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Contents Oct.2016




21 / The Villas

108 / Mystery Diner Hanoi

11 / The Big Five

INSIDER 54 / Giles Lever

110 / Mien Luon

BRIEFINGS 12 / Pokémon Enters Vietnam

56 / A Personal History

THE TALK 10 / Learner Drivers

A way to reduce accidents? October in Vietnam

Do you play Pokémon Go? Vietnamese people do

14 / At Ground Zero

ZeroStation — a complex for art lovers

18 / The Transformation of Quang Ba The lotus farm that’s become a commercial hub

20 / Les Aromes

Gastronomic delights come to the Metropole

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Another one bites the dust

The UK Ambassador talks about Brexit and more Eye witness accounts of the past

88 / The Short Story of Tay Ho From a small village to one of the wealthiest areas in Hanoi

This month: Hakata Kouryu

Glass noodles with eel. Sound appetizing?

112 / Mystery Diner HCMC

Quan Bui Garden gets the onceover

114 / Banh Xeo

Where to eat your favourite banh xeo

94 / Le Cong Kieu

Does Saigon’s Antique Street have a future?

EAT & DRINK 100 / Hanoi BBQ Olympics

In search of the best BBQ fare in Hanoi


Contents Oct.2016



TRAVEL 116 / Ba Be Lake

A trip to one of Vietnam’s most northerly national parks

124 / The DMZ

Journeying into the former Demilitarised Zone

HANOI 44 / To Do List 50 / Just In 140 / Hanoi City Guide 142 / Day Tripper


HCMC 30 / To Do List 40 / Just In

172 / Body and Temple

166 / HCMC City Guide

174 / Location, Location, Location

168 / Day Tripper

192 / A World of Good

180 / Bar Stool

194 / Know Your City

184 / Coffee Cup

FINAL SAY 198 / Breaking Point

188 / Top Eats 196 / City Map

150 / Bar Stool

COLUMNS 146 / The Alchemist

152 / Coffee Cup

148 / The Therapist

156 / Top Eats

158 / Medical Buff

162 / City Map

160 / Starting a Family

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161 / Book Buff

When the rage on the roads just gets too much

200 / Ten 10

Historian, researcher and writer, Tim Doling



This month we asked our team to tell us what fascinates them most about the history of Vietnam MATTHEW COWAN Staff Writer For me it’s about the faces of Vietnam. Faces tell histories. The south has been at the intersection of different kinds of peoples for centuries and you can see it in the faces of today. It would be fascinating to see a composite photo of what the typical Vietnamese person looks like now. SIAN KAVANAGH Staff Writer I am consistently fascinated by the resilience of the Vietnamese people; their culture and people have survived so much, and it is so apparent in their contemporary culture and lifestyle. JULIE VOLA Photo Editor What fascinates me the most is how badass the people here always have been. From the ancient badass women Hai Ba Trung to modern history. Vietnam is the underdog who took on three major military forces and handed them their ass. MADS MONSEN Creative Director I am intrigued by the dragon folklore in Vietnamese history. According to the myth, the Vietnamese people are descended from a dragon and a fairy. The Vikings had dragon heads on their longships and in Nordic mythology, Miðgarðsormr is the dragon that spans across the world. In Norway, the Stave churches have dragon heads on their rooftops and the same can be seen in Vietnamese pagodas. BILLY GRAY Contributor I find the current development of the country to be particularly interesting, my drive to work when I first arrived in Hanoi a year ago was a bumpy, barren streak of tarmac and not much else. It’s still bumpy, but the amount that’s been built around that road in the last year is mind boggling. It’s seeing the city advance so rapidly that holds my interest. ZOE OSBORNE Staff Writer I am always fascinated by how diverse everything is here, and history is no exception. Vietnam may have moved through time as one country but every person saw that movement differently — I love talking to people and hearing their personal story. It’s like piecing together a giant, untamable puzzle. NICK ROSS Chief Editor In the early 1960s my father-in-law walked from Tra Vinh in the Mekong Delta to Hanoi to join up with a battalion. What he and other people of his ilk must have gone through is fascinating; the deprivation, the suffering. It’s something my generation will never experience.

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EDWARD DALTON Contributor I used to be a history teacher here, and after a lesson on the war, the students just looked around at each other, before one of them asked me, “so that’s why they attacked us?” Other amazing questions I got during that lesson included, “isn’t Lyndon Johnson a basketball player?” and “did the guy from Jumanji really fight in Vietnam?” Fascinating, hilarious and disheartening all in one.

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hen I was in my teens I loved history. I would take the topic we were studying in school and read more about it in my own time. It wasn’t homework, it wasn’t a chore, it was something I loved. Then I changed schools. Later I realised that the teacher you have can affect your career path; in my case, it’s

the reason I ended up as a journalist instead of a historian. My new history ‘professor’ was akin to Professor Binns, the ghost in the Harry Potter series who drones away in a monotone. I forget his name, but he even looked like Professor Binns. My English teachers, however, were inspirational. I remember all their names. To this day I love literature, and I love writing. This month’s issue has revived the history bug I had as a youth and then as a university student,

when I took a course in political history. Rarely do I praise our writers in public, but they have been phenomenal. The stories they have unearthed and the people they have spoken to in our cover story; it makes for fascinating reading. So does the interview on our final page with Saigon-based historian, Tim Doling. A Walk Down Antiques Street, a Short History of West Lake and an interview with the British ambassador — all contain the context of history. As the 19th century writer and

historian Lord Acton once wrote: “History is not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul.” If history interests you, then Vietnam is a rewarding place to be. So much is hidden, waiting to be discovered, waiting to be documented. And so much is being lost. What remains is sitting there in people’s memories, calling out to be tapped. That’s what we’ve tried to do — tap it. I hope you find this month’s offering as fascinating as I do. — Nick Ross,





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

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

The Ho Chi Minh Trail (page 78, September 2016) My favourite was Cao Bang to Meo Vac to Lung Cu... such a ridiculously beautiful country, at every hairpin curve. Just don’t do what I did and accidentally wander into a Chinese mine field. — MM

The Motorbike Diaries (page 64, September 2016) Sorta nothing like Che Guevara — APM What, the guy in the photo or the trip? — Word Vietnam Either of course. I mean a guy, road, a motorcycle, that’s about it — APM

Loved that one, too... But, this one is even better. 80km without a house, I or restaurant. Just pure unadulterated countryside. — Word Vietnam

Have you read the story? It explains the Che Guevara link. And it says very clearly that no-one came back a revolutionary... — Word Vietnam

Sounds amazing ... I’ll have to try that stretch next time. — MM

I didn’t read all the “motorcycle diaries”, didn’t even click on them tbh. I did read the page in the link, and I’ve also

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read Guevara’s book of the same name. Road trips change people Jack Kerouac, Che Guevara etc. I don’t think the road trips are comparable tbh. Also think the lines are pretty corny “We know. Because we’ve been there, done it, and have survived to tell the story.” Yea, you, me, and at least 10,000 other backpackers on their gap year. — APM There are still adventures to be had and the challenges within those adventures to overcome... And people should be encouraged to do something different and daring... outside of the common garden constraints and expectations of get good marks, get a job, buy a

house near mum’s, get married, have kids, get old, and die. — JG

The Full Package (page 10, September 2016) Arrogant and antagonistic article; seething with bitterness and devoid of evidence to support its venom. I’m all for improving educational standards, everywhere, but this article makes no clear points except that nonAsian nationals in Asia are essentially scum, and makes this point again and again. What gives? — EC Excellent article. I think you’ve got it spot on! — MZ | October 2016 Word | 9

Talk Lead

Learner Drivers Time to give them some ‘L’ plates



n 2008, the legendary TV series Top Gear steered its way to Vietnam. Amid much fanfare, Messrs. Clarkson, Hammond and May drove from Saigon to Hanoi and then on to Halong Bay, a journey that took them eight days atop a Minsk, a Super Cub and a Vespa. It added impetus to a growing craze that created the ‘motopacker’ — a backpacker who, following the style of the presenters of Top Gear, would rock up to Vietnam, purchase a motorbike, and travel from North to South or vice versa. Yet there was a little problem — licensing. Back in 2008, foreign motorbike licenses weren’t accepted in Vietnam. So, the Top Gear escapade was essentially illegal, not that the BBC and the programme’s producers cared for following the law — this is Vietnam, after all. And to this day, unless you have a motorbike license from a country signed up to the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic together with an international driving permit, or are prepared to drive a vehicle with an engine under 50cc, or take the test for a motorbike license in Vietnam, or have an ASEAN country license, then driving a motorbike in this country is just not allowed.

Where it Goes Wrong We have laboured this point many times and I will labour it again. If you don’t have a motorbike license, then no matter how good the policy,

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you’re not insured. As a friend who runs a hostel in central Vietnam recently told me, a female backpacker who’d had an accident called him up and asked if he could say, for the purpose of the authorities, that she was riding a bicycle. Her injuries meant extensive hospital bills and the realisation she’d have to pay for it all by herself. He said no. I was recently staying at a guesthouse, also in motorbike accident-prone central Vietnam, when a French twenty-something traveller came off their bike and was rushed by taxi to the nearest hospital with their foot hanging off. That morning had been their first foray on a motorised two-wheel vehicle and despite constant warnings from local travel industry workers, they had been wearing shorts, flip-flops and a T-shirt.

A Solution? There is a way round this, one that would give first-time drivers valuable road experience and will guarantee that they are insured. It won’t stop all the accidents — motorbike drivers are 40 times more likely to be killed on the road than their four-wheeldriving nemesis, but it will mean that should trouble fall, then the injured party will be covered. It’s called the CBT, the Compulsory Basic Training that all motorbike drivers in the UK have to take before they are legally allowed to pull out, instructor-free, onto the roads. Most Western and many non-Western

countries have an equivalent. In the UK, once you’ve passed your CBT, for two years you hang Learner plates off the back of your bike before having to take your test. During this time you are insured. In Vietnam this could be condensed into regular one-day training courses at centres in Hanoi, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City. The charge for foreigners could be fairly low — say US$35 or around VND800,000 a day, meaning that if run properly, it could be a nice little money-spinner. By only taking a day, it won’t affect motopacker tourism in Vietnam — it will also be good for motorbikedriving expats. And by law, as long as it’s properly enforced, no-one, be they an expat, a tourist or local, could be allowed to take a motorbike on the road without having the equivalent of a CBT. This isn’t my idea. It comes from a conversation with a friend, Ben Mitchell, who we featured in the last issue. We both know that the introduction of the CBT isn’t going to substantially reduce the thousands of people killed every year on Vietnam’s roads. But if at least it takes a few percent off these figures, and reduces non-fatal accidents, then surely it could be designated a success? As for Top Gear, while the Vietnam Special gave free marketing to Vietnam, as many an impressionable young traveller might testify, it was a tad irresponsible. — Nick Ross

Big5 The

German beer fests, football events, music festivals and comedy nights






French Techno guru Antigone is heading to Observatory (HCMC) and Savage (Hanoi)

Cult German rock band Scorpions will perform at Monsoon Festival




Oktoberfest returns for its umpteenth outing

Windsor Plaza Hotel, HCMC and JW Marriott, Hanoi Oct. 6 to Oct. 8 & Oct. 12 to Oct. 15 If you like drinking vast quantities of German beer, washed down with copious amounts of meat, to an atmosphere of oompah bands and drunk partygoers dancing on tables, then Oktoberfest might just be for you. Touching down on Oct. 6 in both cities, the JW Marriott in Hanoi will hold three days’ worth of parties, while the Windsor Plaza in Saigon will not just celebrate all things Bavarian between Oct. 6 and Oct. 8, but will be back again the following weekend for three more days of beer drinking fun. Tickets for the Saigon event are available online at oktoberfestvietnam. com or via telephone on 0908 477489. For Hanoi email or call 0909 883230



The Observatory, HCMC and Savage, Hanoi Oct. 7 and Oct. 8 Concrete Paris resident and the personification of the French Techno scene, Antigone, will perform at The Observatory in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday, Oct. 7 and Savage in Hanoi

on Saturday, Oct. 8. This one’s gonna be big! For more info turn to pages 31 and 44

AFL Asian Championships 3

RMIT, HCMC Saturday, Oct. 15

If you’re into your Aussie Rules, then prepare yourself for a treat. 17 top teams from around Asia will be taking part in the 2016 AFL Asian Championships, to be held at RMIT in Ho Chi Minh City on Oct. 14 and Oct. 15. This annual championship will feature an “All-Asian Cup” mini-tournament on Friday, Oct. 14 between regional players from China, Indonesia and Indochina. The following day will then see the club teams complete for spoils. This will be the first time the Aussie Rules Asian Championships have been held in Vietnam, and this tournament will also feature the first ever women’s game to be played in Asia. All are welcome to attend the event. RMIT is at 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, HCMC. For info turn to our main article on page 26 or click on


Monsoon Festival 2016

Thang Long Royal Citadel, Hanoi Oct. 21 to Oct. 23 Now in its third year, Monsoon

Festival is Hanoi’s answer to the need for a citywide music festival, with the 2016 offering theming itself on ‘Traffic Culture’. No overtaking on the inside lane, then. Showcasing a number of domestic and international artists, representing a wide range of genres, the lineup includes Vietnamese stars My Linh and Tung Duong, as well as Scorpions (yes, you read correctly), Last Train, Rukhsana Merrise, Kite, Saveus, DJ Julien Sato & VJ 100LDK, DJ Brewel Goring, Lands, Goodluck, Idiotape, PB Nation and more. To buy tickets click on The festival will take place at the Thang Long Royal Citadel, Hanoi

Stand-Up with Brian Aylward Game On Saigon, HCMC and CAMA ATK, Hanoi 5 Oct. 26 and Oct. 27 Professional stand-up comedy returns this month with Game On Saigon and CAMA ATK in Hanoi once again getting a leg up on the gags. Headlining the latest show will be Canadian comedic stalwart, Brian Aylward, who will play two gigs: Wednesday, Oct. 26 in Saigon and Thursday, Oct. 27 in Hanoi. Expect to laugh until you split. For more info turn to pages 36 and 48 | October 2016 Word | 11

Briefings National

Pokémon Enters Vietnam Go baby, go!


okémon Go officially arrived in Vietnam after creator Niantic’s staggered global rollout finally caught up with local demand. From Aug. 6, would-be Pokémon trainers have been donning their virtual baseball caps and flooding into the streets on a mission to Catch ‘Em All. For the uninitiated, Pokémon are fictional creatures which people catch and train to be used in battles with other trainers. Made famous by video games, animé and trading cards, the worldwide hysteria surrounding Pokémon Go stems from its virtual reality appeal. After creating a virtual self in the game, your avatar is superimposed onto a map

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which uses the streets of the city around you to create the game world. Trainers will now be able to find a Weedle at Hoan Kiem Lake, rather than in Viridian Forest.

Ekans See the Benefit Mobile gaming is big business in Vietnam. According to data from Appota, Vietnam’s leading mobile platform provider, 60% of smartphone app revenue in Vietnam comes from games. Vietnam has the second fastest growth in the world for smartphone usage, after only China. Pokémon Go users are visible almost anywhere in Vietnam’s big cities. Day and night, players of every age are spending hours catching Pokémon and hiking

between Pokéstops — real life places marked on the game map where Poké Balls and other essentials can be obtained. The days when you might assume that the middle-aged businessperson is checking their emails are long gone; the unmistakable sound of a virtual Pokéball being thrown could come from the phone of anyone, not just the traditional younger gamers. One of the best (or worst?) aspects of the game is the physical nature of it. You won’t get anywhere by sitting on your sofa flicking Poké Balls at the occasional Rattata. The game ensures only the most physically active players will excel. Pokémon eggs can only be hatched by walking, and supplies can only be refreshed by revisiting Pokéstops.


Nguyen Thanh is 28, and had never walked around Hoan Kiem Lake until Pokémon Go launched, despite living in Hanoi for his whole life. “I did not think I would walk so much because of this hot weather,” he told Vietnam News, “but [the app] indicates I’ve walked 5km. I think I will finally be able to shed some weight!”

Onixcceptable Pokémon Go has raised some concerns in many countries, and its arrival into the Vietnamese market has been no different. Safety is the big concern, as people shuffle around staring intently at their phones. Just one week after the game

launched in Vietnam, reports surfaced of people endangering lives while playing Pokémon Go. “I was driving and I honked at the [Pokémon gamers] to keep moving,” local woman Ha My Trang told Vietnam News. “They didn’t even notice. I had to go over and tell them to move.” School teacher Linh Ngo has experienced the same problem. “I have witnessed so many people stopping in the middle of the road,” Linh says. “They risk their lives with their eyes stuck to their phones.” On Aug. 15, a baby in its stroller was blown into Dalat’s Xuan Huong Lake, while the oblivious mother played

Pokémon Go. The baby was saved by nearby bystanders. Another big problem is crime. On Aug. 9, Thanh Nien News reported that Nguyen Van Hieu was arrested for snatching a Pokémon gamer’s smartphone at Tao Dan Park in Ho Chi Minh City. Similar stories can be found in almost every country where Pokémon Go is active. A senior official at the Ministry of Communication and Information says they plan to contact Niantic to request Pokéstops are removed from sensitive locations. A complete ban is being considered pending further assessment into the impact of the game, so get playing while you still can. — Edward Dalton | October 2016 Word | 13

Briefings At Ground Zero National

Independent studio and exhibition space ZeroStation is going into overdrive


ts name suggests some kind of deliberate limbo, and while ZeroStation sits on real, Ho Chi Minh City soil, the name does suit its aspirations. “We would like to exist as an in-between place. In between art and everyday life,” says ZeroStation founder and director Huy. “What is our main practice? Impurification. We try to impurify art with everyday life.” A true creatives’ hideout, this Ho Chi Minh City art space was founded in 2010. It has been home to a number of specific projects since its opening, from exhibitions and installations to expert-run courses and open discussion sessions, all focusing on the boundaries between art and life.

Fuel for Thought “I wanted to create more opportunities for discussion, exchanging ideas and collaboration between young artists in Saigon and beyond,” Huy explains. “The whole ZeroStation concept is fuelled by discussion — together, we challenge our discipline, to better understand it.” The complex comprises both studio and exhibition space, plus a residency programme and other areas. “Our aim is to experiment,” says Huy. “We would like to open new possibilities to look at contemporary art and at everyday life, by discarding the borders between the two. In the end, this enriches both art

and the local landscape.” To Huy, the lack of an established arts-infrastructure in Vietnamese society is a natural springboard for artistic expression.

Filtering Through “Vietnamese artists can open new ways to interpret their art, because there are no restrictions from preestablished institutions. The situation allows artists to meet audiences and art to meet community without being filtered,” he says. “ZeroStation takes advantage of this situation — we want to create a community of art that goes beyond the establishment, in order to change society’s perception of the whole discipline. This is the essence of

our motto of impurification — of bringing everyday life into art.” Since its opening, ZeroStation has collaborated with a range of local and international artists. In 2011 they launched How to Become Artists together with local artist Ta My Nhan, raising the question of Arts Education in Vietnam — how do people become artists here? Another project, 21 Interventions in 2013 by the South Korean musical group Noridan, used creative expression to interrupt the rhythm of everyday life, and at the same time use local life as a source for its art-making. When I ask to join Huy at the ZeroStation space in District 7, I am told that it is under construction. “We are renovating at the moment, actually,” he says. “Right now, we’re very excited to have officially launched the Asian In/VISIBLE Station

project, co-organised by ZeroStation and the Japan Foundation. The first phase of the project runs from now until March 2017 and hopefully beyond that.”

Budding Landscape Asian In/VISIBLE Station is one of Asia’s first regional projects to have been organised and curated by a local independent art space in Vietnam. It aims to nurture the region’s budding arts landscape through collaborations between local and international artists. “Within the project, ZeroStation will connect and invite Asian artists, curators and researchers to Vietnam, to work with their Vietnamese counterparts on a variety of artistic events and activities.” The idea behind Asian In/VISIBLE is that, although art exists as a tangible or

visible thing, each new art project opens up new invisible artistic conversations and possibilities. “Within this concept, the project’s partners can work together to plan their choice of events, and to express their art as they desire,” says Huy. “ZeroStation, as the place in between, will network and connect artists, curators, organisations and art spaces in Vietnam and Asia, help them explore new limits and possibilities.” Like most artistic endeavours, ZeroStation is an ever-evolving team of people from a range of backgrounds. “We always welcome new faces, new partners, artists, volunteers, to join ZeroStation and our projects,” says Huy. — Zoe Osborne For more info click on or head to their Facebook page: ga0zerostation


Briefings HCMC

Annam Gourmet Market I Upping the ante

f you’ve lived in Saigon a long time and have a penchant for wine, fresh fruit and vegetables, deli counters and imported food products, then you’ll know Annam Gourmet Market. For expats and Vietnamese who’ve spent time overseas, the French-influenced Annam has long been a piece of life outside Vietnam. Its latest move is changing all this. It has now opened a new supermarket in Takashimaya, a department store occupying a portion of the Saigon Centre complex (Basement 2, Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1, HCMC). With Vietnamese clients now outnumbering foreigners, Annam is tapping into the appetites of wealthier locals who are seeking to expand their appreciation and understanding for new flavours and higherquality products on a more regular basis. “It’s been a long journey,” says Nguyen Phuong Ha, director of Annam. “We started with a very small shop 15 years ago on Ho Tung Mau.” The transformation from an exclusive grocery store found in the foreigner-friendly areas of Saigon’s Thao Dien and Hanoi’s West Lake, to a huge top-end supermarket in a city-centre commercial complex has

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needed gradual steps and a lot of support. “In the beginning, we had to go to Rungis (the largest wholesale food market in the world, near Paris) to select products and bring them back in containers,” Ha says. “But with guidance, and a loyal group of friends and supporters, our little store became what we are today.” The effort has not gone unnoticed. “Our Vietnamese clients are enthusiastic about our product mix,” says Annam store manager and product manager, Do Tien Dung. “They find items here which are unavailable anywhere else — amazing condiments and ingredients, which can satisfy their cooking desires.”

Cakes, Cans and Cosmetics Annam is already well-known as a foodie’s paradise, but the new supermarket is so much more. Kitchen utensils, cosmetic products, a large frozen section, lots of fresh food counters and a patisserie now share the same floor area with a new Annam Café, which serves up fresh food and drinks. “Our chef is creating new recipes every day,” Dung says. “Our café aims to deliver five-star hospitality and high-quality food


for a reasonable price.” Dung adds that since opening, 70% of the clientele in the Saigon Centre are Vietnamese. This is aided by all communication and labelling in the store appearing in both English and Vietnamese, an evolution which points to changing market trends and the possible decline of the traditional wet market. Indeed, a strong focus has been placed on fresh products, in particular fruit, vegetables, fish and meat, much of which is imported exclusively by Annam. Everything, whether it is obtained locally or from overseas, is sourced with care. “Wet markets are great, I hope they will stay; wet markets and supermarkets will hopefully always live side by side,” says Ha. “But modern gourmet stores like Annam are more convenient — the best of everything, all under one roof, in a clean and comfortable environment.” With inconsistent food quality long an issue in Vietnam, one of Annam’s missions is to promote quality products, whether they come from overseas or are produced locally.

A Passion for Quality In a wet market, your dong goes a long way. However, because a high proportion of Annam’s products are imported, clients may find their shopping budget more stretched than usual. This isn’t a problem, according to Dung. “Gourmet customers who have a gourmet taste understand that our products are from a reliable source,” he says. “And for the expats who miss the taste of their own countries, we can bring them the sensation of being at home. That feeling is priceless.” Compared to previous locations, the new Saigon Centre supermarket represents a major venture, but Ha says now is the right time to take the next step. “Saigon Centre is an incredible success, it’s a great mall,” she says. “Everything is right about it; design, size, location and the variety of tenants.” Ha thinks this all adds up to an opportunity for Annam to expand its clientele and reputation. “Even five years ago, it would not have been possible,” she says. “Now it’s the perfect time. Bringing global specialities to share with our consumers is my passion.” — Edward Dalton | October 2016 Word | 17

Briefings Hanoi

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The Transformation of Quang Ba An area of West Lake that’s gone from rags to riches


uang Ba used to be a poor area. The people who lived there fished and grew lotus flowers. The government would pay them in rice, as was common among many of Vietnam’s poor a generation ago. After relations normalised between the United States and Vietnam, investors flocked to the country from the West, and Quang Ba became a desirable area to live in. The area’s residents suddenly had a great opportunity; land prices sky-rocketed. Many sold up, and the once-poor families of Quang Ba now had no shortage of money. They’d become rich, and the city was their oyster. The land sold was quickly developed. Luxury villas emerged from the muddy banks of West Lake; apartments were built and the owners rented the rooms to Europeans, Japanese and rich Vietnamese. The once muddy lane was paved over to make way for a motorbike revolution.

From Rags to Riches At 5 o’clock in the morning, that road is now beaten by trainers and rubber bicycle tyres under the golden light of the rising sun. “This used to be a field, these buildings weren’t here then, the hotel was built in 1989, and the rest were tin roof shacks,” says a lady named Dung, catching her breath after her morning jog. Behind us a group of lads play football in the park. “The children that lived here used to study until grade 7, then they’d start working, no one ever carried on to further education. They’d play in the lake after studying.” The hotel that Dung mentioned is the Quang Ba Trade Union Hotel; locally it’s famous for hosting government employees during important state events. The hotel now overlooks the Turkish and Argentine embassies, a school, and in the shade beside a luxury villa, a lady holding a baby and selling Japanese tea. “There are lots of Japanese families here now,” says the lady. “And also people from other countries like Britain and South Africa.” The baby she’s holding is half-Japanese.

Business as Unusual At the heart of Quang Ba is Thuy Su Lake. In the middle of the lake is a restaurant with a thatched roof and an Astroturf floor. Before opening the restaurant, the owner was made the caretaker of the lake, managing the fishers and looking after the lotus flowers. It’s a popular destination for Hanoi’s older and wiser residents. They come here to drink the tea made from the lotus flowers. The flowers, which bloom in the lake twice a year, are stored for two months in a freezer before they’re used. The lotus tea used to be enjoyed only by the emperor and his closest companions, but now it can be enjoyed by anyone who passes through Quang Ba. On the other side of Thuy Su Lake is a row of businesses, the oldest of which is a small barbecue restaurant popular with Vietnamese and foreigners alike for its quality, and vegetarian food options. It doesn’t look like much — just a little building with some blue plastic stalls outside. It opened 18 months ago. Next door is a more recent establishment, another small restaurant called Home38 (38 Quang Ba, Tay Ho, Hanoi). Run by expats Gary Duckett, Blaine Richie and Ewan Anderson, the quaint diner opened earlier this year and sells delicious — and proper — English breakfasts as well as burgers and sandwiches at reasonable prices. Down the road are a bicycle repair shop, a café and a Tex-Mex restaurant, all of which have opened in the last two years. “When we moved in it was a little grey stone building, we had to build the rest around it,” says Gary. “The BBQ next door was already here, the rest of the businesses moved in more recently.” Indeed, the only buildings on that side of Quang Ba a decade ago were these little grey, tin roof shells. But even now, the authorities have plans to develop the area further — an area of green between Home38 and the bicycle repair shop is going to be turned into apartments in the next few years. If Quang Ba 10 years ago is no longer recognisable now, then in another decade or so, its current incarnation will no doubt be obscured by new developments and gradual gentrification. — Billy Gray

PHOTOS BY THEO LOWENSTEIN | October 2016 Word | 19

Briefings Hanoi

Les Aromes Put the cooking gear back in the cupboard

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or the ninth consecutive year, the Sofitel Metropole Hotel will host the annual Les Aromes festival, celebrating culinary greatness from around the world. Evolving from last year’s four-day spectacular, this time around it features a full six weeks of wine dinners, breadmaking workshops, cheese, chocolate cocktails and more. Seven internationally renowned chefs hailing from France, Italy, Thailand, Vietnam and China will descend on Hanoi to showcase their specialities alongside cheese and wine pairing, live cooking demonstrations and private dinners.

Up Market The event will be held at the Sofitel Metropole Hotel, Hanoi. The colonial-era mansion is kitted out with several luxury restaurants and meeting rooms that will provide the backdrop to the festivities. Over 100 Metropole staff will be pitching in to execute this taste-fuelled extravaganza. Headlining this year’s event is Italian chef Paolo Vitaletti, the owner of Italian restaurant, Appia, in Bangkok. Vitaletti specialises in authentic Roman cuisine. Paolo’s second restaurant, Peppina, which opened in 2015, is the only restaurant in Thailand to be awarded certification by the True Neapolitan Pizza Association (AVPN) for making genuine, authentic Neapolitan pizzas. “There are so many Italian restaurants in Asia that don’t serve authentic Italian food,” says Paolo. “I wanted to bring genuine Roman food to Thailand. It was challenging

but exciting. And in the end it paid off.” Vitaletti will be showcasing authentic Roman cooking with no strings attached. “I’m excited to see what expectations Vietnamese diners have about Italian food,” he says. In honour of Vitaletti’s contribution, the Metropole will be adding some of his signature dishes as permanent items on their menu.

Variety Returning this year to Les Aromes is breadmaking kingpin Christophe Grilo. After headlining the 9th Les Aromes festival in March this year, Grilo will be back to run a bread-making workshop, as well as create a bread, cheese and wine pairing meal on Oct. 23. The team behind Les Aromes has made a real effort to include a wide spectrum of different cuisines. While Hanoi can boast some high-calibre restaurants, it still lacks culinary diversity, which makes it all the more exciting that there is such a range of different foods being brought to the table here. Making an appearance at Les Aromes for the first time is Chef Ton from Thailand. Trained in Michelin Starred restaurants in New York, Ton owns three acclaimed restaurants in Bangkok including Le Du and BaaGaDin. Ton will be bringing both traditional, family-style Thai food to Les Aromes as well as more contemporary Thai fusion dishes. “I want to showcase the future of Thai cooking,” says Ton. “I’m looking forward to showing people a new dimension of Thai food, something that they’re not familiar with.”

Chef Ton has showcased his cooking at some of the world’s premier culinary festivals, including Madrid Fusion in Spain, and has held talks for upcoming chefs about Thai herbs and spices. “I’m excited to have some fun and see everybody have a good time.” he says.

Cheese, Wine and Chocolate There’s always room for a bit of fun when cooking. Kick-starting November is an entire day dedicated to chocolate. The day will include cooking chocolate, eating chocolate, drinking chocolate cocktails and will end with a chocolate dinner — in case you don’t get enough calories in. The dinner isn’t just a block of dairy either; the choc-menu includes roasted venison, pumpkin and foie gras. As November unrolls and bellies begin to bulge, out comes the cheese and wine. French cheese ambassador Gérard Poulard will get noses in action while introducing a collection of a hundred varieties of cheese, certainly not something to pass up. The real highlight for wine lovers will no doubt be a Burgundy tasting followed by a private dinner with French wine connoisseur Pierre-Henry Gagey, president of Maison Louis Jadot. Whatever your culinary fix, Les Aromes will be an entertaining and educational experience. Most of the events are open to the public and ticket prices average around VND1.5 million to VND2 million for each event. — Billy Gray For more info, click on hanoi/en | October 2016 Word | 21

Briefings HCMC

The Villas Blink and they soon may all be gone


ccording to Lao Dong newspaper’s online edition, Ho Chi Minh City once had around 1,300 old villas that were built before 1975, mostly in Districts 1 and 3, on Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Le Quy Don and Nguyen Thi Minh Khai. However, half of those old villas have disappeared. Nguyen Dinh Chieu once had 53 of these buildings, it now has 24; Hai Ba Trung had 40, it now has 20, and Le Quy Don and Mac Dinh Chi now have a total of only six, where there used to be 20. At the end of June 2016, the villa at 237 No Trang Long, Binh Thanh, which was built more than 100 years ago, was knocked down by its owner. One month later, another VND200 billion old villa at the corner between Ly Tu Trong and Chu Manh Trinh was also demolished.

The Criteria The Ho Chi Minh City authorities have requested the Institute of Development

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Studies finish categorising old villas so that they can look at granting permission for repairing or demolishing these buildings. According to Hoang Minh Tri, the vicepresident of the Institute of Development Studies, since 1996 the city has an official dispatch stating that the demolition needs to be agreed by the city’s chief architect and approved by the People’s Committee. He also confirms criteria exist for three types of old villas, in which only the type 3 (buildings with minor architectural, cultural and historical value) are allowed to be torn down. “Up to now, the criteria haven’t been approved,” Tri says. “This is too slow compared to the demand of development in the city.” When considering the conflict between the owners’ commercial ambitions and the preservation of heritage, Tri admits this could happen in any city. He also says the authorities are unable to provide full financial support for preservation.

The Villa While people are waiting for the criteria to be approved, an old villa at the corner of Le Cong Kieu and Nguyen Thai Binh is in the process of demolition. Covered by plastic sheets, all the gates are locked. There is not much historical information about this villa on the Internet except that it was built in the 1930s. Nguyen Thi Thuy, who has been selling drinks next to the villa for more than 15 years, says: “The former owners were an old couple, but then they sold up. The ground floor was rented out for business.” Located in the ‘golden’ area of the city, the villa was eventually abandoned. Trees began to grow up through the foundations, their roots winding along the walls. “[I] don’t know what they plan to build on it,” Thuy continues. What we do know is that unless something dramatic happens, yet another of those 1,300 villas will soon be laid to rest. — Vu Ha Kim Vy

Briefings HCMC

The Golf Cup Vietnam’s largest amateur golf tournament returns this month


he New World Hotel is hosting its fifth annual Golf Cup on Oct. 22 at Tan Son Nhat Golf Course. Part of the Mercedes-Benz Trophy, this is regarded as the biggest amateur golf tournament in Vietnam. According to Sunny Kim Ji Hai, the New World hotel’s director of sales, Tan Son Nhat Golf Course has been chosen this year as the service is excellent and the location is in town. “We will have a gala dinner after the tournament back in the New World Hotel. So everything will be easier and better prepared if the golf course is closer to the hotel,” she says.

18-Hole Networking Although it’s part of the Mercedes-Benz Trophy, the golf tournament is more about

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an opportunity for people to meet up and have an enjoyable time. “Golf is a very good sport for building business relationships,” Sunny adds. “Most of our clients are CEOs, general directors and general managers. So we want to create a networking event for them to enjoy through the day.” She says that the golf tournament is not necessarily a competitive event for all entrants — though the tournament’s five best golfers will be invited to the Vietnam Country Finals and the winner will go to the Asian Finals in Australia and the British Amateur Open.

A Win-Win Deal The fee is VND3.3 million per person. That

includes entry into all events, refreshments, giveaways with original golf kits, prizes and a gala dinner. “Normally, there are only prizes for the top three places, but here we have prizes all the way down to 15th place,” says Sunny. “Even if you don’t win anything on the golf course, you will still go home with something,” she continues. “There will be plenty of gifts and goodie bags, and most of all, this will be a fun day out with friends and business partners.” — Vu Ha Kim Vy The New World Saigon Hotel Cup is on Oct. 22 at Tan Son Nhat Golf Course. The fee is VND3,300,000 per person. Registrations are accepted until Friday Oct. 7. Email oanh. for registrations and information

Sports Digest

Playin' by the Rules


Sport in Brief Vietnam claims first-ever Paralympic title

Fans of Australian Rules Football in Vietnam are about to have the weekend of a lifetime. Words by Harry Hodge


eams from all over Asia are descending upon Ho Chi Minh City with their sights set on continental supremacy at the AFL Asian Championships, to be held at RMIT University. This year’s championships will also promote regional talent with the All-Asian Cup on Friday Oct. 14, played between Indonesia, China and a combined Indochina team, with around 10 Vietnamese players taking part. The host club, the Vietnam Swans, will have two full squads competing in the main tournament, and the AllAsian Cup gives local players a chance to hone their skills against similar competition. “We have been blown away by the response by all the AFL Asia clubs across the region, 18 teams from 12 countries across Asia,” said Vietnam Swans national president Grant Keys, adding that this translates into roughly 500 participants over the weekend. “This will be the biggest Australian Rules Footy sporting event ever held in Vietnam, possibly ever in Asia, we can’t wait to welcome all teams to Vietnam.” The main draw will take place on Saturday, Oct. 15, with non-stop football over 34 games scheduled from 7.30 am

through to the Division 1 and 2 Grand Finals at 4.20pm. Some of the highlights of the weekend include the first all-women’s match to be played at the Championships, as well as West Coast Eagles Premiership player Andrew Embley conducting an open training session for the region’s local players from 10.30am on Friday, Oct. 14 at RMIT. Embley will also coach the combined Indochina team in the All-Asia Cup at 2pm. A party atmosphere is expected at RMIT with DJs, catering and refreshments available, and a special kids’ zone for families to come along and enjoy the day. Flying in from Australia to let fly on the decks will be the much lauded DJ Soup. “As hosts the Swans are keen to put our best-ever foot forward and are excited about the response we have had from our playing group to be involved,” Keys said. “It’s going to be a selectors’ nightmare to choose a final 26 players for our first division squad.” “We hope to see a big supporter base down at RMIT to get behind the Swannies!” The AFL Asia All-Asian Cup (Oct. 14) and AFL Asian Championships (Oct. 15) will be held at RMIT University Saigon Campus. Entry is free. Visit vietnamswans. com for more details

Le Van Cong won a gold medal in the 49kg weightlifting category, Vietnam’s first ever at the Paralympics, and bettered his own world record in the process at the 2016 Rio Paralympics last month. The 32-year-old athlete from Ha Tinh Province successfully lifted 183kg to beat Jordan’s Omar Qarada who lifted 177kg. Cong was paralyzed in both legs after his mother contracted dengue fever when she was pregnant. Born into a poor farmer’s family, he migrated to Ho Chi Minh City as a 19-yearold with just VND1 million (US$45) in his pocket and a few clothes. He has won several medals in national and regional events, including two golds at the 2009 and 2014 ASEAN Para Games and a gold medal at the 2015 Asian Weightlifting Championships.

Champions League Not on TV No Vietnamese television stations have been able to secure exclusive live rights to any UEFA Champions League matches for the 2016-17 season. Diehard fans may have to turn to the Internet to watch live broadcasts of the new season, as local TV channels have no chance in broadcast negotiations. It is the first time in many years Vietnam has failed to secure the telecast rights to Europe’s biggest club championship. In August 2015, local cable TV operator VTVcab announced at a press conference that they had acquired the live rights for three consecutive Champions League seasons ending in 2018. According to a VTVcab statement at that time, the company would broadcast 73 games, or 60 percent of the season’s total matches, on its cable channel. VTVcab claimed exclusive rights to broadcast 44 out of the 73 matches, as well as the most important games — the semifinals and finals — of each season. But in March this year, the telecast rights holder abruptly disconnected the

signal to VTVcab, saying that the Vietnamese channel had allowed their copyrighted footage to be “stolen and illegally reproduced across Vietnam”.

Vietnamese Footballers to Train in South Korea The national football team will enjoy a training course in the Republic of Korea as preparation for the upcoming ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Cup. Players were summoned in late September before competing with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in a friendly match on Oct. 8 at My Dinh Stadium, Hanoi. They will depart for the Republic of Korea seven days later, where they will take part in an intensive course and three games with local squads over the course of two weeks. In the last event, Vietnam reached the semi-finals, losing 5-2 to Malaysia over two legs.

Danang Hosts Beach Sport Games Rendezvous More than 3,100 athletes and 1,500 coaches and officials from 42 teams from Asian countries and territories registered for the fifth Asian Beach Games (ABG5) in Danang from Sep. 24 to Oct. 3. Over 1,400 international and domestic referees, supervisors and technical experts officiated at the 10-day games that Vietnam hosted for the first time. More than 1,500 Vietnamese volunteers were involved. The biennial event was themed ‘Shining Sea, Bright Future’ with 172 medal sets available across 14 sports. The East Sea Park hosted the closing ceremonies, as well as the main sports. This is the first time the country has hosted the games.

s date p u d r Sen out you p or ab g grou @ in ry sportnt to har .com m e ev vietna word | October 2016 Word | 27

28 | Word October 2016 | | October 2016 Word | 29


ToDo list HCMC

From exhibitions through to big name DJs and art fairs, Saigon’s got a bit of everything this month.

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French Techno guru Antigone is heading to Observatory

Work from the exhibition, Eternity, by Marjon Barton

Autumn Art Market comes to Indika on Oct. 8


Galerie Quynh’s Hopscotch is the work of artists Do Thanh Lang and Hoang Nam Viet



Where is the Place of Peace is showing a Craig Thomas Gallery


Eastin, Phu Nhuan Thoughout October


Thierry Beyne’s Back Photography is being exhibited at The Eastin


Back Photography

Highly regarded Nha Trang-based photographer, Thierry Beyne, will be exhibiting 23 images from his recent book, Back Photography, in the Eastin Grand Hotel throughout October. When you think of portraits, you think of people’s faces; this is something that Thierry has turned on its head by focusing instead on people’s backs. The result is a long obsession that, he admits with a laugh, has seen him “only looking at women’s backs”. “When I take a photo, the woman I shoot gets a surprise,” he say. “They hear the click of the camera, turn around, look at me astonished and yet always with a smile. They perhaps don’t realise why a photographer is interested in their back, but it can be very amusing and it’s always quite childlike.”

