” Back in Portland, Oregon, Bryon had a guerrilla sausage making operation — operated from his not-up-to-health-code basement — called Gorilla Meats Co. “I met a friend who had a similar interest. And we said, ‘Let’s see how you can make bacon, it doesn’t look that hard.’ And it’s not. And it was really delicious. “Next thing you know I was turning my dad’s wine cellar into a meat locker. And I did that for about two years.” In Vietnam, Bryon’s on a new trip, one less full of the artisanal antics that he practised in Portland. But he thinks Ho Chi Minh City is ready for some of the experimental playfulness that makes up the food culture of the place he once called home. “With things blossoming and people opening shops everywhere,” Bryon says, “I think they’re eventually just going to have to try it. And I think for the most part, people will like it. It might be weird, but that’s never a bad thing with food.” To get in contact with Bryon, go to facebook. com/dr.chillsworth

“To be honest? I hate eggs. I haaaaate eggs! But people love eggs” 92 | Word October 2013

Breakfast Tips Courtesy of Bryon Ramsey-Leonard Rudd

O rder B oth

“It’s never a bad thing to order two. If you can’t make your mind up, grow some balls and order both.”

C ook


Y our M om

“Don’t let her cook for you. Or else she’s going to ruin things for the rest of your life! “I appreciate French toast but I can’t eat it — because my mom f’ed it up! My mom would be cooking pancakes and then she’d be like, ‘Oh, I’ve got to take a shower.’ She’d come back and flip it over and it would be blacker than the cast iron skillet it was cooked in.”  

D on ’ t A llow I nfants

“Have you ever been to Au Parc during brunch?”

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Kitty City 94 | Word October 2013

In which Margaret Smith perseveres in volunteering at places she’s not sure want her — part two of a three-part series. Photos by Francis Xavier


was sitting on my motorbike outside of a normal-looking house in the Thao Dien area of District 2. “Christa?” I said to my phone. “It’s Margaret. I think I’m outside.” The gates opened and I found myself being greeted by a short German woman with close cropped hair, smiling and wearing a T-shirt with the letters ARC on it. I walked straight into the kitchen, where more cats than I’ve ever seen in one room waited for me. The ARC — also known as Animal Rescue and Care — is a pet shelter that works to directly address the plight of abused and abandoned animals in Ho Chi Minh City. Founded in 2010, their immediate mission is to implement a rescue, foster care and adoption programme for stray dogs and cats in urgent need of care and protection. I was in the middle of the second month of my volunteer project. So far, finding orphanages to work at had been less difficult than at first glance, but finding an NGO to volunteer at had proved to be much more complex. According to the VUFO-NGO Resource Centre, there are currently 132 INGOs in Vietnam. I had been searching different organisations for the past month, but none of them included any information for volunteers. What’s more, most NGOs seemed to be located in Hanoi or other cities way outside of Saigon. That’s when a friend told me about ARC. It sounded interesting, but I was hesitant. It wasn’t really an NGO, and I am definitely not a cat person. Truth be told, I’ve never owned a pet in my entire life — my mother, sister, and I are all slightly allergic to pet hair, and my father hates dogs. If I were to own a pet, though, it would definitely be a dog. I’ve always wanted a dog. Dogs are fun — they’re cute, they like to play with you and they love cuddling. They give you attention. Cats do not. They’re more content keeping to themselves. But I was running out of options. So I asked my friend to hook me up with the

contact information. What was the harm, I figured, in sending out an email and taking a look?

Cat City The ARC has had its own house for about two months now. Before this, they were based in one room above the office of a District 2 veterinarian. Since Vietnam has laws against having more than four dogs in a house at once, all dogs the ARC receives are placed in foster homes right away. The country does not have the same policy for cats, however, so cats that are waiting for adoption live in the ARC’s headquarters. And at the ARC, cats are everywhere. They’re crawling on the dining room table, jumping onto the kitchen counter, roaming the halls, hanging out on top of the fridge and slinking under every surface. On my first day, Christa showed me around. Past the kitchen at the end of the hall, the cat playroom. Inside are cat beds, a scratching post, toys and cardboard boxes. Six litter boxes are lined up in the back. I noticed that one cat was sitting by herself underneath a plastic table covered by a blanket. “She’s very shy and still afraid of some humans,” Christa told me. In a bedroom off the hall, a cat and a kitten cuddled together in a cat bed. “This cat just had her kittens,” Christa told me, “so they are being separated from the rest of the group for now. A family is picking up the last kitten next week, then the mother will be neutered.” In addition to their foster care and adoption programme, one of the ARC’s missions is to reduce pet overpopulation through low-cost spaying and neutering. They also work to prevent animal cruelty and abuse, and provide education on animal welfare.

washing and refilling the pet bowls, sweeping and mopping the floors, cleaning out the litter boxes, taking out the garbage and doing the laundry if necessary. After we finish all our tasks for the afternoon, it’s playtime with the cats. I twirl a butterfly on a pole around, taunting the cats. Their eyes follow it like a tennis ball as I whip it back and forth, waiting for one of them to pounce. After tiring out the cats I get tired myself, plopping down onto an off-white beanbag chair in the kitchen. Out of nowhere Jeff, an orange-haired cat, slowly climbs onto my lap. I pull back a bit in surprise. “He’s one of the bullies,” Christa tells me. “Well, he doesn’t seem like one right now,” I reply, as Jeff makes himself comfortable. “No, he’s really good with people,” she says with a laugh. “Just not with other cats!” I look down. Jeff’s eyes are closed. It’s time for a catnap, he seems to think. I do the same. Maybe cats aren’t so bad after all. For more information on ARC, go to arcpets. com

Playtime And Catnaps There are two daily shifts at the ARC: mornings from 9am to 11am, and afternoons from 3pm to 5pm. Volunteer duties include

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Lost and Found The market for ‘found photos’ is more than just an obsession with anonymous strangers from the past. Karen Hewell catches a glimpse of a history often forgotten by time


he innermost corridor of Dan Sinh market is a dizzying labyrinth of everything and nothing. Hugging most of the walls are wobbly tables littered with rusty coins, old spoons, ageing jewellery and faded crockery. From the walls hang lumpy curtains of old hats, boots, canteens and medals. Clocks whose hands stopped ticking decades ago collect dust alongside metal fans on shelving units balanced precariously on the tabletops. Most of the passers-by become amateur antiquarians; inspecting objects while speculating about how old each is, bargaining with the shop owners half-heartedly. But hidden in the mountains of fading wares, there are a few piles of lonely photos. They aren’t photos of famous faces or locations, nor are they postcards that can be sent to family and friends. They aren’t photos that can be hung proudly

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in a hallway or part of an album you flip through while recounting a trip. They are pictures of complete strangers — snapshots of unfamiliar faces on vacation or in a photo booth, posing happily for the camera or caught unsuspecting by a rogue shutter click. Now they are smiling up at nothing except for a few curious glances.

the camera. Some even have carefully penned letters written on the back, the fading scratches promising to stay friends forever, or wishing their sister a happy Tet holiday. Strangely, the deeply personal sentiments find themselves passing between unintended hands decades later, every new person an accidental voyeur.

Someone Else’s Memories

Bygone Times

They are found photos — lost, unclaimed, and discarded photographs from decades ago, stacked one hundred high in boxes and baskets. Most of the shops in this part of the market have their own collection, and almost all of them are black and white, faded from years in storage and in photo albums. The shop owners are tight-lipped about where they come from — whether they even know is hard to say — but most will tell you that they come from old and abandoned collections, either from the dusty attics of derelict homes or from people who pawn the old albums left behind by deceased relatives. “[People] sell them because they don’t care about the people [in the photos],” says Steven, a shop owner who claims to sell at least a handful of photos a day, mostly to foreigners and tourists. “They sell them for money because they need it,” he continues, patting his stomach, “to fill this.” While most are still in haphazard piles, some are glued carefully into worn-out photo albums, notes scrawled under each to document the faces that are grinning toward

“I suppose it’s a window into the past,” says Patrick Joynt, owner of Saigon Scooter Centre, who collects old photographs of classic motorbikes. Most have sharply dressed young men in them — some with perfectly pressed military uniforms — sitting proudly on their shiny two-wheelers. They are mostly from the 1950s and 1960s, and document a time that feels like more than just a few decades ago. The women in the photos don fluttering ao dai, while the men wear tidy sport coats and drive spotless American and Italian cars. “I mean, [those photos] are from a million years ago,” Patrick says, pointing out the locations and the still remaining architecture in the images. “So much as changed.” Perhaps in a place like Vietnam — where the changes over the course of only a few decades are more impactful than centuries in other places — found photos offer a rare glimpse into a different world. For a country so dominated by kitsch souvenirs and shiny postcards, the story told through the lens of an amateur photographer offers a certain

insight into the history of Vietnam. The scribbling on the back of family photos — now sold for a few thousand VND a piece — tells a story about the people behind the forgotten mementos. Even in the hands of complete strangers who can only guess at the stories and the people that smile back at them in the photos, these abandoned pieces of history become a different kind of souvenir. A generation’s lost mementos are, in a way, the truest history of Vietnam.

Found Photography as Art Found photography is a genre of visual art that is based on the recovery — and possible exhibition — of old, forgotten, or discarded photographs. Found photography is usually from an amateur photographer whose subjects are everyday people. The art form draws its name from the act of “finding” these photos in flea markets, estate sales or yard sales. It draws its appeal from the mystery behind the original photographer and the subject matter of the images. Unlike antiques, found photos are not collected in the hopes of making a profit, but instead as a hobby. Some online catalogs like Flickr’s Museum of Found Photographs invites people to upload their own found images, making found photography a uniquely collaborative and open brand of visual art.

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hen the idea of doing Ben Style was first broached, I found my hand automatically reaching for that reddened scratching spot just above the nape of my neck. How can we do a Mystery Diner on a kitchen that does delivery only? I mean, it’s not even got restaurant status. And anyway, how am I supposed to measure the décor — on the packaging? I started to laugh. And what about service? Is it what I hear on the phone? Is it the smile or the lack thereof of the delivery drivers when they reach my door? But then it occurred to me that this was more like an anti-Mystery Diner, the opposite of the standard food review. The fingers on my scratching hand started to wiggle with pleasure, and my creative juices started to buzz. This could be fun. After all, you can’t judge Ben Style as you would judge a standard restaurant. This is food for health nuts, cuisine designed to keep the fat off the waist, the protein building in the muscles, and all those nice little nutritional goodies circulating themselves around the body. I placed my order and marveled at how nice that sweetly singing female voice was on the end of the phone, and how attractively packaged it all is. Each dish is calorie counted — its ingredients, fat content and carbs clearly marked. The paper packaging has cartoon-like muscles and the word ‘health’ all over. Ben, the man whose name and lifestyle is behind the whole project, is a former Mr. Canada. You can tell.

Low Fat Fun Waiting half an hour for my manna from a nutrition-conscious heaven, I commenced my plunge into healthy eating with the smoked beef sandwich (VND70,000). Served inside toasted, whole-grain bread, the lean beef is accompanied by lettuce, tomato and cucumber and a spread, which is something like low-fat cream cheese. This hearty little meal weighs in at a mere 240kcal, and thanks to the smokiness and salt of the beef, has a kick, too. Seems pretty wholesome on the whole. Although that healthy lack of flavoursome flavour is ever evident. The shwarma wrap (VND55,000) is equally free of fat, so welcome on the palate but not on the stomach. Wrapped in a wholegrain, wheat pita bread, it’s a nice little bite, and at the price a steal, far cheaper than almost any other wrap available in this city. Far healthier, too. The 250kcal also only adds up to an eighth of the recommended daily calorie intake, making this a perfect little nugget for anyone looking to refrain from cholesterol-heavy delights, lose weight or just swap those unwanted fat globules for muscle. Just don’t forget the important part — you’ve got to do the exercise, too. Miss

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In Style with Ben Our undercover reporter gets lazy this month and reviews a delivery-only restaurant from the comfort of the armchair. Photos by Dave Smith out on that part and you may not quite get the results you so desire. The tofu meatballs pasta (VND67,000) is the one dish I won’t be trying again. The concept is worthy, but it reminds me of when I tried to make hummus at home without using heaps of olive oil, and without the creamy tahini added in at the end for texture and consistency. While the hummus came off okay, it just lacked that oomph, that injection of flavour to make it feel like a dish I’d like to eat again. The tofu meatballs went the same way. My final eating experiment was with the chicken curry (VND50,000), a dish made up of chicken breast, sweet potatoes, onions, Asian basil on top and brown rice. Considering the discarding of the mouthwatering, but fatty coconut sauce, this was a pretty good attempt at making an unhealthy dish healthy. There was enough coconut and chilli to suggest curry, and the brown rice had an almost risotto-like consistency, far more impressive than when I try to cook the grains myself at home. I’m not going to run around screaming “Ben Style, Ben Style” at the top of my voice. This is not what this delivery-only service is here for. Instead it’s functional, very functional, fulfilling the healthy needs of a certain section of society. It’s also unique. Rarely does any city have such a delivery-only service designed for the exercise aficionado and weight-training nut. And the taste of most of the dishes is done well enough to get you reaching for that phone again, and yet again, for food to keep you in good health. To contact Ben Style, call 0906 912730, 10am to 6.45pm Monday to Friday. Their menu is on and



Food for restaurant buffs


Food for health buffs





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

Street Snacker

A Banh Tam Story Some street food dishes are hard to find. Banh tam is one such dish. Words by Nick Ross. Photos by Kyle Phanroy


few years ago my beloved spouse returned from Ben Thanh Market with a typical polystyrene box held together with an elastic

band. “What is it?” I asked. “Banh tam,” she replied, as she scooped its contents into a bowl. “It’s from the Mekong Delta.” What I saw was a noodle dish that had the trappings of bun thit nuong, white rice noodles with salad, bean sprouts and barbecued pork. And yet the noodles were fat, short and slightly glutinous. And on top was a mound of coconut sauce. “How much chilli do you want?” asked my wife as she poured the fish sauce contents of a plastic bag over the noodles. “Let me try it first without.” I’m not going to claim I was hooked. But the dish certainly intrigued me. Here was a savoury southern dish, with the saltiness of fish sauce mixed with the sweetness of the coconut and the vinegary flavour of pickled vegetables. Sour, sweet and savoury all in a bowl. A riot on the palate. True, southern fare tends to have a lot of sugar in it, but this was different. Once I had added the chilli, the dish seemed to change flavour, tasting more like an odd incarnation of a Thai curry with noodles than the typical street food fare you find in southern Vietnam. Since then I have often searched for banh

tam, but except for the food stalls in Ben Thanh Market — a place I rarely venture — the dish is hard to find in Saigon. And yet it’s one of those desperately needed variations on the often samey street food scene in this city, passed over for more popular favourites like com tam, bun bo Hue and pho.

The Promised Land? About a month ago I was returning from Cholon when I spied, in big writing, the words Banh Tam Bi To Chau. An hour later I returned for lunch. The joint, located on the District 1 end of Nguyen Trai, seemed like a ray of light shining out of a sea of grey. Finally a place dedicated to banh tam. The offering here comes with bi, or pork skin shavings, as well as the usual additions of pickles, spring onions, deep-fried shallots, roast pork, salad and chopped cucumber, and certainly brought back the taste etched on my palate. “Where do you buy the banh tam from?” I asked one of the staff, having wolfed down my dose of The Promised Land. “Oh, we don’t buy it, we make it ourselves.” “So, you can’t buy it anywhere, then?” “No. No-one sells it.” Suddenly I had the answer to my question, the reason why banh tam has not spread out of its roots Mekong Delta roots in Soc Trang, Bac Lieu, Tien Giang and

Dong Thap. This is a noodle that you have to make yourself. Not like bun, pho, banh canh or hu tieu, which are processed in huge factories on the edge of the city.

Meatballs A bit of online research found me three or four more banh tam joints in town. So I headed to the closest, Banh Tam Dong Thap, less than 2km down the same road as To Chau, but in District 5. Here they have the original dish as well as their own variation — banh tam xiu mai, where the roasted pork is replaced by Chinese meatballs. This is more of an add-to-taste kind of joint. The fish sauce is in a huge jug on the side, and with the chilli, this version has some real bite. Of the banh tam places written about in the Vietnamese press, this one has been singled out for the most praise. The noodles are longer, thinner and slightly softer, while the coconut sauce has more depth, a greater richness of taste. I still like my banh tam joint close to town. Since my discovery I have been there every week for a dose of this bizarre yet strangely alluring dish. But when I get the chance, I think I will also head out for the extra kick created by the Chinese meatballs. Banh Tam Bi To Chau is at 271 Nguyen Trai, Q1. Banh tam bi costs VND35,000. At Banh Tam Dong Thap, the banh tam xiu mi goes for VND30,000. The joint is at 352 Nguyen Trai, Q5

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overscene Ho Chi Minh

saigon comedy nights

Photos by Kyle Phanroy Saigon Comedy Nights returned to Cargo with Irish jokester Mary Bourke and UK prank-smith Simon Clayton

100 | Word October 2013

christian and frankie

Photos by Kyle Phanroy Puppet Frankie forced Christian Gabriel to be the butt of some mean jokes at NY Steakhouse


Photos by Kyle Phanroy Italo disco genius Rodion turned back the clock to the weirdo futuristic 1970s at Cargo

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

viet artisans

Photos by Mad Monsen Viet Artisans opened their new shop in District 2

battle of the year

Photos by Kyle Phanroy Cargo hosted the hip hop dance battle of the year, as Vietnam showed off some down and dirty moves

six senses thank you party

Photos provided by Six Senses Six Senses thanked their partners, travel agents and other VIPs on the 26th floor of Chill Skybar

October 2013 Word | 101


BUSINESS From accounting to advertising to serviced apartments, our selection of some of the city's top businesses


4th Floor, Unit 17, Saigon Center, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 0220 An invaluable resource for expats, Globaleye provides consultation on investments, offshore banking, education planning, life protection, wills, pensions and more.


Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 0796 With more than ten years of experience in Vietnam in all major industry sectors, PwC provides auditing, business and technology solutions and tax and legal consulting.


6th Floor, Me Linh Point Tower, 2 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1

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Tel: 0938 220 255 Specialising in U.S. personal income tax returns preparation, this firm is IRS Enrolled Agent qualified with big 4 experience. Also provides Vietnam tax and business legal consulting.


Unit 501, 5th Floor, Saigon Trade Center, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3910 2262 Headquartered in the Netherlands with over 100 offices in 75 countries, TMF provides accounting, tax and payroll services. Specialises in helping international investors establish a presence in Vietnam.

Advertising & Mktg BBDO VIETNAM

74/3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 6662 BBDO is an award-winning

global advertising and communications company. Accolades include Network of the Year honours at Cannes four years running.


16th Floor, Bitexco Office Tower, 19–25 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 3064 Working extensively across Asia, Cowean specialises in brand strategy and brand design for both local and international consumer and corporate companies.


AB TOWER, 23rd Floor, 76 Le Lai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 9005 A 100 percent foreignowned advertising agency established in 2003. We provide through-the-line communication services from brand consultancy, creative concept and development, promotion, digital to media

planning and buying for Toyota, Aji-no-moto, Canon, Panasonic, Kao and Abbott among others.


404 Vo Van Tan, Q3 Tel: (08) 3929 1450 This full-spectrum marketing / communications company offers PR, retail management, events and database marketing. Major clients include Proctor & Gamble, SmithKline, Beecham, BAT and Mars.


Duong So 12, Tran Nao, Q2 Tel: (08) 3740 6388 Dutch industrial designers with over 10 years of working experience in Asia offer (re)design, design engineering (3D CAD) and innovation consultancy for plastics, consumer products, electronics, and metal parts.

Kiko Flame

OIIC Building, 248-250 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3 Tel: 0902 636950 A graphic design studio specializing in creative design for print media and web. Recently established, we’re a group of highly skilled, well disciplined, professional artists, graphic designers and web developers offering you reliable and very affordable design services.


FPT Tower, 153 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3933 3493 Managing successful marketing campaigns since

2002 with four full-service offices and project management available nationwide. Marketeers Vietnam have designed and implemented locally and globally recognized campaigns.


12th Floor, Centec Tower, 72–74, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q13 Tel: (08) 3821 9529 Well–known marketing communications company combines local know-how with a worldwide network to leverage the brands of multinational clients.


7th Floor, 11bis Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3 Tel: (08) 3933 3377 An independent, creative–led communications company helps brands connect and grow across Southeast Asia. Clients include The Coca–Cola Company, Asia Pacific Breweries, Piaggio and UPI.


9 Nguyen Huu Cash, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 6277 7050 A leading communications company, Purple Asia offers a wide range of services such as graphic design, branding, interactive media, video, photography and production.


10 Phan Ngu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3820 0169 Long-established branding consultancy and marketing agency. The Red team creates and shapes unique marketing strategies that add impact to international and local brands from Vietnam to Australia.


10th Floor HDTC Building, 36 Bui Thi Xuan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 2538 Communications network operating in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar for over a decade, specialising in advertising, design, activation, digital, media, PR, research, training, premiums and production.


26 Tran Cao Van, Q3 Tel: (08) 3824 1207 Ranked among the top 100 global advertising agencies, S&S has worked with over half of the 50 best–known brands in the world, providing advertisement planning, direct marketing, marketing consulting and graphic design.


4th Floor, Saigon Finance Center, 9 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 5315 TBWA is a Top-Ten worldwide advertising agency, with marketing services including strategic consultancy, creative development, events and activation, direct mail, shopper marketing and public relations.

Business Consulting BDG VIETNAM

11th Floor, Capital Place, 6 Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 7858 Active in sourcing & production, strategic marketing and project management, BDG partners with clients in all sectors and regions to open perspectives, address critical challenges and promote successful business in Vietnam.


33 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3911 1481 Consulting and research firm with a range of clients including the Vietnamese government, global US consumer products companies, infrastructure developers, oil companies and the World Bank.


28th Floor, Saigon Trade Center, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3910 9100 Chartered accountants and management consultants work in a range of fields including Audit, Tax Advice, Corporate Finance and Advisory Services, Business Risk Services, Valuations and Due Diligence, Private Equity, and Mergers and Acquisitions.


Villa 15, Duong 58, Phu Nhuan, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 0916 352573 An internationally accredited Master in Image Consulting, Huong Nguyen offers personal consultations and corporate workshops on developing a professional and confident image, modern etiquette and business behaviour skills.


4th Floor, YOCO Building, 41 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: (08) 7305 0905 A professional information technology services company offering expertise in data security, email, document management, web hosting, information and communication technology (ICT) relocation services and a full-range of other IT solutions.


6th Floor, Abacus Tower, 58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 6770 Specialist in intellectual property consultancy service providing the full range of IP services, from the implementation of global investigation

and enforcement strategies, to the provision of commercial IP services.


161A/1 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3911 0965 Aids in the opening of representative offices and offshore bank accounts and provides licenses and tax stamps, business and marketing plans, reports and English-language editing to offshore businesses based in Vietnam.


38 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2 Tel: 0904 410884 Powered by Haines Centre for Strategic Management, STRASOL strives to deliver superior results and sustained competitive advantage through the application of strategic solutions in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.


164 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 2205 Tractus is a management consulting company that focuses on helping foreign investors gain success in Asia via corporate strategy development and implementation, site selection, trade promotion and market research.


35A-1-2 Grandview, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7 Tel: (08) 5412 3402 31st Floor, Saigon Trade Centre, 37 Ton Duc Thang Tel: (08) 3911 0454 An international human resource management consultancy specialising in organisational and professional development. Services include team building, corporate training, HRM audits and HR systems design.

Business Groups AMCHAM

New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 3562. An independent association

of American and international businesses, the objective of the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam is to promote trade and investment between the United States and Vietnam.


2nd Floor, Eximland Building, 179EF Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3 Tel: (08) 3832 9912 A licensed foreign business group established to represent and promote the interests of Australian businesses operating in Vietnam, AusCham coordinates topical breakfast seminars, social networking functions, governmental relations meetings and charity events.


25 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 8430 BBGV promotes the interests of its members in addition to the more general interests of British business. Organises business luncheons and seminars as well as regular social and networking events.


Room 305, New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 3754 Open to all nationalities, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce aims to create an effective network of business associates together and to facilitate discussion forums about business in Vietnam.


17th Floor, Petroland Tower, 12 Tan Trao, Q7 Tel: (08) 5416 0922 Provides support for Nordic companies and individuals operating in Vietnam. A business and social network, members have the opportunity to meet, discuss, interact and share expertise.


40/4 Pham Viet Chanh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3518 0045 A non-profit organisation

that aims to promote and develop trade between the Philippines and Vietnam, to foster interaction and understanding and to serve as the voice of Filipino business entities.


6th Floor, Unit 601, Tran Quy Building, 57 Le Thi Hong, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 3046 300+ members meet regularly to foster HCMC business relations, as well as to organise social, cultural, educational and charitable activities. Membership grants access to a wide range of discounts around town.


42 Giang Van Minh, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 6996 The Swiss Business Association is a non-profit organisation that strives to promote economic and cultural activities, as well as cooperation between Swiss business entities and Vietnamese authorities.

Coaching & Training WE LINK

64 Ho Hao Hon, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 2900 Short–term courses and workshops on discovering and developing self, applying psychology for a healthier life (personal, marital, parental). Courses for specialists / practitioners in human service fields. Train the trainer. Practice with supervision.


14-16-18 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 8364 One-stop-shop for corporate gifts and merchandise ranging from shaped USB disks through to apparel, clocks, bags, golf products, wine accessories and more.

Corporate Services Endo

406/16 Cong Hoa, Tan Binh Tel: (08) 6292 2045 Endo offers garment manufacturing for local resorts, restaurants, hotels, golf courses, travel agencies and apparel shops. They also manufacture giftware from polos and hoodies to keychains, card holders and menu covers.

Event Management EVECOO

Tel: 0988 297990 Evecoo provides everything needed to plan, supply, organise, publicise, improve and implement a successful event. Evecoo gives every client specific attention and adds the touches to make any event memorable.


63 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 6048 This luxury event hall has four ballrooms, a rooftop terrace, and banquet, catering and event services. Gala Royale is the ideal venue for meetings, conferences, product launchings, cocktail parties, weddings or anniversaries.


268/3 Nguyen Thai Binh, Tan Binh Tel: (08) 6299 0880 Wedding planning business offers comprehensive services for weddings of any size or style. Delivers high-quality, detailed planning and resources to create dream weddings.


46D Vuon Lai, Tan Phu Tel: (08) 3812 6901 Offers everything from canapés and cocktails, buffets and set menus to barbeques and wedding catering. Combines excellent food, event management and exclusive venues to make any kind of event a success.

October 2013 Word | 103


{job Search} The Personal Business Plan

By Nicola Connolly


ne of the best ways to ensure we keep focused on our priorities and stay on track is to create a personal business plan. This can help us guide our daily activities and tasks, allowing us to spend the majority of our time on our ultimate goals.

Set Your Goals Create a personal business plan by distilling down the main priorities and goals you want to accomplish. What are the main things you want to get done over the coming year? When do you want to get them done by? Making the due date the same for all the goals is unrealistic so, be sure to set realistic goals. The goals you pick should challenge you, but at the same time be realistic and attainable. In order to continue showing your value to your employer, your goals should be items that have a significant impact on the business and align with the corporate goals of your organisation.

From Strategy to Tactics Take the next step and lay out the strategy you’re going to use to achieve your goals, along with the specific tactics you’ll employ to achieve the goals. The more specific you can be in providing details about what it is you need to do to accomplish your goals, the higher your likelihood of succeeding.

Make Things Measurable Another great reason for creating a personal business plan is to provide a scorecard that you can use to continually gauge your performance against — this helps you determine if you’re on track. For this to be effective, it’s important to make your goals measurable. Try to attach metrics to specific activities whenever possible. This will allow you to more clearly determine if goals have been met or not. If we just say we want to increase exposure for the company without really defining how we’re going to measure that, then it becomes much more difficult to tell if we’ve been successful. It also makes it more difficult to work towards the goal without parameters to let us know if what we’re doing is working.

Get Management Involved and Onboard When you start to create your personal

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business plan, be sure to get your manager involved. Many companies, in fact, support and even mandate that their employees create personal business plans for themselves. By getting management onboard, you can ensure both parties are on the same page as far as expectations for performance, what the main goals are and how they can best be achieved.

goal. Sure, getting things done will likely earn you accolades from management, along with promotions and more money over time, but immediate, short-term personal rewards can provide that extra bit of motivation to go above and beyond in your daily activities. It’s the perfect opportunity to allow yourself a bit of a guilty pleasure reward, or something you normally wouldn’t splurge on.

Finally, Give Yourself a Reward

Nicola Connolly is the general director of Adecco Vietnam. You can contact her on

It’s much easier (and more fun) to work towards a goal if there’s some sort of reward in place for accomplishing that

Expat Services

and renters in all matters related to commercial and residential property.


International Plaza Building, Room 16B8, 343 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 7553 A real estate agent providing a wide range of services including property sales, leasings, rentals, free brokerage and aftersales service.

Fideco Tower, 18th Floor, 81-85 Ham Nghi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 9205 Savills Vietnam is a leading property service provider in Vietnam since 1995, providing research, advisory services, residential sales, commercial leasing, asset management, retail advisory, valuation, investment advisory and other services.







121/21 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3920 7237 Dedicated to helping expats find housing, Chum’s House provides an extensive list of properties that fit any price range and preference. Also facilitates motorbike rentals and visa acquisition, all free of charge. 32-34 Ngo Duc Ke, Suite 701, Q1 Tel: 01659 419916 Happy House aims to make Saigon life easier by offering practical solutions to every kind of problem — including bill payments, repairs, motorbike rentals, visa applications, maid placements, plant watering and pet transportation. Unit 601 48 Hoa Su, Phu Nhuan Tel: (08) 2226 8855 The first dedicated relocation company in Vietnam, Resident Vietnam provides services from relocation and immigration to cross–cultural and business awareness training.


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

Housing & Real Estate CBRE

12th Floor, Me Linh Point Tower, 2 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 6125 Property developers and consultants with both private and commercial properties for sale, lease and rent. Issues a monthly newsletter with the latest property news. Also does research and management services.

Jones Lang lasalle

26th Foor, Saigon Trade Center, 37 Ton Duc Thang Q1. Tel: (08) 3910 3968 Jones Lang LaSalle (NYSE:JLL) is a professional services and investment management firm offering specialized real estate services to clients seeking increased value by owning, occupying and investing in real estate. As a truly global firm, they work and collaborate closely with their colleagues across Asia Pacific and around the world to bring bestin-class services, people, and systems to their clients in Vietnam. Their offices in Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Noi offer: Tenant Representation, Office Leasing, Retail Services, Valuation and Advisory, Research and Consulting, Investment Sales and Acquisitions, Residential Agency, Industrial Agency, Project and Development Services, Property Asset Management Services, Hotel Investment and Consultancy Services, Integrated Facilities Management.

COLLIERS INTERNATIONAL VIETNAM Bitexco Office Building, 7th Floor, 19-25 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 5665 Represents property investors, developers


Unit 16, 14th Floor, Vincom Center, 72 Le Thanh Ton Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 7968 Global real estate consultants, specialising in commercial / residential sales and leasing, project management, valuation and research & consultancy. Tel: 0932 112694 The Easy Saigon website is a useful real estate website helping expats to find apartments in Ho Chi Minh City. Enquiries via their website are welcome.


Suite A, level 7, VTP Office Building, 8 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 6777 Founded in 1896, Knight Frank has grown to become the world’s largest privately owned global property agency and consultancy. In Vietnam, they offer commercial, residential and residential development services.


48A Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 0989 007700 Expert in providing rental properties, constructions and interior decoration, especially in District 2. Supports professional services and aftersales.

32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3519 4282 Owners of Snap Café in District 2, Snap offers a web–based real estate search service with information on rental properties all around the city, as well as an advisory service for those averse to wading into the internet depths for their needs.


Suite 1905, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 2000 Vietnam Sotheby’s International Realty has access to residential real estate both for sale and lease around the world. Contact them to view high–end apartments, villas, resorts and island properties.


369/6 Do Xuan Hop, Phuoc Long B, Q9 Tel: 0903 198901 Well–known property search and real estate agency with a useful website listing properties available for rent and sale, orientated towards expats. Website is in English, French and Spanish.


49D Phan Dang Luu, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3510 1661, Offers hospital costs paid up to VND40 billion


{business Buff}

with no hidden hospital sub– limits for anyone up to age 74. Also includes a routine heath check and dental care. No claims discount available.


IFC Building, 3rd Floor, 1A Me Linh Square, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 7362 Independent advisors that represent top reputable medical insurers provide you with the best suitable medical cover for individual, family or company needs.

Fake Scarce Resources

By Shane Dillon


Tel: 0934 874271 Represents insurance programs offered by Seven Corners, and other global insurers. Customized health and travel cover options available at competitive rates for corporations, individuals, families, students, and groups.



15th Floor, Kumho Asiana Plaza, 39 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3812 5125 Provides a range of services to both commercial enterprises and individuals. Coverage includes property, liability, business interruption, marine cargo, automobile, home and travel, as well as expat healthcare.

have often read about how markets move on perception not on real data. So I was not at all surprised to discover about fake scarcities recently. So before I run out of words, here are some of the more notable fake scarcities we probably all believe.

Even the United States is stepping it up: OPEC says American oil production is set to climb by 7.4 million barrels per day as a result of a North Dakota oil boom and increased drilling efforts in the Gulf of Mexico.

Peak Oil

The short diamond supply is an illusion created by one big gem seller. As far back as the 1880s, the De Beers family of diamond companies began a practice that still affects the price of stones today, when Chairman Cecil Rhodes secured the rights to a large swathe of South African diamond mines. The method spread to other diamond regions. De Beers and a few other companies soon controlled the vast majority of the world’s diamond supply and, more importantly, the prices that could be charged for them. These diamond hoarders want endbuyers to believe that the stones are incredibly hard to come by, and thus be willing to shell out more cash for them. The truth is that vast supplies of diamonds are under lock and key, kept off the market to inflate prices.

Referring to how the world is on the verge of running out of the black gold, alarmists have been floating the idea since the early 1880s. More than 130 years later, worldwide oil demand is expected to grow to 89.74 million barrels per day in this year, according to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the cartel that keeps much of the world’s supply of black gold on a short leash. The continuing rise in oil demand, fueled largely by China, has peak oil theorists fretting once again that the reserves may eventually be tapped out. But detractors say that the theory wrongly assumes that there will be no more significant innovations in oil production and new resource development will essentially stop in its tracks. Meanwhile, untapped reserves of Texas Tea have been located across the globe, from off the Brazilian coast to the Canadian oil sands.

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Diamond Supply

Water Water shortages are a real concern

in certain parts of the world, particularly in developing areas. About 20 percent of the world’s population lives in places where water is physically scarce, but a further 25 percent lives in areas that lack the infrastructure to get water from its source — rivers, aquifers — to the people whose lives depend on it. And in these and other places, poor water quality, resulting in the spread of diseases like cholera, malaria and typhoid fever, can be as dangerous as having no water at all. But the total volume of water on planet Earth has not declined and, overall, we are not at risk of running dry. The old yarn about 97 percent of the planet’s H2O being the unusable salt variety is just that. Casual observers often don’t understand that oceans actually serve as fresh water springs as the sun, sea and evaporation work together to produce about 45,000 gallons (170,344 liters) of rainwater a year for each of the Earth’s inhabitants. The problem is that, in many cases, living communities, farms and reservoirs have simply not been developed in areas where that water is easy to access. Shane works in Vietnam and studies economics. He can be contacted at


25th F, Saigon Trade Centre, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 1660 Operating in Vietnam since 1995, Prudential has over 70 customer care centres throughout the country.

Interior Design Professional Painting and Remodeling

Tel: 0936 330869 (Darren Hawk) Thinking about upgrading a bathroom? Perhaps a new colour in the living room? Maybe even a new wood floor? Professional Painting and Remodeling can help with these and many other projects. Provide international standards of quality as well as professional and timely service at reasonable rates. Call today to schedule a free evaluation.

Investment & Finance DRAGON CAPITAL

1901 Me Linh Point, 2 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 9355 An integrated financial services provider, with an exclusive focus on Vietnam’s capital markets. Established in 1994, the group is one of the largest and most experienced asset managers in Vietnam.


27 Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 0907 The Ethical Investment Group is dedicated to offering alternative investments to investors looking to make quality, above-average returns, while simultaneously expressing a social conscience with meaningful, measurable and sustainable environmental benefits.


66/11 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3 Tel: (08) 3820 0623 Offers personal financial planning for expatriates, portable retirement savings plans, tax minimisation strategies, asset allocation and money management, debt and cash–flow planning, life, disability and health insurance and family wealth protection.


17th Floor, Sun Wah Tower, 115 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 9930 A leading investment fund management company with extensive experience in the emerging Vietnam market. Manages the Vietnam Opportunity Fund (VOF), which is a US$839 million investment fund.

Language Schools ILA VIETNAM

146 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3 Tel: (08) 3521 8788 A foreign-owned education and training company that offers a range of educational programmes, such as English-language tuition, university pathway programmes, corporate training, teacher training and overseas study consultancy and placement services.


33/19 Quoc Huong, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 0908 381492 Offers classes to francophone and other foreign children and adults. Classes include monitoring for the French Education Programme, preparing for official tests (DEFL, DAFL, TFL, IB), Vietnamese lessons and extracurricular activities.


135/10 Nguyen Cuu Van, Binh Thanh Tel: 0916 670 771 A Vietnamese language school specialising in personalised one-on-one instruction at a comfortable and central campus or at your home, office or over Skype.


45 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3910 0168 Offers courses ranging from basic conversational Vietnamese to upper elementary, intermediate and advanced levels, as well as special courses including Vietnamese literature, composition or a 6-hour survival crash course.


37/54 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1 Tel: (08) 6678 0914 Provides Vietnamese language training by qualified and experienced teachers, and expert certification, notarization and translation for all types of materials and documents.

189 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 9800 One of the largest and most respected language institutions in the city, VUS offers programmes that are designed in cooperation with the City University of New York.

Legal Services ALLENS

Suite 605, Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 1717 Australian law firm providing standard legal services to corporate clients, Allens’ website is also an excellent resource for English translations of over 3,000 Vietnamese laws. Also publishes a monthly Vietnam Legal Update.


12th Floor, Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 5585 Baker & McKenzie provides on–the–ground liaison and support services to clients interested in investigating, negotiating and implementing projects in the country.


Unit 1501, 15th Floor, The Metropolitan, 235 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 2733 Frasers Law Company is an integrated team providing international legal advice in a Vietnamese context on all matters of business and commerce.

GIDE LOYRETTE NOUEL A.A.R.P.I. 18 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 8599

A leading international law firm with 19 offices worldwide. The Vietnam office offers clients high quality service that combines legal expertise with a highly commercial approach, across all sectors of business law.


Unit 4A2, 4th Floor, Han Nam Building, 65 Nguyen Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 9640 A business law–focused practice established in 2006, Indochine Counsel assists both international and local clients in meeting the various legal needs related to their business and investment.


17th Floor, Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 8860 Operating in Vietnam since 1994, the firm provides clients with a full range of legal services in all areas, including corporate, real estate, banking and finance and all forms of inward investment.

Management Training EMBERS ASIA

80-82 Phan Xich Long, Phu Nhuan Tel: (08) 3822 4728 The first team-building provider established in Vietnam, Embers specializes in ensuring success in globally competitive markets. Embers’ HR performance management services include excursions, strategic planning retreats, conference facilitations and training workshops.


38/ 6G Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: (08) 6292 9288

HCMC With campuses throughout Southeast Asia, ERC offers a comprehensive range of business courses from soft skills development programmes to tourism and hospitality, all the way through to MBAs.


6th Floor, Yoco Office Building, 41 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 9919 A 100 percent foreign–invested company focusing on management services and consulting with in–house programmes to meet the particular requirements of its clients. Offers teambuilding and academic–based business and management programmes.


35A-1-2 Grandview, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7 Tel: (08) 5412 3402 31st Floor, Saigon Trade Centre, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3911 0454 An international human resource management consultancy specialising in organisational and professional development. Services include assessment and development, team building, corporate training, HRM audits and HR systems design.


CentrePoint Building, Level 4, 106 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhan Tel: (08) 3997 8088 Global information and measurement company, with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence, mobile measurement, trade shows and related properties.


58 Vo Van Tan, Q3 Tel: (08) 3930 6631 With over 11 years in the marketplace, TNS Vietnam offers all three major market research services — customisation, access panels and media monitoring — to a range of local and international clients.

9 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3822 7727 An independent marketing and brand research specialist operating in the Asia Pacific region. Services include auditing and optimising research programmes, knowledge management, developing marketing plans and business models and assessing market opportunities.


3rd Floor, 140 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 6965 Provides a regional perspective on consumer, retail and social research to a range of multinational organisations operating in Indochina.


91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 6258 6314 Providing business-to-business and industry market research since 1997. Clients include multinationals, investment funds and government commercial offices. Consulting services focus on market sizing, investment analysis and trade promotion.

1st Floor, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3 Tel: (08) 6288 3888 Established in 2003, HR2B is one of Vietnam’s top three HR consulting firms, specialising in finding opportunities for senior level professionals. Other services include payroll outsourcing, contract staffing and HR management consulting.

Dragon Images

Crescent Plaza, 105 Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Tel: 01643 172 660 Dragon Images production studio is a professional team of photographers, stylists. shooting administrators, casting managers and retouchers. They make photos on various topics, from business to sport.


Level 5, 273-273B Ben Chuong Duong, Q1 Tel: (08) 3838 5517 matterhorncommunications. com Providing public relations and communications support to international and local firms operating in Vietnam. Specialising in corporate communications, media relations, corporate social responsibility and media and issues management and training.


7th Floor, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 0462 Vero Public Relations helps clients expand their footprints in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand through effective public relations campaigns. Services offered include branding, media relations, event management, public affairs and issues / crisis management.


11th floor, Empire Tower, 26 - 28 Ham Nghi, Q1

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Photography Services

Market Research CIMIGO

Tel: (08) 3915 3430 Adecco is the world leader in human resources solutions. Established in Vietnam in 2011, Adecco offers a wide array of global workforce solutions and specialises in finance & legal, sales, marketing & events, IT, engineering & technical, and office.


Ho Chi Minh Office: Room 2B-2C, 2nd Floor, 180 Pasteur, District 1, HCMC. Ha Noi Office: Room 603, 6th Floor, 535 Kim Ma Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi. VieclamBank is a brand of G.A. Consultants Vietnam - a Human Resources Consulting company with 100% Japan investment. Established in 2006 in Vietnam, the company focuses on recruiting executive and senior level, providing Vietnamese and Japanese candidates with experience studying abroad or working in foreign companies. A quick, effective and competitive service suitable for many types of business.


8th Floor, Resco Building, 9496 Nguyen Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3911 0950 The first global recruitment company to set up locally, Manpower offers a range of services for the entire employment and business cycle.


130 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 5000 Well–known human resources agency with a wide range of services including executive search and online recruitment.


5th Floor Vitic Building. 6B Nguyen Thanh Y, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 8209 Established in Ho Chi Minh City in 2005, Opus services local and multinational companies seeking to recruit high quality personnel. A partner of Horton International, one of the world’s leading search groups.


130 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 5404 1373 Online job-search website with one of the best selections of jobs in Vietnam. Also contains sections with career tips, CV writing advice and information on training courses.

Relocation Agents AGS FOUR WINDS (VIETNAM)

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


58 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 3454 With more than 800 offices in over 45 countries, Allied Pickfords is one of the worldwide leaders in removal services. In Vietnam, Allied also provides tailored relocation services.

Asian Tigers Mobility

Unit 9.3, Floor 9, Ree Tower, 9 Doan Van Bo, Ward 12, District 4, HCMC Tel: (08) 3 826 7799 www.asiantigers-mobility. com Asian Tigers is one of the largest regional move management specialists, with services including door-todoor moving, housing and school searches, local and office moves and pet relocations.


2nd Floor Coteccons Office Tower, 236/6 Dien Bien Phu, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3840 4237 Crown Relocations services include expense management, policy consulting and programme administration, storage, transit protection and domestic and international transportation of household goods.


1st Floor, Saigon Port Building, 3 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4 Tel: (08) 3826 7655 Focused primarily on the in-

ternational and local movement of household goods, JVK is a leader in the field.


396/4 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4 Tel: (08) 3941 5322 Specialists in international, local, domestic and office moves for household goods and personal effects through our global partner network. Experts in exporting used scooters that do not have documentation.


Unit 601 48 Hoa SU, Phu Nhuan Tel: (08) 2226 8855 The first dedicated relocation company in Vietnam, Resident Vietnam provides a full range of destination services, cross–cultural training and immigration management services.


7th Floor, 6-8 Doan Van Bo, Q4 Tel: (08) 3826 8850 SEAL offers a complete range of relocation services, including global and local relocation services to, from and within Vietnam. SEAL is also an accredited pet relocation agent.

Serviced Apartments CAM LY HOTEL & APARTMENT

656 Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3 Tel: (08) 3993 1587 camlyapartment@hcm. With a total of 10 studio apartments for long-term lease, each unit comes fully furnished with a living room, kitchen and bedroom. Rates are subject to the duration of stay.


12 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 1111 Conveniently located only five minutes from downtown, Cityview has 69 fully–furnished apartments. Facilities include a gym, billiards lounge, kids playroom, restaurant and laundry.

INTERCONTINENTAL ASIANA SAIGON RESIDENCES Crn. of Nguyen Du & Le Van Huu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3520 8888 Adjacent to the InterContinental Asiana Saigon you’ll find 260 luxurious and spacious residential suites. The residences offer panoramic views of the downtown area.


17–19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 6111 Offers a wide choice of luxurious and modern furnished accommodation with attentive and discreet service. Facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, a gym, sauna and steam room, as well as two on-site restaurants.


53 Vo Truong Toan, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 4111 Over four Saigon Riverbank hectares, Riverside Apartments combines a resort lifestyle with the amenities of a fully serviced-apartment. Located minutes from downtown by high-speed boat shuttle.


65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 9666 Located in the centre of town above Saigon Center, 89 well–appointed one to three-bedroom apartments come complete with full housekeeping services and fully–equipped kitchenettes.


127 Pasteur, Q3 Tel: (08) 3823 2288 Sherwood Residence is a luxurious serviced apartment property where modern living spaces meet prime location, comfort and class, with five–star facilities and service.


8A Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 8899 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9197 628C Hanoi Highway, An Phu, Q2 Tel: (08) 6255 9922 Somerset Chancellor Court, Somerset Ho Chi Minh City and Somerset Vista Ho Chi Minh City serviced residences combine the space and privacy of an apartment with the services of a top-rated hotel. They come with separate living and dining areas, as well as a fully equipped kitchen where guests can prepare a meal for themselves, their family and friends.


5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 2098 65 serviced apartments located in the city centre overlooking the river. Also has a comprehensive health club for tenants and members, a squash court and a 16th floor swimming pool.



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Want to know the best places to eat or drink in this city? Here is our pick of the top 100 restaurants

French & Italian BIBI@ALIBI

5A Nguyen Sieu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 6257 The legendary chef Bibi’s newest creation, a convivial restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine using fresh products bought early morning at the market by Bibi himself. Delicious meats and fish dishes together with the famous tarte tatin.


NEW YORK-ITALIAN 11 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 3329 New York-style Italian restaurant offering a range of tasty and affordable antipasti, pastas, and pizzas. Friendly staff and rustic bare brick walls adorned with Hollywood film legends make for a relaxed and attractive setting.


FRENCH/MEDITERRANEAN Sofitel Saigon Plaza, 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555 Exuding a southern Gallic atmosphere with its tiled veranda, pastel-coloured walls and ficus trees, this traditional French restaurant has quarterly Michelin star promotions and an award winning pastry team.


FRENCH / PARISIEN 38 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 3657 Chic art nouveau decor surrounds this dining experience ­– but the streetside

seafood stand draws the focus back to where it should be, on the fresh, authentic Parisian cuisine.


FRENCH / MEDITERRANEAN 48 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 2229 8882 This intimate, open-kitchened restaurant bathed in white specialises in a mix of contemporary Mediterranean and French cuisine. Has a small but well thought out menu, backed up with an extensive wine list.


TRADITIONAL ITALIAN 17B Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 1080 This downtown hideaway with rustic–style decorative trawls features fresh, light regional cuisine from across Italy. Try the carpaccio misto di pesce and agnello d’antico. Also specializes in excellent wood-fired pizzas.


CLASSIC FRENCH / EUROPEAN FUSION 40 Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 9263 A sociable and popular French bistro serving up 100 percent organic, traditional Gallic staples such as French onion soup, escargot, and moules marinières, plus European fusion dishes, and competitively priced world wines.


CLASSIC FRENCH 31 Thai Van Lung, Q1

Tel: (08) 3825 8465 Unpretentious but tasty French fare in a relaxed garden setting within the French cultural centre. The robust, bistro-style cuisine is very well-priced, and excellent, cheap house wine is served by the carafe.


25 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 6281 8521 Home-cooked, bistro-style fare at reasonable prices. Has a great outdoor terrace and the cuisine is embellished with the real taste of France and The Mediterranean. A popular local haunt.


TRATTORIA-STYLE ITALIAN 88 Ho Tung Mau, Ben Nghe, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 3691 A contemporary trattoria in the heart of Saigon, serving home-cooked Italian cuisine with New York flair in a beautifully designed space with high ceilings. The menu features both traditional antipasti and substantial main courses.


FRENCH BISTRO 28 Do Quang Dau, Q1 Tel: 09765 52042 French backpacker area mainstay attracting a clientele made up of Gallic expats and tourists. Excellent food menu with daily specials backs up a long bar seating area perfect for cradling a Ricard.


CONTEMPORARY ITALIAN Ground Floor, Park Hyatt Hotel, 2 Lam Son Square, Q1

Tel: (08) 3824 1234 Unpretentious, casual but elegant restaurant with a tried–and–tested Italian menu backed up by a compact wine list from regions like Umbria, Toscana and Veneto. Regular specials and impressive open kitchens.


PAN-ITALIAN 36 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2 Tel: (08) 6253 2828 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. Another branch downtoan at 87 Nguyen Hue, Q1.


ITALIAN / VIETNAMESE 119-121 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 9220 Two-storey Stella serves very reasonable Italian food — antipasti, pasta, pizza, insalata plus meats and fish — at reasonable prices. Also has Wi-Fi, cool aircon, and one of the best lattes around. Now no-smoking indoors.


CLASSIC FRENCH 18 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 4585 Trois Gourmands is the successor to the legendary Le Toit Gourmand in Tan Binh, and continues to serve up some of the best Gallic fare in town. The seven-course, wine-paired dinner remains excellent value.