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The Eastin Grand Hotel is at 253 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan. For more information on Thiery Beyne’s work, click on

Where is the Place of Peace Craig Thomas Gallery, Q1 Until Oct. 27 Where is the Place of Peace, a solo exhibition of watercolour on silk paintings by Hanoi-based artist Le Thuy, will be showing at Craig Thomas Gallery this October. Thuy draws on her rural, farm-life upbringing in her art, portraying mainly rural landscapes, village life, pagodas and historical events. While paying homage to the idealized, conservative tradition of Vietnamese silk painting, Thuy turns the art form on its head with her stark realism, depicting life, death, the struggle of nature, and sometimes a drop of the macabre. To Thuy, each piece is a direct result

of how she is feeling and who she is at that moment. The exhibition will run until Oct. 27. Please click on for more info. Craig Thomas Gallery is at 165 Calmette, Q1, HCMC

Hopscotch Galerie Quynh, Q1 Until Oct. 29 This new duo exhibition is a fusion of two, stark art portfolios that, while being markedly different from each other, are complementary in their shared themes of freedom and transgression. Artists Do Thanh Lang and Hoang Nam Viet both belong to the generation of young Vietnamese born at the turn of doi moi, coming of age in the era of the new openmarket economy. Drenched in blazes of bold shapes and colours, Do Thanh Lang’s paintings are frighteningly ambiguous, with faceless figures,




6 actions and situations that range from being unsettling to downright grotesque, and seem to be challenging the life he sees around him. Hoang Nam Viet takes a more subtle approach with his earth-toned portraits of loved ones, that are laced with subtle symbolic meaning. As with Lang’s paintings, they deliver broader social messages, as well as contemplations on the nature of freedom. The exhibition runs until Oct. 29 at Galerie Quynh, Level 2, 151/3 Dong Khoi, HCMC. Viewing is by appointment — please email celine@ for information

Antigone The Observatory, Q4 Friday, Oct. 7 Heart Beat is collaborating with the Institut Français to fly in Concrete Paris resident

and the personification of the French Techno scene, Antigone. Embodying the sensibilities of the genre, while sounding distinct from the hordes of techno tracks that swamp the market, Antigone balances ambience with an imposing sense of space. Born Antonin Jeanson in Corsica, the Vietnam dates will be part of a wider Southeast Asian tour that will be his first gigs in the region. “I feel very excited about this tour,” he says. “I have been preparing myself for almost two months. I want to give the best of me because I feel very honoured to play in all these countries.” Antigone will be supported by OKO and Chris Wolter, and doors will open at 9pm. Entrance is free before 11pm and VND150,000 thereafter. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC

Eternity VinGallery Q2 Oct. 8 to Oct. 29 Immerse yourself in the works of Dutch artist Marjon Barton. Her ink-on-paper intricate artworks create a sense of infinity and find a balancing point between chaos and order. The series was born from a great period of love and loss for the artist, and are a visual representation of her meditative process. Eternity will be hosted at Vin Gallery, 6 Le Van Mien, Q2, HCMC between Oct. 8 and Oct. 29. For more info email info@

Autumn Art Market

MAD House D7 E V E R Y D AY


11 AM - 10 PM

No.2 street C,Tan Phu Ward, Dist 7 2nd floor at Capri by Fraser

08 5417 1234

MAD House D2 E V E R Y D AY


08 AM - 10 PM

Indika: House of Curiosities Q1 Saturday, Oct. 8

6/1/2 Nguyen U Di, Thao Dien, Dist 2

Vin Gallery’s free Autumn Art Market is back and will

08 3519 4009

ToDo list HCMC


A still from the movie, Rain the Colour Blue with a Little Red in it

Yes, he’s back for the third time: Oskar Offerman plays The Observatory




be hosted for the first time at Indika Saigon. Join the local art community in browsing the beautiful art for sale, as well as design and fashion at one of the most unique venues in the city. Everything and anything will be available from original artworks to bespoke designer goods, as well as free craft activities throughout the day. The Autumn Art Market will be hosted at Indika: House of Curiosities, 43 Nguyen Van Giai, Q1, HCMC on Oct. 8 from 10am to 4pm. For info please email

Rain the Colour Blue Hoa Sen University, Q3 Thursday, Oct. 13 Rain the Colour Blue with a Little Red in it tells the universal story of a musician trying to make it “against all odds”. Set against the backdrop of the raucous guitar subculture of the Tuareg (an ethnic and language group of traditionally nomadic people in the Sahara desert), the documentary is based on the real-life

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musician, Mdou Moctar. Originally written for a Tuareg audience, and curated by The Onion Cellar, this film is a fascinating window into modern day Tuareg guitar in the city of Agadez. Touching on the rebel militias and military coups that were, historically, so significant to Tuareg music, there is also a focus on contemporary desert-blues musicians, showing them at work, performing and travelling across vast desert plains. Entry to the film screening is VND50,000 on the door, and the film will be shown in Tuareg, with subtitles in English and Vietnamese. Hoa Sen University is at 8 Nguyen Van Trang, Q1, HCMC

Oskar Offerman The Observatory, Q4 Friday, Oct. 14 Oskar Offerman returns to Saigon for the third time with his aweinspiring, refined house/techno fusion that promises to burst through the speakers and fill the

room with cutting edge music. Prepare to have your expectations shattered for an insane night of music. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC. Entrance is free before 10pm and costs VND150,000 thereafter. For more info click on

Electric Kicks + Sao La Art Walk Piu Piu, Q1 Friday, Oct. 14 Save the date for this DIY, discopunk, experimental dance party. Electric Kicks, Saigon’s longest running indie-electro night, will be adding extra flair to their already buzzing event this month as they collaborate with Sao La’s music, art and film project, Art Walk. The night will kick off with NYC experimental electronic artist Sto Len, followed by Saigon’s own Superkid, Starchild and Sweet B. From its nu disco beats to 50s/60s classics, the night’s lineup will be a beautiful mess of sound and colour from all around the world. | October 2016 Word | 33

ToDo list HCMC




Telephones is coming to Saigon, with not a handset in sight

star Rukhsana Merrise plays at Soul Academy

: Indie, Britpop, Punk Rock… You name it, Supergalactic Indie Fantastic on Oct. 22 has it all



This year’s Heart Institute Gala is on Oct. 15



VinSpace’s Art Jam returns for the second time


The Electric Kicks + Sao La Art Walk Showcase party starts at 10pm on Oct. 14 and goes until late. Entrance is VND50,000. For more information on Sao La’s Art Walk please visit facebook. com/gqsaola. Piu Piu is at 97 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, HCMC

Art Jam VinSpace, Q2 Friday, Oct. 14 Art Jam is back to help fulfill your dreams of arts and crafts and booze. If you love to create art and make things, then you’ll want to find yourself in VinSpace this October for an evening of sculpting and relief printing techniques. Enjoy the art, make some friends, and have some drinks. Art Jam will take place at VinSpace, 6 Le Van Mien, Q2, HCMC on Oct. 14 from 7pm to 10pm. Tickets are VND199,000 in advance or VND249,000 on the door, and include a free drink and raffle ticket. For more info click on

The Heart Institute Charity Gala The Reverie, Q1 Saturday, Oct. 15 The Heart Institute of Ho Chi Minh

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City and the International Medical Center (CMI) are hosting the 6th Heart Institute Gala at The Reverie Saigon. This year the dress code is chic and glamourous, and the evening will consist of five courses of French-Vietnamese cuisine cooked up by Chef Sakal, as well as live and silent auctions, live performances and entertainment. All proceeds of the gala will fund cardiac surgeries for children in desperate need of heart surgery. The Heart Insitute Gala will take place at The Reverie Saigon on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 6.30pm. Tickets cost VND3,900,000 for one person or VND35,000,000 for a table of 10. For more information, email or call (08) 3827 2366. The Reverie Saigon is at 22-36 Nguyen Hue, Q1, HCMC

Rukhsana Merrise Soul Academy, Q1 Thursday, Oct. 20 It’s not often you get to see someone on the cusp of great things play live, especially in Vietnam. Luckily for us our number’s up. London-born singer-songwriter Rukhsana Merrise will perform at Soul Academy on Thursday Oct. 20 before heading to the Monsoon

Music Festival in Hanoi from Oct. 21 to Oct. 23. With a blend of folk, soul and hip hop, her latest single Money draws you in and transports you to another time and place. Rukhsana toured with Michael Kiwanuka earlier this year off the back of her debut EP, September Songs, and has racked up over half a million plays on Soundcloud already. The Soul Academy is at 214-216 Pasteur, Q1, HCMC. Tickets cost VND150,000 and are available at

Telephones The Observatory, Q4 Friday, Oct. 21 Telephones, a featured producer of clubs and festivals around the world is bringing his most mesmerizing and vibrant beats to Saigon. Prepare yourself for an eclectic mix of Afro edits through to tough techno that will cause the party to explode with raw and unique sonic power. Support will come from resident DJ, Hibiya Line. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC. Entrance is free before 10pm and costs VND150,000 thereafter. For more info click on


Supergalactic Indie Fantastic The Lighthouse, Q1 Saturday, Oct. 22


Everyone’s a DJ (EADJ) are coming to The Lighthouse this October for their latest after-hours dance party. EADJ founder Superkid will be joined by longtime friend and DJ Jordan Howard at this Saigon nightlife hotspot, in a “supergalactic indie fantastic” mix of genres and sounds from 10pm until late. Expect a wild assortment of indie rock, classic alternative, Britpop, punk rock, synth pop and so much more, out under the stars of Ho Chi Minh City. Entry is VND50,000 and The Lighthouse is at 104 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1, HCMC. Keep an eye out for guestlist spots and giveaways on the EADJ facebook page | October 2016 Word | 35

ToDo list HCMC



The independent film festival, Out of Frame (or Oof!) will start on Oct. 23

Become a qualified yoga teacher, here in Vietnam with Suzanne Vian

Canadian comic Brian Aylward will be bringing the crowd alive on Oct. 26

The Saigon Players in preparation for this year’s installment of Rocky Horrow Halloween Madness






Out of Frame Various locations Oct. 23 to Oct. 29 Out of Frame (abbreviation: OOF! — with the ‘!’) is a week-long celebration of independent film, moving image and video art from Southeast Asia. The project will take place at a range of unusual, everyday Saigon locations, and every evening during the week will have its own theme. OOF! will feature creative collaborations between regional initiatives, collectives, curators and filmmakers — a number of whom will be present throughout the week to hold talks and workshops. The festival is part of Zero Station’s ASIAN IN/VISIBLE STATION project, with funding provided by Japan Foundation, and is curated and produced by independent filmmaker Truong Minh Quy, Tran Duy Hung (of The Onion Cellar and Galerie Quynh) and arts freelancer Nguyen Phuoc Bao Chau.

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The festival will run from Oct. 23 to Oct. 29. For information on venues, screenings, talks and workshops, click on

200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Various locations in Q2 Oct. 26 to Nov. 30 Choose to invest in yourself with this 200-hour yoga teacher training course run by Suzanne Vian. Tailored to cover wellness, yoga and meditation, this programme is the result of 20 years of research and study and is perfect for students who wish to make the transition into teaching. Training with Suzanne is accredited by the Worldwide Yoga Alliance and after graduation you will receive a certificate enabling you to teach anywhere in the world. The course will run every Monday and Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm from Oct. 26 to Nov. 30, and costs US$2,800 per person. For more information email

Stand-Up with Brian Aylward Game On Saigon, Q1 Wednesday, Oct. 26 After a particularly hysterical, summertime hiatus, professional stand-up comedy returns to Game On Saigon to make you laugh your socks off and split your sides on Wednesday, Oct. 26. Headlining the latest incarnation of laughter, laughter and more laughter will be Newfoundland native and maple leaf wearing former English teacher, Brian Aylward. First stepping on stage at a rowdy expat bar in Anyang, South Korea, Aylward went on to pioneer the local English stand-up comedy scene, officially establishing Stand Up Seoul in 2007 and turning the country into a legitimate destination on the international circuit. Since his salad days, the Canadian has had audiences in hysterics at hundreds of shows across Asia, taking his own brand of acerbic humour to the likes of Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia,

Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Thailand and even Myanmar. Upon returning to that country north of the American border in 2010, Brian was twice a finalist in SiriusXM Radio’s Canada’s Next Top Comic and became a regular fixture in Canada’s Yuk Yuk’s comedy clubs. Entrance to the show is VND200,000 and includes a free beer. Game On Saigon is at 115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1, HCMC. Doors are at 8pm. More acts will be added to the roster over the next couple of weeks. So, to keep yourself posted and to ready yourself for some comedic fun, click on saigoninternationalcomedy

Rocky Horror Halloween Madness Saigon Outcast, Q2 Oct. 28 to Oct. 29


Dig out your fishnets and stilettos again for a jump to the left at The Saigon Players Rocky Horror Halloween Madness this October. Held each year, the event is one of the more unique ways to celebrate Halloween in Ho Chi Minh City. Not only will you see the Rocky Horror Picture Show, you’ll be part of an interactive screening of the cult classic featuring shadow actors and audience participation.

ToDo list HCMC



Tickets are VND250,000, which also gives you a loot bag of props for the show with the proceeds of ticket sales going to local charities. There will be special prizes for the best Rocky Horror costumes, so if you want to do the time warp again, be brave and go along as your favourite Rocky Horror character. So put your hands on your hips and go on a time slip at Saigon Outcast, 188 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, HCMC. The film starts at 7.30pm and tickets are available at Saigon Outcast or by emailing

The Observatory 3rd Anniversary

The Observatory turns three

Fancy a bit of cycle, this Halloween?



The Observatory, Q4 Oct. 28 to Oct. 29 The third year anniversary marks a turning point for The Observatory, a music venue that has become one of the core staples of Saigon’s nightlife scene. So what better way to celebrate than with two days of what The Observatory does best — hours of quality music with great drinks and great company? The event will be energised by a flow of local artists and some very special international guests that

38 | Word October 2016 |

the club will announce closer to the date. As always the decor will be spectacular, and doors open at 6pm with a range of free drinks and food for the early birds, so don’t be late. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC. Watch their Facebook page for more information on the set list, rundown and updates

Holistic Earth Fair EtonHouse, Q2 Saturday, Oct. 29

Halloween Joyride The Bike Shop, Q2 Friday, Oct. 28 The Bike Shop will be celebrating the joy of cycling (in costume of course) with their annual Halloween bicycle ride around District 2. Meeting at The Bike Shop at 7pm, riders will then go on a 15km tour of the area, to a fanfare of Halloween-inspired fun, the odd drink or five, and the spirit of the Day of the Dead. Prizes will be awarded for the best costume. Not suitable for under-12s, cyclists should come equipped with a helmet and bicycle lights. The Bike Shop is at 250 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, HCMC. For more info email or call (08) 3744 6405

This October Thao Dien will have their first ever Holistic Earth Fair hosted by EtonHouse International School and organised by La Holista, Home Yoga Saigon and Johanna Anderson Acupunture. The fair will showcase over 30 different local businesses including farmers, health, wellness, and alternative medicine practitioners, as well as kids and community outreach and environmental services. The Holistic Earth Fair Saigon will be held on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 9am to 3pm at EtonHouse International School 42, Street 10, Q2. For info email or click on

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Party Inc moves to Tran Hung Dao in District 1

A rendering of the soon-to-be-launched Bonsai Legacy

FMP launches their much awaited Emergency Rescue Service


VietJetAir launches budget flights to Hong Kong



iKnow and ITM open a new shop on Xuan Thuy, Q2



A quick lament. Thanh Nien News in English is no more


New flight routes to Hong Kong, IT shops, emergency response centres, dinner cruises and anniversaries. What’s new this month in Saigon



Thanh Nien News Says Goodbye

iKnow and ITM Open a New Shop

There may be competition in this country between rival publications, but we all appreciate what each other does, especially when they are such a good source of news and information. The publication in question is Thanh Nien News in English (, who published their last English language content on Sep. 15. Here’s what they said online. “In 2004 we launched to bring all the latest information about Vietnam to English-speaking readers in the country and abroad. Twelve years later, with a heavy heart, we announce the closure of the website owing to our company's major reorganization plans… All the articles we have published can still be found in the Archive. Thanks to you, dear reader, Thanh Nien News was among the most popular English-language news websites in Vietnam. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all your time and attention over the past 12 years, which contributed to the website’s great success.” Word thanks you, too, Thanh Nien News. Let’s just hope this isn’t a trend.

In an unlikely partnership, ITM and iKnow, respectively Microsoft and Apple experts, opened a joint IT shop and repair centre on Sep. 28 in Thao Dien. Filled with IT professionals ready to help with all your technological problems, the new outlet on Xuan Thuy will quickly become your one stop shop for every device imaginable. They will also be selling Apple and Microsoft products as well as accessories and gaming products. iKnow/ITM’s shop is located at 94 Xuan Thuy, Q2, HCMC. Reach them on (08) 6257 7196 or email them at for more information

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VietJetAir to Hong Kong VietJetAir have announced that the departure of their first route to Hong Kong will be starting on Dec. 9 this year. The three-hour flight will be departing Tan Son Nhat International Airport daily at 2.30pm and will land in Hong Kong at 6.20pm (local time). VietJetAir is the top budget airline in Vietnam and was recently named one of the Top 500 Brands in Asia 2016 by Nielsen global marketing research company. For more information about VietJetAir

and the new route to Hong Kong click on or head to their Facebook page

Westcoast is Moving Well-known dental clinic Westcoast International is moving their District 1 Ho Chi Minh City clinic on Nguyen Trung Truc to a new location just down the road. There will be two clinics at the Norfolk Mansion, 17-1921 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 with a Dental and Orthodontic Center on Level 1 and a Cosmetic and Implant Dental Center on Level 2 of the same complex. As providers of top dental and cosmetic care in Vietnam for over 10 years, the international team at Westcoast look forward to providing their customers with quality service at this new Ho Chi Minh City address. Please visit for more information

Party Inc Moving Specials This staple Ho Chi Minh City party supply shop has now moved to a bigger, better one-stop party shop in District 1. As part of the move, the brand has expanded to new party services, such as face painting, balloon art, assistance with decoration ideas and




more, and the new and improved Party Inc website is an even easier way to get your party goods or organise a last minute delivery. To celebrate their move and upcoming Halloween, Party Inc are running a number of deals and specials. There will be a 50% clearance sale from Oct. 1 to Oct. 31, and as a treat to Word readers, simply say you saw this article to receive a 5% discount on anything not already on sale for the whole month of October. For more information on Party Inc and to keep up with future offers and specials, please click on partyinc. co. The showroom at 385 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, HCMC is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 8pm and Sunday to Monday from 10am to 6pm

Bonsai Legacy Dinner Cruise Ho Chi Minh City’s famed Bonsai dinner cruises are set to relaunch in April 2017 from a forced twoyear hiatus after the company’s two previous dinner cruisers — Bonsai Cruise and Artisan Cruise — were struck by a wayward cruise liner back in 2015. To be named Bonsai Legacy,

the new dinner cruiser will cater to the high-end market where 200 guests will be able to gorge on a sumptuous buffet dinner and then dance it off to live entertainment on the main deck. For those looking for something a bit cosier, there will be an upper deck to retire to, including a private lounge with an alfresco terrace. “We will infuse the same culture of excellence into the new Bonsai,” says co-founder Ines Ernest, “capping it with an excellent dining experience.” The Bonsai Legacy’s Indochinese design will be a throwback to the past, but will be finished in a fusion of local flavours and chic modern designs. Chef Patrick Pham has been secured to create menu items that will cater to the palate of every guest. For more info go to bonsaicruise. or find Bonsai Cruise at LE 03-62 Lexington Offices, 67 Mai Chi Tho, Q2, HCMC

Emergency Rescue Service 9999 Family Medical Practice has launched Vietnam’s first 24-hour

emergency response system. The new service can be accessed in Ho Chi Minh City by pressing *9999 on your phone. However, the subscriptiononly service, which starts from VND575,000 per person per year, currently only covers Districts 1, 2, 3, Binh Thanh and Phu Nhuan in Ho Chi Minh City. There are plans to expand coverage citywide in early 2017. “Vietnam has never had a system like this before,” says Dr Rafi Kot, founder of Family Medical Practice and the driving force behind the *9999 programme. The system is founded on state-of-the-art technology from leading international supplier Priority Dispatch, which has its technology deployed in 1,600 emergency centres in over 52 countries worldwide. “In the past, when people [have had] an emergency, they have simply waved down a taxi to take them to hospital,” explains Dr Rafi. “Now, lifesaving support is just five keystrokes away. Press star and then 9,9,9 and 9.” For more information or to subscribe, click on






FMP went to the Central Highlands last month to provide medical care to those most in need

SILA Urban Living apart-hotel launched last month in Q3

Smart Kids celebrates its 10-year anniversary




Charity Trip to Kon Tum A team comprising 26 doctors, 19 nurses and 61 support staff representing Family Medical Practice partnered with the Embassy of Israel to visit Vietnam’s central highland province of Kon Tum in September. The aim of the week-long humanitarian mission was to perform health checks and offer a wide variety of treatments for small minority communities located in remote regions of the province. Kon Tum is regarded as home to some of the more impoverished communes in the Central Highlands. Doctors saw patients and visited families from Mang But, Hieu, Po E, Mang Canh, Dak Ring, Dak Nen — Tu Ret, Dak Long, Dak Tang and Ngok Tem communes. Doctors saw over 10,000 patients in total across the week in what was the second time Family Medical Practice had visited the Central Highlands, with the team having also visited Quang Binh in the past. For more info, contact Susan Wu at

SILA Urban Living Grand Opening SILA Urban Living, a stylish new ‘apart-hotel’ property in Ho Chi

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Minh City’s District 3, celebrated its grand opening last month. Billed as the first property of its kind in Ho Chi Minh City, SILA combines the amenities and personal service of a luxury hotel with the comfort and convenience of a serviced apartment, and offers short and long-term stays to business travellers, tourists and city residents. “We’re delighted to be bringing the ‘apart-hotel’ to Ho Chi Minh City,” says Eric Simard, SILA’s general manager. “Whilst the city already has a large number of hotels and serviced apartments, we have merged the two formats and have created an innovative new residential concept that is already proving a hit with residents and travellers alike.” To celebrate, SILA is offering special opening rates with apartments starting at VND2,340,000 including breakfast and taxes. SILA Urban Living is at 21 Ngo Thoi Nghiem, Q3, HCMC. To find out more, go to

Smart Kids Celebrates 10 Years This month, Smart Kids child care centre in Ho Chi Minh City is celebrating its 10-year anniversary

of preparing kids for life in the international community. When it opened in October 2006, Smart Kids was the first 100% foreign-owned centre licensed by the Ministry of Education. With its own curriculum, Smart Kids has since seen over 1,000 children pass through its doors and has grown to three centres offering day care in English for up to 210 children ranging from 18 months to six years of age. Smart Kids, founded by Joke Otter van Zuijlen (known as Joke "Yoko"), takes a holistic approach to child care where attention is paid to all developmental areas in children, not just those related to academia. This means that Smart Kids focuses on personal, emotional and social skills where children learn through fun, interactive activities rather than via a regimented day-to-day curriculum. “What makes Smart Kids so different is our philosophy, our holistic approach and individual care,” says Yoko. All three Smart Kids locations are purpose-built with classrooms catering for a maximum of 18 children and include dedicated toilet facilities for children with disabilities. For more info, go to smartkidsinfo. com or



Art, music, beer in onelitre steins and a helluva lot more. This month in Hanoi

Water Flows Rock Erodes Manzi Art Space, Ba Dinh Oct. 1 to Oct. 21 A print and performance artist, Sto Len, will open his studio to visitors to talk, observe his practice, get their own hands dirty, and view his latest body of work, produced in both Hanoi and New York. Visitors are invited to experience his creative process and return multiple times to witness his body of work grow. Entrance is free. Manzi Art Space is at 14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Oktoberfest JW Marriott Hanoi Hotel, South Tu Liem Oct. 6 to Oct. 8 GBA is teaming up with the JW Marriott Hanoi Hotel to host the 7th Hanoi Oktoberfest by the lake from Oct. 6 to Oct. 8 Kicking off on Oct. 6, three days of beer, food and music will follow in a true celebration of all things Bavarian. Free flow beer, classic pretzels, German sausages and traditional music will get party-goers in the Oktoberfest mood. The parties run from 6pm to Midnight. On Saturday, Oct. 6, tickets cost VND1,320,000 for members and VND1,420,000 for non-members. On Friday, Oct. 7 and Saturday, Oct. 8, tickets cost VND1,430,000 for members and VND1,530,000 for non-members. Email oktoberfesthanoi@ and trang.tran@ for tickets. JW Marriott Hanoi Hotel is at 8 Do Duc Duc, South Tu Liem, Hanoi

Vu Dan Tan and the Music

1. One of Sto’s artworks in Vietnam 2. Oktoberfest returns for its 7th outing 3. Vu Dan Tan’s exhibition will take place from Oct. 8 to Oct. 28 4. Antigone 5. Gewandhaus Choir 6. Come to Graz’s party on Oct. 14 7. Stephen Ewashkiw

Goethe-Institut, Ba Dinh Oct. 8 to Oct. 28 The Goethe-Institut is hosting an exhibition of the late Vietnamese artist Vu Dan Tan, who is noted for his innovative mixture of various media with transcultural references. Visitors will be able to explore Vu Dan Tan’s love of music and the way he connects music with avant-garde visual art. The exhibition will feature artwork that refers to music and some that uses musical elements — most of these pieces have not yet been exhibited. It is organised in cooperation with the Vu Dan Tan Foundation in Hanoi and will be accompanied by an illustrated research catalogue. Admission is free. Goethe-Institut is at 56-58 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

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Antigone Savage, Tay Ho Saturday, Oct. 8 Gingerwork is collaborating with the new Funktion One-equipped club Savage and the French Institute for the first time to bring Antigone, a Concrete Paris resident and personification of the French Techno scene, to Hanoi. Support will come from Ouissam, Maggie and Sameed, with visuals from the highly talented Julien Noyer from Saigon. Entrance is free before 9pm, VND100,000 after 9pm and VND130,000 after 11pm. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi

German Requiem Hanoi Opera House, Hoan Kiem Thursday, Oct. 13 Goethe-Institut Hanoi presents the Gewandhaus Choir Leipzig for several concerts in Vietnam. On Oct. 13, the traditional choir will perform Ein Deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem) together with the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra (VNSO) directed by Tetsuji Honna. The choir will also perform an acapella concert at the Hanoi Music Academy on Oct. 11. Gewandhaus Choir Leipzig has been one of the most renowned German

concert choirs for over 150 years and is closely linked to the traditional Gewandhaus orchestra. The Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1959 and performs about 60 concerts each year in Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries. Tickets cost between VND200,000 and VND500,000, or VND100,000 for students. Hanoi Opera House is at 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

Disco from Graz Savage, Tay Ho Friday, Oct. 14 A member of the Hong Kong-based Cliché Records, Graz has a reputation as a DJ who likes to party. Drawing on a wide variety of genres from Balearic, dark disco, and house music, plus his experience playing at parties across the world, Graz’s offerings will combine eclectic, funkinfused sounds and electronic power with rare disco cuts that meld with house and other obscurities. Entrance is free before 9pm, VND100,000 after 9pm and VND130,000 after 11pm. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi

A Night with Artur8 CAMA ATK, Hai Ba Trung Friday, Oct. 14 Artur8 from Berlin returns to CAMA

ATK for a performance on Oct. 14. After starting King of Kong with his partner Max Skiba, Artur8 founded the first Polish festival including Astigmatic and Sonic Fiction, connecting the Polish scene with international artists. He’s also the executive producer of Max Skiba and the KDMS, a publisher, and a DJ with a number of records. Entrance is VND100,000 on the door. CAMA ATK is at 73 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi 5

Adventure Yoga Workshop Zenith Yoga Vietnam, Tay Ho Oct. 14 to Oct. 16



Zenith Yoga Vietnam and Stephen Ewashkiw will be holding an Adventure Yoga Workshop from Oct. 14 to Oct. 16, in which he will focus on the life-nourishing aspect of yoga practice. Join him for three days and get back in touch with what you want for your life. Stephen will take you through a number of yoga genres over the course, with a Reflect & Restore session on Friday from 6pm to 8pm, Form & Flow on Saturday from 10am to 12pm, Hatha yoga from 1pm to 4pm, Vinyasa Yoga on Sunday from 10am to 12pm, and a final class from 1pm to 4pm later that day on The Practice.


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1 Entrance is US$25 for two hours, US$35 for three hours or US$125 for the full course. Zenith Yoga Vietnam is at 247 Au Co, Tay Ho, Hanoi

Oskar & Quan Savage, Tay Ho Saturday, Oct. 15 Savage hosts the Hanoi debut of German DJ Oskar Offerman of White Labels, a well-known purveyor of modern deep house. Described as “lush and groovy”, his music appeals to both DJs and casual listeners. Offerman has released two LPs — 2012’s Do Pilots Still Dream Of Flying? and 2015’s Le Grand To Do. Entrance is free before 9pm, VND100,000 after 9pm and VND130,000 after 11pm. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi

Molecular 2.0 Night

1. Oskar Offerman will perform at Savage on Oct. 15 2. Molecular Night returns to JW Marriott Hanoi Hotelw 3. A reading night? Why not? 4. An artworks from Nguyen Manh Hung 5. Fancy to know more about dan bau? 6. Telephones is back at Savage this month

JW Marriott Hanoi Hotel, South Tu Liem Oct. 19 to Oct. 23 The Mood Therapist, Richard McDonough and Chef Raphael are teaming up again at the French Grill, JW Marriott Hanoi to present Molecular Night 2.0 from Oct. 19 to Oct. 23. The five-day event will give guests an exclusive chance to enjoy molecular food and molecular cocktails. Guests will not know the menu until the last minute to enhance the excitement. Entrance is VND5,500,000++ per person and JW Marriott Hanoi Hotel is at 8 Do Duc Duc South Tu Liem, Hanoi. Tickets are going fast. For more info, please email

Bilingual Reading Night Bookworm, Ba Dinh Thursday, Oct. 20 Poets and translators from around Vietnam will gather at Bookworm for a night of bilingual readings. This special collection of poets represents a beautiful assortment of current writing in Vietnamese, English, and in some languages nobody knows.

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2 Come listen to these voices, meet the authors, and take a book home! Featured readers include Nguyen Qui Duc, Hai Yen, Nha Thuyen and Kaitlin Rees, and you can expect more and more. The reading will start at 7pm until 9pm (with a complimentary glass of sangria). An open mic will follow, so please bring along something to share if you’d like. Contact submit@ with any questions and visit to read more. Bookworm is at 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Hanoi.

work spans painting, sculpture, installation, music, and performance art, all using humour and exaggeration as key elements. Hung has exhibited in Japan, Australia, Sweden, Korea, France and the USA, and has done numerous residencies in France, the USA and Korea. Art Vietnam Gallery is at 24 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

Conversations with Nguyen Manh Hung

French artist Sylvain Streiff, Canadian guitarist Alex Formosa and Vietnamese pianist Phuc Phan will hold a dan bau concert on Friday, Oct. 21. This concert will use the dan bau to play a collection of late 19th and early 20th century French and German songs. The instrument lends its natural expressivity to the romanticism of early Berg and Richard Strauss, the jazziness of Satie and Roussel, and the poetry of Debussy. The show kicks off at 8pm. Manzi Art Space is at 14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Art Vietnam Gallery, Hoan Kiem Oct. 21 to Nov. 18 Art Vietnam is running a monthlong exhibition of young Vietnamese artist Nguyen Manh Hung. Titled Somewhere Out There, the exhibition consists of a series of paintings and dioramas that depict exaggerated situations of the conflicts we face in life. As the artist says: “We all have heard and seen so much formation about human conflict, not only on earth, but even in space. Justice is a luxurious concept and peace is a fragile treasure, difficult to get and preserve.” A multidisciplinary artist, Hung’s

Lachrymae Manzi Art Space, Ba Dinh Friday, Oct. 21

DJ Soup CAMA ATK, Hai Ba Trung Friday, Oct. 21 Sydney DJ/Producer John Blake, aka

DJ Soup, is a man of many talents. A former professional basketball player for the Sydney Kings, DJ Soup helped pioneer the Australian electronic hip hop scene as part of trailblazing hip hop-funk outfit, Fonke Knomaads. He now works as a solo artist, continuing to break ground in his field with new mixes, samples and original beats. DJ Soup will be playing at CAMA ATK on Oct. 21 — don’t miss this party! Entrance is free and CAMA ATK is at 73 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi


Calling Norway Savage, Tay Ho Saturday, Oct. 22



Norwegian DJ Telephones is back for his second Asia tour, this time to introduce his newly released album, Vibe Telemetry, on Running Back. He describes his sound as disco, proto-Balearic house, technokraut, equatorial, multiwave confusion. He has produced highly-sought after releases on labels like Full Pupp and Sex Tags UFO, which have all sold out. Savage’s Maggie G will start the evening. | October 2016 Word | 47



Stand-Up with Brian Aylward


CAMA ATK, Ha Bai Trung Thursday, Oct. 27 Professional stand-up comedy returns to CAMA ATK after a long summer hiatus. A day after making Ho Chi Minh City laugh their socks off, maple leaf-wearing former English teacher Brian Aylward will tackle the capital city. First stepping on stage at a rowdy expat bar in Anyang, South Korea, Aylward went on to pioneer the local English stand-up comedy scene, officially establishing Stand Up Seoul in 2007 and turning the country into a legitimate destination on the international circuit. Since then, the Canadian has caused hysterics with his own brand of humour at hundreds of shows across Asia. Upon returning home in 2010, Brian was twice a finalist in SiriusXM Radio’s Canada’s Next Top Comic, and became a regular fixture in Canada’s Yuk Yuk’s comedy clubs. Entrance to the show is VND200,000 and includes a free beer. Doors are at 8pm. CAMA ATK is 73 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi. More acts will be added to the roster over the next couple of weeks. To keep yourself posted and ready for some comedic fun, click on




San Soda All Night Long Savage, Tay Ho Saturday, Oct. 29

1. Brian Aylward 2. San Soda will be spinning tunes at Observatory this month 3. Get ready! Queer Disco is back again 4. Fancy a bazaar for charity, anyone? 5. Quest Festival returns to Son Tinh Camp from Nov. 4 to Nov. 6 6. Run for Wildlife? Why not?

From Belgium to Berlin, San Soda has enlightened dance floors at Panorama Bar (Berlin), Concrete (Paris) and Dance Tunnel (London). He is a member of the Let’s Play House crew and is coming back to Asia for his debut at Savage. Entrance is free before 9pm, VND100,000 after 9pm and VND130,000 after 11pm. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi

Queer Disco Halloween Party CAMA ATK, Hai Ba Trung Saturday, Oct. 29 The notorious Queer Disco is back at it again. Costumes, decor, drink specials and just an all-around good vibe are what these parties are all about. Music provided by Hanoi Panic, Dan and Nam. Entrance is free. CAMA ATK is at 73 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi

Nature Day Out Fragrant Path Nature Retreat, Soc Son Sunday, Oct. 30 Fragrant Path nature retreat is offering a day in the fresh air, complete with

48 | Word October 2016 |

yoga, meditation, trekking, energy healing and other delights to revive stressed city-dwellers and bring a sparkle back to your smile. As a nature retreat dedicated to nourishment and renewal, Fragrant Path provides a lush and inspiring environment for the nourishment of body, mind and soul. Transport will leave from Maison de Tet Decor for the 45-minute transfer to the organic farm in Dai Lai. The organisers suggest booking early, as there are limited places available. Fragrant Path Nature Retreat is at Dai Lai, Soc Son. For more info, please visit nourishment-day/

Zumbathon for Cancer Intercontinental Hanoi, Tay Ho Sunday, Oct. 30 International SOS Hanoi, in partnership with Intercontinental Hotel Hanoi, Yury Rockit and La Zum3, will hold the first ever annual Breast Cancer Zumbathon to raise money for disadvantaged women fighting breast cancer. The organisers are laying on a fun and energetic afternoon of Zumba with prizes for the winners and a raffle. All proceeds go to charity.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Vietnam, with over 11,000 Vietnamese women diagnosed with the disease in 2012. The mortality rate also remains high. Tickets are VND500,000, on sale at International SOS Hanoi and Intercontinental Hanoi. Intercontinental Hanoi is at 1 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Hanoi

HIWC Bazaar St Paul American School, Hoai Duc Thursday, Nov. 27 The Hanoi International Women’s Club (HIWC) will hold its annual bazaar next month, aiming to build on last year’s event, which saw over 8,000 visitors and raised US$107,000 for charity. The HIWC Annual Bazaar is an end-of-year celebration and shopping opportunity which showcases international culture and cuisine. It includes a food fair, a kids’ corner, live acts and music on the main stage. There is also the chance to learn more about the variety of goods and services on offer in Hanoi and to buy seasonal gifts for family and friends. There will be a new and improved shuttle bus service (free to ticket holders), to help visitors


6 get there and back. Tickets bought in advance cost VND150,000 or VND50,000 for children under 12; the ticket price on the day is VND200,000. St Paul American School is at km 10 + 600, Thang Long, Hoai Duc, Hanoi. For more info, please email, or check online at annual-charity-bazaar/

Quest Festival Son Tinh Camp, Ba Vi Nov. 4 to Nov. 6 The Quest Festival this year will take place from Nov. 4 to Nov. 6 at Son Tinh camp in Ba Vi, with a diverse programme of over 100 acts, such as musicians, DJs, artists, performers, workshops, film features and art installations over multiple venues. There will be experiences including camping in nature, music, workshops and performances, food, artwork, installations, stages, costumes and cinema. And of course, the Son Tinh camp, set against a backdrop of beautiful mountains and surrounded on all sides by a lake

is a great place to spend three days in another world. For more information or to book tickets, click on or

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

Song Hong Half Marathon Ciputra Club, Tay Ho Sunday Dec. 11 A firm fixture on the Hanoi calendar, this annual festival continues to go from strength to strength, offering 10km and 5km distances, and of course, a kids’ fun run. Ciputra, lead sponsor of the event, will host the start and finish of the race in the confines of Ciputra Club. This year’s race is billed as the Run for Wildlife as Education for Nature Vietnam continues their partnership with Red River Runners, providing race volunteers and injecting their usual level of energy to the event. Check for registration details and stay up to date with all the race information through Hanoi Red River Runner’s Facebook page, redriverrunners.hanoi




Just Hanoi

From Hanoi’s answer to Saigon Cider, through to new beer gardens and beauty products, here’s what’s new in the capital



1. Pizza 4P’s has just opened a new restaurant 2. Hanoi Cider hits the shelves, grab one bottle! 3. RESS is back open with a lot of improvements 4. Enjoy quality cocktails at Tiki Bar 5. Take care of yourself with Happiness Beauty and Skincare 6. Experience Mia Nha Trang’s five-star villas

Pizza 4P’s Just a stone’s throw from the Hanoi Opera House, Pizza 4P’s newest restaurant is the perfect setting for the perfect pizza. The space itself is minimalist, with a stone floor and tall red brick walls. At the far end of the room is a marble bar where you can eat while watching the chefs roll dough and arrange toppings. As expected, the food is made using high quality ingredients, and the cheese used is sourced from the company’s very own cows in Dalat. All pizza’s range between VND150,000 and VND420,000. They will be opening a garden later this month, and second floor seating is also in the works. Pizza 4P’s is at 43 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. The restaurant is open 11am to 2pm, and 5pm to 11pm, Monday to Sunday. You can make bookings via their website

Hanoi Cider Co. Apple enthusiasts can rejoice as new brand Hanoi Cider hits the shelves. Unlike your average apple cider this one is infused with American hops, which gives the drink a floral and citrus like taste. While currently only available in

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one flavour, they’ll soon be releasing a new range, the details of which are a closely guarded secret at this point. You can get hold of Hanoi Cider at the Red River Tea Room, Republic, and Furbrew’s 100 Beer Garden — prices average at VND75,000 per 330ml bottle. Orders can also be made directly from the company for VND60,000 per bottle.

RESS The creative hub at the northern tip of West Lake is back open after a touch of home improvement. The latest incarnation of the house-turned-bar has been fitted with a black paintjob, interrupted by impressive graffiti art canvases, and a sound-system ideal for hosting DJ’s. Upstairs is a more relaxed setting kitted out with sofas, cushions and a roof terrace, and later this month a professional tattoo studio will be opening on the premises. Pop down between 4pm and 6pm on Sundays for a free Jamaican style barbeque. RESS is at 111 Trinh Cong Son, Tay Ho, Hanoi. The bar is open from 8am to midnight, Monday to Sunday

100 Beer Garden Following up their success opening Furbrew earlier this year, the team behind Hanoi’s latest craft beer sensation are turning up the heat in time for winter. Their latest project, the 100 Beer Garden can seat up to 170 people on wooden benches in a wide open space cornered off by a red brick wall and surrounded by trees. You can get all of Furbrew’s craft beers on tap, as well as some guest drinks too. Prices range between VND70,000 and VND100,000 per 375ml glass. Food is also available. The garden can be booked out for private parties. Ask the staff for details. The 100 Beer Garden is at 68/238 Au Co, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Opening hours are 4pm to 11pm, Monday to Sunday

Hanoi Tiki Company Hanoi’s first Tiki bar is a low-key joint serving high quality cocktails. Drawing inspiration from Vietnam’s collection of tropical fruits, the rum based menu features flavours like caramelised pineapple, dragon fruit and sugarcane. On top of this they also serve Jamaican patties for VND40,000. If you’re looking for a quiet place to lose yourself in conversation, look




no further than here. Most of the cocktails range from VND80,000 to VND120,000. Tiki Bar is at 228A Au Co, Tay Ho, Hanoi. The bar is open from 5pm to 11.30pm

Hidden Houses of Hanoi Linda Mazur has just released her first book, Hidden Houses of Hanoi, chronicling the lives of historic Art Deco houses near Thien Quang Lake. Built in the 1930s by architects inspired by modern Bauhaus designs, they were the homes of many intellectuals, artists, and diplomats throughout the last century. Linda, who has lived in Hanoi since 1998, got to know the long-time residents of the neighbourhood over the last eight years, including awardwinning photographer and revolutionary Quang Phung, and English teacher Vi Van Tung. She’s recorded their stories and created a well-researched read for anyone interested in Hanoi’s architecture and its role in the country’s history. The book can be found in venues like Bookworm and Hanoi Social Club for VND200,000

Happiness Beauty and Skincare Created out of a deep connection with nature, fashion designer May Cortazzi’s new line of skin products is made with only natural ingredients ranging from Himalayan minerals, French clays and exotic plants. “Nature is abundant, vibrant and flourishing all around us, herbs, crystals, plants and clays have the ability to heal our minds, soothe our body and uplift the soul,” says May. Their store includes bath bombs, body butter, moisturisers and more. You can purchase Happiness Beauty and Skincare products via their Facebook page, prices range between VND50,000 and VND300,000

Maison de Tet Autumn Menu Maison de Tet is introducing their autumn Vietnamese and fusion cuisine with fresh ingredients and in-house sauces, marinades and relishes. The menu has a wide range of dishes, from salads (VND110,000)

to starters (from VND80,000) to main dishes (from VND120,000) and western options (from VND195,000). There is also a selection of cakes and desserts (VND80,000) as well as options for vegetarians, vegans and gluten-frees. Maison de Tet is at Villa 156 Tu Hoa, Nghi Tam, Tay Ho. For more info, visit

Mia Nha Trang New Villas Don’t worry if you travel in groups and want to share one space as Mia Nha Trang has just opened their new five-bedroom villas. Located on a private beach just south of Nha Trang, each villa overlooks the sea and comes with a kitchenette, dining room, media and cinema room and indoor lounge. There is also a swimming pool and an outdoor lounge. All villas are furnished to Mia’s fivestar standards with bathrooms, TVs, minibars, living space and in-room amenities. Mia Nha Trang is at Bai Dong, Cam Hai Dong, Cam Lam, Khanh Hoa. Visit for more info


Many Faces / A Personal History / A Short History of Tay Ho / Le Cong Kieu / Hanoi BBQ Olympics / Mystery Diner Hanoi / Mien Luon / Mystery Diner HCMC / Banh Xeo / Ba Be Lake / The DMZ / Destination Zero: Phong Nha Farmstay / Destination Zero: La Vie Vu Linh Photo by Theo Lowenstein 52 | Word October 2016 | | October 2016 Word | 53



Giles Lever In the face of Brexit, you may think that British ambassadors around the world will be biting their nails and grinding their teeth. Far from it. As UK Ambassador to Vietnam Giles Lever explains, it’s business as normal. Photos by Julie Vola

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iles Lever likes to run. Last year, the British ambassador ran 42 kilometres in the Vietnam Mountain Marathon in Sapa, and this year, he has ambitions to do 70. “When I did the 42km race, I didn’t do any media or have any offi cial interactions, I just turned up to run with my friends and have a beer afterwards,” he says. “When I’m round the trails, there’s no ambassador or excellency, I’m just another guy sweating in his trainers, labouring up a hill in the woods somewhere.” While he’s technically always on duty, Giles values things like this — those things which give him privacy like running a marathon or eating nem chua on the sidewalk. They give him space to recharge. “You protect some time for yourself, and I think during that time, the family and I are able to be normal citizens.”

Full Circle This may be Giles’s first full ambassadorial post, yet it’s not the first time he’s been posted to Hanoi; he began his career in the diplomatic service back here in the 1990s. From 1993 to 1997, he served as Second Secretary (Political) in Hanoi. “A lot of the work in those days was connected with the problem of Vietnamese migrants in Hong Kong, for which the UK was still responsible, up until the handover,” he recalls. “The embassy was much smaller [then]. Nowadays, there’s around seven or eight people covering the various bits of the job I used to do.” After this, he moved on to work in Japan, Iraq and then Nigeria, where he served as Acting British High Commissioner until 2014, when he took up his post as ambassador to Vietnam. A key part of his job here has been learning the language, something seen as being of high value in British foreign affairs. “If you can understand the language and how people express themselves, you get direct insight into the way they think. It helps you understand the richness of life in Vietnam.” “For example, I love that people’s names mean something in Vietnamese,” he says, chuckling at the fact that the woman in charge of finances at the embassy is named Ngan which happens to mean “money”. On the list of the embassy’s priorities here, the economy ranks high. “We want more British companies exporting to Vietnam, and more British companies doing business in Vietnam,” he says. “You have to look at the areas where you have a comparative advantage as an economy, and then look at where there is a demand.” There’s huge demand coming from the educational sector, both in overseas study and educational services in Vietnam, and it’s a gap the UK hopes to fill.

Filling the Gap “The challenge for Vietnamese education is obviously upper high school,” says Giles. “Up until 15 [years old], the Vietnamese

education system is very good, it’s very inclusive. After that level, the dropout rate is high compared to other more developed countries in the region.” The UK is doing all it can to solidify its relationship with Vietnam, including the first official prime ministerial visit from David Cameron in July last year. “We’ve tripled the number of Foreign Office scholarships in Vietnam,” he continues. “It’s a prime beneficiary of our science innovation partnership programme. We’re doing a lot of work with the business environment. But a head-of-government visit, in its own way, can send an even more powerful message.” According to Giles, this is the art of diplomacy, “trying to understand what makes your host country tick.” Vietnam he says, is interesting because, in terms of hierarchies, it can be quite flat. In other words, authority is widely diffused throughout the system. “There are many different stakeholders in any given problem,” he explains. “And you need to understand how they relate to each

other, as well as to the problem in question. You always have to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, identify what it is that they’re interested in, and find some common ground to build on it.”

The Brexit Factor Lever also has to be aware how events back in the UK are seen overseas, such as the country’s recent decision to quit the European Union (EU). “In the short term, I don’t think there’s any direct impact,” he says. “We’re still a fully paid-up member of the EU, with all the rights and responsibilities and commitments that entails. The Prime Minister has said she doesn’t expect to invoke Article 50 before 2017, and after that, we can expect a process that lasts up to two years.” Longer term, however, he believes that the UK will have to work even harder to project influence. “We need to make sure people see the UK as a country that’s not turning in on itself,” he says, “but is still active and engaged on the global stage.” | October 2016 Word | 55

Cover Story

ietnam is abundant with history — 4,000 years’ worth. Yet, with the transformation of this country from sleepy, upstart backwater to modern middleincome economy, much of the recent past is being lost. As Thomas Jefferson once said: “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” He wasn’t referring to Vietnam, but he might well have been. Yet being a nostalgic bunch, we at Word are not so ready to let the past be forgotten. So we decided to do a bit of our own research and through it, try and get a human perspective on this country’s more recent past. To do this we chose two buildings, two places of worship and two streets, as our various writers and photographers tried to tap into people’s memories. There seem to be two main perspectives on the importance of history. One is that unless it can be celebrated, it should be forgotten and buried. The other is that no matter how dark, no matter how negative, we need to face the past. As the Irish theorist Edmund Burke wrote: “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” At Word we know firmly which side our banh mi is buttered on. We’re in the Burke ship. What about you?

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Bui Vien in Ho Chi Minh City was not always the travellers' hangout it is today. Zoe Osborne speaks to three people who remember the road as it once was. Photos by Bao Zoan o any 21st century traveller, the notorious Bui Vien tourist strip seems as though it has always been a bustling centre of commerce. Business is integral to the way the street presents itself, and as you pick your way past bustling food stalls, shouting bar-boys, motorbike dealers and street touts, you can almost taste the money as it floats from tourist pockets to local hands. It’s hard to imagine the street without its activity. But before the city lights, there was quiet.