International AL FRESCO’S

INTERNATIONAL 27 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 38238424 The downtown outlet of one of Vietnam’s most successful restaurant chains, Al Fresco’s offers international, Australian-influenced comfort fare in a pleasant environment with efficient, friendly service to match. Excellent delivery service.


BRAZILIAN / BUFFET 238 Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (08) 3820 7157 Latino ambiance with great meat dishes and attractive, spacious décor. The churrasco, with 12 cuts of barbecued and cured meats plus unlimited salad, is hand carved at your table. Can get busy.


EUROPEAN / CAFÉ 23 Han Thuyen, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 2772 Consistently tasty European café fare — think deli-style sandwiches, salads and mezzes, plus coffees and juices — served at a popular park-side Le Duan location with classic cream and green-tiled décor.


LEBANESE The Courtyard, 74/13D Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2188 A Lebanese restaurant and shisha lounge located downtown, encompasses a multiple-floored restaurant and extensive garden area. As the name suggests the menu has a Lebanese/Arabic theme.


AMERICAN 13 Phan Van Dat, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 2055 Creatively named burgers, tasty Vietnamese-styled

sandwiches, spiced up cocktails, mains and more, all served up with a Californian edge at this small but popular two-storey eatery close to the river.


AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL 40 Lily Road, An Phu Superior Compound, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 6790 Live music, mini-festivals and functions are regular events at this spacious restobar in An Phu on the banks of the Saigon river. The menu offers seasonal dishes, classic mains and sharing plates.


INTERNATIONAL / GRILL CR2 3-4, 107 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 6592 Australian themed but Singaporean-owned eatery and bar on The Crescent with great terraced seating specializing in huge-portioned international fare, all set in a contemporary, spacious environment.


GERMAN / RESTOBAR Level 1, Kumho Link, 9 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 4206 The city’s first contemporary German beer bar and restaurant, Brotzeit offers well known German beer accompanied by authentic Bavarian Cuisine —sausages, schnitzels and more — in a relaxed yet chic drinking hall setting.


7 Bis Han Thuyen, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 8549 Part of the Au Parc group, this miniscule, New Yorkthemed sandwich shop does creative lunchtime fare at excellent prices — think baguettes, wraps, focaccia and bagels. Excellent delivery service.

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{F OO D Promos } Promotions of the Month

INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE 40/31 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3837 2502 This affable café is a rarity in the backpacker area for its genuinely good musical playlist. Excellent, build-your-own breakfasts, baked potatoes, toasties, Vietnamese fare and more. Has a popular motorbike rental service.


STEAKHOUSE / INTERNATIONAL 117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 5368 Although a hotel restaurant, the enticing range of US and Australian steaks plus great grill and comfort food menu in this contemporary eatery make for a quality bite. Decent-sized steaks start at VND390,000.


Compliments to the Chef @ Park Hyatt Park Hyatt Saigon’s Gourmand Guild monthly wine event is showcasing their premiere chefs’ best dishes in the Chef’s Collection on Oct. 23 in Square One. The four international chefs will use all their creativity and skill to create tailor-made dishes that are sure to be unforgettable. The night is made even more special with a “dinner and a show” atmosphere — diners will get to see the chefs up-close as they work. Each dinner will be paired with a complimentary wine and an opportunity to get to know chefs Asif Mehrudeen of Australia, Marco Torre of Italy, Soren Lascelles of Australia and Bertrand Sommereux of France. Entrance to the dinner is VND4.2 million++, and advance reservation is suggested. For reservations call (08) 3824 1234.

Seafood Special @ Hotel Nikko Saigon Hotel Nikko Saigon is soon to become the place to be for Saigon seafood lovers. La Brasserie, located inside the hotel, is introducing a Seafood Buffet Dinner that includes a selection of lobsters, oysters, crabs, calamari, octopus and salmon, among many other delectable treats. Not a fish person? La Brasserie also

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offers Italian favourites at ‘live’ stations serving pastas. Eat to your heart’s content with buffet dinners priced at VND950,000++ per person.

A World of Food @ InterContinental Asiana Saigon Market 39 at InterContinental Asiana Saigon is hosting a trip around the world, even if it’s only for your taste buds. In October, each day of the week will showcase different dishes from around the globe, including Mexican, Japanese and a seafood medley on weekends. Enjoy from VND899,000++ from Monday to Thursday, and VND980,000++ from Friday to Sunday. Plus, due to popular demand, dim sum is now available for lunch and dinner at Yu Chu, also on the first floor of the InterCon.

Vietnamese Set Lunch @Pullman Danang Beach Resort Looking for some fresh new Asian flavours? Try Restaurant Epice at the Pullman Danang for a five-course Vietnaminspired set menu, which includes tasty and traditional Vietnamese favourites. This special set menu is available every lunch and dinner in October for VND355,000 net per person (including liquid nitrogen ice cream).

AMERICAN 52 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 4327 The comfort food on offer at this striking US-style diner ranges from meatball baguettes to chilli burgers, pizzas, blackened chicken salads and a selection of more expensive international mains.


ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE 5D Nguyen Sieu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 1879 Unit CR1-12, The Crescent, Phu My Hung, Q7 Tel: (08) 5413 6909 A pleasant downtown eatery mixing an Argentinian steakhouse theme with pork, chicken, lamb, homemade spicy sausage, skewers, burger dishes and everything that can come off a grill.


AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL Ground Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 6066 Mixing hearty pub grub such as burgers, salads and prime rib steaks with a sports bar atmosphere, this Australian chain also offers regular promotions and a 4pm to 7pm happy hour. Excellent outdoor terrace.


INTERNATIONAL FUSION The Square, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 0931 Although a chain restaurant, the international offerings here are consistently good and creative. Excellent service, an attractive outdoor terrace area, and a good kids menu. Check out their pepper steaks.

Joie de Vivre

WESTERN / FRENCH 292/10, Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3 Tel: (08) 6260 0066 Homely and comfortable, Joie de Vivre serves up western cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with comfort fare ranging from hamburg-

ers, spaghetti, lasagna and steak through to French-style cuisine.


12 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 1036 Imagine traditional Vietnamese banh mi, put it in a French baguette, add in a nice sauce or two and you have the diminutive Le Banh Mi. Excellent baguettes at cheap prices, with a choice of three sauces.

AMERICAN / FRENCH 25–27 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 7373 NYSW is well known for serving up formidable prime signature cuts of New York strip steak, rib eye, double strip loins and chateaubriands along with sophisticated sides, in a glitzy, Hollywoodesque atmosphere.




INTERNATIONAL BUFFET Ground Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, Crn. of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3520 9999 Buffet restaurant specialising in a boutique selection of appetisers, local and imported seafood, succulent steaks from the grill, and hand-crafted noodles. Bakery operates throughout day to ensure that every dish arrives fresh.


INTERNATIONAL CAFE FARE / SEAFOOD 23 Thao Dien, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6478 The rustic looking, bananaleaf roofed Mekong Merchant has long been the place in An Phu. Set around a cobblestoned courtyard the cuisine includes gourmet seafood and pastas. Bakery-style Bistro out front.


PAN-AMERICAN / TEX-MEX 50 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 1311 Mogambo is one of the city’s longest running establishments. A well-known expat meeting spot, with dishes running from fajitas and burritos through to the coronary bypass burger, gumbo and ribs.


87-89-91 Ho Tung Mau, Q1 Tel: 0122 763 1261 bahdjarestaurant@gmail. com Located just beneath Au Lac Saigon Hotel, Bahdja is Saigon’s first ever Algerian restaurant, serving authentic, multi-ethnic Berber North African and Mediterranean cuisine cooked and served in a traditional Algerian style. Best experienced in a group, this small but pleasant restaurant’s soothing ambience is matched by the owners’ genuine hospitality and complimented by an array of tasty tajines and couscous-based dishes. Make sure to try the excellent Moroccan wine, too.

INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN Ground floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999 Great buffets draw daily crowds to this downtown hotel restaurant. Streamlined décor and clean lines create a modern ambience that makes an excellent backdrop for the extensive range of cuisine.


SPANISH / EUROPEAN 97 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6924 Legs of Iberian ham hang in the downstairs bar at this multi-story bodega serving Spanish-styled tapas. Attractively decorated in warm reds, yellows and oranges, Pacharan’s food menu is traditionally Spanish.


INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 8888 Flagship restaurant of The New World Hotel, serving lavish buffets all day. Many cooking stations ranging from Chinese to Italian, sushi and seafood, to salads, cold cuts, cheese plates and desserts.


TURKISH / INTERNATIONAL 25 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 3677 Sumptuous, Turkish-themed restaurant close to the mosque with Islamic-style white dome décor and comfortable, cushioned seating. Authentically Turkish cuisine with a sprinkling of western fare thrown in.


EUROPEAN/ASIAN FUSION 8/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9838 This quirky but highly rated Italian / Japanese fusion pizza parlour serves wacky yet delicious pies such as tuna curry pizza and calamari seaweed pizza, as well as more traditional varieties.


FRENCH BISTRO / INTERNATIONAL The Square, 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 0509 A slightly retro feel pervades this popular French-style bistro and wine bar which once housed the city’s opium refinery. The cuisine runs from

creative salads through to Mediterranean influenced mains.


INTERNATIONAL / FINE DINING 3rd floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999 Old images of Saigon grace the walls while a pianist plays in the background of the Caravelle’s signature restaurant. The fare is surprisingly contemporary. Good choice for a particularly special meal.


INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN Renaissance Riverside, 8–15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 0033 Offers versatile all–day dining of international quality, with the bonus of being able to watch the action on the river sidewalk. Features western, Asian and Vietnamese buffets.

Saigon Café

INTERNATIONAL / BUFFET Level 1, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2828 An all-day dining casual but comfortable restaurant offering probably the most extensive buffet on the city with live carving and BBQ stations and a diverse á la carte menu featuring international cuisine, comfort food favourites and authentic local dishes.


INTERNATIONAL 15-17 Cao Trieu Phat, Phu My Hung, Q7 Tel: 0948 901465 scottbinhs.php Serving creative, all homemade comfort food, this restaurant boasts a full bar, ice-cold beer and an international wine list to complement meals. Has a focus on the creative use of local ingredients.


CONTEMPORARY EUROPEAN 23rd Floor, Centec Tower, 72–74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: (08) 3827 9631 A breezy terrace, indoor bar and separate dining room with sweeping views over central Saigon make up this enormous, comfortable space. A wellthought out and romantic venue, with excellent food.



MODERN ASIAN FUSION 38 Nguyen U Di, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 6632 Set on the banks of Saigon River across from Thanh Da Island, this innovative restaurant serves up modern Asian fusion cuisine in a Bali-style atmosphere, complemented by great cocktails and a long wine list.

The Hungry Pig

BACON BAR 144 Cong Quynh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 4533 Think bacon and then think good quality bacon. This is what The Hungry Pig is all about, that finest of cured meats between tasty bread or perhaps in a salad. Add your own toppings, fix yourself up with a beer or a coffee, and you’re fit to go.

Vesper Bar

INTERNATIONAL Landmark Building, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9698 Headed up by well-known chef Andy Ertle, Vesper Bar is a sophisticated yet down-to-earth wine and cocktail bar. Serving creative, Japanese-influenced tapas to supplement the drinks, the subtle lighting and loungestyle atmosphere makes this a great drinking and dining venue


MIDDLE-EASTERN 71/7 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3822 The deep colours, Arabic décor and cushioned outdoor terrace area give this popular venue its unique touch. The food is good, too, taking in tabouleh, houmous, falafel and mutabbal, shwarmas and more. Sells authentic shisha.


AMERICAN / TEX-MEX 169A Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 3897 cafe_zoom This corner-located Vespa-infatuated 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.


The restaurant of famed chef Ryoichi ‘Roy’ Iwashita, from Osaka, Inaho features some of the best sushi and sashimi in town, with faultless ingredients and presentation.


JAPANESE NOODLES 18 Thai Van Lung, Q1; SD04, Lo H29-2, KP My Phat, Phu My Hung, Q7 Noodles can be found in every form in this sleek, open-kitchened eatery. Noodles are served in sets — the lunchtime offering goes for just over VND100,000 — or as individual dishes.


SUSHI / SASHIMI 53-55 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, Q3 Tel: (08) 3930 0039 Sushi Dining AOI offers full-blown Japanese-style sushi, sashimi, and other dishes such as tempura, pork cutlet and cold soba noodles in a warm and friendly atmosphere. Good value set lunches. Probably the best sushi in town.


INDIAN MALAY 35 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: 0903 863114 Long running hole-in-the-wall halal restaurant opposite the Mosque selling a selection of Malaysian-style Indian cuisine. Simple fan-cooled dining area with all dishes costing well under VND100,000. THAI / VIETNAMESE 16 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3837 1311 Owned by a Thai-trained Vietnamese chef this is one of the few eateries in town serving up very good pan-Thai cuisine. Great value, with mains generally around VND70,000.


JAPANESE BARBECUE 15A6 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2527 Japanese eatery specialising in all things barbecue, the charcoalgrilled beef cooked at the table is to die for, and various other meat and vegetable options are good, too. Great lunch set.


JAPANESE / OKINAWA 13/1 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8433 yamaneko– Funky Yamaneko — down an alley off Le Thanh Ton — offers delicious, unpretentious Okinawan fare alongside mainland staples. Does a great set lunch deal.




The Burger Corner

JAPANESE NOODLES 29 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 0008 Bright, airy and spacious with sake bottles hung across the wall, the menu here focuses on ramen noodles, starting at around VND100,000 a dish. Also rice and dumpling options.

NORTH INDIAN / CHINESE INDIAN 17/10 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1372 33 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel : (08) 3744 4177 Long-running, award-winning Indian restaurant famed for its excellent kebabs, creamy curries and Chinese-Indian fare. PAN-THAI 55 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 5453 Subtle lighting and comfortable sofa-like seating at this An Phu eatery. The menu has a whole page dedicated to tom yum soup as well as firey larb moo and Laotian som tam. Thai cuisine cooked up by no-holds-barred Thai chefs.

A Ta ste of Authenticity




SUSHI / SASHIMI 4 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 0326



The Courtyard, 74/3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 8793 The work of former Nobu chef Martin Brito, the JapaneseSouth American fusion cuisine at Blanchy Street is among the tastiest and most unusual in the city. All complemented by fresh, contemporary decor and a leafy terrace out front.


NORTH / SOUTH INDIAN 164 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3838 6661 This pleasant, airy Indian does the full range of fare from all ends of the subcontinent, from dosas and vadas through to chicken tikka masala, kormas, kebabs and fiery vindaloos.

Authentic Japanese 39 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 4634 Located on the main drag in Thao Dien, Tamago has indoor and out door seating, a terrace and private rooms. They have a ladies’ night on Tuesdays as well as a Teppanyaki themed night on Saturday evenings. Have a second restaurant in Mui Ne.

INTERNATIONAL / MEDITERRANEAN 9A Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 4798 Simple, unpretentious Greekinfluenced, international cuisine ranging from the zucchini carpaccio through to the saganiki, a range of dips, mousaka, osso buco and lamb chop skewers. Also has an excellent upstairs cigar room. INTERNATIONAL 43 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 0094 This dedicated, two-floor burger restaurant offers Vietnamesestyle burgers, with patties made from anything from beef to crispy shrimp and mushroom. Has a nice local feel to it that you won’t find in the fast food joints


CANTONESE / PAN-CHINESE New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8888 Elegant surroundings, top quality ingredients, attentive service and comfortable, roundtable dining makes Dynasty one of the top Chinese restaurants in town, with a classic dim sum menu. NORTH / SOUTH INDIAN 15B4 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 3017 com The ubiquitous mint sauce is thick and creamy and the curries are both authentic and smoky. Ganesh is rated by many as the best Indian in town. Very friendly service.


CLASSIC THAI 34 Hai Ba Trung, Q1Tel: (08) 3822 8554 Excellent, long-running restaurant with classic Thai decor. The fare includes laab salads, curries, som tam, fish cakes and dishes such as deep-fried catfish with mango salad. Three VIP rooms upstairs.


ROAST KITCHEN CANTONESE Unit 15, 1/F, Kumho Asiana Saigon, 39 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3521 8181 Hong Kong casual dining restaurant, Gourmet’s Delight Roast Kitchen is the first of its kind in Saigon serving authentic barbeque and traditional Cantonese dishes in a laid-back atmosphere.


CANTONESE Renaissance Riverside Hotel, 8–15 Ton Duc Thang. Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 0033 Offers authentic, gourmet Cantonese cuisine in an elegant, classic setting, with striking décor and the bonus of views over the Saigon River. Dishes range from VND80,000 to VND900,000.

36 Tong Huu Dinh Street, Thao Dien Ward, District 2, HCMC Tel: 08 6253 2828 |Fax: 08 6253 2888 Email: Delivery service available daily, from 11:00 AM - 10:00 PM

87 Nguyen Hue St., District 1, HCMC Tel: (84.8) 3821 8181 Email: Monday to Friday: 11.00 - 14.00, and 18.00 - 22.00 Saturday and Sunday: 11.30 - 22.00


{ Night Watchman } The Long Weekend

Tel: 0906 912730 restaurants-ben-style Healthy, calorie-counted sandwich and deli fare Tel: (08) 3898 3747 Vietnamese, international fare, pizza, pasta, sandwiches

Domino’s Pizza

Tel: (08) 3939 3030 Pizzas, wings, desserts

Eat.Vn Delivery service website for local restaurants

el gato negro

Tel: (08) 6660 1577 Californian-style burritos

HUNGRYPANDA.VN Delivery service website for local restaurants

KFC Sticking together was a fruitless struggle. The group fractured and split as the day proceeded between the diehards and the hard going. We decided to reconvene over dinner, where, unknown to us then, we would hatch our dastardly plan for the night. The tension at the table rivaled a highly tuned piano string, mid-strike. An impromptu pub crawl began at once.

Five Stations of Memory Loss

Five bars, one drink each, take no prisoners. Simple and clear as inebriated mandates must be for any sort of accomplishment to be possible. Our extremely delicious meal at Nha Trang staple Lanterns (34/6 Nguyen Thien Thuat) set our stomachs on Beached full and our direction down Nguyen 7am and a gentle voice lifted me Thien Thuat. As hours passed our from my solid sleep. That was the group laid waste to each successive last gentle concession I would have, house of refreshment. as morning in Nha Trang would Soon the whole of our crew made prove to be a pirate-like hijacking it to the beach, our mayhem only just of my deserved hangover. Bloody beginning. After successive libations Marys and runny eggs culminated over the course of the day, our carefree in a lengthy separate check debacle attitude began to take shape. And that, we all concluded, for the this is where I’ll let my erstwhile remainder of the adventure we companions Shoulders T and Empty would avoid. Pockets end this tale. We refueled with towers of Word: So, what happened at The Bar passion fruit ale and extra-large That Shall Remain Nameless? mushroom pizzas. Bottles of Shoulders T: It wasn’t spectacular, sunscreen emptied as we battled the but a bit of over-reacting, really. blazing sun. Soon the trade winds Empty Pockets: You provoked them of our endeavour took hold and our more than one time. movements became regular: pool, Shoulders T: Just a bit of fun really. ocean, food and drink. Empty Pockets: Granted, hoisting

112 | Word October 2013

Ben Style

Chez Guido


o Fun!” After leaving the lips of a particularly buff security guard, these words hung like smoke from a fog machine at a windy beach rave. As quick as they were acknowledged, inhaled and confirmed they were swept away and forgotten, as the rhythm of a long National Day weekend in Nha Trang didn’t allow such a statement to cloud our euphoria. We took the train up. Stacked high with provisions we embarked, slightly relieved about completing a small but hectic dash to the train station, as torrential rains furiously lashed the city we were leaving — 11 Saigonites in two overloaded taxis. Stowing our luggage and settling into bunks, our train lurched forward violently before settling in to a rhythmic side-to-side rocking. Rainwater sloshed on the steel carriage floor and, if the windows were round, our journey could have been mistaken for one over turbulent seas instead of a twisting track. Beer sloshed in near empty 333 cans, as smouldering cigarette ends were tossed out into the wet night. Whiskey and conversation were imbibed restlessly. Hour by hour, one by one, each traveller retired to their cabin until only night owls and the foolish remained.


people on your shoulders is one thing. Pissing off huge security guards is another. Shoulders T: By my thinking, if they were really angry, they wouldn’t have let us back in after carrying us out onto the beach. Word: That’s true. It looked hard to explain the situation due to language barriers. It seemed like you and the guards were able to communicate well? Shoulders T: Our communication was fine, really. He said ‘No Fun,’ I laughed. Empty Pockets: And then danced on a plastic chair with a Travolta-esque Vietnamese man in the middle of the dance floor. Shoulders T: Haha, as I said our communication was fine. Our night continued on, through broken bottles cutting feet, ethereal flaming sambuca shots, theft by a groping lady of the night, mistaken ‘tea’ purchasing, beach-side crooning on an abandoned catamaran and finally freshly cooked pizza from a small late-night banh mi cart. As the wee hours ticked by, and the sun, still hidden by the horizon, heated the morning cool, we retired all at once to our respective hotel rooms. Our story was to be recounted and embellished for days to come, as an oral tale is until written down. The title, we all agreed, would not be ‘No fun!’ — Seamus Butler

Tel: (08) 3848 9999 Fried chicken, chicken burgers, sides


Tel: (08) 3910 0000 Burgers, fried chicken, sides


2A Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3519 4520 British-style pan-Chinese

Pizza Hut (PHD)

Tel: (08) 3838 8388 Pizzas, wings, pasta, appetizers


Tel: (08) 3823 5795 Pizzas, pasta, salad, antipasti, desserts

Taco Bich Homemade Mexican fare

willy woo’s

Tel: (08) 3941 5433 www.blackcatsaigon. com US-style chicken and waffles

Vietnammm Delivery service website for local restaurants


Tel: (08) 3824 4136 Japanese bento and rice sets. Go to vietnammm. com for menu


CONTEMPORARY THAI FUSION Level 1, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4423 Modern Thai fusion restaurant serving Thai classics alongside tom yam cappuccinos and more. Koh Thai’s creative cocktails merge Thai flavours with local seasonal fruits and herbs.


SINGAPOREAN 45 Le Anh Xuan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8371 Friendly, authentic five-storey Singaporean eatery, plating up the likes of nasi lemak, mee rebus, and awesome chicken curry, as well as specialities like frog porridge, chilli crab and fish head curry.


PAN-SOUTHEAST ASIAN 1 Cao Ba Nha, Q1, Tel: (08) 6290 8899 Traditional pan-Southeast Asian favourites served in a visually arresting setting within a French colonial-era villa, just minutes from the backpacker area. Reasonably priced, with healthy juices and smoothies.

outdoor, covered bench seating.


VIETNAMESE STEAKHOUSE 200 Bis Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 157 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 3917 Specialises in tasty Vietnamese or Australian steak served sizzling on a griddle with thick–cut fries, bread and salad, optional pate or eggs, all for well under VND100,000.


COM TAM (BITTY RICE) 26 Ton That Tung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 0935 Downtown branch of the famous budget Thuan Kieu eatery. Broken rice with barbecued pork, bitter gourd broth, stuffed squid etc. Average meal price just VND35,000. English menu.



VEGAN Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, 339 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1 Set inside the city’s largest pagoda, this eatery has received many plaudits for its setting, reverent ambiance and interesting menu which includes salted tofu in claypot and hundred flowers hotpot.

Vietnamese 3T QUAN NUONG

VIETNAMESE BBQ Top Floor, 29 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 1631 A steamy, smoky rooftop homage to the art of barbecuing and grilling, with an expansive menu of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes on offer, all grilled at the table. Often packed to the brim.


PHO EATERY 260C Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 7943 Huge sized portions dished up at this famous restaurant serving Vietnam’s national dish. Choose from a range of cuts of beef, fresh herbs and spice to taste.

VIETNAMESE / BARBECUE 135A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 3340 A charming, leafy outdoor terrace area lit up by fairy lights plays host to one of downtown’s most popular and alluring eateries. It’s a DIY barbecue on the table affair.

KOREAN 33 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4297 Seoul House was the first Korean restaurant in town and continues to be popular with a cosmopolitan clientele. Food includes banchan starters, bulgogi, awesome spicy tofu and minced pork soups.




CHINESE / VIETNAMESE BINH DAN 67 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 7751 Few places do Hainanese-style chicken rice as well as this multi-storey eatery. Prepared downstairs out front, choose from chicken, sweet-roasted pork, roasted duck, and a range of other options.


PAN-CHINESE / CANTONESE Norfolk Mansion, 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 2221 Featuring over 200 dishes and 50 kinds of dim sum prepared by chefs from Hong Kong, Shang Palace has nine private dining rooms and a main dining area seating over 300. Good for events.


NORTH / SOUTH INDIAN 74/6 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3930 4839 Downtown location, and extensive menu taking in anything from creamy korma and rogan josh curries through to vindaloo, sambhar, dosa, and kebabs. Also a great range of vegetarian fare.


PAN-CHINESE 1st Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, crn.of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3520 9999 Skillful chefs prepare authentic hand-pulled noodles, fresh dim sum and hot wok dishes within an impeccably designed open kitchen, as diners look on. Stylish and spectacular.

Street Food BANH XEO 46A

BANH XEO / HUE CUISINE 46A Dinh Cong Trang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1110 One of the best banh xeo — pork, beansprout and prawn pancakes served up with salad and fresh herbs — joints in town. No frills,

PAN-CHINESE / NOODLES 162 Nguyen Trai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 0824 Bustling 24-hour restaurant offering the full range of Chinese fare, including dim sum, homemade noodle soup, rice and seafood dishes. Perfect if you have an attack of midnight munchies.


Vegetarian PHAP HOA

VEGETARIAN 200 Nguyen Trai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3839 5893 Good vegetarian eatery with a well-stocked and enticing com binh dan buffet-style counter in the entrance. It’s a pick and choose affair, with a range of faux meat dishes. The staff, though, are not know for their politeness.


VEGAN 378/3 Vo Van Tan, Q3, Tel: (08) 3834 4473 91/12 Hoa Hung, Q10, Tel: (08) 3864 0154 A pleasant, standalone eatery with the feel of a meditative retreat specialising in hotpots. The vegan menu, however, runs the gamut from faux meat through to noodle and rice dishes.


VEGAN 9 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 2538 One of the city’s oldest eateries (established in 1925) does some of the cheapest and tastiest vegan cuisine in town, all cooked up without onions, garlic or MSG.

VIETNAMESE FRENCH 38 Dang Dung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3846 9853 MSG-free traditional Vietnamese cuisine with a French twist, cooked fresh to order. Dishes include noodle soup, steamed ravioli and beef stew, stir fries, hot pots and curries.


MODERN VIETNAMESE 10 Dang Tat, Q1, Tel: (08) 3848 0144 A converted French villa with mixed Indochine and rustic Vietnamese décor, the cuisine here is scrumptious, mixing street food dishes done well with quality ingredients and more contemporary options.


NORTHERN / PAN-VIETNAMESE 101 Vo Van Tan, Q3, Tel: (08) 3602 2069 Named after the mountain highway that skirts the ChineseVietnamese border to the north, Highway 4 serves up authentic north Vietnamese cuisine. Also does excellent Son Tinh branded rice wine.


CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE The Square, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 1676 Highly rated restaurant with stunning outdoor terrace. Specialities include pink pomelo squid and crab salad, mustard leaf prawn rolls, fishcake wraps and barbecue chicken in ginger, onions and a lime leaf marinade.


PAN-VIETNAMESE 31 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 1330 Famous for its signature dish, bo tung xeo — strips of grilled marinated beef, as well as its slightly more unusual offerings — scorpion, grubs, ostrich and crickets. Try if you dare!


INDOCHINE VIETNAMESE 3/5 Hoang Sa, Q1 Tel: (08) 3910 1277 Meaning ‘Cloud’, May utilises homemade recipes and broths developed by the restaurateur’s father, such as pan-fried duck breast served with nuoc mam and ginger, and 1940s style spring rolls. This is the Saigonese cooking of old set in an Indochine atmosphere.


HUE CUISINE 136/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 38 250261 116 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 9996 Down an alley near Ben Thanh Market, this pleasant Hue-style eatery is known for its excellent central Vietnamese cuisine. Think banh beo, bun thit nuong, com hen, all at under VND50,000.


STREET FOOD 160 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7131 A well-spruced, leafy courtyard in a colonial villa provides the setting and the old-world charm for one of the city’s most frequented Vietnamese eateries which serves up quality street food.


PAN-VIETNAMESE 68 Pham Viet Chanh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 6258 1508 Papaya is one of the city’s unsung gems. The cuisine here is presented simply but beautifully with an emphasis on top quality ingredients. Prices are cheap and portions are large.


TRADITIONAL VIETNAMESE 8 Nguyen Van Nguyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3602 2241 Make sure to try the sautéed shrimps with cashew nuts and crispy fried tofu with lime wedge, at this popular, high-quality eatery where all food is served in traditional crockery.

Quan Bui 2

TRADITIONAL VIETNAMESE 17A Ngo Van Nam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 1515 With its leafy roof garden and chic interior, Quan Bui offers a wide selection of Vietnamese cuisine which is cooked in their open kitchen.


PAN-VIETNAMESE 29-31 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9244 Once a hotel for Indian dignitaries visiting old Saigon, the elegant and atmospheric Temple Club is one of the city’s best-preserved buildings. Serving quality Vietnamese and Indochine cuisine at reasonable prices.


HUE / VIETNAMESE 187 Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 7242 Imperial Hue cuisine mixing dark brown Indochine décor and a more casual and jovial atmosphere than other eateries of its ilk. For the background and quality of cuisine, prices are very reasonable.

October 2013 Word | 113


{ Top Shelf } Beer Plaza

Bars & Restobars 2 LAM SON

TOP-END INTERNATIONAL Park Hyatt, 2 Lam Son, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1234 International décor blends seamlessly with local themes. Style joins forces with a wide-ranging drink menu and hip dance tunes to create one of the most tasteful if pricier bars in Saigon.



liding my fingers between the cellophane pages of a worn menu, continental European names interspersed with Vietnamese and bad English translations, I opened to a picture of a Catholic monk, smile inked cross his face, with a glass in his hand filled with a mysterious amber substance. I thought how nice it would be, to be like him — drunk and blissful, not bald and devout. Beer Plaza’s surroundings are quite different from the bia hois or German and Czech beer halls scattered around Ho Chi Minh City. Beer Plaza is only big enough for a couple dozen people, with the brews adorning every square metre of wall space. But the first thing you should notice at Beer Plaza is the proof of the beer there. Trappist ales are not just strong, they can be really strong. Typically bottles are between six and eight percent. But for those who like to drink to forget, your choice of nine, 10 or 11 percent offerings will serve your purpose. These Trappist ales are extremely smooth and drinkable, adding to the merriment and, surely, to the intensity of a morning-after hangover. Being a man of discerning tastes, my plan was to try several of these boutique Belgian beers over some conversation before setting off for a light dinner with friends. Unfortunately, Trappist

114 | Word October 2013

ales are new on my radar — I severely underestimated their strength.

Down the Rabbit Hole I began with La Trappe Quadrupel, a lightly carbonated amber ale that continues to ferment while in the bottle. Bitter with a clean aftertaste, this one is great to have with some soft cheese. I enjoyed this offering quite a bit, and my fellow companions agreed it was the best overall. Lightening the mood, we moved to a highly drinkable Staropramen lager. Coming in 500ml cans, this was a clean yet heady lager, matching brilliantly with relatively inexpensive imported olives, washing their saltiness away with each swig. At this point, we were all feeling bold, so naturally we decided to try two more bottles. We chose two tipples from Trappistes Rochefort, Rochefort 10 and Rochefort 8. 10 was smooth and had a pleasant malty taste that let you know it was in fact beer and not — as it seemed on first smell — red wine. 8 was my second favourite of the night, a reasonable 9.2 percent, its saffron-brown colour sparkling until glass and bottle were empty. Standing up, it became all too apparent why that monk on the outside of the bottle had a smile on his face. It seems like being a monk in the Benelux countries isn’t so bad. — Seamus Butler Beer Plaza is at 94-96 Le Lai, Q1

LIVE MUSIC 6E Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 2239 Though only 1km from the city centre, Acoustic is well off most foreigners’ radars. Come see the Vietnamese house band play nightly, as well as performances from overseas bands and guest artists.


TOP-END LOUNGE BAR Floor 52, Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8752. The jazzy, lightbox-lit space by the helipad in the city’s highest building is more than just great views. Top-end cocktails, a great tapas menu and a chilled ambience make up the mix.


DANCE / NIGHTCLUB 2B-C-D Thi Sach, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6124 One of the oldest nightclubs in Saigon, Apo draws in a not-so-healthy mix of tourists, expats and locals, who dance to Top 40 tunes on the club’s two floors and outdoor terrace. This is a pick-up joint in every sense of the word.


SA8-1 Parkview, Nguyen Duc Canh, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 3282 A downstairs pool table, an open, street side terrace and specials on Tiger draft, this fun but slightly run-down joint is a local haunt for many a resident of Saigon South.


RESTOBAR / NIGHTCLUB 95 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: 0909 028293 This popular downtown three-storied bar attracts late-night revelers thanks to its past midnight opening hours, regular DJ sets, and London-style bar décor. Has a great upstairs terrace.


MINIMALIST CAFÉ BAR 9 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: 0907 609202 Reminiscent of a New York or London underground watering hole, this is a great place to enjoy Mediterranean influenced breakfasts, lunch by day and a variety of DJ sets by night.


HOTEL LOUNGE BAR Saigon Sofitel Plaza, 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555 Boudoir’s sun-drenched conservatory, plush salon, old-timey cigar room and upscale library will please any lounge enthusiast. Features breakfast, lunch and evening bouchées, as well as International DJ sets on weekend nights.


INTERNATIONAL / COMFORT FOOD 40/24 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 8452 With a free book exchange, and tasty Sunday night roasts, the tiny Bread & Butter is a perfect place for homesick expats and beer enthusiasts (excellent HueBrewed Huda beer served here exclusively in Ho Chi Minh City).


RESTOBAR 7 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3345 6345 Just across the lane from Mc’Sorley’s, this pub with an eccentric European tilt and some nice, authentic cuisine draws an older crowd with darts, pool and weekly poker tourneys.


LIVE MUSIC / BAR 8 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 7699 Named after the famous opera, Carmen has built its reputation on offering a mix of nightly live Latin music, most notably flamenco. Its striking design is a treat for the eyes as well.


LOUNGE RESTOBAR & TERRACE Rooftop, AB Tower, 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2372 Chill’s view has only been improved by the addition of a magnificent VIP terrace. A substantial wine list and specialities from the owner’s native Denmark complement the primarily French-influenced cuisine.

CLOUD 9 Live music all days of week

MUSIC BAR / CAFE 39 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan st, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 3154 Facebook: Metallic Bar Saigon Starting 20:30 to 24:00 hrs Established in 2003, Metallic showcases a variety of different types of music — anything from rock, pop and rap to Latino — as well as the everlasting songs of Metallica, Bon Jovi, Scorpions, Santana and Guns ’n Roses. Covered live by The Tornado, NiBiRu and other well-known, Vietnambased Filipino bands, this is a place to enjoy the musical atmosphere and rock to the beat every day of the week, with the live music starting at 8.30pm and running until midnight.


COCKTAILS / ROOFTOP 41 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 6838 Broma’s medieval rooftopcocktail lounge conglomeration is a magnet for the city’s weirdest and coolest events/ random moments. A sophisticated cocktail menu and quite possibly the best lamb burger in town. Check out their bun bo Hue-inspired cocktail.

LOUNGE BAR & TERRACE 6th & 7th Floor, 2bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, Q3 Tel: 0907 502951 The creators of Velvet present this trendy, doubletiered escape, complete with upstairs garden space, an extensive wine list, top shelf spirits and unobtrusive music.


LOUNGE BAR Hem 36, Chu Manh Trinh, Q1 Tel: 0908 033982 This hip marriage of living room-of-working-architects and opium den is populated with vintage furniture, records and a thoughtful, intimate vibe. Its only streetside markings are a few Chinese lanterns.


INTERNATIONAL / RESTOBAR 187 De Tham, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 9575 A slightly grungy corner joint banging out indie and pop tunes, Go2 draws in all walks of life at all hours. Whether you’re looking for affordable Thai / Vietnamese / western cuisine or late-night debauchery, Go2 delivers.


RESTOBAR / VIETNAMESE / WESTERN 129 Cong Quynh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3832 4589 Only a couple blocks from the bru-haha of Bui Vien,

Godmother’s is a small watering hole with big attractions including excellent mojitos, good food, and the weekly Optimus Club featuring international DJ’s.

HAPPYHOURSAIGON.COM Want to take advantage of the city’s discount drinking options? Looking for some Tiger Draft on the cheap or a two-hour freeflow to wet the juices? Check out this website for the what and where-for-all of all the happy hours in Ho Chi Minh City.


LIVE MUSIC / WESTERN RESTOBAR Kumho Asiana Plaza, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 7595 If you’re craving for American food, classic cocktails, rock n’ roll memorabilia, and live music, Hard rock delivers all three in large doses. Stages regular events including ladies’ nights and stand-up comedy.


LIVE MUSIC / RESTOBAR 41/15 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 0902 799962 With swings dangling playfully overhead, an expansive mural of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, multi-genre musical attractions, and famous western breakfasts and Mexican dishes, Hideaway awakens the senses and appeals to cosmopolitan sensibilities.


EXPAT BAR 54 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2644 Expats keep returning to this smoky dive bar, largely due to its amicable service, brewsky-downing atmosphere, and spirited dart games. A mainstay in the local darts league.


CUBAN / MUSIC BAR 6 Cao Ba Quat, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 5180 Cuban-themed bar and restaurant selling an exciting range of Spanish and Cuban cuisine, as well as a few German favourites such as curry wurst and Weiner schnitzel. Nightly live music and regular salsa classes.


FRENCH / JAPANESE RESTOBAR 44 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 5994 A seductive watering whole in a great corner location thanks to its old Saigon glamour, Japanese-Vietnamese fusion cuisine, imported beer, classic cocktails, and entertaining music events / DJ sets.


AFTERHOURS LOUNGE 59 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3122 If you’re in need of dense, soulful atmosphere and maybe an artisanal cocktail on your way back from wherever, Last Call is your stop — and fast becoming that of the similarly inclined. Great happy hour deals for early evening starters.


INTERNATIONAL / RESTOBAR 175/22 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 7679 Warm colors, artsy décor and a friendly ambiance combine to create a perfect setting for enjoying tasty international and Vietnamese cuisine. Check out their daily drink specials and Tuesday night pub quizzes.

Level 23 Wine Bar

ROOFTOP LOUNGE BAR Level 23, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2828 An outdoor rooftop bar up on high, making it the perfect place to enjoy a pre or post dinner cocktail or beverage of choice while taking in the fresh air, sounds and sights of the bustling city below. Views not to be missed.

Level 23 Nightspot

LOUNGE BAR / NIGHT CLUB Level 23, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2828

HCMC There’s a top-end feel to this attractive, split-level and subtly lit rooftop lounge. Served by resident DJs with a dance area and comfortable seating to match, this is a favourite with Saigon residents, business travellers and tourists alike. Closed Mondays.


HOTEL LOUNGE BAR Ground Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, cnr. Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3520 9999 The Library captures the romance of a bygone era, offering a sophisticated snack menu and a nostalgic afternoon tea from 2.30 pm to 5pm. A great place to hang out in five-star luxury.


FRENCH / RESTOBAR 207 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3837 2704 French-run but universally appealing, Long Phi has been serving the backpacker area with excellent cuisine and occasional live music since 1990. Excellent late-night bistro cuisine.


3B Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 0938 939665 Set on the main road, despite its location this lounge bar has one the best outdoor terraces in town. Lit up at night by fairy lights and with a lightbox-style bar, this is a great hangout for a glass of wine or five.


IRISH BAR 4 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 0126 9026006 Standing in the former home of Gaudi, McSorely’s is full of surprises, including a beautifully backlit swimming pool, reggae parties, comedy nights, and sporting events projected onto the patio wall.


LIVE MUSIC / NIGHTCLUB 56A Bui Thi Xuan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 5258 Cover bands of the pop, jazz, rock, and Latin persuasion, flattering lighting, and ample choices of vintage wines make this crafty cocktail bar

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a destination for Saigon’s 30-plus Vietnamese / expat population.


IRISH BAR / INTERNATIONAL 74/A3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 3198 This Irish-themed sports bar with classic pub décor is widely appreciated for its excellent international fare, large whiskey selection and upstairs pool table. Great pizzas. And for a real treat, check out their zesty rolls.


EVENTS / MAKESHIFT CAFÉ BAR 188/1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2 Tel: 0122 4283198 Up-cycling and innovative design form the foundation for this bar / arts venue / mini- skate park. Come for barbeque and reasonably priced drinks, stick around for entertaining events and adorable puppies.


SPANISH RESTOBAR / LIVE MUSIC 97 Hai Ba Trung , Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 6024 Legs of Iberian ham hang from the ceiling in the downstairs bar of this multi-storey homage to everything Spanish. Regular first-floor live music and excellent eats makes it a mainstay for the wining, dining and tapaseating crowd.


S57-1 Sky Garden 2, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 0999 Known as the ‘Curry Pub’, this pleasant Saigon South watering hole mixes the beer with all things curry — anything from Goan fish curries to beef rendangs and more. A popular local haunt.


AUSTRALIAN / SPORTS 46-48 Ton That Thiep, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 0796 From its roots as the famed Café Latin, Phatty’s has become the go-to, Aussie beerguzzling / sports viewing emporium, showing everything from international cricket to Aussie rules and serving an array of pub grub favourites.


ROCK BAR 25C Tu Xuong, Q3 Tel: (08) 6290 7489 The promoters of Rockfanclub (the long-running Vietnamese hard rock and metal night formerly hosted at Tadao Coffee Bar) have found a home for fans to mosh in every night from 9pm. This is rock in its rawest, most grass roots Vietnamese form.


HOTEL MUSIC BAR 9th floor, Caravelle Hotel, 1923 Lam Som Square, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 4999 Live Latin music in its various forms is this fan-cooled, Old Saigon-style bar’s main attraction. With the international bands performing nightly, Saigon Saigon also benefits from great views, polished service and a vibrant ambience.


THEMED MUSIC BAR 103A Pham Ngu Lao, Q1 Tel: (08) 3914 0007 Wild West-themed bar doubles as a music venue, where three talented Filipino bands (B&U, Wild West and Most Wanted) play covers of rock icons like Bon Jovi, U2 and Guns n’ Roses. Top shelf spirits and friendly, hostess style table service are the name game here.


INTERNATIONAL / SPORT 111 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3920 7670 Spotted Cow delivers the fun-loving atmosphere that its playfully decorated black and white spotted interior promises, as well as decent international comfort food, a range of happy hours, live sports, and darts.


DANISH / INTERNATIONAL 5B Nguyen Sieu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 4738 Stormp,vn Named after a Danish cartoonist, this Saigon long-termer with its wall-length mural of Copenhagen attracts a variety of patrons and provides them with a wellstocked bar and extremely

tasty Danish-influenced pub grub.


R2-24 Hung Gia 3, Bui Bang Doan, Q7 Tel: (08) 5410 3900 The first bar established in Saigon South, great food, great music and loads of laughs. Has regular live music nights, theme nights and a variety of live sports events to please everybody. Big screens and outdoor seating add to the mix, with BBQs available for parties and events.


LIVE MUSIC / LOUNGE 224 De Tham, Q1 Tel: (08) 2210 2929 It’s a well-worn Saturday night path that starts at Thi Café, where Saigon’s better funk and rock cover bands can be danced to downstairs or listened to from the underutilized upstairs lounge. A Backpackers’ Area mainstay.


DIVE BAR 57 Do Quang Dau, Q1 Tel: (08) 3838 9839 T&R is a popular setting for late night fun and questionable decisions. The bar’s laptop allows patrons to choose their own soundtrack to a pool / darts game, danceoff, or…whatever else they’re doing.


LIVE MUSIC / RESTOBAR 90 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 01633 343933 Just up from Bui Vien’s street beer nexus is Universal, a live music and sports-watching venue with an outdoor seating area that lets you take in the action from a more comfortable perspective.


MUSIC / LOUNGE BAR The Square, 74/7D Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 2888 A veteran fixture of Saigon’s nightlife scene, Vasco’s offers a softly lit downstairs patio, and an upstairs Blue Room chill out lounge area with regular live music.

Vesper Bar

INTERNATIONAL Landmark Building, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 9698 Headed up by well-known chef Andy Ertle, Vesper Bar is a sophisticated yet down-toearth wine and cocktail bar. Serving creative, Japaneseinfluenced tapas to supplement the drinks, the subtle lighting and lounge-style atmosphere makes this a great drinking and dining venue


WINE BAR / TAPAS The Square, 74/17 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 6299 1315 1 Ducong 2, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 9059 This downtown wine shop’s terrace is a popular after work drinking spot, where one can select from 10 wines by the glass, a range of imported beer, and an excellent tapas menu. Alternatively, buy from the great selection of wines in the shop and pay a small corkage.


CAFÉ / LOUNGE BAR 71-75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8468 This iconic upmarket downtown bar is known for its cocktails and wine list. It serves a range of international and Vietnamese dishes to be enjoyed in its richly decorated interior. Regular DJ nights.


LOUNGE BAR & RESTOBAR 19-21 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 7375 Creative cocktails, an extensive wine list, subtle lighting, international tapas and a laid-back, lightbox-lit ambience are all part of the offering at the all-new ZanZBar on the river end of Dong Khoi. Popular with a businessy, international crowd.

Nightclubs FUSE

TECHNO / DANCE / HIP-HOP 3A Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: 0919 206461 Neon-lit Fuse is popular with the young, fashionable and affluent Vietnamese crowd.

A small space means this place gets packed quickly, so arrive early to enjoy bumping techno, whisky and fruit platters.


PROGRESSIVE / MAINSTREAM 2 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 2496 Overseas DJ’s, Tuesday night ladies’ nights and cosmopolitan clientele converge in the red-velvet and cartoon-styled interior that makes Lush one of the city’s iconic clubs.


DANCE/HIP HOP 26 Ho Huan Nghiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2262 You will be hard-pressed to find another club as extravagantly furnished and über trendy in Saigon. Packed with socialites, celebrities, and fashionistas, Velvet’s the place to see and be seen in this city.


38 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 3968 With a huge selection of self-imported wines from Bordeaux, this classy but contemporary venue is a wine bar downstairs, and a lounge on the first floor. Has a French-Asian menu paired to all the wines, with a huge selection of the good stuff sold by the glass.


13 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 7827 A two-storey, contemporarydesigned wine bar serving 30 wines by the glass, all at reasonable prices. Has an excellent food menu to complement the old and new world wines.

Quan Nhau ANH DUC’S

QUAN NHAU 18A/31/B22 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 This plastic-chair establishment is the effective living room of the room-renting expats in the alley surrounding, featuring cold beer, easy conversation and a friendswith-everyone proprietor.



{ Coffe Cup }

If there's any industry where Saigon excels, it's the industry that is all things coffee. Here is our list of some of the best places to drink coffee, tea and everything else non-alcoholic in this city.

DALAT COFFEE & FLOWER SHOP 11A-B Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 9772 A cozy and comfortable cafe in Thao Dien serving fresh coffee from Dalat, smoothies, juices, pastries and desserts all day. Offer a western-fare breakfast menu with a traditional egg breakfast sandwich, homemade breakfast burritos and more from 7am-11am.


VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL 40C Tran Cao Van, Q3, Tel: (08) 3823 3398 Eat, drink, and buy furniture at this beautifully designed café located down alleyway 38. Doubling as an interior design showroom, customers are invited to lounge with their coffees and browse simultaneously.


EUROPEAN / MEDITERRANEAN 23 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 2772 Set in a shophouse-style building, Au Parc offers a chic colonial space to indulge in sensibly priced European and Mediterranean food complemented with good coffee and excellent desserts.


INTERNATIONAL 45 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 4090 86 Pham Ngoc Thach, Tel: (08) 6299 1990


CASUAL CAFE 8A Luong Huu Khanh, Q1, el: (08) 3926 2828 This picturesque coffeehouse is full of charm, providing a quiet location to relax or read from their ‘Borrow-A-Book Nook’. A perfect blend of coffee and creativity.


Photo by Francis Xavier


Café Palpitation Choose from a full range of café beverages and a fast-food style menu as you watch the latest Hollywood hits in their upstairs lounge. Check website for movie locations and schedule.

MIDDLE EASTERN 59 Nguyen Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 5130 This secluded Middle Eastern coffeehouse has both cozy indoor and rooftop seating to admire views of the city. With such a prime downtown location, expect prices to match.


ITALIAN 11-13 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 5946 Conveniently located near the Caravelle Hotel, this casual cafe serves one of the best lattes in town with a mid-range Italian menu including panini and other typical fare.


CONTEMPORARY CAFÉ BAR 213 Bui Vien, Pham Ngu Lao, Q1 Tel: 0902 514757 An up and coming hole-in-the-wall cafe, Chicco Dicaff serves an extensive menu of coffee, ice blended drinks, lattes and Italian sodas at affordable prices. Delivery available.


INTERNATIONAL Metropolitan Building, 235 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3508 7285 157-159 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1 Tel: (08) 3837 9347 235 Nguyen Van Cu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3833 3648 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.


FRENCH 5 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9117 Known for it’s fantastic street-side seating opposite the park on Le Duan and savoury crepes, this hang out café will impress you with its location as much as its food.


INTERNATIONAL 79/2/5 Phan Ke Binh, Q1, Tel: (08) 6271 0115 Trendy without pretense, this two-floor, relaxed café offers beautiful decor and unique original events like live music, film screenings, and art exhibits. Great prices and food with daily specials.


INTERNATIONAL 92/17 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3 Tel: (08) 3507 1418 A unique theme and decor secluded from the city bustle create a warm space that values both art appreciation and coffee love, with drinks starting at VND30,000.


INTERNATIONAL 36 le loi , Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 2747; 80 Ham Nghi,


ou know that roundabout at Dien Bien Phu and Nguyen Binh Khiem, the one you hit right before you enter Binh Thanh? If you’re hooking around it real fast the only glimmer of Palpitation that you’ll see is a slim red heart in a modest window, an entryway only slightly unlike other entryways. A brief look through the window yields what looks like a Beowulf-era beer hall — high ceilings and long tables (four metres each!) — and you’ll be surprised to walk in and see a Korean-inspired, tapas-intensive menu. Like most young businesses in this city, it would seem that Palpitation is still figuring out what role it’s going to take on in the community. However, owner Lix Bae believes she knows exactly the role it will play. “We are working on building a space for local artists and like-minded people to hang out,” Lix says. “For the past two years of living here, I’ve met so many talented Vietnamese kids who do kick-ass stuff but rarely get noticed for some reason. I want to provide a space for them to showcase their works and help people realise that there is actually a good art scene going on in Vietnam. We want to showcase graffiti, photography, anything really — as long as it’s

unique and I can’t stop looking at it.”

Noble Ideas For lunch, Palpitation’s small dishes work off of fresh ingredients. Lix says, “I go to the wet market every morning to purchase the ingredients we need for the day. We sometimes end up having a lot of leftover stuff, which we give away to a few of the cool homeless couples who live in the neighborhood.” Giant tables and a tapas menu means that lunch-goers should expect to share their area with the person next to them, adding to the community-building spirit of the place. When lunch is done the beer hall aspect takes effect, with personable bartenders whipping up cocktails from traditional Manhattans to special Korean concoctions, based off the traditional spirits soju and makkoli. Non-cocktalians can enjoy draught beer or a fruit juice. Aside from being a support base for local artists, Palpitation also hosts workshops and special events throughout the week. Lix is currently networking local gastro-artisans to provide fare like Gorilla Meat’s bangin’ Thai sausages and homemade baked goods. Get some. — Matt Bender Café Palpitation is at 29 Dien Bien Phu, Q1, or online at facebook. com/

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HCMC Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 3704; 97 Nguyan Huu Cau, Q1, Tel: (08) 3844 3295 In typical French fashion with fresh pastries, groomed waiters, and elaborate portions of ice cream, Givral is located opposite Continental Hotel Saigon, offering prime city viewing but higher prices.


INTERNATIONAL 106 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 International coffee chain found throughout the city. It may not provide an authentic Vietnamese experience but it does offer comfortable seating and killer ice blended chillers to help beat the heat.


INTERNATIONAL 41/1 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3 Tel: (08) 3822 4222 Hidden in a colonial building with an outdoor courwrd, the ample soft, sofa seating renders a great spot to relax. The mouth-watering western menu is on the expensive side.


INTERNATIONAL 96b Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3512 7355 The flagship store of this upscale, somewhat pricey, coffeehouse offers western-style and local-style brews, with other branches also found in prime locations around the tourist area. Cappuccinos and a mediocre café experience costs above VND30,000. But the Wifi is good.


CAFE/ART GALLERY 324bis Dien Bien Phu, Q10 Tel: 0908 113666 Renowned for its appreciation of art, Himiko is a hybrid of café and art gallery. Regularly displaying the work of young artists, an atmosphere unlike many others flourishes here.


CONTEMPORARY CAFE 34D Thu Khoa Huan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 2910 Centrally located near Ben Thanh Market, i.d offers casual café dining with a wide variety of food and beverages. Where modern design and a warm ambience meet for coffee.


INTERNATIONAL / MEDITERRANEAN 39-41 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 6799 Kita’s colonial-era building and bistro-style decor will have you thinking you’ve been transported to the streets of Europe. Pair your experience with an espresso-based Italian coffee from their Mediterranean-based menu. Excellent sandwiches and salads.


INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 2718

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The outdoor, well-aired terrace is the centrepiece of this popular, contemporary café. Enjoy live music on weekends as you sip on reasonably priced Vietnamese or espresso-based coffee.


FRENCH 112 Pham Viet Chanh, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 2067 A small space is met with a warm, luxurious design in this romantic French-style café. Menus change daily but the friendly staff ensures customer satisfaction.


CONTEMPORARY / FRENCH First Floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 6674 9565 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.


TEA ROOM 335/31 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: 0169 3583563 Traverse a wooden bridge over a bamboo-shaded goldfish pond to enjoy high quality tea, starting at VND35,000, in this quaint, open-air tearoom. Tea and tea-ware available for purchase.


CONTEMPORARY CAFE 158 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 4990 Second-storey coffeehouse offers a quiet atmosphere to chill out or read from their book-nook collection. Comfortable couch seating, open table space and a cappuccino costs VND40,000.


ITALIAN / INTERNATIONAL 119 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 9220 This pleasant, mid-range venue, best known for its coffee, offers some of the best lattes and cappuccinos in town. Choose from indoor and outdoor spaces as well as upstairs dining.


INTERNATIONAL VIETNAMESE 80 Dong Khoi, Q1 One of a growing number of downtown locations of the ever-expanding international homegrown brand, this pleasant two-storey café produces and serves their own coffee in distinct Vietnamese-styles in a comfortable, sophisticated atmosphere.


INTERNATIONAL 5 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3911 5599 This two-storey building with a mezzanine level boasts an industrial style complex with block walls, steel structures and huge glass windows. The mid-range menu offers over 40 options from appetizers to desserts.

Ice-Cream Parlours Bach Dang

26-28 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 2707 One of the oldest ice cream parlours in Saigon, this spot attracts locals and tourists thanks to their authentic Vietnamese ice cream. Their coconut ice cream is a must try.

ARTS From our columns - For the Record, In the Frame and Decks ‘n Drums - to our listings, arts-wise this city’s going from strength to creative strength

Baskin Robbins

1 Truong Dinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 7308 3131 With over 7,000 stores worldwide, Baskin Robbins now has a number in Ho Chi Minh City. Offers over a 100 choices of ice cream, with desserts and drinks also on the menu. Delivery is available.


171 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3932 2778 An American-based ice cream company with over nine stores in Ho Chi Minh City, Bud’s has become a weekend hangout for the locals. Also offers a wide range of Western and Vietnamese food. Price starts at VND28,000 a scoop.


29-31 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 1633 For many years, the Frenchrun Fanny has been a favourite of ice-cream lovers. With over 30 flavours to choose from, they also have great selection of sorbets and cakes. Hold an ice-cream buffet on the first Friday of the month.


133 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9339 This cosy and nicely decorated Italian ice-cream parlour has a full range of flavours. Traditional Italian dishes are also on the menu.


11 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 6683 5899 Nestled in a French-inspired location, Häagen-Dazs brings a new experience for café-goers with more than 60 flavours of ice cream and beverages.

Kem Nhan

4 Truong Han Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6674 6763 A popular street food place for the locals, offers a VND10,000 scoop of either longan or coffee ice cream. Also serves deep-fried fish balls to order along with your ice cream.


30 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7898 With their low fat gelatos and ice cream sourced from Japan, MOF strive to have the best quality Japanese desserts in town. They also specialise in fat-free sorbets, and have a great range of food and drinks on the menu.


Tel: 0902 208812 Peter Stuckings and Mark Stennett are professional travel photographers based in Ho Chi Minh City who offer

CINEMAS Showcasing the latest Hollywood blockbusters and 3D cinematic sensations, chains such as Megastar Media, Lotte and Galaxy Cinema offer the most up-to-date and modern cinema-going experiences in Saigon. For those partial to more esoteric and independent flicks, smaller outlets such as Cinebox and Idecaf carry little known Vietnamese and European efforts.

workshops and tours to help you improve your photography skills.


Tel: 01642 078110 A creative group inviting new members every second Tuesday for feedback on work in progress and creative writing exercises to inspire. All levels are welcome from beginners to the more experienced.


6 Le Van Mien, Q2 Tel: 0907729846 Vin’s Space is an intimate, light-filled space that offers artists a quiet space to work individually or share ideas. Weekly classes include oil painting, drawing and arts and crafts classes for all ages.

Books & Magazines ARTBOOK

13th Floor, Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 38227897 3rd Floor, Lotte Mart, 469 Nguyen Huu Tho, Q7 Tel: (08) 3775 2521

43 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3502 1559 158ED Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 9745 1B1 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3910 3518 Frequent overseas imports of the latest magazines and books makes Artbook a rarity in this city. The stock covers art and architecture through to graphic design, fashion, cooking, interior design and landscaping.

Galaxy Cinema



240 Ba Thang Hai, Q10 Tel: (08) 3862 2425

Lotte Cinema

230 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3920 6688 116 Nguyen Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 5235 246 Nguyen Hong Dao, Tan Binh Tel: (08) 3849 4567


31 Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 5451

Megastar Cinema

Level 5, Crescent Mall, Nguyen Van Linh, Phu My Hung, Q7 Tel: (08) 5412 2222 Level 10, CT Plaza, 60A Truong Son, Tan Binh Tel: (08) 6297 1981 Level 5, Parkson Paragon, 3 Nguyen Luong Bang, Phu My Hung, Q7 Tel: (08) 5416 0088

469 Nguyen Huu Tho, Tan Hung Tel: (08) 3775 2987 Although there are many branches of Fahasa dotted throughout the city, this is one of the largest, with three floors of books and related products in English, French, Chinese and Vietnamese.


2A Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 9650 2nd Floor, Saigon Center, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 7131 Now with over 30 bookstores in Ho Chi Minh City, PNC is probably the leading book retailer in Vietnam. Stocks the full range of Vietnamese fiction and non-fiction books as well as over 2,000 English language titles.


175/24 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1 Tel: (08) 6674 2671 The authorised distributor of Lonely Planet in Vietnam, they also stock non-copied works of fiction in English (both new and second hand) as well as postcards, maps, stamp books, coin collections and travel fiction.


97A Pho Duc Chinh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 3695 Built in the 1920s by a wellknown local businessman, the rambling colonial building that houses the Blue Space Arts Center is an attraction in itself. Inside, Tran Thi Nguyen Nga curates a collection featuring artists from throughout Southeast Asia.


27i Tran Nhat Duat, Q1 Tel: 0903 888431 Located in a quiet corner of District 1, Craig Thomas Gallery offers a compelling mix of up-and-coming and established local artists. In operation since 2009, its founder has been promoting Vietnamese art for a decade.


31C Le Qui Don, Q3 Tel: (08) 3933 0498 Housing over 1,000 works of traditional and contemporary art, this mock-colonial mansion constitutes the private art gallery of Vietnamese business tycoon Bui Quoc Chi. Prices start at VND2 million per painting and rise to the astronomic.


65 De Tham, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 8019 In addition to working with artists based in Vietnam, Galerie Quynh also exhibits the work of artists from around the world. This wellestablished gallery supports education through talks, lectures and publications.


324 Bis Dien Bien Phu, Q10 Tel: 0958 881908 (Ms. Hoang) A visit to Himiko’s Visual

HCMC Saloon is never anything less than a feast for the eyes. Open for five years, this cafe-cum-gallery has a reputation for showcasing the work of Saigon’s bright young creative things including Himiko herself.


97A Pho Duc Chinh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 4441 Housed in a colonial-era building that also boasts what is possibly the first elevator ever built in Saigon, the exhibition space here covers three levels. There’s also a warren of galleries in the basement.


129B Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 3181 07 Phan Chu Trinh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 3166 Established in 2004, these two galleries feature works by the likes of La Hon, Ton That Bang and Le Xuan Chieu. An eclectic range of styles is exhibited, including abstracts, landscapes and impressionism.


3 Me Linh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3840 0183 San Art is an independent, artist-run exhibition

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


The City Opera House, 7 Lam Son Square, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 7419 Ho Chi Minh City’s opera and ballet perform programmes of classical dance and music throughout the year. Depending on the show, tickets start at just VND60,000 for the sky seats, with circle seats priced at VND150,000.


112 Nguyen Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 5841 This colonial–era theatre holds classic piano recitals and orchestral performances, and is closely connected to performance groups in the city. There are two concert rooms with two performances weekly.


43 tu xuong, Q3 Tel: 0909 930 907 This 40–voice choir and 21-piece orchestra holds both private and public performances, with rehearsals held every Monday from 7.30pm to 9pm at the British International School at 43 Tu Xuong St, Q3.

{ in the Frame } Arabesque Dance Company, Tich Tac

SAIGON PLAYERS Composed of local and foreign thespians, Saigon Players hosts monthly drama activities that include club nights every first Wednesday of the month and script nights every third Wednesday. Photos by Lam Hieu Thuan

Production Houses CREA TV

339 Binh Quoi, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3823 7434 Established in 1995, Crea TV produces television programmes and commercials, corporate films, documentaries, and feature films. Services include location scouting, casting, authorisation and permits, art department work, production and direction.


ich Tac (‘tick tock’), the new contemporary dance show by the Arabesque Dance Company, debuted over National Day weekend in Ho Chi Minh City to the buzz of numerous Vietnamese newspapers, magazines and MTV segments. The seven-act performance follows a girl on her journey to becoming a dancer. Composed by four different choreographers, the show is a spectacle of the American 1950s-styled dresses, flowing fabrics, aerial displays and Velcro bodysuit stunts. Coming off his collaboration with the AO Show, a ‘new circus’ production which continues to run intermittently at the Saigon Opera House, director Tan Loc utilises some bold new staging techniques to create his latest awe-inspiring visual tapestry. From operatic singer Ngoc Tuyen to up-and-coming fashion designer Nguyen Cong Tri to multimedia sculptor Nguyen Thuy Hang, the show successfully pulls together a wide range of players from seemingly opposed cultural scenes. While the dynamic collaboration contributes to the impact, it also fragments the narrative. As the old saying goes, too many cooks spoil the broth.

A Wobbling Beauty

The proof of Tich Tac’s struggle to define itself can be seen by the individual acts oscillating between being literal to being too abstract. Case in point — the show opens with an adorable girl sitting on a spinning circular platform, listening to a musical

snow globe. This is followed by the extended twirl of two female dancers and then a third (from the colour of the costumes, it seems one of them is the young girl). Then a young boy walks across the stage, with an impressive male contemporary ballet solo. Suddenly, there are now three couples on stage, then four vibrantly youthful men dancing in formation. By the time the same adorable little girl graces us again with her appearance, it becomes clear that a step or two has been missed. Fortunately, most of the audience doesn’t mind — because they are too amazed by the operatic singer who has been hanging upside down from the ceiling and singing Ave Maria. Aside from narration, there are a few areas in which the show could improve, such as the sound and lighting effects. However, these factors aren’t dealbreakers — Arabesque is a small, family-styled dance company, and these hiccups are part of the charm. That said, the show has been conceptualised, choreographed and performed in only a handful of months; such a work ethic is deserving of praise by any standards. Tich Tac’s charm is undeniable. Is it worth seeing? Without a doubt. Does it has the calibre of an off-Broadway show? No, but it might just have a surprising climax that will thrill and put a smile on your face in unexpected ways. — Kelly L. Le For more information on Arabesque and to keep up-to-date on future performances, visit arabesque.

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Time to release all that pent up energy - it’s not all work and propping up the bar, you know. Here are some ideas for better ways to spend that free time

Cooking Amusement DAI NAM THEME PARK

Binh Duong Highway, Phuong Hiep An, Thu Dau Mot, Binh Duong Tel: (0650) 389 6389 This huge amusement park is Vietnam’s answer to Disneyland. A bus ride from Ho Chi Minh City gives you access to some amazing rides, a water-park and one of the better zoos in Vietnam. Located 45km away on Highway 13, just after Thu Dau Mot.


5th floor, Alta Plaza, 91B2 Pham Van Hai, Tan Binh Take the glass elevator to the top floor of Alta Plaza and you’ll soon find yourself in a dark playground holding a laser gun, ready for 15 minutes of sci-fi style fun.


2B Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 1425 Dating from 1875, Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens has a vast collection of rare orchids and ornamental plants, and a collection of over one hundred species of animals.

Clubs & Societies INTERNATIONAL LADIES IN VIETNAM This long–established social organization offers ladies a chance to socialise at their weekly coffee mornings (Thursdays at 10am) and participate in many cultural, social and sporting activities. Please see website for details.


628A An Binh, An Phu, Q2 Tel: (08) 3898 9000 The Parkland Country Club offers a wide range of activities on its extensive facilities including supervised children’s areas, a multiuse sports field, tennis courts, squash courts, pools, spa and a gym.


35 bis Huynh Khuong Ninh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3820 9734 Sunday 1.30pm to 5pm The Overland Club organises pottery classes, VietnameseJapanese cooking classes, cultural art events and monthly special activities, such as the Soba Festival, pottery painting classes, the art of decorating paper and multinational cuisine days.


74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 8485 Learn to cook quality Vietnamese cuisine with local specialist Hoa Tuc. The three-hour lesson, conducted by an English-speaking Vietnamese chef, includes a trip around Ben Thanh Market to gather fresh ingredients for the class.


Suite 45, 4th Floor, 26 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 0349 Located in a pretty colonialstyle villa, the Vietnam Cookery Centre offers a hands-on guide to local gastronomy for persons of any ability. An introduction to traditional Vietnamese kitchen utensils is an added bonus.


53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2 Tel: (08) 3519 4490 Children and teenagers can enjoy jazz, ballet, hip-hop, tap, sing & dance, break, acro and more in this modern, newly built studio.


No 96, Street 2, Cu Xa Do Thanh, Q3 Tel: (08) 3832 9429 To learn how to move your hips like Shakira, head over to this studio for courses in belly dancing and “sexy dancing”. Scheduling information is available online.

Want to know what’s going on in this city? Go to

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Cherry Blossom 1 & Lotus Road 1 and 3, APSC Compound, 36 Thao Dien , Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 6960 With a pool, astroturf play area, basketball court and outdoor gym equipment, AIS Sports Centre is a great venue to stay fit. Packages available for family members of students, couples and others.


Tel: 0902 271830 personalfitnessathome. A private fitness trainer assisting with strength training, weight loss and allover body toning to obtain positive lifestyle habits and stronger bodies for females. Sessions take place at clients’ homes and generally last one hour. Group workouts or one on one. Email for details.


65 Truc Duong, Lang Bao Chi Thao Dien, Q2 Tel. 0909 008985 Aquabiking classes help you strengthen and sculpt your body fast while keeping it safe for your joints and refreshing, thanks to the benefits of water. Suitable for all condition levels.

BODY EXPERT SYSTEMS Do you have limited time? Not seeing results? BES’s online software and memberships offer affordable and powerful tools to achieve fantastic fat loss, fitness improvement and overall wellbeing ­— anywhere.


Queen Ann Building, 28–30– 32 Le Lai, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 5999 Hung Vuong Plaza, 126 Hung Vuong, Q5 Tel: (08) 2222 0299 05 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4 Tel: (08) 3826 0999 20 Cong Hoa, Tan Binh Tel: (08) 3948 3999 One of the leading fitness

and yoga centres in Vietnam featuring modern equipment with over 100 aerobic and yoga classes like Hot Yoga, Indian Dance, Pole dance, Zumba, Body Balance and Body Combat.


19-23 Lam Son Square, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 4999 This well–equipped gym has rows of cardiovascular machines and free weights, a massage parlour, sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi, with a pleasant swimming pool.


49A Xa Lo Ha noi, Q2 Tel: 0947 771326 This sports centre in An Phu, started by fitness guru Cyril Terrones, features the same personalised mentorship Cyril’s clients love. Includes Zumba, salsa, boxing and fitness for kids and adults every day. No membership fees. Pay for classes in installments of 10.



13th Floor, Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 7750 A well–equipped gym with steam room, Jacuzzi, massage parlour and swimming pool can be found above this leading department store.


100 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 0909 540030 K1 offers martial arts, boxing, kick and Thai boxing, Krav–maga, grappling, MMA, kid’s martial art classes and private fitness and conditioning. Open to everyone from kids to adults, beginners to professionals.


Rex Hotel, 141 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 1812 A colonial–themed gym in a large, open–plan space, situated on top of the Rex Hotel. Includes a tennis court, swimming pool, Jacuzzi, cardio and resistance ma-

chines, sauna and steam rooms.

an excellent guitar–shaped outdoor pool.


Sheraton Fitness

64A Truong Dinh, Q3 Tel: (08) 3932 5181 Classes in Ashtanga, Iyengar, Hatha and Vinyasa yoga, Power yoga, Pilates, Tae Bo, Centergy, aqua–aerobics and body sculpting are offered by internationally certified teachers. There’s also a swimming pool, sauna, and steam room.

Panorma Fitness

206 Tran Van Tra, Q7 Tel: 01654 058401 / 01629 546534 Classes in cross-training, an interval-based circuit training programme focused on functional movement. An intensive full body workout that increases strength, speeds up metabolism and burns fat, classes are conducted by professional instructors and personal trainers. All fitness levels welcome.


2B1 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 8560 34 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3744 6672 Offers fitness classes and personal training with excellent facilities. Group classes include power yoga, pilates, circuit training, martial arts and spinning. There is also a spa and a restaurant serving calorie–calibrated meals.


8–15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 0033 Exercise with an unsurpassed city view at this health club with gym, swimming pool, steam room and massage parlour. There’s also a good place to take time out, by the poolside bar.


New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 8888 Medium–sized gym with new cardio equipment and spacious changing rooms with adjustable shower settings, Jacuzzi, steam bath and sauna. Also has

Level 5, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2828 State-of-the-art equipment in a spacious environment. Focusing on mindset, nutrition, movement and recovery, The Sheraton has partnered with Core Performance to customize online training programmes upon guests’ requests. Open 6am to 10pm.


17 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 1555 At this small but well– equipped gym the equipment is modern and staff members are extremely helpful. Yoga classes are just one of a number of fitness classes offered.


Manor Apartments, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 0253 Steve Chipman, who had a hand in establishing gyms at the Sofitel hotels in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, is behind Star Fitness — one of Vietnam’s largest and bestequipped gyms.


3rd Floor, Crescent Plaza, 105 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung Tel: (08) 5412 1277 Overlooking the Crescent complex’s lagoon, this centre offers modern facilities, a gym with Technogym equipment allowing users to track their progress. Includes fitness classes, yoga, squash courts, pool, steam bath and nutrition bar.


The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 2098 ext. 176 In addition to the squash court, facilities include a fully–equipped gym room, a rooftop swimming pool and separate male and female saunas.

THE SAIGON RIVER CLUB Ruby Towers — Saigon Pearl,

HCMC 92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 9009 This gym is equipped with advanced equipment, cardiovascular, strength and free weight sections, sauna and steam rooms, plus studios offering Spinning, Pilates, Yoga, Zumba, Aerobics, and Belly Dancing. Includes a large outdoor pool with jacuzzi.

around Asia. Social functions aplenty for everyone. Regardless of age or ability, all are invited to become an active part of the club.

such as tennis, boating and an on–site eatery.


HASH HOUSE HARRIERS This originally French team welcomes football enthusiasts looking for competition or conviviality both on and off the pitch.




RMIT University, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phong, Q7 The Saigon Cricket League includes teams from five nations — Australia, England, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — plus a mixed–nationality team called United Cricket Club. New recruits are welcome.

VIETNAM CRICKET ASSOCIATION (VCA) Manish Sogani Tel: 0908 200 598


ICCS (INDIAN CRICKET CLUB OF SAIGON) Deeptesh Gill Tel: 01228 770 038

ISCS (INDIAN SPORTS CLUB IN SAIGON) Munish Gupta Tel: 0986 973 244


Contact Fred on 0919 709 024 or Viet Luu 0909 500 171. This predominantly French side has been playing for over 10 years, winning the championship title for the last four years.

SAIGON RAIDERS This team is part of the Saigon International Football League, with regular games against local teams. A sociable football team always on the hunt for enthusiastic new talent.


RMIT University, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phong, Q7 saigonrugbyfootballclub@ The Saigon Geckos play social touch rugby and also welcome men and women to join and enjoy drinks afterwards. There are regular tours of the region, as well as games with visiting teams. Beginners welcome.

SAIGON SAINTS Players train weekly and tour across the region to play in local and international tournaments. New players are actively encouraged to join this SIFL expat football club, running since 1995.


Steve Treasure Tel: 0903 998 824

Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phu, Q7 Tel: (08) 5411 2001 Visitors’ fees are around VND500,000 for a round of golf at this mini nine–hole course. 40 percent discount on Wednesdays. On the driving range, 50 balls cost under VND60,000. Equipment hire available.



Samie Cashmiri Tel: 0976 469 090


Suhard Amit Tel: 0988 571 010

UCC (UNITED CRICKET CLUB) Asif Ali Tel: 0937 079 034


Tel: 0937 683 230 The Vietnam Swans play international footy matches

77 Binh Duong, Thuan An, Binh Duong Tel: (0650) 3756 660 This resort incorporates tennis courts, a swimming pool and a gymnasium at its 18–hole, 6,384–metre course just 22km from the city.

VIETNAM GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB Long Thanh My Village, Q9 Tel: (08) 6280 0101 This facility just off Highway 1 has two courses. Both 18– hole courses are complemented by other attractions

Miscellaneous Balancing beer and exercise, this long–established running club goes to various out–of–town locations to tear up a few kilometres and burn some of the weekend’s calories. Walking trails offered. Depart from the Caravelle Hotel on Sundays at 2pm.


Buddha Bar, 7 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 0913 408146 Diving courses and trips offered by the longest established PADI dive centres throughout Vietnam. All courses can be started at their state–of–the–art centre in An Phu.

RANGERS BASEBALL TEAM A baseball team with over 25 international members. Practices and games are held on the weekends at RMIT and the Taiwanese Junior High School in District 7.

SAIGON INTERNATIONAL DARTS LEAGUE There are some excellent players in this fun and popular international darts league, which runs a highly competitive competition for a growing number of pub– based teams.

SAIGON INTERNATIONAL SOFTBALL LEAGUE The Saigon International Softball League invites you to play slo-pitch softball. Teams with players from all over the world compete every Sunday.


36 Thao Dien, Q2 saigonshootersnetball. saigonshootersnetball@ A friendly mixed netball league, running on Monday nights, is open to both men and women from the ages of eight and up (including an adult competition).


28 Tran Nao, Q2 Tel: (08) 7303 1100 Offers coaching for football, tennis, basketball and swimming for both children and adults. Private lessons are also available throughout the year.

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{ Body and Temple } Why Scales Lie

By Phil Kelly


here comes a time when you step on the scales and it is finally showing weight loss. Yes! But, hold on. That’s what the scales do. They show you how much you weigh. But let’s think about it for a second. What is the difference between fat loss and weight loss? Our weight is the sum of all our tissue; organs, bones, muscles, body fluids, fat and everything else. But the only one that we want to lose is EXCESS body fat. It’s important to acknowledge that not all weight is created equal — numbers on a scale don’t matter. If a scale indicated health then I would be in trouble, as I am classified as overweight, verging on obese when I actually range between 10 and 12 percent body fat. People always talk about their ideal weight, but in reality that means nothing. Health risks rise with excess body fat and the chances of falling and injury increase with reduced muscle mass. The composition of weight is the most important factor as well as the location of fat tissue. Men and women have, and need, different ranges of body fat. The American Council of Exercise presents five different classifications of body fat range.

Our weight can fluctuate during the day, week or month. It can fluctuate daily since it’s influenced by your stomach, bowel or bladder content, water loss or retention and more. It can vary through the week or month because of a menstrual cycle for women, hormonal changes, muscle loss or gain, and fat loss or gain. To simply step on the scales and see the numbers, we have no idea what has really happened or is responsible for the change in total weight. A grain rich diet can be responsible for weight gain. Carbohydrates bind to water. One gram of carbohydrate binds with 4 grams of water. Eating less carbs will make you lose weight. That is why you often hear about ‘water loss’. This is why you lose so much

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weight on a low carb diet in a first few weeks. Of course, increasing your carb intake will make you gain weight again, but it is not fat, it’s all water.

Muscle Gain & Fat Loss Resistance training and other physical activities promote muscle gain and fat loss but on the weight scale it will look like you’re not making progress: your body-weight doesn’t change or can even increase while you are actually losing fat. Muscle is a much denser tissue than fat and takes up less space on the body. In fact, muscle occupies about a third of the space fat does. So when clients — especially women — say to me, “I don’t want to get bulky,” my response is, “the only thing making you ‘bulky’ is fat!”

A lot of diets and exercise programmes make people lose the wrong type of weight, where muscle tissue is the weight that is lost. Muscle gives the body shape. The statement ‘I want a toned/defined body’ really means the ability to see the muscles of the body. Body shape does not necessarily indicate

health or good appearance. Current lifestyle or exercise trends have brought about a new category of body type — ‘Skinny Fat’. Skinny Fat is when someone is thin and looks great in clothes, but is all flabby underneath. A person who, while they have very low weight on the scales, and may look slim (small in structure), may still have a large amount of body fat compared to muscle, resulting in a flabby appearance. Hence, a skinny (low mass) person, who still looks fat (flabby and untoned). A Skinny Fat person usually has quite a bit of cellulite since between the bone and the skin they only have fat. The skin can be deformed easily because the skin layer is located on an unstable matter (fat). Any form of exercise or dieting that causes a loss of muscle is a serious step in the wrong direction. Indeed muscle loss has been shown to effect overall health and can weaken the immune system. Research has proven that 1 pound (0.45kg) of muscle burns over 50cal per day at rest.

When you consider an hour per day of cardiovascular exercise can burn 400 to 500 calories, 4.5kg (10lbs) of muscle can burn over 500 calories a day while you are sitting in front of the TV. Now if that is how much energy you’d burn doing nothing, imagine how many additional calories you would burn when performing the correct amount and intensity of cardiovascular exercise. Furthermore, because muscle is such a dense lean tissue, most wouldn’t even visually notice a 4.5kg increase in mass. It would be invisible calories and fat burning. Scales lie to us. Or at least don’t give us the complete picture. Photos, mirrors and old clothes don’t lie. Neither does measuring fat percentage. The scales can become your worst enemy by misleading you and killing your motivation. Phil is founder and master trainer at Body Expert Systems. Contact him on 0934 782763 or at his website or through Star Fitness (


The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 2098 ext 176 Membership is open to non–Landmark residents for use of the courts. Private instruction is available for new players or those without a partner. Racquet rental with balls inclusive. Book in advance.


436A/33 Ba Thang Hai, Q10 Tel: 0938 889899 Founded in Singapore, they train every Saturday morning from 10am to midday. Everyone is welcome. For more information about games and the club in Vietnam contact James or Rina.


RMIT, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 Pan–Asian competitions are often organised for the more experienced and everyone can join in this exciting modern sport held every Sunday afternoon in Saigon South from 4pm to 5.30pm.


7Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3 Tel: (08) 6278 5794 Offers beginner and advanced mountain climbing

routes, safety courses and training at its 26–metre purpose–built mountain in District 3, with an additional location in District 2.

Tennis KY HOA II

796 Su Van Hanh, Q10 Tel: (08) 3863 3706 Hourly hire for courts starts from VND80,000. Private coaching is available, and a small shop stocks all the equipment. Also has an excellent gym and swimming pool.



291 Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q10 Tel: (08) 3862 7144 Private coaching sessions and group lessons are available at this popular club. You can rent one of several courts from VND40,000 per hour. There is also equipment for hire.


Tel: 0908 604 753 Contact outgoing and experienced instructor Mr Hoang, who takes individuals or groups from beginner level up to fluency. VND220,000 per hour.


135/10 Nguyen Cuu Van, Binh Thanh Tel: 0916 670 771 vietnameselanguagegarden. com A Vietnamese language school specialising in personalized, one-on-one instruction at a comfortable and centrally located facility, in your home, office, or over Skype.


45 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3910 0168 90 Le Van Thiem, Q7 Tel: (08) 3910 5673 This professional school has built a good reputation over 12 years. Offers set and tailor–made courses for all abilities in both northern and southern Vietnamese within high quality facilities.

Yoga & Meditation ANUPA YOGA

9 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 2394 AT anupa’s private studio, we offer classes to individuals or small groups. The primary focus is to support students who want to regularly practise traditional yoga. For information con-

tact us via email support@ or phone.


shivaprakashyoga@yahoo. com A qualified yoga master from India who has been teaching in Ho Chi Minh City in different locations including L’Apothiquaire and Nutrifort. Yoga styles include Asthanga, Hatha, Dynamic, Vital and Power yoga.


107/39 Truong Dinh, Q3 Tel: 0909 648193 E-RYT200-certified yoga instructor offering Vinyasa yoga classes at various locations around the city. Private and corporate yoga programmes available.


Ruby Towers — Saigon Pearl, 92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 9009 Saigon Pearl’s luxury, stateof-the-art health club provides a number of Yoga classes held throughout the week with experienced practitioners at varied times in a specifically designed softfloored studio.


Tel: 0908 352265 Founder Suzanne Vian,

has two decades of experience and is a Yoga Alliance ‘Experienced Instructor’. Iyengar-influenced classes, specialising in Hatha, Flow, Hot, Pre and Post-natal Yoga, Restorative, Injury Rehabilitation, Retreats and Trainings.


54/2/25 Bach Dang, Tan Binh Tel: (08) 3848 5347 modern yoga studio focusing on Ashtanga Yoga and suitable for all levels. Prenatal and postnatal classes also available. Classes are bilingual with internationally certified instructors in cooperation with Tirisulayoga Singapore.


1st Floor The Manor, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 0253 Yoga professionals teach regular yoga classes in three disciplines at this gym. Members get free access. Contact Star Fitness directly for schedules and non–member prices.


84T/4 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3920 5813 Soham Yoga Studio and

Boutique specialises in highquality yoga training, offering Vinyasa Flow, Sivananda, Power yoga and more with Yoga Alliance-certified yoga instructors. Soham’s yoga shop also sells high quality yoga products.

VAJRAYANA BUDDHISM MEDITATION GROUP Meditation group specializing in the methods of Tibetan Buddhism. Help the practitioners understand and experience the nature of their mind and the nature of all phenomena.


Tel: 01266 626 467 Daphne offers yoga classes, Reiki and Thai Yoga Massage across the city. Each session is unique and different to provide the perfect balance in nurturing the body and mind.

Do you think you should be listed on these pages? If so, simply email us on listings@wordvietnam. com and we’ll see what we can do. We can’t promise but we’ll try our best

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From alternative medicine through to have that long sought-after nose-job and that once-a-year medical check, here are some the wellness options available in town


161-161A Hai Ba Trung, Q3 Tel: (08) 3939 3930 A clinic provides world class Chiropractic, Physiotherapy and Foot Care. We specialize in provides effective treatment for back, neck and knee pain, sports injuries, and all types of foot problems. We also provide effective treatment for Flat foot syndrome in children.


Family Medical Practice Tel: (08) 3822 7848 American-educated and licensed physical therapist with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree in Vietnam. Specialising in orthopedic injuries, joint pain, sports injuries and post-operative rehabilitation.


34 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2 Tel: 01268 654 202 American-trained and nationally certified massage therapist and National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer offering orthopedic manual therapy, corrective exercise and orthopedic massage, focusing on pain management well as injury rehab/ prevention.


Tel: 0906 684 969 Dr Kim Sung Soo offers a range of alternative oriental treatments, including acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, physical therapy, plus treatment for fertility, chronic pain (headache, backache, arthritis, muscular), obesity, allergies and menopausal disorders.


273–275 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Q3 Tel: (08) 3997 1146 Apart from standard treatments such as acupuncture and massage, this hospital and training centre places emphasis on physiotherapy — the use of herbs to stimulate and protect the immune system.

Massage Therapy with Sarah Martin Tel: 0937 442516 Australian massage therapist offering deep tissue/ sports massage, Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage, prenatal massage, Reiki, massage training and workshops. Located in District 2. Email sarahmichaela@hotmail. com for more information.

TRADITIONAL MEDICINE HOSPITAL 187 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3 Tel: (08) 3932 6579 One of the city’s leading centres of traditional Chinese medicine infused with modern understanding. Up–to–date and clean with friendly staff, but you will need a translator.

432 Pham Thai Buong, Q7


5th Floor, Crescent Plaza, 105 Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Tel: (08) 5413 6758 American Eye Center is located in the heart of Phu My Hung, providing eye care services to Adults and Children by an American Board-certified ophthalmologist with 17 years of experience. The American-standard facility is equipped with state of the art equipments for the early detection and treatment of important eye diseases from Lasik and cataract surgeries to presbyopia, glaucoma and diabetic eye disease treatments. Cosmetic procedures such as eyelid surgery and Botox injections are also available.


6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Saigon South Parkway, Q7 Tel: (08) 5411 3333 This modern international– standard hospital has a full cosmetic surgery department offering body contouring, breast augmentation, Botox, a range of facial surgery options, laser skin improvement, with expert French and Vietnamese doctors.


45 Vo Thi Sau, 2nd Floor, Citilight Tower, Q1 Tel: (08) 6290 6167 Conveniently located downtown clinic provid-


Commitment, Integrity, Quality

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ing modern, safe and fast treatments including Botox and restylane, by an experienced American doctor. Also provides cosmetic surgery consultations with French and Vietnamese doctors.


Level 2, 71-79 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 6999 The Australian and Canadian managed SIAN Clinic offers a wide range of skincare medical therapies to treat problems by an experienced dermatologist and facial care team. The clinic utilises the latest therapies.


254 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: (08) 3932 1090 Stamford Skin Centre offers a broad range of medical and aesthetic skin treatments. Their international dermatologists and doctors ensure accurate diagnosis and safe treatment procedures. It houses excellent equipment for a variety of procedures.

Counselling WE LINK

64 Ho Hao Hon, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 2900 Psychological counselling services for individual, group and family. Diverse counsellors and therapists, using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Art Therapy, Systemic Family Therapy. For adolescents and adults. Vietnamese, English, French and Spanish spoken.


Kumho Asiana Plaza, 39 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 8800 Accadent Vietnam is supported by Accadent Germany and offers high quality standards, high–tech materials and equipment, German precision and hygiene standards for your teeth.


6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Saigon South Parkway, Q7 Tel: (08) 5411 3431 Full–service dental clinic at this international–class hospital covers the entire spectrum from examinations and cleaning to braces and implants, all carried out to the highest standards.


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


2 Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, Q3 Tel: (08) 3822 6222 Long–established, modern clinic with French, Canadian, Belgian & Vietnamese dentists. A favourite of the for-

eign residential community due to its modern and effective treatments allied with extremely reasonable prices.


Ben Thanh Clinic, 27 Nguyen Trung Truc, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 6999 The Practice, Level 1, 71-79 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 6777 An international dental clinic equipped with the latest technology, the comfortable clinics offer cosmetic and implant dentistry with a focus on making each patient’s experience anxiety and pain free.


173 Ton Dat Tien, Tan Phong Ward, Q7 Tel: 5413 6634 9am to 12pm, 2pm to 6.30pm (Mon, Tue, Fri, Sat); 2pm to 6.30pm (Thurs); 9am to 12pm (Sun); Closed Wednesdays A contemporary Japanese dental clinic that provides a full range of standard and specialised dental services and treatments, including 60-minute teeth whitening..., Smile Dental Clinic opens Mon, Tue, Fri, Sat: 9AM-12PM, 2PM6:30PM. Thu: 2PM-6:30PM. Sun: 9AM-12PM, closes on Weds__ and PUBLIC-HOLIDAYS. English - Vietnamese and Japanese are also available to call


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HCMC From alternative medicine through to have that long sought-after nose-job and that once-a-year medical check, here are some the wellness options available in town


Fideco Riverview Building, 14 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 6475 anthony@aglondonsalon. Top British stylist “George” brings his unique flair to hair in District 2. A modern and professional salon, the products used here are exclusively Dermalogica, Schwarzkopf and L’Oreal.


37B Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3 Tel: (08) 3823 0913 47 Pham Viet Chanh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 1101 A four–floor, one–stop hair salon for people who like highlights and a sharp–looking mane. Even the stylists here sport modern, funky styles. A cut above the rest.


48 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3519 4625 Open daily from 9am to 8pm Hair stylist and colourist specialist Sandrine has relocated her long-standing flagship salon Venus Coiffure to a villa in Thao Dien. A full range of services is offered including a dedicated kids salon.


45 Ton That Thiep, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2737 Spa–related salon with a good reputation for quality and comfort offers washes and leisurely haircuts from VND330,000 plus a range of related services.


41 Nguyen Trung Ngan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 6298 This salon can make you look naturally blond or help you to revamp your hairstyle. Using international brands like L’Oreal and Wella, your hair will be given that healthy, bouncier new look.


219 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: (08) 3829 2791 Run by Canadian hair stylist Ky The Guy, YKC Hair Studio attracts a loyal expat clientele thanks to the well-trained staff and friendly Englishspeaking environment. Top industry products such as Tigi and Goldwell are used.

Medical AUSTRALIAN CLINIC & PATHOLOGY DIAGNOSTICS 273–275 Ly Thai To, Q10 Tel: (08) 3834 9941 Services includes general outpatient healthcare, corporate

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/ visa health–checks, X–ray, full laboratory and in–house pharmacy including specialist medical services covering cardiology, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, orthopedics and dermatology.

perienced American, French, and Vietnamese doctors provide the full spectrum health care. Plus sports medicine, cosmetic treatments, skin care and surgical consultations.



Manor Apartments, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 0757 Sister clinic of the Family Medical Practice, Care 1 opened in 2007 and offers preventative healthcare checkups as well as a full range of corporate health services for international companies in Vietnam.

CENTRE MEDICAL INTERNATIONAL (CMI) 1 Han Thuyen, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2366 This French medical clinic provides general practice and a range of specialties including cardiology, gynecology, psychotherapy and traditional medicine.


8 Alexandre de Rhodes, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 8888 Well–established and well– regarded, offers emergency and primary medical care with international and Vietnamese doctors on call 24 hours a day. Prices are very reasonable.


Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 7848 95 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 2000 Full–service 24–hour healthcare provider with highly– qualified doctors handling everything from emergencies to tests and X–rays, in–patient and out–patient care, check– ups, travel medicine and medical evacuations.


6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Saigon South Parkway, Q7 Tel: (08) 5411 3333 Emergency: (08) 5411 3500 International hospital whose standard of health care matches that found anywhere, with 19 full–time French doctors and 58 Vietnamese doctors, providing expertise in 30 medical and surgical areas, especially maternity care.


45 Vo Thi Sau, 2nd Floor, Citilight Tower, Q1 Tel: (08) 6290 6167 State–of–the–art medical centre located in District 1. Ex-

601B Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q10 Tel: (08) 3977 8130 Mottoed “Building Stem Cell bridges for everyone”, HMIC comprises a medical clinic and associated pathology laboratory with Applied Research Center of Regenerate medicine.

INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL CENTRE (CMI) 1 Han Thuyen, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2366 This French medical clinic provides general practice and a range of specialties including cardiology, OB–GYN, ophthalmology, paediatrics, and sports medicine.


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

STAMFORD MEDICAL CLINIC 254 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: (08) 3932 1090 Stamford Medical Clinic offers services in internal medicine, dermatology, aesthetic medicine, infectious diseases, and general medicine.

VICTORIA HEALTHCARE INTERNATIONAL CLINIC 135A Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: (08) 3910 4545 79 Dien Bien Phu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3910 4545 Well-regarded clinic offering general examinations and specialising in pediatrics, digestive diseases, cardiology, women’s health and internal medicine. Offers a membership programme and cooperates with most insurance companies in Vietnam and abroad.


3 Truong Dinh, Q1 Tel: 0909 682 827 A nail spa in Saigon with a modern ambiance. Services range from classic manicures and spa treatment to acrylic

and gel enhancements.


40 Ton That Thiep, Q1 Tel: (08) 3914 1407 Grooming salon for men which, as well as its standard hairdressing services, offers massages for the tired executive. A good place to escape the hustle and bustle of Saigon.


64A Truong Dinh, Q3 100 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 The Crescent, 103 Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Tel: (08) 3932 5181 Award–winning salon very highly rated by foreign visitors offers body massages, facials, sports fatigue massages, slimming wraps and waxing. Also offers gentleman’s care.


23C Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Specialising in all forms of skincare, this is well–designed, ambient and outfitted day spa offers body treatments as well as facials and foot treatments.

Aqua Day Spa

Level 5, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2828 Nestled between the 20-meter lap pool, a purpose built sauna, a fitness centre and a poolside restaurant, the natural charcoal stone, local timber and earthy colours of Aqua Day Spa encompass seven spa suites, complete with showers, as well as double rooms for couples. Open daily from 10am to 11pm.


Villa 35A, Street 41, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel:(08) 3519 4671 Aveda is a boutique spa based on Ayurveda. They use a range of 100 percent natural and herbal products. Their Ayurvedic recipes are designed to take you to new heights of relaxation and rejuvenation.


one suite with a Jacuzzi bath; offers hand and foot care and a hair styling area.

and beautifully decorated. Treatments focus on relaxation therapies.



69 Thu Khoa Huan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 7188 Indochine Spa provides a peaceful and serene atmosphere with aromatic scents and lulling melodies. Customers are pampered by qualified therapists using natural French products in a clean and pleasant environment.


112, Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 6299 0563 10am to 10pm (last booking 9.30pm) Mekong Bliss Spa is a top place to enjoy authentic Vietnamese spa treatments. As well as offering an impressive array of services, part of the proceeds help disadvantaged youth in the Mekong Delta.


31Q Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: (08) 3905 4609 An old world, Indochineesque interior complete with wooden floors, flowers and flowing drapes makes this an excellent atmosphere in which to enjoy a massage. Also offers hair styling and facials.


110 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: 0907 589290 A new spa that offers services such as body massage, facial and hair treatments. The price list includes service with discounts for members.


3rd Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, crn.of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3520 9999 Spa InterContinental offers guests the professional spa expertise and a truly sensory experience. With an extensive menu, the Spa InterContinental provides the caring touch of local therapists.


63 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1 Tel: (08) 6295 8926 Aimed exclusively at ladies and couples only, treatments at this Japanese spa include facial, body and foot care, and Japanese-style haircuts, as well as steam-sauna, paraffin and waxing services.

79 Phan Ke Binh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3910 5575 Spa Tropic is a stylish boutique spa housed in the refurbished former Chilean Consulate. Spa Tropic has a long-standing reputation among expats and visitors alike for its professional quality service.



129A Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 8368 Modern and bright downtown spa, offers massages lasting from 30 minutes, to two-hour hot stone therapy, includes

Nguyen Du Villas, 111 Nguyen Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 0885 High–end spa set in the elegant grounds of one of the city’s most enviable addresses. The spa itself is intimate

22nd floor, Sailing Tower, 111A Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 2220 2600 A luxury health spa that offers both relaxation and health care therapies to clients.Oriental remedies and therapies collected from the Traditional Medicine Institutes of Vietnam are used by the centre’s therapists.


Saigon Pearl, 92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 9007 Saigon Centre, 3M Floor, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 1800 Located at two serviced apartment locations, The Spa offers foot massages, body massages and treatments, facial skin treatments and pampering packages.


76 Le Lai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 8888 Elegant facility offering relaxation at the highest level. Different treatment rooms are available to deliver contemporary rejuvenation treatments. Spacious changing rooms with jacuzzi, steam bath and sauna.


Park Hyatt, 2 Lam Son Square, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 1234 Breathtaking luxury spa with a tranquil atmosphere, Vichy shower room and range of high–quality massages, facial, body and foot treatments, and overall spa packages complemented by the use of Comfort Zone products.


219 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: (08) 3829 2791 Exceptional service and customer satisfaction has established YKC as a premier pampering destination for Saigon’s expats and visitors. YKC operates with the utmost integrity and respect in regards to serving its clients.

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FASHION Looking good and dressing even better is big in this image-conscious metropolis. So, here are some of the fashion options available to you in Ho Chi Minh City

Accessories & Shoes ACCESSORIZE

Unit 37-38, B1 Floor, Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3993 9308 Accessorize pulls in droves of shoppers thanks to their attractive range of globally sourced products, from beachwear and children’s clothing to underwear, swimsuits, hats, bags, sandals, jewellery, sunglasses, and more.


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


B-42, Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3936 9777 9am to 10pm Birkenstock sells shoes, sandals and clogs imported from Germany, offering similar products for kids. A pair of thong sandals starts at VND1.9 million for adults and VND1.6 million for kids.


1B Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 2210 2084 8am to 10.30pm Well-known for recycled bags of various designs and colours. Other unique products includes quilts, ethnic bags, jewellery and scrap metal animals. Prices range from VND5,000 to VND2.1 million.


18-20 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 1132 B1-62 Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3993 9306 171 Dong Khoi, Q1 (08) 3936 9445 9am to 10pm With two branches in town,

this airy, well-displayed Singaporean store sells women’s shoes, bags, sunglasses and accessories. Prices are acceptable for an international brand.


127-129 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3832 3904 The bright yellow signage and the street style, wooden-shelf decor of this shop displays a range of shoes, sandals and boots. With Dr. Martens, it’s all about the quality of the soles.


35 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 8162 9.30am to 8pm This retail-cum-gallery space specialises in contemporary and exclusive handcrafted jewellery made from handpicked gemstones and raw materials. Exhibitions and gallery talks run every month.


77-79 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 3277 71 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 2701 9am to 9pm One of Vietnam’s most renowned brands for designer handbags and jewellery, Ipa-Nima offers flamboyant designs, unique twists and funky embellishments in great fashionable shapes. Stocks shoes, dresses and hats.


146AB Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 8382 10.30am to 8.30pm Features upmarket shoes and bags made from highquality materials such as crocodile or python skin, and garnished with a large variety of wooden, Swarovski crystal and European-style colourful beads.


115 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 9582 101-103 Nguyen Trail, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 4694 9am to 10pm One of the world’s most sought-after footwear brands. SKECHERS offers new and stylish designs for both genders from 5 to 70 years old. A pair of sports shoes starts at VND2 million.

20 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3911 5995 393 Dien Bien Phu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3929 0685 8am to 9pm TDC is the official dealer of Tissot, Swatch, Longines and Jacques Lemans. Stocks highend brands like Rolex, Cartier and Omega.


72 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 3519 9am to 10pm TicTac, growing from a family watch specialist store to an elegant black-and-gold designer watch showroom, stocks luxurious brands such as Omega, Maurice Lacroix, Hirsch and Swiza. Provides repairs and battery changes.


9 Nguyen Thiep, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 6011 8am to 7.30pm A great lap of luxury. Products vary from pearl rings to sapphire earrings, from a gold plain daisy brooch to cufflinks. Prices start at VND10 million for a ring.


Unit 66, Saigon Square, 7-9A Ton Duc Thang, Q1 80 Xuan Thuy, Q2 11am to 8pm Stocks a wide range of Vespa-

inspired tidbits and memorabilia including t-shirts, riding gear, Italian helmets, Respro face masks, DVDs, books, bags, magazines, posters and more. Rental scooters and bikes available.

Clothing - Budget MARATHON

147 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3920 7442 123A Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3838 0019 9am to 10.30pm Simple and accessible, Marathon offers colourful beach pants, t-shirts, flip-flops, caps and a small selection of sneakers and belts. Prices start at VND110,000 for a tshirt.


232 Bui Vien, Q1 9am to 10pm Specialises in 100 percent cotton t-shirts and offers a small selection of hats, safety pins and postcards. Profits from each sale are given to two charity organizations.