“When I was born, Bui Vien was just a place for living. There was nothing much here.” Now 58 years old, Hoa is a tiny man. His back is hunched over warped thighs and skinny shins, ending in feet that look tougher than the tarmac they stand on. His hair is long and careless, and when he smiles he uses his eyes. “This street has always been a rough place, even before the war,” Hoa says as he leans into the wall behind him and tilts his chin to one side. “Bui Vien was divided into many sections, each one ruled by a gang, and although the place was quiet in the daytime it was not safe at night.” When the First Indochina War culminated in 1954, it hit the South hard. “The city became a battleground,” he says. Hoa points down the street to what is now a panorama of backpacker bars and all-night revelry. “That intersection of De Tham and Bui Vien saw many conflicts. It used to be called the International Roundabout.” By 1963 more than 16,000 American military personnel were stationed in Vietnam. While the nation ripped itself apart, a small bubble of commerce popped up on the previously residential Bui Vien, catering to American soldiers. “When I was a small boy I used to hang

around the De Tham end of the street. There were a few bars there selling cheap beer for the American soldiers,” Hoa looks up from beneath his war-green hat. “Those soldiers loved children. They used to play with us, offer us a few dollars and sometimes buy us some food. I remember eating a lot of chicken and rice.” When the South was liberated in 1975, and America finally withdrew, the city was left to fend for itself. Ho Chi Minh City and the rest of the nation began to rebuild under the new regime, but what was once a brilliant city had little left to prosper on. “After 1975, this area was poor. Bui Vien was more dangerous than before, because people had no money and no hope.” At that time, Hoa began to work. “I worked for my uncle at his business on De Tham, fixing motorbikes. Two years later I started my own business here on Bui Vien. I have had that business for 41 years now.” He gestures to where his bike-tyre pump sits in front of a backpacker bar. “I remember one old Australian man who came here every day. He had no bike to fix but he enjoyed my company — most of our conversation was “yes” and “no” because we didn’t share a language,” Hoa says, shaking his head. “One day he just didn’t come back.” | October 2016 Word | 59

About a decade after the American War ended, the Vietnamese Congress introduced a new policy, the doi moi or open-door programme, which spurred Vietnam’s interaction with the rest of the world. This opened the door to tourism, and Ho Chi Minh City’s travel industry began to develop. Tran came to the area in 1998, following his father. His aunt, Madam Kim, owned one of the area’s only backpacker cafés and his father came to work as a tour guide for her customers. “My father was a driver and a translator during the war. When we came to work in Ho Chi Minh City there were no official tours, so people would negotiate a trip over coffee.” Tran remembers the area before it started to boom. “At that time the only people who came here were backpackers. They didn’t know where they were going because there were no guides — they just made it up as they went,” Tran says. “At that time the alleyways between Bui Vien and Pham Ngu Lao were dangerous — full of broken people and illegal substances. You could get lost in there and not come out. The local people were dangerous, very poor and quite desperate. There were no jobs, and petty crime was an issue.” In the late 1990s, Vietnam reached a socioeconomic turning point and international tourism began to find its feet. Over the following years, the thriving new industry brought in money, jobs and opportunity. “People began to pick themselves up — we

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started thinking differently,” Tran says. “That was just the beginning.” Marc (name changed) came to Ho Chi Minh City in early 2000 as part of a six-month trip around Southeast Asia. With one side of the buildings on Pham Ngu Lao knocked down in the late 1990s to make way for a shopping mall that was never completed and a park, by this time businesses serving the budget traveller industry had started to move down De Tham. “When I first came here all the action was on Pham Ngu Lao and De Tham; tourism hadn’t touched [Bui Vien] yet. It was all houses. When we reached Ho Chi Minh City, my partner and I were living off my credit card. We needed work and had been aiming to find it in Taiwan, but there was something about this city.” At that time Bui Vien was quiet. “There was nothing special about it,” Marc says. “I remember a couple of com binh dan joints, a barber’s run by an older guy who spoke English, a small convenience store and an internet cafe. They had the fastest internet in the area.” Before the opening of Go2 Bar in 2002, everything just stopped at the corner of De Tham and Bui Vien. “Back in 2000 a lot of older people still spoke French, and luckily so did I,” Marc says. “I remember them telling me about life after the war — about how difficult it had been and how poor they were then. Many of them would say that

Ho Chi Minh City was better before 1975, because back then it was rich.” Once Go2 opened and became a success, the businesses started to spread down Bui Vien. It started with the opening of new guesthouses. However, the real kick came in 2009 “with the arrival of the bia hoi joints,” Marc says. “Suddenly people were able to drink on the street for cheap. It was perfect for backpackers. But the thing I remember most about the street is its people.” Marc tells us about a group of cyclo drivers he met back then. “We became good friends actually,” he remembers. “Very few people spoke English at the time, but because these guys were working with tourists, you could have a conversation with them. I would eat hu tieu and drink coffee near to where they hung out most mornings — on the corner of Pham Ngu Lao and De Tham. These drivers had it tough. They were all supporting families, and many were in debt to the local mafia — when they couldn’t find work they still had to eat.” “One guy, Dat, spoke great English. His story was fascinating — he said he had been working for the Catholic Bishop of Saigon before the War, and after the liberation he had been taken to a re-education camp. There were no jobs for him because of his background, so he ended up as a cyclo driver. I remember his oldest daughter was bright. I wanted to help out so I paid for her to study English at SEAMEO, a language school on Le Thanh Ton. Last I heard she’s married and doing well.”

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The gateway to West Lake, from a certain John McCain through to pagodas and street food, Thanh Nien and Truc Bach Lake next door have a fascinating past. Words by Edward Dalton. Photos by Julie Vola anoi has 1,000 years of history and a hundred stories on every street. Despite not being named after a legendary hero or victorious battle, Thanh Nien is still one of the most interesting and important streets in Hanoi. After Hanoi was founded in 1010 by Ly Thai To, many of today's most famous ancient sites sprung up in the following century, including Thanh Nien’s very own Quan Thanh Temple.

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Thanh Nien has since developed into a perfect cross-section of Hanoi’s history. To help understand that history on a more personal level, we spoke to some people whose stories show why Thanh Nien is considered such an iconic street. A prominent feature on Thanh Nien’s landscape is Tran Quoc Pagoda, which also happens to be the oldest Buddhist temple in Hanoi. Rising up from the Kim

Ngu (Golden Fish) islet on West Lake, it has been attracting worshippers and visitors for nearly 1,500 years. Cuong Le, a local business owner, comes here regularly to pray. “Thanh Nien is developing so quickly,” Cuong says. “So it’s important to keep these ancient sites untouched, as peaceful places where people can express their spirituality.” Cuong says he’s not particularly religious, but he believes Tran Quoc Pagoda is vital for the area, and for Hanoi. “Coming here


always makes me feel calmer,” he says. “Everyone is too focused on making money, following trends or rushing around at work, but spending time here reminds me to appreciate what I already have.” “I think more young people should come here and remember that too,” Cuong tells me, before apologising that he must rush back to work. On the corner where Thanh Nien meets Quan Thanh, another 1,000-year-old temple continues to make its presence felt. Originally dedicated to Tran Vu, the Taoist God of the North, Quan Thanh Temple is said to protect the capital from northern malevolent spirits. Although few Vietnamese would identify as purely Taoist, Quan Thanh still remains a hugely popular temple during special lunar holidays, when it is crowded with people praying for health, luck and happiness. In October 1967, a failed American air raid on a power plant resulted in three planes being shot down by the Vietnamese Air Defence Command’s 61st Battalion. One of the pilots, future American presidential candidate John McCain, parachuted into Truc Bach Lake, on Thanh Nien’s western edge. One of the first men to get to the wounded pilot was Le Tran Lua. Taking a lunch break from his job as a mechanic in a nearby paper factory, he grabbed a knife and dived into the lake, hoisting the wounded pilot onto a bamboo float. “It was war,” says Lua. “I acted instinctively. I wasn’t a soldier, I just helped out in the Civilian Protection Force.” “People said I was crazy to leave the shelter during an air raid,” he says. “But I thought the pilot might have other weapons, that’s why I took a knife and tried to get him out.” On the western edge of Thanh Nien, there is now a monument celebrating the capture of John McCain. Lua says the monument is one of the best new features of Thanh Nien. “It’s important, it tells the story of the area,” he says. “It means people will always remember what happened here, it’s a part of Vietnam’s history.” Despite recognising how much more famous Thanh Nien is today compared to when he was a young worker, Lua says it was always popular and peaceful. “Even in the 1970s, it was a really popular place for young people to hang out,” he says. “It’s related to the name of the street. Thanh nien means ‘adolescents’. The street was built by young people, for young people.” | October 2016 Word | 63

Many people have started businesses which take advantage of Thanh Nien’s lively atmosphere and picturesque location. Among them is Nguyen Bao Thu’s family, who own the swan boat business on Truc Bach Lake. “Our family has done business here for 20 years,” Thu says proudly. “And I grew up just over there,” she adds, pointing towards Yen Hoa, one of Thanh Nien’s side streets. “This area has the most beautiful streets in Vietnam,” she claims. “We used to rent Truc Bach Lake from the government; our business used to be fish farming.” “But after the water became too dirty, we had to change to swan boat rental.” The causeway on which Thanh Nien is built was constructed in the 17th century, cutting off a section of West Lake to allow better fish farming. “The road was built about 60 years ago,” says Thu. “But the pavements and trees were only added about 20 years ago.” Thu says all of the development has made Thanh Nien the perfect place to do business. “We also own that big boat,” she says, nodding at the permanently moored

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boat between Thanh Nien and Tran Vu. “Highland Coffee asked to rent it from us, because even they see how popular this area is for hanging out.” Thu tells me that the moored boats on the West Lake side of Thanh Nien are soon going

to be moved further away, near Lac Long Quan. “It’s great, it will reduce pollution around this area even more,” she says. “We need more people to help protect the environment, to keep Thanh Nien beautiful forever.”


No street in Hanoi could be considered truly iconic without offering a unique food experience, and Thanh Nien stands above many others in that regard. Both sides of Thanh Nien are usually lined with mobile street vendors selling bo bia — a popular snack with young people. Shredded coconut, dried sugar cane and sesame is packed into a soft flour wrap, with a big one costing just VND10,000. Originating from a village in Binh Xuyen, over the past few years increasing numbers of sellers have gravitated to Thanh Nien. One of them, a young woman called Hong Dinh, says it has become a popular street for bo bia because of the cool factor; so many young people hang out along Thanh Nien to enjoy the lake views and eat at nearby Kem Ho Tay, or West Lake Ice Cream. “My mum started selling bo bia here years ago; I took over just one year ago,” Hong says. “It’s the perfect snack, because it’s so cheap, but very light and sweet. Students love it.” As the gateway to the trendy and rapidly developing West Lake area, Thanh Nien will always be central to the lives of locals and foreigners. As a standalone experience, however, Thanh Nien is a street almost without equal. Ancient history, unique food, lakeside sunsets and recreational activities make it arguably the most interesting kilometre of tarmac in Hanoi. | October 2016 Word | 65

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To tap her memory, Jesse Meadows speaks to Madame Nhung, the longest-running staff member in Vietnam’s most classic, colonial-era hotel. Photos by Julie Vola y life and job have been 100 percent linked to the history of the country,” Madame Nhung says, over a cappuccino in the bar at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi. We’re sitting by large windows that look out onto the courtyard around us. She points up at a balcony that holds a couple of bamboo trees.  “You see why we always keep the bamboo like this,” she says. “The bamboo tree is our teacher… it can stand whether it’s very sunny or very stormy. It never stops, and never dies. If the land is dry or wet, it doesn’t matter. It’s strong.” Like hardy bamboo, the Metropole has stood in Hanoi since 1901, and its walls have sheltered all kinds of important guests. Charlie Chaplin stayed here on his honeymoon with his third wife, Paulette Goddard, in the 1930s. Graham Greene, who wrote The Quiet American, lived in the hotel off-and-on while reporting for Paris Match, and Joan Baez famously recorded her song Where Are You Now, My Son? in her hotel room during the Christmas bombings of 1972. History is tangible in the hallways, in the creaking wood floors, and on the original, antique staircase that has been preserved since the early 1900s. Plaques outside the rooms commemorate the embassies that were stationed here over the years — six in total. And outside by the Bamboo Bar, just steps from the swimming pool where guests

lie back with cocktails, is a staircase that leads to a stark reminder of the country’s past; a concrete bunker where guests and staff took shelter during air raids.  It lay dormant underground until five years ago, when renovations on the bar unearthed it. “There was nothing in the archives, nothing in the blueprints. [But the staff] knew about the bunker. They didn’t forget, but they didn’t want to remember,” says Duc Nguyen, the hotel’s resident historian.  “People used to hide in the manholes in front of the hotel, on Le Van Huu

Street. Now they’ve planted trees there, in the hope that they never have to use them again.” Nhung remembers the tearful reopening ceremony when long-time staff members were invited to revisit the bomb shelter. “After the war, we still went to the bunker for training,” she says. “But after [they closed it], we didn’t know it was still there. The swimming pool at that time was a rose garden. It was the roof of the bunker. We thought they had broken it, but we found out they could not, because [the roof] was too thick.” | October 2016 Word | 67

Nhung has been working in food and beverage here since 1978, when she was just 18 years old. She’s now the manager at Le Beaulieu, the hotel’s classic French restaurant, but she’s managed every restaurant in the hotel at some point over the years. Set to retire in October, she’s returned to the place where she started, so she can say goodbye.  In 1976, she attended Vietnam’s first hospitality school. Many of her peers — the first students in this programme — were sent south to staff the hotels left abandoned by the Americans. But Nhung joined the waiting staff at Thong Nhat Hotel — as the Metropole was renamed by the Vietnamese government after the American War. “It means union,” she says. “We still keep the memory of Thong Nhat. If you ask young people, no one knows about this. Anyone born after 1975 doesn’t remember this name.” In those days, the hotel only hosted government officials. Nhung remembers lavish parties. Wearing her ao dai, which was only for special occasions then, she served important guests from embassies and foreign governments.  “The West German embassy always had rooms here, and they had very special parties in their room. We were selected to serve them, and we felt very honoured.”

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She was also sent to the Ho Chi Minh Palace to cater high-profile government functions. I asked if she met any important figures during this time, but she shook her head. Even the waiting staff wasn’t allowed to know who they were serving. “There was a lot of security. They never revealed their names.” But there was one important person she met then — her husband. A tour guide for American war veterans, he spotted her while she was working a wedding at the hotel, and pursued her. They were married two years later in 1978. “Every morning, I encouraged him to go to university, and I worked here.” It seems the hotel’s romance spans the generations in her family — her husband’s parents also met here. His father, an accountant who worked for the French in the 1940s, met his mother, a rice supplier, near the basement at work one day.  “This place is like a second home,” Nhung says.  In the 1980s, the hotel began to open up to foreign tourists from other Eastern Bloc countries such as Russia and Poland, and soon the Accor group initiated a joint venture, renovating the hotel and again naming it The Metropole in 1992.  “My job changed totally when we started to work with Accor. We began to learn why


we need to smile at the guests, and why a warm atmosphere is important,” she recalls. Though the hotel offered French, Thai and even Malaysian cuisine, their foreign guests really wanted to taste traditional Vietnamese food. Many politicians and heads-of-state often requested private dinners, but Nhung remembers meeting Hillary Clinton in the early 1990s. “She was different. She said, I want to eat with the people.” So Nhung showed her how to eat bun cha. “We have to explain it. If you don’t know how to mix it together, it has no meaning,” she says. “Madame Hillary liked bun cha. I think [she introduced] President Obama to it!”  Nhung’s favourite dishes, however, came from the French restaurant. Classics like creme d’volaille were a rare treat in her early days at the hotel. “Not many people knew [about French food] then, only a few of us who got to work here,” she recalls.  In a place with such a long, welldocumented history, you might expect the stories you hear to be strange or fantastic. But often, lasting memories are made of simple things. “When I was a kid, maybe five or six years old, my father brought me here. It was another world. At that time, there was only a veranda,” Duc says, pointing toward the bar behind the lobby. “We had ice cream there. It was a dream for a kid.” | October 2016 Word | 69

Once home to the city prison, the site that is now the General Sciences Library hosts one of the most striking buildings of its era. Words by Matt Cowan. Photos by Bao Zoan 70 | Word October 2016 |

t was in late 1931 that a 17-year-old Vietnamese youth, summarily sentenced to death for shooting dead a French police officer, was guillotined at the Maison Centrale de Saigon. History would eventually tell that the young man executed that day, most likely barefoot, filthy, and with barely a thread covering his emaciated frame, was Ly Tu Trong, a founding member of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union and who would posthumously have a street running by the site of his execution named in his honour. The manner in which Ly Tu Trong was held

captive and later executed is a bleak reminder of what happened to dissenters under French rule in Vietnam. The last moments of his life offer a window into the squalid conditions of the notorious Maison Centrale de Saigon. It was the perfect incubator for deadly epidemics that frequently tore through the prison population. Before his demise and his subsequent dumping in an unmarked graveyard on the premises of what is now Ly Thi Rieng Park, Ly Tu Trong is alleged to have proclaimed: “I act for revolutionary purposes. I am still not mature, but I have enough knowledge to realise the way of youths is only the revolutionary way.�


In 1968, the Maison Centrale was demolished after inmates were finally transferred to the newer Chi Hoa prison in District 10, which was completed in 1953. Today, the building on the site of Ly Tu Trong’s execution couldn’t be further from the horror conjured by the stories and images of Maison Centrale. The General Sciences Library of Ho Chi Minh City, designed by local architects Nguyen Huu Thien and Bui Quang Hanh, is a fine example of Modernist architecture that evokes peace and harmony on a site that once knew only misery and death. Opened to the public in 1971, the experience of the General Sciences Library starts at the front entrance on Ly Tu Trong Street where atop the two gateposts sit large lanterns that seem inspired by the ones you’d typically see in Japanese gardens and

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pathways leading up to Buddhist temples. The less vigilant may inadvertently miss this, as the eye is easily drawn to the more conspicuous white motifs that scale the entire front-facing wall of the building, which includes calligraphy that appear to resemble the Chinese characters for happiness. A lot of effort has gone into willing over this place to be one of goodness after its sad and sorry past. It is quite Zen. The building has long enamoured local architects Hoanh Tran and Archie Pizzini of HTA+Pizzini Architects. According to them, the library not only represents design where every piece comes together to form part of the same vision, it goes beyond, meaning that although it’s inspired by a global Modernist period of architecture, they say it’s uniquely Vietnamese. “This building is more than just a Modernist-era building. It’s localisation of

Modernism,” says Hoanh. “True Modernism in the West was characterised by what was also called ‘international style’ in what was supposed to be a global style, and supposed to be mass-produced and industrial. But when it came to Vietnam, it became a handmade thing and that’s what’s unique about this place.” Archie echoes Hoanh’s assessment. “The amazing lanterns, for example. They’re an Asian element interpreted through a Western lens then reinterpreted through this Vietnamese Modernist architecture.” Thanks to their expertise, Hoanh and Archie are able to articulate the acute contrast between form and function of the Maison Centrale and the General Sciences Library. Archie says the library has a “nice civic


feel” to it, where the prison before it wasn’t designed to be inviting. He stresses the importance of civic buildings in offering an “uplifting gift to the community” and something that promotes “a collective worth to its citizens.” “This has its place in the culture,” he says. “It’s a repository of knowledge. You’re in a place that holds the promise of humanity.” And what he says makes sense. It’s not until Archie points it out that you realise the phases you go through upon leaving the chaos of the street to arriving inside the library foyer where you’re greeted by a beautiful terrazzo-style staircase winding its way up to the second floor. This arrival is enough to help anyone for more than a fleeting moment forget their worries in the world. It’s hard not to stop and just gaze at it for a while. Archie stresses that this feeling the building engenders isn’t merely by chance, but that it’s all part of a well-thought out plan by the designers. Once visitors pass through the front gate, they’re directed along a short path leading towards the steps

of the front entrance which actually form part of a bridge over a narrow water feature filled with koi and water lilies running the length of the front of the building. It acts as a metaphor for the path to enlightenment. “In the foyer, you’ve ended up in a very special place,” says Archie. “You’ve transitioned into another realm. There’s a sense of steps of arrival that helps you separate from being on the street and then suddenly you’re in a special place.” Bac Nguyen, who was director of the library from 2000 to 2007, agrees that the library has played its role. “It’s been a focal point for the community who have craved education and it’s still a place where people can come not only for information, but for the experience as well,” she says. Bac says that while she worked at the library, she was never distracted by the knowledge that the site had once been the place of hundreds, possibly thousands, of executions. Rather, she had been more concerned by the encroachment of small

businesses on nearby Nguyen Trung Truc Street that she says have a deleterious effect on the aesthetics of the site. “They aren’t part of the original area of the library,” she says. “Where those businesses now stand used to be a beautifully landscaped garden.” Nevertheless, it hasn’t prevented young Vietnamese like Dat, Hieu and Yen from coming to the library up to five times a week to study and enjoy the quiet. “The design is very beautiful, it’s spacious and has a fresh atmosphere,” says Yen, a 23-year-old accountancy student from Thu Duc. While Yen and her friends had known little of the site’s notorious past, and that a national treasure had his life ended here, their optimism for the future is infectious as they outline their hopes and dreams in the presence of a bust of Ly Tu Trong looking on; a man whose own hopes and dreams hadn’t been too dissimilar almost a century ago. “We hope for peace and good health and that our leaders continue to listen to us,” says Yen. “And I hope this building remains.” | October 2016 Word | 73

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Quietly sat next to Taka Plaza, the Hindu temple has played witness to the vast changes experienced by Saigon. Words by Vu Ha Kim Vy. Photos by Bao Zoan

ndian people were an early foreign group to come to Saigon, when merchants from the subcontinent began expanding their business to this city. In order to create a strong community and the opportunity to practice their religion, at the end of the 19th century they built Hindu temples. In the beginning, there were four temples, including Mariamman (45 Truong Dinh, Q1), Sri Thenday Yutthapani (66 Ton That Thiep, Q1), Subramanian Swamy (98 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1) and Ganesha (139 Thuan Kieu, Q11) — this last one no longer exists. Although these temples were all built in 1885, Subramanian Swamy is regarded

as the first Hindu house of worship in this town. Like so many other buildings in this city, Subramanian Swamy and the two other remaining temples have been through the ups and downs of a changing Vietnam. According to professor Nguyen Phan Quang — author of Gop Them Tu Lieu Saigon – Gia Dinh (Information Adding of Saigon – Gia Dinh), Indian immigrants first came to Saigon in the 1870s. Many came from French-speaking Mahé, Pondicherry and Karical, and worked as staff in French commercial departments. Some Vietnamese, especially from the Mekong Delta, call | October 2016 Word | 75

Indian people cha or cha va. The Indian community at that time was also made up of a combination of people from Bombay, Delhi and Benares. They were called cha Bombay and from Tamil areas, cha Chetty. A list of names of Indian merchants and their business in La Communauté Indienne en Indochine in 1949 by G. Vidy, showed that most Indian people were moneylenders and bankers living on Rue Ohier (Ton That Thiep, Q1). Fabric and silk businesses were mainly situated on Rue Vannier (Ngo Duc Ke, Q1). They were described as veteran and wealthy traders and had their own streets. They lived separately from the Vietnamese community and wore traditional costume. Together with economic growth and religious requirements, they constructed their own houses of worship for the community. These temples were first built on a small scale and only for Hindus. Apart from functioning as places for Hindu followers and purajis (priests), they also functioned as banks and community centres. The lively religious and cultural activities took place regularly. At that time, Vietnamese weren’t allowed to be at these temples or join any religious rituals including the God procession and the kavadi festival. With the departure of the French, so most of the Indian immigrants followed. Subramanian Swamy and the other Hindu temples fell into neglect. “Rats were everywhere when I moved in,” says Yen, the current caretaker of Subramanian Swamy. “[We] had to spend days cleaning it up.” That was in 1971, and Yen had just moved to the temple with her husband, Ramasamy, who was born to an English-Indian father and a Vietnamese mother from Phan Thiet. Ramasamy couldn’t speak either English or Hindi and never got a chance to see his fatherland. He died just over 10 years ago. Thanks to the clean-up, they got their first visitors. “[Ramasamy] didn’t have a job and I had to make a living in Cholon. But we finally got some money from donations,” she says. “There was a puraji living here before,” she adds. “But he left after 1975. The temple was then handed over to the government.” According to Cuc, who has been selling drinks in front of the temple for more than 30 years, Subramanian Swamy soon became a night-time meeting point for the less wholesome elements of society. Then it became a warehouse for peppers and cashew nuts, and then a jewellery market. Eventually after the intervention of the Consulate General of India it was restored to its original function as a temple. Since she first moved in, the temple hasn’t changed much, says Yen. Everything including the various statues and Hindu artefacts are still where they were when she first arrived. “We repainted the temple a few times and repaired the room where the puraji stayed

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before,” she says. “The tiled floor you are looking at right now was built more than 10 years ago with the help from a group of Hindus from Singapore.” Compared to Mariamman temple on Truong Dinh, Subramanian Swamy has more Indian than Vietnamese visitors. Apart from other

important festivals, such as Thaipusam, Ganesha’s birthday, Murugan’s birthday and Diwali, other special occasions including weddings or births are also held here. “Indian people come here a lot,” Cuc says. “There was a celebration yesterday. But if you’re curious about their religious rituals, come here every Tuesday morning. It’s peace prayers!”

Yen admits that she doesn’t know any Hindu rituals, the stories of the gods and the language. “Normally, they will have their own puraji,” she says. “They just need to let me know about the celebration in advance.” “Whether you come here out of curiosity or just to take photos, whether you are Hindu or not, all are welcome.” | October 2016 Word | 77

Once a symbol of French intentions towards Vietnam, during the war Hanoi’s principal temple of Catholic worship became a safe haven for those escaping American bombing. Words by Bennett Murray. Photos by Theo Lowenstein

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est of Hoan Kiem Lake lies a curious spiritual legacy from Hanoi’s colonial history. Resembling a smaller, more austere version of Paris’ legendary Notre Dame, the St Joseph Cathedral is the heart of Vietnam’s 5.5 million-strong Catholic community. The old cathedral, with its faded neoGothic facade, stands out noticeably in the Old Quarter for its imposing stature and Western design. Surrounded by bustling shophouses and hotels, it’s a relic of a bygone era when the predominately Catholic French colonialists conquered the city. The consensus among the cathedral’s neighbours today, who are mostly Buddhist, is that their slice of the Old Quarter has always provided a peaceful respite in the midst of Hanoi’s hectic evolution. Le Thi My, an 82-year-old woman who serves chicken soup from the first floor of a house directly opposite the cathedral’s front entrance, says she wants to spend the rest of her life in St Joseph’s shadow. “I’ve been here for three generations, for 65 years,” she says, adding that despite accumulating real estate investments around

the city thanks to her profitable soup trade, she has no desire to leave her shop in the Old Quarter. “Here is the best.” Catholicism in Vietnam stretches back to when the first Portuguese missionaries arrived in the 16th century. The faith began to take off in earnest during the stay of the French Jesuit Alexander de Rhodes, who converted thousands in the 1620s. During his time with the Trinh and Nguyen lords, De Rhodes transliterated Vietnamese into the Latin alphabet. While the Portuguese missionaries had previously attempted to Romanise Vietnamese, De Rhodes’ system forms the basis of the quoc ngu script used today. After centuries of confusion among the royal courts as to whether Catholicism was benign or threatening (an uncertainty that cost thousands of lives), the predominately Catholic French put the matter to rest when they conquered Vietnam in the 19th Century. A year after France formally took over northern Vietnam from China with the 1885 Treaty of Tientsin, a place of worship was

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built in Hanoi to accommodate the religion of the conquerors. In an act that would prove symbolic of France’s intentions for Vietnam, St Joseph’s Cathedral was built on the site of an 11thcentury Buddhist pagoda from the Ly Dynasty. Catholicism would grow throughout the colonial period, with the first Vietnamese bishop consecrated in Rome in 1933. But when the French exited in 1954 and The Socialist Republic of Vietnam found itself under Ho Chi Minh’s leadership, the church entered a period of uncertainty. Christians and Communists were not on friendly terms in those early years of independence, leading to tension. Although the church was never outlawed outright, one million Catholics fled south. Complicating matters was South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem’s outspoken Catholic identity and tendency to appoint Vietnamese Catholics to high positions. With most of the Catholics gone from the St Joseph neighbourhood, the area around the church was soon reoccupied by a new wave of residents as the government nationalised all houses larger than one room throughout Hanoi. Bui Van Thuong, an 81-year-old retired textile factory worker, moved into a small

apartment next to the cathedral in 1954. “The rich people left, and I came here and took the house,” he says, referring to the widespread flight of the colonial-era elite from northern Vietnam after the Viet Minh victory. Thuong went on to raise four daughters and one son in his 15 square-metre apartment. While the new neighbours weren’t interested in the Catholic faith, they found that the prominent cathedral, which was clearly visible to US pilots dropping bombs on the city, provided protection during the war. At a time when other parts of the city were ravaged, long-term residents say that American hangups over attacking churches kept the neighbourhood free from bombings. “I was safe here because of the church,” says Thuong. Tran Van Phong, a 62-year old retired watch factory worker who has lived on the block north of St Joseph’s for 50 years, says the area functioned as an ad hoc safe zone throughout almost a decade of bombings. “This place was very safe compared to other places, because it’s near the church,” says Phong, who lives in a 16 square-metre flat with his wife. Once the war ended in 1975, a new calm came over the cathedral in the years prior to the intensive urban migration sparked by doi moi.

Reforms also sparked a resurgence in Catholicism, with the church and government having found accord in recent decades. Former Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung even visited the Vatican in 2007 for a meeting with Pope Benedict. Vietnam is now around seven per cent Catholic, making the religion the second largest in the country. Yet the church neighbourhood remains largely Buddhist, with the same families occupying the same shophouses today that they did in the 1950s. Hanoi, says Phong, is far too busy for his tastes these days. “I preferred it back in the past. I know that society has changed, but there are too many people and it’s very busy,” says Phong, adding that he doesn’t want to leave the relative tranquillity of the church neighbourhood. Phong has the option of leaving his small apartment on top of a bun cha eatery — his children, who have all moved away, have stable jobs and can buy him a new home. He has decided, however, to make peace with the changing times in the house where he has spent his entire adult life. “My children have a lot of money, but I don’t want to change,” he says. Thuong agrees, stating that he has owned his flat too long for him to leave it. “I view this place as for my family, I don’t want to leave for another place.” | October 2016 Word | 81

Arriving in Hanoi at the age of 19, photographer Christophe Barthe found a city to grow up in. Through his photos he recounts his history with the capital of Vietnam

visited Vietnam with my family back in 2002, but we didn’t travel up north, so when I arrived in Hanoi in my late teens, I didn’t know what to expect. Something new? My entrance was via an overnight bus ride, a bumpy, rumbling sleeper bus from Hue. When I woke up, there it finally was. Hanoi. I grumpily opened my eyes; we were stuck in the early morning rush hour, stuck on some kind of butcher street. I remembered from my previous visit to Vietnam that certain streets were named for the trades that were collected there, a remnant of the French or maybe the guilds from the past? This must be some kind of butcher street then. Are those dogs? Whoa! This must be dogbutcher street. I never found that street again. Not that I tried very hard. Hanoi was full of places and things that I looked for and found, things and places that I found but wasn’t looking for, one-time and

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one-time-only discoveries, never to be found again. The same thing happening over and over. Food. Coffee. Coffee everywhere. I learnt how to drink in Hanoi, and not just coffee. That went well, but I can never view or drink a shot of vodka the same. I fell in love with Hanoi, then fell out of love with Hanoi, and then fell right back in again. Several times, I’m sure you know the feeling. I even fell into Hoan Kiem Lake. Twice. I sang, I played, I built, I destroyed, I danced and jumped and ran and rode. I grew into myself there, from arriving at the age of 19, until the day I left, bawling, six years, eight months and two days later. I became me. With this chaotic ever-changing city as a backdrop, I felt like it was my cocoon. I got comfortable, made the closest of friends then let them go, into the world beyond. Now I’m out of that cocoon and I’ve left it behind, but there’s always a string there, tugging at my heart, wanting to pull me out of the chaos of this outside world back into the chaos of itself.


LEFT PAGE: I got used to sitting on the ubiquitous plastic stool while drinking litres and litres of tra da and bia hoi, trying to beat the heat

RIGHT PAGE TOP: The background noise of the city would not be complete without the sound of all the birds trapped in cages

RIGHT PAGE BOTTOM: Fresh-faced, somewhere in the mountains, almost seven years ago, no idea what was waiting for me in the north | October 2016 Word | 83

LEFT PAGE TOP: One of my first discoveries, and one of my most frequented places, this green island in the middle of the Red River

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LEFT PAGE BOTTOM: Cycling aimlessly through Hanoi, we found a park with a lake which had a bridge over it. We spent hours on that bridge, sitting and watching. I’ve never been back

RIGHT PAGE: A relaxing moment watching people go by, from the 2nd floor of a cafe which doesn’t exist anymore

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LEFT PAGE: I can’t count how many times I’ve eaten here. I can taste the com rang dua bo every time I look at this image

RIGHT PAGE TOP: Slow lazy walks in the wintertime afforded views of this city and details that get lost if you’re on a motorbike

RIGHT PAGE BOTTOM: So many places to go, so many shortcuts and so many ways. Could end up anywhere I wanted with some money in my pocket | October 2016 Word | 87




A Short History of Tay Ho From a small village populated with adobe houses to one of the wealthiest areas in Hanoi, all in 25 years. Jesse Meadows tracks the rise of Tay Ho

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r. Thu always knocks. Even though this is his house, and even though he has a key, he never barges in. He greets us with a cheerful “Xin chao!”, before tottering into the kitchen to fix the stove, or change a light bulb. Sometimes he fixes things we didn’t even know were broken. But he always knows what’s wrong, because this is the house where he grew up.  He’s been renting his family home on Lane 31 to foreigners since 2004. His mother lives next door. She divided the house between him and his brother, who lives on the other side; the neighbourhood butcher,

we hear him chopping meat in the mornings, amid the chatter of the vegetable market that fills the alley every day. Just a block away is Quang An, part of the road that now encircles West Lake. Finished in 2010, it’s now a waterfront strip of Western eateries like Don’s and The Republic, but Mr. Thu remembers the gardens that used to stretch out behind the houses lucky enough to sit on the lake. He remembers the farmers who grew flowers, the fishermen, called danh xiec, a slang term that likened them to circus performers, and the craftsmen who made silk to sell at the market.  “The locals lived in mud cottages, but had

“16 years ago, there were no apartments at all. Xuan Dieu was a one-lane street, and the only road to the airport went through a rural village” | October 2016 Word | 89

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“‘The locals lived in mud cottages, but had a big yard to plant trees or vegetables. After 1988 or 1989, foreigners started moving to this area, and housing prices went up. The rich bought lots of land here’” a big yard to plant trees or vegetables,” he recalls. “After 1988 or 1989, foreigners started moving to this area, and housing prices went up. The rich bought lots of land here.” I am one of many foreigners that have lived in Mr. Thu’s house. Before me, there was a German architect, a Thai technician, and many English teachers. He tells me all of this as I pay rent in our living room on a Monday night, his daughter, Huyen, translating for us. His family used to be one of the poorest in the neighbourhood, he says, but now they are doing well. 

Migration Not all of Tay Ho’s original residents have been as fortunate. Many gave up their homes and moved away. Mr. Thu estimates that about 40 percent of the people who live

here are locals; the rest have moved in from other parts of the city — and the world — over the past decade. “We wanted to get out where there was some fresh air,” says Pia Husted, a Swedish business owner who runs the children’s clothing line Copenhagen Delights with her husband, Soren, at 55 Xuan Dieu.  Just out the window, cranes are building a high-rise full of serviced apartments on the corner of Tay Ho Street. But when the couple first arrived 16 years ago, there were no apartments at all. Xuan Dieu was a one-lane street, and the only road to the airport went through a rural village.  “We were driving from the bridge towards Tay Ho and it was gardens, no houses, no streetlights, totally dark,” Pia remembers.  “There was not even a restaurant here, not even a minimarket,” says Soren. “When we

had to go shopping, we went to L’s place in Daewoo. The only place we sometimes went out to was the Dragon Hotel, otherwise there were no restaurants until 2003.” That’s when Don Berger left his job as executive chef at the Press Club to open Vine on Xuan Dieu. “I found a little place for US$700 [VND15.4 million] a month to rent, set up a kitchen, set up a dining room, and it took off. Westerners who lived out here, they had nothing. I was the only one,” he says.  “Vine was a sensation. It was the restaurant. You could go down and get a glass of wine, there was a bar, and they served decent food,” Pia remembers. 

A Seismic Shift In 2009, Don left Vine to open a restaurant of his own name on Quang An. “When I moved here, it was before the road [around | October 2016 Word | 91

“Many of Tay Ho’s original residents have been quick to adapt to these fortuitous shifts in the market. Mr. Thu rents his own small place around the corner from his house, so he can cash in on the opportunities that foreigners… have brought to the neighbourhood” the lake] was finished. They worked on it for five years, and they had to fight with each and every one of the landlords. They didn’t want to give up the space, but as soon as they did, their property value went up by three times.” Since then, prices have skyrocketed again. “I can only swear when I think about how expensive it is now, because I really wanted to buy one, but there’s no way I can afford it. This house is now worth US$4 million,” he laments of the lakefront building that houses his restaurant, Don’s. He points across the lake to a tall white building on the other side. “That’s about a US$20 million house. Prices have gone crazy.” “I still remember, we had some friends who stayed on Lane 31, where you have Don’s now. They had the most beautiful garden. Whenever people had some rubbish, they threw it in the lake and extended the land further. Everything went in, so the gardens would get bigger,” says Pia. “And then when the road came, the whole garden was just chopped off.”  “It was just the gardens that were taken around here, but on the other side, near the Intercontinental, they had to take down the houses,” Soren recalls.  It’s hard to say what happened to those that were displaced, but many of Tay Ho’s original residents have been quick to adapt to these fortuitous shifts in the market. Mr. Thu rents his own small place around the corner from his house, so he can cash in on the opportunities that foreigners like us have brought to the neighbourhood. His family home must be worth millions now, so I ask him why he hasn’t sold it off. “This is my dad’s house. I don’t want to sell this land. My childhood is here,” he says. 

Everyone’s a Winner On a Wednesday afternoon, I hear the gate creak open. It’s Mr. Thu and his three-yearold granddaughter, who he’s nicknamed Sushi. They wave hello in the courtyard, and he gives her the hose and shows her how to water the plants. My housemate pulls up in her smart teaching clothes on the Honda Dream that she rents from Mr. Thu, and he gives her a thumbs-up to ask how it’s running. She smiles and nods that yes, it’s good, and scoops Sushi up in a bear hug.  They turn to go, and Mr. Thu points up at the lights in our living room. “Tomorrow,” he says. “The electricity is due.” “Cam on, anh!” we smile, and lock the gate behind them.

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Le Cong Kieu Specialising in all things past, the future of Saigon’s self-styled Antiques Street looks bleak. Words by Matt Cowan. Photos by Bao Zoan


t was back in 1990 when 26-year-old Bai took over the family-owned business after his elder brother moved to the US to start a new life. At the time, his Le Cong Kieu antiques store was showing promise of being lucrative. A collector himself, at one stage Bai had amassed enough rare old Vietnamese currency in dong and piastres that when counted, he recalls it was valued somewhere between US$15,000 and US$20,000. A lot of money for most young men at any time. In what is a common story in Vietnam, where family responsibility is regarded as all-important, Bai sold his collection to take care of his family. He points out his daughter who is sitting at the back of the shop, and speaks fondly of her and how she helps him out from time to time when she’s not at school. “As well as helping me out sometimes, she’s already running her own online shoe shop,” he says. “But I don’t know if she wants to continue the family business.”

In the Name of Progress Now 52, Bai spends much of his day sitting behind the front counter of his shop in a small chair, checking his Facebook feed and

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keeping an eye on the trickle of customers wandering through to look at his wares. “Over the last three years we’ve had few customers,” he says. “My customers are mostly dealers looking for real antiques. The tourists only look for cheap things.” And while he thinks he will never retire and hopes to sit in the same plastic red chair for the rest of his life and do exactly the same thing he’s been doing for the past 26 years, Bai admits that the life he hopes for could come to an end at any time if, or more likely when, Le Cong Kieu is redeveloped. “I’ve heard rumours that the area may be redeveloped once the block across the street is finished,” he says, in reference to the development behind Ben Thanh Bus Station. Yet, Bai remains unconcerned because he’s been living for a long time with the spectre of forced relocation from the shop his family has owned since 1985. “I’m not worried about it. We’ll just relocate if that happens,” he says. Still, it’s hard to tell if Bai is being fully truthful or not. After all, this is a man who deals in histories, but appears apathetic towards his own and is seemingly comfortable with the thought that his life’s work could be levelled in an instant. Having

said that, most of what’s dear to his heart is kept safely away at his home at another location.

Emotional Investment Bai goes on to say he doesn’t know the history behind the many things he has filling his shop, nor does he see the need to charm potential customers with a back story behind each piece. As the interview continues, it becomes increasingly clearer that the traders in this street don’t concern themselves with gaining the emotional investment of would-be buyers, where an item that comes with a story helps push up its potential value. Rather, if a customer is prepared to pay whatever both parties are happy with, then that’s enough. “I don’t have a strategy for sales and I don’t push my customers to buy,” he says. Bai also says he doesn’t use the internet to keep abreast of the antiques industry and fluctuating prices, which is somewhat surprising, given the disruption technology continues to make in the retail sector globally. He says he relies on his face-toface networks built up over the years and that his biggest markets are in Singapore

and Hong Kong. Although one regular customer he is at pains to discuss is from the US, who has come into his shop every six months over the past seven years to buy old photographs. “Over the years he’s bought between 200 and 300kgs of photographs, but I don’t know why. He says he just collects them,” says Bai. Currently, Bai sells the photographs for US$1 (VND22,000) each. Indeed, some of Bai's more interesting curiosities are the black-and-white photographs, mostly from the 1950s to the 1970s, of families holidaying at the beach in Vung Tau, couples on their wedding day, dapper young men touring France, businessmen lunching at restaurants, and lovers’ studio portraits with written declarations of love and friendship on the back in ballpoint pen.

“The biggest threat to the future of Antiques Street is the difficulty traders are having in convincing their children to continue the family business”

The Real Deal? One thing that Antiques Street lacks is provenance — the magic word that tells you that what you're buying is the real thing. Here, you can’t be sure that what you’re holding onto really is an authentic piece of Ming Dynasty ceramic salvaged from a shipwreck off the coast of Vung | October 2016 Word | 97

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“Rumours abound along the street that much of what’s on sale is fake or at least ‘recycled’; a term that’s sometimes used to describe a piece that’s been renovated, deliberately aged, or touched up” Tau. Rumours abound along the street that much of what’s on sale is fake or at least “recycled”; a term that’s sometimes used to describe a piece that’s been renovated, deliberately aged, or touched up. “Some shops sell fakes,” says Dinh, a 62-year-old trader who was born on Le Cong Kieu and has owned his shop since 1985. “I have authentic and recycled items from shipwrecks off the Vietnamese coast.” Dinh says that most of his customers are foreign, too, mostly Chinese dealers buying up increasingly rare Ming Dynasty antiques and selling them back to wealthy mainland Chinese for a good profit. “I believe they are buying them mostly because they can make good money on them back in China,” he says. “They are also buying back some of what they see as their

history and this costs money.” But don’t expect to find these rarities in shops along Le Cong Kieu. It’s apparent that as soon as anything of historic value is unearthed from a dig or raised to the surface from the ocean floor, the network of buyers and sellers lights up as the finder, often a fisherman, places a call to their contacts and, as they say, the rest is history.

Retaining History Much of Vietnam’s history has never been made accessible to the general public, as antiques often don’t find their way into museums for display, being sold on the black market to foreign dealers before the authorities find out. However, probably the biggest threat to the future of Antiques Street is the difficulty

traders are having in convincing their children to continue the family business. Bai can’t be sure what future his daughter wishes to choose, while Dinh already knows that the future of his shop doesn’t look good. “I have three sons who don’t want to take over from me,” he laments. “One of my sons lives in Australia and says he’ll sell the shop once I die.” Dinh’s biggest hope for his shop is that his two remaining unmarried sons will marry someone who’s interested in taking over the business. That’s if, indeed, Le Cong Kieu survives and isn’t relegated to the annals of history itself. Le Cong Kieu (Antiques Street) is located behind Ham Nghi just a short walk from Ben Thanh Market in District 1, HCMC | October 2016 Word | 99

Food and Drink EAT & DRINK


Hanoi BBQ Olympics Who needs the Olympics in Rio when we’ve got our very own version in Hanoi? Words by Edward Dalton. Photos by Julie Vola

The Rules Judges were given scorecards which would rate the food in six specific areas; presentation, quality of meat, taste, sides/extras, BBQ experience and overall satisfaction. Each restaurant was asked to provide a sample of the food they think best represents the BBQ cuisine of their country. Individual judges’ scores were collated to create a final score for each restaurant.

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The Judges O ANH D ANG


f there’s one style of food that’s enjoyed in virtually every part of the world, it’s BBQ. Grilled over coals, smoked over wood, charred in a tandoor oven or roasted over flames; the term BBQ has come to represent different things to different people. The marinades, the smoky atmosphere or just the pure, unadulterated flavour of

meat has the power to bring people together, united by a shared love of communal eating and piles of no-thrills grub. With a crack team of hungry judges assembled, six BBQ restaurants representing six countries of the world were about to face their toughest challenge to date. The Olympics may be over, but there are still medals to be won right here in Hanoi.

Owner and manager of Healthwich, with a background in F&B sales in a five-star hotel. Owns a few other restaurants around Hanoi with her husband, including Hong Kong Town, a hotpot restaurant in the trendy Aeon Mall.

C HARLES J EAMMOT Head chef and co-owner at Hanoi Taco Bar. Comes fully loaded with special wine expertise, front-of-house management experience and a background as a gastronomic chef in fine dining restaurants in the USA and EU.


Founder and corporate chef at Gia Dinh BB, with more than half a dozen restaurants around Hanoi, including Cha Ca Pho Co and HomeCook Gia Dinh BB. A former top seven MasterChef Vietnam contestant, Thuy’s passion for cooking is matched only by her passion for taking selfies.


Word writer, (grilled) animal lover and serial restaurant critic. Rumoured to have been a pig in a former life, reincarnated as a fat human on account of good behaviour. | October 2016 Word | 101

Nan N Kabab Pakistan 49 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho


ith a Pakistani owner, several Pakistani chefs and an entirely halal menu, this is the place to go to experience the most authentic Pakistani BBQ dishes in Hanoi, if not in Vietnam. We were given mutton seekh kebabs, Namkeen chicken boti, chicken shawarma rice and a chicken karhai.

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What the Judges Said Minh Thuy Nguyen (MT): “The food really shows off the signature flavours of Pakistan. What is that bread? I love it!” Charles Jeammot (CJ): “It’s called nan, and you’re right, it’s really good. But some of the meat is a bit dry and overcooked for me.” Oanh Dang (OD): “It’s not what I expect when I think of BBQ, but the nan is really impressive. The lamb seekh kebab is tasty, but maybe a bit too salty for my taste.” Edward Dalton (ED): “Are you kidding? The lamb is amazing! Maybe I just use too much salt at home. What do you think of the shawarma?” OD: “It’s nothing special, apart from the imported Pakistani rice being different from the local stuff. The grains are quite big, with a good texture, light and fluffy.”

The Verdict Limping over the line in sixth place but with head held high, is Nan N Kabab with a score of 131. The judges were disappointed by some overcooked meat, although everyone was blown away by the nan. The imported lamb stood out with the most flavour. Value could be better, with lamb dishes being the priciest; the mutton seekh kebab was VND190,000.

Seoul Garden Korea 33 Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem


ndoor BBQ is big business in Korea, and Hanoi has a range of options for sampling the best of grilled Korean meats. Waving the taegukgi proudly at the Hanoi BBQ Olympics is Seoul Garden, who provided us with pork ribs, spiced chicken and piles of pork belly with a variety of marinades.

What the Judges Said ED: “Beef bacon! With black pepper sauce, kimchi sauce or cha siu sauce? I’m in heaven. The kimchi is too sour, though.” OD: “Did anyone else notice all the meat is left out at the buffet? The pork looks a bit… grey.” MT: “Yes, I saw. It doesn’t look fresh at all. They should keep it refrigerated and serve specific orders of fresh meat.” CJ: “At least the meats are well marinated. There’s a distinct Korean taste. The buffet option makes this really good value, too.” MT: “I don’t know why they gave us so many sauces, some of these are just for sushi and seafood. And the salad is too sweet.”

The Verdict With a modest score of 135, Seoul Garden finished in fifth place. At VND269,000 for the all-you-can-eat buffet, the judges were all impressed by the value for money. However, the unappetising plates of meat left out at the buffet had a big impact on the quality and presentation scores. | October 2016 Word | 103

Chen Vietnam 15 Hang Cot, Hoan Kiem


espite offering a variety of cuisines, Chen is adored locally for its grilled Vietnamese dishes and hotpot options. Representing the home nation, the judges were presented with dishes of beef rolled with mushroom, sliced pork belly and sausage.

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What the Judges Said OD: “This is what BBQ should be! It’s grilled stuff, self-cooked at the table. The salad looks so fresh!” MT: “The presentation is so simple, and they should give us more information about the food.” OD: “Yeah, I feel there’s no obvious style here. It’s so mixed between different types of Asian. But the location is great, and it’s so spacious!” CJ: “The set-up is really good here. I like the marinades, and the meat seems pretty good quality.” ED: “It’s nothing special, but it gets the job done. The beef and mushroom rolls are delicious, though.” CJ: “And I like the sausage!”

The Verdict Chen just missed out on a podium place, coming in fourth with a score of 158. It scored most highly on BBQ experience and meat quality, with the judges all enjoying the simply marinated meats, which we were entrusted to grill ourselves at the table. Everyone agreed it was reasonable value, with most meat dishes costing around VND120,000 each.

India Palace India 10B Quang An, Tay Ho


earing jackets of orange, white and green are the chefs at India Palace, who are marching proudly behind a giant inflatable tandoor oven. Well, not really, but they did serve up chicken tikka, chicken reshmi kebab, mutton boti kebab, chicken seekh kebab and a couple of fried sides.

What the Judges Said CJ: “The chicken reshmi kebab and chicken tikka are really good. The kebab is still moist, and well-seasoned.” OD: “The lamb is the best, even the smell is good — really smoky. I love the cups, they look so traditional!” ED: “I want that chicken tikka for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Forever.” MT: “The meat is really delicious, and smells great. Seems very authentic Indian, everything looks really tempting.” CJ: “Nice sauces, they match the meat well. But isn’t it cheating using a tandoor oven?” ED: “Maybe a bit, but the tandoor oven still uses a charcoal or wood fire. Broiling (USA) or barbequing (UK) are similar; with direct, high-heat cooking.”

The Verdict Claiming the bronze medal, India Palace took third with a score of 170. Scoring highly on everything except extras, as the judges were underwhelmed by the samosas and nan. Lost marks on BBQ experience due to debate over whether it truly counts as BBQ, but the good value makes up for it; only VND139,000 for a mutton boti kebab. | October 2016 Word | 105

SumoBBQ Japan 67 To Hien Thanh, Hai Ba Trung


s the Japanese entrant in our inaugural Hanoi BBQ Olympics, there’s a lot at ‘steak’ for SumoBBQ. We were offered a sample of the eat-as-much-as-you-want option, which included bacon, beef ribs, pork shoulder, okonomiyaki and salad.

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What the Judges Said CJ: “The Sumo sauce is really nice, perfect for the tender meat. Such good variety, too.” MT: “Really delicious, typical Japanese style. Everything is flavoursome, and the sauce is perfect.” OD: “Really impressed with everything, and the Tokusen set is amazing value. This is pretty similar to the Vietnamese BBQ style, though.” ED: “The choice of extras in the Tokusen set is amazing, I can get okonomiyaki with my ribs! Nothing to complain about here at all.” MT: “This is the closest to perfect so far. There’s so many great flavours here.”

The Verdict With a mighty score of 204, SumoBBQ wins silver with a second place finish. The Tokusen buffet offers superb value at VND299,999 per person, offering vast options for side dishes. The judges were impressed by the quality, presentation and taste of the meat.

Moose and Roo Smokehouse USA 21 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem


roudly flying the American flag, the Canadian owner welcomed us with a platter of everything from the smoker; ribs, pulled pork, sausage, chicken and beef brisket. With five side dishes included, standing up might be the biggest challenge after this visit.

What the Judges Said ED: “Ribs, glorious ribs. The smoky smell coming from that platter is making me delirious.” CJ: “This is the closest to what a BBQ should be for me. Great ambience, good choice of smoked meat and tasty sides.” MT: “The BBQ meat is very good, rich with typical Western flavours. Simple, but effective presentation. I wish there were more sauces, though.” OD: “Smoky, tender, fresh and huge! Feels more relaxed than any indoor BBQ setting, and the value is good for the quality of the food.” CJ: “Good music too… and you’re right about the value. More expensive than the other places, but the quality is there. You get what you pay for.”

The Verdict Coming first with a score of 217, the Smokehouse received several perfect scores in meat quality, taste and BBQ experience. All judges were blown away by the value of the Al DeMatteis Platter, which at VND1,450,000 includes five side dishes and could feed six people comfortably. The Hanoi BBQ Olympics was a celebration of everything we love about BBQ; lots of meat, enjoyed with good company. Every participant is equal. It’s just that some are more equal than others. | October 2016 Word | 107

Food and Drink



Hakata Kouryu Unpretentious and down to earth, Hakata Kouryu provides a cheap alternative to sushi bars. But is it worth downscaling? Photos by Julie Vola


oing out for Japanese in Hanoi is synonymous with having an expensive night. No matter how much we love our sushi rolls or udon noodles, it’s hard to find a spot that doesn’t dip into the uppermiddle price range. Japanese food is expensive. But as Hanoi’s Japanese restaurant scene grows increasingly saturated, budget options have emerged that allow for cheap, albeit simple Japanese meals. Hakata Kouryu on Giang Vo demonstrates that not all Japanese nights need to be pricey or fancy. While you won’t find elegantly arranged sashimi or premium sake, Hakata Kouryu provides no-frills noodles ramen and snacks.

Conversion Located out of the way of the main nightspots, this converted shophouse skips the pomp and gets directly to the point. You won’t find memorable décor in the dining room, but the booths provide for a quiet, intimate setting.

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We were seated upstairs and mostly had the restaurant to ourselves. The setting lacked any sort of real imagination — no frills, so to speak — but the pragmatist in me can accept a trade-off of atmosphere for inexpensive eats. Hakata’s focus is ramen, which comes in six varieties. No wheels are reinvented at Hakata Kouryu, but the broth works. We tried the Hakata pork broth (VND120,000) and the red ramen (VND140,000). Both were what I would expect of a standard Japanese soup. They lacked the sort of zest that would make them stand out from the crowd, but were pleasant to the taste buds. The pork broth had a distinctive swine-like taste. In addition to the superb meaty texture of a proper slice of pork, I could taste a whiff of a live pig’s light fur coat.

Try The sides were appetizing, served almost in a tapas style. The Hakata fried chicken (VND50,000) went down well along with the

dumplings (VND40,000). With a bit of white rice, the hors d’oeuvres themselves would have made for an acceptable meal. I tried washing the snacks down with the sake (VND40,000). It was served as a highball mixed with water and ice. Many sake drinkers like their tipple served with ice — in a hot summer it’s the perfect cool down from the humid heat. Others just like it chilled. But used to the version which is served neat and warm, for me it was undrinkable, despite my many efforts to allow the drink to grow on me. I switched to Hanoi beer (VND40,000). The food at Hakata Kouryu is worth the low price tag, though better deals on beer and options on how you would like your sake served would go a long way to attract a crowd. It’s got a pub-like feel, with cheap eats to accompany Vietnamese brew, and friendly waitstaff that don’t make you feel ignored. Hakata Kouryu is at 25 Lang Ha, Ba Dinh, Hanoi







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

Food and Drink

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Mien Luon Glass noodles with eel. Sound appetizing? As Huyen Tran explains, it definitely is. Photos by Julie Vola


ising early, Hanoians prefer a decent breakfast, which is followed by a cup of rocket-fuel coffee or bitter tea to buzz a new day. Among the favourite eats for the morning, pho, of course, is a breakfast staple. Other popular choices are various bun and mien dishes like crab noodle soup, snail or fish noodle soup, or eel noodle soup. Nourishing enough for a long working day ahead yet light enough for the stomach, eel noodle soup or mien luon is favoured by many locals, especially seafood lovers.

Electric Eel-based dishes shouldn’t be overlooked and are easy to find in the capital city, either at classy, aircon restaurants or street-side eateries. According to local say-so, the best eels come from Nghe An — the province is also home to the most delicious eel-based dishes. The slithering creatures, luon, can be served in many different styles, from noodle soup, to stir-fried as a condiment, with congee or salad. While many local people, including me, are afraid to look at luon when they’re alive, there are dozens of good restaurants in town offering delicious options with eel. Located in a laid-back alley — Yen Ninh, next to Nguyen Truong To — Quan Luon (34 Yen

Ninh, Ba Dinh) is one of the best eateries. Other favourites include Dong Thinh (87 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem) or Tan Tan (14 Tue Tinh, Hai Ba Trung). I drop by Quan Luon on a breezy autumn morning, ordering myself a bowl of mien luon. In the quiet atmosphere of a clean and cosy restaurant, the bowl of heated noodle soup comes with a tasty piece of crunchy deep-fried luon, and on top of it are heaps of fried shallots and herbs called rau ram. You could fall in love with this simple bowl of noodle soup which is packed with a surprising number of flavours. Instead of using bun or rice vermicelli noodle, eel noodle soup comes with glass noodles (mien) which are made of cassava flour. The fresh rau ram is traditionally used to eliminate the fishy taste while the fried eel has a wonderfully crunchy texture and a mild taste. Some seafood lovers who don’t mind the fishy taste order their noodles with fresh eel instead of deep-fried eel, or a bowl of fresh eel soup.

Not a Fin in Sight The broth, to me, is the star of the show. It’s subtly sweet and light. “The broth is made of eel bones and ginger. Eel is a very special ingredient. The more you cook it, the more sweet and

flavoursome the broth is,” one of the family members owning Quan Luon, says. According to him, the eels are transported every day from Nghe An, 300km south of Hanoi, to the capital city. His whole family wakes up early to prepare the eel in the morning to serve diners during lunchtime, then spends the whole afternoon to prepare the ingredients for dinner. The eatery’s peak hours are around 11am and 7pm. “As the eel is the most important ingredient, we have to be careful when we prepare it,” he adds. “Dried eels must be fried at the right temperature and for the right amount of time to make sure that they remain crispy yet sweet even when dipped into the broth.” As most agree, Vietnamese cuisine is not limited to the ever-popular pho and banh mi. It’s always pleasant to try something a little slithery like mien luon; you will not regret it. I would recommend dropping by Quan Luon in the morning to enjoy the peaceful ambience of Yen Ninh Street and the quiet restaurant at its best, instead of sitting in the busy and bustling space during lunch or dinner. Quan Luon is at 34 Yen Ninh, Ba Dinh, Hanoi and is open from early morning till 9pm at night. For breakfast, the eatery only serves mien luon and eel soup. A bowl of mien luon is VND40,000. For lunch and dinner, Quan Luon offers a diverse menu of eel and frog-based dishes | October 2016 Word | 111

Food and Drink



Quan Bui Garden

One of Saigon’s best known Vietnamese restaurant chains, Quan Bui is garnering a reputation. But is it deserved? Our mystery diner finds out. Photos by Rodney Hughes


n Saigon, Quan Bui is a force on the restaurant scene with four locations, each offering the same consistent quality and style. In April, District 2 was lucky enough to get its first Quan Bui location off Thao Dien, opposite An Phu Superior Compound. As with many classic Saigon establishments, you can’t gauge the size of Quan Bui Garden from the entrance alone, but once you enter the garden you find yourself immersed in an oasis of tall, lush greenery. The décor of the Thao Dien location is trendy while maintaining a traditional Vietnamese motif throughout. The large garden even has a playground for younger foodies, making it an attractive spot for a family meal out. On our lunchtime visit, the place

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was packed with young Vietnamese professionals on their lunch breaks enjoying fragrant meals. The menu is a hearty 20 pages long and filled with every possible dish you could want to order from a Vietnamese restaurant; lists of rice, noodles, soups and BBQ.

Inspired We took our ordering inspiration from the Chef’s Recommendations and set menus to help keep the process simple and in order to sample the Quan Bui versions of Vietnamese classics. Our first selection of the day was the Southern Sun Set Brunch Menu (VND223,000) which comes with two mini banh xeo, a filling bowl of bun thit nuong and ca phe sua da. This combo alone was enough for one person.

The banh xeo were sized for individual consumption, but this smaller size meant they were denser than the usual sharing crepe you expect. Bun thit nuong, a classic combination of Vietnamese flavours, was well executed and large enough to satisfy the appetite all day. I commandeered the lightly sweetened (aka, just a hint a condensed milk) ca phe sua da, while my companion ordered the West Indian cherry juice, so ri ep (VND69,000). The cherry juice was tart and refreshing, a first for us both, and exceeded our expectations. We continued to sample the Chef’s Recommendations with the soft shell crab with tamarind sauce, or cua lot chien gion xot me (VND259,000) served up with fresh herbs and lettuce. The sweet tamarind sauce and crunch






of the soft shell crab made each mouthful a sensory delight. There was not a morsel left of this dish by the time we were finished.

Aromatic The tangy tiger prawn soup with jasmine flowers, canh chua tom va bong thien ly (VND149,000) another item from the Chef’s Recommendations, was a simple and interesting dish although the broth was too sweet for our palates. Still, this was remedied with the simple addition of some extra salt. The aroma of the broth was spectacular, and this is a dish worth sampling for some juicy shrimp, and for the special texture and flavour from the jasmine flower. When trying Vietnamese cuisine you need to see what the

establishment does in terms of side dishes and appetizers as well. So we also ordered the fried veggie spring rolls, cha gio chay (VND79,000), stir fried morning glory with garlic, rau muong xao toi (VND59,000), and steamed rice, com trang (VND20,000). Each of these dishes were done well and in keeping with the high quality of food at the restaurant, and the essence of traditional Vietnamese food. The spring rolls were crisp and tasty, while the morning glory offered up the healthy vegetable in an enticing way. The steamed rice was a necessary order with the soft shell crab. We ended the meal with the passion fruit mousse, banh kem sua chanh day (VND49,000), a delightful dessert served in a passion fruit husk and light enough to share at the end of a gigantic meal. The mousse was

creamy without being too sweet or rich, using the natural sugars and flavours of the passion fruit. Overall, the experience at Quan Bui Garden was exceptional; though the lunch service was busy, once we had ordered our food came at lightning speed, and we managed to eat enough for a small army in less than an hour for a total of VND907,000. Though you can find versions of these classic dishes at street vendors, what Quan Bui manages to offer is a venue where you can sample all of these dishes in one place, for a comfortable price with a consistent quality of service and food. Quan Bui Garden is located at 55 Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Ho Chi Minh City. To make a reservation, or for more information, call (08) 3898 9088

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

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Banh Xeo Acting on a rainy season craving, Vi Pham goes in search of her favourite banh xeo. Photos by Siân Kavanagh


he rainy season in Saigon urges me to crave something hot and not too soupy which can still be consumed with fresh veggies. Banh xeo is the perfect choice. As an iconic street food throughout Vietnam, banh xeo get its name from the sizzling sound of the batter when it hits the hot pan. It’s loved for its taste, simplicity, crunch and mix of ingredients. Chewing on every roll of smoking fried batter, pork and beansprouts wrapped in salad and herbs, I wonder what secrets lie behind a dish that is so fragile because of its soft texture but yet always impresses people when they try it for the first time.

Tour de Banh Xeo Originating in central Vietnam, banh xeo has travelled throughout the country and become localised. In the north, because of the changing seasons and the cold, people make the batter with only rice flour and turmeric powder. No egg and coconut milk are included as in other regions. They even add in some beer to preserve the crunchiness of the banh xeo when it gets cold. In northern and southern Vietnam, banh xeo is fried in big pans; banh xeo in central regions is much smaller, a shape that fits in your two hands. Despite the size, the

quality of the filling doesn’t change. The nuoc cham or dipping sauce used to eat with banh xeo also differs. Instead of using fish sauce, in Danang they prefer using soya sauce, pork liver and sesame. In the south, the banh xeo is huge. Literally. However, the most significant difference lies in the way it is fried. Thanks to the large pans, banh xeo in Saigon, Can Tho or Vinh Long is crunchy on the edge but soft and juicy on the inside, embracing every slice of river shrimp and pork. The most southern element in the recipe is the coconut. The cooks here not only use coconut milk to enhance the richness of the batter, but also add coconut water to the dipping sauce, giving it a natural sweetness.

And the Best Banh Xeo Goes To… As a child of Saigon who has absorbed the culture and cuisine since birth, of course I am going to vote for the southern recipe, especially the Saigon version. There is no feeling like tearing out the crunchy edge of the fried banh xeo with my hands and feeling it melt at every bite. Despite my bias, the originality of each version of this much loved dish means that every region could be said to serve up the best banh xeo. The way chefs around the

country make such creative use of local ingredients is the reason for the differences in taste. A significant part of Vietnamese’s culinary culture, whenever anyone lists Vietnam’s top dishes, banh xeo will always appear. It won’t hit the top three, but to me, any list without this dish just isn’t credible.

Get Your Fix If you ever have the chance to travel through Vietnam, to Hanoi, Hue and Saigon, don’t forget to roll yourself some banh xeo. Check out these places in Saigon if you’re not travelling any time soon: BANH XEO K35 K35 G Street, Q2 Price: VND20,000 to VND40,000 BANH XEO 46A 46A Dinh Cong Trang, Q1 Price: VND20,000 to VND55,000 BANH XEO CO ANH 17 Cay Tram, Go Vap Price: VND10,000 to VND30,000 | October 2016 Word | 115


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Ba Be Lake Almost 250km directly north of Hanoi is Ba Be National Park, home to three lakes, breathtaking scenery and the Tay ethnic minority. Words and photos by Julie Vola | October 2016 Word | 117


e arrive in sight of Ba Be in the early evening after a long and tiring day drive. The sun goes down fast and in minutes it is pitch dark. The road around the lake doesn’t have any public street lighting; 10km feels a lot further when driving on a narrow, dark and snaky road. Before leaving Hanoi I had checked the lodging options and Pac Ngoi seemed to have the most choice. I decided we could wing it once we arrived. I had not taken into consideration that our drive would be eventful and would stretch our time on the road. We arrive late at a modest guesthouse that accommodates us with an enjoyable dinner despite the hour. We can’t see anything of the lake. A thunderstorm is raging behind the mountains, at each lightning strike a bit of light comes our way. It’s a game of patience to be able to make out anything of our surrounding. Ba Be is still a mystery to us as we go to bed exhausted. Up early and feeling grumpy because of construction noise, I don’t feel like I am 250km away from Hanoi and deep in the countryside. Though once out of bed and with a strong Vietnamese coffee in hand, I can enjoy the view of the lake from the balcony, breathing deep the fresh air from the mountain. I am happy.

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“Ba Be National Park… protects the largest natural freshwater lake in Vietnam plus the surrounding limestone and evergreen forest. The reserve is a sanctuary for a wildlife population of 447 [species of] mammals, birds and fish” | October 2016 Word | 119

“As the sun heads down, the air is cooler, people are out in the fields planting rice, lighting fires to burn dry grass or collecting sand from the river; picture-perfect in the golden hours at the end of the day”

Conditioning My travel companion hardly slept in the small heated room, so over breakfast we look at our accommodation options in search for more comfort in the form of aircon, a luxury that will prove to be worth every dong. We settle on the recommended Mr. Linh’s Adventure Travel and Homestay, in Bo Lu village. More a guesthouse than a homestay, it offers a range of different rooms, from a dormitory with fans to large family rooms with aircon. They have a room available for us and for US$30 (VND660,000) a night, I get a comfortable bed with a thick cover which I am stoked about since I will have no choice but to sleep in an igloo for the next two nights. The first floor is an open-air dining room with an extension gazebo-like living room with a view over the lake, while bougainvillea are growing and flaunt their flowers over the second-floor deck; it’s charming and will do fine. Ba Be National Park in Bac Kan Province was created in 1992. It protects the largest natural freshwater lake in Vietnam plus the surrounding limestone and evergreen forest. The reserve is a sanctuary for a wildlife population of 447 mammals, birds and fish species not including the 354 different butterfly species. Obviously, lake activities are the first thing one might think of when one hears of Ba Be Lake. Since we arrive late, we check at the pier for a boat trip the next day. Negotiating with a boat captain directly offers a fairer price than an organized tour at our homestay. For VND600,000 we get a full-day boat ride for two with a visit to all the sights on the lake. We book the boat for early morning the next day.

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Appreciation For the rest of the day, we ride on our motorbike discovering the surroundings. The road that runs for a while along the lake is narrow and in the midst of vegetation which offers much appreciated shade. Past Pac Ngoi Village the road splits in two. To the left it keeps following the lake for a bit and to the right it goes towards a quiet pastoral valley. We follow the easy road all the way deep into the valley and make a stop to freshen up by a riverbank. The scenery is attractive but it is spoiled when I notice some dirty diapers floating on the edge of the river, I try to ignore it as much as possible but the mood is ruined. A bunch of kids follows us, intrigued by our presence; at first they are a bit shy but I have cookies and that does the trick. The cookies disappear in seconds. The sugar rush makes them bold and they hang out around us playing ball and whatnot around us. On the way back we turn right on a road that goes up the mountain. If we continue on it, we should be able to reach the main DT254 on its way out of the National Park, but the fatigue of past experiences on narrow dirt mountain roads makes us turn back. As the sun heads down, the air is cooler, people are out in the fields planting rice, lighting fires to burn dry grass or collecting sand from the river; pictureperfect in the golden hours at the end of the day. There is much more to Ba Be than its lake. There are no roads that go all the way around the lake, so apart from roadtripping in the valley and the surrounding areas, the way to reach untouched areas around the lake is to hike on the numerous trails. | October 2016 Word | 121

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Renegotiation On day two, we are up early for a day on the boat. The previous night we befriended a solo backpacker who decided to join us. I am ready to renegotiate our rate with the captain but he doesn’t seem to care and we split the VND600,000 three ways, a much better deal. We start the cruise crossing the lake to get to Song Nang River and go towards Puong Cave. If you have been to Halong Bay or Phong Nha Ke Bang this cave is nothing impressive and smells of bat poo; the ride to get there is the highlight. After five minutes we turn back on the river and move towards the other attraction of the day, Dau Dang waterfall. We disembark on the small pier and walk for 15 minutes. The waterfall is no more

than a succession of minor rapids, but very scenic nonetheless. On the way back a smart little lady is selling iced tea at the end of the hill, a welcome break in the sweaty heat of midday. Following the waterfall the captain brings us to the Fairy Pond and Widow Island, but you would be well advised to avoid these places, as they are obvious tourist traps. I am in complete awe of the landscape around me. I am dazzled by an outburst of green tropical vegetation everywhere, surrounding me, I photograph like I am seeing for the first time. In a wistful, kind of romantic way, there is a desire to be one with nature and at the same time always aware of its impossibility.

Getting There The best way to get to Ba Be is via Mr Linh’s Shuttle Bus from 83 Ma May in Hanoi. It leaves Hanoi daily at 7.30am and departs Ba Be daily at 1pm. For info call the Ba Be Tourism Centre on (0281) 389 4721 or contact Mr Linh’s Adventures ( on (04) 3642 5420. The independent route is via Bac Kan City and then via xe om or taxi for the last 16km to Ba Be. To take this route get a bus from My Dinh Bus Station in Hanoi. Alternatively you could always drive… It’s 250km, so not for the faint-hearted. For further information on the national park including accommodation, click on




The DMZ While much of Vietnam has moved on from its war-torn past, for people living close to the former Demilitarised Zone it is inescapable. Words and photos by Nick Ross


ost travel in Vietnam has a connection to the country’s scenery, its multicultural heritage or its reconstructed future. Unless, that is, you visit the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) in Quang Tri, an area that still lives in the shadow of war. The province’s fate was sealed at the Geneva Accords in 1954, when Vietnam was divided in two at the 17th Parallel. The line roughly followed the course of the Ben Hai River just north of Quang Tri, and to ensure a buffer between north and south, a 5km Demilitarised Zone was created along the border. The goal was to temporarily split the country into two areas — the north, governed by the Viet Minh with Ho Chi Minh as its figurehead, and the south, headed by former emperor Bao Dai and later Ngo Dinh Diem. The agreement aimed to pave the way for elections in July 1956 to unify the country. Yet the US and Southern Vietnam didn’t sign the accords and the elections never took place. What started in Southern Vietnam in the late 1950s as localised rebellion against brutal, systemic corruption and land reform — the Diemist government brought back the landlord and serf system of pre-World War II Vietnam — soon escalated into war. By the mid-1960s, the DMZ found itself at the centre of a conflict between North and South. The location of a number of US military bases, the area became a principle battleground in the 1968 Tet Offensive, while the citadel of Quang Tri was razed in two separate battles in 1971 and 1972. The province finally fell to North Vietnamese forces in March 1975.

A Personal Insight I’ve visited Quang Tri twice. First with Project Renew, an NGO working with the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) to remove unexploded ordnance (UXO) and help educate and support local people affected by UXO and the aftermath of war. That was in 2012. This year I passed through on a motorbike trip. On both occasions I’ve been struck by how heavily war looms in the background

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of people’s everyday lives, even though the area has been at peace for more than 40 years. I’ve been on a mining mission, I’ve visited a woman whose husband was killed by UXO and another man in hospital who lost his forearm to an exploding cluster bomb. I’ve met people so poor that to provide for their families they search out UXO which they then dismantle and sell for scrap in order to survive. I’ve met amputees who make their living out of farming mushrooms, and I’ve seen where villagers just north of the DMZ lived to avoid wartime bombing. I’ve also visited the former US naval base in Ta Con, just outside Khe Sanh. According to mine clearance professionals I’ve met in Quang Tri, while Laos may be the most heavily bombed country per capita of population in the world, Quang Tri is the most heavily bombed area on this planet. As I’ve been told numerous times: “A thousand years and we still won’t have cleared it all up.” There is a magnificence and a resilience to Quang Tri, to the area north and south of the former DMZ, yet there is also a story of deep poverty and suffering, a story of people affected by past events beyond their control. Talk of the devastation of war is a cliché, but here it’s a reality even four decades on. If you are searching for a sense of how the war ravaged this country, then visit the DMZ. What you’ll find is not always pleasant, but it will open your eyes. My first trip opened my eyes so wide I dreamt about the place for weeks. My most vivid memory is of a field just north of Quang Tri. “They say there’s over 1,000 people buried in there,” said my guide, shaking his head. “No-one will farm on it.”

Where to Visit Most visitors pass through Quang Tri on a day trip from Hue or via the bus from Hue to Phong Nha. Do so and you’ll only touch the surface. So it's best to spend two or three days exploring. There’s good, cheap accommodation in the main city, Dong Ha, and Khe Sanh, a town close to the border with Laos.

The Ho Chi Minh Trail


he most remote road trip in Vietnam is along the section of the Ho Chi Minh Trail from Khe Sanh to the next big town up, Phong Nha, over 200km to the north. You’ll need at least six hours to complete

the trip — this is a place of mountain pass after mountain pass — and you’ll need extra gasoline for the road. But it’s worth every moment of winding, hairpin-bend roads. The views are spectacular. | October 2016 Word | 125

Khe Sanh Combat Base


he focal point of the Battle of Khe Sanh in 1968, the former US combat base known locally as Ta Con is located 3km outside of town along the Ho Chi Minh Trail heading north. Featuring a museum, the former airstrip, abandoned US planes, helicopters and tanks, and a rebuilt bunker system, the base is a reminder of the military might the US Army once poured into Vietnam. Eventually abandoned in April 1971, by 1973 the Vietnamese Communists were using the airstrip for courier flights into the south.

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Lao Bao Prison


bout 11km from Khe Sanh and right on the Laotian border is the town of Lao Bao. The remains of Lao Bao Prison are a reminder of the brutality with which the French ruled Indochina during their 100-plus years as the colonial power. Built in 1908 and once one of the five major prisons in the region, the solitary confinement area for ‘dangerous’ political prisoners still stands, though much of the rest has been destroyed. In the centre of the building is a tree with thorns on its bark; inmates who fell afoul of the authorities would be made to climb this tree as a form of punishment.

Bru-Van Kieu Village


ocated next to Dak Rong Bridge at the junction of Highway 9 and Highway 14, this village represents a failed attempt by the local tourism department and an international NGO to bring tourism to one of the region’s ethnic minorities, the Bru-Van Kieu. It’s still worth a visit. The wooden stilt houses — satellite dishes intact — are interesting to view and the people are friendly, in particular the kids who will still say hello and smile. Unfortunately, the mudbaths from the nearby hot springs are out of order — the pools that were built as part of the tourism drive are now cracked and empty. | October 2016 Word | 127

The Mine Action Visitor Centre


o get a real sense of how the war affected the area and the issues faced by those trying to clear up UXO, a trip to the Mine Action Visitor Centre in the main city, Dong Ha, is a must. Providing a backdrop to the various battles that were fought around the DMZ, the centre explains the process of searching out UXO, shows decommissioned ordinance and even has a display of the various replacement limbs people affected by exploding ordnance have had to use.

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Vinh Moc Tunnels


robably the most visited destination in the area, the Vinh Moc tunnels once acted as shelter to the villagers of Son Trung and Son Ha, two villages just north of the 17th Parallel. Believing the villagers to be providing food and armaments to the North Vietnamese garrison on the nearby island of Con Co, American forces subjected the area to intense bombing. Not having anywhere else to go, the villagers went underground. Construction started in 1966, and within a few years the whole village and around 60 families had moved 30m below the surface. Throughout the war, not one person living in the tunnels lost their life. Today the network of underground passages is open to tourists. Unlike the tunnels in Cu Chi, these ones can be walked through in comfort.

Long Hung Church


ocated just outside the former citadel of Quang Tri, Long Hung Church, built in 1955, is famous for its destroyed façade and bulletriddled walls. In mid-1972 the Vietnamese Communists took the church as a key position as they tried to defend the Citadel of Quang Tri, which they had wrested off ARVN, the army of Southern Vietnam. Part of the Easter Offensive of 1972, the stand-off ended up as a siege which lasted for 81 days until the communists ended up ceding the citadel and most of the province back to their enemy.

Getting There Regular flights ply the route from Hue to Hanoi and Hue to Ho Chi Minh City. The main city of Quang Tri, Dong Ha, is about two hours’ drive north of Hue. Alternatively, the Reunification Express stops at Dong Ha Station. Dong Ha is also a key starting point on the bus journey from Central Vietnam to Savannakhet in Laos.


DALAT ANA MANDARA VILLAS $$$$ Le Lai, Dalat, Tel: (063) 3555888 DALAT PALACE $$$$ 12 Ho Tung Mau, Dalat, Tel: (063) 382 5444

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.

DALAT TRAIN VILLA Villa 3, 1 Quang Trung, Dalat, Tel: (063) 381 6365

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

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

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

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This enormous structure offers the most modern of amenities, and with four restaurants and two bars, the events staff is well equipped to handle any occasion. Close to the National Convention Center, and a favourite of the business traveller, Daewoo even boasts an outdoor driving range. Shortly to become a Marriot property. FORTUNA HOTEL HANOI 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3831 3333 This 350-room four-star set up in the heart of Hanoi’s financial district has a variety of rooms on offer, a “capital lounge” and three restaurants that serve Japanese, Chinese and international cuisine. And like you’d expect, there’s a fitness centre, night club and swimming pool, too, and even a separate spa and treatment facility for men and women. Set to the west of town, Fortuna often offers business deals on rooms and spaces to hold meetings, presentations and celebrations. HOTEL DE L’OPERA 29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 6282 5555 Resting just a step away from the Opera House, the hotel mixes colonial architectural accents and theatrical interior design to create a contemporary space. The first boutique five star in the heart of Hanoi, the lavish, uniquely designed 107 rooms and suites contain all the mod cons and are complimented by two restaurants, a bar and complimentary Wi-Fi. HILTON GARDEN INN HANOI 20 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel (04) 3944 9396 With 86 fully-equipped guestrooms and suites, this is the first Hilton Garden Inn property in Southeast Asia. Centrally located and a short stroll from the historic Old Quarter, the hotel offers a full service restaurant, a stylish bar, along with complimentary business and fitness centres making it perfect for the international business or leisure traveller. HILTON HANOI OPERA 1 Le Thanh Tong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3933 0500 Situated next to the iconic Hanoi Opera House and a short stroll from the Old Quarter, this five-star hotel is a Hanoi landmark. With 269 fully-equipped rooms and suites, there’s plenty for the discerning business and leisure traveller to choose from.

INTERCONTINENTAL HANOI WESTLAKE 1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6270 8888 This stunning property built over West Lake falls in between a hotel and a resort. Beautiful views, great balcony areas, comfortable, topend accommodation and all the mod-cons make up the mix here together with the resort’s three in-house restaurants and the Sunset Bar, a watering hole located on a thoroughfare over the lake. Great gym and health club. JW MARRIOTT HANOI 8, Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3833 5588 From the expressive architecture outside to the authentic signature JW Marriott services inside, this Marriott hotel in Hanoi is the new definition of contemporary luxury. Lies next door to the National Convention Centre. MAY DE VILLE OLD QUARTER 43/45/47 Gia Ngu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3933 5688 The largest four-star hotel in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, 110 rooms, a swimming pool, a top floor terrace bar and a location just a stone’s throw from Hoan Kiem Lake make this a great choice for anyone wanting a bit of luxury in the heart of the action. MELIA HANOI 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 3343 Excellently located in central Hanoi, Melia Hanoi draws plenty of business travellers and is also a popular venue for conferences and wedding receptions. State-of-the-art rooms, elegant restaurants, stylish bars, fully equipped fitness centre with sophisticated service always make in-house guests satisfied. MÖVENPICK HOTEL HANOI 83A Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3822 2800 With its distinctive French architecture and top end service, Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi is aimed squarely at corporate travellers. An allday restaurant and a lounge bar are available to satiate their clientele while the kinetic gym and wellness studio offer an excellent range of equipment. Massage and sauna facilities are available for guests seeking to rejuvenate. Of the 154 wellappointed rooms and suites, 93 are non-smoking. NOVOTEL SUITES 5 Duy Tan, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 3576 6666 Suites and apartments with all the mod cons and attrac-

tive décor you’d expect of an Accor property. Located close to My Dinh and 20 minutes from downtown Hanoi, this new property with an inhouse restaurant and bar is perfect for business professionals or travellers looking to mix a stay in Hanoi with the feeling of being located in a place you can call home. PULLMAN HANOI HOTEL $$$$ 40 Cat Linh, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3733 0688 With deluxe rooms and suites, a contemporary lobby, an excellent buffet, and a la carte restaurant, this Accor group property is prestigious and close to the Old Quarter. SHERATON K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 9000 Surrounded by lush gardens, sweeping lawns and tranquil courtyards, this peaceful property features picturesque views of West Lake and is less than 10 minutes from downtown. In addition to the luxurious rooms, the hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool and great relaxation and fitness facilities, including a tennis court and spa. There are well equipped conference rooms and a newly refurbished Executive Club Lounge. SOFITEL LEGEND METROPOLE HANOI 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 6919 The finest hotel of the French colonial period is probably still the finest in today’s Hanoi. Anyone who is (or was) anyone has stayed at this elegant oasis of charm, where the service is impeccable and the luxurious facilities complement the ambiance of a bygone era. Definitely the place to put the Comtessa up for a night. SOFITEL PLAZA HANOI 1 Thanh Nien Road, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3823 8888 Boasting Hanoi’s best views of West Lake, Truc Bach Lake and the Red River, Sofitel Plaza Hanoi soars 20 storeys above the city skyline. The 5-star hotel features 317 luxurious, comfortable guestrooms with spectacular lake view or river view ranking in 7 types from Classic Room to Imperial Suite.

HANOI – MID-RANGE 6 ON SIXTEEN 16 Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem Another boutique hotel to grace Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the six rooms here mix contemporary and fresh with handicrafts and antique. Breakfast is included and in the long, lounge restaurant on the

second floor, home-style Vietnamese fare is served up with fresh fruit juices and Lavazza coffee. GOLDEN SILK BOUTIQUE HOTEL $$$ 109-111 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3928 6969 Located in the centre of the Old Quarter, this little slice of heaven offers complimentary sundries and a replenishable minibar. The Orient restaurant, serves the finest in international and Vietnamese cuisine. JOSEPH’S HOTEL $$ 5 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3938 1048 Located next to the cathedral, this popular wellappointed, airy and spacious boutique hotel mixes comfort with a nice ambience and great Western or Vietnamese breakfasts. All the modern amenities at reasonable prices. MAISON D’HANOI HANOVA HOTEL $$$ 35-37 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 0999 A minute from Hoan Kiem Lake, this glowing pearl in the heart of Hanoi provides tranquility with an art gallery and piano bar. MAY DE VILLE 24 Han Thuyen, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 2222 9988 Set in the old French Quarter a short walk from the Opera House, May de Ville City Centre is a welcome new addition to the capital. Combining contemporary architecture with traditional Vietnamese style and materials, this elegant property has 81 well-appointed rooms including four suites.

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

HCMC – INTERNATIONAL CARAVELLE HOTEL $$$$ 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999 Winner of Robb Report’s 2006

list of the world’s top 100 luxury hotels, the Caravelle houses the popular rooftop Saigon Saigon bar, and the restaurants Nineteen and Reflections. EQUATORIAL $$$ 242 Tran Binh Trong, Q5, Tel: (08) 3839 7777 This massive property boasts seven dining and entertainment outlets, a business centre, meeting rooms and a comprehensive fitness centre and spa. The Equatorial also has an on-site casino. HOTEL NIKKO SAIGON $$$$$ 235 Nguyen Van Cu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 7777 The five-star hotel and serviced apartment complex offers: 14 instant offices, seven meeting rooms, a 600-capacity ballroom, spa, outdoor swimming pool, a gym, 24-hour fine dining, 24-hours room service, and limousine services. INTERCONTINENTAL ASIANA SAIGON $$$$$ Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 9999 In the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, resides the Asiana with signature dining options, an innovative cocktail bar, exclusive spa and health club, together with luxury boutique arcade. LE MÉRIDIEN SAIGON $$$$ 3C Ton Duc Thang, Q1, HCMC Tel: (08) 6263 6688 Marking the brand’s debut in Vietnam, Le Méridien Saigon is the gathering place for curious and creativeminded travellers. Located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City next to the Saigon River, the property is close to the metropolis's entertainment and commercial areas, making it an ideal base for exploring the local culture and community. Experience this cosmopolitan city in stimulating surroundings. LOTTE LEGEND HOTEL SAIGON $$$$ 2A–4A Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3333 Immaculate architecture, spacious rooms, and a fine selection of fine dining, with buffets specialising in Americana and Pan-Asian cuisine. NEW WORLD HOTEL $$$$ 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8888 Former guests include U.S. presidents — two Bushes, Clinton — and K-Pop sensation Bi Rain. An ongoing

event as well as a hotel, New World is one of the best luxury stops in town. PARK HYATT $$$$$ 2 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1234 Fabulous in style, prime in location, everything one would expect from the Hyatt. The Square One and Italianthemed Opera restaurants have garnered an excellent reputation, as has the landscaped pool. PULLMAN SAIGON CENTRE $$$$$ 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3838 8686 Recently completed on the site of the old Metropole, this upscale, contemporary property boasts 306 signature rooms combining design, comfort and connectivity. Innovative cuisine, a great downtown location and hightech meeting venues able to host up to 600 guests make up the mix. RIVERSIDE APARTMENTS 53 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 4111 Situated on the banks of the Saigon River, a 15-minute scenic boat ride or 20-minute bus ride from town, Riverside’s complementary shuttle services take you right in the city centre. With 152 fully equipped serviced apartments, the property offers special packages for short-term stay starting at VND2.1 million per apartment per night for a onebedroom facility. RENAISSANCE RIVERSIDE HOTEL SAIGON $$$$ 8-15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1117 This distinct French architectural wonder offers complimentary Wi-Fi, airport pickup or drop off, a first-floor ballroom, and authentic Vietnamese cuisine at the River Restaurant. SILA URBAN LIVING 21 Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3930 0800 Stylish apart-hotel with 217 apartments (from studios to one and two bedrooms) for short and long stays, close to the Reunification Palace on the edge of District 1. Facilities include a 24-hour reception, a 24-hour gym with a 20-meter swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. Western and Eastern specialties are served daily at Twenty-One restaurant and bar. SHERATON $$$$$ 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08)

3827 2828 Sheraton boasts one of the best locations in town, with first–class facilities, an open–air restaurant 23 floors above the city and a live music venue on the same floor. SOFITEL SAIGON PLAZA $$$$ 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555 This 20–story building in downtown Saigon, caters to upscale business and leisure travelers seeking a classic yet contemporary stay in Saigon. WINDSOR PLAZA $$$ 18 An Duong Vuong, Q5, Tel: (08) 3833 6688 The full ensemble with its own shopping hub (including a bank), fine dining, a sauna, health club, and superb panoramic views of the cityscape. Also hosts the largest Oktoberfest in the region.

HCMC – DELUXE CONTINENTAL $$$ 132-134 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9201 This charming old hotel has been fêted in literature and in film. In the heart of Saigon, this is the first choice to highlight Vietnamese culture. NORFOLK HOTEL $$$ 117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 5368 Intimate atmosphere and excellent service, this boutique business hotel is located minutes from famous landmarks, designer shops, and is renowned for its fabulous steaks at its in-house restaurant, Corso.