152 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3820 2620 9am to 10pm With three stores throughout town, this well-known clothing outlet is aimed at teenagers and young adults, selling jeans, t-shirts, sandals and accessories. Prices are af-

October 2013 Word | 127

HCMC fordable, with t-shirts selling for VND180,000.


137 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 0122 210 008 9am to 10.30pm A fashion store with streetwear, t-shirts, bags, sunglasses, sneakers, authentic Brazillian Havaianas flip-flops and Crocs sandals. Carries European-sized tshirts.

Clothing - Mid-Range BAM SKATE SHOP

174 Bui Vien, Q1 148 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 15H Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: 0903 641826 9am to 10pm

Tattoo Artists With tattoos becoming increasingly popular, over the past few years there has been an increase in the number of tattoo studios around the city. Customers have the choice of picking their own tattoo out of the many look books on offer in the studios or bringing in their own design. Most of the studios offer body-piercing services as well. Pricing depends on size and style.

Lac Viet Tattoo 608 Dien Bien Phu, Q10 Tel: (08) 3830 4668 106 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 7068

Saigon Body Art 135 Cong Quynh, Q1 Tel: 0908 443311

Saigon Ink

26 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 1090

Saigon Tattoo 31B Nguyen Du, Q1

Saigon Tattoo Group 81 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 0908 573339

Tattoo Saigon

128 Nguyen Cu Trinh, Q1 Tel: 0938 303838

Tattoo Tam Bi

209 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 0919 034383

128 | Word October 2013

This hip-hop-style-cumskate store stocks a mix of sneakers, tees, hoodies, jeans, oblique baseball caps and accessories. A range of skateboards are on sale, costing between VND1.5 million and VND2.5 million.

9am to 10pm Stocks both casual and formal wear for both men and women, including jeans, tees, shirts, party dresses and working skirts. A pair of men’s jeans costs around VND1.8 million.


187A Hai Ba Trung, Q3 134 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: 0936 303632 BOO embraces street style in clothing and décor. BOO’s brands have their own street stalls in-store, stocking clothing and shoes made in Vietnam and designed by the youth-savvy staff.


54-56 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 6270 5928 10 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3521 8755 9am to 10pm Quality, original, Vietnamthemed tees are the showpiece at this airy French-run store. Designs are inspired by anything from the Vietnamese flag, local telecom wires and motorbikes to creative, Siddharta-style imagery.


118-122 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 9689 189A Hai Ba Trung, Q3 Tel: (08) 3823 8447 8.30am to 10.30pm Set in a large, two-floor space with Renaissance-style columns, Ninomax offers both men’s and women’s clothing. As a brother to MaxxStyle, it has the similar prices and products.

Clothing Mid to Top BOSSINI

22 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3839 2292 9am to 10pm Hong Kong-brand retailer sells male and female casual wear of various designs, including plain, striped, V-neck and button-neck shirts. Prices range from VND900,000 for jeans and VND700,000 for shirts.


89A Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 5164 9am to 10pm Inspired by modern women and youth, D’Blanc introduces an ageless brand that balances a feminine, sexy aesthetic with an electric, urban sensibility. Dresses start at VND1.5 million.


Level 3 Vincom Center, Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3993 9316 2nd Floor, 12 Bitexco Financial Tower, 45 Ngo Duc Ke Tel: (08) 6291 8793 Saigon Center, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3914 7740


Le Lai Corner, 1 Nguyen Van Trang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 1495 Clothing is designed and tailor-made by renowned designer Romyda Keth, and concentrates mainly on women’s wear. Gaya sells colourful, sexy evening dresses, embroidered floral skirts and cute chiffon tops.


85 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 4004 8am to 10pm Contemporary ranges of casual and evening wear fused with Asian designs. The apparel includes floral dresses, jean skirts, printed tees and street-style bags. Enjoy a cup of coffee at their café after.


47 BC Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3926 0686 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 (08) 3993 9501 9.30am to 10pm For those with Levi’s love, there are several of the selfbranded stores throughout the city that offer a range of the latest jeans and accessories. Prices normally start at VND2 million.


40D Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 7114 10am to 7pm Stocks simple but vintage embroidered and crocheted clothing for women and kids, along with clocks, brooches, teapots, cups and other art deco-style products. A simple blouse starts at VND820,000.


First floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 6674 9565 10am to 10pm Exclusive labels, elegant and sophisticated clothing and casual high-quality cottons are stocked at this boutique/ café. Lifestyle accessories include shoes, homewares, knickknacks, cameras, stationery and a range of vintage bicycles.


132–134 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2733 9.30am to 9.30pm Run by designer Mai Lam, all products displayed are her own designs, with a mixture of vintage and modernised traditional clothes and accessories and a selection of artworks.


40-42 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 1136 Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3914 7464 B1-43 Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3993 9300 9am to 10pm This Spanish brand provides a range of clothing along with selections of bags, wallets, belts and scarves. A shirt costs from VND1.2 million and jeans starts at VND1.4 million.


61 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 9993 Established in Punta Del Este, Uruguay in 1960, master-brand Lolita operates ladies fashion boutiques in 19 countries around the world, with this one offering stylish and comfortable clothing for work or play.


43 Ton That Thiep, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 8019 9am to 9pm This designer fashion outlet sells a variety of clothing and shoes produced in Vietnam. All designs are brand new, delivered from the factory weekly and sold at factory outlet prices.


1st Floor, Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1 75 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 3914 4088 Stocks clothing by French designer Valerie Gregori McKenzie with a quaint, slightly Gallic feel, made from a mixture of linen, silk and cotton. A simple white tank dress costs VND760,000.


19-21 Vo Thi Sau, Q1 Tel: (08) 3820 3574 8am to 8pm One of the best-known garment brands in Vietnam, this luxurious shop stocks men’s and women’s clothing, including office attire, casual and evening wear, along with jewellery and accessories.


35 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 1ST Floor, Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Vincom Center, 72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 6276 2730 8am to 10pm Umbrella sells their own women’s clothing designs including dresses, trousers, skirts, jumpers and blouses. Prices vary, from VND999,000 up to VND3,499,000 on selected items with more complicated craftsmanship.

Clothing - Top-End ANUPA

9 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 2394

Houses the complete Anupa Collection along with products of Anupa Horvil’s handpicked eco designers. Features luxury leather accessories including bags for men and women, yoga bags, and belts.


155 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 3582 10.30am to 8.30pm One of the most popular international brands due to its well-tailored, traditional, feminine and fashionable products like low-rider fitted jeans, satin dresses, crocodile skin shoes, contemporary glasses and Sakia bags.


M-29, Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3993 9005 9am to 10pm This Italian brand’s apparel varies in both design and fabric stocking for men and women. A pair of floral shorts starts at VND9 million and a snake-patterned dress costs VND24 million.


155 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 3291 3580 10.30am to 8.30pm Situated inside the Rex Hotel, this urban American brand carries internationalstandard clothing and a wide range of accessories and sophisticated bags, starting around VND6 million.


Eden Centre, 171 Dong Khoi & 116 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 3993 9001 9am to 10pm Stocking the designs of the iconic Italian fashion label, products come in many colours and fabrics, with floral dresses, plain chiffon blouses and skinny trousers designed elegantly in a classic and sophisticated style.

Lingerie & Swimwear AQUAMARINE

211 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 5695 A small shop full of colourful products offering one-piece bikinis, two-pieces, monokinis and various types of beachwear. Prices start at VND790,000 for a bikini. Custom orders are available.


184 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 3968 9am to 9pm A well-known underwear brand in Vietnam, designed with western women in mind. Bras start at VND600,000.


232 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3820 3948 265 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3920 9443 34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3503 0078 9.30am to 9.30pm One of the growing number of Japanese underwear brands for women, Wacoal differentiates itself with its classic designs. Bras range from VND400,000 to VND800,000, while pants start at VND250,000.


Huyen Tran Cong Chua, Q1; Pham Hong Thai, Q1 These two main streets in city centre stock everything from local clothing to imitations of famous brands like Adidas, Nike and Puma through to the real thing.


163 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1 Tel: 0978 967588 9am to 10.30pm Stocks a range of travel related products, including torches, binoculars, climbing gear, funky men and women’s casual outfits, bags, underwear and cycling gear.


171 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 5267 9am to 7pm Great place for picking up a tailor-made pair of shoes or ready-to-wear shoes. Choose the design and colour yourself. Prices range from VND300,000 to VND2,000,000, depending on style and materials.


39 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 4556 9am to 11pm Offers tailor-made clothing in the latest and trendiest designs and styles, with a wide range of fabrics. Alterations are available. An ao dai starts at VND1.6 million, including fabric.


127 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 0909 711312 9am to 10pm Sells women’s swimsuits in plain and floral styles, including one-piece and twopiece bikinis starting from VND250,000. Stocks maxim dresses from VND380,000 and beach sandals from VND110,000.

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INTERIORS Give your home that look you’ve always dreamed of. Furniture and repro art is not just manufactured in Vietnam for export. Apparently you can even buy bicycles made from bamboo here. Oops, no. Those beauties are for export only.


50-52 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 7962 8.30am to 8.30pm With a sister gallery in Hanoi, this airy and spacious place is ideal for people interested in Vietnamese-themed art. Displays and sells works by local leading artists, from past masters to new rising stars. Think carefully before purchasing as the cheapest piece starts at VND40 million.


1st Floor, 43 Ton That Thiep, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 8272 9am to 8pm Located in the same building as Saigon Kitsch, Dogma stocks many cool and interesting tidbits, including propaganda art costing from VND450,000 per poster, Uncle Ho statues, books and themed postcards. If you want to wear these pieces of propaganda art, there is a wide range of propagandaprinted tees and jackets for both men and women, stocking at around VND600,000. A small selection of jewellery is also available.


65 De Tham, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 8019 10am to 6pm, Closed on Monday Although situated close to the canal in one of the poorer parts of District 1, this gallery retains it distinct character, providing visitors with an authentic artsy feel that avoids the jaded, Vietnamese-themed stereotypes available elsewhere in town. Open from Tuesday to Saturday and run by Viet Kieu Pham Quynh and her partner Robert Cianchi, the art and installations on display here are the work of both international and contemporary Vietnamese artists. The helpful local staff speak good English. Visit the website for information on up-coming exhibitions.


257 De Tham, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 7692 11am to 10pm Located opposite Highlands Coffee in Pham Ngu Lao, this small shop is decorated with lacquer paintings of Buddhist and Vietnamese landscapes

and flowers. Nhu Y takes custom orders and prices vary from VND150,000 for the smallest piece (20cm x 20cm) rising to VND1.1 million for a 40cm x 80cm painting.


7 Phan Chu Trinh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 3166 129B Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 3181 www.phuongmaigallery. com 9am to 8.30pm Located opposite the Vincom Center, this tiny white space displays selected contemporary artworks by Vietnamese artists. Styles include abstract works, landscapes and modern day impressionism, focusing mainly on lacquer on wood, oils on canvas and silk paintings. More paintings are displayed at the Le Thanh Ton gallery in a four-floor building with each floor yielding a different style of art. Prices start from VND2.7 million. Credit cards are accepted.


STREET – BUI VIEN, Q1 Although available elsewhere in town, Bui Vien in the Backpackers’ Area is the best place to find reproductions of masterpieces by the likes of Van Gogh, Monet and Degas as well as Andy Warhol copies and the works of a whole host of other artists. Depending on size, style and material, prices vary but generally start from VND1 million per painting. Shops include Truu Tuong (No. 158), Buddha Art (No. 230), Duc Tai (No. 155A), Hanh Dung (No. 210), Duc Anh (No. 136), Nam Phuong (No. 105) and The Sun 3 (No. 145).

Crafts EM EM

38 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 4408 8am to 9.30pm With its ancient-looking dark brown and tiled roof, many Japanese tourists favour this petite shop. Carries a full range of products including souvenirs, embroidered handkerchiefs, kitchenware, home décor and much more. There are also large selections of men’s shirts, ties and women’s dresses and skirts. Offers order-madeclothes to fit individual sizes and tastes.


35-37 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1 Tel: (08) 2210 3110 S17 – Sky Garden, Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 Tel: (08) 6271 7758 A project of the NGO Mekong Plus designed to support community development programmes in remote villages in Vietnam and Cambodia. All products are locally produced, including paper mache, ratten, bamboo and hyacinth products, contained and displayed in a simple white-painted space. Bamboo vases from VND350,000 and rag ranges from VND400,000.


2 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 9459 8am to 8pm The dark, musty décor gives Nguyen Freres the aura of a haunted house. Strange, unique yet seductively attractive, this retail shop doesn’t stand out as much as other places in the same area but it is big and carries a wide range of products concentrating on northern and hill-tribe culture with ethnic clothing, hand-crafted décor items and antique furniture. Items costing as low as VND20,000 can be found here.

ing of the northern rural Vietnamese tribes such as the Hmong, there is also a cute line of ladies’ shoes, silk wraps and bags.


1st Floor, 68 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 2210 3110 S17-1 Sky Garden , Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 Tel: (08) 6271 7758 A charity organization helping poor women in rural areas, all products are handmade with a wide range of quilts in many designs and fabrics. Special orders can be taken for delivery within 5-6 weeks. Also stocks accessories such as aprons, sheets and tablecloths.


20 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3519 0023 Austinhomevn.blogspot. com

9am to 6.30pm Located in a villa-style building, this An Phu-based shop stocks antique repro furniture. All products are samples, so it’s limited and exclusive with only one or two pieces of each particular item. Also has a great range of imported fabrics up on the 2nd floor and an in-house sewing room for cushions, sofas and curtains. Offers custom-made furniture and delivery within four weeks. Home décor orders are also available.


Km 11 + 300 Hanoi Highway, Q9 Tel: (08) 3730 9856 8am to 4.30pm, closed on Sundays Produces high-end Danish design sofas and armchairs in contemporary and traditional styles. With imported

materials, the brand provides a large amount of high quality products for the Vietnamese market and exports to Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan and Singapore. Also offers to produce customers’ own designs. Their products are stocked at AA Deco with Their products are stocked at Nha Xinh showroom.


The Crescent Mall, 101Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Tel: (08) 5413 7355 Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 4201 A branch of the AA Corporation, Bellavita specialises in the distribution of imported high-end furniture manufactured by well-known brands such as Walter Knoll, Poltrona Frau, Minotti and Cassina. Most products displayed in this airy space include chairs, tables and other high quality glassware. Orders are


83 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 9079 42 Le Loi, Q1 (08) 3824 7456 8am to 10pm With more than 10 stores around the city, this Vietnamese company is known for its hand-embroidered and crocheted products including bedding, tablecloths, napkins and placemats. This packed and slightly haphazard looking shop also stocks children’s and adult’s wear as well as souvenirs. All products are made from linen and cotton. Prices vary but normally start from VND110,000 per item.


209 De Tham, Q1 Tel: (08) 3838 9780 69 Dong Khoi, Q1 7am to 10.30pm Gorgeous tribally-inspired handbags, dresses and accessories on the ground floor combine with authentic tribal clothing on the floor above. Concerning itself mainly with the hand–woven cloth-

October 2013 Word | 129

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

Hung Vuong Plaza

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

Parkson Plaza

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

Saigon Centre

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

Saigon Square

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

Saigon Tax Trading Centre

135 Nguyen Hue, Q1. Tel: (08) 3821 3849 9am to 9.30pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Souvenirs, Restaurant

Vincom Center

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

Zen Plaza

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

130 | Word October 2013

taken 10 to 12 weeks in advance before delivery. There is also a selection of home décor items such as pottery.


68-70 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 6604 The Crescent Mall, 101 Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Tel: (08) 5413 7357 Located next to Sheraton Hotel, the first BoConcept shop stands out thanks to its black signage and glassy atrium. The shop carries a full range of furniture including sofas, beds, wardrobes, tables and chairs; all are imported from Denmark. Delivery of non-stock items takes up to two weeks. Also has a range of furnishing accessories such as mirrors, rugs, paintings and lamps.


53 Pham Ngoc Thach Q3 Tel: (08) 3827 3696 160 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: (08) 3820 1090 175 Ha Noi Highway, Q2 Tel: (08) 3519 4543 8am to 9pm This well-known Vietnamese furniture brand is a good choice for most families with its respected highquality designs and competitive prices. Located on the corner of Pham Ngoc Thach and Dien Bien Phu, the spacious showroom specialises in sofas and other furniture such as table sets, shelves and kitchen cabinets. There is a large selection of carpets as well as numerous choices of curtains and accessories.


112 Xuan Thuy, Q2 Tel: (08) 6281 9917 Everything you need to furnish your home in the showroom, from tables, beds, cupboards and shelves made of wood and steel to tableware, decoration accessories and candels. Nice range of furniture for babies and toddlers. Custom design services and project supply avaiable.


13 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 1803 9am to 8pm The two-storey shop stocks contemporary and colorful furniture and decorative accessories, from sofas and armchairs to tables and cabinets, lightings, votives, kitchenware, vases and a full range of modern home accessories. Special orders are possible for delivery all over the world.


11 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 7371 9am to 7pm Having just moved to its new location, this large twostorey outlet specialises in

interior and external designs. Products include beds, sofas, wardrobes and shelves made from high-quality woods. Also offers antique reproductions as well as madeto-order furniture such as sofas and home décor designs. Lamps, lampshades and other accessories are also stocked.


51 Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 2181 8am to 6pm, closed Sundays Specialising in interior designs and landscaping, this three-storey building is so packed full of items for sale that it doesn’t seem to have enough space for all of its products. The basement storey carries outdoor furniture such as bamboo-imitation and mosaic table sets, while the second level stocks all types of indoor furniture except beds. Accessories are found on the level above. Special orders are taken for delivery within three weeks. Also offers a rental service.


81 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3519 4640/4643 8am to 6pm This two-storey shop carries all types of furniture, displayed simply so as to give clients a general idea of each product’s style and quality. Items for sale include chairs, tables, wardrobes, drawers and other furniture made from Kiwi pinewood and acacia. Custom orders are accepted and take about four weeks for delivery. Free shipping is included for orders costing more than VND10 million and within Ho Chi Minh City. As a general pricing gauge, a bed costs VND5.6 million and a wardrobe starts at VND6 million.


3B Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: (08) 6657 0788 thefurniturewarehouse. 9am to 7pm Specialises in high-end European-style furniture for outdoor and indoor design and home décor. Products include wardrobes, armchairs, sofas, tables and shelves made from pine, oak, acacia and hardwood. There is also a selection of antique furniture and décor items. Free shipping and made-to-order available for small quantities. Visit the website for more information and prices.


1 Nguyen Van Trang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 1495 10am to 8pm Set in one of the most attractive post-World War II

buildings in the city, Gaya has a reputation for chic and sophisticated indoor and outdoor sofas, pod seats, lamps and tableware, with all products both constructed and designed locally. You can find a wide range of mirrors and lacquerware with bowls, vases and contemporary Asian-style boxes as well as a fantastic selection of linenembroidered bedding in all colours and designs. Prices here match the quality of the products.


7/30B, road 13, Binh Hoa, Thuan An, Binh Duong Tel: (0650) 883 700 Typical of the large, slightly out-of-town stores found in Europe, North America and Australia that focus on all things for the home, Gomo represents the arrival of a new style of homewares shop in Vietnam.


46A Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: (08) 3997 7300 8am to 8pm This giant glass showroom features a comprehensive range of products including exclusive kitchen and bathroom appliances, furniture, and light and locking systems. This is also a good place to pick up sensor equipment and items such as rubbish bins, doors and lights. The selection of door handles is endless and all products are imported from Germany. Like Gaya, prices are top-end but the quality is beyond reproach.


59 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 7614 9am to 7pm This narrow four-storey building carries products ranging from sofas, chairs and tables to beds, bookshelves, cabinets, dressers and wardrobes. Accessories include ceramic pots, candles and mirrors. Special orders can be taken based on the catalogue or custom design and will be delivered within three weeks. Also stocks a range of bedding made from cotton, linen and silk.


45 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 6080 9am to 5pm With more than 10 years in the business, this old world, French colonial styled store has a reputation for restoring and reproducing antique furniture. Products include armchairs, sofas, tables, bookshelves, drawers, lamps, paintings, ceramics, lacquerware and much more. Also offers an exclusive inte-

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rior design service package, from initial design to installation with natural wood imported from the US. Free consultation is provided via phone or email.


2nd Floor, Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 6115 CR3, The Crescent Mall, 111 Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Tel: (08) 5413 6657 8.30am to 9.30pm One of the most renowned Vietnamese furniture suppliers, this brand has over 15 years experience in the business, selling a wide range of furniture products made for the bedroom, living room, dining room, kitchen and bathroom. Custom orders are also accepted. Also sells a large selection of home decorations such as handmade flowers, statues and modern lamps. Offers a good design consultation service.


222 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: (08) 3930 4190 9am to 9pm This white-painted building sells highly stylized, contemporary imported indoor furniture made from various materials. From wood to plastic, and crystal to stainless steel, this shop stocks a large selection of sofas, tables and chairs. Accessories include exclusive clocks and lamps. Paintings of Marilyn Monroe, Chairman Mao and other well-known characters are also stocked.


152 Le Lai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 3648 Inspired by the sumptuous textiles, rich palettes, and hotels of the 1940s, Verlim stocks a well-curated and eclectic trove of French, Chinese and Vietnamese Deco furniture and accessories, including outsized teak-framed mirrors, panelled screens and low-slung armchairs. There is also a selection of antiques and art deco reproduction. Arranges shipping and offers custommade items.


Tel:0903 873599 Vivacolour offers professional interior design services for your home that create a personalised ambience to express your style and personality, business colour consultations to build a tailor-made environment for your team and clients, visually expressing your brand and communicating your values to your customers.

Contact Pascaline for more information.


It’s easy to figure this area out with all the stainless steel goods hanging from the rows of shops. You can quite literally find everything for the bathroom and kitchen, from sinks to cups and dish shelves to buckets. Compared to other shops in the centre of town, prices tend to be cheaper here. However, prepare to bargain.

Lighting AO DONG

Saigon Center, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3914 1854 36 Bui Thi Xuan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3926 0114 CaoDong Design is an official distributor of the award-winning TouchAble brand. Stocks elegant and fashionable interiors, and a selection of souvenirs, leather boxes and luxury stationary. Includes table-standing lamps, pendant lights and hand-painted lampshades imported from Spain and the UK. Promises to deliver non in-stock orders within 30 to 45 days.


92 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1 Tel: (08) 2210 3460 8am to 7pm Located opposite Saigon Square, this big store displays all types of lights from ceiling and wall lights to table and desk lamps with lampshades in all designs and styles. All products are self-produced and designed, and are made from a comprehensive selection of high-quality domestic and international materials. Good customer service with enthusiastic staff. Customised orders are accepted.


Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 4634 This eye-popping lime greenpainted boutique carries furniture, tableware and decorative home accessories. Also stocks an exclusive selection of lights and lamps, including lotus lamps at VND300,000, lacquer lamps at VND400,000 and orchid lamps at VND650,000. All products are Vietnamesethemed and are made from bamboo. As well as selling locally, Mosaique exports to Europe, the US, Australia and Africa.


* ELECTRONICS Nope, Ho Chi Minh City is not as cheap as Hong Kong or Bangkok when it comes to those camera and computer purchases we are all obsessed with these days. But it’s not far off. Here’s a lowdown on where stuff is available


Saigon’s photography lovers need look no further than Huynh Thuc Khang, Ho Tung Mau, Nguyen Hue and Le Loi to find dozens of stores stocking everything from digital to disposable cameras. Camera accessories, such as lenses and caps, digital image printing and other services are also available too as is a range of second-hand lenses and camera bodies.


11/13 Ho Dac Di, Tan Phu Tel: 0937 868 679 8.30am to 6.30pm This is a typical Vietnamese retail outlet without decoration and with products displayed in glass cases. Selling digital and video cameras of well-known brands such as Nikon, Canon, Panasonic, Sony and JVC, prices start at VND9 million for a professional camera and VND5.5 million for a standard video camera. Also sells a range of accessories.


Tel: 0903 035 271 Wear it or mount it. Waterproof, professional, true HD and extremely small. The world’s most versatile camera and accessories are available in Vietnam from authorised distributor Silver Sun Ltd Co. in Da Nang. Call for details of stockists or for a direct order.


113 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 3915 1166 9am to 8pm Located in the same building as The Lost Art, Le Vu Nikon specializes mainly in Nikon products with a full range of cameras and accessories. A normal DSLR Nikon camera with a lens that can be disassembled is priced at VND12 million. Batteries cost between VND200,000 and VND300,000. Also offers a maintenance service and part exchange.


Fitting & Services Centre, 117/28 Nguyen Huu Canh,Q2 Tel: (08) 6294 5448 Ctrack GPS vehicle solutions. A world leader in real time

monitoring and data collection, Ctrack GPS has operations in 56 countries and have more than 20 years of hands on experiences in solutions related to GPS and management logistics. Juotec T-eye Dashboard Cameras record events outside and inside vehicles with high-res 1.3Mb cameras.


11 Le Cong Kieu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 5888 Situated in one of the most beautiful antique-store streets in the city, this small shop restores and fixes all kinds of cameras from Nikon and Canon to Sony. They will locate and identify the specific problem and quote a price before fixing the camera. Speak good English.


Bui Thi Xuan, Nguyen Cu Trinh and Ton That Tung streets are considered to be the places to shop for computers, selling everything from LCD monitors, RAM sticks, keyboards, webcams and internet phone cards through to speaker systems at reliable and affordable prices. Many of the stores also offer a computer maintenance service.


81 Dien Bien Phu, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 0999 8am to 5pm This Australian company provides an impressive selection of printing solutions such as ink, lasers, faxes, photocopier cartridges and high-quality paper. Free pick-up and delivery service, and a refill service is available at reliable prices. With professional staff, the store offers an effective and quick restoration and maintenance service for printers of well-known brands such as HP, Epson, Canon, Xerox and Brother.


236 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: (08) 7300 6666 8am to 5pm A large internet service supplier, FPT is also known for being one of the biggest Vietnamese IT brands. Manufacturing IT products including deskstops, notebooks, servers and accessories, their stores are found nationwide.

Prices start at VND5,7 million for a desktop without monitors, and a notebook costs from VND11 million. Accessories vary, from flash memory cards and scandisks to USB bars. Visit the website for information and product prices.


Hoan Long Building, 244 Cong Quynh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 2999 8am to 9pm Located opposite Co-Op Mart, this glass building carries a full range of IT equipment and accessories, including laptops, desktops, Acer RAM and products by Dell and Sony. Also sells Apple’s iPad, starting at VND21.8 million for the 3G version and MacBooks for VND28 million. In addition has a small selection of digital video cameras. Offers an assembly service for both domestic and international orders. Good post-sale maintenance and customerservice.


50 Nguyen Cu Trinh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 0699 101 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 4008 8am to 7.30pm This shop concentrates mainly on notebooks, stocking popular brands such as IBM, Dell, Acer, HP, Sony and Apple. Also stocks plus disk drivers, RAM and batteries, and offers cameras, pocket PCs, smart phones (HTC and 32GB iPhone 4 sold at VND23.6 million), projectors and printers. Good customer service and quick delivery.


125 Cach Mang Thang 8, Q1 Tel: (08) 6290 8777 264A-264C Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: (08) 3933 0766 9am to 9pm Known as one of the leading IT retailers in town and located at the corner of Cach Mang Thang 8 and Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, the products for sale at Phong Vu include computers, laptops, office equipment, entertainment devices and accessories. Also provides internet and network solutions and systems. Good maintenance service for desktops, notebooks and

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printers. Visit the website for more information.

Vuong, Q5 (close to the end of Nguyen Thi Minh Khai).



174-178 Bui Thi Xuan, Q1 Tel: 0902 500955 8.30am to 9.30pm This supermarket-esque shop is an official distributor of top brands including Intel, Asus, HP and Acer, stocking everything from laptops and desktops to monitors and keyboards, laptop fans and computer speakers. Office equipment, including photocopiers, fax machines and paper destroyers, is also sold here. Other entertainment devices, such as mobile phones and mp3 players are also stocked.


227 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (08) 3838 9164 8am to 5pm Devout fans of that new religion called ‘Apple’ will be satisfied at Thuan My, one of the growing number of Apple dealers in Saigon. Products include MacBooks, iMacs, iPods, iPhones and their numerous accessories. Remember to ask for software installation. Competitive market prices and service make this place stand out.

Mobile Phones GIA KIEN

352 Durong 3 Thang 2, Q10 Tel: (08) 3868 3733 9am to 6.30pm Besides stocking the ubiquitous iPhone and iPad, this shop also sells mobile phones from the likes of HTC, LG, Dell, Nokia, Vertu, Blackberry and more. There is also an exclusive and unique selection of handsets from the likes of GoldVish Gold Le Million, Porsche P9521 and Tag Heuer. Prices are higher than other places but the after-sale customer service is excellent.


199 Phan Dinh Phung, Q7 Tel: (08) 3990 1199 8am to 5.30pm One of the top five master dealers nationwide with popular mobile phone brands such as Nokia, SamSung, LG, Motorola, and Panasonic, this company is an official distributor of Philips in Vietnam. Produced the first Vietnamese mobile phone, Bavapen, and also stocks the iPhone 4 at VND21.3 million. Accessories include phone wallets, earphones and batteries.


130 Tran Quang Khai. Q1 Tel: (08) 3812 5960 8am to 10.30pm This well-known retail chain catches the attention of pedestrian shoppers due to the unmissable and striking yellow signboard with its long black logo. The website is efficient with adequate photos and information on phones and specifications. The staff speaks English and the store offers online orders at cheaper prices. Stocks everything mobile, from phones through to tablets and laptops.


328-330 Ba Thang Hai, Q10 Tel: (08) 3863 3333 Has more than 65 stores nationwide and offers a comprehensive range of mobile phones from top brands such as Apple, HTC and Blackberry to the Chinese makes Cayon and Huawei. There is also a wide range of top laptops and mp3 and mp4 players. Recently opened a technology support centre called EBAR where customers check and test new products and software. Online orders with free shipping is available.


The following streets have dozens of stores selling major mobile brands such as Samsung, Nokia, LG, Apple, etc. New and second-hand handsets and extra accessories are also available. Ba Thang Hai between Ly Thuong Kiet and Ly Thai To, Q10; Hai Ba Trung between Le Duan & Dien Bien Phu, Q1 & Q3; Hung

ELECTRONICS MARKETS Known as “electronics supermarkets”, the number of stores selling everything from TVs, refrigerators and air conditioners to washing machines, coffee makers and blenders seems to be increasing by the day. You’ll also be able to find vacuum cleaners and irons from popular brands such as Sony, Samsung, Toshiba, JVC, LG and Sanyo. In addition these stores stock a wide range of mobile phones from the likes of Nokia, Samsung, Motorola and Sony Ericsson. In order to attract the largest number of customers, most of these stores offer daily promotions with competitive prices. Visit their websites for promotions, online orders and more information.

Cho Lon Electronics MarkeT

590 Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3 Tel: (08) 3846 4700 8.30am to 9.30pm

Gia Thanh

975 Tran Hung Dao, Q5 Tel: (08) 3923 1536 8.30am to 9.30pm

iDEAS Shopping Centre

133–141AB Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3 8.30am to 9.30pm

Nguyen Kim Do you think you should be listed on these pages? If so, simply email us on listings@wordvietnam. com and we’ll see what we can do. We can’t promise but we’ll try our best

63–65 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 1211 8am to 10pm

Thien Hoa

277B Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q10 Tel: (08) 3863 3733 www.dienmaythienhoa. vn 8am to 10pm

October 2013 Word | 131



From catering services through to the growing number of bakeries - and we’re not talking Tous Les Jours. Here are places to stock up on wine, liquor, imported cheeses and freshly baked bread


84 Nguyen Cong Tru,Q1 Tel: (08) 6295 9087 Specialising in freshly baked cupcakes such as the Ravishing Red Velvet, Foxy Banoffee, and Heavenly Honey, this boutique cupcake shop also offers coffees, teas and juices. Wi-Fi available.


117 Cong Quynh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 1992 Dubbed “the local bakery”, Crumbs serves up a variety of baked goods including baguettes, muffins, cheese and garlic–based buns and loafs, meat–filled pastries, sweet pastries, health–conscious breads and more. There is also a breakfast menu and variety of sandwiches available.


33 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: (08) 5404 7777 The air of American donuts infuses this pleasant and popular venue, with a variety of the sweet circular treat complementing an excellent selection of coffees, teas and juices. Specials include the mixed fruits donut, ice cream donut, and ice cream & sauce/peanuts donut. The store is open from 7am to 10pm daily and offers free Wi-Fi and a non-smoking area.


30 Lam Son, Tan Binh Tel: (08) 3547 0577 Made to order baking delivery specialists by phone or email. Scones, bagels, breads (everything from 12 grain loaves to Italian focaccia), muffins, cookies, buns, fudge cake and more, from upwards of VND45,000. Orders must be placed 48 hours in advance.


64–68 Ham Nghi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3914 1338 50 Ham Nghi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 2970 Selling baguette–style bread for VND5,000 and basic freshly made sandwiches for around VND15,000. Also has a range of Vietnamese pastries and savouries. Open 24 hours.

132 | Word October 2013


SL15-1 Grand View, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7 Tel: 0908 828552 For anyone with a sweet tooth, this cake delivery service offers homebaked products using the finest ingredients including fresh fruit, imported butter and chocolate. No preservatives or hydrogenated fats are used. All cakes and cookies are made to order and can be customised upon request. Free delivery is available. Place orders one day in advance.


153 Xo Viet Nghe Tinh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3518 0897 Located in the premises of the Hospitality School, Sesame Bakery provides practical experience to its students. Has a wide variety of French pastries, loaves, baguettes, cookies and cakes at good prices. Special order and delivery available.


180 Hai Ba Trung, Q3 Tel: (08) 3823 8302 59 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (08) 3914 4350 187 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: (08) 3925 1908 Although tailored to the local market, this Korean–owned bakery chain and café bakes a tasty range of pastries, bread and cakes all at very affordable prices. Excellent baguettes and sandwich bread. Also does a slightly sweet version of croque monsieur.


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


7 Bis Han Thuyen, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 1565 Available all year round for birthday cakes, BBQs, corporate events, private parties, wine tastings and more, Au Parc Catering provide a full service including drinks, glass rentals, waiters and

crockery. For a quote, email or call Mr. Loi on 3829 2772.


100 Xuan Thuy, Q2 Tel: (08) 6281 9830 New delicatessen shop offering western–fusion French food. French Chef Stephane Courtin and his team will assist you in a Gastro’Home food experience. Visit the shop in An Phu or try the “at your home” catering service for a dinner, buffet or cocktail party.



Tel: (08) 6274 0647 A French food delivery service that does cocktail parties, buffets and events specialising in salads, sandwiches, gratin, quiche, pies, desert, muffins and more. Visit website for full menu.

NORFOLK CATERING SERVICE Norfolk Hotel, 117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 5368 Delicious food and professional service for any special occasion including company functions, formal banquets, Christmas and New Year parties. Reasonably priced.


46D Vuon Lai, Tan Phu Tel: (08) 3812 6901 With extensive experience in menu design, The Caterers will come up with an original menu for your party or gathering, then prepare all the food and serve it to your guests. Also offers a venue for clients to use.


84 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien Ward, Q2 Tel: 0913 981 128 SCC can create a menu to meet your exact requirements and budget.Theirchefs use the freshest ingredients to produce quality, perfectly cooked and beautifully presented food at reasonable prices.

Groceries 100%

26B Thao Dien, Q2

Stocking only quality products sourced and manufactured in Vietnam, 100% guarantees that all their foodstuffs are safe, natural and traceable. From fresh fish to delicatessen fair, fresh juices, fruit, vegetables and tea, even the French cheeses and bottled soups are made locally. Open 8am to 8pm daily.



16–18 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 9332 41A Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 2630 Attractive and spacious French–owned grocery shop stocking a large range of foods, organic fruit and vegetables, imported beers and wines. Also sells luxury branded products from the likes of Fauchon. The deli upstairs in the Hai Ba Trung branch serves tasty baguette rolls in a comfortable lounge area with free Wi–Fi, and offers probably the best selection of cheese and cured meats in town. Free delivery for Districts 1, 2 and 3.


45 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 8126 aussie– Aussie Fruits are among the first in Vietnam to promote a full range of Australian seasonal fruits. Their mission is to bring the best quality fruits from Australia into Vietnam, with professionally trained customer support along with a state of the art facility that guarantees 100% freshness directly from Australian farms. Check their website to see what’s in season.


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


73 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1 Tel: (08) 3914 4376 Stocks a comprehensive range of fresh meat products imported directly from Aus-

tralia. Beef and lamb make up the bulk of the selection, but some locally–sourced poultry and fish products are also on offer. Also does pre–packaged prepared meat like chicken strips – perfect for the freezer. Open seven days a week.


58 Ham Nghi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3914 1318 Mini supermarket stocking a large range of imported foods, cheese, meat, fresh fruit, vegetables and good wines. Friendly service and helpful staff, although the selection of products is slightly smaller than its next door neighbour, Thai Ha.


60 Ham Nghi, Q1 Supermarket that vies with its next door neighbour, Phuong Ha, for customers. Excellent selection of imported goods including canned foods, dairy products, cereals and meat products. The staff here speak reasonable English although the service is better next door.


29A Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 8526 Packed from floor to ceiling with imported cereals, meats, cheeses, and almost anything else you can think of, this is a very popular choice for expats doing their weekly shop. The walk–in fridge at the back is a draw in itself.

Liquor & Wine ANNAM SHOP


16–18 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 9332 Here you’ll find anything from Guinness to Leffe, with a whole lot of Belgian, Australian and German beers in between. Also has an excellent selection of imported wines and liquors.


158D Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 3306 103 Ton Dan Tien, Q7 Tel: (08) 3829 3306 A range of spirits, whiskies and wines at affordable prices. Wines come from all over the world with an especially good selection from France, Chile and South Africa. Also has an excellent range of single malts, top shelf tequilas

and has an on–site wine tasting machine, the Enomatic, the first of its kind in Vietnam.


74E Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 5404 3575 46A Tran Quang Khai, Q1 Tel: (08) 5404 7147 A premier importer/distributor of quality wines, spirits, non–alcohol drinks, representing over 400 wines, spirits and drinks from 12 countries since 1995.


6/7 Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q1 Tel: (08) 6210 2986 Wine wholesaler importing well–known Australian wines. Present portfolio includes Kangarilla Road, Zema Estate, Buller, Bethany and Chapel Hill.


22 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 0021 One of the largest distributors in town, stocks around 90,000 bottles from virtually every region in the world. Sells both retail and wholesale.


178 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 8826 924 Tran Hung Dao, Q5 Tel: (08) 6261 1526 One of the busiest wine retailers in town. In addition to their excellent range of wines, they also stock imported beers, bottled mineral water and spirits.


7 Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3521 0860 Well–known and respected wine importer and distributor stocking a number of old and new world wines. Brands include Perrin & Fils, Pere & Fils, Dr Loosen, Kracher and William Fevre.


74/17 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 6299 1315 Corner of Thao Dien & Duong 2, Q2 Tel: (08) 6281 9059 Professional advice on selecting and tasting wines. Also offers regular popular wine courses. The outdoor terrace area is the perfect spot to sample a new vintage.



Got kids? Looking for that perfect school for your children? Want to give them involved in some extra-curricular activities? Search no further. Here are some options for you

Baby Equipment BELLI BLOSSOM

12 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 6615 4th Floor, Crescent Mall, Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 Tel: (08) 5413 7574 Stocks imported brands of maternity wear and nursing accessories, infant clothes, baby utensils, strollers, high chairs, slings, baby carriers, diaper bags and more.


17/5 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan Q1 Saigon Center, 65 Le Loi Q1 Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton Q1 Sells clothing for kids from newborn to toddlers, as well as bedding, equipment, accessories and organic jarred baby food.


Vincom Center, 72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 8724 184 Le Dai Hanh, Q1, Tel: 0912 161642 Carries strollers, car seats, baby utensils, clothing, and accessories. Most products are made by the Japanese company Combi.


230 Vo Thi Sau, Q3,40 Ton That Tung Q1; 101-103 Khanh Hoi, Q4; 141D Phan Dang Luu; 287A Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nuan, Q7 Tel: (08) 3932 1611 The closest this city has to Mothercare, stocking apparel, bottles and sterilisers.

Classes & Sports DANCENTER

53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4490

Children and teenagers can enjoy jazz, ballet, hip-hop, funk, belly dancing, salsa and in multi-level classes at this modern dance studio.


189/C1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2 Tel: 0903 955780 French painter offers daytime and evening courses for children and adults, teaching beginners about different mediums and techniques and helping artists of all skill levels unlock their creativity.


37 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0932 737700 Private music lessons in piano and violin from beginner level up to Grade 8 and beyond. Also runs a chamber music club with

regular concerts and ensemble lessons for strings and woodwind.


79/7 Pham Thai Buong, Q7 27/3 Ha Huy Tap, Q7, Tel: 0908 460267 An early childhood centre offering early learning programmes for children aged 18 months to five, including toddler playgroups, preschool classes and enrichment activities. Also has after-school activities for kids aged four to eight.


94A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 7691 Former conservatory student Nguyen Trung Minh offers lessons in piano at Minh Nguyen piano boutique for all ages and levels.


42/1 Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2639 Geneva Conservatory graduate Steffen Christophe teaches an introduction to musical instruments for students aged four upwards at Montessori, as well as private and group lessons in guitar, keyboard and voice.

PERFORMING ARTS ACADEMY OF SAIGON 19A Ngo Quang Huy, Q2 Tel: (08) 6281 9679 Has a range of music-based programmes teaching kids in anything from guitar and drums to piano, clarinet and saxophone. Also provides musical assessment and a mixture of private and group classes.


Tel: 01225 636682 Suitable for kids of all ages,

these piano lessons range from basic to advanced.


Tel: 0122 7163844 Infant water familiarisation classes for little ones from six months to three years, run by Elizabeth Hollins.


Tel: 0987 027 722 saigonmovement@gmail. com Aiming to improve children’s total body awareness through games and sports activities, Saigon Movement offers a variety of classes in movement development for ages two to 11. Contact Abbie Klein.


55 Nguyen Dang Giai, An Phu, Q2 Tel: 0905 098 279 This 15-week PADI programme conducted by Rainbow Divers, the lead-

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HCMC ing PADI dive centre in Vietnam, offers scuba diving adventures in a swimming pool for eight to nine year olds.


38, Lane 42, Le Van Thinh, Q2 Tel: 0913 733360 An excellent way for children to escape the urban bustle is to ride one of the 16 ponies and learn riding techniques from three, part–time teachers.


28 Tran Nao, Q2 Tel: (08) 7303 1100 International coaches provide training in soccer, basketball, tennis and swimming for children aged four to 16 years and private lessons for children and adults. Youth soccer league Sundays from 2pm to 6pm in District 7.


BP Compound, 720K Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 0903 918 149 Martial arts expert Mr. Phuc welcomes anyone over the age of five to take part in his thrice–weekly classes. An additional fee for non– members applies.


6 Le Van Mien, Q2, Tel: 0907 729 846 Provides kids classes in anything from mixed art, oil painting, crafts and still life drawing through to jewellery making and fashion design.


90 Vo Thi Sau, Q1, Tel: (08) 3820 9881 Provides boys and girls’ clothing from ages five to 14 with clothes imported from Singapore.


Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 7592 A range of apparel for children from newborns to pre-teens with clothing imported from the UK.


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


42 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 7456 83 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 9079 Offers 100 percent cotton hand-embroidered apparel for children ages one to 14.

Children's Books FAHASA

60-62 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3838 8832 Good selection of imported books for all ages as well as cheap stationery, stickers and other odds and ends.


2A Le Duan, Q1, Picture books for babies to stories and education books for older children can be found here.


(Mum and Baby Bookstore) 46 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8386 Supplies a variety of books, paintings, pictures, CDs, VCDs and DVDs, stationery and gift accessories for mums, dads, children and educators.


2, 1E Street, KDC Trung Son, Binh Hung, Binh Chanh, Tel: (08) 5431 1833 Serving students from 32 nations, ages two to 18, ABC delivers a curriculum wholly based on UK standards, culminating in IGCSE’s and A levels (awarded upon graduation by Cambridge University examinations board).


East-West Highway, An Phu, Q2 Tel: (08) 3747 1234 Part of the Academic Colleges Group’s international network of schools, ACG boasts comprehensive education programmes from kindergarten to high school, a range of extracurricular activities, and impressive facilities.


Xi Campus, 190 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2 Tel: (08) 3519 2727 Thao Dien Campus, APSC Compound, 36 Thao Dien, Q2 , Tel: (08) 3744 6960 Thu Thiem Campus, 264 Mai Chi Tho (East-West Highway), An Phu, Q2 Tel: (08) 3742 4040 The Australian International School is an IB World School with three world-class campuses in District 2, offering an international education from kindergarten to senior school with the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), Cambridge Secondary Programme (including IGCSE) and IB Diploma Programme (DP).


246 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 2335 Inspected and approved by the British Government, BIS provides a British-style curriculum for an international student body and is staffed by British qualified and trained teachers. Fully accredited by the Council of International Schools and a member of FOBISSEA, BIS is the largest international school in Vietnam.


Horizon Tower, 214 Tran Quang Khai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3526 8833 7 Street 2, Cu Xa Do Thanh, Q3 Tel: (08) 3832 8488 Flemington Tower, 2nd Floor 182 Le Dai Hanh, Q11, Tel: (08) 3962 1218 CitySmart delivers a range of diverse, internationallyrecognised educational programmes, as well as life skills and character building for comprehensive development.


15 Tran Doan Khanh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3820 3302 Promoting and facilitating English language acquisition, Compass Education offers a range of courses designed to meet academic, corporate, and professional goals. Offers nanny and teacher placements as well as career counselling.


Somerset Chancellor Court, 1st Floor, 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 7008 Gymboree Play & Music has been fostering creativity and confidence in children up to five years old for over 30 years, making them a leader in early childhood development programmes.


13C Phong Phu Commune, Binh Chanh Tel: (08) 5412 3456 The first Canadian international school in Vietnam

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serves local and foreign students from Kindergarten to grade 12. Talented, certified teachers implement the internationally recognised Ontario curriculum to create a studentcentred learning environment promoting academic excellence.


28 Vo Truong Toan, Q2 Tel: (08) 3898 9100 The only fully authorized IB World School in Ho Chi Minh City, ISHCMC has been awarding graduates with an IB Diploma and sending them off to high-profile overseas universities since 1999.


92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 2222 7788 ISSP offers a rigorous American-standard curriculum, as well as unique extra-curriculars like golf and Mandarin Language classes. A brand new, state-of-the-art campus caters to students from nursery through to grade 5.


Crescent Residence 2, 107 Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Tel: 0907 099 480 Kindermusik is the world’s premier music, movement and English language programme for children from birth to age 7. Each weekly lesson promotes early literacy and English language acquisition, social skills and more.


102 My Kim 2, Phu My Hung, Q7 Tel: (08) 5421 1052 Little Genius Kindergarten shares a curriculum with its sister school in the US. Its facilities and learning environment remain unsurpassed by any other kindergarten in Vietnam.


42/1 Ngo Quang Huy, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 2639 Aiming to encourage children’s engagement with their surroundings, MIS offers children from age three to 12 a classic Montessori education as well as a variety of extra–curricular activities.

Renaissance International School Saigon (RISS)

74 Nguyen Thi Thap, Q7, Tel: (08) 3773 3171 RISS provides students from over 25 nations with a British / international education. Students ages two to 18 enjoy classes taught by qualified native English speakers at their state–of– the–art campus.

Saigon International College (SIC)

21K Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 0938 371760 Overseen by the Curriculum Council of Western Australia, SIC’s program for years 10 to 12 provides graduating students with the Australian Certificate of Education (WACE), allowing direct entry to all Australian universities.

German International School – GIS

730 F-G-K Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 7300 7257 The German International School offers a unique bi-lingual German-English programme for students, from a variety of nationalities, from 2 to 16 years old. Its curriculum is based on the internationally recognised Primary Years Programmes (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP) and IB Diploma Programme of the International Baccalaureate (IB) system.


74 Nguyen Thi Thap, Q7 Tel: (08) 3773 3171 RISS provides students from over 25 nations with a British / international education. Students ages two to 18 enjoy classes taught by qualified native English speakers at their state–of– the–art campus.


21K Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: (08) 3997 6046

Overseen by the Curriculum Council of Western Australia, SIC’s program for years 10 to 12 provides graduating students with the Australian Certificate of Education (WACE), allowing direct entry to all Australian universities.


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


78 Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 0901 Offers an American-style education (SAT, IB and AP) from elementary to highschool, emphasizing a multi–cultural student environment and a commitment to well–rounded education at all levels.


Residential Area No. 5, Thanh My Loi, Q2 Tel: (08) 3742 7827 Supported by the Cambridge International Primary Programme, SSIS integrates Montessori methods into nursery and kindergarten programmes to create a stimulating learning environment. Small class sizes allow experienced teachers to cater to individual needs.


1172 Thao Dien Compound, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 6076 26, Street Nr. 10, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3898 9816 15 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3519 4236 This international childcare centre provides children ages 18 months to six years with a high quality education in a playful and friendly environment.

Do you think you should be listed on these pages? If so, simply email us on listings@wordvietnam. com and we’ll see what we can do. We can’t promise but we’ll try our best


172-180 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2 Tel: 0903 952223 An independent and private university preparatory school with an individualised programme, The American School of Vietnam offers a US-based curriculum for Kindergarten through to Grade 12.


98 Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3 Tel: (08) 3930 7278 23 Tran Cao Van, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 7278 One of the leading schools in Vietnam, VAS provides programmes from kindergarten to secondary school. In line with their mission to encourage a global mindset in new generations, VAS integrates international educational methods.


45 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3910 0168 90 Le Van Thiem, Q7 Tel: (08) 3602 6694 VLS has built a reputation over 18 years by offering courses tailored to all abilities. Classes are located either at VLS’s high quality facilities, or at the learner’s

office/ home.


1147 Duong Binh Quoi, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3556 6020 Features a landscaped park, weekend buffets, and children’s activities and entertainment. Reachable by boat from District 1.


3 Hoa Binh, Q11 Tel: (08) 3963 4963 Popular theme park / water park provides fun for the whole family at a low price.


34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 7750 Features a fourth–floor bowling alley and video arcade as well as youth–oriented eating options such as KFC and Pizza Hut.


35 Bis Le 45, Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 7636 Parkson Plaza has a large selection of arcade games along with a bowling alley and a food court one floor down where you can regroup after zapping millions of aliens.


2B Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 3728 A wide variety of animals, well maintained facilities, peaceful atmosphere, and fun activities for kids including bumper cars and playgrounds.


Specializing in first through fifth birthday parties, Gymboree will take care of everything, including venue, invitations, party favours and more. Offers themes such as Princess Palace and Dinosaur Adventures.


120 AH 1, Tan Phu, Q9 Tel: (08) 3896 0260 Offers all of the expected amusement park attractions in a spectacular setting that includes a manmade beach, a dinosaur garden and a zoo.

100/531B Thich Quang Duc, Phu Nhuan Tel: (08) 3990 3560 For an unusual and special performer, contact the excellent Balloon Man, who has earned a reputation for dashing instantly to any party that needs balloon shapes.



75 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3 503A Nguyen Duy Trinh, Q2 Tel: (08) 6278 5794 Offers beginner and advanced mountain climbing routes, safety courses and training at its 26–metre, purpose–built mountain in District 3, with an additional location in District 2.


Somerset Chancellor Court, 1st floor, 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 7008

46D Vuon Lai, Tan Phu Tel: (08) 3812 6901 Although mainly focused on grown–up events, this company does an excellent job catering for kids’ parties.


5th Floor, Crescent Plaza, 105 Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Tel: (08) 5413 6758 An American Board-certified ophthalmologist with 15 years of experience in the US treats vision problems such as hyperopia, astigmatism, focusing problems,

myopia, strabismus and lazy eyes.


Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 7848 vietnammedicalpractice. com Three paediatricians practice their speciality at this well–equipped medical care centre. Also has obstetrics and gynaecology services for expectant mothers including pre–natal screening.


6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7 Tel: (08) 5411 3333 This international–standard hospital has a dedicated and fully equipped pediatric centre staffed by a team of international specialists. Also offers other maternity services.


167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3 Tel: (08) 3829 8424 Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the internationally experienced pediatric team at this clinic will meet your family’s preventative, diagnostic and treatment needs. House call service is also available.


2Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, Q3 Tel: (08) 3822 6222 Modern, well–equipped clinic with both western and local dentists experienced in providing preventative care and reconstructive procedures for children of all ages.


79 Dien Bien Phu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3910 4545 135A Nguyen Van Troi, Q7 Tel: (08) 3910 4545 Committed to pediatrics, this clinic provides services including general examinations (vision and hearing checks, immunisation, growth and development assessment) as well as specialist consultations.

Toys Toyville Cafe

At Snap

32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2 Tel: 0903 918 960 (Alex) / 0918 339 734 (Y Nhu) Wide selection of branded toys and games, from the usual suspects to the real hard to find. Specialises in ages 3 to 10, open daily from 9am to 7pm

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Hanoi City Guide BUSINESS 154 / bars 156 / Cafes 157 / Eat 158 / Leisure 162 / fashion 164 / home 167 / medical 169 Photo by Francis Roux 136 | Word October 2013

Eat & Drink


The Promotions................................... 161 The Alchemist................................. 162 Book Buff.......................................... 163 The Therapist........................ 165 A World of Good.......... 166 Medical Buff................. 168 Student Eye............ 170

Sunday Brunch 138 Urban Living

Green Space Hanoi 142 sport

Rugby For a Day 144 travel

Motopacking Dreams 146 MYSTERY DINER

From Lebanon with Love 150 street snaker

Banh My Sot Vang 151


Eat & Drink

Sunday Brunch M

With some of the most ambitious offerings in the capital, these hotel restaurants aren’t only for tourists. After champagne, Sangria and all-you-can-eat sushi, going back to work the next day seems a little more bearable. Words by Elisabeth Rosen. Photos by Thiep Nguyen

ove over, pancakes and eggs Benedict. Drawing on influences from French haute cuisine to Vietnamese street food, chefs at chic hotels like the Sofitel Metropole and Intercontinental are redefining Sunday brunch in the capital. Sure, there’s still free flow champagne and grilled lobster. But there’s also a growing movement towards more inventive fare. Below is where to go, what to eat and what to expect.

Sofitel Metropole Price: VND1,500,000++ (without drinks), VND2,260,000++ (free flow wine), VND2,900,000++ (free flow champagne) Hours: Noon to 4pm Address: 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem Save room for: Chicken with balsamic marmalade, daikon and fruit ‘ravioli’, the entire dessert table Between the paneled walls of Le Beaulieu, Olivier Genique whips up tiny, inventive dishes that reflect his background at some of Paris’s more

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distinguished restaurants: Lasserre, Le Jules Verne and Le Citrus Etoile. Two-bite morsels of chicken come topped with onion balsamic marmalade, carrot puree and lemon confit; thin daikon shavings hold a spiced fruit filling in a bold reinterpretation of ravioli. These dishes won’t fill you so much as they whet your appetite; but given that you’ll want to sample everything on the dessert table, from the raspberry creme brulee to the four varieties of dark chocolate cake, that might be a lifesaver.

InterContinental Westlake Price: VND1,075,000++ (without drinks), VND1,290,000++ (free flow wine, draught beer, soft drinks, juice, tea, coffee), VND2,365,000++ (free flow champagne) Hours: 11.30am to 3pm Address: 1 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho Save room for: Lobster, Peking duck, nuoc mia This sophisticated up-and-comer serves elegantly crafted Vietnamese classics like cha ca and pho cuon, though the real winner is the Peking duck: sumptuous layers of fatty meat and crisp skin, balanced by cucumber and hoisin sauce. There

isn’t much for vegetarians, but omnivores will feel they’ve gotten their money’s worth at the grill station alone, where rack of lamb, steak, salmon and lobster are cooked to order and served with tangy chilli sauce. Peter Littlejohn combines international ingredients — lobster, Camembert, gnocchi — with Hanoi-specific details. A nuoc mia cart serves freshly squeezed sugarcane juice and a kebab station doles out flaky buns stacked with shaved chicken that nearly-but-not-quite approximate to the ubiquitous curbside banh mi Tho Nhi Ky. Try to snag a seat by the floor-length windows, which offer spectacular views over West Lake.

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Sheraton Price: VND990,000++ (free flow drinks, except champagne) Hours: 11.30am to 3pm Address: Ngo 1 Au Co, Tay Ho Save room for: Banh cuon, crepes, papaya salad Significantly cheaper than its West Lake neighbours, the Sheraton seeks to atone with wallet-friendliness for what it lacks in ambience. The most popular dish is grilled lobster, served in

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grandiose style still in the shell and topped with a crust of sharp cheese. Across a stretch of beige carpet you’ll find the foie gras station, from where adults wishing to indulge in this controversial luxury can watch the kids pile made-to-order crepes with decadently gooey dark chocolate spread and slivers of fresh mango. Mike Drews, who previously headed the kitchen down the road at Sofitel Plaza, turns out Vietnamese staples like banh cuon and xoi xeo, as well as serviceable sushi and snappy papaya salad.

Melia Price: VND755,000++ (without drinks), VND905,000++ (free flow drinks) Hours: 11.30am to 2.30pm Address: 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem Save room for: Beef Wellington, tiramisu, Sangria In his three-decade career, English native Paul Wood has worked in kitchens from Egypt to Mongolia. Here, he puts out a satisfying spread of

British comfort food. The best time to go is right after opening, when the cavernous dining room fills with the buttery aroma of Beef Wellington and Yorkshire pudding. Attempts at American cuisine (Hawaiian pizza? Really?) can be forgiven after a glass or two of house Sangria, and a glance at the chic array of desserts: dense, rich tiramisu, crumbly Linzer tart, bits of creamy taro immersed in sweet coconut milk.

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Urban Living

Green Space Hanoi Hanoi’s parks and green spaces are under pressure. But plans to turn the capital into a ‘green, attractive, and modern city’ are giving Hanoians hope. Words by Katie Jacobs. Photos by Francis Roux


roups of women are moving slowly to thumping aerobics music, barely breaking sweat. An unsteady roller-blader skids past, the five-foot padded mess of flailing arms and wobbly knees narrowly missing the lake before tumbling safely onto the grass. It is a balmy evening in Thong Nhat Park and hundreds of Hanoians are here to enjoy the clear skies, rain-freshened air and people watching. Small lakes and parks scattered throughout the city provide welcome relief among the bustling traffic and dense development. Hanoi’s parks are not only the lungs of the city, filtering air and providing ecological necessities, they are also community centres, offering an important opportunity for exercise, fun, and social interaction.

Urban Space, Urban Health UN-HABITAT, the United Nations Human Settlements Program, names public green

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space as a key necessity for healthy urban centres. In a city where footpaths are clogged by scooters and crossing the road can be akin to swimming with sharks, Hanoi’s parks and lakes offer spaces where people can move without two wheels. Away from traffic congestion and the stresses of work and home — from running and skating to dancing and artwork, Hanoi’s parks represent an important space where people come together, share hobbies, and learn new skills. “I go for exercise but I also like it because there are many interesting and friendly people to meet and talk with,” says Thuy, a morning participant in Hoan Kiem Lake’s exercise scene. Thuy rises at 5.30 every morning to walk with her husband and son; “even if we did not live in the Old Quarter I would still come for the peace and beauty,” she says. Environmentally, Hanoi’s parks provide essential ecological services within the

city. Trees and greenery are most known for their ability to absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. In cities with poor air quality, such as Hanoi, natural green foliage is an invaluable asset. According to the Sustainable Cities Institute, vegetation is also important for improving water quality, reducing flooding, and moderating temperatures; all of which are regular problems for Hanoi.

A Sense of Place Imagine Hanoi without green space. Without the mature trees in the Botanical Gardens, the open spaces in Thong Nhat Park, or the shady benches around Hoan Kiem Lake, so beloved by overheated tourists and young couples. Imagine the urban centre devoid of natural air filters, seasonal indicators, and the interactive joy of plant growth. The thought is not only environmentally concerning, it is unnatural and claustrophobic; a foreign space that is both unliveable and

“As the city becomes more crowded and living quarters shrink, Hanoi is under pressure to increase common areas of greenery”

unlovable. In his book Hanoi: Biography of a City, William Logan talks about how the vegetation among the built surfaces and frequent lakeshore interactions between water and town are central to “Hanoi’s sense of place”. According to Logan, the lakes and parks are part of the city’s distinct charm, a uniqueness loved by locals and visitors alike. “The parks are an important part of the city,” says Phong, a regular at Lenin Park on Tran Phu. “They are nice places to be, with lots of greenery and old trees.”

Avoiding the Concrete City Hanoi is a green city. Many streets are lined with old trees, pockets of greenery settle amongst the buildings and, if you look closely, hidden gardens can be found in courtyards and on rooftops. However, green space is still lacking and the evening crowds that descend on the parks are indicative of the need to extend Hanoi’s green areas. “It is a lovely place to come and enjoy,” said a regular Thong Nhat Park walker, “but I would like to go jogging and it is impossible with all these people.” Although Hanoi is struggling with a growing urban density, according to World Bank Urban Specialist Dean Cira, it is

the outdated housing and lack of public facilities, not population growth, which is the real problem. As the city becomes more crowded and living quarters shrink, Hanoi is under pressure to increase common areas of greenery. “The current living spaces cannot handle all these people — they are too crowded,” says Thuy. “So we use the park as a place to relax and enjoy the open space.” However, research by the National Institute of Scientific Research (INRS) in Quebec found that Hanoi residents are allocated less than one square metre of public space per person. This adds up to less that 0.3 percent of the city’s territory, and is far below that of other cities in the region. The 2011 Asian Green Cities Index, a study by urban and environmental experts at the Economist Intelligence Unit, ranked Hanoi as well below average for land use and buildings. Hanoi, however, did score points for its policies that protect green spaces and environmentally sensitive areas. Moreover, the city employs planning standards to promote green space, such as the stipulation that all new residential areas must include three square metres of park and garden per person. However, the enforcement of

these policies and regulations is not always obvious, particularly in light of last year’s announcement to turn a large portion of Thong Nhat Park into a parking lot. Plans for a ‘green, attractive, and modern city’ clearly indicate an awareness of the importance of urban green space and a desire to expand Hanoi’s current parks which, according to Cira, are becoming smaller and more fragmented. The plan recommends that 70 percent of the city, including treelined streets, river banks and lakes, should be protected from further development. These resolutions will hopefully lead to a future Hanoi that embraces the preservation and expansion of green public areas while ensuring the sustainable expansion of living and working spaces. Back in Thong Nhat Park the roller-blader is back on his feet and tearing towards a group of German Shepherds. Muzzled at the nose, they laze under the shade of a palm tree as their trainer watches a fierce game of badminton. “As a dog owner the parks are very important,” says Hoa, as her Husky puppy plays with a tiny Chihuahua, “I come to exercise my dog and socialise with other owners. The parks are great; I just wish there were more of them.”

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Rugby for a Day

In early September, an international rugby tournament came to Hang Day Stadium. Here’s how it turned out. Photos by Nick Ross

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t was supposed to be a tournament, but with two teams pulling out, the London 2012 Olympics Legacy Rugby Friendship Tournament turned into an 80-minute, four-quarter match between the Hanoi Dragons and the Thai Barbarians. Such matches between teams from different countries are normal, scrumfodder fare in Southeast Asia. Due to not having a Rugby Union league in Vietnam, the two teams in this country often travel overseas to get the competition they so desire. Such is the cost of travelling between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, it’s often cheaper to play teams in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore than it is in Vietnam. But Vietnamese teams are at a disadvantage. Take Thailand. The country has 62 registered rugby union clubs alone, while Vietnam only has two. They have 22,000 players of the sport, five official referees and a national team ranked 59th in the world. Vietnam only has two teams and a maximum of 100 players, of whom only

a handful are actually Vietnamese. They have yet to be recognised as a rugby-playing nation by the IRB. Despite the contrast in resources and the scorching midday sun, the Hanoi Dragons put up a strong fight. They scored four tries and converted two, playing more of an English-style forward-based game as opposed to the more expansive, passingbased game of the Thai Barbarians. Where the local team came undone was defending against the handling, strength and speed of the Barbarians’ backs. The away team ran away with six tries, five converted, demonstrating a greater superiority on many areas of the pitch. Sandwiched between the two halves was a dance performance put on by Birla Children’s Orphanage. At an event later in the day, a jersey from the English Rugby Union featuring the signatures of the entire 2012 squad was auctioned off, raising VND15.75 million (US$750) to be spent on infrastructure, clothing and foodstuffs for the orphanage.

Match Stats Final Score Hanoi Dragons 24 - 43 Thai Barbarians Hanoi Dragons Try Scorers Robbie Taylor, Jeremie Cohen, Kristen Chauvin and Adrian Seal Hanoi Dragons Man of the Match Adrian Seal

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g n i k c a p o s t Mo Dream el Trav

A new word has been coined for the type of travellers who are coming through Vietnam by the hundreds, and making their backpacking journey by bike. Marc Forster-Pert went to the Old Quarter to learn more about the ‘motopacker’. Photos by Francis Roux


even thousand kilometres over four months through four countries. Countless adventures had and many stories to tell, this was the itinerary for Charles Carman, a photography student from Colorado who came to Asia looking to ditch the tourist trail for the thrill of riding a Minsk bike through some relatively unexplored countryside.

Claim to Fame? Sometimes it’s difficult to work out where a term was coined, to trace its exact etymology. But in this case it is easy. American Karl Christ was sitting over a beer at Phong Nha Farmstay in December 2011 when, watching all the foreign motorbike tourists driving by, he said something along the lines of, “God, look at all those backpackers on motorbikes. They’re not backpackers any more. They’re motopackers.” The term was immediately picked up on by Karl’s fellow drinking partners and since then, it has stuck.

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His journey took him through the mountainous north of Vietnam, into Laos, crossing illegally into Thailand, back through Cambodia and back to Hanoi via the Central Highlands, the Hai Van Pass and the Ho Chi Minh Highway. Ambitious, maybe, but many people are now keen, some with little or no riding experience, to take on the scenic roads of Vietnam. “After that Top Gear Vietnam episode, motopacking went mental,” says Fleur Woodley of Vietnam Motorbikes, one of the first companies catering to tourists to set up shop in the Old Quarter. If you’re not familiar with Top Gear, three aging men from Britain who host a popular car magazine TV show of the same name, ventured to Vietnam to bike from Saigon to Halong Bay in 2008. One of the men, Jeremy Clarkson, apparently had no previous motorbiking experience, and the show, which has aired in numerous countries around the world, has been the inspiration for countless people, young and old, who want to try something different.

On to a Winner? “I saw Clarkson on that Vespa and I thought to myself, I have to do that,” says Harry, a gap-year traveller from the

UK. The Vespa isn’t the vehicle of choice for Harry, though, and like the majority of motopackers, it’s a fully manual and efficient Honda Win that’s on his shopping list. He went to the newest bike shop to open on Dao Duy Tu, Hanoi Motorbikes, which has been operating since the start of September. There are now five bike shops, with varying business models on the same street in the centre of the backpacker area. All of them sell hardy vehicles to aspiring motopackers. “I wanted to go somewhere I could be sure I was getting a good deal,” he adds, having just purchased a fully serviced Honda Win for US$350 (VND7.4 million). “I’m glad these places have opened up, it’s made it a lot easier than buying dodgy bikes off other travellers.” The bike comes with a 24-hour emergency helpline, a buy-back option in Saigon, a tool kit with spare parts, a basic mechanics manual, a list of parts in Vietnamese with rough prices, a poncho that is actually waterproof, a map, a safety guide and a helmet — oh, and a key-ring with your photo on it. Hanoi Motorbikes also offers free lessons for anyone considering using a bike in Vietnam. The uninitiated and safety conscious maybe asking the question, how is it

possible for people who have no license and no riding experience to buy a bike and be let loose on Highway 1 at the mercy of truck drivers? Ben Evans and Liam Tufnell, part owners of Hanoi Motorbikes agree that safety is the most important aspect of their business. Having lost one of their friends on the road, they are keen to make sure people are confident and able to ride a bike before they zoom off into the sunset. “We make sure our bikes are safe and we teach [people] all they need to know about riding a bike before we let them go,” insists Liam. “That’s why we offer the 24-hour emergency helpline, full after-sales support and free lessons; people have to be safe and feel confident we are there to help, not just make money.” Says motopacker Charles, “I wouldn’t recommend getting a fully manual bike if you haven’t ridden one before. It’s worth spending the time building up experience before hitting Vietnam — it’s really dangerous at times.” He would, however, recommend the overall experience and rates Vietnam, especially Ha Giang, as the highlight of his trip.

Trip of a Lifetime As I sit on the step of Hanoi Motorbikes, young backpackers are coming through

thick and fast, making enquiries, asking about tours and getting personalised key-rings, a sideline business of Ben’s. He jokes — “it’s the keyrings that gets them in” — but it’s a lot more than that. His and the other shops are making what could be a difficult process of finding, buying and selling a bike easy for overseas tourists to use. “We make having the trip of a lifetime easy, safe and stress free,” adds Liam. You might think that five shops on the same street would spark a war, but Fleur insists that everyone gets along. Hung, owner of Flamingo Bikes, the oldest of the western-marketed bike shops in the Old Quarter and the first shop on Dao Duy Tu, says the competition is good. “We target many different types of people, but the more shops that open here, the more business will increase as people realise how easy it is to rent and buy bikes. The business is still growing and developing.” With an increase of an older, more affluent and experienced motopacker joining the average gap-year student, the brakes are unlikely to be applied on this expanding market and trend — it can only be full-throttle from here. To see some pictures from Charles Carmen’s motopacking trip, click on

Shop Info H anoi M otorbikes

43 Dao Duy Tu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 01253 133567 Specialise in buying and selling any kind of motorbike. Provide free motorbike lessons and have opened a sister shop in Saigon’s District 1 — Saigon Motorbike

V ietnam M otorbikes

41 Dao Duy Tu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 01689 674351 Specialise in the customisation of Honda Wins and bike tours in the north of Vietnam including one to Co To island. Also buy and sell Honda Wins. Have a partnership with Saigon Motorbike

F lamingo T ravel

66 Dao Duy Tu, Hoan Kiem (Shop) 62 Tran Quang Khai, Hoan Kiem (Workshop) Specialise in tailor-made tours on larger bikes as well as rental, long and short-term. Also has a centrally based, English-speaking bike workshop that don’t overcharge. Has a sister shop of the same name in Ho Chi Minh City


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Day Tripper

Hanoi’s Favourite Beach Escape Located 170km from Hanoi, Sam Son in Thanh Hoa Province is known for being the capital’s closest beach. Although not technically true, Marc Forster-Pert went to see if it still really is Hanoi’s best-loved getaway


t’s sunrise. The waves are riding high and the sky is cloudy — it’s about to rain. I got there early to see the fishing boats come in with their fresh catch. Like dots on the horizon, they bobbed on the tempestuous ocean making their way back after a hard night’s work. Amazed by the dedication to bring in fresh fish in such rough conditions, it’s no wonder my guide from Thanh Hoa City says, “you can’t get better fish in northern Vietnam, fact.” This is a subjective opinion and I was yet to try it, but watching the sailors drift back into shore, there was a chance she was telling the truth.

Rise to Fame Developed by the French in the early part of the 20th century, Sam Son was also a favourite of Uncle Ho’s, who visited the Co Tien (‘Fairy’) Pagoda. He was apparently quoted as saying that it would mark a good spot for a holiday. Walking along the seafront, four or fivestorey hotels dominate the strip and the infrastructure has been set up to make the beach attractive to holiday-makers. It has the look of a faded seaside resort that has seen better days, with ageing buildings and tired bars. Ask most Hanoians about Sam Son and you might hear comments like “Oh, prices are double for tourists” and “There are much nicer beaches in Vietnam”. That may be true, but I’m not sure why the people I spoke to view the place with such disdain. Sam Son isn’t just a beautiful beach, it has some historical relics of regional importance and stunning scenery and nature, all walking distance from the seafront. The 10km of flaxen sands run from the Lach Hoi Estuary in the north to Truong Le (‘Long Tear’) Mountain in the south, which means there’s plenty of room to get away from the crowds while sipping a beer and listening to the lapping waves. There are also some quieter spots beyond the Fairy Pagoda atop the mountain that is actually just a hill. The provincial government has recently

spent money on sustainable fishing practices as well as building a two-lane highway from the Thanh Hoa bypass to the beach. It’s clear to see that this is somewhere they are keen to keep going, and with the many sleeper buses that display ‘Sam Son — Hanoi’ on the windscreen, it doesn’t appear this beach escape is dwindling in popularity.

Beyond the Beach Take a walk up the hill towards Fairy Pagoda and you’ll pass Hon Trong Mai, a set of rocks that symbolise a myth dedicated to faithful love. The views from the summit of the East Sea and outlying islands are worth the climb, and the pagoda itself makes a serene setting for worship. You’ll also find a deserted and completely undeveloped beach to the south, aside from a couple of woodenstilted restaurants and a few cockle pickers. The Doc Cuoc Pagoda, dedicated to the protector of fishermen and Sam Son villagers is closer to town and provides a peaceful retreat from the crowded beach, offering sweeping views of the bay. There are also more temples and pagodas to explore in town if you have time. According to my guide, the beach’s allure is due to the crystal clear waters in May and June, and also because the sand has the right mixture of grains, making it very comfortable. The waters weren’t clear and the sand feels like any other beach, but that didn’t take away from the fact that it’s a pleasant spot, drivable in four hours from Hanoi. My guide was right, it really does have great seafood — fresh-tasting and flavoursome, that can be enjoyed in any of the restaurants straddling the beach. It’s hard to find reasons why any Hanoian heart wouldn’t be content here. It might have been raining intermittently, heavily at times, but it didn’t spoil that unique feeling of escaping the city and finding the beach. Okay, it doesn’t have any well-known fivestar resorts and the entertainment might be a little outdated, but Sam Son certainly has a charm that can be enjoyed by even the most cynical of tourists.

Late afternoon, and locals as well as domestic tourists — my guide pointed them out by their accents — are gathering to enjoy the water, frolicking in the sea with inflatable toys, having their photos taken and burying their friends in the sand. It was a fantastic scene devoid of rushing motorbikes and grumpy faces. My plan was to ride there and back in a day, but I decided to stay the night, such was its seductive appeal. I’m not sure there’s better so close to Hanoi.

Five Beaches Closer to Hanoi T hinh L ong

Distance (from Hanoi): 140km Peaceful, undeveloped and clean, this beach, in Nam Dinh province, may be the perfect romantic day trip

D o S on

Distance: 124km The guidebook says it’s Hai Phong’s answer to tropical heaven (poetic license at its best), but ask most Hanoians and the jury’s still out

C at B a

Distance: 148km Cat Ba needs no introduction, but the logistics of getting there make it an impossible day trip

T uan C hau

Distance: 142km The beach may be fake (apparently), but you won’t be short on entertainment with artificial hot springs, a waterfall and an aquarium

B ai C hay

Distance: 148km Again artificial and crowded in the summer, it makes up for the lack of peace with impressive views of the other side of Halong Bay

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From Lebanon with Love Our undercover reporter lunches out at the much talked about Beirut. Is the cuisine here authentic? Or is it no more than an upscale version of banh mi Tho Nhi Ky? Photos by Francis Roux


hose craving Middle Eastern food no longer have to settle for a sidewalk doner kebab. At Beirut, an international chain that’s finally found its way to the Vietnamese capital, Lebanese staples like falafel, hummus and moussaka are served in a sophisticated setting. The food is as authentic as it gets in Vietnam, though like everything made with imported ingredients, it doesn’t come cheap. Founded in 1992 in Hong Kong, the chain previously opened a location in Ho Chi Minh City before arriving in Hanoi this year, with one branch about to open on Xuan Dieu and another in Trang Tien Plaza. The latter is a grandiosely chic dining space which fits the mall’s overall aesthetic: the interior designers seem to have had Trinidad James’s All Gold Everything on constant repeat. Wandering through the nearly deserted corridors of luxury shops is an eerie experience. Perhaps that’s why Beirut, on the fifth floor, is often empty. At noon, I was the only diner in the enormous space. Certainly this is no fault of the design. Stylishly decked out with sleek black chairs and Islamic motifs, the restaurant offers stunning views of Hoan Kiem Lake. The soundtrack, alternating pop music with Middle Eastern crescendos, sets the scene for a trendy dining session.

Mezze, Halloumi and Peanuts Nor is it the fault of the food. You could make a meal out of the mezze alone, feasting on cold appetisers like hummus (VND128,000) and moutabal (VND128,000), a puree of grilled eggplant with tahini and lemon juice. Gently charred rectangles of halloumi (VND128,000), a salty-sweet goat cheese with a firm texture, are as good as any you’d find in Beirut itself. Mezze refers to small plates, both warm and cold, that are shared among diners. The concept would seem to be a perfect fit for Vietnam, where dishes are also shared family-style. However, local diners don’t seem to get the concept. A Vietnamese couple sat down next to me and perused the menu for several perplexed minutes before settling on peanuts and beer. Platters of grilled meat and fish offer a more

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substantial feed. You can’t go wrong with shish taouk (VND278,000), in which enormous, juicy hunks of grilled chicken are seasoned with lemon juice, garlic and spices and served alongside crisp French fries and grilled vegetables. The plate is intended for one, but with appetisers, it could easily feed two or three. While the flavours are generally spot on, the presentations are often bizarre. That grilled chicken arrived atop a round of cold pita bread, topped with more slices of pita that had been slathered in mayonnaise. On the side, someone had generously thought to provide more mayonnaise in a little cup, on the off chance that I would run out.

A Way to Go The staff is friendly and speaks decent English, and the menu offers helpful pictures for those unfamiliar with Middle Eastern fare. Still, there are a few major issues that need to be addressed. In the Middle East, you’re generally served warm, freshly-baked pita — or at least, bread that’s been warmed to a temperature approximate to having recently emerged from the oven. But here, the bread accompanying all the appetisers is cold, as if it’s just been removed from a package and slammed onto a plate. And while the restaurant offers a selection of homemade desserts, such as rice pudding and baklava, they’re not mentioned at all on the menu. The only way I found out about them was by asking the cashier. An even more serious problem is how difficult it is for an individual diner to eat a reasonably priced meal. While big groups can share a selection of mezze, sampling a few dishes on your own is a costly indulgence. I spent over VND700,000 on just a single mezze item and a plate of grilled chicken. Offering sampler plates geared towards individual diners — similar to the Vietnamese com suat — might attract more customers. I hope that something does, anyway, so that Beirut can stay in business. After that hearty plate of shish taouk, there’s no way I’m going back to street kebabs. Beirut is on the 5th Floor of Trang Tien Plaza, Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem. Tel: (04) 3763 6666


12 Food

12.5 Service



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

street snacker

Banh My Sot Vang Huyen Tran delights in that most romantic of street foods, banh my sot vang. Photos by Francis Roux


s the street corners in Hanoi start feeling the onset of autumn, things start to get a little romantic. Streets are filled with yellow leaves, trees quiver in the light breeze and the air is perfumed with that special aroma of milky flower. Then there are the yellow-painted buildings left over from the French colonial era. But autumn isn’t just in this faded yellow atmosphere — it’s also in the French-originated dishes which have become part of the Hanoi street food tradition. Among these dishes, there’s one that is ideal for enjoying in the cool breeze of an early October morning, or at night, when the weather brings lovers closer. It is banh my sot vang — beef stew in red wine sauce, served with bread. This dish is typical of French cuisine adapted to Vietnamese tastes. It’s based on beef au vin or beef bourguignon, a traditional French stew prepared with beef braised in red Burgundy wine. Sot vang also has a red wine base. However, it differs from the original in spice and seasoning. Instead of herbs like parsley, rosemary and thyme, warm spices like cinnamon, star anise and cardamom are used.

A Place of Memory Whenever they want to eat local food, Hanoians think of specific traditional eateries. And only enjoying the dish at the eatery in question can satisfy their craving. When it comes to pho it could be Pho Thin on Lo Duc or bun cha on Hang Manh. In the

case of this dish, the restaurant for me is Banh My Sot Vang Dinh Ngang. Also known as Banh My Sot Vang Hang Bong or Banh My Sot Vang Cua Nam, the shop’s actual name is Qua Tang Thien Su (252 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem). Its varied names can be explained by its location at the intersection between Hang Bong, Cua Nam and Dinh Ngang. It’s next to a small bakery called Café Cake Kinh Do, which was one of the first shops bringing French-style patisseries to Hanoi. The tiny chairs of the street snackery, in the milder weather of autumn, remind many Hanoians of a part of their life during the early 21st century. “During the late 20th and early 21st century, western-originated food used to be such a gift to kids of my age,” Cuong, son of the shop’s owner, says. “I was so proud when my grandma opened this shop. Then my mum and my aunt continued the work. And this shop is almost 20 years old now.”

Western Food, Vietnamese Tastes The French version of the dish is enjoyed with a baguette or pasta, which became banh my in the Vietnamese version. Here it’s baked hot and crispy, but the secret is in the rich, soft and perfectly cooked beef stew. “My mum always reminds us of adapting the ingredients to local tastes,” says Cuong. “For instance, it is quite traditional for French people to cook this dish with carrot. However, as we have to braise the beef hours in advance before serving the customers, the carrot would create too strong a smell, one

not favoured by Hanoians. Instead of using carrot, she adds cinnamon and other warm spices.” The beef is also challenging. “Even though it seems easy to make,” he adds, “the timing of the braising is very important. Also, the beef should be given a bit more time to season beforehand. My mum seasons the beef at least two hours before cooking. And it’s recommended that the beef should be braised for three hours.” The eatery also offers homemade sausage, omelette and hot pate. These sides are served with a special sauce, which is known to be their secret. “The sauce is nothing of a secret!” says Cuong. “Actually, it’s the condensed broth of the meat that we use. The reason why my mum came up with this idea is she likened it to beef steak, which is often served with sauce on top. Dipping the bread into this condensed sauce with a perfectly cooked fluffy omelet is quite an experience! Young people like the sauce a lot.” The eatery has been around long enough to turn its young customers into older customers, who still crave that same taste. “Our offerings have been unchanged for a long time,” Cuong says, “and people think of us whenever they want to eat this Frenchoriginated local food.” Qua Tang Thien Su is at 252 Hang Bong, selling banh my sot vang with omelette and pate from VND30,000 to VND60,000. In the afternoon and at night, the shop also serves at a second branch across the street, called Banh My Tram

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overscenE Hanoi

Double Figures

Photos by Nick Ross Everyone’s favourite Indian restaurant, Foodshop 45, turned 11 last month, offering up live music, Sangria and Indian snacks to its guests, as well as a reminder of why it so beloved

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french wine week

Photos by Bao Ngoc The Metropole came up with yet another excuse to imbibe good wine, with a week dedicated to that most French of tipples

Indochina Hanoi Plaza

Photos provided by IHP Home to the first Burger King in the capital, and probably the best development (at least in terms of quality) in Hanoi, IHP turned one last month with a whole load of pomp and ceremony mixed in with all the fun

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

Pullman Grand Opening

Photos by Bao Ngoc The hotel on Cat Linh formerly known as Horison finally proclaimed its makeover, renaming and new management team to the public

Google is Your Friend

Photos provided by Concordia The Google Summit finally spread its virtual tentacles to Vietnam, with a weekend of seminars and workshops at Concordia International School, all with an educational edge

Rockstore Grand Opening

Photos by Bao Ngoc The Hard Rock of Hanoi without all the razzmatazz and hard-core branding? Maybe. Maybe not. But Rockstore’s official opening certainly drew in a crowd, thanks partly to the attendance of supermodel Ha Anh


BUSINE$$ * *

* *

From accounting to advertising to serviced apartments, our selection of some of the city's top businesses

Hanoi Websites hanoigrapevine. com

The place to go for all things related to the arts in a city that is developing its own, vibrant contemporary arts scene. Has event calendars, event postings, blogs, addresses and contact details, and covers anything from classical music through to installations, rock concerts and more.

infosharehanoi. com

Provides the expat community with essential information for living and working in Hanoi including comprehensive and up-to-date events listings as well as address lists of galleries, cinemas, theatres, hotels, housing agencies, embassies and much more. Subscribe to receive their weekly newsletter.

Event photos, a what’s on calendar, restaurant and bar listings and in fact, pretty much everything you want to know about nightlife in Hanoi can be found on this popular website. Also organize regular events and parties.

The city’s best known website, The New Hanoian provides usergenerated listings, reviews and event information on pretty much anything and everything in the capital. Register, create your profile, write a review and receive frequent newsletters.

The online extension of The Word, contains both content from the print edition as well as blogs, events, news, a what’s on calendar, party photos and much more. Also has downloadable PDF versions of the whole publication.

154 | Word October 2013

Accounting & Audit KPMG

46th Floor, 72 Building Keangnam Hanoi, Landmark Tower E6, Me Tri, Tel: (04) 3946 1600 Worldwide firm specialising in auditing, accounting, tax and management consulting services. Also does executive search and selection.

PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS 16th floor, Keangnam Hanoi Landmark 72, Pham Hung Road, Tu Liem District Tel: (04) 3946 2246 Provides business services including auditing, business and technology solutions and tax and legal consulting. Has more than ten years experience in Vietnam and works in all major industry sectors throughout the country.

business groups ICHAM

Sofitel Plaza, Ground floor, 1 Thanh nien, Ba Dinh Tel: (04) 3715 2229 The Chamber has the main purpose of undertaking activities to support commercial exchanges with Italy and to assist economic agents, as well as to foster the developmew nt of economic relations and cooperation among entrepreneurs of the various countries. The Chamber will not engage in commercial activities with the aim of producing profits.


Sofitel Plaza, No 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh Tel: (04) 3715 2229 A business group with over 240 members that supports the French business community in Vietnam by listening to their members’ needs and expectations. Also promotes Vietnam to French companies and helps them in developing their businesses here.


G/F, Sofitel Plaza Hanoi, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh Tel: (04) 3715 2228 A confederate organisation with strong ties to national business associations in its member countries, Eurocham looks after and provides advice and support for the business interests of European Union members in Vietnam.

SINGAPORE BUSINESS ASSOCIATION VIETNAM Business Center, Ground Floor, Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha, Dong Da Tel: (04) 4772 0833 An association that actively fosters business relations with other business communities while promoting social, cultural, recreational, educational and charitable activities.

Corporate Services Endo

79, Quang An, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3783 2085 Endo offers garment manufacturing for local resorts, restaurants, hotels, golf courses, travel agencies and apparel shops. They also manufacture giftware from polos and hoodies to keychains, card holders and menu covers.

Education British Vietnam International School (BVIS)

H3-H4, Hoa Lan, Vincom Village, Long Bien Tel: (04) 3946 0435 BVIS Hanoi offers British standard education from pre-kindergarten to Grade 12. Provides a creative learning environment with modern facilities and resources combined with well-rounded bilingual curricula. Highly qualified educators teach Cambridge AS/A Levels qualifications.

British University Vietnam (BUV)

193 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: (04) 3974 3596 The first university in Vietnam to offer degrees awarded by Staffordshire University and University of London, BUV provides excellent higher education at an affordable price. Offers courses ranging from Management to Accounting. Various scholarships are available.


6 Floor, BIDV Tower,194 Tran Quang Khai, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 2220 0220 Finding the perfect accommodation to meet your various demands in Hanoi is made simple thanks to CBRE’s residential leasing team. Our services are

inclusive of site finding, travelling fees, contract negotiation and resolving any other issues which arise during the term of the lease, all of which are free of charge for the tenant.

COLLIERS INTERNATIONAL VIETNAM Capital Tower, 10th Floor, 109 Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3941 3277 Represent property investors, developers and occupiers in all matters related to commercial and residential property. Services include leasing and sales, valuation and research, property management and support services. Attempt to accelerate the success of their clients by making their knowledge your property.


Room 802, Building 101, 101 Lang Ha, Dong Da Tel: (04) 2246 2232 A real estate company that provides both private and commercial properties for sale, lease and rent. Also offers free brokerage and many other support services.


33 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3718 5831 Thoughtfully appointed and decorated, Daluva Home features a cosy bedroom for true rest, plus open living, dining, and work areas. Extras include two LCD TVs, iPod dock, and outdoor patio. Housekeeping, and daily breakfast from the Daluva Breakfast Menu are also included. Private car and tour booking service available.

International School of Vietnam

6-7 Nguyen Cong Thai, Dai Kim Urban Area, Dinh Cong, Hoang Mai Tel: 3540 9183 The International School of Vietnam (ISV) is a not-forprofit, Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12 school serving the international and local community of Hanoi. ISV accepts students of any nationality aged 3 and up. ISV offers an international education experience. 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.


6th floor, Sentinel Place, 41A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3946 1300 A leading global real estate service provider listed on the London Stock Exchange with over 200 offices worldwide. Provides consultancy services, property management, space planning, facilities management, corporate real estate services, leasing, valuation and sales to the key segments of commercial, industrial, retail, residential and investment property.

insurance AIG

Suite 5-01, Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3936 1455 Offers a range of insurance products and services including property, casualty and marine exposure insurance. Also has comprehensive travel and accident coverage, as well as healthcare packages for expats residing in Vietnam.


CCIFV/Eurocham, Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh Tel: (04) 3936 5370 Emergency: 0903 732365 Specialises in medical, employee benefits and personal lines insurance advice to expatriates. The company has been operational in Vietnam since 1994 and offers free advice and comparative quotes.


CMC Building, Duy Tan, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 3795 8878 International brand, 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.


48 Lieu Giai , Ba Dinh With schooling available for students studying at the elementary through to secondary levels of education, HIS is one of the few private, international education options in the capi-

tal. The institution offers Cambridge IGCSE and IB Diploma for students at the secondary level. Located near the Japanese Embassy.


#17 Lane, 67 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6418 With nearly four decades of experience in international education, QSI International School of Hanoi is next in the long line of ‘quality schools’ that have been established by the Quality Schools International. The institution specialises in instructing pre-school and lower elementary age students.


2D Van Phuc Diplomatic Compound, 46 Van Bao, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3726 1601; Block C3, Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel: 3758 2664; Dilmah Building, Duy Tan, Cau Giay, Tel: 3795 1036 www, SIS provides international education for students from Primary up to University Foundation Programme. A strong curriculum combines the best aspects of the Singaporean, Australian and Vietnamese curricula, all taught by qualified teachers. Runs various co-curricula activities and prepares students for internationally recognised qualifications: iPSLE, Cambridge IGCSE & AS/A Level, GAC


Unit 9 – 10, Shophouse CT17, Ciputra, Tel: (04) 3743 0360 3rd Floor, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 7243 C5-C11, 1st Floor, The Manor Building, My Dinh, Me Tri New Urban, Tu Liem District Tel: +84 4 3794 0209 Classes are kept small with a foreign teacher leading the class with the assistance of a Vietnamese teacher according to

hanoi the teacher-student ratio. KinderWorld provides pre school education for children from 18 months to below 6 years.


Ciputra International Village, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3758 1551 With more than 800 students from 50 different countries, UNIS is a nonprofit IB World School that instructs students from as young as three years old through to grade 12. Established in 1988 by agencies representing the United Nations, the pristine campus has a broad range of facilities and is located in the gated community of Ciputra.

language schools A 100% foreign-invested company focusing on management services and consulting with in-house programs to meet the particular requirements of its clients. Offers teambuilding and academic-based business and management programmes.


Hanoi Resco Building, 521 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh Tel: (04) 3726 1460 A leading international provider of skills training and professional staff development, RMIT offers both short and long-term courses, customised courses, and can provide for either on or off-campus clients. Known for its Business MBA which is open to both Vietnamese and overseas students.


67 Le Van Huu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: (04) 3943 2051 Established in 1994, Apollo offers high-quality and cost-effective English language classes including general English, English for teens, English for business communication and a pronunciation clinic. One of the country’s leading language centres.


20 Thuy Khue, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3728 1922 The cultural arm of the British government’s presence in Vietnam, the BC offers a variety of English language courses – business writing, corporate training and general English – in a large learning centre close to West Lake.


62 Yen Phu, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3927 3399 With four schools around Hanoi, Language Link runs international English language courses endorsed by Cambridge University. One of the top language centres in the capital.

legal services BAKER & MCKENZIE

Unit 1001, 10th Floor, Indochina Plaza Hanoi, 241 Xuan Thuy, Cau Glay Tel: (04) 3825 1428 One of the first international law firms to establish representative offices in Vietnam, Baker & McKenzie provide on-the-ground liaison and support services to clients interested in investigating, negotiating and implementing projects in the country.

management training G&H MANAGEMENT SERVICES

HKC Building, Suite 701, 285 Doi Can, Ba Dinh Tel: (04) 3762 3805

market research CIMIGO

142 Le Duan, Dong Da Tel: (04) 3518 6696 Independent marketing and brand research specialist operating in Hanoi and the Asia Pacific region in general. Services include auditing and optimising research programs, knowledge management, developing marketing plans and business models, and assessing market opportunities.

relocation & tracking agents ALLIED PICKFORDS

Room 302, 12A Ho Xuan Huong Tel: (04) 3943 1511 The international home moving company helps make the burden of moving a lot easier. As the largest home moving company in the world, Allied Pickfords moves over 1,000 families in over 175 countries every day. Available with a full range of services — domestic moves, office moves and storage — whether you are moving within Vietnam or across the world.

Asian Tigers Transpo

Inland Customs Deport Area (ICD), Pham Hung, My Dinh, Tu Liem Tel: (04) 3768 5882 Asian Tigers Group is committed to its mission of moving households without disruption ti family life. They also offer pre-move advice regarding customs and shipping.


6 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Tel: (04)3826 0334 Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is currently a leader in the field. Has of-

fices in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.


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

serviced apartments ATLANTA RESIDENCES

49 Hang Chuoi, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 0912 239085 Atlanta Residences fully serviced apartments have been created to provide a space where you can ‘feel at home’. Within walking distance from Hanoi’s Opera House and Hoan Kiem Lake, this building offers a panel of 51 spacious apartments for you to choose from. The serviced apartments here offer the luxury of a hotel mixed with the peaceful comfort and privacy of your home, under one roof of course.


33 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3718 5831 Whether traveling or on a temporary stay, Daluva can provide space & comfort. Thoughtfully appointed Daluva Homes feature a cozy bedroom for true rest, and an open living area that opens up to a terrace with plants.


51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3719 8877 Great location in Syrena Tower on West Lake, Fraser Suites offer a tranquil repose from the busy city. Has several apartments with excellent views and provides gold-standard service.


No. 96 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3718 0888 175 well-designed, furnished apartments and villas combining the comforts of home with the conveniences of a fine hotel.


49, Hai Ba Trung, Ba Dinh Tel: (04) 3934 2342 Internationally-managed accommodation with personalised services and extensive facilities. 185 fully furnished apartments, car park, 24-hour reception and central location.

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Drink and be done by, or as the t-shirt tells us, khong say, khong ve. Our pick of the best drinking haunts in Hanoi Think we've missed somewhere? Email us on

Bars & Nightclubs 88 LOUNGE

Contemporary Wine Bar 88 Xuan Dieu, Tay ho Tel: (04) 3718 8029 5pm to late A wine bar with a difference, this addition to 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.


MUSIC & ARTS BAR 73 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 01262 054970 Wednesday to Saturday, 6pm to midnight With well-poured drinks, a foosball table, no smoking and a midnight closing time, CAMA ATK knows exactly what it wants to be — and that’s refreshing. The space is a part time venue for smaller acts and DJs. The venue is hip, comfortable and will likely provide the serious drinker with a reliable place to pull up a stool and take pulls in a relaxed haven.


LATE NIGHT LOCAL 1 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0904 032829 8pm to late Last building on the right before Hang Buom, this popular with the French (and everyone else) watering hole is a classic. Has the same Old Quarter vibe; small, cosy and personal with funky twists – and an awesome logo. Spread over two floors with good tunes, drinks specials and a foosball table, Cheeky is open till late. Also does tasty paninis into the early hours.


DANCEHALL LOUNGE 15 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 4926 2177 11am — late One of the better venues in the Old Quarter for dancing on the weekends. Although crammed into a small space, cheap drinks and a mix of chart chits makes Dragonfly the regular goto for younger Vietnamese crowds, tourists and the foreign resident looking to get up on the dance floor. If you don’t feel like dancing, relax upstairs with shisha and friends with one of the two lounges on the second floor. The sister venue on Phung

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Hung has a bigger menu and an earlier opening hour (11am instead of 6pm) but still keeps with the shisha, pool table and dance floor combo so popular on Hang Buom.

Chime Bar

Level 1, Sheraton Hanoi Hotel K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 3719 9000 Chime bar is the perfect spot for a refreshing glass of wine and a bite to eat. Offering a wide selection of tapas dishes in a lounge atmosphere, this is a great space to unwind, while listening to some soothing jazz to wash your blues away.


DJ / LATE NIGHT JOINT 25 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 5333 6087 4pm to late Straddling Bia Hoi Corner and the cobblestoned end of Ta Hien, FatCat Bar is a small establishment from the minds behind the party and event organisers, LinkHanoi. The bar has tables filling the first floor and spilling onto the sidewalk as well as a small loft area for lounging. Nightly cocktail specials, reasonable bottles deals starting at VND500,000 and a DJ on the decks make up the mix.


ELECTRO LOUNGE 2 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3292 7614 8pm to late Owned by the people behind Face Club, the low, LED-lit venue has the feel of a VIP room situated in a larger club, only it’s not. While techno and trance are the genre’s of choice spun in the establishment by live DJs, patrons treat the space more like a lounge than a dancehall and typically order bottle service and cocktails. One of the Ta Hien mainstays.


LATE NIGHT LOCAL / LOUNGE 32 Ma May, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0947 893232 10am to late In the same building as the old Bucket Bar, Hair of the Dog, the first floor offers a large drinking space, graph-

ic artwork, sidewalk seating and a dance floor. Up the spiral staircase, there’s the late-night bar and shisha lounge complete with beanbags. Drawing in a mix of expats, backpackers and locals, when the bars across the street shut down, the mayhem continues in ‘The Dog’.


LATE DIVE BAR 62 Dao Duy Tu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 1943 3pm to late Often a bit dark and somewhat gloomy, “The Noodle” is still a hit with long term residents. With its all-hour eating options — ranging from cheese toasties and pizzas to grilled cod and bun cha — and its popular happy hour, this Old Quarter old-timer is still up there with the options. Between 11pm and 12.30am, local beers go for VND15,000 and mixers go for VND30,000. Friendly staff and talkative patrons included.


LIVE MUSIC VENUE 27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: 01633 166170 5pm to midnight With a downstairs, Englishstyle pub garden area and an upstairs space dedicated to live music and live production, Hanoi Rock City is the only venue in the capital of its kind. Has weekly live events featuring bands both from Vietnam and overseas — established and up and coming. Email jimihendrix@ for more information or check out their page on Facebook.


LIQUOR LOUNGE 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6377 8am to 11.30pm As part of the Highway 4 group, which now has its offices in the establishment’s upstairs areas, this barcum-restaurant outfitted with comfortable, stylish furnishings is famed for its luxurious rice wine liquors and newly created cocktail class. Does regular events on the first floor and also has a creative Vietnamese food menu based on cuisine sold at other restaurants in the chain.


IRISH PUB 4 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 2212 6821

8am to 2am The open-air watering hole with seating on the pavement is a great spot to enjoy a tall dark stout or light pilsner at anytime, day or night. What it lacks in gaudy decorations, it makes up for with a constant stream of regulars, occasional live Irish music and billiards on the third floor. Has a decent food menu and even better pizzas.


FRENCH-STYLE CONTEMPORARY Hotel de l’Opera, 29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 6282 5555 7am to 2am La Fée Verte (or the ‘Green Fairy’) is a metaphor for the decadence of another age, an allusion to the hallucinatory effects of absinthe. The signature bar of the Hotel de l’Opéra Hanoi where, just as in Paris at the dawn of the 20th century, the making of an evening drink a lavish event of ritual and celebration. Understated lighting, a lounge atmosphere, great music and ultra-contemporary interior design combine to bring a genuine sense of occasion to after-dark in the capital.

Late Delivery Service (LSD)

Tel: (04) 6290 7907 The only beverage delivery service in Hanoi operating throughout the night (6pm to 4 am). This unique delivery service runs every day and offers a wide variety of spirits, beers and other non –alcoholic drinks for you ro order from your home. Affordable prices with delivery available withing the six main districts of the city. Product origin and quality guaranteed.


CATWALK BAR 45 Hang Bai, Hai Ba Trung 8pm to late Lasers, pulsating trance, bottle service and nightly model shows. This venue is largely filled with flashy Vietnamese youngsters or older business types flashing their wads. Bottle service is a must, which is a little pricey, so if you ain’t got enough money then you probably won’t be sticking around to see the honeys.


LONG BAR 5 Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3825 0959 5pm to 2am

A bit musty and jaded, despite being one of the oldest pubs in the city, this staple watering hole on Bao Khanh continues to be a hit. Probably the closest thing Hanoi has to an authentic Englishstyle pub, Polite is frequented by a steady mix of locals and expats who find solace in the nightly conversations at the long bar, billiards and live football matches.