STAR CITY SAIGON HOTEL $$$ 144 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 3999 8888 The newly-built hotel is near Tan Son Nhat International Airport. With spectacular city views and a comfortablydesigned outdoor swimming pool, there is little reason not to choose this shining star.


room. Low prices, friendly staff, clean rooms. This modern oasis is only a few steps from the backpacker’s area. DUNA HOTEL $ 167 Pham Ngu Lao Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 3699 HONG HOA HOTEL $ 185/28 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 1915

ROYAL HOTEL SAIGON $$ 133 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 5914

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

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


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

HCMC – BUDGET DUC VUONG HOTEL $ 195 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 6992 Free Wi–Fi offered in every

HOI AN & DANANG AN BANG BEACH RETREAT An Bang Beach, Hoi An CUA DAI $ 544, Cua Dai, Hoi An, Tel: (0510) 386 2231 DANANG BEACH RESORT $$$ Truong Sa, Hoa Hai, Ngu Hanh Son, Danang, Tel: (0511) 396 1800

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

PULLMAN DANANG BEACH RESORT $$$$ Vo Nguyen Giap, Khue My, Ngu Hanh Son, Danang Tel: (0511) 395 8888 Located on the stunning white sands of Bac My An Beach, the stylish Pullman Danang Beach Resort is an oasis of activities and facilities for the modern traveller. With an idyllic setting, this luxury property is perfect for a family holiday or romantic beach getaway. And with extensive function facilities, Pullman Danang also provides the a great location for your next incentive getaway or event.

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

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

NOVOTEL SAIGON CENTRE $$$ 167 Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 4866 Novotel Saigon Centre has a contemporary feel, an international buffet — The Square — a rooftop bar, and a wellness centre including a swimming pool, gym, sauna and spa. VILLA SONG SAIGON $$$ 197/2 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6090 Deliberately located away from the city centre in Thao Dien, this riverside boutique villa-style hotel is a sanctuary of peace and calm — a rarity in Ho Chi Minh City. Beautiful, Indochine-influenced design, a great setting and good drinking and dining options make this a great, non-city centre choice.

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 | October 2016 Word | 131



hen Ben and Bich Mitchell first opened Phong Nha Farmstay in December 2010, the local consensus was that they had a screw loose. Although the guesthouse overlooked paddy fields and the mountains of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, the naysayers didn’t get the idea of an idyllic countryside getaway. It was located 7km away from Phong Nha Town, the small border postlike inhabitation that served the caves of Phong Nha. And anyway, at the time foreign tourists just didn’t come to Phong Nha, let alone the local province Quang

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Binh, a place that the open tour bus passed through in the early hours of the morning. If it stopped, it was for a toilet break. Yet the pair had vision and drive, and over time their risk paid off — within months the customers started to arrive. Seeing their success, other entrepreneurs started to build, and quickly farmstays and homestays opened up nearby. Everyone realized that the guesthouses in Phong Nha Town were so unwelcoming that the tourists who did come just didn’t want to stay. With their semi-remote location, the lure of the countryside and a chill-out terrace area, Phong Nha Farmstay was a

place to hang out, have a beer or two, and relax. Customers would stay for days.

Bring It On Then came the gold rush. Son Doong, the largest cave in the world, was opened to the public, and other caving systems were made accessible to tourists. The area went into overdrive. From a sleepy, undeveloped outpost, Phong Nha found itself a spot on the tourist itinerary. Six years on and the concept behind Phong Nha Farmstay remains the same. The rooms are simple, but comfortable, clean and air-conditioned, which is the

Phong Nha Farmstay


whole idea. When you’re in Phong Nha, you’re hardly going to spend your days holed up in a hotel room. The terrace area has more foliage, shade and flowers than in the past, and has been extended. A new house has been added next door, with more rooms, more space. There’s a swimming pool out back, while a separate chill-out zone and beer garden has been built overlooking the fields. With its views of the sunset, from 5pm to 7pm it fills up with tourists shooting the view as the sun disappears over the mountains. The menu has developed, too. Local fare like pho bo starts at VND45,000 a bowl with

western food ranging from VND80,000 to VND180,000 a dish; these days the pizzas come out of a wood-fired oven. Beer is cheap as well — the Hue speciality, Huda, goes for VND30,000 a bottle — and the WiFi is strong, ensuring that no matter how idyllic the setting, you’re never going to quite be cut off from the real world.

The Only Ong Tay in the Village Ben Mitchell has a little joke about himself that parodies a sketch from the comedy series, Little Britain. For a long time, he says, echoing the gay character Daffyd Thomas, he was the “only ong tay in the

village”. For a long time, he was also the face of the “the only farmstay in the village”. Phong Nha Farmstay has got competition now. But despite new and sometimes more eye-catching options entering the market, in our humble opinion the trailblazer, the original, the farmstay that started it off is still the best. — Nick Ross For more information on Phong Nha Farmstay and to find out about all the activities in the area, click on Double or twin rooms start at VND910,000 a night | October 2016 Word | 133



estled away in Yen Bai province, 170km from Hanoi, on the banks of the quiet Thac Ba Lake, is La Vie Vu Linh. It’s an eco-lodge, built according to local traditional techniques in the midst of the Red Dzao minority Ngoi Tu Village. It promotes eco-tourism in harmony with the local population and the environment. Enter the lodge and a beautiful traditional stilt house welcomes you with a large and comfortable open-air lounge and bar. La Vie Vu Linh offers a large range of rooms, accommodating all budgets and styles, including a large dormitory that can host around 20 people, an African-Vietnamese inspired house with double or triple rooms,

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fancier lakeview rooms and a duplex studio with private bathrooms. Fresh air and water surround you in a bucolic landscape, the atmosphere here is relaxed, friendly and family-oriented. You are not just coming to any hotel; you’re welcomed among friends into a new temporary home in the countryside. Dinners are offered family-style if you wish, with staff and guests sitting on the floor sharing local dishes, rice wine and laughter. There are plenty of activities, so you’re unlikely to get bored. Thac Ba Lake is one of the largest artificial lakes in Vietnam, with more than 1,300 islands. The lake is the main attraction in the area, with boat trips, swimming, and cave exploring. If

you aren’t into water activities, there are plenty of opportunities for trekking or cycling.

Sustainable La Vie Vu Linh is more than just a lodge for a weekend gateway. The owners and partners strongly believe in sustainable development and in developing tourism hand-in-hand with the local community. Most of the staff come from surrounding villages; there are seven permanent apprentices who come to learn their craft and new skills, making a total of 50 since the opening. Some staff stay here with their families, a lot learn from the opportunity and then move on to better their lives. La Vie Vu Linh also welcomes volunteers,

La Vie Vu Linh


whether to teach the local children or to teach hospitality techniques to new staff, develop cultural projects or improve the ecosustainability of the lodge. Léa, a young French student studying a Masters in Service Management, was here this summer to help with bookings and provide an outsider’s perspective on how the place is run. Bertrand, whom I met on his last day, spent a few weeks at la Vie Vu Linh to develop two artistic and cultural projects, a play about one of the Red Dzao’s most important rites of passage for a young man entering adult life; and a photo exhibition using the lodge’s archives to explain the birth of the La Vie Vu Linh Project and life around the lake.

Harmony and Ecology The last component of the project is ecosustainability and agro-forestry and the development of respect and protection of the environment, less harmful agricultural practices and the preservation of the lake. In the orchard, mango, guava, pomelo and papaya trees grow in harmony with other plants to minimize the use of pesticides, a project developed hand-in-hand with volunteer agro-engineers. This practice encourages environment-friendly agricultural use and shows the community there are alternatives to traditional monoculture. The lodge also keeps a few pigs for consumption, and have a treatment system that recycles the animals’ waste into biogas.

The biogas system that ran as a prototype through 2015 will be fully operational by the year-end and will supply the kitchen with gas. It will also produce electricity. The lodge’s waste water also undergoes ecological treatment before being released into the lake thanks to a Used Water PhytoPurification system. Aided by the financial support of sponsors, local families are starting to install such systems in their homes. La Vie Vu Linh offers a great combination of sustainability and tourism with a coherent ecofriendly and community development project in beautiful surroundings. — Julie Vola For more info click on or call (0293) 851188 | October 2016 Word | 135


Resort and Spa is beachfront with a stunning view of the Marble Mountains. There are 182 luxurious residences and 27 private ocean villas, each with a private pool. MERCURE DANANG $$$ Lot A1 Zone Green Island, Hoa Cuong Bac, Hai Chau, Danang, Tel: (0511) 379 7777 Set on the Han River, this well-appointed, Accormanaged property is one of the nicest hotels in Central Danang. Kitsch but contemporary design and some phenomenal views over the city make up the mix. THE NAM HAI $$$$ Hamlet 1, Dien Duong Village, Quang Nam, Tel: (0510) 394 0000 Includes three massive swimming pools, a gourmet restaurant and elegant spa on a lotus pond. Each massive room has its own espresso machine, pre–programmed iPod and both indoor and outdoor showers.

M M M HUE & LANG CO ANGSANA LANG CO $$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien Hue, Tel: (054) 369 5800 Located on Vietnam’s South Central Coast, Angsana Lang Co commands an unrivalled beach frontage of the shimmering East Sea. Traditional Vietnamese design encompasses the resort’s contemporary buildings and chic interiors.


BANYAN TREE LANG CO $$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien, Hue, Tel: (054) 369 5888 Built on a crescent bay, The Banyan Tree offers privacy

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and unparalleled exclusivity with all-pool villas reflecting the cultural and historical legacy of past Vietnamese dynastic periods. LA RESIDENCE $$$$ 5 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: (054) 383 7475 la–residence– PHUONG HOANG HOTEL $ 66 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: (054) 382 6736

M M M NHA TRANG EVASON ANA MANDARA AND SIX SENSES SPA $$$$ Beachside Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 352 2222 2.6 hectares of private beachside gardens and villa–style accommodation furnished in traditional native woods, this resort offers verandah dining, a pool bar and the signature Six Senses Spa. JUNGLE BEACH RESORT $ Ninh Phuoc, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 362 2384 On a secluded promontory north of Nha Trang, this budget place is all about hammocks, the sea, the jungle and nature. MIA RESORT NHA TRANG $$$$ Bai Dong, Cam Hai Dong, Cam Lam, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 398 9666 NOVOTEL NHA TRANG $$$ 50 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: (058) 625 6900 This four-star hotel with 154 guestrooms, all with a terrace and sea view. Complete

with a pool, spa, restaurant, bar and meeting room that caters for up to 200 delegates. SIX SENSES HIDEAWAY NINH VAN BAY $$$$ Ninh Van Bay, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 372 8222 The upmarket Tatler magazine voted top hotel of 2006. The location is stunning, on a bay accessible only by boat. SHERATON NHA TRANG HOTEL AND SPA $$$$ 26 – 28 Tran Phu, Tel: (058) 388 0000

M M M PHAN THIET & MUI NE NINH CHU BAY BEACH CLUB & BAR Hwy 702, Ninh Hai, Phan Rang, Ninh Thuan, Tel: (068) 627 2727 Enjoy the private beach with excellent facilities and have a massage. Evenings are sublime at this beach club, soon to become a fully fledged resort. Grilled seafood, European sausages, sangria, draught beer, and specialityinfused vodka all make this one of a kind destination. BLUE OCEAN RESORT $$$$ 54 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: (062) 384 7322 COCO BEACH $$$$ 58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: (062) 384 7111 With charming wooden bungalows, a private beach, a swimming pool (both with attached bars) and a French restaurant, Coco Beach con-

tinues to be run by those who opened it in 1995. JOE’S GARDEN RESORT $$ 86 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ham Tien, Mui Ne, Tel: (062) 384 7177 A leafy, seafront bungalow resort and café with nightly live music all in one. Reminiscent of the type of places you’d find on the Thai islands, an international and Asian food menu together with a cheap happy hour on beer make up the relaxing mix. MIA RESORT MUI NE $$$$ 24 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Tel: (062) 384 7440 VICTORIA PHAN THIET RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Mui Ne Beach, Phan Thiet, Tel: (062) 381 3000 Another beachfront Victoria chain, the thatched–roof bungalows and family villas are set in exotic gardens with an infinity swimming pool, a seafood restaurant, spa, beauty salon and jacuzzi.

M M M PHONG NHA EASY TIGER AND JUNGLE BAR $ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: (052) 367 7844 easytigerphongnha@gmail. com A hostel and street-front bar all in one. Has a pleasant, airy atmosphere in the bar and restaurant area while the 52 dorm beds — four beds to a room — go for US$8 (VND168,000) each a night. HO KHANH'S HOMESTAY $$ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: 01299 597182

PHONG NHA FARMSTAY $$ Hoa Son, Cu Nam, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: (052) 367 5135 The first western-run farmstay in Phong Nha, this wellappointed travellers’ joint has a great bar and restaurant area, a swimming pool out back and views overlooking paddy fields and mountains. Rooms start at VND600,000 for a twin or double, with a family room for five costing VND1.4 million a night.

M M M PHU QUOC BEACH CLUB RESORT $$ Ap Cua Lap, Xa Duong To, Long Beach, Phu Quoc Island, Tel: (077) 398 0998 A quaint and popular island guesthouse featuring a beachside restaurant, and includes free Wi-Fi. Motorbike rental, boat trips and tours are easily arranged. Discount rates during rainy season. MANGO BAY $$ Ong Lang Beach, Phu Quoc, Tel: 0903 382207 An eco–friendly approach with a gorgeous beachside location, the bungalows are made of rammed earth, no TVs or telephones (although Wi-Fi is available). Excellent sunsets from the beach bar. SALINDA RESORT PHU QUOC ISLAND $$$$ Cua Lap Hamlet, Duong To Commune, Phu Quoc, Kien Giang Tel: (08) 3929 3097 Hotline 0907 99 55 02 Set on the sea and only 4km away from Phu Quoc International Airport, Salinda is inspired by an interplay of rustic local heritage with

contemporary design. The property has 121 rooms and villas with private balconies, and provides a luxury experience that embodies the understated beauty and enchanting spirit of the pearl of Asia.

M M M SAPA CAT CAT VIEW HOTEL $$ Cat Cat Road, Tel: 0203 871946 The best view in town from its bar restaurant, the Cat Cat Guesthouse is paradise at very reasonable rates. The rooms have big windows, balconies, and log fireplaces. TOPAS ECOLODGE $$$ Thanh Kim, Sapa, Lao Cai Tel: (04) 3715 1005 (Sales) With its panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valley, Topas Ecolodge is the perfect place to experience the remoteness and quiet of the Northern Vietnamese mountains — the landscape, the fresh air and the ethnic peoples. Guests stay in private bungalows with dinner served in a local stilt house restaurant.

M M M VUNG TAU & HO TRAM BINH AN VILLAGE $$$$ 1 Tran Phu, Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 335 1553 CON DAO RESORT $$ Nguyen Duc Thuan, Con Dao, Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 383 0939 HO TRAM BEACH RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Tel: (064) 378 1525 This attractive property is the ideal getaway from Ho Chi

Minh City. 63 uniquely bungalows and villas promise a local experience complete with an excellent spa and two swimming pools. HO TRAM SANCTUARY $$$$ Ho Tram, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 378 1631 The spacious villas come with their own pool and have direct access to the beach. Extras include tennis courts, a mini supermarket, and cycling and motorbike tours. REX HOTEL $$ 1 Le Quy Don, Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 385 2135 SIX SENSES CON DAO $$$$ Dat Doc Beach, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 383 1222 THE GRAND-HO TRAM STRIP Phuoc Thuan Commune, Xuyen Moc, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 378 8888 The Grand-Ho Tram Strip is Vietnam’s first large scale integrated resort and includes a 541-room five-star hotel, a world-class casino, restaurants, high-tech meeting space, an exclusive VIP area, as well as a variety of beach-front recreation activities. Is located next to the Greg Norman-designed golf course, The Bluffs, one of the best golf courses in Vietnam.

M M M TRAVEL SERVICES — HANOI BUFFALO TOURS AGENCY (BTA) 94 Ma May, Hoan Kiem Dist., Ha Noi, Tel: (04) 3828 0702 A boutique Travel Agency at the service of all Vietnamese and expatriate residents in Vietnam offering easy, hassle-free travel around the world and in Vietnam.

BTA customizes leisure and corporate travel plans while offering a selected range of small group tours. EXO TRAVEL 66A Tran Hung Dao, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3828 2150 A one-stop, all-in-one travel agency with an extensive operational track record in the Indochina region and beyond. Providing up-market services, Exotissimo brings their clients close to culture through personalised tours. Also find travel desks at the Hilton, Sofitel Plaza and Intercontinental hotels, which are open on weekends and holidays. HANDSPAN TRAVEL 78 Ma May, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3926 2828 Established in 1997, Handspan provides customers with safe, high quality, diverse, small-group adventure tours to both popular and isolated locations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Has a focus on off-the-beaten-track sustainable and responsible tourism initiatives. Also provides to excursions to more well-worn destinations. HG TRAVEL 47 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3944 8844 Travel company specialising in small-group tours around Vietnam and further afield in Indochina. Is also the sole representative agent for Kenya Airways (for 40 cities in Africa — kenya-airways. com), American Airlines (aa. com) and Turkish Airlines ( INTREPID TRAVEL VIETNAM 57A Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0904 193308 Intrepid Travel Vietnam is an international travel company operating in Vietnam since 1992, offering innovative day tours, short breaks and small group adventures. With expert guides and guaranteed

departures, Intrepid focuses 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. TRAVEL SENSE ASIA Suite 8, 2nd Floor, 103 Nguyen Truong To, Ba Dinh, Hanoi Tel: (04) 3715 3977 A homegrown travel agency providing small group journeys and tailor-made holidays to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand. Voted in Trip Advisor’s Top 10 of best tours in Hanoi since 2010.

TRAVEL SERVICES — HCMC BUFFALO TOURS AGENCY 70-72 Ba Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3828 0702; 157 Pasteur, Q3, Ho Chi Minh City, Tel: (08) 3827 9170 This premium travel agency helps travellers select their destinations and organise their trips. From corporate travel to small group tours, explore the world or Vietnam. EXO TRAVEL 41, Thao Dien, Q2. Tel (08) 3519 4111, Ext. 15/17/19 A reliable and experienced travel company operating through Southeast Asia, Exotissimo brings you personalized tours across the region, many including insights into culinary customs, handicrafts and humanitarian initiatives. FLIGHT TRAVEL COMPANY 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. GRASSHOPPER ADVENTURES Tel: 0946 704095

Escape the bustle with Southeast Asia’s top rated bike tour company. Run guided day tours to the Mekong Delta and Cu Chi Tunnels. Also organize longer, two to 14-day tours throughout Vietnam. TERRAVERDE 12/20 Nguyen Canh Di, Ward 4, Tan Binh District, Tel: (08) 3984 4754 If you like cycling through the Mekong Delta, trekking in the highlands, or lazing in a junk on Ha Long Bay — all while making a difference in people’s lives — then this company will suit you well. VIETNAM VESPA ADVENTURE 169A De Tham, Q1, Tel: 01222 993585 Vespa Adventure offers multi–day tours of southern and coastal Vietnam on the back of a luxury motorbike powered by clean, renewable biodiesel. English-speaking tour guides lead the way.

TRAVEL SERVICES — ELSEWHERE BACK OF THE BIKE TOURS Tel: (08) 6298 5659 Offer motorbike tours combined with the finest street food to give customers a truly immersive Vietnamese experience. BEENINASIA.COM Online travel in Southeast Asia. Offers you selection of best hotels and great tours. Create your own trip or we can tailor make your itinerary. TU TRAVEL 60 Hai Ba Trung, Can Tho City, Tel: 0713 752436 tutrangtravel-mekongfeeling. vn Want to set up non-standard tours in the Mekong with local guides who’ve got extensive local knowledge? This might be the place to contact. | October 2016 Word | 137


The Cu Chi Tunnels are one of the most popular destinations for tourists visiting Saigon

Upstairs at Pho Binh, the pho restaurant that harboured the Viet Cong


any visitors to Vietnam are fascinated by the Vietnam War era. They seek out the places where well-documented battles took place, they visit war-museums, they comb war-surplus markets for helmets, bits and pieces of uniform, canteens, rusty dog-tags and the like. The War Remnants Museum is one of Ho Chi Minh City’s most-visited attractions. In the museum’s grounds are American helicopters, fighter jets, tanks, infantry weapons, unexploded bombs and assorted pieces of ordnance. Photographs on display inside show the stark reality of war. Mangled children, torture scenes, the My Lai Massacre victims, children skinned alive by napalm, babies deformed by Agent Orange… all stare out accusingly from their picture frames. The Cu Chi Tunnels, 35 km from Saigon, are a must for anyone interested in learning about the war years. During the war, Cu Chi was an enigma for the Americans. Snipers, booby traps, occasional skirmishes, and surprise raids on the US army base in Bien Hoa were a constant thorn in the side for the Americans, more so because the attackers seemed to vanish into thin air immediately

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By Don Wills

after any engagement. The Americans vented their frustration by stepping up B52 bombing raids and napalm attacks on the area. Cu Chi became the most bombed, shelled, gassed, napalmed, and war-ravaged region in the history of warfare. Today, short sections of the tunnels are open to the public, and can be traversed by crawling on all fours, or, in the larger ones, by walking doubled up. The humid, unlit tunnel sections are an average of 70 metres in length, but there’s an emergency exit every eighteen meters. Very few people go beyond the first emergency exit.

In the Soup Another place in Ho Chi Minh City to look for reminders of the war is, as unlikely as it sounds, a pho shop. Pho Binh (7D Ly Chinh Thang, Q3, HCMC) was the secret headquarters of the Viet Cong in Saigon. While the public, including US soldiers who were based nearby, ate their pho downstairs, the VC command were busily hatching out their devious plots upstairs. Hiding out in plain sight as it were. My Lai is a small, sleepy hamlet in the Son Mai sub-district of central Vietnam. On Mar. 16, 1968, a troop of men from the 1st

ENTRY 8: A Country, Not a War

The supply line known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail ran through some of the most difficult terrain in Vietnam

Platoon under the command of Lieutenant Calley entered the hamlet and rounded up and shot around 115 unarmed villagers, after gang-raping half a dozen of the girls. Calley’s men were ordered to keep their mouths shut about the massacre, but several went public with the story on their return to the US. Some intrigued tourists visit My Lai to see the scene of the shocking events for themselves. The difficult journey is hardly worth the effort. There’s little to see apart from a carved stone monument and some graves, and the locals are understandably reluctant to discuss the atrocity committed in their own backyard 50 years ago.

Assault A hill in the A Shau valley of South Vietnam became a hotly contested piece of terrain for three days in April of 1969. Known as Ap Bia mountain to the Vietnamese, Hill 937 to the US military command, and Hamburger Hill to the US troops, this 916-meterhigh hill was of little strategic value, but nevertheless the US top brass ordered its capture by frontal assault. The battle that followed was hard-fought and brutal. Three weeks after taking the hill, the US forces

The battle of Hamburger Hill was made into a Hollywood movie in 1987

abandoned it — another unfathomable example of the vagaries of war. Today the hill is hard to find among the many mountains of the region, and looks every bit an unremarkable part of the landscape. The Ho Chi Minh trail is an object of fascination for many Westerners. The US National Security Agency called the trail “one of the greatest achievements of military engineering in the 20th Century”. It was down this trail that North Vietnamese soldiers painstakingly trundled heavily laden bicycles and ox-carts loaded

with food, supplies, and ammunition, and later, when the trail became more established, trucks carrying materials and troops used the trail as a strategic supply conduit. Today hundreds of curious tourists and trekkers pay visits to segments of the trail to see for themselves. The Vietnamese are fond of reminding us “Vietnam is a country, not a war”, but for many foreigners just the opposite is true. Born in New Zealand, Don Wills lives in Vung Tau. He’s been writing his way round the region for decades

Many visitors to Vietnam are fascinated by the Vietnam War era. They seek out the places where well-documented battles took place, they visit war-museums, they comb war-surplus markets for helmets, bits and pieces of uniform, canteens, rusty dog-tags and the like. | October 2016 Word | 139


The Birdcage Village / The Alchemist / The Therapist / Bar Stool / Coffee Cup / Top Eats / Medical Buff / Starting a Family / Book Buff Photo by Julie vola

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Hanoi Essentials

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


HANOI HOLISTIC HEALTH GUIDE A guide to various holistic health practitioners in Hanoi. Only available online, but a great information source.


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

BRITISH BUSINESS GROUP VIETNAM (BBGV) 193B Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: (04) 6674 0945 The chamber of commerce for all things relating to the UK and British-born expats living in the capital. Puts on monthly networking events, gala dinners, fundraising events and much more. CCIFV Sofitel Plaza, No 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 2229 EUROCHAM G/F, Sofitel Plaza Hanoi, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 2228 ICHAM Sofitel Plaza, Ground floor, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 2229 SINGAPORE BUSINESS ASSOCIATION VIETNAM Business Center Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh


23/67 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3726 4896

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





44 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3936 2151






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

M M M BUSINESS GROUPS AMCHAM 4th Floor, InterContinental Hanoi, 1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3934 2790 AUSCHAM 4th Floor, 100 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 0909 710994

21 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3824 1850 GOETHE INSTITUT GERMAN CULTURAL CENTRE


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





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


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



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


CHULA 43 Nhat Chieu, Tay Ho; 24 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0904 258960 The work of Spanish couple Laura and Diego, this homegrown Hanoi brand describes themselves as creating wearable art. Designing pieces that are trendy, elegant, Western and yet distinctly Asian, their shop and arts space focuses on lifestyle, with regular events and more. CONTRABAND



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




44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 0088 Hanoi Cooking Centre is a school, retail outlet and café, where you can find classes on not just Vietnamese cooking, but international cuisine, held in a beautiful setting. They also offer culinary tours.


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.



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.




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.


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


33 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6758 Stocks women’s wear, leather bags, shoes and handicrafts. This chic boutique offers both ready-to-wear and made-to-fit clothing.

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



Want to know where all those birdcages come from? Just do what Jesse Meadows did and drive out to Canh Hoach Village


outh of Hanoi, there is a quiet village where everyone makes birdcages. Past the skeleton of the future metro rail, east down another dusty highway, tucked away off the main road, Canh Hoach is a maze of old bricks and pastoral air. Famous for its craftsmanship, bird breeders from all over the country come to the village for made-to-order cages. It’s estimated that some 80% of families here produce birdcages for a living, which has proven to be much more lucrative than the village’s previous crafts — lanterns and bamboo fans. There’s not a lot to do here, so don’t

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turn up expecting a party. It’s more the place you go to wander when you need a reminder of why you love this country. There’s bamboo everywhere — leaning against the walls, piled high in the sun, or resting in a teepee formation, waiting to be carved up and curled.

Glued to the Job From the main road, there’s a pagoda on a tiny pond, and a large grey archway to the left. We turned under the arch, walked blindly down an alley, and followed it to a corner house. Through the open door, we could see a woman patiently applying glue to a half-finished birdcage.

The porch of her house had become a workshop. Finished cages were stacked along the wall. A man sat in the corner at an old sanding machine, grinding and polishing. We watched as the woman finished gluing, then lit a small fire on the ground and gradually moved the cage back and forth through the flame to set the resin. “VND200,000,” she said to us. But the cages were too big, and we didn’t have any birds anyway. We wandered back into the alley maze. I spotted the spire of an old cathedral, and we passed several more birdcage workshops until the alley opened up into a large courtyard. I’m always drawn to old churches. As I

The Birdcage Village


slipped through the gate, I heard the faint sound of chanting, drifting through the open door. A woman in a conical hat entered the courtyard from the other side, saw me, and waved toward the entrance.

Devotional We stepped into the dark foyer and she took off her hat, placing it in a pile of others, and took her place in the pews with the other women. I tried to hang back, to not intrude, but she turned around and motioned me to an empty seat nearby. I slid onto the hard wooden bench, next to an ancient woman who was singing fervently. She clutched a paperback

hymnal held together with tape at the seams, her wrinkled fingers tracing the words as she chanted. I didn’t know the words, so I folded my hands in my lap and let my eyes drift across the ornate golden altar in front of us. It was 10 minutes before I realised that I was wearing a t-shirt with Satan printed on it, and silently excused myself. Outside again, the sun was blazing, but in the distance, the sky began to darken. After weaving through the alleys for a while, riding alongside groups of children cycling to school, and passing through the village pagoda, we emerged in a field of rice. The wind made the most serene rustling sound

as it blew through the stalks, carrying the scent of coming rain. That was our cue, so we put on our ponchos and headed back to the city.

Getting There Take Tay Son south out of Hanoi, turn left onto the QL21B and drive about 17km until you see the pagoda and grey archway to your left. Bonus: after 5km on QL21B, take the dyke road left just before the river, it’s much more scenic. | October 2016 Word | 143

Hanoi Essentials

several locations around the region, the shop employs women in rural areas, enabling them to make an income and care for their families.


Tel: (04) 3928 5190 Established in 2002, this American-run gallery has championed Vietnamese contemporary art for more than two decades. Holds regular exhibitions and artist talks.

Duan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3941 2789 LINHMART 116, D4 Dormitory, Giang Vo, Ba Dinh (near Ha Noi Hotel) Tel: 0936 491136 or 0916 504548 Stocks organic vegetables from Sapa, Soc Son and Dalat; seafood from Hai Phong and Quang Ninh; Norwegian salmon and highlands pork and beef. Also offers foreign spices and convenience store products from Japan and Thailand. Free delivery for any purchase above VND400,000.





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


14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3716 3397 Founded in 2012, this independent contemporary art centre holds regular exhibitions, workshops and a wide range of art events. Manzi promotes emerging artists while presenting established artists from Vietnam. The space also sells works by leading contemporary Vietnamese artists at affordable prices.

70 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0904 244941





24 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0985 870316 The first experimental art space in Hanoi, the non-profit, artist-led space has given contemporary Vietnamese artists the chance to nurture their talent and experiment. Holds regular exhibitions and artist residences.

38 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6680 2770


15 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh IBIKE SALES

34 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho; 53 Ly Nam De, Hoan Kiem QUAN’S RENTALS


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



3 Nguyen Du, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 0906 200434



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

66 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3733 2131 Maintains and promotes the treasures of Vietnamese cultural and artistic heritage, allowing visitors to appreciate and understand the entire history of Vietnamese fine arts.




Packexim Building Tower 1, 23rd Floor, No. 49 Lane 15, An Duong Vuong, Tay Ho A place to work. A space to create. Somewhere to see something new. Work Room Four is pulling together the threads of creative endeavours across Hanoi. A collective that promotes collaboration and new ideas, exhibitions, workshops, artist studios, courses, contacts and events.


2nd Fl, Syrena Center, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, 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.


24 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem,

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6T Ham Long, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3943 1009



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

162A Hoang Hoa Tham, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3847 3366 JUST.IN.M WOMEN’S HAIRDRESSER

48A Ly Thuong Kiet , Hoan Kiem, Tel: 04 3939 3907 LAN SALON Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3266 8190


44 Nguyen Du, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (4) 3265 6888 ACC provides effective chiropractic, physiotherapy and foot care treatments through the use of cutting edge technology for back, neck and knee pain, sports injuries as well as all types of foot related problems. BUMRUNGRAD INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL




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

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


24 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 1196 WESTERN CANNED FOODS GROCERY STORE

17 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 3854 VEGGIE’S GROCERIES, FRUIT & VEG

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

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






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

2A Cua Bac, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0987 718899

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


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


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

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





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



3 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 9911







JAPAN INTERNATIONAL EYE HOSPITAL (JIEH) INTERNATIONAL EYE HOSPITAL 32 Pho Duc Chinh, Ba Dinh, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3715 3666 JIEH is a 100% Japaneseinvested eye hospital. Using the latest technology and built according to Japanese standards, the facility is the first in Vietnam to use Mel 90 (Carl Zeiss - Germany), and is one of first three eye hospitals in the country using Visumax (Carl Zeiss - Germany) for refractive surgery. Top-end customer service and a friendly, contemporary environment add to the mix.


298 I Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3843 0748 On the little street directly below Kim Ma, with all sorts of specialists including OB/ GYN, Pediatricians and ENT. A Medium-sized practice with both Vietnamese and international doctors, but they are

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


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


cnr. Hang Bai and Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi VINCOM CITY TOWERS

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


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

used to treating expats. Also a 24-hour emergency service. FRENCH HOSPITAL

IGCSE and A Level. Pending authorization, will offer the IB programme from 2016 onwards.


1 Phuong Mai, Dong Da, Tel: (04) 3577 1100 HONG NGOC HOSPITAL PRIVATE GENERAL HOSPITAL

55 Yen Ninh, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3927 5568; Keangnam Office Tower, Khu B1 Pham Hung, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 7305 8880 INTERNATIONAL SOS 24-HOUR CLINIC MEDICAL / DENTAL CLINIC

51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3934 0666 Well-known medical clinic also known for its quality emergency services. Doctors and consultants also provide a range of services from standard GP-style check-ups through to vaccinations, paediatrics and specialist care. VIETNAM-KOREA FRIENDSHIP CLINIC KOREAN CLINIC & HOSPITAL


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

INSURANCE IF CONSULTING CCIFV/Eurocham, Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3936 5370 LIBERTY INSURANCE 16th Floor, Hoa Binh International Towers, 106 Hoang Quoc Viet, Cau Giay Tel: (04) 3755 7111 REGENCY INTERNATIONAL INSURANCE 5th Floor, Press Club, 59A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0966 857 488

M M M INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, HANOI Hoa Lan Road, Vinhomes Riverside, Long Bien, Tel: (04) 3946 0435 A selective, independent, co-educational day school. Provides a British-style education following the National Curriculum for England, with students taking

CONCORDIA INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HANOI CMC Building, Duy Tan, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 3795 8878 A non-profit entity, Concordia has highly performing schools in both Hong Kong and Shanghai at the top tier of the educational system. All instructors and teachers are native English speakers and admission applications are accepted throughout the year. HANOI INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 48 Lieu Giai , Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3832 8140 With schooling available for students studying at elementary through to secondary levels of education, HIS is one of the few private, international education options in the capital. Offers Cambridge IGCSE and IB Diploma for students at the secondary level. INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF VIETNAM 6-7 Nguyen Cong Thai, Dai Kim Urban Area, Dinh Cong, Hoang Mai, Tel: 3540 9183 A not-for-profit, pre-kindergarten to Grade 12 school serving the international and local community of Hanoi. ISV accepts students of any nationality aged 3 and up. Highly qualified and experienced international educators are supported by a 21st-century campus with the latest in educational technology plus excellent resources for learning. Class sizes are small.

of ‘quality schools’ established by the Quality Schools International. The institution specialises in instructing preschool and lower elementary age students. SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 2D Van Phuc Diplomatic Compound, 46 Van Bao, Ba Dinh, Tel (04) 3726 1601; Block C3, Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel (04) 3758 2664; Road 2, Gamuda Gardens, Km 4.4 Phap Van, Hoang Mai, Tel (04) 6666 1818 Provides an international education for students from primary up to university level. A strong curriculum provides core subjects from the Singaporean and Vietnamese curricula, as well as specialist programmes from Britain, America and Canada, all taught by qualified teachers. ST. PAUL AMERICAN SCHOOL HANOI Khu Do Thi Bac AnKhanh, An Khanh, HoaiDuc, Tel: (04) 3399 6464 St. Paul Hanoi has developed a strong reputation for providing a high quality American education. An international school that collaborates with schools around the globe to set high

expectations and align with rigorous standards so that students will have a wonderful opportunity to attend a great university in the future. UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (UNIS) G9 Ciputra, Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3758 1551 Established in 1988, 1,050 students from 60 nationalities follow the IB programme from aged 3 through to aged 18. A notfor-profit entity, UNIS aims for its students to emerge as responsible stewards of our global society and natural environment.


37 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0915 066096 MR CAO MOTORBIKE RENTAL


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


6 Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6332 GIA LONG HOUSING RENTALS

R714, Blg CT13B Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3743 0589 HANOI RENTING RENTALS

No. 809, Ct13b building, Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 6294 4828


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

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


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

KINDERWORLD INTERNATIONAL KINDERGARTEN Unit 9 – 10, Shophouse CT17, Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel (04) 3743 0306; 3rd Floor, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel (04) 3934 7243; C5 – C11, 1st floor, The Manor Building, My Dinh, Tu Liem, Tel (04) 3764 0209 Classes are kept small with a foreign teacher leading the class with the assistance of a Vietnamese teacher according to the teacher-student ratio. KinderWorld provides pre school education for children from 18 months to below 6 years. QSI INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF HANOI #17 Lane, 67 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6418 QSI International School of Hanoi is next in a long line | October 2016 Word | 145



s expats, most of us at some point have experienced interactions with our hosts that are hard to understand. At times our worldview can seem askew to that of local people. In the middle of an ongoing quest to resolve a plumbing issue I found myself befuddled at the events taking place. When I discussed the matter with a Vietnamese friend, he said: “That’s the way things are here, they’re not going to change.”

Thought Patterns I’ve lived in Asia for over 20 years and in this time I have experienced what appear to be ingrained patterns of behaviour, so my initial reaction was to accept my friend’s comment as truth. But on further reflection, I thought that it is a mindset that prevents change from taking place, and not social inertia. To claim that people or situations will not change is a self-fulfilling attitude that obstructs the opportunity for growth.

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Admittedly, the perceived need for change is subjective in nature; thus the first step to change is the conscious awareness that change needs to take place. A recognizable need for improvement is a catalyst for change, which can result in a subtle tempering of thoughts and actions as well as major shifts. Letting go of limiting beliefs allows for tremendous expansion. Dismissing a behaviour as endemic, without examining whether or not it is serving a greater good, only reinforces the particular behaviour pattern. Self-fulfilling attitudes inhibit change from taking place and uphold the status quo.

Choose Sides When we become aware of how situations may or may not be promoting the highest good of all concerned, as individuals we have the choice whether or not to ameliorate the situation. As a friend recently stated, we can choose to be part of the problem or be part of the solution.


Herein lies the paradox; to see change in the world, we as individuals are the ones who must first change. Maya Angelou suggests: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” Placing the spotlight on our thoughts and actions and recognising how they affect our well-being, and adjusting our behaviour accordingly is the first step to expanding this practice to our external environment. There are many teachings on the power of the mind and how our thoughts greatly influence our reality. Based on this premise, if we can change our minds we can change our world. We literally have to put our minds to it. Now if I can only get the plumbing sorted. Karen Gay, A-Roaming Bodyworker, is a holistic health practitioner practicing in Hanoi. For information on the types of services provided, visit



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



RELOCATION AGENTS ALLIED PICKFORDS Room 302, 12A Ho Xuan Huong, Tel: (04) 3943 1511 The largest home moving company in the world, Allied Pickfords moves over 1,000 families in over 175 countries every day. Has a full range of services — domestic moves, office moves and storage — both inside and outside of Vietnam. JVK INDOCHINA MOVERS 6 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04)3826 0334 Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is currently a leader in the field. Has offices in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

SANTA FE RELOCATION SERVICES Suite 821, Vietnam Trade Hotel, 14 Tran Binh Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3941 0805 With over 150 offices around the world, Santa Fe offers local and international moving, pet transportation, relocation services including home search, orientation, cultural training, immigration services and records management.

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



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

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.


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

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

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

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

cakes and coffee.


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

84 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3923 1147 HANOI SPORTS SHOP 146, Mai Dich, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 2218 5757

SUPERMARKETS BIG C 222 Tran Duy Hung, Cau Giay; Garden Shopping Centre, The Manor, My Dinh, Tu Liem SCORE-TECH 44, Ngo 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 8246 Apparel company offering personalised sport garments for companies, schools and professional sports clubs using the latest printing technology with a design team from Barcelona. Score-Tech controls the whole production process from fabric production and printing to sewing. Big and small orders for all sporting and commercial needs.


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

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

FIVIMART 27A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem

INTIMEX 22-23 Le Thai To, Hoan Kiem

METRO THANG LONG Pham Van Dong, Co Nhue, Tu Liem, Tel: (04) 3755 1617



Dear Douglas, My younger sister was a happy and ambitious kid and did well in school until she turned 12. Something must have happened because she changed very much and has been different ever since. She is now 22 years old. I think she has been depressed because she doesn’t really ever want to do anything and she spends most of her time in her room looking at her computer or watching TV. She has a few friends but hardly ever sees them. She has somehow passed her classes at university, even though she said she is not interested in what she studied. My parents are worried about her but have never known what to do. I am afraid that she will waste her life if she doesn’t change. What can we do? — Worried Family Dear Worried Family, It does sound like your sister has been chronically depressed, although wanting to be alone is not by itself the definition of depression. I would want to know more about her moods and outlook on life. The fact that she changed around the age of 12 and is not interested in activities or people outside of her room seems like reason for concern. While being careful not to draw premature conclusions, it seems important to explore, with her, the possibility that something did happen around that time in her life. We know, for example, that as many as one in three girls have experienced sexual abuse before the age of 18 and that many will deny it, if asked, because they are overwhelmed by an experience they are not developmentally ready to talk about. If it did occur, it will be important for her to talk about it to a trusted person… when she is ready. The repression of incidents like this and how it affects one’s sense of self, often takes the shape of depression. Once again, I want to say that I am not assuming anything, but that it might suggest questions worth asking. Another reason for concern is the chronic long-lasting nature of the depression. When people are depressed, the emotions they experience are only on one half of the spectrum. They feel sad, lonely, disillusioned, fearful, frustrated, angry, guilty, shame… and sometimes no feelings, like empty or numb. What they rarely feel is joyful, peaceful, excited, proud, courageous or accepting. It is harder to experience the good things of

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life when we don’t have much experience with those feelings. It can become a selffulfilling rut, where we don’t come to expect to feel good and don’t know how to create those feelings. When a person is depressed for a long time they shut down opportunities to try things that might give them pleasure and, which ultimately, shape their identity. For example, imagine that someone decides to learn to play an instrument. They might find that they don’t really like it and drop it after a period of time. But they also might find they do like it and want to play it a lot. It becomes part of their identity… I am a guitar player or a piano player. This can be applied to many things in life. People can say, “I am a musician, an athlete, an artist, a writer, a climber, a swimmer, a cook, a dancer, a computergamer, a reader etc.” People can say, “I love puzzles, or fashion, or TV shows, or coffee, of photography, or travelling,” or… fill in the blank. The by-product of this is that it attracts us to people who have similar interests and helps us to find our place amongst others. I know that these things might be hard

to hear, given that your sister has not engaged in life and continues to avoid things she might need to face. Let me say that it is not too late for her. We all have within us an inner child who is resilient and ready to explore life when we are ready to let it. Yes, the hard part comes first. We have to be willing to face some difficult things before we can feel unburdened by the weight they have held on us. We have to be willing to change our approach to life, which is not so easy. I have worked with many people that are tired of being depressed and become willing to get support to find a different way of going about their lives. Encourage your sister to go to a psychotherapist, just to see if it can help. Also, think about the aspects of your life that give you pleasure, and bring her along. She might not like it at first, but it will give her some options she is not creating for herself. Good luck to you and your sister, — Douglas Do you have a question you would like Douglas’s help with? You can email him at Personal details will not be printed

Hanoi On the Town


23 Ngo Van So, Hoan Kiem Housed in a colonial building, bare brick, comfortable sofa-like seating and grungy decor related to a past make up the mix at this venue put together by the people behind Barbetta. 88 LOUNGE CONTEMPORARY WINE BAR

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

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

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

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

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


End of 264 Au Co, Tay Ho When it comes to outdoor parties, big outdoor parties, the setting at Eden makes this place difficult to beat, with well over a 1,000 revellers packing in at the weekends. Check out their Facebook page for the party list. ETE BAR FRENCH LOUNGE

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

25 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0986 495211 A small establishment from the minds behind the party and event organisers, LinkHanoi. The bar has tables filling the first floor and spilling onto the sidewalk as well as a small loft area for lounging. FURBREW CRAFT BEER BAR

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

27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: 01633 166170 Has a downstairs, Englishstyle pub garden area and an upstairs space dedicated to live music and live production. Weekly live events feature bands and DJs both from Vietnam and overseas — established and up and coming. HOA VIEN BRAUHAUS CZECH MICROBREWERY

1A Tang Bat Ho, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3972 5088 LE SOLEIL DDJ BAR / LATE NIGHT

284 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: 0915 663993 Open late, Le Soleil has become a place to be seen,

especially if you’re the dancing-into-the-early hours kind of person. Sofas, bar stools, menus on blackboards and neon-coloured lighting, there’s a grunge-style feel to the place, but it’s an ambience that Le Soleil’s customers seem to love. Has a pizza joint, Paolo and Chi, upstairs.

anyone looking for some good conversation. Cheap beers, oodles of Jameson’s and often open late. Oh, and check out the Danish hotdog stand out front. To die for. TADIOTO LOUNGE BAR AND CAFE

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



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

24B Tong Dan, Hoan Kiem Located close to the Opera House, this alternative, arty bar is garnished in red and white on the outside, with warm brown and tones of blue on the inside. Creating an atmosphere merging Shanghai and San Francisco, engaging contemporary artwork lines the walls at the latest incarnation of this wellknown and well-loved space.


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


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


25 Duong Ven Ho, Tay Ho Located on the lakeside lane just below Xuan Dieu, this warm, quiet and friendly pub offers a selection of international and local beers, wine, cocktails and a nice view of West Lake. Serving pies and pasties from The Cart, Vietnamese food from Dieu’s next door, or delivery from nearby favourites. Unpretentious, dog-friendly. ROCKSTORE LIVE MUSIC BAR

61 Ma May, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 01653 336087 Hanoi's home-made, homegrown version of Hard Rock Cafe without the stigma and the expensive prices. Nightly live music or DJing events are coupled with creative decor, a selection of Belgian Beer and a food menu. Check their Facebook page for details.


19th Floor, Pacific Place, 83B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3946 1901 The first up-on-high bar and restaurant in the capital and still a leader in its field. With DJs spinning EDM and great views of the city, this is a must for a more Vietnamese, top-shelf experience. THE UNICORN BAR COCKTAIL BAR & LOUNGE

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

199D Nghi Tam, Tay Ho A bar and grill with an eclectic, DIY-style semi-outdoor setting. Regular DJ nights and live music add to the great ambience. Check out their grill fare. Tasty.

114 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6675 9838 A miniscule sports bar on the main drag of Xuan Dieu is perpetually crowded with regulars drinking out front on plastic stools. Notorious for its burgers, cooked fresh to order, Tracy’s is also famous for their draft beers, claiming to serve the coldest draft beer in Hanoi.






12A Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0932 373802 A cheap, cheerful and welcoming slither of a watering hole popular with expats and

2A Tran Thanh Tong, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3972 8922 When Vuvuzela opened up, mixing the Hooters concept


Syrena Tower, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho A trendy, deli-style café connected to Annam Gourmet next door. Bright and fresh décor is complemented by shelves stocked with imported gourmet goods and cafeteria-style furniture. An eye-catching temptation for weary shoppers. CIAO CAFÉ RESTO LOUNGE

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

28 Thanh Nien, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3715 4240 This American-style chain cafe is a multilevel, indoor/ outdoor café overlooking Westlake. With its LA coffee and office feel, when you walk in you might just forget that you’re in Hanoi. CONG CAPHE LEFTIST ARTSY CAFE

152D Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung; 32 Dien Bien Phu, Ba Dinh; 27 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem; 15 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh; 100A Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho With a kitsch, communistdriven theme saturating this quaint cafe, most patrons are young Vietnamese bohemians and artsy expats. Sip on a blended cup of joe with beans from the Central Highlands, knock back one of the many different types of tea available or sip on freshly squeezed juice from the Spartan cups in one of the hippest café chains in town. D’ALICE BOUTIQUE CAFE

89 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung Put together coffee and cake and you get one of those timeless combinations. And if you really want to binge on the cake-end, then check out | October 2016 Word | 149



hen safe drinking water is nowhere to be found, you could always head on down to Furbrew for some hop-infused refreshment. The craft beer industry has been booming in Europe and North America for close to a decade now. From old-timers to young beer lovers looking for something more than the established names can offer, the customers keep coming and the breweries keep opening. Now Vietnam is getting in on the action. Craft beer is still a new industry in Vietnam. The first brewery began production in Ho Chi Minh City two years ago and the southern city now has seven micro-breweries,

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each creating its own style of beer. The largest of them, Pasteur Street Brewery, exports to several countries in the region. Hanoi has some catching up to do. Furbrew has seen the opportunity, and is aiming high.

Crafting the Culture Since opening in early July, they’ve already made their mark on Hanoi’s emerging craft beer scene. From their modest brewery in Tay Ho, they’ve put together an ever-expanding selection of beers ranging from the classic and easily accessible Chinook IP (VND90,000 per 375ml glass) to more acquired tastes like their dry, malty hopped to the extreme Early Bird brown ale (VND90,000) — originally inspired

by Brew Dog’s 5AM — and their notorious pho beer. Yes, a beer that tastes like pho bo. Man behind the scenes Thomas Bilgram is confident that Vietnam’s craft beer industry is about to take off big-time. “We’re competing with two other craft breweries in northern Vietnam, but there’s room for at least five more,” says Thomas, a seasoned veteran of beer making. “We help each other out; craft brewers are more family than they are competitors. I still plan on making Vietnam’s best beer, though”. And they’re on their way. Their Bee Prepared (VND110,000) honey ale is an intensely refreshing brew, addictive for those with a sweet tooth and their light and creamy



Beach Beer (VND80,000 / 375ml glass) is ideal while evening temperatures are still high. “We change the beers on tap with the seasons,” says Thomas. “In the summer you want a light and refreshing beer, and in the winter you want something warmer and heavier.” They have food delivery available from four nearby restaurants as well, a service that shows how the different businesses in the area are willing to help each other out.

Open Air Beer Garden The bar — located in the heart of Tay Ho — is a modest, comfortable area with black and white floor-tiling and wooden benches.

Outside is a small seating area, and, in total, the bar can accommodate around 50 people. While Thomas and I talk, midweek commuters fill the benches outside, loosening their top buttons and sipping on tankards. In September Furbrew expanded their reach — and seating capacity — by opening a large open-air beer garden behind the flower market off of Au Co. The site is the same premises that they brew the beer on, giving you a reminder of how local this brew is. The garden — called the 100 Garden — can seat 170 people in lines of wooden benches, in a clean and well-designed open space surrounded by palm trees. They’ll be hosting the 50th anniversary of

the Hash House Harriers running club there next month. The “drinkers with a running problem” will have their party accompanied by a spit roast and as much of Furbrew’s beer as they can handle (which will be a fair amount).

Local and Genuine There’s nothing like a tasty beer with close friends, especially after a long day. What Furbrew has to offer is good craft beer in a relaxed and friendly environment. — Billy Gray Furbrew is located at 8B/52 To Ngoc Van. The 100 Beer Garden is located behind the flower market off of Au Co | October 2016 Word | 151




he word “trill” comes from American hip-hop vernacular, a combination of the words “true” and “real”. Trill Cafe, then, might be a bit deceptive. It’s not limited to being a café — there’s a pool, a gym, a dinner menu, an event space — in fact, I’m not sure what it is. The interior is hip — large wooden tables, couches made out of wood pallets, a ceiling made of fake grass. But it shows signs of an identity crisis. One room is all black, neutral, orange, and wood, with red paper lanterns hanging about. The next room is all white, garden-style, with twinkly lights hanging in glass bottles, knick-knacks adorning the walls, and cheeky neon signs. Outside, there’s a sizeable roof deck, that I imagine is downright adorable at night, with more twinkly lights, ribbons blowing in the breeze and a large wooden platform covered in cushions for lounging. It’s a pleasant setup to host events, weddings, parties and the like, and I assume the variety in décor serves

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as multiple backdrops for photoshoots. There’s also a gym! Identity crisis, indeed.

Analysis Two major benchmarks by which a Vietnamese café can be measured are: Instagrammability, and the rate at which wedding photoshoots occur. My first visit to Trill Cafe coincided with two wedding photoshoots, and I counted three girls Instagramming their teas, plus one man with a GoPro on a selfie stick. Thus, it has earned a (rigorously scientific) rating of 8.36* recurring on the Vietnamese café scale. Outlying factors that contribute to this rating include a dedicated elevator for the café which is accessible only from the 25th floor, and an array of steak options. Indeed, the choices here extend far beyond coffee. And the view doesn’t hurt, either.

Poseurs The obvious draw here, though, is the pool.

Hanoi has few free rooftop pools, and the Trill Cafe fills that niche for those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to live in high-rise apartment buildings or fancy hotels. You’ll have to fight with a parade of brides-andgrooms posing poolside, but when I passed by on a Monday afternoon, the pool was empty. There’s a huge menu, and at VND55,000 for a cappuccino, the coffee is on the pricy side. I had a refreshing apple mint tea (VND45,000) and a chicken burger for lunch (VND95,000) that was slathered in cheese — hard to go wrong there. The menu is massive, with a large selection of salads (VND80,000), pizza (VND150,000) and steak entrees (VND250,000). Come for a coffee, stay for the view, or a pool party, or a steak, or a workout, or a fashion show. It’s all possible. — Jesse Meadows *This number is entirely made up and not at all scientific Trill Cafe is located on the 25th floor at 1 Nguy Nhu Kon Tum, Thanh Xuan, Hanoi

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Hanoi On the Town

d’Alice and its quirky interior. Perfect for that more modern combination of sweet tooth and iThingy. DUY TRI VIETNAMESE CAFÉ

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

If you like your coffee brewed in different styles and made with hard-to-find blends, this on-the-edge of the Old Quarter cafe is a dream. When it comes to good old caffeine, this small yet homely, vintage-styled cafe stands on its own. Also boasts and excellent selection of teas. KINH DO PATISSERIE / SIMPLE CAFE

252 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3825 0216 One of the longest-running cafes in town, this hole-inthe-wall, no frills café-cumrestaurant home-makes its patisseries and is renowned for its excellent yoghurt.


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

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

5 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3936 3228; Opera House, 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem; Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem With numerous locations around town, what originally started as a fourth-floor joint overlooking the lake has become one of the most popular, home-grown cafes in Vietnam. JOMA COFFEE/BAKERY

22 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3747 3388; 43 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6071 Popular café with a contemporary western feel to the counter-style service and atmosphere. The food is all there, too: breakfasts, salads, soups, ice cream, muffins, cakes, cereals and bagels. Starting in Laos in 1996, Joma moved to Hanoi in 2009. Joma contributes 2 percent of each sale to charitable organisations. KAFEVILLE COFFEE SPECIALIST & CAFE

22 Nguyen TrungTruc, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0906 221030

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14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3716 3397 A stunningly designed contemporary café and events space that screams out the words ‘modern art’. Housed in a converted colonial-era villa, a continuous flow of exhibitions, talks, experimental music and game shows make up the mix here. Great cuisine, too. MAISON DE TET DÉCOR LIFESTYLE CAFE

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

14-16 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem. (04) 3825 6334 Set in a slightly run down colonial villa, the faded but charmingly run down Frenchstyled retro interior, good WiFi and some of the best coffee in town makes this a great spot to while away a couple of hours. The food menu mixes Vietnamese fare with sandwiches, western and pan-Asian mains.





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

Nha 15, 76 To Ngoc Van, TayHo A pleasant, ground floor cafe with an outdoor terrace that sits below offices and a co-working space. Serves up coffee, juices, breakfasts and western-style cafe fare. Perfect for work, Wifi, a bite to eat and coffee. TET DÉCOR CAFÉ ART CAFÉ & ESPRESSO BAR

Villa 25, 1, 3 Ha, Dang Thai, Tay Ho Cloistered among the back streets of West Lake and sheltered from the noise of Xuan Dieu, TET Décor Café is a destination for those who appreciate life’s pleasures: coffee, food, art and music. Simple and unpretentious, the café has an old-fashioned warmth and rustic feel combined with unique and inspiring art installations. THE HANOI SOCIAL CLUB CAFÉ / CONTEMPORARY EATERY

6 Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 2117 A cozy midsize café/restaurant where you can forget the heat and bustle of Hanoi. The atmosphere is relaxed and here you can imagine, for a second, that you’re sitting in a European café. The ood is fresh and internationally inspired, and has an excellent top-floor terrace. YOLO FUNKY LIVE MUSIC CAFE


16-18 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 1745 This spacious spot on Food Street is open around the clock, offering Aussie-inspired comfort food along with more eclectic Irish nachos, cottage pies and pan-Asian fare. Upstairs is fit for social gatherings and live music while the no-smoking downstairs space is filled with people working and socialising. Serves as community centre, especially late at night.

32C Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh Boasting an abundance of communal seating, funky decor and a full roster of regular live music performances, this rollicking café-slash-bar has quickly earned a place in the hearts of Hanoi’s young and trendy. Fun, unpretentious and unashamedly quirky, it’s endearing use of recycled furniture — antiques and colourful artwork create a vibrant atmosphere — make for a popular hangout. Open 24 hours.

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


24 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3938 1155 AMATO TAPAS / FRENCH CUISINE

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

AU LAC DO BRAZIL BRAZILIAN 6A Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3845 5224 A Brazilian churrascaria offering all-you-can-eat grilled meat and seafood on the skewer. In typical Brazilian rodízio fashion, waiters bring cuts of meat to the table for patrons to pick and choose, all for a set price. They also offer wine pairings, a salad bar and an a la carte menu, with a creative selection of fruit caipirinhas.


288 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3974 5945 CAFÉ 129 MEXICAN/COMFORT FOOD

129 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3821 5342 Long-running, slightly incongruous hole-in-the-wall café and restaurant that has served up up a Western menu since the late 1990s. Check out their and their excellent breakfasts, all scoffed down in a traditional, Vietnamese environment. CHOPS GOURMET BURGER & CRAFT BEER

4 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6292 1044 Finally Hanoi has a dedicated gourmet burger joint, and

this West Lake eatery with its fan-cooled atmosphere get it just about right. This is comfort food at its finest. Served up with locally brewed craft beer, and this one’s a bit of a winner. COUSINS CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL

3 Quang Ba, Tay Ho, Tel: 01238 670098 A contemporary, Frenchinfluenced restaurant selling international cuisine at reasonable prices in a spacious, airy atmosphere. Blackboards, whitewashed, bare-brick walls, period tiles, a well-chosen wine list and an outdoor terrace overlooking the lake make up the formula. DA PAOLO CLASSIC ITALIAN

18 Lane 50/59/17 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6317 This airy, contemporary looking Italian restaurant next to the famed lawn chair and coconut café on West Lake has all the right ingredients to become a classic. Run by the long time former manager of Luna D’Autunno, it features scrumptious woodfired oven pizzas from VND120,000 and other Italian delicacies. Open every day for lunch and dinner, delivery is also available. DALUVA FUSION / MIDDLE-EASTERN

33 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 5831 A popular hang-out for expats and trendy Vietnamese in the Xuan Dieu area on West Lake. This bar and restaurant offers casual dining with a classy, Middle-Eastern twist, as well as wine, tapas, events and attractive décor. DON’S TAY HO CONTEMPORARY NORTH AMERICAN

16 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 3719 This lake-facing venue with its top floor Oyster Bar is the work of charismatic Canadian restaurateur and wine connoisseur Donald Berger. Focusing on comfort food done well, the main restaurant menu includes anything from wood-grilled rare tuna steak with fragrant Chinese black bean beurre noir to gourmet pizza and pasta dishes Excellent range of imported oysters, great breakfasts and an extensive wine list. EL GAUCHO STEAKHOUSE ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE

11 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3824 7280; 99 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6991 With venues in Saigon and Bangkok, the essence of El Gaucho is quality top grade

meats off the grill. Steak is the mainstay — the USDA cuts are to die for — but everything from chicken, pork and seafood is also up for grabs. Add to this a backdrop of low Latin music, low, subtle lighting, an extensive wine list and slick service. There’s a reason El Gaucho is so successful — everything’s being taken care of. FOOD EXCHANGE INTERNATIONAL BUFFET RESTAURANT

5 Duy Tan, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 3576 6666 Food Exchange offers up a well-priced international buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a live cooking station. Excellent Asian and Western cuisine set in a contemporary restaurant with trendy décor and a chilled out ambiance. FOODSHOP 45 INTERNATIONAL INDIAN

59 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3716 2959 Lakeside location and low bamboo seating, this eatery is one of the most popular Indians in town. Selling an international version of the mighty curry — they even sell pork and beef here — the menu keeps to the northern part of the subcontinent with masala, dopiaza, korma and the more Goan vindaloo taking centre stage. FRENCH GRILL 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. HIGHWAY 4 VIETNAMESE / ETHNIC

5 Hang Tre, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 4200; 25 Bat Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 0639; 575 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3771 6372 The home of Son Tinh liquor, Highway 4 is also known for its communal dining and ethnic food menu taking in dishes from around the regions of northern Vietnam. Try out their catfish spring rolls. Phenomenal! INDIA PALACE NORTH INDIAN

10B Quang An, Tay Ho Tel: 01247 668668 Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, so India Palace has once again returned to Tay Ho, this time on the strip between Don’s and The Warehouse. Tasty North Indian fare in a pleasant environment from the team behind Tandoor.


JW Marriott Hanoi, 8 Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Tel: (04) 3833 5588 With unique decor, contemporary ambience, a walk-in wine cooler and a delectable seafood bar, this classy restaurant offers guests a service experience with crafted food difficult to find in the capital. GREEN TANGERINE FRENCH / VIETNAMESE FUSION

48 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3825 1286


G2-G3 Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3758 2400 One of the larger and more comfortable bars in Hanoi, J.A.F.A. is a great place for drinking cocktails by the pool. The beverages are not the cheapest, but this is made up for by service and ambiance. They also have a full menu featuring familiar western dishes such as pizza and cheeseburgers and cater for large parties or dinner

functions. Periodic buffets and drink specials are also offered.

and booth-like seating on the upper floors.





23J Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 8388 An all-day eating and drinking lounge fit for all occasions, with of course, a focus on steak. Has three floors all with different vibes, the kind of slick service you’d expect from the Al Fresco’s Group and an extensive wine list. JASPA’S INTERNATIONAL / AUSTRALIAN

Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung (4th Floor), Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 8325 Recently refurbished, the Australian-influenced Jaspa’s is known for its attentive service, tasty food and large portions. Popular with both the western and Asian expat communities who come back again and again. The comprehensive menu is a fusion of western and Asian cooking. The cocktails come large and the wine is mainly New World. KOTO ON VAN MIEU RESTAURANT / CAFÉ / BAR

59 Van Mieu, Dong Da, Tel: (04) 3747 0337 The restaurant arm of Koto, an F&B training school for disadvantaged youth. Authentic Asian and European cuisine is served over four big floors of restaurant space. It’s cushioned, comfortable and has a rooftop terrace, too. Wrap it yourself nem, bun bo Nam bo, Koto burgers, pastas, fish and chips, chicken Kievs and sandwiches all under one homely roof. KY Y JAPANESE RICE EATERY

166 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3978 1386 Not to be mistake for a sushi joint, this wonderful restaurant is your typical, Japanese working person’s rice eatery. Has a bar area downstairs

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

5 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3995 0950 A small but eternally popular Spanish-themed café and bar with an extensive list of reliable cuisine. Tapas are available, as well as full courses such as veal, and duck with currant sauce. Known for its good, European-style coffee and first-floor terrace area with views over the cathedral. LA VERTICALE CONTEMPORARY FRENCH

19 Ngo Van So, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3944 6317 Situated in an art-deco villa, this establishment is run by the most famous French chef in the country. With modestly priced set lunches and subtle Vietnamese touches on the dishes, the up market establishment lures in its high class customers with quality Vietnamese-French fusion cuisine. LE BEAULIEU CLASSIC FRENCH / BUFFET

Sofitel Metropole Legend, 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 6919 The Metropole’s signature restaurant serving up both classic and contemporary

French fare. Buffet options mix with an a la carte menu and an ambience that could be straight out of Paris. LINGUINI FINI ITALIAN-AMERICAN

36-38 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3266 8968 With branches in Hong Kong and Manilla, the contemporary Italian-American Linguini Fini pulls no punches with its first outlet in Vietnam. Sleek modern décor, high quality cuisine, home-made pasta, reasonable prices and dishes cooked up with the freshest ingredients available are part of the deal, as are some damn fine pizzas. LUNA D’AUTUNNO

serves all the traditional Italian fare you could need — homemade mozzarella and fresh pasta, spinach and ricotta ravioli, cold cut boards, soups, salads and fish. Boasts an extensive wine list and a traditional wood fire oven. MING PALACE PAN-CHINESE

Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3823 8888 A fine dining destination at the Sofitel Plaza serving Cantonese 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.


27 Nam Ngu, Tel: (04) 3823 7338 This old-favourite Italian uses traditional wood ovens to prepare some of the city’s finest pizzas, which range from VND100,000 to buildyour-own-skies-the-limit. Set inside a large, thoughtful space seasoned chefs also make fresh pastas, soups and cheeses. Has regular live music and a great Italian wine list. MAY MAN CHINESE CUISINE PAN-CHINESE

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


11 Hang Hanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3828 7207 A contemporary and chic three-storey restaurant with a terrace and views over one of Hanoi’s best-known alleys. Serves up quality French cuisine such as: snails, foie gras, lobster, scallops, chateaubriand and tournedos Rossini. Does an excellent set menu and also has a daily specials board. MOOSE AND ROO CANADIAN / AUSTRALIAN RESTAURANT

42B Ma May, Hoan Kiem, Tel:(04) 3200 1289 Contemporary Australian and Canadian comfort food in a pleasant setting together with a nice bar area. Best known for their Scotch egg, poutine and burgers. Clever changing imagery on the walls.





23 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 6288 This long-running, cozy restaurant near the cathedral

The American Club, 19-21 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3939 2470 | October 2016 Word | 155



ocated in a secluded alley in Tay Ho, this is an excellent place to chill out on a sunny afternoon while enjoying a Moroccan tajine or French flammekueche and a Brazilian coffee. Chez Xuan was opened five years ago by current owner Pascal Baros and ever since, they've been offering a well-balanced fusion of culinary specialities, evening entertainment and a laid-back atmosphere. They already have a solid reputation for their food, and deservedly so. The place features a large, open space populated by trees and heavy wooden

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benches, making an ideal setting for a chilled-out Saturday evening of wellcooked food, alcoholic punch and live music. Their weekend entertainment line-up includes music to cater to a wide crosssection of tastes including but not limited to acoustic performances, DJs and Latin beat. “We like to mix it up,” says Pascal. This month they’ll be cooking up a meshoui, a northern African tradition of spit roasting an entire lamb over a barbecue. Be sure not to miss it if you like a meaty meal

on an autumn evening. There’ll no doubt be music to accompany the feast.

Generous The first dish I try is a buffalo steak (VND175,000), sizzling on a hot stone surrounded by crispy cooked vegetables and accompanied with a generous jug of peppercorn sauce and a dish of red onion chutney. The steak is tender, succulent and slightly rare in the centre. Juices spill onto the plate as I cut through it. The accompanying peppercorn sauce is spicy and there’s enough of it to cover each bite

Chez Xuan


of the steak and still have some left over. Halfway through my tasting, a second dish arrives; a salmon flammekueche (VND175,000). Flammekueche is a common dish in France. A rectangular, pizza-like offering, this one comes topped with decoratively arranged fresh salmon, and is an ideal size for sharing. By the time my third dish arrives on the table I’m beginning to wonder if my photographer and I can finish it all off between the two of us. A large clay bowl appears — the very same style used in North Africa for this very dish; Moroccan

tajine with beef kefta (VND210,000). The meat in this one is tender to the point that it falls apart on the end of my fork. Alongside the meat are soft vegetables and potatoes, slowly boiled in the spicy and flavoursome broth. A heavy taste of cumin is present throughout. Mouth-watering. To go with the meal there’s a wide selection of wines ranging from VND585,000 to VND1.64 million per bottle. Beers are available at the bar, as well as Brazilian espresso (VND40,000) and Bellany ice cream in four flavours (VND80,000 for three scoops).

And a Game of Petanque? If you’re looking for a side hobby, Chez Xuan regularly hosts tournaments of petanque, a French game similar to bowls where the aim is to throw heavy metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball, and knock your opponent’s balls out of the field if you can. With several teams competing in the Hanoi Petanque League, it’s the kind of sport you can play without feeling guilty for having just polished off a bottle of wine. — Billy Gray Chez Xuan is located at Ngo 41, 76 An Duong, Tay Ho, Hanoi | October 2016 Word | 157




nother year has gone by already. Brace yourselves: Flu season is coming. And along with the coughing, fevers and aches, you can expect a lot of unreliable or downright wrong information about the flu vaccine. While you can’t entirely germ-proof yourself or your child, you can learn to separate fact from fiction, keep your family healthier, save time, money and frustration. Let’s start by putting some of the more common myths and misunderstandings to rest.

I still have time — flu season hasn’t started yet The timing of flu season is unpredictable. While it peaks from October to January, it’s hard to say when the virus will start making its rounds. Not only that, but it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to kick in. If you procrastinate, you could end up getting it too late in the season to help. And what’s worse than getting both a shot and sick?

I’m protected because I received the flu vaccine last year It’s not true because the virus strains can change every year, so last year’s vaccine may not be effective against this year’s virus strains. The 2016 to 2017 flu vaccine contains the following: A/California/7/2009 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus

Guillain-Barre Syndrome after receiving the flu vaccine — People who are moderately or severely ill — they should wait until they’re better before being vaccinated

The flu shot will make me sick Flu shots are made with inactivated flu virus, which cannot give you the actual flu. The most common reaction is soreness or redness at the site of the actual infection. A very small percentage of people will get a low-grade fever and aches as their body builds up an immune response, but this will only last one to two days.

I can’t get a flu shot because I have a cold

Antibiotics can kill the germs that cause colds and the flu

As long as you don’t have a fever above 38 Celsius or any other significant illness, it’s okay to get the flu shot before your cold clears up.

Antibiotics work well against bacterial infections, but they don’t treat a viral infection like the flu. If someone develops a serious complication of the flu, such as pneumonia, then they need antibiotics. But antibiotics won’t help your flu at all and may actually cause unwanted side effects.

Flu vaccinations are only for older people Not true. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the flu vaccine for anyone six months and older. The only people that the CDC says should not receive the flu shot are pretty rare cases, so you’re running out of excuses. These are: — People who have had a severe reaction to the influenza vaccine — People with a history of

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I’m pregnant so I should not get the shot Incorrect. The flu vaccine protects both you and your baby. The flu is, in fact, more likely to cause severe illness and complications if you’re expecting. It can also cause premature labour and other health issues for your baby. And here’s

good news; the flu shot you get now will protect your baby after birth.

Flu vaccines don’t work. I’ll probably catch the flu anyway Every year, scientists attempt to predict which strains of the flu virus will be most prevalent that fall. It’s a tough estimate, as the flu can mutate in months, and sometimes even within a single season. But if you do end up catching the flu, you’ll have a much milder case of it. Flu vaccines reduce the risk of flu substantially, though their effectiveness in any particular year varies. The flu vaccine cuts your risk of getting the flu by 50 to 70% . So if you think the flu isn’t a big deal, then you’ve probably never had the flu. Come visit Family Medical Practice Hanoi in October and November, you’ll see people of all ages, dehydrated and feeling miserable. Even worse, certain groups of people are even more vulnerable and can develop deadly complications from the flu. Thousands of people die every year from the flu — as many as 49,000, with over 200,000 hospitalized. It’s that time of the year again — flu shot time. Go get your flu shot! Dr. Philippe Jean Collin is a French pediatrician working for Family Medical Practice, Hanoi. For more information or medical advice, email hanoi@

Hanoi On the Town

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

4 Ly Dao Thanh, HoanKiem Ramen, stewed pork banh my, ha cao dumplings and banh my trung, all served up in an eclectic, Berlinesque setting a stone’s throw from the Opera House. Add in a beer, a G and T or a coffee, and this is the perfect munchie-satisfying joint to keep you going at any time of the day. NAMASTE HANOI PAN-INDIAN

46 Tho Nhuom, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3935 2400 The well-loved Namaste specialises in dishes from both northern and southern India — using Halal meat throughout. Hosted by the gregarious Gopi, a meal will cost you between VND150,000 and VND300,000 and everything is there, from curries and breads to soups and desserts. NAN N KABAB 49 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 0922 087799 Specialising in Pakistani cuisine and of course nan bread and kebabs, this semioutdoor, bamboo tabled, laid back eatery also sells fare from Afganistan and India. In a sentence? Curry, but not as you know it. NINETEEN 11 INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN

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


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

3 Nguyen Khac Can, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 9080 Just a stroll away from the Hanoi Opera House, Pane e Vino serves up authentic Italian food and has done for as long as anyone can remember. Renowned for the highly rated, oven fresh pizzas and large variety of pasta and salad dishes — look forward to fine food done well at this eatery that has the feel of Europe. Huge wine lists, friendly staff and a loveable owner. PIZZA 4P’S JAPANESE PIZZA JOINT

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

57 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3944 0204 Brought to you by a group of former disadvantaged youth from Hanoi’s own KOTO, this unique fine dining restaurant, bar and lounge blends the old with the new. Vietnamese fusion cuisine, like profiteroles with green tea and café fillings, a private

chef’s table with a kitchen view, and an extensive wine list combined with modern formal styling bring a unique experience to Hanoi. SAINT HONORE BOULANGERIE / BISTRO

5 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3933 2355 This bakery and Frenchstyle 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. THE CART SANDWICH SHOP / CAFÉ

8B, Lane 1, Au Co, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3938 2513 Small cozy café and sandwich bar hidden away in Nghi Tam Village. Serves and delivers tasty baguettes, homemade juices, quiches, pies, muffins and cakes. The delivery service is quick and reliable, which makes this lunchtime favourite ideal for when you need to eat at the desk. THE KAFE CONTEMPORARY CAFE / CUISINE

18 Dien Bien Phu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3747 6245 Spacious, casual, energetic and beautifully designed, The KAfe serves up unfussy comfort food that aims to satisfy the modern urban diner. Preparing fresh food and drinks that show respect to natural ingredients and flavours from around the globe, this café-cum-restaurant is a popular choice for Hanoi’s metrosexual community. WANNAWAFFLE WAFFLES

27 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem; 138 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung; Unit 108, Indo-

china Plaza, 241 Xuan Thuy, Cau Giay Waffles, but not as you know it. Here it’s about taking this humble dish and recreating it in a contemporary environment in as many ways as is humanly possible. Ever had a matcha waffle? What about a waffle stuffed with cream cheese and smoked salmon? How about a banoffee pie or a pizza waffle? Wannawaffle serves up all these creations and much more. WRAP & ROLL 5th Floor, Trang Tien Plaza, 24 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3824 3718 The lime green walls and bright pastel colours of Wrap ‘n Roll are just part of the theme of this homegrown, Vietnamese brand which is all about spring rolls of all types, and healthy, Hue-influenced cuisine. Now with two restaurants in Hanoi — the second in Royal City. ZENITH VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT HOLISTIC VEGETARIAN

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




67 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem BUN CHA DAC KIM BUN CHA

1 Hang Manh, Hoan Kiem; 67 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem KCC (KIEN CAN COOK) COM RANG DUA BO



54 Hang Chieu, Hoan Kiem PHO BO CU CHIEU PHO BO

48 Hang Dong, Hoan Kiem PHO CUON HUNG BEN PHO CUON

26 Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh PHO GA BA LAM PHO GA

7 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem PHO GA HANG DIEU PHO GA


49 Bat Dan, Hoan Kiem PHO LY QUOC SU PHO BO



18 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho

13 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung PHO TRON MIXED PHO

14 Hang Ga, Hoan Kiem

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






6 Ngo 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho

23 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem





25 Hang Ca, Hoan Kiem

44 Hang Hom, Hoan Kiem | October 2016 Word | 159






Lee Shayi catches the bouquet — a moment captured in this photo


ou can call it a myth if you will, but that’s me at my best friend’s wedding exactly one year ago and I caught the bouquet (and no, she did not throw it to me.) And now I’m getting married, I really am the next one in line. I have lived in Hanoi for three years teaching English. Now my life is about to change in the most dramatic way and I have no idea how to adapt to the change. I did what few people are ever able to do in Hanoi. I found love in a hopeless place, at 2am. I met my fiancé in Rastaman a few glasses of wine down. We bumped into each other on the dance floor. We went outside to chat and discovered that we had both just come out of long-term relationships and were so broken by the events of the previous months, that when we met, society would say we were simply each other’s rebounds. But there was nothing sexual about our connection in the beginning (that came later). It was more about having someone who made me want to try again and made me feel like the heartbreak would not last forever, and yes, that I may not possibly die

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alone as I had started preparing for. We met for dinner the next night (sober) and the rest is history. I found someone I know will hold my hand as I meander, stumble and learn to master this thing called life. Some angels are earthbound.

The Nuptials So fast forward a few months and I’m planning a wedding, and also decorating the baby room. Yes, I’m pregnant (another story, for another day) and I have no idea how to even begin this journey. I feel like I’m writing an exam I didn’t study for, or worse yet, I studied, but all the wrong things. Ask me where to go any night of the week and I can suggest something for you without looking it up. Call me on Friday and I am Sia’s Chandelier and Katy Perry’s Last Friday Night all rolled into one. Well, I was. But nothing changes your life like another human being growing inside of you, especially when it happens so suddenly. I’ve gone from wine to water overnight. I had to give up smoking, something I loved. Now I can’t enjoy salmon — my absolute favourite food — without worrying about mercury poisoning

or cyanide and toxic waste spills in the water. I have never personally swum in West Lake, but I used to enjoy my Chicken Street, chicken guilt and fear free, and have once or twice (many, many times) drunk water straight from the tap. (Sometimes I woke up, hung over like a demon and didn’t have bottled water). Yes. Judge me to make yourself feel better. But now I find myself faced with fears I never had, questions I don’t have the answer to. Where are all the other mothers? Where do people with children go for fun on weekends? Where do people with children go, period? So now it is my mission to bring together the mothers of Hanoi. I love my friends, but none of them have children, and I have no immediate family around. I’m calling in for back-up. I can’t be the only woman going through this, so I’m sending out word, let the mothers of Hanoi unite and come together. In the upcoming articles Lee will be discussing all things children related. If you have any messages, questions or would like to let us know about an upcoming family friendly event, please email





rare literary and botanical gem recently came into our possession. It’s a 1990 collaboration between the World Health Organization and the Institute of Materia Medica, Hanoi. It’s 400 pages, in English, and contains a wealth of information about Medicinal Plants in Viet Nam. Part One gives a general introduction to the research that has been undertaken on medicinal plants including the drying, processing and storing of these plants. As pointed out, around 2,000 plant species have been identified and more than 1,000 folk remedy prescriptions compiled. Part Two presents an alphabetized list of the 200 most common flowering species of wild and cultivated medicinal plants, including introduced species. Each plant has a full-page, hand-painted colour plate that is headed by the plant’s scientific name. Leaves, flowers, fruit, seeds and root structures are highlighted. Its accompanying page gives common Vietnamese and English names, and information including a concise plant description, its flowering period, its distribution, parts used for medicinal purposes, the chemical composition of those parts, and their therapeutic uses. The book will appeal to amateur and professional botanists and to medical professionals who want to extend their knowledge about folk or alternative remedies.

Art Deco-Ed Hanoi Long-time expat, English teacher and historian, Linda Mazur has spent years investigating an architectural phenomenon that is distinctly Hanoian and that is increasingly under threat. Linda became infatuated with buildings designed by Vietnamese architects from 1933 to 1944 which were inspired by overseas art-deco trends and had features that facilitated comfortable living in Hanoi’s hottest and coldest months. Such buildings were made possible by the availability of concrete from Vietnam’s first cement factory near Hai Phong and feature elegant, sleek lines that differentiate

them from the popular colonial French buildings that preceded them. Examples of this Art Deco-International Modern architecture can be discovered in parts of Ba Dinh and Hoan Kiem but Linda, rather than give an exhausting overview, has honed in on a fascinating group of houses in the streets surrounding Thien Quang Lake. Even better, she gives us a fascinating portrait of the people who built and lived in those houses. These were rich Vietnamese who took advantage of cheap land sales around the lake after it was reclaimed from the swamp. Linda has provided a well-researched, excellently illustrated, and warmly written small volume that adds a valuable insight into a period of Hanoi’s story that is sparsely documented.

Hidden Houses in Hanoi and the Stories They Tell provides a map that locates these houses in the streets around the lake, and information so that they can be recognised in spite of recent incidental or architectural bastardisation.

Megacity Vivacious French geographer Sylvie Fanchette, under the auspices of the Centre Population et Development-Universite Paris Descartes has edited chapters by 17 professional architects, city planners, historians and fellow geographers from Vietnam and France. Ha Noi — a Metropolis in the Making investigates the proposed development of Hanoi into a regional megacity. Starting from Hanoi’s beginning as a small regional town surrounded by rural agricultural craft and food-supplying villages, the book leads on to 2008 when Hanoi expanded to include some surrounding provinces, and a master plan was established by the government to guide the city’s expansion up to 2030. Problems hindering the plan’s implementation include the fact that greater Hanoi is being built on a flood plain that

is supposed to drain water away from the core urban area. Apparently, developers who buy land for development often ignore this. And when villages and farmlands are subsumed by the city’s rapid growth, thousands of rural livelihoods are jeopardized due to loss of means of food production. Furthermore, monetary compensation to villagers is much less than the free market value. While the middle classes will enjoy living in places with grand names like Splendora or Gloriosa, the majority of the population — the low-paid working class — may have to relocate to high-rises on city perimeters that soon become urban slums. This pattern is common to nearly all Southeast Asian megacities. Outside of privileged gated areas, the lack of green and recreational spaces affects quality of life — as it already does in today’s Hanoi — where parks and usable pedestrian and cycle ways are inadequate. Of course a lung searing horror-scape could emerge if public transportation comes too late into the equation.

Craft Villages Fanchette’s first collaborative book about Hanoi, Discovering Craft Villages, was originally published in 2010 and has now been revised. Craft villages within 20km of central Hanoi were documented by the authors, and easy itineraries are set out for tourists to follow on day trips exploring wicker weaving, silk weaving, paper making, furniture and lacquer production, and ceramic centres. Six years later some of the villages have been enveloped or made extinct. Some have industrialised production — often with severe polluting effects. These often employ poorly educated locals or rural migrants in hazardous conditions, on low wages without a social security safety net. Fanchette’s hope is that cultural tourism may help remaining craft centres continue with keeping traditional skills alive. Truong is an avid reader and runs Bookworm (44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Hanoi). For more information on go to | October 2016 Word | 161

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Day Tripper: Long Son Island / Body & Temple / Location, Location, Location / Bar Stool / Coffee Cup / Top Eats A / Top Eats B / A World of Good / Know Your City Photo by Bao Zoan

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HCMC Essentials




223 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1 Baguettes, croissants, pizza, cakes, muffins, donuts and brownies, this bakery and café all in one is a popular stop for those heading through the Backpacker District. Online ordering available. BREAD TALK CHAIN BAKERY

106 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3; 2 Cao Thang, Q3; Vivo City, 1058 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 A Singaporean bakery chain that is vying for the Vietnam cake and bread market. Produces Asian-friendly patisseries and cakes in a spacious, airy atmosphere. Has eight locations and counting. HARVEST BAKING AMERICAN BAKERY With a production facility in Thu Duc, Harvest Baking focuses on both the retail and non-retail trade, cooking up the best American-style bakery products in the city. Has an excellent home delivery service. Check the website for details. L’AMOUR BAKERY & CAFE

Hung Phuoc 2, Le Van Thiem, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 4072 TOUS LES JOURS


40 Nguyen Hue, Q1; 60-62 Le Loi, Q1 Selling up a good selection of English language books — in a range of reading areas — this multi-storied bookshop also does stationery, toys and a range of related products. Has a good selection of ESL texts. LIBRAIRIE FRANCAISE NAM PHONG 82 Truong Dinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 7858 Nam Phong Bookstore was founded at the of end 2002 in Ho Chi Minh City as the first and only francophone bookshop in the whole of Vietnam. Only books written in French are for sale, covering for all ages and tastes. A catalogue is available at PNC VIETNAMESE LANGUAGE BOOKSTORE

2A Le Duan, Q1; 2nd Floor Parkson Center, 35-45 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Although there are some English-language texts in this modern, well laid out bookstore, the focus here is on all things Vietnamese. Worth checking out, thought, for the occasional gem.



180 Hai Ba Trung, Q1; 59 Tran Hung Dao, Q1; 187 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1; 66B Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3; Lotte Mart, 469 Nguyen Huu Tho, Q7; 17/14 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 The background of this Korean bakery chain makes interesting reading. Established in 1996, in 2004 they opened in the US, 2005 in China and 2007 in Vietnam. French-styled with an Asian touch, the bare-brick décor makes this a popular joint. Has over 25 locations in Vietnam. VOELKER BAKERY

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.

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merce aims to create an effective network of business associates together and to facilitate discussion forums about business in Vietnam.

AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (AMCHAM) New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 3562.

NORDCHAM 17th Floor, Petroland Tower, 12 Tan Trao, Q7, Tel: (08) 5416 0922 PHILIPPINES BUSINESS GROUP VIETNAM 40/4 Pham Viet Chanh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3518 0045 SINGAPORE BUSINESS GROUP 6th Floor, Unit 601, Tran Quy Building, 57 Le Thi Hong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3046



37 Thao Dien, An Phu, Q2, Tel: 0917 567506 In addition to a varied selection of garments for babies and children up to 10 years old, Little Anh-Em stocks sleeping bags and other accessories. L’USINE LIFESTYLE / ACCESSORIES

First floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6674 9565 Exclusive labels, elegant and sophisticated clothing and casual high-quality cottons are stocked at this boutique/ café. Lifestyle accessories include shoes, homewares, knickknacks, cameras, stationery and a range of vintage bicycles. MANDARINA TAILOR-MADE SHOES

171 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 5267


9 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2394 Monday to Sunday, 9am to 8pm This centrally located unique boutique has been converted into an eco-boutique which exclusively retails the complete Anupa leather and semi-precious jewellery range as well as other unique eco brands such as bamboo eyewear, pendant scarves and cushion covers. BAM SKATE SHOP



152 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3820 2620 9am to 10pm PAPAYA BUDGET CLOTHING


39 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 4556 U.BEST HOUSE TRAVEL GEAR

163 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1, Tel: 0978 967588


1B Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 2210 2084


AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (AUSCHAM) 2nd Floor, Eximland Building, 179EF Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3, Tel: (08) 3832 9912 BRITISH BUSINESS GROUP OF VIETNAM (BBGV) 25 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 8430 CANADIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (CANCHAM) Room 305, New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 3754 Open to all nationalities, the Canadian Chamber of Com-


10 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 8755; 54-56 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 6270 5928 Quality, original, Vietnamthemed tees are the showpiece at this airy French-run store. Designs are inspired by anything from the Vietnamese flag, local telecom wires and motorbikes to creative, Siddharta-style imagery. IPA-NIMA BAGS & ACCESSORIES

77-79 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 3277; 71 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 2701

DIAMOND PLAZA 34 Le Duan, Q1. Tel: (08) 3825 7750 9am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court


126 Hung Vuong, Q5. Tel: (08) 2222 0383 9.30am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court



174 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 0903 641826


80 Xuan Thuy, Q2 Stocks a wide range of Vespa-inspired tidbits and memorabilia including t-shirts, riding gear, Italian helmets, Respro face masks, DVDs, books, bags, magazines, posters and more. Rental scooters and bikes available.

CORPORATE GIFTS AMBRIJ 14-16-18 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8364 A one-stop-shop concept company providing marketing services including POSM, corporate gifts and luxury ranges of business gifts from international brands like Swarovski, Cerruti 1881, Nina Ricci, Christian Lacroix,


35-45 Le Thanh Ton, Q1. Tel: (08) 3827 7636 9.30am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court


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

VINCOM CENTER 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1. Tel: (08) 3936 9999 9am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court


54-56 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 0339 9am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court

Ungaro and more. Also do event management services.



OVERLAND CLUB 35Bis Huynh Khuong Ninh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3820 9734 The Overland Club organises pottery classes, VietnameseJapanese cooking classes, cultural art events and monthly special activities, such as the Soba Festival, pottery painting classes, the art of decorating paper and multinational cuisine days. SAIGON COOKING CLASSES BY HOA TUC 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8485 Learn to cook quality Vietnamese cuisine with local specialist Hoa Tuc. The threehour lesson, conducted by an English-speaking Vietnamese chef, includes a trip around Ben Thanh Market to gather fresh ingredients for the class. VIETNAM COOKERY CENTRE Suite 45, 4th Floor, 26 Ly Tu Trong, Q1,Tel: (08) 3827 0349


268B Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Dist.3, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3932 6455; 30A Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3840 3946 AUSTIN HOME REPRO FURNITURE / FABRICS

42 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 0023 This An Phu-based shop stocks antique repro furniture. All products are samples, so it’s limited and exclusive with only one or two pieces of each particular item. Also has a great range of imported fabrics up on the 2nd floor and an in-house sewing room for cushions, sofas and curtains. Offers custom-made furniture and delivery within four weeks. CHI LAI



175 Ha Noi Highway, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4543 This well-known Vietnamese furniture brand is a good choice for most families with its respected highquality designs and competitive prices. Located on the corner of Pham Ngoc Thach

and Dien Bien Phu, the spacious showroom specialises in sofas and other furniture such as table sets, shelves and kitchen cabinets. There is a large selection of carpets as well as numerous choices of curtains and accessories. EM EM SOUVENIRS

38 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4408 8am to 9.30pm FEELING TROPIC FURNITURE & ACCESSORIES

51 Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2181 Specialising in interior designs and landscaping, this three-storey building is so packed full of items for sale that it doesn’t seem to have enough space for all of its products. The basement storey carries outdoor furniture such as bamboo-imitation and mosaic table sets, while the second level stocks all types of indoor furniture except beds. Accessories are found on the level above. MEKONG CREATIONS FAIR TRADE CRAFTS

35-37 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 2210 3110 NGUYEN FRERES NIK-NAKS / CRAFTS

2 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 9459 8am to 8pm MEKONG QUILTS HAND-MADE QUILTS

1st Floor, 68 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 2210 3110 NHA XINH HOME FURNISHINGS

2nd Floor, Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 6115 REMIX DECO INDOOR FURNITURE

222 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 4190 THE FURNITURE HOUSE HOME FURNISHINGS

81 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4640/4643 THE FURNITURE WAREHOUSE EUROPEAN-STYLE FURNITURE

3B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 6657 0788 vn | October 2016 Word | 167

DAY TRIPPER Tucked into the coast on the way to Vung Tau is an island that is still untouched. Vu Ha Kim Vy heads out of town for a short break


ong Son may not be familiar to many of you, although it isn’t located far from Vung Tau. It’s an island lying 100km away from Ho Chi Minh City and is noted for its oyster farms and floating villages. The island still retains its natural beauty and untouched landscapes. Long Son is 92km2 of which 54km2 is mainland and the rest is saline soil, swamp and mangrove. The people are friendly and hospitable and make a living from fishing, salt fields and tourism.