LAKESIDE WATERING HOLE 25 Duong Ven Tay Ho, Tay Ho Monday to Friday, 2pm to 11.30pm. Weekends open from 11am Located on the lakeside road just below Xuan Dieu and close to the entrance to The Sheraton, this quiet, casual pub offers up a variety of beer, wine and mixed drinks, juice, tea, Nespresso coffee and espresso and milkshakes, all with a nice view of West Lake. Nonsmoking indoors, Red River


HOLE IN THE WALL / IRISH 12A Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 2269 1107 Fronted by the affable Sean, and with Guinness, Jameson’s and a surprising amount of draught beer flowing from the taps, since its inauguration the tiny Spy Bar has managed to create a dedicated following despite its tiny size. With pictures of spies dotting the wall (both Vietnamese and international) and food delivery available from three restaurants, this is a great place to chill and shoot some welldeserved, Chuong Duong Bridge breeze.


ROOFTOP LOUNGE BAR 20th Floor, Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3823 8888 ext. 5314 4pm to Midnight Sunday to Wednesday, 4pm to 2am Thursday to Saturday While there are a few ‘rooftop bars’ in the capital, few hold a candle to the view on offer at the Summit Lounge. With a chilled but lively ambience, top shelf cocktails, and a Southeast Asian fusion bar menu, the Summit Lounge is a great place to pitch yourself above the madness and peer down at the chaos below in peace. Sunsets are particularly special.


MEET-UP SPOT 100A Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6917

4pm to late Filled with wooden furnishings and a downstairs bar with two beers on tap — as well as wine, cocktails and spirits on the shelves — this newcomer venue has a grill menu catering to the tastes of both East and West. For those in search of a good old-fashioned Sloppy Joe or grilled cheese, you’ll be glad to know the kitchen is stocked to the ceiling with comfort foods.


LOUNGE BAR / TERRACE 47 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3935 1874 8am to midnight A stone’s throw from Ta Hien, this bar-cum-loungecum-restaurant has all of the atmosphere present in bars scattered throughout the Old Quarter without being a dive. Enjoy a mixed drink, tacos or a Vietnamese staple starter with the occasional live DJ breaking out classic funk, soul and hip hop in the comfortable furnishings or on the back patio.




SPORTS BAR/GRILL 40 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho , Tel: (04) 6675 9838 11am to 12am This Canadian-run, miniscule sports bar on the main drag of Xuan Dieu is perpetually crowded with regulars drinking out front on plastic stools. Notorious for its mouth-watering burgers, cooked fresh to order, Tracy’s is most famous for their draft beers, claiming to serve the coldest draft beer in Hanoi, and always in a frosted mug. For those missing their dose of North American sports, they play all day via satellite on two plasmas.


INTERNATIONAL / FRENCH 11B Ngo Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0936 063303 4pm to late Slim but stylish two-storey bar located just at the bend on Bao Khanh. The friendly staff can make a range of well-made and colourful cocktails. Frequent DJ nights and parties are commonplace at this watering hole that caters to both foreign and Vietnamese. Does an excellent happy hour with specials on Ricard.


11th Floor, Hanoitourist Building, 18 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0968 385555 One of the city’s top-end nightclubs, FUSE has been dominating the social scene with its vast selection of imported liquor, top-end service and live music. Hosts monthly parties and social events.


If there's any industry where Hanoi excels, it's the industry that is all things coffee. Here is our list of some of the best places to drink coffee, tea and everything else non-alcoholic in this city.

Cafes Ciao Café

RESTO LOUNGE 2 Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3934 1494 7am to 11pm A stone’s throw from the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake, this Saigonese franchise tries it’s hand with a variety of different western dishes at reasonable prices, especially considering the location. Loaded with booths and a steady, young Vietnamese crowd, the establishment is a great place to squash a sandwich or bowl of pasta and people watch. Oh, and they also do coffee, too.


INTERNATIONAL COFFEE HOUSE 28 Thanh Nien, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3715 4240 7am to 10pm Finally the newest addition to the Hanoi coffee scene has opened a little closer to town than the first outlet in Pico Mall. Famous for the exceptional quality of the coffee and tea, the latest Coffee Bean 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 Westlake.


LEFTIST ARTSY CAFE 152D Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung; 32 Dien Bien Phu, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 2247 0602 8am to 10pm 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 cafes on ‘cafe street’. If you like pre-doi moi nostalgia, here is the place to go. And if you like more space and an outdoor terrace, hit Cong Caphe take two on Dien Bien Phu.


CONTEMPORARY / COFFEE CHAIN 5 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3936 3228 7am to 11pm As with any chain that attempts self-replication, there is a tried and tested formula. At Highlands it is

comfortable seating, good Wi-Fi, unobtrusive music and a mid-range, generic atmosphere. It works, too. The Starbucks of Vietnam, a French-influenced, international and pan-Asian food menu sits alongside the teas, coffee and cakes. Has other locations at 49 Hai Ba Trung, The Opera House, The Syrena Centre, Pacific Place and more.

Joma Bakery Cafe

COFFEE/BAKERY 222 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3747 3388; 43 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6071 7am to 9pm With two branches, Joma has brought a little slice of ‘home’ to Hanoi for expatriates with a contemporary western feel to the counter-style service and atmosphere. The food is all there too: breakfasts, salads, soups, ice cream, muffins, cakes, cereals and bagels. Starting in Laos in 1996, Joma moved to Hanoi in 2009. Joma contributes 2 percent of each sale to charitable organisations.


PATISSERIE / SIMPLE CAFE 252 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3825 0216 7am – 8pm A must-go-to place on a lazy day, Mr Chi’s long-standing patisserie is somewhat famous for its honest, homecooked food, no frills-butrelaxing environment and sour yoghurt fit for celebrities — Catherine Deneuve ate here daily during her time shooting Indochine. Hot fresh milk, exclusive coffee, awesome croque madames and local dishes, too. Replace WiFi with a book and aircon with ceiling fans; eat in, take away, the pastries are great and the price is always right.


CAFE / INTERNATIONAL 14-16 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem (04) 3825 6334 8am to 10pm Set in a deliciously attractive slightly run down colonial villa, the tourist friendly location gives Moca a large amount of guidebook-driven clientele. But don’t let this put you off. The faded but charmingly run down French-styled retro interior, good WiFi and some of the best coffee in town makes this a great spot to while away a couple of hours. The food menu mixes Vietnamese fare with sandwiches, western and pan-Asian mains.


La Grace

ART CAFE & GALLERY 8B/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: 0912 666736 7.15am to 10pm Located on a peaceful street named after the famous painter, To Ngoc Van, La Grace is a destination for those who appreciate life’s pleasures: drinks, food, arts and sometimes live music. Clean, comfortable and friendly, the venue has a nice selection of juices and smoothies and a Vietnamese-cum-Japanese food menu put together using organic vegetables. Set lunches cost VND150,000, and the café also has strong WiFi as well as separate non-smoking and smoking areas.

ITALIAN CAFE 36 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3718 0212 7am to 11pm Names of some of the world’s greatest cities cover the front wall of Segafredo, an Italian cafe and eatery serving up some of the best espresso-based coffee in town. Red and white decor, lifestyle black and white coffee drinking images and an open plan space make up the mix. Besides the caffeine-based drinks, also does granita, teas, shakes and modern Italian fare ranging from panini and focaccia through to pizza, pasta, salads and desserts.

TET Décor Café

Art Café & Espresso Bar Villa 25, 1, 3 Ha, Dang Thai, Tay Ho 8am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sunday Cloistered among the back streets of West Lake and sheltered from the noise of

hanoi Xuan Dieu, TET Décor Café is a destination for those who appreciate life’s pleasures: coffee, food, art and music. Simple and unpretentious, the café has an old-fashioned warmth and rustic feel combined with unique and inspiring art installations.

mood so takes you. Organising bicycle tours, running yoga sessions and holding music concerts in their upstairs cafe area, they also sell, rent and fix bikes and are an official supplier of TREK and SURLY cycling equipment. Eclectic? Not a chance!



SANDWICH SHOP / CAFÉ 18 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem (entrance on street behind Au Trieu); 8B, Lane 1, Au Co, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 39382513 7:30am – 5pm Small a cozy café hidden on the quietest of Hanoian streets, with a new outlet on Nghi Tam, which is more like the big-windowed coffee shops you expect to see in Europe. The Cart 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.


44, Ngo 31, Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3718 8246 9am to 10pm Tucked down an alleyway just off West Lake, The Hanoi Bicycle Collective is not just a place for all bicycle lovers, but a café that also sells Spanish tapas served up with gin & tonic, if the

6 Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3938 2117 8am to 11pm Situated on one of the quieter Old Quarter streets just off Hang Bong, The Hanoi Social Club is a cozy midsize café/restaurant where you can forget the heat and bustle of Hanoi. The atmosphere is relaxed and you can imagine, for a second, that you’re sitting in a European café. The food is fresh and internationally inspired, and the design is complimented by the work of Tadioto’s Nguyen Qui Duc. To top it off, the coffee here is said to be up there with the best in the country.

Twitter Beans Coffee

45B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiemm Tel: (04) 3824 0760 With its modern and stylish décor, Twitter Beans attracts customers from all corners of Hanoi thanks to its diverse collection of 100 percent pure, roasted coffee, ranging from Arabica to reduced-caffeine coffee.


CAFÉ / BOULANGERIE 6 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3934 5269 7.30am to 11pm Time has been good to this airy, bistro-style café and patisserie opposite the Opera House. One of the original international-style establishments to hit the capital, despite its prime location prices remain reasonable — espressostyle coffees cost around VND40,000 — and the cakes and croissants are moreish. Also does filled baguettes and a larger café-cumrestaurant menu. Has a second establishment at 13 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem.


CAFE / BOULANGERIE 5 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3933 2355 7am to 10pm Decked out in maroon, dark browns and cream, this cafe and French-style boulangerie is best visited in the morning when that Gallic, fresh-cooked aroma of bread, croissants and patisseries hits you as you walk through the door. Serving all day long, the downstairs space is split into the bakery on one side with a small non-smoking dining space on the other. The homely upstairs lounge area has standard tables as well as sofa seating. Simple but tasty French and international fare is served at meal times.

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Want to know the best places to eat or drink in this city? Here is our pick of the top 100 restaurants


FRENCH BISTRO 12 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 1327 8am to 11pm Thanks to its original tiled floor, cast iron backed chairs and wall-hung black and white photography, there is something decidedly charming about this tiny Parisian-styled bistro and bar. Serving up a simple menu of snacks such as quiche Lorraine, Paris beurre and croque monsieur, there is also a selection of classic but unpretentious French mains. Has a daily specials board and a decent range of pizzas.


48 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3825 1286 10am to 11pm daily A leafy, cobblestone courtyard with dark green castiron backed chairs greets you as you walk into this French era-built villa that houses the main section of this Indochina-styled restaurant. Serving up an enticing mix of classic and contemporary French cuisine, blended in with Vietnamese ingredients and cooking styles, the resultant fare has had customers coming back again and again. A traditional Vietnamese and kids menu is also available, as is a wine list focusing mainly on French wines.


10 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3942 4509 11.30am to 2pm and 6pm to 10pm. Closed Sunday night. A white-washed, colonial era villa replete with period wooden shutters greets you as you enter this contemporary French restaurant. Guests can either dine indoors in aircon comfort or take to the leafy covered terrace out back with its walls lined with art and photography from 21st century Hanoi. The menu here mixes modern Gallic cuisine with a touch of Mediterranean and Vietnam thrown in, all creating an innovative and evoca-

tive selection of fare. Has an extensive wine list and an excellent, well-priced three-course lunch menu.

Saint Honore

19 Ngo Van So, Hai Ba Trung Tel: (04) 3944 6317 11.30am to 2pm, 6pm to 9.15pm Situated in an art-deco villa that was once owned by a Vietnamese mandarin, this establishment is now owned and run by perhaps the most famous French chef in the country. With modestly priced set lunches and subtle Vietnamese touches on the dishes, which primarily come from carefully selected domestic spices, the up market establishment lures in its high class customers with quality Vietnamese-French fusion cuisine.

BOULANGERIE / BISTRO 5 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3933 2355 7am to 10pm Decked out in maroon, dark browns and cream, this bakery and French-style bistro is best visited in the morning when that Gallic, fresh-cooked aroma of bread, croissants and patisseries hits you as you walk through the door. The downstairs space is split into the bakery on one side with a small non-smoking dining space on the other. The upstairs lounge area has standard tables as well as sofa seating. Simple French and international fare is served at meal times. Has additional venues at 31 Thai Phien, Hai Ba Trung and Unimart, 8 Pham Ngoc Thach, Dong Da




Sofitel Metropole Legend, 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3826 6919 6am to 10am, 11.30am to 2.30pm and 6.30pm to 10.30pm Classic French Indochine décor and subtle lighting give the Sofitel Metropole Legend’s signature restaurant an elegance rarely found in Vietnam’s capital. The a la carte menu pits classic French cuisine against contemporary Vietnamese cooking with dishes like Nha Trang lobster with saffron pot au feu, the pan fried veal tenderloin on a lemongrass skewer and the calisson parfait marinated with orange, pomelo and lemon balm. Has an extensive wine list.

FRENCH BRASSERIE/ VIETNAMESE SPECIALITIES 11B Ngo Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3828 7207 8am to 11pm Situated on Hanoi’s not-soserene ‘Pub Street’, Stop sponges up the surrounding atmosphere, which gives the French delicatessen a relaxed vibe that avoids pretension. The spot specialises in serving a mixture of western, French and Vietnamese fare, along with coffee, shakes and juice. The venue is more affordable then it’s sister location upstairs, Café de Arts, and is prime real estate to nibble on some quiche and quaff a juice on a sunny day.


PAN-FRENCH 11B Ngo Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3828 7207 10.30am to 2.30pm, 6pm to 10pm Clean and fresh with a fine-dining vibe, the Millennium restaurant is the minimal and chic result of a Café Des Arts makeover. The street’s new go-to for a high standard of eating and drinking goes over two floors and has a welcome and inviting three-level outdoor terrace high up amid the concrete and cables of the Old Quarter.

indian FOODSHOP 45

INTERNATIONAL INDIAN 59 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh Tel: (04) 3716 2959 32 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3993 1399 10am to 10.30pm Lakeside location, low bamboo seating and a history that screams empathy make this eatery one of the most popular Indians in town. Selling an international version of the mighty

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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. Also has a good range of breads and tandoor-cooked kebabs.


11 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3934 5657 Established in 1993, Khazaana remains the first Indian restaurant in Hanoi to offer traditional Indian cuisine. Serving authentic Indian dishes filled with aromatic spices. Khazaana truly brings a taste of India to Hanoi. A typical meal costs from VND250,000 toVND 500,000. Provides a vegetarian menu.


47 Lo Su, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3935 2400 11am to 2.30pm, 6pm to 10.30pm The latest newcomer to the Indian restaurants family, Namaste specializes in dishes from both northern and southern India — using Halal meat throughout. A meal will cost you between VND150,000 and VND300,000 and everything is there, from curries and breads to soups and desserts. Available to dine in or out with a free delivery


CONTEMPORARY INDIAN RESTAURANT 80 Ma May, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3926 0580 Located in the upstairs portion of its sister restaurant, Tamarind, Spice is an impressive extension to the Indian food choices in the city, providing quality nonvegetarian dishes and a comfortable seating area. Includes lounge seating and a colourful dining area with thoughtful artwork and photographs along its walls. Spice is a tropical, artistic, cultural, and attractive addition to the Old Quarter’s dining options. Specializes in seafood and classic Indian dishes.


24 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem. Tel: (04) 3824 5359 11am to 10.30pm A long-popular, Indianfood enclave specialising in Northern Indian cuisine. Has an indoor and upstairs, white tablecloth aircon area with a more casual dining and bar space out front. Does excellent kebabs served from an authentic tandoor oven as well as the full range of mainly North Indian curries. Also has a branch in Saigon and does excellent set lunches.

international AL FRESCO’S

AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL 19A Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3938 1155 98 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3719 5322 8.30am to 11pm With a real ‘diner’ kind of feel, Al Fresco’s serves up munchies-busting Aussie inspired food from a number of locations across the city including their original restaurant at 23L Hai Ba Trung. Topping the menu are the jumbo ribs at VND395,000, with generous helpings of pizzas, pastas, burgers, Tex-Mex, soups and salads going for less. The set business lunch is three courses for VND155,000. See the website for delivery numbers and don’t forget to ask for delivery deals. Have an efficient delivery service, but make sure you ask for knives and forks.


6A Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh Tel: (04) 3845 5224 11am to 2pm, 5pm to midnight A nicely themed Brazilian churrascaria steakhouse offering all you can eat grilled meat and seafood on the skewer, Au Lac do Brazil is not for the feint of stomach. In typical Brazilian rodízio fashion, waiters bring cuts of meat to the table for patrons to pick and choose, all for a set price. They also offer wine pairings, a salad bar and an a la carte menu, with a creative selection of

fruit caipirinhas on hand to wash it all down. The prices aren’t for anyone on a budget, but the amount and quality of meat is more than worth cost.

CAFÉ 129

MEXICAN/COMFORT FOOD 129 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung Tel: (04) 3821 5342 7.30am to 9.30pm Service at this “slow food café” is seriously snail paced, but that is part of the charm of this modest eatery with only a few tables and small stools. Popular as a weekend hangover mainstay for the greasy eggs with cheese, the café is best known for its not-quite Mexican food. But hey, when there’s guacamole, salsa fresca, beans and cheese, what can go wrong? Be sure to try the fresh juices, like the superbooster with beetroot, and the coffee with whipped egg.


MEDITERRANEAN / INTERNATIONAL Hotel de l’Opera, 29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 6282 5555 6am to 10pm Featuring both à-la-carte and buffet dining as well as an innovative Sunday brunch, this namesake of the French artist ToulouseLautrec provides an exotic ambience for diners to enjoy a mixture of international and Mediterraneanstyle fare. Has an extensive wine list to match the cuisine, which is all served up in a contemporary yet colonial-inspired environment.


CONTEMPORARY NORTH AMERICAN 16 Quang An, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3719 3719 Monday to Friday, 10am to late. Weekends 8am to late A bakery, bistro, restaurant, wine retailer, oyster bar and top floor lounge bar all in one, this lake-facing venue 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 fra-

grant Chinese black bean beurre noir to gourmet pizza and pasta dishes such as the likes of Iberian pata negra ham egg pasta served with crushed roasted garlic and manchego. Does an excellent range of imported oysters and has an extensive wine list.


99 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3718 6991 4pm to late This welcomed eatery combines traditional Argentinian recipes and preparation with great service in a contemporary and thoughtfully designed space over three floors. Already with two venues in Saigon — one near the Opera House and the other in Saigon South — the essence of this popular chain is quality top grade meats off the grill. Steak is the mainstay, but everything from chicken, pork and seafood is also up for grabs. Add to this a backdrop of low Latin music, low, subtle lighting and an extensive wine list and that’s another reason to head to El Gaucho.


WESTERN / VIETNAMESE 18 Hang Quat, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3928 9916 7.30am to 11.30pm Sophisticated restaurant set inside an Old Quarter boutique hotel. Formerly a school, and now also on Cat Ba Island, Green Mango serves Vietnamese and western food, ranging from sandwiches and pasta to lamb chops and VND700,000 Angus rib-eyes. Buy-one-getone-free deals on cocktails and beers every day from 4pm to 6pm and Lavazza coffee at all hours. With comfy seats and a soft setting, the function room at the back often hosts charity events and semi-formal gettogethers.


SINGAPOREAN / CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL Pacific Place, 29 Xuan Dieu, Ty Ho Tel: (04) 3946 0121 Monday – Saturday 11am to 11pm. Closed on Sundays A secluded courtyard in the heart of Pacific Place plays host to one of the capital’s best restaurants. A two-floored venue split into a downstairs tapas and bar area,with a refined dining space located on the level above, the menu includes Singaporean specialities such as the shrimp satay salad and the chilli crab spaghetti. A panEuropean classical menu mixed in with light Asian flavours is also on offer, with dishes such as pan-braised Alaskan cod with sea winkle crust and the braised pork belly in shoyu and sweet mirin making an appearance. Has an extensive wine list.


Sheraton Hotel, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3719 9000 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6.30pm to 10pm The newest Steak & Seafood dining experience in Hanoi. Hemispheres Steak & Seafood Grill offers a wonderful menu covering both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Choose from Black Angus, US Prime Sirloin, Rib Eye, Rump and Tenderloin grilled to perfection. Prefer Seafood – no problem, Lobster, Oysters, Prawns, Fresh Fish, Clams and Crabs are all available for your dining pleasure, as well as an impressive array of wines by the glass & bottle from our


VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL 34 Rue Chau Long, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3942 4448 Open from 7am to 10pm This restaurant, which schools and employs disadvantaged youths, has been popular for 11 years — as a grand villa and courtyard setting tucked away in the corner of Ha Hoi. Popular with business types, tourists and expats alike, who enjoy good food while supporting a good cause, mains like cha ca and steaks go for VND99,000 and VND289,000 respectively, and there are six set menus available which take in Vietnamese, French and Italian cuisine.


23J Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3938 8388 9.30am to midnight Then newest venture from the team behind Jaspa’s and Pepperoni’s is an all-day eating and drinking lounge fit for all occasions. It has three floors for different vibes – lounge bar, restaurant and “boardroom” – but fine imported steads can be found on each, as well as seafood and a huge wine list. A popular venue.


INTERNATIONAL / AUSTRALIAN Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung (4th Floor), Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3934 8325 6.30am to midnight Recently refurbished, the Australian-influenced Jaspa’s is known for its attentive service, tasty food and large portions. A place with something for everyone, it has proved itself to be popular with both the western and Asian expat communities who come back again and again. The comprehensive menu is a fusion of western and Asian cooking. The cocktails come large. The wine is mainly New World. Also has a spacious bar and lounge area that stays open late for all the live sport.

Western staff speak English and French.


INTERNATIONAL CAFE FARE 7A, 40 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3719 2679 7am to 9pm Despite a two-storey indoor dining space, Kitchen is all about its leafy, terracotta-tiled terrace out front, a great space for eating the decent breakfasts (check out the breakfast burrito), the creatively titled sandwiches and the selection of international salads. Also does a range of Mexican dishes (available after 5pm) and an innovative smattering of healthy, smoothie-style drinks. Has amiable know-your-name staff and a good delivery service.


RESTAURANT / CAFÉ / BAR 59 Van Mieu, Dong Da Tel: (04) 3747 0337 Monday: 7.00am to 4pm; Tuesday to Sunday: 7am to 9.30pm All profit is invested back into the cause at Koto, which is a school and workplace for disadvantaged students opposite the Temple of Literature. Authentic Asian and European cuisine comes out of a visible and frenetic kitchen and 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.


VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL 25 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3928 8933 8am to 10pm The complimentary warm bread with rosemary is reason enough to visit this homely spot featuring hearty lentil and black bean soups, along with a range of international and Vietnamese options like New Zealand beef tenderloin or tofu with chilli and mushrooms. We aren’t quite sure why the Miele Guide nominated it as one of Asia’s finest restaurants as service is lackadaisical and tables could use candles to improve the lackluster ambience, but the immaculately tasty dishes more than make up for any quips.


VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL 21 – 23 Hang Gai Street, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3828 5333 7:30am — 11:00pm A tourist hotspot and one for locals, too, Little Hanoi near Hoan Kiem Lake has been going sturdy since 1994 — mainly for its central location, range of sandwiches, pastas and Vietnamese cuisine. Baguettes go from VND95,000 and mango salads VND99,000, not to mention the coffee at around VND50,000, wines and fresh fruit juices. With Indochina-inspired art on the walls and jazz in the background, Little Hanoi is a little escape from the chaos of the central lake.


INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE 40 Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh Tel: (04) 3734 3098 11am to 11pm Located in the grounds of the Fine Arts Museum, this classy restaurant and wine bar mixes attractive décor with western cuisine, all cooked up by a New Zealand-trained Vietnamese chef. Famed for its salads, good cuts of steak, lamb shank and its various pasta fare, the menu here also incorporates a number of well-known Vietnamese dishes.


PAN-CHINESE Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh Tel: (04) 3831 3333 11am to 2pm, 5.30pm to 10pm Elegant and luxurious, May Man has long been regarded as one of the best Chinese restaurants in Hanoi. Showcasing a selection of authentic Chinese culinary delights and Yum Cha at its finest, with seven private dining rooms this is a place to get dressed up for. Has extensive a la carte menus, dim sum menus and set menus. Reservations recommended.


PAN-CHINESE Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh Tel: (04) 3823 8888 11am to 2pm, 5.30pm to 10pm A fine dining destination at the


IBERIAN / MEDITERANEAN 25 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3828 9052 8am to 11pm A small but eternally popular Spanish-themed café and bar with an extensive list of reliable cuisine. Tapas are available, as well as full courses such as veal, and duck with currant sauce. Known for its good, European-style coffee and fantastic first-floor terrace area with views over the cathedral.

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hanoi * * * TOP 100

Want to know the best places to eat or drink in this city? Here is our pick of the top 100 restaurants in Hanoi. Feel we're missing something or have included the wrong places? Simply email

Sofitel Plaza serving Cantonese and pan-Chinese cuisine in a sleek modern setting with private dining rooms. With more than 80 dim sum selections available along with Chinese entrees, Ming’s is an ideal eatery for those hungry for higher end Chinese fare.


INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN The Opera House, 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3933 4801 11am to 2pm, 6pm to 10pm Named after the completion date of the Opera House under which it is located, walk inside and a labyrinthine-like, barebrick wall hallway leads you through to the main dining area. With dark browns, deep yellow tablecloths and a refined ambience aided by background classical music, the menu takes in western, pan-Asian and seafood fare and even has its own section dedicated entirely to foie gras. Has a 100-strong old and new world wine list that includes Bordeaux vintages and also boasts a cheaper, outdoor garden space next to Highlands Coffee.


CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL 3rd Floor, 59A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3934 0888 11.30am to 2pm and 6pm to 10.30pm. Closed Sunday lunch Wooden flooring, paneling and bold but subtle colours pervade this traditional but contemporary, fine-dining 70-seater venue close to the Opera House. Serving up quality cuisine for over a decade, Press Club boasts a bar area, two private dining rooms, including a wine room, a library and a vast selection of cigars, all in an elegant atmosphere. Does four excellent wine pairing menus, put together through the aid of the Press Club’s extensive new and old world wine list. Also hosts a popular first-Fridayof-the-month party.


TEX-MEX / BURGERS / INTERNATIONAL 18 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0912223966 The successor of My Burger My, this American-run, self-styled burger bar and restaurant fits a lot into a tiny, multi-storey space.

Specializing in tasty, American-style, chargrilled burgers from around VND50,000 with a range of additional toppings including jalapeno peppers, smoked bacon, mushrooms, cheddar cheese and avocado, the creative menu also has a good range of Tex-Mex fare, a number of pan-Asian dishes and a decent delivery service.


CONTEMPORARY VEGETARIAN 80 Ma May, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3926 0580 5.30am to 10.30pm Perhaps the only restaurant in Hanoi to cater to vegetarians that doesn’t focus on faux meat, Tamarind features a wide range of juices and shakes in a crunchy granola backpacker atmosphere. Breakfast is served all day and with Asian favourites, like vegetarian pho, Ma-Po tofu and Thai glass noodle salad, along with some falafel and western influences, vegetarians and carnivores alike will find something to try on this menu.


FRENCH FLAIR 2/2c Van Phuc, Ba Dinh Tel: (04) 3726 4782 7.30am to 9pm A modern eatery offering western cuisine with shades of French influence in a comfortable setting. Think gardens in a courtyard, drink and food deals and a warm indoor atmosphere — you know, just how the French do it.

Zenith Yoga Studio II & Café

16 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3923 0253 Besides offering a range of yoga, pilates and tai chi classes, Zenith sports a café with fresh, healthy and daily homemade food. Serves up vegetarian, vegan, raw cuisine, fresh juice and delicious smoothies.

italian ANGELINA

CONTEMPORARY ITALIAN Sofitel Metopole Legend Hotel, 56 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3826 6919 11.30am to 2.30pm and 6.30am to late (restaurant) 11am to 2am (bar) There are only two truly top-end, contemporary Italians in Vietnam and Ange-

lina claims pride of place in this elite group. This doesn’t mean that prices here are off limits — take a similar eatery in Europe and here you are paying a third, which all makes a meal here a special affair. The carpaccios are to die for, the pastas are all home made, the pizzas are wood-fired and the steaks are chargrilled. Does a great three-course set lunch for VND520,000++.


CLASSIC ITALIAN 18 Lane 50/59/17 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3718 6317 11am to 11pm This airy, contemporary looking Italian restaurant next to the famed lawn chair and coconut café on West Lake has all the right ingredients to become a classic. Run by the long time former manager of Luna D’Autunno, it features scrumptious woodfired oven pizzas from VND120,000 and other Italian delicacies. Open every day for lunch and dinner, delivery is also available.


CLASSIC ITALIAN 78 Tho Nhuom, Hoan Kiem. Tel: (04) 3823 7338 11am to 11pm This old-favourite Italian restaurant has been going for 10 years. It uses traditional wood ovens to prepare some of the city’s finest pizzas, which range from VND60,000 to buildyour-own-skies-the-limit. Set inside a large, thoughtful space with over 35 covers and an outside courtyard, seasoned chefs also make fresh pastas, soups and cheeses — the latter often bought by other restaurants. Monthly photo exhibitions and opera nights make it well worth a visit, as does the large wine list and choice of desserts.


PAN-ITALIAN 23 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3826 6288 10am to 11pm This long-running, cozy restaurant near the cathedral serves all the traditional Italian fare you could need — homemade mozzarella and fresh pasta, spinach and ricotta ravioli, cold cut boards, soups, salads and fish. Throw in an extensive wine list, a traditional wood fire oven and a balcony spot looking over Hanoi’s trendy café scene and

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you’re onto a winner.


PAN-ITALIAN 3 Nguyen Khac Can, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3826 9080 8am to 10.30pm Just a stroll away from the Hanoi Opera House and Hoan Kiem Lake in the heart of Hanoi, Pane e Vino serves up authentic Italian food and has done for as long as anyone can remember. Renowned for the highly rated, oven fresh pizzas and large variety of pasta and salad dishes — look forward to fine food done well at this eatery that has the feel of Europe. Huge wine lists, friendly staff and a loveable owner.

Japanese & Korean Asahi Sushi

288 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: (04) 3974 5945 Authentic Japanese restaurant with most of the ingredients and produce imported from Japan. Dishes range from VND50,000 to VND300,000 for their sushi and sashimi, grill dishes start from around VND500,000. Has a good delivery service.


JAPANESE RICE EATERY 166 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung Tel: (04) 3978 1386 11.30am to 1.30pm, 5pm to 10.30pm, closed Sunday Sushi, soba, sake. Buy a big bottle of sake and the staff will put your name on it and keep it until next time. Dine at the downstairs bar or in one of the private rooms with sliding doors for an authentic Japanese experience. Although Ky Y specialises in rice-style working man’s fare, it’s hard to go wrong with anything on the menu, but the Japanese omelets, tempura and saucy eggplant dishes are perennial crowd pleasers.


SINGAPORE PERANAKAN CUISINE 63 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh Tel: (04) 3715 2992 5pm to midnight By the shores of Truc Bach Lake is the newly opened

Singapore Peranakan Restaurant with its authentic, Straits fusion fare emanating from Singapore, Malacca and Penang. Boasting the mouthwatering nasi lemak as its signature dish, all the fare here is homecooked by the owner / partner who spent five years living and studying in Singapore. This is tasty, home-cooked, well-priced fare in a pleasant but tranquil setting.

Vietnamese Club Opera Novel

17 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3972 8001 Located in the heart of the city, this airy and spacious restaurant has a relaxed, high-end atmosphere thanks to historical décor from the French era. Serves traditional Vietnamese dishes with a twist. Has an extensive wine selection.


VIETNAMESE / ETHNIC 5 Hang Tre, hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3926 4200 575 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh Tel: (04) 3771 6372 54 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3796 2647 25 Bat Su, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3926 0639 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3718 6377 10am to midnight Always busy, often hectic, this multi-floored restaurant is for diners who don’t mind loud noises and sitting on the floor. It’s best for groups so you can order an array of dishes ranging from the more exotic frog legs, buffalo and ostrich, to the trusted standbys; catfish spring rolls, papaya salad and fried tofu. But it’s the exclusive Highway 4 flavoured rice wines that can be taken as shots or mixed into cocktails that keep this place crowded.


GOURMET VIETNAMESE 4 Ton That Thiep, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3747 8337 10am-2pm, 5pm-10pm 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, in a casually elegant setting that make this spot near the train tracks standout. Be sure to

try the roll-your-own cha ca spring rolls and check the schedule for live traditional music.


57 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung Tel: (04) 3944 0204 11.30am to late 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.


29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 6282 5555 ext. 6414 Situated in the heart of Hotel de l’Opera’s 8 storey central atrium, Satine offers a high class dining experience. Signature Vietnamese dishes from around the country will be presented to guests including some of the country’s best kept culinary secrets passed down by generations.

Restobars DALUVA

CLASSY FUSION 33 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3718 5831 8am until late A popular hang-out for expats and trendy Vietnamese in the Xuan Dieu area on West Lake. This bar and restaurant offers casual dining with a classy twist, as well as wine, tapas, events and attractive décor. Additional services include catering, BBQ rentals, playroom, kids menu, takeaway and local delivery.


FRENCH LOUNGE 95 Giang Van Minh, Ba Dinh Tel: 0976 751331 10am to midnight 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 Promotions} the sandwiches, tartines and salads. It’s always crowded — especially during the weekends. Amiable staff, pleasant vibes.


INTERNATIONAL G2-G3 Ciputra, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3758 2400 7am to 11pm One of the larger and more comfortable bars in Hanoi, J.A.F.A. is a great place for drinking cocktails by the pool. The beverages are not the cheapest, but this is made up for by service and ambiance. They also have a full menu featuring familiar western dishes such as pizza and cheeseburgers and cater for large parties or dinner functions. Periodic buffets and drink specials are also offered.


23J Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3938 8388 9.30am to midnight This new addition to the city from the Alfresco’s Group is definitely the meatiest yet. In the shape of a four floor, chic restobar — which has a bar lounge on the ground, a restaurant vibe on the second and third, and a “boardroom” on the fourth — Jacksons Steakhouse serves of well presented plates of imported Oz and New Zealand steaks as well as seafood. Of course, the large restaurant wouldn’t be complete without a large wine list to match.


ART DECO / INTERNATIONAL 58A Tran Quoc Toan, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3941 3336 8am to 10pm Located on the corner of Quang Trung, this large new cafe, restaurant and bar is housed in a restored colonial building. The beautiful courtyard is liberally decorated with plants, fans, blowlight jets of water, and shade is provided by tasteful cream parasols. Inside, a non-smoking, air-conditioned room is the perfect place to escape the heat. Western and Vietnamese fare is on offer, they have a huge range of wine, beer and coffee and they serve excellent fries too.


BRITISH / INTERNATIONAL 25 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3926 2104 7am to midnight Dark red walls and even darker brown seating run through the homely and casual Le Pub, one of the few bars in town with a regular stream of clientele. A long list of imported beer, Tiger draft, a decent international cum Vietnamese food menu, happy hour specials and live sport make up the comfortable mix. The venue also gets involved in the local community through regular events. Has a second Le Pub at Third Floor, 9 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho.


INTERNATIONAL / CAFE 16-18 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3938 1745 Open 24 hours This spacious spot on food street is open around the clock, offering Aussie-inspired comfort food along with more eclectic Irish nachos, cottage pies and pan-Asian fare. Upstairs is fit for social gatherings and live music while the nosmoking downstairs space is filled with people working and socialising. Serves as community centre, catering both to ravenous backpackers who’ve just arrived off the night train from Sapa and locals looking to meet up.


BAR, CAFÉ AND MUSIC VENUE 256 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 6295 8215 Come grab a drink at the newly revamped R &R to enjoy a taste of American style brew and their comforting Western dishes. The pub still lives up to its old name, providing an array of drinks, buzzing chatter, and of course, some quality live rock music. Its upstairs area is equipped with a sound system and stage setup for weekly shows and events while the downstairs area houses a classic bar that gives a finishing touch to the friendly community environment.


SKYLINE LOUNGE 19th Floor, Pacific Place, 83B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3946 1901 8am to midnight If location counts for anything, then here it is spec-

tacular. With a 270-degree view over the whole of the city, the up-on-high theme of the Rooftop is used to its full. The bar is pretty cool, too, with bare brick, sofastyle seating, glass fronted wine displays and a private room out back for more intimate drinking. Also does day-time office lunches, coffee and decent bar food.


CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL 28 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3938 1979 Sunday to Wednesday 11.30am to midnight. Thursday to Saturday 11.30am to 2am An American-run casual yet sophisticated restobar on Food Street with a great outdoor terrace area, a shared indoor bar space, a chef’s table and upstairs seating. Matched by contemporary décor, the creative food menu focuses on doing comfort food well, while a decent new and old world wine list and innovative cocktails make up the mix. Popular with the media and artsy set.


Building A Second Floor ,9 Tran Thanh Tong Tel: (04) 6680 9124 8.30am to Midnight Alternative and nostalgic restaurant bar with a dim lit conversational ambience. This French-style villa is adorned with oldworld architectural styles and hints of engaging contemporary artwork along its walls. Enjoy a glass of wine to complement a variety of succulent light dishes in this combination café, bar, and gallery. Includes lounge seating, two bars, an outdoor patio, and two multi-purpose rooms for small gatherings. Tadioto is an exciting, intimate venue for live music, literary readings, and art showcases.

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Romantic Escape to Halong Bay If you want to celebrate some special moments with the one you love, Novotel Ha Long Bay is offering some nice touches to the ultimate romantic break. You can have a guaranteed upgrade to an Executive Room, receive special welcome gifts, one hour massage treatments for two, breakfast served daily in the hotel restaurant, an in-room candlelit five-course dinner and late check-out subject to availability. And all this for just VND3,870,000++ per room per night. The deal is valid until Dec. 31. For more information see Spoil Yourself at the Metropole Spa Indulge in a rejuvenating spa treatment — a refreshing escape for mind and body — with this month’s enticing special offer from Le Spa du Metropole. Rejuvenate with one of their Ytsara facials and receive a 30-minute Champi scalp massage to relieve any head tension and melt away your stress. Costing just VND1.6 million per person, the promotion is available to the end of October. For more details call (04) 3826 6919 ext: 8700 or email Van Chai Autumn and Winter Deals Van Chai Resort in Sam Son, Thanh Hoa, has a great deal for all room types at VND1,399,000++ running until Dec. 31 (note the deal is not applicable for family room

types and Van Chai Villas). There is also a 10 percent discount on food and beverages at the resort restaurant and a 20 percent discount for treatment at the resort’s Co Nature Spa. For more info contact the Hanoi Sales Office on (04) 3717 2438 or email Mercure Goes into Middle Age Until Oct. 25, Mercure Hanoi La Gare Hotel will be celebrating the ‘Mercure Brand 40th Anniversary’. During this period, there will be a number of special discounts and events. These include a special set menu for two at their restaurant, Brasserie Le Pavillon, for US$40 (VND840,000) and a special healthy menu with all items costing VND40,000++ and much more. Mercure Hanoi La Gare is at 94 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3944 7766 Deals at The Summit The Summit Lounge on the top floor of the Sofitel Plaza has a number of ongoing promotions this month including halfprice refills of the same drink daily from 5pm to 8pm, and a two-hour free flow of red and white house wine with complimentary snacks for VND350,000++ every Tuesday. A similar deal is repeated for two hours on Sunday nights from 6pm to 10pm, but this time with Tiger Draught, Hanoi Beer or Halida beer for VND250,000++. The Summit Lounge is on the top floor of Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh

October 2013 Word | 161


{THE Alchemist} Balancing Act

LEISU Time to release all that pent up energy - it’s not all work Here are some ideas for better ways to spend that free time

book shops

swimming pools


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

Cinemas Cinematheque


was sitting discussing the topic of my upcoming article when the person I was speaking with summarised and said, “It’s all about balance.” Balance implies harmony, peace and stability, and is something most of us recognise the importance of yet struggle to attain. We get caught up in the hectic pace of our life and inevitably something suffers for it, whether it is our health or our relationships. It is not only our relationships to those around us that strain under the pace, but our relationship to ourselves and a higher divine source can also diminish and leave us without a clear sense of purpose. British author Rumer Godden writes: “Everyone is a house with four rooms: Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.” In order to achieve balance or a sense of completeness, it is necessary to engage all aspects of our being so as to enhance overall wellness. It is not essential that we spend equal time ensuring these different dimensions are healthy, but we should spend some amount of time with each every day.

Nurture Your Whole Being In order for our physical aspect to remain healthy, we need exercise; our mental aspect needs the mental stimulation of engaging work; our emotional aspect requires participation in activities that

162 | Word October 2013

bring us joy; our spiritual aspect yearns for a connection to a higher source whether it is our higher selves or a higher power. Attending to each of these aspects requires a concerted effort and often it is our spiritual aspect that is less attended to. We often do not make time for it, but we also lack a sense of what it may be or imply. Some people deny the existence of a spiritual dimension altogether because it requires faith in the unseen. Of course there are many who have an intimate connection with their spiritual aspect and a deep sense of faith that they carry close to their hearts. According to research, the faith that these people have contributes positively to their mental health and in turn to other aspects of their being.

Cherish the Unknown In his advice to nurturing our spiritual life, Deepak Chopra encourages us to embrace and cherish the unknown. Just like there are many ways to nurture our physical, mental and emotional aspects, so too are there many ways to nurture our spiritual aspect, and each person’s methods will be unique to them. Some ways and means to this are meditation, prayer, time in nature, practicing stillness, creating, dancing or singing. Let your heart guide you as you endeavour to maintain your equilibrium on life’s tightrope. — Karen Gay Karen Gay, A-Roaming Bodyworker, is a holistic health practitioner practicing in Hanoi. For information on the types of services provided, visit

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

Clubs & Societies American Club

21 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3824 1850 A bit worn around the edges, but the facilities are still useful and the grounds pleasant. They host frequent events that are open to the public. Wide lawn, volleyball and basketball courts may make the place worth a visit.

Hanoi International Theatre Society (HITS) A non-profit theatre club that produces small scale drama productions in English, often with Vietnamese subtitles. Since 2001, HITS have been drawing the attention of a large audience all over Vietnam. Auditions are open to anyone with a passion for theatre.


24 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3936 2164 A space for creativity, arts appreciation and performing arts. As a French cultural club, members can enjoy a variety of French classic films, music and theatre, as well as socialise with friends

Army Hotel

33C Pham Ngu Lao, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3825 2896

Four Seasons

14 Dang Tien Dong, Dong Da Tel: 3537 6250

Hanoi Club

76 Yen Phu, Tay Ho Tel: 3823 8115

Horison Fitness Center 40 Cat Linh, Ba Dinh Tel: 3733 0808

Melia Hotel

44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3934 3343


4 Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3933 1049

Sao Mai

10 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 3161

Sofitel Plaza Fitness Center 1 Thanh Nien, Tay Ho Tel: 3823 8888

Than Nhan

Vo Thi Sau, Hai Ba Trung, (Inside the park)

Thang Loi Hotel 200 Yen Phu, Tay Ho

over an espresso in the petite café in the building.


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



{ book Buff } Countries of the Mind

and propping up the bar, you know.


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


68, Ngo 27 Xuan Dieu, Ba Dinh Tel: 0976848301 The well-known restaurant also offers one-off cooking courses in the kitchens at their Truc Bach location. Don’t worry if you forget some of the tricks, as the class includes a recipe booklet.


Lane 52/28, House 9, To Ngoc Van Tel: 01268706708 This charitable organisation, which helps street kids gain the skills to succeed in the hospitality industry, also offers cooking classes to the public on Tuesdays at their training centre. Learn how to make some of the items on their menu at home. Pick up is also available at their Van Mieu location.

Cycling The Hanoi Bicycle Collective (THBC)

44, Ngo 31, Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3718 8246 Tucked down an alleyway just off West Lake, The Hanoi Bicycle Collective is a place for all bicycle lovers! An official supplier of TREK and SURLY cycling equipment, the joint not only sells but also rents and fixes bicycles. To add to the eclectic, community spirit they also organise bicycle tours, run yoga sessions, hold music concerts in their upstairs cafe area and run a great menu of Spanish tapas served up, if you so wish, with gin & tonic. Quite a mix!


This month, Bookworm’s Truong looks at the work of Asian writer Mosin Hamid, Evie Wyld and the return of Bridget Jones

ay back in 2007 Pakistani writer Mosin Hamid dazzled me with his The Reluctant Fundamentalist which is written as a tense dramatic monologue. The reader is understood to be an American visitor to Lahore and the narrator, Changez, a Pakistani national educated in America who admits to being pleased with the results of 9/11. The novel deals with the tensions that Hamid suggests exist between Pakistan’s middle class and the uber-rich. Both groups find it easier to take comfortable refuge within the anti-American mindset of the fundamentalists rather than put themselves in the firing line by challenging it. It was shortlisted for the Man-Booker prize. This year Hamid’s latest book hit the shelves comes with a provocative title — How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. It’s a parody of those self-help books that encourage readers to make as much as they can regardless of whom they tread into the mud in the process. They are as popular with wannabe young entrepreneurial types in today’s rising Asia as they once were in the West. It’s written in the most uncommon literary voice, the second person, with the author addressing the reader as YOU. It’s an excellent device for a writer like Hamid who writes in prose that intoxicates and moves along at an exhausting, forceful pace. You are immediately in the shoes of a poverty-stricken youngster. But you have luck on your side. You are the third child of a struggling rural family and being third-born means that you don’t have to go to work

at an early age to help support the family like your brother had to, or get married off like your sister and stay in the home village. You didn’t die prematurely as did a couple of your siblings. Being third born you are able to stay in school. Then you are luckier still because you get sick and the family has to move to the city to get medical help. These spurts of luck mean you can position yourself at an early age on first rung of the How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia ladder. You start by selling pirated DVDs on the streets, then you home deliver dodgy bottled water, and as you force your way up you learn how to circumvent the incredible violence and corruption that abounds until you are rich enough to have the luxury to decide which of your numerous toilets you will use next. All the while, as you rise up to the upper echelons of power (minus the fingers you lost when you weren’t as lucky as you are now), you assiduously look after the interests of your family, relatives and your employees. As long as they remain loyal to you. It can be read as set in any developing Asian country.

Beyond the Man Booker A few months ago we selected Evie Wyld’s prize winning first novel, After The Fire, A Still Small Voice, as one of the best reads we’d come across this year. Her 2013 effort , which has received rave reviews and upset some critics because it wasn’t long listed for this year’s Man Booker Prize, is even better and also has a title that snatches at the poetic tendrils of your mind. All the Birds Singing, like its predecessor,

explores the life of an outsider, this time a young woman named Jake who seems determined to disappear. Half the novel is set in the present on an isolated English island where Jake runs a small sheep farm by herself and where she deliberately isolates herself from other inhabitants. The intervening chapters are set in outback parts of Australia and are memories that haphazardly layer themselves and give an insight into the horrors and secrets of her earlier life down under. As one reviewer puts it: “Wyld's greatest triumph is having discovered and developed what Hemingway once coined ‘the aesthetics of omission’ — the practice of creating meaning and even suspense by what is deliberately left out of the story.” As the novel draws to a conclusion there is a suggested redemption and a hint of coming calm and we begin to understand where Jake’s Australian nightmare began and why she now lives on a bleak, northern island where, “the wild wind whips sheep dung in her face”.

The Return of the Diarist Bridget Jones, now into her mid forties, has been resurrected by author Helen Fielding and the new novel is due for release this month. There are a lot of us who fell in love with Bridget via the first two novels and movies, and who can’t wait to see if she’s still into booze, cigarettes and crazy diets, and if she’s now into texting and the pleasures of social media. The first two books sold over 15 million copies worldwide and Mad about the Boy could be a hot item.

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139 Nghi Tam, Q.Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3718 6869 Cosy, friendly and well equipped dance studios offering dance and fitness classes for adults and children. Classes include ballet, folk dance, jazz, hiphop, contemporary, belly dance, salsa, zumba and yoga for family. Instructors are qualified and certified from Vietnam Dance College or overseas.

Fitness California Fitness & Yoga

Capital Tower, 41 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3936 0888 One of the leading fitness and yoga centres in Vietnam, with a complete set of modern, top-end gym equipment. Yoga, Zumba and Aerobic classes are available.


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

Hanoi Club

76 Yen Phu, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3823 8115 A great socialising spot for golf enthusiasts. The views from the driving range look straight out on to the beautiful West Lake. Members can also participate in adventurous water activities such as kayaking. Has a gym and fitness centre, a spa, restaurant and bar.

N Shape Fitness

5th Floor, 71 Nguyen Chi Thanh, Ba Dinh Tel: (04) 6266 0495 N Shape Fitness has maintained its high reputation since 2009 with its diverse range of equipment, facilities and classes. Spacious and airy, this gym also has a juice bar providing healthy and refreshing drinks.

Shiva Studios

51 A Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Najla Ammouri’s new studio offering yoga, pilates, meditation and Bollywood

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Dancing only recently opened, but already has a following. Najla is an internationally qualified life coach and a yoga and pilates instructor, with over 15 years experience of transforming people’s lives.


40 Ngo 76 An Duong, Tay Ho Tel: 0914143185 Although a little hard to find, VietClimb is a Frenchowned, 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 threemonth pass.

Hairdressers & Salons DINH HAIR SALON

2A Cua Bac, Ba Dinh Tel: 09877 18899 A small but popular hair salon that serves both expats and locals. The many repeat customers go back because of Dinh’s willingness to both follow instructions, or to be creative when asked. Services include scalp massage, shampooing, colouring and styling.

Studios Work Room Four

Building E, Floor 4, 9 Tran Thanh Tong, Hai Ba Trung A place to work. A space to create. Somewhere to see something new. Work Room Four is pulling together the threads of creative endeavours across Hanoi. A collective that promotes collaboration and new ideas, exhibitions, workshops, artist studios, courses, contacts and events.

Recreation Royal City Ice Skating Rink

72A-74 Nguyen Trai, Thanh Xuan Tel: 0936 469799 The first internationalstandard ice skating rink in Hanoi. Spreads over 3,000 sqm, Royal City Ice Rink has attracted many visitors and skating enthusiasts around the city since its recent opening. Skating shoes can be hired.