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Nha Lon Long Son Nha Lon Long Son (Long Son’s Big House) is perhaps the only man-made structure on the island worth visiting. It’s also called Den Ong Tran (Mr. Tran's Temple) and is a complex of old architecture made from red roof bricks and rare woods. This two-hectare area includes a temple, a hall, a school, a market, an old house and Mr. Tran’s tomb. In 1900, Mr. Tran, aka Le Van Muu, arrived from Ha Tien with 20 family members by boat. He decided to settle down and spread his own religious teachings on the island.

In 1910, he started the construction of the complex and finished it in 1929. The complex has been designated a national cultural and historical relic since 1991. According to the old lady who sells drinks in the alley just in front of the main entrance, the best times to visit Nha Lon Long Son are the anniversary of Mr. Tran’s death (Feb. 20 in the lunar calendar) and the double ninth festival (Sep. 9 in the lunar calendar) as there are celebrations with a lot of visitors, particularly from the southeast and the Mekong Delta.

Long Son Island


Floating Villages From Nha Lon Long Son, a couple of roads take you round the island: the buildings and the countryside look like they would have done 20 or 30 years ago. One option is to take the main road towards Long Son floating village. What started as a few families providing a fishing service to tourists, gradually expanded into a large village with floating seafood restaurants. All seafood is caught live and cooked immediately for freshness. Other floating villages are located at Ba Nanh and Cha Va Bridge, the recently built

roadway that now connects Long Son with the island next door, Go Gang. Head over the bridge and you’ll find yourself driving through cleared areas of mangrove on the back road to Vung Tau. An alternative is to take a boat to the bay opposite Vung Tau. Here you can see the peninsular, the two mountains and the city from a distance. The cost depends on how long and far the trip is. Long Son is not an obvious first choice as a travel destination, but makes an interesting diversion for anyone heading to and from Vung Tau.

Getting There Take Highway 51 towards Vung Tau either from the roundabout junction just south of Bien Hoa with Highway 1 or via the Cat Lai back route that takes you through Nhon Trach. Just before you reach Ba Ria, there is a signpost and a turning on the right to Long Son Island. The trip from Saigon takes between 90 minutes and two hours. | October 2016 Word | 169

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HCMC Essentials

CYCLING FIRSTBIKE VIETNAM FirstBIKE balance bikes for two to five-year-olds eliminate the need for training wheels or stabilisers, and support proper balance development. JETT CYCLES OWN-BRAND CYCLING SHOWROOM

384 Tran Phu, Q5; 168 Vo Thi Sau, Q3 The showroom home of Jett Cycles, a homegrown cycling company with all products designed in Vietnam. Sells up budget bicycles to high-end product, with the full range of accessories in between. Also stocks GT and Cannondale.

ELITE DENTAL GROUP. 57A, Tran Quoc Thao, Q3, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3933 3737 Elite Dental is an international and well-equipped clinic, which provides specialized dental services including ALL-ON-4 Implants, ALL-ON-6 implants, dental implants, prosthodontics, Invisalign & orthodontics. Luxury design and our dental experts will bring you an extremely comfortable experience.



44 Phan Van Nghi (S51-1 Sky Garden 2), Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 3114 Specialising in Trek and Surly, Saigon Cycles is also famed for its Sunday morning rides. Sells the full range of accessories and also does bicycle repairs.

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. MINH KHAI DENTAL CLINIC INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC


250 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6405 The go-to location for all your cycling needs in District 2. Sells a range of brands including Cannondale, Jett, GT and Aluboo, as well as the full selection of accessories. Organises regular cycle rides, does repairs and rentals. Check for more details.



2 Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 6222 24, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6282 8822 Long–established, modern clinic with French, Canadian, Belgian & Vietnamese dentists. A favourite of the foreign residential community due to its modern and effective treatments allied with extremely reasonable prices.


Kumho Asiana Plaza, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8800

WESTCOAST INT’L DENTAL CLINIC INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC Ben Thanh Clinic, 27 Nguyen Trung Truc, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6999 Thao Dien Clinic, 27 Nguyen Ba Lan, Q.2, Tel: (08) 35 191 777 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. | October 2016 Word | 171



very country possesses some interesting dishes and traditions. Asia has many dishes that make me look twice. My Vietnamese work colleagues look wearily at my lunches even though they consist mainly of chicken or fish and vegetables. Nowadays what we eat is dictated mainly by culture. Humans tend to culturally eat. Let’s take breakfast for example; in France, it commonly consists of a coffee and croissant, in Asia it’s pork and rice, in New Zealand, the UK or Australia, it would be some sort of cereal or toast. Humans used to eat out of need for sustenance. Through history we consumed foods based on nutritional content, not on what society, advertising and industry dictated. Furthermore, a lot of the “food” we now consume contains empty calories, loads of chemicals and often toxins. For example, finding good quality grass-fed meat in Vietnam is difficult. There is a need to consider other forms of nutrient-rich foods. One of the most overlooked sources of good nutritious foods is insects. I am sure everyone has seen the carts selling the little critters somewhere in Asia. The National Autonomous University of Mexico found that 113 countries across the world eat insects as a substitute for meat with a variety of 1,700 different species of insects being consumed.

Evolution If you think this is disgusting, you need to

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consider that insects were a large part of a Palaeolithic diet. A paper called Calcium in Evolutionary Perspective by S. Boyd Eaton and Dorothy A. Nelson states that for “a total of 150 million years — three quarters of the entire time mammals have existed — our ancestors were primarily insectivorous.” You may have heard of the Paleo Diet that has become popular in the past few years. One problem with this diet is that the authors completely overlook our ancestors’ consumption of insects. Hunting animals was dangerous, which means meat was scarce or at least not caught on a regular basis, insects were more bountiful and safer to harvest. Early hunter-gatherers had about a 20 percent success rate when hunting game. Therefore, their tribe would have starved if it weren’t for a steady stream of nutrients and calories consumed by gathering and foraging foods such as tubers, greens, fruits and small animals including insects and other invertebrates. The demand for protein required a constant intake of insects. Insects are highly nutritious. When we compare the nutritional value of insects to beef and even fish it is clear that insects come out on top. For example, caterpillars contain higher levels of iron and vitamins than ground beef, while being par on protein content. Likewise, crickets have higher levels of calcium, which is an essential nutrient for bone development.


Insects are also a much higher quality food compared to fruits, leaves, flowers and even nuts. Insects, in fact, provide all the nutrients that drive human physical development; protein, iron, calcium and, best of all, unsaturated long-chain essential fatty acids. National Geographic suggests that besides the nutritional value, insects are environmentally sustainable. Insects take very little water, feed and transport fuel to be farmed and harvested compared to livestock and vegetables. For example, 10 pounds of beef requires one hundred pounds of feed; the same amount of feed would produce four times the amount of crickets. Vietnam has an abundance of insects available for consumption. I have eaten ants, tarantulas, crickets, scorpions and coconut grubs all of which were very tasty. Coconut grubs were particularly delicious and packed full of goodness of their home… the superfood coconut. From all the research it seems that insects were a large part of our ancestors’ diets for approximately 2.5 million years. A great source of protein and essential nutrients, if eating creepycrawlies never occurred to you, try them. You’ll be eating healthy and saving the environment. Phil is founder and master trainer at Body Expert Systems. Contact him on 0934 782763, at his website or through Star Fitness (

HCMC Essentials


Md6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7 (across from FV Hospital), Tel: Tel: (08) 5410 0100 Specialising in healthcare, dental services and chiropractic medicine, the recently opened Maple Healthcare comes replete with the latest technology together with efficient and comfortable service.

M M M GALLERIES CRAIG THOMAS GALLERY 27i Tran Nhat Duat, Q1, Tel: 0903 888431 Craig Thomas Gallery offers a compelling mix of up-andcoming and established local artists. In operation since 2009, its founder has been promoting Vietnamese art for a decade. Now has a second newer gallery at 165 Calmette, Q1, HCMC DOGMA 8A/9C1 Thai Van Lung, Q1 The home of Vietnamese propaganda art and a collection put together over the last two decades by art collector Dominic Scriven, the majority of the work comes from the war period when provocative poster art was used to inspire and motivate. Sells prints of the originals and related products. GALERIE QUYNH 65 De Tham, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 8019 In addition to working with artists based in Vietnam, Galerie Quynh also exhibits the work of artists from around the world. This wellestablished gallery supports education through talks, lectures and publications. HO CHI MINH CITY FINE ARTS MUSEUM 97A Pho Duc Chinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4441 Set in one of the finest remaining buildings of colonial-era Vietnam, this multi-storey museum houses collections spanning centuries of Vietnamese art. Has regular exhibitions. SAN ART 48/7 Me Linh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 6294 7059 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.

imported foods, also sells frozen meat and fish, fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices and a wide selection of dairy products.




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. CLASSIC FINE FOODS GROCERIES & IMPORTER

No. 17, Street 12 (perpendicular to Tran Nao street), Q2, Tel: (08) 3740 7105 Supplier for the city’s five– star hotels, also distributing brands like San Pellegrino, Rougie foie gras, Galbani cheese, fresh poultries, meat, live seafood and vegetables. You can now find all the products at the gourmet shop on location.

MEATWORKS BUTCHERY BUTCHERS 1 Street 2, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2565 Focusing on the retail trade, the meat at this Australianmanaged butcher comes pre-prepared and, if you so wish, pre-marinated. Sells up some of the best imported meats in town together with homemade sausages, free-range products and excellent Australian grassfed steak.


58 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 1318 A small yet amazingly wellstocked store that puts many a supermarket in this country to shame. As well as a dizzying selection of

15/5 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8826 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. VEGGY’S GROCERS & DELI

29A Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8526 Courtesy of a farm in Dalat, Veggy’s retails some of the best quality fruit and veg available in the city. Also has a wide selection of imported food products including USDA beef, the same beef served up at El Gaucho.

HAIRDRESSERS, SALONS & SPAS AVEDA HERBAL SPA Villa 35A, Street 41, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel:(08) 3519 4671 CAT MOC SPA 63 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6295 8926 Aimed exclusively at ladies and couples only, treatments at this Japanese spa include facial, body and foot care, and Japanese-style haircuts, as well as steam-sauna, paraffin and waxing services. CONCEPT COIFFURE 48 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4625 Hair stylist and colourist specialist Sandrine has relocated her long-standing flagship salon Venus Coiffure to a villa in Thao Dien. A full range of services is offered including a dedicated kids salon. FAME NAILS SALON 3 Truong Dinh, Q1, Tel: 0909 682 827 GLOW SPA 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 one suite with a Jacuzzi bath; offers hand and foot care and a hair styling area.

SPORTS CRICKET ECCS (THE ENGLISH CRICKET CLUB OF SAIGON) Adam Zakharoff Email: adamzakharoff@ ICCS (INDIAN CRICKET CLUB OF SAIGON) Deeptesh Gill, Tel: 01228 770 038 ISCS (INDIAN SPORTS CLUB IN SAIGON) Munish Gupta, Tel: 0986 973 244 PSSC (PAKISTAN SAIGON CRICKET CLUB) Samie Cashmiri, Tel: 0976 469 090 samie.cashmiri@gmail. com SACC (SAIGON AUSTRALIA CRICKET CLUB) Steve Treasure, Tel: 0903 998 824 SSC (SRI LANKA SPORTS CLUB) Suhard Amit, Tel: 0988 571 010 UCC (UNITED CRICKET CLUB) Asif Ali, Tel: 0937 079 034 VIETNAM CRICKET ASSOCIATION (VCA) Manish Sogani, Tel: 0908 200 598

FOOTBALL & RUGBY AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL Tel: 0937 683 230 LES GAULOIS DE SAIGON OLYMPIQUE SAIGON Contact Fred on 0919 709 024 or Viet Luu 0909 500 171.

SAIGON RAIDERS SAIGON RUGBY CLUB RMIT University, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phong, Q7 saigonrugbyfootballclub@ SAIGON SAINTS

SPORTS — GENERAL HASH HOUSE HARRIERS RANGERS BASEBALL TEAM SAIGON INTERNATIONAL DARTS LEAGUE SAIGON INTERNATIONAL SOFTBALL LEAGUE SAIGON SHOOTERS NETBALL CLUB saigonshootersnetball. SAIGON SPORTS ACADEMY 28 Tran Nao, Q2, Tel: (08) 7303 1100 SQUASH The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2098 ext 176 TORNADOS HOCKEY CLUB 436A/33 Ba Thang Hai, Q10, Tel: 0938 889899 ULTIMATE FRISBEE RMIT, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 X–ROCK CLIMBING 7Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 6278 5794 | October 2016 Word | 173



ough, difficult, unrealistic or plain old mean landlords are common. It should go without saying, if you have a difficult or bizarre landlord who keeps a close eye on you or has obnoxious requests, the best thing you can do is try to be a good tenant for them. The key to dealing with conflict is to try to absolutely avoid it at all costs. Much easier said than done, but here are a few pointers to keep in mind from someone who has been on both sides of the fence. To manage a difficult landlord, it is as simple as sticking to the rules in your lease. Keep your apartment clean, keep any outside area tidy, follow rules about guests, be quiet, and pay your utility bills on time. It all helps when an issue arises.

Peculiarities If you’re about to sign or are at the beginning of your lease, it’s a good idea to go over any questions you might have with your landlord from day one. That includes even minor stuff like asking about what type of nails you can use to hang pictures,

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what modifications you can make to the apartment and even what / if any type of pets are permitted. Landlords all have a particular thing they care about more than others, so it’s always a good idea to clear everything up from the start. The first step is communication. If you need something done and your landlord isn’t responsive, make sure you are being clear about your request and why it is important. Landlords get all kinds of weird requests from tenants and they might view some as not important. So, when you need something, state what you need and include the reasons why. Secondly, document everything in writing from the second you do the initial walkthrough until you finally move out of your apartment. Essentially, any time you communicate with your landlord, it’s worth documenting. Hold onto those documents until your lease is up and you have your security deposit back.

Neighbourly Finally, I always suggest speaking with your neighbours. Chances are that if


you’re having problems with your landlord, you’re not the only one. If you live in an apartment complex, talk with other people in the building to see if they’re experiencing similar issues. If after talking with people you realise it’s a building-wide problem, you can band together to talk to the landlord(s), property management or body corporate as a group. Or, even better, other tenants might have solutions to your specific problems that they can offer you. Unfortunately tenant laws and tribunals in Vietnam can be challenging and are rarely pursued. That said, if an issue comes up that the landlord won’t help you resolve, you will need to be creative. From my experience, a heart-to-heart talk over a cup of tra tends to go a long way. However, if all else fails, sharpen up on your negotiating skills and do what you can to find common ground. Greg Ohan is the Director of JLL, a leading global real estate services firm in Vietnam specialising in real estate. Email your questions to or visit


68 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (FREEPHONE) 1800 1108 A unique themed hair salon where stylists use no scissors but styling equipment only, giving female clients the opportunity to get their hair done on the run. Of course, they have to look fabulous, too. Fortunately this is one of Hair Bar’s specialities. Check the salon out on Facebook: hairbarvn. INDOCHINE SPA 69 Thu Khoa Huan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7188 Indochine Spa provides a peaceful and serene atmosphere with aromatic scents and lulling melodies. Customers are pampered by qualified therapists using natural French products in a clean and pleasant environment. JASMINE 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 including massage and some excellent treatments. MERCI 17/6 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8799 A unique nail spa and bistro where you can pamper your nails, enjoy a massage, meet your friends, enjoy a meal and sip a cocktail. Provides only waterless nails treatments to avoid bacteria and dry skin as well as Zoya and Kure Bazaar non-toxic varnishes. QUYNH BEAUTY SALON 104A Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3512 4321 A District 2 favourite, this is the salon to head to for anything from massage to haircuts, hairwashing to nails. Cheap prices, too. SOI SPA 6th & Rooftop, 44 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8678 A lovely little place with nail services, shampoo head massages, and other simple treatments for a quick getaway experience. Also features a rooftop terrace and a great little drinks and wine selection. Open daily from 10am to 9pm.

SPA TROPIC 79 Phan Ke Binh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 5575 Spa Tropic is a stylish boutique spa housed in the refurbished former Chilean Consulate. Spa Tropic has a long-standing reputation among expats and visitors alike for its professional quality service.


161-161A Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3939 3930 ACC provides effective chiropractic, physiotherapy, acupuncture and foot care treatments through the use of cutting edge technology for back, neck and knee pain, sports injuries as well as all types of foot related problems without the need of drugs or surgery. AMERICAN EYE CENTER 5th Floor, Crescent Plaza, 105 Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Tel: 5413 6758 / 5413 6759 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. CENTRE MEDICAL INTERNATIONALE (CMI) FRENCH MEDICAL CLINIC

1 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2366 This French medical clinic provides general practice and a range of specialties including cardiology, gynecology, psychotherapy, ophthalmology, paediatrics and acupuncture. FAMILY MEDICAL PRACTICE

care provider that can offer a countrywide network of integrated clinics for foreign and local populations, FMP’s main specialties include family medicine, pediatrics and emergency medicine as well as health checks and work permit health-tests. FV HOSPITAL INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL

6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Saigon South Parkway, Q7, Tel: (08) 5411 3333 Emergency: (08) 5411 3500 International hospital whose standard of health care matches that found anywhere, with 19 full–time French doctors and 58 Vietnamese doctors, providing expertise in 30 medical and surgical areas, especially maternity care. FV SAIGON CLINIC INTERNATIONAL CLINIC

3rd Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6290 6167 State–of–the–art medical centre located in District 1. Experienced American, French, and Vietnamese doctors provide the full spectrum health care. Plus sports medicine, cosmetic treatments, skin care and surgical consultations. HANH PHUC INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL

Binh Duong Boulevard, Thuan An District, Binh Duong Tel: (0650) 363 6068 Claiming to be the first Singapore-standard hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, this institution based on the outskirts of town is gaining a growing reputation for service and treatment. Specialises in providing healthcare to women and children. Has a clinic at 97 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 HAPPINESS ORIENTAL MEDICINE ACUPUNCTURE CLINIC ACUPUNCTURE

432 Pham Thai Buong, Q7, Tel: 0906 684969 Well-known traditional Chinese medicine clinic in Phu My Hung specialising in acupuncture. Established in Ho Chi Minh City for over a decade.


34 Le Duan Street, Q1; 95 Thao Dien Q2, Tel: (08) 3822 7848 Family Medical Practice (FMP) is the largest and one of the oldest foreign, privately-owned, international health care providers in Vietnam. As the only health


167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 8424 The world’s leading provider of medical assistance and in- | October 2016 Word | 175


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


SIAN SKINCARE CLINIC SKIN CARE / COSMETICS 107B Truong Dinh, Q3 Tel: 01676 71 75 79 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.


99 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 1990 Stamford Skin Centre offers a broad range of medical and aesthetic skin treatments. Their international dermatologists and doctors ensure accurate diagnosis and safe treatment procedures. It houses excellent equipment for a variety of procedures. TRADITIONAL MEDICINE HOSPITAL EASTERN MEDICINE


79 Dien Bien Phu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 4545 Well-regarded clinic offering general examinations and specialising in pediatrics, digestive diseases, cardiology, women’s health and internal medicine. Offers a membership programme and cooperates with most insurance companies in Vietnam and abroad.

INSURANCE PACIFIC CROSS VIETNAM 4th/12th Floor Continental Tower, 81-83-85 Ham Nghi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 9908 Pacific Cross Vietnam recently changed names, from Blue Cross Vietnam, to align with their regional sister companies. Together they form the Pacific Cross group of companies with over 60 years’ experience providing health and travel insurance to people who call Asia home. Their reputation for transparent, honest and

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reliable service means they are the strength behind your insurance. Contact them now for a free quote. IF CONSULTING IBC Building, 3rd Floor, 1A Me Linh Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7362 Independent advisors that represent top reputable medical insurers provide you with the best suitable medical cover for individual, family or company needs. For emergencies call 0903 732365 LIBERTY INSURANCE 15th Floor, Kumho Asiana Plaza, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: 1800 599 998 International insurance firm providing the full range of services to the individual — car insurance, travel insurance, health insurance, home insurance and much more. NOAH JAMES INSURANCE AGENCY Mobile: (1) 617 676 7858 Skype: A full service broker offering expatriates and local Vietnamese customized solutions from highly rated insurers for life, health, travel, as well as speciality cover for student travel, medevac, international marine, extreme athletics and adventure. For details contact: TENZING PACIFIC SERVICES 181 Dien Bien Phu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 5367 A full-service insurance broker offering a wide range of insurance solutions from the best local and international providers. Recommendations are based exclusively on client needs.

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

year olds in a supportive and friendly environment. AUSTRALIAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (AIS) Xi Campus, 190 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 2727; Thao Dien Campus, APSC Compound, 36 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6960; Thu Thiem Campus, 264 Mai Chi Tho (East-West Highway), An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 3742 4040 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). ETONHOUSE INTERNATIONAL PRE-SCHOOL @ AN PHU 1st and 2nd floor, Somerset Vista, 628C Hanoi Highway, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 6287 0804 Following an international curriculum for children aged 18 months to six years, in the early years, an Inquire-ThinkLearn approach is followed, inspired by the Reggio Emilia Project of Northern Italy. It is a play-based, inquiry model in which children co-construct their learning in close, respectful collaboration with their teachers. This helps us provide an environment where children take responsibility for their own learning, allowing them a head start in life. BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (BIS) 246 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2335 Inspected and approved by the British Government, BIS provides a British style curriculum for an international student body from pre-school to Year 13. The school is staffed by British qualified and trained teachers with recent UK experience. Fully accredited by the Council of International Schools and a member of FOBISIA, BIS is the largest international school in Vietnam. CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 7 Road 23, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 3456 The first Canadian international school in Vietnam serves local and foreign students from Kindergarten to grade 12. Talented, certified teachers implement the internationally recognised

KIDS CLASSES & SPORTS DANCENTER 53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4490 Children and teenagers can enjoy jazz, ballet, hip-hop, funk, belly dancing, salsa and in multi-level classes at this modern dance studio. HELENE KLING OIL PAINTING 189/C1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0903 955780 INSPIRATO MUSIC CENTER 37 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0932 737700 MINH NGUYEN PIANO BOUTIQUE 94A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 7691 PERFORMING ARTS ACADEMY OF SAIGON 19A Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 9679 Has a range of music-based programmes teaching kids in anything from guitar and drums to piano, clarinet and saxophone. Also provides musical assessment and a mixture of private and group classes. PIANO CLASSES Tel: 01225 636682 SAIGON MOVEMENT Tel: 0987 027 722 SAIGON SEAL TEAM 55 Nguyen Dang Giai, An Phu, Q2, Tel: 0905 098 279 SAIGON PONY CLUB 38, Lane 42, Le Van Thinh, Q2, Tel: 0913 733360 SAIGON SPORTS ACADEMY 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. TAE KWON DO BP Compound, 720K Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0903 918 149 VINSPACE 6 Le Van Mien, Q2, Tel: 0907 729 846

Ontario curriculum to create a student-centred learning environment promoting academic excellence. Has a newly built campus.

education from Early Years to Grade 12 based on the IB curriculum. EIS is a Nobel Talent School and is part of the Nobel Education Network. The school educates global citizens to enjoy learning, inquiring and caring for others.

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HO CHI MINH CITY 28 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3898 9100 HCMC’s most established international school offers three International Baccalaureate programmes for students from two to 18 years old. ISHCMC will be launching a new secondary campus in 2017, featuring Vietnam’s first Innovation Center, a 350-seat professional theatre, NBA-sized basketball courts and a 25m competitive swimming pool.

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

KIDS CLUB SAIGON 79/7 Pham Thai Buong, Q7; 27/3 Ha Huy Tap, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 5944 Early childhood centres in Phu My Hung offering creative play-based programmes for children ages two to five. Known for unique facilities, experienced staff, highquality learning resources, and small class sizes. EUROPEAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HO CHI MINH CITY (EIS) 730 F-G-K Le Van Mien, Q2, Vietnam, Tel: (08) 7300 7257 The European International School offers a supportive and challenging academic

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

MONTESSORI INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 42/1 Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2639 Aiming to encourage children’s engagement with their surroundings, MIS offers children from age three to 12 a classic Montessori education as well as a variety of extra–curricular activities. RENAISSANCE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL SAIGON 74 Nguyen Thi Thap, Q7, Tel: (08)3773 33171 ext 120/121/122 Renaissance is an International British school providing an inclusive curriculum based upon the British curriculum complemented by the International Primary Curriculum and International Baccalaureate. It is a family school with first-class facilities including a 350-seat theatre, swimming pool, mini-pool, play-areas, gymnasium, IT labs, music and drama rooms, science labs and an all-weather pitch. SAIGON KIDS EDUCATIONAL CHILDCARE CENTRE 15 Street 12, Q2, Tel: (08) 3740 8081 SKECC has evolved over 10 years to create a creative, playful learning environment for children ages two

to six. Limited class sizes and highly engaged teachers ensure personal attention for all students. SAIGON SOUTH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (SSIS) 78 Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 0901 Offers an American-style education (SAT, IB and AP) from elementary to high-school, emphasizing a multi–cultural student environment and a commitment to well–rounded education at all levels. SAIGON STAR INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL Residential Area No. 5, Thanh My Loi, Q2, Tel: (08) 3742 7827 Established in 2006, Saigon Star is a British School and one of only four schools in Vietnam to adopt the International Primary Curriculum (IPC). A combination of experienced, UK qualified teachers and a maximum of 16 students per class means learners receive the individual attention they deserve. A secondary school is opening in August 2017. SMARTKIDS 1172 Thao Dien Compound, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6076; 26, Street Nr. 10, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3898 9816; 15 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4236 This international childcare centre provides children ages 18 months to six years with a high quality education in a playful and friendly environment. THE AMERICAN SCHOOL 172-180 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0903 952223 Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), TAS represents 20 nationalities and provides an American-based curriculum with rigorous performance standards and a variety of academic offerings. Runs advanced placement courses and university credit courses through their partnership with Missouri State University, as well as an Intensive ESL Program for English Language Learners.

PROPERTY RENTALS CHUM’S HOUSE 121/21 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 7237 EASY SAIGON Tel: 0932 112694 | October 2016 Word | 177

HCMC Essentials The Easy Saigon website is a useful real estate website helping expats to find apartments in Ho Chi Minh City. Enquiries via their website are welcome. HAPPY HOUSE 32-34 Ngo Duc Ke, Suite 701, Q1, Tel: 01659 419916 NAM HOUSE 48A Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0989 007700 Expert in providing rental properties, constructions and interior decoration, especially in District 2. Supports professional services and aftersales. RESIDENT VIETNAM Unit 601 48 Hoa Su, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 2226 8855 SNAP 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. THE NEST 216/4 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0938 580800 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.


185/30 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: 0903 643446 Probably the best-known motorbike rental joint in town with over 200 bikes and a range of models and makes. Rents by the day or by the month. Call or check the website for details. Also does visa extensions. SAIGON BIKE RENTALS Tel: 0972 451273 Rents out a range of models including Honda Waves, Yamaha Nouvos, Classicos, Luvias, SYM Attilas and

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Excels. Call for details and prices.

and from any location.


ALLIED PICKFORDS 12th floor, Miss Ao Dai Building, 21 Nguyen Trung Ngan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 1220 With more than 800 offices in over 45 countries, Allied Pickfords is one of the worldwide leaders in removal services. In Vietnam, Allied also provides tailored relocation services.


77a Hanoi Highway, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0903 013690 Just relocated to its new home in District 2, Saigon Scooter Centre is more than just the place to go for all your classic scooter needs. Also does accessories, quality imported helmets and bike rentals.

M M M RECRUITMENT & HR ADECCO VIETNAM 11th floor, Empire Tower, 26 - 28 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 3430 Adecco is the world leader in human resources solutions. Established in Vietnam in 2011, Adecco offers a wide array of global workforce solutions and specialises in finance & legal, sales, marketing & events, IT, engineering & technical, and office. HR2B/TALENT RECRUITMENT JSC 1st Floor, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 6288 3888 G.A. CONSULTANTS VIETNAM CO., LTD. Ho Chi Minh Office: Room 2B-2C, 2nd Floor, 180 Pasteur, District 1, HCMC. VIETNAMWORKS.COM 130 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 5404 1373 The best-known recruitment website in Vietnam. Post you’re the position you’re looking for and wait for the responses. You’ll get many. Also a good site for expat jobseekers.


ASIAN TIGERS MOBILITY Unit 9.3, Floor 9, Ree Tower, 9 Doan Van Bo, Ward 12, District 4, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3 826 7799 Asian Tigers is one of the largest regional move management specialists, with services including door-to-door moving, housing and school searches, local and office moves and pet relocations. JVK INTERNATIONAL MOVERS 1st Floor, Saigon Port Building, 3 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Tel: (08) 3826 7655 Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is a leader in the field. LOGICAL MOVES — VIETNAM 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. SANTA FE RELOCATION SERVICES 8FL, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 3933 0065 With over 150 offices around the world, Santa Fe offers local and international moving, pet transportation, relocation services including home search, orientation, cultural training, immigration services and records management. Email Vietnam@santaferelo. com for info.

SERVICED APARTMENTS 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

DIAMOND ISLAND LUXURY RESIDENCES No 01 – Street No.104-BTT, Quarter 3, Binh Trung Tay, Q2, Tel: (08) 3742 5678 Diamond Island Luxury Residences offers 68 fullyfurnished apartments, from two to four-bedroom units with spectacular panoramic views of the city. Each apartment comes with a fully-

equipped kitchen, en-suite bathrooms, separate work and living areas, a balcony, modern amenities, elegant furnishings and carefully chosen trimmings. INTERCONTINENTAL ASIANA SAIGON RESIDENCES Crn. of Nguyen Du & Le Van Huu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 8888 Adjacent to the InterContinental Asiana Saigon you’ll find 260 luxurious and spacious residential suites. The residences offer panoramic views of the downtown area. NORFOLK MANSION 17–19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 6111 Offers a wide choice of luxurious and modern furnished accommodation with attentive and discreet service. Facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, a gym, sauna and steam room, as well as two on-site restaurants. RIVERSIDE APARTMENTS 53 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 4111 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. SHERWOOD RESIDENCE 127 Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (08) 3823 2288 Sherwood Residence is a luxurious serviced apartment property where modern living spaces meet prime location, comfort and class, with five–star facilities and service.

TATTOO ARTISTS With tattoos becoming increasingly popular, over the past few years there has been an increase in the number of tattoo studios around the city. Customers have the choice of picking their own tattoo out of the many look books on offer in the studios or bringing in their own design. Most of the studios offer bodypiercing services as well. Pricing depends on size and style.


57 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: (08) 6675 6956 SAIGON BODY ART

135 Cong Quynh, Q1 Tel: 0908 443311 SAIGON INK

26 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 1090


SOMERSET SERVICED RESIDENCES 8A Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8899; 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9197; 628C Hanoi Highway, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 6255 9922 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.



206B Le Van Sy, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 01204 738939 (Fiona) spirittatts

Respected tattoo and body-piercing studio specialising in traditional Japanese, black and grey, portraiture, realism, western traditional, neo-traditional, dot work and geometric.


128 Nguyen Cu Trinh, Q1 Tel: 0938 303838

Experienced health coach and corporate & school wellness coach. Can help clients achieve health and weight goals through an innovative holistic approach of food, body and mind. Email for info.

CINEMAS Showcasing the latest Hollywood blockbusters and 3D cinematic sensations, chains such as CGV, 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.


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


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.

BODY AND MIND BOXING / FITNESS 49A Xa Lo Ha Noi, Q2, Tel: 0947 771326 This sports centre in An Phu, started by fitness guru Cyril, features the same personalised mentorship Cyril's clients love. Includes yoga, boxing and fitness for kids and adults every day. No membership fees. Pay for classes. Tuesday to Friday every week at 5pm. All activities are safe and run by Cyril himself.


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

noi and Ho Chi Minh City, is behind Star Fitness — one of Vietnam’s largest and bestequipped gyms. THE LANDMARK CLUB


34 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6672 A well-appointed gym also offering fitness classes and personal training with excellent facilities. Group classes include power yoga, pilates, circuit training, martial arts and spinning. Also has a restaurant serving calorie– calibrated meals.


Truc Duong, Q2, Tel: 0966 920612 A bouldering gym and pro climbing wall replete with a showroom and café offers something that this area has never experienced before, a place to climb. Has a number of climbing sections, runs training courses and also sells daily climbing passes for VND150,000 (for a 10-visit pass pay VND1 million).

VETERINARY CLINICS ANIMAL DOCTORS INTERNATIONAL 1 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2. (08) 6260 3980 Offers the very highest levels of compassionate, competent and professional veterinary medicine and surgery to all pets in Ho Chi Minh City with international veterinary surgeons. Upholding international standards, the team works tirelessly to help clients with the support of a dedicated surgical suite, digital X-Ray and comprehensive diagnostic facilities.



SCORE-TECH 1870/3G An Phu Dong 3, Q12, Tel: (08) 3719 9588 Apparel company offering personalised sport garments for companies, schools and professional sports clubs using the latest printing technology with a design team from Barcelona. Score-Tech controls the whole production process from fabric production and printing to sewing. Big and small orders for all sporting and commercial needs.

VIETNAMESE LANGUAGE GARDEN 135/10 Nguyen Cuu Van, Binh Thanh, Tel: 0916 670 771 vietnameselanguagegarden. com VLS SAIGON 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.


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

SAIGON HASH HOUSE HARRIERS Sunday 2pm sharp, Caravelle hotel. Bus out to the county with a walk, usually 4km and a run around 8km. VND150,000 for locals and VND220,000 for expats. Bus, water, snacks and freeflow beer after the run. SHERATON FITNESS


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


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 2, Thao Dien Mall, 12 Quoc Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 3000; Level 5, SC VivoCity, 1058 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, Tel: (08) 3775 0555; Level 7, Hung Vuong Plaza, 126 Hung Vuong, Q5, Tel: (08) 2222 0388


Level 5, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2828 SOFITEL PLAZA FITNESS CENTRE HEALTH CLUB & GYM

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

Manor Apartments, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3514 0253 Steve Chipman, who had a hand in establishing gyms at the Sofitel hotels in Ha- | October 2016 Word | 179



o find Indika: House of Curiosities, you must keep your eyes peeled for the logo at the street entrance and follow the winding path down past the restaurants and cafés. You are then greeted by a spacious courtyard decorated with green outdoor furniture and a constant rhythmic bass line coming from the music. Even though it’s only been open for three months, Indika has already become a strong presence on the Saigon evening social scene. It features a packed weekly line-up of events and live music, and offers up a sanctuary on the outskirts of the city centre in Da Kao. In the last month, it has been opening its doors at 9am daily to offer customers

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a place to work and chill throughout the day. The walls are covered in intricate murals and there are unusual statues, and a mannequin outside. Every time you visit, the layout may have changed, even from one day to the next, but the chilled-out atmosphere is a guaranteed constant.

Combination “We wanted to have a space where [Saigon Dub Station] would enjoy hanging out, where we could work, and enjoy the atmosphere. It helps that other people are enjoying it too,” says Morgan Mugnier, one of the three founding partners of Indika. Indika is not just a bar or café, but a combination of a friend’s house, restaurant

and office. Arriving there for the first time can feel almost intrusive, like you’ve walked into someone else’s place, but it is soon apparent that anyone is welcome. Indika is a young project, but has had a full team of motivated people behind it from the beginning. Starting in March 2016, the team managed to find and prepare the venue for a soft opening in less than three months. Now, they are preparing for their grand opening in November. “We’re still making changes and renovating the space, we’re going to build a custom stage inside and expand the space further back. There is even going to be a shop,” says Morgan. The weekly rundown of events includes

Indika: House of Curiosities


the Wednesday acoustic jam, Friday free-flow on draught beer (VND200,000 from 8pm to 10.30pm), Saturday live performances from local and international artists, and Sunday chill sessions to deal with the hangover. Indika is also home to some of the best parties in town, the nicest place to work if you don’t have a set office, and a welcoming scene for all who find themselves different from the norm. “After so long in Saigon, we now have our own space, that we’ve created for ourselves, in our own style,” says Morgan.

Permutation The recently launched food menu is still being tested for the entire month of

October with discounts on the majority of dishes. This will help the staff to get feedback from their customers before the formal launch. They have also partnered with the Vietnamese restaurant next door, Coquelicot, to serve a daily lunch of a variety of local foods. Indika’s food and drinks menus have been designed with a focus on health, and though they don’t shy away from the ample amounts of craft beer available in Saigon, they also offer a range of healthy juices as well. The Green Drink (VND50,000) is an exotic blend of apple, cucumber, celery, lime, ginger and basil, and tastes like it is making you healthier from the inside out.

Their cocktails are cheap, cheerful and pack a punch. The house mojito (VND100,000) is served up in a glass mug and is a blend of sugar, rum and mint. The remote worker’s favourite, ca phe sua da (VND30,000), is productivity in a cup and not too sweet, a cool drink for writing emails and watching the world go by. Whatever you’re looking for, you are bound to find something to your liking at Indika; come for the chilled music, great atmosphere and refreshing drinks, stay for the board games, enthralling events and the friends you are likely to make. — Siân Kavanagh Indika is at 41 Nguyen Van Giai, Q1, HCMC | October 2016 Word | 181

HCMC On The Town


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. ACOUSTIC BAR 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. APOCALYPSE NOW DANCE / NIGHTCLUB

2B-C-D Thi Sach, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6124 An institution and the kind of place you end up drunk after midnight. Famed for its notso-salubrious clientele, this two-floor establishment with DJs and occasional live music is also famed for its hotdogs, which are served up in the garden terrace out back. BIA CRAFT CRAFT BEER BAR

90 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2588 As craft beer continues to take over watering holes around Ho Chi Minh City, so a bar dedicated to all things ‘craft’ and ‘real ale’ seems like a pretty sensible idea, right? Well, it is. Only small, but with wooden tables perfect for sharing, both on tap and by the bottle, Bia Craft sells up a delectable range of the good stuff. Looking for Tiger? Go take a hike. Also has a decent food menu. BLANCHY’S TASH RESTOBAR / NIGHTCLUB

95 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: 0909 028293 A multi-storey bar with décor and atmosphere more akin to such an establishment in New York or London. Has a reputation for bringing in big-name DJs. And when we say big, we mean big. Check their website for details. BREAD & BUTTER INTERNATIONAL / COMFORT FOOD

40/24 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 8452 With a free book exchange,

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and tasty Sunday night roasts, the tiny Bread & Butter is a perfect place for homesick expats and beer enthusiasts (excellent HueBrewed Huda beer served here exclusively in Ho Chi Minh City). BROMA, NOT A BAR COCKTAILS / ROOFTOP

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.


Level 52, Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8750 Breathtaking views require a vantage point and EON Heli Bar is by far the highest spot in Saigon for a spectacular cityscape, appealing drinks and a vibrant ambience. Night live music and DJs. GAME ON

3823 3122 If you’re in need of dense, soulful atmosphere and maybe an artisanal cocktail on your way back from wherever, Last Call is your stop — and fast becoming that of the similarly inclined. Great happy hour deals for early evening starters. LE PUB INTERNATIONAL / RESTOBAR

115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1 Tel: (08) 6251 9898 A fresh feel thanks to the large space and light-wood tables makes this Australian-influenced watering hole a popular bar for televised sports, pub food, darts, pool and more.

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. Gets busy at weekends with a clientele made up of hip, young Vietnamese and the occasional foreigner.





Tel: 0906 912730

www. restaurants-ben-style CHEZ GUIDO

Tel: (08) 3898 3747


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. CHAMPION SPORTS BAR SPORTS BAR

45-47 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 4202 A recent addition to the sports-and-watering-hole drinking scene, Champion is located in the Backpackers’ area and shows all the major televised sports. Also has a pool table, darts, tasty Western and Vietnamese food, great cocktails and ice cold beer. Western managed, wonderful local staff. #BeAChampion.


28 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8605 The original microbrewery, this large, wooden-panelled, brass-kegged Czech Brewhouse is as popular as it was 15 years ago when it was first opened. Does a great food menu to accompany the home-brewed beer.


Rooftop, AB Tower, 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2372 For the spectacular views alone, Chill Skybar remains the place to go to mix topend, outdoor terrace drinking around an oval-shaped bar with cityscapes of Saigon. One of the top watering holes in the city.


24 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 One of this city’s longest running watering holes — and the original home of the darts league — has recently reopened in its new premises. Naturally, darts are still key here, with each of the bottom three floors having elements devoted to this most pub-friendly of sports.


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


55, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 5453 What does the Thao Dien area of Saigon seriously lack? A sports bar. And this is the Al Fresco Group’s answer to a distinct shortage hole in the market. Sleek lines, modern décor, elegant and spacious, dartboards and of course, lots of large screens to watch the televised sports. Check out their daily food specials.


46-48 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Malt is a non-smoking bar in downtown Saigon offering shuffleboard, darts, craft beers on tap, signature cocktails and delicious tapas and pub grub. Its unpretentious vibe and casual atmosphere will have you feeling at home. MAY RESTAURANT & BAR LOUNGE BAR & RESTOBAR

19-21 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 3686 An international comfortfood menu mixes with excellent cocktails and an extensive winelist at this attractive, international bar and restaurant. Dine at the bar or upstairs in the restaurant space.

DOMINO’S PIZZA Tel: (08) 3939 3030 EAT.VN


Tel: (08) 3848 9999



Tel: (08) 3910 0000

PIZZA HUT (PHD) Tel: (08) 3838 8388 SCOOZI

Tel: (08) 3823 5795




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. MALT




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

59 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08)


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

Top Floor, 15-17-19 Nguyen An Ninh, Q1 A contemporary and attractive rooftop restaurant with


a lounge bar just 50m from Ben Thanh Market. Features a glass shell modeled in the image of the Eiffel Tower, a jungle-like atmosphere and views over central Saigon. O’BRIEN’S





S52-1 Sky Garden 2, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 3900 A Phu My Hung mainstay thanks to its cartoon décor and light but fun ambience. Has a reasonable food menu to complement the drinks.

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.


74/A3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 3198 This Irish-themed sports bar with classic pub décor is widely appreciated for its excellent international fare, large whiskey selection and upstairs pool table. Great pizzas. And for a real treat, check out their zesty rolls. ONTOP BAR Novotel Saigon, 167 Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 4866 Located on the 20th floor with stunning views of the city, houses an upscale, contemporary interior and an outdoor terrace. A good venue to chill out in a relaxed and casual, yet hip ambience. PEACHES CURRY PUB

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

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


New World Saigon Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1 The ultimate in poolside entertainment, Saigon Soul is defined by its great party atmosphere. Booming house music, cold drinks and beautiful people. What better way to spend a Saturday? Runs every Saturday from late November until mid May. SAIGON OUTCAST EVENTS / MAKESHIFT CAFÉ BAR

188/1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0122 4283198 Up-cycling and innovative design form the foundation for this bar / arts venue / mini-skate park and graffiti space. Come for barbeque and reasonably priced drinks, stick around for entertaining events and markets. SAIGON RANGER


Landmark Building, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9698 A sophisticated yet down-to-earth cocktail bar and restaurant with subtle lighting and one of the best spirit selections in town. Serves creative, Japanese and German-influenced cuisine to supplement the drinks.


5B Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 4738 Named after the Danish artist Storm P, this long-running bar is the home of Saigon’s Scandinavian community thanks to its laid-back atmosphere and excellent food menu. A good place to watch the live sports.


70 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: 0907 890623 A small but popular bar with all the shenanigans of the nightlife scene set to a backdrop of classic 60s, 70s and 80s tunes. Has a darts area out back and is a popular space for watching the live English Premier League. WINE BAR 38


31B Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: 0903 369798 A sleek, industrial looking restobar with edgy décor and just a hint of Spanish style. Tapas, sangria, Iberian-influenced cocktails and an emphasis on all things Latin.


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. XU CAFÉ / LOUNGE BAR


5/7 Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 7300 0559 Aspiring to be a focal point for artistic activities, the space at Saigon Ranger has been established to create encounter and dialogue between different forms of art. Boasts concrete floors, dark wooden furniture, quirky wall designs and a stage for live music and other types of performance.

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.


71-75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8468

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



C0.01 Riverside Residence C, Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7, Tel: (08) 6274 1520 Located in the heart of Phu My Hung, this spacious restobar with an affection for showing televised sports has a family friendly edge thanks to its kids play area. Does a great grill menu and of course, lots of very cold beer for those developing a thirst in the Saigon heat. QUI LOUNGE INTERNATIONAL BAR & LOUNGE

22 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3828 8828 A recently opened, stylish top-end bar with a house DJ that is the plaything of Saigon’s jetset and anyone who is prepared to pay for atmosphere and one of the most hedonistic venues in town. Has an excellent food menu and a tasty brunch.

9th Floor, Caravelle Saigon, 1923 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999 This iconic bar is a great place to watch the sun go down over the city and relax for a few drinks with friends. Has live entertainment six nights a week courtesy of resident Cuban band, Q’vans, from 9pm Wednesday to Monday. SHRINE BAR LOUNGE BAR

61 Ton Thap Thiep, Q1 Shrine creates a drinking and dining experience in a temple-like atmosphere. Inspired by Bantay Srei, a temple from the ancient Angkor kingdom, the walls are covered in statues depicting ancient Khmer gods and kings. With ambient lighting and town tempo music, here it’s all about good cocktails and an even better atmosphere.

THE SOCIETY GRILL AND LOUNGE BAR 99 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 3999 Designed as a Laneway-style restobar, the kind of place found in Hong Kong, London, New York or Central Melbourne, thanks to its indoor and outdoor ambience, The Society brings dining and drinking to a new level. Phenomenal cocktails, steaks, grilled fare and seafood make this a place to go for drinks, a full-blown meal or a mixture of both.