Tay Ho Paintball Club

80, Alley 445, Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho Tel: 0934 529992 If you’re up for some action then paintball is the perfect option for you. In-

structors and referrers are always available to help. A one-hour game will set you back VND150,000.


So 40, Ngo 76, An Duong Tel: 0914 548903 Vietclimb was first started to bring together the climbing community around North Vietnam. In 2010 they decided to open the first climbing gym in Hanoi. The gym has 100 climbing problems of different grades suitable for every level. Also run tours to various climbing locations close to Hanoi.



77 Hong Mai, Bach Mai, Hai Ba Trung Tel: (04) 3627 7106 The first and only Laser Tag Arena in Hanoi, modeled after an abandoned chemical factory. Refreshments with Vietnamese and western food are served at the bar. Also provides gaming for players waiting outside. VND50,000 for an hour game during weekdays, VND100,000 on weekends.

Swimming Pools Keangnam Swimming Pool

Landmark 72 Tower, Pham Hung, Cau Giay Tel: (04) 3772 3801 With two separate swimming pools, one to relax and bask in the sun and one for fitness, The Landmark 72 provides a relaxed atmosphere in the heart of the new city.

Yoga & Meditation ZENITH YOGA

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

Do you think you should be listed on these pages? If so, simply email us on listings@wordvietnam. com and we’ll see what we can do. We can’t promise but we’ll try our best

FASHION Looking good and dressing even better is big in this image-conscious metropolis. So, here are some of the fashion options available to you in Hanoi

Accessories & Footwear BOO SKATESHOP

84 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3923 1147 This skateshop offers a variety of clothes, shoes and skateboarding equipment. Most of the T-shirts are made and designed in Vietnam, while the shoes and other equipment are made for export, often rejected due to minor defects. Staff is knowledgeable about Hanoi’s best skateboarding spots.


15 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3928 8725 The jewellery on offer, designed by a Belgian expat, often features chunkier gold shapes with small, wellplaced diamonds. Hidden in the back of the store there is also a display case featuring less-expensive costume jewelry.


222 Tran Duy Hung, Cau Giay

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

Citimart Hanoi Towers


Supermarkets Big C Supermarket

49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem

Citimart Vincom Towers 191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung


210 Tran Quang Khai, Hoan Kiem 10 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh 671 Hoàng Hoa Tham, Ba Dinh 71 Nguyen Chi Thanh, Dong Da 51 Xuân Dieu, Tay Ho 93 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung Online shopping:

Hanoi Star Supermarket 36 Cat Linh, Dong Da


22 & 23 Le Thai To, Hoan Kiem 131-135 Hao Nam, Dong Da 17 Lac Trung, Hai Ba Trung 27 Huynh Thuc Khang, Dong Da


126 Tam Trinh, Yen So, Hoang Mai Pham Van Dong, Co Nhue, Tu Liem


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


33 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6758; 21 Nha Chung, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3938 2419 L’Atelier’s two store stock women’s wear, leather bags, shoes and handcrafts. This chic boutique offers both ready-to-wear and made-tofit clothing.


3 Chau Thuong Van, Minh An; 86 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Minh An A lifestyle brand that started out life in Hoi An, Metiseko’s move to the capital will see them bring us their creative, poetic prints designed for an eco-chic lifestyle. The products — clothing, accessories and furniture — are made from natural silk and organic cotton certified to global organic standards. Metiseko is also certified by the fairtrade, Textile Exchange.


21 Nha Chung, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3938 1968

A distinctly designed boutique around the corner from the cathedral, bringing the latest from European and American Designers. Think Jimmy Choo, Kate Spade and Top Shop. Markup seems high on some pieces, but all designers are authentic. No fakes here


27 Pho Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3828 6965 This boutique, whose name comes from the Vietnamese word for “life”, stocks highend linen and silk clothes in a serene store awash with the fresh scent of mint. Located just across the street from the cathedral, prices are on par with its higherend neighbours.


61 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3938 1154 800sqm of elegant, modern space that offers one-of-akind pieces to add to your home furnishings or wardrobe. Located across the street from the other Tan My, one of the oldest silk and embroidery stores in Hanoi.


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

Zeds Threads

51A To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Tel: 0947 536515 Classical men’s clothing in expertly tailored western sizes both off the rack and made-tomeasure. The menswear range includes formal and casual shirts; khaki, linen, chino and denim trousers; Bermuda style shorts in chino, denim and linen; and casual light denim jackets. Affordably priced, all clothing is handmade under fair working conditions from 100% natural fabrics. For more information email info@zedsthreads.


{ the Therapist } Feeling Miserable Douglas Holwerda, American trained and licensed mental health counsellor, answers your questions and offers advice

Dear Douglas, My family and I have lived in Hanoi for over a year. The kids and my husband seem to be doing quite well. It is our fourth post since we left our home country nine years ago. I know I should be happy because it is a dream to live abroad with so many benefits and such a nice life, but I don’t feel happy. I loved the last place we lived and the friends we made, but I miss them and haven’t really seen how to start it all here again. Some days I feel so miserable that I just lay in bed, watching TV or trying to read. My husband can’t understand what’s wrong, but neither can I. There is nothing really wrong, but I feel so bad. What can I do? Sad Sadie Dear Sad Sadie, You are not alone. I recently heard a client say, “I feel like a spoiled brat, there is nothing I should complain about.” The fact is you are having a lot of painful feelings, and feelings are facts. There is a part of you that has judgments about that. An inner voice

says, “I shouldn’t be having these feelings. I should be happy”. So the process of understanding what is going on for you is becoming thwarted or disallowed. You can’t know what these feelings mean when you don’t give yourself permission to feel your feelings and to work through them. When a person doesn’t accept what is, emotions can start to build up and intensify. Sometimes a person can find themselves becoming emotionally less stable, being angry or upset over small things, they can start to withdraw from people or the activities that once gave them pleasure, and they may even start to fear that they are “losing it”. People question themselves, beat themselves up, they look for distractions, they try to become perfect moms or wives (for a while). It is easy to become frustrated and confused when nothing seems to help them to feel better. They might feel like they are in downward spiral without a way to turn in around. While I don’t know the specifics of your experiences and what it is that might be painful, I have worked with enough ‘following’ partners to identify some of the

difficult challenges that they will, inevitably, face. There are three that I will mention. The first one is dealing with loss. Living abroad invariably includes the loss of friends and ‘what might have been’. With loss comes grief. The second one is how we develop and maintain a strong sense of self when our primary role is the caretaking of others. We can lose track of our essential ‘self’. The last one is facing the challenge of managing unstructured or fragmented time. While many claim they want more freedom, for some it is a great burden… especially when we are feeling bad. Sadie, I recommend that you take the opportunity to explore your feelings with a psychotherapist. While it is difficult to look towards the pain, it is where we have the chance to learn and grow. Douglas Do you have a question you would like Douglas’s help with? You can email him at Personal details will not be printed

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{ A World of Good } The Challenges of Volunteering in Vietnam: Part 2

By Dana McNairn

Lazy nonprofits churn and burn volunteers


n a previous column would-be volunteers were given tips on how not to make nuisances of themselves. This time, it’s the nonprofits’ turn to take it on the chin for how they mess it up with volunteers. Let’s start with the basics. There are three: supervisor, scheme and setup. Is there a paid staff member assigned to manage the volunteer? Secondly, is there a mutuallyagreed project the volunteer will start and finish? Third, do you have a workspace for them? Their own desk? Their own computer? Asking someone to work fulltime, but job-share on the very tools needed to do the job is half-witted. Too many NGOs expect volunteers to come equipped with their own laptop, loaded to the teeth with the most killer design and publication software, speakers (more on that in a bit) and a portable hard drive with a terabyte of free space. Nail these three essentials and the rest is easy. Nonprofits aren’t inconsiderate, but certainly can be grossly ill-prepared for the reality of a volunteer once the initial relief wears off that one is coming in the first place. How on earth did that trilingual Ivy League master’s student in computational

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genetics know about us? The underfunded charity dances around the one-room office, fists pumping in the air.

Treat ‘Em Right Keep up that enthusiasm when the volunteer arrives. The slightly overwhelmed social work volunteer didn’t fly 7,000km to make all the PowerPoints the charity guesses it will ever need for the next three years (naturally with animation sequences and audio, hence those speakers). Nor should the local website design volunteer start tabbing her way through the multilateral donors’ finance report that’s due because the project manager jokes he’s “kinda crap” with budgets. Conversely, I have seen volunteers ignored by the very manager who said yes, yes to having them in the first place because now the manager is “too busy”. How is a volunteer supposed to feel enduring a hastily arranged orientation because the HR manager decided to take leave on the volunteer’s first day and no one else knows what the volunteer is doing there in the first place? Another time, a volunteer’s six-month project

disappeared a few weeks into their placement, prompting the supervisor to shrug his shoulders and give the volunteer photocopying to do, adding that it was “probably OK” if they took long lunches from now on. It’s true, nonprofits love free labour because they typically don’t have enough staff and resources. But volunteers want and deserve to be mentored, assigned meaningful work, given challenges they can stretch with, lots of two-way feedback, made to feel welcome and appreciated. Thank them. Be kind. Volunteers are not here to do your job. Volunteers are here to help fulfill the organisation’s mission because they are contributing something tangible you both agreed to. And if you’re really lucky and you treat them right with only a modicum of abuse and over-work, and don’t cheap out on the necessities like workplace snacks and after work beers, then you’ll get one that makes your organisation look like a rock star. Thanks again, Marissa. Dana McNairn works at KOTO, a nonprofit social enterprise and vocational training programme for at-risk youth. She can be contacted at



From catering services through to the growing number of bakeries - and we’re not just talking banh my. Here are places to stock up on wine, liquor, imported cheeses and freshly baked bread

Do you think you should be listed on these pages? If so, simply email us on listings@wordvietnam. com and we’ll see what we can do. We can’t promise but we’ll try our best


40-42 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3935 2645 A lifestyle brand that started out life in Hoi An, Metiseko’s move to the capital will see them bring us their creative, poetic prints designed for an eco-chic lifestyle. The products — clothing, accessories and furniture — are made from natural silk and organic cotton certified to global organic standards. Metiseko is also certified by the fair-trade, Textile Exchange.


Bakeries KINH DO

41 Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho One of the oldest and most well-established bakeries in the city, maybe best known as Catherine Deneuve’s former haunt, Kinh Do has been around much longer than any expat. But their breads, pastries and quiches keep foreigners and Vietnamese coming back. Extensive Western and Vietnamese menu as well.


6 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3934 5269 With two locations, one by the Opera House and the other by St. Joseph’s Cathedral, the Paris Deli makes a good job of their breads, tarts and pastries. Both are sit-down restaurants, but are happy to sell you their baked goods over the counter, to go.


58 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3824 4607 9 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho 13 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3926 4831 Community development non-profit quilt shop featuring handmade quilts and accessories. Styles vary from traditional to patterned and Asian-inspired. Founded in 2001 and with outposts in several locations around the region, the shop employs women in rural areas, enabling them to make an income and care for their families.

Furniture LA CASA

Syrena Tower, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3718 4084 A shop whose speciality is designing furniture and other household objects, this spot has everything from beds and bookshelves, to tableware and silverware. The items are all locally made by skilled artisans from Hanoi and the surrounding regions.

4 Lane 67, Alley 12, To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 6674 4130 Offers food and beverage produced in Vietnam with full traceability and strict food safety controls. Meat, egg, milk, fish, veggies, honey, jams, fruit juices, liquors, coffee, water, ice cream. Also, every Saturday from 8.30am to 12.30pm, the team convert the store yard into the Tay Ho Weekend Market, a cross-cultural outdoor shopping and socialising hotspot for expats and Vietnamese.


62 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6258 3510 Punto Italia is an authentic Italian supplier importing the finest espresso coffee as well as Italian coffee machines for professional, home and office use. Real Italian granita, ice-cream and much more is now available in Vietnam with the support of a professional and friendly service.


24 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 1196 A great place to get all kinds of imported groceries and home-made foods. All of the breads and pastas are made in the in-house kitchen. A great variety of fresh sauces, a limited, but well-chosen selection of wines and a fantastic deli and cheese case. Free delivery.

Kitchen Products KITCHEN ART

38 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6680 2770 Kitchen Art is a little haven for all foodies, cooks and bakers to grow their love and passion for cooking and baking. Come to Kitchen Art Store to buy restaurant-grade tools and ingredients to cook like a chef, take part in regular demonstrations and workshops at the Studio, or simply read and relax at the cookbook cafe corner while enjoying the peaceful West Lake view.


62 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6258 3510 Trendy, reliable and stylish coffee machines for the workplace or home, specialising in authentic Italian coffee. Also sells their own brand coffee in capsules, ready ground or as the original roasted mix of beans.

Want to be in touch with what’s happening in this city? Check us out online at

Liquor & Wine



1C Tong Dan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3935 1393 Part of the Tan Khoa chain, the largest liquor and wine distributor in the country, the walls here are lined with a decent selection of wines, pleasantly arrayed and back lit. Besides their selection of new and old world wines Helpful staff and free delivery.


96 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 2076 65 Le Duan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3941 2789 C4 Giang Vo, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3726 4889 This wine importer and distributor has over 250 different types of wine in its portfolio and is doing its part to bring a culture of fine wine to Hanoi. The main office and showroom is on Hai Ba Trung and an upscale outlet is located within the grounds of the Mercure Hanoi hotel on Ly Thoung Kiet.


6T Ham Long, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3943 1009 Not just a wine shop, the long-running Hanoi Gourmet specialises in imported cheeses, meats and artisan breads. After browsing the mainly French selection of wines, you can take a look at the deli and sit down for a light snack.


3 Nguyen Khac Can, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3826 9080 This Italian favourite with a huge food menu also has a huge for-retail wine list that is 100 percent focused on fine wines and liquors from Italy. Owner Hoang has great knowledge of Italian wine and a passion to match, which is sure to land you with the best wine for any occasion.


59 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3928 7666 The Warehouse is Vietnam’s ultimate premium wine importer, distributor, and retailer, representing many of the greatest wines from the best wine-growing regions on the planet. The portfolio mixes the best of both old and new world wines.


No 4, Lane 67, Alley 12, To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3718 5475 Founded by a French–Vietnamese couple who love taking care of companion animals, the ASVELIS Veterinary Hospital has developed from a small clinic into a hospital. In addition to dental care and basic laboratory test equipment, the pet hospital also offers boarding services, which are located in a pet-friendly environment in Soc Son, 10 minutes from Noi Bai airport.


A Dong Photo Co 128 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 0732 This camera shop retails a wide range of cameras, including both analogue and DSLR models, as well as film and accessories like flashes and lenses.

Alpha Laptop

95D Ly Nam De, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3747 4418 This laptop retail and repair shop also carries camera accessories and cases.

Fuong May Anh

5 Trang Thi, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3213 1568 This small store has a wide selection of Viet Nam-produced Pentax cameras. Also has a selection of imported lenses.

Nguyen Cau

1 Ba Trieu, Hoan Kiem This camera shop overlooking the lake develops both digital and film prints. Services include photo mounting and passport photos.

Computers and Electronics DK Computer 29 Ngoc Kha, Ba Dinh Tel: 3772 4772 This large electronics retailer deals in computers, printers, as well as external storage devices.

Hi-Tech USA

23 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3938 6261 A small, but good all-around electronics store, selling all kinds of electronics. Speakers, I-Pods, headphones, cables and phone accessories. Many name-brands.

Pico Plaza

35 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem This is a super-sized electronics shop with each floor devoted to a specific kind of electronics. You’ll be able to find pretty much anything you’re looking for here, from a phone to a computer to a washing machine.

Professional Computer Care and IT Services

No 3, Alley 8, Hoa Lu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 0983 011081 This service company can help with a just about any computer-related task. Computer repairs, set up, Wi-Fi, design, networking and development. On-site and off-site service, and free quotes.


34B Ly Nam De, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3747 8771 Located on bustling “computer street”, this shop offers a range of computer accessories including keyboards and USB drives. They also do computer and laptop repair.


{ medical Buff } Facts and Fiction


ver the years people in this country have scared others with their horror stories or stated opinionated facts about certain issues in Vietnam. From “tap water in Vietnam gives you acne” (the skinconscious expat) to “drinking cold water is bad for you” (the hot tea drinking local). Dr. Brian McNaull, Medical Director at Family Medical Practice, sheds light on whether some of these stories are actually medical facts or fiction.

Vietnamese tap water gives you acne. If the tap water is heavily

contaminated with bacteria then there is a possibility it may contribute to acne. However, if you are washing with soap then this will reduce the negative effects of any bacteria in the water.

Drinking cold water is bad for your health. There is no evidence

that drinking cold water is bad for your health. In fact the opposite, warm water encourages the growth of bacteria.

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The pollution in Vietnam is the main reason for dwindling health. Pollution is a contributing factor to diminished health especially to the lungs, but a change of lifestyle is probably much more important. As the population becomes wealthier, people are exercising less, eating more of the wrong kinds of food (too much animal fat and refined sugar products). Positive interventions for long-lasting general health are: to stop smoking, eat a well balanced diet (lowfat dairy, less animal fat, more fish, skinless chicken and vegetables) and regular exercise (at least 30 minutes, four times per week).

Coughing up green stuff is due to the change of weather. A change

of humidity (increase) may encourage certain bacteria and viruses to more easily colonise the airways. Anytime one sees green phlegm or sputum it usually indicates significant bacterial infection, and it would be appropriate to seek medical advice.

Air purifiers solve everything. Air purifiers do help remove odours and allergens from the local environment and are especially helpful to those who suffer from asthma and its related conditions.

Eating street food gives you diarrhea. Public health states that 90-plus percent of street food has an unacceptable level of bacteria. That does not mean that everyone will get sick — different factors determine our response to an infectious challenge — such as the amount of bacteria ingested, the amount of acid in our stomach, our own immune health at that time and any medicines that we might be taking. We all respond differently to a mild infectious challenge. So a rule of thumb. If the place looks unclean then avoid it. Street food can be either properly or improperly prepared. Use your eyes and your judgement — but be careful. If you’d like further medical advice please visit Family Medical Practice on 298I Kim Ma street, Ba Dinh, Hanoi, or book an appointment on (04) 3843 0748

MEDICAL From counselling through to that once-a-year medical check, here are some the medical options available in town


Van Phuc Compound, 298 I Kim Ma Road, Ba Dinh Tel: (04) 3843 0748 (24 hours) Family Medical Practice provides psychotherapy and nutrition counselling services by in-house specialists. For more information or to book an appointment, please call the clinic.


51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3826 4545 In addition to emergency healthcare, the clinic also offers consultations by in-house specialists, full counselling and psychotherapy services. Call to make an appointment.


Photo by Nick Ross

51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3934 0666 24-hour emergency service with pricey, but international quality emergency and routine dental services. If your wisdom tooth needs pulling in the middle of the night, or you break a tooth, there are competent doctors and fast service.


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


298 I Kim Ma, Ba Dinh Tel: (04) 3843 0748 On the little street directly below Kim Ma, with all sorts of specialists including OB/ GYN, Pediatricians and ENT. A Mediumsized practice with both Vietnamese and international doctors, but they are used to treating expats. Also a 24-hour emergency service.


1 Phuong Mai, Dong Da Tel: (04) 3577 1100 The first international hospital created in Hanoi, and still viewed by some as the gold standard for medical treatment. Offering everything from standard medical and preventative care to surgical procedures. Full-service hospital that has both doctors and staff speaking good French and English.


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

VINMEC International Hospital

458 Minh Khai, Hai Ba Trung Tel: (04) 3974 3556 VINMEC is the first hospital in Vietnam to have international standard quarantine rooms for patients with infectious diseases. Vietnamese and foreign medical professionals provide effective treatment with high quality medical technology and exceptional standard rooms.


No 4, Lane 67, Alley 12, To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3718 5475 Founded by a French窶天ietnamese couple who love taking care of companion animals, the ASVELIS Veterinary Hospital has developed from a small clinic into a hospital. In addition to dental care and basic laboratory test equipment, the pet hospital also offers boarding services, which are located in a pet-friendly environment in Soc Son, 10 minutes from Noi Bai airport.






wo months of summer can be a very long time for a teenager to change. And it seems like the girls in my grade had the longest summer this year. The girls’ makeup, from the subtle touches here and there, or even none at all, has evolved into a more obvious and bold style. Their eyeliner slashes have gotten thicker and longer, their eyelashes curlier, their eyebrows darker — and on some, I can even spot some lipstick. Their fashion, now more ‘up-to-date’, even bares some traces of the grownup fashion magazines, such as tall heels, flamboyant accessories and more revealing clothes. These changes, however, are often met with the cynical opinions of many adults. One parent told me, “Children look the prettiest when they look like children. So all this makeup, it isn’t really necessary.” Some of the more conservative adults disapproved in stronger fashion, saying that students should focus more on studying and less on their looks. Many of my male friends stood on the same side. An opinionated eleventhgrader said, “Makeup is like a mask over their faces, it’s fake and it hides girls’ true nature.” Even the quieter ones felt the same way. One said, “I think it’s got to do with what they see in the media, which implants the wrong idea of ‘beauty’. And sometimes it’s just too much, either too much makeup or their clothes are too revealing and I can’t take them seriously.”

Girls’ Generation The ones wearing the makeup, however, have a different perspective. “I felt conscious about my friends,” one said. “They started caring so much about fashion and all that stuff, which probably caused me to do it myself.” Others showed a bit of frustration towards the adults who disapprove, saying, “We’re always told to express ourselves. And we do, through our makeup and clothing.” Some also say they feel confident not only because they look more attractive, but because they can identify with other girls. An obvious motivation behind this change is the desire of teens to become adults. And it seems likely that the reasons adults disapprove lie in an opposite desire. The new styles that girls have adopted this year are also those often associated with mature women. But the girls in my grade are mostly 16 and 17 years old,

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and many are 15. Seeing girls so close to childhood trying to make themselves up into adults comes across as inappropriate and uneasy for many actual adults. At the same time, girls aren’t always going to be children — they will grow up, and one day they will be accepted as mature women. But when does this happen? It seems that the quality that defines maturity for both teens and adults is the “ability to independently restrain from

being emotionally-driven, and to make wise judgments”. This means that a girl does not merely imitate her friends to fit in or to look sexy and attractive, but chooses to wear makeup or certain clothes because it makes her feel more like the person she knows herself to be. This growth might take place at the age of 16 or 18, or even at 29, but when these changes happen for the right reasons, it’s up to those who disapprove to change themselves. — Tae Jun Park

Travel Guide Photo by Katie Jacobs


Tourism for Locals...........................................172 The Spiritual Centre of the Universe ......................................178 Travel Promos ....................................186

travel domestic

Tourism for Locals Winding their way through familiar streets, Tim Doling shows Ed Weinberg how the Ho Chi Minh City of today came to be, and the past it carries with it. Photos by Nick Ross


The Cholon Tour If you already have a modicum of Saigon history, then Tim’s Cholon tour will fill in gaps about that other part of the city, District 5, the one rarely visited by outsiders. Charting the former colony’s development from the late 17th century up to the present day, the tour takes you through the area’s various temples, along streets filled with colonial era shophouses, through markets and into unchartered areas that you are unlikely to ever discover alone. Four hours of quite amazing sounds and eye-opening sights, this is a unique opportunity to get an insider’s view into the hustle and nonstop bustle of Chinatown.

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e meet in front of the Caravelle at 8.30am sharp, the earliest I’ve ever had call to be in Lam Son Square. All around us are departing tourists and waiting taxis, sticking to the frenzied itineraries of firsttimers. We have one of our own coming up, but it’s a bit subtler than the wellworn path of the guidebooks. We’re going to be peeling back the layers of history. Tim Doling is the historian behind Word’s own attempt at guidebooking — the unorthodoxly completist A Short History of Saigon cover story in our February 2013 edition. Tim’s piloting a set of tours aimed at those with some grounding in the Saigon and Cholon record — enough to know where Thu Thiem is, but not enough to know that it was formerly the ‘Hamlet of the Black Junks’, a territory given over to the pirates-turned-patriots the Nguyen kings enlisted to safeguard Saigon’s waters. Over coffee at the Highlands on Lam Son Square, Tim catches me up on the last 400 years of Ho Chi Minh City history. “In 1623,” he says, “a Nguyen lord was able to secure from the Khmer king the right to set up a customs station in Prey Nokor, as well as permission for Vietnamese to settle there. This gave the Nguyen lords their first foothold in the Mekong Delta. After this, many more Vietnamese were encouraged to come south and settle in and around the town, which the Vietnamese called Ben Nghe.” Tim draws a line between Ben Nghe and the Ho Chi Minh City that we know today, the one we’re planning to walk and drive around for the next four hours. It joined with Minh Huong — the future Cholon — as the first pioneer settlements of a rugged and wide-open south that Chinese refugees of the Ming Dynasty soon started pouring into. “They were skilled traders and quickly came to dominate the shipping and processing of rice from the Mekong Delta,” he says.

Before I start fading into the nodding state brought on by things unconnected with my reality, Tim brings it full circle. “Historians believe,” he says, “that it was during this early period that the skills of entrepreneurialship — risking capital for gain — became the central value of the local community here, laying the foundations for Saigon's development as an economic powerhouse.” And here Tim sets the tone. We’ll be dealing in the primordial ooze of Saigon, the Saigon that is quickly vanishing from our present day, but is somehow still present everywhere.

A Time Traveling Operetta As we walk around the front of the Ho Chi Minh City Opera, we spy the façade of the Continental Palace Hotel, which used to background the “leading foreign correspondents” of the 1950s, who “chose to base themselves at the hotel here while reporting on the political and military situation during the latter days of French rule”. These included Graham Greene and his Quiet American alter-ego Thomas Fowler, who “would start every evening at 6pm with a drink at the Terrace, where the dice would rattle as the French played a game known as quatre cent vingt-et-un”. Passing the colonial nouveau white moldings of the Continental, we can almost hear the creak of the punkah fans, large cloth sails suspended from the ceiling of every room, swaying to and fro on pulleys cranked by sweating men in the basement. Getting a five-block lift from Tim’s chartered car (later to be a minibus which will help shortcut some of the thinner spots on the route), we continue our tour down Dong Khoi, the road the Nguyen kings traveled when on their way from the Royal Wharf to the first Gia Dinh Citadel, that used to lie near where we now stand. We look at the Caravelle in hundred-year terms — first

“Passing the colonial nouveau white moldings of the Continental, we can almost hear the creak of the punkah fans, large cloth sails suspended from the ceiling of every room, swaying to and fro on pulleys cranked by sweating men in the basement” as the original Théâtre de Saigon, later as a journalist haunt rocked by the violence of the 1950s, then rebuilt into a bulletproof glass stronghold whose rooftop Walter Cronkite and other newsmen presided upon. We pass cafés once again assuming their colonial stature, after a brief American military-entertaining interlude as nightclubs and go-go bars.

On the Waterfront Dropped on the safe side of Ton Duc Thang, we face the Majestic Hotel — built in 1925 at the behest of Chinese Hui Bon Hoa’s real

estate company, one of the colony’s prime movers. It “predated the Hui Bon Hoa Company’s own headquarters building on rue Alsace-Lorraine,” Tim says, which is “now the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum at 97A Pho Duc Chinh. Designed by the same architect, Rivéra, it shared several stylistic features with the later building and also incorporated the very first electric lift in Saigon.” And, as in other places on the tour, common strands emerge that carry over into the present day. Further down our riverfront stroll, we come upon the Customs House of

Alfred Foulhoux, one of colonial Saigon’s founding architects. As with Foulhoux’s other landmarks — the central Post Office, the Palais de Justice and the Lieutenant Governor's Palace, now the Ho Chi Minh City Museum — the filigrees between the windows strongly resemble poppies, one of the colony’s main sources of revenue. We speed down Vo Van Kiet in the car, slowing as Tim points out the still-iconic window grills on the Department of Distribution and Vaults for the State Bank, the former home of Vietnam’s first HSBC. Some curious Khmer elements creep into

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the architecture here — notable as there are supposedly only two buildings in the city that employ the indicated Indo-Chinois style. We pause at Cau Mong — the only Eiffel construction in the city. “By that time,” Tim says, “[Eiffel] was submerged in corruption and scandal,” so it never took on the same iconic status as his other constructions. But if you look at the oxidised metal underside of the small bridge, you can see parallels between it and the more famous monuments he built. Passing the stock market building further down the street, we again see some Khmer elements. Built in the former Senate building, sentry towers were visible up until two years ago. “The architects’ association has been petitioning the government to draw up a list of historical buildings,” Tim says when I ask what steps are being taken to preserve this

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history. “Right now they don’t even know what they have.”

Canal of Crocodiles We’re on Ham Nghi, the former Crocodile Bridge Canal — one of the main canals of a network that crisscrossed both Saigon and Cholon at the time of the French conquest. “At the outset,” Tim says, “the French had plans to retain Saigon’s waterway system for merchants to use… However, the canals were used to dump waste of all kinds, and within no time people were complaining of the bad smell. As malaria and other tropical diseases began to take hold among the colonial population, the French became increasingly concerned about hygiene and the authorities began filling the city-centre canals and replacing them with roads.” We walk on this late-19th century road, perhaps over the bones of crocodiles, towards the site of the first Ben Thanh Market — today the much humbler Ton That Dam Market. It was present when the French came in 1859, and was a commercial centre until its thatched roof caught fire in 1869 and the replacement Ben Thanh was built one block to the east, where the Bitexco Financial Tower now stands. “During the American War,” Tim says, “this old market became known as the Thieves’ Market because it was always stacked with American products, including whisky, cigarettes, food and electric

appliances, which had been stolen during the unloading of American ships at the docks.” Today the market still does a brisk trade in whisky and food, some of it perhaps acquired in a similar way.

Familiar Landmarks On the rooftop of the Rex, we have a drink and gaze out on the noonday city. We leisurely hear about the 38 years it took to build the present-day People’s Committee Building — “completed after much infighting as to where it would go, and who would get the commissions”. Hearing about the unapproachable People’s Committee Building is one thing, but when we learn that the hotel beneath us was originally a motorcar showroom, we’re baffled. The landmark we know so well only got its five stars in 1988, 29 years after being refitted as a hotel and cinema, 28 years after being leased to the Americans. It was built on whims that would eventually become the identity of the modern city. Another car ride later, and we’re in the former Clock Square, the present unnamed corner of Nguyen Du and Dong Khoi. The clock is gone, but the scandalously expensive (in 19th century francs) Notre-Dame Cathedral and Ho Chi Minh City Post Office still stand. Instead of immediately walking into the Post Office, Tim points out the famous inventors and scientists enshrined

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travel “Historians believe that it was during this early period that the skills of entrepreneurialship — risking capital for gain — became the central value of the local community here, laying the foundations for Saigon's development as an economic powerhouse”

on plaques outside, meant to endow the building with the sense of progress of those heady 20th century times its builders must have felt they were contributing to. As we walk into the imposing main hall, Tim tells us about the building’s motto, emblazoned on the wall. ‘Paulatum Crescam’ it reads, and it strikes us as still true of its surroundings today. The words inscribe the old city’s coat of arms, and describe how Ho Chi Minh City came to be the city that it is — by ‘developing little by little’. Tim Doling leads Saigon and Cholon Heritage Tours by appointment. A four-hour tour, coffee and historical swag included, will set you back VND1 million. He can be reached by email on or by phone on 01285 794800

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Other Tour Highlights Graham Greene’s ‘Milk Bar’ G ivral C afé (171 Dong Khoi, Q1)

Good Morning, Vietnam’s broadcast studio P ark H yatt S aigon (2 Lam Son Square, Q1) Saigon’s first fast food centre N hu L an (50 Ham Nghe, Q1) Former centre of South Indian trading T emple C lub (a former guest house for visiting Indian dignitaries) and S ri T hendayutthapani T emple on Ton That Thiep, Q1

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travel international

The Spiritual Centre of the Universe

Jen Baxter goes on a pilgrimage to Tibet’s Mt. Kailash, the holiest mountain in the eastern world. Photos supplied by the Isha Foundation

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’m on this trip because around this time last year my aunt died at Mt. Kailash on a pilgrimage,” Selva explains. “She went with a group of friends, when they reached Kailash she wasn’t feeling well so she told them to continue without her. They left to do the three-day Kailash Kora and she passed away before they returned. One of the women with her told me she looked so peaceful her sari wasn’t even ruffled.” My body froze and I just sat on the bed quietly in our hotel room while Selva kept talking. “You have to understand, to Hindus that

is the holiest way a person can die,” she continues. “It’s like an honour. At the same time I was so confused and angry. I decided I had to do it for myself to understand what it was all about. I’ve heard stories about the Kailash Kora my whole life.” The only thing I could say was, “Did you say she was wearing a sari at Mt. Kailash?” Mt. Kailash, in Western Tibet, is considered the spiritual centre of the universe in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Bonpo. As important as Jerusalem is to Christians and Jews and Mecca is to Muslims, a spiritual pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash is considered to be the highest

point of a person’s life. The Kailash Kora is the act of circling the 51.5km radius of the sacred mountain. One circuit is believed to wipe away all the bad karma of this lifetime. 108 circuits will wipe away the sins of all one’s lifetimes and bring salvation.

Into the Extreme Our trek runners, the Isha Foundation, had drilled us on the dangers of extreme weather conditions and high altitude — Mt. Kailash peaks at 6,635m — and had presented us with a comprehensive packing list of mountain clothing that excluded saris and shalwar kameez (traditional Indian clothing

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travel “On my first full view of Kailash I stopped in my tracks... Looking back at me was tall black rock covered with white snow towering in the clouds. People on ponies rode by with tears in their eyes and I witnessed a Tibetan woman in leather aprons and hand clogs inching around the North Face in full prostration”

for women). During this time of year — August — at altitudes of 4,500m and up we could expect snow, rain and below-zero temperatures at night. 20km away and lying at a height of 4,575m, Lake Manasarovar is the highest freshwater lake in the world. Taking a bath and drinking its water is believed to absolve you of all your sins committed over 100 lifetimes. Some consider this extraordinarily beautiful blue and emerald lake to be the source of all creation — as well, it is believed to have healing properties. Our group of 120 meditators was planning to camp at Lake Manasarovar first, then trek around the north and the south faces of Mt Kailash; Sadhguru would meet us at one of those locations. Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is a yogi, mystic and humanitarian who is the heart and soul behind Isha. Going with him on this yatra — a pilgrimage to a sacred site — was a big reason to go. Selva and I shared a hotel room at the start of the yatra and along the way we shared beds, duffle bags and long bus rides. At a time when I was asking myself, “Why am I doing this?” her aunt’s story was like a jolt to my soul. Other pilgrims in our party were asking the same question. Some said they were following their internal voice, others that it was a something they wanted to do once in their lifetime. Still others felt mystified as to why. Our common ground was we were all seekers. Why go on a spiritual pilgrimage? What was I hoping for? Raised as an American Jew I had no context for this. I expected to face (minimal) physical hardship. I knew we’d be in below-zero weather with hail and snow. I wanted a damn good story for myself and others. I wanted to experience personal transformation. Part of my intention was spiritual growth and another part could be what Sadhguru calls “a convoluted sense of well-being”, coming from my need or desire to be special.

The Pilgrimage Four buses overflowed with 120 meditators — mostly Indians living abroad — and a smattering of Americans and Europeans. Our route started in Kathmandu, taking us over the Friendship Bridge into Zhang Mu, Tibet. Then onto Saga, a dusty, dry military station at the junction of three main artery roads where we stayed two days to acclimatise; many people suffered altitude sickness. With bus rides of eight to 10 hours daily, punctuated by flat tyres and engine trouble, I began to feel we spent more time driving then trekking. Yet, inside I also felt the trip was forcing me to look deeper inside myself. On our long bus rides I asked myself questions that usually get buried and pushed aside in daily life. I realised I was on a pilgrimage that was pushing me towards my own inner development. On the banks of the Brahmaputra River

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we spilled out of the buses for a meditative process led by one of the swamis in preparation for the journey ahead. 120 modern day pilgrims sat overlooking the waterway with closed eyes, trying to be silent. Then someone’s cell phone went off. “Pilgrimages are voyages of faith and in most cases, enduring a little bit of hardship, making do and living with less is part of the trip,” wrote Mike Pandey in a recent article for National Geographic. “The surrender of material comforts and cutting down of daily requirements was considered part of the journey towards spiritual bliss.” I experienced that at Lake Manasarovar. The morning we were leaving, I woke to find my sleeping bag and mattress absorbing a puddle of water. In the face of battering rain, my tent had leaked, and my camera, backpack and warm clothes were soaked. The night before, we had been told to consolidate our duffle bags and share one bag between four people. As these were already loaded on the truck (and our individual duffle bags were already on their way back to Saga), I had to make do by borrowing gloves, thermals, and a jacket, and carrying my wet clothes in my backpack to Kailash. At the same time, Lake Manasarovar — literally ‘Lake of Consciousness’ — is one of the most beautiful places in the world; a crystal azure lake surrounded by snowcapped mountains that touch the clouds. Colours change throughout the day. I marveled at the blue reflection at dusk, the

warm orange hue stretched out across the lake at sunset. The morning we woke at 5am for a meditative process with Sadhguru, there was a blanket of golden yellow as the sun rose above the lake.

The Mountain of Knowledge Before leaving Manasarova, Sadhguru asked the group to think of one negative habit we could give up as we walked to Kailash. During a pilgrimage you not only surrender material comforts, but also part of yourself. We would consciously let go of a negative habit or even some deluded expectation. The majority of our group said ‘anger’. I decided to come up with something more realistic. I wanted to give up any ideas about spirituality, let go of my own spiritual ego. Sadhguru sent us on our way asking that we be conscious with every step we took; as if we were tiptoeing through a silent, holy place packed with people. We should move quietly, with respect and reverence. As the valley spread out before me I chanted quietly, accompanied by my Tibetan porter on the six-hour trek around the North Face. I began to feel as if experiencing this mystical mountain was out of my reach. Each step I took felt like I was searching for something deeper within me. On my first full view of Kailash I stopped in my tracks and stared at what has been called “a mountain of knowledge and knowing grace”. Looking back at me was tall black rock covered with white snow towering in the clouds. People on ponies

rode by with tears in their eyes and I witnessed a Tibetan woman in leather aprons and hand clogs inching around the North Face in full prostration. I stood quietly realising that there was so much of life I didn’t understand. How much doesn’t make sense. During our three-day journey back to Kathmandu, with long stretches of eight to nine-hour bus rides, I still felt I didn’t understand the Kailash experience. I didn’t get it. In the day-to-day chaos of travelling with a large group to such a reverent and mystical place, by the end I felt off-balance and tired. I began looking at the people around me with a feeling of friendliness and compassion, like we had experienced something together. There was a bonding taking place, yet inside I was feeling like I had missed something. My expectations of a mystical experience or even a ‘journey towards spiritual bliss’ had died. As I returned home I felt subtle shifts, as if something had solidified. Like when a rock breaks open and there is crystallisation inside. Those crystals have their own energy, vibration and knowledge. Deep down inside of me something feels transformed. It seems those daily challenges of the yatra were necessary to break open another part of me. For information about the Isha Foundation and Sacred Walks go to Jen Baxter also writes a blog called ‘In the Wonder’ about travel and transformation. It can be found at

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TRAVEL travel

People travel thousands of miles to get a whiff of exotic Vietnam. From travel agencies though to resorts, here are a few suggestions on where to stay and how to get there in and around Vietnam


Air France

130 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 3825 8583

Air Mekong

1st Floor, Centre Point Building, 106 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: (08) 3846 3999

American Airlines

194 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: 3933 0330

Cathay Pacific

5th Floor, Centec Tower, 72-74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: 3822 3203


$$$$ Le Lai, Dalat Tel: 063 3555888 17 French colonial villas reside atop the slopes of Vietnam’s rural highlands. Complete with a personal butler, in-villa dining, and a holistic spa, Ana Mandra Villas is where luxury meets tranquility.


$$$$ 12 Tran Phu, Dalat Tel: 063 382 5444 The style of the 1920s, the backdrop of the Xuan Huong Lake and Liang Biang Mountain, and a piano bar — these are the elements through which Dalat’s top hotel retains its classic charms.

China Airlines

37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 3911 1591

Japan Airlines

3rd Floor, Sheraton Hotel, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: 3821 9098

Jetstar Pacific

Korean Air

34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3824 2878

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

Lao Airlines

93 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: 3822 6990 Ground Floor, Saigon Trade Centre, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 3829 2529 Saigon Tower Bulding, Room 101, 29 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3823 1588

Thai Airways

29 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: 3822 3365

Tiger Airways

Vietnam Airlines

27B Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1 Tel: 3832 0320

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$ 4A Bui Thi Xuan, Dalat, Tel: 063 382 2663 Centrally located, this quaint stop offers affordable accommodations, in a basic style. Goes bus-to-door through the Sinh Café people.


$$$ KM 8 Pham Van Dong, Duong Kinh, Hai Phong, Tel: 0313 880888 This four-star resort offers in room bathrobe, slippers, digital safety box, free Wi-Fi, satellite TV, 24-hour room service. A resort complete with a pool, deluxe spa, fitness centre, and VIP massage room.


$$$ Tel: 0933 446542 Experience breathtaking tours of the serene Halong Bay, aboard reproduction wooden junks. Two or three–night trips with a wide range of cabin styles: standard, deluxe, or royal.


$ Cuc Phuong, Nho Quan, Ninh Binh, Tel: 0303 848006 Vietnam’s first national park and primate centre with accommodations is stilt houses or detached bungalows. Both are available at the park headquarters, the park centre and on the road between the two.


Malaysia Airlines

Singapore Airlines


Dalat Train Villa

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

$$$$ Tel: (04) 3935 1888 Reproductions, of 19th–century paddle steamers, trawl around Halong Bay in colonial style. A classic experience, complete with, overnight accommodations in impeccable cabins suites.


$$ Cu Yen, Luong Son, Hoa Binh Tel: 0218 385622 10 houses, surrounded by rice fields, lakes, and hills, this eco– village caters to those who wish commune with nature.


$ Ngoi Tu Village, Vu Linh, Yen Bai , Tel: (04) 3926 2743 A resort, ecolodge, and school, located on the banks of Thac Ba Lake. This bamboo-constructed paradise offers lake cruises, mountain biking, motorbike tours, hiking, and volunteer opportunities.


$$$ Mai Chau Town, Hoa Binh, Tel: 2183 868959 Rock climbing, kayaking, cycling, and a romance in nature, the Buffalo Tours-owned lodge is set in a lush valley, this is home to indigenous Vietnamese.


$$ Ha Long Road, Bai Chay Ward, Ha Long City, Quang Ninh Tel: 0333 848108 This beachfront property is close to local markets. Fine dining, a professional spa with seven treatment rooms, Novotel Ha Long Bay enjoys impressive panoramic vistas, and a pool overlooking the limestone bay.

Bhaya Cruises, Halong Bay

47 Phan Chu Trinh Street, Hoan Kiem Tel: 04 3944 6777 (Sales Office) Bhaya combines oriental style with contemporary luxury, offering tours of beautiful Halong Bay aboard reproduction wooden junks. Two or three-night tours are available and customers have a wide range of cabin styles to choose from: standard, deluxe or royal.

Emeraude Classic Cruises

Tel: 04 3934 0888 This reproduction of a 19th-century paddle steamer trawls around Halong Bay in colonial style, with onboard overnight accommodation in impeccably maintained cabins. The great food and service adds to the already beautiful setting. They also offer transfers directly from Hanoi.

hanoi – international CROWNE PLAZA WEST international

$$$ 36 Le Duc Tho, My Dinh Commune, Tu Liem, Hanoi, Tel: 04 6270 6688

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This premier five-star property lies beside the My Dinh National Stadium and Convention Centre. Boasts two swimming pools, a spa, and a fitness centre in its 24 stories.

Daewoo Hotel

360 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh Tel: 3831 5555 This enormous structure offers the most modern of amenities, and with four restaurants and two bars, the events staff is well equipped to handle any occasion. Close to the National Convention Center, and a favourite of the business traveller, Daewoo even boasts an outdoor driving range. Shortly to become a Marriot property.

Fortuna Hotel Hanoi

6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh Tel: 3831 3333 This 350-room four-star set up in the heart of Hanoi’s financial district has a variety of rooms on offer, a “capital lounge” and three restaurants that serve Japanese, Chinese and international cuisine. And like you’d expect, there’s a fitness centre, night club and swimming pool, too, and even a separate spa and treatment facility for men and women. Set to the west of town, Fortuna often offers business deals on rooms and spaces to hold meetings, presentations and celebrations.

Hotel de l’Opera

29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem Tel: 6282 5555 Resting just a step away from the Opera House, the hotel mixes colonial architectural accents and theatrical interior design to create a contemporary space. The first boutique five star in the heart of Hanoi, the lavish, uniquely designed 107 rooms and suites contain all the mod cons and are complimented by two restaurants, a bar and complimentary Wi-Fi.

InterContinental Hanoi Westlake

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

travel Melia Hanoi

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

Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi

83A Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3822 2800 With its distinctive French architecture and top end service, Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi is aimed squarely at corporate travellers. An all-day restaurant and a lounge bar are available to satiate their clientele while the kinetic gym and wellness studio offer an excellent range of equipment. Massage and sauna facilities are available for guests seeking to rejuvenate. Of the 154 well-appointed rooms and suites, 93 are non-smoking.


$$$$ 40 Cat Linh, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0437 330808

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.


K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 3719 9000 Surrounded by lush gardens, sweeping lawns and tranquil courtyards, this peaceful property features picturesque views of West Lake and is less than 10 minutes from downtown. In addition to the luxurious rooms, the hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool and great relaxation and fitness facilities, including a tennis court and spa. There are well equipped conference rooms and a newly refurbished Executive Club Lounge.

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

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


Sofitel Plaza Hanoi

1 Thanh Nien Road, Ba Dinh Tel: 3823 8888 Boasting Hanoi’s best views of West Lake, Truc Bach Lake and the Red River, Sofitel Plaza Hanoi soars 20 storeys above the city skyline. The 5-star hotel features 317 luxurious, comfortable guestrooms with spectacular lake view or river view ranking in 7 types from Classic Room to Imperial Suite.

hanoi – mid-range 6 on Sixteen

16 Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem Another boutique hotel to grace Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the six rooms here mix contemporary and fresh with handicrafts and antique. Breakfast is included and in the long, lounge restaurant on the second floor, homestyle Vietnamese fare is served up with fresh fruit juices and Lavazza coffee.


$$$ 109-111 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi Tel: 0439 286969 Located in the centre of the Old Quarter, this little slice of heaven offers complimentary sundries and a

replenishable minibar. The Orient restaurant, serves the finest in international and Vietnamese cuisine.


$$$ 35-37 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0439 380999 A minute from Hoan Kiem Lake, this glowing pearl in the heart of Hanoi provides tranquility with an art gallery and piano bar.

May de Ville

24 Han Thuyen, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 2222 9988 Set in the old French Quarter a short walk from the Opera House, May de Ville City Centre is a welcome new addition to the capital. Combining contemporary architecture with traditional Vietnamese style and materials, this elegant property has 81 well-appointed rooms including four suites.

Thang Long Opera Hotel 1C Tong Dan Street, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3824 4775 This hotel houses 71 spacious, comfortable rooms all equipped with high speed internet, bath tub and room service. They have a meeting room, which can accommodate

up to 60 people, as well as a restaurant and bar downstairs.

hanoi – Budget Hanoi Backbacker’s Hostel

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


$$$$ 19 Lam Son Square, Q1 Tel: 0838 234999 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.


$$$ 63 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: 0838 222999 Famous for its day–long rotating–menu buffets, the Duxton deserves luxury appellation with a pool, gym, spa, and fine dining.


$$$ 242 Tran Binh Trong, Q5, Tel: 0838 397777 This massive property boasts seven dining and entertainment outlets, a business centre, meeting rooms and a comprehensive fitness centre and spa. The Equatorial also has an onsite casino.


$$$$$ 235 Nguyen Van Cu, Q1 Tel: 0839 257777 The five-star hotel and serviced apartment complex offers: 14 instant offices, seven meeting rooms, a 600-capacity ballroom, spa, outdoor swimming pool, a gym, 24-hour fine dining, 24-hours room service, and limousine services.


$$$$$ Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, Q1, Tel: 0835 209999 In the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, resides the Asiana with signature dining options, an innovative cocktail bar, exclusive spa and health club, together with luxury boutique arcade.

Lotte Legend Hotel Saigon

$$$$ 2A–4A Ton Duc Thang, Q1,

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

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

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travel ECO LODGES Looking to increase your greenness and lessen your carbon footprint when travelling through Vietnam? These eco-lodges offer environmentally friendly alternatives to standard hotels and resorts

Bloom Microventures

Soc Son Tel: 0164 387 6594 (Lain)

Forest Floor Lodge

Cat Tien National Park, Tan Phu, Dong Nai Tel: 061 366 9890

Jungle Beach

Nha Trang Tel: 058 362 2384

La Vie Vu Linh

Yen Bai Tel: 04 3926 2743

Mango Bay

Ong lang Beach, Phu Quoc Tel: 077 398 1693 w w w. m a n g o b a y

Mekong Lodge

An Hoa, Dong Hoa Hiep, Cai Be, Tien Giang Tel: 3811 4863

Mia Nha Trang

Bai Dong, Cam Hai Dong, Cam Lam, Khanh Hoa Tel: 0918 821633

Pan Hou Eco Lodge Village Resort

Ha Giang Tel: 0219 3833 3565 www.panhou-village. com

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

Ninh Van bay, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa Tel: 058 372 8222 Do you think you should be listed on these pages? If so, simply email us on listings@wordvietnam. com and we’ll see what we can do. We can’t promise but we’ll try our best

Tel: 0838 233333 Immaculate architecture, spacious rooms, and a fine selection of fine dining, with buffets specialising in Americana and Pan-Asian cuisine.


$$$$ 76 Le Lai, Q1 Tel: 0838 228888 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.


$$$$$ 2 Lam Son Square, Q1 Tel: 0838 241234 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 has the landscaped pool.


$$$$ 141 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: 0838 292185 Brimming with history the Rex’s open–air fifth–floor bar is Saigon highlight. A recent renovation, of this now fivestar property, boasts designer fashion and a shopping arcade.