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 | October 2016 Word | 183




t’s the Sunday following Independence Day and the streets are quiet. The cloud cover shifts, slowly illuminating the impressive shop front of Café 81. Its postcard-like appearance draws the first of many amateur photographers. What lies through its doorway is unclear, the dimmed seclusion creating a sense of mystery. Once inside, you are immediately struck by a feeling of intimacy. Customers in sparsely lit areas seem truly engaged with one another. Clustered around are a myriad of items, many from Vietnam’s subsidy period, thoi bao cap. Typewriters, amplifiers, radios and cassette players. Tables are forged from antiquated sewing machine stands, or are glass-topped to display a collage of aged flyers. Walls are artistically dilapidated, continuing the cream and blue-green colouring seen outside. With the limited daylight fluctuating between light and grey, the room breathes a changing ambience. The upper level is less cluttered.

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The wooden smell and quietness feels even more like a genuine home.

Pause for Harmony Owner and interior designer Nguyen Hoang explains the idea behind the venue. “Life in Saigon is taut like a violin string,” he says. “I have lived here for 20 years. The city changes day by day, and people are always busy with work. I think that people need to slow down — to enjoy the many great things in life.” He adds: “I wanted to create a place that people can stop and relax in for a moment. To meet their friends. To share their feelings. In this space, every decoration recalls old memories. I love everything that is old — old friends, old books and old wine.” Previously located in Binh Thanh, Cafe 81 opened its District 1 doors in February this year. Smoking is allowed throughout. At present the menu is drinks only, with its selection maintaining an unassuming feel.

Prices range from VND25,000 to VND35,000. Coffee is naturally a priority, alongside northern tea and fresh milk. Other refreshments include dracontomelom or apricot juice, kudzu, or honey with lemon and kumquat. The latter of these was deeply refreshing. Regular visitors are young adults with a noticeably relaxed countenance. The tranquil surroundings offer students an opportunity to focus, while business workers appreciate the informal backdrop that it offers their meetings. Freelancers across various arts fields also make up the clientele, understandable given the inspiring style of this abode. Hoang’s design choice of purposeful disorder resonates with Saigon’s chaotic symphony. It offers a warm welcome to all, one that he intends to maintain — “I hope that the cafe will always be taken care of like my house.” — Alex McKeown Cua Hang Cafe 81 is at 216B Nguyen Van Nguyen, Q1, HCMC

Cua Hang CafĂŠ 81 | October 2016 Word | 185

HCMC On The Town

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.

CAFES & ICE-CREAM (A) CAFE 15 Huynh Khuong Ninh, Da Kao, Q1, Tel: 0903 199701 Settle into the Javanesestyle interior and enjoy possibly one of the best brews in Saigon. Using own grown and specially sourced Dalat beans, speciality coffee such as cold drip, siphon, and Chemex are must haves for the avid coffee drinker. AGNES CAFE DALAT COFFEE HOUSE

11A-B Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 9772 A cozy and comfortable cafe in Thao Dien serving excellent fresh coffee from Dalat, smoothies, juices, homemade desserts. Offers up tasty breakfasts, lunch and dinner all the way through until 9pm. BANKSY CAFE 1st Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 01699 990003 A small but swanky cafe, Banksy promises a young and vibrant hideout in an old 1960s-era apartment building. Remember to head up the steep stairs within to dig into their secret stash of clothes and accessories. CAFE THOAI VIEN 159A Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: 0918 115657 Veer off the street and find yourself plunging straight into lush greenery. Cafe Thoai Vien serves up a spacious and airy setting to enjoy a quiet sip. From small eats to big bites and everything to drink, it’s a

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great place to unwind from all that buzz. COFFEE BEAN & TEA LEAF INTERNATIONAL

157-159 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1; Metropolitan Building, 235 Dong Khoi, Q1 Large portioned coffee lures customers into the flagship store of this international café chain. The contemporary, yet generic atmosphere is bolstered by comfortable seating and a menu to satisfy any sweet tooth. DECIBEL INTERNATIONAL

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

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. KLASIK COFFEE ROASTERS




40 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6685 4160 Nitro cold brew coffee, single origin coffee and healthy food. Klasik Coffee Roasters is a small coffee shop with a passion for seeking high quality coffee beans from around the world to roast in Saigon. Holding the belief that each cup tells its own story, drinking coffee at Klasik is all about pleasure and experience: the aroma, the taste, the warmth and the senses inspired by each and every cup. Open daily from 7am to 10pm.



23 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: 0909 824830 An American-style juice bar and café dedicated to healthy, nutricious smoothies that avoid the local obsession with sugar and condensed milk. A pleasant, contemporary environment adds to the theme.



First Floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6674 9565; 70B Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 0703 French-style wooden decor compliments the spacious, whitewashed contemporary interior of L’Usine. A simple, creative menu combines with reasonably priced coffee, and a fashion store and art gallery out back. Second location on Le Loi.


41/1 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 4222 Hidden in a colonial building with an outdoor courtyard, the ample soft, sofa seating renders a great spot to relax. The mouth-watering western menu is well-priced and maintains a creative flair. I.D. CAFÉ CONTEMPORARY CAFE

MOCKINGBIRD CAFE 4th Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 0935 293400 Sitting atop of a number of cafe establishments in an old apartment complex, Mockingbird is just the place for a romantic time over mojitos, or good ol’ caffeine-infused relaxation.

M2C CAFE 44B Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2495 At M2C (Modern Meets Culture), everything gets a touch of modernity. From the rich menu of Vietnamese food and drinks, shows immense local culture, done with a modern flare. Be seen here at one of the latest popular joint in town.

8A/10B1 Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: 0945 830905 Tea, tea and more tea, all in a contemporary, quirky environment. At Plantrip Cha customers go on a sensory journey to experience the tastes and smells of teas from across Asia, Europe, America and the Middle East. THE LOOP HEALTHY CAFÉ FARE / BAGELS

in this candy-land inspired cafe. THE PRINT ROOM CONTEMPORARY CAFE

158 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4990 Second-storey coffeehouse offers a quiet atmosphere to chill out or read from their book-nook collection. Comfortable couch seating, open table space and a cappuccino costs VND40,000. THINGS CAFE 1st Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: (08) 6678 6205 Feel the calm and serenity of this rustic little quiet corner tucked away in an Old Apartment. The quaint and relaxing atmosphere sets for some alone time, or quality conversations held over a drink or two.

49 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel. (08) 3602 6385 Low-key yet nice-on-the-eye décor helps create the caféstyle atmosphere at this European-influenced café and restaurant. Sells excellent coffee and if you like bagels, here you’ll be in heaven.


THE MORNING CAFE 2nd Floor, 36 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: 0938 383330 Have a book to read? Pick a bright spot by the window and get snuggly with the comfy upholstery in this second-floor cafe. With a cup of well-brewed coffee, accompanied by some background jazz, it is an afternoon well-spent.


THE OTHER PERSON CAFE 2nd Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 0909 670272 Fancy being served up by maids in costume? Call for a booking and enjoyed customized service to your liking while spending an afternoon



Top Floor, 29 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 1631 The original, on-the-table barbecue restaurant still goes strong thanks to its rooftop atmosphere, excellent service and even better fish, seafood and meats. An institution.


Rooftop, AB Tower, 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2372 Besides the spectacular views, the cuisine at 27 Grill is a real draw, with steaks and other international grillstyle fare in a refined yet contemporary atmosphere. Subtle lighting and an extensive wine list make up the mix. 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. Also has an excellent garden-style branch at 89 Xuan Thuy, Q2.


164 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3838 6661 This pleasant, airy Indian does the full range of fare from all ends of the subcontinent, from dosas and vadas through to chicken tikka masala, kormas, kebabs and fiery vindaloos. Has a delivery outlet in District 2.



BRAZILIAN CHURRASCO 238 Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (08) 3820 7157 Au Lac Do Brazil is home to the city's best Churrasco menu with a wide variety of meats from Calabrian sausage and picanha through to D-rump steak and smoked hams. Pioneering the eat-asmuch-as-you-can theme in Vietnam, passadors bring the meat skewers to your table, and you, the customer then choose your accompaniments from the salad bar. Best washed down with red wine or a caipirinha or five.



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. ASHOKA 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.

13 Phan Van Dat, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 2055 Creatively named burgers, tasty Vietnamese-styled sandwiches, spiced up cocktails, mains and more, all served up with a Californian edge at this small but popular two-storey eatery close to the river. BLANCHY STREET JAPANESE / SOUTH AMERICAN

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

40 Lily Road, An Phu Superior Compound, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6790 A revamp has seen this riverside restaurant get a new management and a new menu — think American-style burgers, sliders and Tex-Mex together with soup and salad and you’ll get the idea. Excellent nachos and frozen margaritas. Australian themed but Singaporean-owned eatery and bar on The Crescent with great terraced seating specializing in huge-portioned international fare, all set in a contemporary, spacious environment. CAFÉ IF 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. CHI’S CAFÉ 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. CHRIS FOOD ONLINE TRADITIONAL FRENCH / DESSERTS

Tel: 0909 365525 (English) / 0909 320717 (French) chrisfoodonline.blogspot. com or Traditional French cuisine and exotic dishes from the Reunion Island served up in Ho Chi Minh City and delivered to your door. All dishes are prepared with fresh ingredients, nothing is frozen. Options include cheesecake, tiramisu, lasagna, chicken curries and muffin. All speciality foods are cooked to order. CIAO BELLA NEW YORK-ITALIAN


CR2 3-4, 107 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 6592

11 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 3329 New York-style Italian restaurant offering a range of tasty and affordable antipasti, pas-

tas, and pizzas. Friendly staff and rustic bare brick walls adorned with Hollywood film legends make for a relaxed and attractive setting. CORIANDER THAI / VIETNAMESE

16 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 1311 A small, homely Vietnameseowned Thai restaurant that over the past decade has quite rightly gained a strong local and expat following. Try their pad thai — to die for. CORSO STEAKHOUSE / INTERNATIONAL

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


Level 51, Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8750 Situated on level 51 of the most iconic building in town, Eon51 Fine Dining offers a unique fine dining experience accompanied by unparalleled 3600 picturesque views of Saigon. The sky-high restaurant proffers the taste of Europe in Asia, orchestrated from the finest local foods and top-quality imported ingredients. GANESH PAN-INDIAN

74 A2 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 38229366 Located opposite Martini Bar, this relative newcomer to the dining scene with its bright decor serves up mainly North Indian cuisine with a large vegetarian selection as well as South Indian curries, dosa, vada and uthapam.Meat curries cost from VND100,000 to VND120,000. HOA TUC CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE

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


74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2090; Unit CR1-12, The Crescent, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 6909 A themed eatery mixing an Argentinian steakhouse theme with pork, chicken, lamb, homemade spicy sausage, skewers, burger dishes and everything that can come off a grill. Slick service, a good wine menu, and caramel vodka teasers at the end of the meal. Probably serves up the best steak in town.


7 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1101; The Crescent, 103 Ton Dat Tien, Q7, Tel: (08) 2210 2304 If you’re looking for midrange, aircon Vietnamese restaurants that just seem to do every dish perfectly, then Hoang Yen really is the place to go. The atmosphere may be a bit sterile, but its amply made up for by the efficient service and excellent cuisine. Now with a number of restaurants around town. | October 2016 Word | 187



t MAD House in District 7, the follow-up to the successful MAD House in District 2 started by Danish couple Camilla Bailey and Casper Gustafsen, the name of the game is simplicity. What they show is minimalist, but what it tells is know-how. “Everything we do attempts to reflect simplicity. The food styling, the plating, the interiors and the kitchen. Keep it simple, but do it well,” says Camilla. In contrast to competitors in Ho Chi Minh City who strive to bedazzle diners with over-the-top decor and feigned sophistication, MAD House demonstrates quality seemingly without trying too hard. It’s refreshing in a district that’s overdone with Korean barbecue.

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“The concept for us was that we needed a place where we kind of wanted to chill all day long,” says Camilla, who with Casper, was a chef at the famous Henne Kirkby Kro in Denmark when it won Scandinavian restaurant of the year. So accustomed have we become to minimalist Nordic design characterised by straight clean lines, open spaces, natural colours and soft lighting, you could be excused for thinking you’re walking into a high-end homewares showroom and not an affordable family restaurant such is the inviting ambience of the MAD House space.

In a Good Space It has to be a good sign that a couple of chefs are looking to chill in their own restaurant.

Indeed, the space lends itself to chilling and an escape from the hot tropical sun. In 360sqm of floor space, MAD House offers spaces within a space. If a catch-up coffee is all you need (MAD House has their own coffee blend), there’s a space for that. If you’re hanging for something stronger after a stressful day at work (MAD House has its own beer), there’s a trendy bar space with floor to ceiling windows where you can turn off and wonder about life in Denmark. Even kids have a play space. “We want it to be a family friendly restaurant, not a kids' restaurant, but a restaurant where kids are welcome,” says Camilla. “But at the same time we want to be a place for business meetings or romantic liaisons.”

MAD House District 7


MAD as Anything The drinks list includes beers and ciders ranging from VND45,000 to VND125,000. There are both Old World and New World wines by the glass (VND75,000 to VND150,000) and by the bottle (VND550,000 to VND3.9 million). The items that stand out are Camilla and Casper’s own creations. There’s a cocktail called a MAD Olada made with Pampero rum, pineapple, coconut and lime (VND125,000), a MAD beer with Bulleit bourbon, passionfruit and peach (VND135,000), and a non-alcoholic coconut and lime MAD soda (VND55,000). Because MAD House opens from 11am, there’s no breakfast menu, so we went straight for the lunch set of which there are two that reflect the culinary palates of the

clientele in District 7. There’s an Asian/Vietnamese lunch set (VND145,000) with a choice of beef or chicken pho, braised chicken with chilli and lemongrass, seafood fried rice, or braised pork with black pepper. The braised chicken with chilli and lemongrass tasted exactly as you’d expect, fresh and tender with that tell-tale aromatic lemongrass fragrance coupled alongside a serving of freshly steamed white rice. The Western lunch set costs VND225,000, but we chose the MAD salad (VND275,000) which comes with finely-sliced Serrano ham, pan-seared prawns, goat cheese gratin, and dobs of foie gras scattered among a colourful bed of lettuce. Like everything we’d seen and tasted to this

point, the MAD salad was fresh and clean with the goat cheese gratin topping off a great salad to be enjoyed by yourself or with a friend. For our final dish, we went Danish and chose the smorebrod (VND195,000) which is a delightful looking and tasting Danish-style open-faced sandwich (only one slice of bread) topped with slices of small boiled potato beneath a devilled egg mayonnaise layer topped with prawn tails and watercress. Another exciting thing about MAD House is that it’s an example of how District 7 is growing its culinary wings and becoming worth a visit. — Matt Cowan MAD House District 7 is located at No.2 Street C, Tan Phu, Q7, HCMC on the 2nd floor of Capri by Fraser serviced apartments. It is open every day from 11am - 10pm | October 2016 Word | 189



iyama means ‘beautiful mountain’ in Japanese, and that’s perhaps the reason why this café is located at an ideal corner on floor three of Saigon Centre, where you can feast your eyes on busy Le Loi or on a sea of green from the trees on Pasteur. Boasting minimalist yet contemporary decor, Miyama radiates comfort through the concept of uchi, meaning home in Japanese, the main elements being warm wood tones, mood inspired lighting and cozy fabrics. Although it is set up as a café, it also serves food with a wide selection of Japanese cuisine with international flavours. Everything is aimed at providing an experience typical of a modern café in Tokyo.

Health First My colleague and I settled down in a corner and ordered two set lunches and a salad. The salad with Moroccan spiced grilled shrimp (VND268,000) came out from the kitchen first, followed by our sets displayed on two wooden trays. Each

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tray had the same eye-catching decoration with white rice steamed with mushrooms, pickles, salad and a main course. While I filled up with Japanese stewed pork (VND198,000), my colleague chose steak sukiyaki with roasted red pepper and feta bruschetta (VND328,000). The salad was an excellent combination of flavours — spicy and juicy grilled shrimps, fresh and crunchy lettuce, and sour pomelo and mango, mixed with a well-prepared yogurt dressing. The pork and beef were tender and well-marinated, the pork incredibly tasty and aromatic. The beef was covered with a crispy crust, creating the perfect balance of texture and taste when combined with the moist meat inside. According to head chef, Canadian Avi Sternberg who trained and worked in Japan for eight years, the products and ingredients here have clear origin labels and are carefully selected to ensure quality. The microbiological pork comes from Vietnam with the pigs raised according to Japanese techniques and supervision. The Kobe-style

beef is imported from Japan, and the organic vegetables come from Miyama’s own exclusive garden in Dalat. The health aspect is also expressed through the precisely calculated portions of the set lunch; clients get a large enough portion to be satisfyingly full, but not too much to feel heavy.

The Sweet Touch It would be a big mistake if you miss out on the dessert. Indeed, a centrepiece of the cafe is the large marble bar space for desserts, with some of the dishes made live. Cakes are baked daily, as are the mocha, which come out tender, chewy and fresh. We ordered a plate of Matcha Saint Honoré (VND168,000) and Japanese mochi (VND218,000) before we left. While the choux was a mixture of the crunchy outer dough and the fat and creamy matcha filling, the mochi was a selection of four seasonal flavours stuffed inside four soft and chewy balls. Heaven! — Vu Ha Kim Vy Miyama Café is located on Floor 3, Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1, HCMC

HCMC On The Town









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

4 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 0326 A sushi bar needs a good chef, and the chef-owner of Inaho is one of the best. Sit downstairs at the low-key bar or upstairs in the private VIP rooms. Either way, this is one of the best sushi and sashimi joints in town.

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


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. KABIN 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. KOH THAI CONTEMPORARY THAI FUSION

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

3rd Floor Rooftop, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1. Tel: (08) 3822 9357 The restaurant associated with the KOTO vocational training school. All the staff — from bar tenders and waiting staff through to the chefs — come from disadvantaged backgrounds and are being trained on the jon in hospitality. Serves up tasty Vietnamese cuisine, to boot!


5D Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0671 Open for lunch and set dinner, this beautifully designed restaurant and bar seamlessly mixes contemporary and with classic. With a menu cooked up by reputed chef Sakal Phoeung, and with a contemporary twist to traditional French fare, this is a place to enjoy the luxuries of fine cuisine and even finer wine. LE JARDIN 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. LION CITY SINGAPOREAN

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

29 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6260 2727 Located bang opposite the Bitexco Tower, Loveat serves up three floors’ worth of Mediterranean cuisine mixed in with continental favourites like moules frites. A great place for dinner, cocktails and wines in a contemporary Saigon atmosphere.

97B Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 6281 8371 Drawing inspiration from the great cuisines of Europe, The Mediterranean and The Orient, this contemporary, Australian-run restaurant bathed in white focuses on wholesome, fresh ingredients, with breads, cheeses, pickles, pastas and preserves made on site daily from scratch. A well-conceived wine list supplements the excellent fare. Has petanque on the terrace. LUONG SON PAN-VIETNAMESE

31 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1330 A typical Vietnamese-style quan nhau, this fan-cooled downtown eating and drinking haunt is famed for two things: it’s on the table, grill-it-yourself bo tung xeo (marinated beef) and oddities such as sautéed scorpion. A great place to take out-of-town guests. MAD HOUSE CONTEMPORARY CAFE, BAR, RESTAURANT

6/1/2 Nguyen U Di, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4009 Set over a pool in a leafy, tropical garden, the beautiful rustic décor is matched by a darkwood, aircon interior. Subtle lighting and an attention to details is matched by some of the best contemporary cuisine in the city, all with a European influence. Also has an extensive wine list, a good selection of imported beers and a happy hour. MARKET 39 INTERNATIONAL BUFFET

Ground Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, Crn. of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 9999

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. MONSOON PAN-SOUTHEAST ASIAN

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

136/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 38 250261; 116 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 9996 If you want to take friends, relatives or people out of town to eat Hue-style street food in a hygienic yet downto-earth environment, Nam Giao is the place. Not only is it well-priced, but the bun bo Hue, bun thit nuong, com hen, banh bot loc and other such dishes are excellent. NINETEEN INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN

Ground floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999 One of the top three buffet restaurants in town. Although the selection is small, the meats, fishes and seafoods are all fresh, and everything you eat here is quality. OSAKA RAMEN


19 – 21 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 3686 may.restaurant19@gmail. com Casual yet stylish, May places international-style wining and dining in the heart of historic Saigon. Subtle lighting, comfortable seating, an extensive wine and cocktail list, and beautifully crafted comfort food from Europe, the Antipodes and Asia all make up the mix at this multi-floored restaurant and bar. Check out their set lunches and happy hour.


18 Thai Van Lung, Q1; SD04, Lo H29-2, KP My Phat, Phu My Hung, Q7 If you fancy dosing out on ramen and soba noodles, then Osaka Ramen is noodle soup heaven. A typically Japanese aircon environment mixes bar-style seating with booths and private dining. Open late. PENDOLASCO PAN-ITALIAN

87 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 8181; 36 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel: (08) 6253 282 Opening out into a large, leafy terracotta-tiled garden area, this trattoria-style Italian restaurant serves up quality homemade pasta,

risotto, gnocchi, excellent pizza and grilled dishes. Has a second branch in District 2. PITCHERS SPORTS AND GRILL SPORTS BAR & GRILL RESTAURANT

C0.01 Riverside Residence C, Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7, Tel: (08) 6274 1520 Located in the heart of Phu My Hung, this spacious restobar with an affection for showing televised sports has a family friendly edge thanks to its kids play area. Does a great grill menu and of course, lots of very cold beer for those developing a thirst in the Saigon heat. PIZZA 4P’S EUROPEAN/ASIAN FUSION

8/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (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. POP FRIES CALIFORNIAN-STYLE FRIES

14M Quoc Huong, Q2, Tel: 0938 754251; 273 Phan Xich Long, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 0938 754851 A street food eatery concept that originates from Los Angeles and New York, and born from a passion for sharing, here it’s all about the loaded fries. The potatoes are twice-cooked and come piled high with a range of inventive toppings. Funky décor and long benches make up the mix. PROPAGANDA CLASSIC VIETNAMESE / BISTRO

21 Han Thuyen, Q1 Part of the group that includes Au Parc and Refinery, Propaganda serves up classic Vietnamese cuisine in an atmosphere of barebrick walls interposed with Propaganda Art murals and prints. QUAN BUI TRADITIONAL VIETNAMESE

8 Nguyen Van Nguyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3602 2241; 17A Ngo Van Nam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 1515 Make sure to try the sautéed shrimps with cashew nuts and crispy fried tofu with lime wedge, at this popular, high-quality, chicly designed eatery where all food is served in traditional crockery. One of the best Vietnamese restaurants in town. QUAN UT UT US-STYLE BARBECUE

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Tourism creates face-to-face diplomacy


ourism affects, directly or indirectly, many of us in Vietnam. That number of ‘us’ is also increasing because tourism is one of the biggest and fastestgrowing economic sectors in the world, contributing nearly 6% of the globe’s GDP. Tourism is so important the UN has declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Whether you build roads, create operas, pump oil, sketch designs for sofas, make loans or preserve handicrafts, let alone run a hotel or give walking tours, visitors have an impact on your daily activities. The Vietnam Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism wants to hit US$30 billion in revenue within the next four years, marking a 100 percent increase over last year’s US$15 billion income.

Responsible Tourism There are positive development impacts to be had with the hospitality and tourism sector. At a recent ASEAN Women’s Forum, we discussed the intersection between corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, shared value and hospitality and tourism, leading to the creation of a policy report for presentation at a larger ASEAN forum on ecotourism. We were women working in nonprofit, social enterprise, banking, tourism and IT, to name a few, but the outcome was a united voice: Tourism (and women’s leadership in that sector) can and does support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Let’s take just one of the SDGs (and there are 17), say, Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere. Tourism fosters socioeconomic development through good old-fashioned job creation. Make this job creation equitable and you’ve got a surefire recipe for meeting national poverty reduction goals via entrepreneurship and small business. All of that leads to increased access for typically marginalised groups such as youth and women. (And that also helps deliver Goal 5, which in turn supports Goal 8 and you see what I mean.) This is why responsible tourism initiatives are to be applauded, for they cover environmental, architectural and cultural protection, as well as social protection. Social protection is paramount because it means observing codes of conduct that every one of us can also do as individuals, not just the hotels and travel agencies.

Commitment ChildSafe is a global child and youth protection system established by FriendsInternational, an NGO in Cambodia. You may have heard of the movement via their ‘Children are not tourist attractions’ campaign, but there is also a ChildSafe hotel and restaurant initiative. Check Friends’ register to see if where you’re eating and spending the night has signed up. You can take the hotel commitment a step further. TraffickCam is an excellent way to be an important part of antitrafficking initiatives. Trafficking is on

the rise in Vietnam says the International Organization for Migration (IOM), with a third of all trafficked women and children coming from Southeast Asia. You take four simple shots of your hotel room and help police around the world. By uploading your photos you’re adding to TraffickCam’s growing global database used to track movement in labour and sex trafficking.

Face-to-Face Diplomacy The UN World Tourism Organization (WTO) has a global code of ethics and includes one of my favourite principles, namely Article 2: Tourism as a vehicle for individual and collective fulfilment. This article lays out the role of gender equality and non-exploitation of the elderly, differently abled and children, among others. But this collective fulfilment also points to the value of cultural exchange to deepen and strengthen empathy, tolerance and respect for diversity, the very building blocks of just and equitable societies. Tourism is not the answer to eliminating poverty, but it can and does make a powerful contribution — there’s a good reason why this industry is called ‘face-toface diplomacy’. Me? It’s all about that WTO contentment principle. I’m encouraging everyone I meet to take more holidays. Dana McNairn is the CEO of KOTO, an award-winning non-profit social enterprise and vocational training programme for at-risk youth It’s a no-brainer, right? American-style barbecue in a contemporary Vietnamese, quan nhau-style setting. Of course it is, which is why Quan Ut Ut is constantly packed with grill-obsessed diners going for the burgers, meats off the barbecue and Platinum pale ale served on tap.

RACHA ROOM CONTEMPORARY THAI RESTOBAR 12-14 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel (08) 6253 7711 The Racha Room delivers Thai accented Pan-Asian cuisine with a focus on high quality ingredients. Racha features a large selection of spirits at a seated bar and high table to ensure drinking along with eating remains central to the experience. The current and future of Asian-inspired drinking and dining is right here at the Racha Room.

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 If you like your buffet selections to be big, then here it is gargantuan, with every type of option under the sun. A great place to catch up on your seafood addiction or to pig out over a Sunday brunch. SAN FU LOU CANTONESE KITCHEN

Ground Floor, AB Building, 76A Le Lai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 9513 Open until 3am, this popular, contemporary Cantonese dining hall mixes contemporary with traditional, in a space that takes Chinese dining in Saigon to a new level. And if you like your dim sum, look no further.


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.


33 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4297 The longest running Korean restaurant in town, with all the Koreans moving out to the hinterland, the clientele here are mainly Vietnamese. Fortunately the food preparation remains traditional. An excellent place for group dining. SHANG PALACE RESTAURANT PAN-CHINESE / CANTONESE

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


STOKER CONTEMPORARY STEAKHOUSE 44 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel (08) 3826 8691 One of the world’s oldest culinary techniques — grilling over a wood fire. Stoker kitchen uses different woods to infuse foods with different smoky flavours. These techniques revolutionize live fire cooking by providing precise heat control through the use of a grilling surface that can be adjusted to different cooking heights above the hot coals.



central Saigon make up this enormous, comfortable space. A well-thought out and romantic venue, with excellent food.

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.

Level 24, AB Tower, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: 0938 687689 Set over two floors, this astonishing, no-expensespared Japanese restaurant and lounge brings to Saigon the type of environment and ambience you’d expect of New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai. With the décor comes a modern take on Japanese fare. A place to see and be seen. TAMAGO PAN-JAPANESE

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


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.


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



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


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


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 | October 2016 Word | 193




ramcar or streetcar systems were developed early in the 19th century to address exactly the same issues as we have today. The problem then was just as acute as it is now, just on a smaller scale. Their introduction forever changed those cities that adopted them, especially Saigon at the end of the 19th century, a metropolis which is still struggling with its public transport. We can see today the disruption in the city caused by the construction of the first — of a hopedfor eight — metro lines. We can look forward to years of similar pain. Tramcars arrived in Saigon in 1881 as a steam tramway operated by Société Générale des Tramways à Vapeur de Cochinchine (SGTVC), connecting the city with the then-separate city of Cholon. Ten years later, another French company — the Compagnie Française des Tramways de l’Indochine (CFTI) — established a line from Saigon also to Cholon, which followed the north bank of the Ben Nghe Creek. But CFTI made the mistake of using a gauge of only 0.06m and were bankrupted in 1896 only to be bailed out by the colonial government. After returning to profit they acquired SGTVC.

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Rise and Fall The presence of that tramcar connecting Cholon with Saigon stimulated Cholon’s growth, allowing it to merge with Saigon in April 1931. The tram stops themselves catalysed retail businesses’ commercial and residential growth. It would be fascinating to trace where these stops were — sadly obliterated by time. By 1930 a comprehensive electrified light rail network had been established across the city. Passengers could arrive by train at the station next to Ben Thanh and transfer onto a tram that would transport them down Ham Nghi, Ton Duc Thang up Hai Ba Trung and out to Dien Bien Phu or out to Cholon. The route is shown highlighted in the annotated 1931 map included in this article. The network extended from Lai Thieu to Thu Dau Mot, and to Cholon’s Binh Tay Market. By 1933 there was some 157km of track with good patronage. What happened? First came the occupation by the Japanese, then the Second World War with the network damaged by American bombing.

After that war, the First Indochina War and the rise of a paramilitary group lead by local Cholon warlord Bay Vien created unstable economic conditions that impacted on the profitability of the lines. The network was allowed to deteriorate between 1950 and 1954, with the lines closed for good in 1957. In addition, the aftermath of war saw the rise of the car and personal transport. The car promised a new era with private transport prevailing over good public transport systems worldwide, including cities in Australia and New Zealand and most famously Los Angeles in the United States.

A New Future? We have now come full circle, with cities choked by cars and authorities looking to public transport to cure the problem. Some 60 years after their demise, tramcars are making a return. About 70 US cities are installing light rail as it is now called and Australia’s Gold Coast conurbation is running a very successful light rail system. Sydney is also installing a network. It is easy to understand why. Buses are cheap and have the most flexibility, but they are polluters and cannot move large numbers of people without significant impact on the road network. Heavy rail and metro lines are extremely expensive. Light rail has a smaller impact, and works with the existing street systems while moving large numbers of people. When operated in concert with metro and heavy rail, light rail has shown to be a safe transport system providing a pollution-free solution to overcrowded city streets. Could we see it here again? Ed Haysom is the general director of Mode / Haysom Architects and is based in Ho Chi Minh City. You can contact him on ehaysom@

designed open kitchen, as diners look on. Stylish and spectacular.



Bali-style atmosphere, complemented by great cocktails and a long wine list.


On The Town

THE SOCIETY GRILL AND LOUNGE BAR 99 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 3999 Designed as a Lanewaystyle restobar, the kind of place found in Hong Kong, London, New York or Central Melbourne, thanks to its indoor and outdoor ambience, The Society brings dining and drinking to a new level. Phenomenal cocktails, steaks, grilled fare and seafood make this a place to go for drinks, a full-blown meal or a mixture of both.


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.

164 Cong Quynh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 3248 The service is often slow, and the staff are often surprisingly lazy, yet the food here is so good and so unique to this city, that no-one seems to mind. The perfect place to feast out on gyros and all things off a skewer. Cheap, too. ZOOM CAFÉ AMERICAN / TEX-MEX

169A Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 3897 vietnamvespaadventures. com/cafe_zoom This corner-located Vespainfatuated venue is a café and restaurant by day and a sidewalk drinking joint by night. Friendly staff and American deli-style and Cajun fare makes it a regular expat haunt.



Landmark Building, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9698 Headed up by well-known chef Andy Ertle, Vesper is a sophisticated yet down-toearth cocktail bar and restaurant with subtle lighting and a great spirit selection. Serves creative, Japanese and German-influenced cuisine to supplement the drinks and has a separate dining space.






200 Bis Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3; 157 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 3917




195 Co Giang, Q1

NAM GIAO 189 Bis Bui Vien, Q1 PHO DAU

146E Ly Chinh Thang, Q3 PHO PHU VUONG PHO BO

339 Le Van Sy, Tan Binh

288/M1 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3 PHO HOA



23 Hoang Sa, Q1


260C Pasteur, Q3 55 Tu Xuong, Q3





84 Dang Van Ngu, Phu Nhuan

38 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1




413-415 Nguyen Trai, Q5


67 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 7751




40A Quoc Huong, Q2


Alleyway to the left of 162 Tran Nhan Tong, Q10 BANH CANH HOANG TY BANH CANH / TAY NINH CUISINE

70 Vo Van Tan, Q3



WRAP & ROLL 62 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2166; 111 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 8971; 226 De Tham, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 5097 The lime green walls and bright pastel colours of Wrap ‘n Roll are just part of the theme of this homegrown, Vietnamese brand which is all about spring rolls of all types, and healthy, Hueinfluenced cuisine.





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



271 Nguyen Trai, Q1 | October 2016 Word | 195


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196 | Word October 2016 |


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3 Thang 2 C1 Alexandre de Rhodes B4 An Duong Vuong D1 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan B2, C3 Ban Co C1 Ben Chuong Duong D3, D4, E2, E3 Ben Van Don D4, D5, E3 Bui Thi Xuan C3 Bui Vien D3 Cach Mang Thang Tam B1, C2, C3 Calmette C4 Calmette D4 Cao Ba Nha D3 Cao Thang C1, C2, D2 Chu Manh Trinh B4, B5 Co Bac D3 Co Giang D3, D4 Cong Quynh D3 De Tham C3, D3 Dien Bien Phu A4, B3, C1, C2 Dinh Cong Trang A3 Dinh Tien Hoang A4, B4 Do Quang Dau D3 Do Thanh C1 Doan Nhu Hai D5 Doan Van Bo D5 Dong Du C5 Dong Khoi B4, C4, C5 Hai Ba Trung A2, A3, B3, B5, C5 Hai Trieu C5 Ham Nghi C4 Han Thuyen B4 Ho Hao Hon D3 Ho Tung Mau C4, C5 Ho Xuan Huong C2 Hoa Hung B1 Hoang Dieu D4, D5, E3 Hoang Sa A4, A5 Huyen Tran Cong Chua C3 Huynh Man Dat Binh Thanh A5 Huynh Man Dat Dist. 5 E1 Huynh Thuc Khang C4 Huynh TinH Cua Binh Thanh A5 Huynh Tinh Cua Dist. 3 A2 Huynh Van Banh A1, A2 Khanh Hoi D4, E4 Ky Con C4, D4 Ky Dong B2 Le Cong Kieu C4 Le Duan B4, B5 Le Hong Phong D1 Le Lai C3 Le Loi C4 Le Quoc Hung D4, D5 Le Quy Don B3 Le Thanh Ton B4, B5, C3, C4 Le Thi Hong Gam C4, D4 Le Thi Rieng C3 Le Van Sy A1 Luong Huu Khanh C2 Luu Van Lang C4 Ly Chinh Thang B2 Ly Thai To D1 Ly Tu Trong B4, B5, C3, C4 Mac Dinh Chi B4 Mac Thi Buoi C5 Mai Thi Luu A4 Me Linh A5 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia A2, B3, C4 Ngo Duc Ke C5 Ngo Thoi Nhiem B2, B3, C2

Ngo Van Nam B5 Nguyen Bieu E2 Nguyen Binh Khiem A4, B5 Nguyen Cong Tru C4, C5, D4 Nguyen Cu Trinh D2, D3 Nguyen Dinh Chieu A4, B4, C2, C3, D1 Nguyen Dinh Chinh A1 Nguyen Du B4, C3 Nguyen Gia Thieu B3 Nguyen Hue C4, C5 Nguyen Huu Canh B5 Nguyen Huu Cau A3 Nguyen Huy Tu A4 Nguyen Khac Nhu D3 Nguyen Khoai E3 Nguyen Ngoc Phuong A5 Nguyen Phi Khanh A3 Nguyen Sieu B5, C4, C5 Nguyen Son Ha C2 Nguyen Tat Thanh D5 Nguyen Thai Binh C4, D4 Nguyen Thai Hoc C3, D3 Nguyen Thi Dieu C2, C3 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai A5, B3, B4, C2, C3, D2 Nguyen Thien Thuat C1 Nguyen Thong B1, B2 Nguyen Thuong Hien C2 Nguyen Trai C3, D2, E1 Nguyen Trung Truc C4 Nguyen Truong To D5 Nguyen Van Cu D2, E2 Nguyen Van Lac A5 Nguyen Van Mai A2 Nguyen Van Nguyen A2 Nguyen Van Thu A4, B3, B4 Nguyen Van Troi A1 Pasteur B3, B4 Pasteur C4 Pham Hong Thai C3 Pham Ngoc Thach B3 Pham Ngu Lao C3, D3 Pham Viet Chanh D2



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Saigon South 4km | October 2016 Word | 197

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The Final Say



Breaking Point Harry Hodge gets himself in a traffic altercation. A few days later his nemesis buys him coffee


e all have our breaking points, especially when we are living in a different country with different ways of doing things. For some, it’s dealing with the authorities. For others, it’s contrasting styles of customer service. For many people living in Ho Chi Minh City, it’s traffic.

Thursday Rush hour outside my building in Phu My Hung is a nightmare, and I see a Vietnamese guy clip another motorist who has two kids on his bike, heading to the school down the block. The guy has a nicer bike and looks dressed like a banker to me. He is weaving between bikes like some sort of championship pro racer, which irritates me whenever I see guys pulling that in rush hour. At any rate, we find ourselves at the same red light, and I pull up next to him, slap him on the helmet and tell him he is a menace on the road, my diatribe punctuated with a bevy of profanities. I can tell he is considering whether to escalate our argument into a physical confrontation, but seems to think better of it. He carries on up the main road and I take a right, preferring a quieter drive among the affluent houses off the main drag, to traffic on Nguyen Luong Bang.

Friday So the next day rolls around, and being a creature of habit, I decide to take my usual quiet route, which skirts by some apartment buildings. My buddy from the previous day appears out of nowhere to overtake me on this suburban road and hops off his bike, clearly wanting to continue the chat from yesterday. Out of the corner of my eye I see his friend, wearing a face mask more akin to robbing a bank than the surgical masks I see in normal driving. Are they gangsters? I thought he worked at Sacombank!

198 | Word October 2016 |

“Why you hit me?” he chirps. “I don’t hit you!” He cuts the engine and advances towards me. “You again! You caused three accidents! You hit a guy and his kids!” Punch to the face. I drop the bike on the ground and step backwards. Old ladies and apartment security have taken notice, hearing the odd shrieks of help. He is wearing motorbike gloves so his punch doesn’t really hurt very much, but I am kinda confused. Does he have a knife? Would it be worth a homicide over being told you’re a crap driver? Well, among other things. Punch to the face. His buddy has now punched me! Where’d he come from? Okay, time to run around a bush! They grab at me, but rip my backpack. My mind races. Do I start throwing punches? I’m not particularly good at hand-to-hand combat. I do the maths; I’m 88 kilograms, but the size advantage drops when you’re outnumbered. More punches come, but I swing my motorbike helmet and dance around a bush as elderly people in the park scatter and shriek. Security from the building block blow a little whistle. A 40-year-old ESL book editor fighting a couple of bankers in a park full of old ladies doing tai chi. I say bankers because by this point, I figure I’d be stabbed if he was mafia. Sad to watch, really. Finally apartment security get between us, and my attacker barks: “I had an emergency! Why you hit me?” “I didn’t know about any of that,” I reply. “I saw you hit a guy and I lost it.” His buddy has already jumped on his bike and driven off. I then extend an olive branch, being as we are both clearly busy people and have places to be. “OK, forget it,” I say. “What’s your name?” He grunts. “Hmph. Ryan.” “Nice to meet you,” I say.

“OK,” he mutters. He gets on his bike and rides off. Apartment security runs after him, but they’re about as useful as a newspaper in a hurricane. Then I pick my bike up off the ground. They signal me to stop, but I am in a hurry, too. The “fight” took less than two minutes. I make it to work on time, with a ripped shirt pocket and one strap torn off my backpack. No one notices or seems to, anyway. Too busy waiting for the weekend.

Saturday Fast forward to Saturday morning. I am out walking with my wife and our two kids, having told her the night before about all that occurred. She always says I take too many risks telling people off in traffic in Saigon, since locals always seem to worry about the ramifications. I say: “Hey, we shook on it. I know his name. We’re good.” This doesn’t seem to satisfy her. Anyway, there’s a new coffee shop in our block. Who do I see? You guessed it: Ryan. We’re neighbours. Three days in a row I see this guy, and this time we both have our kids with us at a local coffee shop. “Let me buy you a coffee,” Ryan says. Turns out, he’s a banker, as surmised. We both agree there were things we could have done better. And he says he shouldn’t have started the fistfight, having suffered accordingly because the security guards had called police and he spent the morning dealing with them. We chat about our kids, who aren’t too far off in age, and about daycares in the area. It’s bizarre. To cap it all, I think I came out ahead. Not everyone can get into an argument in traffic on Thursday, get punched in the face over it on Friday, and score a free drink from their assailant on Saturday. But if I were you, I’d just skip all that and buy your own coffee. Word does not advocate succumbing to road rage, whatever the scenario

The Final Say


A historian, a researcher, a writer and a former tour guide, Tim Doling’s knowledge of Saigon’s past is next to none. Photo by Vu Ha Kim Vy You originally lived in Hanoi working for various institutions including the Ministry of Culture and Information. How did you end up moving to Saigon? I lived in Hanoi from 1999 to 2004 because of my work there with the Ministry, but when we decided to relocate back to Vietnam after my semi-retirement in 2010, Saigon was the obvious choice — my wife was born here and her family still lives here.

What interests you about the history of this country? What intrigues me is the way in which so many different cultures have left their mark on the country’s development — Khmer, Cham, Chinese, French, American. This is particularly evident in the Vietnamese arts and culture sector.

Why do you think there are so many gaps in the documentation of Vietnam’s recent history? Are these gaps being filled? A huge amount of documentation was destroyed, either during the two Indochina wars or in their immediate aftermath. The history of the south during the period 1945 to 1975 is poorly documented. There’s not much left, apart from a few surviving RVN government records and American military and aid documentation gathered by the University of Texas and other US institutions. Gaps are now being filled, but this is through individuals making available their personal collections of photos and documents.

You’ve got a particular interest in the railways and tramways of Vietnam and by the end of this year will have published two books on the subject. What makes this topic so fascinating? I was interested in railways as a child, though I was never a railway fanatic. My book The Railways and Tramways of Vietnam was written at the suggestion of my wife’s late brother Vinh, who spent most of his life as a railwayman. One day back in 2007 he commented that no-one had ever written a history of Vietnam’s railways in English. The ups and downs of the railway network mirrors the history of the country. It’s a miracle that a railway repeatedly blown to bits over a period of 30 years is still operational today.

What is the goal of your website, Historic Vietnam? I use it to enhance people’s understanding about Vietnamese history. Since I launched my website back in late 2013, I’ve posted nearly 240 different articles on everything from historic buildings and American war vestiges to Saigon movie shoots, Vietnamese railway history and famous characters who have visited or lived here.

Why is Vietnam’s heritage so important? By preserving heritage, we

pass our history on to our future generations, so that they can understand and learn from it. Heritage plays an important role in people’s lives, giving them a sense of place, a sense of identity and a sense of pride. The destruction of familiar landscapes, coupled with the stresses of everyday life, can result in feelings of loss of identity and roots.

What challenges do you face when you do your research? The lack of documentation. Sometimes it’s also difficult to photograph and get access to specific heritage buildings.

Part of your work is to document “hitherto undocumented historic buildings”. What key buildings have you covered so far? Documenting the history of buildings is crucial if you wish to make a case for their preservation. I’ve spent a lot of time researching the history of many important old landmarks, like the District 1 People’s Committee building (1876), the Customs Directorate building (1887) and the former Cochinchina Government Secretariat building at 59 Ly Tu Trong (1888). Former government buildings are the easiest to document, but private residences can often be difficult — information about that old colonial mansion at 112 Vo Van Tan in District 3 was hard to find. Many old villas may be lost because we can’t document their pedigree and argue for their preservation.

How do you feel about the gradual destruction of this country’s historic buildings in the name of progress? The city must continue to develop, and new, modern structures must be built, but a balance needs to be found between old and new. There is no need always to destroy the old to accommodate the new; alternative sites can be found. To fit the urban context, new buildings must reflect existing patterns, but much of what’s been built in recent years is alien in design, badly sited and bears no relationship to the city’s character and traditions.

Why is it so important to have an inventory of [historic] buildings other than temples and revolutionary vestiges? The problem is that if [the authorities] don’t know what’s there, how can they be expected to preserve it? The crucial step must be to inventory what’s left, so that an informed decision can be taken regarding what must be preserved.To see more of Tim click on

Sách Chuyên Quảng Cáo - Not For Sale

Word Vietnam October 2016  

Everything you need to know about Vietnam and a little bit more. This month? A little bit of local history.

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