Riverside Apartments

53 Vo Truong Toan, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 4111 Situated on the banks of the Saigon River, a 15-minute scenic boat ride or 20-minute bus ride from town, Riverside’s complementary shuttle services take you right in the city centre. With 152 fully equipped serviced apartments, the property offers special packages for short-term stay starting at VND2.1 million per apartment per night for a onebedroom facility.


$$$$$ 18–19-20 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: 0838 251417 This distinct French architectural wonder offers complimentary Wi-Fi, airport pickup or drop off, a 4th floor ballroom, and authentic Vietnamese cuisine at the River Restaurant.


$$$$$ 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 0838 272828 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.


$$$$ 17 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 0838 241555 This 20–story building in downtown Saigon, caters to upscale business and leisure travelers seeking a classic yet contemporary stay in Saigon.


$$$ 18 An Duong Vuong, Q5 Tel: 0838 336688 The full ensemble with its own shopping hub (including a bank), fine dining, a sauna, health club, and superb panoramic views of the cityscape. Also hosts the largest Oktoberfest in the region.


$$$ 132-134 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 0838 299201 This charming old hotel has been fêted in literature and in film. In the heart of Saigon, this is the first choice to highlight Vietnamese culture .


$$$ 1 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 0838 295517 Since 1925 this vintage hotel encompasses the beauty that is Vietnam. Overlooking the Saigon River, its unique atmosphere makes it that much more majestic.


$$$ 656/52 Cach Mang Thang 8, Q3, Tel: 0838 460263 The hotel features 12 luxurious rooms designed to capture the warmth of the French countryside. The Little Bistro Restaurant serves Asian and European signature dishes for in-house guests.


$$$ 117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 0838 295368 Intimate atmosphere and excellent service, this boutique business hotel is located minutes from famous landmarks, designer shops, and is renowned for its fabulous steaks at its in-house restaurant, Corso.


$$$ 167 Hai Ba Trung, Q3 Tel: 0838 224866 Novotel Saigon Centre has

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a contemporary feel, an international buffet — The Square — a rooftop bar, and a wellness centre including a swimming pool, gym, sauna and spa.


$$$ 144 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 0839 998888, The newly-built hotel is near Tan Son Nhat International Airport. With spectacular city views and a comfortablydesigned outdoor swimming pool, there is little reason not to choose this shining star.


$$ 133 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: 0838 225914 Perched on one of the city’s major boulevards, the brightly-lit exterior guarantees that you’ll never be lost at night. Enjoy executive jacuzzis and use online booking for discounted promotions.


$$$ 46 and 73-75 Thu Khoa Huan, Q1, Tel: 0838 227926 Centrally located near the Ben Thanh Market, the two hotels are juxtaposed on opposite sides of Thu Khoa Huan. Lan Lan 1 and 2 offer a homely feel at affordable prices.


$$ 195 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0837 442222 A colonial–style hotel and spa offers fine Italian, Thai and Japanese dining. Manicured gardens and a view that overlook the bank of the Saigon River, this is truly someplace special.


$$$ 133A Nguyen Dinh Chinh, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 0862 569966 Architectural elegance, and timeless style, this literal library themed inn is nestled in a charming and quiet neighborhood. Their fine selection of literature waits to be read, atop the rooftop terrace.


$ 195 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 0839 206992 Free Wi–Fi offered in every room. Low prices, friendly staff, clean rooms. This modern oasis is only a few

steps from the backpacker’s area.


$ 167 Pham Ngu Lao Q1 Tel: 0838 373699 With its communal kitchen and a TV room, a stay here will make you appreciate the pleasure of being a guest rather than just a customer.


$ 185/28 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: 0838 361915 It’s always hard to get a room here without booking, and no wonder, since this tucked-away little spot is on a par with anything else in the area — attractive, comfortable, friendly and more.


$ 157 Nguyen Du Q1, Tel: 3827 4648 Free breakfast, free computer usage, motorbike rental, and discounts for long term stay, the Sinh Huong Hotel is one of the few guesthouses to accept credit cards.

Hoi An & Danang An Bang Beach Retreat

An Bang Beach, Hoi An www.anbangbeachretreat. com A serene barefoot-luxe destination where guests kick off their shoes, unwind and take it all in. Located 50 meters from the beach along a sandy path, An Bang Beach Retreat is an intimate beach hideaway with a castaway vibe: its four houses are set in tropical gardens, tucked away in the charming fishing village of An Bang Beach, 4km from Hoi An, Vietnam’s premier destination. Sunbathe on the day beds, sip cocktails in the landscaped gardens, swim in the turquoise waters and soak up the Hoi An sunset.


$ 18A Cua Dai, Hoi An Tel: 5103 862231 Hoi An’s best kept secret is a family–run hotel with a charming colonial air located between the town and the beach, complete with a pool garden and air–conditioned rooms.


$$$ Son Tra – Dien Ngoc, Hoa Hai, Ngu Hanh Son, Danang Tel: 5113 961800 20 minutes from Danang airport, this resort is com-

prised of six villas, a 33–floor twin tower, three five–star hotels, a convention / commercial centre, a 36–hole golf course and a culture village.


$$$$ 68 Ho Xuan Huong, Danang, Tel: 5113 847888 This venue has stunning beachside location. The smallest room measures 40 square meters — with a general air of refined luxury, as typified by the Cafe Indochine restaurant and the Lagoon poolside bar.


$$$$ Hoa Hai, Ngu Hanh Son, Da Nang, Tel: 5113 981234 The Hyatt Regency Danang Resort and Spa is beachfront with a stunning view of the Marble Mountains. There are 182 luxurious residences and 27 private ocean villas, each with a private pool.


$$$$ Bai Bac, Son Tra Peninsula, Danang , Tel: 8884 246835 With its own private bay on the Son Tra Peninsula, the Bill Bensley-designed hotel is nestled within one the region’s most exquisite locations.


$$$ Tam Hai Island, Thon 4, Nui Thanh, Quang Nam Tel: 5103 545105 Located to the south of Hoi An, the secluded sand island of Tam Hai houses a dozen modern villas with private gardens. There are endless beaches and an abundance of fresh seafood.


$$$ 1 Pham Hong Thai, Hoi An, Tel: 5103 914555 This award–winning resort is located close to the bustling Old Town. With an emphasis on wellness and pampering, its spa combines traditional Chinese medicine, tai chi, touch and hot stone therapies.


$$$ Lot A1 Zone Green Island, Hoa Cuong Bac, Hai Chau, Danang Tel: 5113 797777 Located on Green Island, in the heart of Da Nang city, the Mercure Danang offers

travel modern style reflecting local Vietnamese culture. All day dining is offered at their brasserie and Chinese restaurant.


$$$$ Hamlet 1, Dien Duong Village, Quang Nam Tel: 5103 940000 Includes three massive swimming pools, a gourmet restaurant and elegant spa on a lotus pond. Each massive room has its own espresso machine, pre–programmed iPod and both indoor and outdoor showers.


Cua Dai Beach Tel: 5103 927040 This charming resort replicates a traditional fishing village, ponds, and village houses, all upon a private beach. Eat at the Annam Asian restaurant or relax with Thai or Swedish massage.

Hue & Quang Binh ANGSANA LANG CO

$$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien Hue, Tel: 0543 695800 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.


$$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien, Hue, Tel: 0543 695888 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.


$$ 10 Pham Ngu Lao, Hue, Tel: 0543 826567 hanoibackpackershostel. com Housed in a breezy, colonial villa complete with bunk beds, in same or mixedsexed dorms, pool tables, and darts. This is the place to meet international travelers.


$$$ 10 Hung Vuong, Hue, Tel: 0543 882222 The Forbidden City meets modern luxury. This high– rise hotel has great city views, a fine selection of restaurants, a piano bar and the sumptuous Royal Spa.


$$$$ 5 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: 0543 837475 la–residence– Built around the former colonial governor’s mansion, with a nautical modern style, this is one of Hue’s unique experiences. Throw in an excellent restaurant with river views and you’re in paradise.


$ 48/3 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: 0543 826736 A budget option hotel, the Phuong Hoang offers reliable service and comfort, in additional to superb views of the Perfume River.


$$$$ Beachside, Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: 0583 522222 2.6 hectares of private beachside gardens and villa–style accommodation furnished in traditional native woods, this resort offers verandah dining, a pool bar and the signature Six Senses Spa.



$ Ninh Phuoc, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: 0583 622384 On a secluded promontory north of Nha Trang, this budget place is all about hammocks, the sea, the jungle and nature.

$$$ 12–14 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: 0583 820999 Awarded in Expedia’s World’s Top one percent of hotels 2009, the Sunrise Nha Trang Beach Hotel and Spa is ideal for the diamond lifestyle. All rooms have a view of the sea.



$$$$ Bai Dong, Cam Hai Dong, Cam Lam, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 398 9666 Nestled in the mountain pass between Cam Ranh Airport and Nha Trang, this sanctuary has its own private beach. With ecofriendly principles, Mia boasts rooftops studded with manicured grass and shrubs.


$$$ 50 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: 0586 256900 This four-star hotel with 154 guestrooms, all with a terrace and sea view. Complete with a pool, spa, restaurant, bar and meeting room that caters for up to 200 delegates.


$$$$ Van Dang Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: 0583 728222 The upmarket Tatler magazine voted top hotel of 2006. The location is stunning, on a bay accessible only by boat.

$$ Tel: 0583 840501 This remote and unspoiled island 60km north of Nha Trang is a stylish getaway, with traditional bamboo bungalows on the beach and an excellent seafood restaurant.

Phan Thiet & Mui Ne ALLEZ BOO BEACH Resort and Spa

$$$$ 8 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet Tel: 0623 743777 This resort offers exotic Bali–style, thatched roof “honeymoon” villas, 55 spacious suites, deluxe rooms, fresh seafood, Vietnamese cuisine, Thai and international cuisine, kite surfing and parasailing.


$$$$ 54 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet Tel: 0623 847322 Under Life Resorts management, the Blue Ocean Resort includes a large swimming pool and swim–up pool bar, a children’s activity playground, and an Irish bar.


$$$$ 58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: 0623 847111 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.


$$$ 24 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Tel: 0623 847440 / 2 Choose between bungalows with either open-air bathrooms or enclosed gardens, or beachfront bungalows overlooking the East Sea.


$$$$ Khu Hon Lan, Xa Tan Thanh, Ham Thuan Nam, Binh Thuan, Tel: 0623 682222 Set on Ke Ga Bay, with a sumptuous spa, original ar-

chitecture, eight swimming pools and 24–hour butler service, this is one of the most well-appointed resorts in the country.


$$$$ Mui Ne Beach, Phan Thiet, Tel: 0623 813000 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.


$$$ 60A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ham Tien, Mui Ne Tel: 0623 741660 Villa Aria Mui Ne provides warm service, 22 spacious guestrooms, and one suite. The resort includes a pool overlooking the beachfront, and an alfresco dining lounge serving authentic Phan Thiet cuisine


$$ Ap Cua Lap, Xa Duong To, Long Beach, Phu Quoc Island, Tel: 0773 980998 A quaint and popular island guesthouse featuring a


$$$$ 26 – 28 Tran Phu, Tel: 0583 880000 A sleek beach-front property with six restaurants and bars, the Shine Spa with nine treatment rooms, an outdoor swimming pool a fitness centre, a kid’s club, business centre, and a cooking school.

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{ Travel Promos } Promotions of the Month

Exotissimo Escapes @Unique Mui Ne Resort Available only until Oct. 31, the Unique Mui Ne Resort is offering a Family Penthouse Ocean View for just VND3,990,000 a room per night. Unique Mui Ne is conveniently located amidst the resort-dotted commune of Ham Tien, just 13km from the heart of Phan Thiet. With its sun-soaked private beach, four-star luxury comforts and guaranteed service with a smile, it is the perfect place for a weekend break. @ Six Senses Con Dao Available for Vietnamese and expats alike, you can have the holiday that others can only dream of at Six Senses Con Dao, the first five-star resort in the archipelago islands, and one that is greenfriendly. Passionate about supporting and protecting the environment, the property’s demonstrated commitment to sustainability has seen it become recognised as one of the world’s top eco-lodges by National Geographic Traveller. An Ocean View Deluxe Villa per night runs from VND8,715,000. Go to or contact Exotissimo directly for more information on these deals

Fore! @ Sacom Resort Golfers reminiscing about the good ol’ days of milling about a clubhouse before hitting the course shall reminisce no more! Sacom Tuyen Lam Golf Club, located in Dalat, has

186 | Word October 2013

just opened a fully equipped three-floor clubhouse, complete with a restaurant, business rooms and locker rooms decked out with saunas. After perusing the brand new establishment, golfers can enjoy the first nine holes on the green, as well as a driving range. The final nine holes will open before the end of 2013. With the 18-hole grand opening and membership options on the way, it’s time to clean up your game!

Wedded Bliss on Phu Quoc Island @ Mango Bay Phu Quoc Happy couples awaiting their nuptials have yet another option to trump all their friends’ wedding destinations, with Mango Bay Phu Quoc offering a new wedding package on a secluded island in tropical paradise. The package includes a bamboo wedding arch adorned with flowers, a reception with cuisine created with market-fresh ingredients, and a one-night stay on the island for the couple and their guests.

Edensee Recognized for Sustainable Tourism Edensee Resort in idyllic Dalat has recently been recognised by The Guide and Vietnam Economic Times with the Green Lotus Award. The recognition is given to tourism destinations which have shown stellar environmental protection and sustainable development standards, use natural resources and energy efficiently,

and contribute to the preservation of heritage and the development of the local economy. The honours come from the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism, whose guidelines were easily met by the Edensee Resort, a leader in green tourism destinations.

Nice in Nha Trang @ Novotel Nha Trang Novotel Nha Trang is eager to help vacationers escape to paradise without breaking the bank, with a new promotion inviting patrons to stay for three nights, and pay for two. Guests are treated to the complimentary use of sauna, steam bath, swimming pool and fitness centre during their stay. The offer runs from Oct. 1 to Oct. 21, with a stay period between Oct. 1 and Nov. 11.

Stay A Little Longer, Says Hyatt Regency Hyatt Regency Danang — a locale that has enviable white-sand beaches and lies a short distance from three Unesco World Heritage sites — is offering a Stay a Little Longer promotion from now until Dec. 19. Guests are invited to book a stay of two or more nights and enjoy one more night free. With the resort and spa located on one of Vietnam’s most picturesque coastlines, surely the award-winning Hyatt Regency is your getaway destination.

travel beachside restaurant, and includes free Wi-Fi. Motorbike rental, boat trips and tours are easily arranged. Discount rates during rainy season.


$$ Ong Lang Bay, Phu Quoc Island, Tel: 0773 986142 An eco-lodge with no televisions or air–conditioning, 18 bungalows offer views of the beach and bay. The beachside restaurant serves traditional Vietnamese cuisine with a classic ‘French touch.’


$$$$ Bai Xep, Ong Lang, Cua Duong, Phu Quoc, Kien Giang, Tel: 0773 995895 This 37–bungalow boutique resort provides a serene atmosphere along with first– class spa treatment and a Mediterranean–themed restaurant.



$$$ Tel: 0203 871522 Topping the list of Sapa resorts, the Victoria include satellite TV, in–room coffeemakers, a hilltop health club, tennis court, and pool. The entire resort has panoramic views of the town below.

The Village Noshery

42 Cau May, Sapa Well-placed in the heart of Sapa’s downtown district, The Village Noshery mountain lodge is the perfect place to dine, stay and hang out while you are in Sapa. Step inside to discover an oasis of comfort and relax in the large restaurant spaces decorated with handcrafted art installations. Here it’s all about good food and quality service at very reasonable prices.

Vung Tau & Ho Tram BINH AN VILLAGE

$$$$ Ward 1, Duong Dong Beach, Phu Quoc Tel: 0773 982988 Among exotic greenery and a white sand beach, the M Gallery brand has beautifully–designed rooms, a stunning swimming pool, an all–natural spa, a beach grill and a fine fusion restaurant.

$$$$ 1 Tran Phu, Vung Tau Tel: 0643 351553 Perched on a cliff face, this Imperial Vietnam-styled resort has traditionally designed and furnished rooms and villas, seaside pools, fine dining, and a bar strategically located to watch the sunset.



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

$$ Nguyen Duc Thuan, Con Dao, Vung Tau, Tel: 0643 830939 Seated at the heart of Con Son Island this beachfront resort has mini-golf, kayaking, and sightseeing tours via trams.


$$$$ Tel: 0643 781525 This attractive property is the ideal getaway from Ho Chi Minh City. 63 uniquely bungalows and villas promise a local experience complete with an excellent spa and two swimming pools.


$$ Cat Cat Road Tel: 0203 871218 The best view in town from its bar restaurant, the Cat Cat Guesthouse is paradise at very reasonable rates. The rooms have big windows, balconies, and log fireplaces.


$$ 24 Muong Hoa, Sapa Tel: 0203 872404 For the environmentally conscientious, 25 individual lodges rest on hills overlooking valleys. Employing solar technology and a wastewater facility, the Topas also organises treks and bicycle tours.



$$$$ Ho Tram, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel: 0643 781631 The spacious villas come with their own pool and have direct access to the beach. Extras include tennis courts, a mini supermarket, and cycling and motorbike tours.


$$ 1 Le Quy Don, Vung Tau Tel: 0643 852135

Built in 1972, this popular seafront hotel still maintains its 1970s–style architecture and room fittings. Amenities include a pool, two bars, a massage parlour and a karaoke lounge.


$$$$ Dat Doc Beach, Ba Ria-Vung Tau Tel : 0643 831222 50 wooden-framed bamboo pool villas stretch along the curved bay, each with an unencumbered view of the sea. Also has a fitness centre, two restaurants, diving facilities and free bicycle usage.

The Grand-Ho Tram Strip

Phuoc Thuan Commune, Xuyen Moc, Ba Ria-Vung Tau Tel: (064) 378 8888 The Grand - Ho Tram Strip is Vietnam’s first large scale integrated resort and ultimately will include a 1,100-room five-star hotel, a world-class casino, restaurants, high-tech meeting space, an exclusive VIP area, as well as a variety of beach-front recreation activities. The first 541-room tower of this development opened in July 2013 with its casino including 90 live tables and 614 electronic game positions. The second 559-room tower is on track to open in 2015.

travel services Want to organize your dream trip in Southeast Asia? With BeenInAsia you can easily do your own organization online and choose from a pre-selection of great hotels and tours. Need some help? Just send an email to info@

Buffalo Tours Agency (BTA)

94 Ma May, Hoan Kiem Dist., Ha Noi, Tel: (84-4) 3 828 0702 A boutique Travel Agency at the service of all Vietnamese and expatriate residents in Vietnam offering easy, hassle-free travel around the world and in Vietnam, with the highest standards of customer care. This premium Travel Agency has been created to help travelers select their destinations and organize their trips, take care of the timeconsuming procedures and ensure that all journeys are enjoyable and successful. BTA customizes leisure and corporate travel plans while offering a selected range of small group tours.

Want to be in touch with what’s happening in this city? Check us out online at


26, Tran Nhat Duat, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3828 2150 9 XuanDieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 3718 5555 A one-stop, all-in-one travel agency with an extensive operational track record in the Indochina region and beyond. Providing upmarket services, Exotissimo brings their clients close to culture through personalised tours. Also find travel desks at the Hilton, Sofitel Plaza and Intercontinental hotels, which are open on weekends and holidays.

Handspan Travel

80 Ma May, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3926 2828 Established in 1997, Handspan provides customers with safe, high quality, diverse, small-group adventure tours to both popular and isolated locations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Has a focus on off-thebeaten-track sustainable and responsible tourism initiatives. Also provides to excursions to more wellworn destinations.

HG Travel

47 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3944 8844, www.hgtravel. com Travel company specialising in small-group tours around Vietnam and further afield in Indochina. Is also the sole representative agent for Kenya Airways (for 40 cities in Africa —, American Airlines (www. and Turkish Airlines (

Indochina Land

61 Cua Bac, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3715 2852 Indochina Land is a French local travel agency for expatriates and tourists who want to see northern Vietnam in a personal and tailored way. Think small knowledgeable teams of Vietnamese and French who share their passion for discovery during varied itineraries, usually focused on freedom, family, health trips and classic home stays. They will show you around Ha Giang, too.

Intrepid Travel Vietnam

57A Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh Tel: 0904 193308 vietnamsales Intrepid Travel Vietnam is an international travel company operating in Vietnam since 1992, offering innovative day tours, short breaks and small group adventures. With expert guides and guaranteed de-

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

Syrena Cruises

51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 3719 7214 If you’re thirsty for a Halong Bay experience while enjoying luxury comfort, Syrena Cruises could be the quencher you’re looking for. Forget drinking games and backpackers by relaxing on one of the two wooden boats from the fleet. Alone, as a couple or with a group, 34 luxurious cabins and suites are all ready for action. All you have to do is decide on how long you want to holiday for.


81 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 9170 This premium travel agency helps travelers select their destinations and organize their trips. From corporate travel to small group tours, explore the world or Vietnam.


70 Phan Dinh Phung, Dalat Motorbike tours from over 70 guides, all speaking English. Tours include Dalat, the Central Highlands, Phan Thiet and Nha Trang. Note: insurance is not included.


41, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel (08) 3519 4111, Ext. 15/17/19 A reliable and experienced travel company operating through Southeast Asia, Exotissimo brings you personalized tours across the region, many including insights into culinary customs, handicrafts and humanitarian initiatives.


121 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 7744 Flight travel services, including global travel management, domestic and international air booking and travel insurance, to corporate companies, family and individual travelers.

FLY VIETNAM They provide flight information, pricing, availability and booking for domestic and international travel, in addition to railway reservation, hotel bookings, holiday packages, buses, and car rentals, travel in-

surance, coach tours and visas.


149/42 Le Thi Rieng, Q1, Tel: 0904 193308 An international travel company operating in Vietnam since 1992. They offer daily tours, short getaways, and small group excursions throughout Vietnam and beyond.


108 Huynh Thuc Khang, Mui Ne, Tel: 0908 400108 Vietnam’s first and only sailing school offers individually tailored training programmes for individual clients and groups. Services include recreational sailing, supervised dinghy rental, sail training, racing, wake boarding and beachside accommodation.


28/4 Do Quang Dau, Q1, Tel: (08) 6675 2620 A local inbound tour operator specializing in boutique tours around Vietnam. They provide economy, luxury, packages and tailor-made tours, which include the flexibility for customers to explore at their own pace.


12/20 Nguyen Canh Di, Ward 4, Tan Binh District Tel: (08) 3984 4754 If you like cycling through the Mekong Delta, trekking in the highlands, or lazing in a junk on Ha Long Bay — all while making a difference in people’s lives — then this company will suit you well.


60 Hai Ba Trung, Can Tho City Tel: 0713 752436 Services include trips to the Mekong Feeling floating hotel, cruises along the Mekong Delta, and speedboats between Chau Doc, Phnom Penh, Saigon, Cantho and Chau Doc.


169A De Tham, Q1 Tel: 01222 993585 vietnamvespaadventure. com Vespa Adventure offers multi–day tours of southern and coastal Vietnam on the back of a luxury motorbike powered by clean, renewable biodiesel. Englishspeaking tour guides lead the way. October 2013 Word | 187

188 | Word October 2013

Bãi Biển Yêu Thích Của Hà Nội Cách Hà Nội 170km, Sầm Sơn ở Thanh Hóa được biết đến là bãi biển gần Hà Nội nhất. Mặc dù không chính xác như thế, Marc Forster-Pert đã đến xem liệu nó vẫn thật sự là bãi biển yêu thích của Hà Nội


ặt trời lên. Những con sóng cưỡi gió trên cao, bầu trời đầy mây – trời sắp mưa. Tôi đến sớm, xem các tàu đánh cá cập bờ với những mẻ cá tươi mới đánh bắt về. Như những chấm đen ở đường chân trời, thuyền họ bập bềnh trên đại dương tìm cách quay về sau một đêm làm việc vất vả. Tôi ngạc nhiên trước những cống hiến để có được những mẻ cá tươi trong điều kiện khó khăn như vậy, thật không lạ khi người bạn hướng dẫn viên của tôi từ Thanh Hóa cho biết, “thật ra anh không thể có được mẻ cá nào tươi hơn ở miền Bắc Việt Nam đâu.” Đây là một ý kiến chủ quan, tôi vẫn chưa thử xem nó như thế nào, nhưng xem các thủy thủ cập bờ, có lẽ cô ấy đã nói đúng.

Trở Nên Nổi Tiếng

Được phát triển bởi người Pháp trong những năm đầu của thế kỷ 20, Sầm Sơn cũng là nơi yêu thích của Bác Hồ, người đã đến thăm Chùa Cô Tiên. Người dường như cũng đã nói rằng đây là nơi tốt để nghỉ dưỡng. Đi dọc theo bờ biển, có nhiều khách sạn cao bốn hoặc năm tầng chạy dọc theo, với cơ sở hạ tầng được xây dựng nhằm làm cho bãi biển hấp dẫn khách du lịch. Nó trông giống như khu nghỉ mát bên bờ biển xuống cấp, đã qua những ngày huy hoàng, với những tòa nhà lão hóa và quán bar mệt mỏi. Nếu hỏi hầu hết người Hà Nội về Sầm Sơn, bạn có thể sẽ nghe những lời nhận xét sau “Ôi, giá mắc gấp đôi cho khách du lịch” hay “Vẫn còn nhiều bãi biển đẹp hơn khác ở Viêt Nam mà!” Điều đó có lẽ đúng, nhưng tôi không chắc lý do tại sao những người tôi nói chuyện về việc tôi sẽ đi Sầm Sơn lại có thái độ đó. Sầm Sơn không chỉ là một bãi biển đẹp, mà còn có một số di tích lịch sử quan trọng, quan cảnh thiên nhiên tuyệt vời, chỉ cần đi bộ dọc bờ biển bạn sẽ thấy tất cả điều đó. 10km bãi cát vàng chạy từ cửa Lạch Hới ở phía bắc tới núi Trường Lệ ở phía nam, điều đó có nghĩa là có rất nhiều chỗ còn hoang sơ để tham quan, hoặc nằm dài trên bãi biển nhấm nháp một ly bia và lắng nghe tiếng sóng vỗ. Còn có một số điểm yên tĩnh hơn ngoài Chùa Cô Tiên nằm

trên đỉnh núi mà thật ra nó chỉ giống một ngọn đồi thôi. Chính quyền địa phương gần đây đã trích ngân sách vào các hoạt động đánh bắt cá cũng như xây dựng một đường cao tốc hai làn xe từ Thanh Hóa đến bãi biển. Rõ ràng đây là một nơi họ đang quan tâm phát triển, và với những chiếc xe buýt ghế nằm đề chữ " Sầm Sơn - Hà Nội " trên kính chắn gió, nó không trông giống như bãi biển này đang trở nên ít người đến.

Chiều tà, dân địa phương cũng như khách du lịch trong nước - hướng dẫn viên của tôi giúp tôi phân biệt họ thông qua giọng nói – tập trung nô đùa dưới biển với phao hình thú, chụp hình và chôn mình trong cát. Đó là một cảnh tuyệt vời thiếu vắng tiếng xe vội vã và những khuôn mặt gắt gỏng. Kế hoạch của tôi là đi trong một ngày, nhưng tôi quyết định ở lại qua đêm, quả là hấp dẫn. Tôi không chắc có tốt hơn nếu nó quá gần Hà Nội.

Ngoài Bãi Biển

Đi bộ lên đồi hướng về chùa Cô Tiên và bạn sẽ vượt qua Hòn Trống Mái, một tập hợp núi đá tượng trưng cho một tình yêu trung thành huyền thoại. Phóng tầm mắt từ đỉnh ra Biển Đông và các đảo xung quanh, cảnh vật thật xứng đáng một cuộc leo bộ, và bản thân ngôi chùa tạo nên một khung cảnh thanh bình tôn nghiêm. Bạn cũng sẽ tìm thấy một bãi biển hoang vắng và hoàn toàn không phát triển ở phía Nam, ngoài một vài nhà hàng vách gỗ và một vài người lượm sò. Đền Độc Cước, nơi thờ thần bảo vệ ngư dân và người dân Sầm Sơn, nằm gần thị trấn, là một nơi yên tĩnh xa khu vực bãi biển đông đúc, và là nơi có thể ngắm bao quát toàn vịnh. Ngoài ra còn có nhiều đền chùa trong thị trấn để khám phá nếu bạn có thời gian. Theo hướng dẫn viên của tôi, sự hấp dẫn của bãi biển là do nước trong như pha lê vào tháng Năm và Sáu, và cũng bởi vì cát mịn, rất thoải mái. Cho dù nước không trong và bãi cát cũng giống như bất kỳ bãi biển khác, nhưng nó là một chỗ vừa ý, chỉ tốn bốn tiếng đồng hồ lái xe từ Hà Nội. Hướng dẫn viên của tôi đã đúng, hải sản thật sự tươi ngon tuyệt vời, và có thể thưởng thức chúng trong bất kỳ nhà hàng nào trên bãi biển. Thật khó tìm thấy lý do tại sao người Hà Nội không thích ở đây. Có thể do trời mưa liên tục , và nặng hạt nhiều lần, nhưng nó không làm mất cảm giác độc đáo rời thành phố tìm đến bãi biển. Được rồi, nó không có bất kỳ khu nghỉ mát năm sao nổi tiếng và dịch vụ vui chơi giải trí có thể có chút lỗi thời, nhưng Sầm Sơn chắc chắn có một nét duyên dáng có thể lấy lòng ngay cả những du khách khó tính nhất.

Năm Bãi Biển Gần Hà Nội Thịnh Long

Khoảng cách (từ Hà Nội): 140km Yên bình, chưa phát triển và sạch, bãi biển này nằm ở Nam Định, có thể là một chuyến đi lãng mạn hoàn hảo cho các cặp tình nhân.

Đồ Sơn

Khoảng cách: 124km Sách hướng dẫn nói là thiên đường nhiệt đới ở Hải Phòng, nhưng khi hỏi hầu hết người Hà Nội, họ không chắc về điều đó.

Cát Bà

Khoảng cách: 148km Cát Bà không cần giới thiệu, nhưng mà các chuyến đi tới đó không bao giờ về trong ngày.

Tuần Châu

Khoảng cách: 142km Bãi biển có vẻ như nhân tạo (hình như thế), nhưng bạn sẽ không chóng chán với những suối nước nóng nhân tạo, thác nước và bể cá.

Bãi Cháy

Khoảng cách: 148km Cũng nhân tạo và đông đúc vào mùa hè, làm mất vẻ yên bình từ quang cảnh ấn tượng của phía bên kia Vịnh Hạ Long.

October 2013 Word | 189

Bắc và Nam

Hà Nội là thành phố để đi xe đạp. Sài Gòn rồi cũng sẽ như thế


ột người đàn ông đạp xe qua khi tôi đang ngồi trên ghế nhựa ăn bánh mì trứng. Ông bụng phệ cởi trần, nhưng chân thì chắc nịch cứng ngắt như khúc gỗ. Ông đang ngồi trên một chiếc Pinarello, trị giá 50 triệu đồng, và đó là lần thứ hai tôi thấy ông trong nhiều ngày, ra đường sớm để tập thể dục buổi sáng. Người đàn ông vừa là điển hình và không điển hình của những người đi xe đạp tiêu biểu ở Hà Nội. Vào một buổi sáng đạp xe một mình trên đoạn đường vòng quanh Hồ Tây dài 15km, tôi phải vượt qua khoảng 400 hoặc 500 người đi xe đạp, phần lớn là ngồi trên xe đạp leo núi đời đầu hoặc chiếc Peugeot cổ điển, vất vả đổ mồ hôi cho việc quá ăn uống của ngày hôm trước. Một số người trang bị đầy đủ trang phục đi xe, dừng lại theo nhóm để nghỉ giải lao uống cà phê tại ao sen ở Đặng Thai Mai hoặc khu vực công viên ở Thanh Niên. Nhưng chỉ có người đàn ông này, mái tóc dài được buộc lại kiểu đuôi ngựa bên dưới chiếc mũ quân đội, là cởi trần. Trong khi đó, số lượng những người đam mê trong Sài Gòn ngày càng tăng - bạn chỉ cần đi loanh quanh Quận 2 và Quận 7 một mình sẽ thấy điều này – nhưng không nơi nào có nỗi ám ảnh về xe đạp nhiều như ở thủ đô. Lần dừng chân đầu tiên xung quanh hồ Tây, tôi quan sát ít nhất có năm cửa hàng xe đạp. Sau đó, tôi không đếm nổi nữa. Phòng trưng bày Merida rộng rãi mới khai trương trên phố Tràng Thi nằm cạnh Nguyễn Kim, hay hãng xe Jett có rất nhiều cửa hàng nằm rải rác trong thành phố - trong khi ở Sài Gòn chỉ có một cửa hàng

190 | Word October 2013

chính. Theo như những người Hà Nội nói, thủ đô là nơi dành cho xe đạp với hồ và công viên trong khi Sài Gòn thì không phải. Ở phía nam Sài Gòn, 15km là khoảng cách đi xe đạp từ Phú Mỹ Hưng ở Quận 7 đi An Phú ở Quận 2. Bạn phải đi qua mấy cây cầu, đường cao tốc và những con đường đông đúc trong thành phố. Chỉ khác là không được đạp xe vòng quanh những con hồ yên tĩnh rộng lớn.

Do Nóng Quá, Em Ơi

Mặc dù những con đường vẫn còn đó nhiều vấn đề, nhiều người dân Sài Gòn vẫn thừa nhận mong muốn đạp xe đi làm nhưng vấn đề không đơn giản như thế họ không muốn đến nơi làm mà mình đầy mồ hôi và phải đi tắm. Đây là lý do mấu chốt. Nhưng vẫn còn đó những người có thú vui đạp xe, nhiều người gan lì bất chấp cái nóng, nhưng một số đi xe đạp là vì để đi làm hay do nhàn rỗi. Ở Hà Nội, hầu như không có người nào giải trí đi xe đạp để đến văn phòng. Thay vào đó, họ xuất hiện từ sáng sớm hoặc chiều muộn sau giờ làm để làm theo lời khuyên tập thể dục hằng ngày của Bác. Lúc 8 giờ sáng, sau khi làm xong ly cà phê đá, tôi rời khỏi chỗ ngồi quen thuộc của tôi ở tiệm bánh mì trứng. Những người đi xe đạp cũng không còn nữa, họ trở về nhà để tắm táp trước khi tiếp tục một ngày mới. Ở Sài Gòn, trong khi các công viên đông đúc bận rộn những người tập thể dục buổi sáng, hầu hết những người đi xe đạp chỉ xuống đường vào dịp cuối tuần.


Mèo Của Tháng Jeff và Jumbo


ục Vật Nuôi của tháng này sẽ giới thiệu về hai nhóc tên Jeff và Jumbo. Cả hai đều là mèo đực tám tháng tuổi và hình dáng giống Garfield nhưng ốm hơn. Và hoàn toàn giống Garfield về khoản tinh nghịch. Nếy như bạn có cặp dây giầy, chúng thích đánh vật với hai sợi dây. Trong khi Jeff độc lập và nghịch ngợm hơn, Jumbo rất tình cảm và thích được vuốt ve. Jeff và Jumbo bị bỏ rơi một vài tháng trước và may mắn thay tổ chức Animal Rescue and Care tìm thấy chúng. Giờ đây chúng đã đủ lớn để có thể có một mái nhà riêng và rất muốn có một ai đó mà chúng có thể ngồi vào trong lòng và kêu meo meo. Cả hai đã được thiến và chích đầy đủ vắc-xin. Jeff khá mắc cỡ khi ở gần những con mèo khác, tất nhiên trừ Jumbo. Nếu ai đó quan tâm và có nhà đủ rộng, chúng rất lấy làm vui lòng về ở chung. Nếu bạn nghĩ chúng là một cặp cho bạn, hãy email ARC ở địa chỉ

Lễ Hội Les Siestes Electronique

ãy tưởng tượng về một bữa tiệc âm nhạc trong công viên. Những tấm bạt được trải trên cỏ, chân trần nhảy múa theo nhạc dưới tán cây, tiếng nhạc phát ra từ những chồng am-li cao 10 mét, một bữa tiệc âm nhạc thật hoành tráng. Đó chính xác là tất cả những gì mà lễ hội âm nhạc Pháp sẽ diễn ra trong tháng này muốn mang lại cho cả Hà Nội lẫn Tp. Hồ Chí Minh. Lễ hội Les Siestes Electronique sẽ biểu diễn 40 bản nhạc dance đứng đầu. Thay vì chỉ là một lễ hội thể

hiện văn hóa, nó sẽ đưa âm thanh, khái niệm, xúc cảm, nhịp điệu và ý tưởng từ nền âm nhạc toàn cầu không giới hạn đến với nhau. Nếu

muốn, bạn có thể gọi đó là thế giới âm nhạc với âm thanh điện tử. Gọi là gì cũng được. Ngoài lễ hội Soundfest ở Hà Nội, tổ chức bởi

Trí Minh, đây là sự kiện đầu tiên của anh thu hút khách từ các khu vực Châu Á khác đến Việt Nam Cũng giống như

các lễ hội âm nhạc khác, tên của nghệ sỹ cũng góp phần nên danh tiếng cho lễ hội. Các nghệ sỹ bao gồm: Vincent Moon, Laurent

Jeanneau, Jean Nipon, Vũ Nhật Tân và Nguyễn Hồng Giang, tất cả sẽ đem tài năng của mình biểu diễn ở Tp. Hồ Chí Minh vào ngày 12/10 và 19/10 ở Hà Nội. Vào cửa miễn phí. Lễ hội âm nhạc ngày 12/10 này sẽ diễn ra ở công viên Tao Đàn, 55C Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Q1 từ 15:00 đến 17:00. Vào cửa miễn phí. Cũng từ 15:00 đến 17:00 vào ngày 19/10 ở công viên Thống Nhất, Trần Nhân Tông, Hai Bà Trưng. Để biết thêm chi tiết, xin ghé trang web: les-siestes-electroniques. com/Les-Siestes-inVietnam?lang=en

October 2013 Word | 191

Nhà Vô Địch Thế Giới Dễ Dàng Chiến Thắng Tại Cuộc Thi Chạy Vertical Run


hững nhà vô địch thế giới, cả nam và nữ, đã giành chiến thắng ở cuộc thi chạy Vertical (thẳng đứng) lần thứ 2 tổ chức tại Hà Nội ngày 15 tháng 9 ở tòa nhà cao nhất Việt Nam – Landmark 72. Thomas Dold đến từ Đức đã lần thứ 2 liên tiếp về đích đầu tiên tại cuộc thi tổ chức vòng quanh thế giới này, và giành 100 điểm trong bảng xếp hạng của nam. Vận động viên 29 tuổi này đã hoàn thành cuộc đua trong 9 phút 14 giây, xác lập một kỷ lục mới. Trong cuộc đua nữ, đương kim vô địch chạy Vertical thế giới Suzy Walsham của Úc đã giành chiến thắng sau 10 phút 51 giây. Ở vòng không chuyên, Vũ Xuân Tiến đã giành thắng lợi. Được biết đến với danh hiệu “Người đàn ông chạy” trong chuyến lưu diễn của đội tuyển Arsenal tại Việt Nam, Tiến đã chứng minh rằng anh không chỉ chạy tốt trên mặt đường mà còn cả chạy lên cao nữa. Anh đã chạy tới tầng cao nhất của Lanmark 72 trong 11 phút, 44 giây, và bằng chân trần. Để biết thêm thông tin về cuộc thi chạy Vertical trên khắp thế giới, xem

Orchestre de Paris


à một trong những dàn nhạc giao hưởng tuyệt vời của Pháp, sáng lập bởi Charles Munch, Orchestre de Paris sẽ biểu diễn tại Nhà hát lớn Hà Nội ngày 29 tháng 10 và tại Nhà hát Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh ngày 30 tháng 10. Thường xuyên lưu diễn tại những thủ phủ âm nhạc lớn nhất thế giới, ban nhạc đã tạo nên những mối liên hệ chặt chẽ không chỉ ở New York, London, Viên, Béc-lin, Amsterdam và những thủ đô thuộc khối Scandinanian, mà còn ở tại Nga, Trung Quốc, Nhật Bản và Hàn Quốc, làm kinh ngạc khán giả khắp nơi trên thế giới. Chương trình sẽ bao gồm những tác phẩm của Haydn, Grieg, và Mozart; cả hai đêm diễn sẽ được chỉ huy bởi Paavo Järvi. Liên hệ đặt chỗ cho buổi biểu diễn tại Hà Nội qua Ở Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, đặt vé trực tiếp tại Nhà hát Thành phố

192 | Word October 2013

The final say

I’m Going To Australia After five years working at Word and then a stint at a trafficking NGO in Cu Chi, Vu Ha Kim Vy is heading Down Under to pursue her studies. Here are her thoughts on starting afresh


ay!” It was my first reaction when knowing that the visa was granted. The anxiety and confusion had been escalating, and as time swept by it occupied my every thought. Would I be accepted? Would I be turned down? But now with the visa placed nicely in my passport, it was all real. After 30 years in Saigon, this month I am leaving my hometown, a place where I have a tight bond, a place where over the duration of my life I have built a lot of things. I’m swapping it for far-off climes and am going to start all over, without anyone standing behind me telling me what to do and how to do it. I’m going to Australia.

The Conflict It is a strange chain of emotion. I was nervously expecting and praying for the visa. Without any hesitation, all the documents for the university and my visa application were quickly filled in and dispatched to the appropriate places. There were moments, such as when I received my IELTS English certification, or when the Consulate asked me to get my health check done — there is a rumour that once you are required to do a health check, the visa will be issued — that made my heart bounce in happiness. Now, with the visa is in hand, my heart refuses to dance. Since things have come this far, it’s too late to turn back. The suitcase and the inner workings of my mind need to get ready

for this three-year trip. I have to decide what to bring and what to leave behind. There are things I want to take along but it’s impossible, and things I cannot leave behind, things that I’d rather not bring with me, but know I must. And leaving is even more complicated — this is my first trip away from my family.

Freedom Is Not Free In my faded memories, my four-year student life in Vietnam is crowded with images of school buses, friends from other provinces, study groups, extra-curricular activities and camping. Despite how hard life was at the time, my only real duty was to sleep, eat and study. One of the features of Vietnamese culture is that many children live with their parents until marriage. When they reach working age and are still unmarried, the only weight taken off their parents’ shoulders is that they stop asking for money. Well, in theory, anyway. While their salaries are saved, all household bills are still paid by the parents. And I am not the exception. Will my next three years at Griffith University be the same? I will have friends from all over the world who don’t speak Vietnamese. With the absence of my parents, maybe it could get ugly. I won’t have that daily rock upon which to lean. Now I have to stand on my own two feet, two shaky feet that are like jelly at the knees. Freedom is certainly not for free, not without its downsides. For the first time I

am experiencing the emotions of a young adult about to leave the cocoon of their family.

A Bright Future “Don’t think too much! There will be a lot of interesting things waiting for you in the future!” a friend advised. Starting to feel like a kid waiting for Christmas night to open my gifts, I am eagerly looking forward to whatever the box may bring me. While I can point out only one or two reasons why people should study abroad, Google could give you more than 10. From meeting new people to getting to know other cultures and travelling, from learning a language to acquiring that dream job and gaining life experience, the future seems so bright. The reason why many students never come back home after their studies is my other motivation. Will I be one of them? My three years living on Australia’s Gold Coast will pass in the blink of an eye. Regardless of my results, it will ensure that I will have a lot to brag about when I come back home. If I come back home. As screenwriter Steve Rogers wrote in the movie, Hope Floats, “Beginnings are usually scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s what’s in the middle that counts. So when you find yourself at the beginning, just give hope a chance to float up. And it will.” I’m going to pack my suitcase, take along only what’s necessary and save room for everything new, while all along looking forward to what’s in the middle.

October 2013 Word | 193

The final say Alcoholism

The Wagon Mark Allan was diagnosed with clinical depression six years ago. When he was offered counselling, it was suggested that he was an alcoholic. Six years after missing his first meeting, he finally had the courage to contact Alcoholics Anonymous. Photo by Mads Monsen


s a first-timer I feel closed-off, alienated and apprehensive, which serves to make my discomfort even worse. I am thinking this is a big mistake. Why am I here? Maybe my unease is because I am the new guy, and they are trying to evaluate or test me as the Alcoholic Anonymous meeting follows its rigid pattern right to the end. It’s like being back at school, except worse. There are nine of us. Each member recites the AA codes from laminated A4 cards, and then a chapter from ‘the third stage to recovery’ from the AA handbook that was given out to eight members, there was no ninth copy. That would have been for me — the new guy. Once we had finished reading the paragraphs — I had a look at my neighbour’s copy — there was a moment of silence that was hard to explain. A deathly moment. It was like the world had stopped.

The Diagnosis 194 | Word October 2013

It gave me a chance to reflect back to when I was diagnosed with clinical depression by a close friend, a psychologist. I always had a feeling this was the case, but hid those thoughts away as I was still able to function and do my job, even though mood swings were frequent. I acclimatised to their presence and they just became a normal part of my day. My friend was not able to treat me professionally as it would have been a conflict of interest because of the emotional connection, so she introduced me to a colleague of hers. After a 10-minute conversation her colleague told me she could not treat me because I seemed to her to be an alcoholic. She referred me to AA. This news was no big surprise. My father was an alcoholic until the age of 45 when he stopped drinking for medical reasons, which adds credence to the belief that alcoholism is indeed a disease, one passed down to me. I worked in an office and owned a bar at the time, which helped conceal my disease

because being the boss gave me an excuse for drinking every day until 3am. It was my job. So I decided to attend my first AA meeting. It was scheduled for 6pm on a weekday near my office, my day job. I finished at quarter-to-six, which was perfect, so I had no opportunity to go to my bar before going to the meeting. However, a friend I had not seen for many years turned up from Hong Kong and called me as I was on the way. He asked me to meet him for dinner, which I opted for, after all AA also had a meeting set up for the next day. But I never made it to an AA meeting until now.

Skeletons in the Closet So there are nine of us but only three still have a drinking problem, including me. First to open up to the group is career alcoholic Joe, who has been attending meetings around the world for 15 years. With a spring in his step he was the first to arrive, and with good cause. He admits that the get-togethers

have helped strengthen him in his times of need — when he fights hard to get off the demon, drink. Today is no different. He is here after three weeks back off the wagon that culminated in a serious motorbike accident — he may lose the use of his right arm. However, that is just part of the story. A girl is involved. Concerning his latest wake-up call, he says, “I don’t know if I am more obsessed with the alcohol or her. I stayed home thinking I’d go and see her at the bar, just have a soft drink. I stared at my computer screen and there was nothing there, then I went to bed hoping to fall asleep, and it did not happen until many hours later. I can’t stop thinking of her.” He was the first to arrive at the meeting that day. Next up is an Australian-Vietnamese guy whose whole left side, his arms and legs, are covered in tattoos. He is a man about town and an alcoholic. He apologised for not turning up to the last meeting because he was, well, drinking.

I was expecting to hear more but that was it — his contribution. “Sorry I missed it last time guys I was drinking.” He wasn’t given much help to develop his offering. No guidance or comfort. I thought the leader would have taken Joe and the Viet Kieu guy aside, spoken to them or at least encouraged them to open up more to the group, but he seemed disinterested. It was like he was leading the meetings as a duty. I think alcoholics go to AA meetings because they want to talk to people who they can relate to and vent their anger, frustration and fears, but this meeting failed them. What about me? Well I thought it would be courteous to at least introduce myself. After the last person spoke about the actor/ writer W.C. Fields, which seemed to be the theme of the meeting, I uttered the magic words, “I am Mark and I am an alcoholic.” Yes it does happen in real life, not just the movies. I told everyone I was six years late for the meeting because I was drinking

with a friend. I said I was once sober for four months and found the strength to do so because I was going to be a father. However, I relapsed because my girlfriend moved back to her home country with my daughter, and because I was again managing a bar. The temptation was there. I have not had a day without alcohol since. And I think that I do need help. I do. It is easy to criticise, but my initial impression of the AA organisation is that there is no clear communication between the ‘leaders’ who carry out or are in charge of these meetings. The meetings are too strict and formal. People come for a comfortable and safe place where they feel wanted, appreciated, loved, and this didn’t tick any of those boxes. I am seriously thinking of starting my own meetings to try and help with some sensible, achievable goals. I might even help myself in the bargain. For a list of AA groups and meetings in Ho Chi Minh City, check out For Hanoi see

October 2013 Word | 195

The last call Quynh Pham recently opened a second Galerie Quynh in Dong Khoi to complement her HQ in the nonbackpacker end of De Tham. The art critic, entrepreneur and art scene trailblazer is confident that contemporary Vietnamese art has a bright future. Here from the beginning, she should know. Photo by Alexandre Garel WHEN I WAS A YOUNG ARTIST… I attempted to draw, paint, sculpt and photograph but since I wasn’t adept at any one of these mediums, I made art out of found objects and did some rather contrived performance work that was excruciatingly bad. But then I studied art criticism, so maybe I was my own worst critic. I FIRST CAME BACK TO VIETNAM… not to find my roots like people normally assume, but because I wanted to learn about contemporary art practice in Vietnam. ART TO ME IS… to be human. YOUNG VIETNAMESE ARTISTS… will be among the world’s

most recognised artists in 10 years.

ONE STANDOUT IS… Nguyen Phuong Linh who was born

in 1985. She makes poetic and intelligent work often with ephemeral materials. She’s heading to Frankfurt [this autumn] to study at the famed Staedelschule.

THE FUTURE OF ART IN VIETNAM… will reflect the development of the nation.

WHAT THE YOUNG ARTISTS NEED… is sometimes a kick in the derriere. They are a creative, smart bunch (shout-out to the nonprofit space San Art for mentoring and nurturing these artists), but some can lack ambition to really push their practice forward — or get caught up in the hype. WHEN I OPENED MY SECOND GALLERY… I told myself that I

wanted to build a local market for contemporary art. Currently 95 percent of my clients reside outside Vietnam. I would love to see some great artworks stay in the country in private and public collections. The main gallery is a bit off the beaten path for many affluent Vietnamese, so I figured that by opening a gallery downtown on Dong Khoi, I would be making the art accessible to this constituency.

MY DREAM IS… to get my mother back to Vietnam for a visit. She has such vivid memories of wartime Vietnam and shuts off when I describe the country today. I admire my mother’s courage and am grateful for the opportunities she’s given to me growing up in the US, but my life now is in Vietnam. I have an amazing opportunity to do what I love here. It feels wonderful to be able to contribute to the development of art in this country. BEING A MOTHER… reminds me why I love my own mother so


Galerie Quynh is at 65 De Tham, Q1, Ho Chi Minh City and Level 2, 151/3 Dong Khoi, Q1, Ho Chi Minh City


Word Vietnam October 2013  

The what's on guide to life in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and beyond.

Word Vietnam October 2013  

The what's on guide to life in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and beyond.